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TheRagens Newsletter
July 1, 2005

Current Thoughts

Summer - and it's still raining in Seattle. Things usually dry out starting July 5th and this year looks to be no different. At least, even if the kids are a bit grumpy, the grapevines are thriving on bit of extra water we've been experiencing.

Google is at it again. Not only have I seen the usual summer dropoff in traffic to my website, but searches coming from Google have dropped to about 200 per week in June. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the 500 per week I was seeing a month ago and the 2,000 per week that I was seeing in January! Fortunately, I'm not trying to make a living from this website but it still hurts my pride to see the decline in traffic. As of the first week of July, it looks as though a switch got flipped and traffic has returned to a more normal rate -- and my Google ranking for some keywords like bald eagle photos has climbed up from #43 to the #1 result. Nothing like change!


In This Issue

bulletNew Photographs
bulletBookmarks - Booklists
bulletWine Tasting
bulletWeb Sites Worth Visiting


New Photographs

After completely finishing the overhaul of my photography site last month, I've had time to work on some new photographs again!  Here are some of the new pictures that I've added in the last two months. Of these, The Morning Gargle is my favorite simply because it showcases an American bald eagle in something that is less than full glory.

bullet The Morning Gargle
bullet Ready For Flight



Featured Book

Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hang Dogs: Rock Climbing on the Edge of Reality by John Long
Rock Jocks is, at its heart, the autobiography of John Long. It tells the story of how he learned how to climb and, ultimately, how he (with Jim Bridwell) undertook some of the defining rock climbs of his era at Yosemite. Rock Jocks is also a book on the philosophy of climbing.

While Long's specialty as a 'rock jock' is described in detail and the first 3/4 of the book is mostly about his learning experiences, the last 1/4 of the book also discusses the two other primary types of rock climbers: 'wall rats' who make multi-day climbs and haul hundreds of pounds of gear up vertical cliffs; and 'hang dogs' who, in a way, have transformed the sport of rock climbing into competitions. Admirably, even though the wall rats and hang dogs have a style that he doesn't naturally gravitate towards, Long does not really become judgmental; rather, he acknowledges that each new generation of climbers establishes themselves in their own way and that change is the nature of evolution in the sport. Overall, this book is not as funny as Gorilla Monsoon but it is still a good read from one of the premier rock climbers of the 1970s.


Wine Tasting and Vineyard Updates

We visited Napa over the July 4th holiday and, even though wine tasting was a distant second on our agenda to simple relaxation, we did sample some very nice wines -- starting with a simple and refreshing rose (the Rosado from Casa Nuestra) that was perfect for our first day picnic all the way to a beautiful, complex wine bursting with flavor but still silky smooth pinot noir from Hirsch Vineyard that we savored with our dinner at Bouchon.

It wouldn't be summer without an update on our vines. The clusters started to swell in mid-June indicating that they've been pollinated and should start to grow. Since this is the third year for most of the vines, I might be able to coax about half a crop from them this year -- which ultimately means that I need to cut off more than half the clusters that are growing. I'll give it until the middle of July to make sure that the clusters really are set and then I'll work my way through the vines and also do some leaf pulling from the cluster area so that the clusters will get enough sun. I do need to get out in the vineyard and pull up weeds -- and re-lay the weedblock fabric that hindered the weeds' growth over the last two years. I just need 4-8 hours of free time to do it right.


Websites Worth Visiting

Nature Photography Directories
 - Nature Photography Top 100
 - Photography

As I've been doing more reading on photography, my horizons have opened to photography websites on the web. One of the photographers that I greatly admire is Ron van Dongen due to the attention that he places on every photograph he takes -- there is something (the lighting, the textures?) about his photographs that is exquisite and I enjoy them quite a bit. His website includes an almost complete set of thumbnail images for every one of his published photographs. I've now invested in first edition versions of each of his four books, available as monographs directly from Ron's website or from Nazraeli Press.


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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