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Grist List: Look what we found.


Pittsburgh’s trees are worth $2.4 million

Emma Line

Pittsburgh, like many a post-industrial city, is not exactly awash in cash. But it turns out the city is sitting on a goldmine -- a recent audit found that its trees are worth $2.4 million.

Trees are usually thought of as a luxury for a city (you can tell because of how much greener it is in wealthier areas), and luxuries are something Pittsburgh can ill afford. So Pittsburgh, as Nate Seltenrich explains at Next City, decided to actually find out whether its trees were worth the cost of the maintenance they require. In other words, the city decided to measure its trees as it would any asset.

Read more: Cities, Living


With the Kickstand desk, you never have to leave your bike, even for work

bike desk
Kickstand Furniture

If you love biking so much that the idea of getting off your bike to do work makes your stomach curl just a little bit, here is your solution. It's called a Kickstand desk, and it lets you hook your bike up to your work surface so you can ride while you do your TPS reports.

Its designers have nothing but the purest of intentions:

We're cyclists. We want to ride, but we have to work. Unless you're riding for work, you're not riding at work.

Read more: Living


New whale species discovered under highway

In California, a road crew -- which, according to state law, must for real include an on-site paleontologist and an archaeologist -- dug up a boneyard of hundreds of marine mammals, ScienceNOW reports. Among those bones, they came up 30 whale skulls. And four of those skulls belong to "four newly identified species of toothed baleen whale -- a type of whale that scientists thought had gone extinct 5 million years earlier."

Read more: Uncategorized


Disappearing packaging could save 70 million tons of waste a year

Aaron Mickelson

Pratt University master’s candidate Aaron Mickelson refers to himself as a "nerdy designer." I am just going to assume that's humblebrag for "I actually did something useful at art school," because Mickelson's thesis involves creating prototypes that would eliminate or greatly reduce packaging in five popular and overly packaged products. Instead of being shoved inside needless extra boxes and bags, Mickelson's product designs use the product itself as the package.


Rental jeans let you cover your butt without the commitment

OMG Kelsey you have to see these awesome new jeans I just leased!
OMG Kelsey you have to see these awesome new jeans I just leased!

The Netherlands, the country that brought you Anne Frank, pot brownies, and SUB (smug urban bicycling), is now making it possible for you to lease a pair of jeans instead of buying them. The leasing scheme comes from Bert van Son, owner of Mud jeans. It works just the way leasing a car does -- you put down some money, in this case about 20 euros, and you pay 5 euros a month for a year. At the end of the year, you can pay for four more months, plus 20 euros as a deposit on a future pair, and keep them. Or you can pay some shipping and admin costs to get a new pair, or you can return them altogether for a new model, which involves some shipping money and a new lease fee.


Watch a scared penguin get up the nerve to jump in the water

This penguin seems to have momentarily forgotten that he is a seabird, and is totally freaked out about jumping off the diving board into the water. Hey penguin, what are you, CHICKEN? 

Read more: Living


Dried-up pee from small fuzzy creatures has a lot to offer climate scientists


Some climate scientists take ice samples from glaciers to understand climate history going back thousands of years. Some take samples from trees. And some scientists take samples of dried-up layers of 1,000-year-old pee belonging to small fuzzy creatures called rock hyraxes.

The Guardian explains:

"Hyraxes use the same place to pee every day," said project leader Brian Chase of Montpelier University in France. "The crucial point is that hyrax urine -- which is thick and viscous and dries quickly -- contains pollen, bits of leaves, grasses, and gas bubbles that provide a clear picture of the climate at the time.”

Hyrax communities also tend to settle in at particular spots. So these pee records can go back millennia -- scientists found one spot where hyraxes have been peeing for 55,000 years.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


‘Super mega-pod’ of 100,000 dolphins covers 35 square miles

Antonio Ramirez

As we've written before, we're not sure if we should be scared of dolphins or not. So we don't quite know what to make of this "super mega-pod" of dolphins sighted off the San Diego coastline. It was seven miles long, five miles wide, and it contained an estimated 100,000 dolphins.

NBC San Diego reports:

[Captain Joe] Dutra said the boat tour followed the pod for more than an hour and said he’s never seen anything like it.

“When you see something that is honestly truly beyond belief,” the captain said. ...

“They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here … but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.” …

“You had to be there to experience it,” he said.  “It was truly spectacular.”

Truly spectacular? Or truly terrifying?

Read more: Living


Rampaging bunnies are attacking cars in Denver


The Denver International Airport has been invaded by rabbits. Dozens and dozens and dozens of rabbits. And those rabbits aren't just sitting around, looking cute and fuzzy. They're destroying cars.

Airport employees think that they're seeking refuge under cars because it's warm there. But we know the truth: The bunnies are a secret guerilla force on the rampage, out to undermine the prevalence of cars in this country. They're fighting back, by eating the insulators on ignition cables and rendering the cars non-drivable.

This is war.

Read more: Uncategorized


Snake wearing a sweater — NSFW

Stephanie Christine Davidson

It was kind of Stephanie Christine Davidson to knit this cozy tube for her snake Milky Joe, so he wouldn't get cold. But did she have to make it pink?

Stephanie Christine Davidson
Read more: Living