Monday, August 20, 2007

Grill Pan IN, Foreman Gril OUT

For the past few years, I have been a user of the George Foreman grill. I have had many problems with the grill. Even when cooking on one side of the grill and turning over the meat, the meat would always come out overcooked and very dry. This is due to the fact that there are not any temperature controls on the Foreman grill. The temperature is very hot, so when cooking a thick chicken breast or steak, the outside of the meat usually burns and goes dry before the inside begins to cook. When the meat is finally cooked to safety standards, it is very tough and just plain unsatisfying. Furthermore, the Foreman grill is difficult to clean, especially when using a gooey marinade. I mean, I can't throw it in the sink to soak, and the "non-stick surface" is not so "non-stick."

I decided to test out a grill pan. It is basically a pan with grill lines that can be used on a stove. It is probably one of the best kitchen purchases I have made. So far, I have cooked a salmon fillet and a boneless, skinless chicken breast. The chicken breast cooked so much better on the grill pan. I was able to cook the meat thoroughly while maintaining the flavor, juiciness, and overall texture of the meat. I used to dread the nights I planned on cooking chicken breasts, but now that I am cooking it on a better grill, I think those meal plans will no longer be so bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some things to think about (future posts?):

When you see someone you know at a distance, do you immediately acknowledge them or do you wait until they get closer?

Marilyn Manson and similar artists got the blame for Columbine. Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan get the blame for everything wrong with teenage girls. No one seems to mind. However, when someone blames a problem on rap music, some automatically call it racism. How is it different?

Aren’t average people actually doing a lot more to save the environment than the celebrities and politicians promoting environmentalism without even changing their lifestyles?

If you believe that everyone’s religious/moral beliefs are equal, then how can you say that the beliefs of someone who doesn’t feel that way are wrong?

How much cheaper would college tuition be if the campuses were more a cluster of dorms and classrooms rather than mini-resorts with lush landscaping, “free” gyms, “free” medical clinics, other “free” services, and state of the art technology in the facilities?

Why is it that a music teacher would be laughed at by his musical colleagues if his plan for improving his groups’ ratings was simply to add more rehearsals, but the state solution for poor reading and math test scores is to add more hours of reading and math instruction?

Given all of the “non-denominational” churches that have popped up over recent years, aren’t these churches kind of becoming a denomination?

Okay, so I kind of took this one from someone else: While everyone is discussing CEO pay relative to what others in those companies make, why don’t we hear about the salary of Oprah’s secretary, or Ben Affleck’s cook, or the wages of the men that built John Edwards’ mansion?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Is "free" really worth it?

People often rave at the idea of something being available for free. Sometimes, it works out to be a good deal, but oftentimes, receiving a service for free can actually pose a greater inconvenience than it would be if such a service were available for even the smallest fee.

One example of this inconvenience is the computer lab at my college’s (FSU) main library. When I was there, students had access to computers, which I will estimate to be anywhere between forty to sixty units with office, design, and programming software along with internet access. There were approximately three to four laser printers available for printing. Users supposedly had a printout limit of 50 pages per day, which would be provided at no cost.

During the school day, students would often have to wait in line to gain access to a computer, despite there being 40-60 units available. When I would use the computer lab to print out papers and such, I would end up standing in the print line for several minutes. (The clerks would stand by the printers, separate all of the documents, and then lay them on the counter for users to pick up). Some of the long wait was simply the result of student waste of resources. The ink and paper were “free,” so students decided to print out their professors’ 40 slide PowerPoint lectures and long articles from the internet. Some of these items would sit on the counter and never be claimed, so the clerks would oftentimes throw items away. After the long queue, my document would finally come out of the printer, and I could finally be on my way (probably running to class to turn in the paper).

During my last year in college, the university decided to levy a charge of 5 cents per page in the computer lab, which would be collected through the smart chip on our student IDs. Note that this charge is cheaper than the typical price of copying at Kinko’s or your favorite office store (7 or 8 cents per page). Furthermore, it is significantly cheaper than printing something from a computer at Kinko’s, where you have to pay a per minute charge for computer use as well as a print fee that is more than the fee for using a copy machine.

This nominal charge of 5 cents per page caused a dramatic drop in computer lab use, at least in the times I needed to use the lab after the change. Instead of waiting in line to use the computer, I could just walk in. When I needed to print something, my document was on the counter when I got to the clerk’s desk.

Although it was cool to be able to print items for free from the library computer lab, I did lose a lot of time waiting around for a computer and/or printout, which didn’t help me when I was rushing to print in between classes.

So, was this “free service” really worth it? No.

P.S. I wonder how empty the school’s urgent care clinic would have been if they charged a $2 fee per visit.