Cigar Tasting Event at the Cigar Loft & Lounge

Got an email from my favorite B&M, Cigar Loft & Lounge will be hosting a cigar tasting event on Thursday, February 11, 2010 from 5:00 to 8:30 PM. This free event is the Joya De Nicaragua Cigar Tasting Event that will be offering different samples to taste the different blends offered by Joya De Nicaragua. There will be raffles for prizes such as lighters, cigar holders, cigar sample packs, and more. Snacks and beverages will be served and admission is free.

Also if you happen to like Joya De Nicaragua cigars, they are offering a special event promotion sale prices:

  • buy any box of Joya De Nicaragua cigars and get a second box FREE
  • buy any 4 Joya De Nicaragua cigars and get 1 FREE

If you have some time, I would recommend coming out. I hear that events held by the Cigar Loft & Lounge are pretty well done events and no one is ever disappointed. I’m hoping to make it out there if I have time. I personally have never heard of Joya De Nicaragua, but you can read the company’s history on their website here.

Cigar Loft & Lounge
106 W. 25th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 312-1141
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 AM – 8 PM, Sundays: 10 AM – 6 PM

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You can read reviews of Joya De Nicaragua cigars at:

Cuban Cigar Market Analysis

Have you ever bought a box of cubans that was great, only to buy another box later that was not? Doesn’t it seem like buying Cubans can be hit or miss? And why is this lack of consistency acceptable to us as consumers?

The question here is: Are their different grades of Cuban Cigars?

Obviously Cuban Cigars can be real or fake, but for the purposes of this discussion let’s leave fake Cubans out of it. It is assumed that any serious cigar smoker can detect a fake Cuban anyway, and so it really doesn’t apply.

Officially, Cuban Cigars distributed by Habanos S.A. are all of the highest quality. So why then are some boxes spectacular, and other boxes just ok?

Like Truffles (the mushrooms, not the chocolates) their is a magical quality to Cuban Cigars that can make them truly spectacular. But at times it seems as though the magic is missing. And really that’s just an acceptable part of the Cuban Cigar business.

You can justify these magic lacking Cubans through terms of inadequate aging or improper storage. You can also justify it by the fact that storing great Cubans together makes them all become greater, and so the ability of the tobacco to merge and mingle with other nearby leaves could be the answer to why some boxes are great and some are just ok.

But why don’t we see this problem with other great cigars produced in Nicaragua, Honduras or the Dominican Republic? Could it be that the great world wide demand for Cubans has led to a hush hush Cuban Tobacco Industry that imports much of it’s tobacco from neighboring countries and calls them Pure Cuban Cigars? That’s one rumor. And it would explain how one box of 100% Pure Cubans could taste so magical, while another box of say 30% Pure Cubans might not taste as great.

I have also found that while all my sources for obtaining Cuban Cigars provide me with real authentic Cuban Cigars, some sources consistently provide a higher percentage of magical Cubans. Could it be that some suppliers get the first take of the highest quality product, while others get the rest?

With all products planted and harvested in large amounts, their are going to be good years and bad years. A bad harvest could be due to a hurricane or a flood, but none the less a bad crop is the result.

Cigars are produced, released, rated, marketed and sold. This is the business. This leads to the first release of a cigar to be the best, to get the highest rating. Let’s say a cigar gets a 93 point rating when first released in 2003. You buy one, and smoke it, and love it. A few years later, let’s say in 2005, it may be a 91 point cigar, but the store shelf still advertises it’s 93 point rating. You buy one, and smoke it, and it’s just ok. This is just how the marketing of cigars works. It should also be noted that manufactures may try their absolute best to maintain the high ratings quality, but it may just not be possible for the aforementioned reasons.

I believe this marketing strategy to be true. And I believe that by analyzing the life-cycle of a given cigar over several years, this will likely show. It is even more apparent in cigars that garner extremely high ratings when first released, as the market need naturally increases, and so any business in an attempt to maximize profits will increase supply while slightly sacrificing quality. This is the natural evolution of a cigar over several years in the marketplace.

What about “Factory Seconds”, cigars with slight blemishes or rolling issues, that were deemed not good enough to be sold as high quality products. I have seen factory seconds from Padron sold through Famous Cigars online. I have also seen factory seconds of Rocky Patel Decades sold through Thompson Cigars online (which I plan to buy soon). These are sold at a fraction of the price, with no band, but should offer close to the same smoking experience. Again, from a production standpoint, all manufacturing industries, even those with machine made products achieving levels of Six-Sigma (99.996%) Accuracy admit to a small number (3.4) of defects per million products produced.

So the cigar industry does have a marketplace for these slightly inferior cigars. And this factory second marketplace includes cigars from all the cigar regions including Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, etc…but I have never seen a Factory Second from Cuba? I wonder where the Cuban Factory Seconds go? Are they mixed in with the regular production? Are they smoked by factory workers? Are they given to certain, less preferable, online retailers?

Of course, with cigars being handmade organic products, their is some acceptable level of variation from cigar to cigar, box to box, year to year. But their is no clear answer for consumers as to how this process works, and ultimately, and unfortunately, it can at times leave a Cuban Cigar Lover with the short end of the stick. No pun intended.

Article written by Bernie.

New Television Pilot/Show In San Francisco?

Across the street from San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, on Bryant, is a decent size film crew with extras preparing to film a scene from either a new television pilot or show. From what I could barely see of their badges, it says “Saving Cate”, “Saving Grace” (I doubt it…), it’s saving something Facing Kate. It definitely isn’t filming for NBC’s Trauma, as that was canceled last year.

From the article:

On the small screen: San Francisco is ready for its close-up. The new show “Facing Kate” will film its pilot episode at City Hall today.

The USA drama, about a divorced female lawyer who becomes a mediator, will film scenes in Civic Center Plaza, on the Polk Street steps of City Hall, and in various parts of City Hall itself. The production crew will set up shop in the North Light Court.

The filming is expected to take most of the afternoon and may slow the process of entering City Hall.




It wouldn't be a TV/Movie set without the refreshments
It wouldn't be a TV/Movie set without the refreshments


2010: Ring in the New Year

The year has come and gone in what seemed like a blink. As we’re now in 2010, I can’t help but look back at all the memories of 2009.

© bitzi/
© bitzi/

We bought a beautiful house in the Peninsula/San Francisco Bay Area. I celebrated my second anniversary at work. Andrea got hit with furloughs. We brought Stripes to come live with us and celebrated her first birthday at her new home. Then we adopted the cutest little black Bombay from the SPCA so that Stripes would have someone to play with. I got hit with furloughs. God blessed us with a child. We celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary. Panther celebrated his very first birthday with us getting a cat condo, he dearly loves. We had a lovely dinner for Andrea’s birthday. We hosted our very first Thanksgiving at our house. Had Christmas at my aunt’s house. And here we are.

So what’s next for 2010? I can’t forsee the future, but the highlights of 2010 will be: our one-year home owners anniversary, Stripes turning seven, our baby being born, our third anniversary, Andrea’s birthday, Panther’s birthday, and our baby’s very first Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I am certainly very excited for the future. Happy New Year and God bless.

Happy Holidays Everyone

Christmas. Christ’s Mass. Jesus’ birthday. Andrea and I aren’t really religious, but we do believe in a higher power and that not everything can be explained through science. We don’t question the theory of evolution and we don’t believe that on some random day we appeared as we are today: homo sapien.

But we celebrate this day as do millions of others. We give gifts to our family and friends, although this year we can’t give as generous as we have a house and a child on the way. And after Christmas is over, there is only a week before we start a new year.

This year the family (my parents and extended family of uncles, aunts, and grandparents) will be converging on my aunt’s house in the East Bay to eat, mingle, pass out gifts, and open gifts. Pretty much the same thing we did the year before.

But next year will be different. Next year will be our child’s very first Christmas. We’ll be doing things we keep saying we’ll do but never get around to doing it: decorating, getting a Christmas tree, and sending out Christmas cards. But with a child, it’s different. You want your child to experience these holidays and have fond and fun memories to look back upon.

So enjoy the time and memories with you friends and family today. I know we will.

Merry Christmas!

© invisghost. Found on Flickr.
© invisghost. Found on Flickr.

City and County of San Francisco Enters Voluntary Furloughs

Disclosure: I work for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. The views presented below are of my own and not of the office or anyone else for that matter.

Furloughs have now hit me also. The City and County of San Francisco has been facing a $575.6 million deficit in its budget which is now down to ~$400 million. The situation is so bad now that San Francisco can’t even afford to pay all their employee’s salaries to the end of this fiscal year. Given the dire situation, if things continue the way they are, twelve people in our office alone will face immediate lay-offs so that we will have enough money to continue to function and pay our bills. No one is even sure of what will happen next fiscal year and if the lay-offs will continue.

Public Defender, Jeff Adachi, along with Chief Attorney Teresa Caffese are tirelessly (Jeff is even staffing the new Community Justice Center himself) in discussion with the Mayor’s Office and The Board of Supervisors on why our department should be exempted from the mandatory 25% budget reduction ordered by Mayor Gavin Newsom. The argument is that issuing lay-offs in the Public Defender’s office  is not a cost savings issue because the cases that our office would have taken on would be farmed out to private attorneys who would bill the City & County at a much higher rate than what it cost to have a Public Defender on the case. Here is another side of the argument: hiring private attorneys would mean cases could potentially be solved quicker and private attorneys would be more willing to take plea deals resulting in the reduced cost of not having to go to trial. The problem with this argument is that according to a 2007 study by Harvard economists (read the NY Times article) is that “lawyers paid by the hour are less qualified and let cases drag on and achieve worst results for their clients, including sentences that average eight months longer.” To me, after reading that article, I don’t understand how the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors believe that this would result in any significant cost savings. Longer sentences means increased costs to pay for more guards, food, medical expenses, and so forth for that additional prisoner. I’m not saying that we should release or reduce prison terms, if a person has committed a crime, they should serve a prison term that is deemed fair and not excessive. But that’s a whole different discussion for a different time.

So how does this budget crisis affect me personally and our office? We were offered a choice and chance to save twelve of our colleagues: take a voluntary 5-day furlough for the months of April, May, and June which amounts to a 10% pay reduction. This will help twelve of our friends/colleagues survive at least until the next fiscal year. The only catch, to save all twelve, the entire office has to opt-in. If only half the office opts-in, then six people will be spared. I gladly do my part. A reduction in pay is better than no pay any day of the week and any little thing we can do to help each other out goes a long way. I liked how our senior Senior Felony Attorney, Stephen Rosen, put it (I don’t remember the word-for-word quote), “I may not know all of you personally, but you all chose to be Public Defenders giving up more lucrative careers to be here and to help out our clients. That is enough for me.”

COBA Meeting: Wireless Digital Photography and Sensor Cleaning

This is our second meeting of the year and also second time at our new meeting place: SmugMug Headquarters. Adam Tow presented about his take on wireless digital photography including a live demonstration and one of our fellow members, J.C. Dill and Landon talked about their experiences with sensor cleaning. Read the in-depth summary after the jump including pics. Continue reading COBA Meeting: Wireless Digital Photography and Sensor Cleaning