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Sarah Laskow's Posts


These light-up armbands make awesome turn signals for cyclists

As a responsible cyclist who does not want to die, I wear a helmet. The other night, I donned one of those reflective orange vests. (Do not laugh, please.) And I try, really I do, to hold out my arms and signal when and where I plan on turning. I do not like doing it, though, because I feel I am going to lose my balance and because I don't think that drivers notice half the time anyway. Especially not at night.

Lifehacker has turned up a wonderful DIY solution to this problem: bright, wearable turn signals.

Read more: Biking


This gigantic hybrid ship can run on a battery

Although gigantic ships are relatively efficient -- compared to, say, transporting massive amounts of stuff by airplane -- they do use an astounding amount of fuel. The shipping industry is working on this problem. In particular, a Norwegian shipping company and a marine energy company are partnering to work on a hybrid ship, the Viking Lady.

The Viking Lady (how awesome is that name?) already has a fuel cell installed that helps reduce its energy impact. Next year it should be getting a battery. Together, those features will mean it won't have to burn gas while it's hanging out in port -- not only saving energy, but keeping down emissions.


Power your laptop with your butt

Swedish designer Eddi Tornberg has turned the plight of modern workers -- sitting like lazy larvae in front of computer screens all day -- into a form of renewable energy. He uses the heat of our rear ends to create electricity. You’ll still die from sitting, but at least your energy bills will be lower!


Sidecar lets drivers rent out their empty backseat

In theory, Sidecar is about sharing. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: You're headed downtown in your car, but before you leave you check your Sidecar app. A user a few blocks down is looking for a ride in the same direction. You swing by, pick her up, and drop her off. Everyone wins by sharing -- she gets to her destination, and you get to feel good that the gas you just burned went towards transporting more than one human being. (Plus, Sidecar suggests that she “donate” a little cash to you for your trouble.)

In practice, Sidecar seems to work something like a taxi. There's no meter, and in beta trials, the suggested donation for longer trips beat actual car services -- but it's not clear that the people giving rides are just average Joes who happen to be going someplace. Instead, this might be their side business. Sidecar screens all the drivers, and the one example of a driver that Wired offers is a laid-off bank employee who uses the service to supplement his income.

Read more: Cities, Transportation


Mayor Bloomberg uses a full-sized room A/C unit to cool his SUV

It really would be interesting to find out what moral calculus goes into Mayor Michael Bloomberg's environmental decisions. It must go something like "I'm a big city mayor, working hard to draw down emissions on a municipal scale. Therefore, it is 100 percent justifiable that in my personal life, I fly regularly to the Bahamas and use A/C units intended for a whole apartment to keep my SUV a comfortable temperature."

Because that's what he had his staff do this week: take a standard room air conditioner and try sticking it into the window of an SUV. The New York Post reports:

If the strange plan gets a green light, the units would be plugged into electrical outlets and cause less pollution than running the vehicles’ own A/Cs on an idling engine.


Magical tree tunnel was carved out by a train

In Klevan, Ukraine, this two-mile long tunnel of trees was formed when the vegetation grew around the path of a regularly passing train.

Locals calls this beautiful and romantic place the Tunnel of Love.

Even without the green, leafy border, it's haunting.

Read more: Living


Cheeseburger-crust pizza is not even recognizable as pizza

We need to think of a new name for the monstrosities that pizza companies are coming up with, because, really, this is NOT pizza:

Pizza Hut is selling this mutant creature in the Middle East, where, if the ad is to be believed, ordering a hamburger at a pizza place is a GIANT AND HILARIOUS JOKE and Pizza Hut just wants to shut those douches up. In what might be the greatest anti-monarchial movement in recent Middle East history, it’s also being marketed as the “most royal” pizza.

Here's what the thing looks like up close:

Read more: Food, Scary Food


Greenland is feeding endangered whale meat to tourists

Denmark wants permission for indigenous communities in Greenland (which it rules) to catch more whales for food, The Guardian reports. Problem is, an environmental group has found that the whale meat's not actually going to feed indigenous communities. It's going to tourists who I guess get a kick out of eating something endangered:

The [Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society] chief executive, Chris Butler-Stroud, said: "The Danish government's claims that Greenland needs to kill more whales for nutritional and cultural needs is laughable. Who is this meat really for? Our investigation report shows that this demand for more whale meat is clearly driven by the commercial consumer market, not by aboriginal needs."

In the past 25 years, the group says, Greenland's "need" for whale meat has gone up way faster than its population. Greenland has 10 percent more people now than it did 25 years ago, but requests for whale hunting permits have increased by 89 percent.

Read more: Animals, Food


Clear Channel chops down tree to improve view of billboard

Looking at a tree relaxes people. Looking at a billboard makes them wish they were looking at anything else -- but it makes money for somebody! So it totally makes sense that Cleveland let Clear Channel chop down a 30-year-old linden tree in order to provide clear sight lines to a billboard advertising some local radio station. If by “totally makes sense” you mean “HULK SMASH.”

Here's the city's defense, for what it's worth (not much):

There are instances in which trees are trimmed due to the lack of visibility of a sign; however, in this particular situation tree trimming was not an option. Half of the tree would have to be removed in order to clear the sign, at which point the tree would be considered hazardous (structural defect) and a threat to the public.

The 15' Linden tree will be replaced by Clear Channel with five (5) 3" trees to be placed in proper places around the city.

We assume they mean 3-foot trees, not 3-inch trees as stated, but we also assumed nobody would chop down a fucking tree to make it easier to see a billboard, so who knows.

Read more: Cities


Bookshelf that hides extra furniture is small-apartment genius

If, like me, you have ever lived in a small apartment, you know that there is no good place to put furniture that you need sometimes but not all the time (like extra chairs). Therefore, Orla Reynolds is my new hero. Her furniture emerges "as if from nowhere" -- her bookshelves hide a table and four extra chairs.

Read more: Cities