Proper Cigar Etiquette

cigar etiquette

Even with all the wild, wacky and dumbass hi-jinks you see daily on the internet, there’s one place where etiquette is still the norm – the cigar lounge. Not surprisingly, Zino Davidoff is credited for what we call “cigar etiquette” today. He even wrote a book about it.  Zino was the quintessential “gentleman,” from his grooming, to his clothes, right down to the way he smoked his cigars. I’m talking “Old World” manners; when men opened doors for women, and removed their hat when entering a room. Though some of those customs have survived, today anything goes. But step into a traditional cigar lounge and you’ll think you stepped into Bizarro World.

I’m not saying that cigar lounges are for the stiff upper lip type; quite the contrary. That said, there are some guidelines that will help you become a better cigar smoker. Even some of Mr. Davidoff’s rules are a little too Victorian by today’s standards. For example: holding the cigar between your index finger and thumb, rather than your index and middle fingers. Zino felt the former method was more “elegant.” He may have had a point, but the way you hold your cigar is pretty much considered your own business. Another is removing the band so as not to “advertise” how costly (or cheap, for that matter) your cigar is. Though many cigar smokers still apply this rule, it appears to have faded over time, since a lot of other smokers want to know what you’re smoking. It’s also a great conversation starter. More often than not today, the band comes off when the ash gets too close.

So let’s get to some of the more tried-and-true tenets of cigar etiquette. As the late, great jazz pianist, Dave Brubeck once said, let’s “Take Five.”

Kurt Van Keppel shows the proper technique for cutting a cigar.

Preparing your cigar: When preparing your cigar, cut the cap with a genuine cigar cutter such as a double blade cutter, cigar punch, or a V-cutter. Don’t use a pen knife or a box cutter, and most of all, don’t bite-off the cap. It’s just bad taste, and the latter can cause a number of problems, particularly unraveling. When toasting the foot, take your time, and keep the flame as far away from the foot as possible while still being able to char the tobacco. If you use a torch lighter, you can easily ruin a cigar by holding the flame too close. And please hold the cigar in your hand, not your mouth, so you can see what you’re doing. When the foot begins to glow red, gently blow on the foot to spread the heat across the entire foot. This may require a little extra toasting, especially if the cigar has a lot of oily ligero tobacco in the blend. Those leaves are usually the black areas that don’t take right away to the flame. Finally, whatever you do, don’t just put the cigar in your mouth and light it like a cigarette or you can overcook it, which often results in a lousy light and a bitter smoke.

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Who wouldn’t want to have a cigar with Aisha Tyler?

Smoking time: Ever notice how some cigar smokers finish their cigars in record time? Chances are they are former cigarette smokers or still are; they’re used to puffing often. Even if you have never touched a cigarette you should hit on the cigar roughly about once a minute or two. It lets the cigar cool down a little, and allows you to pick-up the flavors and aromas the blender intended. Besides, cigar smoking is supposed to be RELAXING. Take your time and savor it, like chewing your food slowly. Otherwise, you may find the cigar isn’t living up to its rep, and that could be your fault for not being patient.

Ashing: A lot of cigar smokers get a kick out of seeing how long they can get the ash on their cigar. Oh, it’s a fun game, but normally not a good way to smoke. If you doubt me, think about how many times you’ve ashed yourself as a result. A one half to about an inch of ash is about right. It also acts as a filter allowing the cigar to smoke a tad cooler. Once you get to that one inch point, gently tap the ash into an ashtray. You can also roll the ash against the wall of the ashtray to shape it into a neat little cone. Whatever you do, NEVER tap it on the floor, or into the palm plant in the corner of the room.how-to-put-out-a-cigar

Putting out your cigar:  Are you a “nubber?” You know, one of those cigar smokers who smokes their cigar down to the very last inch or more? There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the cigar is still delivering good flavor, and there are some cigars that will taste good to the very end. However, most of the time the cigar will start to turn bitter in that last inch or two. If you continue to relight it to get every penny out of that $10 cigar, it will only get worse. Moreover, if a cigar turns bitter early on and doesn’t change or gets worse, you should just put it down and let it go out. It’s not going to improve no matter how long you stay with it, so let it go. When you do let it go, don’t snuff it out like a cigarette. Simply lay the butt in the ashtray saddle and it will extinguish itself. Snuffing it out only causes it to release a sour odor and leaves an ugly mess.

8d620b2361238ca274ed9abf56c37fe1Chain smoking: I know a fellow who’s a “chain cigar smoker.” Not one minute after he puts his cigar out, like magic, another appears in his mouth, and they’re always excellent, complex cigars. There’s nothing wrong with smoking several cigars in one sitting if you can handle it, but give your palate a break! Try to wait at least a half an hour before preparing your next cigar. You might also want to cleanse your palate with bitter lemon or lime soda. By chain smoking you can get palate burnout. That first cigar may have tasted great, but without a hiatus between smokes, don’t be surprised if the next cigar doesn’t taste right. Here again, the whole point of cigar smoking is to relax and enjoy the flavors and aromas. If you take your time during and in-between smoking cigars, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth. The maker of some very fine and highly-respected cigars, who could smoke 50 cigars a day if he wanted, recently told me that he only smokes two cigars a day; one in the morning with coffee, and another at around 3:00 in the afternoon. That time-lapse between cigars allows him to get the most out of each smoke, so he consistently enjoys his daily cigars.

So, there’s some food for thought to digest the next time you light-up your favorite cigar in a cigar lounge. Keep in mind that most of the cigar etiquette tips noted above apply to wherever you happen to be partaking of the leaf. Suffice it to say, it’s better to be a gentleman who smokes cigars than a cigar smoker who’s not a gentleman.

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** You can find the actual article here.

Get Moving…Again!

exercise

First off I would like to thank Andrew for inviting me back to his blog. It was fun writing my first piece which you can check out here. Now of course you can never talk about diet without also talking about exercise. So let’s discuss why you – yes YOU – should put down the pork rinds and get your body in motion!

Are you tired all of the time? Do you get winded after climbing only a flight or two of steps? Does your exercise routine consist of you walking to the refrigerator and back to the sofa? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you are in dangerous territory.  Modern Western conveniences have made it much too easy for us to be comfortable. We can sit in front of the television or computer mindlessly for hours on end and that is after 8 hours of sitting at a desk all day.

couchpotatoWhile electronics have done wonders to advance our ability to communicate swiftly with the entire world, we have also allowed them to do something else – make us a sedentary people. Our bodies were designed to move. In fact, if we don’t use our skeletal muscles we risk losing their function completely. A lack of physical activity makes us weaker while an increase in activity makes us stronger. That strength goes beyond mere physical strength. Exercise helps us to be more balanced individuals. We will explore that point later in this passage.

There are two basic types of exercise: Cardiovascular exercise and weight bearing exercise. Both have their value to the human body. First, let’s discuss cardiovascular (CV) exercises. You’ve probably heard it before: running and all of that lame stuff is good for your heart. Now I hate the treadmill as much as the next girl but we need CV activity. You don’t need to spend an hour mindlessly running to nowhere on a treadmill. CV exercise can be walking around your neighborhood, chasing your kids around with a ball, or tennis with your friends. We are quickly becoming a people who would rather play virtual sports than go out and play REAL sports. That guy who was an All American football player in high school is still in there somewhere, right?

Cardio is beneficial for several reasons. After CV activity, our bodies release endorphins that make us feel good. So exercise improves our mood. Another tremendous benefit to cardiovascular exercise is well…it’s good for our cardiovascular system! (duh) When you perform aerobic activity you increase the oxygen supply to all parts of your body. These effects last well after the cardiovascular activity has ended. Studies show that people who perform 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week have a higher oxygen carrying capacity than those who do not. The more oxygen our cells have, the better they are able to function and the less tired we feel. (This is where the idea of “blood doping” comes from. “Blood doping” simply means finding a way to increase your blood’s oxygen carrying capacity – a subject that may be perhaps discussed at a later date.) This increased oxygen and circulation is a big part of the reason why your chances of getting certain illnesses (Heart attack, stroke…you know…cardiovascular diseases)hd_cholesterol_illustration_02 is substantially decreased. One last point, gentlemen. Increased circulation also improves sexual health. In order to have and maintain an erection you need good circulation. When a man begins to have cardiovascular disease, a decline is sexual health and performance is not far behind.

Resistance training is just as important as cardiovascular training. Many people feel that if they do hours of endless cardio workouts they will lose weight.  That may be true for marathon runners but how many of us out there have the time and desire to be marathon runners? (Btw , have you ever compared a sprinter’s body to a distance runner’s body? Both have very little body fat but the sprinter has substantially more muscle. You don’t need to run marathons to be lean!) Resistance training is not about being “big.” Resistance training builds muscles and when we build muscle we do a few wonderful things. First, we INCREASE our metabolism in a way cardio training alone doesn’t do. When you perform weight bearing activity, you tear down your current muscle fibers and your body replaces that tiny muscle fiber with a bigger, harder to tear muscle fiber. This bigger muscle fiber requires more energy to be maintained. Your body has spent more time and energy repairing the muscle fiber and maintaining it thus more calories have been spent. Second, when we build muscle, we also increase our bone density. When he have denser bones, we are less likely to develop osteoporosis. Do not be tempted to think osteoporosis is a female problem. While it is true that incidences are higher in females, I have seen several older men with broken hips too.

The importance of physical activity cannot be stressed enough. Obesity is a real problem in industrialized nations and we Americans are leading the way. Our children are getting heavier and are developing Type II Diabetes at an alarming rate. We need our dads to take our kids out and teach them to be active again. Do yourself and your family a favor and GET MOVING!

Personal-TrainerNot sure where to start? Shop around your local gyms and talk to a few personal trainers and learn their qualifications. If you didn’t grow up in the gym the importance of working with a good personal trainer can’t be overstressed. He will help you get started and teach you how to prevent injury. Find an adult league for the sport you grew up playing. You’ll be surprised how many adult pick up leagues there may be in your area. Make it a point to take your family to the park every week. Whatever works for you and your family just do it. I’ll see you at the gym!

Like Andrew says, until next time make it a better day!

Clairice Dale

Disclaimer – As always consult with your physician before starting any diet or exercise program. Remember, most research has been done on healthy males with no chronic health conditions. If you have a chronic health problem, always consult your physician before making changes in diet, exercise, or adding supplements.

Clairice Dale is a Registered Nurse and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She earned her degree in Biology from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. After working in labs for two major companies she felt she was called to do more. She felt nursing was her calling as it was the perfect way to directly help people change their lives. She enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing program at Wilson Community College and now works at busy rural hospital. She is passionate about health and health literacy and wants to help people get the information they need to make informed choices. She is originally from New Jersey but moved to North Carolina in 2007. She is still struggling to assimilate to the Southern lifestyle as evidenced by the fact that she refuses to accept fried chicken on biscuit as an acceptable breakfast food.

You can follow her on Twitter @HealthyNurse13 she may even send you pics of herself dressed like a nurse.  Kidding.

Developing Confidence

building-confidence

 “Often people come up to me and say ‘Bruce, are you really that good?’ And I say well if I tell you I am good, you will probably think I am boasting; but if I tell you I am no good, you will know that I am lying” Bruce Lee

Developing your confidence could be the most important skill/trait for those of us who wish to take our lives seriously.  Having confidence will pay off in spades in just about every area of your life: school, relationships, career, sports and most important of all – in bed.

Now before we get too far down this road let’s get one thing clear, especially for you alpha males in the crowd.  Confidence and arrogance are not the same thing.  One is beneficial and the other isn’t.  The only kind of people who enjoy spending time with arrogant people are other arrogant people.

Merriam Websters defines those terms as such:

Confidence -a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something; a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something; or the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true.

Arrogance – an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.

Arrogance is never a “true” result of confidence.  Rather arrogance is something a person develops to over compensate for other shortcomings in life.  Whether it is a lack of character, insecurity or perhaps even a rather small member of his body, the bottom line is you should never confuse arrogance for confidence.

Over the course of my life I have had the chance to be in the presence of some truly gifted and talented individuals.  Their abilities have ran the gambit from acting and singing to sports to banking/finance to fashion.  Yet many of them have never quite “arrived” and likely will never achieve the full pinnacle of success that they could have because of one missing piece: confidence.

Confidence is not something we are born with.  Now you can consider that a good thing or a bad thing but the important thing to realize is that confidence is something that can be developed.  It is a skill that a man can learn at any point in his life (preferably sooner than later.)Confidence

Some people might appear more confident by nature but that doesn’t mean you should think less of yourself just because you have to work at building your own.  Remember it is a skill and all skills take practice.  During the course of your life you might have to work harder than friends in certain areas of your life to have confidence.  However, there is nothing wrong with that and you shouldn’t think there is.

If you are not as confident as you would like to be in a certain area you can ALWAYS work on building confidence.  You only get one shot at this life so in order to make the most out of it you MUST learn to build confidence into every area of your life.  There will always be areas we wish we had MORE confidence in, that is just the nature of being imperfect and hyper critical of ourselves.  Don’t linger on it.

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No this is not my wife, my wife is WAY hotter!

I have been on both sides of this equation and can tell you that winning and succeeding in life is much easier with confidence than without.  Without confidence I was terrible around women (ask anyone I went to high school with) but with confidence I did amazingly well in the woman department (I mean, have you seen my wife? Damn I did good!)  Women are drawn to confident men even more than they are to men with money so it would be a wise decision to develop confidence for this reason alone!

Without confidence I struggled to believe I could accomplish the dreams I held in my heart.  I doubted and questioned most of my decisions and actions.  I would often be paralyzed, afraid I was not only about to make a mistake but if I did, I would not be able to recover from it.  It was awful and I knew that I couldn’t have a successful life, career or family if I didn’t try and change how I felt about things.

No matter what you choose to pursue in your life, confidence holds the key to take that pursuit to the next level.  Confidence separates the average from the good and the good from the great.  As Tommy Newberry writes “Without confidence, your growth and development will be stunted.  Your talent will lie dormant, buried and unnoticed by others.  Lack of confidence is the classic problem of underachievers, those individuals who are blessed with much but deliver very little…Regardless of the endeavors you pursue, confidence will be an essential prerequisite for maximizing your full potential.”

don-draper

So how do you develop confidence?  The most important step is committing yourself to the process.  You will not just wake up one day with more confidence.  You have to work at it.  Thus, you have to resolve to press through all obstacles you face.  As men we must be more prepared and be willing to outwork and out-hustle those who appear to have more confidence than us.

The second step is that you must begin to act, talk and think like the successful person you are trying to become.  As crazy as this will sound, you should stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself you are successful, talented, handsome, a ladies man etc.  Whatever it is that you are trying to build in your life you have to convince yourself first before you can ever convince others.  Honestly, that is how I started my journey.

Stuart_Smalley
Current U.S. Senator from the State of Minnesota

The first apartment I ever lived in was in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In my bathroom I had several index cards taped to my mirror.  Every morning and every evening when I brushed my teeth, washed my face etc., I would have to see those index cards.  No lie, I would read those sentences out loud every day to myself and feel like a total nut job while I was doing it.  But guess what?  It worked!! As Stuart Smalley-like as it was, it begin to boost my confidence.

The best thing about developing any skill or trait is that early success breeds more and more success.  It is like compound interest.  Once you get a little confidence it will continue to grow exponentially if you keep at it.  Confidence will always build upon itself and you will find that as you develop confidence in one area of your life it will also help boost confidence in other areas as well.

Lastly, having confidence and living a confident life is never anything you should feel guilty about.  A person with a healthy level of confidence will also have the ability to demonstrate gratitude and humility throughout their lifetime.  There are some people (including many, many Christians) who will try and tell you being confident isn’t an appropriate trait to possess.  That is simply not true.  You must have confidence if you want to fulfill your full potential in life.

Hope you enjoyed the blog!  Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew

Devotional Tuesday! Don’t Fight Alone!

ashton-jack

Sometimes as believers it is hard for us to completely relinquish control to God. We often think we can do things on our own and fix whatever is “wrong” in our lives. It all comes down to trusting God and trusting His nature. If God is going to battle for you, it is important that you understand and trust Him! When it comes to helping us God is a warrior!

“The Lord himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!” Ex. 14:14 

“Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised.” Josh. 23:10 

I know when things get difficult for me and enemies are all around, I often struggle with letting God do His thing. I get stuck thinking they are attacking me and me alone. However, if someone or something is picking a fight with you they have to come against you AND God! If you let God fight your battles for you, victory is always assured. Only God can cause confusion among your enemies and have them turn on one another.

Be encouraged today for no matter what fights you are facing you don’ have to face them alone!

MUHAMMAD ALI CONTRE BRIAN LONDON EN 1966

 

“The Lord stands beside me like a great warrior. Before him they will stumble. They cannot defeat me. They will be shamed and thoroughly humiliated. Their dishonor will never be forgotten. Jer. 20:11 

Until next week have an amazing weekend!

Being a Christian Bad Ass

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One of the more disturbing things I often hear from men is how they believe being a Christian is safe, conservative and without adventure or risk.  Don’t get me wrong I understand why they believe this to be true.  First, Christianity has been an acceptable form of religious practice in this country for over 200 years (although that is slowly starting to change).  Second, since the onset of World War I and especially since World War II, “The Church” has become overly feminized and the Gospel’s masculine overtures have been tweaked and altered to appeal to women more than men.  There is an entire industry that is built on selling Christian self-help material but is 95% focused solely on helping women.  My point is not to bemoan the lack of self-help books for Christian men.  My point is that Jesus would not be impressed.  The true calling of Christ is one of danger, risk, adventure and heroism.

If you actually read the Bible you will discover a Jesus (and his followers) who took great risks to preach the Gospel to the world.  That sense of risk is missing in our country but the sense of adventure and danger in Christ’s message is very real and should not be considered risk adverse.

The following story in the book of Luke (Chapter 7) is a good example.  If you are not familiar with who John the Baptist was no worries we can do a quick recap.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Christ’s mother, Mary, were close friends (and possibly even related).  The first time Mary came to Elizabeth after finding out she was pregnant, John jumped in her womb knowing that he was in the presence of the Messiah.  Now maybe you don’t believe that actually happened.  Don’t worry about it for now.

Later John would eventually meet Jesus in person and baptize him in the Jordan river.  Prior to that John spent his time wandering the wilderness proclaiming that Christ was here.  Once Jesus came on the scene he made waves by healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and overall being a serious bad ass (yes I am telling you Jesus was a bad ass!)

My point is that heading into the story that unfolds below, John the Baptist had seen and heard the amazing things that Jesus had done.  We pick up the story in Chapter 7, verse 18 of Luke.

“John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Now keep in mind that John was currently in prison for preaching the Gospel and for calling out Herod for sleeping with Herod’s brothers (Phillip) wife.  Which I think is totally cool. I mean the calling out part, not the prison part.  Ultimately John would be beheaded for following Christ (sounds safe to me!)

Clearly John was now having his doubts about Christ and even possibly having a crisis of faith over his imprisonment.  John might have simply been asking to determine for himself if all his work had been worthwhile.  However, a more realistic possibility was John was putting out feelers to see if Christ was going to help get him out of the jam he was in.

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”  At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 

So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

What was Jesus saying here?  He was telling John some very sobering news.  In short he was saying that people were being delivered from disease, blindness, death, poverty but not everyone would be delivered, including John.  More importantly Jesus encouraged him that those who were not delivered but still believed would be blessed.

In short Jesus was saying, “Sorry John, I am not coming to rescue you.”

Wow.

Not exactly the picture of love and compassion The Church would try and fill our heads with.  Jesus gave John a very hard message but it was a message of truth.  He did not sugar coat it.  He just laid it out there for everyone to hear.

What does that mean for us?

It means that as a follower of Christ our mission is to lay down our lives for others.  For most of us that won’t require actual death for the cause of Christ but for some of us it might.  It will require you to die to your own selfish desires and wishes.  It means sacrificing to love your wife and your kids.  To be there for them at all costs.  To be there for your friends and family.  It means making the right choices for the benefit of others that goes against our nature as men.  It means fighting for our marriages and families and sometimes even our careers.

I have been a follower of Christ for almost 15 years and never once have I thought being a Christian was easy, convenient or for the weak.  Being a man of God, a real man of God is the most difficult journey I have bothered to undertake.  You know what is easy?  Getting laid.  Smoking dope.  Drinking ourselves into oblivion.  Those are all easy things to do.  Living a life of accountability, discipline and living for others rather than myself?  Hardest. Thing.  Ever.  Turning the other cheek isn’t something to be ashamed of.  Matter of fact there are going to be times as men when we may have to act with force to protect our families or way of life.

You think you are a bad ass?  Then I challenge you to follow Christ to test just how bad ass you are!