Monthly Archives: February 2013

Simple stretches to help your muscles and manage pain

Simple stretches to help your muscles and manage pain

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February 20, 2013 · 9:03 pm

Halve meat consumption, scientists urge rich world

Beef carcasses at a wholesale meat market in Paris

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Beef carcasses at a wholesale meat market in Paris. The quest for ever cheaper meat has ’caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health’, a UN report says. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP
 
 

People in the rich world should become “demitarians” – eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up – in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world.

They said the horsemeat scandal had uncovered the dark side of our lust for meat, which has fuelled a trade in undocumented livestock and mislabelled cheap ready meals. “There is a food chain risk,” said Prof Mark Sutton, who coined the term demitarian and is lead author of a UN Environment Programme (Unep) study published on Monday. “Now is a good time to talk to people about this.”

The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades – most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago – has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. This has diverted vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption, requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and, according to the Unep report, “caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health”. The run-off from these chemicals is creating dead zones in the seas, causing toxic algal blooms and killing fish, while some are threatening bees, amphibians and sensitive ecosystems. “The attention this meat scare has drawn [highlights] poor quality meat. It shows society must think about livestock and food choices much more, for the environment and health,” said Sutton.

The answer, Sutton said, was more vegetables on the plate, and less animal protein. “Eat meat, but less often – make it special,” he urged. “Portion size is key. Many portions are too big, more than you want to eat. Think about a change of culture that says, ‘I like the taste, but I don’t need so much of it.'”

By filling plates with vegetables as well as the meat, people will be better nourished. “Most people don’t notice,” he said, citing a recent UN event at which the chef used a third the amount of meat, more vegetables to make up for it, and more than 90% of guests were just as satisfied.

Sutton was speaking about the rich west, the US and Europe in particular. He wants the change in diet to be pioneered in Europe, as the US will be a tougher nut to crack. The UN scientists said people in poor countries should be allowed to increase their consumption of animal protein, which billions of people are lacking. But if that is so as not to cause environmental harm, the move to meat in the developing world must be balanced with a reduction in the amount consumed in developed countries.

Chicken and pork are likely to be the meats that cause less environmental damage in relative terms, though standards of welfare and the circumstances in which livestock are raised can make a big difference. “Chicken is one of the most efficient [meats] as it grows very quickly and you can collect the manure,” said Sutton. Meat production accounts for 80% of the nitrogen and phosphorus used in farming, according to the Unep report, entitled Our Nutrient World: The challenge to produce more food and energy with less pollution. These nutrients are produced at great expense globally, but most of them end up wasted through the animals’ manure. In some areas of the world, the nutrients are in short supply, resulting in lower crop yields.

Unep warned: “Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity.”

The report also set out a variety of measures by which farming could be made more environmentally friendly, from simple steps such as storing fertilisers more securely and using them more sparingly, and capturing greenhouse gas emissions from their production. Nitrogen use could be cut by 20m tonnes by 2020, saving £110bn a year. Reusing waste, such as manure, and treating sewage using modern methods would also save hundreds of billions.”

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February 20, 2013 · 9:01 pm

“When life is sweet…”

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February 20, 2013 · 3:28 pm

“Good wine…”

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February 19, 2013 · 12:01 am

Celebrate National Drink Wine Day on Feb.18th: Cheers!

February 18th is National Drink Wine Day: Cheers!

“While Valentine’s Day celebrates love, romance and your significant other, today celebrates a beverage folks have been enjoying for thousands of years. Whether you prefer the red, white, dry or the sparkling variety, today is dedicated to all things wine. It’s National Drink Wine Day!

Happy National Drink Wine Day

While some people celebrate National Drink Wine Day just about every day of the year, this “holiday” is officially celebrated onFebruary 18th. Whether you are single, married or somewhere in between, everyone of legal age can enjoy this annual holiday! And today isn’t the only occasion celebrating wine either. National Wine Day is also observed in May so now you have twoholidays to look forward to!

The Benefits of Wine

Whether you consider yourself a wine connoisseur or novice, wine not only tastes good but may also be good for your health when consumed in moderationSome experts believe red wine may inhibit kidney stone formation and the development of certain cancers. And some believe certain wines may also reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks as well. While some wine may be beneficial, drinking too much alcohol can be harmful to your health.

How to Celebrate National Drink Wine Day

In honor of the occasion, pop open the cork on that favorite bottle of wine, raise your glass and live a little! Cheers! Today is also National Battery Day.

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February 18, 2013 · 11:59 pm

Creating Hipsturbia

Ryan Inzana

 

By ALEX WILLIAMS
Published: February 15, 2013

“A yoga studio opened on Main Street that offers lunch-hour vinyasa classes. Nearby is a bicycle store that sells Dutch-style bikes, and a farm-to-table restaurant that sources its edible nasturtiums from its backyard garden.

Across the street is the home-décor shop that purveys monofloral honey produced by nomadic beekeepers in Sicily. And down the street is a retro-chic bakery, where the red-velvet cupcakes are gluten-free and the windows are decorated with bird silhouettes — the universal symbol for “hipsters welcome.”

You no longer have to take the L train to experience this slice of cosmopolitan bohemia. Instead, you’ll find it along the Metro-North Railroad, roughly 25 miles north of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Here, beside the gray-suited salarymen and four-door minivans, it is no longer unusual to see a heritage-clad novelist type with ironic mutton chops sipping shade-grown coffee at the patisserie, or hear 30-somethings in statement sneakers discuss their latest film project as they wait for the 9:06 to Grand Central.

As formerly boho environs of Brooklyn become unattainable due to creeping Manhattanization and seven-figure real estate prices, creative professionals of child-rearing age — the type of alt-culture-allegiant urbanites who once considered themselves too cool to ever leave the city — are starting to ponder the unthinkable: a move to the suburbs.

But only if they can bring a piece of the borough with them.

To ward off the nagging sense that a move to the suburbs is tantamount to becoming like one’s parents, this urban-zen generation is seeking out palatable alternatives — culturally attuned, sprawl-free New York river towns like Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown — and importing the trappings of a twee lifestyle like bearded mixologists, locavore restaurants and antler-laden boutiques.

“I don’t think we need to be in Brooklyn,” said Marie Labropoulos, who recently moved to Westchester County and opened a shop, Kalliste, selling artisanal vegan soap in Dobbs Ferry. “We’re bringing Brooklyn with us.”

Welcome to hipsturbia.

While this colonization is still in its early stages, it is different from the suburban flight of decades earlier, when young parents fled a city consumed by crime and drugs. These days, young creatives are fleeing a city that has become too affluent.

Brooklyn, once the affordable alternative to Manhattan, has since been re-branded as an international style capital. Lofts in Williamsburg formerly filled with baristas and bass players now sell to Goldman bankers in excess of $1 million. The same is true in leafier breeder-magnet neighborhoods like Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill, where young families now compete with moneyed buyers from overseas, real estate agents said.

A stately five-bedroom town house in Cobble Hill, which sold for $750,000 in 2000, was recently listed for nearly $2.9 million, according to public records. Prefer to rent? Even atwo-bedroom duplex in Carroll Gardens with a garden for the little ones can run $5,500 a month.

Patrick McNeil, 37, a painter from Greenpoint, encountered nothing but frustration on a recent Brooklyn house hunt. “We would be going out to open houses, and there would be 80 people going in, and they’d be asking $740,000, and it would suddenly go to $940,000 — all cash,” Mr. McNeil said. “And you’re still two blocks away from the sewer plant in Greenpoint. We just thought, ‘What are we doing?’ ”

What they were doing, it turns out, was slowly rationalizing a move to the suburbs. It was not an easy process.

Mr. McNeil is one half of the lauded street-art duo Faile, known for its explosive swirls of graffiti art, wheat-paste sloganeering and punk rock. He wears his hair in a top bun and bears tattoos with his sons’ names, Denim and Bowie, on his forearms. His wife, Nicole Miziolek, is an acupuncturist.

“We were the we’ll-never-leave-Brooklyn types,” said Ms. Miziolek, 36.

But faced with overpaying for a Brooklyn home that would barely contain a life with two young sons, they decided to look northward. “When we checked towns out,” Ms. Miziolek recalled, “I saw some moms out in Hastings with their kids with tattoos. A little glimmer of Williamsburg!”

He needed more convincing. “Nicole brought me up here kicking and screaming,” Mr. McNeil recalled. But he was won over once he saw a rambling three-story, five-bedroom Victorian with a wraparound porch for $860,000. There was even space for a basement rec room. And it was only a 40-minute drive to his Brooklyn studio.

In fall 2011, they made the jump from their 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint.

Yes, they are the youngest people on their block, they said, and unlike in Williamsburg, they have to expend effort to find like-minded people — or recruit other friends from Brooklyn. So far, they have persuaded one young family to move.

“People get those Brooklyn goggles,” Mr. McNeil said. “They think it’s the center of the earth.”

But that hip-centric view may be shifting, according to real estate agents who speak of a “mass exodus from Brooklyn.”

Alison Bernstein, the founder of the Suburban Jungle Realty Group in Manhattan, which specializes in relocating New Yorkers to the suburbs, said that more than 85 percent of her business is coming from Brooklyn, with a notable spike in just the last year. Most focus on what she calls “the Brooklyn triangle”: the somewhat artsier suburbs between Montclair or Glen Ridge in New Jersey, Larchmont in Westchester and the Hudson River towns.

“It’s all personality driven,” Ms. Bernstein said. “The overall vibe there is very laid back. It’s not very big-box retail-y, not strip-mall-y.”

But for people of a Galapagos Art Space mind-set, the move involves more than dollar-per-square-foot calculations. To abandon Brooklyn is to admit that a certain idea of Brooklyn has died, or that they longer fit into it.

Emily Wardwell Dodziuk, a graphic designer who moved to Hastings in July with her husband, Nicholas Dodziuk, a furniture designer, knew it was time to decamp for the suburbs when they found themselves trying to stay sane raising two young children, as roof parties thumped through the ceiling of their Williamsburg apartment until 3 a.m.

“I’ve worked in fashion, Brooklyn was part of our lifestyle, but it just came time to get real,” she said. “How long could we pretend it was O.K.?”

Noisy trustafarians were not the only problem. The couple had enrolled their oldest son into the gifted and talented kindergarten program in the local public school, but they were disappointed by the school’s overcrowding, unruly students and bureaucracy.

Not wanting to shoulder $20,000 a year or more for private schools, the suburbs seemed like the best option, she said.

With an increase both in density and in the atmosphere of busy professionalism, Brooklyn no longer feels as carefree as it did, said Ari Wallach, a futurism consultant, who recently cut short a Brooklyn real estate search.

“There is more looking down, less eye contact,” said Mr. Wallach, 38. “The difference is between the first three days of Burning Man, when everyone is ‘Hey, what’s up?’ to the final three days of Burning Man, when the tent flaps are down. Brooklyn is turning out to be the last three days of Burning Man.”

He conducted a Google Maps street-view search of Westchester, and settled on Hastings for his family when he saw Subarus parked on the streets, not Lexus SUVs.

He is not the only one. Mitchell Moss, an urban-planning professor at New York University, said that funkier suburbs like the river towns are getting a new look from “overeducated hipsters,” not just because they have good schools, spacious housing and good transit, but because lately the restaurants are good enough to keep them in the suburbs on a Saturday night. “The creative class is trying to replicate urban life in the suburbs,” he said.

To finally pull up stakes in Brooklyn, however, one has to make peace with the idea that a certain New York adventure is over, said Cass Ghiorse, 32, a dancer who recently had her first child and moved, with her husband, Joe McCarthy, from Williamsburg to Irvington. She now teaches yoga at Hastings Yoga, a new studio.

“You’re not a failure if you decide to leave Brooklyn,” Ms. Ghiorse said. “People move to New York with a plan, a dream, and sometimes it doesn’t work out that you can live that lifestyle. It takes a lot of money.”

As a server at Marlow & Sons, the nose-to-tail temple in Williamsburg, Ms. Ghiorse said she loved being surrounded by “that unbelievably saturated population” of creative influencers, like James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem.

While she savors the space and mental calm of the suburbs, she finds herself looking hopefully for signs of creative ferment. “We’ve found it in pockets,” Ms. Ghiorse said. “Once in a while, you’ll think, ‘This place gets it,’ because they have a Fernet Branca cocktail on their menu.”

The signs are there, if you know where to look.

On a visit to Hastings on a recent gray Tuesday, a stroll down the snow-flecked sidewalks of Warburton Avenue, a main drag, revealed more than a few glimpses of “Portlandia” popping up in an otherwise “Mayberry R.F.D.” tableau.

The gluten-free bakery, By the Way, sits across the street from Juniper, the farm-to-table restaurant that wouldn’t look out of place on Smith Street, the restaurant row that cuts through Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Nearby isMaisonette, a home-décor shop that sells felted-wool gazelle heads, for those who prefer their antlers cruelty-free. The owners are Maria Churchill and Kevin McCarthy, recent refugees from the East Village.

The fact that there is a main street to stroll is a big draw for former Brooklynites who find sprawling, car-culture suburbs alienating. These pedestrian-friendly towns, filled with low-rise 19th century brick buildings and non-chain shops, offer a version of village-style living that Jane Jacobs, the Greenwich Village urbanist, would have approved of.

“Walking to pick up milk, to nip over to the farmers’ market, is priceless,” said Helen Steed, a creative director in fashion in her early 40s whose family moved from Brooklyn to Irvington four years ago. “It’s more familiar, less suburban.”

Indeed, the sturdy, retro, all-American character of the river towns fits well with the whole Filson/Woolrich heritage-brand aesthetic. People who set their cultural compass to the Brooklyn Flea appreciate the authenticity.

“Hastings-on-Hudson is a village, in a Wittgensteinian sort of way,” Mr. Wallach said. He added, “We are constantly hearing about the slow-food movement, the slow-learning movement and the slow-everything-else. So why not just go avant-garde into a slow-village movement?”

Indeed, in the era of artisanal chic, a move up the Hudson feels like Back to the Land Lite. Brooklyn locavores settle in comfortably at The Village Dog in Tarrytown, which serves a salmon boudin hot dog, with sustainable fish sourced from Pierless Fish in Brooklyn; or at Harper’s, a bar and restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, where Clark Moore, the bartender, barrel-ages cocktails on the premises.

No wonder Marco Arment, the former lead developer for Tumblr who recently moved to Hastings from Park Slope, said he no longer needs to run off to the country every three-day weekend.

“I have that balance already,” said Mr. Arment, 30. “From my window, I can see the George Washington Bridge, but there’s a deer in my front yard.”

The slower pace and cheaper space also make it easier to pursue the D.I.Y. hobbies and maker-culture businesses that Brooklyn has become famous for.

This is not to say the river towns are Brooklyn North. The mood is still sleepy and commuter-oriented, and real estate, while cheaper than Cobble Hill, is expensive by national standards (don’t even get the locals started on property taxes). Furthermore, the relative lack of racial diversity is striking to newcomers.

Marie Labropolous recently moved from a one-bedroom rental in Brooklyn to a four-bedroom 1970s split-level in Hartsdale, about 10 minutes from her shop in Dobbs Ferry. She and her husband, Simeon Papacostas, now have space for a music studio in their basement, where they enjoy regular “pajama jams,” she said.

There are some things, however, that she refuses to let go. “I still have my Brooklyn phone number,” Ms. Labropolous said. “I’m not giving it up.””

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February 18, 2013 · 7:54 pm

Why We Love Beautiful Things

 http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/02/17/sunday-review/17GRAY/17GRAY-articleLarge.jpg

Baptiste Alchourroun

By LANCE HOSEY

Published: February 15, 2013

“GREAT design, the management expert Gary Hamel once said, is like Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography — you know it when you see it. You want it, too: brain scan studies reveal that the sight of an attractive product can trigger the part of the motor cerebellum that governs hand movement. Instinctively, we reach out for attractive things; beauty literally moves us.

Yet, while we are drawn to good design, as Mr. Hamel points out, we’re not quite sure why.

This is starting to change. A revolution in the science of design is already under way, and most people, including designers, aren’t even aware of it.

Take color. Last year, German researchers found that just glancing at shades of green can boost creativity and motivation. It’s not hard to guess why: we associate verdant colors with food-bearing vegetation — hues that promise nourishment.

This could partly explain why window views of landscapes, research shows, can speed patient recovery in hospitals, aid learning in classrooms and spur productivity in the workplace. In studies of call centers, for example, workers who could see the outdoorscompleted tasks 6 to 7 percent more efficiently than those who couldn’t, generating an annual savings of nearly $3,000 per employee.

In some cases the same effect can happen with a photographic or even painted mural, whether or not it looks like an actual view of the outdoors. Corporations invest heavily to understand what incentivizes employees, and it turns out that a little color and a mural could do the trick.

Simple geometry is leading to similar revelations. For more than 2,000 years, philosophers, mathematicians and artists have marveled at the unique properties of the “golden rectangle”: subtract a square from a golden rectangle, and what remains is another golden rectangle, and so on and so on — an infinite spiral. These so-called magical proportions (about 5 by 8) are common in the shapes of books, television sets and credit cards, and they provide the underlying structure for some of the most beloved designs in history: the facades of the Parthenon and Notre Dame, the face of the “Mona Lisa,” the Stradivarius violin and the original iPod.

Experiments going back to the 19th century repeatedly show that people invariably prefer images in these proportions, but no one has known why.

Then, in 2009, a Duke University professor demonstrated that our eyes can scan an image fastest when its shape is a golden rectangle. For instance, it’s the ideal layout of a paragraph of text, the one most conducive to reading and retention. This simple shape speeds up our ability to perceive the world, and without realizing it, we employ it wherever we can.

Certain patterns also have universal appeal. Natural fractals — irregular, self-similar geometry — occur virtually everywhere in nature: in coastlines and riverways, in snowflakes and leaf veins, even in our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse. The theory is that this particular pattern echoes the shapes of trees, specifically the acacia, on the African savanna, the place stored in our genetic memory from the cradle of the human race. To paraphrase one biologist, beauty is in the genes of the beholder — home is where the genome is.

LIFE magazine named Jackson Pollock “the greatest living painter in the United States” in 1949, when he was creating canvases now known to conform to the optimal fractal density (about 1.3 on a scale of 1 to 2 from void to solid). Could Pollock’s late paintings result from his lifelong effort to excavate an image buried in all of our brains?

We respond so dramatically to this pattern that it can reduce stress levels by as much as 60 percent — just by being in our field of vision. One researcher has calculated that since Americans spend $300 billion a year dealing with stress-related illness, the economic benefits of these shapes, widely applied, could be in the billions.

It should come as no surprise that good design, often in very subtle ways, can have such dramatic effects. After all, bad design works the other way: poorly designed computers can injure your wrists, awkward chairs can strain your back and over-bright lighting and computer screens can fatigue your eyes.

We think of great design as art, not science, a mysterious gift from the gods, not something that results just from diligent and informed study. But if every designer understood more about the mathematics of attraction, the mechanics of affection, all design — from houses to cellphones to offices and cars — could both look good and be good for you.

Lance Hosey, the chief sustainability officer at the architecture firm RTKL, is the author of “The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design.””

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February 18, 2013 · 4:57 pm