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July 4, 2007

4th of July

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And NEVER forget . . .

June 30, 2007

Texas Wine, Part 2

Part one here.

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After our first few stops, we then went to Lone Star Wine Cellars, which is a tasting room for several Texas winemakers. We liked the Lone Star's French Colombard, and I liked the Triple R Ranch's Blackbuck Antelope Merlot and their Shiraz, although Mrs. C. wasn't sold on either. The Triple R Ranch is an interesting story -- it's a ranch northwest of Dallas that combines corporate meeting space with a winery, and also with exotic game hunting. The wines are named after some of the animals they stock. I don't know about you, but I think you'd want to get the order of those three things correct. In my book, that would be: a) the corporate meeting, then b) the big game hunting where you can take out all the aggression the meeting inspires, and then c) the wine tasting. Putting it in a different order could lead to tragic consequences for man and beast alike.

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The last wine stop of the first day was the La Buena Vida/La Bodega tasting room. They have a location in Grapevine, as well as having one at the terminal in DFW airport. They offered a White Merlot which was interesting, as well as the Springtown Cab, both of which made the visit worthwhile.

We got caught in a huge Texas downpour while there, so we drank wine and ate wine crackers until it passed. We wondered if we were going to get to see the Texas Rangers game that night, but the sky suddenly cleared and we decided to drive to Arlington to see Texas play Houston.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, I didn't have a dog in the fight -- my only player on either roster is Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka, who didn't play. But what an amazing ballpark. It has a massive footprint -- 270 acres, according to the site, and is built for convenience -- we sat in the Lexus Club seats behind (and well above) home plate, and had the experience of gatting our food delivered to us (they have waiters/waitresses who enter the order on a wireless device) as we watched the game.

I waxed philosophical while watching the game, thinking of Fenway. This park was nothing like Fenway, the lyric little bandbox of John Updike's overwrought prose. It was modern, huge, and well designed -- built for the fans, not for the players, who almost seemed an afterthought. And then it occurred to me what it was -- it was as if you had taken a seed called Fenway and grew a stadium out of it. It was the concept of "baseball park" wrought big, taken to its logical conclusion, the oak tree contained within the acorn of an idea of a sport called baseball. Now I love Fenway, but compared to this it is cramped, narrow, uncomfortable -- and a bitch to find parking at, too. Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is what you get if you have a huge canvas to work with -- miles of open spaces in which to dream.

America, in some sense, is an idea made in Boston. But people from Boston sometimes confuse the seed with the tree -- the cramped urban sprawl of the Northeast is not all of America, though people there sometimes think it is. The American experience is like the Rangers Ballpark -- if you want to see it done right, you need a lot of space to build it. It can then be a truly remarkable thing. I don't think there would have ever been a Texas if there had never been a revolt in Boston. But Texas is like the idea of America come to full fruition.

Well, the wine still needs work. But as for the rest of it, I'm sold.

London Terror Plot

The most interesting and biggest stories all happen when I'm elsewhere or when I'm overwhelmed with work.

Naturally, Allah has all the pertinent details.

June 29, 2007

By the Way . . .

The Villagers are in fourth place.

I thank A-Rod and Eric Byrnes. And my pitching staff, composed largely of guys under the age of 27.

UPDATE: Orlando Cabrera hitting fifty points over his career average probably isn't hurting, either.

June 28, 2007

80s Video Jukebox Du Jour #63: Art Imitates Life Edition

Kind of how I feel right now.

My new job is hectic and I have a lot of deliverables on a very short time suspense. I joke about having a blue collar job; in reality I seldom get my fingernails dirty as I work in an office. I am currently building both a relational database and a corporate intranet site, the database due Tuesday and the intranet site due in about 2 weeks, and I am doing it without any external resources, as they say -- doing all the DBA work, writing ASP scripts, and also providing the data from extensive internet trolling. This is taking a heavy toll on my free time. I expect this weekend will involve a lot of Jack Daniels and swearing at the sub-human bastards who built Microsoft Access.

I'm not a professional IT type -- I am a kind of data samurai -- really a data ronin -- a guy who rolls into town, administers rough justice, and moves on. A true IT professional would demand a scope of work document, a written spec, and about 6 months of time to do what I'm hacking out in a week. I am a jack of all trades in the IT world -- good at nothing, but able to get a project done in a short time for people who are operating under the gun. I deal in ugly code and bad, short-term fixes.

So, as it has been for the last 60 days or so, blogging will continue to be light.

Motu Mania Update

Looking like July 7, this time for real.

Already, some folks are getting out ahead of the press with how it will be covered. I thought this version was also especially blunt -- I'm assuming it's a parody.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf fisks a real editorial here.

June 27, 2007

Texas Bound

(This post will remain up top until the 27th. New posts while on vacation are below it.)

A few days of vacation in conjunction with one of Mrs. C.'s business trips; we're actually going to stop in Grapevine to visit wineries for a few days.

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Blogging will be light; drinking will be heavy.

June 26, 2007

Texas Wine, Part 1

Welcome to Grapevine.

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Grapevine is just northwest of the DFW airport, so it has a constant stream of jets passing overhead, but you get a sense of its small-town Texas history from the picture.

As a wine district goes, it is a little bit of a tourist trap. Almost none of the grapes are grown here; most of the wineries get their juice from vineyards in west Texas. And the wine runs the gamut from passable to undrinkable; I've never tasted cabs so bitter or ros?s so reminiscent of warm Hi-C.

There were really two exceptions. One was the first winery we visited.

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Homestead Winery has a tasting room in Grapevine, in a small house just south of the center of town. It was the first winery we tasted, and both Mrs. C. and I liked everything. We bought four bottles; a Merlot, a Rose of Ivanhoe, a Muscat Canelli, and the Homestead Red. We were regaled with stories of Texas winemaking by the proprietor, named John, who would probably be played in the movie by Billy Bob Thornton, for his appearance and his manner of speech. He gave us tips on places to visit and eat (Big Fish, in downtown Grapevine, has great fish), as well as places to avoid, from a wine point of view. We found his advice to be correct throughout our trip.

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Second stop was Delaney Vineyards, on the south of town, which has a superb facility, and is the only plave where we saw actual grapes being grown. We were a little disappointed in the wine, though, finding most of them to be too bitter for our palates. We bought one bottle of ros?, and moved on.

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Third stop for the day, after lunch at Big Fish, was the D'Vine wine shop in downtown Grapevine. D'Vine is in the business of making wine and then bottling it under private labels -- if you are having a wedding or an event, you can get custom bottles done. The wine, unfortunately, wasn't that impressive.

We definitely found the wine to be a mixed bag in Texas -- I think Grapevine is more a triumph of marketing and proximity to a huge airport bringing in thousands of visitors than it is a unique winegrowing district. There are a few gems to be found, though. In the next post, we'll outline a few more good ones.

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