Detour: The Horror of Learning

My feeble yet ongoing attempts to learn Danish have been retarded by, as far as I can tell, two basic character flaws: poor hearing and excessive reliance on non-verbal cues. Perhaps it’s an attempt to save money by foregoing things like Q-tips, or deep cochlear damage thanks to that one
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Detour: Tourbinism

Recently I was scanning through an Old World geography book, a lap-sized cardboard thing published for children in the early 1990s. The world was split not into continents or nations but mid-sized regions, apparently dependent on the richness of their tourist iconography. Each giant illustrated map was a combination of
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Detour: Slugs on the Beach

The “Spanish slug,” also known by the name “killer snail” for its tendency to eat lesser members of its own species, is a highly invasive and pesty breed of slug found all over the European continent. Identification: The front half is pretty standard brownish (sometimes orange) color, but the second
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Detour: The Grain of the City

Copenhagen is designed for cycling. A strong national emphasis on sustainability and self-sufficiency encourages bicycle cultural while municipal attention to such values expresses them elegantly. With specialized lanes and traffic signals, the most basic elements of the urban infrastructure incorporate cyclists, enabling over 40% of commuters to reach their destination
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Detour: Pilsner and Prejudice

The Danish brewing company Carlsberg introduced earlier this year a new beer called “Copenhagen 56°N.” The beer is a German pilsner, with a light yellow hue and a taste like champagne from a rotting juice box. The beer has been marketed as relentlessly hip ― an alcoholic accessory to a
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Detour: Lactose and gnomes in Copenhagen

When I left Berkeley for a summer in Copenhagen, I was living a comfortable vegan lifestyle. Cared for by my co-op’s walk in refrigerator and larder of magical vegetable proteins, I had become both spoiled and complacent within a food paradise. Diversity of choice and accessibility were what gave me
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Amelia

Detour: No Man’s Land

In 2009, Heathrow airport in London instated a “writer in residence”. Alain de Botton, a writer of philosophically-flavored texts on the everyday including “The Art of Travel” (2002), was allowed total access to all crannies of the airport, and encouraged to speak to anyone he encountered. It is an incredible
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jessicapena.columnist

Beyond the Sitcom Schtick

In the recent summer months, in between the gratuitous shots of vampire and werewolves (now, faeries?!) on “True Blood” and science-fiction frenzy of “Doctor Who,” a curious thought trickled through my hazy brain: these shows are better than movies. Perhaps not better, but at least on par, and this struck
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Amelia

Dumpster Diving

At the end of each spring semester, the city of Berkeley stations gigantic Dumpsters next to student housing units for move-out. Over the course of the a week, the garbage level in these vessels rises, sloshing with anything from discarded furniture to electronics to clothing. A quick sift through any
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