Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tobacco Review: Former's Cross Grain Flake

The tobacco is medium brown with some mottling and a little dry, perhaps. The round tin opens to reveal rectangular, navy slices that have a sweet, Virginia aroma with a touch of straw.

The tobacco lights with one match and the ash is a nice white. Initially, I get a distinct sweetness and slight spiciness that is so indicative of Virginia flake. The sweetness subsides some over the smoke but I do not get any "grassy" or straw-like flavors. I should note that I do not rub-out flakes during packing.

Manufacturer's Description:

Former's Cross Grain Flake Pipe Tobacco. A full bodied "sweet" traditional Flake tobacco prepared with only the finest grade of Virginia leaf with a pinch of Perique. Aged to perfection in order to bring out the best in this cool smoking, magnificent flake. 50g tin. Made in Germany. SRP: $9.95

I think I like this better than Escudo which is probably the closest tobacco I can think of to this flake. It is certainly lighter than Escudo but along those lines. The perique does give the smoke a thickness that I enjoy as a diversion from a straight Virginia leaf.

Rating: 3 Puffs out of 5.

-Safari Bob

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Birthday Pipe-Buying Frenzy

Today I turn 40 and to celebrate, I won on eBay a collection of six BBB Christmas pipes. I first bought a BBB at the St. Louis pipe show in 1995 from out of a huge bin of pipes for $10 (those days are long gone). I was not familiar with this brand but I liked the shape. Later I was at John Denglar's pipe shop in St. Charles and I asked him about the pipe. He paused, told me to wait and then disappeared in his back room for about five minutes. He returned with a pipe catalogue from 1964 and showed me a picture of a BBB that was the same shape and finish!

Later, I traded the pipe and I always regretted it. Now I have six BBB Christmas pipes coming including the following years: 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1997. I can not wait to smoke them and I plan to display them all one one pipe rack.

-Safari Bob

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tobacco Review: Orlik Golden Sliced

This morning I finally got around to trying Orlik Golden Sliced tobacco. In 2002, Peter Stokkebbye visited our shop to give a presentation on his tobaccos. As we were chatting afterwards, I asked Peter what his favorite tobacco. He responded by producing a half-empty tin of Orlik, rolling a slice into a ball, stuffing it into his pipe, and lighting up! I ordered some for the shop but I never got around to trying it.

Here is the Manufacturer Description:

This delightful blend is composed of golden and full body Virginia tobaccos with a touch of Burley. A fine natural sweetness in both taste and aroma characterizes Orlik Golden Sliced. The cut is traditional Navy Cut Flake i. e. pressed tobacco and cut into thin slices. Rub the tobacco slices gently before filling your pipe. Made in Denmark.


The tobacco is a gold navy cut slice and smells sweet out of the tin. I do not "rub-out" my flakes to smoke the tobacco; I fold and twist. The tobacco is moist (as I like) and burns easily and slowly. I enjoy Virginias and this blend does not disappoint! I sense no hints of "straw" or hay but a nice sweetness with a subtle lemon and a touch of anise. It burns well and clean leaving a mottled light to dark gray ash. The aroma is pleasant and subtle without being "perfumey." After the initial light, I have not had to re-light even once all they way to the bottom.

If you enjoy Virginia Navy Flakes I would recommend this blend for you. So if you like Peterson University or Dunhill Light Flake then this blend is for you!

Rating: 4 Puffs out of 5

-Safari Bob

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Pipe Acquisition: Two WO Larsen Straight Grains

Back in the early '90's, I used to sell WO Larsen Handmade pipes. The few I smoked were among the best smoking pipes I have ever tried. I found this WO Larsen Handmade Straight Grain Smooth Straight Apple on Briar Blues and it smokes as well as I remember. I paid way too much for it, however.

This beautiful WO Larsen Straight Grain sandblast Straight Apple/Brandy is also stamped Handmade and sports a ring of what appears to be box wood or a light mahogany. It also smokes great (I am enjoying some Mac Baren Stockton in it as I type up this post) and I won it on eBay for only $66.

I remember buying WO Larsen pipes from Olie and his wife as early as 1994. They were always kind to me and I remember them with fondness.

-Safari Bob

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chaos Under the Canopy

In a recent article on CNN, the Saudi Government would like us to understand why they felt the necessity to punish a woman who is a victim of rape. "The woman was originally sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes. But that sentence was more than doubled to 200 lashes and six months in prison by the Qatif General Court, because she spoke to the media about the case, a court source told Middle Eastern daily newspaper Arab News" [1].

Why was she sentenced to anything at all (let alone 90 lashes)? Apparently, the victim was being blackmailed by a person who had a photo - a harmless photo according to the Saudi Government - of her and she met with the man. "It is illegal for a woman to meet with an unrelated male under Saudi's Islamic law" [1]. Shortly after this meeting she was raped by seven men.

This is the danger of living in a state where religious dogma is institutionalized as public law. Why is mercy so rare from those who (1) are in the position to grant it and (2) empowered by sacred text to grant it? I believe it may be because dogma (or rigid interpretation of sacred texts) cannot be moved to exception - even in extreme circumstances - because it can lead to chaos (or anome).

Peter Berger argues that religion serves as a means to stave off the nightmare of chaos and create safe boundaries of order [2, p. 24]. It is institutionalized and endowed with "an ontological status to the point where to deny them is to deny being itself - the being of the universal order of things and, consequently, one's own being in this order" [2, p. 24]. Even if the Saudis wanted to grant mercy, it may have been outside of their power to do so because to question the institutionalization of Islamic law is to question their own being.

What a shame that a woman felt so threatened over a harmless picture that she would risk the lash and pay blackmail demands for its return. What a shame that a rigid Islamic law had no option but to punish when mercy was needed.

Chaos happens in this world; society tries to establish order in the world. One way a society does this is to establish religion to explain catastrophy (remember 9/11) or, as Berger notes, "religion is the audacious attempt to conceive of the entire universe as being humanly significant" [2, p. 28].


[1] http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/11/20/saudi.rape.victim/index.html
[2] Peter L. Berger (1990). The Sacred Canopy. New York: Anchor Books.

First Post: Entering the Jungle

Welcome to Smoking Safari!

Why would someone blog about smoking? I was a tobacconist at Just For Him in Springfield, MO for almost 14 years and I enjoy the hobby of pipe smoking. I do view pipe smoking as a hobby - not a vice. Many people can not accept this position and I respect that. Thankfully, we live in a society that allows people to hold different views.

I envision this blog to be composed of the following: pipe tobacco reviews, pipe blending techniques, commentary on tobacco-related news, and general 'chit-chat' about pipes that I own or bought. Occasionally I may discuss places to buy tobacco and pipes, showcase pipe and tobacco sales that I encounter, and post semi-critical articles concerning some other aspect of this wonderful hobby.

For instance, my most recent pipe acquisition is a New Era Kaywoodie Prima Bent Apple ($45 with FREE SHIPPING) from Gray Fox. Currently, Gray Fox is offering a Christmas special on many of the wonderful pipes available for purchase online. I enjoy smoking the New Era Kaywoodie pipes and I think that they are a great value for your pipe smoking dollar. Check them out at http://grayfoxonline.com/

If you agree that pipe smoking is pure pleasure then please feel free to leave me a comment. Thanks for visiting!

-Safari Bob

Friday, November 16, 2007

Logical Fallacies I have Known: Ad Ignorantiam

This is a rampant fallacy most commonly associated with conspiracy theorists, paranormal proponents, and creationists. Essentially, this fallacy contends that a specific belief is true simply because it is not known that it isn't true. For example, Shannon Edwards, in an article musing on why cemeteries are so haunted, argues the following:

It is my theory that the reason ghosts haunt cemeteries is not because they are buried there. In fact, the ghost haunting the cemetery might not even in fact be buried there. I think they reason they haunt the cemeteries is because of the time they spent there when they were alive. Even today, community churches in the rural south still hold church functions on the edges of or at times inside the cemeteries themselves. Teenagers go into old cemeteries at night to party. And we, as ghosthunters can often be found in cemeteries taking recordings and pictures. Who is to say that once we die, we might not haunt the cemeteries that we frequented most often? [1]

The opposite corollary is also used: A specific belief is not true simply because it isn't known how it can be true. For instance, creationists often ask these questions:

How could organs as complex as the eye, ear, or brain of even a tiny bird ever come about by chance or natural processes? (See page 8.) How could a bacterial motor evolve? How could such motors work until all components evolved completely and were precisely in place? (See page 19.) [2]

The problem with this fallacy is that the lack of evidence for an argument does not logically prove the argument - it supports the contrary position. If there is no evidence for naturally occurring purple monkeys then the reasonable position is that purple monkeys do not exist in nature. Also, just because someone cannot understand how something can work does not mean that it can't. For instance, I can not possibly understand how people watch American Idol and yet they do!

-Safari Bob

[2] http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Logical Fallacies I have Known: Tu Quoque

Have you ever been in an argument (debate or otherwise) and the person with whom you are arguing ignores your point and responds, "Oh yeah? Well what about you?!?!?" If so, you have experienced my least favorite logical fallacy: Tu Quoque, or 'You too.' This is a common argument tactic often developed on the playground sometime around first grade. I also think of it as 'Justifying your actions through the actions of others.'

The problem with this fallacy is that it avoids the argument all together - usually in the face of a good point. Often people that employ this tactic have no reasonable response so they side-step and try to turn the argument onto the other person. Gee...does this sound like any politician you may have heard?

-Safari Bob