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Everything posted by Philc2001

  1. I can tell; you all have the sickness... haha! Good synopsis of the journey John.
  2. For the past month I have been wondering why the west doesn't just shut off the spigot to Russian energy. Of course, I know it's complex and it takes some time, but seeing headlines stating Italy needs 3 years to stop importing Russian oil, or that Germany can't transition from Russian gas without crashing the global economy made me somewhat skeptical that the west was really stepping up. An article in the Guardian today put some more of this into perspective. I am still not convinced that much of Europe is truly aware of the incredible risk they have undertaken sleeping with a deadly bear, but I am hoping they muster the courage and willpower to make a concerted, enduring, unwavering effort to undo their sordid affairs with Russia. It seems to me the key to containing Putin is to slaughter his cash cow.
  3. Partagas Lonsdale 1999 This is one I was saving for a special occasion and this is it; in honor of Habana Mike. I’m pairing this with a 2018 old vine Zinfandel, aptly called CIGAR, produced by one of favorite wineries; Lodi, in California. The back label reads; “My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.” — by Winston Churchill. The exact origin of this gorgeous Partagas Lonsdale is lost somewhere in my notes. It’s been in my collection for over a decade. It is well rolled, a little tight near the head, but it draws just the way I like, with a bit of resistance. The milk chocolate colored wrapper is nearly flawless, with only tiny veins throughout. The lovely balance in the hand, and the dimensions of the Lonsdale make it my favorite of all CC formats, such a shame the Cubans abandoned it. The burn aroma of the first third is breathtaking, mild barnyard twang, cooking spices, earth, and a hint of cedar and nuts. The burn is perfect, even, and the ash hung on for over 2 inches before it broke off. This is a heavenly smoke, a rare breed. The elegance of this Lonsdale is beyond description. The smooth blend of spices, earth, baked bread, leather and aged tobacco melds beautifully with the wine, leaving a subtle and complex aftertaste that lingers for several seconds. I am transported to another realm. The astringent quality of the wine perfectly cleanses the palate every few minutes, making the cigar flavors renewed and fresh. There is a very delicate, complex, and highly enjoyable essence to this beautiful cigar. The aroma is intoxicating, it evokes memories of baking, roasting chestnuts and soft woods on a campfire. The taste is perfectly balanced with subtle, changing flavors, sometimes cooking spices, sometimes baking goods, a bit of leather here and there, just impossible to describe them all. There are ample volumes of smoke, and the lingering aftertaste is like velvet. Unlike more recent production of Partagas vitolas, there is not a single hint of pepper to this smoke, it is smooth and medium bodied, never harsh or bitter. The mid section passed by quietly and elegantly, holding me transfixed in the moment. At the start of the final third I did a light touch up as the burn line was wavering slightly, and I did not want to risk letting it get too far off course. The aroma shifted slightly, producing more wood and less baked bread, but equally enjoyable. The flavors remained complex and perfectly balanced, with hints of fried mushrooms sneaking in periodically. Pure smoking bliss. Nubbed at the last inch. This was a truly moving experience, as close to perfection as a cigar can be, I am giving this a perfect 10/10. There are few cigars of this pedigree that I have ever been fortunate enough to enjoy, I can only compare it to the handful of ERDM Tainos I smoked a few years go, and some distant memories of Punch Super Selection from decades ago. A truly memorable cigar. I am glad I got to experience this wonderful cigar in honor of our dear departed friend Mike. My venue for this review:
  4. While I never met Mike in person, I felt like I knew him. We had chats and he inspired me like so many others with his “no time like the present” thread, which I added little to, but admired in spirit. Mike always had kind and encouraging feedback, and of course he had primo cigars that many of us only dream about. So long brother, Rest In Peace with the knowledge you inspired many brothers and sisters, and rest assured your presence and sense of being will be sorely missed. I will be smoking my best and tipping a glass of my finest scotch this weekend in your honor. Condolences to your loved ones who are grieving your unexpected departure. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. OMG! Never met Mike, but somehow felt like I knew him and connected in some way. Will definitely miss his presence. Condolences to his wife and family. May he rest in peace.
  6. Anyone have any suggestions for Cigar shops or Lounges in Barcelona? I'm staying a few blocks from Sagrada.
  7. I'm staying 2 blocks from Sorolla museum, it was on my list of sites to visit. I just mapped La Cava de Miguel Àngel and it is literally just 600 meters from my hotel. I also found Cava de Magallanes Habanos Official Madrid is just a mile west of my hotel, and from their YouTube presence they appear to be the largest Estanco in Spain and they have a large humidor lounge with a big selection. I don't know anything else about them though. Here are a couple of their videos. Has anyone visited their Cava?
  8. Hi gang, Next week I'm going to be in Spain for 2 weeks celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. I've been a good lad, saving my pennies for this event. The cities we are staying in are Madrid, Seville, Ronda, Granada and Barcelona. I'll be taking a couple of cigars, but mostly hope to buy some cigars in Spain, so I would appreciate any advise on CC outlets and cigar lounges where I can comfortably smoke and drink in a nice atmosphere. Would also appreciate advise on local regionals that are under 50 rg, I'm not into the fatties. Please hit me up on PM, or point me to any links you might have that will further my quest. Thanks in advance.
  9. I am convinced the LCDH in several Mexico tourist areas, and for that matter on any Carib. islands, are almost all fakes. Any non LCDH merchants, or any of the folks walking around with cigars on any of the Carib islands are guaranteed to be 100% fake. in fact, any cigar shops around the world selling CCs except Spain, France and Switzerland I would be very suspicious, and even then I would stick to reputable merchants. There are some LCDH shops in some of the duty free zones that may be legit, but few and far between.
  10. If you're offered CCs on the streets in Cuba, or in Miami, either on the streets or in cigar shop, I am 100% certain they are fakes. The island fakes probably have some Cuban tobacco, though. The fakes you typically find around Miami are often real tobacco, probably Nic or Hond tobacco. I haven't had any of these in many years, but virtually all the ones I tasted over the years were crap, very peppery and harsh as I recall. Some fakes I had decades ago, or at least what I believed to be fakes, were damn good cigars, I wish I had been able to get box loads. Most of these were brought back from the island by Cuban friends. I never could figure out who rolled them or where, but the flavor profile was as good as any I had ever had from the island. But fakes back then were most likely to be farm rolled with real tobacco, or at least tobacco trimmings. One or two that I dissected were actually long leaf, and expertly rolled. Nowadays, it is much more sketchy. When I went to Cuba a few years ago, right before travel routes were shut down again, I was mauled by counterfeiters trying to sell fakes in the alleys nearby the port. They had some really great looking cigars, some of which rival the quality of authentic cigars as far as aesthetics. Of course, there is no way to know what you will find inside them, they could be banana leaves, grass trimming, condoms, newspaper, oh and probably some tobacco of sorts, who the heck knows? I thought about getting some just to dissect them, but the crooks would only sell box quantity, and I wasn't about to throw away $100 to find out.
  11. 2005 Partagas P2, smooth, medium bodied smoke, slightly spicy.
  12. By the same measure, aren't you assuming that nothing was learned from this experience that can be applied to the next pandemic outbreak? I agree there will undoubtedly be some degree of variability, but the spread of a pandemic is somewhat predictable. Where transmission is person to person, the pattern can be modeled. The playbook may be slightly different depending on the origin and the severity, etc. but slowing down the spread of a pandemic has an established protocol. Do you think China, Taiwan, HK, etc. learned nothing useful from SARS, bird flu, swine flu, etc. that influenced their response to COVID? Even in the US, there were obvious similarities between COVID and the 1918 pandemic outbreaks. No doubt, some politicians will repeat the same mistakes, for political reasons not merely because the next outbreak is unpredictable.
  13. I think we are in agreement. But wasn't that always the objective? It seemed abundantly clear, to me at least, that social distancing and masking were temporary, just buying time, until a cure or vaccine could be developed and administered. Taiwan and others prioritized and responded effectively. I don't think anyone assumes that distancing and masking was a 100% solution, but I think there is enough real world evidence and observations to prove they are effective at slowing down the spread and minimizing the death toll. I don't know how anyone can argue that it didn't. And it was always a matter of time. Buying time to get a cure, or in this case a vaccine. Now that we have vaccines, Taiwan and other countries that had measurable success stand out as case studies of what worked, and the US and India among others, are case studies of what did not work so well. Will that change behavior next time around?
  14. So it seems, I can't follow the logic... either 100% compliance, or don't even bother. Much as we wish for universal and coordinated behavior, countries like China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia and others that reacted quickly and early were much more successful. That is real the world. It may be just be me and how I'm reading your feedback, but it seems that your'e criticizing the masses for not complying 100% with mandates, yet you openly admit you yourself don't comply. The wave patterns in the stats prove conclusively that the shutdowns did slow down the virus. Unfortunately, the response was inconsistent around the world. But those countries that did move quickly and early have been more successful at containing it and resuming normalcy.
  15. The virus is known to be airborne, transmitted by respiratory particles expelled into the air by someone who is infected. Viral particles from another person's respiratory output that is inhaled by another person increases the risk of infecting that person. I think this much is proven fact. The article uses a quantitative model based on the abundance of airborne respiratory virus in the air. Think of it in measurable terms such as parts per billion, the amount of virus particles in a given volume of air. It is a pretty straight forward model where the amount of airborne virus (viral load) in the air within a contained space depends on the number of people in that space who are infected, how much virus is being expelled into the air (eg. coughing, sneezing, yelling, etc.), how long they are present in that space, the air filtration and circulation in that space, etc. I don't think it is difficult to understand the two key points of the masking ideology; (1) masks can trap and substantially reduce the amount of virus particles expelled into the air, and (2) that masks substantially reduce the risk of inhaling viral particles from the virus load floating around you. Even the basic surgical mask can reduce the amount of respiratory particles expelled into the air by about 50%. Some masks do even better. The case being made is that the abundance of airborne respiratory virus in the air at any given moment, whenever we are around others, is the key. If those infected are not masked, they could be releasing 50% or more greater viral load into the air. Anyone breathing infected air could be getting up to 50% more viral dose if they are not wearing a mask. The research makes it clear that masking is not 100% effective. But even in the worst case, they are effective at substantially reducing the viral load in the air, and reducing the viral dose one can inhale from the air they breath. There are many variables in determining mask effectiveness, but most social settings where we are likely to be exposed to the virus, such as stores, restaurants, etc., are virus-limited, where masks can make a significant difference. In your airplane example, eating/drinking during the flight can certainly contribute to higher viral loads in the air. But imagine how much higher the viral load would be if nobody wore masks at all for the entire duration of the flight. The point that I think you are trying to make is that since not everyone wears masks properly, and masks are not worn all the time, we shouldn't bother... that we are simply pretending that masks work. But when you put it into meaningful terms, such as viral load floating in the air, I think it is obvious that masks provide a level of protection that makes them worthwhile. I'm not likely to convince you, but I'll follow the science here and will take comfort in knowing that when I wear my mask I am at least reducing the risk in half.
  16. There was a fair bit of dialog in here about the effectiveness of masks and whether they make any difference, or if they provide any kind of measurable protection. I hear a lot of anecdotes and opinions, but very few well documented or researched perspectives. Well, a friend forwarded this Science article to me, and it gave me a new perspective. Read for yourself. Here is the abstract for the article, followed by a link to the full article;
  17. I actually wish they would get all their boxes and packaging made in China, then they would at least look as professional as most NCs. I forgot to add; and they would probably cost less too.
  18. My wife and I never get the flu vaccine, but her mom gets vaccinated every year, religiously. And yet without fail, we never get the flu but her mother gets the flu every single winter, despite being vaccinated. We live in a tropical climate though, and her mom lives in the North East, so weather is probably a factor. There is no way of knowing what strain of flu she gets, or whether she was vaxxed against that strain or not. However, her symptoms are usually relatively mild and pass within a few days, so maybe the vax is doing something for her, I don't know. Her mom's husband works in retail, interacting with customers all day long, so that is likely the transfer agent. He finally retired as soon as COVID broke out, and she didn't get the flu this past winter, probably coincidence.
  19. I anticipate companies will continue to build momentum towards vaccination... Delta Airlines is now requiring all new employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but that’s not the case for existing employees. The cruise line industry is also requiring vaccination, although they had several health related problems well before COVID; The CDC clarified its existing return-to-sailing framework on Wednesday, allowing cruise companies to bypass previously required simulated voyages if a ship attests that 98% of its crew and 95% of its passengers are fully vaccinated. Since I would like to travel again soon, I'm glad the airlines are doing something to ease traveler's minds beyond the cabin disinfecting silliness.
  20. I think these are somewhat exaggerated urban legends. But, there are some rational reasons for treating every case that comes into the hospital as a covid infected victim. Until this pandemic is overcome, first responders and medical workers cannot take an chances, they have to assume every patient they see is infectious. They spend their entire shift in a bubble of PPE, and have to take every precaution possible including changing their PPE between every patient they visit. It's not a pleasant environment to be in, constantly behind a mask for 8-12 hours, and covered in PPE head to toe every minute. So in a clinical emergency setting, basically every patient has to be treated as though they are infected, or you may not live to see the next patient.
  21. The dilemma, it seems to me, is that getting vaccinated is as much a personal choice as it is a global security concern. Given the mortality rate, the infectious nature of the virus, and no known medical treatments for the disease, It is difficult to separate oneself from the big picture and look at it strictly as a personal choice. The disease is communicable through the air, it has reached every corner on earth, and it is fatal. The moment you come within breathing distance of anyone else, there is risk of transmission, and potentially hastening someone's death. So unless you can remain in total isolation, fully quarantined, it should be obvious why vaccination cannot simply be a matter of personal choice. Instinctively, the first line of defense against a pandemic is to keep it away by shutting down the borders, and encouraging self isolation. Next come the curfews and social restrictions, and if it continues to kill people, then forced quarantine and prosecution. Meanwhile you focus every resource possible on finding a cure. There isn't much flexibility in that playbook. The vaccine is the closest thing we have to cure at the moment, although it is not a cure strictly speaking. Deadly global pandemics are unique in terms of social order, once they start spreading within the borders, they cannot be eradicated until everyone worldwide collaborates, coordinates and cooperates. Hence, the US and other wealthy nations will fund vaccines for poorer nations, not out of pity, but for self preservation because as long as the virus survives it will be a persistent threat. The vaccines are free. Soon the vaccinated will be the majority throughout the community, towns and cities, then nationally, and then globally. Once the majority are vaccinated, and in control, they will make it next to impossible to avoid it. The vaccine will ultimately become mandatory throughout the globe, just as other common vaccines are.
  22. I think the tipping point will be driven by social and economic pressure. Some employers are already making it a condition of employment, and as the economy opens up and remote workers get recalled back, I think corporations will have to mandate it. My employer started opening up the office to vaxxed associates in late April. It is still voluntary to go back into the office, but for how long I cannot tell. I suspect there will be an end when it will be required to both be vaxxed and go back to the office. Schools are requiring it too, although it was already mandatory to be vaccinated for other diseases in order to register at most schools anyway. Sports and entertainment venues are already separating and limiting attendance for non-vaxxed. Concert venues around here are creating separate sections for vaxxed and unvaxxed seating, and limiting unvaxxed seating to a fraction of seating for the vaxxed. Another tipping point may come from the healthcare industry, when insurance companies will start excluding coverage for COVID sickness, and may even deny coverage for anyone who is not vaxxed. Some countries already have mandatory quarantines, unless you're vaxxed, and I think many will adopt a similar policy before they fully open up for international travel. Sadly, fake vaccine cards are a burgeoning business already in anticipation of the mandatory vax-passport movement. 😤
  23. I could be mistaken, but it seems you may be trying to extrapolate from one metric to justify a different metric. I don't think the percentages indicated really tell us how many of those people are actually carriers of the virus, which is what I think you are trying to get at. Additionally, I'm not sure that even if you have been vaccinated that you would want to let your guard down and let yourself be infected. Surely, you would have protection so you may not get terribly sick, but I personally would rather not tempt faith. Could be just me. I use a KN95 mask against my skin, and a 4 layer cloth mask over that when I go out. I find the KN95 masks look pretty silly, and early last year I had some custom made masks that cover from the bridge of my nose, over my chin, to the top of my neck. The KN95 masks are pretty close to the N95 in terms of effectiveness, and since there is no valve they filter air both inward and outward. The valved N95 masks seem to allow unfiltered air outward from the person wearing them, so I was not keen on those.
  24. breakthroughs are entirely asymptomatic, and there is no mandatory tracking of people after vaccination or follow-up testing, so the numbers cannot be precise. Neither are the numbers of those not vaccinated. Testing in the US has been spotty at best, even long before the vaccines were introduced. What we do know is the very vast majority of people vaccinated do not get serious symptoms, they do not show up in emergency rooms or require intubation, but we do know for a fact they could still be infected and could still transmit the disease. When it comes to masking, it's not just to protect the person wearing the mask, it's just as beneficial for the community. I personally am vaccinated but I am still donning my mask, even in the gym, in the park, in the grocery stores, and anywhere I go in the community. It does't take any effort, and it doesn't burden me in any way, so I don't see the big deal. YMMV.
  25. I don't see anything wrong with some healthy skepticism about vaccination. I was hesitant, skeptical, and somewhat worried the vaccines were not adequately tested. For the record, I have never had a flu vaccine. Fortunately, I have access to numerous certified medical doctors at my work, so I was able to have some frank and detailed discussions with a few of them about the vaccines, and express my concerns (fears?). These are practicing doctors, some of which are senior medical directors at hospitals and clinics, and several have volunteered their services at local community hospitals to help out. After a few chats it became apparent to me, and this is strictly my own pov, that the risk of COVID related adverse health outcomes and possible death are far greater than the risk of any kind of side effects from vaccination. Of course, these doctors have seen a lot of people die in front of them daily from COVID-19, held their hands as they passed away, so they have a lot of front-line experience. One of my main questions to them all was, are you getting the vaccine? They all confirmed they had already been vaccinated. My next question was, are you encouraging your family to vaccinated, including your kids? Without hesitation every one said absolutely, in fact it was their top priority as soon as the age qualifications permit it (even those with kids just 6 years old). I wondered too whether MRNA vaccines were safe, if they had been adequately tested, and until I spoke to the doctors I was under the impression MRNA vaccines were a new and untested approach to vaccination. I was surprised to find this was not the case. Below is the text of the response I received from one of the doctors I approached for input. This is unedited; For better or worse, I got the pfizer vaccine and I personally had no side effects or any reaction beyond some soreness in the arm for a day. But my wife had a 101 fever and was achy and out of it for 2 days. Several of our friends had similar stories, one half had a reaction, the other felt nothing. I still have family who is skeptical, but they are coming around. If you're on the fence I hope this helps.

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