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Europe 2018 – Lyon gastronomy and more

France is known for it’s food, and Lyon is posited by some as the Epicurean capital of France. Add a Michelin star (or two, or three) and the experience is bound to be extraordinary. My Lyon hotel, Cour des Loges, happens to have a Michelin-starred restaurant, so it was just a matter of going downstairs for the best dinner I’ve had in a very long time.Les mères lyonnaises, the mothers of Lyon cuisine, are the early to mid 20th century progenitors of modern Lyon culinary culture. I am sure les mères would be proud of their son Anthony Bonnet, chef at Les Loges.

I sometimes find gastronomy in today’s ultra-competitive environment to be a bit fussy. Not so at Les Loges. Tonight’s meal was elegant, fascinating and incredibly delicious.

I began with marinated shrimp, watercress sauce, and leek on balsam fir sprouts. After thouroughly enjoying the starter, I knew I was onto something special.

The main course was matured beef from the Mézenc region, cooked medium rare per the chef’s suggestion, and thinly-sliced. The beef was so tender it almost melted in my mouth, with just enough perfect flavors added to accent the gorgeous taste of this specialty beef. Accompanying were fabulous mashed potatoes with cream and chives, rich oxtail smoked with juniper, and assorted vegetables.

Being a non-drinker, I asked for custom beverage pairings and the bartender concocted some lovely and sensuous creations. A lighter drink with multiple citrus surprises for the shrimp starter, and a deeper combination for the beef – including pear, cream, agave, spices and smoke.

Dessert was another triumph. My choice was listed on the menu as Cacao bean with herb jelly, crystallized celery, and buckwheat. Intrigued, I asked the server to tell me more. She began her description by saying “It’s not chocolate.” Well, it wasn’t and it was. All kinds of chocolate actually, in many forms – solid, ice cream, sauce, foam and biscuit. But there were far more ingredients than just those listed on the menu, which I don’t remember since I was in a such a state of ecstasy enjoying it. Each bit was unique and satisfying, yet it all came together beautifully as well. And speaking of servers, they were a joy. I was very appreciative of their efforts provide such a great experience

There were many little extras throughout the meal, of course, ending with an eclaire that I was told to start at one end and finish at the other. It was a journey of taste sensations featuring lemon, then hazelnuts, and ending in chocolate.

I would have loved to include pictures, but any photos I could take would not begin to do justice to the actual presentation.

Monsieur Bonnet came out to greet the diners afterwards. A serious-looking and attentive gentleman, Monsieur Bonnet was solicitous of our comments. I will give him the final words of this review. When I remarked about the hard work it takes to make his restaurant such a success, Monsieur Bonnet agreed and added, “It is my passion.”

Lyon’s Confluence District, where the Rhône and the Saône meet, is full of architectural gems, including the eponymous museum.

Roche Bobois is among the leading design houses of modern furniture. The Lyon, France showroom is their largest by far. I was like a kid in a candy store. My favorite was the aptly-named Macaron chaise longue.

Also, City Hall and statue in the main square, along the Rhône River, and the Basilica of Notre Dame watching over the city.

Europe 2018 – Manchester and Lyon

First five days visiting family in Manchester. Always wonderful seeing my cousins, aunties and uncles. Attended a Manchester United match. Terrible result against bottom-dwelling West Brom. Apparently the team was still celebrating last week’s thrilling win over Manchester City and forgot to play football. Great seats, though, and lovely experience in the VIP suite before and after the match. Saw some of the players on the way out. That’s David de Gea, Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling.

Next, on to the Grand Tour of Europe starting in Lyon, France.

My suite at the Cour des Loges Hotel is described as a photographer’s studio, though it’s more like a museum of photography. Love the old camera (red accordion-like object). Tri-level design adds character to the space.

Hotel spa is open until midnight. Perfect for this jetlagged Californian. Indoor whirlpool in gorgeous glassed-out garden. Wave pool, steam and dry saunas. The works. David statue is kitschy fun. And kinda hot. Going to see Michelangelo’s original in Florence on Saturday – after Venice, that is.

Jerry’s Cherries

Jerry’s cherries – for one last year – outside Jerry Brown’s office at the State Capitol. Jerry, not the cherries, since he terms out this year.

Right now, Big Data is not our friend

This is fascinating and terrifying and should make you really angry. For those of us that have felt that something was very wrong with Trump, the Alt-Right, Brexit, and the world in general lately – but have not been able to put our finger on it – this will provide some answers. About the UK in one way, but really about all of us:

RIP Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher – My favorite fellow recovering, mental-health challenged, metacelebrity – on ageing:“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” Via Twitter


The Future of Healthcare

Imagine a time…

…when consumers can use instant comparison shopping for health insurance, medical procedures and medications – much like they can now with internet price comparisons and consumer reviews for hotels, travel fares and home electronics.

…when patients can quickly compare scientifically proven results for different types of treatments and medications.

…when doctors can make “house calls” using video technology and home medical devices.
This is the future of healthcare – a future made possible by the “other” revolution in healthcare.

While mandatory health insurance and the specter of ObamaCare have gotten the lion’s share of political and media attention, passing almost unnoticed are changes which will substantially affect how healthcare is delivered and how costs are determined.
Over the last 20-30 years, the evolution of healthcare has been a strange study in contrasts. On the plus side, medical breakthroughs have occurred so quickly it is hard to keep track of them. Improvements in treating heart disease and cancer, minimally-invasive surgery and improved diagnostics (MRI and other scans), to name just a few. Thanks to healthier lifestyles and improved patient care, more than 50% of babies born today in America will live to 100.

Even though there have been great medical advances over the last few decades, healthcare administration has remained mired in archaic and inefficient practices, including a staggering lack of computerization. The cost of healthcare has spiraled out of control. Americans now spend more than twice as much per capita than any other country, yet many are unable to obtain proper healthcare.

Though much of ObamaCare has been caught up in political maneuvering, one aspect of healthcare reform – computerization – has mostly escaped controversy. Many Americans are surprised that in this day and age healthcare in America is largely not computerized. The most commonly cited reasons are cost, complexity, lack of standardization, and uncertainty about the path forward. The inefficiencies and costs tied to lack of computerization have grown so much that America’s largest healthcare consumer – the U.S. Government by dint of the fact it reimburses hundreds of billions of dollars annually to providers for Medicare and other government-subsidized programs – has decided to stop waiting.

The HITECH Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, gave impetus and direction for computerization of healthcare across America by earmarking $20 billion to reimburse providers (hospitals, clinics, doctors, etc.) for the one-time cost of computerizing. Additional incentive was given by setting penalties for providers who did not computerize by 2015. Much of the computerization has already taken place, with the rest scheduled for completion by 2015 so that providers can avoid being penalized.

The pace and scope of this undertaking is unprecedented in the history of business. Computerization is not just a matter of installing software. Workflows for patient visits, from scheduling and check-ins, to administering tests and procedures – all must be changed to utilize medical software. And implementing new systems is just the first stage of the revolution.

Once the systems have been in place for a few years, and data banks have had time to grow, clearinghouses will be created for comparisons of treatments and cures, insurance shopping, and other related industries. Medical research and development will explode with the vast amounts of data becoming available.

Government has provided the impetus; the healthcare industry has responded. In this age of internet and mobile devices, it will be consumers who ultimately drive the market.

Interesting times indeed.