Monthly Archives: February 2015

More About Vaping

More About Vaping

Today marks the end of my first week of vaping and smoking, and the beginning of my first week of vaping exclusively. That’s right: I’m going completely tobacco-free. And once I’ve done that, the next step will be vaping sans nicotine.

Yes, you can buy e-juice without nicotine. And that’s what my goal is: nicotine-free vaping.

I can hear your question already: “So if you’re going nicotine-free, why bother vaping at all?”

And that’s a legitimate question. My quick and glib answer is “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” For now, my goal is to be completely nicotine-free. Where I go from there, I’ll worry about when the time comes.

Vaping Options

There really is an entire subculture dedicated to vaping. The ban on cigarettes in most places has opened up an entire new marketing opportunity for alternatives, and that’s where vaping comes in. Of course, it’s also where new restrictions can be found. For example, my doctor’s office took down their old “No Smoking” sign and replaced it with one that reads “No Smoking. This Includes Electronic Cigarettes.

From what I’ve been able to determine, there are four broad categories of vaping:

  1. e-cigarettes
  2. e-cigars
  3. e-pipes
  4. MODs

The first three are self-evident; the fourth requires some explanation. You may have already figured out that “mod” is simply short for “modification.” But rather than filling up this post with the details of what mods entail, I’m going to refer you to Steve K’s Vaping World website, which has an excellent “E-Cig 101” article explaining the ins and outs of mods.

When it comes to e-cigarettes, there are basically two different varieties: disposable, and rechargeable/refillable. “Disposables” are exactly what the name implies: you use them until they’re empty, then throw them away. “Rechargeable” (also known as “refillable”) are initially more expensive, but cheaper in the long run.

Disposables

My first experience with e-cigs was with disposables. I was intrigued with the claim that for the same price as a pack of cigarettes, I could get an e-cig that would last just as long. Yeah, no.

When I smoked a tobacco cigarette, I had cut back to 5 cigs a day. And since smoking meant getting dressed and leaving my apartment (there’s no smoking in the building), I always smoked the entire cigarette. No sense in wasting part of it, right? Although at -8°F, the temptation to smoke less than a whole smoke was pretty strong!

But with the e-cig, I could smoke vape as little as I wanted. This generally worked out to 2 to 4 puffs an hour. Based on the claim of how long it should last, I expected to get at least a week’s work of vaping from each disposable.

In actual use, I got a little over two days. So my recommendation? If you’re new to vaping, or want to try it out to see if it’s right for you, by all means try a disposable. But if you’re making the switch from tobacco to vaping, and want the most economical way to do it, go with a rechargeable.

Rechargeables

Also known as refillables, if you’re a long-term vaper, these are the way to go. You buy an initial starter kit, which usually comes with everything you need to get started: battery, charger, clearomizer, and atomizer. (More on these terms later.) Some kits include refillable cartridges, and some come with pre-filled cartridges.

My own experience has been with the Clear E-Cigarette. I’d love to give you a link to their website, but the sad fact is that they don’t seem to have one. So I’ll give you all of the details about my starter kit:

The kit consisted of several items:

  • Battery
  • USB charge cable (no charger, however)
  • 2 clearomizers
  • 2 spare atomizers

The battery is a variable: different brands come with different options on their batteries; the main variable seems to be the amount of time a given battery will hold a charge. This, in turn, will vary depending on how much you smoke. In addition, there are automatic and manual batteries. Automatics come on when you inhale, while the manuals require that you push a button to activate them. With manuals, you have the greatest control over battery life.

Some kits include a charging unit, while others don’t. The ones that don’t include a charger do come with a charging cable, which can be plugged into a computer USB port or a USB wall charger.

The clearomizer is the tank which holds the liquid, while the atomizer is the element that actually converts the liquid (“e-juice”) into vapor.

Some of the better brands of e-cigs can utilize disposable, pre-filled cartridges, refillable cartridges, or clearomizers. These brands, obviously, afford the greatest flexibility in terms of use.

And that brings us to the greatest variable of all in the world of e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and e-cigars: e-liquids.

E-Liquids (e-Juice)

Since the whole phenomenon is known as “vaping,” it should be obvious that you need something to provide the vapor! And that’s where e-liquid (aka e-juice) comes in.

In terms of variety, taste, and price, e-juice is more like the cigar or pipe scenes in the tobacco world. Whereas cigarettes come with very few options (menthol or regular, low-tar or full-strength), when it comes to e-liquids, the sky is the limit. Besides choosing a flavor—do you want tobacco? Fruit flavors? How about a nice pumpkin pie flavor?—you can choose your nicotine content. Oh? You’d rather not have nicotine? No problem! Buy a nicotine-free e-juice!

My first juice purchase turned out to be the most expensive on in the shop. That makes sense when you realize that I inherited my father’s champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget. Depending on where you shop, you can spend anywhere from $4.50 all the way up to $30, depending on brand, flavor, and bottle size. I opted for a 15ml bottle (both 10ml and 15ml seem to be the most widely available sizes), but you can also find 30ml sizes as well. And it was a premium brand, so it set me back almost $15 for the bottle.

I went back to the smoke shop a few days later and bought a less-expensive juice; I want to make the expensive one last longer!

From what I can determine from the research I’ve done, if your smoking habit was a pack a day, you can expect that same rate of vaping to cost you about $1 a day, which here in New York, is a lot better than $10 a day!

I’ll follow up with reviews of other products as I try them. You can also visit my vaping page on my website.

Your Oppressors Are Not Other Trans

Your Oppressors Are Not Other Trans

Just discovered this one today: Your Oppressors Are Not Other Trans. I didn’t even realize that we were oppressing each other. It sounds to me as if certain segments of our community don’t like other segments, and have decided to take them to task for it.

I’ve never felt part of the GLBT community simply because I’m trans. I do consider myself part of it because I’m a woman married to a woman. That, I guess, makes me a lesbian or, if you want to be pedantic about it, bisexual, since in the past I’ve enjoyed sex with both men and women.

But why can’t we seem to rise above labels? Why can’t we be accepted for who we are, without being defined by who we may or may not sleep with? My sexuality is such a small part of my identity, so why am I defined by it?

I’m also a writer, photographer, poet, would-be artist, mother, wife, student. And yet here I am, lumped in with a community I really have little contact with, because that’s the way our society and culture chooses to see me.

And that sucks, you know? And definitely not in a good way, either.

So I’m choosing to opt out of the whole debate of trans-gender vs. trans-sexual. IS there a difference? If so, should my ability or inability to pay for surgery define who I am? Yet another label.

If we’re looking for inclusion into society at large, why the hell are we further subdividing ourselves based on labels?

You Are NOT A Homophobe

You Are NOT A Homophobe

Recently I came across this picture:

399418_426843767368529_1134707588_n

And that pretty much sums up today’s post: Homophobia is not a fear. It is an excuse for harassing, dehumanizing, and even killing people. I just wanted you to know that.

When a gang of men attack and beat a younger man and leave him crippled for life, that’s not fear. That is hatred. That is murder. That is destroying a life simply because you don’t like another person.

When you feel revulsion when you see two men or two women holding hands, or kissing, that isn’t fear. That is your own mind telling you that there is something wrong with you and the way you think.

That’s the same mentality that leads to the bumper-sticker that says “I Support Gay Marriage (But Only If Both Chicks Are Really Hot!)”

Just what do you gave against equality for everyone? How does letting Jack and John get married actually threaten your marriage? Maybe the real issue is that if you feel that same-sex marriage threatens your marriage, your marriage is already in trouble.

And why insist on calling it “gay marriage,” anyway? I’m going to take a break from writing and go ponder that idea while I fix myself some gay lunch. After that, I’ll wash my gay dishes and clean up my gay kitchen, before going outside to smoke a gay cigarette.

Quitting Smoking Is A Bitch

Quitting Smoking Is A Bitch

And if you’ve ever tried it, you know exactly what I mean. I’ve been trying for the past couple of months to quit my half-pack a day habit, with limited success. When I got serious about quitting, I asked my doctor for a nicotine patch system. After we talked about how much I smoke, she prescribed the appropriate strength patch, and I started.

The thing about the patch is that it releases a controlled amount of nicotine over a 24-hour period. This is supposed to help you with the cravings for nicotine, thus making it easier to quit. I didn’t have much luck with it.

You see, for me, it isn’t the nicotine so much as the actual act of smoking that’s got me hooked. So even though I was wearing the patch, I still craved the experience of smoking. Mind you, after the first month, I had managed to cut back to 2 or 3 cigarettes a day. But that’s not quitting, is it?

The next time I met with my doctor’s PA (the doctor couldn’t see me for my appointment, as she had been called away by her son’s day-care provider saying the poor boy was throwing up), I mentioned the whole “stuck on the experience” problem to her. Without actually suggesting I do it, she did say that many people have better success if they replace the smoking ritual with something else, like sucking on a hard candy, or even trying an e-cigarette.

The bottom line was I ended up trying two e-cigs before deciding that they were too expensive: as much as a pack of cigarettes, and they lasted a lot less than the real thing.

So I decided there had to be a better way. My wife had decided that she wanted to quit as well, and wanted to try an e-cigarette. So we went to our local smoke shop to see what they had to offer.

I ended up buying a refillable e-cig, as opposed to the disposables I had tried earlier. I got a little-known brand, Choice, which seemed a good deal. The guy at the shop said that he stole borrowed one from a friend and used it for a year with no problems. So that’s what I went for.

The kit set me back $25. Part of the appeal was that the next-cheapest starter kit was $39.00, and I didn’t want to spend that much.

Here’s what my kit came with:

  1. Battery
  2. 2 clearomizers (the liquid reservoir)
  3. 2 spare atomizers (they are what convert the e-liquid into vapor)
  4. 1 USB charger for the battery

Vaping

Then I had to decide on the liquid (or e-juice) I wanted to smoke—or rather vape—with. You see, you’re not really smoking, but rather producing a vapor. Hence, vaping.

There must have been close to a hundred different choices, all based on what nicotine content and flavor I wanted. Not really knowing what I was doing, I picked what turned out to be the most expensive item in the store. It set me back another $15, as opposed to the next most expensive one at $6.50.

But the nice thing about having a spare clearomizer is that I can still get a cheaper e-juice to use in it, and that way I can have some variety.

I discovered that there is, of course, a reason that my choice was so expensive: it is a very high-quality, top of the line liquid. King’s Barrel Blacksmith is “triple chocolate mocha; pure decadence,” according to the manufacturer.

But as delicious as it is, I can’t afford to buy it on a regular basis. So when it’s gone, or I get bored with it, I’ll try something less expensive.