Living

Liquor? I don't even know her

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on booze

Dearest readers, Sitting down in the stacks today, I’ve got a lovely chardonnay on the brain as we amble into the weekend, so I can’t help but revisit some past alcoholic inquiries. And yes, most of these deal with the small stuff that I usually tell you not to sweat, but, hey, people ask, I answer. What eco-friendly beverage will you be cracking open when the clock strikes 5 p.m. today? Got a great recipe, perhaps involving your own homemade club soda? Let me know in the comments below. Drivin’ N Buyin’.Don’t drink and drive, obvs, but also don’t drive …

Link love

Streetfilms: Seattle’s Link Light Rail the start of something big [video]

Right now, Seattle is making as serious a commitment to transit as any city in the nation. Recently, Streetfilms got to take a tour of the newest addition to the city’s network — the 13-station Link Light Rail, which opened in mid-2009. The route is beautiful, swift, and has great multi-modal connections. Service is frequent, with headways as short as 7 minutes during rush hour, and never longer than 15 minutes. And like many of the newest American light rail systems, the stations feature copious art. Seattle has a lot of car commuters, but in a sign that many are …

Oscar the green

Green Oscar nominees to watch

“Avatar” is on top of the world at the Oscars.Photo: Official Avatar Movie’s photostreamThe carpet will still be red at the Oscars this Sunday, but there will be a little more green among the nominees. Leading the way is this year’s blockbuster “Avatar,” James Cameron’s self-proclaimed most successful environmental film of all time. Tied with “The Hurt Locker” for most nominations, including Best Picture, “Avatar” is the most popular green-themed film, but don’t let the Nav’i distract you from other eco-ly legit films. For starters, Tom Philpott’s cinematic sweetheart, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” garnered two nominations — Animated Feature Film and …

Walk it out

What to do when haters diss livable communities

Haters gonna hate. Click to see him walk it out, for realz.Omar Noory, http://thisisallido.com/work.html We can’t be certain, but we’re pretty sure this comic is commentary on a recent heated exchange between the Secretary of Transportation and a certain Missouri senator who be hatin’ on sidewalks and “livability”: “When did it become the responsibility of the federal DOT (Department of Transportation) to build sidewalks?” 1991, to be precise. If haters gonna hate, just put on your Happy Feet and walk it out. (Hat tip to Kevin Buist’s blog on the image.)

a-pear-ant hit

Supermarket medleys are a fruit-smashing success

The world may be a vicious place, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all pear up to make it a cherry-er place. “Look at what’s in your cart, then look at what’s in your heart.” Who knows? We all might eat our fruits and veggies more often if we could squish ‘em together in organic musical movements like this one: This fruit salad brought to you by Improv Everywhere. Watch Grist’s video interview with the group’s founder, Charlie Todd.

car culture

Nothing will drive the suburbs away

Photo: FrankMaurer FlickrThe news that GM will cease production of Hummers revived the brewing argument that suburbia is in fatal decline.  Hummers are the perfect corollary to McMansions, symbols of excess, leftovers from the roaring aughts that now seem outlandish, indulgent and environmentally offensive. No buyers for Hummers plus no buyers for homes in far flung suburbs equals The End.  NPR’s Marketplace recently reported that “drive-until-you-qualify” suburbs are facing a rash of foreclosures because high gas prices make them undesirable; even a decent mortgage rate can’t compete against $3-a-gallon gas.  Ghost Town Suburbia, a made-for-TV movie in the making. Which …

Fecal matters

Peepoo bags help the developing world take off a load

A rotting Peepoo: what a load of crap.Photo: Sustainable sanitation via FlickrWhen poor people don’t have a loo, They pee and poo wherever it’s easy to, But it’s gross for them and the planet too. So Peepoople invented a biodegradable loo. It’s a little bag for doing numbers one and two, And after they planted it, they saw that it grew Tasty food for people to chaw and chew. Don’t sweat bad microbes on the doo-doo. This potty bag zaps them right off too. So if you can’t find a potty, get a clue, And pick up and plant the …

Density is destiny

Teeny tiny tiny digs [slideshow]

Urban apartment dwellers are nothing if not scrappy. New Yorkers, of course, are famous for stuffing themselves into shoe boxes with hotplates.  But there’s more to the story than affordability. More of us are choosing to minimize our footprint. Less space, less stuff, less stress. The cliche holds true in this sense: the less space we require, the more sustainable our cities become. If density is destiny, the apartments in the slideshows below are over-achieving examples.  You’ll never complain about closet space again. Got a closet?  You’ve got a bedroom.   No closet for  your bedroom?  Then, by all means, …

Clubs: Not just for sandwiches

Ask Umbra’s Book Club launches

Dearest readers, You know what an extraordinary book nerd I am. And the secret’s out: I know many of you are, too. That’s where the splendiferous new Ask Umbra’s Book Club comes in, because there’s just too much book love to keep all to myself.     Here’s how it’ll work: I’ll announce a juicy eco-minded book at the beginning of each month, giving you a few weeks to track it down and drink it in. Then we’ll have a no-holds-barred, message-board-style discussion for four days at the beginning of the next month.   This isn’t your standard, granola-snorting (ouch!) green …

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