Monday, January 09, 2012

Notes from the Cave

I've been having a hard time getting the writing thing going again since the holidays.  I've had several ideas for things to write about, but I can't seem to make the time or find the energy.  Maybe this edition of Notes from the Cave will break me out of the slump. 

My ads for Amazon served me well over the holidays - I made over 100 bucks for doing absolutely nothing but owning a blog.  The sales I generated for Amazon were somewhere in the range of $1,800.  Of course, none of this is dependent on the holidays - readers can still click the ads anytime they want to make Amazon purchases.  And in case you didn't know, you do not have to be purchasing whatever the ad is selling in order for it to work.  You can click the ad and buy pantyhose, and I'll get a commission for it.  

Those of you who got Kindle readers for the holidays should use my ads to buy your e-books, and you should also buy all four of my own e-books, or I will hunt you down and murder you.  You don't have to read them; just support the cause.  And tell all your friends and family.  

Okay, that's it for reader assignments...for this week, anyway.

I made a few New Year's resolutions this year.  First, I am eating healthier.  Not only am I attempting to eat more healthy foods and less unhealthy foods, I am also trying to eat regular meals - something I have been very, very bad about for the last few years.  Connected with this, I am starting a walking routine, which works two ways, because not only is it good for me, but I also take the dog with me, and the exercise helps control his bad behavior.  I don't know if I've lost any weight yet or not, but a few people have commented that I look trimmer.  

Secondly, and much more importantly, I have also quit smoking.  I stopped on January 1st, and although I had a little setback this weekend, I have recommitted myself to the task and I feel good about it.  I am using an electronic cigarette and I absolutely cannot say enough about this thing.

I bought one originally about two months ago, after stopping to browse at a kiosk in the mall.  I got suckered into buying a kit by the extremely pushy salesperson, even though I wasn't actually ready to get one yet.  I tried it a few times over the last few weeks, and kinda sorta liked it, but not really.  I felt like I had gotten suckered into buying a crappy brand - and that's the thing that is so frustrating about e-cigarettes: there are literally dozens of brands out there and you have no way of knowing which one is best. 

Fortunately, I have a cousin-in-law (does that exist?) who uses a brand called GreenSmoke, and he absolutely loves it.  He was a lifelong smoker and was able to quit tobacco by using this brand of e-cigarette.  So, knowing that my crappy brand was going to impact my ability to quit, I ponied up some more cash and bought the GreenSmoke brand.  I got it in the mail today, and I absolutely love it.  It is superior to the other one in every single possible way.  It really does feel like I am smoking a cigarette.  It's absolutely as close to the real thing as I can imagine technology could get.

In case you don't know what an electronic cigarette is, it is basically exactly what it says - a cigarette that runs on a battery.  Instead of tobacco, there is a glycerin-based liquid that is flavored and contains nicotine.  When you draw on the cigarette, the liquid turns to mist and you inhale and exhale the mist.  It's basically like an asthma inhaler (and uses the same chemicals), but without the medicine.  You can choose your level of nicotine, including no nicotine at all.  You can also choose from among numerous flavors, including traditional tobacco flavor.  I currently am using "Smooth Chocolate" and "Menthol Ice."  

Although these things haven't been FDA approved for quitting smoking, and have not been officially recognized as a safe alternative to smoking, numerous studies have shown them to be safe, and they are being increasingly promoted by doctors and physician groups.  They don't contain the carcinogens that cigarettes contain (because there is no tobacco and the "smoke" is actually just a water vapor mist), and the chemicals used in them are known to be safe, and are widely used in other food products we all eat every day.  In short, they are basically the cigarette of the future.

Finally, I have made a resolution to get in bed at a decent hour, and to actually sleep in the bed (instead of in the EZ chair or on the couch.  In addition to my eating habits, my sleeping habits have long been totally off kilter.  

So I am eating regularly.  I am eating healthier foods more often.  I am drinking diet soft drinks instead of regular.  I have quit smoking.  I have started sleeping in the bed every night, and I have started getting to bed at a decent hour so I get enough sleep.

And doing all these things has already made a huge difference in how I feel, and it's only been a little over a week.  I have more energy, I am losing weight, I can breathe better, I feel better - not only physically, but also emotionally - and, in general, I feel more positive.'s to hoping I can stick with it.  I was a little nervous about trying to make too many changes at once, but I think it's for the best - better to just go balls out and commit myself to a lifestyle change, rather than try to ease into it.  In actuality, I have tried to "ease into it" one at a time (sleeping, eating, smoking), for a very long time, and have gotten nowhere.  Also, I am not being a Nazi with myself about it either (except for the smoking) - if I have a regular soft drink, or eat a big meal, or forget breakfast now and then, it's okay.  Last night on third shift, for instance, I drank a shit-ton of regular Mt. Dew.    

I'm planning an upcoming blog post about the history of American political parties.  Stay tuned for that.  I'm really starting to get interested in U.S. presidential and political history - which is something I have never had much interest in before.  I will also, of course, be continuing my series on presidential fun facts.

I was very pleased to see Barry Larkin get his overdue calling to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He should have been chosen on the first ballot - last year - and it was a farce that he wasn't.  Apparently the voters realized that, because he made the biggest 1-year jump in history, or something close to it.  He only had 40-something percent last year, and jumped up to 86% this year.  You have to have 75% to get in.  Larkin always played in the shadow of Ozzie Smith, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he was a superior all-around player to Ozzie Smith.  It's not even a contest, in my opinion.  Yet Smith got in on the first ballot with, I think, the highest percentage in history. 




mama said...

Good for you!! It is so hard to make changes but you can do it!!!!

Anonymous said...

This whole post is very motivational. I almost even bought one of your e-books for my Kindle. :)

It sounds like you are on a really good path to making a number of on-the-surface small changes that will add up to a lot of improvement in your health and well being.

I'm trying to do better as well, though I still haven't really moved forward with the walking or making healthier food choices. Getting enough sleep at night makes a world of difference in my overall mood and anxiety level though, and I've been good about that so far.

Going to the doctor today, though. He could say I'm a goner, so let's hope this comment doesn't turn out to be an example of famous last words.

Really looking forward to the history of American politics posts or any American history posts you want to throw out there. You know I love all that.

BC said...

Everyone is cheering you on...and taking encouragement for our own changes at the same time.

Scott said...

One thing that makes me feel better: The incidence of lung cancer, even among active smokers, is only about 17% in men. With the way we tend to associate smoking with lung cancer, you'd think it was higher than that. Nearly 85% of men who smoke won't ever get lung cancer. And your risk falls dramatically once you quit - within a few years, it drops down to the same level as the rest of the non-smoking general population.

Anonymous said...

This is a really astonishing figure. Can that even be right?? Why do we make such a big deal about it then? Why are we banning smoking in public places because of second hand smoke when only a fraction of people who actually smoke get lung cancer? What are the statistics for women? And what's the rate of other lung related ailments?

Scott said...

I'm not sure about other smoking related diseases - significantly higher, probably.

The rate for women is less - only about 11%.

The reason these figures are significant is because they are so much higher than the general non-smoking population. Only about 1-2% will get lung cancer from that population segment.

So smoking increases your chances by 500 to 700%, depending on your gender. That's why it's significant. But it's still pretty uncommon, even among smokers.