The Truest Meme Ever…

I have to admit I love memes, but most of them don’t apply much to me. This one is totally me.

Seriously. Thanks a lot, DNA!!!

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Has This Blog Run Its Course?

Yes, I know I’m nowhere near as prolific as I once was on this blog. What’s gone from 1-2 posts/day has dwindled to maybe 1-2 posts per week max, and most of those are, shall we say, labored?

It’s like I’m writing out of a sense of obligation at this point. Sure, this blog has grown beyond what I ever anticipated, but I just don’t know anymore.

Overall, traffic is down. Everything is down. With the exception of a couple of core people, nobody reads or comments anymore. My core people are all connected to me outside of my blog at this point (FB, phone, email, Hangouts) so does this blog really serve a purpose anymore?

My own inked journey might be coming to an end. I have 11 tattoos right now, and there’s a real possibility I’ll stop here. I’ve just not had the desire for a new one, and it’s been almost 5 months since I last went under the needle. As I’ve quickly run out of tame spots, I’m at the point I would have to tackle the more painful areas if I wanted to continue and I’m just not sure I want to do that.

I was once the one who gave the minority opinion on the autism issue. In a way, that gave me a niche market in the autism blogosphere. I can’t help but think many read me to either hear the opposite opinion or to tear me to shreds as an example of the type of person not to be. Given my own what I’ll call 150 on the topic of neurodiversity (I won’t call it a 180), I’ve become just another autism blogger (when I do blog about that topic). My niche is gone. I have nothing to set me apart from the crowd.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve had probably a dozen or so blogs over the years, most of which fizzled out after 2-3 years. One of which only lasted five months. All of those blogs are gone. Deleted forever. This is the only active one I have now.

While I won’t be deleting this blog (as I feel some of my older posts still give some balance to the cure/no cure debate and I have some solid advice for those looking to get started in an inked journey, as well as some fashion advice for those men who want to be cutting edge), I just don’t know if I have the desire to continue blogging new content.

I guess seasons change and so did I, and maybe not in a good way in this aspect. Oh well. It happens I guess.

Cigar Review: Oscar 2012 Barberpole

This offering from Oscar Valladares features a striped Barberpole consisting of Candela and Mexican San Andreas wrappers, Nicaraguan binder and Honduran and Nicaraguan long fillers. The size smoked for review is a 6″ x 52RG sharply box pressed Toro vitola.

The first light reveals a perfect draw putting off plumes of mild/medium bodied smoke. The signature Candela flavor starts things off – vegetal, grassy, with a glycerin sweetness. A hint of pepper to start.

As the cigar develops the body ticks up to a medium as the San Andreas starts to engage. A very complex blend of flavors – still with the Candela flavor package but an addition of a rich cocoa, a slight creamy note, a heavy earth and a substantial pepper blast. Everything is seamlessly blended. No one flavor sticks out.

The flavor package was consistent start to finish, which was fine by me as it was so complex and so well done it kept my interest. Ending at 1 hour 45 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for the size and the strength matches the body at a medium.

Flawless construction throughout with a burn line about as good as you can expect from a Barberpole – no touch ups required. Short flowery ash though, so be aware of that. Band is high quality and self adhesive and removes without damage to the wrapper.

This cigar will have wide appeal. Fans of both Candela and San Andreas will find something to like about this cigar. With its middle of the road body and strength profile, it would be a great cigar for any time of day and will pair well with just about anything. At about $8-9/stick, this is a great value for what you get. Rating: 4.5/5.

The Gluten-Free Cigar Lover: What To Drink With Cigars

So it’s been about a week and a half since I found out that I have Celiac disease and I’ve been gluten-free for almost a month now. During that time, I have only had one accidental exposure and oh man did I feel it! I guess that’s why I never knew it before – I had gotten so used to the reaction I didn’t even notice it, then once my body’s defenses had reloaded, I get glutenated and bam, misery!

Anyway, today’s topic is going to be what to drink with your cigars if you’re gluten-free. Of course, some of my old favorite pairings are a no-go now (namely stout beer and Scotch/Irish whisk(e)y), but I’m slowly discovering new alternatives to pair with my cigars that I think my fellow Celiac and NCGS folks will love.

Coffee, of course, goes without saying:
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The nectar of the gods – naturally gluten-free, a great cup of plain black coffee is almost a universal pairing with a fine cigar, and is naturally gluten-free and, if you’re watching your calories, has only 2 calories per cup! Of course, experiment with different blends and roasts to find your favorites to pair with what cigars, but you’re sure to find a coffee that goes with just about any cigar.

You’ve seen me pair red wine with cigars a lot too:

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Wine goes without saying as gluten-free as it’s made from grapes. Much like coffee, red wine is almost a universal pairing. With a range of varietals of red wine (from a mild Pinot Noir to a hefty Cabernet Sauvignon to everything in between), you’re sure to find a red wine that goes with just about any cigar out there. Match the body of the cigar to the body of the wine for best results.

If liquor is your preference, a nice dark rum is an excellent pairing:

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Rum is distilled from sugarcane, which is naturally gluten-free. Think a nice Flor de Cana with a medium to full bodied cigar for a ultra smooth smoking and drinking experience. Rum doesn’t have the afterburn that a whiskey would, so it won’t stand up to the ass-kicker cigars, but it’s got quite a variety of cigars to pair with it.

Now, for my new personal favorite pairing, brandy:

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Brandy is simply distilled wine, so no grains are present in the mash. Laurence Davis, owner of Sautter Cigars in London, UK, is on record as saying “brandy goes unbelievably with a cigar,” so I tired it. Man oh man was he ever right! A nice brandy (the above shown is E&J’s Very Special) goes great with a medium/full to full bodied cigar and gives me that afterburn I crave that I lost when I had to give up whisk(e)y.

One pairing not pictured here is a nice mimosa. A mimosa paired with a mild cigar is a great way to kick-start your day, is all gluten-free and absolutely delicious.

As far as some others I’ve talked to, I know a number of people who like vodka with cigars, however I’m not a fan and some vodkas can be glutenated so be careful. I’ve heard gin less commonly being paired with cigars, but some people I think like that too. Tequila I can’t see going well with a cigar but maybe it can.

Finally, closing this post out I’d like to make some comments about whisk(e)y. I’ve heard mixed reports on it so I’ll share my impressions. It seems that some Celiacs and NCGS people tolerate whisk(e)y OK while others seem to react to it the way they would if they ingested glutenated food or beer. Whereas most whisk(e)y that’s been tested meets the US FDA’s definition of certified gluten-free (less than 20 ppm), I think the root of the problem lies elsewhere.

My theory is that distillation actually breaks the gluten down into its individual peptides. Just which peptides are present in any given whisk(e)y we’ll never know. Also, no two people react to the exact same subset of gluten peptides. As such, I theorize that the ones who can tolerate whisk(e)y are not reactive to the peptides found in it, whereas the ones who react to it are. If we have the technology to test them for specific peptides, why aren’t we doing it?

As such, I am laying off whisk(e)y for now, especially in the early goings while my body heals itself. I might try reintroducing it at some point down the road to see if I can handle it. If I can, great. If not, oh well. I’ve found so many great alternatives anyway!

If I have any gluten-reactive cigar lovers who follow me, I’d like to hear from you. What do you like to pair with your cigars? I’m always wanting to learn more and try new things. Comment with your favorite pairings!

9/3/2019 – The Day I Found Out…

…that I have Celiac disease.

Yep, it’s official. Not only am I highly reactive to gluten, but it’s even worse than that. I have full-blown Celiac disease…

The last three markers in the panel are the autoantibodies. Yep, that’s permanent. Looks like my adoption of a gluten-free diet is permanent. I knew I felt better doing it, I had no idea why it was so instantaneous until then.

Also complicating things? I have all sorts of autoantibodies – the strongest of which are heart, joints and thyroid (having a family history of Graves’ disease I wasn’t surprised by the latter).

Ugh. What a pain. The good news is that we caught it early and can contain the fire. Of course, I have the best support system ever in doing so, and here we go with a much better and healthier, happier me.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Wish me luck.

Labor Day Fun (With Birthday Compliments to…)

Well here I am, back at my temporary dwelling place after a fun Labor Day excursion. After the crappy weekend I’ve had, it’s something I really needed.

The backstory: this weekend sucked. And I mean SUCKED. Nothing seemed to go right. Even my usual weekend rounds? Dull and mundane. The lifestyle I’d become used to over the past few years just wasn’t satisfying to me. The entire time at the cigar lounge on Saturday, all I could think about was how I just didn’t want to be there. I was there out of what I felt to be routine, not necessity. Just not feeling it, I cut my time there short and just went home, something I’m not used to.

Laina to the rescue though. We were schmoozing by text and she just reassured me it was the universe telling me it was time for something different; confirming that the decision I’m making to relocate is the correct one. Full speed ahead, all systems go.

Anyway, that led up to today when Laina and her best friend from school made the trek up to Abilene for a combined road trip for both Labor Day and her birthday (which just happened to fall on Labor Day this year). We started our day off at a local tea shop – Tea2Go, which has some amazing tea products. We shot the shit, drank tea, chilled, did some light cuddling. It was a great jumpstart to the day, making my day brighter already.

Then it was to my favorite Indian restaurant here called Spicy India. This place is like OMG good. How Abilene got this level of talent I will never know, but if you’re ever in the Abilene area this place is a must-try. If you’re gluten sensitive/reactive, know that all the curries are gluten-free, just be sure to ask for the fried onion strings to be left off of the rice (they’re battered). All three of us enjoyed a delicious curry lunch, and Laina and I got a spiked mango lassi to cool off the curry (this place really does live up to its name!). I always love showing out-of-towners my favorite places.

From there, we made our way over to the best coffee shop in Abilene in my opinion – a little place called Monk’s. We got coffee, sat outside for awhile while Laina and I got our nicotine fix, then moved inside onto a comfy couch so we could have some cuddle time and the duo was nice enough to bring along some of Laina’s birthday cake – totally gluten-free and one couldn’t even tell it was so good.

As a side note, cuddling and physical touch is so lost in today’s world and it’s tragic. We’ve become so afraid of the hysteria of even brushing up against someone accidentally that we’re afraid of physical touch, and our physical and mental health is suffering for it. I stumbled across a great article about this (hyperlink in text) – it’s a worthy read.

Anyway I digress – afterward we got a little restless so we went on a walk through downtown exploring some different things. It was a hot day but not too hot by Texas summer standards so it wasn’t totally unbearable, but it was a fun little jaunt. We found a cool mural to pose in front of:

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And then found some other trouble to get into in downtown. Exploring different structures, statues, etc. – Abilene is a boring, dull town overall but it does have its few areas of interest.

From there, it was back to Monk’s for some cool-down time, a little more cuddle time and to wrap up the day with some small talk. Before we knew it, it was 5:00 and time for Laina and her friend to head back to SA, at which point I guided them back to the highway and we sadly split. We stayed on the phone until I arrived back at my temporary dwelling place, and that was that.

All in all, it was a great day and I feel so honored to have played a part in making your birthday so special, Laina. I cherish the special “twin soul” bond we share so very deeply. You’ve given me life again. I was dead inside. Hope you have a safe journey back and can’t wait to hang out again!