Smoke Bombs

19th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in Amusements

I usually keep a tissue or a rag or something else at hand on which to wipe the ash from my tamper after use. Not this morning. A few minutes ago, out of desperation - I don’t like ash on my desk, but was too engrossed in what I was doing to get up and get a rag - I did a slovenly, almost barbaric thing instead, wiping the business end of the tamper on the carpet. What the hell? I’d be vacuuming later anyway, and, besides, a little ash never hurt a rug, right? It keeps the moths away.

Naturally, in addition to transferring some ash to the rug, this procedure also transferred some rug to the tamper. When I subsequently tamped the bowl, thus completing the cycle, a bit of rug was then transferred to ember. The ensuing reek emanating from the smouldering carpet thread was foul and vicious, tainting my delightful smoke in a most egregious manner.

I think I know what was in that Peruvian meteorite. If the investigators call me, I’ll be happy to tell them for a mere fraction of what they’d spend on laboratory analysis.

Finding the Flaws

17th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in Amusements

In this little video, Rolf discusses the benefits and varied uses of the P-lip stem, or, as he calls them, the “lip-bit,” and, for those who stay up nights worrying about such things, he demonstrates a unique, and possibly foolproof method of ascertaining the presence or absence of flaws and fills in your high grade pipes. It’s a must watch for all pipe lovers.

Remember. Rolf is a trained professional, with years of experience under his belt. Please, don’t try this at home!

Trouble at the Fillmore

12th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in Product News

Ouch. Near the end of June of this year, a batch of Fillmore spent significantly too much time in the presses, resulting in a product that, while made from the same tobaccos, is very much different from what Fillmore is supposed to be. The tobacco isn’t bad, it’s just not right. The affected batch is considerably darker, an almost monochromatic deep red/brown, and doesn’t display the lovely golden strands that pepper the warmer hues in the real thing. Neither does this batch deliver the fruity aroma and complex sweetness that are hallmarks of Fillmore.

Again, the tobacco isn’t bad, but it isn’t Fillmore. To the best of my knowledge, the only bad batch is dated 24th May, 2007. If you have one of these tins of “French Roasted” Fillmore, and don’t like it, please contact me to arrange its replacement. If you do like it, enjoy it while you have it, because the manufacturer has assured me there won’t be anymore mistakes like this one. I hope he’s right…

Addendum: It’s come to light that the actual date of the tins is 24th May, 2007, not 27th June as previously reported. -glp


8th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in Amusements

The web really is a web, and becomes more web-like as more people publish their own thoughts via their sites and blogs. Why am I pointing this out? Simple. Both the Briar & Leaf Chronicles and Robusto were recently mentioned in Eric Lauritzen’s blog, Self Composed. (Great title, by the way!) I know this because the WordPress engine that drives the Chronicles informs me via a trackback when someone links to one of the pages. How cool is that? (Of course, Mr. Lauritzen will now know that I’ve linked to him here. I hope it doesn’t end up like pointing a video camera at its monitor, or Xeroxing a mirror. Yes, I know the last thing doesn’t really work, but it sounds almost as amusing as dropping Mentos into Diet Coke. Okay, no it doesn’t…)

Nessun Dorma - R. I. P. Luciano Pavarotti

5th September, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

The nightingale will not sing; the world has lost one of the greatest operatic tenors that has ever lived. Luciano Pavarotti is dead today, at the age of 71.

I don’t remember the first time I heard him sing. I was young, and not a fan of opera, but knew there was something special there, and my mum adored him. His powerful voice, masterfully spanning the octaves, was enflamed by an obvious passion - for the music, for the art, for life. He had a boyishly enthusiastic presence coupled with charisma to spare, and with his voice he could reach out, take your breath away, and not give it back until he was done. It was his fire that got me paying attention to opera, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

This particular video of Nessun Dorma, from Puccini’s Turendot, is the finest performance of the aria I’ve ever heard. The final phrases give me goose flesh every time I hear them, and bring tears to my eyes. The title translates roughly to, “Let no one sleep.” Tonight, let no one sleep but the nightingale. Sleep well, Maestro, and if you wouldn’t mind, sing one for my mum.

R. I. P. Alfred Peet

1st September, 2007: Posted by glpease in General News

Mr. Alfred Peet, who founded Peet’s Coffee in 1966, bringing his beautiful, deep roasted coffees to Berkeley, has left us at the age of 87.

I will never forget the Saturdays, it started when I was about eight, when my mother and I would go to Peet’s original Vine Street shop for the weekly coffee. I was always fascinated by the smells, the machinery, the culture. Those early experience of Peet’s would influence my life in ways I wouldn’t realize until much later.

Grinding the beans was always a family affair, and, of course, we’d engage unsuspecting dinner guests in the ritual. The old, hand-cranked grinder would be passed round the table, and all would take their turn, sharing in the process. My father would prepare the Chemex, folding the filter and measuring the coffee, while mom readied the water. The art of coffee at our house was a performance, and everyone participated.

When I was at last out on my own, I took many of the rituals of my childhood with me, and haven’t forgotten them. The old hand-crank has been replaced with modern electric convenience, and a Melior has taken the place of the old Chemex (though I still have it), but Peet’s beans have always been one thread of continuity that ties present with past.

I owe my love of coffee to my parents, to the almost religious observance of the bean I had cultivated as a child, and in no small way, to Mr. Peet, and his dedication to his art and craft.

Brew on, Mr. Peet. You will not be forgotten. If there is a heaven, there will now be good coffee there.