Saturday, March 12, 2011

Universal Serial Buzz

Yesterday evening I went to see Battle: Los Angeles with a bunch of other guys.
(For the record, it was okay. A little too talky during the first two acts as the filmmakers tried to make me care about the personal lives and histories of the people who were all very clearly going to die in the course of the movie. But lots of explosions and whatnot, so it fulfilled its purpose pretty well.)
To kill time before heading over to the theater I stopped at the Best Buy in Sterling, which is slightly larger and has more of a selection than the one here in the 'burg.
The parking lot was relatively full, and it's my policy to just park wherever I can, as I'd rather just walk the distance than spend minutes driving around trying to find a slightly closer spot. Plus doing so usually gives me time to smoke a cigarette (more on that in the next section) while I walk.
Sometime before I left Leesburg I picked up a sugar-free Nos (energy drink), and had mostly finished it during my drive, so as I walked towards the store I brought it with me to finish it off as I walked and dispose of the can once I got there.
Some random guy, who was walking to his parked car said, "You shouldn't be drinking that!"
I turned to regard him with a combination of puzzlement and annoyance (which, I'm sure, just looked like plain old annoyance), and he said, "...if you're buying a new iPad. The line is ridiculous!"
I shrugged and said, "Um, okay. Fortunately, I'm not buying an iPad."
I'm assuming the point he was getting at was that I would find myself in a state of urinary distress if I went into the store to pick up the latest "must have" device while fully-hydrated.
Two things:

1. I'm a diabetic. I pretty much have to pee all the time anyway.
2. Don't talk to me, random guy I don't know.

Granted, he would have no way of knowing about the first thing, but as for the second, I'm not a friendly person, and there isn't anything about me that suggests that I might be a friendly person. I've been told that I exude an aura of hostility that most people can pick up, often to my detriment. After all, the same visible prickliness that - usually - keeps random guys from talking to me also keeps random attractive women from talking to me. (Though to be fair, it may be more accurate to say that I just look creepy, but "aura of hostility" sounds cooler.)
I often wonder what it is that prevents some people from perceiving that aura. Is it some sort of defect in their perceptions? A willful blindness?
Whatever the cause, I don't like the effect.
These are the circumstances in which it's okay for you to talk to me if you're some random person that I don't know:

I am on fire, or in some other form of immediate mortal danger, and don't seem to be aware of it.
You are an attractive woman.
You think my nerdy T-shirt is awesome. (Happened today when I was out in the world wearing my Venture Bros. shirt.) Even in that case, unless you're an attractive woman, the interaction should be limited to something like, "Hey, awesome shirt."

It's not that difficult to understand, people.


Vaping In The Boys' Room Department
Last week, what with all of the extra money I've got, I decided to give in to my curiosity and try out an electronic cigarette.
From what I've read, given that they have no tobacco in them, they're slightly less damaging to your health, and while not designed to be a smoking cessation device, they can be used to help you quit smoking, in that you can gradually decrease the amount of nicotine contained in the cartridges.
I ordered a kit from a company called Modern Vapor.
I expected to get my shipment by Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. I'd had it shipped to work, since I'm never home for deliveries, but by Wednesday I still hadn't gotten an e-mail from the mailroom telling me to pick up my package, so I went online to check the status of my order. Turns out that it had been shipped by US Priority Mail, and had been delivered on Monday. Which meant that the mailroom people had simply put it in my mailbox rather than setting it aside for me to pick it up. D'oh.
So on Thursday morning I swung by my mailbox and picked it up.
I'd ordered the "ultimate" kit, which came with a bunch of pre-filled cartridges, ready-to-fill cartridges, the "e-liquid" for the aforementioned filling, a spare battery and a spare atomizer, a multitude of chargers, and a USB pass-through device.
I was actually running out of cigarettes that day, so I started to make the transition, favoring the e-cigarette over the remaining regular cigarettes whenever possible.
By Thursday night I'd gone through the few remaining cigarettes and was exclusively relying on the e-cig.
I spent most of Friday bumming actual cigarettes from people. I wasn't exactly going through nicotine withdrawals, but even with the full-strength cartridges I was finding that the e-cig didn't quite take the edge off.
Mostly the problem seems to be that I can't get consistent results from the e-cig. Sometimes I can get a good, strong drag, but other times it's like just barely getting a puff off of a regular cigarette that's going out. Other times it's like taking a drag off of an unlit cigarette: the flavor is there, but not the full experience.
One of the advantages to the e-cig - apart from not having nearly as many carcinogens as a regular cigarette - is that the "smoke" it produces is actually just water vapor. Technically, you can smoke - or "vape" - anywhere, as it's not actual smoke and doesn't pose the dangers of secondhand smoke. Plus it's mostly odorless - if you've ever been around a smoke/fog machine, it smells a bit like that - and dissipates quickly. So I've had no qualms about vaping in my house or my car. I'm not quite bold enough to do it at my desk at work, as that would probably lead to too many questions, but I have taken some hits while I've been using restroom at work.
In any case, yesterday I tried using the USB pass-through device.
Basically, the body of the e-cigarette consists of a battery that's similar in size and shape to the part of a regular cigarette that contains the tobacco, an atomizer/heating element, and the e-liguid cartridge itself, which, combined, are the size and shape of a cigarette filter.
The USB pass-through has a USB cable connected to the tip of the battery portion, so you can actually plug it in to your computer, or, via an adapter, a wall outlet.
I got the "automatic" batteries, which heat up the atomizer as you take a drag. The USB version, though, is "manual," and has a button you push to engage the atomizer. I'm finding that the button works a lot better, as it gives you more control over the amount of vapor you pull when you take a drag.
So if I'm going to continue using the product - which I hope to do, if for no other reason than that, after the initial investment, the cartridges are a lot cheaper than cigarettes - I may need to order a manual battery.
In the meantime I decided that I should extend the transition period, so I picked up some regular cigarettes to supplement the e-cig. So far I am smoking at least a little bit less.
Apart from the inconsistent results, the other problem I find is that I don't know when I'm done.
With a regular cigarette, you run out of tobacco as it burns down, so you know when you're finished. However, e-cig cartridges contain the equivalent of several cigarettes' worth of nicotine, so you have to self-regulate. I'm not great at that.
Also, not having any ashes to flick, while less messy, is something that I was surprised to find that I missed.
Of course, having my e-cig plugged into a USB port on my computer while I write this does make me feel like I'm smoking from some sort of futuristic high-tech hookah...

No comments: