Cigar Review: Aging Room Quattro F55 Nicaragua

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This offering from Rafael Nodal’s Aging Room line is a Nicaraguan puro featuring all Nicaraguan wrapper, binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Vibrato – a 6″ x 54RG box-pressed Toro vitola.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing ample full body smoke. Flavors of dark chocolate and earth on the draw followed a huge red pepper and cedar blast on the retrohale. Not at all what I was expecting.

Getting into the first third the body settles down slightly to a medium/full while a nice sweet caramel joins the draw as well as a dry toasted nut. The initial pepper blast dials way down, hence the slightly lower body. Everything is well blended and no one flavor dominates the others.

We see a very welcome transition into the second third as the earthiness takes a back seat and is replaced by a natural black cherry note (not the artificial cherry candy flavor that I absolutely despise but usually get). The final third sees more of the same but with the pepper ramping back up a bit. Ending at 1 hour for an average burn time for a Toro size and the nicotine strength settles in at a solid medium.

Construction was flawless with a near razor sharp burn. Ash blew off in small chunks but it was windy outside. High quality self-adhesive bands that came off easily and did not damage the wrapper in any way.

Given that most of the Aging Room line are mellower smokes, this one surprised me in a big way. I was expecting the typical, hence I reached for it as a morning smoke. While not over-the-top, I’d probably opt for it again as an evening cigar with a hefty red wine or a bourbon. Nonetheless, it was a very pleasing cigar and one that will enter my rotation. Rating: 4.25/5.

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Weighted Blanket – The (Shocking) Results

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So I said I would report back in approximately two weeks in regards to my weighted blanket and how well it’s working for me, but I’m writing this post after just six days because the results are truly shocking and instantaneous.

The first night after I got my blanket I had to be up at 5:00 AM for my Friday half-day in office (note: my current office schedule is currently full-day Monday, half-day Friday and home otherwise) so I didn’t dare take a chance at a sleepless night and downed my usual 50mg diphenhydramine liquid gel, but since then I have not taken one. Have I needed it? Absolutely NOT.

I have slept just as well with my weighted blanket as I ever did on diphenhydramine, and without the night sweats and next-morning grogginess. Luckily the blanket breathes and radiates body heat away from you so it won’t overheat you (this was my big concern as I sleep hot – I’m a Pitta by nature; the “Davy” Dukes serve another purpose than just vanity after all) and the effects it has are immediately calming and quiet my IndyCar-paced mind almost immediately. I drift off to sleep quicker than it would take diphenhydramine to kick in, and naturally.

Now, do I sleep perfectly? Of course not. As has been my sleep pattern for years (even before diphenhydramine), I sleep for 3-4 hours and wake around 2 AM +/- 10 minutes like clockwork, stay awake for a brief period, then nod back off for another 3 hours give or take. It’s what I’ve always done since I was a kid and I don’t expect that pattern to ever change. Alas, being able to achieve my natural sleep pattern again after years of not being able to sleep for shit is absolutely incredible.

Of course, I can’t help but wonder how much of the change is due to my sister from another mister (is that even a term?) virtual cuddling me to sleep every night (a ritual we recently started). Maybe something to figure in, but I imagine it isn’t a huge player. I still appreciate her kindness in that realm though. I will say even she noticed an instant change in how quickly I nod off at night though, so it’s probably a small factor at absolute most.

Now, all that’s fine and good, but how does it actually feel draped over you? I’m sure that’s the question you all are wondering. Does it actually feel heavy or like a lot of weight is pressing down on you? The answer is NO. It does not weigh you down really. It’s a gentle weight – almost like you’re wearing a hug all night. It’s just enough weight/pressure for the secure and calming effect but nowhere near enough to feel like you’re being crushed or suffocated (that is, assuming you get the correct weight for your size – 10% of your body weight plus one pound or half a kg, whichever system you use). To me, it’s just enough for the feeling of “security” without being too much.

Are there some for whom the weighted blanket wouldn’t be a good option? I imagine so, especially if you tend to shift positions frequently. Note that weighted blankets are not meant to fill the size of the bed. They are meant to distribute gentle yet constant pressure over the body. As such, a twin size is the right size for one person, regardless of the size of your bed. Frequent shifting around might cause the blanket to not cover your body entirely at some point. Another is if you just don’t like sleeping with a blanket in general – this will not solve that issue. Other than that, I don’t see many drawbacks to it.

Anyway, I write this to say I’m amazed at how well it’s worked for me. I swore I would have to gradually wean/taper off of the diphenhydramine but that has not been the case. Even though conventional medicine has yet to embrace the concept, we know how that industry operates – if it ain’t pharmaceuticals it’s shit in their eyes. Anyway, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out Weight on Me weighted blankets at https://myweightedblanket.com/ to browse their various prints, styles and materials to find your perfect blanket. Shipping usually takes a few weeks, but trust me when I say the wait is well worth it to get the blanket custom tailored to your specific needs.

I truly am shocked. In a string of devastating blows, I’ve found something that actually works for me. Of course, I have my dear neuro-sister Laina to thank for this – she’s the one who recommended it to me. Thank you so very much, good doctor.

Wine Review: Tortoise Creek “The Chelonian” 2014

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It’s been a good long while since I’ve done a wine review so I figured I’d do one tonight.

This California Zinfandel from Tortoise Creek weighs in at 14.6% ABV. I like a good Zinfandel but I’m kinda picky about them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, especially given the price point. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one though!

Pours a deep burgundy color. Thick streaks of lacing when swirled, owing to its slightly higher-than-average alcohol content. Nose consists of raspberry, a touch of caramel and alcohol astringency. Medium bodied flavors of plum, black cherry, toffee and a hint of spicy vanilla. Finish is long and somewhat hot with a cinnamon afterburn.

For about $13/bottle you can’t go wrong. This is a great everyday wine that’s not too sweet or dry and easy to please.  Surprisingly complex for its price point, it went well with the pictured Blanco Nine JT Limitado but would also be a great dessert wine in my opinion. Rating: 4/5.

No, You Can’t Do That (Funny/Stupid Search Term)…

You know, I’ve gotten some pretty hilarious search terms hitting on my blog over the past nearly 3 years. Some are just funny and some, like this one, are just plain disturbing and so stupid that they deserve an “idiot” award.

Well, there are two idiot searches here (and if you’re this stupid you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo to begin with) but one of these takes the fucking cake, and I don’t even need to point out which one:

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Well, I’d not at all recommend putting menthol on an open tattoo (hello infection!), but I can’t see how it would hurt a healed tattoo. That said, I’m pretty sure the directions on the bottle of Hush Gel clearly state “do not apply to the genital area.”

Whoever the fuck you are, I seriously implore you re-think your life choices. 1) read the directions of any pharmaceutical or cosmetic product before use to have all your stupid questions answered, and 2) why the fuck would you get a tattoo down there? If you’re thinking of using it for lube, you do know there are products made for that specific purpose right (K-Y Jelly)?

Man, this world is going to hell in a handbasket. And people wonder why I refuse to procreate. I’m…just speechless…

Jumping on the Weighted Blanket Bandwagon

If it is one thing I have trouble with just about more than anything else it’s sleeping. I can’t sleep for love or money. I’ve lived off of diphenhydramine pills for about the last 2 years or so to help conk me out. I just can’t quiet my anxious, depressed, autistic mind enough to ever fall asleep on my own and it fucking sucks.

Trying to avoid the long-term effects of habitual diphenhydramine use, I got desperate for another option and preferably a non-pharmaceutical one. Taking sleeping pills for an extended period of time can’t possibly be healthy long-term.

Of course, one thing I can’t ever sleep without is a blanket. Even in the dog days of summer I have to have a blanket (I just keep my house cool at night). In light of that, and with the success that Laina said she had with her weighted blanket, I thought there might be something to it. I crawled under hers for a few minutes while visiting and it was so soothing.

So yeah, here we go. I went over to Weight on Me to order my own weighted blanket just to see if it helps. They have all sorts of fun colors and styles to choose from to suit your personal taste. It’ll be a couple of weeks until I take delivery (very rarely do they have pre-made blankets) but again, anything to help me sleep at night I’m willing to try. I’m sick of dragging come midday everyday.

So I guess we shall see. One of two things will happen. Either this will help me sleep or it’ll be a waste of $200. The jury is out but again, I’m willing to try anything at this point. We shall see I guess.

Next Tattoo Preview

You know I can’t go more than a few months without a new tattoo, and it’s been two months since my last one thus the time is getting near again.

For this one I wanted something like a tabletop scene to “complete” what I just completed on my left arm. What would I normally be doing while writing? Probably smoking a cigar and sipping some wine right? Hence the concept for my next tattoo was born, which I pitched to Jade and she loved, so here’s what she came up with:

Appointment set for Saturday May 4th so stay tuned; as always my lovely followers are among the first who will see it!

Review: UWELL Crown 4 Checkmate Kit

Today we’re reviewing a vape mod and tank – the UWELL Crown 4 Checkmate system. To say I was in dire need of an upgrade to my vape setup was an understatement so while in San Antonio visiting my beloved neuro-sister Laina I went ahead and bought a new setup recommended to me by the attendant on duty at the previously reviewed Valkyrie Vapor Shop.

So what’s included in the starter kit? Everything you need except for juice, batteries and a charger. The kit includes the mod itself, 5 mL Crown 4 tank pre-loaded with a 0.4 ohm kanthal dual vertical coil, spare gaskets, drip tip cover, optional 6 mL “bubble” glass and a 0.2 ohm kanthal dual vertical coil, 3′ Micro USB charging cable and user manual.

Concerning the mod itself, the power range is from 5-200 watts in power mode (limited by max voltage, obviously) and 200-600 degrees F (or 100-315 degrees C) in temperature control mode. The output voltage ranges from 0.7 to 8 volts and reads coils ranging in resistance from 0.1-3 ohms in power mode and 0.1-1 ohm in temperature control mode. While it is possible to use the unit as a passthrough (i.e. vape while charging), the manufacturer does not recommend this practice. I am unsure if this device has smart charging/overcharge protection (it is not listed in the manual) so until I hear otherwise I would not recommend overnight charging, etc.EDIT 4/24/19: UWell has assured me this device does have overcharge protection. Of course, you can buy extra batteries and an external charger if you wish, but always remember batteries stay together as a set and never mix batteries.

The mod will accept two high-drain 18650 rechargeable batteries with a 3000 mAh capacity for a very high battery capacity. The battery cover is held on by a magnetic enclosure, as seen here:

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Charging with the Micro USB cable from a 5V/2A wall charger unit is fairly fast – approximately 2 hours from about 30% to a full charge. As with all rechargeable batteries it is not recommended to discharge them fully prior to recharging and also don’t overcharge. One other word to the wise – do not, and I repeat, DO NOT use an iPhone wall plug to charge the device. Those are only rated for 1 amp. Not only will charging take longer but you’ll over-stress the iPhone charger, leading it to get very hot and risk a fire.

So that’s all the technical stuff, now let’s discuss aesthetics. The fit and finish are top-notch. This system is available in a variety of colors to suit your own personal decor. The silver version was what the shop had in stock when I bought it, which is visually striking and high contrast:

57533070151__4b50d754-ac06-4a53-9666-3d6d0e62c9f7The filigree is visually interesting, clean and well-executed. The 5 mL glass has a streamlined appearance with the metal base and cap, which I prefer over the 6 mL glass which has the appearance of a “bubble.” I prefer the streamlined look of the 5 mL, though if you vape a lot it might be worth sacrificing some aesthetics for higher capacity (or, if you just like the look of the bubble glass; beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all). EDIT 4/8/19: Since I’ve found I need the extra capacity I’ve switched the glass out for the 6 mL bubble, sacrificing aesthetics slightly (to my eye):

The base of the unit is fitted with rubber “feet” as to not damage any delicate surface you might set it down on:

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As far as accessing the built-in functions of the system, it’s very simple. The unit is 5 clicks on/off of the power button within two seconds. The +/- buttons on the bottom can be used to adjust your wattage (power mode) or temperature (TC mode). The system has various protections built in, from overheat protection, short-circuit protection, low battery protection, reverse polarity protection and you can lock certain functions or all functions with the prescribed combination of button inputs as well as switch between power and TC mode. Also, the mod will cut off after 10 seconds of holding the fire button down.

The tank is a top-filling tank so you can get it really full as opposed to a bottom-filling tank. To fill the tank simply turn the cap 90 degrees counterclockwise, remove fill and replace. Replacing the coil is just as easy and is accomplished by removing the base and simply pulling the coil out and pressing a new one in. Of course, always remember to prime the wick prior to installation and even then let is soak for a few minutes prior to vaping. Whereas the tank has a delineated “minimum” line, I wouldn’t recommend taking it down this far. Always keep the juice at or above the top of the wick hole for maximum saturation to avoid dry hits.

Now, onto the part you’ve all been waiting for: actually using the device. The device has a nice heft and weight in the hand without being too heavy – it definitely feels solidly built.  The side-mounted fire button can easily be actuated and accessed no matter how you choose to hold the device. This is going to sound very Texan of me, but for me it feels most natural to hold the device as one would hold a handgun or pistol and fire the unit with my “trigger finger” (I told you that would sound Texan!).

The device easily produces thick, rich, flavorful clouds of vapor. I have only used the dual vertical coils personally (as I prefer kanthal coils for safety reasons), so I cannot comment on the mesh coils or any other temperature control coil. The manufacturer specs 60-70 watts for the 0.4 ohm coil using full airflow, however I found this to be too hot for my personal taste (note that temperature is subjective). I found I liked this coil at 50 watts instead, with fully open airflow:

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The 0.2 ohm vertical coil is speced for 70-80 watts, however again, I found that to be too hot for my taste. I settled on 60 watts for this coil as it yielded a cool, smooth vapor, again with a fully open airflow:

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I did get a bit more intense flavor and cloud from the 0.2 ohm coil, hence I’ll settle on it. Again, I’ve not tried the other coils for reasons mentioned above.

While it doesn’t do much to talk about battery life and coil lifespan as those vary so much from person to person depending on power setting, how much you vape, type of juice, etc. – for me I got a solid 2 days of vaping on a single charge and a coil lasts me about 10 days using an 80/20 VG/PG juice that’s actually pretty dark in color. I’m not a very heavy vaper though (maybe 1 tank/day) so use that to gauge what your own expectancy should be.

Maintenance and cleaning are very simple – just wipe down with a dry cloth every so often and dab up any excess juice in the drip tip with a paper towel. Due to the design of the tank and coil, this tank does not leak, which is a real plus especially for someone coming from bottom-fill tanks where the coil directly touches the heating element on the mod.

So, with all that, can I find any real drawbacks in the system? Maybe a couple of minor ones. First is what I assume to be the lack of overcharge protection (man it’d be nice to be able to charge overnight!). Second you can only adjust power, etc. in whole number increments. Usually this is precise enough, but some might like something in between there. Other than that I don’t know as though I can find fault with the system, unless I were to get really technical as some reviewers can.

And that’s about it! The bottom line this is an excellent mod and tank system either for someone just getting into sub-ohm vaping or an experienced vaper. I’m very well pleased with it and I think you will be too. Thanks to Josh at Valkyrie for recommending this system to me! I’d easily rate it a 4.75/5 – it vapes great and just plain looks cool.