Category Archives: The Us

New Mexico, hot and dry

I’d been raving for months about how great Northern New Mexico is in the summer. It’s warm, but not too warm. There’s lots of sunshine, but with frequent afternoon rains, green fields, a soft breeze during the day, and cool, crisp air at night. And so on. At least that’s the way I remember it. But it wasn’t like that at all when we visited in June.

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I don’t remember antelope listlessly roaming around my grandparent’s ranch. I don’t remember the pastures being overtaken by prickly-pear cactus. I don’t remember otherwise healthy trees near my parents house drying out and falling over. It was hot and dry. Very dry.

A bridge over a dry irrigation canalA (very dry) irrigation canal

On our last night we could smell the smoke from a fire to the North, and water restrictions were enacted in Las Vegas right after we left. Read More →

The price of denial

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
- Douglas Adams

Apparently congress just voted to stop replenishing the massive federal petroleum reserve just to save drivers 3 to 5 cents a gallon. And, in a blatant attempt to bribe voters, Hillary and McCain are talking about a “gas-tax holiday” which would temporarily (like 60 days) cut the price by a whopping 18 cents a gallon.

It’s quite a shock, whenever I’m in the US, to spend $60 or $80 to fill up whatever car I’ve borrowed, but we all knew this day was coming. I remember the gas crisis in 1979 well (even though I was just ten). In school they told us that in a few years it would be impossible to buy a car that got less than 100 miles per gallon, and that by the time we were adults, we’d all be driving solar-powered cars.

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Christmas in New Mexico

(After conducting a few pop-quizzes this Christmas, I learned that certain members of the family don’t actually read what Iwrite here. You know how you are. So if youjust want the pictures — including many that aren’t in this post — go here.)

After spending a few days with Lisbeth and her family, I went home to New Mexico just before Christmas. It was COLD! It was colder than Denmark has been all year. That actually isn’t unusual (Denmark has been record-breakingly warm recently, thanks in part to global warming), which makes it frustrating when Danes say, “Oh, you’re going to New Mexico — it’ll be SO warm!”

The view from mom and dad's porchthe road up to the ridgeThe view from the house

It was the first time I’ve used my sunglasses since September. Even on a clear summer day, the sun in Denmark is muted compared to the sun in New Mexico. Read More →

The Dollar Decline

ist2_3282632_chrome_dollar_symbol_small.jpgThe US dollar is taking a beating. It’s been on a steady decline for two years, and was recently surpassed by the Canadian “loony”. It’s at record lows against the Euro. Even the Mexican peso is at a seven year high against the dollar.

On the day I moved to Denmark, it took 6.28 Danish crowns to buy a dollar. Today it’s today 5.10 — almost a 20% difference. Given this, some of the prices I talked about earlier here have changed, especially compared to February 2006, when I got here.

For example, a Big Mac meal is now $9.21 in Copenhagen (it was $7.48). A large glass of beer runs about $9.80 in the popular parts of town (it was $7.96), and is $7.45 at my favorite cafe (it was $6.05). And gas is $7.43 a gallon here now (it was under $5.43, but part of that increase is just higher gas prices).

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Southwestern skies

“There’s no way to divide the beauty of the sky from the wild western plains” – Natalie Merchant — Gold Rush Brides

I took these today, driving from Springer to Las Vegas (New Mexico).

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Wide, wide angle

I’ve been wanting one for a quite some time, and yesterday I gave in to temptation and bought a new lens. Apparently the official name of this lens is Nikon 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, but most people just call it the “12 to 24″. It’s a professional-grade, digital-specific, ultra-wide angle lens.


This is my first professional grade lens. Everything else I’ve been using is pretty low-end stuff — often costing less than $100 new. This lens is…well, not that affordable…


I wasn’t incredibly impressed with it at first, but now that I’ve used it for a couple days, I’m definitely warming up to it. If I have complaints, it’s the weight, the limited range, and…well, the price.


It is a lot heavier than the stock lens, which gives it a nice feel, but I’m more aware of it, especially when it’s in my bag. The limited range means that you pretty much have to carry about an extra lens. This is not a do-it-all lens.


And no, these pictures are not of Copenhagen. These were taken where my parents live in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where I’m on vacation.

Room With a View

I took these from my condo in Seattle last summer. The colors are, I admit, a bit exaggerated. I cheated, but in the same way that professional nature photographers cheat — by using Fujifilm Velvia slide film. At any rate, I’m pleased with them, although these scans really don’t do justice to the actual slides.

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Seattle and back

I just got back from a week in Seattle. The first time I went back I was sort of disappointed at how un-profound the experience was. I guess I hadn’t been away for long enough. This time I was less disappointed.

My neighborhood is the Pike/Pine corridor between downtown and Broadway. Downtown is stunning, and the corridor has a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. Broadway is a hip freak-show. It wasn’t like any of this surprised me, but I’d forgotten the extent to which these things are true. This despite the fact that I’ve only been gone for nine months.

It struck me that it would be so easy to live there. I know the language, for one thing, but also prices are reasonable (for everything other than property, that is).

But it also felt cheap. The buildings are flimsy, and although the diversity is nice, there are so many people that are trying so desperately not to be normal that you have to wonder if they have anything else going for them. Seattle has no shortage of really androgynous people. I try to be open-minded, but this is something I find hard to take.

Traffic continues to be terrible, and, of course, no real progress on mass-transit has been made. The drivers were more aggressive than I remember them. Inevitably it seems that drivers of luxury vehicles are the worst offenders, but that’s true in Denmark as well.

I was also conscious of a little extra stress on my part due to the fact that Seattle — and any place on the West coast of the US for that matter — could at any minute suffer a devastating earthquake. There’s something really nice about living in a place where that’s not true — a place where you don’t have to think about securing book-cases to walls or having emergency supplies on hand.

Things I don’t understand about Bush supporters

I’ve tried, really tried to understand the logic of Bush supporters. It isn’t easy, but I do have friends that support Bush, and we’ve talked about it. Unfortunately I’m still at a loss, so all I can do is catalog the things I don’t understand. I know that the tide has turned (dramatically) but that is mostly due to the war in Iraq. There are so many other things that should bother them about this administration as well. Here’s my list of things I still don’t understand:

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Sometimes not far enough…

I took a three week vacation to the US in July to see my family. I had a fantastic time, but coming back was rough. There are several reasons for this. One is that three weeks is long enough that it’s almost not a vacation but a temporary relocation. It was weird to leave New Mexico, and weird to come back to Denmark. I wasn’t sure I’d remember how to navigate the Danish transit system or what the PIN is for my Danish ATM card.
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