gigondas journal

This time last year I had my first dose of peasantry, doing some dirty work for a Hessian prince. This time around, I opted for more mountains, less royalty. This is the Dentelles de Montmirail, at the foothills of Mont Ventoux, in Provence-Cote d'Azur. Southern France, kids, is where the grapes are. (Too bad they're not terribly ripe quite yet. But that's another story, for later.) I'm staying here for two-ish weeks as a shadow cellar rat -- that's a person who cleans a lot of sticky equipment and maybe, if I'm good, get to climb in large vats of grapes and push them around a bit -- and general go-to girl for a very cool female winemaker in the Beaumes de Venise. But why is this place cool? Refer to mountains. If you've got to be a grape-picking peasant (or rat, as the case may be), this ain't a bad place to be.

Today I got tartaric acid in my eyes. Hurt. Tomorrow, cleaning vines of nasty grapes that either haven't ripened yet or have rotted beyond hope. I hope there's no spiders.


vote early, vote often

It's here. I can't decide whether to vote this afternoon and run down to the post office, or wait and prolong the agony, continuing to refresh dozens of newspaper sites and read bug-eyed and panicked. And then vote. As a salve. Of sorts. The further this goes on the more I fear Nov. 5 may not be a day of serious drunken celebration and instead one where we make a bee-line to the Auslanderbehorde and request a change in our visa status from journalists to political refugees. At this point, such a move is surely justified.

It's also great to know that S.F. is still keeping it real. Also on the local ballot (there are five! in this envelope. I have homework to do.) are amendments to effectively legalize prostitution and rename the City's waste treatment plant in honor of George W. Bush. On the flip-side, Californians get to sound off on a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I certainly hope this is soundly defeated, else I lose what vestige of respect I may have left for my home state.

And for any S.F. kids out there who remember the Gonzalez-Newsom mayoral battles, WTF is Matt Gonzalez doing on the ballot with Ralph Nader. News flash, peoples: You're not helping.


now what have we learned

From "The Great Crash 1929," by J.K. Galbraith. Good reading, these days.

"...1929 was a year of many marvels. In particular, it was one of those years that marvelously illuminate human motives and the very wellsprings of human behavior. Historians and novelists always have known that tragedy wonderfully reveals the nature of man. But, while they have made rich use of war, revolution and poverty, they have been singularly neglectful of financial panics. And one can relish the varied idiocy of human action during a panic to the full, for, while it is a time of great tragedy, nothing is being lost but money."


there's about 6,000 miles

between Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minn., and Baku, Azerbaijan. Think that's enough space between the RNC and Cheney? No time like the present to send the VP on his first tour to the region. (Special note, per CNN: Cheney meets with oil execs from BP and Chevron, and *then* will meet with the Azerbaijani president. Never fear: American priorities are in order.)


sos georgia

For the past year or so Georgia (the country) has been running advertisements in The Economist -- many of which have made me laugh, only because of the sheer bravado of the message. Usually in bold red, the words "France vs. Georgia" or "Florida vs. Georgia" or some such, would be emblazoned across the top of the page, while a short text would explain why Georgia was a better place to invest, etc., than the named opponent. The tagline was always, "And the winner is: Georgia."

Looks like the country's ad men have changed their tune, and for good reason. In the Aug. 30, 2009 issue of The Economist, the above ad appeared (interestingly, located in the "United States" section of the magazine). Check out more at sosgeorgia.org.