Tuesday, December 27, 2011
[Credit given to Amazon.com, from which this art (on the right) was taken.]
Today my eyes were opened to a fascinating tool which allows you to see how many online searches were made for a particular term or phrase, and when, and from where.
With such information, you can create products and place them into the market at the right times and places. For example, by knowing that almost 500,000 people Googled "strawberry wine" in June throughout the US, mostly on the East Coast, you could introduce your strawberry wine to East Coast consumers, online, in that month. Companies exist which can even sell you the email addresses of the people who posted those online searches. A person I met today noticed the volume of requests for high-quality swimwear, and he started up a swimwear sales site (check out swimrags.com). He has a Chinese factory that makes to order, and the entire process (order collection, manufacture, and shipping) is hands-free to him. Wow! My wine business is very likely too hands-on. I wonder what I would lose, by reducing the extensive person-to-person facetime that I exert now. I know what I could gain . . .
This is not too different from the premise of The Matrix (the 1999 movie which for many intelligent folks is a Top Twenty Lifetime movie, and whose famous "streaming codes" are shown above), though if you press me I might not be able to fully explain just how. ;)
Monday, December 19, 2011
Everything will change if we just wait long enough:
In a recent blind tasting judged by five Chinese and five French wine experts, where five Chinese wines and five French wines (all within the $25-$45 price range) were compared:
The top four wines were all made in China!
Read the story here.
Monday, December 12, 2011
This bistro is located in downtown Portland (on Park Ave). We recently attended a great community Sunday dinner there, and look what we got for just $39 each:
1. French (Normandy) hard cider during socializing
2. Camembert and Livarot cheese tray with French prunes and baguette
3. Housemade Andouille and rabbit sausages with pickled vegetables and dijon mustard
4. Mixed green salad, with poached pears, hazlenuts, and pear vinaigrette
5. Marmite Dieppoise: salmon, shrimp, mussels, with leeks, celery, onions, carrots, curry, and paprika cream
6. Cider braised rabbit hindquarters, with pearl onions and heirloom carrots, on a bed of braised red wine cabbage with bacon and apples
7. 2008 JP Chenet Chardonnay/Colombard and JP Chenet Cab/Syrah (both vin de pays--table wines--from N. France)
8. Petit Suisse Rice Pudding with fresh fruit.
9. Calvados (eau du vie)
10. Good company next to us, including a gentleman who grew up in southern France and is living in Portland, doing, among other things, bicycle racing.
A great time!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Oh, this is AWFUL news:
Argentine grass-fed beef is already a thing of the past. What? How did this happen? Almost all Argentine beef is now raised in feedlots, grain-fed and crowded, just like in the U.S.
Cows did not evolve while eating grain. In fact, it sickens them. They evolved eating grass.
Why do we care (aside from concern for cow welfare)? Because grass-fed beef is lower in overall fat, lower in heart-killing saturated fats, and higher in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Corn-fed beef is killing us by clogging our arteries. And feedlots, besides being nuisances, create monumental amounts of pollution, besides creating a food that is notably unhealthy to eat.
Argentine ranchers, enticed by the high prices of world grain markets, and driven by short-sighted government policies which discourage beef production by keeping beef prices artificially low, have switched to grain production (raising corn, wheat, soybeans).
Remember that line from Oklahoma!: "Oh, the farmer and the cowboy can be friends . . ." Well, the cowboy has BECOME the farmer.
Millions of persons will die earlier because of this, and a cherished ranching tradition of the Gauchos, a tradition that practically defined a culture, is dead.
My spouse even said that now we should drop our plans to someday visit Argentina, and enjoy the famed grass-fed beef with an Argentine Malbec.
But all is not lost: Little Uruguay sees an opportunity here, and is continuing its production of grass-fed cattle while opening up new high-end markets for its beef. But the wines in Uruguay (Tannat, and others) are nothing like Argentina's. So the ideal vacation down there would involve visiting Argentina first, enjoying the sights and buying some Malbecs, but eating only poultry, fish, and vegetarian, then skipping over to Uruguay for the beef, which you would enjoy with the Argie wines you brought with you. You might engender some impolite looks (from bringing in a rival's wines), but hey! Life is complicated for everybody now.
We caused this, you know, with our tremendously stupid corn-to-ethanol program. It has driven up corn prices to the point that the poor are getting poorer and even-more-poorly fed, and it has the most-horrific economics (in terms of energy in - energy out) of perhaps any government program in history. It is a truly idiotic money-loser. But the farm lobby is all-powerful, so there you go. We caused this, by allowing it to happen, by allowing Big Food to sell us unpalatable products.
When will governments quit screwing things up?
You can read the article here.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
For many reasons, I do NOT recommend using a saber to slice off the neck of your sparkling wine.
However, if you must persist, then you should read this:
Pix Patisserie's Bubbly Spectacular month continues with a class on sabering—that's slicing off the top of a bottle of sparkling with a knife or sword. This skill is guaranteed to increase your chances of getting laid by 300%. 5 pm, Saturday December 10. Pix Patisserie-North | 3901 N Williams Ave. | 503-282-6539 | www.pixpatisserie.com
The final failure of Ballys Fitness Centers, after three bankruptcies,
is a metaphor for the problems facing the United States:
Ballys incurred too much debt and became unable to properly maintain the clubs and to meet its debt payments. I suspect that management may have skimmed far too much compensation off the top, but that is only my speculation. The practical result has been years of our suffering inadequate maintenance, in subpar facilities.
Now, LA Fitness has bought all the Oregon Ballys gyms, and is closing down four of them, including the two that we used. Wonderful.
When the Nimbus Ballys closes forever at 2pm today, the final bell will ring on more than 20 years of friends' working out together, catching up on each other's lives, making a community. All sundered because of lousy management.
The comparison to the problems which the USA faces now is pretty obvious.
All financial bubbles must pop, right? Earlier this year the Chinese (businesspeople, mostly) were buying Chateau Lafite like crazy, and prices skyrocketed. Seems Lafite was drunk by very popular actors on a Chinese television show, and before long newly-wealthy Chinese were buying all they could.
Unlike us and the Brits, the Chinese typically open and drink the wines within days or weeks of receiving it. A way to impress your lunch companions, I suppose. The thought of all that Lafite, the numero uno amidst the rarified air of the five First Growths in Bordeaux, just vanishing in a day, kind of makes me shudder. By comparison, I opened one bottle of it on my fiftieth birthday.
I think prices for Lafite, as sold into China, reached about $2000 per bottle, in the middle of 2011. Wow. But now it's closer to $1000 (little higher for great years; little lower for not-so-great years), and prices are still dropping.
Just one province in eastern China was consuming 300,000 bottles of Lafite per year. See article here.
The good question is: Will the bubble re-form, once some of the present global economic uncertainties are resolved?
And: Just think about how much wealth has been created in China, to allow such lavish spending on a lunch drink.