A Friendly Reminder About Tobacco

Reminder: Today is the last day you can buy tobacco products without paying the SCHIP tax.

I, for one, plan on buying them as “collectibles / antiques”. Remember, if you purchase cigar bands as collectibles which happen to have cigars attached, they’re exempt from the tax.

Remember, tobacco within is not for consumption.

The Aston Martin Tesla and Failing at TURBBBBBOOO

Tesla’s new pictures are leaked onto the internet and there’s a bit of a flap about if they’re supposed to be out there or not. I’m in the camp that any publicity they get is good publicity. If they weren’t shooting for the ultra-luxury market, I would probably own one.

The car (designated Tesla Model S) looks good, but like everything else they build it feels like something else. This time it’s not quite as much of a copy-paste job as the Tesla Roadster (which is easily mistaken for a Lotus or MR2), but I can’t shake the idea that it’s a four door Aston Martin.

And now for some delicious fail.




In light of comments here and comments made on other sites, I feel like I should post why I think it’s an Aston Martin.

Tesla S

Tesla S

Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide

The Rapide is a concept car, but it’s in production enough that it’s been seen in Germany. The things to pay attention to are the shape of the doors and the overall proportion of the car. The comments section has some further links for the car buffs.

Jake DeSantis + Barack Obama = Jake DeSantis

WOW do I have to hat tip Jake DeSantis of AIG today.

He wrote a resignation letter and told Obama to fuck off and die, and he did it in such a way he’s putting Obama’s pariah in the line of fire.

Jake DeSantis, an AIG executive, was so fed up with Obama’s administration that he said he’s donating 100% of his compensation to people “affected by the downturn”. If Obama continues the plan of taxing executives 100%, then Obama now has to go after charity for that money. WHAT WILL OBAMA DO?

White Castle Doctrine

White Castle Doctrine, lol!

Every time I see this I roll my eyes. On one hand, I empathies with the idea that crimes shouldn’t go unopposed like this. I also understand that if someone is willing to use deadly force for a happy meal and the $500 that was in the register, or whatever, then a life is worth about a whopper value meal and $500 to them. In other words, life is cheap enough that someone may very well get shot.

On the other hand, you’re having a shoot-out over a burger king. You’re risking your life for a fast-food joint.

Boycott Sovereign Bank. Or Sovereign Bank sucks.

They’ve jerked me around quite a bit already, this is the staw that tore it for me. Me and my wife are probably going to Wachovia (ATMs everywhere) or Citibank (rave reviews, no ATMs).

Me and my wife knew we were going to overdraft the checking account this pay period when the jeep broke down. She ended up spending a bit more than she should have buying food and whatnot while I tried to get out of work and drive the hour and a half needed to perform the rescue.

I ended up calling the insurance company along the way and our agent said he couldn’t wait another week to cash the check or it would count as nonpayment, but he would wait to drop the check into the accounts receivable box until after EOB on Friday so it would run Monday. It would be marked paid as Friday, he explained, but wouldn’t be scanned until Saturday, then it would be cashed Monday. My wife gets paid Wednesday, we figured we would eat the overdraft fee ($30) and chalk it up to taking it out of God’s face when we get to heaven over the jeep breaking down on the furthest trip she had to make that day.

I pull up the statement today and instead of the -$40 I expected to see, I see I have -$300. Identity theft? Moon phase? Secret Jewish conspiracy against Ron Paul supporters?

I call up the bank.

The first lady I talked to was polite and patient, but “these are legitimate charges” was her script. (I swear to god she was reading something, I wondered if they were prompted by computers). I asked to speak to her supervisor.

Her supervisor was less polite, but patient, and insisted they were legit charges. Her boss was “out of the office” until I started cursing at her after about 15 minutes. Then suddenly her boss came back.

Her boss was neither polite nor patient and insisted that the charges were legitimate and anything else was chalked up to “everyone can have their opinion”. Which, I reminded her, all business works on the opinion of what’s a good deal, and my opinion currently is I’m going to take my mortgage and bank accounts somewhere else. What could she do for me? Jack. But she asked, “Why do you feel you should get the money back?”

“Well, it’s really simple. I knew I was going to overdraft the account and I did the responsible thing and tried to get the check cashing date done later for the check that was going to break it. My insurance company was nice enough to delay cashing the check because they want to keep their customers. The odd man out here is Sovereign, who not only isn’t willing to help, but also reconciles checks in the wrong order.”
“What do you mean?”
“I made these charges…” (there’s 10 charges to autozone while I bought plugs, batteries, etc) “…before State Farm cashed the check expecting them to clear in the same order. When you cash checks out of order, you destroy the budget. God forbid I was a business or these were medical expenses.”
“Well, everyone else does it that way too -”
“and to top it off, two months ago you did this to me again and told me you run deposits last. You took probably 30% of a deposit check for my consulting because the expenses for equipment got rolled into a different account before the deposits to cover it did.”
“We do deposits last, and we cash the biggest check first. It’s bank policy for your protection…”
“Know what? Don’t worry about it. My policy for my protection is to take my business somewhere else that understands the financial crisis and basic concepts like a budget.”

I realize I spent most of the time talking over their district manager. I ended up hanging up the phone, but if you’re wondering why the world is screwed up for the everyman, it starts at the banks policies.

Now, I need a new bank. And the requirements are that the bank does check processing in chronological order. Post your suggestions.

Who Owns the Penis House?

Penis House

Penis House

The BBC is reporting on this prank and says that this two million US dollar mansion has been vandalized by it’s owner’s son, who is currently traveling abroad.

Google either has no sense of humor or chose to remove the offensive marking because the house has no penis in this map.

The Jarmidor: Performance Monitoring

I was up at Pet Smart buying cat food since the cats have managed to eat us out of house and home yet again and I happened to be looking at the reptiles.

Suddenly, inspiration struck. Reptiles need the right temperature, because they are cold blooded, but they also live in a humid, humid rainforest. What else lives in a tropical climate?

Free range cigars, that’s what.

I wandered over to the reptile aisle and sure enough there were enough hygrometers to monitor every planet in the solar system. (About 9). Now, people commonly complain the hygrometer in their humidor is crap and can be as far as 10% off. To figure out if we’re buying a good one or not we need to compare. Instrumentation is one of those things where you don’t need to test it to make sure it works, the majority of it merely has to agree. In other words, if the standard deviation is small, then we know the instrument is probably mostly correct and we know about how far off they can be. For this trick, we try to buy one representing the mean value.

In my case, out of 9 of these, 8 of them agreed the humidity in the store was between 40% and 42%. One of them said 50%, so this one obviously is in error. Upon tapping them, the needle would typically settle back into the same place, so we know none of them are stuck like this and the needle is free floating. I tried to power up a digital hygrometer but it was disabled. Comparing it to the one the store uses in their cages, the humidity was 41%. I was willing to accept any hygrometer that read between 40% and 42%, which was almost all of them.

For $5 and a sample size large enough to find the ones obviously misadjusted, it’s a steal.

Operation Repo

Operation Repo continues to surprise me.

It started when the Caucasian Hitler Enthusiast Matt decided to yell something like “I LOVE STEALING BACK FROM BLACKS” in the first episode of the second, or third year. Hard to tell since the show was on well before that moment without much in terms of ratings. I’m absolutely sure it was intentionally done to increase ratings, not only does Matt work for Hispanics but the editors could have easily pulled it out.

Then Matt decided to roll a BMW. Since the repo guys are responsible for the property once they take possession of it, I’m sure it was a wonderful insurance claim. Matt spent the entire episode talking about pooping.

Matt got fired.

Last nights episode, Matt mysteriously shows up at a repo done in – of all things – the paintball yard he apparently takes his kids to. What are the odds, seriously? And if he knew there would be a repo going down there, why bring his kids? Did he just decide to hang out there all day? Someone gets shot in the bum with paintballs, the FNG locks himself in the truck, the cops come and apparently make a bunch of arrests. and since it’s california, they have tasers and not guns. Then Matt drives off on a motorcycle.

Then it gets wild. Apparently they go to repo a caddy SUV and it’s at a basketball court. The audience is told that they are helped by “on-star”, which is one more reason to not have your car talking to the world. Then when they go in for the repo, the guys playing basketball come over. Yelling ensues. This ends with them running off and… running back with guns. From nowhere. Presumably the guns were in their gym bags, or something, but it’s all real high end hardware (Sigs, HKs). Matt pukes.

Around this time they say that Matt’s been shot before, and they were all in the Marines, and that’s why Matt pukes around guns. This is about where you remember the show is a reenactment of repos, not the real thing.

Is it entertaining? Yes. But whoever is writing this crap needs to come up with another scapegoat that isn’t Matt.

The Jarmidor: One Week Later

The Jarmidor at one week is working well. I wish I had a hygrometer, but the smaller ones which are accurate (read: digital) are expensive ($25+), while you can find big ones for $7 – but you can’t calibrate them or fit them into the jar. I’ve resigned to “do it by feel”.

Since I have a fair bit of pipe smoke (cheap – 4oz costs $10 most places, which is a lot of tobacco) I decided it would be my guinea pig.

The edges of it got a bit dry, but I chalk this up to stabilization of the jar rather than any mysterious force. Pipe tobacco is notoriously “wet”, so I expected the edges to dry out a bit to go down to 70% RH. For all intents and purposes, a jar of this size with this much poly glycol should be stable within three days. Since the pipe stuff seems like it’s there – just a touch sticky – it’s OK. The cigars needed to go the opposite direction since they had been in the fridge. They needed to come up to the right humidity. You know it’s the right humidity in there when the cigars are springy without being brittle. Since I have a hand-rolled one (I haven’t tried yet), this was my barometer cigar, and he’s fine.

The only way to find out though, is to smoke it.

I have a churchwarden made from meerschaum which I use as a tasting pipe since the meerschaum won’t absorb the tobacco oil like briar pipes do. While I could thoroughly clean the briars by soaking them in alcohol and rubbing them in salt, if you use a clay pipe the smoke is a bit hotter but the flavor doesn’t absorb.

So what are we looking for anyway? The tobacco has to have enough humidity that you get lemon-water in the bowl. This is where briars get “smoked in” – the combination of ash and water dropped from the cooking tobacco works it’s way into the body of the pipe through absorption. You let a pipe “rest” between smokes and especially before cleaning so it has a chance to do this. After the pipe cools it won’t absorb much more so you clean it then.

The second requirement is that it tastes good. Why risk jaw cancer if it doesn’t taste good? Pipe smoke is a lot like the hookah smoke where if you don’t overdo it (looking at cigarette smokers) you’re not in a risk group. If you’re like me and you smoke once a weekend, you’re definitely not in the risk group. Or look at it this way – you’re in the same risk group as alcohol consumption. But back to the topic of taste, I have some golden cavendish (think of this as unflavored – or cigar flavor), and some Afternoon Delight (house blend). A quick note on flavors. There’s blends and there’s casings. Casings are things like fruit rollups that fell on the floor. They’re not tobacco but rather flavor it. Generally if it’s “aromatic”, it’s got casings, but if it’s nonaromatic, it’s simply blends of tobacco. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Do keep in mind that tobacco with casing tends to be “wet” (over 70% RH) while tobacco without casings tends to be dry (under 70% RH).

The test here was to take the Afternoon Delight, pack a reasonable bowl, and see how it was after a week in the jarmidor. If I had let it sit out, it would have been dry and terrible. On the other hand, if it gets much above 70% RH, you can’t taste anything because it’s soup. This was one of the problems I had when I got it, and I had no idea why it sucked. My process to pack a pipe is to fill the bowl with tobacco and smash it down. Repeat two or three times until the draw is constricted but not impossible. Try to keep it uniform. Then sprinkle a bit on top and don’t pack it down as much, which gives you something to light. Hold a lighter over the whole thing and puff until you have an even burn. Tada, you win at pipe lighting.

To taste the stuff, try waiting until combustion and condensation leave some juice in the bowl (like a hookah), or you can draw very slowly. The tip of your tongue generally only gets “hot” flavors, but the middle of your tongue is where the actual tasting goes on. As such, unlike a cigar, try moving the end of the stem to the middle of your tongue and then drawing. Notice that drawing isn’t inhaling, inhaling is a quick trip to vomittown on the puke express. Also lung cancer. In my case when I did the middle-of-the-tongue trick, I got brown sugar, molasses, and ginger bread. Good stuff.

I would say the jarmidor is working great.