Accidentally discovering that swiping up and down with two fingers in @tweetbot changes the theme is the best thing to happen to me in the last two weeks.
It was at a pool party in my parents’ backyard in the summer of 2012 when I first became addicted to nicotine. I was back in Ontario to visit friends and family for the first time since moving to British Columbia. The day began in an old floating chair with a bottle of Corona while waiting for my friends to arrive.
By this time, I’d lost my religion. It had been several years since my first time getting drunk. I’d finally come to understand why so many people were into the sexual revolution of the ’60s. My language was chock-full of vulgarity that, on more than one occasion, raised the ire of my cool-tongued parents.
But at age twenty-seven, I’d never smoked a cigarette.
Technically, I had smoked cigarettes twice, both times in sixth grade—the first on the walk home from school, and the second in the same backyard where I would many years later become an addict. But I didn’t inhale either of those times, nor did I smoke a cigarette; I only had a couple puffs.
A few hours and a few more Coronas later, my friends and I were standing in a semi-circle in my parents’ backyard telling stories and jokes, and I found myself with one of my friend’s cigarettes between my fingers. The warm fumes enveloped my lungs while the cold liquids filled my stomach.
I didn’t smoke again during that two-week trip to Ontario. It wasn’t until I came back to British Columbia and began feeling the pains of homesickness and boredom settle in that I made my way to the International News and Tobacco Store across the street from my apartment. For some reason I don’t recall, the first purchase I made wasn’t a pack of cigarettes but a pack of cigarillos. The difference, which I would experimentally come to discover, was that unlike cigarettes, cigarillos aren’t meant to be inhaled—but damn, what a rush when you did.
The discomfort of that rush led me to what would ultimately become a six-year addiction to cigarettes—an addiction I believe I hid from my mother until she passed, and revealed to my father as we stood outside the funeral home following the morning’s service.
I tried to quit on a number of occasions, sometimes going cold turkey and other times with the aid of gum or patches. I never got through an entire pack of gum or patches.
When e-cigarettes first hit the market, they were small and designed to mimic the feel of a cigarette. I went through a few of these, but ultimately found they only added to my nicotine intake, as the number of cigarettes I smoked remained constant.
I was never proud of the fact that I smoked. It made me feel cool, but “cool” is a feeling wholly different from pride. A bully can feel cool after he beats up a nerd, but he’ll never feel proud of it.
I wish I could remember how I was first introduced to refillable tank-style vaporizers. It may well have been my girlfriend, to whom I’d initially lied about the depths of my nicotine addiction. It may have been someone on the internet. It’s often difficult to pinpoint these things.
What I do remember is the day in 2015 when I first I stepped foot into Vaporologie, where Jay—the store’s owner and operator—provided my first real introduction to the wide world of vaporizers. The gadget geek in me was in heaven poring over the various options in design and function this class of vaporizer provided. The frugal Scot in me found great solace when another patron shared an app he was using to track the thousands of dollars he’d saved since switching from cigarettes to his vaporizer.
It’s shameful to admit that, though I was keenly aware of the negative impact smoking had on my health and I knew the risks it posed to my overall life expectancy, it was the immediacy of the financial impact this lifestyle change would bring that ultimately drove my decision. The $100 cost of entry and ~$180/month cost to replenish my vape juice supply was far less expensive than the roughly $400/month I was spending on cigarettes.
What I first realized in switching from cigarettes to the vaporizer was that my addiction wasn’t just chemical but also behavioural. Standing up from my desk once an hour to step outside for five minutes was embedded in my daily routine. At some point, I’d rationalized this as not only an opportunity to indulge my addiction, but also an opportunity to stretch my muscles and joints to mitigate the symptoms of sitting all day. Switching from cigarettes to the vaporizer allowed me to continue the routine of taking my hourly hits.
What’s fascinating about addiction is that it’s only a problem if you’re not “producing”. If you can produce something valuable while indulging in an addiction, society doesn’t view you as a problem. No one argues that time spent drinking one kind of plant is more valuable than time spent inhaling another one. All that matters is your production—what are you able to do for someone else in a given moment?
The battery life on my first vaporizer was rarely enough to get me through an entire workday. Eventually, I upgraded to a two-battery model.
I brought the vaporizer and several bottles of juice with me to Uganda. I wish I could say I brought enough juice. By the end of the trip, I had run out and was smoking cigarettes to feed the nicotine addiction. I might’ve smoked a few while out drinking, even before I ran out of juice. It’s tough to admit your addictive behaviour even after you’ve overcome your addiction.
Stress was surely a trigger. So was boredom. And mornings. Definitely evenings.
As I mentioned, the transition from smoking to vaping wasn’t immediate. There were times when I was partaking in cigarettes of both the analog and electronic variety, which was probably the lowest I felt during my time as a smoker. As my partner explained to me, the amount of nicotine one consumes from both methods at once is astronomical. Even if I justified the behaviour by only smoking half a pack at a time, there was no way I could control the amount of vapour I inhaled. It was chain smoking on steroids.
About a year or two ago during my transition from smoking to vaping, my partner asked if I envisioned myself vaping the rest of my life. I was taken aback by that, partly because I tend not to enjoy looking too far into the future, and because I had to admit that when I did, the answer was “no.” Why, then, was I vaping now?
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point I made the decision to slowly ween myself off. I’d started my vaping adventure with juice that had 9mg of nicotine per mL. Over time I slowly dropped that number to 6mg, then 3mg. Eventually, I started mixing 3mg juice with 0mg juice to get ~1.5mg juice before finally getting down to 0mg.
It was maybe 2–3 weeks after getting down to 0mg when I realized… I don’t enjoy vaping anymore. So, I stopped.
The next day, I invited the guys I’d worked with in Uganda over for dinner. My partner and I prepared a feast of ribs, veggies, salad, and other goodies. My guests enjoyed a few puffs of vape, but I chose not to partake.
It’s now been over a month since I last vaped and a bit longer since I had my last hit of nicotine. I don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms, though I often notice the smell of cigarette smoke and feel a twinge of craving when I’m out and about.
I don’t intend for this to be taken as a prescription for overcoming a nicotine addiction. For now, the strategy seems to have worked for me. Of course, everybody’s different.
But, I do hope my story encourages you to know that it can be done. Whether you take the same road or choose your own, know that there’s a reachable destination at the end of the line.
It might just take a few tries to find it.
This post was originally written at the end of August. I held off on publishing it because I was about to spend 9 days off the grid and, quite honestly, didn’t want to miss out on the near certain barrage of praise and congratulations due to come my way.
I ended up smoking about a dozen cigarettes during those 9 days.
Six weeks had passed between my last vape and when I initially intended to publish this post. It’s now been 6 weeks since my last cigarette. Currently, I don’t feel the need to smoke, though I still feel the sensation of craving when I see others smoking around town.
I think the takeaway from experience is that while I’m not taking in any nicotine, it still has a hold on me. If you know me and see me starting to fall back to old habits, I ask that you gently remind me to read this post and remember I would much rather be healthy than cool.
My thanks to Darren Case at 22shapes for the cigarette animation. Thanks also to Chris Gonzales at Stellar Edits for his help editing this post and my partner, Andrea, for helping me with basic arithmetic.
I’ve known Tyler Finck for almost 10 years. I say I’ve known him, but truly I’ve known his online presence. From the super cool horizontal scroll design he created for his old portfolio site, Sursly.com, to the wildly popular Blackout font, to his beautiful photography, Tyler is one of those people whose work has and continues to inspire me. Heck, I used his Lickety Split font for the 4015 Productions logo even before Barack Obama used Ostrich Sans for his Believe campaign.
And that’s not to mention the beautiful music he’s written and produced that has become a staple of my musical rotation.
The interactions I’ve had with Tyler through Twitter, Instagram, and Strava have always been positive and uplifting. He’s often one of the first if not only people to say nice things about my work, and that means a lot to me.
I write all of this as a way to explain that while I’ve never met Tyler in person, I’m incredibly proud of him for the launch of his new type foundry, ETC. Like the rest of his work, the site for ETC is bold and beautiful. Even cooler than that is that with every font you purchase, Tyler will send you a hat!
I just purchased Grandstander, a playful display I plan to use for a future product for A Wonderful Shop of Wonderful Wonders.
Congratulations on the launch, Tyler. Best wishes on the new venture!
If you’re in Vancouver and are interested in blogging, podcasting, wikiing, or anything to do with the open web, come out to the second IndieWeb Meetup Vancouver event next Wednesday, October 24.
The latest pre-release build of the Hitchens theme is now available. Hitchens 0.5.0 introduces footnote formatting and fixes a bug in the JSON feed. My thanks to @boris for submitting those issues!
I think I kinda like comic book me 😁
Shortly after posting my thoughts about last week’s inaugural IndieWeb Meetup, Boris let me know that he will be traveling through November and December and that the responsibility for organizing the next meetup would fall to me.
I had such an amazing time at the first meet up that I was more than ok with that. And so without further ado, I’m pleased to announce the second IndieWeb Meetup Vancouver.
Vancouver, BC V6B 1A4
Hope to see you there!
A great overview of changes coming to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 that were published back in June from Peyton Chance at Viget.
My only complaint is that the article didn’t include a single link to the guidelines, so here they are!
My blog has photos again! Like this one from last weekend’s hike up Mount Cheam. Boris introduced me to the very cool OwnYourGram that watches your Instagram feed and posts your photos to your own website.
The internet is neat!
- There are few people as contagiously passionate as Boris.
- I fear I really let Roland down when Apple Shortcuts failed to properly encode the podcast we recorded together. Will get to that bug report some day, Roland!
- After fighting with it for what felt like an eternity trying to get my Instagram photos to display on my blog, think I understand why Brooklyn isn’t a huge fan Liquid.
- Really looking forward to seeing what Greg does with his new Jekyll blog running the Hitchens theme!
- Blogging is, was, and always will be fun.
- It really shouldn’t be so difficult to own your own content.
- It would be really, really sweet if we can find a way to make owning your own content super simple and then take what we learn and apply it to the problem of distributing capital to those who need it most.
We should consider changing the name from the “Vancouver Indieweb Meetup” to the “Vancouver Homebrew Website Club” to assimilate ourselves with the broader community and to make it easier for those in the IndieWeb community who are visiting Vancouver to find us.According to Eddie Hinkle, IndieWeb organizers are strongly considering rebranding Homebrew Website Club to IndieWeb Meetups, which means we’re on the forefront of the future!
- We should also consider committing to meeting every other Wednesday night as prescribed in the IndieWeb wiki to encourage consistency within our community. Also because I thought it was just so friggin’ awesome.
Thanks to Boris for organizing and to Milano Gastown for hosting us! Keep an eye open for when the next meetup is announced.
My good friend, Boris Mann, has told me that by following his magical recipe, I should be able to type into this box located at https://quill.p3k.io/new, hit the
Post button, and have the post appear in my blog.
If you’re in Vancouver and are interested in tinkering with websites, come down to Milano Gastown tonight at 6pm to hang out with @bmann, @rtanglao, ~@kempedmonds~, @IMmsGNU, @DogePreacher, @gregeh, and me.
On the way up to Mt. Cheam.
Good news! I received a letter this morning from Canada Revenue Agency indicating that they now consider me to be a factual resident of Canada. The next step is to apply for a reassessment of last year’s tax return which should result in the reinstatement of the tax credits that were taken away due to the original determination. Fingers crossed!
I’m sorry, world. But I have to show Allen how I post to my blog 🐬 🎉
Helvetcia Stickers are here! Clear and white vinyl available in a variety of sizes. The perfect stocking stuffer for the design nerd in your life.
From Ray Besiga, an excellent summary of human-centred design principles as taught by Don Norman. I recently finished reading Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things and wished I had read it when I started apprenticing as a designer 10 years ago.
Several years ago and inspired by a gaffe during the 2012 presidential campaign, I designed a t-shirt. In less than a day I designed the shirt and built a landing page to collect email addresses from people interested in the shirt. A few days later, I launched a Shopify store to allow people to pre-order the shirt. ~160 people pre-ordered the shirt.
In the months following the sale, I struggled to fulfill my orders. The shirts were printed relatively quickly, but at the time I couldn’t figure out how to print out postage-paid shipping labels in order to ship the shirts. After several months of delays, I offered refunds to anyone who pre-ordered a shirt and wanted one while promising to send the shirt regardless of whether the refund was accepted. I think it ended up taking about 6 months to finally get the shirts delivered to my customers.
It was an incredibly embarrassing screwup. Ironic, given the shirt was designed to poke fun of someone else’s mistake.
Ever since, I’ve been hesitant to try another side project like that. While I love the idea of designing and selling merchandise online (the first product I ever sold was a t-shirt for my band), I couldn’t justify the risk of not being able to fulfill the orders that came in.
Services like Cafepress will print and fulfill orders of products featuring designs uploaded by designers, but I’ve never been impressed by the quality of their products. Also, your products are displayed alongside everyone else’s work, which takes away from your ability to build your own brand identity.
Last year I discovered Printful, a service that will print and fulfill orders for products you design. The downside was that in order to have your own store, you had to pay for a pro Shopify account, which was ~$300 upfront. To test things out, I set up a store and ran a few ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. In total I spent around $600 to test my idea.
I sold 0 shirts.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Max Tempkin informed me about Threadless Artist Shops, an all-in-one print and fulfillment service that lets you set up a store for free. As Max wrote, “I just make the design and collect the money.”
That sounded simple enough to me!
I was itching to check it out, but was just days away from spending 9-days off grid in the wilderness of Newfoundland with by brother.
Last week, I was reminded by a tweet from Andy Berdan that I wanted to give Threadless’s service a try.
I want a shirt that says “Abnormal is normal.”
“I can do that,” I thought.
A few hours later and the design was available for purchase.
A Wonderful Shop of Wonderful Wonders (NSFW) is my new online store. There you’ll find the design requested by Andy, the oft-requested re-release of the Helvetcia design, and a few more fun original designs. All orders are printed and shipped by Threadless. They’ll also take care of any issues you have with the products you receive.
I just collect the money.
To celebrate the launch of the shop, I’m offering a promotional discount on all products on the store. The promotional period will end when I remember to log into Threadless to turn it off.
Visit the shop to find men’s, women’s, gender neutral, and kid’s apparel, home decor, and accessories featuring a variety of original designs. Follow the new Twitter account or sign up for the newsletter to be notified of new products and promotions. And share the shop’s URL — awonderful.shop — with your friends and family.