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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. Some time ago, I mentioned the private road in England built by entrepreneur Mike Watts in response to the massive inconvenience the lengthy closure of a government road was causing. While looking for related information, I found a video (embedded below) posted by a past customer of his of a round trip he took while it was still open.

He turns onto the Kelston Private Toll Road around the 3:35 mark. I don't know if he posted a similar video of the "diversion," but it would have to be something on the order of an hour and a half long.

2. Writing about his recent visit to the capital of Ethiopia, Tyler Cowen argues that travel guides could stand to report on such things as the quality of the sidewalks:
I enjoy walking around cities, but it's not just the quality of the architecture or the vitality of the street life that matter. The quality of the sidewalks is a central consideration, especially in emerging economies. What good are the sights if you are looking down all the time to avoid a slip or a broken ankle because of gaping holes? Sometimes major thoroughfares have no sidewalks at all.
On top of that idea, his column might make you want to visit Addis Ababa.

3. In case a title like "From Broke to Billionaire: How Fred Luddy Built the World's Most Innovative Company" doesn't draw you in, here's an excerpt:
John Donahoe most certainly doesn't have an IT background: Before eBay, where he paid particular attention to PayPal, he was the CEO of the consulting giant Bain. But he has a grander vision of the same eureka moment that Luddy had 15 years ago: the need to make complex processes elegant and simple. "Millennials say, Why can I reset my PayPal password in 20 seconds, but to reset my work email takes 20 minutes and a phone call?" Donahoe says. "Consumers want one seamless experience, and employees are the same way."
I say that, too. On top of providing inspiration, it's good to know that someone who thinks like that is doing well and poised to apply that thinking to other things. I really hate it when things that are obviously technologically feasible aren't so, and cause me to have to jump through hoops.

4. As you may know, I like hearing about such feats of gastronomic alchemy as the baby carrots, Buffalo wings, and tater tots. But what would you drink with those? Cascara tea, which is made from what used to be a waste product:
Aida Batlle grows coffee on her family's farm in the hills surrounding El Salvador's Santa Ana Volcano. Like generations before her, she had little use for the skin that encases the beans, so she'd turn it into cheap fertilizer or, more frequently, trash it. Then one day, walking past some husks drying in the sun, a smell hit her, a good smell: hibiscus and other floral aromas. It dawned on her, she says, that some value might be extracted from what she had long considered refuse. So she steeped the husks in hot water and had a taste. "Immediately I started calling customers to try it," she says.
I haven't had this, but have heard of it. Knowing of its creative origin* makes me want to try it, but it does help that I am a coffee fan already.

-- CAV

* I forgot to check on this when I wrote the post, but... It turns out that the above story does not describe the origin of cascara. It does record the (still creative) realization on the part of the coffee grower that there was opportunity going to waste.

Updates

Today: Added note on cascara tea. 

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