Cigar Review – Caldwell/Drew Estate All Out Kings

A much anticipated collaboration effort between Caldwell and Drew Estate, the All Out Kings is marketed as an ultra-premium cigar (and comes at that price point) featuring four different filler tobaccos (Jalapa and Estelli Nicaraguan viso, Dominican seco and Connecticut broadleaf ligero), an Indonesian Sumatran binder and a Connecticut Habano wrapper.

I had the Torpedo vitola (6″ x 54RG) but there are multiple vitolas in this blend. Alas, this review will be based on the Torpedo as that’s what I smoked.

After two snips with the Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter, the first light revealed a perfect draw producing plentiful thick, creamy textured, chewy smoke. The palate is greeted with a medium-bodied, complex bouquet of dessert-like flavors consisting of caramel, cream and milk chocolate and finishing with a subtle pepper and a hint of allspice on the retrohale. The 2nd third drops the pepper and caramel and transitions to more of a nougat while retaining the other flavors. The final third transitions completely into a dark coffee and nuts type flavor. I ended the cigar at an hour and a half as the smoke got too hot for my taste (right at the band point), resulting in an excellent burn time for a Toro-sized stick. Nicotine strength matches the body flavors at a medium.

Construction was very good throughout, holding an ash for about 1/3 of the cigar at a time. The burn line wasn’t totally straight but not problematic and not requiring any corrections. As with most Drew Estate blends, this cigar absolutely pours off foot smoke.

Overall, I have to admit I have mixed feelings about this one. I absolutely loved the flavors, but when I get a cigar I absolutely love the flavors of that’s just medium body I get frustrated. I was left wishing that it had a little more “oomph.” As such, it would’t stand up to a Scotch or a bold hard liquor but it would make a great companion for a cup of coffee or a malty, medium-to-dark beer along the lines of a Scotch Ale or similar.

I really am torn on how to rate it. For the price I was hoping for bolder flavors, but I can’t argue with the flavors it did have nor the burn time. As such, I think I’ll rate it 3.75/5.

Growing Pains and Life Lessons Part 5 – “Let It Be”

So we’ve arrived at the 5th and final part of the Growing Pains and Life Lessons series. I hope whoever is left living of The Beatles and/or the ones who own the rights to their music don’t sue me for pulling a title from one of their songs, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this final life lesson. “Let it be” indeed.

In kind of a roundabout way even the song describes this lesson. Letting it be is learning not to dwell upon those things which are beyond one’s control. Sure, it can really suck when circumstances befall you that make your life more difficult than it should be and that you have absolutely no control to change, but that doesn’t mean you should dwell upon them. There was nothing you could do about it after all and it was going to happen regardless of whatever you’d have done, so what’s the point in dwelling on it? It’s not your fault, it’s not your doing and it’s truly beyond your control.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be annoyed or even hurt/angry over it. In many cases it’s totally justified at the outset. That said, fixating upon it does nothing to fix the issue and does nothing but drag you down.

Learning how to “roll with the punches” ain’t easy. It’s really not. Much like forgiveness, it’s something that can take years to figure out. I think we all have the tendency to fixate on everything that goes wrong to the point I think it’s part of our natural internal wiring. Alas, sometimes our internal wiring isn’t the best or most efficient way and learning to consciously override it, although difficult, can make life so much easier.

So this was short and sweet, but there wasn’t much to say here. Hereby concludes the growing pains/life lessons the first year of my 30s has brought so far. I’m sure there will be others, but this is it for now. I hope I haven’t bored you with this series of posts, but if I have not to worry, tomorrow will shift gears and get back to more of the recurring themes on my blog.

Thanks again for reading and looking forward to more exchanges of ideas and friendship with all my blogger buddies here. You’ve all been a huge blessing to me.

Hugs and love to all of you!

-Lynn Blair, The Inked Autist.

Growing Pains and Life Lessons Part 4 – Forgiveness

In this next installment of Growing Pains and Life Lessons I’m going to tackle what might very well be the most difficult lesson I’ve learned thus far, and I’d even say I haven’t completely figured this one out, but it’s been absolutely vital to healing from past wounds that still sting in some ways.

Like many emotionally and socially immature people (I openly admit it, it’s what I am), I always thought forgiveness was the most ridiculous thing ever. Like what’s the point? I had it in my head that forgiveness meant that you were essentially inviting the same person or people to hurt you over and over again in the same way and that forgiving people were somehow pushovers.

As such, for many, many years I was one of the biggest grudge-holders you’d ever find. I actually went so far as to pride myself in my grudge-holding abilities. I’d hold minor shit over people’s heads years and years later. Needless to say, over time that hurt really took its toll on me and eventually it resulted in trust issues in that I was so afraid of being hurt by people I wouldn’t even let them in for fear of being hurt worse than I already was. Who knows how many friends I’d missed out on over the years because of it?

Well, as I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve learned that’s forgiveness isn’t for the other person exactly. It’s become clear to me that forgiveness is more about me and my own emotional well being. I’ve learned that forgiveness doesn’t excuse the action or actions that you were hurt by, rather it just means that you no longer allow yourself to hurt over it.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I want anything to do with many of the people who have hurt me over the years. I still 100%, completely and totally refuse to befriend my former high school classmates. Yeah, they treated me like shit in school and if given the chance they’d do it all over again. However, high school was 12 years ago. Why should I hurt over the events of 12 years ago over people I’ll likely never see or hear from again anyway? It makes no sense does it?

As such, after years of struggling, I eventually found it within myself to forgive these people. Again, I want nothing to do with them nor do I excuse what they did, but man holding a grudge for 12 years was starting to not only get emotionally, but physically painful. It was bringing me down something horrible, and what the fuck for? It’s in the past and I can’t change it.

Of course, I also wonder if, during my time of becoming heavily guarded, I could have salvaged a few friendships I’d lost over the years because I became so irate over petty shit and stayed that way. We are all human and we all fuck up at times, and even if we mean to cause hurt or offense to someone at the outset, we often times come to regret that. As such, it’s clear that forgiveness is essential to any relationship – from a casual friendship all the way through an intimate/romantic relationship. Needless to say I’m much more understanding nowadays of these kinds of things and I’m more apt to not just default to the point of kicking people who hurt me out of my life just because of an isolated incident.

So yes, forgiveness. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong – it’s really fucking hard. It seems to be counter to human nature to forgive. You’re not going to get it right the first time or probably even the 100th time. I’m not even sure I’ve gotten it completely right yet. However, what I have gotten right thus far has been liberating, and I can only imagine that I continue to practice and refine the art of it, I will continue to feel that much more liberated, and so will you if you put it into practice in your life.

Growing Pains and Life Lessons Part 3 – Concerning “Toxic” Friends

Continuing this series in growing pains and life lessons is another topic I’ve learned even very recently the hard way, and in dare I say it one of the most painful ways possible.

I’ve never been much of a social butterfly and I have very few friends, and as such what few friends I do have I will go to great lengths for. It’s just the kind of person I am. I can be a bit of a tough nut to crack but once you do crack my shell you’ll find the most loyal friend you could ask for. I’m probably even loyal to a fault or to the point of being a pushover in a lot of cases.

Alas, that has led me to a lot of heartache also. I’ve held on to way too many friendships that have been or become toxic just because I don’t want to be friendless. I guess I was so afraid of being friendless that I was willing to make myself miserable for the sake of friends who I probably should have cut out of my life sooner but I was just really hesitant to.

Of course, with the last toxic friendship I had coming to an end very recently, I’ve come to realize that although I will miss certain aspects of this person, the fact that I’ve “broken up” with this friend has actually been liberating for me. I’m not as stressed anymore nor am I subjecting myself to the misery of this person telling me how I’m living my life wrong and/or that I “need help” or a whole host of other stupid-ass bullshit. It also didn’t help matters that this person is an ex-girlfriend. Yeah, since when did remaining friends with exes ever work out long term?

So with that, I’ve come to learn that toxic friendships are, for all intents and purposes, disposable commodities and that it’s far worse having toxic friends than having no friends at all. Can it get lonely having no friends? Absolutely, but the relatively low level of pain that comes from isolation pales in comparison to the intense pain a toxic friend (or a toxic relationship of any kind) brings.

I’ve also learned that sometimes a little pain now will prevent pain later. It’s OK to be sad to break up with a friend. In some ways it’s like grieving after all – this person has been in your life for however long and you’re cutting them loose because the friendship is no longer a symbiotic relationship (though at one time it probably was or you would have never befriended said person to begin with). If anything it’s become a parasitic relationship.

The moral of the story? Don’t feel obligated to remain friends with someone who really doesn’t treat you as a friend, even if you’ve been friends for decades. Cling to those who will treat you with the dignity, respect and love you deserve and cut ties with those who don’t. You might wind up with a smaller social circle but after the initial pain subsides you’ll find a newfound sense of liberation and you’ll draw even closer to those who mean the most to you.

Growing Pains and Life Lessons, Part 2 – Money

I think it’s safe to say that completing my third decade of life a few months ago has brought about some serious changes in my life. Man, I thought I knew everything in my 20s. I really did. I really thought I’d had everything figured out. Nah, nowhere close.

As I started my 31st trip around the sun back in March some things I thought or believed were increasingly challenged to the point where it was incredibly painful. I very much have had internal battles over the past few months and the realizations I’ve come to have been unsettling yet liberating. I think of them now as growing pains.

I’ll be doing an entire series on these lessons over the next few days, but I think this one is a good place to start. I’m calling this part 2 because I have essentially already written about part 1. You can read about that here.

So what have I learned about money? It’s pretty simple really:

Money is life’s biggest booby prize. I always thought when I went through an employment drought that all my problems and misery would be cured if I had money. Then I landed a good paying job, started digging myself out of a hole, financed a brand new car to replace my beat up piece of shit and other things. Did I feel in the least bit better? Oh hell no.

I’m at a point now where I have more than enough money that I could write a check for the remaining balance on that car, pay it off and still have several thousands of dollars left to my name. I have plenty of money to decorate my dermis however I want and I don’t really have to worry about being able to cough up for it.

Has it made my life any better though? No way. What good is money if you want to blow your fucking brains out every morning? What good is it if you’re internally dead? Nothing whatsoever. Yeah, having a nice car is good and I love my tattoos and adding more to my collection but none of this has really served to bring me any additional net long-term joy (even the most sentimental or most artistic tattoos become just a background thought after some time).

This revelation really spurred me onto making my dream of L&B a reality someday hopefully in the not-too-distant future. I know for a fact I will have way less money than I have now (and be working more hours for that lesser amount) and I’m already investing a lot of my money into “market research” – even going so far as to try certain products (cigars, whiskeys, etc.) that I know aren’t to my taste but that I’ll need to be knowledgeable of because a lot of people do like those things. It’s taking a toll on my bank account (as well as my taste buds, liver and oropharyngeal area) but I know in the end it’ll be worth it.

Don’t kid yourself – money is nice to have and it’s nice to not have to struggle, but it’s not a cure all and there’s a lot of truth to the saying “money can’t buy happiness.” If you had to pick between having long-term happiness or being rich, which would you pick? I think most people would pick the former. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive in that you can only have one or the other, you can have both, or you can have neither.

I think most of us fall into the trap (at least in our teens and 20s) that rich implies happy. That you had to have wealth to be happy. Further I think some people (maybe even most people) never come to that realization. I hope you do though.


Song Lyric Sunday 6/25/17 – Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)

Our prompt for Song Lyric Sunday this week is to post a song with a sound in the title or lyrics. Well alright, silence counts as a sound right? Well I guess so does crying (even if we do so without sound) and maybe one mention of wind counts.

Well, ahem, OK. So we’re going into the void where we cry without sound for this prompt, with the following song. Written and recorded by Roland Orzabal in 1992 (who, at this point, was a solo act as he and Curt Smith who made up the duo better known as Tears for Fears had split by this point) also with contribution from Dave Bascombe.

In typical Tears for Fears style, however, the lyrics are rather heavy and dark over an upbeat tempo music so though Curt Smith was no longer with the band, it definitely has the pedigree. After all, Orzabal was really the creative mind of the band and wrote most of their material anyway.

Anyway, enough jibber-jabber, here’s the song.

Chewed the bone down too low
Got fed on tea and sympathy
Blew the sail like the wind
I wish you were my enemy
I was humble for you
What a fool I’ve been to have
Laid so low for so long, so low

Into that void of silence
Where we cry without sound
Where tears roll down
Where tears roll down
And where your mother’s violence
Sent your soul underground
Where tears roll down
Where tears roll down

Drew the blade way too slow
Was shackled by your honesty
Made a mess, I guess I have should have known
That life was lust and liberty
Not a chance mutation or the last temptation
Laid so low for so long, so low

Into that void of silence
Where we cry without sound
Where tears roll down
Where tears roll down
And where your mother’s violence
Sent your soul underground
Where tears roll down
Where tears roll down
Source: Lyrics in video description.

So there you have it. Maybe not the best fit for the prompt but since when have my contributions been? Nonetheless, hopefully it’s one you all enjoyed.

Now For a Rather Embarrassing Health “Issue” – Advice/Suggestions Needed

I’m looking for some advice or suggestions from anyone who might also have this particular issue or know someone who does and thus have experience with it, because this is really getting old quickly (and I’ve suffered from it most of my life).

Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with horrible postnasal drip. I know allergies contribute to it a fair bit but even when I’m not in the middle of an attack it’s still there and I find myself clearing my throat almost nonstop. It’s gross and embarrassing, especially in any kind of public setting. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so self-conscious about it had I not been relentlessly teased for it in school (all the other kids just had to make a loud, dramatic “ahhhh-ahhheeemmmmm!!!!!” when they walked past me in the hall just to make fun of me) but it’s still bothersome nonetheless.

I also wouldn’t be so worried about it if I was one of those tone-deaf, amusic people but I’m not. I don’t have the prettiest of singing voices (never have) but I do like to sing karaoke and at home with a guitar (and have been known to play open mics in some intimate coffee shop settings and such). I don’t think much of my own voice but everyone who ever hears me sing reassures me I’m better than I give myself credit for so I keep on. Of course, the problem arises in that constant throat clearing can do some major damage to the vocal cords (by repeatedly causing them to come together forcefully) and can even have a fairly noticeable degradation f one’s speaking voice, much less one’s singing voice.

Now, I’ve not totally dismissed the slight possibility that it’s an autistic hypersensitivity in that I react that way to even the slightest thickening of mucus on my vocal cords but I doubt it as I can usually feel things loosening up and moving around when I make that “ah-ahem” noise. I do try to limit it as much as possible in any kind of social setting but of course then I tend to go really croaky if I wait too long and then I’m hacking forever. It’s like a losing battle.

Again, surely I’m not the only one who struggles with this so if anyone else does please chime in with your suggestions because I’m tired of it and I’d especially like to not struggle when I’m trying to sing. It has a way of making life somewhat miserable.

I’m getting desperate. Any suggestions from anyone, please say something.