Monday, July 10, 2017

Yin Yang fish --a frightening food.

Cooking, particularly Chinese and Asian cooking, is an interest of mine. And in that context I was recently scouring youtube and internet seeking tips on advanced Chinese cooking and knife use techniques, such as the ones used for "pinecone fish," a particularly complex and delightful sort of sweet and sour fish dish, when I stumbled across one of the most horrible dishes I've ever heard of.

Why is it horrible? Because part of the appeal is that it involves inflicting great pain on the fish and then serving it alive at the table.

To make "yin yang fish" (Yin Yang Yu) one first takes a live, whole fish and then wraps its head tightly in a wet towel. By doing this, one keeps the head from cooking and then also apparently protects the chef's hand from being burned or splashed.

Next one takes the fish and inserts all save the head into very hot, deep frying oil, thus cooking the body and tail but leaving the head uncooked, and the fish, technically, still alive.

The fish is then placed on a plate, body cooked while the head gasps for air, its body overwhelmed with shock and pain, and sauce, reportedly a sweet and sour sauce, is poured over its body.

The dish was reportedly first seen in Taiwan by a chef who claimed to have learned how to make the dish in China. Due to media attention and uproar focused on this unpleasant and sadistic dish, it is now outlawed in Taiwan (where I somehow doubt the ban is much enforced, although that does not make the dish common either) as well as, oddly enough, Germany.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Adventures in Slum Living -Episode 16 --Did Wayne Whitney break into my mailbox?

Well, with a little luck this series will end soon. Hopefully Wayne Whitney can then go away, hopefully drown himself in a river or something, and make the world a better place.

But there's always one more thing.

As mentioned, Wayne Whitney is a selfish and stupid man who does not wish to fix his apartments and instead let's them fall apart. Of course, he insists there's nothing wrong with these apartments, an assertion that I hope this series has allowed you to judge for yourself?

As mentioned, I periodically asked Wayne Whitney to fix his apartments. It wasn't like I had any choice in the matter. The front door had fallen off because he and his handyman had installed it improperly.

Now it's worth mentioning Wayne Whitney does not know how to fix things. Wayne Whitney hired a many named "Lewis" to assist with cleaning and fixing. Now, Wayne, well, Wayne's the kind of guy who calls up his tenants, makes jokes about how incompetent Lewis at fixing things, and then thinks his tenants will find this funny as they live under slum conditions and watch their domicile fall down around them.

But did Wayne Whitney break into my mailbox? (And, yes, this is a federal offense.)

First, Wayne Whitney and I clashed a number of times over the condition of the apartment and the fact that he had broken his promise to provide supplies to have it fixed up free of charge to him.

Second, Wayne Whitney had whined frequently about these clashes to my relatives, one of whom does his taxes.

Third, Wayne ultimately put an eviction notice on my front door.

Now, and here is the amazing thing, Wayne had put an eviction notice on my front door but had put the wrong name on it. Therefore he had tried to evict someone who did not live in the apartment. He did however, have my then girlfriend, the co-tenants name correct, despite my asking him to take her off the lease, as she was in Asia, and his refusing out of laziness. What this meant is that his eviction notice was laughably wrong. He could not take me to court with it, as my name was not on it, and he had tried to evict someone who was on the wrong continent and could not appear in court or have papers served upon them.

Nevertheless, faced with the choice of living in a shit hole with my life entangled with a shit head who specialized in renting shit holes as part of my life, I quietly decided the best thing to do was to move out.

Soon after, someone broke into my mailbox.

Now who had a motive to do so? First, there were three mailboxes on the front of the building and mine was the only one targetted. Therefore it was probably not a random act, but targetted at me. (you can see here two photos of the other mailboxes at the property, both untouched.)

Untouched Mailbox #1

Untouched mailbox #2  

Second, I am not in the habit of getting expensive deliveries. Therefore, I can not imagine who could possible have wanted to break into my mailbox, unless it was someone who had recently put something stupid in it and then wanted to takeit out. Could it be the same man who had put something stupid on my front door?

Third, the mailbox was broken into by someone using a power drill. Not only that but you can see that whoever did it was not terrible skilled at using a power drill.

So, we need someone who carries tools, but is not good at using them. Is there a suspect? Hmmm?

Fourth, we also need someone who would feel comfortable being heard using a loud powertool on the front porch of 16 Benson Street. Does such a person exist? Hmmmmm? 

Now, here's the clincher, Wayne Whitney has a large video surveillance system set up at 16 Benson Street. Now I'm not sure how I feel about the ethics or sensibilities of a sex offender taping everything around his property but his entire front porch is videotaped. There are signs clearly stating this. 

Now we need someone with a motive to target my mailbox, someone who does not know how to use tools well but carries them, who is comfortable drilling into a mailbox on the front porch of 16 Benson Street while knowing that he can easily be heard, while not caring if he was videotaped or not. Does such a person exist? Hmmmmmmmmmmm? 

And then pry it open in  a clumsy fashion using what appears to be a screw driver? Does such a person exist? Yeah, probably, but I'll let you figure out who that person might be. 

Note that this break in of my mailbox was reported to both the Albany City Police Department as well as the post office. 

Adventures in Slum Living. Episode 15 --the neighbors

16 Benson Street in Albany, New York was not the nicest place I’ve ever lived.
As stated –repeatedly, in fact—the landlord, Wayne Whitney, was (and presumably still is) a dishonest, selfish, irresponsible dipshit and the place was falling apart in disrepair to an extent that was almost comical. But the neighbors didn’t help either.
I first met the neighbors when I was moving in. A lanky looking guy with floppy, curly hair and dull eyes approached me as I was moving in and asked me where I worked. Harold wasn’t exactly White but he was one of those folks who is difficult to put a finger on if you are trying to guess their racial background.
And, of course, there's no point in asking others what race he was, because most people, if they sensed an ethnic or genetic commonality with him, would, most likely, for the good of the group, deny that any such commonality existed.
Harold asked me if I worked and where.  
I told him that I taught English as a Second Language, but I did not tell him where or for whom. (no need to share too much.)
He told me he was looking for work. I discussed job hunting  a bit with him.
He then told me he needed work, he wasn’t getting enough hours at his job, and he had just gotten out of jail. (I've just spent a bit of time trying to track down for what, exactly Harold was in jail. Although I can't state with certainty if it is the same person, there was a Harold with the same name who was incarcerated for failure to pay child support and violating an order of protection, and who then wrote a clueless letter to the editor of a newspaper claiming the entire situation was completely unfair. This Harold does have a child. He does not live with the child. Probably the same person.)
(Not really the neighbors, but close enough.) 

I didn’t ask for what but simply shared a few more job hunting leads.
This was Harold. Harold’s lived at 16 Benson Street for quite a while. He may still be there. I have no idea. No need to know and no need to check.
Next time I saw Harold, I was moving in. He was sitting on his second floor front porch with an overweight White woman who paid most or all of the rent on the place (I learned this from hearing their fights through the walls, more on this later) and was, more or less, supporting Harold. Harold saw me carrying stuff and offered to help. Harold, however, did not strike me as the kind of guy who I would either like to be indebted to or let into my apartment, so I just thanked him for the offer but let him know I didn’t really need any help.
Third time, I saw Harold he asked me for money. No reason given, no offer to repay, just “Can I have some money?”
I said “No.”
I then called Wayne. Now as mentioned, Wayne is not too bright. Nor does he know how to act right. If you wish to understand how Wayne will act in any given situation, analogies help, I offered one last time about a hungry, stray dog.  Sadly, he and I do have at least one friend in common.
I had made it very clear to Wayne that what I was looking for was a safe apartment.
And now I had a creep asking for money next door.

Which means that not only is Wayne selfish enough to ignore what others want, he's too stupid to look after his own self interests knowing that we had acquaintances in common and his actions would come back to haunt him.

But I still hadn't quite grasped Wayne's style of thinking and therefore called him to discuss things. He said that he’d been trying to get rid of these people for months and encouraged me to call the cops on them. He said his lawyer had advised him that he had no grounds to evict them (untrue if they had the same kind of lease I did) but he’d wanted to for some time. But he said that he would tell them not to ask other tenants for money or he would evict them. (Not sure if this happened, but last I heard they were still there.)
So those were the neighbors.
As you can see from the pictures, 16 Benson Street in Albany, New York, one of Wayne Whitney’s apartments, an apartment that he does not like to see called a “slum” nor does he like to see himself as a “slumlord,” is not the best maintained place around. The walls are thin.
Which meant I could hear these folks and get a glimpse of their lifestyle.
First, they had lots of noisy sex. Absurdly, ridiculously, noisy sex.
I’d be cooking and there would be Harold and the fat chick who paid his rent going on at it and the sounds were like something from a comedy movie depiction of a bad apartment.
“Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, yes, yeeesss, Yeeeessssss!!!!!” she would moan.
It was ridiculous. The only thing that could make it more surreal would be the characters from Seinfeld. 

Jerry: My, oh my. quite energetic aren't they?

George: Do you think maybe I could learn to do something like that? I mean think about it? Are there exercises of something you can get? Maybe motivational tapes that you could listen to in the car?

Jerry: You don't own a car.

George: I know, but if I did. I mean is it really that farfetched to think that I might someday listen to tapes in the car?

Jerry: Well, since you don't drive . . .

(Neighbors: Oh God, Oh God, yes, yes, yes. Oh God!!!!!!!!!)

George: Maybe it's a special diet. Do you think it's a special diet?

Kramer: Yo yo ma!!

George: They sound religious. Do you think being religious helps in the bedroom? Do you think it might help if I went to church sometimes?

Jerry: George, they're obviously faking.

George: Well, I fake it all the time. Just not that loudly.

etc. etc. etc.

And then, when they weren’t having sex, they’d fight.
She’d scream, complain about paying his rent, and then tell him to get out. He never did. After all he was getting free or reduced rent and lots of sex in this place and he obviously was not someone with sophisticated tastes or high expectations from life.

When I look back on my time at 16 Benson Street in Albany, New York, one of Wayne Whitney, (a man who does not like to be called “a slumlord”) ‘s apartments, it’s interesting to think about not just the physical surroundings but also the neighbors.