Tuesday, May 20, 2014

X2O: The most flavorful eliquid experience

For over fifteen years, I was a cigarette consumer.  Not a heavy consumer, as my smoking was mostly contained to work, driving, and social activities, but a smoker nonetheless.  Several months ago after having several friends make the switch to ecigarettes, I thought it was time I tried.  So far, my cigarette consumption has dwindled to nothing, and even my vaping habit is dwindling.

My initial purchase was at a south Austin shop, and I was quite blown away by their vast selection and array of light saber looking devices.  Of course, I don't feel I need something so expensive, so I settled on a basic eGo setup.  Nothing fancy, as in my setup does not contain any bells and whistles:  no adjustable wattages or huge batteries.  Nothing.

I've been satisfied with the quality of the actual vape pen, but their flavors, although numerous, seem to be lacking one thing...flavor.  Sure, their flavor wheel and everything is great and the employees pay great attention to the customer's needs, but if the liquid isn't flavorful why not just buy a gallon of unscented eliquid and call it a day?

Thankfully, I have found a suitable replacement product in a great line of eliquids by X2O.  Initially I received two flavors:  Barefoot Beach and Fruity Tyrant.

The first I tried was Barefoot Beach, which is a very nice mint lemonade flavor with plenty of bite.  At first, it seemed there was too much flavor, which I deem a testament to the quality of the product.  My first good vape was filled with an overwhelming mint/menthol flavor, which I thought was too intense for long-term use.  However, the lemonade flavor was quickly apparent upon subsequent pulls and evens out its profile.

I stuck with that liquid for a few days then moved onto the Fruit Tyrant scent.  By far, this is the greatest flavor I have tried during my experience with ecigs.  My initial taste was an overwhelming pineapple, but much like Barefoot Beach, it quickly settles into a very fruity flavor which I find reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum.  Seriously, this flavor is a serious home run and is blended perfectly.

Also, just the packaging of these items beat any of the self-labeled liquids I've purchased at other locations.  These are expertly labeled and boxed.  Also included on every box is a list of ingredients.  Something that seems to be a step up from the verbal response of "it's a 50/50 mix" I got from an employee at one of Austin's vape shops.

These two samples have left me with a bigger craving, and that is to try out other liquids from this company.  Fruit Tyrant will be a permanent addition to the rotation, and I can't help but feel there are a few more gems to try from this company.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dan's WrestleMania XXX preview and predictions

The 30th installment of WWE's flagship pay-per-view, Wrestlemania, will take place just a few days away on Sunday, April 6 from New Orleans.  Much like I did with SummerSlam last year, I'd like to run down the card with relevant information and my own predictions.

Winner of Daniel Bryan/HHH vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista

It doesn't take much to see exactly how this one is going to play out.  Daniel Bryan has bided his time and put forth the effort.  Although that doesn't always guarantee success in the wrestling world, it is a pretty solid lock that he's going to win the title (again) on professional wrestling's biggest stage.

However, he still has his work cut out for him.  It is going to be difficult carrying HHH through a match and then needing to do the exact same thing in a second match against two others.

Personally, I'm sure he's up to the challenge.  Bryan has dominated Ring of Honor.  He's an indy king.  He's also a veteran of Japan, where wrestling is truly wrestling.  What else is there?

Bautista is less than a part timer, and honestly I don't see his appeal.  What would HHH or Orton gain from a title win?  Absolutely nothing.  Would Bryan not winning hurt WWE's appeal with fans at this point?  Absolutely

Winner and new WWE champion:  Daniel Bryan

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Anyone who has watched wrestling for any amount of time knows that Cena is going to walk away with the win here.  The funny thing is that in pro wrestling, the winner isn't always the one who comes out on top.

Wyatt is, in my opinion, one of the brightest bits of potential there is as far as the WWE goes.  He has come a long way and is now turning out consistently good promos and gets tremendous heat from fans.  He's had a number of high profile feuds over the past year, and that has now extended to the top babyface.

Cena not being in the main event and not being in contention for any title is just a smart move by the WWE.  Admittedly, I've missed most of his career as I've only started watching wrestling again over the past few years.  However, with the experiences I've had, it is easy to see Cena has the Hogan syndrome.  He's a top draw, children love him, and he sells merchandise.  He must have a prominent position, and usually does.  However, at some point his star will start to wane, and that time is beginning now.  He can still be prominent, but after so many years it is time for the WWE to start cultivating new stars.

Winner:  John Cena, but hopefully this match throws Bray Wyatt into superstardom.

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

In what I consider "The Battle of the Part-Timers", the Undertaker will return for what has become his only annual match.  He's put his time in and his career speaks for itself.  This year will be no different, despite the competition.  When someone has over 20 straight career wins at WrestleMania, and has been as loyal to the WWE as The Undertaker has, you can't see this year being a loss at all.

Winner:  Undertaker

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Thirty mid-card talents are slated to take to the ring for this one.  So far, 27 of the participants have been announced with no names striking me as particularly special.

Honestly, a battle royal should be held sparingly, and the WWE is quite fresh off of the Royal Rumble, which is one of their biggest pay-per-views of the year.  Unless something special is planned like the return of CM Punk or something on that level, this is simply there to fill air time.

Winner:  Ziggler, hopefully.

Overall, the card for Wrestlemania XXX looks quite weak.  Hopefully there will be a few big surprises, as the main card looks to be quite predictable and stale.

Monday, March 31, 2014

WWE highlights Wrestlemania week network programming

I'm absolutely loving the WWE Network and recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest.  Today, I noticed the WWE released its network specific programming in regards to Wrestlemania this sunday and thought it deserved a share.

STAMFORD, Conn., March 31, 2014 – WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 streaming network, has unveiled its programming lineup for WrestleMania Week, which includes the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, an expanded two-hour WrestleMania pre-show and concludes with WrestleMania 30, all live from New Orleans.  Fans can subscribe to WWE Network by signing up exclusively at WWE.com, clicking on the WWE Network button on the top right corner of the navigation bar and creating an account.

Upon signing up, fans will instantly have access to live and scheduled programming as well as the most comprehensive video-on-demand library.

 The WrestleMania Week programming line-up on WWE Network includes:

WrestleMania 30 – Sunday, April 6 at 7 pm ET

 WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza, WrestleMania 30, will air live on Sunday, April 6 at 7 pm ET. More than 70,000 fans from all 50 states and more than 30 countries are expected to converge on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Current WWE Superstars will be joined by a host of WWE Legends for a celebration 30 years in the making. Featured matches include the first-ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, The Undertaker® defending his epic WrestleMania winning streak against Brock Lesnar™, John Cena® battling Bray Wyatt™ and Randy Orton® defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Batista® and the winner of a showdown between Daniel Bryan® and Triple H®.

  WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – Saturday, April 5 at 9 pm ET

 For the first time ever, the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air live in its entirety on Saturday, April 5 at 9 pm ET from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. On the eve of WrestleMania 30, a new class of inductees will join WWE Legends from the past as they are enshrined into the WWE Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include The Ultimate Warrior®, Jake “The Snake” Roberts™, Lita, Razor Ramon, Paul Bearer, Carlos Colon and Mr. T. At 8 pm ET, one hour prior to the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, WWE Network will air a live red carpet arrival show hosted by Michael Cole and Renee Young. The show will consist of interviews with WWE Legends, Superstars and Divas as they arrive to celebrate history and welcome in the new inductees to the WWE Hall of Fame.

  WrestleMania 30 Pre-Show – Sunday, April 6 at 5 pm ET

 WWE has expanded its WrestleMania pre-show to two hours for the first time ever. The first hour will simulcast across all WWE platforms, including WWE Network, WWE.com, WWE App, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pheed beginning Sunday, April 6 at 5 pm ET. During the second hour, WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos™ will defend their titles in a Fatal 4-Way match against Los Matadores™, Ryback® and Curtis Axel™ and The Real Americans™, which can be seen exclusively on WWE Network. WrestleMania Press Conference – Tuesday, April 1 at 11 am ET Before WWE takes over New Orleans and Randy Orton defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat match against Batista and the winner of Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, all four WrestleMania headliners will come face-to-face on Tuesday, April 1 at 11 am ET at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in New York City live on WWE Network. They will be joined by WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WrestleMania 30 host Hulk Hogan and WWE Superstar John Cena® to offer a preview of this year’s historic event.

  WrestleMania Today LIVE – Thursday, April 3 – Saturday, April 5 at 6 pm ET

 WrestleMania Today will premiere with three nights of live coverage on Thursday, April 3 through Saturday, April 5 at 6 pm ET originating from WrestleMania Axxess. Hosted by WWE’s Josh Mathews™, Booker T™ and Alex Riley™, the two-hour show will welcome in-studio guests including WWE Legends and Superstars as they analyze the biggest matches at WrestleMania 30. WWE reporters Renee Young, Byron Saxton and Tom Philips will cover all the action live from the Axxess floor.

  WrestleMania Weekend Marathon – Friday, April 4 – Sunday, April 6

 The weekend will be highlighted by a marathon of WrestleMania themed programming from Friday, April 4 through Sunday, April 6. On Friday, April 4, WWE Network will air a replay of WrestleMania 25 from Houston, TX at 2 pm ET. Then, on Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6, fans can see blocks of WrestleMania Rewind™ from 6 am – 9 am ET, a show that takes a comprehensive look back at the most groundbreaking matches and dramatic moments in WrestleMania history. Immediately following WrestleMania Rewind on Saturday, WrestleMania 26 airs at 9 am ET and WrestleMania 27 at 1 pm ET. WrestleMania 28 and WrestleMania 29 air Sunday, April 6 at 9 am ET and 1 pm ET, respectively.

Legends of WrestleMania – Friday, April 4 at 10 pm ET

 Legends of WrestleMania premieres on Friday, April 4 at 10 pm ET featuring a round table discussion with WrestleMania Legends as they look back at their greatest WrestleMania moments. Fans will hear never-before-told stories about WrestleMania as well as commentary on the biggest matches at WrestleMania 30.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm back!

After a few crazy weeks and an impromptu trip to Louisiana, it appears I'm back for the time being.  I'll have some posts up when possible.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons Day 3: What was the first dungeon you explored as a character?

I have fond memories of the first dungeon that was explored as a character.  It seems as though it was yesterday.  Wait, it was just a month ago, so there shouldn't be much memory loss regarding the character.

However, I can't share too many details because is from a Pathfinder Society scenario named "The Confirmation," which was recommended to me as a perfect starting point within the world of organized play.

The dungeon itself wasn't very large, but we did meet several types of enemies.

Eventually we solved the problems given to us and defeated the enemies to make it back outside and finish out the scenario.  

It is quite unfortunate that I can't tell more about what happened, but it is quite easy to find out for yourself as this scenario is being run almost constantly, at least among the places I frequent.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons Day 2: The first person you introduced to D&D

Well, this is going to be a short entry, as I have not actually introduced anyone to the game as of yet.

Over the course of two nights I did show my girlfriend the basics of the game, and designed a characters.  However, she does not have an active interest in playing.

However, the next time I return to my hometown, I do expect to run a few games to show friends there the game.  As they are all avid Magic: the Gathering players, I believe they're ready for that next step.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dungeons & Dragons Day 1: Who introduced you to the game?

Truthfully, I have not played a game of actual Dungeons & Dragons.  However, I am currently learning to play Pathfinder, which is an expanded/perfected version of D&D 3.5.

It has been a long process to find the game.  Although tabletop games garnered some interest during my teen years, there were never any actual games to be played in rural Louisiana during the 1990s.  Alas, my gaming up until recently was relegated to the realm of video games and an occasional begged game of Magic: The Gathering.

Also, those types of games during that period of my life had little interest.  Music was my biggest occupier of time.  Nonetheless,  I had a box set featuring the world of Robert E. Howard's Conan, which was liberated from an older brother's garage sale entries.  It seemed interesting, but other than myself there was no interest.  Eventually, I acquired source books for Marvel Super Heroes, Shadowrun, and Vampire: The Masquerade.

Fifteenish years later, life was different.  My location is now Austin, Texas, a wonderful city bustling with activity.  There were a number of factors, mostly involving this city, that led to my foray into gaming.

Firstly, there is a wonderful library system.  One day, while browsing the shelves I came across a few sourcebooks and checked them out.  They were all consumed with fierce voracity.

There is also one friend who has experience running campaigns, and told me about Pathfinder and it being a modified/improved version of D&D 3.5, his personal favorite versions.

My new place of residence has a number of fantastic comic book and gaming stores.  Upon my initial visits to Dragon's Lair I noticed quite a few advertisements for the Pathfinder Society and on January 4, 2014, I took the plunge with a scenario named "The Confirmation."

I was immediately hooked.  As stated in other entries, ChupacabraCon just solidified that fact.  It may have taken a long time, but I'm glad the aforementioned plunge was taken.