In re: Lemons

Studying for exams now, so hopefully gonna be light on posts. But to brighten your day a picture of some lemons from Costco (actually this is only half their bag, gotta love cheap lemons)

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In re: $10 flights? Skybus gets set to fly from Columbus.

250px-skybus.jpgColumbus, Ohio is definitely not at the center of the aviation world, despite its proximity to Dayton, arguably the birthplace of aviation. This might change soon as Skybus, the newest low-cost carrier in the United States is set to begin operations later in May offering flights as low as $10 (before tax and fees) to ‘secondary’ destinations such as Burbank (instead of LAX) and NH instead of Boston. The first day of ticket sales proved to have a few glitches, but still brought in a pretty amazing 60,000 sales (pretty unimaginable before the internet era – See story in Columbus Dispatch)

How are they planning on making the fares so low? Well they are cutting every corner known to airlines, low wages for attendants ($9/hr) along with commission for onboard sales. Oh and onboard sales are where they hope to make money. Like movie theatres living off of popcorn sales, Skybus plans to hawk wares while they fly you cross country (they won’t let you bring your own food/drink on board) as well as putting ads all over the aircraft (outside, inside, even on the carpet). In Europe budget airlines have become the way to go (see NY Times “Adventures in Low-Cost Travel” where the author attempts 7 flights, on 7 budget airlines, in 7 days) In the past I’ve jetted around on various versions of the European budget jet and have been pretty impressed that 99 pence ($1.50 at the time) bought me a ticket from London to Frankfurt Germany on Ryan Air (the Irish pioneer of budget travel), but was less impressed when we landed in Hahn, Germany almost two hours from Frankfurt.

Will Skybus succeed? Will people be okay with walking out to their plane on a cold day in Columbus because they aren’t paying for the sky bridge to the plane? I think so, of course there will remain a market for a bit ‘fuller’ service travel, and likely some of the ‘majors’ will attempt to compete with the budget folk, but all and all more options is good.

Also see Columbus Underground post on Skybus and Wikipedia entry on Skybus.

In re: World’s 50 best restaurants

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The list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is out, always creating conversation and controversy in the food world, they are fun to look at regardless. Can’t say I’ve eaten at any of them, although eating at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, on Mr. Robuchon was there gets me close I suppose, but nonetheless I’ve found it interesting to look at the list, of particular interest to me has always been The Fat Duck in the UK, which I hope to get to someday.

Graduation — I will be sad to see them go

Classes are over for me.  Soon, after two weeks of exams, we’ll have the law school Hooding, where 200 plus students will turn into lawyers.

In years past, it has been pretty depressing just how few graduating students I actually knew beyond a name and a face.  Teaching mostly upper-level classes does not allow for much opportunity to get a sense of the students in your classes beyond their occasional answers to legal questions.

This year is different.  I’ll be a depressed for a different reason.  I know pretty well probably over 50 of the graduating students.  There’s my legal writing class from first year, then my Oxford crew (of which Ed is/was a part), and then a few more from my IP classes, especially those who suffered through my courses twice or even three times (the last category deserve some kind of medal)!  I probably know these students the best of all the ones I taught in my career, except for perhaps a very close tie with the first class I ever taught at Stanford.  I will be sad to see them go.

In re: Roasted chicken, at Costco?

“The rotisserie chicken that you want to run in and buy is right at the front in Sam’s Club,” she said. “In Costco, they’re at the back, so you have to go past the books and clothes and the bakery. You walk in to buy a chicken and you walk out with a $150 power washer for your driveway.” (‘Merchandising masters: Costco continues to clobber competition‘ -Puget Sound Business Journal)

Americans will buy some 800 million rotisserie chickens this year. That number’s been growing at a torrid pace of 7 to 8 percent a year since the late 1990s, after a long lull, according to the National Chicken Council, a trade group. We now buy almost as many roasted and rotisserie chickens as whole raw chickens to cook ourselves…In tasting close to 50… chickens, The Chronicle Food staff found only six that lived up to the fantasy — Lola’s and Cafe Rouge, both in Berkeley; Gira Polli and Il Pollaio, both in San Francisco’s North Beach (Gira Polli is also in Mill Valley); Mistral Rotisserie Provencale in San Francisco’s Ferry Building; and Costco.” (‘A toast to the roast‘ – The SF Chronicle)

Costco? Did I read that right? So you may have heard about the Costco rotisserie chicken. For some reason the chicken has mythical status, both for its price and for the taste, apparently Julia Child was a fan (possibly a myth) but either way I set out to see what this was all about. I had known before hand that they go through a pretty large number of these birds at Costco and that some folks come only for that.  If you’ve never been to a warehouse club, there are somethings to expect: large carts, constant checking at every stage of your membership card or your  receipt (entrance, checkout and leaving), and of course the now cliche large tubs of mayo.  Anyway, I entered the Columbus Costco, which is at Gemini Place, one 1/4 of an exit past Polaris Place (yeah  I think the names are weird too) and there it is, the large box of Costco and its wonders.  Anyway, back to the chicken, I had also known before from reading that Costco’s roasted chicken was injected with a lot of salt water, a pseudo-brine you could say, along with some other chemicals to retain moisture. (“Costco’s chicken also gets a good dose of salt through the injection of a solution containing salt and sodium phosphate plus binders that trap moisture in the meat. Although many consumers frown on the injection method,” SF Chronicle) Anyways the result? Well on first observation it was a large bird (as I had heard) and it would be hard to complain that you didn’t get the $4.99 considering its easily four hefty servings of chicken.

Being a lover of beautifully roasted chicken skin I quickly turned my attention to that and was pretty disappointed. The skin tasted heavily of salt and burned/heavily caramelized flavors. The generic flavorings of the Giant Eagle chicken, which also reeks of too much salt on the skin was better I thought. So disappointed on that front I continued to the meat. The meat was generally really moist and tender, quite good, except again the salt level was so high you needed to drink quite a bit of water. Some of the suggestions on food boards was to use the chicken for chicken salads or to cut it with something. Indeed having the chicken w/ some bread or a bite of salad worked nicely. This message string at Chowhound (a food message board) gets into the chicken there among other things, but touches on this. Overall I’d buy another one, but I know I can do better myself, even if it means paying more for a nice un-roasted bird at the North Market (a free range bird though I find tends to have a bit more flavor in the meat and makes me feel a tad better about the life of the chicken, although I am not gonna kid myself and think that free range means growing up on the set of Babe the pig)

Sliced Costco rotisserie chicken with a simple salad

In re: Beautiful Day?

 

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day here in Columbus, Ohio. The weather couldn’t possibly be any nicer and on days like this when I see people packing in to the park and walking around High St. I wonder whether I would appreciate beautiful days such as today if they were expected everyday occurrences. I hear San Diego has perfect weather everyday, and I am sure its nice, but I also wonder whether there is anything to having suffered all winter with gray to reach a day like today that makes it even better, or I’d be better off just getting a whole glutinous sum of beautiful days.

 

(Pictured: South entrance to Goodale Park Columbus)

In re: is free parking bad?

images3.jpgNot talking about Monopoly here, actually an interesting article on Slate about the economics surrounding city parking, where metered spots and street parking are often provided well below the rate they really should go for.  The article mentions how “Apparently it took until 2006 for someone to notice that the social cost of mandated free and under priced parking is nothing short of phenomenal, the implied subsidy being comparable to what we spend on Medicare or national defense. The someone who noticed is professor Donald Shoup of UCLA, who wrote a deeply thoughtful book on the matter called The High Cost of Free Parking.”  Anyway, as a fan of everyday economist articles, I thought it was interesting.  Oh and just my random thoughts concerning parking: I look out my window in downtown Columbus and see literally a see of blocks consumed by surface lots, and wonder why we can’t do something better with the space.  Of course surface lots seem like appealing investments, but thankfully one corner of these lots is being turned into downtown housing, hopefully the lots can be consolidated into some garages someday and some of the land reclaimed.

See Slate for “No Parking Anytime: Why parking your car is more environmentally destructive than driving it.