I've been smoking briars and cobs for nearly 18 years now, but the only meers I've owned are the small, cheap, and somewhat foul-tasting pipes that are available for less than $30 at our local strip mall retail tobacco shops. I'd smoke them a few times and then get fed up with tongue bite and the nasty, soap-like flavor that seemed to accompany every blend I smoked in them. I had one friend tell me that these pipes aren't "real" meerschaum in the first place and are largely marketed to the same crowd that buys water pipes. When my tax refund came in recently, I hopped online and ordered a large IMP meer that's absolutely beautiful for just over $100. But now, as I sit here and contemplate what I want to smoke in it for its first outing (I'm leaning toward a Balkan), I realize that I really don't know that much about the care of meers. Any basic rules I should know about this type of pipe before I get started (i.e. how does it differ from briar and cobs)? I understand that I shouldn't allow cake to build up, that handling it with my fingers while it's hot is a bad idea, and that under no circumstances should I smoke it outdoors when it's really cold. Assuming those are all good bits of advice, that's about all I know.