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TheRagens Newsletter
March 1, 2003

Current Thoughts

Whew! I didn't think that we'd get to a second newsletter but we've finally got this one out the door. Newsletters take some time to put together to ensure that they are interesting -- even more so as I have to develop or, at least, identify additional content for this website to make this periodic update interesting. So, what's on our collective minds this month?

Beyond foreign policy issues and domestic political shenanigans, the Puget Sound resident orcas did not receive 'endangered species' status which means that there is very little that can be done in a practical way to regulate the whale-watching industry. This means that, just like the last three summers, the whale pods will be tailed by 30-40 boats during most of the weekend days which, from our vantage point on shore, seems like about 20-30 too many. It would be great if the boat operators could simply find a way to stay in business but consolidate their traffic just so that there would be fewer boats. One simplistic way to regulate this might be to simply charge each boat, on departure, a fixed fee every time they take visitors to watch whales -- boats with few people won't find it profitable and will consolidate their traffic yet keep a finders fee. The charge would be assessed by the ports at Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor. A more complex alternative would be to regulate the whale watching business so that no commercial whale watching boat can go out with less than XX people on board. That way, if an operator only has five people signed up for a day, they would consolidate their visitors on a different boat - they'd still get a cut of the revenue but have none of the expenses.

Anyway, I'm glad that organizations like the Orca Relief Citizen's Alliance and others are trying to figure out some ways to manage this.


In This Issue

bulletNew Wildlife Photos
bulletBookmarks - Booklists
bulletWine Tasting
bulletSites worth visiting


New Wildlife Photos

Due to migration patterns, winter is a pretty tough time to get good pictures on the San Juan Islands. So, in addition to the two photos of seagulls and the cormorants which are brand new, I mined some of the pictures that we'd taken on some of our vacations last year. As with our pictures from the San Juans, all of the pictures we take are in the wild and not in zoos or other posed situations.

bulletSeagull on Pile Point
bulletSeagull in flight
bullet Bighorn sheep on the rocks
bullet Steller's Jay at Yosemite
bulletBuck waiting by sequoia trees



We started to read our way through our pile of holiday books. My wife was a big fan of Bee Season by Myla Goldberg and, for light reading, we both got a kick out of the The Nanny Diaries: A Novel; by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I think the best book I read, though, was our featured book listed below. This book won the 2001 Banff Mountain Book Award for Mountain Literature and is a riveting read.

Featured Book

Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber; Mark Twight
This is an intense book. VERY INTENSE. In his forward, Twight challenges the reader directly when he says that he wants to make them think, think really HARD, about what he's writing. Twight expects the reader to put it down periodically to do that thinking. He succeeded. This book is an intensely personal perspective on climbing, the ethos of climbing, and the friendships of climbing. The stories are, sometimes, not easy to read -- I sometimes found myself re-reading parts of them just to make sure that I didn't miss anything. Later in the book, Twight indicates that the "Dr. Doom" persona that he put on was sometimes (maybe) overdone for the articles he wrote. Nonetheless, the feelings of anger and rage and the feeling that he just wants to climb his own way and to his own standards, without interference, appear completely genuine starting right from his quotes from his favorite punk rock songs. Adding to the level of interest are Twight's comments after every article where, with some experience and maybe mellowing of time, he adds some additional reflections on what the story meant to him then and now.


Wine Tasting

We're looking forward to our next wine tasting dinner in mid-March -- we're going to target the red wines of Washington State, our home turf. It will be interesting to see which wines come out on top. Over the last two months, we've tasted some delicious wines:

bulletDuckhorn Vineyards, 1990 Howell Mountain Merlot. This wine was ready to drink. Fully mature, the tannins had settled out a bit but there was still more than enough fruit to give it some legs.
bulletRombauer, 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. My wife broght this one on the ski bus. The report back was that it stood up to the tests of her compatriots and was preferred over the Silver Oak that it was sent up against.
bulletBrick House Vineyards, 2000 Cuvee Les Dijonnais. Nothing subtle about this pinot noir -- it's loaded with rich, fresh fruiit.

On the vineyard front, I started to gear up for the planting of our backyard 'vineyard' with some work done to rebuild some of the rock walls that help to terrace our backyard. The rock walls serve two purposes. First, they help make terraces on which the slope will not be so severe; this will allow for better water and soil retention. Second, the rocks themselves will help retain heat during the day which will give the vines just a little more help during the growing season.


Websites Worth Visiting

Blogger. I've been thinking about creating a web log on our website for a while just to have a way to spontaneously put up some notes on topics that I find interesting.

Live Journal. This is an alternative blogging service - I came across them because I suddenly started to see visitors coming to my site and i was curious why.

Oregon Winegrower's Association. I was sent an invitation to a nifty promotional event put on by OWA and I thought it would be interesting to see what they're doing. A really neat service that they offer is a 'grape matching' service to help growers meet winemakers.


2003 Index Newsletter Index
bulletJanuary 2003
bulletMarch 2003
bulletMay 2003
bulletJuly 2003
bulletSeptember 2003
bulletNovember 2003


About TheRagens is a family website that highlights our family history in addition to wildlife and nature photos, wine tasting notes, book lists (with a focus on mountain climbing) and other interests of ours. We are happy to share our interests with you and you may pass on this newsletter to friends as long as you make no changes to the content. If you are receiving this newsletter from a friend, you may sign up to receive it 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.

Thank you.


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