This week I’m down in Arches National Park helping my dad do a nighttime photography workshop. Mostly my job consists of running around and setting up lights and carrying stuff (though I did press the shutter for him a few times when he was light painting, I joke that I’m going to claim copyright on those ones).
I’ll add additional photos to the above gallery as the week progresses.
We’re living out of a hotel room which has made for some interesting logistical issues. I brought a week worth of People Chow and a bunch of blender bottles but I still need to wash the containers. Before I left, my wife told me to bring along a small container of dish soap and I wish I would have done that along with a scrub brush. Instead I’ve had to use washcloths and whatever soap I can source. Soap is absolutely necessary because of the oil. Hot water will get much of the residue but you need something to get the oil off and only soap will do it.
As expected, eating soylent has been (except for needing to wash the containers) exceptionally convenient. It’s also forced my dad to stick to his diet since I’m not eating fast food with him (though I did make an exception and had biscuits and gravy with the workshop group this morning =). I’ve found that the kind of hiking we’ve been doing works fine with soylent, I’ve been mixing up enough containers to last me however long we’re going to be out and either mix it with a bunch of ice or refrigerate it for a few hours to get it cold enough to last. Tonight we’re going to be going up to Delicate Arch just before sunset and staying until around midnight so I’ll drink a blender bottle of people chow around 4:00pm and bring one up with me to drink while waiting for the sky to get dark enough.
This experience has been good for an additional reason: next month I’m going to be going to San Francisco for 7 days for the DreamForce conference. I’m planning to pack about 8 days worth (just in case), a little in a carry-on and the rest in a checked bag. I’m also going to bring a little soap and a brush =)
Just wanted to let everyone know that I won’t be shipping any orders next week. I’m planning on shipping out everything that comes in before noon on Saturday, September 13th and won’t be doing another round of shipments until Saturday September 20th. I’ll be helping my dad with http://www.meetup.com/NightScape-Photography/events/154916402/ I get to be the pack mule to lug around lighting equipment and such, then I get to shine lights at stuff. It’s something we’ve done for the last 3 years. You can see some of my previous work:
Castle Rock (can’t see my work as well in this one, I was really far away – check out the maps he linked in the comments)
On a side note: they say never tell people you’ll be out of your house so you won’t get robbed. I personally be gone but the house will be far from empty and the neighbors tend to notice people coming and going so don’t try to rob me OK?
I also raised prices on the mixed People Chow a bit and put on a small handling fee to the shipping, people with subscriptions in place will not be affected. The reasoning for this: my wife told me to do it, that’s reason enough for me.
After my post about using a pump to measure oil some people on the reddit thread were wondering why use a pump instead of a measuring cup or even a turkey baster. It hadn’t even occured to me that people would wonder about this! Since I’m mixing up a meal of people chow 4 times a day, dealing with cleaning up the oil measuring was a real pain and the benefits seemed obvious to me. Apparently I was in error. Here’s one of the responses I gave to why I’m using the pump:
Oil isn’t like water (obviously) and doesn’t magically go away. You usually need to use soap to get it off stuff. If you try using a turkey baster you’re going to need to find a way to either store it covered in oil so you can use it in that state next time, or you need to wash it… evertime. It gets old fast. After only a few days with the other best alternative I could find (paper towel to wipe off a measuring spoon) the tedium started to gnaw at me. With this method there is no cleanup, I actuate the pump 11 times (takes about 2 seconds) and that’s it. Works just as well on my desk at work that’s far from soap and water as it works in my kitchen at home.
And so, this morning I had some extra time before heading for the bus and decided to once again have my lovely wife record another video; this time of preparing a meal of people chow using the pump for measuring the oil.
A few days ago there was a post on the Soylent Discourse forum about using a popcorn butter pump for oil. The one linked was far larger than I would like and is designed for gallon size containers. I wanted one that would hold a few days (or weeks) of oil and would be practical on my desk at work (and another at home). Last night I kicked around Wal-Mart and found what I was looking for. Oddly enough the dispensers I’ve found are marketed as lotion dispensers.
This is the one I found. They were $1.88 each and hold 11 fluid ounces or 325ml – that should last almost 6 days with my current recipe. I wanted one that was see-through so I could monitor the oil level. I’m considering the possibility of adding them as an add-in for the mixed up People Chow I sell simply because it makes measuring so much easier and there’s enough room in the boxes for the pump.
If you are concerned about weird stuff in the plastic getting into the oil you could go with something with glass and stainless steel like this or just search for “glass lotion dispenser” on Amazon. I decided to put it onto a plate to make sure I didn’t lose any onto the counter while I filled it up.
Bottle full. It was actually really easy to fill. I thought I was going to need a funnel since the oil bottle has a massive opening and the dispenser is tiny but it went in without a spill…
… on the first bottle. On the second bottle I learned a valuable lesson I would like to pass on: DO NOT fill up the bottle close to all-the-way. Leave a solid inch or more at the top or when you put the pump in it will displace liquid and you will have a mess. I could tell this was about to happen so I tried to draw some oil into the pump as I put it in the bottle but the effort failed (as shown above).
Measuring how many pumps I needed to get my oil right was a simple affair. I’m measuring mine by volume so I just saw how many full pumps it took to fill up the appropriate measuring spoon(s). If you are measuring your oil by weight, you would just zero out a container on your scale and pump oil until you hit the right weight.
Measuring like this has the added benefit of running some oil through the mechanism to get out any possible residue left over from manufacturing.
After measuring mine I determined that with the specific pumps I have, I need 11 pumps to get the 3.5 teaspoons of oil necessary for each of the 4 “meals” of regular People Chow I’m currently consuming. It took all of 2 seconds to come up with a way to remember that.
And for an added bonus: I’m still laughing at the thought that someone might mistake it for hand soap and try to wash their hands with it.
So I’ve been getting some of my supplies from supplementwarehouse.com lately and they have a promo for a free shaker cup with purchase. It does add to the shipping cost if you have a small order but the difference has been negligible on the orders I’m doing. If you want more than the free one you can also order them outright for $0.75 – once again there’s shipping. 4 of them is $3 with $14 shipping from Wisconsin to Utah where I live. So how do they compare to the $7 blender bottles you can get from Amazon?
Overall: Pretty favorably.
They aren’t as rigid – the plastic is somewhat thinner and has more flex in it.
It’s has a smoother finish. The bottom of the bottle says it’s Polypropylene and further states it’s BPA and DEHP free. Blender bottles have the same recycle codes and are probably also Polypropylene.
Because it’s smoother, the powder doesn’t cling to the bottom as much as a BlenderBottle so it’s significantly easier to mix up. This really surprised me a lot.
A little hard to keep hold of if it’s wet.
It’s the same height, diameter and overall size as the “28 ounce” blender bottle; even though it’s listed as being 25 ounces. The lids would even be interchangeable if the thread spacing and angle were the same (but they’re not).
Whereas the lid sealing the spout of a blender bottle has 3 states (wide open, closed enough for you to think it’s sealed but will pop open and dump soylent on you when you shake it, and closed), this one has just 2: open and sealed. It’s a little awkward to open and close it, you bend the lid a little near the hinge when you do it. The result is I don’t accidentally think it’s closed when it isn’t since it’s decidedly obvious what state it’s in though opening it one-handed is harder.
The “fan blades” mixer works well enough. Probably wouldn’t mix in peanut butter like you can do with a blender bottle but it also won’t inexplicably wrap its self around another blender ball or the dishwasher rack. Nor will it make an annoying springy noise when you have an empty bottle in your bag.
So there you have it. If you’re just getting into (s)oylent and need mixing bottles the free ones are great and even if you do pay (shipping) for them, they’re actually pretty good. Full disclosure: I’m writing this up on my own – the only thing supplementwarehouse has given me is a decent price on Cal/Mag/D3 and my last order was delayed 2 days for no reason (not that I’m still bitter about that, my other orders were OK).
Following a discussion on Reddit, I’ve added the option for having cocoa powder mixing in with people chow. I’ve been doing it myself for a while and it mixes better if you mix it all at the same time (though the Hershey Special Dark powder I’m using tends to have a few little tiny clumps that survive the mixing process on occasion). I’m also double bagging the stuff and using thicker bags now.
From left to right: regular, +1 tablespoon of cocoa a day, +3 tablespoons of cocoa a day
I also just changed the way the shipping calculation works. Before it would have a list of the different shipping options available in a drop down menu. Often people would miss the less expensive but just a speedy options so now it only shows the least expensive option. Should make everybody happier =)
I’m back doing the “regular” People Chow (as opposed to Low-Cal) and I’m mixing the oil into each meal instead of downing the days worth when I’m getting ready in the morning. I figured it would be a good time to make a video just about mixing up a meal in a blender bottle to highlight how easy it is. It ends up with 4 of these a day for 2000 calories. I have another video that shows how to prepare a week’s worth of the powder in 12 minutes. On a side note, I’m currently using Canola Oil (and some cocoa powder) in my soylent. I was using Extra Virgin Olive Oil but the brand that I had was really, REALLY strong flavored and mixing it in messed up the flavor of everything. At least it’s not soybean oil.