Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Living

Comments

Pedestrians used to be America’s sports stars — complete with endorsements and doping scandals

pedestrianism-by-matthew-algeo-competitive-walking-cr.jpgRather than wearing skintight pants and jogging around a silly diamond, athletes in the 1870s would walk hundreds of miles as a nail-biting, bet-placing American public looked on. That’s right: Pedestrians were the original sports heroes.

That’s the subject of the new book Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport. Author Matthew Algeo dishes about how athletes would walk 500 miles’ worth of loops around what’s now Madison Square Garden, only stopping on Sundays. A cheering crowd would bet on who’d drop out or hit 100 miles first.

Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker has the dirt:

Pedestrianism had celebrity athletes and lucrative sponsorship agreements -- this is where corporate sponsorship began! -- and even doping scandals. Athletes got high on coca leaves and champagne, just like today.

Read more: Living

Comments

Ask Umbra: Good gracious, is there lead in my fine china?

retro-vintage-porcelain-flatware-secret-2-cropped
Shutterstock

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. My mom passed along the set of dishes that my grandmother hand-carried home from China, back when she and my grandfather were among the very first U.S. tourists to travel there in the early ’70s. And they're beautiful, with colorful glazed patterns. The trouble is, the glazes all contain lead. (I checked.) I'd rather not just dump them as household hazardous waste, but I certainly don't want to give them away to someone who might unknowingly use them for food. Any suggestions? I'm not about to take up pique assiette myself, but I suppose I could find someone who does it.

Diana F.
Portland, Ore.

A. Dearest Diana,

We’ve all heard the saying about gift horses and mouths. In your case, I’d like to propose an addendum: “Unless that horse is china set that could be coated in lead.” You were wise to check into the safety of your inherited dinnerware, and you’re right to be concerned -- but I don’t think you necessarily have to kick your lovely heirlooms out of the house.

Read more: Food, Living

Comments

Animal House

The untold story of deforestation: Slothageddon

three-toed-sloth-flickr
Brian Gratwicke

When a stretch of forest in Suriname was slatted to be cleared in October 2012, Monique Pool, a known sloth caretaker, was asked if she could take in the 14 displaced sloths. Of course she said yes (or she would have faced the wrath of a jealous internet). A machine operator slowly pushed over trees as Pool and a team of volunteers rushed about picking up the sloths that fell out of the canopy. As 14 quickly turned to 200, the sloth lover’s dream come true became the ultimate nightmare: slothageddon (Pool’s word, not mine). From BBC News: Sloths were hanging everywhere -- from the trees in her …

Read more: Living

Comments

FDA tells livestock and dairy farmers: We’re cutting you off — no more beer!

cows_and_beer
Shutterstock

The United States is about to have a slew of hungry and sober cows on our hands, which, for the record, is not a good combination for any mammal.

The FDA’s proposed Food Safety Modernization Act guidelines would prohibit breweries from sharing their fermented grains with livestock farmers. Farmers have long been using this boozy mash as free feed for their cows, and this relationship has provided an efficient way for the beer industry to repurpose its waste.*

Comments

These little hacks make cities more sustainable and fun

Sometimes all it takes is imagination, some stealth, and a little elbow grease to turn the mundane into something playful. Rotten Apple, an anonymous art project based in New York City, turns ordinary and forgotten city objects into usable, sustainable mini-hacks. Here's how they describe where they land:

rotten_apple_PRACTICE_720
Rotten Apple

So, how does that look on the ground? They added a seat on a hinge to a bicycle rack for a pop-down chair:

rottenapple_bikeSEAT4_720
Rotten Apple

They turned a forgotten newspaper kiosk into a cold weather clothing bank:

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

The Onion manages to make even extinction funny

dinosaurs-sunset-flickr-sam-howzit
Sam Howzit

Shit’s disappearing, and it’s a bummer. We try to stay upbeat, but sometimes all the news of vanishing ecosystem this and endangered that gets us down. Thankfully, the irrepressible Onion has made even biodiversity loss funny with “EPA Announces New Initiative To Conserve Whatever’s Left.”

In the Onion's alternate reality, the EPA has newly devoted $70 million for halfheartedly saving the few remaining trees, animals, or whatever else happens to be lying around:

“By working together with scientists, lawmakers, and various conservation groups, we hope to preserve those ecosystems and forms of wildlife that have actually managed to hang in there for this long,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy ...

“Basically, whichever organisms are living right now, we’re going try to keep them alive,” she continued. “If that’s still a possibility.”

Additionally, the agency affirmed its commitment to deploying its personnel nationwide to do “whatever can be done at this point” to safeguard areas that may still contain clean air, clean water, and land that’s not completely covered in refuse and filth ...

“Of course, that’s only until our funding is cut even further,” McCarthy added. “Then, you know, the environment’s pretty much on its own.”

It’s funny (slash sad) because it’s true! The EPA’s been making some questionable choices lately, from lifting BP’s drilling ban to running a fake clean energy scam. And in light of McCarthy’s comment in September that “Climate change is not about polar bears,” the Onion’s piece doesn’t seem THAT far off.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

Comments

This vegan bakery could be the next Cinnabon

vegan-cinnabon-cinnaholic
Cinnaholic

What is it about Cinnabon? THAT SMELL. The doughy simple sugars spiking straight into your system. The extra little container of frosting you can get. Be right back, we have to run to the mall.

Anyway, vegan cinnamon roll shop Cinnaholic just started accepting franchise applications, so your town could get a dairy-free version of our favorite unhealthy treat (no offense, gelato and Pirate’s Booty!). Maybe you’ll even be behind the counter?

Founders Shannon and Florian Radke opened the first Cinnaholic in 2010 in Berkeley (of course). Today, you can pick from almost 30 flavors of frosting and 25 toppings, so if you’ve always wanted a vegan cinnamon roll with pina colada-flavored frosting and cookie dough on top, that clanging you hear is St. Peter throwing open the pearly gates.

Read more: Food, Living

Comments

Can you go a day without trash? Try it on April 9

adaywithoutwaste

Two-thirds of our waste doesn’t get recycled or composted. Youth activism nonprofit Global Citizen wants to see if you can get that down to zero on Wednesday, which it’s christened #ADayWithoutWaste.

double-bagger-day-without-waste

Can you go one day without creating any garbage -- or at least using a travel mug instead of a paper coffee cup? How about a reusable shopping bag instead of a plastic one? (Say it with us now: “No straw in my maw!”)

Because if not, no pressure, but your relationship is totally doomed. Case in point: This guy trying to celebrate the most important of anniversaries -- SEVEN MONTHS! -- and being totally foiled by that old supervillain, trash:

Read more: Living

Comments

The week in GIFs: Genies, junk, and Mary Jane

There was plenty of odd news this week, even not counting April Fools' Day. (Last week: all of your favorite vices.)

Now you can find love on a tiny house dating site:

itty-bitty-living-space
Tumblr

The U.N. climate report was pretty depressing, but it had a few bright spots:

could-be-worse-brad-pitt
Tumblr
Read more: Living

Comments

These cute $40 watches can run forever on sunlight

Tattoos mean they're hipster approved.
Q&Q
Tattoos mean they're hipster approved.

If you aren’t a tiny doll with a miniature screwdriver, getting a dead watch battery replaced is the worst. Not only do you have to hunt down that little old man in the jewelry store, but you become even later than usual -- or is that just me? The hip SmileSolar watch slices through those excuses like a timekeeping Zorro by running completely on the sun:

solarsmile-solar-powered-watch
Q&Q

Citizen Eco-Drive solar watches may be out of your price range (not that you can’t afford a $325 watch, Kanye), but thankfully its more affordable imprint, Q&Q, sells the SmileSolar for only $40. The watches used to only be available in Japan, but as with cat cafés, our patience has been rewarded. ME-OW: