Awe, Grace and Beauty


America has a secret source of wealth that many people don't think of as riches. It's in her museums and galleries and monuments. Some of the most momentous events of the last thousand years are memorialised here in Washington DC, some of the most impressive examples of the natural world are on exhibit and explained, and some of the most beautiful sculptures and paintings are right here, where anyone with the eyes to see and the soul to appreciate can simply walk up and look at them--and walk away in wonder.

Visiting the Lincoln Memorial was something I was very eager to do, and it was especially meaningful because my wife was with me. Some of her ancestors were slaves, and between visiting Monticello and viewing the slave quarters there, and seeing the devotion to the memory of Lincoln, we were both powerfully affected. It's not something I would have missed for the world. more

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I'm At the Government, and I'm Here to Help

Hey you--Canadian guy. Get off my lawn.

I'm taking a day off to have a look around Washington DC. It's taking longer than I thought because of all the impasses and mires around here. Just kidding--I know the politicians are all working hard to make sure . . . whatever it is they want to make sure of.

You must be this tall to ride the Apollo 11

I'll finish up my blogging about the Wine Bloggers conference on the weekend, because I can't let my wife catch me working while we're technically taking a day off. Yesterday we visited the Smithsonian Natural History and Aerospace museums (I was awed and delighted: what a wonderful thing, free museums that are among the best in the world) and today we're going down to the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building and that Smithsonian Art museum. That will take about eight hours or so, and then it's time to pack and collapse in a heap to go home to catch up on kitties and work. 

If you've never been to DC, it's an amazing place. I've leared more in the last day about America than I have in a year in history class. I'm very anxious to visit Lincoln and to see the other memorials. more

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Wine Bloggers Conference Day One Wrap-Up

Tom's house. Nice enough, for an older property

Day Two of WBC starts with a wrap-up of day one. After speed blogging and a general flopping onto my face for a nap, it was time to go out to Monticello, the original house of Thomas Jefferson, author of the US constitution and general amazing dude. Monticello itself is a five minute drive away from downtown Charlottesville and very much worth the visit. It's a gorgeous property and a very stately house--not only a national heritage site, but also the only home in America to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

An English Rose, beside a Canadian thorn

To my everlasting delight, I was seated on the bus next to one of my heroes, Jancis Robinson. Yes, Jancis Robinson, creator of the first television documentary on wine, editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine, writer, first person outside the commercial wine trade to become a Master of Wine, et cetera. Turns out she's not just your classic Oxford educated wine genius, she's also very gracious and generous towards great sweaty fanboys who get tongue-tied in her presence. I'd like to think my status as a contributor to the Oxford impressed her, but I think she's just generally a genial person.

Then we deboarded the bus and walked out onto the grounds of Monticello, and into a hellish blast of heat. And not a dry heat either: with the calculated heat index it was hot enough to render human fat, so I was in real trouble. Fortunately I stayed re-hydrated with plenty of water, and the occasional glass of wine. more

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Wine Bloggers Conference Day One

Nuances of oak, leather and . . . wait, that`s my aftershave

I`m very glad I got a good night`s sleep: it`s been a whirlwind morning so far. I got checked in, grabbed a glass and hit the trade-show floor, where I immediately met dozens of bloggers I know--great to see them all again!

Da Vinci wines was very generous with the Breakfast Brunello--great Pinot Grigio too!

You could really see that a lot of folks weren't just soaking up free wine, but were thinking critically about what was being poured.

Say whaaaaat? At least she seems to like the wine.

A word of explanation about my sartorial choices: I`m wearing my kilt down here in Virginia. It`s over 35C (100F) and the humidity is off the charts. Without a strategy to keep cool, I wouldn't actually melt: I`d probably render, leaving a greasy stain on the hotel carpet. I've mentioned in previous blogs that I only wear pants when I`m working, the rest of the time it`s a kilt. I`m just far enough off the reservation today that I`m comfortable sans bifurcation, but it does generate a certain amount of comment and notice--the reason why I don`t normally wear it to business events: it`s distracting. So so I've got a few picture requests from folks who mostly seem to approve.

Patti is a very gracious lady, generous with her wine


After the trade-show circuit I got my computer and my accessories and got a seat early for the keynote address. It was done by a hero of mine, the fabulous Jancis Robinson, editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine. I may not have mentioned today that I am a contributor to the Oxford--did I mention that I`m a contributor, with my name in it and everything? more

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Is there anybody still out there?


In the parlance of the spy-thriller, I’ve gone dark for a while. Sorry about that, but it’s been an epic period for me: between a lot of travel, a bunch of conferences, a boggling trip to China, a video production (with yours truly as the writer, director, producer, researcher, narrator and actor—I’m a credit-hog) and the production of sales and marketing copy for the 2011 Limited Edition program, along with a couple of complex internal documents, not to mention stories for magazines (one I still owe at this point, gulp) and other obligations (oh yeah, I’m still married—I hope) I’ve been swamped.

Time for a round-up. First things first, China. more

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