Amtrak Joe Says Don't Go

Can you catch swine flu on the subway?

Sick transit?arvindgrover via flickrThis morning, Vice President Biden went slightly off-message about swine flu — just enough to freak out the White House, and potentially enough to freak out hypochondriacal Americans. Appearing on NBC’s Today Show, he responded to a question from Matt Lauer by saying he would advise his own family not to “go anywhere in confined places now.” He specifically mentioned planes, subways, and even cars as spaces that could be unsafe (he also mentioned classrooms and, uh, containers). The White House scrambled to tweak the message, saying that all Americans should avoid air travel to Mexico and …

Good Griddance

Ask Umbra on living off the grid

Q. Hi Umbra, You’ve made several mentions of living off the grid in previous columns, and I was wondering where someone should find such things? It seems as though there are secret communities and communes that everyone seems to know about but me. How would you find an off the grid community, or go about living off the grid yourself? AnicaCorvallis, Ore. A. Dearest Anica, No one is hiding anything from you, don’t worry. You just haven’t met any off-the-grid folks. By the way, if you do find anything that could qualify as a secret community, off the grid or …

Green Light: Charge it

Nissan to bring EV network to Seattle

Like many other urban places, Seattle will welcome an electric vehicle network to the Emerald City. In a nonexclusive partnership with Nissan North America, the city of Seattle will promote the development of electric-charging infrastructure. “The city is committed to creating an environment that is kind to EVs,” said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (D). However, the agreement between the manufacturer and the municipality does not go so far as to commit to any specifics. Instead, Nissan will take the lead in establishing local working groups to evaluate sites for possible charging stations. The city will in turn “consider” adopting those …

Draft punk

Seattle, utility to help pay for home energy audits

Photo: Office of the MayorSometimes, fighting climate change is a numbers game. Numbers like 20 — the percentage of Seattle’s carbon footprint caused by energy use in homes and buildings. Also 600 — the cost (in $) of a home energy audit to find out just how drafty those old windows are. But thanks to two more numbers (big ones, both preceded by dollar signs), some 5,000 homeowners will be looking at a new number: 95 — as in a much-discounted rate for said energy audit. It’s part of Mayor Greg Nickels’ (D) Green Building Capital Initiative, an effort to …


Russell Simmons on harnessing the power of hip-hop to change the world

Courtesy Global GrindHip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is the co-founder of Def Jam Records, a sometime reality star, and an entrepreneur who’s launched a number of successful ventures including clothing lines Phat Farm and Baby Phat. He’s also a yoga-practicing vegan who’s hoping to use his resources to make change in the world of hip-hop — and the world at large. Describing himself as “hip-hop to the bone,” Simmons is quick to hail the power of that community in influencing politics, pointing to a recent change in drug policy in New York State. “That was because Jay-Z and Puffy and Rev …

Gettin' fresh

Seattle’s Ferry Farm Stand brings fresh produce to hungry commuters

Photo: tobiaseigen via Flickr.It’s a mid-week summer evening, and you’re making the commute back home to Bainbridge Island wondering what’s for dinner. You’re craving fresh, local produce, but you’re on a boat (you’re on a boat, everybody look at you!). Lucky for you, this is a dinner dilemma no longer: Starting June 25, the Ferry Farm Stand will set up shop at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal Wednesday evenings to serve commuters headed home on the busy 4:40 and 5:30 p.m. sailings. They’ll be offering convenient $5 bags of fruits and veggies picked from Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap farms. …

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