My favorite beer wench, in fact, The Beer Wench, tagged me in her latest post, “7 Things You Might Not Know About The Wench.” Although you might not know all seven of the “things” she lists, I actually knew quite a few. Since attending the first Wine Bloggers’ Conference in 2008 in Santa Rosa, I’ve spent a lot of time “palling around with terroirists” and got to know The Wench in the process.
I’ve had a bit of a time crunch and a writer’s block as of late, and have a dozen stories in various states of completion sitting in “drafts.” Ashley’s (aka Wench) is one of the few blogs to which I actually subscribe, and I notice she has been posting quite often lately, thus shaming me even more for my failure to post at least every other day. So I thought I’d take her up on her little challenge, and actually do something I rarely do, just “blog.” I certainly do not want to ignore the chain mail invitation and reap the scorn that comes with not playing along.
So here goes…
7 Things You Might Not Know About The WineWonkette
1. My Favorite Color
I don’t have one. This is one of the “secret questions” that invariably is used by scores of geeks as a security question when I forget my password. I can’t answer it truthfully, which sucks, because I forget my passwords a lot. Especially those that require a certain number of characters, symbols, numbers and letters in uppercase, lowercase sequences that one must change every 30 days. I like most colors, and wear whatever suits my mood on a particular day. I read the “Color Me Beautiful” book in the 90s and disagree with the nonsense that one should only wear a certain color palette. Because it all depends on what color my hair happens to be that month, and what make-up I’m wearing. Although there is one particular shade of green that looks awful on me. I don’t know what it’s called, but I know it when I see it.
2. Keep Track of Earthquakes
I began keeping track of earthquakes after we first visited Northern California and have since made so many friends there. Some people found my vigilance amusing. Probably not so much after the recent devastation of Japan. The United States Geological Survey has a website that tracks all of the seismic activity around the globe. You can set up alerts for different regions or the entire World. I get alerts on my Android every time there is a quake over 6.0 anywhere in the world. Since the 8.9 Richter magnitude quake hit near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, there have been over 370 aftershocks, many over 6.0.
3. Studied in Japan
As part of my MBA in International Business at the University of Houston, I did a Summer Study Abroad in Japan at Chiba University (千葉大学, Chiba Daigaku). Part of the program included plant tours and visits to Sony, NEC, Mitsubishi and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). That’s me, with long dark hair under a red hard-hat standing second from the right.
My lodging was “home stay” with a young couple named Hiroshi and Akiko Majima in Midori-ku Chiba-city. Each day I would walk from their home to Toke Station to take the train to the Nishi-Chiba campus. First built in 1896, Toke (which I’m told means ‘Bird’ in Japanese) Station serviced 13,861 passengers per day (2009 statistics). Akiko and I spent many an evening in conversations dispelling the misconceptions we had about one another’s culture. Of course, since I was coming from Texas, Akiko, who assumed that I would be very tall, purchased size 10 slippers for me to wear around the house. They were like snow skis! Akiko said she was very surprised to find that she was at least 6 inches taller than I (but then isn’t everyone?) Here I am pictured with Akiko (to my right), Akiko’s pottery teacher (center) and two other students from her pottery class.
After I returned to Houston we kept in touch via letters (this was before the Internet) but I moved and and we eventually lost touch. I always planned to go back and visit. Watching the devastation on video has been especially difficult for me. It was much like watching Galveston and Kemah wash away with Hurricane Ike, but on a much greater magnitude. It’s horribly upsetting. If you can, please help the people in Chiba and other areas affected by the quake and tsunami by donating to the American Red Cross/Japanese Red Cross.
4. Great-Grandfather Corron made the first wood golf club in America
And I don’t play golf. There is a bit of debate about the first organized golf course in America. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, as well as the history of White Sulphur Springs Resort, it was Oakhurst Links.
It was founded in 1884 at Oakhurst, the estate of Russell Montague, who had moved from Boston to Greenbrier County in 1878. Montague was joined in founding the club by George Grant, a retired British army officer; Alexander and Roderick MacLeod from Scotland; and Lionel Torrin, who was the owner of a tea plantation in India, avid golfer, and regular summer visitor. Frazier Corron, a local carpenter, made golf clubs for the club members. from e-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
Other historians suggest that the first permanent golf club was in Yonkers, New York, where in 1888 the St. Andrew’s Golf Club was formed by a Mr. Johnny Reid and a crew of golfers who came to have the nickname of the “Apple Tree Gang”. By my math, that was behind by four years.
In any event, the story goes that a Scotsman traveling to the United States had his clubs held up by U.S. Customs, who, having never seen anything like them, assumed that they were weapons to commit murder. Perhaps it was my great-grandfather, a carpenter, who crafted a club or two for the man to play at Oakhurst. Pictured here is my great-grandfather showing one of the World’s greatest golfers, Sam Snead, the bench and tools he used to make the first clubs. If you click on the picture you can see the original members of Oakhurst Links, along with pictures of the original “Challenge Medals” for the Oakhurst Tournament, the first regularly played tournament in the U.S.
Word is that Frazier also enjoyed the “spirits.” My father once told me that Grandfather Frazier’s constant companion was a cup of “coffee.” When my Dad asked for a sip, Frazier declined to share, because what he was drinking wasn’t coffee at all!
Why don’t I play golf? Although my father did teach me how to swing a driver, and I have a set of clubs, I don’t play. Apart from it being an expensive and time consuming habit, years being ignored for the game of golf by the aforementioned “Johnny Ca$h” left me less-than-inclined to take it up.
5. Raised, Fed and Clothed by ‘The Taxpayers’
My parents were state-funded public school employees. You know, those folks with all the huge salaries and great benefits that are paid by the ‘hard-working taxpayers.’ Just like those ‘overpaid’ workers in Wisconsin, we lived in the lap of luxury. That meant driving downtown to the power company and putting the check in the “night drop” at the very last minute so our power wouldn’t get disconnected.
And it meant that my parents “only had to work nine months out of the year.” Actually it meant they were only paid nine months out of the year. I think my father got paid ten. To “make ends meet” Dad would paint houses in the summer, until he fell off a ladder and broke his ankle. Mom got a second job selling cosmetics in a department store.
But they both worked on school-related projects, whether they were getting paid or not. Dad was scheduling 700 students by hand during the summer by using a little peg board on the back porch. Mom was putting up bulletin boards, buying her own classroom school supplies and cleaning her own chalkboards a few weeks before school started. It meant “vacations” were simply driving to relatives’ houses in an old car that would break down on the way, and we’d have to pull all the money out of “Christmas Savings” to get it fixed. And borrowing money from my grandmother to then pay for school clothes and Christmas presents.
And those great “pensions” paid for by “the taxpayers” were actually deducted from my parents’ checks in addition to Social Security, local, state and federal income taxes. It actually was income they had already earned teaching other people’s children, that was set aside for later. My dad actually majored in accounting, before going on to complete a Masters and additional coursework in Education Administration. We used to ask, “Why on Earth did you go into teaching? You make very little money and get no respect!”
Dad would answer that he did it for “the kids,” in whose lives he felt he could make a difference. My mother said she felt that she was “called by God” to be a school teacher. So excuse me that I get a little pissed when people demand that “their taxes” shouldn’t be going to these “overpaid workers.” Because teachers are taxpayers too. They are just contributing more to their own salaries and benefits than those working for private businesses.*
6. Give Me Silence
I need quiet to write or read. Apart from the sound of the windchimes, the clothes dryer or the hum of the wine fridge, it’s silent around the house when I’m here alone. No TV, no radio, no music coming from an iPod. The best law school grades I ever earned came after I house sat for friends over Thanksgiving.
While I prefer quiet, Joe is just the opposite, which makes it difficult for me to write when he’s at home. When Joe is writing he has the TV on downstairs and/or LOUD music blaring from upstairs. I know he is writing about something especially important when I hear Rage Against the Machine or NWA. He knows I’m writing about something especially important when I hole up in the bedroom with earplugs in my ears.
7. Passionate Perfectionist
OCD. Anal-retentive. It takes me forever to write post. Why? Because it’s important to me to get it right. Unlike the folks over at Fox “News” I prefer not to simply pull the story out of my ass. That’s why contrary to the name of this space, I rarely ever “blog” but try to write reasoned, thought-out and well-sourced articles and posts. Part of it is that I spent my early career training as an actual journalist. Most of it is because I hate to be wrong. So when it comes to facts and figures, and matters of importance, I try to find as many sources of information as possible and attempt to coalesce them into something worth reading.
Sure, what we write here tends to be mainly opinion. And we certainly don’t claim to be “experts.” But let’s face it, even the writing of an expert no matter how much he might like to claim to the contrary, is simply his opinion. We try to base our opinions here on actual facts, as opposed to some of the folks who gets paid mountains of cash as talking heads. But they are opinions all the same.
When you see a wine reviewed on Another Wine Blog, we’re telling you we like it, and why we like it. Not because someone sent us “free wine;” there are plenty of wines we receive as samples that we don’t write about. And not because someone paid to send us to a wine region, or took out a full-page ad in the publication that employs us. We write about things that interest us, and that we think might interest you. We aren’t so arrogant as to think our words need to be “something to read 50 years from now” as one supercilious “expert” (whose writing spends way too much time in the passive-aggressive tense) implores of bloggers who “want to be taken seriously.”
The thing you might not know about me, or Joe for that matter, is that we write out of passion. Passion for a sense of fairness, passion for a sense of justice, passion for our fellow humanity, and passion for the wine and food of our lives.
*Have questions about how organized labor came to be? See Labor Day and the Grapes of Tom Joad