Living

Brewer's Dozen

In our latest tasting, organic beer comes of age

Imagine Norman Bates, twisted hero of Hitchcock’s Psycho, stumbling into a funhouse of mirrors and finding Mother at the center, her image reflected on a thousand surfaces surrounding him. He might freak out, right? That’s a bit how I feel when I walk into Carrboro Beverage Co., a small and extremely well-stocked beer store in Carrboro, N.C. The walls and cooler displays form a veritable crazy-quilt of craft beers from around the world — but mostly from the United States, which has become the global leader in artisanal brewing. I usually have to make myself steer clear of the place …

Umbra on the digital conversion

Dear Umbra, I’m awfully concerned about this switch to digital televisions, and it’s not because I’m worried about getting a converter box. I’m anxious at the prospect of millions of old televisions finding their way into the landfills in one mass trashing of old technology. Already at my small apartment complex I’ve seen three big TVs thrown into the dumpster. Isn’t this toxic waste? No one’s talking about anything but converter boxes and rabbit ears. What should people be doing with their old TVs if they decide to opt out of converter boxes and just buy a new one? Isn’t …

From Orgasm to Oscar

Llama sutra Good: Making sex-toy deliveries by bike. Better: Promising to come within the hour. Best: Calling yourself the Kinky Llama. Oh you NASA boy Dear former Apollo astronaut/current climate-change denier, you remind us of that space cadet who chased her ex-lover around in a diaper. Must be something in the air up there, eh? Soda fountains of youth Ah, remember when we sweetened things with sugar and Michael Pollan had nothing to bitch about? Pepsi does too! So drink up, America — the corn syrup comes back June 14. Green is the new irony How best to assert your …

Remake your living

Tips for landing a green job

Ah, the daily grind: An endless progression of dreary days with that pathetic guy in the next cubicle who spends half his time complaining and the other half in loud personal conversations for which the phrase “too much information” was invented. And that boss of yours? One shudders. But fear not. You can remake your living and land a green job — all in one fell swoop. Here are some career-planning basics to get you started. Got goals? One-year periods are just about perfect for career planning. Annual plans are just long enough to accommodate multiple projects that require lots …

Sales figured

Survey finds Americans still want earth-friendly products during recession

A survey released Wednesday confirms that Americans remain interested in buying environmentally responsible products even during the recession. Conducted by Boston communications firm Cone Inc., the finding is the latest in a string of surveys drawing cheery conclusions about green spending. According to Cone, about 34 percent of 1,087 adult consumers said they are more likely to buy green-leaning products in the current economic climate, while 44 percent said their environmental shopping habits have not changed because of the economy. Only eight percent said they were less likely to buy earth-friendly products due to the downturn. The survey — whose …

Umbra on beer and wine

Hi Umbra, Due to, among other things, (organic) beer, I ended up in a rather heated discussion on the environment the other day. I’m wondering if you could help clear up a couple of these more or less classic micro-level questions. Which is more environmentally friendly: lighting a cigarette with a match or a lighter? (And how bad is smoking from an environmental point of view anyway?) After hand wash: paper towel or air dryer? Paper cup of coffee or good old ceramics? Wine or beer? Kjetil M. Oslo, Norway Dearest Kjetil, Organic beer: so pure it makes drinkers forget …

From Nukes to Nincompoops

Fallout girl Meet Alyona Kirsanova of Novovoronezh. She likes long walks on the beaches of Three Mile Island and thinks nuclear fusion is hot. But will she be crowned Miss Atom 2009? We can hardly contain our excitement. Personal ads we can believe in “In search of patriotic, busy, Chicago-Hawaiian man, must like basketball and know how to do the fist bump. I saw you on TV. You said ‘Yes we can’ and talked about a clean energy future. Meet me in Canada and we’ll sweep aside the world’s dirtiest oil, the Tar Sands, and make sweet climate change solutions …

A decadent chocolate cake for your sweetie, minus the animal products

In the many years I worked in the restaurant world, Valentine’s Day meant whipping up confections for other people’s sweethearts. The pressure was steep: People scramble for reservations on the romantic holiday, and desserts are expected to impress. This year, I’ll be at home — and focusing on a Valentine’s Day sweet for my very own Valentine. I knew the dessert would have to be chocolate, and it would be a huge boon if was also dairy-free, because Phil, like millions of others, has difficulty digesting lactose. I also knew that he prefers cakes to pies, puddings, tortes, or even …

Umbra on bamboo origins

Dear Umbra, Sustainably grown bamboo is a very good choice for fabrics. But how does the consumer know it is harvested sustainably? After all, some bamboo is clear cut from old-growth stands. Even in cultivated bamboo there are some very unsustainable practices (for instance, harvesting too young). How can you know if the bamboo fabric you are buying is harvested sustainably? Gar L. Olympia, Wash. Dearest Gar, Telepathy is the only way. Close your eyes, put your hand on the fabric, and let a vision of a Giant Panda come in to your mind. If the panda is frolicking, all …