Living

charging up

Three trends that favor electric bikes

Photo: Sightline DailyIn part 1, I described the appeal of and demand for electric bikes, and mentioned that three trends bode well for them in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of North America. Battery-juiced two-wheelers could finally break out of their current status as transportation novelties, helping us rise to challenges as great as climate change, oil addiction, and recession. In this post, I detail these trends. Technology, overseas markets, and political trends all bring good portents for e-bikes. Trend 1. Technical innovation keeps improving electric bikes. The latest Giant, with lithium ion batteries, reportedly has a real-life battery …

Juice Hawgs

The parable of the electric bike

Brynnen Ford carpools kids to school in her Madsen electric bike.Photo: Brynnen FordMmmm. An electric bike. Zipping through the city. Surging up hills without gasping for breath. Riding in business dress and arriving fresh and dry. Healthy, moderate exercise. No traffic jams. Free parking. Huge load-hauling potential. Near-free fueling. Zero emissions. Breeze in your face. Appealing! So why haven’t e-bikes caught on (yet)? Especially in the Pacific Northwest, which is brimming with well-heeled tech enthusiasts? What’s stopping electric bikes from devouring automotive market share the way DVDs killed VHS? At least in good weather? Why aren’t they as commonplace on …

riding tandem

You may be bike-curious if …

earlblumenauer.comInterested in experimenting with the more than 45 million other Americans out there trying it? Exhausted by this nation’s tedious affair with one type of transport? Wondering if you might like spinning your wheels the other way? Then, you may be bike-curious, says Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. This Portland politician is pedaling bi-opportunities left and right: bipartisanship, bipeds, and bicycling. If you’re into it, take the bike-curious pledge, and give the banana seat a ride at least once a week. But if you’re still questioning, find out what kind of bike-curious you might be. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up …

Dirty QWERTY

Ask Umbra on keyboard cleaners, automatic composters, and book club

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I work in an office that is fairly environmentally conscious. However, we have a coworker who religiously sprays keyboard cleaner. How do I confront my coworker without sounding like an eco-turd? I’m just not thrilled about becoming infertile or dying. Suffocating in Seattle A. Dearest Suffocating, Is she spraying it into her mouth? Or worse yet, into your mouth? Is your coworker’s name Allison the Huffer? One of my fellow Gristies told me about an episode of A&E’s Intervention — I haven’t the stomach for that stuff myself — in which Allison …

TOUGH COOKIES

The ‘femivore': New breed of feminist, or frontier throwback?

Playing chicken: Mad Men über-hausfrau Betty Draper and Bay Area poultry farmer Alexis Koefoed. Koefoed photo: Bart NagelHave locavores and feminists — factions that a few years ago, some bloggers believed to be fundamentally at odds — become allies? That’s what Peggy Orenstein suggests in her essay, “The Femivore’s Dilemma,” for today’s New York Times Magazine. The author of several best-selling nonfiction accounts of modern women’s life (and an acquaintance of mine), Orenstein thinks that “the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming [Mad Men housewife] Betty …

Is it really a win-win-win?

Home Star gets a hearing

Home Star: Creates jobs! Slashes energy use! Saves money! All of that was said yesterday and more, during a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Congressional Research Service, the Department of Energy, and a collection of business, utility, and state advocates all testified yesterday along those lines.  Home Star is a $6 billion proposal that would create incentives for homeowners who choose to make their homes more efficient. Silver Star would offer rebates for individual measures like insulating your attic or installing an efficient new furnace (capped at $3,000 but always requiring at least a 50 …

potty pooper

Urine-separating NoMix toilet gets thumbs-up in European countries

NoMix toilet.Photo courtesy Sustainable sanitation via Flickr Being green is all about solving problems and grabbing overlooked opportunities. It turns out that there’s such a double-win in most bathrooms around the world; if we had “NoMix” toilets that separate urine from solid waste, municipal wastewater plants would have a significantly easier task (and produce more methane to generate electricity), and we could much more easily extract precious nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen for use as fertilizer (instead of using fossil fuels). So what’s stopping us from going NoMix? According to a pretty extensive review based on surveys from 7 European …

WTFood?!

12 things you should never put in your mouth [SLIDESHOW]

You cannot imagine the stuff that passes for food.  Lucky for you, we have found ample photographic evidence.  You may not want to view this on a full stomach.

Good in bed

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on sleeping

Dearest readers, Yawn. Goodness me, I could use a nap — perhaps a nice long eight-hour nap to celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week and prep for Daylight Saving Time starting on Sunday (don’t forget to spring forward!). While I go catch a few z’s, enjoy my troll through the archives to snag slumber-related suggestions. Got any tips for beating the spring-forward slump we’ll all be facing Monday? Hit me up in the comments below. Wood you rather? When scoping out a new frame to support your sleeping self, consider one made from sustainably harvested wood. If there is an environmental …