Living

I lost my phone number; can I have yours?

Ask Umbra on dating, individual actions, and coffee stirrers

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I’m a single gal, living in Seattle, where one would think it might be easy to meet a socially and environmentally conscious, yet non-douchey fellow, but it’s …

The body electric

What can China teach us about electric bikes?

In part 2, I described the extraordinary growth of electric bikes in China, which grew from novelty items in 1998 to almost one e-bike per ten people today. What caused this growth? What can we …

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on Bruce Willis

Dearest readers, Do you know what today is? Why, yes, smarty pants, it is Friday, March 19, but more to the point, do you know what momentous occasion occurred on this date 55 years ago? …

Immigrate expectations

Why environmentalists should get involved in immigration reform

How many enviros can you spot in this picture?Photo: Salina CanizalesI grew up in a family that sorted recyclables, reused containers until they were no longer reusable, and walked whenever and wherever we could. We …

looking good for your age

A Happy Meal still looks ‘fresh’ on its first birthday

A newborn Happy Meal.Joann BrusoHappy birthday to you, you look just like new. A year later you can’t tell, and the fries still don’t smell. Happy birthday, dear Happy Meal, happy birthday to you! This …

Circuit breakers

Four obstacles facing electric bike popularity

In part 3, I promised to describe the obstacles that are keeping electric bikes from taking hold in the Pacific Northwest in the way they have in China. Here are four. 1. Immature technology As …

Politicians, urine trouble

Performance issues in Chicago men’s room reek havoc on water conservation

Sustainable Sanitation via FlickrThe backup in the bathrooms of Chicago’s City Hall is so foul that no amount of Pepto Bismol is going to help. Well-meaning politicians installed waterless urinals in the public men’s room …

population: powering down

New York City gets big reaction to new sex symbol

When the Big Apple’s health department tried putting out free condoms, it found the recipients were less than stimulated by the wrapper’s appearance. To sex it up, the city held an online contest to design …

Flipping the Switch?

Should electric bike sales be subsidized?

Photo: Flickr via Imnop88aAs I argued in part 2, electric bikes could be forerunners for electrifying the whole transportation sector. They’re sweeping into urban areas in China by the tens of millions. New technologies are …

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