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.