In re: Let’s face realities of bottle water

VossBottled water is and has been the rage here in the states and for companies, restaurants, ballparks and anyone out to make a buck, it is truly amazing, marking up essentially free water means high profit levels for everyone along the way. Bottled water in third world countries makes sense (although this too hopefully can change) where there is not clean water available, but here, in the US, a country with some of the cleanest, safest drinking water supply in the world? No matter, we still choose to bottle, ship and expend huge amounts of energy transporting around water, water that moves very efficiently through our underground pipes, but which we choose to duplicate on the road in trucks.

I was always a bit annoyed to see top class restaurants attempt to pressure patrons into buying top shelf waters, and I was excited to see that some, including Mario Batali’s Del Posto, have chosen to resist and offer good old fashioned water (you can filter your tap water quite cheaply and end up with pretty good tasting water), the restaurant will offer an explanation to their high flying patrons why the choose to go w/ carafes was made. I hope this is the beginning of a new trend, to stop the waste. See Tree Hugger “No Bottled Water in Mario Batali’s New York Restaurant.”

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In re: Helvetica. Is it just a font?

2551.jpgYou may have guessed, without even really knowing (or thinking about) that the font Helvetica is from Switzerland as it echoes some of the values of Swiss design and neutrality. You may not know that its now 50 years old, many major corporations use it for their logos (including Microsoft who used Arial (a knock off) in Windows in order to save licensing Helvetica), along with countless other important locations (NYC subway). There is a good photo essay on the font over at Slate and as someone who is interested in fonts and design I thought it was pretty interesting. See “The Helvetica Hegemony: How an unassuming font took over the world.

Also see BBC “The Helvetica font is celebrating its 50th birthday. You’ve probably seen it a thousand times today. Why?” which questions if the font merely propagates bland uniformity “Type “I hate Helvetica” into Google and there are forums for people who rage at the mindless “corporate chic” of this dominant font. They see it as a vehicle for social conformity through consumerism, shifting product with a great big steam-roller of neutrality…”

In re: Chicken or the egg – either way Columbus transport sucks

Columbus Ohio may be good at creating chain restaurants and the insurance business, but it is not good at public transport.  Of course with cheap gas flowing through its veins Columbus has sprawled and built countless highways and no one seemed to care – until now that is.  Now that gas is riding up towards $4 people are thinking that they might want to take the bus in, instead of drive the 15-20 miles they have between their homes and work, but no dice as apparently some of the routes from park and ride stations only run at the strangest times in around 7 o’clock and back around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, meaning no one with a full time job can use it (apparently this is due to a union contract, or so someone who has complained to Cota has said).  The problem is of course how is there going to be a whole schedule of buses waiting to take these people when no one was riding it in the first place, clearly running empty buses as people were content to drive themselves was not going to be viable and one cannot expect all of a sudden there to be routes that fit these peoples schedules when they never put fare money into the system.

This all comes back to why I want high gas prices in the first place (via a tax) that sends the message to people the true cost of their automobile usage and helps funnel that money back into more efficient mass transport.  I for one am behind the idea of street cars in Columbus and in general creating a much better transport network for central Ohio, but we cannot expect it to just be there when we have refused to use and fund it for so many years.

See also Christian Science Monitor article on getting better gas mileage

In re: Searing to seal in the juices?

Okay, I hear this so often that I thought I should put this up.  You CANNOT ‘sear in juices.’  So many cooks who should know more seem to fall into the logic that the reason you sear something is to lock in the juice, this is not so, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sear your meats, but the real reason is the browning creates good flavors (browning is also known as the Maillard reaction, which is caused when you heat sugars and amino acids together), so if you see this on TV feel free to join me in shouting at the host [on a side note, aside from the Food Network I watched on the flight I have really been steering clear of the Food Network which has gone way downhill, with shows focusing more and more on dining out and lifestyle shows while leaving behind shows that are actually on cooking].  For more see wikipedia which mentions the Good Eats episode that did a study to see what amount of ‘juice’ is lost in searing versus lower temperature cooking methods.

In re: Immigration reform

Hopefully my lack of posting has helped all of your relative productivity’s (rest assured, it has not helped mine!)  I just thought I’d throw briefly my thoughts on the bipartisan immigration reform bill, working its way through Washington.  First of all, despite my pro-immigration stance, I recognize the problems with having a blatant disregard for the law that is essentially occurring across the country where illegal immigrants are hired in large numbers without much thought or consequence.  So there needs to be change I feel, that said I think the benefits of having these immigrants is huge as I feel that we benefit and they benefit (there are arguments that they decrease wages as the jobs they do would be paid better if they weren’t here to do it) that said it would also decrease spending power of people because prices would rise – not too mention our employment isn’t so high that we have so many people who will take these jobs, there will always be a certain percentage of unemployed who are ‘frictional’, that is between jobs, looking for work, not taking any jobs available, (its a tough argument to get my head around, I feel there are good points on both sides).

Anyway, while I generally don’t like anything Bush has touched, this plan (essentially a form of amnesty of those here, strict punishment on employers who hire those without a ‘card’, and stepping up border security but allowing some guest workers.  I like it, I think the current situation was untenable and this is the kind of sensible program, of course now the Republicans are likely not to get behind ‘their’ President, but I hope they do.

(Also, interesting to see how many Mexican consulates their are in the US (47, believe it or not) and what they are doing (providing consular ID cards that are helping illegals get bank accounts, etc.) See story at NY Times

Lastly, I should mention I am posting this from the Columbus airport, which has free wifi as I have mentioned before and that I think that is the greatest idea.   Also see the apparent public support behind the bill here.

In re: MRPD – Most ridiculous product of the day

hydrocoach_1.jpgSitting in the PMBR multistate bar review class each day this week has proved to be insightful, both for learning (relearning I should say) the law school basics that we were long oh so long ago i my first year of law school and also for learning about the Hyrdacoach. Now, it took me a few days of seeing this bottle before remembering its name and remembering to look up what it is. It was worth the wait but unfortunately I have come to question how i’ve been able to stay hydrated without it.

HydraCoach has introduced the worlds first interactive water Bottle. It calculates your personal hydration needs, tracks your real-time fluid consumption, paces you throughout the day, and motivates you to achieve and maintain optimal hydration.”

Now I may be the only skeptical one (others seem to love it?), but somehow we’ve been able to survive to this day with just old fashioned bottled water (and somehow survived before event hat). As a consumer of useless gadgets I for one should appreciate this type of advanced hydration technology, but all I could do is laugh at the idea and the funny looking bottle (oh and at $30 its no more expensive then my coffee mug that doesn’t have any electronics)

In re: Bar studying begins

So this morning I strode into the halls of Capitol Law School in downtown Columbus to begin my six days with PMBR, a law review course for the multistate bar exam portion of the bar exam (the bar exam is in late July).  The course is not cheap and consists of taking multiple choice practice tests each morning and then reviewing them with the help of a DVD lecturer.  Is it worth the $700 that the six days cost?  Its hard to say, I was in part taking it because otherwise I would not be studying at 9 am the Monday following graduation, but watching a DVD and filling out forms just doesn’t seem to justify such costs?  Well then again that is all BarBri will be and that is almost $3000 for their Ohio course.  It seems like these kinds of courses must make HUGE profit, I don’t think these test prep programs are public companies, so that we can see what they are making off of these scams, but Kaplan seems to  be raking in over a billion in revenue a year (see their site).  It will be interesting to see what comes of BarBri & Kaplan class action suits and antitrust litigation for their possible conspiracy to share the LSAT market and the bar prep market.

“More than 300,000 lawyers and law students were each charged an estimated $1,000 extra for bar review courses, according to a complaint filed against BAR/BRI bar review and The West Publishing Corporation and Kaplan, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles today.
West Publishing Corp., dba BAR/BRI, and Kaplan are joined as defendants in a class action lawsuit accusing the two companies of illegally dividing the highly lucrative LSAT and bar exam test preparation businesses. According to the complaint, executives of BAR/BRI and Kaplan secretly agreed to a per se illegal market division.
BAR/BRI agreed to close its Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) preparation course from the market in which Kaplan was the dominant competitor. Kaplan, in turn, agreed not to enter the full-service bar review business, in which BAR/BRI was the dominant competitor. The two companies then entered into an agreement to work together “strategically” to enhance Kaplan’s share of the LSAT market and to increase BAR/BRI’s control of the bar review market.” (from A Stich in Haste blog writing that he thinks such agreements should be legal)