Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Satek (rhymes with attic) Winery

Apologies to Omar Khayyam

After Mrs ERJ picked me up yesterday in Ray, Indiana she drove us to Satek Winery seven miles to the west-southwest.

Satek makes wine out of some of the grape varieties that I am interested in growing.  I wanted to taste those wines while it is still cheap and easy to make changes in my vineyard.

Varietal or blend?
Winemakers have to make a decision: Focus on varietal wines or blends.

Some grape varieties are inherently "balanced" and produce a drinkable wine as a single variety most years.  Cabernet Sauvignon is one such grape.  There is a perception among many wine drinkers that varietals are "better" than blends.

The challenge to the wine maker trying to make good wines, and turn a profit out of a single variety is similar to a painter trying to paint masterpieces, at a profit, using only white paint and burnt umber for pigment.  While it can be done it is artificially limiting.

Approximately 2/3 of Satek's offerings are blends and the rest are varietals.  Lucky for me, one of the winemakers was in the building and was able to identify some of varieties used in their blends.

Tasting notes:

Whisper, 2016
Blend.  Tart, refreshing, neutral, no secondary malo-lactic fermentation.  This is an excellent "picnic-basket wine" to take to outdoor theater in the summer time. Goes perfectly with freshly baked bread, Swiss cheese, cantaloupe or ripe peaches. (Growers note:  Whisper is primarily Cayuga grape, a very heavy producer on a grower-friendly vine.  Cayuga starts to show winter damage at -12F)

Steuben, 2016
Varietal. Semi-sweet pink, very well balanced regarding sweetness and background tartness.  To my nose I smelled grapefruit juice but there was not grapefruit taste.  A very likeable wine.  (Growers note:  Steuben is an absolutely bullet-proof grape variety to grow...impossible to kill and a very heavy producer.  I am delighted to discover that Steuben can make such a likable wine.)

Traminette, 2016
Varietal.  Traminette is currently considered a rock-star cultivar.  The nose reminded me of a fragrance called Midnight in Morocco.  Perfumed, very floral, almost like Datura meteloides at first dark.  I can see this wine being very appealing to new wine drinkers.

Larry's Luscious Dry Red, 2015
A blend of Corot Noir, Noiret and Chambourcin.  Good color.  I could smell a little bit of oak.  Was surprised to "taste" far more oak than I smelled.  I read that these grapes were inherently tannic...perhaps that is what they meant.

Technically a clean, red wine but this old man could not smell much fruit.  Maybe I caught it in that valley between "young and unrestrained" and "fully developed".  Or perhaps CN and N just want a little more heat and a little longer growing season than they saw in 2015.  (Growers note: Corot Noir and Noiret both have Steuben in their pedigree.  They produce about 80% as much as Steuben.  Noiret grafted on a semi-vigorous rootstock that advances maturity might be a great choice.)

Marquette 2016
Varietal.  Tasting notes similar to Larry's Luscious.  Must not be my day to taste reds.  (Growers note: Marquette is a varietal that produces half as much as Steuben.  Marquette has little secondary bud fruitfulness after spring frosts.  Marquette is considered very cold hardy.)

Side note:
Aromas and taste is non-linear.  A little bit of butyric acid smells like butter.  A lot of butyric acid smells like fresh dog feces.  A little bit of indole smells like well aged beeft.  A lot of indole smells like mice or putrid meat.

The threshold between "a little" and "a lot" varies from person-to-person.  It also varies by age and experience.  One person might hate ripe bananas as a child but adore them as a senior citizen.

My tasting notes apply to me as I existed on July 30, 2018.  Your experiences might be the polar opposite of mine.

Vidal Ice Wine
Varietal.  A specialty item.  Very strong, almost medicinal in flavor impact.  Very sweet.  Probably an acquired taste.  I can see this appealing to folks who like Peppermint Schnapps or as an alternative to a small glass of port or sherry after a large meal.  Not my cup-of-tea.

Satek Winery specializes in drinkable wines.  These wines were not grown and fermented with the intention of wowing judges by being more over-the-top than competitors at a state fair.  They were grown, fermented and blended with the intention of complementing, not dominating, food at the family table.

They were all technically competent.  Even the ones I found less to my taste I could see having a place on somebody's table.

Gun-A-Day drawing

You would probably not see this sign in the window in a New York City barbershop.
(517) 283-2998
30 prizes and 1000 tickets means a 1-in-33 chance of any given ticket winning.  There is not a single "junk" gun in the prizes although I don't care much for the Taurus Judge.
The winning numbers are the Michigan Evening "Daily 3" lottery numbers which are a matter of public record after they are drawn.

Property values in small Midwestern towns

My walk was not all rural.  Sometimes I had to walk through a town.

I got to wondering about the property values in those towns.

The four communities on the right side of the chart are included for reference.  You can click to embiggen.
The chart shown above is the median price per square-foot of housing.  It ranges from a low of $63/sq-ft in Albion (a college town!) to $114/sq-ft in Allendale (another college town).

I took this photo because of the cat on the porch but it is probably about 1000 square feet.
Said another way: It would not be difficult to find a 1200 sq-ft, "retirement" bungalow for $75,000 in Albion or for $135,000 in Allendale, Middleville or Steuben County.

This is a zoom of the picture shown at the top.
This is a block in crowded, downtown Montgomery, Michigan.  Montgomery is too small to have "statistics" but it is five miles south of Reading, Michigan and one mile north of Steuben County, Indiana.

This crowded, downtown block has lots that average 1/3 of an acre.  That is, nine dwellings on a block that measures 300 feet wide by 430 feet long.

Stub 1.7: A lesson in Economics

Raymond was shaky after a bruising session that saw him elected as chair of the Economic Committee.  He craved a drink so badly he was hallucinating, and only by force-of-will and God’s grace was he able to drag himself to a meeting.

He asked “guidance” in the meeting and, to his surprise, a slightly built woman with hair the color and gloss of peanutbutter suggested they step out for coffee afterward.  Her name was Grace.

Sitting on the cheap, vinyl covered chair he examined his benefactor.  She looked to be in her mid-fifties and had little surplus flesh. She was not emaciated.  Raymond saw muscle definition. It was simply a lack of fatty tissue.  She was deeply tanned and the deep wrinkling on her face and neck suggested it was not a new phenomena.

“What’s on your mind, Bunky?” she asked.

“I had new responsibilities added at work.  I have to run a committee, which I have never done before.  The worst thing is that I am stuck with a loud-mouth who is a loose cannon.  And I think she hates me.” Raymond said.

“Of course she hates you.  My husband hates you, too.”  Grace said.

Raymond was quite taken  aback.  “How can your husband hate me?  We never met.”

“He was watching the legislative session live-streamed on his computer.  He had just taken a mouthful of café con leche.  He has a real sweet tooth and loads his coffee with, like, five big spoonfuls of sugar.” Grace said.

“He heard you tell Nuffin that your honorific was “Hammer of God” and then the look on her face…well, he spewed it all over his keyboard.  No way in hell is he going to be able to clean that syrup off the keys.  He’s gonna have to buy a new keyboard.”

“So how can I help you out, young man? Do you need help on running meetings or help on Economics?” Grace asked.

“Both.” Raymond answered, bending down to take a big slurp of his coffee.

“Well, let’s talk a little bit about economics.  That is one of my passions.” Grace said.

Raymond squinted at her a little bit.  She looked different when seen through the tops of his eyes.  And her voice seemed a little bit familiar.

“Wait a minute.  I think I know you.  Weren’t you the Dean at Junior College?” Raymond asked.

“Still am.” Grace said.  “Inside an AA meeting I am just another person fighting the devil.  You are going to find that a lot of people in AA are very high performing people. Maybe it is because our minds work faster than other people’s and drinking was a way of slowing it down so things seemed to make sense. I don’t know.”

“The thing is I am qualified to give you advice about both topics.” Grace said.

“The first rule of economics is that there is no free-lunch.” Grace said.
“The second rule of economics, according to Grace, is that control is an illusion.” she continued.
“The third rule of economics is …”

Next Installment of Stub

Monday, July 30, 2018

A change of jurisdiction can be healthy, or, Why Indiana?

I once worked with a fella named Jimmi who claimed to have taken an extended vacation in Cuba back in the early 1990s.

As students of history, we know that is a near-impossibility.

I asked him, "Why Cuba?  Exchange rates?  Uncrowded beaches?  Great cigars?"

His reply surprised me.  "Cuba did not have an extradition treaty with the United States."

Apparently a college student riding a motor scooter had been killed in a brutal hit-and-run accident one dark-and-stormy night.  Forensic evidence matched the damage and biological material on Jimmi's car to the accident.  Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Jimmi leave a party in a highly impaired state.

Jimmi blew the pop-stand.  Shaved every hair off his body and waited six months, in Cuba, for it to grow back.  That also gave his lawyers time to back-channel the investigation and let the outrage diminish.  Witnesses can become forgetful and start to entertain doubts after six months.

One suspects there may have been other brushes with the law and he might have been in violation of probation regarding controlled substances, hence the full body shave.

Why Indiana?
Why not.  A dash to the southern border was a staple of many cowboy books and movies.  You never know when a change of jurisdiction might be healthy.

Indiana on the left, Michigan on the right.

Time stands still in some places.  $0.32 a gallon.
Indiana is home to many outstanding bloggers: Tam, Roberta, Mr B and others.

Why not Ohio?  Because in Ohio even the Amish are tougher than I am.


If all goes as planned I will be somewhere between Reading, Michigan and Ray, Indiana when you read this.

"Spirit" is one of Belladonna's favorite movies.  This picture is for her.

Butterflies "puddling".  They need sodium to reproduce and can suck it out of the roadside mud.

In Michigan, when your spouse says "Honey, I am gonna go and get the mail." he might be referring to two separate activities.

Stub 1.6: Surnames and Honorifics

Ideka Nuffin had completely run out of patience with Raymond Rojas. 

They had been placed on the same committee by virtue of the communities they represented being close together in the alphabet: Hancock Park and Huntington Park.  Frankly, Ideka was ecstatic that she had been assigned to “The Economy”.  She considered herself to be an expert on money and was very aware of the leverage that being chairperson of that committee would bring.

The only problem was that Rojas was challenging her for the chair instead of automatically deferring to her greater wisdom and most oppressed victim status.

She decided that he needed a public Ideka Nuffin slapdown to put him in his place.  Then he would ask her permission before even crossing his legs, never mind challenge her for anything she wanted.

Her opportunity came in the middle day of the three day session.

Kenny Lane was as crazy as a loon but the boy could be persuasive.  By force of personality he had convinced the legislature into an 8 day work-week.  Three days of sessions followed by five days back in-district.  His reasoning had been that five days gave legislators from even the most remote district plenty of time to get back home and ‘take the temperature’ of their constituency.

An additional benefit, according to the Kenny Lane way of looking at things, was that constituents worked all kinds of strange days and shifts.  A rotating in-district period meant that aggrieved constituents could eventually catch up with their legislator regardless of what weird schedules they might be working.

Ideka did not mind the three day work week and the five day weekends.  In fact, she took to that like a duck to water.  The problem was that Kenny expected them to work during those five days.  The first day of each session was spent in-committee.  The middle day was report-outs in front of the entire legislature and cameras.  The third day was the day “home-work” was handed out.  That is, assignments were handed out to the legislators that were to be completed during the five-day ack-home period.  In most cases the assignments involved gathering information from constituents.

Rojas really pissed her off on the first day  of the work session when he contested the obvious, that she should be chair.

By 10:00 AM the morning of the second day the galley was packed and she judged the e-audience to have peaked.  She sprung her trap.

She was recognized by Kenny and she introduced a piece of legislation that had not been discussed in committee the day before, a piece that she knew would light up Rojas.

“Our committee proposes that we establish a minimum wage for all workers in Sedelia of 20 Cali callors an hour.” Ideka announced.

As expected, Rojas was out of his chair like a rocket.  “We discussed no such thing, Ideka.  You are lying through your teeth!”

Ideka favored him with an icy stare.  “I demand an apology from the gentleman, and I use the term loosely, from Huntington Park.  Furthermore, I demand that he use my preferred honorific and address me by my surname as befits the dignity of this legislature.  I never gave him permission to use my given name.”

Rojas glared at her, unsure of how she turned herself into a victim and him into the aggressor with just a few words.

Raymond took a few deep breaths.  “Miss Nuffin, I apologize for characterizing you as a liar.  But I think a review of the notes of yesterday’s proceedings will substantiate that the committee never discussed, nor agreed to set a minimum wage in Sedelia.”

Ideka had Raymond exactly where she wanted him.  Now it was time to rub his nose in the shit.

“You are both sexist and racist.  If you had done any research you would know that my preferred honorific is Zzz instead of the oppressive, patriarchal ‘Miss’.” she said, buzzing like a bee.  “Try again and do it right or you are affirming your sexism and racism.”

“Xst Nuffin…” Raymond started but was cut off by Nuffin.

“Damn you, boy.  What is your problem.  It is ‘Xxx’” Nuffin interrupted.

“Xxx Nuffing…” Raymond started again and was cut off, again, by Nuffin.

“You must be some special kind of stupid.  What is so hard about saying ‘Xss’” Nuffin said.

That is when the light-bulb went off for Raymond.  He lowered his head humbly and said, “You are right.  The dignity of this legislature requires the deepest respect from every participant.  I apologize for my inability to pronounce your honorific properly.  It is a lack of practice.”

“Damned straight, I am right!” Nuffin said.  She was cooling off a little bit.  Unfortunately, she had been enjoying herself so much she failed to notice that she had over-played her hand.  Many of her colleagues were muttering and shaking their heads, especially the Hispanic lawmakers.

“Of course, that means I expect the same courtesy from you.” Raymond said.
Nuffin nodded regally.  “Of course.  No big deal.”

“Please accept my deepest apology Xstx Nuffin.” Raymond said.

Nuffin decided there was nothing more to be gained by roasting Rojas any longer.  That could wait for another day.  “Your apology is accepted, Mr. Rojas.”

“That is not my name.” Raymond said.

“What?” Nuffin said, taken aback.  “I thought we agreed to not use first names.”

“You did agree.” Raymond nodded with a pleasant smile.  “You agreed that you would use my full surname and preferred honorific, both in front of all our colleagues and on international TV.”

“My full name is Raymond Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Rojas.”: Raymond said.

“What the fuck!” fell out of Nuffin’s mouth.

"My preferred honorific is 'Martillo de Dios'" he concluded.  "Henceforth you must address me as ‘Martillo de Dios Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Rojas.”

“No fucking way!” Nuffin shouted, looking at Kenny Lane.
Kenny shrugged.  “You agreed to it.  His name is a matter of public record."

Meanwhile, Carmen, the representative from Irvine noted, “That still does not address the fact that Zzz Nuffin made false statements in this session and misrepresented the committee she serves on.”

“Carmen!” Nuffin exclaimed, feeling betrayed.

"You will address me by my surname, del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lopez and you will use the honorific Flecha de los ángeles.” Carmen said.  "I will recognize you and converse with you after you address me appropriately."

"This is bullshit.  Pure bullshit.  There is absolutely no reason you gotta have such long names." Nuffin raged.

"On the contrary."  Raymond replied.  "Our culture honors both the patriarchal and the matriarchal lines, unlike your culture.  You can continue your rant but all you are doing is showing the audience that you are sexist and xenophobic.  The choice is yours."

"Incidentally," Raymond said "pronunciation matters.  You need to say our names correctly."

Next Installment of Stub