The air is colder now, and there’s a bit of frost on the fallen leaves. Summer has passed, and before we know it, winter will make it’s presence known with heavy blankets of snow (and doubled commute times for work). Friends from Florida will brag about the wonderful weather they have in wintertime, while we gently remind them to watch out for the black widow spider spitting pythons in their back yard.
Tonight, I’m sitting alone in my garage, listening to the gentle hum of my heater as the leaves rustle past outside. I truly love autumn, and everything that comes with it. Yes, I’m one of those folks that drinks pumpkin spiced iced lattes, wears flannel (year round, mind you), and likes scarves (even though they get in the way). I don’t care that I’m a stereotype; I embrace it.
But with autumn comes Thanksgiving, and being grateful for the people and things in your life. So, even though we’re past the holiday, in keeping with that tradition, I’d like to embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving and speak a bit about the things that I’m thankful for and appreciate in my life. Since this is a pipe smoking blog, I’m focusing on everything pipe related in my life. Otherwise, I fear I’d bore you, dear reader. One other note, I’m writing this without listing everything in order of importance (except the first one), so no favoritism here. So without further ado, let’s begin.
I can’t start off without first and foremost being grateful for Mrs. BadgerPiper. So often, I read stories of pipe smokers lamenting about how their significant other hates their hobby, and needles them over it. Luckily for me, Mrs. BadgerPiper not only supports me in my hobby, but also encourages it at times. Some evenings, when I’m stressed out from work or life, my wife will stop me and say, “You should go out and unwind with a pipe.” While she doesn’t want me smoking in the house, and occasionally lets me know I stink, overall, I’m grateful my wife understands how pipe smoking is a positive influence in my life. Now if only I can get her to relent on her rule that I can’t own more than fifty pipes…
Next on my list is an old stomping ground I used to visit when I was first interested in pipe smoking: the website pipes.org. Billed as the grandfather of all pipe sites, and for a good reason, Pipes.org has been around for a very long time. Starting out as an emailing list in the late 1980’s, Pipes.org has seen the highs and the lows of the pipe industry. While it isn’t exactly the most active of pipe sites these days, I can’t think of a more important website to the history of pipe smoking.
Pipes.org holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first true exposure on how to start smoking a pipe. Over a decade before I ordered my first pipe, I stumbled upon the site while surfing the web on dial up with AOL. At that time, I was very much against smoking, but for some reason, I liked pipes. The site had a few articles that were informative, including a helpful one on how to get started that I’d remember for when I finally took the plunge.
What grabbed my attention at the time, though, was the digest. I spent a few evenings browsing the digest archive, reading many personal thoughts, opinions, and stories from the users of the digest. The stories especially stuck with me, and years later, I read the entire digest from beginning to end over a year. By the time I was done with it, my mind was set, and I decided I wanted to take the pipe up myself.
One story that’s always stuck with me was one user recalling a pipe smoking relative that was a captain in his country’s navy. He was smoking his pipe on deck when a wave knocked him into a wall, rendering him unconscious. When he awoke in the sick bay, he wouldn’t settle down until a sailor retrieved his fallen pipe from the deck. After reading that, I knew there was something special about smoking a pipe.
I could go on and on about the digest, but I’ll save that for a longer article in the future.
Going from the past to the present day, I’m thankful for my current pipe forum home, This Pipe Life. Forums have been on the decline since around 2010 or so, due to the rise in social media platforms. No one wants to take the time anymore to register on a web forum and spend a few weeks getting acclimated into an established community. Let’s be honest, no one likes being the new kid, and that’s how it can feel when joining a forum. Every forum has a different feel to them, too. What’s socially acceptable on one is frowned upon at another. Your success in becoming part of the regulars depends on how much time you’re willing to commit there, as well as the personalities of the other users.
Thankfully, This Pipe Life has some advantages other pipe forums don’t. It’s still a relatively new community, so if you post on there for about a month on a regular basis, you’re pretty much a regular. With the forum being on the newer side, that also means there are less members to keep track of. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of activity, as there are new posts on the forum every day. The advantage of being in a smaller community is that it’s easier to keep track of the current threads. If you can’t post for a few days, you won’t have to spend hours trying to catch up on what you’ve missed.
This Pipe Life also has a great and welcoming community of posters, who are more than willing to share what they know with new members and pipers. The members are very knowledgeable on pipes and tobacco, and chatting with them is honestly one of the highlights of my day. I also have to give a quick shout out to one of the members on the forum, Motie2, the forum librarian. Motie2 has a long list of pipe and tobacco related PDFs that he maintains, sharing articles with anyone that asks. If you haven’t already, grab a pipe and your favorite tobacco, and sign up. No matter your pipe and tobacco preferences, there’s a seat reserved for you in the smoking lounge.
Moving on from forums, I’m thankful for their evolution in social media. Yes, social media can be a time sucker, and it’s good to get away from your phone screen and do something productive with your life. However, while pipe smoking has a reputation for being a relic of the past, pipe smokers adapt with the times. Pipe focused communities have found ways to thrive on places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and myspace. If there’s a way to discuss pipes, pipe tobacco, and share pictures of us enjoying our hobby, we’ll use it.
When I started seriously using social media to talk about pipe smoking, I quickly found myself immersed into the worldwide pipe community. I’ve spent countless hours scrolling through feeds, liking pictures and comments of fellow pipers enjoying our hobby. I’ve chatted with pipe smokers from around the globe, picking up new tins based on the pictures other pipers have posted, and likewise, others have tried blends because I shared an image of a tin. I’ve made many pipe friends through social media that I never would’ve met had I not been on social media.
While social media has its downsides, like with twitter mobs and social media outrage, the pipe community has been a bastion of fellowship and camaraderie. I never would’ve gone to my first pipe club meeting if it hadn’t been for social media. I went to the Chicago Pipe Show because I knew I’d meet fellow pipers I had met on social media. Heck, this blog wouldn’t even exist if I hadn’t been inspired reading other piper’s blogs, which I discovered from— you guessed it, subliminal messages in pipe blogs. And if all goes right, the subliminal messages in this post will make you start your own blog once you’ve finished reading this one.
Nah, it was social media. Admittedly, Youtube’s the one area I haven’t considered dabbling with, but that’s because I’m not set up for it. Considering all the effort I’ve put into customizing this blog, trust me, you wouldn’t want me recording videos. Unless you want all those videos to look like I’m being held captive in an undisclosed location.
Next up, I want to give a big thank you and shout out to Phil and The Briar Report, the world’s premier source of pipe smoking news and information. This is a site that all pipe aficionados should have bookmarked in their browser and check daily. The Briar Report collects all pipe and tobacco related news in one convenient location so pipers can keep up to date on their beloved hobby. Not only does The Briar Report give news updates, but also posts links to blog posts, Youtube videos, podcasts, and other noteworthy links by pipe smoking content creators. This gives content creators a megaphone to a wider audience for their posts. Also, The Briar Report alerts readers about upcoming giveaways, and has participated in their own, so definitely give them a look. You might end up winning a contest out of it.
Full disclosure, while I’m not a journalist, I can’t write this ethically without mentioning that The Briar Report does post links to my blog when I make a new entry. This is a huge help for me, as I’m not all that well versed in self-advertisement. Since The Briar Report started posting my updates, I’ve noticed a definite increase in traffic to my blog. Now, I’d still write this blog if only a handful of pipers read it, but I’ll gladly take new readers when I get them. The Briar Report doesn’t have to do this, but he does, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.
Like I mentioned earlier, one of the great things about the pipe community is the friendships you make with other pipe smokers. Earlier this year, I happened to make one of those friendships with Dave of the Maple City Pipe Cast. Admittedly, I don’t regularly listen to many pipe podcasts, but when I found the Maple City Pipe Cast, it caught my interest. Unlike most podcasts out there that run for at least an hour, the Maple City Pipe Cast goes for frequent updates with bite sized content. This makes it a great audio companion for washing dishes or walking the dog. Despite being a one-man podcast for most episodes, Dave’s casual, conversational tone gives it the feeling of listening to the thoughts of a good friend over a pipe and coffee.
Dave invited me on for one of his Everyman Pipe Smoker segments, and we spent a good hour getting to know each other. This led to him inviting me on to his Universal Humdrum Podcast, where we talk about the CW Flash TV show. Since I started podcasting with Dave, it’s increased my love and appreciation for the show, and it’s one of the highlights of my week talking about the recent adventures of the scarlet speedster with him. Be sure to give his podcast a listen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
Finally, I couldn’t make a list talking about the things I’m grateful for without talking about you, the reader. When I first started this blog, all I wanted to do was talk about my love of pipes, pipe tobacco, and everything involved with this silly hobby. Reading about other people’s love for pipe smoking was one of the main reasons I decided to take up the pipe in the first place, so I wanted to contribute to the fun. At best, I figured it was a way to improve my writing, and any readers I got out of it was a bonus.
After doing this for a few years, I’ve managed to etch out my own niche in the pipe world. Every time I get an email notification that someone commented on a post, or that I added a new subscriber makes my day. It’s a joy to check my reader statistics and see that I have readers from all around the world. I know I’m terrible with being speedy in replying, but I love chatting with everyone that leaves a comment, or reaches out with an email or message. While I started writing for myself, all of you give me a reason and a purpose for making these entries. If you’ve ever commented on my posts or hit the like button, thank you.
It’s an honor writing to all of you, and I hope to keep this going for as long as I’m alive. So I hope you have a wonderful rest of 2018, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holidays.
Until next time, happy puffing my friends,