Living

Going Postal

365 days of junk mail

In December 2007, in “Junk Mail Box,” I lauded ad-mail slayer Catalog Choice and argued for US and Canadian Do Not Mail registries. Soon thereafter, I began using Catalog Choice assiduously at home. I also refreshed my subscription to the Direct Mail Association’s Mail Preference Service. I wrote to ValPak to plead for a reprieve from their thick wads of coupon mailers (my own letter carrier gave me the address). I was about to start calling other direct mailers myself, demanding they take me off their lists. First, though, before putting more of my own time or money into de-spamming …

It's crafty all right

Is this a green home?

I’m thinking about reporting on this house as an example of sensible environmental design reproducible for the masses. Can anyone help me decide? This is a press release (emphasis mine): We handle parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom” Mary Lyon who recently built her 6,700 square foot spectacular “green” home in Brentwood, California. Below is some info on this amazing house, which Mary describes as “The Jetsons meets the Flintstones.” … Parenting author, environmentalist, and “The Crafty Mom,” Mary Lyon recently built her “green” house. The 6,700 square foot three-story passive solar home (including a basement) is equipped with …

Jimmy Fallon, iPhone home

Solar chargers, real and imagined

The real news of the day: there’s now a solar-powered charger for iPhones. The more entertaining news: At Comic-Con this weekend, Jimmy Fallon dressed up as a solar-powered superhero called “Recharger” and tried to sell his idea to, among others, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, and that hot guy from Lost. This skit is way too long. Enjoy.

Sun in the Fun

Ask Umbra on solar pool heaters

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, With all the rain we’ve had this year, the pool water doesn’t get a chance to warm up in between rainstorms. We are trying to design a passive heating system. We’ve thought about flexible one-inch black hose (if we can find it) attached to the filter and laid out around the pool, but are there any solar energy systems already out there that we could use? JerriWaterbury A. Dearest Jerri, Why yes there are, and they are quite similar to your recent black hose invention. Whether they will have any effect on …

On EV street

Tesla speeds past financial troubles, opens retail stores across country

Five months ago, Tesla Motors appeared to be following in the footsteps of other American automakers. Lay-offs, a dearth of financing, and a spring recall of 70 percent of delivered Roadsters prompted speculation that Tesla might soon be the next casualty of the economic downturn. But Tesla proved just too cool to fail. In May, German automaker Daimler injected $50 million in the “we’re this close to profitability we promise” EV maker for a 10 percent stake and a deal for Tesla to supply the batteries for the test series of Daimler’s smart electric drive. And then in June, Uncle …

climate check please!

“The Bill”

This little film … … isn’t perfect, but damn is it good. Four minutes and 22 seconds, in German with English subtitles, but watch it anyway. Kudos to Germanwatch, and if anyone wants to pay for an English version, don’t hesitate to write me.

Triclosan or treat?

Saying goodbye to a common–and toxic–antimicrobial chemical

Triclosan: a toxic chemical that shows up in the damndest placesIn Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. ——————— Dear Grist,I have been getting contradictory information about triclosan. Organic Consumers Association says danger, beware, don’t use. Other sources say no problem. I trust you. Precautionary principle says don’t use. What do you say?Love,Steve Dear Steve,I say, the good old precautionary principle has a point this time. In fact, I’d make like a teenager looking to impress …

Blind Faith

Ask Umbra on low-e window films

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I have noticed window film applications available at local home improvement stores that claim additional insulation qualities when used, in addition to a sleek look when compared to window blinds. In comparison to the standard winter window applications you can buy to help with drafty windows, but that look less than stellar when applied, does this window film hold its own or fare better/worse. Is this a way to cheaply add extra insulation to single-paned windows, and does it do well in both winter and summer? Rob B.Louisville, Ky. A. Dearest Rob, …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: George Will edition

Photo: Chalky LivesGeez, I gotta shout!Every time I read aboutOp-ed columns in the PoRife with Willful mis-info.George is at it once again:Every time he dips his penWe are treated to a rantIntellectually scant.Luckily there do aboundLots of people who have foundInteresting ways to takeSwipes at comments that are fake.As they pointed out last time,Data truly show our climeOpposite from being wellUtterly is shot to hell.Climate change is not a faction.Here at last we’re taking action.Even if we have to chooseBellbottoms and platform shoes!As you know, disco is back –George should check his facts, that hack. Read previous climate poems.  

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