I! Am! Megatron!

In the vein of all movie previews these days, I find it important to shout each word of my proclamations in the most dramatic, angst-filled, spittle-rattling way possible. Thanks for that 300.

Especially things as ridiculous as this:


Take the Transformers Quiz

So go take the test, and come back here and either join me in destroying all Autobots, or to receive a vicious cinematic beating, as appropriate for your test results.

I wonder just how much more Megatron I would be if I had preferred to own oil-rich Iran over an iPhone. I guess I’ll be able to have both once I deal with that pesky Optimus Prime. I’ll have to watch that Transformers movie again to see how it all plays out. I have a good feeling it will work out in my favor this time.

But back on the topic of 300, am I the only one that’s noticed a number of blatant, high profile rip-offs of the iconic “This is Sparta” scream? I’m not talking about the many lolcats (or, uh, lolbritneys) based on the still, or the fantastic photoshop work over at fark (which has disappeared). It’s enough now that it’s a cliche. A really, really bad one. And until I saw the recent trailers for the new movie Doomsday, I thought a dead one. With any luck, a little time in the shame spotlight will prevent this become a full on Hollywood outbreak.

Brian’s Scream-opedia of Rip-Offs
Apologies in advance for longish clips. (Hey, finding better ones would have actually required some effort!)

300: The original manly roar. Don’t try this at home. Please don’t. Please!

Beowulf: Good movie, but painfully obvious rip-off. (Scene of the crime at around 1:29.)

Doomsday: Wow, don’t you guys think you missed the whole scream-a-phrase trend by, what, a year? (Cheap rip-off at 1:26.)

Am I missing any? Do let me know!

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Nintendo Wii: Fun, But Is It Exercise?

You Sii Mii Wii!As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been visited by the eccentric Japanese guys driving the white Smart Car. They told me that they would like to play, and since they drove such a long way (across the Pacific apparently) I decided the least I could do was buy a Nintendo Wii. And play we did.

It’s a little over a week later, they’ve finished off all of my Sake and have motored down the road, leaving me alone to contemplate my Wii. So now that the rice wine buzz is gone what do I think of it? Is it worth the price? Is it fun? And more importantly, is playing with your Wii exercise? Way back in April I blogged about people using it as fitness regime!

Well the verdict is in on the fun part. It is. I love being able to play tennis at night. I love playing baseball whenever the desire strikes without having to call up my busy middle-aged friends and finding a free baseball diamond. I love playing a quick three holes of golf at lunch without having to take the afternoon off. And that’s all on the Wii Sports game the console comes with. There’s a proliferation of games designed to work with the Wii‘s revolutionary new motion-sensitive controller design.

But is the time I spend fiddling with my Wii time wasted, or does it do more than provide me entertainment when I should be working or reviewing cigars? This question is a bit more difficult to answer. A week later, I think I’ve noticed an improvement in the way my clothes fit and increased energy, but my bathroom scale tells me nothing has changed. The words of the scale might be enough information for some, but I’ve long suspected my scale of being a malicious, pathological liar. So I’ve decided to back that suspicion with a bit of science and fitness geekery: I donned a heart rate monitor.

We’re not talking about just any heart rate monitor here. This thing has been calibrated with my age, weight and gender. It can tell me exactly what my heart rate should be to achieve an optimal workout. It can tell me how may calories I burned, how long I worked out, and how long I achieved that optimal heart rate. And once it does all that, it’ll tell me what my Body Mass Index (BMI) is and how horribly overweight I am. In short, I have the technology to prove my bathroom scale a liar and justify my hours spend playing to my wife.

Here’s stats for an average session:

Playing Time: 35 minutes
Activities: Batting practice, Tennis, boxing practice
Target Heart Rate: 122 – 150 BPM

Heart Rate
Pre-Wii: 76 BPM
Average: 126 BPM
Highest: 158 BPM

Total Time in “The Zone”: 19:54
Calories Burned: 491

Wow. It’s hard to argue with the stats. With nearly 20 minutes spend in the optimal heart rate range and 491 calories burned, it’s safe to say this qualifies as exercise. And my scale is a damn liar. I happen to know that at a brisk 3.2 MPH walk on a 5% grade only burns around 300 calories.

So it’s exercise, but is it worth it? I already pay hefty HOA fees that include work out facilities. Is the additional money spent just redundant. Well, that all depends. Yes, it would appear redundant, but the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been using those facilities. (Excluding the sauna!) My wife takes great pleasure in pointing this out. (I swore I’d us them because of the convenience!) I am using the Wii. So while I’m not exactly being responsible with my money, I am getting exercise I wasn’t getting before. So I’m going to say yes, it is worth it. Especially if you pay the lower $250 price tag.

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Are You Smarter Than A Beauty Queen?

Last weekend my hard-herfin’ friend Cigar Jack put up a fun little weekend quiz, and I just couldn’t resist. I just had to see if I could still pass the 8th grade. If I could do that, I could be certain that I’m a bit brighter than this infamous pretty Einstein:

Go on, you know you want to watch it again. It’s the train wreck du jour. She has important things to say about The Iraq. (How much you wanna bet her quarterback boyfriend drives an IROC, and she was thinking about this car when she answered? As in, “when I’m done with this show, my boyfriend and I are heading to the back seat of The IROC.” Just a theory I’m toying with.)

Now that you’ve watched it again (admit it, you watched it twice) and reveled in the brilliance that often accompanies life’s aesthetic lottery, why not head over and try your luck with the 8th grade science quiz? (Unless you’re chicken… Don’t worry, it isn’t an oral exam!)

88% B+!

I got an B+ (88%), which honestly, was probably about as well as I would have done back in the day. How did you do?

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And The Winner Of The CAO America Potomac Is…

The CAO AmericaOK, OK, I’ve kept everybody waiting long enough. Though the contest officially ended this past Sunday, in the hustle to catch up with all the obligations I put on hold for last week’s roadtrip, the contest was put on the back burner for a couple of days. (I actually drew the winners yesterday, I just didn’t get around to posting the results until today!)

This time around it really paid off to enter! Because I was out of town, I didn’t have as much time to promote the contest as I did with the previous. As a result we had around 20 fewer entries for the CAO America cigars than we did for the Serie V! (Or maybe the Oliva buzz was bigger. Or maybe people are getting tired of my random thoughts, who can tell?) According to my quick-and-dirty calculations, you had whopping 2% chance to walk away with one of these pre-release beauties, while you only had a 1.4% for the Oliva Serie V.

Enough of the statistical geekery, it’s time to announce the lucky guys that gain from my goofing around! And the first winner isโ€ฆ

Comment #16: Joe Drinker!

Cool! That saves me having to find an excuse to send him a cigar. (I have been thinking about it. And I know he’s been hoping I’d offer. The cigar-tension has been thick between us. Wow, OK, this is starting to sound weird! It must be time to stop writing parenthetically.) Given his background in graphic design, this aesthetically pleasing stick might just be the perfect cigar to send his way. (Whaddaya think about my “post-whoring contests” now? LOL!)

And now, the second winner isโ€ฆ

Comment #9: Mike Philippovic (mphilipp)!

Mike just happens to be a Brother of the Leaf (BOTL) that made his way over to my blog from the Cigar Live forum. And as luck would have it, somebody I also ran into briefly at the pre-RTDA herf at Slainte Irish Pub in downtown Houston! (A brief aside: If you live in the area or happen to be traveling through, you should meet up with these Houston guys, they’re herfin’ machines!)

I’ll be emailing the lucky winners soon to get shipping details, and with any luck these cigars will be on the road tomorrow. (If you’re one of the winners, and you haven’t seen an email from me yet, check your spam filter! Or you can always use the form on the About page to send me your details, just be sure to use the same email address you used to enter so I can be sure it’s you!)

Of course to maximize the enjoyment of the cigar, you can always wander over to the Stogie Review, where I have been promoted to a regular reviewing fixture, to check out my thoughts on the America, while smoking your own! C’mon, you know you wanna.

I’m happy to say that I got to smoke another of these with a friend of mine on the roadtrip, and I found it to be even tastier than it was when I reviewed it. I could have been the experience of being on the road or the extra weeks of age. Whatever the cause, it was a damn fine smoke, with a lot of surprisingly caramel flavor where previously I had tasted paper. With any luck, the lucky winners will enjoy theirs as much as we enjoyed ours!

And to everyone else, sorry, I’m all out! Of CAO Americas, that is… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Keep checking back, I just might do this again! In the meantime, you can try your luck again over at Cigar Jack’s blog. You still have a week to enter his Arganese cigar giveaway!

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And The Winner Of The Oliva Serie V Is…

Picking A Winner!I couldn’t be happier with the way this contest has turned out. Yesterday, on the final day of the contest, this blog broke the traffic record by a hit or two! And a large percentage of that traffic coming in to have a look at the contest. (Of course, a good helping of that traffic also when to the RTDA picture post. Be sure to check that out if you haven’t already!)

This morning after brewing up a pot of coffee, I scribbled down the huge number of entries on slips of paper, braving almost certain Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I decided to do this right, I had to put the entries into proper container for random selection. A hat just wouldn’t do it, these little slips of opportunity had to go into the Oliva Serie V box I got the cigars in. (Henceforth to be referred to as the Special Ceremonial Serie V Box. Hey, it’s a contest, you gotta expect it to be a bit over the top. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

OK, I’ve kept you waiting long enough. After a healthy shaking of the box, my wife, who insisted on picking the winners, reached in her rich, maduro-hued paw in an drew a name. And the winner is…

Comment #64: Duane Pullen!

And just like that, the contest is over. Or is it? I’m just like anyone else, I hate to see a good thing come to an end. Especially a quick end. So in a flagrant violation of my own rules (it’s good to be the undisputed Fidel Castro of this blog), I told my wife to pick another. And I can hear Duane Pullen now, saying “hold on there buddy, I won that fair and square!” You’re right! You won one, but I’ve decided another, even luckier person will also win one! And that lucky second person is…

Comment #46: David!

The Serie V Winners

That’s better. But I have one last one to give out. This one I’m not drawing, I’m selecting. (Still dictator of the blog, remember. Don’t make me incarcerate you as a dissident!) The Serie V Cigar Humanitarian Award goes to…

Stinkie of CigarBeat!

He deserves this cigar for several reasons. To begin with, he very generously provided me with my first Serie V smokes (not one, but two!) when they were impossible to find! And in his entry, he expressed his desire for his winnings sent to someone on the CigarBeat Forum who hasn’t had the pleasure of one of the finest cigars on the market! That, my friends, is a true Brother of the Leaf.

OK, now I’m satisfied. Congratulations to all the winners, and my thanks to all the participants! If you didn’t win this time, take heart, this was such a success that I’m very likely to do it again! I hope you’ll keep checking in from time to see my random thoughts on life and, more importantly, cigars!

Wait, one more thing. A humble request. I would ask the winners, if they’d be so kind, to get a picture of themselves enjoying the cigar and either send it to me, or send me a link to it so I can add it to this post. It’s not a requirement (if you’re photo-shy), but it would be the cherry on top of this sweet dessert of a contest. And it would please Brian the blog tyrant, and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Tagged: The Things You Canโ€™t Prove Are Lies

Antoni Gaudiโ€™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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

People who have brought this tagging on themselves

  1. Space Chronicles Tiffany

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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). 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:

Brianโ€™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.ย  [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:

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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…) ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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Wanna Read This Blog? I Need To See Some ID

Well it’s official. This is an adult blog. If you wanna keep reading, you gotta prove to me your at least 17. Or you have a parent looking over your shoulder. (If you’re under 17, you probably do, you just don’t realize it.) For now, I’ll assume your ID is in the mail.

Brian's Random Thoughts, Rated R

I figured there was a good chance that I’d get at least a PG-13. But I didn’t get the rating because of the frequent discussion of cigars and other tobacco products, as I would have expected. I got the naughty rating because of the use of the following words:

  • “hell” – 4 times.
  • “asshole” – 2 times.
  • “pissed” – 1 time. (Which shouldn’t count because I meant “drunk”, damn it!)

(Of course, now my ratings will be even worse. Damn it! Shit!) So apparently, it’s not a very sophisticated rating system, it’s pretty much a website crawler with a dictionary of naughty words. (I could make one. ๐Ÿ’ก And I might just if I have the time. Hell yeah.)

But you know you wanna try it out on your blog anyway. You’ll be pissed if you don’t! You can find the blog rater here. And you know, if your blog is coming in a little low on the naughtiness scale, you don’t have to be an asshole about it. It’s pretty easy thing to rectify. (Hell yeah, damn it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Enjoy!

(And apologies about this Tourettes post. I swear future posts won’t have so much damn swearing in them. I just want to see if I can get to NC-17.)

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When Simple, Single Purpose Tools Fail You

You get pissed off. You mistreat the things on your desk. You close the door to your office so you can swear more loudly. And you sure as hell give that quirky optical mouse a reason to jump up to right corner of your screen. And eventually, you visualize beating the figurehead of the company responsible for the tool nearly to death with his own defective device. Or an umbrella. Or perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you drink decaf and are in bed by 8:30.

I won’t tell you which style I prefer, but I will tell you that I’m never in bed by 8:30 and I don’t drink decaf. And very simple, single purpose tools are failing me today, left and right. For no good reason. And I’m tired of teaching my quirky optical mouse a lesson. He doesn’t seem to learn, and he should have a Ph.D. by now. And its hardly fair to imagine pummeling Bill Gates when you’re writing Java with open source tools. You just can’t blame the guy for the things his competitors do, no matter how hard you try.

So with my productivity officially shot for the day, I seek solace in ridiculous quizzes on the internet to tell me things that I didn’t know about myself. Things like, what will my last words be:

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

“So, you’re a cannibal.”

I can buy that. It’s got a certain implied Indiana Jones quality that seems very applicable to my current career of I.T. consulting. I am, after all, great with a whip.

Here’s a list of equally possible final words I might say.

  • Bubble, bubble-bubble, bubble bubble-bubble-bubble. (In the unlikely case of a water landing.)
  • Hey, you said you weren’t married!
  • Honey, I just got another box of cigars in the mail!
  • Dude, check this out. (Alternately, “Hey, lemme try that.“)
  • Is this “Bankhead Highway“?
  • Aw, dammit. (This is probably the most likely, especially if I see it coming.)
  • You will find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Aaauuuggghhh
  • *Huff* *Puff* *Huff* *Puff* (Either running up stairs, or from angry indigenous peoples with a priceless artifact.)

So to sum up: Simple tool breakage causes anger, asinine online test-taking, silly speculation on your own mortality and delusions of grandeur. Be prepared, bookmark some online quizzes now, you never know when you’ll need them. No need to thank me now, I’ll assume the check is in the mail.

What, you were expecting some profound conclusion? The best I can do today is a Simpson’s quote. (I’m still nearly incoherent from inhaling 700 miles of Georgia and Florida.)

“It’s true… I’m a rageaholic! I just can’t live without rageahol!” — Homer Simpson

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What Are The Top Ten Blogs Worth?

Recently I ran across a post on Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog that lets you calculate the worth of your blog (via BabyChaos) by submitting it’s URL. Of course, there’s no way to resist the attraction of knowing, in nickels and dimes, how my schizophrenic posts on lolcats, cigars and crazy beards is worth. I was impressed, my blog is worth more than I expected. In theory, anyways.

My blog is worth $1,129.08.

How much is your blog worth?

Wow. For a minute, I had delusions of retiring to blog for a living. Of course, this figure is just monopoly money. It looks really great, but it won’t buy you an americano when you need one. Since it’s not actually worth anything, I thought it might be fun to use it as a yardstick to measure my blog against Technorati’s top ten blogs.

To save you the effort of doing this yourself (I’m all about convenience), here are the figures.

  1. Engadget.com – $15,510,736.50
  2. BoingBoing.net – $11,645,895.66
  3. Gizmodo.com – $10,410,117.60
  4. TechCruch.com – $10,068,006.36
  5. HuffingtonPost.com – $7,941,384.18
  6. LifeHacker.com – $7,989,370.08
  7. ArsTechnica.com – $7,344,100.86
  8. PostSecret.blogspot.com – $6,736,091.28
  9. DailyKos.com – $6,627,699.60
  10. MichelleMalkin.com – $5,826,617.34

Total Value of the Top Ten: $90,100,019.46

Interestingly enough, though the HuffingtonPost is listed as more popular on Technorati, LifeHacker is actually worth slightly more money. I wonder how that works. (Both the rating scheme and the value calculation are based on statistics from Technorati.) Also amazing is that #1 Engadget is nearly 3 times as valuable as #10 MichelleMalkin. The gap between Engadget and #2 BoingBoing is also the largest in the top ten.

Of course, I can’t just stop there, I need to know the stats on some other websites I frequent.

And no post of mine would be complete without some mention of cigars. I’m building a pretty good list of cigar themed blogs in Google Reader, here’s some of my current favorites. (If you’re not on the list below, I may not have found your blog yet!)

It’s interesting to compare the differences in calculated values between the cigar blogs and other blogs out there. The gap in values doesn’t surprise me, after all, cigar smoking is still very much an offline activity. And most major manufacturers still have a very minimal and sometimes primitive presence on the web.

[UPDATE 5/18/07: I just realize that I left off the single most important, hard hitting news blog out there: I Can Has Cheezeburger. I.C.H.C. is worth $893,102.28.]

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