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  1. Prior to the new rebuild of FOH there used to be a blog section. I did a writeup on my first trip to Havana. For those interested, read on. Disconnect to Connect. I’ve been in IT for over 15 years. And that has meant being tethered to a wireless device or computer for a large percentage of those years. Sometimes, I still hear my old pager in my head or feel a phantom vibration on my belt. It was the worst feeling, getting called after hours. However, with those devices came responsibility and some good money was made. So, I cannot curse the beeps and rings too badly. Nowadays my IT career has veered away from the operational aspect over to a tactical one. I design and manage IT processes. And while I’m no longer tethered, I’m still attached. However, going to Havana would change that. Havana was going to be a clean break for me. My cell service does not work there. It was the first time I was somewhere where I could not be reached by phone or email and it felt great. I disconnected. And yet, I connected, in a different, more personal way. It was great to be a Luddite for a week. Though I must admit. I did have access to a cellphone to call home. Our trip took place during the Partagas Festival week. And while we had no tickets to the official events, we had plenty of company in the form of cigars smokers from all over the world. This was a great chance to connect. First off, there were seven of us from Toronto and one from Montreal that had made the trip down. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew of folks to go with. Many cigars were smoked, rum, beers and mojitos downed and serious amounts of balls were busted. We hooked up with the Australian contingent or Rob (Prez), Rob (Aussie Italian), Rob (doing it for the kids), Nate (of the loud shirt) and wine maker; Gary Farr. Again, lots of laughs. It was great reconnecting with the Prez and meeting the other gents for the first time in person. I also had the pleasure of meeting AJ Patel from the UK and Rob Fox of JJ Fox. They were cordial, easygoing and very generous. They represent their trade majestically. Hats off to you two gentlemen. I also had the opportunity to meet Nino in person. We had only corresponded briefly over email when he kindly donated some cigars to the 2012 Toronto Herf. I really enjoyed spending time with him over cigars, wine, rum, etc. I hope I did not talk off your ear too much Nino, especially with the aviation chat. Jose Candia (aka Punch Joe) was also present and is a quality guy. Thanks for everything you did for us. We also ran into Hamlet a few times. He’s always good for a few laughs. And let’s not forget his custom rolls. Always a treat. For the first few days I could hardly believe I was in Havana. I could smoke just about anywhere, the cigars were plentiful and cheap compared to the bloated, tax saturated pricing here in Toronto. Whenever I go on vacation, I have little issue with getting into a relaxed state. For some reason, it was a lot easier to do so in Havana. And best of all, I had a near zero tech footprint. My phone was useless, my tablet was on the fritz. The only electronic device of any use was my beat up iPod. And I was OK with that. At home, I do spend a lot of time online whether for work or personal use. I’m not a huge fan of cellphones even though I spent most of my career in telecommunications. My cell is a cheap, pay as you go device and I barely power it up as I hate being called on it. I’ve learned over time to untether myself a little bit. Havana gave me a taste of breaking the bonds completely. And I enjoyed it. It was a trip back in time. I disconnected to connect. I can’t wait to do it again. Cheers, Frank

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