Happy Earth Day – time to celebrate

#earthdayeveryday

design matters

Happy Earth Day – it is time to celebrate! On this 45th anniversary of Earth Day the movement has become a global phenomenon.

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Progress has been made towards protecting our environment. According to the EPA, the aggregate emissions of six major air pollutants have dropped more than 60% since 1980. In 1972 only about 1/3 of the water in the U.S. was considered safe for swimming or fishing, now 2/3 of all water is considered safe. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent since 1980 to clean up hazardous waste sites.

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There is still work to be done. In the 1970s environmental harm was easy to identify and it had bi-partisan support to address. Now, environmental issues are considered by many a partisan issue. It is difficult to identify pollutants and those doing lasting damage have huge influence over those making the rules. So what can you do to protect the earth?…

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Google Is Paying Millions to Help You Switch to Solar Power

This is an investment in our future

TIME

Google is investing $300 million in a fund designed to help people install solar panels on their houses.

The fund is being created by SolarCity, a fast-growing solar energy startup that boasts SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as its chairman. SolarCity has attracted $750 million overall for the fund, which will finance solar panel installations for homeowners in 15 states. Homeowners who install the panels will then pay SolarCity for the electricity they generate.

SolarCity claims its customers “usually” pay less for electricity than people who use traditional fossil fuels — and it says its energy is cleaner, too.

“It’s good for the environment, good for families and also makes good business sense,” Sidd Mundra, Renewable Energy Principal at Google, said in a statement.

The investment is Google’s largest in renewable energy projects.

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The perfect valentine: my heart in my hands. Literally. Sort of.

What’s your perfect valentine’s day gift?

The Bloggess

I always forget about Valentine’s Day because it’s not really something we celebrate, but this year I’ve decided to get Victor something special:

budget jumbo heart

It’s a jumbo bargain heart.

Because my love for Victor is enlarged and dangerous.  And also thrifty.

But then he saw it in my cart and was like, “WHY DO YOU BUY THESE THINGS?” and I was like, “WHY DO YOU RUIN SURPRISES?” Then he accused me of buying it for myself, which is ridiculous because I already earmarked something for myself for Valentine’s Day (because I didn’t want Victor to feel bad that he got something and I didn’t). It’s an anatomical ear.

“THE BETTER TO HEAR YOU WITH,” I explained.  Because love means listening.  Or something.  He was not impressed.  But I still think it’s an awesome present and one most normal people would treasure.

Then he was like “Why is there…

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Wicked Movie Might Have a Director

Wicked!

TIME

Wicked might finally be on its way to defying gravity on the big screen. Stephen Daldry, the director of Billy Elliot on film and stage, is attached to the project, producer Marc Platt recently revealed in an interview with Film Divider. Platt, who produced the show on Broadway, said the team is aiming for a 2016 release date.

“He’s been on for a year or two,” Platt said of Daldry. “But it’s in process. 2016 is the goal, but I don’t know whether we’ll make that goal or not. We will make the movie, but like I said, the bar is really high.” Platt added: “It’s in the works, it’s not in a rush.”

Platt also told Film Divider that Winnie Holzman, who wrote the book for the Broadway show, is working on the screenplay. Holzman is probably best known as the creator of My So-Called Life. Platt…

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Should you build your home to a higher standard? Should you “go green”?

Building to a higher standard benefits you, the planet, and future generations

design matters

Go Green? Why would you want to build a sustainable “green” home? How do the decisions you make that are friendly to the environment benefit your home?

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It is easy to dismiss making a decision that protects forests in South America if you have no direct attachment to South America. Using FSC certified wood is more expensive on a cash basis without a doubt. So why would you ever care about using this strategy? FSC is a third-party certification that protects rain forests in South America from being clear-cut. How do we put value on saving these forests? It is difficult, however those forests are filtering air, sequestering carbon, and producing oxygen to breath. So inherently we know the health of those forests is important, but again, is it worth paying more to build your home to protect forests half a world away?

Precious wood at Mil Madeiras Ltd. FSC, from sustainable logging. Amazon, Brazil

Deciding to build a healthy, energy-efficient, and…

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The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews

Another example of gender inequality in the workplace

Fortune

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

I focused on performance reviews for a couple of reasons. First, reviews provide written documentation of people’s perceptions. My friend called Jessica “abrasive,” but would he put that into her lasting professional record?…

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