The Only Weather Gadget You’ll Ever Need

Brookstone Wireless 5-Day Weather StationEver since I first saw it, I knew I had to have it. But before I get into the details, some quick background. For nearly 4 years I’d been using a cheap gadget I bought at Walmart to keep track of the weather indoors and outdoors. The base unit had a digital readout the communicated with a chunky brick (with a small flashing red light) that you had to put somewhere outside. For a while, it was great. I had the current temperature inside and out. But then I moved into a condo without a balcony.

While I was working out a way to hang the chunky wireless brick outside without sending it crashing into the people on the sidewalk below, the said chunky brick decided it was tired of talking.

I considered going without, but I forgot how fickle the weather in Atlanta can be. I found myself outside without a coat during a cold snap, or wearing a heavy jacket on the recent freak 75 degree winter days. I kept forgetting to go online to check the weather before hand. So I was in the market for a new unit. And then I saw this “5-day wireless weather watcher” (seriously, that’s its name) and it blew my mind.

As its overly verbose name implies, it gives you a full 5 day forcast, complete with high and low temperatures, and a cool little icon to clue you in on the expected conditions (sunny, partially cloudy, snow, rain, etc.). The current day’s information is prominently displayed and you get the supremely handy current weather reading in your area. And did I mention, no chunky brick to hang precariously outside?

How is this possible you ask? Like the cool clocks you see these days that automagically set themselves, this little 4 inch by 4 inch unit uses radio it receives from AccuWeather to set itself appropriately for your region! Don’t believe me? Take a closer look at the picture. See “BOS” under the current weather reading? That means this unit was photographed somewhere in Boston (BOS is the airport code for Boston Logan Airport). I see “ATL” on mine. (Apparently it uses airport codes, which makes me wonder how well it works away from major airports.)

Ok, so now you’re wondering how much the subscription is for the service. It’s free. That clinched it for me. The only reason I didn’t buy it on the spot was because I knew I was traveling soon to a sales tax-free state. And while it isn’t the most expensive weather gizmo I’ve seen, $85 does generate a fair amount of sales tax.

I keep trying to come up with some negatives about the unit and all the things I come up with are really not that bad. It is $85, which is a good chunk of change, but I’ve seen others that are spendier. It doesn’t tell you the day of the month, or the month for that matter, but I rarely used the old unit for that. Unless this thing abruptly dies in the next week or so, I’d say it was an awesome buy.

UPDATE: I still think this is a great gadget, but I’ve noticed it’s gotten mixed reviews online, specifically regarding its accuracy. This morning I noticed what seemed to be an inaccuracy: I saw thunderstorms, and while it was overcast and with a bit of precipitation, there were no such storms. However, checking the weather map this evening, there do appear to be some small storms rolling in. I think what’s happening here is that you get an icon for the day, the same way you get a high and a low temperature. The icon doesn’t change to reflect the minute-by-minute current conditions the way the current temperature does, it’s intended to be an indicator of the weather prediction for the entire day. Which means that if it was going to be sunny all morning and tornadoes all afternoon and clear the rest of the evening, you’d probably see a tornado icon (if it has one). And as it happens, weather predictions are often wrong. Today, it appears the forecast was right on.

If this sounds as cool to you as it does to me, you can pick it up online here.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

12 Undead Fashion Atrocities

For the most part I ignore fashion. It changes constantly and unpredictably and has absolutely no relevance to my (and probably your) everyday life. It seems to be the only industry where everybody is both right and also very wrong, even though the only thing that changes between those states is the time. Often the wrongness far outweighs the rightness, as all high school yearbooks amply illustrate. :)

Which it is why it was such a surprise to me that when I realized that was building a list of terrible, terrible fashion things that should have long ago lined the bottoms of land fills. And somehow, these things haven’t. They roam the earth moaning visually, trying to chew on the brains of normal, jet-lagged people. (This all came to me in an airport.) And for the sake of humanity, these offending stylistic elements really must come to a quick (and hopefully painful) end.

Ok, so onto my list of things that always have and always will look stupid, and my lower your IQ points just by being nearby.

1.) Mullets. I thought it’d be good to start with an easy one. I know the saying “business in the front, party in the back”. I say why be conflicted? Pick the side that works for you and go with it. Be honest, you’re not doing much actual business anyways. And to help you out, long hair is not on this list, so you’re free to go that way.

2.) Old Hippie Hair. This is basically the male-pattern-baldness mullet. The wearer really, really wants long hair, but he lost the life’s hair-genes lottery. So he grows what little he does have. I understand, but stop it, its just sad. And no, putting those 5 gray locks in a wispy gray pony tale fixes nothing. Shave it and be a man.

3.) Spray-On Jeans. You may have thought the days of jeans 2 sizes too small were happy in their place back in the 80′s. You’d be wrong. I personally witnessed, as I was typing this post on my crackberry, jeans that were more revealing than a micro 2-piece bikini. This horrifying display left less to the imagination than a college anatomy text book.

4.) “Distressed” Anything. Thankfully, it seems that this annoying trend may be beginning to fade, but it isn’t gone yet. I have no problems with old worn and faded jeans; they’re great, but why on earth does anybody want to wear jeans that make it look like you spend your days dragging your ass across gas station pavement? Worse still are the dirtied jeans. Evidentially it’s trendy to look like you just changed your car’s oil. And we’re all buying the idea that 13-year old teenage girls are draining oil pans. Oh yeah, that’s hot.

5.) Ragged Hair. Right now I’m thinking about that goofy looking chick on the dancing Intel ads. The one with not a single hair the same length, and random sections much longer than others. Sorry, it looks like shit. And nope, it doesn’t work with your interesting or unusual facial features, don’t even ask. This commercial isn’t the first time I’ve seen this, but it is the most annoying and easily assessable example.

6.) Plain Red Ball Caps. You’re not Limp Bizkit, take the stupid thing off and comb your hair. I don’t even remember how long it’s been since Limp Bizkit was good. Are they even still a band?

7.) Cock-Eyed Hats. OK, you’re a gangster, but are you really that hopped up on Cristal and coke that you can’t put your hat on right? (It occurs to me that the goal may well be to irritate people like, and if so, goal accomplished! Watch me cross the street to avoid your crazy unconventional hat.)

8.) Alternative Cowboy Hats. Especially on women. Has anybody ever thought that a furry pink cowboy hat looked good on anything but an otherwise naked stripper? (Even then it’s really just in the way.) And cowboy hats with the brims rolled up (or down) just tells me that you really wanted to wear a baseball cap but couldn’t find one. Find one. I don’t care for cowboy hats to begin with, but they have their place out in the field on guys riding horses and slinging hay bales. If you’re not partaking in one of those activities, do your self a favor and take the silly mangled thing off.

9.) Big Bulky Boots
. Now here’s where I’m breaking new ground. Let me be on the record as the first to say that the big, bulky and often furry boots that seem to be the new trend are amazingly stupid looking. (These actually aren’t new, they’re pretty much the same kind of ugly insulated boots kids wore in the early 80′s.) You may not agree with me now, but just wait a year or two, you will. I was right about parachute pants back in the day, and I’ll be right about this.

10.) Tramp Stamps. Nothing says “open for business” like a tattoo on the lower back. Unless you’re rubbing up against a pole on a stage for singles don’t tattoo your lower back. And don’t say you did it for yourself- you can’t see it back there. But if you absolutely must have one, might I recommend a beer coaster design?

11.) Rat Tails
. This is the ultimate, ancient, cars-up-on-blocks haircut. Nothing says pit-stained wife beater and 40 oz of malt liquor more concisely than a long, wavy patch of 15 hairs hanging limply from the back of your head (even better than the shirt and the liquor itself). I remember when these first appeared, and I can’t believe that I still see them 20 plus years later.

12.) Gigantic Hoop Earrings. It’s really hard to discuss these and not be off-colored enough to make a drunk pirate captain blush. I think it’s best to refer you back to the Tramp Stamp and let you make the connections.

Well, if my work here eliminates just one of these 12 evils, I’ll be a happy man. If not, well, I guess I’ll be quietly resentful whenever I spend a day in airport lounges. The rest of the time, I’m too well rested and busy to be bothered that much. Don’t hesitate to comment if you have some items you’d like to add to the list for me to grumble about in transit. :)

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

Upcoming Posts and Sad News

Hi everyone. I’m back from a little marryin’, restin’ and relaxin’, and it’s taking me a bit to get back into the swing of things. Thanks for your patience. I have several interesting posts that are partially written on my crackberry regarding our formal wedding ceremony, the Oregon coast, a whole heck of a lot of cigar smoking (including an Ashton VSG Torpedo!), and all the surprising that people do to themselves in the name of fashion in public places (yeah, I know you probably don’t care about fashion and neither do I, but trust me, this’ll be a good one).

And in other interesting news, my poor wife can’t catch a break this year. Recently her father passed and we took an expensive, unplanned trip to Malaysia to attend to the ceremonies (yep, plural, there were several elaborate ceremonies). And just yesterday, as we were flying back into Atlanta, her beloved doggie Boshi was doing what he does best, mauling anything that enters the back yard. Unfortunately, a cobra was passing through and her dog was fatally wounded. The only good news is that when we were in Malaysia, we took a lot of pictures of Boshi.

I will be putting up a gallery specifically for Boshi on my photography website soon. [UPDATE: Direct link to gallery.]

Ashton VSG Robusto vs. Diamond Crown Maximus Toro

Ashton VSG Robusto vs. Diamond Crown Maximus Toro

This past holiday weekend I really cut loose and and smoked two good cigars. I had my eye on the Ashton VSG Robusto that had been sitting in my humidor for a week or two, and just couldn’t wait any longer. The Diamond Crown Maximus was an unplanned follow up base on the recommendation of the local respected tobacconist.

Since I did enjoy both, I thought it might make for an interesting review to compare my experience with the two. I’ve never written a cigar review before, and I’m still learning the appropriate terminology to describe the flavors I enjoy. But I have been reading reviews for a while, and I’ve really been enjoying the video reviews on the Stogie Review website. (At first I didn’t know how video would add anything, but I’m impressed at how much more comprehensive a video review actually is.)

Without further ado, here’s my notes:

Ashton VSG Diamond Crown Maximus
 
The Burn
Good burn, a bit faster than I would have liked, but it burned evenly. I had a heck of a time keeping this cigar burning evenly. I was continually touching it up.
 
The Flavor
A good rich, nutty flavor. The first 3rd of it was enjoyably earthy. The flavor diminished afterward.
 
The Draw
A great, satisfying volumne of smoke, very little effort required. This always appeared visually to have a good quanitity of smoke, but I had to really work on it to get a comparable amount of smoke. I resorted to recutting and pinching the end to try to loosen the draw, but it didn’t work.
 
The Environment
A warmer, but drafty location indoors. (May increased the burn rate.) A colder location outdoors. (May have led to the perception of less smoke.)
 
The Winner
Clearly Superior I think this cigar may had some structural trouble that essentially ruined 2/3 of the smoke. I actually may get another one of these to give it a chance to improve its ranking.
 
Favorite Part
I love the first half of this cigar. After about the first half, it got a bit stronger, and my head got a bit lighter. UPDATE: I tried the Torpedo size during my week off with a young tawny port wine. This really helped with both the light-headedness, and some of the roughness on the back of the throat. The first 3rd of this cigar was really enjoyable, before the burn and draw trouble. My reason for wanting to try this cigar again is based on this experience.

I encourage you to leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Did you like this cigar vs. cigar approach to reviewing? I’ve never seen it done before, but it seemed like it might be fun to do as well as read.

Oh yeah, and don’t take it personally if I don’t respond to your comments right away. I’ll be on vacation for about a week. But rest assured, I will read them, and I’ll try to check in a couple of times during my trip.

UPDATE: I’ve noticed that one of the Cigar related blogs I’ve been reading put up a 2007 Battle of Cigars based on reader votes. I’d like to think I inspired the cigar vs. cigar battle (it did come 4 days after I put this post up). :) Regardless of the source, I like the idea, and encourage you to try the cigar pairings listed and vote.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

The Nintendo Wii: Your Next Exercise Machine?

I was intrigued by the Nintendo Wii when I first heard about it. It sounded like a game system concept with huge potential. (For those that don’t already know, it uses motion and/or light sensors in special controllers to allow you play games with a more realistic range of physical motion.) Though I wasn’t in the market for a new game system at the time, I really hoped it be successful. I could see myself eventually buying one once the price dropped.

A short time later, I ready Scott Hanselman’s post on getting a Wii for his birthday. Between this comments on the system and the video of his wife playing it, I was sold. (Seriously, watching the clip of his wife playing with a big, happy smile on her face has got the be the best Wii advertisement ever. Way better than creepy Japanese guys driving around in a Smart Car.) Ok, so now I want one. I want one enough that I started secretly (i.e. keeping my wife in the dark) scanning shelves to check on Wii prices. I didn’t have to keep my search secret for long. There were no Wiis on shelves anywhere. Nor were there any at any major online retailers. All I could find were scalpers selling their extra Wiis for $450. $450! The original price was $250, talk about a handy profit! (Even now the prices are around $390.)

Well, as if to sprinkle salt on the wound, just this evening I came across the blog for a guy who is using his Wii to lose weight! And it’s working! The latest post on his blog indicates that he’s 6 weeks along and he’s lost 16 pounds. The idea of weight loss or increased fitness had occurred to me when I first heard about the Wii, but I assumed the potential was limited. Anyway, the story is so compelling that it has driven tens of thousands of visitors to his website, has attracted media attention, and most importantly, has me writing a post about it. :)

Ah to think what could have been if I had been an early adopter… But for now it’s the waiting game (which doesn’t burn many calories), and my condo’s gym.

UPDATE: I was checking my blogs, and it looks like the story is much bigger than J.R.’s fitness plan, I hadn’t read around enough. Engadget has posts about a guy who lost 9 pounds using his Wii, and a personal trainer who uses the Wii in his fitness plans. Additionally, it looks like Nintendo may be embracing this trend, and coming out with Wii weights. It’s beginning to look like a fitness revolution! Man this just makes not having one even worse…

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

Can You Be A Good Person And Do Bad Things?

Escape Graffiti - Lisbon, PortugalFor a while now, Scott Adam’s The Dilbert Blog has been in my list of blogs tagged “favorite” in Google Reader. (Which means I view these blogs in expanded view, because I know I will want to read each post.) While I can’t claim to share his point of view on a number of issues, I find his assertions both entertaining and often well argued. But enough buttering up Scott Adams.

In the past couple of days he put up a post on “Cognitive Dissonance” (definition here), which followed a post on whether or not it copright violation is stealing. It was a classic bait and switch; he was trolling for people who would inevitably go to great lengths to argue that copyrights aren’t the same as property, and therefore violating a copyright isn’t stealing. Or that the benefits gained by exposure of stolen property makes the theft not only OK, but desirable. And in the following post, he handily spanked said rationalizers by poking holes in their logic, which served nicely to illustrate the dissonance between who they think are (good, honest people) and their inconsistent behavior (MP3 Kleptomaniacs).

So what’s my point? Is this just a Scott Adams love-fest? Nope. While I really enjoyed both of the posts, there is a flaw to his assumption. And that is the assumption that everybody works from the same morality play book. There are clearly similarities between moral codes between people in a society, but it’s clear that some people genuinely believe that violation of copyright is not a crime. Heck, there are hippies (not necessarily dirty, but probably needing a quick shower) out there that don’t believe in property ownership in any sense (which might be why your MP3 player went missing after that party a couple of weeks ago). Because cognitive dissonance is defined as a condition of conflict or anxiety due to inconsistency with your actions and beliefs, the odds are that Mr. Adams is incorrect about a percentage of these people when he calls them out. For some of these people, theft is not inconsistent with their beliefs, and causes them no anxiety. (Take professional pick pockets, for example.) Their actions my be inconsistent with your notions of morality, but according to the definition of the term, that doesn’t count. Their idea of being “good” means a hard day in the train station, lifting wallets and later buying a round for the boys at the pub.

But if we assume matching moralities, the question becomes can you be a good person and do bad things. If a persons goodness is based on their behavior, the answer seems to be no. Unless you embrace the evil that is averages. If on average, your good deeds outweigh your bad, it would be reasonable to say you’re a good person.

But have you ever tried to quantify it? In our daily lives, I’d say a lot of the things we do are neutral. Drinking a cup of coffee. Listening to the news. Watching some TV. Sending email. Arguably these are neither good nor bad actions. Then think, how often do you leave the office a bit early? Or send a nasty email? Or spread a harmful rumor around the water cooler? Or cut someone off in traffic? Do you do enough good things on a daily basis to balance these things so you meet or beat the magical standard of “average” and qualify as a good person? Thanks to the wonders of statistics, your bad behavior may actually outweigh your good behavior and you could still be considered good if enough people have similar ratios.

I think in reality a person’s “goodness” is determined by a highly subject, incredibly complicated system of weighted activities, wherein lack of extremely bad deeds (murder, rape, etc.) is counted as a large good deed credit, which can, and is, often used to offset lesser bad deeds (stealing office supplies, lying your way out of a speeding ticket, etc.). As proof of this, I point to a number of minor crimes that happen in the Atlanta area. One such incident involved a young man, who caught stealing a car and joyriding. I don’t know what eventually happened to the young man, but I do remember his mother (or maybe his sister) saying to reporters that he was basically a good kid. He just got mixed up in the wrong crowd. In my ethical goodness calculating system, stealing a car puts you solidly in the bad category. However, I don’t think I can confidently point to the young man’s cognitive dissonance. His value system is likely to be similar to his mothers.

Well, I’ve strayed a bit further than I planned, but after some thought, I’m not sure why you’d use a phrase like “cognitive dissonance” when the word hypocrisy seems to cover the bases adequately. Unless the goal is to address the issue using unfamiliar terms that don’t carry with them the negative connotation. But I’ll leave that tangent up to you to follow if you choose. :)

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

How To Make Outlook Love You and Your New Password

Grafiti Shoes

Every now and then you come across a simple bit of new information that makes you say, wow. Why didn’t I already know this? Man, it would have made such-and-such, X days ago so much easier. This just happened to me only moments ago.

If you work at a computer in an office, it’s likely you work with Microsoft Office, specifically the Outlook mail client. Invariably, you will change your password. The IT people will make you, or you’ll just find out that you’ve been sending randy love letters to co-workers while you’ve been on vacation. Whatever the reason, your PC’s password must change. And guess what, you change it, and you can no longer connect to the Exchange mail server (the box in the back room that slings email around the office). So you reboot, and call help desk. They reset your password again, and then again when it didn’t work the first time. So what the hell is going on?

As I just learned, Outlook uses a cached password to authenticate with the exchange server. That means that Outlooks has stubbornly decided that it will use your old password, even if you reboot and log in with a new password! <Insert your favorite profanity here, you’ve earned it. />

The good news is I have a quick, easy fix for you. If you follow these steps, you’ll never have to deal with this problem again. (Well, as long as you do it each time you change your password.)

  1. Reboot, if you’re already logged in.
  2. Log in with your new password. Don’t open outlook yet.
  3. As soon as your in press Control-Alt-Delete.
  4. Click the Lock Computer button.
  5. Do the Control-Alt-Delete finger dance again and log in.
  6. Now open Outlook.
  7. You’re good to go. (If you’re not, you may have to un-check the “work offline” option in the bottom right corner of the Outlook window.)

Now, I could end here, leaving you amazed with my magical geekery, but because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll tell you why this works. Simply put, the process of locking and unlocking your PC updates the password cache that just happens to be used by Outlook. At least, that’s how it was explained to me. I’ll buy it, the process works.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

10 Things This Blogger Will Tell You

I keep coming across the SmartMoney article 10 Things Your Blogger Won’t Tell You, and to be honest, it really doesn’t strike me as being all that insightful. Of course a blogger isn’t going to tell you “Hardly anybody reads me.” Not if they’re serious about getting people to regularly read their blog. Saying that tells the reader that he is nobody.

But then it occurred to me today when I came across this article, what if I did tell you these things? Maybe that’ll set my blog apart, and thousands upon thousands of people will beat a path of ones and zeros to my page. Or better yet, maybe the author of the article will start reading my blog. (Daniel Cho, if you’re reading this, all I have to say is “owned”. I kid. I hope you like this post. :) ) If there’s even the slightest chance of that, then I owe it to myself to give it a shot. It’s not like it’s going to cost me anything, aside from a few minutes at the computer.

1. “Hardly anybody reads me.”

Not true. I actually have more people read this blog than I physically talk to in a day’s time. Usually. On a slow day, I get around 10 page views. On a fast day, around 45. I’m actually very happy with the amount of readership I get, and appreciate everybody that comes along. And it means I can work a full time job and still respond to every comment I get.

2. “The more companies pay me, the more I like their stuff.”

That sounds like a nice arrangement to me. I’ll get back to you on what that’s like once somebody actually pays me to post. I’ll take my payment in coffee, cigars, books, import or micro brewed beer, port and/or random gadgets. Seriously though, I do my best to be honest. People always catch you in a lie sooner or later.

3. “Did I mention I’m not a real reporter?”

I’m not a real reporter, but I have every right to speak my mind and give you my opinions. You have the right to disagree, dislike and not read them. You also have the right to read, love and forward the links to my posts on to friends and family (or bookmark, or digg, etc.). Everybody’s happy.

Why is this even an issue? If reporters quote a blog, they are obligated to fact check that just like the word from the guy on the street. Don’t be lazy, you’re paid to write. Do your job. Don’t assume somebody had done it for you you.

4. “I might infect your computer with a virus.”

I won’t. You’re faulty or lacking anti-virus software may allow you to get infected (talk to wordpress, they host this for me), but I promise my words will only give you a headache.

5. “I’m revealing company secrets.”

I think most people know better than that by now. Anyway, I avoid posting about work, generally. I find that most people are about as interested in reading about your work day as they are in hearing you talk about it. Yep, not much. Besides, why would this be a bad thing for the reader? Aside from being absolutely boring, I mean?

6. “Just because my name’s on it doesn’t mean I wrote it.”

Yeah it does. Unless you’re a lawyer. Or a crazy ex-girlfriend. Or a crazy lawyer ex-girlfriend.

7. “My blog is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.”

Yeah, that’d be nice. I look forward to the day when one of my crackpot theories develops a cult following and turns into a 7 figure book deal. I don’t see any reason why that would make me stop blogging though. And if it did, wouldn’t it be great to have it all in book form? Until then, I’m interested in blogging as a creative outlet. I’m not interested in becoming a reporter, I like the work I do now.

8. “I can control what you see on the Internet.”

I am Loquitus of Borg. You will be assimilated. Seriously, this is just crazy talk. I control what you see on this blog. Google controls what you see through it’s search engine. You don’t like what you see? Try another search engine. Or perfect your search skills.

9. “Blogging just about ruined my life.”

Again, I’m not sure why this would be a negative thing for the reader. The story behind that would probably make for a good read. So far, blogging has only introduced me briefly to people I would have never encountered before. I’d say that’s a slight up tick. Not an interesting up tick, but one none-the-less.

I also avoid talking about controversial topics like religion (Baptist/Christian Church), politics (Libertarian– rah, rah FairTax) and the Great Pumpkin (no comment). I find that mostly these topics make people angry, overly aggressive, and more resistant to decent debate. And it’s hard to debate via a blog anyways. I can post, you can’t. And I can nuke comments. Hardly fair at all. :)

10. “I’m already obsolete.”

I’m not, blogging is still pretty trendy. But I’ll agree to say 10 minutes after the people writing for newspapers say it, if it’ll make anybody feel better. Honestly, I now know about news typically 24 to 48 hours in advance of the newspaper because of online news sources and blogs.

After giving it some thought, it seems that the goal of this piece is to bias the average person against blogs. The undercurrent here seems to be bloggers are dangerous anarchists, not like you. They must be stopped! While of course the truth is, bloggers are you neighbors, writing about their daily activities and posting pictures of their pets in awkward poses.

(Note to self: get a pet, and take pictures for future post.)

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

Atlanta’s 7 Year Explosion & The Hip Hop Oasis

Apparently my adopted home town leads the nation in population growth, going back as far as 2000. And I can believe it, I’m part of that statistic. And I’ve driven in the rush hour traffic.

I never planned to make Atlanta my home when I first arrived on a contract job in 2003. I thought I’d be here for my 6 month contract, and would return Portland, Oregon in a better job market than when I left. My plan was detoured slightly when that contract was lucratively extended by 3 months. And finally plans to return were put on hold as contract after contract held me in town with rates of pay far superior to that of Oregon. Even now, nearly 4 years later, with job market picking up in Oregon, I still find the offerings inferior to what’s available locally.

Another interesting fact that is relevant to this discussion is my neighborhood of Buckhead is home to the “the highest concentration of high end stores in the United States” according to wikipedia and bears the title of “Shopping Mecca of the Southeast“. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the centers of night life for Atlanta.

So why is Atlanta doing so well and attracting so many people? I have a theory that’s been rattling around in my head for a while. My theory is Atlanta is the city sheltered in a hip-hop/sports economic oasis. Oh sure, favorable conditions for business, proximity to Coke, Delta Airlines, CNN and a ton of major financial institutions has its influence too, I’m sure. But anybody can tell you that.

What not everybody will tell you is that the eternal exuberance of the local music industry and sporting events keeps everybody out late, living it up and spending money. People spending money keeps non-essential businesses open, creates new business opportunity and keeps people working even if they can’t dunk, pass or spit out clever rhyming phrases over old funk and disco hooks. (I’ve tried, I can’t. I do a comical beatbox, but I won’t prove it.)

In an effort to be thorough and back up my crackpot theory (do note, it is tagged “crackpot theory”), I did a quick Google search on the economics of hip hop. (The sports part is sort of a no-brainer.) There’s not much out there. I only found an article that mentions in passing that hip hop had the possibility to help rebuild urban areas in Detroit, but that doesn’t help me prove it has had anything to do with the good times here in Hotlanta, the city of Bling.

So I’ll leave it up to you. I welcome all attempts to shoot holes in my theory. Just make sure it’s my theory you’re aiming at. :) Oh yeah, and if anybody goes on to get a plush grant to study the impacts of Hip Hop on the economy of Atlanta, I want an honorable mention. Or a really well paid spot on the research team.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

Heat, Humidity and Marriage


With a title like that you probably expect this post to deal with the topic of maintaining your dating passion in your married life. Well, close, but no cigar. :) This post is about maintaining the passion in your cigars! Specifically while they lay waiting for you inside your humidor.

It occurred to me today that I still didn’t understand the intricacies of proper cigar storage as well as I’d like to. I know that the humidor sweet spot seems to be 70 degrees (Fahrenheit, 21 Celsius) at 70% relative humidity, but it wasn’t fully clear to me why that’s where I want to be. And based on my previous experience with cigar related advice, it seemed likely that there were other view points on the matter. As it turns out, I’m right. There are differing (but overlapping) ideas on the ideal cigar environment. For the purposes of this post, I’ve compared the information from 4 sources: humidor-guide.com, the FAQ on cigargroup.com, shortcut-cigars.com and the advice of “the respected local tobacconist” who was introduced in my last cigar-themed post.

Temperature

The concensus on temperature appears to actually be 68 degrees, not 70 as I had previously thought. (The CigarGroup website maintains that 70 degrees is ideal, but states that slightly lower temperatures are fine so long as humidity is maintained.) The reason you want to avoid higher temperatures (between 75 and 80 degrees and higher) is to avoid the hatching of bugs or infestation of worms in the tobacco in your cigars. One website notes that the presence of pest eggs in cigar tobacco is actually more widespread than most believe. Higher temperatures also are favorable to some molds and fungi.

Lower storage temperatures are less dangerous to your cigars than higher temperatures. The only problem with lower temperatures it can slow or halt the benefits of aging, and prevent the “marrying” of cigars (more on cigar marriage later). But you have a lot of room on this side of the thermometer. Cigar aging is severely impaired only after you cool to somewhere in the range of 61 to 54 degrees or cooler. These extremely low temperatures are generally only a problem if your humidor is located in your wine cellar. Cellars are not the best idea for long term storage.

Humidity

The humidity consensus seems to be closer to the 70% mark, but with a bias toward a degree or two lower. If your humidity bounces around a bit (as it will for up to 3 weeks you first purchase your humidor) there’s nothing to worry about. You just need to keep it in the 68 to 74% range. At 75% relative humidity and higher, your start to run the risk of mold (almost guaranteed above 85%), and you may find that your cigars go out too easily. Also you cigars may swell which may result in a tighter smoke and possibly even damage to the cigar’s wrapper.

Unlike temperature, you don’t have as much play in lower readings. At humidity levels below 65% your cigars will begin to dry, and the wrappers may crack. Dryer cigars may also burn too quickly and be bitter. Important oils in the tobacco may evaporate, which will cause an irretrievable loss in fullness and flavor.

Also, and interesting tidbit I picked up while reading the CigarGroup website was that new analog hygrometers can be as much as 20% out of calibration! Fortunately, mine is digital, but if yours isn’t, you might want to visit their site and try out one of their hygrometer tests. Shortcut-cigars.com has a few easy tests also.

Marrying Cigars

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know anything about “marrying” cigars before I started reading up on the consequences of straying from the 70/70 cigar utopia. But when I started reading about it, I wasn’t at all surprised. The basic concept of cigar marriage is well introduced in a brief article on humidor-guide.com:

“Cigars absorb aromas from their environment. That is, they not only absorb the aroma of the humidor’s interior wood lining but also aromas from other cigars stored in the same humidor.”

The idea of cigars being infused with their environment is not something that should surprise anybody. But its something you should keep in mind when you’re buying and organizing your cigars. If you mix your mild cigars with bolder or spicier cigars, you’ll discover that your mild cigars are not so mild after a while. And that may work ok in some cases, but in most cases what you’ll have is a bunch of ruined cigars. However, if you store a bunch of similar cigars together, over the long term (3 months or more, with improvements up to 2 to 3 years) the results will be a pleasant batch of cigars that smoke very consistently and with better flavor than if they had been kept apart.

The key to cigar marriage is the cellophane wrapping (or other sleeve). If you want your cigars to marry, you need to remove the tube, cellophane or sleeve the cigars came in to reap the benefits. On the other hand, if you have a medley of different strengths and flavors of cigars, you want to make sure that you leave these covering in place! The cellophane wrapping will do a good job of preventing a bad marriage. (I won’t explore the possibility of innuendo at this time, but yes, it crossed my mind. :) )

The Importance of Position

I came across on more thing that hadn’t occurred to me while I was reading up on the merits of different levels of humidity- the importance of direct you place your cigars in your humidor. Generally when you see pictures of humidors you see them with cigars laying horizontally (length-wise) inside. In many cases, the option of placing your cigars any other way isn’t available. The box just isn’t wide enough for your cigars to lay width-wise (one end pointing at you, the other away). And that’s a good thing.

Evidently, laying cigars width wise can cause an uneven, inconsistent smoking experience with a cigar. That’s due to the repeated exposure of one end of the cigar to the dryer outside air more than the other end when the humidor is opened. It may sound far-fetched, but over a long period of time, I can see this becoming a noticeable problem for your older cigars.

Wow, and to think this post started with the question “Hmm… my humidor’s at 75 degrees, I wonder what if anything would happen to my cigars if left it there?” Hopefully you have found this exploration as interesting as I have.

Like this post?
Help me out by submitting this to Digg!

« Older entries Newer entries »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.