In re: Cleveland Clinic has gone global

ccad.gifThe Cleveland Clinic is by far and away the biggest brand in Cleveland and the largest employers (probably the biggest real estate holder, but I don’t know about that one – they do seem to grow by a block or two along Carnegie and Euclid Ave every year as well as branches in Florida for all the snowbirds).  The Cleveland Clinic however has now set its sites a lot wider then the area west of University Circle in Cleveland with plans to run a hospital in Abu Dhabi, UAE (Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi page) as well as other plans for Shanghai and Austria, and more likely then not other countries will follow (technically they were already global with a branch in Toronto, CA, (Cleveland Clinic Canada) but nothing on the scale of the proposed 2.5 million square foot facility, planned for Abu Dhabi). See article ‘Cleveland Clinic has its eyes on a global brand‘ Cleveland Plain Dealer

In the comments on the Plain Dealer article a few people complain that this is looking past the people of Cleveland and that as a non-profit this is wrong.  I disagree and think that this is exactly what the Clinic should be doing, eventually the Clinic will reach capacity for Cleveland (there are only so many people who can fly in for treatment) and only so many Clevelanders that need the highly specialized treatments that their true value is seen in.  Further its not like Cleveland or the Clinic don’t benefit from expanding the brand, its very likely that gains and experiences halfway around the world will resonate and provide benefits at home, as well as creating pipelines to feed Doctors to Cleveland for training and back again – taking with them positive vibes (hopefully) about Cleveland (and the US).

America has excelled at high level care (private medicines obvious strength over socialized care) and while we struggle to provide care (at least primary/preventive care) for those without insurance or funds, we can use what we have been good at and help the rest of the world – bring good will, and maybe in the process learn things from them as well.  The more ties we develop, the more interconnected we become and I believe we all benefit – maybe a bit lofty thinking for the subject of ‘just’ building hospitals, but I think its tremendous.

The Clinic branch in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf, will be a landmark structure in a new financial district to be built on al Sowa Island, one of the city’s many islands.  In renderings, the 360-bed, 2.5-million-square-foot facility looks like a collection of interlocking glass rectangles stacked atop one another….The Clinic has a 15-year operating agreement with Mubadala, a government investment company chaired by Sheik Mohammed bin Zayd al Nahyan, the crown prince of the emirate. The government is building the hospital for an undisclosed amount.

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In re: Lowbrow Brewing?

“Should a cup of coffee should be a rich, sensory experience or a cheap chemical fix? Like most things, it depends on what you’re willing to pay.” Dwell’s Kitchen blog

coffeebeans.jpgCaffeine is the worlds most used (or abused?) drug and for many of us we get our daily fix from coffee, although there is an ever expanding world of drinks that are infused with it. As many of you know that despite my love of coffee I shun the Folgers-esq coffees of the world and most recently have started my own coffee club at work to avoid the break room Aramark blend. Coffee has an interesting history I’ve found (I just recently started in on Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture and learned a few things already that were quite interesting aside from the early beginnings of the Starbucks brand – also an interesting subject). While that book was written while Starbucks could do no wrong, it seems that others have noticed (including McDonalds) and now the quest for caffeine dollars is in full force (with the profit margins on $4 coffee drinks how could you not want to get into it?)

Starbucks has responded by going after the low priced folks (at least testing it) by introducing in a test market a $1 ‘short’ coffee (remember tall is kinda their small).  See story on it here in The Times (UK).  Will it work? Only time will tell, but it could tarnish the luster on the premium priced brand, or it could bring in traffic who will be converted to their milk drinks (it was the latte I learned in the book that really made Starbucks a success) in fact Starbucks is more in the business of selling milk, as coffee prices are pretty low for them compared to milk. In any event Americans who think they like espresso don’t – according to the book – they like big milk drinks with espresso in them and some flavors and sugar to boot.

At the other end of the equation is of course highbrow brewing, including Siphon coffee (see NY Times article ‘At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee‘ (Sadly the story doesn’t qualify for my most expensive postings, since its the machine not the cup that costs $20k, the machine is also mentioned in the Times story above on Starbucks as they have apparently bought two of these brewers).

In re: S&N sold for £7.8bn

Scottish & Newcastle, brewers of one of my favorite beers Newcastle just got added to the list of brewers worldwide who are now part of massive conglomerate brewers  (well actually split between two Carlsberg and Heineken going at this in a joint venture).  In the US and Europe pretty much any brewery of any size is now owned by one of these.  Is it good or bad?  I don’t know if it really has an effect on us or not, and secondly if it has any effect on the smaller microbrews that many so called beer snobs prefer as well.  Interestingly this deal may have been more about the Russian ownership interest S&N had in a surging Russian brewer, apparently the next frontier for these groups (Carlsberg owned half and now has the whole thing).   As for Heineken they picked up some international assets as well in this including Newcastle Brown Ale, Foster’s and Strongbow cider, distribution and access to the U.K. cider market was considered an important component’s for Heineken.  See Telegraph for story

In re: New world economic order

Just got back from a brief but enjoyable trip to London, always enjoy getting to walk around that city and amazing to see how international it is even compared to 10 years ago.  Anyway, as you all well know the American economy is struggling under the problems of the sub prime lending problems, and it is interesting that while in times of crisis we as a country apparently have no problem with Middle Eastern soverign wealth funds buying into our country (I have no problem, but you remember the Dubai Ports?) but with Citi needing a massive cash infusion after their bad debt write down oil wealth was ready to step in, and really thats the way it should work – so I was happy to see it (don’t forget when people are invested in each other and trading with each other they don’t really feel like war..).

Another interesting issue is the greenback, with the US dollar continuing to seek lows I saw a pretty amazing sight, Airbus, the consummate reflection of Europeans and their nationalistic interests, looking to build a plant in the US South, in order to capitalize on the low dollar and offset the pain that dollar denominated airplane sales are causing them.  So while my trip to England was severely penalized by the $2 to the pound conversion, hopefully we can start getting those Euros to come spend their money over here and to up our exports as we gain competitive ground.

In re: How not to attend a football match

Half the reason I planned a trip to London was to go watch Arsenal play, the north London football club (soccer) that I follow. Playing away at Fulham meant a less then competitive game (Fulham is facing relegation with their bottom 3 of the table spot) and while Fulham plays at Craven Cottage, one of the smallest stadiums in the EPL, I figured demand would mean that coming up with a ticket would be possible.

One thing I didn’t know, nor did my friend who purchased the tickets via Craigslist was that fans could claim a lost ticket and get an exact reprint. Well that’s all and dandy, except when it basically gives you a real ticket, hologram and all to sell and then to show up at the match w/ your new ticket to show up and watch the match. Thats exactly what happened, the group of us who went got scammed, we got in the stadium alright (squeezing through the famously narrow gates, having our tickets scanned into the system alright – you wouldn’t think they would work after being reissued would you?)

At this point my day and weekend couldn’t have been looking any better, just having walked along the Thames to Craven Cottage the picturesque old style English stadium, about to see a great 3pm game with perfect weather. Twenty minutes into the match things were looking good, until a group showed up wanting to sit in our seats and that’s when, slowly we learned about the duplicate tickets, the fact that the folks sitting down instead were probably in on the whole act only made it worse and no amount of debate with the stewards would lead to us getting to stay. Thankfully it wasn’t the match of the century, Arsenal scored their first of three goals while we were standing around arguing with the steward.

While it didn’t ruin my trip, it sure left a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the day. So be careful of the ticket touts in the UK and next time I am gonna make sure to get my tickets through my supporters club or not bother at all (I tried to snag tickets through the Arsenal America club, but had missed the deadline).

In re: Wolfgang Puck Express Review

Wolfgang Puck may have ushered in our era of celebrity chefs and he has run with that making his name by putting it everywhere he can think, including a chain of fast casual restaurants. In Columbus he has one on Lane ave (as well as another in the airport one of my earlier introductions).

Anytime you send a dish off to be mass produced you are going to run into difficulties, the worker making it might be a bit laxidazical and with their meager salary less then enthused to put the effort in that truly great cooking often demands. This must be thought out in advance and combated, but this can be difficult when you are attempting to avoid prefab food that comes from the freezer.

The layout of the Express locations is well done, there is some nice seating options, including a bar that faces the open kitchen and the open cooking fireplace.

I ordered the half rosemary chicken with famous garlic mashed potatoes, this came with a caesar salad. The salad greens were high quality (i.e. seemed fresh, clean and had some flavor for romaine) the dressing was a very thick caesar that wouldn’t coat the salad and would leave it being over/under -dressed depending on the bite.

You may question my choice of entree, rather than the sandwiches with lots of gimicky flavors, but I thought that the simplicity of a roast chicken would test the concept in their ability to deliver on a staple, simple, item. The flavoring was off, the meat was dry and stringy and I observed that the chicken had been roasted earlier, and then reheated when I ordered that led possibly to the overdoneness. The garlic mashed potatoes were disappointing as well, their taste and texture didn’t have what great mashed potatoes have – a velvety experience that tastes of fresh potatoes, it was rather uninspired and surprisingly i didn’t have interest in finishing them.

Unfortunately as you may have guessed this place is disappointing (based on only a few sampling of their fare) but from what i’ve tried they haven’t earned a repeat trip.

In re: Wired in on the Media

The new and final season of The Wire (its fifth) is in full swing already (one episode down, nine to go – although you can watch a week early on HBO inDemand so I am two weeks in). Much has been written on the new season (for those who follow the show that is) by now many find criticism for their favorite characters aren’t getting enough face time (tough to squeeze everyone in when they are adding the newsroom characters as well).

Each season of The Wire has had a focus (street level drug dealing, port workers, politics, schools) and this season finishes up looking at the media (David Simon the shows creator worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun for a long time). Simon brings plenty of his own experiences and gripes with the paper to the show, but it is an interesting subject to deal with in our day and age where new media such as the internet, blogging and 24 hours news channels are eroding the role (and profitability) of print media and especially daily newspapers. Of course new media are providing all kinds of great additions to the mix, but I feel it is important to look carefully at what is being lost as well as more and more local papers close up shop and editorial voices are lost. I do not believe that inherently professional newspaper voices are more important, better informed or more useful then lay journalists who blog, but there is something to be said that the indepth time and resources that journalists and investigative journalists in particular could devote to a subject and the role they have played in our ‘open’ society.

If you haven’t heard of the Wire, you gotta come out of your cave, its an amazing HBO series essentially about Baltimore and the decline of the American inner city – scene through a complex cast that is never clearly right or wrong, almost everyone is a conflicted character – something that TV just doesn’t seem to attempt on most networks (FX has taken the cue and hypes the fact they deal in similar mixed hues in recent ads).