Samsø via The New Yorker…

A reporter from The New Yorker went to Samsø recently to learn about the island’s status as “Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island” and how they’ve actually had considerable success in renewing their energy sources so as to leave less of a carbon footprint. So Samsø is now energy selfsufficient. Well done!

Where they have not succeeded, the article informs us, is in cutting down on the actual energy consumption. Selfishness, is the simple answer to the question of why… We’re all waiting for the neighbour to start cutting down on consumption before we’ll consider it ourselves, says the interviewee. I tend to agree…

Apparently, Samsø has had the status of Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island for 10 years now and I had to read about it in The New Yorker. If you go to the project’s homepage and take a look in their press section, you understand why. It’s not exactly something that has mesmerized the Danish media…

But some international media have visited and reported. NBC, Italian RAI Uno, CBS and more.

The reporter from the New Yorker also visits Switzerland and the father of an organisation called the 2000 Watt Society. It does not have it’s own homepage, but it’s pretty well covered in the article and also on this Swiss organisation’s homepage. Its goal is rather obvious and it suggests numerous ways to get there. But you and I can’t do it on our own. Our governments and local councils must take the lead. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything at all. At the moment we Europeans use 6000 watts (the Americans use 12000 watts), so must reduce our consumption with two thirds. What can we do?

  • Drive less – in more energy-efficient cars (walk more, use public transportation more). Shop for more than one day at a time. Share the school run with another family. Get the (bigger) kids to walk or use public transportation. This is England (or Denmark, depending on the reader…), not Chicago or Philadelphia…
  • Fly less. This one’s hard because the footprint we leave everytime we do it is HUGE! I’ve just flown around the world for the pleasure of it! And been to Denmark twice in two months! And David flies (that’s work, but still flying) to Berlin or Geneva or whereever almost every week!
  • Don’t buy more food than we can eat. Use leftovers instead of binning them. (Try entering some of the contents of fridge into Google – you’ll be surprised!) Be conscientous when sorting rubbish. Compost if possible. Collaps all cartons before binning them. When they take up less space, we need less containers = less lorry-miles.
  • Change all lightbulbs to energy-saving ones. It also saves money! And switch the light off!!!
  • Try to think in food-miles while shopping. It’s not easy, but the exercise is educational…
  • Try to avoid the dryer and hang clothes instead. Fill up the machines, both washer, dryer and dishwasher.

I do believe that every little thing counts. And – for instance – everytime we pick an energy-saving lightbulb from the supermarket shelf, we encourage the supermarket to buy more of those and less of the other ones.

More about sustainable living and about the importance of diminishing our carbon footprint NOW on 350.org. Why not become a “fan” of 350.org on Facebook?

And more about sustainable living on the microplane from No Impact Man and on Carbon Footprint.

This is a portable eco fridge. The above picture is an energy-saving halogen bulb. Both and lots more can be bought at the Ethical Superstore.

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A weakness

I’m going to admit something to you. I don’t dig entertainment on TV and usually don’t watch any of it. Honestly! But when we first came over here I was forced to watch a show on TV called Britain’s got Talent. Forced! (Gotta blame it on someone, haven’t I)…

But, nobody’s forced me to watch every programme since then!

There’s something completely irresistible about it. Every time we’ve been watching the auditions we’ve been asking ourselves what it is that makes people who are absolutely devoid of talent, charm or any other asset go on TV and showcase their shortcomings to the world. Some of them are just absolutely incredibly untalented!

But then, in between all the more or less terrible acts, come these unpolished gems right out of the sticks. Out of nowhere, wih so much talent that you’re left speechless! And sometimes some more polished gems make you think where A&R (artist & repertoire) people around the country have had their eyes and ears?

Here are some of my favourites:

George Sampson – dancer

Hoop-La-La – eh, hoolahoop dancers. Didn’t go on to the finals – much to my regret!

Flava – a street dance group way above what you usually see. And one of the boys’ mum had actually done the choreography! They didn’t go on to the finals, lost to these two little cutiepies:

Cheeky Monkeys.

Another act that didn’t reach the finals, was Tracey. I would have loved to have seen him perform in front of the Prince of Wales!!!

Some of the absolute superstars of the programme are a young girl and a young boy. They both sing and they both sing classical music. And both their voices make the little hairs on your back stand up! Andrew Johnston and Faryl Smith.

The judges of this show are national heroes, it appears. I don’t particularly like any of them… Piers has been editor of some of Britain’s worse rags, which qualifies him to absolutely nothing in my eyes. Amanda is probably a fine actress, but I’ve never seen her, so… And then there’s the world famous Simon. I think he’s horrible. Not because he’s “the tough one”, but because I think he’s got poor taste. He’s one to fall for a cleavage… (and take a look at his own haircut and open-necked shirts, sooo eighties!!!). At one point we saw a pair of dancers who were very good at what they did. It was like ice dancing without the skates. Which is to say not exactly high brow or anything. But Simon went on and on about how he preferred baked beans to caviar. Which was why he didn’t like this act??? They were exactly beans!!! Good, fine, talented. But beans. To Amanda’s credit she rolled her eyes at him!

I’d love if some of my readers (I actually know you’re out there!) would like to comment now and then. It’s quite OK to disagree. But if you do so in foul language, I’m not going to publish your comment. It saddening how many people leave horrible and obscene comments on perfectly above-board blogs. Shame on you!

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Link day

From Marginal Revolution this about Icelanders being the happiest people on earth.

From the New Yorker a bone-chilling recount of Nixon’s presidency and why that period is still very relevant to America today.

Kottge.org links to this incredible collection of legs as used in book- and magazine covers…

Puzzled as I am as to what this really is, animation, film, graffiti, a figment of someone’s imagination? I bring you this absolutely stunning little film. Found by Tore.

Ezra Klein has a couple of posts about Ted Kennedy. The first just a short notice about how sad it is that it is this particular senators of all senators who has to suffer from a malignant brain tumor. In the second post he quotes other mourners and reflects some more. Ezra Klein writes like he’s ancient and has studied intensely all his life. But no, here’s yet another young person who’s just immaturely brilliant! He writes for the liberal magazine American Prospect.

No Impact Man points to this funny Australian/soon-to-be-American blog about Icing. Icing as in the clothes we put on, the make-up we wear (or don’t as it is) and the outward signals we send in general. Not surprisingly, I really like her post about what to wear when you’re well past forty!

A tulip field in Holland!!! Picture snatched from a food blog on the New York Times. It was an interesting lecture on TED which directed me to Mark Bittman‘s blog. Cow farts are mentioned…

Jeff Jarvis has a funny post about our personal health in the public space. I didn’t even know such a thing existed as Google Health. But there you go. He points to this site, which looks very interesting to me, who, as many of you know, suffer from all sorts of weird little ailments…

Megan McArdle reminds us of Tom Lehrer. How can such an old clip still be so relevant. It’s just same old, same old, isn’t it? And she has this remarkable story about milk subsidising in the US. I haven’t verified it – having almost unlimited faith in The Atlantic. And as the lady says, you just can’t make these things up!

On the Danish website ComON (news about the IT world) I was astounded to find this link. It shows you how to modify your Iphone so the interface looks like Windows Vista! Who on the planet would want that, other than Bill Gates? My husband’s just got a new laptop for work and it has Vista. I find it absolutely horrible. It’s just plastered with widgets and warnings about this, that and the other and a completely useless “opening screen”. Give me XP anytime if I have to use Windows…

On the Blog with the Long Name (on anthropology) I found this interesting post: What Women Want. You just can’t help clicking, can you?

Gretchen, one of my happiness-gurus has this interesting post about how to stop a tantrum (in children, that is…). I’ll give it a shot next time Dane starts slamming doors.

You might be wondering (if you’ve made it all the way down here) why I read so many American blogs and so few British. I certainly wonder about that myself. The truth is, I don’t think much about it, I just put down the good ones I come across. As it turns out, they are mostly American. If you can point me to some exellent British ones, I’d love it! You should know my taste by now!

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Food for thought

I’ve recently added a new blog to my “daily rounds” (or weekly, it depends…). It’s on The Atlantic‘s website by Megan McArdle. This woman can write. And, tada, she’s not a journalist (and not an economist either)!

Her blog is supposedly an economy blog, but if that’s economy I want to be an economist too. Actually, economists seem to be a lot more fun than I’d ever imagined. As I’ve previously let you in on, I also follow economy blog no. 1, the Marginal Revolution blog. Very often the posts are not about economics at all, quite often they are about economy but in such an interesting context that it doesn’t seem that way. And some times they are about hardcore economics and I just skip them…

But back to Megan. The post that made me sit down and write this is about racial issues. But it’s also about litterature. And philosophy. And it is so beautifully written – such mastery of language! An example:

I see the two communities looking suspiciously at each other and saying “Once you have perfected yourself, then I will love you as myself.” But this will not work. The very act of watching the other, at a distance, for signs of change creates the problem we want to solve.

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… but I read it on the Internet!

A phrase usually heard from school children, but something quite similar applies to most of us. This little post is just to appologise for my post including the Letter to America. Allthough still every bit as funny, it just turns out that John Cleese had nothing to do with it. Read here how it came about. Here’s another explanation of the same thing. Nobody alerted me to my mistake, but suddenly my inner librarian poked me and said: Hey, you’d better verify that one before you start spreading it!

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Oh no!

Up early, all eager and happy. Arrive at new flat in excellent mood and lovely sunshine with son and helpful sister-in-law. Get call from movers that they can’t get through gate. Look like big questionmark – gate is very wide, removals lorries, delivery vans etc. drive in and out every day. Appears they‘ve used a 17 meter long giant-lorry to transport our stuff…

Must be the one at the back…

Bottom line – they drive back to depot, reload our stuff into a smaller vehicle (See, it’s possible, it fits!!!) and come back. On Monday.

I don’t cry about things like that, but I do feel very, very disappointed!

So tonight we’re back with our hospitable and patient family for another weekend with nothing much to do.

While sitting in the almost-empty flat waiting for a delivery (new vaccuum cleaner), I found that one of the undoubtedly nice neighbours has left his/her router without protection, so I’ve been perusing the Internet most profusely in my echoing and almost-empty kitchen.

Here’s some of the interesting things I’ve read today:

The Independent tells about research that has now proved that some colour additives bring on or enhance ADHD or “just” generally unruly behaviour in children. If this subject interests you, be sure to check out the other articles in the series, found at the bottom of the story.

My heart fluttered a little when I saw this headline:

The Email Habits That Make People Hate You

because I use e-mail a lot and often wonder why some some people don’t reply. Maybe they just don’t care about me and think I’m a general nuisance (just let it lie there, will you…), or maybe I’m just breaking lots of e-mail rules and annoy people that way? I was relieved to learn that I only really break a couple of the rules (4 & 5) and only some times.

On my friend Gabriela’s blog I found this wonderful speach to the American people, which made me laugh out loud. I thought of John Cleese only yesterday when I overheard two Englishmen doing their traditional good bye routine, where both parties try to pile as many compliments and niceties on top of the other person as possible within a couple of minutes. Cleese & Co. had a lovely sketch about that once upon a time. Maybe one day I’ll try to locate it on Youtube. If you’re one of those people with sticky brains and long memories, please tell me the name of the sketch and where to find it.

The Chief Happiness Officer had a look at office pranks and this is his favourite. It’s mine too. But I couldn’t help wondering when these people work and what they do?

Finally, I learned that videos can now be uploaded to Flickr. So I tried it – and it worked. Next step is to learn how to embed videos here on the blog. I just haven’t had sufficient time online to look into these matters, but mark my words, I will SOON! After all, on my old and much simpler Danish blog, I embedded videos succesfully.

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Culture shock

We had a culture shock the other day (December 1st). We had spent a nice afternoon in the cowboy village at Enchanted Springs. It was fun, we’d learned a lot about cowboys and indians, fed vicious looking catfish and petted several longhorns.

 

After that we had a most satisfactory meal at Chili’s and we were on our way home, when we came into Boerne (Bur-nee) and found the traffic being diverted. Everybody seemed to be parking their car and heading in the same direction, all towing kids. Ah ha, the intelligent tourists exclaimed: It must be something to do with Christmas!

And it was. A Christmas Parade. We used to think that Christmas in Denmark and the UK is over commercialized and utilized for a number of purposes that probably weren’t on Jesus’ list. But – lo and behold – we had not been to Boerne! The Danish and English cristmas is pristine in comparison.

 

In a brain-numbing mixture of love of uniforms, dress-up, marching, beauty pageants, pets, football and numerous other things, the parade made it’s way down Main Street. We were dumbfounded!

But you know what? It was also quite lovely… With all the bright lights, all the townspeople out and about, chatting and visiting and the antipicitation of the holidays, it had it’s own charm.

Generally, that is what we’ve found here in the US. The same people who are unbelievably kind, friendly and so helpful it’s embarrassing also harbour views of the world that we find appalling! The country is so beautiful and so charming and at the same time so incredibly ugly and scary. I guess that’s what makes it so attractive, compelling and fascinating!

This morning I checked the news on Danish national tv’s website. I found a disturbing news story about a Guantanamo prisoner, who’d cut his throat with his fingernails. Unfortunately for him, I guess, he survived. The official explanation from Guantanamo and Washington was that he did it to cast a bad light on the US. Yeah, that’s what it said.

We’ve had several discussions about the US media with the family and with other people we’ve met here. I’m sure it’s difficult to judge the quality of your own country’s media if you don’t have anything to compare it with. But I also think that most people (not only Americans) can’t be bothered to make that comparison. Well, I can. And I searched for this news story on a number of major American news sites. I found the story on CBS, but not on CNN, Fox or ABC.  The fact that I found it on most of the major newspaper sites is good. But it’s also a fact that most Americans don’t read a newspaper (or it’s website) and therefore rely solely on the TV networks to provide them with the necessary knowledge to form an opinion.

OK. Got that off my chest…

And, by the way, tomorrow morning we fly west. To San Francisco, California. See you there!

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