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PostSubject: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:31 pm

Full Disclosure : Being old & somewhat experienced is no guarantee you're not an old & experienced fool. The only advantage that time & pipe miles in your logbook give you is a better shot at sorting out the variables involved. With that in mind, FWIW :

1) Bigger is not better.

I am reminded of this every time I peruse the offerings on estate pipe sites and reflect that the pipes I'm looking at are the ones people are trying to sell because they thought they would like them, but they don't. Most of the time the briar is pretty, but their bowls are too big and the chambers are too wide & deep, holding far more tobacco than people (after the novelty wears off) come to realise they usually want to smoke. In other words, the kind of pipes that people enjoy looking at more than they do actually smoking them.

These are augmented by the new ones the site owners (who have been in the game for a long time and know what sells) pick up/import & sell. Which not infrequently fit the same general description. Like any other fashion, it sells because it sells because it sells.

I suspect that people are so used to seeing the McMansions that were going up everywhere for a while and the girl at the fast food counter saying, "Supersize it ?" that the habit's carried over into pipes.

It's crazy. 50 years ago, when Europe was making Mercedes & BMW passenger cars that were the world standard of excellence, the USA was cranking out Cadilacs, Lincolns & Imperials. Once they saw the way Caminettos took off here, Italian makers became firmly convinced that a pipe could not be too big or ungainly-looking for the US market. From that day 'til now, with some exceptions, they've made ill-proportioned, oversized pipes for sale here and reasonably-sized, conservatively shaped pipes that their countrymen buy and smoke.

The briar cutters make out because they can sell bigger blocks for more. And the pipemakers make out because they can charge way more, proportionately, for a big pipe than a small one. (In fairness, the odds of a flaw showing up does increase with size. But not by so much as the size/price ratio seems to entail). Everybody's happy but the guy who's hoping Mike or Marty can move the Buick he bought so he can afford a Honda to drive.

What the burn time of English mixtures is somebody else can say. I'm a flake guy. Smoking flakes (broken or not) as flakes, even a smallish apple / bent bulldog / prince is a one-hour smoke, and a billiard even longer. How much more do you really want out of one pipe at one sitting ?

Multiply that by the speed with which the "Vitamin N" content of the heavy Lakeland ropes &c. some people like (even, to some people, Virginias/VaPers) creeps up on their tolerence levels. It's no accident that guys who like these (PeeDee comes to mind) are always keeping half an eye out for nice group 2-3 size pipes to smoke ropes in. Especially if these have

2) Acryllic stems.

You might be resigned to the necessity of smoking the cheapest tobacco you can find that you halfway like, saving "the good stuff" for special treats. Or maybe you're just OK with smoking bulk commodity tobacco. But you still want to enjoy the taste of it. No ?

For that, you want an acrylic stem.

Period.

Because it won't taste like stem. No matter how well you keep up with the deterioration vulcanite's subject to, after a while, sulfur-treated rubber tastes like sulfur-treated rubber. Don't believe me ? Get a pipe with an acrylic stem, smoke something you like in it enough to marry them, and notice the difference in how clean and pure your tobacco tastes in the acrylic-stemmed alternative.

And it will never deteriorate. No matter how many years you smoke it.

"Maybe so, but I like to clench my pipes . . ."

All . . . righty . . . then.

3) Tobacco.

People seem to typically start out smoking bubble gum. (This is not all necessarily sickly sweet. They make adult bubble gum flavored tobaccos for adults). Experimenting around, they discover that some of what's out there actually tastes like tobacco. And smells like it too !

At that point, the race is on, driven by the seeming compulsion to smoke one tin of every tobacco ever made. (If today is Tuesday, this must be Luxury Navy Flake). This goes on, sometimes, for years. It's like they're afraid they're going to miss something.

Again, there's a general pattern. At first, the more intense flavours & aromas are often more appealing. But as the years and miles roll on, Virginias and/or Burlies typically come to be preferred. Compared to the vivid mixtures of youth, they're not unlike the older guys whose older dogs are curled up beside them in front of the fireplace -- marked by contentment, comfort, and disinclination to get up and go chase something.

By this point, for those who've reached it, the advantage of what's called "dedicating" specific pipes to specific tobaccos they play well with is a no-brainer proposition. It's too obvious. Like when there's an organ playing in church and its accoustics creates a standing wave that reinforces a pedal point. Those pipes go to eleven !!!

To be continued if not howled down by the outraged.

What a Face


Last edited by Yak on Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:39 pm

I'm gonna say something I seldom say.

Yak, I agree with every word you just said.

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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:03 pm

Yak wrote:

1) Bigger is not better.

Agreed. The longer I smoke, the smaller my pipes get. I am pretty comfortable with group 4s for ribbon and rubbed out flakes, and group 3 is my sweet spot for flakes. I like to smoke for 90-120 minutes a session, and after 2 hours I'm just throwing tobacco away because my palate has reached the limits of its attention span.

Yak wrote:

2) Acryllic stems.

Strongly disagree here. The mouth feel of acrylic is hideous. Give me soft, rubbery vulcanite. I don't find a good quality vulcanite stem to impart any flavor, and if it does I'd still take it over the nicest acrylic stem. I do not like smoking rock hard plastic stems.

Yak wrote:

3) Tobacco.

All roads lead to Virginia.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:10 pm

All . . . righty . . . then . . . Rolling Eyes

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:15 pm

what is that, a response or you just being a passive aggressive, again? Imagine that, you threw some opinions out on a web forum and someone came back with some different opinions. Here's my random observation, you must be very difficult to live with.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:31 pm

Not really.

It's more nearly that nobody ever convinced me that "I'm OK, You're OK" was a blanket statement applicable to everyone and everything at all times & under all circumstances.

What a Face

Invoke the disclaimer if you like that better.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:09 pm

Interesting post Yak. Since it seems to be the way this one is heading I'd like to weigh in on each point as well.

1) Could not agree more. I do love the looks of some of those massive magnums etc. but in practice, I find myself seeking out smaller bowls. That said, I've never smoked a true behemoth, so maybe the curve of enjoyment is more parabolic than I realize.

2) I find myself in agreement with Sis here. I so greatly prefer the feel of vulcanite that I'll take it over acrylic whenever given the option. This isn't to say I can't enjoy an acrylic stem, but as in all things, I allow my preferences (fickle or fleeting as they may be) to guide me.

3) My opinion on this one might be precisely the validation of your point. I very much hunt out all those beautiful blends I've never tried. I'm still waiting for (and have come close) to that "this is it" moment. I also strongly lean toward English/Oriental blends finding straight Virginia or Burley to be a bit too reminiscent of my old days as a cigarette smoker. There's something about Latakia and its kin that strike my fancy like a gong. All this said, I've not been a pipe smoker all that long, so I too may find myself seeking out hound, fireplace, et al some day down the road. Will keep you posted Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:27 pm

If you think acrilic is "hard," try smoking an old timer with an amber stem. Cool

The stem's just a tool to draw the smoke through.

(Being polite here & not saying "suck") Laughing

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:39 pm

You can't win 'em all, Yak.

A lot of folks like rubber stems much more than they do acrylic. You're just gonna have to live with that. Laughing

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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:40 pm

4) Pipes

You are NOT what you own / smoke / wear / eat / drive. Owning 300 pipes (each of which cost over $500) does not make you cool. Smoking corn cobs and Grabows does not make you some bum. Nobody who's worth anything as a human being is playing "pipes" as a game & using money to keep score. A Castello Fiamatta does not smoke or taste any better than a Sea Rock. Several people I know whose long experience and judgement I trust implicitly have said that, where the rubber meets the road, there's no reason to prefer big-name Danish high-grades over Stanwells. I've passed a number of big-name pipes along to friends over the years while keeping El Cheapos I liked better.

You maybe understand going in that you can't taste the white spot on the stem or the pretty grain, intellectually, but judgements made with the big head are only part of the total picture. By the same token though, very few guys marry women who are flat out fugly ether. If you're going to keep perusing pipe porn and eating your heart out, start saving the money you'd be playing tobacco butterfly with and, while it's adding up, use what you do know to establish an ironclad set of parameters. The inside diameter of the bowl especially. Height. Shape. Finish. Length. And do not surrender to the momentary temptation of a pretty face to cast them aside. If you know that pipes with chamber diameters of an inch or more are not what you enjoy smoking, don't bullshit yourself into imagining that if you only had one that was pretty enough from a big-time maker it would be different. It won't be. This is one lesson you can learn from the sad experiences of people who didn't. (Guilty as charged, Yer'onner).

Then, when you finally do score your daydream pipe, the George Dibos Rule comes into effect. No pipe can be your "favorite" until you have smoked it regularly for at least six months. (Same way as you didn't "quit smoking" if it was only for an hour). After the rhapture of the honeymoon has passed, then decide. Is it (all things considered) (rational and irrational) that much better than its blue-collar rackmates ? If so, discipline yourself and start saving for the next one. It might take you 20 years to get there, but when you do, you'll be glad that you did.

Unless your tastes change. And they probably will . . . Or, if you find that the temptation of momentary gratification is going to over-ride the master plan, you'll know that too. Point is, at least you'll know where the f*ck you're at -- a voyage of discovery that doesn't have to take as long and cost as much as it has for many of us.

5) Smoking

There are people who smoke pipes as compulsively as other people smoke cigarettes. If that's how you roll, so be it. Others find that learning to manage everything involved in order to come up with the optimum flavor possible, consistently, is worth the effort it takes. Those people take the intricacies of proper packing, cadence and -- above all -- "time outs" while it settles down seriously. Like anything else, you can't just stuff it & puff it & expect to get much more out of it than the effort you put into it entitles you to other than by accident.

Pipe smoking is not a competitive sport. It's more a contemplative matter of knowing the pipe and the tobacco, intuiting what's going on with them, and snatching the peak experiences as they're available. You're not "doing it wrong" if you can't keep it lit. Keeping it lit is not the point. Enjoying what it's putting out when everything's exactly right, and not forcing it when it isn't, is. Finishing with a pleasant after-taste and no trace of tongue bite. Being so in sync with it that you wonder where the time went afterward. When you do it right, it does you right.

Blaming the pipe or the tobacco is warranted sometimes, but, IMO, not as often as people seem to imagine. It's too often an attempt to excuse halfassing the procedure. With attention and practice, you can learn to smoke old pipes with "bad engineering" and thoroughly enjoy them. Their now-departed original owners did. It's a matter of noticing what works, what doesn't, and staying in that zone.

Others have said this, and I will echo them on the off-chance that this might be one of those "teachable moments" : You cannot adequately judge a tobacco that you haven't smoked a tin of in a number of pipes used to smoking similar tobaccos. Snap judgements might be personally satisfying, but they're often not reliable ones. As people have found, to their own surprise, who have persevered with weedages they initially didn't much care for.

For one thing, if you're used to intense, vivid flavors, many of the best straight Virginias are going to seem tasteless. You have to adjust to them, because they're not going to adjust to you. Insisting that something new hit you right where you live without much of an effort to be meeting it halfway means you're expecting it to hit a moving target. Because your taste will change with the season, the weather, the humidity and probably ten other factors nobody can identify.

For another, many good, aged tobaccos (English mixtures especially) can go through a surprising transformation once they're un-tinned. After a week or two to settle down in the jar, you'll find them surprisingly different from what they were when you cracked the tin.

Don't imagine that pairing your favorite tobacco with the great new pipe you just got intending to smoke it in will necessarily be a pleasant experience. Some pipes and some tobaccos just positively detest each other. This doesn't mean that there's necessarily anything wrong with either of them. Only that both are female and, instead of hitting it off, they hate each other. One older thread here ("Pipes from Hell") chronicles one such traumatic pairing.

For a third, for heavens' sake, if you're spending good money for good tobacco, drying it out before smoking it (because it's "easier to manage" that way) is just p*ssing the reason it cost what it did away, wantonly. It's a free country, I guess. Or used to be. (Now watch the Congeniality Police transplant this to the Rubber Room because now this is "political"). I don't understand doing that. Learning how to prepare and smoke worthwhile tobacco at it's peak flavor takes time and attention, but there is a chorus of assent here from those who have testifying that it's more than worth it.

FWIW

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:53 pm

Hey I resemble #3 Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:50 am

All well and good.

I will develop a well thought out response while smoking a XXL bowl of heavily processed Danish tobacco which I find tastes best if I dry it out just a little before I smoke it.


I think most of what Yak has written is actually objectively fairly accurate. Trouble is, pipe smoking is a subjective matter. I'll give you an example.

I recently sold a pipe to a fellow who had also purchased a pipe from Rad. His observation: my button work was as good as anything he owned. The stems were not flat enough for his preference - Rad's are more flat, mine more rounded across the top. What's really great is that another mutual customer of Rad's and mine sent me a similar email just prior to that - and noted how much better the stem sat in is teeth than Rad's too-flat unit.

This is not a right/wrong issue. This is a preference issue.

There's nothing wrong with big pipes - in fact, I'd argue that for certain blends they outperform small pipes - in fact a small pipe is going out just as a really big pipe is starting to groove. But it's not for everything - and not surprisingly, Yak with his smaller pipes is smoking a) stronger blends and b) Virginia oriented blends. These do well in small pipes for a number of reasons. But when you get that bowl of weak-ass Danish Donut Mixture going in a big pipe.... look out. It's better. For me.

Lots of people prefer rubber stems (subjective). But no one can claim that a rubber stem has less influence on the taste of a pipe than acrylic(objective.... ish). If you can't taste your rubber stem you don't have a very sensitive palate. Are they more comfortable? Hell yes.

I think at least half the pipe community completely misses the point of most of the tobaccos they smoke. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But he might have enjoyed the outing anyway, and so be it.


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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:22 am

Stogiegila wrote:
Hey I resemble #3 Laughing

Many of us do. That doesn't even touch the idea, motivations, or timing of developing a cellar - if you're into such a thing. From what I've observed the motivations are:

1.) Building depth with well liked blends. This is to either form a hedge against price or tax increase or to be prepared for retirement.
2.) Building variety with many blends.
3.) Becoming famous with UPS. Some folks really like that brown box truck delivering their pipe cleaners and a few extras to take advantage of free shipping.
4.) Building with unobtainable blends during rare occurrences when they are available- even without knowing how they will be liked. I bought a pound of aging FVF this way.
5.) Cellars are silly and encourage hoarding.

Confession: I have been all of these at one time or another.

One thing I miss about the whole is the experience of walking into my B&M, looking over the tins and bulk, buying one or another, and smoking it. When done I bought another. There was a personal connection with the shop staff that doesn't exist (and no longer does exist in my town) when making mass purchases on the internet.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:25 am

One thing I miss about the whole is the experience of walking into my B&M, looking over the tins and bulk, buying one or another, and smoking it. When done I bought another. There was a personal connection with the shop staff that doesn't exist (and no longer does exist in my town) when making mass purchases on the internet.



No kidding. Neutral
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:20 am

I'm down with acrylic stems, and sticking with a few select blends in order to really get to understand them. However, as to the size issue, I say having a few big pipes lying around is not a bad thing at all. As an English blend smoker, I have a hard time getting an hour long smoke, even in some largish bowls, so if I want to really do myself in, I'll dust off one of the G, or GG class pipes on hand.
As an aside, I'll say that modern magnums seem smaller than the ones from the old days. Seems like when an older manufacturer decided to produce a magnum, they really made a true magnum. I know that Castello's big pipes aren't as big as they used to be...
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:10 pm

Oh yeah.

I got an old, way oversized Stanwell billiard @ Flea Bay, years ago -- its proportions were so nice that it looked normal-sized. It was huge.

After an LL re-stem, it smoked like paradise. But a bowl of tobacco in it was too much of a good thing -- a marathon. NOT your everyday smoker.

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:58 pm

Classic and decent thought-provocation from the desk of Yak.

These are not ideas to defend or deny, but things to think about.

My thoughts?

You are not your pipes, period. I love this. It's like "Fight Club" but with pipes. "Pipe Club?" *shrug* That already smacks of guys jutting their chins out showing off their straight grains and white dots, most likely. Laughing Hell, we've all seen 'em on one forum or the other, guys who all they do is show off pictures, but nothing else...no tobacco talk, no pondering, nothing. "Check out this week's masterpiece...that I now own...:smugface:..." Meh. Takes all kinds.

Vulcanite stems are okay. I like the tooth-feel better with 'em, too. There is a flavor, no doubt--it just doesn't bother me. Hell, even with a cob, you get added flavor. A crappy briar that was boiled in old cat urine can give added flavor. You either deal with it, like it, or move on from it. There are some acrylic stems I have that are both soft on the teeth AND low-maintenance and flavorless, I only wish there was a general agreement in use by all manufacturers. Some I swore might be amber; it felt like glass on my teeth. Egad. pale Wasn't I reading somewhere recently that even acrylic can eventually break down and give off bad flavors?

Aromatics? I like 'em. Not to smoke, but as a choice for others. When they're smoked around me, it possibly obfuscates the fact I'm getting away with gassing out the public with some reeky Latakia. Keep smokin', brothers, just make sure it ain't crappy stuff. Takes all kinds, again. If you ever get bored, though, there's a heck of a world out there.

The drying issue: is not...ahem...cut and dry. Not all tobaccos are packaged equal. I'm sure it's the oldest sales trick in the book with things sold by weight, not by volume. Water weighs a lot. Go buy sand or small-grain aggregate for your yard or a project...it's probably wet, and sold by weight. Of course, they'll argue "...it's to keep the dust down..." While some stuff is smokeable right out of the package, other stuff could use a little drying. Sammy G, anyone? I get a swampy, over-saturated, flavorless mess if I try and smoke it as-is. On the contrary, Solani Silver Flake tastes like newspaper if dried out. JP's cob-specific mixtures are particularly dry, and I'm glad they are--they aren't the same at 12% moisture as they are at half that level, and I like 'em that way. It depends on the tobacco, the pipe, the method in which it is smoked, and more recently considered, even the region/environment it is smoked. I live in a considerably arid place, and I've noticed I like tobacco a tad (and I mean just a tad) drier. Perhaps my senses are accustomed to dry, because when the random rainstorm manifests, not only is it much harder to dry tobacco, it tastes better with the moisture left as-is. Fortunately, it's much easier to figure out what your ideal is without much effort, provided you don't dry out tobacco a pound at a time and go with a bowlful instead.

One thing I will add to Yak's wonderful random thoughts, which are spot-on:

6) TAKE NOTES!

Especially if you're new to this or at the very least, the intermediate stages like yours truly. It may be a bit time consuming, it may need to be organized, and it takes a little effort...but with all the variables, advice, reviews, products, differences, pipe shapes/sizes/types/configurations... it's a maddening fray. I have a fantastic memory and couldn't have gotten as far or as fast into goodness as I did without notes and thoughts of specific pipes, tobaccos and combinations.

Be it a hand-written journal or complicated spreadsheets and long lists, just keep your thoughts handy. Not only as reference, but as honesty to yourself. None of it is written in stone, you may smoke a terrible pipe or a 'bacca one day that the next you try again, and everything has changed. I go as so far to take note of temperature, conditions, weather. This isn't necessary, but I'm nothing if not geeky and thorough. Keeping it simple is still keeping, after all.

Eventually, you can slow down or skip a per-smoke regimen, concentrate on a certain area, or even keenly recall which are your favorites, whittle down the lengthy entries and likes/dislikes. Plus, it's fun to see what you were into a year/years ago in one season compared to today, and how you've changed.

*shrug* Might be too much effort for some.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:38 pm

When I'm nearing the end of a tin, I'll start prepping a new tin by opening it, disturbing the contents a bit, letting it air out some, then closing it up. A week later, I'll repeat, and again a week after that, until it's ready, or, the older tin is depleted. For me, this works, and cuts down on the necessity for further drying time.
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:02 pm

7) It isn't rational. Is it ?

Do you sometimes smoke a beautiful pipe just because you really like it, when you've also got a rested one that smokes and tastes better but isn't as nice-looking ?

Ever wanted (bought) a Castello pretty much because you wanted to have a Castello ?

Could a blasted ( / smooth) finish be a deal-breaker ?

Do you tend to accumulate Brits/Danes/Italians/Petersons pretty much because they're what they are ?

Ever changed horses in the middle of the stream ? (Bonus points : Why ?)

Is variety the spice of life (and pipe smoking) ?

If you go to pipe gatherings, do you take your most expensive one to smoke ? (Be honest).

If you have more pipes than you usually smoke, do you tend to pass them along, or keep looking for more ?

What do you figure your irrational/rational balance is ? 60/40 ? 20/80 ? What ?

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:49 pm

OK I'll play-

Yak wrote:
7) It isn't rational. Is it ?

Do you sometimes smoke a beautiful pipe just because you really like it, when you've also got a rested one that smokes and tastes better but isn't as nice-looking ?

Nope

Ever wanted (bought) a Castello pretty much because you wanted to have a Castello ?

No, but I will say that I've bought others that have had a good rep. Like the estate Boswell I just got.

Could a blasted ( / smooth) finish be a deal-breaker ?

Not really. I have equal amounts of each and like them for all their different cosmetic reasons.

Do you tend to accumulate Brits/Danes/Italians/Petersons pretty much because they're what they are ?

Can only say that I've had great experiences with Petes. So they tend to dominate the total. But I'm not locked into them either.

Ever changed horses in the middle of the stream ? (Bonus points : Why ?)

Not sure what you mean by this?

Is variety the spice of life (and pipe smoking) ?

For me, yes.

If you go to pipe gatherings, do you take your most expensive one to smoke ? (Be honest).

To date, I've not been to a pipe gathering. But when I do I'll take my best smokers whatever they are. I'm not looking to impress anyone. Huh?


If you have more pipes than you usually smoke, do you tend to pass them along, or keep looking for more ?

I've only sold a couple pipes so far. Just the ones that don't perform.

What do you figure your irrational/rational balance is ? 60/40 ? 20/80 ? What ?

Again, not sure what you mean by this.

What a Face


Cheers,

RR
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:18 pm

Quote :
Ever changed horses in the middle of the stream ? (Bonus points : Why ?)

Not sure what you mean by this?

Switched from, say, Danish freehands to British billiards.

What a Face


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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:40 pm

Ever gotten sucked into a p*ssing contest with somebody on Flea Bay & spent way more for a pipe than you initially figured it was worth, just because you wanted it ?

What a Face
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:41 pm

Yak wrote:
Quote :
Ever changed horses in the middle of the stream ? (Bonus points : Why ?)

Not sure what you mean by this?

Switched from accumulating, say, Danish freehands to British billiards.

What a Face

Well, no. I like a variety of shapes.


Cheers,

RR
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PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:43 pm

Yak wrote:
Ever gotten sucked into a p*ssing contest with somebody on Flea Bay & spent way more for a pipe than you initially figured it was worth, just because you wanted it ?

What a Face

Don't shop there.


Cheers,

RR
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Kyle Weiss

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Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Random Observations   Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:33 pm

Probably only slightly irrational-over-rational, myself. 90/10? Laughing

I like variety, but there's a reason--getting in touch with my palate ain't easy. Not to mention, with the changes that happen with a natural product like tobacco, there's such a thing as too comfortable. Getting the bomb dropped, either announced or figuring it out the hard way, that my favorite bac is no longer what it was...that worries me. Genuinely. As for pipes? The varieties are narrowing into specific selections quite quickly. Anything outside of that is either a screamin' deal or pure aesthetics--which is a luxury left to when I actually have a few cents to rub together.

I'll buy a Pete because it's a Pete, for example, if it has the right shape, poise, look and vibe. I can only really do this in person. Electronic/Internet sales keep my collection low and reasonable, in other words. Laughing It doesn't mean I'm not tempted, but the cost would have to be incredibly low for a not-in-person risk.

I have "enough" pipes, but I do like having a few I can pass on to others. Like tobacco, in its honor, nothing is wasted.
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