It’s been a heck of a week

This week so far, in bullet points:

  • Got over a nasty cold.
  • Heard a great message from Pastor Tom.
  • Beat Borderlands, finally.
  • Got to present my work in front of the VP of Operations for our entire company – and got kudos.
  • Met with some friends over coffee to discuss a chance at going back into web development.
  • Officially hit the 100 lbs lost milestone, posted on r/loseit, and got… compliments?!
  • New employees are doing great.
Now that’s a good first half-week, no?


So I had an unexpected email arrive in my inbox a couple of weeks back from a gal promoting an e-Cigarette company called Vapor4Life, who asked if I’d be interested in trying their product and writing a review on my blog. Apparently what made her think that I would be a good candidate is that I  occasionally enjoy cigars, but I’d never heard of e-Cigs being marketed to cigar enthusiasts before, so I clarified with her that I hadn’t smoked cigarettes in years and wasn’t sure if I’d be the best fit. She insisted that I was, in fact, what she was looking for, and sent me a starter kit. So bear that perspective in mind when you read on, because I’m not a cigarette smoker.

My first impression was that the device sure looked cool. She sent me a pair of e-Cigarettes, one white with a faux-ash looking tip, and the other matte black with a diamond-cut glass tip. She also sent along a couple of different types of cartomizers, which are the “flavor” of the e-Cig and the container for the juice they use to generate the vapor. The “body” of the e-Cigarette is simply called the battery, and it came with both a wall charger and a USB charger, which is a nice touch for any mobile electronic device.

She sent me a blueberry flavor and two that were supposed to be like tobacco – the “Wowbacco” and the “Hilton” flavors. I decided to try the Wowbacco first. I attached the cartomizer to the battery – it’s simply screwed on – and took my first drag.

I was expecting it to take a bit of suction to get anything out of it, as I’d heard that complaint before about e-Cigs, but I got pretty much just what I would from a cigar or cigarette. After a few drags, I did notice that there was a slight delay between when you started inhaling and when the vapor released, which definitely lends it an artificial feel. However, it’s really a very small delay, and it didn’t detract from the experience at all.

What surprised me most, I suppose, was that the vapor felt so light in my mouth. There was no heat or sensation of smoke, I could scarcely feel the vapor at all. The taste of this one was also very light and airy – nothing like a cigar, more like a filtered cigarette (which makes sense, given the flavor) – though it’s definitely there and quite pleasant. If anything, this flavor is a bit sweeter than I’d expect. In addition, because there’s no burning happening in the process, there’s no burning smell, no smoky smell at all. So while you get the flavor, divorced from the smoke it feels quite different than the normal smoking experience.

The vapor looks just like real smoke would, though, which is probably why the company helpfully sent along about 50 business card-sized information cards for use when questioned about it that explain the difference between an e-Cig and a regular cigarette. It informs the reader that it does not violate any of the smoking bans across the nation, ending with a polite appeal to allow the holder to continue using his e-Cigarette in the establishment – a nice touch, as I can easily see being confronted over using one of these, especially if it was a white battery with a brown cartomizer!

There’s also really no residual at all to the vapor – after using one for a while and setting it aside, there was no leftover smell in the air and my clothes hadn’t kept any of the odor. That immediately got my attention, because this effectively sweeps aside the need for talking about secondhand effects of any sort. Combine that with the fact that e-Cigs are so darned convenient – take a drag or two and put it back in your pocket! – and I can see the appeal of this as a cigarette alternative very easily.

After using it for a few days, though, I don’t know if I can see these as a good substitute for a cigar. The feel of the thing is just too “light,” and I really like the thicker feel of the smoke when you drag on a cigar. While neither of the flavors I tried was very much like a cigar – the Hilton was my preferred of the two, by the way – I could see them coming up with a decent cigar flavor. I just don’t know if the vapor is a good enough substitute.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It’s a great replacement for a cigarette, as far as I’m concerned – more or less the same experience without the drawbacks. And now that I have one, I’ll probably continue to use it periodically. There’s something to be said for the relaxation that comes from the simple act of smo— er, vaping.

Also – I just gave the other test battery to a friend of mine, so look for a follow up on that here in the near future!

Eating cake

You know those moments when you have something you’ve always “known” – really, just assumed – blown away by actual fact? I had one of those today. If I’d been reading Jonah Goldberg earlier, I might have had this one happen ten years ago.

If you’ve got any sort of comfort with European history (or are just a Kirsten Dunst fan), you’ve probably heard the phrase “Let them eat cake!” thrown around as an example of how far removed the aristocracy was from the peasantry during the French Revolution, and attributed to Marie Antoinette.

However, that’s not actually how it went down. Rousseau is the one who gave us that quote, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” and it was attributed to an unnamed “great princess” who had famously made the statement in the past – Marie Antoinette was only a child at the time of Rousseau’s writing, and had not yet moved to France, so it’s impossible that it had anything to do with her.

Additionally, the quote was supposed to have taken place during a bread shortage, of which there was only one during King Louis XVI’s reign, the Flour War Riots, and during which Marie wrote letters back home to Austria that showed a very sympathetic viewpoint, saying “It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness.”

In short, leave Marie alone!

So what got her beheaded during the French Revolution, if not her sharp wit and love of sweets?

Well, it seems that during the years leading up the French Revolution, she was the victim of some exceptionally nasty PR, receiving the nickname Madame Déficit as the result of a popular perception that she was solely to blame for France’s failing economy, largely due to her extreme expenditures on her personal wardrobe. In reality, she was far less of an offender than her predecessors and competitors in that regard, and had quite a large amount of charitable works to her name.

But when was the last time you heard of a mob that listened to reason?

Justice for all! If you’re a famous actress, anyway

So the guy who illegally accessed Scarlett Johansson’s email and got his hands on nude photos she’d taken of herself got caught, and is now facing up to 121 years in Federal prison for doing the same to several other actresses.

One hundred and twenty one years…?

I mean, I think we can all agree that what he did was wrong. But let’s get real about the actual offense here: the guy accessed her webmail – something that happens almost always because the person who got “hacked” uses their birthday for their password – and downloaded some photos that she took willingly, then posted them on an internet forum.

So let’s recap:

  1. Famous sex symbol takes nude photos of herself.
  2. Famous sex symbol stores them in a very insecure fashion.
  3. Horndog Floridian guy takes them and posts them online.

I don’t really see how that adds up to 121 years in jail – or anyone actually being surprised in the slightest. But maybe that’s just me.

Besides, we all know the real crime here is that the FBI actually called this “Operation Hackerazzi.”