Get blog posts into your mailbox

Subscribe to the Blog

The Bare Bones of Bear Safety

They're cute, but their mom can rip the roof off your Honda Accord. Steer Clear. Photo by Ron Niebrugge

They're cute, but their mom can rip the roof off your Honda Accord. Steer Clear. Photo by Ron Niebrugge.

In the 1950s, the intrepid scientist Dr. Raymond Hock decided to discover once and for all if bears in fact hibernated—and thus experienced a dramatic decrease in body temp and metabolic rate—or whether they just entered a period of winter lethargy.

A 1985 New York Times article reported that Hock conducted this experiment on a tame bear, lured into standing from its slumber by dangling maraschino cherries over its nose. When the newly roused bear stood, a rectal thermometer was quickly inserted. Bears do not hibernate; Dr. Hock has some impressive scars to prove this and that bears wake up angry. Read more »

Doing More Harm than Good: 8 First Aid Myths

Hyperventilating? Turns out the brown bag is the worst solution.

Hyperventilating? Turns out the brown bag is the worst solution.

When I was kid and I burned my fingers on the stove, my mom slathered butter on the wound. This is just one of many household myths about first aid that can actually make things worse.

Learn to be wary of any first aid advice that you can’t reason out or reminds you of something the witch from Hansel and Gretel might do. We decided to do some research and compile our favorite well-intentioned but ultimately hurtful health tips.

1. Putting butter on a burn Giving a whole new meaning to butter fingers, in reality the oils from butter hold in heat, which is probably not what you’re going for. Instead, use cold water, which makes more sense and has fewer calories. Read more »

Marathoner Beware: Drink H20 with Care

Thirsty? Photo by david.ian.roberts

Thirsty? Photo by david.ian.roberts

Water: you can’t get through a marathon—or much else for that matter—without it, but how much should you actually drink for one of these races?

The right amount depends on factors that vary from person to person (how much you sweat, the amount of time you’re running, your size) so there’s no perfect formula, but research over the last several years has shown that people can, and all too often do, over-hydrate for these 26.2 mile challenges.

Excessive consumption of H20 before and during a marathon leads to hyponatremia, a condition caused by low rates of sodium in the blood, which has produced fatal swelling in the brain in severe cases. According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the best way to tell if you’re drinking too much water is by checking your weight: if it goes up during exercise, it’s a sign you need to cut back on fluids.

Read more »

Get Into Scuba Diving

Exploring the deep blue sea.

Exploring the deep blue sea.

I think at some point, we all have the desire to make like Jacques Cousteau (or for our younger, Wes Anderson-inspired audience, Steve Zissou) and explore the depths of the ocean. But what does it take to actually go scuba diving? How much does it cost? Is it safe?

I pitched these questions to Heidi Wilken, an independent scuba instructor based in the Seattle area. Scuba diving requires a bit of commitment, but the experience is unlike any other. “Three fourths of the planet is covered in ocean,” Wilken said. “If you never go diving, you’ll miss out on most of the world.”

Read more »

Here's a Curiously Strong Hint: Turn Your Altoids Tins Into Survival Kits

An Altoids tin where it belongs — in the wilderness. Photo by sebastian8a.

An Altoids tin where it belongs — in the wilderness. Photo by sebastian8a.

Don’t you love Altoids? Me neither, but at least there’s plenty to adore about the tin cases that house the chalky breath mints. Do-it-yourself and outdoor enthusiasts have turned Altoids tins into lightweight survival kits that are practical and undeniably cute.

Field & Stream has examples of Altoids kits for all occasions: camping, hunting, first aid and of course, fishing. Instructables has a good set of directions on assembling a basic, all-purpose kit for your outdoor endeavors. For those who face the metropolitan dangers of city life on a daily basis, check out this Flickr user’s Urban Survival Kit.

Read more »

Parental Controls

If you look up 'shocked' in the dictionary...

If you look up 'shocked' in the dictionary...

Monitoring and censoring your kids’ computer use is a decision that’s left up to parents. But parental controls aren’t just about blocking access to explicit websites. Consider enabling controls to set maximums on computer usage or, for younger users, a safeguard for internet safety. In Windows Vista and Mac OS X, you can also set time limits, block certain programs, and protect your computer settings and private files from being tampered with.

To activate parental controls in Windows Vista, click the Start menu and open the Control Panel. Under User Accounts, click Set up Parental Controls. You’ll probably need to type in the administrator password. Choose the user and choose On under Parental Controls. You can adjust individual features: restricting specific websites, games, programs, and very handily, setting time limits for computer use.

Read more »

Energy Bars: Friend or Foe?

Larabar, a healthy option or not? Photo by ario_j.

Larabar, a healthy option or not? Photo by ario_j.

America is wild about health food, and in particular, energy bars have become an increasingly popular item among health-conscious shoppers. They’re convenient and often pitch themselves as a healthy alternative for those who don’t time to eat an entire meal. But it makes one wonder if there’s such thing as fast food that’s good for you.

All that an “energy” bar means is that the food gives you calories, not that it makes you more energetic. Dean Anderson of dailySpark divides energy bars into three distinct categories: bars for exercise, meal replacements, and healthy snacks. Read more »