Monday, October 24, 2005
We’re getting some bright crisp days now – perfect autumnal cold mornings with brilliant blue skies.
First is the street the office is on, and below is a view of the cathedral (just across the road from the office too).
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The news that fewer Americans are now buying SUVs is welcome – especially in these parts, where the 400-year-old roads aren’t built for Chevy Suburbans (so called because they’re the size of a small neighbourhood) or Nissan Armadas (named for the fleet of ship required to bring all the petrol they need).
But the cars people are buying instead are fugly.
Exhibit A – the Chrysler 300.
One of the more successful US-produced cars of recent years. It looks so square and squat it suggests it was sat on by a giant elephant.
Exhibit B – the Dodge Magnum.
There’s no angle from which this doesn’t look clumsy and malformed.
Plus it’s named for a choc-ice or a cheesy 80s detective, neither of which are that good.
Exhibit C – the entire Cadillac range.
The CTS, DTS and STS all look a lot like those fake luxury-barges Kia and Hyundai make. You know, the ones that if you squint at them in the distance you can see the Mercedes and Lexus shapes they ripped off, but when you get close you see how all the changes they’ve made have ruined the lines and overall effect. But the cadis are super expensive.
Exhibit D – the Buick Lacrosse.
Only old people buy Buicks (except in China, where they’re seen as hipster – go figure), which explains why you have to be partially-sighted to think they look good.
Special mention has to given to the estate or wagon versions of many of the US-produced cars which are even worse than the saloons. The 300M in particular resembles nothing so much as a hearse. Not such a stylin look. Add in the usual complaints about interior quality, hulking inefficient low-tech engines and problems going round corners, and I’m not sure why anyone would want one.
The US motor industry has partly been sheltered from reality for last few years while people bought big SUVs and didn’t care about fuel consumption. But now petrol is more expensive (relatively) here, European (and espeically Japanese) car markers must be rubbng their hands (except for VW, who can’t seem to buy a sale of their cars over here recently, for some reason).
Next year we’ll probably get a second car – Fionnuala will need increasing amounts of fetching and carrying, and we each have jobs to go to and all that – so I’m beginning to look at whats available right now.
For a start, we know it will be small and a hatchback – say the size of a Golf or Peuogeot 307 – which makes us weird here, but whatever. The new Golfs (available in Europe for some time) won’t make it here until the New Year, but I’m not so sold on them. But there are still a few options for something that looks less like than the back of a bus.
The Mazda 3 looks smart and is getting great reviews, while the Audi A3 4-door hatchback they’re offering here looks fantastic, if pricey: 2.0 litre turbo engine generating 200HP, great auto/manual transmission with paddle shifters, bombproof interior and great handling.
We’ll see what eventually happens, but one thing is sure. We’re not getting a Yankowagon that’s taken a bit hit with the ugly stick. And don’t get me started on Hummers.
(thanks to NewCars.com for the images.)
Friday, October 21, 2005
So I’ve downloaded the other useful desktop blogging client, Mars Edit.
Not quite so slick, but we’ll see if it lets me split my posts somehow.
Friday, October 21, 2005
The only downside I see is that I can’t split my posts between two areas – the first little bit, and then the main post (with a <More> link on the homepage. Maybe Mars Edit will let me do this useful thing.
But it’s pretty cool to very easily do this:
Currently playing: They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me from the album “King Of America” by Elvis Costello
Friday, October 07, 2005
Now I’ve not much time to check out all the new bands the kids are listening to, any new music that I come across is pretty random.
But I’ve been congratulating myself on getting the album from English act Aqualung (that’s pretty much Matt Hales on his own). In the US, the available album, Strange and Beautiful, is a combination of his first two UK releases).
Atmospheric and crisp, with a bit of Jeff Buckely, Portishead and Coldplay thrown in, I’ve been working away to it for a week or two.
Imagine my surprise last night when the opening bars of the title track ‘Strange and Beautiful’ wafted across to me while watching CSI. The coroner was peeling back the skin from the skull of an exhumed woman at the time, and Aqualung was being used as mood music.
Now when I hear the song again, I’ll think of cadavers. Charming.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
As you might imagine, it’s been busy like mad round here, so I’m a little behind on the blogging. Today’s special is two for the price of one.
Firstly, we were in Clovis, out there in eastern New Mexico, so close to the Texas line that half the local TV stations are from Amarillo over the border, and half from Roswell and Albuquerque in NM. One piece of added excitement is caused by the fact that Clovis is on Mountain Time, while 8 miles away it’s Central. Which either means you could cunningly manipulate time and TV schedules to do more each day and watch Arrested Development twice every Monday, or you’d always be an hour late for everything.
Clovis is a cow town, and reeks like pooh. Someone had told me that it was just from the cattle cars on the trains, which was unfortunate becuase most of the hotels are lined up along the railroad, but I can confirm that as far up as the IHOP on the north edge of town, you get the fresh smell of the country in your nostrils.
But the town’s got a bit of a main street, a grand old railroad hotel that Buendia was there to look at, and some very affordable property. Fancy a 2-bed house for $35,000?
It’s named for a French king, which is pretty grand, and Clovisians must count themselves lucky they don’t live up the road at Texico (on the TX/NM border, see?), or in the evocatively-named settlement of Bovina.
After a long empty drive, we stayed overnight with young Finn, and all went well, but I won’t be rushing back.
Man, it’s been hot this summer. Since May I’ve only been wearing one layer, was often in shorts, and too often struggling to keep cool. When we were up and down to Albuquerque in June, you kind of expect it – Santa Feans always tell you that the Duke City is 10 degrees (F) warmer, so we like to complain about how hot it is down there.
But this year, it’s been roasting up here too. Low 90s sometimes, and high 80s a great deal. All the way to the end of September, which was unheard of.
So we were delighted last week when we had 24 hours of rain (soft day, thank god), and then the thermostat somehow reset itself to the cooler crisp but sunny days of autumn. It still warms up nicely in the afternoon – to the mid-70s, so it’s pleasant to sit outside – but it’s chilly in the mornings and there’s a dusting of snow on top of the peaks.
The aspens are also on the turn up towards the ski basin, so if I can grab a minute I’ll post some pics.