Category Archives: General Topics…


So, I’m in isolation.

Isolated to get ready for some work-related travel. With this, I’ll have lots of time to (finally) keep my word and get this place caught up again. And of course, some nice cigars are resting with me, ready for smoking in strange new countries again.

The food is meh. But its in a wired room, so that’s a good thing at least.

More to get caught up on, and uploaded here shortly.

Cheers all.

National Mourning…

This sucks.

Yesterday, there was the incident in Toronto.

Man arrested after Toronto van attack charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder

Here’s what we know about the victims of the Toronto van attack

I was about to post a cigar review yesterday, and a couple other Cuba trip posts, but it’s not the mood / time right now.  At this point, I’ve been able to hear that most family and friends in Toronto are not directly involved, and all appear to be safe and sound.  Which is good to hear.  And it’s comforting to see how that city / this province / this country is coming together for this incident.

I lived in Toronto for a number of years back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and a place that I worked at was right at Yonge St and Sheppard Ave, right at Spring Garden Ave, just a few blocks south of Yonge and Finch Ave.  So, I know that region / plaza / street quite well – a very bustling area, with the Ford Center for the Performing Arts right there, and the plaza area surrounding the North York municipal center and whatnot.

Current reporting states that the arrested guy (and my hat’s off to the Toronto PS cop that nabbed the guy) used to be a Canadian Armed Forces member.  It sounds more like he was a “recruit” than a “member”.  By the sounds of things, he only made it through 16 training days out of his Basic Training when he started with the CAF last summer / fall, before he was punted out.  So, no, he didn’t become a full member of the Forces, as it sounds like he got turfed for simply not fitting in (but doesn’t sound like there were big warning bells on an incident like this either).  It might be interesting depending on what other info about this becomes known also.

But I know within the military, and policing as well, these types of incidents are always in the backs of our minds, as front line personnel, and for military and police planners.  Lone wolf.  Mental health issues.  Soft targets.  Hardened weapons-of-opportunity/convenience.  Etc.  Everyone worries about international terrorism, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.  But it’s these types of incidents that Canadians as a whole have had a lackluster approach to, as a society.  How many times do we hear “I never thought it could happen here” in the media stories???  Unfortunately, we think about it in military and law enforcement circles – hell, an old Warrant Officer of mine from a number of years back (before the Ottawa attack even) used to say that what Canadians unfortunately NEED is to have one of these types of attacks occur, on Canadian soil, on a big, soft target, to make everyone wake up and realize that complacency and shoving our collective heads in the sand won’t make the threats go away.  That our downloading of mental health beds/hospitals/treatment over two-plus decades has left a HUGE gap, and coupled with the budgetary limits placed on the Armed Forces and first responders, that it’s all a giant accident / incident waiting to happen.

So, we need to learn from this, and gain as much valuable insight as we can.  To not to be Chicken Little, and be afraid of our shadows, and deviate from our everyday lives.  But to simply have a slight vigilance about us, and to actually fund the personnel, training, and infrastructure for our military and law enforcement and first-responder institutions, to make us all the better prepared and ready should something terrible like this happen.

Thoughts and prayers (to whatever deity you worship) being sent to all directly or indirectly affected by this.  Hopefully the coming days and weeks will yield more answers, more understanding, some forgiveness, more tranquility and calmness, and more awareness of the underlying issues.

Cheers all.


I’m A Slacker…

Alright, I know I’ve posted it before – I’ve been tied up busy for the past few months, and haven’t really updated stuff on here for a while now.  But, I’m ready to rock-and-roll again in the next little bit, and have a ton of things lined up.

Lots of work stuff to post.  Planes, jets, mysterious countries, tools and toys-for-big-boys and stuff, etc.  Some cool stuff to put up here.  Frankly, some things needed to get past a standard “6 months after” timeline for posting.

Lots of cigar reviews coming.  I’ve got some really awesome stuff back-logged on that front.  Some new spots and stuff I’ve stumbled across too, and some stuff with cigar goodies.

And definitely, I still need to post write-ups from the Nov 2017 trip to Havana (and frankly, basic stuff from the Nov 2016 one too!)  So, there’s a bunch of pics and tidbits for that.

It’s coming.  Sorry all, but I’ll get my shit in gear and stop slacking!!!  LOL.

Cheers all.

Humidors, Cigar Storage, Aging, Etc…

So, with my earlier post about spring cleaning, you may have noticed that I have a new category added in to the breakdowns on “Lights, Sirens and Cigars”, a category for Humidors, Cigar Storage, Aging, Etc…

As I’m compiling some of these more historical posts from the last two years (some of these photo outlays are gonna be fuckin’ AWESOME – so gawddamn many gigs of photos to download from my iPhone, DSLR, and Canadian Forces Combat Camera’s archives too), and trying to get everything caught up on here, I’ve noticed that I’ve got a bunch of subjects that would do well to be put in a separate category from what I’ve had before.  As well, there’s quite a few posts / threads that I put on the Friends of Habanos forum over a number of years now about such subject matter, such as when I made a custom humidor cabinet, or some trial-and-error things about “coolerdors”, or switching out the green foam in powered hydration units, etc.

And likewise, a while back I created a Miscellaneous Gear, Toys, Swag and Accessories… category, but haven’t put much in there yet (mostly just “also ran”-linked with other categories when I’ve put up posts, and mostly stuff from back in 2015).  With some of these updates, I’ll have more being put in there also for specific items.

A lot of this stuff should help out with some out there that are looking for answers / help.  Hell, there’s a shit ton of resources out there in Internet-land for cigar newbies and old pros alike, and lot of resources to guide them through things.  But that said, I still get asked questions and for help from time to time, so I thought that adding these things on here could help out a bit more, especially with trying to add more photos and more real-world-trial-and-error experience into the mix.

So, a head’s up on all that!

Cheers all.

Any Ghostbusters Fans Out There???

On the way up for some range training, happened to come across this unique customized vehicle in traffic…

And before anyone asks / comments (especially those friends of mine who aren’t in policing, but like to rub in any faults they observe, lol), I did have a passenger with me who helped me take those photos.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Cheers all.

Happy “World No Tobacco Day” Everybody!!!

So, what a better way to celebrate World No Tobacco Day 2017 than to have good company, good drinks, nice weather, and a wonderful cigar…

Lloyd called me up earlier today – a good friend from the FOH forum and from the smaller group of us from the general Toronto area that fairly regularly gets together for MegaHerf events and other gatherings.  Up out of the blue, he was coming back from a business meeting and travelling through the area, and was wondering if I minded some company for a visit and a cigar.  Definitely.  Easy as pie.

Good time spent catching up, some nice brewvrages, nice weather (if not a bit breezy), and he even gifted me a nice Monte 1 from 2012-ish (he wasn’t sure of the box code offhand), and I to him a Cohiba Siglo IV from 2012 (I think) that he picked out.  The Monte 1 was something that I haven’t had in quite a long time, so it definitely caught my eye when he offered a pick from what was in his travel humidor.  A solid 89 smoke (a couple of relights due to the wind and my incessant chattering), which i enjoyed with some HC 7 & Coke, and enjoyed both overall nearly as much as the company.

Happy “World No Tobacco Day” everyone!  Here’s to my fellow tobacco pirateers everywhere.  Arrrrrggggghhhh!  Lol.

Cheers all.

On Pay, Recruitment, Retention, and “Satisfaction”…

So, it’s about that time again.  Every so many years, people in the Canadian Forces (along with other Canadian government agencies and departments) start looking at what potential raises and pay adjustments will be coming out.  And I’ve been paying attention to a couple of online Reddit groups, message boards, etc., etc., and see that things are somewhat hammered out.

The PSAC union (Public Service Alliance of Canada), the group which oversees the majority of Canadian government public service employee groups, along with the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), generally sets the bar for what to expect as it relates to pay increases and such.  The talk looks to be about a 6% pay raise, retroactive to 2012.  So, it looks to be that the tentative agreements lay out the following:

  • 1.75% for 2012
  • 2.0% for 2013
  • 1% for 2014
  • 1% for 2015
  • Then, also tentative for 1.25% for 2016 and 2017 also

Now, this all appears to be tentative.  Everyone’s waiting on the Treasury Board / government to sign off on all these tentative agreements, which should take place by the middle of June apparently.  The RCMP is also negotiating and trying to sort things out (they’re still in the process of hammering out a union formation, since the Supreme Court of Canada recently awarded them unionization rights).

This would then trickle down to similar retroactive pay raises across other federal government departments and organizations, including down to the Canadian Forces.  Meaning, a trained Corporal (at a 4-year pay incentive level, which is the vast majority of Forces members) would go from earning $58,000 or so a year, to just over $63k for 2017 (not including Specialist pay levels, or any other perks).  Plus, with this all being retroactive, there would be back-pay of about $8000 pre-tax owed to said Corporal.

In my opinion (and yes, I’m only the “little guy” in the room with this as well), it’s a good thing.  More money (generally) is always good.  It helps retention, recruitment, morale and esprit de corps (which is really at some all-time lows within the Forces based on many formal and informal estimates and surveys going on recently).

But it’s paltry too.  Some of those numbers look good, but it’s only 6% – inflation, based on Bank of Canada numbers, has worked out to be 6.71 percent, from April 2012 until April 2017.  So SHIIIIIIIIEEEEETTTT, this (currently still hypothetical and hoped-for) retroactive raise doesn’t even keep up with the pace of inflation.

Now, reading some of those Reddit threads and message board and forum discussions, it funny how there are lots of those that come out of the woodwork with the typical tripe – “we’re the second-highest paid Forces in the world already”, “if you don’t like it, quit”, “everyone else has frozen pay too” [not quite true, in actuality, apples-to-apples as much as it can be], “no one joined to get rich”, etc., etc.  These are the same types of pricks who argue for the sake of arguing, who bitch about everything but offer no suggestions or improvements towards it, who become the new “old dinosaurs” who stick to the age-old way of doing things in the military “just because that’s the way it’s always been done, so why change/fix/improve it”, etc., etc.

I also HATE hearing the old adage, “you joined to serve your country”, and that money’s not everything, and that “to serve with honour” sacrifices must be made, etc.  Well, yes, we make sacrifices – to serve as Military Police, rather than on a civilian police service, there’s more sacrifices than normal.  There’s extended absences from home (not just missing a simple birthday or being out on a call rather than being home for dinner, but being days and weeks away instead).  There’s international taskings, ops, and missions that all come into play, and not just working in your own “backyard” or home neighbourhood.  But sacrifices like those are what’s expected for the added “honour of serving one’s country”.  You’re simply willing to give up certain comforts and privileges for the added honour of being one of the few.  But, sorry, but pay doesn’t NEED to be one of those sacrifices too.

I for one (obviously) would definitely like to see the raises and improvements.  As I mentioned, so many things are not looked at positively within the forces right now.  Pay improvements help.  As Military Police especially, we’re already 20-30% less than comparable civilian agencies, and that’s not including any overtime or court-time pay (which we do NOT get as MPs).

As well, over the past number of years, there’s been many things cut out of our pay, besides not having raises or getting a cost-of-living-increase.  Over $400 a month cut from my pay, in my case alone, just in my first two years.  Now, also add in that we don’t have money for many “typical” things – uniforms are back-ordered, we can’t get new boots in place, something that should take a week or two takes 10 months to work through the bureaucratic red-tape nightmares that have been put in place, many units (especially on the Reserve side) can’t get enough bullets and other consumable items for regular-enough training, much equipment is in such disrepair and Red-Green-duct-tape’edness (just to get through another day) that things are getting onto the side of embarrassing.  And hell, all that tied in with the fact that many Forces members live in PMQ / RHU housing on the bases, in houses owned by an arms-length civilian agency, where the rental cost on a house is about 80% of what an actual mortgage cost would be on a comparable local house.  This is insane to be charging Forces members that, when you consider these homes are on DND property, most built and paid for since the 1940s to ’60s, that are long paid for and don’t cost the government all but a dime to have, and yet they’re fleecing our Forces members that way.  And, since it’s an arms-length civilian property-management agency, THEY always make sure they get their annual price increases, and stay ahead of inflation with annual fee increases.  It’s such a joke.

Could it be worse?  Hell yes.  We in the Forces do (I know, I know) have the ability to leave; it IS indeed a voluntary choice to be in the Canadian Forces.  Granted, they make it an ABSOLUTE BITCH for those wanting to transition out (six-months minimum to “voluntary release” and get out; this ain’t your civilian aspect of “two-weeks notice” and you’re good-to-go, darling).  But we’re not a conscription Forces, and as I mentioned before, we are definitely up there on the remuneration paid (though our taxation and cost-of-living is also higher than most too).

But it could be made much, MUCH better too.  The Forces loses SO MUCH money in retention and recruitment and training – how many pilots are lost early to civilian companies, MPs to civilian police forces, CF firefighters to municipal services, military medical staff to public agencies and hospitals, etc., etc.  If you want the skills and the training and the experience to stay (ESPECIALLY AS IT RELATES TO “PURPLE TRADES” AND CERTAIN SPECIALTIES), to not have such heavy retention losses, then pay up.  Make things at least somewhat comparable to civilian rates of pay – not 40 to 50% less.  (It’s absolutely disgusting when CF firefighters make what they do, but then the CIVILIAN-run DND firefighters [who do the “regular” CF bases aside from those with airports/airstrips themselves] have their pay tied to within 30% of the very top tier of what outside civilian agencies get, and so, they just recently got a 20% or so pay raise to factor in changes from the last 5 years or so.  Meaning the same rank/position from CF fire to DND/civilian fire can be a difference of almost double the pay.  Fucking disgusting.)  So why not automatically attach a cost-of-living increase that matches the annual inflation rate???  You’d get rid of the need for all this money wasted on giant TEAMS of people negotiating new contracts, leg work needed, lengthy negotiations and man-hours spent doing all this, etc., etc.  Short term, yeah, it may cost more.  But the long-term savings from higher retention rates, and then less costs in recruitment and training, and people staying longer to continue to serve, will pay dividends.

Ask civilians what they want from their agencies – do you want the vast majority of people working for emergency services to have 5-10 years experience only, or the vast majority to be in the 10-30 year experience level???  I know I sure as shit would rather have a doctor doing surgery on me with 24-years-experience and X-amount of previous procedures performed, rather than a doc with only 7-years under his/her belt, and “that’s the best we have, right now, due to recruitment and retention”, etc., etc.

Emergency services (police, fire, ambulance), doctors, nurses, etc. – these make up a fair portion of what we call the “purple trades” in the CF.  In civilian society, these professionals and trades are quite generously paid – and that’s because (put gruffly) these people do shit, see shit, and prepare for shit that the average person can’t or won’t be able to handle.  They are, day-in and day-out, prepared and preparing for everything that the average person couldn’t even IMAGINE sometimes.  They make up a part of why everyday society is simply able to function and continue to operate, blinders-on sometimes.  Now….take these trained professionals….and put them into an armed-forces mandate and concept-of-operations.  Take them, doing these jobs, and insert it into both domestic and international operations.  Where our clearly-defined Canadian lines-of-operation start to get fuzzy, and a billion other variables start coming into play.


The problem is….the government (from ALL parties; this is a problem that has gone on far too long, and covered across many successive governments) and the greater bureaucracy in charge….they just simply don’t have a long-term view on this.  They spend millions and millions every couple of years on workplace satisfaction surveys, to see where to improve, to see what would help, but they DON’T LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS, and use it as simply a “check in the box” that they’re “listening to the troops” and hearing what the front lines have to say, etc.  And, what we end up from the top is that all anyone is looking at (for those in charge) appears to end up being budgetary bottom-lines,  the next promotion, re-election, “what’s best for ME”, etc., etc., etc., and NOT the greater picture unfortunately.

But hey, what do I know….I’m only the low guy on the totem pole.

Cheers all.

Wow, WTF happened here???

So, its been months and months since I’ve even been on here.  My last post was way back on November 20th of last year. Holy fuck, where the HELL did the better part of the last six months go?!?!

That last post was my wrap-up after last November’s trip down to Havana for the Friends of Partagas Festival.  I know, I know – like so many other things on here from the past year plus, I know I still need to do further updates.  Your text messages and emails have reminded me of such, lol!  I still have to publish a number of posts on some work stuff, some TASO missions, and other goodies.  And yes, further on that last Havana trip, as well as oodles of cigar reviews and tastings from last year.  I’ve got a SHIT-TON of this stuff to catch up on, as well as getting to some emails and other things.  Hell, I haven’t even been on the FOH forum in just about as long, and I opened up my email the other day (for the first time in about four-and-a-half weeks) to find 1189 emails wating for me!  Lol.

Actually, it was a text message / pic sent from a former co-worker that reminded me I need to get stuff caught up on here.  A picture of me porning-out over street-meat when we were in Germany doing the Syrian refugee flights in Nov/Dec 2015:

So his message reminded me to get going on here again.

Likewise though, I could also post photographic proof that shows that black men have apt skills when it comes to deep-throating pork products.  So, c’est la vie.  Lol

In all fairness though, it’s been a busy if not productive chunk of time for me.  My wife and I basically gutted our house and refinished it, all except for the kitchen itself.  Main bathroom refinished, downstairs bathroom completed, new carpets and specialty flooring throughout, some upgraded electrical and Cat6 and “smart home” stuff, reclaimed wide-plank hardwood flooring, all-new baseboards and trim throughout, rebuilt front foyer and custom wrought-iron balusters and railings, new LED lighting throughout, etc., etc.  All with fresh coats of paint top-to-bottom, refinished kids’ rooms, and a redone master.  This “jack-of-all-trades” definitely had his hands full, and I was especially grateful when I had two local specialty-contractors (good family friends) come help me out with two tricky things.  Lots of pictures were taken (even of the Mrs. in yoga pants and smashing out flooring tiles!), so I’ll do some posts on that series of projects too I guess.

We’re in the home stretch finally though.  About two weeks of relatively minor finishing touches to get done.  My schedule is going to be freeing up more after this week and upcoming holiday weekend.  I’ve got lots of rough sketches in place for blog posts, so it all will definitely (and finally) be coming down the pipeline shortly.

In the meantime, how about this???…….

I looked back on some notes, and I’ve nary even smoked any cigars since the last Havana trip ended back on Nov 19th or so.  A fucking travesty, I know!  Some of those cigars make up my last actual notes on cigars smoked.  I do remember I had a fairly good custom “robusto largos” (from Jorgito at the Club Habana LCDH [of “Monsdales” fame], Nov 2016 rolled) back at the tail-end of March for my birthday while soaking up a starry evening and hanky-panky in the hot tub, but I’ve got no detailed tasting notes or general info on that one (lol).

So, while your tardy scribe has been sitting here compiling this, he’s been enjoying a Ramon Allones EL 2011 Allones Extra.  Short review?  “Mmmmmmm – YUM!”

I do believe ithis stick was from an “RAE, Ago 2011” box (which has generally been a great box code, for what it’s worth, be it with these or any other Partagas/Ramon Allones/associated cigars).  Start was at 2:00 pm, enjoyed with the remnants of a bottle of Burmester 10-yr Tawny Porto (that I bought in either Prestwick, Scotland or Lages, Azores , Portugal early last year), and followed up with big cupfulls of blended strawberry daiquiris with what can only be described as way-too-much Bacardi white and Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos rum (hindsight being 20/20….hiccup!)  A hot, breezy day (27 degrees Celsius, 54 % RH, and 37 kph winds) that honestly reminded me of smoking cigars in Cuba, but a just reward for nearly wrapping up on the home remodel stuff, and getting the “great outdoors” / yards-and-back-deck all ready for spring and summer enjoyment.

The cigar started off with a kick to the nuts.  Powerhouse flavours from the get-go; dried cranberries, raisins, nutmeg, sweet molasses, all wrapped in heavy-/rich-and-oily tobacco essences.  Smoke volume wasn’t overly impressive, nor was it particularly viscous on the mouth-feel.  That said, the flavours definitely let me know I was in for a treat.  Strength and flavoursome all wrapped up together, with a bit of faint aged-elegantness starting to come into play now with nearly six years on them (coupled onto the two-plus years of age that the EL cigar tobaccos have to start with).  A few relights (due to winds and such, though I was relatively sheltered on the back deck).

I’ve generally always been a fan of this cigar.  I’ve had some lackluster boxes, and some stellar ones.  I know it’s one of those polarizing cigars that people either like or don’t.  I’ve even bought some boxes from others who weren’t fans, and those have turned out to be wonderful boxes for me.  But these are performing so consistently for me over the years, and are starting to hit such a finessed stride now, that it’s hard for me to not recommend them to anyone and everyone willing to give Ramon Allones / stronger / Limited Edition cigars a try.  A great brand, a wonderful retro band, classic RA box styling, an EL cigar at a reasonable price point (boxes initially sold for $279 USD, I believe, for a 25-box of corona-sized stick), and great burn and flavours…what’s not to love?  If you can still get any, I’d say to jump on it – even for upwards of $400-470 USD at this point, at least, if you can still find them anywhere.  I’ll definitely be savouring my five-plus boxes remaining.

An easy 94 – maybe even upwards of a 96 (but points deducted for heavy booze on the palate affecting the informal scoring, lol).  Finished at 3:25 pm.  And savoured well.

Here’s to many more!

Cheers all.

Good Friend Rob / “Freefallguy”…

These pictures make me smile every time I see them…

From a past visit last summer, where good friend Rob / “Freefallguy” came up for a big cigar charity event, stayed over to visit with Erin and I and the kids, and had a good ol’ time.  As a red-blooded American fella, with a long family history on the East Coast of the U.S., and family business tied in to construction work for the DoD and various military installations along that area, Rob and I always had some good chats about what I do, and the variances from U.S. to Canadian aspects on everything from military, cigars, booze, you name it.

He got a bit of a tickle finding out that I actually had some of my own civilian-licensed weapons for range time, and wanted a bit of a selfie with some Canadian firepower.  Must a’ been to show those back home that we’re not ALL armed with only bacon and maple syrup, LOL.

Can’t wait to meet up with you this November again at the very least, Rob, or if not later this summer perhaps too!  I’ll keep the BBQ fired up, and will stock up on more ammo too!

Cheers all.