Category Archives: SC Post

Caffeine For Days! Part 2

Hi! SC Here. (What Again? Where’s PuzzlePaws? Is she OK?) PuzzlePaws is fine, but between the Stay-at-Home, the Coronavirus, and the Groundhog-Day-like effect this produces, nothing much has been going on.  Like everyone else, we’ve been living.

This is our back yard. Egrets and blue herons live in the swamp.

Puzzlepaws has been adding to her library personally, has been signing up for “Blog Tours” to make her name as a book reviewer, but her puzzle suppliers have dried up.  As a puzzle reviewer, she’s basically unemployed.  (What do you mean “dried up”? Where did they go?)

Typically, puzzle makers send PuzzlePaws puzzles to review, but puzzle companies and manufacturing companies are “non essential”, so they’re home like everyone else.  We got quite a few companies who said they’d send us puzzles at Toy Fair 2020, then the country shut down.  We haven’t seen a shipment.  Normally we’re buried in puzzles by now, setting the schedule for the entire year.  This year? Nothing.  Since puzzles ARE PuzzlePaws’s income, she’s unemployed (and on unemployment).

Also, we’re not really buying puzzles. (What!?) Yup. There aren’t any. Walmart is out, Target is out, and the price-gouging online is outrageous. Puzzles that list for $20US are going for $80US New, $60US Used.  On Amazon.  Not worth it.

So I’m upgrading the Laptops (2012 Razer Blade Pro R2 for PuzzlePaws, 2008 Dell M6400 for myself), building new gaming towers, building a NAS for the house, and generally using our government income to improve our standard of living. I didn’t buy these laptops recently, both were gifted to us. I design and build tower computers on the side.

I’m also the caffeine addict in the house (and kitchen chemist, I do things with caffeine that make wiser heads cringe.)  I decided our caffeine stores were low, so I hit my favorite vendors.

First up was Redux Beverages.  This is (was?) a small company out of North Carolina. Rumor has it, one of the founders used to work for Red Bull back in the early days of Energy Drinks (this would be in the aughts, about ’04).  He wanted to make something stronger, but Red Bull didn’t like that idea so he struck out on his own.  He came up with a very controversial beverage that was the same size as a Red Bull, but contained 3.5 TIMES the caffeine. He called it COCAINE.

Actual Disclaimer on every can of Cocaine, because people are that stupid.

They had a new flavor: Peach Mango. The other flavors are: Regular (Hot Cherry), Mild (Cherry), and Black (Cinnamon Kola).  When you buy it, you’re buying 12-12oz cans, and paying UPS shipping.  Total cost is about $40US in the lower 48. Each can contains 280mg of caffeine.

Yes, a couple are missing, had to sample the goods. This flavor is best warm, after breathing for about 10 minutes.

There are seldom sample packs and very few retail stores carry this beverage (If you do find it retail, it is usually $5/can).  Some municipalities have banned this beverage altogether, and the FDA has attempted to do so on multiple occasions. (Thus why it is labeled as a “High Caffeine Energy Supplement” now.)

My next stop was FOB Kick The Can. (Forward Operating Base Kick The Can, WTF?!)

Exactly what it said on the tin.

Quite a few years back I discovered “instant” energy drinks (4C makes a powdered variant, available at Walmart, we’re not discussing that one).  You took the packet, tore off the top, and added the contents to water, theoretically. And, poof! Instant, sugar-free energy drink.  160mg of caffeine in 16-20oz of (now flavored and “sweetened”) water.

This is their Large Sample Pack.

Strike Force Energy was created by a modern US military veteran for reasons known only to him. (A different US military veteran also created Crayons, Ready-to-Eat so there you go.) I, being the caffeine addict I am, immediately added one to an energy drink (400mg of caffeine, no waiting).  That’s one way to start your day! (NOTE: Do not try this at home.  If you do, please have adult supervision other than yourself.)

I used to work Security for Anime conventions (back before COVID-19), but I got into the Con Staffing gig late.  (Most people do it between the ages of 18 and 24, I started at 26.)  So I had to keep up with the 18 year olds.  I believe in leading from the front, if I can’t do it, I can’t expect you to do it.  But 26 (and later 30) isn’t 18, so I needed energy, and energy drinks weren’t cutting it anymore.  So I created my own.

Wake the Dead is a proprietary blend of caffeine and other compounds that shall not be enumerated in a public forum. (Barring screaming from our legal advisors, we might put it on the Patreon, on one of the upper tiers.)  If misused, adverse side effects, up to and including death could result. (It is actually THAT dangerous!) The recipe is known to only 5 people in the world to my knowledge, myself included. I have never seen it online.

When completed, WTD was 50mg/oz caffeine concentration.  Most sodas are 4-6mg/oz, energy drinks are 6-14mg/oz.  But the mechanism of action wasn’t just in the caffeine concentration, one of the ingredients came from Harcos Labs.

12 Bottles of Berry Flavored disappointment, read on.

At the time Mana contained a blend of digestive enzymes that enhanced your ability to digest ANYTHING (including cellulose, weird that.)  Which was good, since that level of caffeine would kill your appetite otherwise.  So WTD would make you HUNGRY.  So hungry that I was consuming 5,000 calories every 19-hour day.  (You read that right, I was eating FIVE THOUSAND calories a day!  If I ate less than 4,000, I lost weight.)

That was then.  Much to my disappointed shock, Mana is now just flavoring, sweetener, food coloring, caffeine, and a pretty bottle.  The website says that Mana still contains the enzyme blend, but these do not (neither does the Blood).  Hopefully I can get my money back.

Where to Buy:

Cocaine Energy: Click Here

Strike Force Energy: Click Here

Mana Potions: Click Here

The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!


A Bath for a Rainy Day (an SC Post)

Greetings fans, SC here. (uh oh, it’s an SC post…probably short with bad news, where’s my Content! I’m bored!)

I actually have been planning to do a post or two since PuzzlePaws and myself are now Sheltering-in-Place (vs. me leaving the house to work).  Basically, I got laid-off. It’s more complicated than that, but it isn’t germane to PuzzlePaws’s blog, so I decline to digress.

Y’know how you’ve got that Really Nice bath stuff you’ve been hiding in the closet for a rainy day? (Our stash is a bit large, ATM.) Well, since we’re all stuck at home anyway, now is the time to use it!

Being stuck in the house is no fun for anyone, add in the current pandemic and it is a recipe for stress.  What better way to remove some of that stress than to break into your stash and have an enjoyable bath?  (Now you see where I’m going with this.)

Now, I will take the odd bubblebath or use a bathbomb once in a while, and while those are enjoyable I wanted to truly relax.  I needed something that literally felt like it pulled the stress out of me.  So, I dug deep into the closet and found a favorite that PuzzlePaws and I discovered at ToyFair NYC about 2 or 3 years ago: Ooze Baff.

If you are familiar with the works of Anne McCaffrey, specifically her Crystal Singer series, you remember the odd, viscous liquid called Radiant Bath. (Hint: the Crystal Singers would immerse themselves in it to take out some of the crystal song in their blood when fresh off the Ranges. I’ll post a link to the first book at the bottom, cracking good read, that. The audiobook is perfect for the bath to come.)

Crystal Singer Cover.jpg

What you will need:

  • Ooze Baff 50g or 150g
  • Bathing tub to fill with hot water (Do not use in a hot tub or anything with a pump in it.  Puzzlepaws Blog is not responsible for damage)
  • Hands-free entertainment (I used some music I enjoy)
  • Optional: Candle(s) for mood lighting
  • Optional: Epsom Salts (to thicken the Baff)
50g on the left, 150g on the right.  Attentive readers will note the packs are called “Slime Baff” and “Slime Play” (the European name).

Before drawing your bath (baff?), make sure your drain is clear of anything that might cause it to drain slowly.  (Other than PuzzlePaws, everyone else in the house has long hair.  Cleaning the tub/shower drain is a monthly exercise.) Once you have cleaned your drain and reassembled the plug, draw about 2-3 inches of warm water.  Before opening your package of Ooze Baff, make sure none of the powder is clumped together, if it is clumped up, break it up in the package.

Open the pouch of Ooze Baff and sprinkle it all over the surface of the water, a bath will take a minimum of 50-75g to create.  (Ideally, use 100-150g of powder per bath for the best experience.)  Stir the water with your hand until the powder is fully dissolved.  The water will turn the color of the powder and will smell slightly sulfurous. (This is the only design flaw I have found.  I have not experimented with adding scent/oil to the water to “improve” the scent.  I prefer the effect, I can ignore the smell.)


Sorry, no bath pictures here.  This is a family blog.


At this time, set up your bath, start your music, etc.

Shortly, the water will feel slipperier and become noticeably thicker.  If it isn’t as thick as you’d like, or you want something else to relax your muscles, add some Epsom Salts.  Once everything is dissolved carefully “hop” in (while bracing your body, or with assistance, carefully crawl into the tub and get comfortable.)  Continue filling the tub with the hottest water you can tolerate. (I use a temperature just below “Hell, No! I’m not getting into that!”)

NEVER try to stand in a tub of Ooze Baff, you WILL slip and fall!

This is an odd chemical reaction.  The powder combines with water and creates a mucous-like slime.  Epsom Salts enhances the slime effect (thickening the slime).  It is an endothermic reaction, thus you use the hottest water you can stand. (Endothermic – the reaction absorbs heat, making the resulting fluid cooler than it was at the beginning.)

Fill the tub as deep as you like with you in it (I prefer about 1/2″ from the rim).  Rest in the water until you feel your stress melt away. Don’t get too comfy, you’re still going to have to shower this off.  (Even the least buoyant individual will feel supported.  I’m pretty low body fat and my arms floated comfortably in the bath.) Don’t worry if you get this slime in long hair, you can shower it out.  The slime will form a thin, slippery coating on your entire body.

Please use common sense, don’t use Ooze Baff if you have open wounds or are allergic to any of the compounds in it.

When you’re ready to get out, pop the drain on the tub and let it drain with you in it.  DON’T try to stand up yet.  Once the tub is drained, start the water and rinse the bottom of the tub until you have a place to stand.  Once standing, turn on the shower.  (Yes, I have been known to write manuals.) If you’ve gotten the slime in your hair, draw the slime towards the ends of your hair until you’ve gotten most of it out.  Shampoo as usual until the slime is gone.

Ooze Baff is colored-hair-safe (I have neon pink hair, the slime didn’t harm the color at all), non-staining, and easy to clean up.


Ingredients: Acrylamide/Sodium Acrylate Copolymer, Fragrance (Parfum), FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Blue No. 1.

Where to buy:  Ooze Baff and related products are available on Amazon.  At this time, delivery takes about a week.  Zimpli Store on Amazon

If you want larger quantities, you can purchase it directly from the maker:

Crystal Singer is available from Amazon as well: Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!


Down, but not out

SC here, Puzzlepaws just got back from her birthday trip.  While she got some awesome stuff for the blog, she brought home an unwanted bit of con swag…”con plague”.  Nothing major, just a miserable cold.

With her disease, her immune system is compromised (it is too busy attacking her body to defend it.)  The “good” news: while she’s sick, she’s not in pain as her Fibromyalgia goes into remission while her body attacks this cold instead of her.  The “bad” news: Puzzlepaws has to take some pretty strong medicine to beat the cold down, so she’s essentially bedridden (and asleep) while she recovers. (Thus why I’m here.)

Thankfully, “pretty strong medicine” is available Over-the-Counter (OTC), with ID.  Why “with ID”?  Puzzlepaws (and myself) are part of the (large) subset of humanity for whom phenylephrine simply does not work.  Unfortunately, NyQuil® stopped including pseudoephedrine HCL years ago (because yahoos use pseudoephdrine HCL to make methamphetamine).  Walgreens® to the rescue!

Walgreens® makes a “Night Cold & Flu” that is what NyQuil® used to be.  (You can’t feel a cold if you’re in a coma.)  Unfortunately, it works just like NyQuil® used to: You take your dose, wait 10-30 minutes, then wake up 10-12 hours later. You feel better, but you lose the night and part of the day.  Rinse, repeat as needed until you can function again.  If you need this medicine, you have to ask for it at the Pharmacy (no buying it online), then you have to produce ID (Federal Law) before they will sell it to you.  (And then you can only buy so much in a month…which varies by state.)

While this is only a cold, it brings up a good point.  Diseases like what Puzzlepaws has are the reason for a thing called “Herd Immunity”.  This is what happens when people who are otherwise well get immunized (Eek, Needles!).  In a well-immunized society, a preventable disease has a hard time getting a foothold because most of the population is immune to the disease.  Thus, individuals like Puzzlepaws (those with compromised immune systems) have a lower chance of getting truly nasty diseases because those around them can’t get those diseases.  So we protect the most vulnerable individuals in our population by being immunized against the diseases that might kill them. (Example: The flu for me is 2-4 days of misery, then all better!  As for Puzzlepaws, she is looking at 10-21 days of misery.  That misery is extended if she gets complications like: bronchitis, pneumonia, or other incidental infections.  Any of these complications could hospitalize or kill her.)

If you’re going to haul out the “vaccines cause autism” (or any other similar argument), don’t bother.  You won’t get the argument you want, but you will get blocked.  If you can’t say something nice…

NyQuil® is a Registered Trademark of The Proctor & Gamble Company.

Walgreens® is a Registered Trademark of the Walgreens Company.

Disclosure: The opinions are my own.  All links are direct; I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

#walgreens #nyquil

Nifty Device From Toy Fair 2019

Hello?…Is this thing on?

Hi, SC here.  Puzzlepaws is unexpectedly out of town for an extended period (longer than expected due to “track maintenance” and “curfew”), so I decided to do a post (or two).

While we were at Toy Fair 2019, we came across a vendor selling this thing called an “iCaddy”. The original design was (not kidding) built out of toilet paper roll cores.  The basic concept is simple: a compact, durable phone and tablet stand, with replaceable charger, and cord storage. The iCaddy website calls it a mobile device multitool!

Front and Back.jpg
The item as we received it.  The model featured on the front is the creator, Katrina.

We received the cat print, which is perfect for PuzzlePaws! Currently, iCaddy has thirteen different patterns.

Box and contents including: iCaddy with accessories, introduction letter, sticker, and creator’s note.

The entire unit was easy to assemble, instruction were provided in the introduction letter.  The charger fits in a secure pocket in the section of the iCaddy that isn’t used for cord storage.

This is the travel mode, nice and compact, easy to throw in a bag!


While the iCaddy is not intuitive in its use, a bit of fumbling and looking at the back of the box allowed me to place it in its two configurations: Tablet Mode and Phone Mode.

Tablet Mode.jpg
Tablet Mode
Phone Mode.jpg
Phone Mode

The iCaddy appears to be incredibly handy.  It holds the tablet incredibly securely (I was not worried that it would fall or tip), while the Phone Mode left the phone available (with minimal fumbling) if you had to take a call.  While it is not shown, there is sufficient space at the bottom of the phone to charge it while it is on the stand.

I was a little leery of “built-in storage”, but I’m pretty sure an engineer was involved in this design.  The cover is secure, but easy to open.  The storage is large enough to contain: earbuds of your choice, charging cable for the iCaddy battery, and a phone charging cable up to about 3′ in length.  It snaps securely closed once loaded.

Internal Storage.jpg
Internal storage

Surprisingly enough, the iCaddy came with earbuds.  Being an audiophile, included equipment comes in three forms: surprisingly good quality, name brand, or crappy.  (Not to say that name brand doesn’t also come in “crappy”.)

I compared the audio quality of the supplied earbuds (no brand listed) to my standard set of Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds.  While I couldn’t do a direct comparison as I don’t have that equipment, I was not disappointed.  The iCaddy earbuds have a good weight and a decent range, they fit my (admittedly standard) ears comfortably, bass support was good with little distortion (even at near-painful levels), the lyrics were not muddy, and the cable felt sturdy.  For an included set of earbuds, these were excellent.

The only glaring thing not included?  A charger.  As chargers have basically become ubiquitous (I think I have about 10 in the house not including the computers), a special charger just for the battery is really unnecessary.  The battery will charge with just about any 0.5A to 1A charger outputting 5V.  Charging time is reported to be about 3.5 hours.  Having owned similar chargers, they will supply about 1 fully battery’s-worth of power for a typical phone.

Overall this is an excellent product with a great design.  Since this is Convention season, I’m sure the iCaddy will be torture-tested in the field.

Where to buy: The iCaddy is available on their website for $24.99 USD. It may be available in mass market retailers eventually.

iCaddy : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Life reminds us that some things only depart for a while

Greetings All!

TL:DR – SC had to medicate PuzzlePaws for pain, so the next post will be late.

SC here, PuzzlePaws is feeling a touch under the weather.  She had an ambitious post planned and was about halfway through the initial filming when her knee (which has almost NEVER been a problem before) declared that now was a good time to report Level 9+ pain for no reason (i.e. injury, impact, weather, etc).

She tried to tough it out and “walk it off” with only OTC painkiller and a muscle relaxer, but the knee wasn’t having any of it (9 -> 7).  I caught her at it, dosed her with Rx painkillers, and sent her to bed for the rest of the day.

At this point, PuzzlePaws can’t string two words together and is grumpily sleeping.  She should be fine in a couple of days (or in less pain).

Chronic diseases are like this.  You’ll get some periods of time where the symptoms are tolerable to non-existent, and then…WHAM! Level 9-10+ pain.  You can’t work through the pain, because it is ALL you can think about.  When you medicate the pain, you can’t work because the medications steal your brains.  (For reference, PuzzlePaws’ pain tolerance is about 2-3x higher than a bog-standard human’s.  A “9” on her scale would put most people (likely unconscious and/or vomiting)  in the hospital.)

Posts from me will be rare (other than the occasional snarky edit here and there). I will be posting how-to videos on the Patreon (and occasionally here) when I have the time.

Ciao, SC

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!