Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail; interactive edition

The airstream made us do it.

"Iconic travel trailers, touring coaches".

We saw the aluminum curved-bodied travel trailer while turning into the Taliesin visitor center on June 1 - the first day tours were available this year. We were glad to see a few others venturing out, including the Airstream + Jeep with California plates.

Husband and wife architects, the family packed up for a 6 week cross country adventure. 'I always wanted to visit Taliesin" - said the father at the wheel, with three children secure in the second row. They planned to visit a number of FLW works in Wisconsin and Illinois.

We hope that the interactive book - Along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail - makes it fun and easy to experience the Trail and plan future journeys. Extra features include nearby FLW homes, and a few diversions.

Get it on Apple Books

Sunday, November 15, 2020

"They were good people"

I've long enjoyed diving into maps. The more detailed, the better.

And, so it was while visiting Walla Walla, Washington recently, I sought a few interesting locations. 7 miles west of Walla Walla, the Whitman Mission national historic site proved a fascinating stop, particularly during a year when monuments were questioned, relocated and in some cases toppled.

The site is pleasant, ideal for a stroll, picnic and an informative conversation with a National Park Service Ranger. The Ranger offered a great deal of background on the Whitman Mission, their relationship with indigenous people and subsequent conflict.

She emphasized that "they were good people" who tried to prepare the nomadic locals for the presence of many more settlers. Unfortunately, this clash of cultures resulted in a massacre.

Learn more:

Brittanica on Marcus Whitman:

In 1836 Whitman founded a mission among the Cayuse Indians at Waiilatpu, 6 miles (10 km) west of present-day Walla Walla. The Spaldings established a mission among the Nez Percé at Lapwai, Idaho, 125 miles (200 km) northeast of Waiilatpu. The men helped the Indians build houses, till their fields, and irrigate their crops. They also taught them how to erect mills for grinding corn and wheat. The wives established mission schools. Progress was slow, however, and the board in 1842 decided to abandon its missions at Waiilatpu and Lapwai and concentrate on those in what is now the area of Spokane, Washington.

October 14, 2019: Thomas Yazwinski

Marcus Whitman statue vandalized on Whitman College campus

September 4, 2020: Associated Press

A local team of art researchers has proposed moving the Marcus Whitman statue from its current spot at the Whitman College campus to Fort Walla Walla Museum where the group says its true context can be shared.

“The statue tells us a lot and it has a rich and fascinating history, but again, that history is not the history of Marcus Whitman, it is not the history of the Walla Walla Valley and its not the history of Whitman College,” said Libby Miller director of Whitman College’s Maxey Museum and art history professor during a Walla Walla city Arts Commission meeting Wednesday

Erwin Thompson (1964 book)
For 11 years, the Whitmans worked among the Cayuse Indians, bringing them the principles of Christianity, teaching them the rudiments of agriculture and letters, and treating their diseases. Then, in a time of troubles when two opposing forces failed to understand each other, the mission effort ended in violence. In the tragic conclusion, the lives of the Whitmans were an example of selflessness, perseverance, and dedication to a cause. Their story is symbolic of the great effort made by Protestant and Catholic missionaries to Christianize and civilize the Indians in the first half of the 19th century. The missions represented one aspect of American expansion into the vast, unknown lands of the Pacific Northwest.

National Park Service Education Programs

Parks As Classrooms - Go to the Parks As Classrooms website at Access the WebRangers and Junior Rangers programs.

The "Parks As Classrooms" program was developed to provide parks with seed money for new and innovative opportunities for Americans to learn about their national parks.

Walla Walla County, Washington demographics:

  • Population: 60.760
  • Median household income: $56,533
  • Number of businesses: 1,396
  • Land area (square miles): 1,270.13
  • Population per square mile: 46.3

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Cathedral of Monreale

  • 6400 sq meters of gold, silver, enamels, and marble mosaic tiles.
  • Each panel tells a story from the Bible. There’s Adam and Eve being tempted by the serpent…angels climbing Jacob’s ladder…and Noah building his ark, and filling it with animals.
  • Groundbreaking: 1172 Completed: 1267
  • Official Name: Arab-norman Palermo and the cathedral churches of Cefalù and Monreale.
  • The cathedral combinines Norman, Byzantine, Italian, and Saracen styles.

It was commissioned by William II (1154-89), the Norman ruler of Sicily, who wished to demonstrate the magnificence of his kingdom and outdo the splendid Palatine Chapel built by his grandfather, Roger II. The project employed both Sicilian and Byzantine craftsmen, resulting in a magnificent fusion of eastern and western influences.

It was designed to function as a Bible storybook. For centuries, early Christians debated whether or not images were appropriate in church. To solve this controversy — called the “Iconoclastic Controversy” — a pope called a convention, the Council of Nicaea, in the eighth century. The result? Images are OK if they teach the Christian message.

Legend has it that the idea for this cathedral came to William II in a dream when, during a hunting expedition, he fell asleep under a carob tree. In his slumber, the Virgin Mary appeared to him, indicating where a treasure chest was located—and with this loot he was to build a church in her honor. Legends aside, William’s ambition to leave his mark was the force behind the last—and the greatest—of Sicily’s Arab-Norman cathedrals with Byzantine interiors. Best of all, the cathedral in Monreale never underwent any of the “improvements” that were applied to the cathedral of Palermo, so its original beauty was preserved.

1. We are Palermo

2. Sacred Destinations

3. Rick Steves

4. Britannica

5. Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale (1180s)

6. Wonders of Sicily

7. Wikipedia

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Apple Search, Discovery and amuz experiences

Swipe Right. Search. Discover

iPhone and iPad users unlock their devices at least 100 times per day (36 Trillion annually). Device interactions such as app, messaging and camera usage, are an "order of magnitude higher". [1]

Apple's iOS 14 adds a prominent, new search and discovery experience. [2]

amuz - the app for explorers - amplifies curated locations around the world using these new interaction points. A beautiful example - Oregon's Left Coast Estate:

This video illustrates iPhone discovery experiences for Taliesin, Iguazu, Longwood Gardens, Longji Rice Terraces, and Shanghai's PuDong airport.

New experiences = new opportunities. Nearly half of Google’s search traffic now comes from Apple devices. [3]

Explore interesting locations worldwide with amuz on iPhone and Android.


2. Tim Harford and Patrick McGee :

Most significantly, iOS 14 nudged aside Google for certain search functions. Queries made in the search window accessed by swiping right from the iPhone’s home screen — which Apple calls the “Today View” — show an Apple-generated list of search suggestions rather than Google results. These results include “autocomplete”-style suggestions generated by Apple, showing that it is learning from its 1bn users’ most common queries.

3. Apple, Google and a Deal That Controls the Internet by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Jack Nicas

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Digital Tasting Room Experiences

amuz will help you stand out in a sea of bottles on the shelf. When you can’t be with your guests amuz can help you tell your story. We leverage technology and immersive media to enhance your marketing and drive sales.

Point phone -> tell story with amuz QR.

Left Coast Estate Wine Club insert example:

Billions of smartphone cameras now have automatic, built in QR code readers.

Origin Story

Vineyard Profile

Vineyard Profile Video Share

amuz Digital Tasting room uses:

  • Wine Club
  • newsletters (links)
  • Social
  • Pairings & Virtual Sommelier
  • Experiences / Events
  • Distributors/Sales Channels
  • Retail
  • Winemaker
  • Terrior
  • Sales Training
  • Tastings
  • Packaging (box, labels and neck tags)

Our current physically distanced era requires digital experiences and methods to create new, meaningful connections.

amuz visual stories: French Ambition Comes to Fruition on Oregon's 45th A Family Legacy on Oregon's 45th

Let amuz tell your story because you are more than a pretty label. amuz tells your story with beautiful scenes, immersive media and your voice.

amuz is a cost effective way to make a lasting impression. Rives-Blanques has a great story to share [amuz podcast]. We'd like to help you tell the world.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Viroqua: Don’t Panic it’s Organic!

Viroqua is the center of a farming region in Vernon County that traditionally produced wheat, dairy and tobacco. Farming still dominates the scene but there has been a marked transition to organic. Vernon County now has the largest number of certified organic farms in the state of Wisconsin at over 200. Viroqua is home to Organic Valley, the largest farmer owned organic co-op in the country. A Madison friend who grew up there refers to Viroqua as her “hippie home town”. There is truth to that as urban refugees came to Viroqua in the 1970s and the organic movement reflected their values. The creation of the Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School forty years ago aimed to foster an environment where children were the central focus of a school for those who desired “a life in harmony with nature’s rhythms”.

Situated in the Kickapoo River valley, Viroqua is beautiful. The rural scenery includes dramatic cliffs, winding rivers, and fertile acreage. The Amish peacefully reside in the valley and enhance the experience as a reminder to simply slow down and take in the beauty. One can find Amish goods at the Viroqua farmers’ market. On a recent visit there was a separate market with fruits, vegetables, furniture, quilts and woven baskets. The goods are hand made of course and reflect a craftsmanship honed by generations of repetition. Each good is marked with the maker’s identity and address. If you drive the back roads you will see simple hand-lettered signs that announce a family’s speciality.

For a small town there are businesses and amenities you would likely find in a bigger city. The Viroqua Food Co+op is well stocked with staples and epicurean delights. The impressive farmers market, charming Main Street shopping district, the historic Temple Theatre and Wonderstate Coffee stand out as community assets.

The Driftless Cafe is the culinary star of the area. Luke Zahm is the chef owner and a native of nearby Lafarge. He had a solid and impressive career in Madison before returning to his roots. Founded with his wife Ruthie in 2013, the Driftless Cafe has an impeccable reputation for farm to table cuisine. Luke now has a side gig as the host of WPR’s Wisconsin Foodie. Zahm was recognized with a James Beard award nomination for “Best Chef in the Midwest” in 2017. The nomination was a coup for a small town restaurant as previously the Beard nominations had never gone to a chef between Minneapolis and Madison. There is such a hospitable, collaborative atmosphere at the Driftless that Ruthie personally suggested restaurants around the country that were her favorites. The reverence for the farms that supply cafe ingredients is reflected by the prominent display of the farmers’ names as part of the decor. You can’t go wrong with the menu options as all are fresh and respectful of the seasons in which they were grown.

Explore the world with amuz.



Thursday, October 8, 2020

Turning Back Time in Westby

The Big Old Red Shed bills itself as a flea market. The site was formerly a lumber yard. It’s on East State Street in Westby so it is a convenient stop while in the Driftless area. The place is jammed to the rafters. There is a framed photo of Frank Fitz of the reality show “American Pickers” near the entrance. A sign warns that transactions are “cash only”.

There is a visible layer of dust on most surfaces that I find oddly encouraging. This place is a sort of time capsule. In the parlance of American Pickers the offering here is the “history of America, one piece at a time.” More than 40 people sell stuff for the location.

I went with my 20 something daughters who are in a life phase of acquiring items for their homes. I have tried really hard in recent years to adopt the Marie Kondo approach of only acquiring or keeping items that spark joy. I felt happiness as I wandered the stuffed rooms with my girls but only regretted a few items left behind. There were so many memories of forgotten items from childhood and time spent in the kitchen with my grandmothers and mother. I delighted in showing my girls rotary egg beaters, ancient metal flour sifters, potato ricers, cast iron pans and collectibles. It was the decor items that we found most alluring. How could someone have crafted a queen size hand stitched quilt that was now on offer for $35? The Jadeite, Jadite or Jade-ite bowls (yes I saw all three spellings) so lovely with their green milky color particularly appealed to a new generation.

The “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra and desire for quality guides my daughters. They both have lived in big urban areas and repeatedly commented how they could envision many of the items with big prices in Oakland or Boston. Kate scored a cool mid-century brass lamp for $25. The second floor is worth the effort to meander there.

I look to Pyrex colorware as a barometer for store prices. In Westby one could purchase a complete set of four primary color ware nesting bowls for $58. As a comparison, a shop in Walla Walla Washington had the same set on offer for $87.50. There is no wine region adjacent to Westby so I think their prices are affordable. eBay and Etsy prices are often around $150 pre shipping. Pyrex is collectible no doubt because of sentimentality, great design and durability. Baby boomers are apparently shedding their collections so it seems to be in abundant supply.

I had acquired a set years ago from a Madison store that benefitted a charity. I have fond memories of my mother using the largest bowl, the yellow one, to serve her potato salad or rest a loaf of rising bread dough. Mom had received her bowl set as a bride to be in 1957. I shared my excitement in acquiring the set with the shopkeeper who cooly said “we are all just trying to buy our childhoods”. No matter, four glass bowls for less than $60 in better than a big box store.

I learned a little personal history the day we visited. There was a bookcase display of vintage beer cans. Many of the breweries such as Schmidt and Schlitz harken back to a time before micro breweries. I had never heard the detailed story my husband told us that day of his experience as a middle school aged beer can collector. He would scavenge for cans at county fairs and concerts taking home the empty discards left on the grounds. He also would visit his Great Uncle Elmer’s farm and sort through his burn pile in the woods for salvageable cans. Schmidt cans were particularly collectible because the label art would change seasonally. Who knew my husband who has little patience for shopping was a “picker”? Most savvy of all, and an indication of his entrepreneurial prowess, he sold his collection for $300 circa 1977. Today’s prices are often less than $2 a can so he did well back in the day!

The shed has adopted good Covid precautions. Masks are required and physical distancing is encouraged. Check for modified store hours on their website. In the era of home confinement there is now a Hi-Bid auction site and a virtual shed element on their Facebook page.

-- Nancy Zellmer