Rules? What Rules?
    August 7th, 2014

Russ Ouellette
In my early twenties I was fortunate to become friends with Mel Feldman,
who owned The Smoker in Albany, NY. Mel was kind enough to spend hours talking to me about blending tobacco, which led to some admittedly amateurish attempts at creating my own mixtures. With a little perseverance my work became good enough that we offered a few of my blends at The Pipe Den, also in Albany. They did reasonably well. Well enough, in fact, that some of them were used by other stores in the chain. As I did more blending, I tried to codify things so I had firm guidelines to follow.

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Being a Tool
    July 2nd, 2014

Russ Ouellette
Lord knows that I have been called a "tool"
by a number of people (along with a plethora of other choice epithets) but what the title refers to is the frequency with which we, as pipe smokers, have to serve as a tamper (your choice of finger), because we’ve misplaced a pipe tool.

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Pipeaholic
    June 6th, 2014

Russ Ouellette
I admit it. I have a problem.
Well, actually, I have a lot of problems, but I’m referring to one in particular. I love pipes. There, I’ve said it, but strangely, I don’t feel any better. One of the difficulties, here, is how I feel about the pipes I own. I don’t feel that I’m a very sentimental person. I’ll keep birthday cards for a month or so, and then they get tossed. But my pipes are a very different story.

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Post-Show Reflections
    May 16th, 2014

Russ Ouellette
Every time I go to a pipe show, I come away with new information, or, at least, a new perspective on a subject. Since the Chicagoland Pipe and Tobacciana Show is so large, and I get to speak to so many people, it usually takes me a little while to digest everything I’ve absorbed. This year, the traffic was so heavy, and I had the chance to meet and get reacquainted with such a high volume of people, it took an especially long time to catalog all the things I found interesting.

My angle on the overall pipe smoking market is much broader than most of the hobbyists, because we sell to the masses. So when one of the folks who stopped by our tables asked me a simple question, I got a real picture of what the enthusiasts think of pipe smoking versus the entire market.

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Function Over Form
    April 28th, 2014

Russ Ouellette
Last month, when writing about some random thoughts,
I mentioned that I had been smoking corn cob pipes frequently as of late, because of a project I was working on. Since that article appeared, we broke the news, here on PipesMagazine.com, that the project was the development of four tobaccos that will be sold under the Missouri Meerschaum name. I was honored to have the opportunity to help create new products bearing such an iconic brand name, and I gave myself the added challenge of trying to make blends that would taste their best when smoked in a corn cob pipe. Once I had completed my work on the project, it got me thinking about cobs, and I thought that I’d share my memories and thoughts with you.

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Random Ruminations
    April 2nd, 2014

Russ Ouellette
I used the word "ruminations" in the title of this piece.
The word begins with "rum". Coincidence? I think not. To give you some insight into the way my mind, such as it is, works, I’m the kind of person who thinks about things like this: When people are looking for a lost item, and they finally find it, the typical comment is- "It’s always in the last place you look." Duh! Why would you keep looking once you found it?

So that leads me to a collection of unrelated thoughts that I figured I would pass along. If you find them interesting, then you must be as confused and bewildered as I am. And if you find them strange, then you’re probably safe from being committed, at least for the time being. So let’s venture forward.

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It Depends on How You Look at It
    March 4th, 2014

Russ Ouellette
Is there more art or science to the pipe smoking pastime?
At least from one perspective, I’m sure that it’s leaning towards art. In my mind, one of the best ways to delineate between the two is the terminology. A chemical compound, for example, isn’t open to interpretation. To borrow an overused and somewhat fatalistic modern phrase- it is what it is. But art, as a category, is awash in blurred lines; one man’s jazz is another man’s rock. Two different restaurants may serve a similar, or even identical dish, but categorize them differently. Styles of painting can sometimes fall between two disparate schools. Of the industries I’ve been involved in, pipe smoking terms are open to interpretation more than in any of the rest.

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The Nose Knows
    February 3rd, 2014

Russ Ouellette
The olfactory sense is linked to memory more strongly than, perhaps, any of the other four.
As an example of what I mean, think about this- how many times have you seen someone and you’re sure that you know him or her, but the name, circumstances of your meeting, or even if you like or dislike the person eludes you. Now, walk through a mall food court and the smell of fried fish hits you. You may have pleasant or unpleasant recollections of the aroma (odor?), but it will probably bring back thoughts of situations and people that are incredibly vivid.

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What is Cavendish?
    December 30th, 2013

Russ Ouellette
Cavendish is the last name of a British chemist and physicist
who discovered hydrogen and determined the properties of water, but somehow I doubt that Henry Cavendish had anything to do with the pipe tobacco.

Over the years, the term Cavendish has been used in relation to tobacco in a number of ways, and has come to be rather muddy in definition. So, what exactly is Cavendish? Let’s begin by looking at what it isn’t.

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Yet Somehow…
    December 3rd, 2013

Russ Ouellette
It seems like only yesterday, at times, that I started out working in a tobacco shop,
yet it was actually 37 years ago. The landscape was much different then. Our focus was pipes and tobacco- nearly 75% of our business was pipe related. Premium cigars amounted to less than 10%, with machine made cigars being much stronger, and the balance was in accessories and the like. Through the end of the seventies and into the eighties there was a precipitous drop in pipe smoking, yet somehow, pipe smoking survives.

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