Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To Vape or Not to Vape? Aye, There's the Rub...

Do you smoke?
Do you smoke and have tried quitting and wondered if e-cigs would help you to quit completely?
Have you quit smoking and wondered if those new e-cigs would make it possible for you to go back to the vice you always liked so much, but just didn't want to take the chance on dying of Cancer?

I don't know if e-cigs will help a long-term cigarette smoker to finally quit, and I also don't know if after all this time of smoking if switching over to e-cigs (electronic cigarettes) will keep you from getting Cancer. Hey, if the disease is in your body, it's in your body, right? You're already dead, you just don't know it.

But this isn't about smoking or the evils of smoking or even the possibilities of quitting. This isn't even about cigarettes at all, because I've never been a cigarette smoker. But at one time in my life I was a pipe smoker and that's what this is all about - the e-pipe, which when used in the way it's supposed to be used is called "vaping", not smoking.

Recently I went online and ordered an e-pipe, the electronic equivalent to a pipe the way an e-cig is to a cigarette (DUH!). Since I was a kid and spent enough time around my Uncle Mert (my dad's uncle), who smoked a pipe, I have always loved the smell of pipes. Then, after graduating from high school I joined the Air Force and one day while trolling around San Antonio with friends while on a day pass from text school, I came across a tobacco shop that sold pipes. I went inside, checked out some tobaccos and with the help of a smooth-talking salesman, walked out of the shop with my first-ever pipe and a bag of cherry/vanilla blend tobacco.

I soon learned the ins-and-outs of smoking a pipe and found not only did I like the aroma of pipe tobacco (so much better than the rancid stench of cigarettes), but I enjoyed the taste as well. The tobacco I had selected was basically mellow and smooth and didn't bite the inside of my mouth (so I was assured by the salesman that day and he was actually telling the truth) and I could sit for hours and enjoy blowing smoke rings or simply billows of aromatic smoke into whatever room I happened to be in.

Now, there were two major problems with my smoking a pipe:

1)  I had asthma. I had always had asthma and never had grown out of it the way some people do once they reach a certain age in life. Mine has always been with me and looks like it's pretty much here for the long haul - until death do us part - so to speak. So smoking anything, even though with a pipe I didn't inhale (but some of the smoke always makes its way down into a person's lungs, no matter how conscientiously they try not to inhale), will trigger an asthmatic reaction, which is not pleasant - I assure you.

2)  Cancer ran in my family. My Uncle Mert (yeah, the same one who got me interested in smoking a pipe) died of cancer. My dad (same family, same genetic disposition and DNA as Uncle Mert) eventually died of Cancer. Chances are that eventually I am going to die of Cancer, if something else doesn't kill me first.

Back in 1991 my dad ended up with Cancer in his lower lip and had to have it cut out. That was when he stopped smoking cigarettes and that was also when I wizened up and stopped smoking a pipe. I had a nice little collection at the time, but once I learned of my dad's Cancer I tossed my entire pipe collection in the garbage and dumped my latest bag of tobacco down the toilet. I'm nothing if not committed to whatever notion gets rooted firmly into my noggin.

From then on I was content, but every time I caught a whiff of a nice pipe tobacco or anything that even remotely reminded me of what I used to smoke, I would think about how nice it was to smoke a pipe and wished I could do it without taking the chance of getting Cancer or exacerbating my asthma. Still, I steadfastly refused to revert to smoking a pipe.

Then a few years ago I heard about e-cigs and checked to see if anyone had a pipe that worked on the same principal (cigarettes still held no interest to me). Nothing was on the market at the time, but shortly thereafter someone came up with the first e-pipe, only it was much too expensive for my income. I waited - and waited - and every so often I checked the internet to see how the prices of e-pipes were doing and what do you know? A couple of weeks ago I ran a search on e-pipes and found one that was cheaper than what I had been seeing previously. I hemmed and hawed and mulled it over in my head a bit. I mean, seriously, I had been a good twenty years without smoking a pipe by now - did I really need to start again? Well, yeah, the desire was still there, so I purchased the starter kit for an e-pipe, which promised my pipe would arrive within 21 days. Man, did that ever seem like a long time to wait.

Today (okay, yesterday, seeing as how late it is right now) I checked my mail and discovered a package which I knew immediately was my e-pipe and it had been actually only slightly more than a week since I had ordered it. Not bad; not bad at all. I took my package (along with the rest of my mail, which was of absolutely NO consequence in comparison) inside and opened it to find the pipe I had been waiting for along with five vials of the stuff used to provide the flavor (and nicotine, if you wanted it, which I didn't and had ordered only non-nicotine vials), and extra pipe stem, two batteries and a battery charger.

I pulled out the instruction booklet and quickly discerned that whoever had written the instructions, English was not their primary language. Mostly the instructions were understandable, but they were not written in the precise English language I have come to know and respect after all these years (but then, I get online all the time and get emails from people who prove to me on a daily basis that hardly anyone else besides me uses the proper English I have come to know so well, either). I deciphered the instructions and attempted to remove the cap off the bowl of my e-pipe. The cap finally (with much effort) moved slightly counter-clockwise (if you don't know what that means you may as well place a gun to your temple and pull the trigger now, cause, baby, your life is already wasted), but it not only would not move any further, it took a lot of effort to move it back in the opposite (clockwise) direction. I twisted it every which way possible. I tried to pull the cap off. Since there was a tiny hole on one side that looked as though possibly (I emphasize the word POSSIBLY) the cap could be pried off, I used the tine of a fork and tried to pry it off. That didn't work, so I tried the point of a sharp knife and the point broke off (and is still down in there where I can't locate it). I tried some more to twist the cap and went back-and-forth in twisting it for more than half-an-hour (I am nothing if not determined). Yes, I know Einstein said that, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results", but I had nothing else available at the time, so I continued in twisting the cap in the two directions possible until finally the cap twisted a bit more in the counter-clockwise direction. I worked at it some more and eventually the cap came off.

About forty-five minutes had elapsed by then and I had long ago thought to insert one of the two batteries into the charger, figuring that most batteries didn't come fully charged. The light had been red when I plugged the charger into the wall outlet, so I figured I had been correct in this assumption.

I looked the pipe over, now that I had it opened, and made it ready so that once the battery was charged I would be able to give it a try. A couple of hours passed (I wasn't really watching the time, but it was approximately that much time) and the light had turned to green, so I inserted a battery, placed the cap back on and - yes, I twisted it in place, although I was fairly certain I might never get it off again.

I placed the tip of the stem to my lips and sucked in. The taste was slightly sweeter than I preferred, but it was pleasant enough. I removed the pipe and exhaled, blowing the "smoke" (actually vapor) out and it billowed rather nicely. The second puff was even better and thereafter I began to resume the "natural" rhythm I had long been used to when relaxing while smoking a pipe, only what I was doing at this point wasn't actually "smoking", since there was no smoke involved. The e-pipe (or e-cig) does not produce heat and does not work off anything burning, so there is no smoke, only a nice vapor-type mist that somewhat effects the smoking style. At this time I had the lights off while watching television and by the light of the TV I could see a decent cloud of vapor gathering up above in my living room. Everything I had ever read about e-products claimed there was no heavy "smoke' effect, so I wondered why this was producing something that to me looked an awful lot like what I had been used to when I smoked a regular pipe that worked off tobacco?

I turned on my light and continued puffing and realized there was no longer any "smoke" effect gathering about my living room. Turning off the light and using only the illumination from the TV once more produced the same smoking effect, thus allowing me to conclude that there is indeed a mist that gathers, but by the regular lighting we all normally use it is not visible; only by the dim lighting of something such as a TV will the effect be noticeable. Not that it matters to me. I was becoming used to the affectation I had long believed lost to me. I held my pipe in my hand while watching TV and puffed on my pipe - all while sipping from my favorite whiskey. Life was once more good to me. I had hit the Trifecta - Jameson Whiskey, a thick-cut slice of Pepper Jack cheese, and a mellow, flavorful pipe I could once more puff on at my leisure.

Life is good again. Life is very good. Heh

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