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Drinking Soylent

I’ve been drinking Soylent for a few months now, and I’ve been meaning to write about it because many of my friends have expressed curiosity about it.  After the breakfast talk in last week’s post, I think this is a good time to post about my Soylent experience.

Let me start by saying that the first person to make a Charlton Heston “It’s made of people!” joke will get a swift kick to the shins.  I’ve heard it before, and it wasn’t funny the first, third, or eighth times.

Soylent, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is a meal replacement product.  It was created by software engineer Rob Rhinehart, because he hated how much time he was losing to the preparation and consumption of food.  He decided to try to put all the nutrients the human body needs into a single liquid product, and when his initial trials worked out pretty well, he crowdfunded a larger run.    That was back in 2013.

Much like a software release, Soylent has had versions, with the number incrementing as the formula changes.  By the time I got into Soylent, it was at version 1.3.  The instruction booklet that comes with your shipment is labeled “Release Notes,” which made me chuckle.

Some people use Soylent to replace most of their meals, but I simply use it to fill in for breakfast.  Before this product, I almost never had breakfast.  I’m not a morning person, and my tendency has always been to crawl out of bed, throw on the next outfit in line in the closet, and crawl into the office.  Eating breakfast is something that takes time, and I will always choose more sleep over a full stomach.  This is a terribly unhealthy way to go, so I was very happy to find a way to include a breakfast that I could do without losing more than a minute or so.

My first few shipments of Soylent came this way- a single pouch is supposed to be three servings.  The little bottle of oil blend has to be mixed in to complete the nutrition profile-  there are some things included which the body won’t absorb without oil added.

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Inside the pouch, the Soylent is a very fine powder which gets everywhere if you’re not careful.

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So the basic instructions, without getting into too much detail are that you mix water and powder, shake for a bit, add the oil, add more water, shake it a bit more, chill the whole shebang, and enjoy.   This photo is halfway through the mixing, just before I added the oil.

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The fully mixed thing looks pretty decent.  It will separate a little bit over time, but shake it again before you drink it and it’s all good.

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The flavor is very neutral, and the release notes even provide suggestions for ways to change up the flavor by mixing in peanut butter or Hershey’s chocolate syrup or bananas.   Drinking a glass of this is the equivalent to a full meal, and it’s quite effective at squashing my hunger.

Some people find it a little bit gritty-  version 1.3 tends to leave a little on the sides of the glass, as you can see here.  It’s not unpleasant, and I’ve gotten used to it.  You just have to remember to rinse your glass as soon as possible after you finish your drink.

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The next iteration of Soylent, Soylent 1.4, was just announced.  They have changed from the liquid oil to a powdered oil form, so there are no more oil bottles included.  I haven’t had 1.4 yet, but those who have generally say that it’s a little bit sweeter, smoother, and more like a nutrition shake in consistency.  One reviewer called the texture of 1.4 “velvety,” which is kind of intriguing.  Apparently the 1.0 version tasted a little bit like cake batter.  I’m kind of sorry I missed that one.  Still, they strive for a neutral flavor profile, and I’m all for that.   I think that any strong flavor would get old really fast.

There are critics of Soylent’s nutritional balance.  I agree that it’s not necessarily the best nutrition out there.  Soylent will never replace a meal out with friends or family.  It’s better than going without breakfast, though, and that’s good enough for me right now.

Have you tried Soylent?  Would you?  What do you think about meal replacement drinks?

Vaping, Flavored Water, and Too Much Damn Choice

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It’s been just over five months since I moved back to the US, and the wonderful Itchy Feet comic above is spot on.  I feel like I’m mostly re-acculturated, but there are still things that take me aback.

For example, the Vaping trend is out of control here.  Before I moved back,  I had no idea what Vaping was, but it’s everywhere now.   There are stand-alone stores, and an entire industry has popped up around electronic cigarettes.  The technology has evolved to the point where people are charging their cigarettes with USB ports and changing out modules to reduce the amount of nicotine or flavor their smoke with applewood or whatever.  Some people claim they want to use this to quit smoking altogether, but this seems to me like the opposite of that.  To me, this looks like they’ve simply designed a more efficient nicotine delivery system.

That’s not the only trend that surprised me.  There has also been an exponential growth in the flavored water market.  I’m not talking about the pre-bottled flavored waters that I was used to before I left.  No, this is an entirely new market segment filled with people who simply can’t bear the taste of regular old water.  When I was a child, we had Hawaiian Punch and Crystal Light, and those brands still exist.  But there’s also all of this now:

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At least we’ve decided as a people to hydrate properly.

For the first four months I was here, I still shopped for groceries as if I were still living in Germany.  This was partly because I was living with my brother and I didn’t have a full kitchen or pantry to fill, but some of it was simply habit.  I had spent three years shopping with my own canvas bags and only buying as much as I could carry in one go because I would have to walk it back home.   Now that I have a car with a hatchback, my quantity has increased, but I’m still not shopping quite like a person who lives here.  I blame Cheerios for that.

You heard me.  I said I blame Cheerios.

When I left, there were three Cheerios flavors.    There was Honey-Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and plain old infants-love-‘em plain flavored Cheerios.  Not so, now.  If you look closely in the picture below, you’ll see Multi-Grain with peanut butter.  You’ll see chocolate cheerios.  There’s apple-cinnamon Cheerios and Cheerios with protein added.  In one store, I counted twelve separate varieties of Cheerios.

The breakfast cereal aisle has become the Cheerio-verse.  When did this all become so complicated?

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Grocery shopping in the US has always been an exercise in overwhelming choice-  remember when I posted the picture of the peanut butter and jelly aisle?  It’s gone over the top, now.  Even something as simple and ordinary as Matzos suddenly has at least a dozen possible varieties.

::sigh::

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I also still feel like I’m boiling inside my skin any time the temperatures crests above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (or 24C,) but that’s a gripe for another post.

What’s your favorite breakfast food?  Is it double-chocolate protein Cheerios?

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Hello, old bloggy friend.  I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long.  I thought I would be able to maintain my previous rate of bloggery, but then things just went sort of sideways.

January was kind of crazed.  My responsibilities at work increased in a pretty massive way.  My apartment hunt occupied much of my time.   Amelie and I took a brief trip to California to see Information Society and Book of Love.  We spent a day at the Magic City Comic-con in Miami.

And then, in the first weekend of February, I moved into my new apartment.   A bed was purchased.  Belongings were moved.  We took a detour to Orlando for our anniversary, and spent the day in both Universal Studios theme parks- Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, Homer Simpson, and Harry Potter were all in attendance.

On the fourteenth of February, we emptied my storage unit.  For the first time since early 2011, everything I own was in one place, under one roof.  I was finally able to unpack everything and inventory.  I finally see just what survived the various downsizing runs that occurred during my time in Germany.

Now that I know what I still have, I can see much more clearly what I still need.   On the day that I moved in, I brought the stuff that was with me at my brother’s house, along with a brand new bed, couch, and two bar stools.

After the storage unit was emptied, I had my Muppet-fur carpet from Germany, along with my beloved coffee table.   That coffee table is the only piece of furniture from my old house to survive the four years of storage and downsizing.

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My new apartment is 617 square feet, with a tiny balcony suitable for a pair of chairs.  For my German friends, that converts to just over 57 square meters- larger than my German apartment even though it doesn’t feel like it.

I love moving into a new place-  the apartment is a blank page at first, waiting to be filled and personalized.    I get to make decisions about which cabinet to put my dishes into, and which wall is best for a bookshelf.  I get rid of still more of the things that I have stored because I will never use them again, and I purchase a few new things because I don’t own them any more.

When I moved in, some of the first mundane home-making purchases I needed to make were a front door mat, a cookie sheet, a shower curtain, and a toaster.  I love purchasing that sort of ordinary stuff to round out a new house.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last two months, bloggy friend.  I’ve still got more stuff to say about the repatriation process, and I promise to write more often as we go forward.  Now that I have my own lovely quiet apartment again, I feel like I’m starting to get caught up on things.

It’s a marvelous feeling.

Auf Wiedersehen, 2014.

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2014 was a hell of a year.  It was the last third of my time in Germany before my contract ended there.

In 2014, I visited old favorite cities and the friends that resided in each- Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin.  I visited new cities in Germany that I had not yet seen- Dresden, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, Heidelberg.

In 2014, I visited cities in other countries that I had never seen before-  Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Egypt.

In 2014, I saw concerts by Ellie Goulding, Gary Numan, Baskery, Hayseed Dixie, Air Supply,  Eels, the Alan Parsons Live Project, and Lewis Black.  I saw stage productions of The Little Shop of Horrors (auf Deutsch) and the Book of Mormon.

In 2014, I saw America play Germany in the World Cup.  I saw Germany lose its collective mind with joy when they were victorious in the final game.  I attended beer festivals and blogger meetups.

In 2014, I went hot air ballooning over Bavaria.  I rode a camel through one tiny corner of the Sahara desert.  I rode Segways twice, and found them to be much smoother than a camel.  I saw the Great Pyramid at Giza.

In 2014, I saw two dear friends wed to their beloved, one in July and one in October.  I saw my Aunt Florence laid to rest over a funeral home’s live Internet video stream from my apartment in Germany.

In the last three months of 2014, I came home and began to reset my life here. My books and movies have been boxed up for four years.  and I feel like I have been too.   I’ve been stuck for a long while.

2015 is going to be a grand adventure, I think.  I’m starting the year off by taking my girlfriend with me to California in late January to see one of my all time favorite bands.  There’s other stuff on the calendar, but I won’t list it all out here.

I’m just glad to see 2014 on its way out.  I’m ready to be unstuck.

What are you looking forward to about 2015?

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The Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewind Park

I’m being a very bad blogger, because I haven’t actually had much downtime to write a regular post lately.  I also don’t have many ideas for what to write about, but I’m still working on that.  I do still take a zillion pictures everywhere I go, especially when the place I’ve gone is very entertaining.

Here’s an example-  over the weekend, Amelie and I went through the Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewind Park in Coconut Creek, Florida.  Basically, they’ve set up all kinds of amazing Christmas and holiday themed light displays along the drive-through portion of the park.  The light show is open from 6pm to 10pm all the way to January 3rd, and it’s $14 per car.  They also sell 3-D glasses  for $3 a pop to enhance the lights, because the three-dimensional objects in the park are not 3-D enough.  This is hilarious.

The Holida Festival of Lights came to my attention because it’s visible from the Florida Turnpike, and it turned out to be significantly larger than I expected.  It’s no Christkindlmarkt, but it’s still a fun little thing to see.    Some of these photographs came out a little fuzzy because of the lighting and the moving car, and also because I couldn’t open my car windows that soon after they were tinted.

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This traffic thinned out quite a bit once we got past the admission booths.

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Severus the Christmas Sea-Horse… has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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Just in case you forgot we’re in Florida, here’s a manatee.

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…and penguins to suggest coldness even though it was still at least 70 degrees at dusk.

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This fellow had a very convincing ho ho ho.

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More penguinosity.

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I’m not entirely sure what a snail has to do with the holidays, but we both liked him.

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I’m not convinced that the 3-D glasses would have made this any cooler, but hallucinogenic drugs certainly would have.

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This bear is epic.

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Ice-skating bear.  Check.  Not as great as the previously noted epic bear though.

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We had a lively debate on what this is supposed to be.  It sort of looks like a ginger-bread penguin.

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::cough cough:: Disney castle design rip-off. ::cough::

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This is a good way to end any story.

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