Monday, April 29, 2019

So Very Vain & Ashamed

I would like to think that I outgrew being overly vain once I matured past my 30's. I'd also like to think that I am very "comfortable in my skin". I'd also like to sprout wings at will.

Most people probably are comfortable with themselves. I mean, at least those people who don't photoshop the hell out of their online photos. I was never comfortable with my personality but I was comfortable with my appearance. What I have recently figured out is that most people are comfortable with their appearance depending on their appearance. Let me tell you what will test that comfort level: any change in appearance.

When I got sick and gained weight, I adjusted. I made it work. I dealt with it. When I could no longer wear heels, I dealt with it. I dealt with it resentfully but, hey, I did deal. When I lost my hair the first time, I dealt with it. I cut it off and worked the hell out of a short 'do. But there are limits.

I broke a tooth a few years back. A front tooth because of course. I had to get a crown and I went to a cheap and mediocre dental clinic. And, oh damn it, what a horrible job they did. That was fine because you know what? That's life and, oh well. I dealt with it. Like a boss. Then, about a month after I got the crown, my front teeth began forming a gap. So I now have a gap.

And mine is not cute like this one

The gap didn't bother me until I saw someone I had not seen in a long time - since, you know, during my pre-gap life. The first thing she said after we did all the look-at-you b.s was "Girl, what happened to your pretty smile?" Yeah, she said that out loud.

Okay. Since then, I have not dealt well with this gap. I almost never smile anymore. And don't forget, I have the whole resting bit*h face syndrome. I always walked around grinning like a maniac because my non-smiling face was mean. Now, I don't care. The only times I show these teeth is when I get so tickled I can't help myself or when I momentarily forget about this damn gap.

So the next time I criticize someone for photo-lying with some airbrushing, please remind me not to be such a hypocritical ass.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Complicated Complications

Ever since I tripped and almost fell the other day, I've been self-reflecting and trying to think of ways I can be a better person. There's nothing like a little red-faced shame to make you self-evaluate...

Some people make resolutions at the start of a new year. I make all my lofty promises to myself with every twentieth beat of my heart. I really fight against believing in astrology, but I am the poster child for the Cancerian. Still, I never give up making these little self-improvement promises.

One of my continuous goals is to be more social. Ugh. That one is tough.

Yesterday one of my nieces Facebooked me about an app called Sweatcoin. Apparently, this app lets you accumulate some form of currency based on your step count. Sounds pretty good, right? I mean, most of us are already being tracked by the apps on our phones, so...

When I heard about the app, I asked my niece if it was something that also worked with a stationary bike. Answer: Nope. You have to go outside. My niece knows my personality and got my half-joking response which was basically to cringe at going out and being around people. Half-joking because I really do sometimes feel allergic to society.

I live just a short walk away from one of the most beautiful lakes ever. The air here is clean and fresh and, on most summer days, the weather is almost cinematically gorgeous. I love strolling down to the waterside and sitting in the park, but I have to almost meditate myself into the mood for doing so. The good summer weather brings a lot of people to our tiny town. I don't really have a problem with the people (most are really friendly and laid back), but I do have a problem with feeling surrounded. I know, I know. Some of you might think of me as weird. I prefer to think of myself as batshit complicated.

As much as I loathe crowds, I love my circle of friends. It's teeny-tiny and it's gotten so much teeny-tinier in the past 10 years. Thank you Death. Thank you very much.

My other goal is to really pay attention to all my phobias and figure out why they exist. I have a list of crap that scares me or makes me cringe. Like with most things in my life, I've discussed my phobias here again and again and again and many other agains.

The phobia I have to deal with most often is my fear of flying. Now that I live here in the Lower 48 where friends and family live much closer I'm getting better about plane rides. When I was up in Alaska, the only place I felt sorta-kinds-maybe not as nutty about getting on a plane was for trips to Seattle. And, to be clear, it's not really flying that bothers me. Once we get up and gong, I'm a pretty decent seat neighbor. The part that puts my heart in my throat is the taking-off and landing deal. Someone once explained that taking off and landing is when a plane is more likely to crash. I don't even care if that is true or not. The thought has been planted and it has grown a seed of panic that blooms every time I am on an airplane.

Some of my other "weirdities" don't count as phobias, but they still clutter the craziness of my life. There's my whole thing of not being able to sleep in a closed room while I also don't like having the door open. Okay. This one really is a nutty thing. I always sleep with the bedroom door closed, but I need to either have a window at least partially opened or fans going. Doesn't matter how cold it is. And I almost always have a fan going while I sleep. I swear, I damn near froze to death one winter night when I passed out drunk and naked half on and half off the bed. One of the reasons I don't drink often is because I don't drink well.

Most times, the open-door-fan-on thing is not dangerous to my health. That's because I also like to sleep under a heavy blanket. In the summer warmth, I run both a ceiling fan and a floor fan that is right next to my bed so that it can blow into my face.

I do realize that my phobias make my life more difficult than it needs to be but that doesn't change anything for me. This is who I am. I really am trying to be better but... Here's the thing: if I change, then I'm not my wacky, silly, lovable self? So I have to decide to be better without being too much of anything but me.


**REVIEW** Voopoo Finic 20

STOP: this post is ONLY for those of legal age for nicotine use.
See the guide for state-by-state regulations

state-by-state regulations

I'm breaking my "no reviews" deal for a moment because I actually won the Finic 20 via Reddit. Winning the Finic was great because I have sworn off buying or accepting any more devices to review for a while. So, yay me (and the other winner).

Before I even get this post started, let me admit something that will make you laugh, shake your head, or just feel bad for me. I did not know that the AIO on vape descriptions stood for "all in one". Just had no clue. The first time I saw it on the side of a box, I thought AIO  was part of the name of the device. You know, like PockeX AIO. Cool sounding is what I thought.

And now a little preamble (or pre-ramble in my case). I want to mention that I wasn't sure if I was entering a giveaway or applying to be a tester. This was the lure shown on the Reddit post:

The Finic series from Voopoo

Well, I love my Voopoo Caliber so how could I resist getting another Voopoo product? As far as why I chose the Finic 20, it was all about the looks. The 16 looks a little too blah and I wasn't digging that Fish pod in the least. But that 20 - just look at it. Even if this were the worst performing device ever, it would get high marks for the color designs.

(l to r)
Siren, Electric Shock, Toxic, Black, Silver, Rainbow

Usually, I will choose something in Rainbow or Red but I didn't actually get a choice (or at least I don't remember making a choice) and was really, really happy that I got the pretty "Toxic" design. When I chatted with the other winner, they said they chose Green so maybe they got the Siren wrap? ~shrug~

Other than the beautiful wrap colors, the Finic 20 looks like the offspring of two of my other devices. It has the body of the Aspire PockeX and the drip tip design of Innokin Endura. I like it.

(l t0 r)
Endura, PockeX, Finic 20

I appreciated that this came with 2 coils and extra tank glass. As for the coils, I stole this info from somewhere:
the YC-R1 0.6ohm coil for Direct-to-Lung vaping. Meanwhile the YC-R2 1.2ohm coils is optimized for a perfect mouth-to-lung vaping experience
Yeah. So thanks to the source and sorry I didn't keep notes to credit them...

The pen, extra glass and seal, charging cord, 2 coils hidden under the cord
 I was able to vape MTL and DTL with the 1.2ohm coil. So far I have had no problems using 65/35 eliquid but try to stick with 50/50. I get nice cloud production but the flavor is a little muted unless I am using something really strong (like a sour flavor or something with a hint of menthol). I really do like this though. It's the first day but I am preferring it over the Endura because the airflow is a little more consistent,

This device is the newest of the Finic line and I've only seen it at a few online vendor sites. The price hovers somewhere around $25.00 - worth it from what I can tell from using it today.

That's the deal and that's is also the last review unless something pops up from one of my regular vendor contacts.


Saturday, April 27, 2019


Remember the James Brown song "The Big Payback"? That's what flashed into my mind the other day when I tripped and nearly busted my ass.

My mother had a saying: "God don't like ugly." He certainly does not. I'm not saying that He was behind my mishap but if He was, I deserved it.

A couple of weeks ago one of the regular visitors of one of my neighbor's was here. She's not the nicest woman I've ever run across. She always makes direct eye contact - which is great - but she never smiles or gives any kind of friendly acknowledgment. She just looks and dismisses. What a witch. Since I know how she is, I try to pretend not to notice her presence. However, on this one particular day, she was waiting for the elevator just as I came around the corner on my way to the laundry room. I accidentally made eye contact just in time to get one of her snotty looks. She went to step into the elevator and her shoe caught on something and she almost fell into the lift.

I am not always a nice person. Of course, I could have been decent enough to make sure she hadn't hurt herself before I laughed, but I wasn't even a decent person that day. It was just so shockingly funny the way she'd given me her glare just before flopping into the elevator. (By the way, she seemed to be okay. She was straightening her top as the doors closed.)

Since I've outed myself as a heartless idiot, let me go all the way and admit that I was only able to hold back a belly laugh until I got to the laundry room. Thank the moon and stars that no one else was in there because I laughed until I needed to go pee. I could not stop replaying the whole glare-and-trip sequence. It was hilarious every single time. I was still laughing whenever I thought about it. All the way up until this morning,

My balance is sometimes just slightly off (or really off, depending on whether my sarc is flaring) When my balance is only slightly off, I am not always aware. This morning,  when I went down the hall to check my mailbox, I wasn't aware. Until I got back to my apartment and tripped on the throw rug outside the door. I tried to catch myself by grabbing onto the door handle. Because the door was unlocked, the handle tipped down and the door flew inward and I almost ate carpet.

I didn't actually hit the floor with anything but my pride but I did a clumsy little jig just to restore my balance. And in my head, I could hear the Maceo giving James a beat for the "Payback".

This is what I get for being so mean sometimes. I am always finding the mean-girl humor in someone else's mishaps. And I am the shyest, most selfishly sensitive person on the planet. I guess I should just be thankful that no one witnessed my little indignity. Maybe next time I see someone else in the same situation, I won't be so cruel. Even if it is a certain someone who isn't nice to me.

As part of my penance, I am sharing this publicly. Now I can sit down and get some writing done with a clearer conscience.


Friday, April 26, 2019

Book/Blog or Blog/Book

Some years back, a long-distance friend of mine who knew I was struggling with putting together a book made a suggestion. His thought was that I should publish some of my blog posts in book form. This is back when I had several blogs (some hidden from public view) and this friend had seen the unpublished stuff and most of my unfinished notes. My excuse then was that I was busy working and trying to care for my sister. Then I started working two jobs and was feeling really overwhelmed by life. Then I was in a very consuming relationship which became my addiction. Then I was always jonesing and hustling to hold on to my drug/love of choice. Then I was busy trying to kick and break away, get away and detox. Then I was living from pillar to post. Then my wobbly finances finally toppled and went all to hell and I was hiding from bill collectors and my past. Then I backslid into my addiction a couple of times. Then I was intervened and rescued by friendship and a total no-judgment zone of open arms. Then I was starting a new job in a new field and kind of hiding from the ex. Then, suddenly, I was sick.

And now I am here.

I've lost track of that friend from long ago. When I was running all over the place and from my problems, I heard that he had gotten seriously ill. I lost phones and numbers and address books and wallets. I lost track of a really good person and I still don't know if he is okay.

But I am here.

I remember what that friend said to me about not being afraid to let the world peek at hidden pieces of my life. That friend told me that the reason we are often so afraid to show all of ourselves is that we are afraid no one will love or want us in our bare humanity. We don't want to show the scars and scratches and rashes and bruises of mistakes and miseries. We only want to show our photo-ready selves. We only want to share the best of who we have learned to pretend to be.

My mother used to say that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. I don't know why it's so easy for us to love in the present tense. (And, by the way,  I don't even know what that thought has to do with this post!)

Anyway,  I say all of that to say that I am working on putting some of my blog posts into book form. I want to do it as an act of bravery. It will be like standing naked and true for anyone who wants to see. And if no one wants to see, well, that's fine. In today's print-on-demand world, self-publishing is all no-harm-no-foul.

As far as the book being seen, there are only 2 people I really care about: my lost friend and someone else.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Finding Joy

Last week was a rough one. The weekend was worse. I was dealing with some fatigue and a vague kind of apathy. The weather didn't help. The weather here has been off-and-on gloomy with teasings of sunshine. Weather can be my friend or my enemy. And I am sometimes my own bad medicine. Most people fight dark moods with good company. Me, I duck out of invites. I don't like pretending that I'm okay when I'm not - at least not any more than I have to just to make people not worry. So I usually only socialize when I feel sociable.

I spent Easter alone and just kind of meditating on the season's message that Jesus died and rose. He did both - going into the grave and coming out - for us and maybe his other gift was teaching us how - with his love - to rise up out of our emotional graves.  By the time I went to bed last night, I was thinking about how we, human and flawed, have to regenerate from things that kill little pieces of us every day.

Some people don't heal from all that hurts their feelings. Some people just put up walls and won't let the hurt get too close. I heal with laughter and music and imagination. So this past week when I was tempted to stay hidden away in my tomb of despair, I thought about God's love for me and I was able to rise out of the nice, cool, dangerous darkness.

My laughter comes from small things. I'm that person who breaks out into giggles while grocery shopping because I remembered something that happened ten years ago. Last night, I was listening to a podcast when one host misspoke about a location and then said that he was no "geographist". His co-host teased that he was also obviously a not "wordist". I had to pause the podcast for at least five minutes while I laughed.  Yeah, you had to be there. Ba dum bump.

Music is my other balm. My latest song obsession came about while I was watching that show Lucifer (Yeah, I'll address that in a moment.) The song is "Restless" by a band called Cold War Kids. Since I don't listen much to the radio, I find new music via TV shows or movies. Let's give a shout out to the Shazam app right now. It's on my home screen with other Most Used icons right next to the bank app that I check to keep myself from going to jail over bounced checks.

Anyway, I love this song so much. Anyone who's read my blog more than 20 times knows how often I mishear lyrics. I don't usually even pay attention to lyrics and just let the music take me where it's going.
This time though, for some reason, the lyrics grabbed me. The melody (arrangement?) is also beautiful. Do check out this band and show support.

What humor and music can't heal in me, love and imagination can. Love's currently in hiding - or maybe even in witness protection - so I had to lose myself in my imagination. Imagination is tricky though so I have to be careful. I might start out headed toward a mirage of paradise and end up in places darker than my reality. Usually, I can get myself to a place of peace just by imagining what that place might look like.

At any rate, I was able to pull myself back into some kind of balance. Today, I decided to skip this weeks methotrexate injection. I want to feel good to enjoy this moment of not being entombed.

As for the show Lucifer, I realize that a lot of Christians were in protest when it premiered. I never bothered to watch it just because I was in my 5-year period of refusing to own a television. When I noticed a couple of weeks ago that it was on Netflix, I put it in my queue and forgot about it for a few days. After a little bit of debate with myself, I decided to watch the show. Here's the thing, I'm strong enough in my beliefs that a silly TV show is not going to shake my faith. I live in a world that is a documentary of evil. I read the news and observe people every day. If that hasn't turned me away from the cross, I don't know what can.

The show is entertaining. I mean, it's mainly about the Devil in existential crisis because of issues we humans deal with on a daily basis. The bad theology (which seems to blend Biblical teachings with that of Greek and Marvel Universe mythology) could be misleading to someone weak and not curious enough to search further. For me, it's just a show made up of fictional characters loosely based on real people. I can handle that.

**I walked away from the keyboard for a minute and almost forgot what this post was about because I have the attention span of a gnat. Forgive me if the rest of the post is a little off kilter.**

 I just wanted to get across that we have to find ways to heal ourselves and hang on to live for another moment. Rinse and repeat. That's all life is - just making it from moment to moment and breath to breath. And, like I said, I think that the healing - in our hearts and imagination or through little joys - is all a gift from God.

I want to include another song that I always find soothing. This one has pulled me through some seriously dark moments.

Ironically, Lucifer -or, as I call him post-fall, Satan - was the chief musician. So music can soothe or damage. Remember that David played the harp for Saul.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Love and Aging

My best friend and I were talking (because we talk on the phone at least once a week) and I asked her if she wanted to find love again. Her answer was that she had never found it before and that she is no longer looking.  Since I guess I am relatively younger (she's 20 years my senior) she lobbed the question back at me. My answer is more complicated.

Here's the thing: I've not been good at or "lucky" in love. A just-uncoupled friend sent me a meme once that said, basically, that being in love and being in a relationship are two different things That is so true that it stings. So, I guess I would take either - love or the relationship - but would prefer the latter.

Love is tricky and, in my opinion, very rare. I know that a lot of people talk about being in love and having found the love of their lives but I think it's more complicated than that. I believe that most people have just found someone they can love and be happy with. I don't think that most people find their truest love or "soul mate". Sorry if that offends anyone.

So, yes, I would love to be 'in love' - who wouldn't? I'd love to just be with someone who most perfectly matches the edges and curves of my soul. That probably won't ever happen but I never give up hope. I would, at this point, settle for being in a really good relationship. And I consider a good relationship being one based on comfort zones, acceptance, and loyalty. I'm not a person who likes to be smothered. I don't want someone breathing up all my air and I don't want to suffocate them. I'm too much of a hermit crab (Cancerian here, remember?) but I do want to make someone happy and I'd prefer not be grow old(er) alone. I take that back. I don't want to grow old lonely.

A long while back I posted what some children had to say when asked: "what is love?" Kids are so damn pure! One of my favorite answers was given by 4-year-old Billy:
'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.'
Billy was four at the time, people. I can't imagine the man he will grow up to be.

A 7-year-old Noelle gave an answer that, in my opinion, describes a relationship:
'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'
She has the concept down. There is a tricky difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. It took me until my thirties to figure that one out.

So, love or relationship? Again, I'd like to have both. I'd rather have my name safe in someone's mouth, but I'd take having them just care enough to make me a priority.

I don't think there are many men out there who would want a relationship with me. For one thing, I'm more sensual than sexual and I get the feeling that most men my age date younger because they want children or porn-like intimacy.  I'm the chick who needs my space when I need my space but will often want to sleep in a cling-wrap cuddle.  And I don't like having mundane, pointless conversations because nothing should be mundane and pointless. How nice to be able to enjoy someone in their silence... I want a person who has their own "thing" - something they care so much about that they don't mind if I don't care about it with them; something that gives them a reason to have their own space every now and then. And I want someone who has gotten over themselves enough to be flawed and awkward; someone who can laugh and cry and think without caring what anyone thinks of them for laughing, crying or thinking. I just want someone who makes me feel comfortable being who I am. I remember being married and waking up early just to get rid of morning breath and crawl back into bed with the whole fake I-woke-up-looking-this-good. F*ck that!

Someone once told me that, often, people aren't looking to be loved but looking to be rescued. This may be truest as we age. For certain, there is hope for older people looking for actual love. One of the people who used to live in this apartment building started seriously dating a few months back. And get this: he is dating someone around his own age! The judgemental witch that I can sometimes be was surprised by this. The guy is nice-looking and I suspect that he is really comfortable in his retirement (some seniors here hide their money to live in the building), and he likes to 'party' (read that as hitting up the VFW almost every night). He even asked me out once. Alas, I don't 'party' like that. Of course, because I can be bitter and critical, I just knew that dude had hooked up with someone half his age. Nope. She's kind of hot, but she is most definitely "mature". He likes to bring her by every now and then when he visits with his buddies who still live here. I'm a little jealous now. LOL

As for my best friend, I tease that she doesn't have to be looking to find love. As a matter of fact, I think it's when we aren't looking that it finds us. Now I'm a little scared.


I am such a fan of  JM Storm (his Facebook link). He's prolific on Instagram and has books and an Amazon page.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Little Big Things

The gray and rainy weather here has me in a certain kind of mood today. I'm stuck in bed fighting fatigue again and my brain is the only part of my body that has energy. And for some reason, I am thinking about time and life and everything to do with both. Forgive me now for any typos or wrecked grammar. The brain is working but at its own pace...

 Isn't it strange - or maybe profound - to think that the whole entire and total fate of a person can hinge on one word or gesture? Just imagine how many times in your own life that your path was changed by your looking up at the right moment. Maybe you looked up or over to meet someone's eyes or to notice something that fired an idea in your mind. Maybe you were feeling down and out and just happened to see something that changed your attitude.

I probably have mentioned before about the time my mother pointed out to me how much of an effect we can have on people. She felt that attitudes towards strangers were important. That the difference between out sharing a smile or frown could be the one thing to encourage someone to hold on or to give up.

Can you think times when your whole universe became about a little thing? Like a phone call about a job - or a call from a crush, or one from a doctor with test results? Sometimes it's something as small as a compassionate glance shared with a stranger on a day when you needed that tiny, passing connection. Maybe it was a time when you didn't feel lovable or 'want-able' but something happened to make you feel better. like hearing a beautiful piece of music that reminded you of beauty. Or maybe it was just the way a cool breeze of air felt on your skin when you needed - really needed - to feel something that simple and lovely.

There are just so many little things that change big things. Little atomic particles of the universe that change lives and futures. Little fractions of moments that make us hold our breath while the next fraction is our reason to let go and just breathe again.

I sometimes think back over my own life and try to find some of those moments. The little moments that changed the course of my life. The moment when  I made or broke a relationship. That time that I didn't say what I should have but then did say what I shouldn't have. The apologies I didn't offer. The care I didn't take.

There are other moments - fractions of life - when I was in sync with the movement of my fate. Time and moments.

To imagine that a tiny alteration of my past might mean the difference in which of the people in my life might not have died when they did or been born when they were... But the thing is, we are all just here. We can't rotate or zoom in on moments once they have passed. We are living from breath to breath, creating little ripples in the universe.

That's enough for now. These bouts of deep thinking are only good for a little while before I need someone to share thoughts with.


By the way, there are going to be quite a few days ahead where I will be recycling posts. I am finally getting to wean off the prednisone and my mind always goes through an adjustment period during the weaning.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Back to Basics

Backing away from the blog yesterday to re-think it was good for me. I have decided to get back to basics. When I started blogging it was a way to express myself in free form and free fall. I miss that. No editing my writing or thoughts. No worrying about what a reader might think of me. I loved just getting the words down and out there into the world. I have really missed that so much.

Another thing I have missed is working on the books I started. I haven't touched them in months. I haven't even really been able to add much to them in longer than that. Last night, I started back working on Love and Madness. I feel my creative flow building again. It feels really good.

One of the difficulties I have is dealing with my cognitive issues - brain fog, thought interruptions, and a sort of ADD-like restlessness. I'm practicing some things suggested to me by other sarc patients. I can't solve the problems with my brain but I can work around them. Controlling the anxiety is easier by reminding myself to breathe properly and not to be so self-critical.

I'm going to do this. I will finish this book. I might drive myself a little crazier in the process but that's okay. Sanity is so overrated.

In the meantime, I will keep blogging. Love and Madness will really be an extension of this blog - just better edited.


Sunday, April 14, 2019

**AMENDED** Taking a Break

Hours after I posted about taking a break, I mentioned it to someone I know. They asked if it was just the reviews I wanted a break from. I think that's what it is. I don't want to have to work to promote views and interest. This person's advice to me was to keep posting - just not about products. So that's what I am going to do. I like blogging about my thoughts and feelings. and don't care whether anyone reads those posts or not. Perfect. I still get my outlet without stress. This means that I still want vendors to back off for a while. I guess it means that I will be taking this blog back to what it was before all the product reviews. That works for me.

I've decided to take a break from the blogs for a while. Without Google Plus, I'm having to connect to new platforms and figure out how to deal with comments. Also, I'm in need of a mental break from doing reviews.

For the few old GPlus folks who've been in touch here and on mail, I will see you on Instagram or, maybe, on Facebook. In the meantime, every one of you, please be good to each other.

For any vendors sending requests for reviews, please don't. When I am ready to re-start, I will make announce here.


Friday, April 12, 2019

**REVIEW** Uwell Caliburn Starter Kit

(With the loss of Google Plus, I am struggling to get visibility for these reviews back up. I'm working on finding replacement platforms. In the meantime, on I go.)

STOP: this post is ONLY for those of legal age for nicotine use.
See the guide for state-by-state regulations

state-by-state regulations

This review is for the newest (and most talked about) pod system. The Uwell Caliburn is raved about as big competition for the Juul. I'm using it for the first time today and the raving is warranted. Right off the bat, the $27-$35 Caliburn is cheaper than the $35-$50 Juul. Make sure that you shop around though because prices right now are varying wildly (and this is why I'm not linking to any specific shop, including where I got this one.)

I'll back up right now to say that Juul not only has competition but serious competition. Most people first coming off cigarettes want something to sate the nic craving and soothe their budget. After all, one of the benefits of quitting smoking is saving money. It's ridiculous to go broke when switching to vaping.

Came fully charged, by the way


1. One of the things a lot of people like about the Caliburn is that it can be button-fired or just mouth-drawn. I find that there is more of a flavor release when using the button. Also, I think most vapers are just used to that method.

2. In comparing this to the Juul, I like that you can hit this mouth-to-lung or direct-to-lung. With the Juul, DTL is not as easy or nice, in my opinion. That leads to the next point.

3. The draw (or airflow) on the Caliburn is the perfect balance between tight and airy. I found the Juul to be tight which is why it was not a decent DTL device. And I get it, a lot of people reserve DTL for sub ohm devices and not pod systems. I like to switch between the two styles. MTL reminds me of smoking cigarettes, but DTL seems to give me a bigger nicotine hit when I am just doing one or hits.

4. One of my favorite things about this system is the top-fill design. You basically pop off the top of the pod and use one of the two holes underneath. I had no spills and leaking like with some of the side fill devices.

5. The device is extremely light and comfortable to hold. Again, more so than any other pod device I've used this is akin to the Juul. The Infinx, for instance, feels bigger and heavier.

6. Even with salt nic, the cloud vapor was better on this than with the Juul. One of my peeves with using the Juul right after giving up cigarettes was the lack of vapor. That was a big deal for me because I really wanted to recreate the experience of having an actual cigarette. Since then, I find that I love the vapor more than the nicotine - which I often go without. I'm not a cloud fanatic, but vapor is part of the satisfaction for me.

6. Uwell did a great job with the appearance of this device. It's sleek and comes in some nice colors. The blue looked a lot more like teal out of the box. There's not much difference in hue from seeing the product photo on screen but... I do like the color though. (I haven't received the pink one yet.) Also, although the finish has a slight shine to it, it's matte and isn't a fingerprint magnet.

7. Probably the biggest pro is that this uses refillable pods. With the kit, you get a spare so you can switch between flavors if you want or not freak out about losing one. And the pods hold 2ml of liquid (versus 0.7ml in standard Juul pods).


The one and only real negative I want to point out is that the top is so freaking hard to remove. Other reviews mention that this gets easier with some. That makes sense but I damn near erased my fingerprints trying to remove the cap for the first fill.

The minor negative is that the view window for the liquid level is useless. In the right light, I could kind of see the liquid level but it's easier to just pop out the pod for a glance. Like I said, minor.

Overall, I agree that this is one of the best pod systems out there. I think it's a better alternative than the Juul for people getting away from cigarettes. The lower price combined with the refillable pods puts this so far above the Juul that I see no reason to bother with the other device.

Since I started using sub ohm (and squonk) devices, I found that I liked them more than I did the pod systems. This Caliburn is the one pod system I can see myself often choosing over the sub ohms. I like it a lot and it's going to be my on-the-go when I don't want to lug the heavier sub ohms around.

By the way, in some forums, people are asking if it's feasible to use anything other than salt nic in the Caliburn. A few people have mentioned that they use 50/50 pg/vg juice and I've seen one person say that they have used 70/30 juice. The Caliburn coil is designed for nic salt so that's what I plan to stick with. I've thought about testing the spare pod using some 50/50 juice but don't want to ruin it. If I take the chance, I will update this review with the results.

-- Free

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Stranger in a Strange Land

I'm not literate enough to discuss the book of this title. When I think of being a stranger in a strange land, I think of what it means to be a Christian. Right now I'm just thinking of being a woman who feels a little bit lost.

Yes, I am going to do some whining. This is the one place that I can vent out loud to the world and not get interrupted with a lot of "thoughts and prayers". I don't need thoughts and while prayers are always welcome, for now, I just need to vent.

My deep depression of the past few weeks has mellowed into this purgatory between super-blue and lightly-blue. I'm not even sad, really. I'm mostly feeling "apart" - apart from everything and everyone. I suppose everybody sometimes feels like this but I have always felt like this. When I was very young, I felt too old in my soul and too young in my heart. Now that I'm older, I feel too young in my soul and very, very old in my heart. I feel weighted and heavy with expectation - of what? I don't know.

I've only ever read one of Zora Neale Hurston's books but I am a great fan of her quotes. My first favorite is "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." I feel as if I should be living in my "answer" years but I'm still so full of questions. My other favorite Z.N.H. quote is  ""Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." That one has been on repeat in my head for the past several months.

Is it normal to feel different and absolutely unique? No, and it's not egotistical either. God has said that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully" made. It's just that we live in a world that expects conformity in the way we look, speak, think, and behave. Like everything, conformity is good. To a point. But like the love of food turning to gluttony, sexual pleasure turning to perversion, and the enjoyment of wine turning to drunkenness, conforming to respect social norms can turn to - what? A follow-the-leader world of people who glut, pervert, and live drunken lives of constant hedonism?

Let me stop here and say that I'm glad about one thing today. My brain is actually working well enough to string decent thoughts together. I will quit while I am ahead though. I need to still myself and think all this through a little deeper.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

In Writing Mode

There was a time when I did this on a regular basis. It's been a while. I'm going to share some music. I apparently cannot clean the house or cook without listening to music. I most definitely cannot write without music playing.

Since I rarely listen to a radio station, I discover most of the music I like from TV or movie soundtracks - or I rediscover music from my past. These last few weeks, I've been watching "Castle Rock" (interesting and odd) and "This Is Us" (love it!) and both use great music. When my sarc-brain settled down enough for me to start back writing this week, I decided on some of the tracks I'm posting here. Some are new, some are old, all are lovely.

By the way, these are all YouTube videos so who knows how long they will be available. If you like some of the songs, support an artist and buy some of their work. If you can't find them, make sure to see if they have a paywall you can support. We should always support talent and creativity.

I have to stop procrastinating now and.... bye


Thursday, April 04, 2019

**REVIEW** UPDATED Cleaner Steam Cleaning System ThermaPro 10-in-1

UPDATE (latest)
The company did reach out to me. They not only solved the issue but was unaware of the customer service problem I was having. An email got misdirected. At any rate, they have already shipped out a new unit. I'm still upset that the first machine crapped out, but I can't even be mad at the company - not after they straightened everything out. I believe in giving credit as loud as you give criticism. Thank you Home Moderne and Pursteam!

Original review was written in June 2018

Sadly, I have to downgrade my glowing review of this product. There are 2 reasons: 1) it quit working with no warning, and 2) there is poor customer service from the seller.

When I went back to try to change my review on Amazon (which I was unable to do), I read some of the newer comments from other buyers. My machine is not the only one to just suddenly refuse to power up. Every mention of this problem noted that the machine is less than a year old. 

Usually, I purchase the warranty but didn't this time. I am going through the credit card company instead.

I am really sad because I LOVED this machine.

Just wanted to revise this review. 

Whew! That is a looong name for a product and I even left off part of it. If you look this up on Amazon, the entire name is PurSteam Steam Mop Cleaner Steam Cleaning System ThermaPro 10-in-1 Floor Steam Cleaner, Pocket Mop System with 20FT Cord.

Mouthful much? But I get why they want the title to be descriptive. This thing does it all. Pictured here is how the PurSteam functions as an upright steam mop:

But for all those other little jobs, you can see the hand-held that detaches from the center of the mop:

That's a neato design

I think that the hand-held is my favorite part of the ThermaPro. Today, I cleaned my windows which were filthy from where I'd been spraying my plants for the past few months. I even steamed my mattress and pillows when I stripped the bed to do laundry. I hear that steaming the pillows beats back germs.

This is my second new appliance. In the past couple of months, I have needed to replace my vacuum (which was a Dirt Devil that I snagged at Dollar General) with an adult one. I reviewed the new vac here. After getting the vac, I really needed a steam mop because my back has been giving me problems and I can no longer properly clean the bathroom and kitchen linoleum.  I didn't think I could love anything more than the vacuum I got, but... Wow.

This is a Before and After of the carpet near the entryway. I vacuumed several times, then spot-cleaned with some spray on (using the steam to scrub it in), and vacuumed again. The carpet looks and smells so much fresher.



a slightly different angle, but you get the idea

There is still some wearing down in the high-traffic spots, but it's a big improvement in the staining.

I LOVE this steamer machine. It does everything but cooks dinner. Not only can I clean the floors really well without having to get down on my knees with a rag to get the stubborn spots, but that detachable unit allows me to get hard-to-reach spots that my regular mop missed. The handheld unit has all these attachments that let take cleaning to the next level. This is what that little snap-off part allows me to clean with hot (and possibly semi-sterilizing) steam:
  • windows and sills
  • mirrors
  • countertops
  • the stove and microwave
  • sinks and showers
  • the toilet seats and backs
  • shower curtain liners
  • faucets
  • mattress 
  • carpets and rugs
  • furniture
  • garments and curtains
It's a pretty amazing machine. However... there are some negatives. Of the Pros and Cons, the latter has more to do with the instruction manual and locating contact information outside of Amazon. Let's just go over the cause of a headache I incurred while trying to assemble and use the machine.

This is what all comes with the machine. Right out of the box, it's not that intimidating because you realize the machine came with a bunch of attachments.

The first thing I always do with a purchase like this is to make sure I have all the pieces I should and that nothing is broken. (I hate tossing out the shipping box only to need it in a couple of days for a return/refund.) I take a look at the manual to check for all the parts that should be included. As I flipped through the first time, I thought I was having a "bad brain" moment.

To start with, the manual I got had some duplicate pages that ran in the order of This is how the pages are ordered: Cover Page, Pages 2, 3, 2, 3, pages 4-11, then 12, 13, 12,13, and the back cover. (Since the manual ends with the Troubleshooting page and Limitation and Exclusions page, I don't suppose anything is missing.)

Next up, the assembly went great until I was ready to use the attachments.

I couldn't find this vital piece called the "attachment adapter". Like I said, I had checked and counted off all the parts listed. That dang adapter was only listed (elsewhere in the manual), but not illustrated. Or rather it was illustrated but was labeled incompletely...

I had to email the company to learn that the "Steamer jet" piece is also the attachment adapter. They said that they were already working to correct the manual.

Thankfully, yes, I had the steamer jet thing so I was in business. The only thing other than that crazy manual that I dislike is that there is no place to store the attachments. I have put mine into a plastic zip baggie to keep in the pantry with other tools and small appliances.

I cannot say enough how much I like the machine, but I'm sure you're getting tired of that. I will do a quick summary of Pros and Cons.


  • The company's support staff responded quickly and courteously to my emails. I contacted them twice and received a reply within hours. Their contact info is in the manual.
  • The water gets really, really hot. I only use the machine when I'm having a very clear-headed day. You could easily scald yourself with the steam so I also wear heavy kitchen gloves as an added safety measure.
  • The machine heats up pretty quickly initially. I can turn the machine off for a couple of minutes to move to a different area and it will reheat almost instantly.
  • The steam is hot enough (again, IMO) to kill surface germs. It makes cleaning grout, scale, and grease easy.
  • The cleaning pads for the mop are easy to attach. Basically, you just fit them onto the bottom of the mophead and they are held on velcro-style. Other mops I've used required you to fit the cloth around the mop head.
  • The mop heads are washable and look sturdy enough to last through several washings, IMO.
  • The mop head swivels enough to clean close to the walls and in the corners.
  • What you miss with the mop, you can reach with one of the attachments.
  • The machine is lightweight and easy to lift and move around,
  • The cord is 20 feet long and I was able to use in my small-ish apartment without having to change to a different outlet.
  • Steam is adjustable so you can use more or less. I used a lot for cleaning the sink and shower and less for cleaning stove burner covers over the sink.
  • Because of the design, storage is easy and doesn't take up much room in a closet/pantry.
  • In my box, there was more than the usual "thank you" from the Seller. There was actually a nice little gift extra - while supplies last.

  • The brand's website is not really a standalone site. For products, everything links to Amazon. The warranty page didn't work for me and I was told that the product's warranty is timed by my Amazon ordering info. That's fine, but I did go ahead and get one of those Square Trade plans. Just in case.
  • Steam does get so hot that people will need to be extra careful, especially when there are small children around. This is seriously not something you want a kid to grab hold of.
  • There is nowhere on the machine to store the assorted attachments. You will need to keep track of them somehow. I suggest a zip-type baggie.
  • I don't yet see where to buy extra cleaning pads for the mop. I plan to contact the company about this.
  • When using the upright mop, Power/steam adjustment knob is down low. You have to bend to reach it.
  • The mop head lifts a little on the pull during the push-pull motion.
  • The mop swivel will get stuck if you swivel it too far right or left. It unsticks easily, but...
  • Those instructions need to be fixed immediately.

The bottom line for me is that the Pros outweigh all the Cons. This is the best design for a machine of this type. I have not just a mop, but also the other attachments for about the same price as most steam mops along. This one cost $59.99 at the time that I made my purchase.


DISCLAIMER: I was not paid or in any way compensated for this review.