Archive for the 'Teenagers' Category

11
Apr
08

sometimes, you just want a cigar

One of the advantages of working at a smokeshop is that I get to smoke on the job.

I don’t often show my ugly mug on this blog, but a friend recently snapped this pic of your humble scribe doing one of the things he loves most, so here you go.

I love smoking, I love tobacco, and I personally don’t give a rat’s ass who knows it. Personally I’m getting a little fed up with being vilified by society for indulging in one of life’s great pleasures, a pleasure, I would add, that is, at least for the moment, still completely legal.

The cigar, for the curious, is a “Rocky Patel”, a Honduran cigar with a Sumatra seed, Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper. To put it simply, it is an exquisite cigar

A few random thoughts on smoking here:

Many people (non-smokers, naturally) paint the pipe, cigars, and cigarettes with the same black brush. This is utter rubbish. Comparing cigars to cigarettes is like comparing McEwan’s Scotch Ale or Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter or Old Peculiar Yorkshire Ale to Bud Light.

One drinks a good stout or ale for the flavor. The idea is to taste and enjoy the subtleties and complexities of the brew. The alcohol content, while significant, is of secondary import. But let’s be honest here: no one drinks Bud Light because it tastes good. The only reason to drink this misbegotten beverage is because you want to get drunk and it does the job, quickly and efficiently.

By the same token, no one smokes cigarettes because they taste good. The only reason to smoke a cigarette is to get that six-second-lung-to-brain nicotine hit that a cigarette provides. And just as one might drink Old Peculiar or Sam Smith’s because one appreciates the exquisite flavor of these brews, so one smokes a fine cigar (or pipe tobacco, for that matter) for the flavor. The idea is to taste the tobacco, as the leaves from various subtropical countries combine to form a complex panoply of flavors which intrigue and delight the palate.

I find it astounding that the anti-smoking zealots claim to be doing this “for the children”. Ah, yes, it’s always for the children, isn’t it? Has anyone bothered to take a gander at what the “children” are getting up to these days? Teenagers are binge drinking (usually Bud Light, not Old Peculiar), driving cars after binge drinking, using hard core drugs like cocaine and heroin, indulging in unprotected sex, and posting naked pictures of themselves on the internet. I guess this is okay, because-thank God-THEY’RE SMOKE FREE KIDS!!!! Where the hell are all the public service announcements aimed at discouraging this sort of behavior that can irretrievably alter-or end-their lives in an instant?

Actually, this isn’t even true. The smokeshop where I work is within walking distance of several colleges. Out of curiosity, I recently asked one of them why he had started smoking. I pointed out to him that he was too young to have ever seen a cigarette add on TV. In fact, the only information concerning cigarettes available to him from the electronic media (which is where teens get 99% of their information) was all NEGATIVE. Since this kid was old enough to understand the English language, he has been bombarded with nothing but adds telling him not smoke. So why does he? His answer was simple and to the point: “Everyone was telling me not to do it, so that just made me more determined to try it.” Ah, from the mouths of babes….

Here in Massachusetts, our feckless governor, Deval Patrick, recently held a press conference to announce that there would be no broad-based taxes. The people of Massachusetts, he said, were already paying enough, between soaring gas prices and an already hefty tax burden (they don’t call it “Taxachusetts” for nothing, kids.) Okay, I thought to myself, I can get behind this. For once I thought I found myself agreeing with a Liberal, until I got to the last paragraph of the newspaper story. There it was revealed that Patrick intends to raise the cigarette tax by a dollar a pack. Evidently the cigarette tax does not fall into the category of “broad based tax”.

The truth, of course, is that tobacco taxes are the favorite method of politicians who are too cowardly to implement an increase in the gas tax, or alcohol tax, or any sort of tax that might actually get them booted out of office by an incensed and already overburdened electorate. Tobacco taxes are safe because they only affect a now politically impotent minority, and besides, it’s “for the children.” I find it supremely ironic that Liberal Democrats, who are supposed to be the party of compassion and the common man have no problem resorting to this most regressive of taxes when it suits their purposes.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are not physically addictive. You don’t “Jones” for a cigar the way you do for a cigarette. This is because you don’t inhale cigars. As mentioned before, the idea is to taste the tobacco, and to this end one simply “sips” the tobacco into the mouth, lets it linger there for a moment or two, and then exhales it. While a small amount of nicotine does enter the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth, it is not in sufficient quantities to create a physical addiction. Rather, it is a gradual and relaxing process, which is why smoking a pipe or cigar is such an effective way to relax.

Which, now that I think about it, is what I need to do right now.

-Smith

18
Jul
07

The Ring Thing

By now nothing that goes on in public schools should surprise me. We live in a through-the-looking-glass world where students are suspended for smoking cigarettes, but can get free condoms from the school nurse, where prayer is not allowed but t-shirts glorifying rap music and its odious messages are commonly worn, and where students graduate knowing how to TM while barely being able to read and speak articulately.

So why should it surprise me that an English school has forbidden a fifteen year old Christian girl from wearing a small silver ring that symbolizes her commitment to chastity until marriage? If you want the details, see this article here, although a Google search of Lydia Playfoot turns up quite a bit of material. Suffice to say, she has been told by the school to remove the ring or face expulsion.

I have two BIG problems with this.

First, this same school allows Muslim girls to wear their head scarves, and Sikh girls to wear the silver bracelets of their faiths. This I have no problem with. Freedom to express one’s religion is a basic human right. But don’t Christian girls have the same rights as Muslims and Sikhs?

And perhaps more importantly, does anyone really think it’s such a hot idea to punish a teenager when she’s actually trying to do the right thing? Anyone who has ever been the parent of a teenager knows what a demoralizing experience this can be. There are just so many ways teens can screw up their lives: drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, gangs. No matter how hard you try to steer them away from these, many just blithely embrace some or all of these self destructive behaviors while regarding their parents as hopelessly out of touch simpletons. Any parent who can shepherd their teen to adulthood while keeping them in one piece has done something to be proud of.

This process is made harder than ever because there are just so many other influences on teens that parents must now compete with. Peer pressure used to mean the kids at school. Now, thanks to the Internet, it means kids all over the world. Kids are being urged by way too many people to make really, really bad decisions.

So in a world where teenagers kill just because they want to “see what it feels like”, it is refreshing to hear about a girl like Lydia Playfoot, who is actually doing the right thing and encouraging others to do the same. But instead of getting the praise she deserves, all she’s getting is a whole lot of undeserved aggravation. It is a sad indictment of our culture when a teenage girl is turned into a pariah for NOT having sex. The scarlet letter A used to stand for “adulteress”. I guess now it stands for “abstinence”.

In our increasingly secular world, there are many who find her extroverted brand of Christian faith cloying, but that is more of a reflection of our society than it is on her. I find it rather ironic that while the western world is predominantly Christian, Christianity itself is becoming ever more marginalized. Devout Christians are often looked down upon by the intelligentsia as rubes and simpletons. And yet in Muslim, Jewish, and other cultures, religious faith is still viewed as a virtue.

But one does not need to embrace devout Christianity to recognize the value of her message, or to be disturbed by the school administration’s attempts to squash that message, which should be regarded as a breath of fresh air. What parent in the world wouldn’t sell their soul just to hear their teen say, “Mom, Dad, I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve decided not to have sex until I’m married. Is that OK?” In a world where so many influences are telling her to do otherwise, Lydia Playfoot is doing the right thing. Ring or no ring.

–Smith




taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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