Before I get into today's activities at The Tobacco Hut, I'd like to mention that this space was reviewed and mentioned in a blog across the pond by a rather large and well-known catalogue retailer in the U.K. I received an e-mail from a most pleasant correspondent from the Clifford James Co. She indicated that my blog was chosen, among others, as one of the "Pipe Smoker's Blogs We Love." She described The Sweetest Smoke "As much a social commentary as an exploration of new pipes and tobacco blends, it is an addictive tobacco soap-opera." I like that, an addictive tobacco soap-opera. Anyway, here's the link to the Clifford James blog.
Today indeed was quite the soap opera! In attendance were Tom L, Joe K, Adrian R, Lou, and myself. Ed B and Tom D arrived after the fireworks were over. Now perhaps it was because Lou was a little grumpy, or Tom L likes to stir the political pot, or Joe K was mad at Apple (wanna sell that iPad, Joe?), but I found myself on the receiving end of countless barbs and unpleasantries. In the vernacular of the Hut, I was in "the barrel" before I had even lit my pipe.
Speaking of which, I did enjoy a bowlful of Lou's most-excellent Baker Street, an exquisite English blend that I'm liking more and more. The Crown Viking freehand (at left - click to enlarge) handled it beautifully, burning the Virginia/Latakia blend to a fine, white ash. I had to run a pipe cleaner through the pipe about halfway through smoking it as there was a buildup of moisture. I don't think however that had anything to do with the tobacco, but rather my smoking it too rapidly. See, my blood pressure was rising as I tried to withstand the attacks from Lou, Tom, and Joe.
The withering bombardment aimed at your humble narrator, the token liberal in the room, was so rapid-fire that I had trouble properly defending myself. At one point, I tried to argue not a position, but a point of fact (about whether people born here are American citizens or not), with Lou, but forgot the cardinal rule. He's always right. I should have deferred to him right away and conserved my energy.
In any case, I felt like I not only had to defend the entire progressive movement, as well as the newspaper I work for, and even Apple. In the end I just couldn't do it. In spreading myself too thin, in fighting a war on two - nay, three - fronts, I failed. I was defeated, broken, and didn't even have an NPR station to listen to for comfort until the lonely ride home.
Adrian joined us and jumped into the fray, bringing well-reasoned and cogent arguments to the discussion. He didn't go on the offensive as much, but tended to chime in with his opinion when asked. Perhaps he was distracted by Florida State beating up on the University of Florida. BTW, I did enjoy watching Ohio State beat Michigan - again!
I've mentioned to a couple folks a project I'm working on for my mother as a birthday gift. I'm assembling converted 8mm films, scanned slides and prints, and music onto a DVD as a little trip down memory lane for her. In combing through the slides, I came across this photo (at right - click to enlarge). This is me at 3 years old sitting on my grandfather's lap. I was obviously interested in pipes from a very young age. My fondest memories of "Grandpa Al" are of watching him pack and smoke his pipe.
Just an announcement for all who are interested, my son Ryan will be visiting in mid-December, and we'll try and make an appearance on Saturday, December 18th in the early afternoon. Perhaps I can even persuade him to take over the writing duties of this space again.
Until next week...