Thursday, July 23, 2009

When population bumps into vineyards

This Vina Cousino Macul vineyard in Chile's Maipo Valley was once many kilometers outside of Santiago. Now the city surrounds the vines and the winery. In fact, Vina Cousino Macul is actually developing some former vineyard land into housing and retail and purchasing new land much further out.

Nothing is done in a small way in China. By the dozens, these large 30-story apartments are build like a flood right to the very edge of this Changyu-Castel (a Chinese-French joint venture) vineyard on the outskirts of Yantai, Shandong Province.

Why I enjoyed China

Meeting people made China a memorable trip for me. (Well that, and the fact that a winery and wine region is flying me back in September to work with them.)

For example, Edward Dong (that's his Westernized name), pictured above, is a marketing executive at Changyu, the largest winery in China. It turns out Edward also loves to click a shutter. So we decided to head out the next morning to Changyu-Castel (a China-French joint venture) vineyards and winery at sunrise. Just so that you know, sunrise was about 5:00, as in AM. During the night however, the sky overcasted and by morning it started to drizzle. We went anyway. That fact alone spoke volumes about this executive.

Edward was casual, fun and an intense photographer. You can see photographs he took of me on his blog at:

If you just happen to read Chinese, I would appreciate an exact translation of Edward's comments on his blog. He was a bit coy about exactly what he said and the on-line translators painted only a crude picture. Perhaps I should have written comments about Edward in Latvian, my native language.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Living in the Clouds in the Tatoosh Wilderness

My younger son Ryan and I backpacked into the Tatoosh Wilderness on Sunday.

After 3000 vertical feet on a renlentless trail, we reached the saddle separating us from our planned destination, a small valley where we had camped several years before. But we were stunned at what we saw below us. All of our plans and expectations were dashed.
I didn't know what to do.

The entire valley was covered with snow. We didn't want to slide down the steep slope only to tent on the snow. We weren't mentally prepared for that with our shorts. We decided to camp on the narrow ridge in a cluster of trees one hundred feet above the trail.

After a quick pitching of the tent and one sunset photo of neighboring Mount Rainier, the rain clouds zoomed in. They smothered us. And they didn't leave. As the clouds flew up over our ridge, the trees above us captured the moisture and rained it down on us. For two nights and the entire day it rained on us.

Most of Monday we stayed huddled in the dry tent.
We measured visibility from our camp site by the number of trees we could see below us. One tree visibility was about 50 feet. A record three-trees visibility was about 200 feet. For a change of pace around noon, we ventured on a short hike, only to be totally drenched with rain. We scrambled back into our REI cocoon. We read, wrote, napped and rushed out for potty breaks. That night the rain continued nonstop.

Since I had injured my back before the trip, it started hurting big time from laying around so much. Tuesday morning, the clouds continued showering us. About 10:00, we decided to head back down to the car.

Regardless, the trip was not a disaster. In fact, this was probably one of the best trips Ryan and I had done. Outside, the wet wildflowers were fresh with huge water drops. A bird kept singing much of the day. Inside, we talked honestly. We shared personal stories. We even developed a business plan for me.

Life just doesn't get any better.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Is Stealing Photos from the Web OK?

A couple of days ago, while captioning photographs, one of my assistants commented about how much work it took to prepare each image: The cost of location photography, organizing thousands of images on hard drives, key wording, captioning, and finally optimizing. Besides my self, I employ two people to help me with the process.

That's why I'm very upset. Livid. Angry. Today, while talking with that same assistant about posting photographs to my Facebook
site, she said that I need to be careful because someone could steal the images.

When asked if she ever lifted an image from the web, she said, "Well, yes. I don't want to pay for a photo when I'm using it small in a flier or something."

"But that's illegal. It's stealing," I replied.
"There's a lot of gray area there," she retorted.
"US copyright law says it's illegal."
"But the photographs are not copyrighted."
"All photographs are copyrighted as soon as they are taken. It happens that I register mine with the US Copyright Office," I said.
"Is taking a photograph from a gallery stealing?"
"Yes," the photo assistant replied.
"What's the difference?"
"The photo on the web can be reproduced many times."
"So can the photo in the gallery."
"I don't want to talk about it any more. We have to agree to disagree" she replied.
"It's still illegal, even by law."
Silence. Tension.

What is it in our culture that allows theft a photo from the web but not from an art gallery?