The Wine Industry Is Mostly Bullshit

October 19, 2009 By: erik Category: Complaining, France, Wine 3,239 views

One thing I learned on my trip to the Bordeaux wine-making region of France is that the vast, vast, vast majority of things said about wine are complete bullshit. The upper end of the wine industry is almost entirely about marketing and branding, and has very little to do with the product. In a blind taste test, I bet that 97% of wine drinking adults can tell the difference between a 1€ bottle of wine and a 15€ bottle of wine. But once you get up to a 15€ bottle of wine (the threshold price might actually be closer to 7€), I bet less than 1% of wine drinking adults can tell the difference between that 15€ bottle and a 50€ or 100€ or 1000€ bottle of wine. There’s just not that much difference!
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A Tooth for Grandma

October 16, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, News, Offspring, Photos 128 views

Happy NoraNora has been toiling long and hard, day and night, to make a present for her grandmother’s birthday today. There was pain. There was sweat. There were tears. And in the end, out popped her second tooth, which she wants to show her American grandmother today.

She’s proud, but a little shy about it.
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St. Jean de Luz Birthday

October 16, 2009 By: erik Category: Beach, France, Photos, Travel 375 views

St. Jean de Luz HarborOn the way back from Bordeaux, we spent Monday, my thirty-first birthday, in St. Jean de Luz, in southern France. In fact, St. Jean de Luz is part of the French Basque Country. It was strange for us, regular visitors to the Spanish Basque Country, to see the Basque flag and hear French being spoken. The truth is, however, we heard very little French spoken. Since October 12th is Spain’s National Day, the entire town was crawling with Spaniards on holiday. St. Jean de Luz’s primary attraction is its semi-circular beach. Originally a fishing villiage, it became a popular destination for wealthy Brits in the nineteenth century and now has a thriving tourism industry.

The day was a considerable letdown for us. Not only was the weather a little drizzly, but we had just been to the beautiful medieval Saint Émilion the day before, and St. Jean de Luz was quite lackluster in comparison. Also, we live in a fishing village right next to a beach a hundred times better than that of St. Jean de Luz, so why would we want to spend a day in a similar town filled with Spaniards when we could be at home doing the same thing? We had lunch, went to the tourism office, realized there weren’t any sights we wanted to see, and headed home.
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Saint Émilion – Part 2 of 2

October 15, 2009 By: erik Category: France, Photos, Travel, Wine 609 views

Vineyard RoseAfter a lovely morning with a guided tour and a delicious lunch, it was time to go to Clos La Madeleine for a tour and a wine tasting. Unfortunately, our morning tour ended at 12:45 and our Clos tour was to begin at 14:30. By 14:30, we were still in the restaurant, 20 minutes from the Clos La Madeleine, just finishing our main course, still with a cheese platter, dessert and coffee to follow! The Mediterranean half of our marriage convinced the Scandinavian half to, “Just relax, and we’ll get there when we get there.” This turned out to be an excellent strategy, since we enjoyed the twenty minute walk much more than the tour and tasting itself.
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Saint Émilion – Part 1 of 2

October 14, 2009 By: erik Category: France, Photos, Travel 1,733 views

Saint Emilion Pathway and VinyardsOn Sunday, October 11, 2009, we drove 50 minutes east of Bordeaux to the small medieval wine village of Saint Émilion. They began making wine in that area in the second century! The town was founded in the 13th century when a monk – perhaps you can guess his name – decided to spend the last fifteen years of his life in a cave. Although Saint Émilion is known more for its wine making, almost more impressive is that it is the home of the largest monolithic church in all of France. What is a monolithic church, you ask? It’s a church built with only one rock. How do you build a church with only one rock? Rather than build it with stones mined elsewhere, you simply mine out the inside of the church, and voilà, a church built from one rock! The extra benefit is that you end up with a bunch of mined rock, which you can sell to pay for the labor costs. Genius. The fact that this church was built/mined in the thirteenth century, the same time that the Knights Templar were returning from The Holy Land where they have many monolithic structures like this is no coincidence
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Bordeaux – Part 2 of 2

October 13, 2009 By: erik Category: France, Photos, Travel, Wine 626 views

Strawberry and Raspberry PiesThis is the second post about our visit to Bordeaux, France on October 10, 2009. Please start with the first part if you haven’t read it yet.
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Bordeaux – Part 1 of 2

October 13, 2009 By: erik Category: France, Photos, Travel 719 views

Bordeaux Ferris WheelThis past weekend Marga and I left Nora (for the first time!) with Marga’s parents and drove four hours up to Bordeaux, France. We normally don’t go for agency-organized trips, but this time we did, since we had little idea of what to do in Bordeaux other than taste the wine. While the plan they laid out for us was not bad, it was impractical, as we often found ourselves rushed and arrived late to several tours. As a result, we’ve decided that we probably won’t go with the organized tour route again. Overall it was a learning experience, and we had a good time.

I took so many pictures that I’m splitting up the events of Saturday in Bordeaux into two blog posts. Once you’ve trained yourself as a photographer to find interesting scenes in the ordinary landscape of your neighborhood, when you travel to a foreign country, everything is begging to have its picture taken!

Let’s travel, shall we?
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Big Gourd

October 09, 2009 By: erik Category: Food, Offspring, Photos 319 views

Big GoardOne of the best things about autumn are the pumpkins. In Spain, there are very few round orange pumpkins that match the image that an American has when he thinks of a pumpkin. That’s why it was so difficult to find one for Halloween last year. This year, however, I have agents embedded in the farmers markets scouting out the perfect gourd.

Today at the grocery store, there was a particularly fine pumpkin specimen, of the type most commonly seen in Spain. So I pulled Nora out of her stroller to take a photograph with it. At first she was terrified at being out-of-stroller in the grocery store for the first time, but eventually we sat her down on the checkout conveyor belt and got a photograph with her and the big gourd.
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OMGICU

October 08, 2009 By: erik Category: Internet, Media, Stuff I Found 101 views

Today I stumbled upon a website that is rather incredible. The technology to run it is utterly unremarkable. What’s amazing is that the internet is becoming so ubiquitous that such a sight is possible at all. The site is called OMGICU, which is teenager/text message language for “Oh my god, I see you”. The way it works is that, when you spot a celebrity, you submit a sighting report to the site, saying who you saw, where you saw them, and what they were doing. Obviously only a small percentage of the users of the site, mainly those living in Los Angeles and New York City, will be submitting sightings. The key is the service that minority will be providing for the other curious majority. The whole point of the site is that you can follow a celebrity that you are a fan of, and get real-time updates of what they’re up to. Amazing!
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The Curse

October 08, 2009 By: erik Category: Photos, Scary 77 views

The Thing (eye crop)Recently, as I was adjusting the canopy over Nora’s stroller, an object fell out and onto the ground. I picked it up and gasped! It was quite possibly the most horrible little doll thing I’ve ever seen. My mind reeled as to how my loving wife, who I thought I knew pretty well, could attach such an evil little doll to our child’s pram. Later that night, I confronted her about it.

Her response was, “Oh my god! I’ve never seen that thing in my life! You brought it into this house?!” Reassured by her innocence, I began to ponder how such a thing could have happened to such a well-intentioned family. The only reasonable conclusion is that someone has put a curse on us. A dark, dark curse.

Below I present the doll thing that I found. If you have small children or pets in the room, encourage them to look away.
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