Hooray! The weekend is almost here. And if you haven't decided how to spend it, we recommend staying inside and looking at your computer and reading all those TreeHugger posts you missed while wasting time out in the summer sunshine.
We will start our new feature with the cutest animal photo of the week, the Metagryne bicolumnata. Fark picked it up and described it: "Not to alarm anybody, but there is spider out there that looks like somebody sewed the head of bunny onto the body of a daddy longlegs."
The week in wood
The most popular post of the week was a slideshow looking at 15 of the most remarkable trees in America. It reminded me of a great Far Side cartoon that helps us realize how lucky we are to still have 15 remarkable trees. Meanwhile, on the dead tree beat, we look at some new houses being built in the UK out of Cross-Laminated Timber, the plywood on steroids that is the next big thing in construction.
Windows made of old dead trees were controversial when we covered a study on restored old windows. Your design editor wears two hats, as a supporter of architectural preservation where we want to save old windows, and as a promoter of the Passivhaus standard of energy efficiency, which demands really high quality and very efficient windows. Good friends comment, "Yeah, sorry, Lloyd. You're off on this one." Really good friends said:
Anyone who is 'energetic' enough to restore old windows in an updated building should also be required to restore the knob and tube wiring and the rotary phones (or better yet - the old party line phones.) While they're at it, they should keep the asbestos siding, lead paint and original boiler/HVAC system, oh, and dump the fridge and restore the 'ice-box' and perhaps the old long-drop latrine out back...?
Sigh. Judge for yourself: New study shows that restored 200 year old windows are as airtight as brand new replacements
Other design stories include a lovely renovation in Australia (with new windows): Traditional workers' cottage converted into modern family home
Babies, burgers and saving the planet
Katherine led off with a controversial post Worried about the planet? Avoid that extra kid that kept our comment manager's delete finger busy. It made a good point; for years, TreeHugger has covered everything from wall warts to clotheslines as ways to reduce our carbon footprint, when really the biggest deals are to avoid having babies and get rid of the car and stop eating meat.
Sami threw a somethingburger into the mix by pointing out that individual actions are not as relevant as the collective in Which lifestyle changes really 'save the planet'?
So, by all means, eat your vegan cheese or beef and mushroom burgers and walk your only child to school. It's not that you aren't making a difference. But the biggest impact that any of us can have is by prioritizing how we vote, agitate, lobby, invest, protest and innovate for changes that move beyond our own individual impacts to a shift in our collective and societal norms.
Our electric bike expert Derek was busy, trying out the long awaited Copenhagen Wheel (he liked it!) and the Trek SuperCommuter (he LOVED it!). I don't know if he was wearing a helmet when he tried them out; he tells us that his cameraman (and wardrobe and hair crew) had the day off. He also showed a weird overpowered e-bike in Avionics V1 is a distinctive & massively powerful retro-styled e-bike and an electrified East German retro scooter in The iconic Schwalbe scooter has been reincarnated as an electric vehicle.
I got into all kinds of trouble wondering why pedestrians and drivers don't wear helmets but everyone seems to want cyclists to. (I wear a helmet BTW). What we really need is safe infrastructure, not body armor.
In the interest of saving lives, the government removed regulations on self-driving cars to speed them to market. This solves the problem of pedestrians stepping in front of them, knowing that they will stop; pedestrians will be scared to death and cars might look like they are right out of Mad Max. More: Feds to remove regulations on self-driving cars and ban States from putting them back. Meanwhile, BMW brings new distractions to drivers. Now you can Turn your car into your office with a Skype-equipped BMW and we learn about The VW Golf GTE: A sporty, plug-in hybrid hatchback.
Where we're going, who needs wheels? Elon Musk announces that he has a "verbal agreement" to build his hyperloop from New York City to Washington, D.C. Now I have been calling this a pipedream since the pipe was first proposed years ago, but it keeps going whoosh. The problem is that transportation isn't an engineering problem, it's a political one; that's why Europe and China are covered in high speed trains and America isn't. A commenter says I "come off as a someone who is trapped in a past century." Perhaps he's right. Read Elon Musk gets "verbal approval" for east coast underground Hyperloop.
You are what you eat
After years of yo-yos between the two, we learn that Low carb or low fat? It doesn't make a difference. Where it used to promote a lot of milk and dairy (cows are big business north of the border) the New Canada Food Guide promises to emphasize plant protein and get rid of dairy. A proper diet is just one of the 9 lifestyle choices to help prevent dementia.
We have shown lots of transformer apartments and have a bit of a debate about one in How much transforming should a transformer apartment transform? But this perhaps the first time we have shown transformer clothing like this kid is wearing, Pleated kids' clothing line grows along with kids to reduce waste (Video), and now, Transformer shoes! All-in-one classy shoes come with different swappable heels (Video)
A megillah of gorilla and other animal news
Who knew. Gorillas need hugs too Meanwhile, as if she didn't have enough to do in her life, our Katherine decides to start with this: My life with backyard chickens. It appears that the UK is no longer the land of Herriot and Sigfried and Tristan and 'all creatures great and small': Sadly, mega animal farms are on the rise in the United Kingdom But on a brighter side, Melissa asks, Are there actually MORE fireflies this year? and really, a Blushing pink lizard with only two limbs is too wonderfully weird (video).
I go off on a contradiction in terms, a "kosher ham," a green parking garage in Hypocrisy, thy name is the National Renewable Energy Lab and about a new company selling what they call Geothermal Heat Pumps, which I think is inaccurate, in Dandelion: an audacious and radical geothermal energy startup? Perhaps that commenter who says I am living in another century is correct.
And just to make sure you are reading to the bottom, here's another cute animal, The heart-melting smile of a slender-legged tree frog