There’s nothing like a thick book of gorgeous nature photography to show the Avon lady you’re a savvy art connoisseur. But if you’d rather passive-aggressively shoo her and those door-to-door evangelists away as quickly as possible, just show ‘em Your Beautiful, Fragile World: The Nature and Environmental Photographs of Peter Essick. (We would’ve named it A Huge Bummer: Look At the Shit We’ve Done to the Planet, but apparently that’s less marketable.)
What if fighting overpupulation -- a word I just made up to explain why more than 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year -- were as easy as online dating?
AllPaws wants to make it so. Launching “very soon,” the site will give users granular control over the search for the perfect pet. Forget looking for a six-foot-tall public defender who loves libraries -- it’s time to find you that cute Siamese at a nearby shelter. (She’ll fit better in your lap, anyway.)
At launch, AllPaws will have 100,000 adoptable pets and feature 20 search criteria including color, size, temperament, energy level, and whether the animal has been house trained. More filters will be added as the site develops its shelter partnerships. Also, like online dating, there will be an emphasis on photos, a "favorites" section, and the option to receive "match" alerts via email.
Q.How do I measure wood smoke from firewood? We want to do a comparison of different firewoods and find the one that has the least smoke emissions, provides the most heat, and burns the longest. We would like to really measure the smoke. Any ideas?
Scotts Valley, Calif.
A. Dearest Patricia,
If you listen carefully this time of year, you can almost hear it: the crackling of thousands of wood stoves firing up for a season of home heating. Unfortunately, the cozy glowing of all those stoves has a serious downside: a smoky, sooty smudge on local air quality.
Wood smoke emits all kinds of nasties [PDF], including benzene and formaldehyde, but the primary culprit is particulate matter (PM2.5), a mix of tiny particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs when inhaled and wreak all kinds of havoc. The stuff is linked to respiratory illness, chronic lung problems, cancer, and premature death -- so your desire to find the cleanest-burning logs possible is a vote for both air quality and personal health for you and your neighbors.
I admire the citizen-scientist pluck behind your wish to analyze and compare different types of wood smoke yourself, Patricia. Unfortunately, this is currently pretty tough to do unless you A) are an atmospheric scientist with access to sophisticated sampling tools, or B) have an extra $10,000 to $50,000 lying around to spend on said tools. I checked with Matthew Harper, air monitoring lead for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. He said you could use a handheld particle counter, the cheapest of which will run you a mere $300 to $500, but these devices probably aren’t accurate enough to distinguish the nuances between, say, hickory versus oak smoke.
But don’t hang up your lab coat just yet: There are still a few worthwhile experiments to be done.
Bummer news for pot smokers: Up to 70 percent of the pesticides found on a marijuana bud can end up in the smoke you're inhaling. That's according to recent research conducted by Jeffrey Raber, who holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Southern California and operates a medical cannabis testing laboratory in L.A.
"I think that what's so alarming to us is that such a huge amount of pesticide material could be transferred,” Raber said. “And, you have to consider that when you inhale (something), it's much like injecting it directly into your blood stream.” ...
Raber said it's important to remember that smoking a marijuana bud that's been sprayed with chemicals is far different than eating a non-organic tomato. First and foremost, he said, there are no controls over what's sprayed on marijuana crops. And, while most people would rinse off a tomato before eating it, they can't wash a bud before putting it in their pipe. The body also has filters in place for things that are ingested, he said, but not for what's inhaled.
"You don't have the first pass metabolism of the liver,” he said. “You don't have the lack of absorptivity going through the stomach or the gut lining. It's a very different equation when you're inhaling.”
Vancouver Aquarium released seven rescued harbor seal pups last week, five of them outfitted with head-mounted transmitters. The babies are being sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent her child from becoming an anti-Skynet rebel. Vancouver Aquarium No, wait, no. The antennas are just for tracking the seals' movement, so aquarium vets can make sure the babies -- who've been receiving care and rehabilitation for months -- are doing OK after their release. These transmitters don't interfere with the pups' quality of life at all -- they're weightless in the water, and they'll fall off by next …
There is one Thanksgiving that I will never forget. It took place at my Mother’s apartment on New York’s Upper Westside. It was the last Thanksgiving dinner that she hosted, and I was her only guest.
By then, permanently bedridden and unable to cook, mom ordered sliced turkey with all the fixings from a gourmet market. The catered meal was tasty, but lacked the home-cooked character of past feasts. What made this Thanksgiving memorable was not the food, but what happened after dinner.
During the elevator ride back down to the lobby, it suddenly occurred to me that there were people in the city who wouldn’t be celebrating Thanksgiving that night. I was gripped by a strange (for me) impulse to feed somebody like that -- a quixotic desire for a lifelong bachelor who is barely capable of feeding himself.
You can imagine my amazement when I was met at the door of my mother’s upscale condo by a disheveled woman and her young daughter. “Give us a chicken dinner,” she demanded, as if sent there by divine central casting. In a state of mild shock, I shepherded the two of them to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken and ordered the fast-food version of a Thanksgiving feast. What surprised me was not their joy at this modest meal, so much as my own in providing it.
Q.I wash dishes all the time, and those yellow and green sponges will only last a few weeks at most. I don't know what they're made of, so I don't know in which bin to throw them or how to reuse them. Can I make a recycled mattress or couch with a thousand used sponges? Is there any charity or artist that collects old sponges? Is there a good, affordable, practical, and eco-friendly alternative?
A. Dearest Arne,
Sponges truly are the multitaskers of the cleaning crew. Not only are they scrubbing our dishes, they’re also busy wiping counters, washing cars, applying makeup, brightening windows, and exfoliating our skin in the shower – and this week, likely pulling overtime sudsing the stuffing off your company platters. It doesn’t seem right to reward such service with a one-way ticket to the trash, but unfortunately, that’s exactly where many sponges are bound.
Your typical grocery-store kitchen sponge is made from polyurethane, a petroleum-based material that can’t be recycled or composted. Even worse, some sponges billing themselves as antibacterial are soaked with triclosan, that ever-plaguing chemical linked with liver and thyroid issues and toxic to aquatic life.
Fort McMoney is a game set in the oil sands boom town of Fort McMurray, Alberta. But it's not a game exactly. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure documentary -- you can control who you talk to and where you go, but it's all based around interviews with real people, on the industry side, on the environmental side, on the i’m-just-trying-to-make-a-buck side. It's a "documentary game in which everything is real."
In short, design a game, because capitalism itself is a game -- a cruel, terrible, fascinating, terribly human game. You might even say that the city of Fort McMurray is as virtual as it is real because it's so excessive. Fort McMurray is somewhere between a real-life SimCity and the economic lung of a country that is becoming increasingly less green.
There are four chapters, and each one has its own referendums that you can debate and vote on.
Bodie, Calif., is, technically, a gold-rush ghost town and a state historical park. But a more accurate way to describe it would be "squirrel heaven." According to Pacific Standard, a thriving population of Belding's ground squirrels has pretty much taken over the town:
They pop out from under the floors of shuttered bars and tear around meadows littered with rusting mine machinery. They stand attentively in the road, as if ready to collect entrance fees.
And, actually, the only reason the squirrels are thriving here is that there's a town that humans more or less abandoned. The forests where these squirrels used to live are warming up, and they've had to more to higher altitudes. But for some mysterious reason, places where humans used to live still make good squirrel hangouts.
It’s hard to think of graffiti artists as the scourge of the earth after watching this time-lapse video (I mean, we’re not saying you do, but just in case). The four street artists -- Sofles, Fintan Magee, Treas, and Quench -- cover a ginormous warehouse with their handiwork, which is no small feat: