Free Cigar: Brian’s Oliva Serie V Giveaway!

Oliva Serie V[UPDATE: This contest is closed, but a new cigar giveaway contest is now open here!]

Even though I made a point of saying I wouldn’t last week, somehow I still left home on Saturday without my camera. So I have no proof of the things I’m about to say. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

On Saturday I smoked the Oliva Serie V Double Robusto (5 x 54) with Jose Oliva. I’m tempted to lie and say he flew in to Atlanta specifically to thank me for my favorable review on CigarBeat, but even I don’t have delusions of grandeur that large. The truth is that was in town for the final Serie V event before RTDA at Tobacco World here in the Atlanta area. And let me tell you, the event was awesome. Probably the liveliest cigar event I’ve been to yet.

Jose Oliva brought with him an entire entourage of Oliva representatives from around the south as well a catering crew serving up hot pasta. (Oh the irony! To quote myself in my Serie V review: “This is not a post-pasta cigar!” :) But oddly, it did go nicely with the cannolis.) And of course there was a generous helping of store regulars there, happy to help Mr. Oliva burn through that box of free double robustos. The air was thick and hazy with the rich Serie V smoke and there was a lively game of dominoes at a packed table in one corner.

I found myself spending a lot of time talking with the Florida Oliva Rep Burt. The guy is quite a character, and has been with the Olivas since the beginning. He’s been such a part of the Oliva’s success that Jose said of him “he is more Oliva than I am”, and he proudly sports a Rolex that was part of his lifetime achievement award. Burt is the definition of a proud company man, and a skilled salesman. Without even trying, he talked me into picking up a couple Oliva 2006 Master Blends and a couple Padron 1964′s for cigar versus cigar comparison. (I’ll admit, I’m not a very hard sell when it comes to cigars.) So I walked away happy with a fistful of cigars, a Serie V buzz and a lighter wallet.

So after this event and my great experience at the recent CAO event, I’ve decided to make a point to attend more cigar events in the future. (Including RTDA!) But the question is, how do you find out about cigar events in your area? Sure, you can sign up for email updates from your local tobacconist, but that won’t keep you in the know on what’s happening down the road at another shop! And not all the cigar manufacturers’ websites include event information. (So manufacturers don’t even have websites!)

Have no fear, I have the answer for you: Cigar Cyclopedia. This website is a gold mine of useful cigar information. And one of the largest gleaming nuggets is their U.S. Cigar Promotions and Special Events Calendar, which is conveniently broken down by state and in chronological order. (A big thanks to the guys at Dog Watch Social Club for mentioning this in one of their recent shows.)

“That’s great, Brian. But what about this free cigar you mention in the title?” You ask. Wouldn’t it be funny if I never got to that? No? OK. Here’s the deal. Recently Cigar Jack had a contest on his blog for a free t-shirt, and I really like the way he set that up. I’ve been thinking about having one of my own for a while now. But instead of giving away a t-shirt, I’m going to give away a cigar. And not just any cigar! Something that’ll really be a treat.

And, as luck would have it, I had the opportunity to buy a few of the Oliva Serie V Double Robustos at this event. As much as I enjoy these cigars, I think it’d be even more fun to share them. So I’m going to send one of these still unreleased cigars to a lucky reader!

So here’s the Oliva Serie V Giveaway rules:

  1. You are allowed two entries to this giveaway. Please note you must be 18 or older to enter. (Sorry, I don’t make the laws, I just try to follow them!)
  2. Your first entry is commenting on this post. Please include the text in your comment “I am 18 or older.”
  3. You may enter a second time by posting a link to this contest on your blog that pingback/trackbacks to this post.
  4. The winner will be drawn August 10th, 2007. (Or whenever entries slow down enough that making everyone wait becomes a pointless exercise. Totally my discretion here.)

Good luck! If you’re not sure whether or not to enter, I encourage you to read my review of the larger figurado and churchill sizes over on Cigar Beat. While these are smooth and tasty full-bodied cigars, they may be a bit potent (especially at the end) for a newbie!

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The Mystery Of The 5 Minute Browser

Heed the sage words of Brian!I had the weirdest problem recently. Five minutes after booting up my office laptop, in the midst of checking the news online, my browser stopped working. That isn’t to say I couldn’t use the buttons or select items from the menus. Functionally speaking, the browser application was fine. The problem is that pages stopped loading. All of them.

Expecting that it was a network outage or a corporate firewall problem, checked the usual things. I verified that my network cable hadn’t broken or been disconnected. I tried unplugging it and plugging it back in. Still dead. I fired up Innernut Exploder (I use Firefox by default. [Funny Side Note: In getting this link, I've noticed Firefox's website has determined I'm Italian. I have no idea why, and there's no convincing it that I'm not. I wonder if it's flirting with me.]) Still nothing. I checked with some other people in the office. Their connections were fine, and they hadn’t experienced any outages whatsoever. Damn, it’s me.

I often listen to radio programming streamed over the internet while I’m in the office. Every now and then the little embedded applications used by these stations will cause me trouble that can only be resolved by rebooting. So I reboot. And I’m back online, happily getting my news fix. For about five minutes. Then I’m dead in the water again. About this time, I get an email. What the heck is going on? My browsers are dead by my email application is humming right along like everything’s fine. And I can ping Yahoo from the command window.

So I reboot again. This time, I don’t expect this to fix the problem, I just want to establish that this problem is a repeatable and demonstrable, so I don’t look like an idiot when I speak with the help desk. Like clockwork, after about 5 minutes, I’m dead in the water again. So off I go on a help desk adventure. I’ll spare you the details. All you really need to know is that this bug owned the help desk. If you seriously suggest wiping and re-imaging a PC, you are conceding defeat. You are owned. I have to give them credit though, before admitting defeat, they spent hours chasing this problem, trying increasingly more obscure solutions. I’m probably not worth the effort they put into it, if you run the metrics.

I had no intention of reinstalling and reconfiguring this machine. I’ve spent too much time getting it configured just right. I took the problem home, and scoured the internet for a solution. (From another PC, of course.) And I found a lot of possible fixes, which I sent to my Crackberry for use the following day at work.

Here are the valid candidate solutions I found. I’m listing them all here, because what worked for me may not be what works for you. I know you won’t be surprised to hear that there are a variety of things that can cause this problem.

Fix Candidate #1 – IP Renewal:
This is probably the easiest possible fix and least likely to cause trouble. For this reason it was the first I tried. (I’m kind of surprised that neither Help Desk or I thought of this.)

  1. Open a command window (Start -> Run -> “cmd”)
  2. Type ipconfig /release and enter.
  3. Type ipconfig /renew and enter.
  4. Close the window and try the browser. If this was gonna work, it would be now.

Fix Candidate #2 – Flushing DNS Cache:
This is similar to the first, and if the websites and newsgroups I read are any indication, the odds favor it as the winning solution. (There are some additional steps that involve updating registry values to set minimums and maximums for DNS cache, but I’m leaving them out. They’re non-essential, and I don’t want to encourage people to go mucking around in their registry. If you want to know, let me know.)

  1. Open a command window (Start -> Run -> “cmd”)
  2. Type ipconfig /flushdns and enter.
  3. You should get a message indicating success.
  4. Close the window and try the browser. If this was gonna work, it would be now.

Fix Candidate #3 – Hijack This:
This fix is simple as downloading HijackThis (official website on Trend Micro), running it, and deleting the following items, if they appear. If they don’t, this isn’t the fix for you. Because I’m all about saving time, do a search for “win32exe.exe” on your machine before downloading or installing anything.

  • O4 – HKLM\..\Run: [winbin32] win32exe.exe
  • O4 – HKLM\..\RunServices: [winbin32] win32exe.exe
  • O4 – HKCU\..\Run: [winbin32] win32exe.exe
  • O4 – HKCU\..\RunServices: [winbin32] win32exe.exe

After that you need to reboot and delete the file file named “win32exe.exe”.

Fix Candidate #4 – The Repair Install:
I save this one for last for a couple of reasons. To begin with, it sounds kind of stupid. Also, it happens to be the fix that got me back on track. It’s dumb and it works. As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently began the slow, painful process of migrating from one mail client to another in the office. As a part of that transition (which, I’m annoyed to say, is ongoing) I had to install AT&T network client software. And wouldn’t you know it, the install blue-screened. That’s all the background you need for this fix.

  1. Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs
  2. Select AT&T Network Client from the list and click the “Change” button.
  3. Select the repair install option. (Or uninstall, if you no longer need the software.)
  4. Follow instructions.
  5. Reboot optional. You may find that your browser works immediately.

If you don’t have the AT&T Network Client installed, and are having this problem, have no fear. The word is that these steps can also be used on systems with Symantec AntiVirus or Microsoft Media Connect. Generally speaking, if you have the problem shorty after installing new software, consider re-installing it, or removing it.

I hope in posting this, I’ll save somebody the pain of formatting and reinstalling their PC in frustration. If you do use this information to fix your machine, let me know! I’ll consider the warm-fuzzy payment for services rendered. :)

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Oliva Serie V Review And Other Cigar News

Oliva Serie VYou may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve written a cigar review. Well the good news is that Brian hasn’t given up smoking cigars. (If anything, I’m smoking more in rebellion, given the latest rash of legislative assaults on our liberties.) The reason you haven’t seen a review for a while is because Brian’s been working on a guest review for Stinkie over at the CigarBeat blog. And by working, I mean smoking and taking taking names. Well, taking notes. ;)

Anyway, I’m happy to announce that my finest review to date is now available for your viewing pleasure. I’d like to thank Stinkie for both the cigars (there was no way I was gonna get these guys this early without some help!) and for the opportunity to contribute to his great blog. (Cue the clapping… now.)

I’ll be contributing a few more in the coming weeks to help free Stinkie up while he’s moving. And that’s a good thing for at least one reason. Space limitations. This blog, while free (WordPress rules!) is limited in terms of space, so I have to be sparing when it comes to pictures and such. I don’t have quite the same restrictions on CigarBeat posts. Which means my Oliva Serie V review is flush with pictures of the cigars, both before and during the smoking. (Lemme link to that one more time, just in case you haven’t gone yet… ;) )

Don’t worry, this doesn’t spell the end this blog or even of cigar reviews on this blog. In fact, I think I may even squeeze one in here between posts there.

In other news, Brian is going to RTDA! This past week was a magic week, let me tell you. I was asked to guest review on two different blogs, CigarBeat and another I’m still working the details out on. I’ll give you a clue, childbirth is involved. That could fall through, but hey, it’s great to be asked. I was also made an offer I don’t think I can refuse, professionally. And finally, some very kind soul (I’m not sure if I can name names, so I won’t) has secured me a pass to the 2007 RTDA trade show in Houston, Texas. All that in a week.

If you’re going to be there, drop me a line! It’ll be fun to put faces to names while enjoying the new CAO America!

Now in less pleasant news, the anti-smoking nuts have had their way with Ohio, leaving it a pale, pansy shadow of it’s former self by refusing to allow consenting adults to congregate in a properly-designated public area and enjoy cigars. Welcome to No-hio (via Cigar Jack), a place where the state knows what’s best for you and will bend you to its will. With laws and police power. Yep, that means you can’t smoke in a cigar bar. Yep, a place created and staffed by people dedicated to the art of the tobacco leaf. “Nope,” sez No-hio, “that isn’t good for you. I won’t allow it. I must protect you from yourselves.”

I don’t know about the residents of No-hio, but this just makes me crazy. Crazy enough to drive up there and engage in a little civil disobedience. Who’s with me? Anybody want to get together and light up the biggest, fattest, smokiest stogie we can get our hands on right inside the door of the state capitol building? Bonus points if we set off the sprinkler system! *Sigh* Yeah, the problem is that we have jobs to be at and mortgages to pay. And that’s why these weasels get away with this sort of crap. We need some rent-a-protestors to do this for us. :)

People who have read this blog for a while now know I avoid generally avoid politics in this blog. It tends to bring the worst out in people. (The previous paragraph is evidence of that.) That isn’t going to change, however, I leave a little wiggle room in there to express my right to smoke cigars with other consenting adults in appropriate locations. A cigar bar is an appropriate location. The outdoors is an appropriate location. My car and my home is an appropriate location. Legislators, keep your laws out of my lungs, off my body and out of my home. And how about backing away from my cigar bar?

Don’t even get me started on the $10 per cigar tax that’s being up for consideration in the Senate. You know what you need to do. (I’ll give you a clue, it involves correspondence.)

OK, I definitely shouldn’t drink and blog. Fortunately, that isn’t illegal. Yet.

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6 Mushroom Pictures: There Actually Is Fungus Among Us!

Just look what I found in a neighborhood in Sandy Springs, GA this weekend while my wife and I were making the rounds: Mushrooms! Not the normal pizza-topping variety, we’re talking full-on Grateful Dead album art mushrooms. (Or better yet, Mellow Mushroom pizza art for those of you living in the area.) Anyway, this just proves I should never go anywhere without my camera. You probably shouldn’t either. :) Enjoy!

A Mushroom!

A Mushroom!

A Mushroom!

A Mushroom!

A Mushroom!

A Mushroom!

Check out the entire mushroom gallery here. (The originals are much larger.)

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The CigarJack Giveaway, Have You Entered The Contest?

Heed the sage words of Brian!If you haven’t already checked it out, and you enjoy cigars, news about them, and the tasty drinks that accompany them, your really should visit CigarJack’s blog. (And why haven’t you, I’ve had it linked in the sidebar for forever! ;) ) If you have been there, you still might want to take another look, he recently changed the look and feel. And in my humble opinion, it’s a great improvement.

And if that’s not reason enough to have a look, he’s giving away a free gift to one lucky visitor that comments on this post. (As it turns out, he’ll also give you a second entry in the contest if you blog about the contest and link to that post. So really, I’m helping both of us out here, cuz you know I’m all about win-win! ;) )

So in summary, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to the contest post.
  2. Leave a comment. Try to be creative, I have a feeling that may improve your chances. (Just a hunch.)
  3. Read other cigar posts and enjoy while waiting to see if you won.

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The Making Of The CAO America Video

So the new CAO America cigar isn’t breaking news at this point. There’s a very good chance you’ve heard about it and read up on either one of the many bloggers that first reported it (I first saw it reported by Stinkie over on CigarBeat), or you saw it on the newly redesigned CAO website itself. So why on earth am I bother to post about the America a full two weeks after it’s press release? What could I possibly add to the information already out there? I’ll tell you. (If I didn’t, this post wouldn’t have a point, would it?) Because a little birdie told me about a couple of official CAO videos that have appeared on YouTube. One of them, in fact, just earlier today! Without further ado, here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

The CAO America Teaser Trailer

Who ever heard of a teaser trailer for a cigar? The brilliant marketing folks at CAO, that’s who! I just love it! :) But wait, the second is even more interesting than the first. And it just came out today!

The Making of the CAO America

Wanna know how that achieve that “pinstripe” wrapper effect? They show you exactly how by making one in front of your eyes. As noted, this video clip was narrated by the CAO’s chief cigar smoker, Tim Ozgener.

But if you did come here looking for more in depth facts, figures and damned lies (a.k.a. statistics); here’s a quick roundup of the articles already out there on the internet.

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Tagged: The Things You Can’t Prove Are Lies

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicOK, I’m back from the 10th circle of hell. Yeah, you read that right, the 10th circle. You’re quite right, there were only nine circles. Until Saddam Hussein started demanding a corner office in the 9th circle. God he’s such a pain. So the devil gave him his old office and built a whole new circle for himself. And he needed some I.T. help. Of course, the devil likes to work with people who both know they are for sale and know what their price tag is. Naturally, that means he hires consultants.

One recommendation. If you’re on your way to hades, by either handbasket or the regular route, don’t forget your MP3 player and your shades. The eternal shrieks of the damned get sort of grating after a while, like an alarm clock left running by a vacationing neighbor, and the hell fire can get kind of bright. Especially if you’re hung over.

Ah yes, I’ve been tagged. I hope this isn’t the payment the red-horned guy was promising me for my work. You can’t ever count on him paying his invoices as agreed.

The Rules
1.) Post the rules first.
2.) If you are tagged you have to tell your faithful blogging public 8 random facts about yourself in a post on your blog. It can be habits, an idea, facts, or just um… stuff.
3.) At the end of your post, choose eight other bloggers you’d like to know something about and tag them.
4.) Leave a comment telling them you’ve tagged them and that they will need to read your post on your blog.
5.) Bend the rules as convenient. (My special addition!)

The Things You Can’t Prove Are Lies

I. I’ve been published at least twice under different pseudonyms. But before you think back on the articles you’ve recently in major publications, it’s only fair I tell you that once was for an underground high school newspaper and the other was for a slightly more high brow (i.e. pretentious) college literature magazine. I still have both.

II. I started seriously enjoying writing in a high school English class. Fed up with all the essay writing, in irritation I wrote a very antagonistic paper as one of my assignments. The plan was to make reading the assignment as much of a pain as it was to write it. As many of my plans do, it backfired; the teacher loved it and started treating me as though I were literary elite. Being the obnoxious bastard I am, I found that the prospect of writing angry for good grades a win-win proposition. I was brimming with pointless teen angst. I aced the class and was put in the advanced class the following year.

In college, to keep it interesting, I made a point of writing my papers in support of whatever view point I thought my professor disagreed with the most or in favor or anything patently absurd. Somehow my textual nettles continued to be well received. And I got pretty good at supporting the unsupportable. (I should have been lawyer!) I was very Swiftian. (Not to be confused with “Swift Boat“.) Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, I was just being sadistic.

III. My crowning achievement in art of the chafing word was contributing three pieces of poetry/prose to the college literary magazine under an ridiculous pseudonym. The incredibly obnoxious ditties made it in and I had the pleasure of hearing one of the editors angrily discussing their inappropriateness. Ah, good times. :)

IV. I’ve been in a small (four seater!) plane when all the electronics went out. In the clouds. I participated in an emergency line of site landing that involved a tight spiral down through a small hole in low cloud cover. Once down, the problem was diagnosed (pilot error), and we got back on and flew the rest of the way to our destination. Same plane, maybe an hour later. Several people still claim to have the “Oh Shit” email I sent them from my Crackberry while I was in the air. Sadly, I don’t.

V. I started smoking cigars with a friend on the Oregon coast in the middle of the night. We’d leave campus after in the evening after classes and arrive well into the night. On the way we’d stop at the “Mecca of Convenience” and pick up some firewood for a bonfire and whatever cigars they had at the counter. They were horrible in the way you would expect a convenience store cigars to be, but an essential part of the evening. (A better cigar probably wouldn’t have burned worth a damn on those gusty nights.) As was the “flaming manhood”, but that’s a story for another day.

VI. I’ve worn a kilt on numerous occasions, but I’m not going to prove it. That will disappoint at least one occasional reader of this blog, as he wants to submit it for Photoshoping on Fark. But I can tell you that I looked dead-sexy. Especially back when I had long hair. Don’t worry, you would agree. (Even if it required adjustments in your blood-alcohol levels.)

VII. I’d much rather be rich than famous. If I suddenly disappear, you’ll know I got my wish. Either that, or I was crushed under a collapsing stack of cigar humidors.

VIII. I won my wife over with my dance moves. Quit laughing, it’s true. She’ll vouch for it. A friend of mine (and at the time, co-worker) from Nigeria and I were really kicking some ass on the floor of a Malaysian dance club when we were approached by my now wife and her friend. The dancing continued well into the early hours of the morning. And again a few weeks later. The rest is very colorful history.

Honestly, I think nearly everybody I know in the blog world has been tagged already. (I was sooo gonna tag Laurie Kendrick, but somebody got to her first.) And the cigar bloggers I know would probably put their lit Arturo Fuentes out on my arm if I tagged them. In keeping with my new rule to bend the rules for my convenience, I’ll let people tag themselves. Wanna be tagged? Leave a comment, and I’ll update this post to make the tagging official. (Brilliant or lazy, you make the call! ;) )

People who have brought this tagging on themselves

  1. Space Chronicles Tiffany

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Solution To Iraq War Up For Sale On eBay

Heed the sage words of Brian!Well now it’s confirmed. You can buy anything on eBay. Anything! I just learned that a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer has put up the solution to the war in Iraq up for auction on the ‘Bay. But if you want the solution to the Iraq war, you better have some deep pockets. Or better yet a deep couple of brief cases, full of hundred dollar bills. Because it’ll cost you a dollar under $100 million. (I know it sounds like I’m building up to a MasterCard commercial spoof here, but I swear I’m resisting the temptation!)

I’ll bet all those bidders are sorry they didn’t spring for the $1 million Buy-It-Now price tag when the auction first went up! Talk about over-bidding! It’s a shame that they’re hiding the bidder’s ID’s. It’d be pretty interesting to know who’s doing the bidding. :twisted:

One other thought, do you suppose Officer Thad Krasnesky will waive the $1.25 shipping fee? Or maybe throw in free shipping insurance? If it gets much higher, he may be able to fund his own troop surge! ;)

[UPDATE: D'Oh! It looks like eBay doesn't have a sense of humor! Or practical business sense for that matter. They've taken down the auction! Just think of the hefty chunk of change of a sales fee they're missing out on! Sorry guys, I guess this is now a non-story. :( ]

[UPDATE 2: Those of you who didn't get see it before it was taken down are in luck! I still had a window open showing the auction.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, was the going rate for an Iraq war solution as it was right around the time I wrote this:

Solution To Iraq War Up For Sale On eBay]

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2200 Percent Growth In This Ugly Flower Of A Blog

Brian’s brain is still in weekend mode. Which isn’t such a bad thing since the big item of the day is to get a software side-grade (transitioning from Microsoft Outhouse to NoDice Notes does not qualify upgrade, I don’t care how many cute graphics it automatically embeds in your email). Of course, I don’t want to get into incriminating things like where I work or what I do specifically. (Those things are best left to your imagination.) Well no more than to say this is a big, big place, and new software and network access is comes to you at the speed of Heinz 57 ketchup.

Of course there are two things I do when business is slow. Troll (in the fishing sense, but sometimes in the inflammatory sense if the mood strikes) blogs and cigar auctions looking for what passes for action while sitting on your backside. What passes for action today is a graphical representation of my blog (via BabyChaos‘ list o’ links, which I hope someday to make it onto ;) ). And as a graph, this blog makes a pretty ugly flower. One that had a dangerous session with the Weed-B-Gon. The kind you’d back up the lawn mower for to be sure you got it all. Check it out:

Brian’s Random Thoughts: A Certifiable Cluster-F*ck

If you click on the image above, you can go see how your website/blog stands up.  [UPDATE: Image link fixed.] Is your blog a delicate orchid, or is an abusive, alcoholic dandelion like mine? C’mon. You know you wanna. Don’t make me “tag” you.

Of course, after that a sad spectacle, it’s fun to go re-inflate the ego with lies, damn lies and statistics. My favorite being the “How much is my blog worth calculator“. Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried this thing out. Previously this blog came in at a handy little figure of $1,129.08. So lets see if I’ve made any progress in the mythical blog stock exchange:


Congratulations!
You’ve just agreed to pay $25,968.84 for my blog!

How much is your blog worth?

 

Ah, now that’s what I like to see! Progress! A 2200% increase in value! :) Oh yes, and thank you for your interest in buying my blog. Very kind of you. While I’m certain the check is in the mail, I regret to inform you that this blog isn’t yet for sale! (Though perhaps I should consider selling shares of blog stock…) ;) Anyway! If you haven’t checked your blog recently, you may want to take another peep. You might be in for a surprise!

Oops, looks like business is picking up. And as this particular post wasn’t going anywhere interesting, so I’ll be back when I have more interesting things to discuss. (Which may be soon. Apparently, I’ve just been “tagged”! Word has it if you don’t immediately act on it, your spleen will explode and you’ll have a rough bit of luck. :) )

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CAO Event: Customer Service Done Right And Some Cigar News

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicI just love the way things work out. The day following an immensely unpleasant customer service experience (that I probably over-reacted to), I have on the best customer interactions I’ve had in a long time. It was at the local cigar shop and the brilliant performance was given by the CAO cigar representative on hand. (I want to say his name was Jerry, but my wife is sure it was Jeff. Sorry, man! If you do find this blog, please correct me!)

Now I know what your thinking. (Isn’t it awesome how I always seem to know?) You’re thinking I’m biased in favor of anything involving cigars. That no matter how bad any cigar experience can be, I’m still viewing it through candela-colored glasses. You’re probably right. But in this case it was a great experience. Quantifiably (or qualifiably?) great. Let me tell you why.

The cigar rep didn’t just recite his rap. That isn’t to say he didn’t get it in there, he just worked it seamlessly into the conversation. A conversation in which we were both contributers. Conversation is the key here. That brings me to the next point.

He asked relevant questions and listened attentively to the answers. And that’s saying a lot. How often have you been in any conversation and actually noticed that the person you were talking to was actually involved in the conversation? Most people spend the time you’re talking thinking about what they’ll say next. Even in customer service. I’ve met a number of cigar reps, and while I’ve never met one that wasn’t a nice guy, this cigar rep was the first one that was fully engaged in the conversation. Heck, as I was driving away, it occurred to me that his event was ending soon and it would have been fun to invite him over to the pub nearby for a pint or two and a cigar. How many people in customer service have you met that you’d like to drink with?

He took decisive action to rectify a problem. I didn’t go to the event planning to bring up my less than stellar experiences with CAO cigars. But they did come up in the conversation. I mentioned my joy and embarrassing disappointment with the Sopranos cigar earlier this year. How the first was a beauty and but the ones I shared with my buddies later were like smoking rolled-up notebook paper. He expressed concern and wanted to know more about the cigars and where I’d purchased them. He attempted to troubleshoot the problem. He theorized what may have caused it (an improperly humidified box mixed with one that was). And finally he apologized, and said he wished he had a couple of Sopranos to give me to make up for the experience. And then to my complete surprise, he gave me a big handful of the cigars he did have on hand! Awesome! Hey, I was happy with the concern and the apology.

An experience like this is enough to make a loyal customer out of anyone. So for the foreseeable future, Brian is a CAO fanboy. That doesn’t mean I will suddenly start loving the Vision (sorry, even I can’t do that), but I probably will be smoking a lot more CAO cigars in the future! (Especially now that I have a bunch of freebies!) :)

CAO GoldOK, now for some cigar news! I did my best to get the scoop on what CAO is up to, and here’s what I got.

CAO Sopranos
The word now is that CAO will not be discontinuing the Sopranos line. Because the show is in syndication and there has been buzz about a possible movie, this line is here to stay. So if you’ve noticed a sudden burst of availability in this line of cigars (I have), rest assured, it’s not the last hurrah. It’s a trend.

And now for some bad news. There is no plan, as of this moment, of re-releasing these cigars in less expensive boxes or bundles. Get used to the $10+ per stick price tag. It isn’t going to change. Sorry. :(

CAO Criollo
Apparently the Criollo is done. Unless I completely misunderstood the cigar rep, they’re difficult to find because they’re no longer being made. (He may also have meant that this year’s Criollo is finished. Either way, they’re going to get scarce for a while at least.) I don’t know what to think about this news, because I haven’t tried one yet. But I plan to very soon. Anyway, if you like this cigar and can still find it, now is probably the right time to stock up on it!
[UPDATE: Nothing to see here, move along, move along...]

CAO 65th Anniversary
Another cigar they’re not making anymore is the 65th anniversary. That probably surprises no one, as it was a cigar created to commemorate Cano A. Ozgener’s 65th birthday in 2001. So why am I bringing it up? Well we discussed this cigar at some length. The word is that six thousand of these Nicaraguan puros were made, but somehow, there are still a few available out there. How do I know? I just smoked one of these babies the other night, and I have a box of ten way on the way. If the rest smoke like this first one, I’m going to be putting up a very positive review down the road. Want to know more? Check out the CAO head-honcho’s words on the cigar.

Well that about sums it up. It’s been a long week, and it’s nice to end it on a positive note. 8)

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