Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 11/19/11

Today at The Tobacco Hut was a wild one, especially toward the end of the day. More on that later. First, let's do a roll call. Present and accounted for were Scott R, his brother-in-law Jeff D, and his son-in-law Corey. Paul O and Joe K were also in attendance as were Jim S (the "new guy" who will always be referred to as the "new guy" until he brings pizza and subs for everyone - sorry Jim, we all had to go through it) and Barry. And rolling up right at closing time was Adrian.

When I arrived all the seats were taken by Scott, Jeff, and Corey, so I had to make do with a folding chair. Grrr...I think as Keeper of the Blog I should get a permanent "nice" chair. No matter, I settled in with a Neerup pipe full of Greg Pease's most-excellent Westminster tobacco, a fine English blend.

Knowing that I was in the presence of eBay greatness (Scott), I told the story of how - in literally the last second - I lost an auction for a beautiful David Jones pipe. Jones is a pipe carver out of Texas and I own a couple of his creations already, so when I saw that he was now selling his pipes on eBay, I jumped at the chance. But, alas, I was outbid. Scott gave me some good pointers and strategies for winning the next one though, as did Joe later in the day.

The discussion between the five of us ranged from the Joe Paterno/Penn State scandal to politics to the new iPhone, which should be in my hot little hands this coming Friday. Scott showed off a new pocket knife acquisition of his and I tried to sell Corey some promotional advertising items for his cleaning business, but Scott (the promotional ad guru himself and my mentor in the business) was polishing up that new knife of his with a little too much zeal and giving me a weird look, so I eased up on the sales pitch.

Joe arrived and everyone but Paul left - you just have that effect on people, Joe! We talked about Joe's favorite topic for awhile - computers. Paul needed some advice on what to buy and we both jumped in and hopefully muddied Paul's mind just enough.

Jim (the new guy) arrived a little later and has apparently taken to the pipe quite nicely. He tried another of Lou's tobaccos, Mello Mix, a very nice light aromatic. Jim, this is definitely a fun stage of pipe smoking, one that never really goes away, that of trying new tobaccos. Enjoy!

Barry arrived and the fun got ratcheted up a couple notches, especially when someone that Paul knew in a previous life showed up to buy some cigars. As the guy was getting out of his car, Paul commented on how much he hated this particular slimy, thieving nemesis of his. Paul was mumbling and muttering the whole time the guy was in the store but when the guy stopped at his chair they chatted like old school chums. Barry was convinced that Paul was going to kick the guy's ass but when the time came, they were best of friends. Barry couldn't let it go and Paul soon found himself in the proverbial barrel.

A little while later some total stranger walking by the store ducked his head in and saw that we had the Ohio State/Penn State game on the TV. He then started to ramble, "Oh, you're watching the Buckeyes. Did you hear about the Penn State mess? You really have to root for Penn State. Why aren't you watching the Penn State game?" Um, we are. "Did you hear that the district attorney who was investigating the allegations against Jerry Sandusky disappeared, like five years ago?" he continued. Barry deadpanned it perfectly when he replied, "Really?" even though we had been talking about the very subject not five minutes ago.

And just to complete the picture, he seemed to, well, how to put this delicately, "play for the other team." Not that there's anything wrong with that (in the words of Seinfeld). But he never wavered from his spot just outside the door, head inside and he seemed to be doing something to the door frame that is probably illegal in most states. He was also looking at me a lot even though Barry was doing most of the talking.

After he left, we began talking about how Barry relishes his role of engaging the more, shall we say, colorful characters that walk past the shop. See last week's blog about him talking to Special Forces man. And who walked by again late in the day but Special Forces man. Barry gave him a quick shout out but he must not have had time to chat as he kept walking.

About ten minutes 'til closing, Adrian rolled up. He's back to his old ways, just breezing in and out. I asked him if, since there wasn't enough time to play a game of chess, why don't we just pretend to play and call me the winner, since it's a foregone conclusion anyway. Naturally, Adrian didn't take too kindly to that and pledged to return next week in time for a real game.

Adrian did lodge a complaint against me about the blog post a few weeks ago, recounting his tales of "conquest" that weekend. But, he did kind of bring it on himself. We did get Adrian to sit for a few minutes and hopefully he'll make it back soon.

Oh yes, in case anyone cared...the answer to the brain teaser from last week about the landscaper that planted five rows of four trees but only used ten trees total is...he planted them in a star pattern. Each corner and intersection of a standard five-point star is where he planted the tree, ten in total.

Before I forget, I did pledge to look something up: Barry wanted to know exactly what a "buckeye" is. It's a nut, of course, but he maintains that it is a chestnut, specifically a horse chestnut. I wasn't sure what it was, but I think it is a separate thing altogether and is simply called a buckeye. So, I now turn to Google. Give me a minute here and I'll come back with the answer.

Okay, here's what I found. The buckeye tree, which the buckeye nut comes from, is known as Aesculus glabra, and is a tree species native primarily in the Midwest and Lower Great Plains region of the United States and parts of Ontario, Canada. The Wikipedia entry for the buckeye tree makes no mention of the horse chestnut, so I initially thought I was correct that the buckeye was a completely separate tree from that of the horse chestnut. But I like to do a thorough job in my research, even if that means I am found to be incorrect about something. (Lou, of course, likes to think that I believe I'm always right and will never admit to being wrong, but - and I'm right about this - that is completely false. I freely admit my mistakes and have often written about my errors in this very space).

Anyway, I discovered that the horse chestnut tree is known scientifically as Aesculus hippocastanum, and is found in the Balkans, Albania, parts of Greece, and Serbia. So, the genus is the same for both trees, Aesculus, but the specific species is different: glabra for the buckeye and hippocastanum for the horse chestnut. Some, like Barry, use the names buckeye and horse chestnut interchangeably but, to be accurate, the buckeye should only be used to describe the so-called New World members of the Aesculus genus, i.e. the tree found in North America. There are slight differences in leaf structure between the two species, but they are from the same genus. Incidentally, the horse chestnut tree is not related to the chestnut tree, which is from the genus Castanea.

So, who's right? Well, in common usage, Barry was right but, technically, they are two separate species of trees. I guess in the end, we're both right. It's a win-win and everyone's happy.

A shout out to my son Ryan, who turned 21 today. Happy birthday, son! I love ya!

Until next week...

P.S. BTW, Jim, I was just kidding about having to supply pizzas. I mean, if you want to, we won't turn them down, but you don't have to.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 11/12/11

Today we had a small, but fun group at The Tobacco Hut. In attendance were Ed B and Barry C as well as a new, and hopefully regular, guy - Jim S. Good to see Barry two weeks in a row after a long absence, and Ed, of course, roaring up in his topless Jeep.

We were expecting to see Coast Guard Don but he was AWOL. Not only was Ed prepared to buy him a premium cigar, but we had brought lots of food in preparation to throw kind of a mini-party. Well, when I say lots of food, I mean Joe K replenished our supply of peanut butter pretzels and Barry surprised us with a big tub of Cheese Doodles. But the thought was there.

Joe K was absent as he was taking his dog Sammie to some sort of dog reunion to the south somewhere. Apparently he stopped by on Friday with the express purpose of bringing the peanut butter pretzels (thanks man!). Scott R also stopped in sometime on Friday, according to Lou. I don't know if Adrian made an appearance during the week as he sometimes does, but let's not forget that Saturday is the day. At least that's the day that I'm at the Hut, and the world revolves around me, after all.

I pulled the trigger and ordered
myself a new iPhone 4S!
I was hoping Joe was there as I wanted to announce that this very morning, before I came to the Hut, I ordered an iPhone 4S! I'm finally ditching this ancient cell phone I've been carrying around for two years and getting a smart phone. Of course, nobody has them in stock, so I had to order it from the Apple store online and it should arrive sometime during the last week of November. It's going to be a tough few weeks waiting for my new toy!

So yes, we have not only a new guy, Jim, but he's a pipe smoker! Actually, he just became a pipe smoker today! Welcome to the Brotherhood of the Briar, Jim. A longtime cigar smoker, he's been thinking of taking up the pipe and he certainly came to the right place. He ended up buying a nice Ben Wade smooth finish bent and loaded it up with some of Lou's Goldenrod tobacco. We must not have scared him off, because he pulled up a chair, settled right in and began puffing.

A lot of the conversation today centered around Joe Paterno's woes at Penn State, and we watched the Penn State/Nebraska game. Other entertainment included making fun of the Special Forces guy (our nickname for him - I seriously doubt he served in the Special Forces, at least of our military) who stumbled past the door a couple times with his two dozen eggs. He's famous for "taking out a guy with one judo chop" some time ago at Wal-Mart for calling his wife a name. Apparently, Wal-Mart rewarded him with two dozen eggs at the time and today he appeared again with two dozen eggs. I presume they are not the same two dozen eggs, but who knows?

Today found me smoking a bowl of McClelland's Wilderness tobacco (third Saturday in a row for Wilderness) in my Cassano tan-colored sandblast. This tobacco has just the right amount of Latakia for a nice, pungent, woodsy flavor. The Cassano handled it nicely, smoking cool and dry all the way down to fine, gray ash. I brought a La Gloria Cubana cigar with me that I had bought a couple weeks ago, but decided to save it for another day.

Kudos to Scott, our resident knife guy. His blog was featured on the Knife Depot blog and our man was interviewed! Knife Depot is a large online knife retailer and a link can be found to Scott's interview here. Congrats man! BTW, Scott has also recently prepared a calendar for sale just in time for next year featuring his knife photography. It can be found here.

We're all wondering how Mike G is doing in Bradenton taking care of Vic's nuts. Vic is on a chartered tour to Israel and, as Ed suggested, perhaps he's exploring franchise opportunities for his nuts in Tel Aviv. As long as they're Kosher nuts, I think you might be sitting on a goldmine there, Vic!

Completely off topic, but how about a little brain teaser as a diversion? Maybe I'll make this a regular - or at least semi-regular - feature of the blog. Here we go...

A landscaper returns from work and is sitting at the kitchen table with his kids. The kids ask, "Did you work hard today, Daddy?"
Dad says, "I did. I planted five rows of four trees each." His little third grader, wanting to show off her new found skills with the multiplication table, says, "You planted 20 trees, Daddy!"
He says, "No, I'm sorry, that's wrong. I planted 10 trees." She responds, "That's impossible!"
The dad responds, "No, it isn't, and here's a hint: If you look at one of the math or history test papers that your teacher has returned to you recently, you're going to find the answer."
The little girl sits there and thinks for a minute, and then she says, "I've got it!"
What did she find on her paper that gave her the answer? 

Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail with the answer. I'll provide the solution next week.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday at the Hut - 11/5/11

We had a great crowd at The Tobacco Hut on Saturday, consisting of weekly regulars and a couple folks we haven't seen in a long time. The regulars in attendance were Joe K, Peter G, Paul O, Bobby M, and Ed B. And we welcomed back some, er, irregulars - Scott R and Barry C. To be fair, Scott showed up last Saturday but had to leave as soon as he arrived, but this week he stayed and smoked two cigars (not at once, of course).

Scott's recent acquisition
(Click to enlarge)
It was show and tell time as Scott brought along a very special knife he reviewed recently on his blog. This is the Sunset Smooth Bone Moon Pie Trapper by Canal Street Cutlery. Quite the impressive knife and Scott generously passed it around to fondle and smudge up with fingerprints. Fingerprints? No matter, as soon as it was passed back, he took out his handy polishing cloth and lovingly buffed all the smudges off, carefully placing it back in its box.

Scott is living the snowbird's life, having recently returned from summering in New York, in the same region that Paula and I traveled to a couple months ago. We compared travel notes and talked about how spectacular the scenery is in upstate New York (see my blog from a few weeks ago for photos).

We had an Oliva Cigar rep join us for awhile. Very nice guy (unfortunately, I can't remember the fellow's name) who knows a lot of the same people that Scott knows since Scott used to work at Blue Smoke in Clearwater. We all commiserated about the sorry state of FDA regulations over tobacco and insane tax rates on cigars and tobacco. Unfortunately, it's only getting worse.

Snack Alert! Snack Alert! The beloved peanut butter pretzels are now gone. Paul and I finished off the last of them. So whoever wants to go to Sam's Club to replenish our supply, please try and go before next Saturday. I, of course, am philosophically and violently opposed to all things Wal-Mart, cannot patronize such an establishment. But will gladly consume products purchased from there.

Bobby arrived and it was show and tell time again. He was describing his new invention, which I won't go into here since it's still in the development stage, but he brought along a cardboard mock-up to demonstrate the concept. Paul, whose mind apparently never leaves the gutter, instantly saw the mock-up not as what it truly demonstrated but, in his words, "a paper airplane with an erection." It didn't help that Bobby was using terms like "shaft" and "penetration".

Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago I called some of our no-shows out on the carpet. A virtual "Wall of Shame" for those who seem to have forgotten that Saturdays are for gathering at the Hut. Honey-do list? What honey-do list? There are cigars to be smoked with the boys at the Hut! Well, my gentle admonition seems to have had an effect on one used-to-be-weekly visitor...Barry C arrived. Great to see you, Barry! Your picture comes off the Wall of Shame!

Peter wasted no time trying to engage Barry in a debate about the Dallas Cowboys, but sparks didn't fly as much as they have in the past. The laughter did ensue when Lou told us his pants size. I can't for the life of me remember how we got to discussing what size Lou's pants are, or what prompted him to reveal this, but apparently he wears a 44/27.

Could this be Lou?
Barry burst out laughing, asking Lou to confirm that his inseam measures only 27". Bobby made some mention about his own sleeve length being longer than Lou's inseam. Bobby later sent me this photo to demonstrate approximately what a 27" inseam would look like. Lou was definitely a good sport about it, having eased himself into the proverbial barrel.

A couple of reminders about upcoming events...Coast Guard Don will be here next Saturday, November 12th, Veterans Day weekend. And February 3rd of next year is Scott's 50th birthday. How about we throw him a Tobacco Hut party on Saturday, Feb. 4th? I know it sounds like a long way away, but we can put together something nice, like we did for Joe's son James when he came back from the west coast a few years ago. You remember all the various caterers we had plus the dancing girls, right?

A big thank you to everyone who came on Saturday! It's nice to have a full house. See you next Saturday!