Bronze & Redux

We have a little family vineyard planted to 100% Syrah (Estrella River Clone / from Chapoutier – for those who care). We entered our first bottle (2004) into the 2007 El Dorado County Fair competition and were just informed that it won a Bronze Medal! Here’s Dan corking the 2004 vintage in December of 2005.


The next month or so is going to be really busy for us. To keep the blog moving, I’m going to be reposting a few things that were removed when the old database / RSS troubles hit. A couple people have asked me to send a permalink for some of those removed articles, so it’s probably good that I get them back in active circulation.

Peak Oil

One of my avocations is energy and sustainability research. Over the last four years, I’ve devoted a significant amount of time to studying the big-picture impact of energy on civilization. I’ve come to recognize this as the world’s most important “hard” issue (vs. what I believe to be the most important “soft” issue of God / spirituality and the Mediation of love).

I just added a paper to the microclesia blog archives – something I wrote for Energy Bulletin. The paper is a summary of our 2005 ASPO Conference – the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. It’s nearly two years old, but the data and forecasts remain current. Especially important is the concept of Net Energy, or EROEI – Energy Returned over Energy Invested.

Also in the process of re-skinning my Peak Oil resources page here. The CSS is down (ugly!), but the PO links should all work. Please visit some of these linked resources to learn more about the profound relationship between energy, population, and socio-economic stability.


The Oil We Eat (Harpers) HERE
The Monkey Trap (R. Freeman) HERE


Mat Simmons HERE
D.O.E. Study HERE

I’m always happy to share my time with anyone who wants to discuss this important issue. Give me a shout.



I’ve been in Las Vegas for a couple days. My uncle Raymond passed away (he was 94) and some family members gathered for a memorial. Twenty years ago, the oldest La Grou brother (my dad had 8 siblings) decided to spread his ashes on a remote hilltop in the high desert, about an hour outside of Vegas. To this day, nobody knows how or why he picked this particular hill..

We were taking care of my dad during his last months of life in 1994. He gave me a map and told me that he wanted his ashes to be spread on the same desert hilltop. Since then, other siblings and their spouses have joined them in this beautiful, desolate place they called Stonehaven.

Each time we’ve visited, a wonderful Lutheran pastor named Don Pieper officiates an intimate memorial in his church’s building in Henderson. We all shared our stories of Ray: he appeared as an extra in 30 movies (lived in L.A.), rode the scariest roller coasters with his grandkids until age 92, made untold 8mm-S8-VHS-DV movies of family events (he filmed our wedding in 1983 – a treasure), and always infected others with a hopeful, positive, can-do outlook. Ray lost his only son (Skip) in Viet Nam.

Ray’s granddaughter Jennifer, whom I had never met, gave a beautiful talk. When Jen was finishing up her masters at UCLA, she lived with grandpa and they became very close friends – wonderfully reflected by the depth of love in her memorial talk. I want to write more about Jennifer in the near future – she’s living in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire as a relief director for the CARE organization. An amazing woman.

After the memorial, I took all of Ray’s grandkids – my cousins – to the Celine Dion show. Celine uses our recording equipment so we always get the “VIP” treatment! After the show, her audio director, Francois Desjardins, gave us the grand tour. Here’s Francois and the grandkids after the show. Jennifer is left, then James and Julie.



Global Social Venture

Yesterday, Cynthia and I enjoyed a day in Berkeley at 2007 Global Social Venture Symposium – an exploration of business enterprise that drives meaningful social change. The discussions focused on a diverse collection of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists successfully leveraging capital and commerce to effect social good.

MBA schools are realizing a need to augment the traditional “bottom-line” approach to business. Some have dubbed this emerging model the “double bottom line” – with profits benefiting both investors and the common good. The GSV Symposium shows that DBL economics is not only working, but thriving.

GSV included a competition in which 157 entrepreneurs from 20 countries presented business plans which promote profitable social ventures. Entrants are judged on their venture’s DBL impact. One winner is a start-up called Dlight – a maker of LED lighting resources for rural families still using candles and kerosene lamps (over 2 billion people). D-light will cut rural lighting costs by nearly 80% while greatly improving family health and safety.

Another competition winner, Revolution Foods, has already launched their venture of providing healthy meals and nutritional education to lower income public school children. As I know from my son’s experience, K-12 nutrition is somewhat of an oxymoron. Revolution’s private-sector model delivers far healthier foods at competitive costs – with resultant drops in nutrition-related health care costs.

Entrepreneurs were everywhere at this conference, and the creative energy was electric. Keynote speaker Majora Carter (who will also be at the Q Conference in two weeks) got us started by showing how one person with vision can impact an entire city (NYC) for the common good. If you click on any link on this post, make it Majora’s TED talk. You will be deeply moved.