Not One to Shy Away

It would seem that I thrive on challenges. Taking on Project Peaceful Bend has indeed been the largest challenge of my life. Probably the highlight of the challenge is the time frame. Fifteen years at one project has been quite an endeavor, and it has a been an daily effort, if that’s not overly obvious: The ultimate marathon. Each day has presented it’s own set of challenges, most of which I charge head on. Many of the aspects seem insurmountable, and it’s difficult to fathom that they we have been able to actually keep maintain an operating business. What we have is barely more than a household. It just so happens that this ‘house’ produces’ a significant amount of wine! What we purchased was a dilapidated business that had been run into the ground. Many parts of the infrastructure were in disrepair, and our funds available were no where near what was needed for repair and maintenance. On the production end, there were some of the major tools in place: tanks, destemmer, press. The main item missing, as I recall, was a wine pump. I quite literally used a drill pump to process the first batches of wine. The filter was a just a standard style of household water filter, with specific porosity grades purchased that are typically required to clarify and stabilize wine. It was a couple years later that I was to discover that the filter was doing virtually nothing. By that time, I was producing upwards of 8,000 gallons annually. It’s just crazy when I think back on it.

Back to the infrastructure: the building was about 30 years old at the time. The main issue here was the roof, which began leaking shortly after we moved in. Just little spots at first, both in the apartment in the back where we resided, and in the salesroom. This was no task to put aside, yet I did. By 2002, I took on the apartment roof. This was the first roof I’d ever attempted to replace. Fairly straight forward, though two flights up (the front portion is three levels).

I’ll have to continue this bit a bit later.  Need to get onto some real work now.

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Understanding an Overstatement

My bubble of faith burst when Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had been wrong, after decades of setting policy for every administration, both sides of the isle. Since my first college course in economics in ’77, I’ve never really fully understood national/international economics.  This clip makes me feel not so all alone. Is there really any hope for the rest of us to understand?

http://uverseonline.att.net/tv/show/sunday-morning#play=c___pscXMXQy5glP

But something said in this interview shines a bit of light on the entire phenomena of economics: the entire system is driven by human emotion.  And who among us can predict human emotion by the masses. It’s a little easier, if not scary to believe that human emotion, and therefore world economics, can be controlled, or at the very least, influenced.

In these modern days of nanosecond stock trading, how much does human emotion really come into play. Yes, it was humans that wrote these programs that make decisions to the order of thousands per second. And most likely human emotions and their reactions were taken into consideration. But nobody will argue that human emotions are fickle at best. Even if it can be done occasionally, predicting human emotions has to be quite difficult.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the coming years.  The recovery actually seems to be gaining strength, if the media would simply get out of the way and leave emotions to weddings and cute kid pics.

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Never Knowing What to Say

Lately I’ve been feeling more and more compelled to write. Yet it seems to be getting more difficult, instead of easier. Something in me drives me towards writing, and has for quite some time now. When I was young, it felt as if I needed to experience much, much more before there would be something actually worth writing about. “Write about what you know” always bounces through my head every time I sit down to actually write something. Years ago, it felt like I didn’t know anything. That should come with age, right?

But now I have a task at hand that requires both technical writing and a bit of creativity to boot.  Most of what I’ve ever written was actually technical (scan back through this blog if you don’t believe me), but that actually requires quite a bit of creativity to make it readable: as in, something someone other than me would actually want to read.

This project I’m on now is the most important one of my life. Half a century later and my accomplishments seem so insignificant. What can I do to “make a mark” on this planet. Our time here at the winery has actually made a bit of a mark; it is undeniable that we have become a part of the Missouri wine history, which is by default part of the world wine history. But what we’ve done with wine has not been terribly impressive.  It would seem to take something rather outstanding or at least bizarre to really stand out in the history of wine. I don’t think that was ever my intent.  The bar was set pretty low from the beginning:  I simply wanted to do the best we could do with locally grown fruit. Our wines are passable at best.

So what is there then, for us to do, to really separate this winery from all the rest.  Even the best wine we could make would only be a drop in the bucket of a long history of winemaking across the globe.  Many very good wines have come out of this region in the 150 years that folks have been making wine here.  It’s pretty heady to think that we could do anything that would stand out in that crowd. A crowd that’s getting more crowded all the time.

But how important is it to do something that stands out? Why am I so compelled to leave such a mark? And just what am I willing to do, and for what level of ‘markdom’?

I recently watched a new movie that portrayed the pertinent periods of Bonnie and Clyde. Their story has intrigued me for most of my life, and yes, it started because of the name.  The movie had me look further into their lives and what actually motivated them to lead their lives down such a road of destruction. Destruction of not only other lives, but ultimately their own. But a documentary that is floating around the net was able to shine a little better light on the motivations.  Particularly, the history of Bonnie and her upbringing in a Dallas slum, made me realize that she had very little opportunity in life. A statement she said in the movie, about Clyde’s brother, as he was mortally wounded, stated that he will now have a name that makes him someone. By going to the extremes of murder, which was really made them famous, they all set themselves apart from the rest of the population.  What a horrid consequence, that seems both undeniable and unavoidable. We should not revel in the extreme, dark side. But yet, how can we not. How can we not be intrigued, but what drives some folks to create heinous acts? And why would you want to be remembered for that? You may be happy to know, that my drive is not strong enough to go that route. If I’m to be remembered at all, it will be for something that helped others, in some manner.

To recognize and strive for such a goal is really quite a change from my goals just a few (15), years ago.  Kept secret all this time, but my original goal was really much more selfish, as I simply wanted to find a spot on the planet where I could leave peacefully and comfortably and with actually as little impact on others as possible. Such a goal has it’s own nobility. How much better off would the planet be if those folks like Bonnie and Clyde had shared such sentiment? But over the years, through the many wonderful experiences we’ve shared and been blessed to be a part of, my tune has changed dramatically and my main objective is now to provide a venue for like minded folks to gather and share special experiences as well as each other.  We are so very fortunate to have the grand opportunity to bring both artist and patron together to revel in what appears to be an infinite endeavor  to explore and expand the human experience.

We hope you’ll join us at one point or another!

 

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Ah, For the Health of It

Looking back at my school days, and that’s a long distance look indeed, the subject of health was among the least of my favorites; unless, of course, that particular day the subject was sex ed.   We usually knew that was coming because they’d split the class up by gender.  But I digress, and my subject of choice today was really more about actual health issues.  The older I get, the more it seems to matter and play an undeniable roll.

My first wakeup call was over a decade ago.  I was feeling increasingly ill and then when copious amounts of blood showed up in my stool, it was time to seek professional help.  Folks around me had touted the doctor in town, including my father who has always been a bit particular about his doctors, so I went in to see what he could see.  Unfortunately, doc was out that day and his assistant saw to me.  I had not particular problem with that, but she found nothing other than high blood pressure, and also focused in on my description of an steady increase in heart burn. Must be acid reflex right?  That seemed to be the malady of the month at the time, judging from the drug commercials plastered across the TV.  So I left the office with very little distinct diagnosis and a prescription for blood pressure medication and indigestion meds.  At that point, I figured I was on my own, as I was not ready to dedicate myself to meds such as these the rest of my life.

The alarm caused me to look closely at my habits and lifestyle and as far as stomach issues were concerned, it seemed like my habit of a couple coffees in the morning, and nothing else, was about as bad for me as anything.  So I went back to one of my previous breakfasts that always seemed appropriate and also made me feel good:  yogurt, walnuts, grapenuts, some type of fresh fruit (apples, oranges, banana, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry were standards depending on the season) and more walnuts!   It should also be noted that for the most part, the rest of my diet was fairly decent, well above average for an American.  Lots of fresh veggies, very little if anything fried, lots of grilled chicken and fish with occasional ‘meat’ in between.  Probably the worst habit is cheese.  I love all kinds of cheese, and the fattier the better!  But wine counters that, right!?  Right. It took a few months of this diet, but slowly, steadily, I could put the over the counter meds away. First the Prilosec, which had some bad side effects for me, and then the Tums, which worked without the side effects, but required many multiple doses to effect my cause.  Within a half of a year, I was not doing any type of heart burn med, and feeling rather well.

As for high blood pressure (which my Mom has suffered from for most of my adult life, including several bypasses and other complications), I began monitoring this at home and it was showing a bit high, but with a slightly better diet and little focus on extra exercise, this was under control too.  My quality of life returned to what I was use to.  But just what had I gotten use to at this point.

Back up a little, then we’ll fast forward to one of my main points.  Back in 1986 I had contracted a disease the very few people had heard about.  Within our circles, we had never heard about it.  It was a tick borne disease, named after the Connecticut town of Lyme.  My daughter’s Mother, Lynn, happened to have read an article in a magazine about it, and matched all the symptoms that I had been experiencing.  The fever I pushed off on a sport event played in the rain.  The first pains felt like a stone bruise, aggregated by a long drive across country; and back.  Then the pains grew, and migrated.  I worked as a technician/supervisor in a factory at the time.  Lots of hand work. Lots of climbing on machines.  Lots of time on my feet.  Every joint that I used was being attacked, and eventually, within a few weeks period, this attack was quite severe.  I was new to the area and the job, so folks didn’t know that I would not typically complain about aches.  Hell, I was just barely 30 years old, I really didn’t ever have aches.  But the label was quickly put upon me as faker/complainer.  But it’s hard not to talk about why I couldn’t where boots anymore; because my feet had swollen to the point that untied sneakers was the only option.  And it’s also hard not to talk about why I could no longer perform much of my job.  That I had to roll out of bed when the pain had awakened me at 4am, to dose up with Ibuprofen and soak in the tub until the pain had subsided enough to get dressed and go to work.  It was by far the worse pain that I had experienced, not that I had ever had that much, but I was an athlete, albeit an amateur.  Not only was the pain intense, but it was also measurably increasing.  At the rate it progressed, I was certain to be bed ridden within another month.  I felt that death was knocking and would barge in even if I didn’t answer.

Being a young family, daughter Julie was only 2 years old, we watched our pennies closely, so going the route of our company insurance was the only sensible choice, at first.  So hitting the HMO doctors, they gave me proper diagnosis of arthritis  early onset. Yes, arthritis was in the family, but that made me familiar with it.  This was not what my grandmothers and grandfathers had experienced. The symptoms where indeed arthritic, but the voracity and pace was far beyond anything anyone else had described. I never watched anyone die from arthritis, and that felt like the only outcome.

Not being satisfied with the HMO docs diagnosis or treatment (see a trend here?) of serious pain killers and nothing else, we finally bit the bullet and I went to see an old family doctor.  Well, he wasn’t practicing anymore, guess he was old, so I saw his prodigy, Dr. Cambell.  After the previous treatments, I stopped shouting out that I had Lyme when I walked into the office.  Instead, I let Dr. Cambell go thru a full examination;  family history?  must be early onset arthritis   After all that, I asked if it could possibly be Lyme.  ”I don’t think so” so I went home with yet another prescript for some kick ass pain killers.  Later that evening, the phone rang at home.  It was Doc Cambell, “I did a little research and I believe you are right about the Lyme.”  There’s a penicillin prescription for you waiting at Walgreens.  Within several days the pains were no longer increasing.  Within two weeks, the pain was subsiding.  This continued over the next several months, and even years, though all the pain never went away.   I figured that the damage had been done, and I was stuck with this volume for the rest of my life.  Which was much brighter of a picture than thinking there wasn’t much life left in me!

Fast forward to 2010. Decades of pain had made me rather use to it.  I’ve always thought it a bit interested how the mind reacts to such chronic pain.  To begin with, it was always a lot less pain that I had first experienced with it, so it was somewhat tolerable   But I had convinced myself that this was a residual thing.  Pain is there, usually, to alert you to a problem.  But this was no longer a problem, so ignore it.  For the most part, I could ignore it, though there were times when it built to levels that could not be ignored.  I’ve always enjoyed physical type of work, and winemaking fits that description much of the time.  And the largest part of the intense work occurs during harvest.  The situation I put myself in was requiring  very long and intense hours to get all the necessary tasks completed in this, the most crucial season of winemaking.  A little crutch I had was Coke Cola, which I had grown up with, much like anyone else I knew.  Little did I know that I had been directing and intensely poisoning myself.  A little bump of  ”Coke’ always helped me get thru those 16 hour days of crush.

Then kT and I happened to stay at a small, nondescript B&B in Carbondale IL. The owners I would describe as original hippies; as opposed to latter day hippies.  Many of the original hippies end up finding an occupation that is self employed.  No real comment here, just an observation; some might claim it to be a self observation.  Anyway, the gal there was chatting with kT while her husband kept me busy with conversation.  In between her stances, kT’s partner would step out onto the back stoop to have a cig.  We all have our vices, and strong points, but I do tend to take less medical advice from someone who doesn’t seem to practice good health habits.  But kT later filled me in on part of their conversation, how High Fructose Corn Syrup causes ‘gouty arthritis’ in some people.  Of course I had heard bits and pieces about some peoples opposition to HFCS, and on such issues, at the time, I would probably stand more on the political end (don’t get me started) than on any direct health issue. But through our conversation, kT and decided it would be interested to try it out.  How much HFCS could be in my diet anyway. How hard could this be?

Well, as we started looking, paying attention, turns out this is a very difficult task!  Seemed like everything we looked at had HFCS in it.  From Catsup to sweet pickles, to salad dressing to, you guessed it Coca Cola.  As we quickly weeded out any of the HFCS products form my diet, the arthritis seemed to subside at the same rate, and levels.  I would report back that I’m down to 50% of the pain, then 30%, then it’s almost non-existent.  Pretty much miraculous for me.  After decades of tolerating the pain, I was now virtually pain free.  I was living in bliss now for several months with a level of maybe 8-10%.  This meant full function-ability  Something I never admitted to anyone, the pain did prevent me form performing quite a few of my typical tasks from time to time.  I had learned to just adapt and modify the way I gripped things, or handled certain jobs.  That was to be no more; at least until real arthritis sets in at hopefully an ripe old age, like it’s suppose to!

I suppose toleration had become part of the my way of life, because I was more than willing to accept that 10% or less threshold.   Then we went on a short, one week vacation and at the end, I noticed that I was virtually 100% pain free.  Something was still in my diet causing that level of pain, was our conclusion.  And the shats of it was, I had been aware of it, but thought, eh, how much HFCS could be in sliced bread!  Well, turns out, it’s enough to cause about 10% pain in my joints!  At this point, I’m like a walking HFCS monitor.  If you want to eat anything outside of what you make on your own, you’re going to ingest some HFCS from time to time.  Think about it;  hamburger bun!  bbq sauce! salad dressing! croutons! catsup!  just to name a few of my favorite things!  By the next morning, I can tell you relative volumes that I have consumed by the level of pain in my joints.  With some items, the pain surfaces much faster.

Take home from here; most likely HFCS will not, does not, cause the same reaction in you as it does in me.  More than likely, my symptoms are a combination of the uric acid that is created from HFCS consumption and the previous condition I experienced with Lyme Disease.  But I have to wonder, just what other types of problems are being caused that do not manifest themselves in such a direct, almost instant, and detectable manner?!  Possibly nothing.

 

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Powerless, but Free

It amazes me how rare our power goes out at our place. Knowing the logistics of what it takes to provide electricity from such a distance, to so many different households and businesses, the task seems nearly impossible. Yet we rarely see any break in power, and even when it does, it never lasts for very long. This morning we were out of power for about 45 minutes, then a couple more blinks after it came on. It was just enough to make us stop and think about the simple things of our time that otherwise may go on being taken for granted.

One of the first things we tend to notice in this rural setting is that the water supply is cut off. And one of the first thoughts is: NO TOILET! Years ago I setup some of the older wine barrels in the cellar to hold what I refer to is toilet water, which always brought to my mind the term from Europe for what we call perfume. It alwasy gets a chuckle when I’m giving tours in the cellar, but it wasn’t until one day when someone pointed out that they had in mind that it was ‘post’ toilet water that they had in mind, which would be more funny than thinking it was some kind of lavender water! Anyway, we are lucky enough to have at least two operating toilets here, so we each have one shot at a use. Without getting too graphic, that’s usually all I need in one day. Any other ‘chores’ can be executed out of doors. If it goes on any further, I can always go tap some of the barrels downstairs!!

My morning routine has me online checking how the world is doing, and specifically, how all my friends are doing. After reading the news and sorting thru various facebook posts, I have now started jotting down a few notes; placing my thoughts onto electronic paper in hopes that they get a little better sorted out. I also have latent dreams of one day putting together a book, and the only way to do that, like many other disciplines, is to simply practice. A writer writes. Or these days, they’re more likely to type! Even if there’s no typewriter in sight.

So the point, (I did start out with a point), was that my morning routine was broken by the loss of electricity. I very well could have skipped on to writing something for this blog, but instead chose to sit and enjoy the lack of power for a bit. I’ve lately picked up the guitar again (the reason for the gap will come out in an upcoming post), so it was nice to have only the low rumble of the wood stove as background to a few moments of gentle picking in between reflections on just what we’d do without constant power available. One early thought was “SLEDDING”, which we’ve talked about ever since the ground was covered with snow a few days ago. It came down as very wet, stuff that was melting almost as fast as it fell. But this morning’s temperature was 9 F and the covering is much more solid; much more conducive to the flexible flyer style of sleds that we have.

So now that I’ve practiced my writing, and bent your eyes, and the power has returned, I’m gonna grab kT, bundle up good and warm, and go see if gravity can still provide a bit of a thrill or two.

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High Definition Resolution

About ten years ago I made one of my first ever New Year’s resolutions that stuck for any amount of time.  I resolved to not make any more New Year’s Resolutions.  The mindset at the time was a strong belief that I was above the need to set a time and a defined resolution; that my will and discipline was strong enough to manage habits and desires on a daily basis.  At this point, that idea is pretty shot, and setting down some goals seems like a pretty good idea, especially at this time of year.

Last year, right towards the end of the year, the time being spent on mindless computer games was getting out of my control.  It all began when I was studying and writing websites, along with other types of pc work.  Many of these operations had some downtime, so it was easy to justify pulling up an electric card game to pass the time.   Seems innocent enough, right!?  Over time my addictive

personality got the better of me and suddenly the games were taking over my life!   Well, not quite that bad, but it did feel like some type of major change was needed.  So I set myself a limit and decided that once I was able to win a full blown game of Spider Solitaire that I’d quit for good.   And good it has been.

 

 

LastSpider

 

 

This image shows a screenshot of my last game of Spider Solitaire.  Numbers tend to mean a lot to me, and I also believe strongly in all things happen for a reason.  Just the act of believing this can and will make it true.  Give that a moment of thought!  Being that the date this particular win occurred was the last day of 2011 made it all the more easy to pay attention and take my own promise to heart.   Now, one year and one day later, I still have yet to open the game again, and it’s a pretty good feeling of will power and accomplishment.

But that was simply stopping something;  a bad habit.  Though I do have a few other bad habits to address, this year I’m bent on actually creating some good habits.  After mulling it over like a fragrant wine, the most impactive good habit I could form would be writing creatively;  and I mean consistently!.  This blog has been online for quite some time.  Much longer than most people were even aware of the term.  Not all of it is present because of the different forms it’s taken and, quite honestly, a few mistakes over time that wiped out the data!  But for the most part, I had been using this space as a collecting ground for many of my tech projects.  Occasionally, there was someone who I wanted to share something with, and sending a link to somewhere on the web was quite handy.  Well, I won’t say that there won’t be some tech stuff showing up here, but the plan is to put much more thoughts and stories here;  both of which I have plenty of.  And both of which, I intend to have more of.   Daily would be nice, but that just does not seem very realistic for me, and if there’s one thing I do know about setting goals; they need to have some base in reality.  A minimum of weekly sounds doable, and a strife to do as often as feasible seems like a comfortable desire.

So, come along if you will, into a new year, a new era, a new ba’k'tun!

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Chiller Control

First graph images coming in this week.  I’ll be posting more about how this is being done as time allows.   Otherwise, it should be pretty self explanatory.  maybe.

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Clyde Gill

Create Your Badge

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