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TheRagens Newsletter
March 1, 2005

Current Thoughts

What Google giveth, it can also take away. Visitors to our site boomed in January and then fell by almost 40% in February as a result of the most recent Google update which I guess people are calling the Allegra update. Well, at least visitors coming from other search engines and websites haven't decreased at all. It's a disappointing drop in new visitors but I'll just keep building the best site that I possible can. I expect that traffic from Google will start to rebound at some time in the future.

As I write this, the debate in Congress over opening up ANWR for oil drilling is heating up again. As a wildlife photographer, I can only hope that our government will take a long-term view of the opportunity -- after all, any oil under ANWR will only become more valuable over time. Although I expect that eventually the area will become exploited, it would be great if we gave the oil industry more time to figure out how to drill with minimal impact on the area. In the meantime, we can visit the area through the recently published book Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land by Subhankar Banerjee.


In This Issue

bulletNew Photographs
bulletBookmarks - Booklists
bulletWine Tasting
bulletWeb Sites Worth Visiting


New Photographs

My major effort in the last month has been to complete the overhaul of my photography pages. I built a completely new photography home page that shows a much cleaner interface and then worked on finishing each of the galleries.

Nonetheless, I've had just enough time to work on a few photographs, including this dramatic one of the bald eagle perched on an old snag of a tree.

bullet Bald Eagle Perch



In January, I said that I had started to post some of the year-end holiday book guides from some of the better photography magazines. At the time, I had just posted the guides from Outdoor Photographer Magazine from 2000-2004. I've now added the 2004 holiday book list from Shutterbug Magazine too.

Outdoor Photography Magazine has a regular feature where they publish a Book of the Month list with fairly detailed reviews. I haven't found many other sources of good advice on photography books so I have included these lists on my site as well as a reference resource.

bulletOutdoor Photography 2005 Book of the Month List
bulletOutdoor Photography 2004 Book of the Month List
bulletOutdoor Photography 2003 Book of the Month List


Featured Book

The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson
I've enjoyed every one of Simpson's books that I've read. It's hard to say why -- maybe it's because his books seem more personal than others or maybe it's because his books tend to ramble in a personal way that cover a lot of ground -- from personal to philosophical and then to the side of the mountain. At any rate, this book starts with a climb in the Andes and, following a near call with an avalanche, Simpson's increasing sense of his own mortality. For some people, this would be called a mid-life crisis and Simpson explores the impact of this realization on his own endeavors. Unlike other people, though, Simpson decides to climb the classic route up the North Face of the Eiger. As he prepares for the climb, he reflects on some of the historic efforts in the 1930s -- and then as he details his climb, he relates the stops and efforts to the history. In fact, he revels in the history as he ticks off some of the stops on the route. I get the sense that we haven't heard the last of Simpson yet.

This book won a National Outdoor Book Award in 2003. From the citation: "This is the story of a mountaineer in the autumn of his career coming to grips with his own mortality and dwindling physical resources. An extraordinary storyteller, Joe Simpson takes us on a series of adventures which span the globe."


Wine Tasting and Vineyard Updates

Our vineyard has gone into winter dormancy. At some point in the next month or two, I'll prune the vines to prepare for the 2005 growing season. The goal is to get enough fruit to make a gallon or two of wine, maybe...

Speaking of wine, a few weeks ago, we pulled the corks on a couple of bottles of 1998 Domain Drouhin (Oregon) pinot noir. A lovely wine - powerful, intense, but smooth and with quite a bit of fruit remaining. Really quite nice and a shame that I only have one bottle left. Still, the Drouhin was completely overshadowed by the 1998 Cayuse Cellars Syrah - a huge wine - all power and no finesse. A memorable wine!


Websites Worth Visiting

Nature Photography Directories
 - Nature Photography Top 100
 - Photography

I must be in a rut this month - I haven't visited many sites that are truly memorable this time around. I'll have to track some of my site visits more carefully next month so that I can list something new.


2005 Index Newsletter Index
bulletJanuary 2005
bulletMarch 2005
bulletMay 2005
bulletJuly 2005
bulletSeptember 2005
bulletNovember 2005


About TheRagens is a family website that highlights our family history in addition to wildlife and nature photos, wine tasting notes, favorite book lists, and other interests. We are happy to share this with you and you may pass on this newsletter to friends as long as you don't change the content. If you are receiving this newsletter from a friend, you may sign up to receive it by by email by visiting our registration page. If you wish to be removed from the distribution list, simply reply to this message and replace the words in the subject line with REMOVE. We keep an index of our back issues on our site.

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