Book review: Fifteen Years of Tobacco

As an avid reader, I often try to find books related to tobacco or pipes in some way, even if very tenuously. Sometimes I am surprised by the book even if it turns out to not be about the subject at all. Such was the case with Fifteen Years of Tobacco by Richard Black, a free Smashwords book that I got for my Barnes & Noble Nook Color. After reading the first paragraph, in which was the line, “Alcohol is the Devil’s blood and tobacco his breath,” I was ready for a book related to tobacco. Turns out it’s more applicable to the modern human condition, as it is about, Jamal Awiya, a young African photojournalist whose drinking problem causes him to lose his job as tour guide at a nature reserve in the fictional nation of Barudi (no, not Burundi), forcing him out into a larger world, including the city’s capital, Mungo, where he learns a few things about life. I kept reading because it is a decent story and, unlike many self-published books, doesn’t have many typos or grammatical errors.

This short, interesting read lightly touches on government autocracy, radical Islam, African and European geopolitics, biased Media, the IMF, and the struggles of every man- which are often exactly the same as ours, even if the other lives a life completely foreign to our own. After losing his job to alcoholism, Jamal runs into Tom Ejiet, whom he had met while guiding the gentleman and his wife on safari. Tom helps Jamal get work at the Presidential Press Office, where he soon learns that politics and corruption are often hard to distinguish between and, indeed, more often than not go hand in hand. Barudi is a contradiction, like a great many African nations. The oldest inhabited continent, incredibly rich in resources, happens to be home to some of the world’s youngest and poorest nations, all struggling for survival in a world where the rest of the world’s interests take priority over those of the native population.

Fifteen Years of Tobacco explores these issues through the eyes of Jamal as he works for the government. He discusses the Greek financial crisis and the meddling of the IMF in world affairs; meddling which has destroyed many nations and lives the world over since that corrupt collection of Rothschild banksters bribed and assassinated its way into existence. Barudi is no different. Once praised by the west for its democratic ideals and resistance to “radical Islam,” violence soon erupts, triggered by the death of a mother and child at the underfunded State Hospital, and egged on by teachings of a liberal university professor, of course. This wreaks havoc on the economy of Barudi, which happens to be the world’s largest producer of tobacco. Planes full of the glorious weed sit on tarmacs, unable to be delivered to the companies which will turn it into the wide variety of luxury products that we smokers know and love. The American government, in reaction to the falling stock market, soon gets involved (when do they not, especially when billions of dollars are at stake?), Jamal’s friend Tom is beaten by angry demonstrators, and Jamal soon finds himself living in a confusing world where the president has absconded to Zimbabwe, American troops are preparing to invade liberate the nation, and Jamal is once again unemployed.

If you like short fiction with a sudden and unresolved ending, by all means read this free Nook book, which can be found at Barnes & Noble, and probably elsewhere if you do an internet search. This book is just long enough to read while enjoying a bowl of your favorite tobacco, and might help you better appreciate your ability to relax with a pipe and a book without worrying about the world burning around you, just the tobacco burning in your bowl.

Software review: Pipe Smoker Unleashed

About a month ago I was perusing various software and apps, and got to thinking, man, they have an app for everything these days. Then suddenly I realized that, hey, maybe there is some kind of app or program related to pipe smoking? So a quick Google search with the phrase “pipe smoking software” brought me to Pipe Smoker Unleashed, an amazing and very affordable app that has tools specifically designed with the tobacco enthusiast in mind. With Pipe Smoker Unleashed, you can organize your pipe collection, tobacco cellar, accessories, tobacconists, and thoughts, all within one very useful application.

Now, I do not smoke cigars often, so I didn’t pay the extra $5 for the Cigar add on, but I will probably purchase it in the future just to review it. The PSU app is only about $15- less than the cost of two tins of  pipe tobacco. As already stated, the Cigar upgrade is just five dollars more. Here are some screenshots and a description of some of the features from my copy of the app (click the pics for a larger image):

Pipe Smoker Unleashed Main Screen

Pipe/Main Screen

This is the main screen that you see after opening the app, which defaults to your Pipe Collection. As you can see, I have quite the collection! I have had so many other pipes that, through my inexperience and stupidity, were mostly broken or lost over the years, from just idiotic things like knocking them against a wall to remove the dottle, eventually breaking the shank, or being too zealous with a poker, breaking the shank (I break a lot of shanks). One pipe, I pushed a poker right through the side of the bowl while cleaning- apparently there was a spot that was burning through, and I never knew it. This is why so far I only buy relatively cheap pipes, and I recommend any new smoker do the same until they have learned to properly appreciate and care for their pipes. Why on earth spend hundreds of dollars on a pipe that you are going to break or lose after a less than a year of use?

Anyways, as you can see, the Pipes tab is where you keep track of your pipe collection. Adding a new pipe is as easy as clicking a button and entering all the known info into the form that pops up.

PSU New Pipe Screen

New Pipe Screen

As you can see, any information that you can think of about your pipe, as well as some you might not know, is able to be entered here. The manufacturer, model and series, country of origin, shape and dimensions, purchase price and date, place of purchase, material, filter, and notes can all be entered from this screen, and you can also add a photo of your own, or upload one from the internet. Want the pipe but don’t have it? Enter all known info and check the “Add This Pipe To Wish List” box. Once you have entered all the info, just press “Save New Pipe” and voila, the pipe now shows up on the Pipes screen. The next tab is the Tobacco screen, where you keep track of all your tobaccos.

PSU Tobacco Screen

PSU Tobacco Screen

Those two “brands” that are blocked out are just my surname; I’ve been playing with blending the past couple of months. Now, I just assume several things when entering info on this screen. For instance, under “Strength”, I assume it means Nicotine content, and so that’s what I rate here, but it could mean mouth feel or bite, whatever. In the same way, under “Type”, I put the main tobacco type(s), but it might just be asking for English, Aromatic, etc. Regardless, you can enter your info any way you wish. And yes, you see that right- Alsbo Gold is one of my favorite tobaccos of all time! It is my everyday smoke; cool, flavorful and mild. Plus I have never met a single person that did not absolutely love the smell, so I can smoke it just about anywhere. Now, adding a new tobacco to your inventory is as easy as adding a new pipe- just click a button and enter all your info on the screen that pops up.

PSU Add New Tobacco Screen

Add New Tobacco Screen

This is the Add New Tobacco screen. As you can see, just like for pipes, there are only a few required fields, but you can add a lot of info about your tobacco, including an image from your hard drive or the internet, a rating, strength, flavor, room note, etc. The “Amount Remaining” column is not customized from this screen, but rather when adding tobacco to your cellar. To save time, the programmer(s) has added a cool feature that, when you click “Save New Tobacco Blend,” a popup appears asking if you would also like to add some to your Cellar. The cellar is where you keep track of your cellared tobacco, as distinguished from the stuff you actually plan to smoke anytime soon.

PSU Cellar Screen

Cellar Screen

If you choose to add some tobacco to your cellar, whether through the Cellar tab or the popup that appears after you add a tobacco blend to the Tobacco tab, this is where it will show up. As you can see, I’m running pretty low! I’ve been back in college for the last three years and have gone from quite comfortable to nearly starving, but that’s another story. Now, the only complaint I have about adding to your cellar, is that you can only enter numbers in the “weight” and “amount remaining” fields, so you have to choose a unit and remember that you are using that unit. Most people would probably use grams as that’s how most pipe tobacco is sold, but since I do conversions all the time for school and work, I just use ounces, and do a quick approximate conversion in my head from grams to ounces when adding any tobaccos. So instead of 150 grams I would enter 5.25 ounces- close enough. There definitely does need to be added the ability to choose your weight units, though, or at least enter letters into the fields.

Got accessories? The Accessories tab is where you will keep track of these. As with other screens there are many options, including the accessory brand and type, manufacturer, place of purchase and price. It is great to be able to track your accessory purchases, as the costs of Czech tools, reamers, cleaners, stands, etc. all add up.

PSU Accessory Screen

Accessory Screen

There is also a Journal tab, where you can keep a personal journal. Since I have yet to use it, I didn’t include a screenshot, just because it’s a blank screen.

Not sure what you want to smoke today? The “Pick Pipe and Tobacco” feature is just what you need! Just click the button and Pipe Smoker Unleashed will randomly choose a pipe and tobacco combination from your collection. You can re-roll, as it were, for a new combination. When you decide on a smoke, you then have the option to add the smoking experience to your Smoking Log. The Smoking Log lets you basically review your smoking experience. You can add notes as you smoke, anything from how the pack and light went, whether you had to relight, what you might have done to better enjoy your smoke, or whatever. Reviewing your Smoking Log entries later might help you find whether a certain pipe/tobacco combination simply will not work, or when is the best time to enjoy that certain blend, or how you need to pack that one stubborn bowl, etc.

PSU Random Smoke Screen

Random Smoke Screen

Add to Smoking Log Popup

Add to Smoking Log Popup

When adding your pipes and tobaccos, you have the option to upload pictures from either your hard drive or the internet, and these images are all automatically placed in your Gallery. The gallery tab allows you to peruse your gallery or even see a slideshow of it. Just another cool feature of Pipe Smoker unleashed!
Here is my pathetic gallery of my pathetic collection!

PSU Gallery Screen

Gallery Screen

Pipe Smoker Unleashed also features an Address Book feature, where you can keep track of your favorite tobacconists. As I do 90% of my purchasing from just one supplier, I do not have many entries.

Address Book

Address Book

Finally, you have the ability to generate multiple reports concerning your collection. Here’s a shot of the report screen where you can choose to print a list of pipes by Maker, Model, Country, Supplier, or Purchase date, and a few more options. You access this by clicking “Print Pipe List” in the menu. I have never actually used this feature as I only have five pipes, but for those with large collections (most pipe smokers I have met!), this is a great feature.

Report Screen

Report Screen

So, if you are a luxury tobacco enthusiast, I highly recommend purchasing this awesome software. Just fifteen bucks for the main program, and an extra five for the Cigar add on, makes Pipe Smoker Unleashed a great value- once you register it, you can re-download and use the application even if it gets deleted from your computer somehow. Your purchase entitles you to a lifetime of enjoyment of this application. Pipe Smoker Unleashed will give you hours of enjoyment and help save time and money by keeping track of your collection, cellar, and purchases.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and that you will enjoy the Pipe Smoker Unleashed app as much as I am. I have not been paid or compensated for this review in any manner- I just want to share my experience! Thanks and enjoy!

-Joshua

OK, I am finally ready!

I created several blogs on WordPress, all with similar names and addresses, in an effort to find the one I liked most. however, I do believe that this on is the one which I will use. So, if you were looking for “With Briar and Book” or another one of my blogs, this is it- Pipe and Page. The name was chosen because my goal in writing these posts is to share my love of both pipe smoking and reading. I plan to talk about and review pipes, tobaccos, and books, particularly books about pipes and tobacco, and the state of the Tobacco Industry. I have attempted several blogs over the years, and usually end up forgetting about them, so I do hope I can keep this up! It is not my intent to earn any money from this blog, though I do plan to allow ads eventually, sorry! Hey, everyone else is doing it…

So, without further beating around the briar patch, here we go with Pipe and Page. Thanks for stopping by!