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Ted Alvarez's Posts


Sea otters, who already had us at hello, will now help clean up the ocean

mike baird
"Would you look at this mess? No, no -- I got it. This time."

Turns out sea otters do much more than just explain discount rates with aplomb: The adorable little buggers also clean up our oceanic messes. Nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from agricultural pollution creates algal blooms that choke the life out of estuaries -- unless these thoughtful, fuzzy Dysons are around. With sea otter populations expanding into California habitats like Elkhorn Slough, where they haven't been seen for 100 years or more, scientists are watching sea grass and kelp ecosystems return, even though humans are still proverbially shitting the proverbial waterbed.

Read more: Living


Heat-related disasters? There’s a map for that

america, u.s.a. map, space, meme, fucked, yeah
"I smell burning. Are you grilling?"

Last summer, record high temps across the country unleashed the Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the country -- mostly in the form of catastrophic wildfires, droughts, and superstorms. Hold on to your butts: This summer could be worse. In an effort to know the enemy, we've created this Google disaster map to track the scars.

Read more: Climate & Energy


This is the weirdest bike safety video you’ll ever watch

Love our bike video but finding it a tad too sensical? You're in luck. This Norwegian ad makes no fracking sense (make sure and wait for the M. Night Shyamalan-worthy twist ending):

Thankfully, I majored in conversational Norwegian (thanks, Google Translate!), so I can tell you this is part of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's Share the Road campaign. I can also tell you that in Norway "fart" means speed, so when I say "this reindeer tastes like fart," I really mean "this reindeer tastes like meth."

Beyond that, though, the cultural clues go foggy. Are they saying cyclists should practice reckless behavior until they can totally shred at it like Danny MacAskill? Don't commute on a bike until you've mastered feline transmogrification and other associated warlockery? Ooh, I know: "Bilister og syklister både kan være totalt drittsekker."

Regardless, one rule cyclists and drivers can both take away from this video: Don't fart too much, and everything will be fine.

Read more: Cities, Living


CO2 crosses dreaded 400 ppm milestone, and science is very disappointed in you

"Del Boca Vista is underwater, thanks to you!"
"Del Boca Vista is underwater, thanks to you!"

We already told you that carbon dioxide could pass a daily average of 400 parts per million (ppm) sometime this May -- an atmospheric concentration not seen in human history, and generally a sign that we're passing into the climatological period known as "the gnashing of teeth." The New York Times now reports that we've Usain Bolted past that milestone:

Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

Read more: Uncategorized


Happy now? If not, author Gretchen Rubin has tips for you

Gretchen Rubin: So happy, she can do it sitting down.
Gretchen Rubin: So happy, she can do it sitting down.

Gretchen Rubin has found the secret to happiness. OK, that may be overselling it a bit, but she's made it her literal business to get closer to it through The Happiness Project. Initially a namesake best-selling book, it's since morphed into a series of books (the latest: Happier At Home), a blog, a rapt online community, and an ongoing movement to unify science, psychology, and culture in the pursuit of deeper contentment. Of course, with such an amorphous destination, she's learned the truism behind the cliché that it's "more about the journey" -- but maybe don't use the J-word word around Rubin.

"Some people want to talk about a journey," Rubin says. "Well, that’s not an idea that resonates with me -- I love the idea of a project. That's something that whets my appetite."

Happiness small
Susie Cagle

Nervous supporters worried that her prescription for happiness might intimidate readers at the starting line; some equated the idea of a "project" with onerous homework. But Rubin, a Yale Law School graduate and former editor of the Yale Law Journal, opened her process to public dialogue and sought to engineer her methodology to apply to any personality type. That dialogue continues to this day on The Happiness Project.

"There’s no one right way to do it, because people are very different," she says. "People have different vocabularies. I love making resolutions, and having lists, and charts -- and for some people that would drive them crazy. But for some people it is about a journey -- so you have to find the approach that works for you, the metaphor that works for you."

We talked with Rubin over the phone about The Happiness Project, and how personal moves toward a happier life can lead to a better, healthier planet for everybody.

Q. What inspired this initial journey to tackle something as all-encompassing as happiness? How did you boil down tackling such a huge-sounding project?

A. I was stuck on a city bus in the pouring rain, and I thought, "What do I want from life, anyway? I want to be happy!" It hit me like a flash. So I went to the library and got this giant stack of books about happiness to figure out what I could do. It seemed very confusing in the beginning, because there’s a million different pieces, and everything’s tangled up with everything else. It was very intellectually challenging to figure out, where do I start and how do I do it in a systematic way. So I drilled down into things like home, possessions, body, neighborhood. Every month I focused on a different aspect of life and figured out what concrete resolutions I could do to make my experience of life happier.

Read more: Living


It’s official: Just the taste of beer makes your brain happy

"Are you sure this is the fastest way to put beer in our brain?"
"Are you sure this is the fastest way to put beer in our brain?"

In an ongoing quest to Prove All The Things We Already Know To Be True, Science™ has just confirmed that a single sip of beer is all it takes to make our brains soar with sozzled joy. Really, Science? I could've told you that. I just did that science last night! And maybe a little at breakfast! And it's possible I'm doing that science RIGHT NOW AS I'M TYPING.

Read more: Food, Living


How greens can stay happy, without drugs

This will surprise and shock you: It is sometimes hard to stay positive and be an environmentalist. Between Big Oil prematurely ejaculating over suburban lawns, the goddamn weather taking aim at my precious Russian River Pinots, and the very ocean dusting the Great Barrier Reef before I can afford to go there, can you blame me? Kermit -- chemically sensitive amphibian, browbeaten husband, and dolorous crooner that he is -- perhaps gives us the patron cliché we deserve.

All of which means I approach our theme this month -- Happiness! -- with some trepidation. It's not that we Gristers aren't adept at handling looming catastrophe; we just often swallow it with sarcasm and a black humor more cold and remote than the love of God. When it comes to dancing to the tune of the apocalypse, we've got moves like a teenage Blue Ivy Carter, and an f-bomb or 75 never hurts. When things get really bad, we can just report as-is and do this:

But this month is not about that!


Exxon revolutionizes energy by delivering it straight to your face

We blab a lot about distributed energy, but ExxonMobil's doing something about it. Its patented delivery system -- now undergoing beta testing in Mayflower, Ark. -- puts energy in your lawn, on water, on birds, and in your pants so you'll never have to go without. Check it:


How to survive election-day insanity

Or, you could always just look at this guy. Aww: jetsonphoto"Where's Ohio? Better check C-Spaniel."

Read more: Politics


Rap battle: Save us from ourselves [VIDEO]

Just one more week to earn $25K.
Give five bucks to make our day.

YO! It's Ted and Jen and we're here to say,
Grist needs your help in a major way.
Dawg, we're cursed, this $#*! is wack!
Gotta speak in verse so we're spittin' rap.
We're way behind and beggin' on our knees.
Grist needs your help to earn some G's!

3,000 gifts: That's the magic number,
To break the spell and feed our hunger.
Please grind out a gift if you can,
And we will bank another 25 grand.
If Grist has helped you learn or laugh,
Please send some dough on our behalf.

See how this curse got us straight trippin'.


Fresh Ted and DJ Jazzy Jen
Grist Master MCs

P.S. Giving online make you a wreck? You're also welcome to send a check: Grist, 710 Second Avenue, Suite 860, Seattle, WA 98104.

P.P.S. If we reach our goal by May 15, Grist will receive $25,000 from a generous donor.

Read more: Inside Grist