Tag Archives: iPhone

40 Days and 40 Nights

I am proud to announce that today marks my Old Man’s FORTIETH DAY WITHOUT A CIGARETTE!

(Trumpets!)  (Applause!)

It has by no means been easy for him.  And he hasn’t quit “cold turkey”… more like warm turkey.  Or cold game hen.  But he has gone forty days without a cigarette.  There have been easy days, there have been hard days, and he still does have cravings, but for the most part, he has made a most excellent transition from being a real smoker to a fake smoker.  Or, as he likes to look at it, “a smoker who just isn’t smoking today”.  His transition would not have been nearly as smooth had it not been for the help of a few new friends:

Friend #1:  His e-cigarette.  If you are unfamiliar with these contraptions, the e-cigarette is a little cigarette-like battery-operated apparatus that is made up of two main parts; a cartridge containing liquid nicotine, and an atomizer which, when puffed on, vaporizes the nicotine, making it breathable.  They look like this:

E-cigs make you sexy.

They are great because they satisfy the nicotine craving but omit all the bad chemicals and additives in real cigarettes.  The Old Man, being a good combination of nerd and Virgo, did a lot of research on e-cigarettes before quitting and found that there are quite a few e-cigs on the market.  Since they are still relatively new, there has not been an enormous amount of research on them, but from what he gathered, he learned that most e-cigs are manufactured in China, and some are made in the United States.  The ones made in the US use only vegetable oil and nicotine in the cartridge.  The ones made in China… no one really knows what are put in them.  So he opted for the slightly more expensive US-made version.  (His particular brand is 21st Century Smoking.  His favorite flavor is Atlantic City.  You can find these e-cigs at kiosks in malls, or online at the link above.)

Friend #2:  Snus.  Although the e-cigarette is fantastic, and the “smoke” it creates is not harmful to second-hand breathers, it still garners glares from passers-by and is not always an appropriate social utensil.  To avoid those potentially awkward moments (or when the e-cigarette needs to be recharged), The Old Man resorts to snus: a tobacco-filled pouch that is placed against the gums to deliver nicotine an a nearly-unoticable way.  They are by no means The OM’s favorite thing, but they are not a cigarette, and do the job in a pinch.

Friend #3:  The iPhone app called My Last Cigarette.  Since so much of smoking’s allure is psychological, it helps to have any kind of encouragement while quitting.  The OM finds solace in this app which tracks his progress by calculating how many cigarettes he hasn’t smoked, how much his circulation has improved, how much money he has saved, and how many days he had added to his life.  As of today, he has not smoked six hundred and forty nine cigarettes.  CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!

Stats as of February 24, 2012

This app is more accurate for the cold-turkey quitter since his nicotine intake is still high, and the cigarette savings are offset by e-cig costs, but it is still a comfort for him to be able to track his progress everyday.

As you can imagine, the everyday benefits of The Old Man’s decision to quit smoking have been many.  He no longer has to go outside in the cold / heat to pace around smoking and talking on his phone and making the elderly lady neighbors nervous.  He also takes fewer breaks at work now (which is a combo good / bad thing).  And although I never really minded the smell of smoke on his breath or clothes, I did not like the way his hands would smell – and judging from the way our cat Sid interacts with him – I think the pets felt the same way.  All this to say, my husband kicks ass, and you can too!  If you are a smoker, ex-smoker, or smoker who just isn’t smoking today, I am interested to know how quitting has gone for you and whether you went cold turkey.  How’s it been?

Congratulations on making it through forty days, Husband!  Here’s to the coming of your forty YEAR anniversary of not smoking!  I am looking forward to celebrating it with a healthy 68 year old you.

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Soon to be ‘mooning!

In four short weeks, the old man and me will be celebrating wedding anniversary Numero Uno!

And now that our first year of legal love is drawing it’s close, we are going to celebrate by FINALLY taking our honeymoon!  When G first suggested that we wait a year for our honeymoon, I got uncharacteristically freaked out.  My parents never took their honeymoon, and it was always a sore issue for my mom, and a source of contention.  (She is now on to her second marriage and still has not gotten a honeymoon.)  And I suddenly was having flashbacks of sitting in the theater watching the first seven minutes of Up, and Carl and Ellie keep having to smash the piggy bank:  broken arm:  SMASH, busted car:  SMASH, new balloon cart:  SMASH… and then Ellie is dead and Carl is alone and Ellie never got to travel with Carl and them I’m CRYING and then squirrel!  (See the movie if this last part makes no sense.)

But, once the real wedding planning began, it became quite apparent that the old man was right: planning the honeymoon we wanted (and could afford) while also planning the wedding we wanted (and could afford) would be very difficult, if not crazy-making.  And nobody wants to marry a crazy-made over-stressed bitch.  Much less go on an extended overseas vacation with her.  So, thanks honey.  (And, you’re welcome.)

Thus far, the plan is this: cross the pond to Ireland (a mere 14 hours), spend a couple days in Dublin, then it’s off to Galway for a few more days; a visit with some of G’s distant cousins, many many beers, a horse race, much too much soda bread, and then it’s back to Dublin via rental car to fly to Madrid.  We’ll stay only one night in Madrid, then take the train to Granada where we have rented an apartment in the Albycin!  Whose porch overlooks the city and the Alhambra!  (Scroll down for photo.)  After three days there, we rent a car and drive to the coastal city of Almeria – the city of my grandmother’s birth (and the city of spaghetti westerns!  They have old western towns built outside of Almeria where Sergio Leone would shoot movies.  (For a couple of weirdos like us who totally watch old westerns, this is awesome.).)  Then roadtrip to Barcelona, stopping perhaps in Valencia for a good night’s sleep and a day wandering BioParc before our 3 days in the big city.  And then, it’s back to the states.  16 days in total.


Things that have been helpful for planning:

TripIt.com:  I give it a B-.  It’s a great idea, but has got some frustrating kinks that should be worked out before I give it an A.  Such as:  When a new activity is added to the itinerary, Tripit does not organize them very well.  It is totally non-intuitive in the area of organizing.  Great idea for a travel tool, but not perfect yet.  Though I have high hopes for you, Tripit.

VRBO.com:  RAD.  A-.  This is a website where people with second homes rent them out to hotel-weary travellers such as you and me.  They’re generally less expensive than hotels, more spacious than hotels, and more better than hotels.  But one does risk having to deal with a not-professional / personally-attached-to-the-place-that-you’re-staying home owner who may or may not be crazy.  But this is a risk I am willing to take.  A manner of travel that may not be for everyone, but definitely for someone.

The view from the place we are renting in Granada.

Hotels.com:  B-.  Above average, but still not my Happy Place.  I recently used hotels.com to book a room in LA near husband’s place of work, and the ratings for the place were great.  But the place was a shithole.  A stinky shithole.  (Really.  We had to ask for another less-stinky shithole room.  Which we got, but which instead had forehead prints on the windows and hair on the bathroom floor.)

Family:  A+ for donating their years of saved-up American Express points to help us buy our plane tickets.  SO AMAZING.

Blogs:  A+.  I have been following mycastleinspain, and holavalencia for tips on the best local places to go in Granada and Valencia.  I am still looking for Irish blogs and Barcelona blogs, but I don’t want to step on the old man’s toes because he is in charge of plotting our Ireland course, and I our Spanish one.  (I know he’s reading this.  Hi honey!)

Word Lens:  GET THIS APP!  If you have an iPhone and are planning on travelling to any Spanish-speaking country, GET THIS APP.  It is great for several reasons.  1) If you point your phone’s camera at a sign written in Spanish, it translates it instantly – in the same font and color – into English.  2) It is FREE… except it’s not because the Spanish library is $10.  But still!  SO ok with me.  And 3) it does NOT REQUIRE INTERNET CONNECTION!  Which means you will not come home to a $2,000 phone bill (which has happened to some unsuspecting travelers who use other apps which do require connection).  Which also means you can use it on the dirt road you just got lost on when your burro got spooked by gunfire and you don’t know what “PELIGRO:  COCODRILOS MORTALES” means.  All good things.  Watch the video here.


Capital One Credit Cards:  No rating yet, but possible A for not charging foreign exchange rate fees.  This is what I have heard, anyway.  I’m trying to get us  signed up for one before we go so we can put all our charges on it and pay it off *crossing fingers* when we get back.  Every single other credit card adds a percent ranging from 1 to 4 of the purchase price of foreign charges.  NO GRACIAS!

And since no blog post is complete without lots of visual stimulation, here are some photos from last year.  We DID take a “mini ‘moon” to Monterey for a few days after the wedding.  It was lovely.  See below.

View from our mini'moon room in Monterey, CA

Sea Nettles at the Aquarium


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