TIME society

Portland Plans Tiny Houses for the Homeless

Homeless in the Pearl
A person walks by the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp in Portland, Ore. on Oct. 4, 2013. Don Ryan—AP

Designed to give residents greater privacy and independence than traditional shelters, the micro homes may persuade people who currently live in Portland's "tent cities" to relocate to the sturdier structures

With an estimated 2,000 of its residents sleeping under bridges, on streets and in empty lots in a variety of makeshift shelters, the city of Portland, Oregon, is on a quest to provide more safe housing for those without a permanent address. Thinking beyond typical dorm-style shelters, it has launched a task force that will meet September 4th “to assess the viability of using tiny homes as a potential for housing houseless people,” says Josh Alpert, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Mayor Charlie Hales. Alpert hopes the first batch of homes will be ready for occupancy by late February 2015.

The mayor’s office began looking into the idea of micro homes in June after housing advocate Michael Withey presented an idea to the city council based on designs by architecture firm TechDwell. Alpert says he envisions a pilot program in which up to ten structures are erected on four separate city-owned lots. The idea is to establish the micro communities in various neighborhoods “so that no one area is feeling overburdened,” Alpert adds.

TechDwell

The tiny houses will be selected through a request-for-proposals process and will hinge on two key factors: cost and the ability to meet city and county building codes. Tim Cornell of TechDwell, who has already met with Alpert to discuss his prototype, says he can deliver micro homes that sleep two people and have bathrooms and kitchens built-in for $20,000 each. His FlexDwell prototype (shown at right) measures 16 feet wide and 12 feet deep and features a sloped ceiling that is 12-ft. high in front. Made of prefab materials available at Home Depot and Lowe’s, it includes two sleeping pods joined by a kitchen, bathroom and eating area. To save space, the bathroom shares a sink with the kitchen. “We could have them built on-site in 45 days” after an order is placed, Cornell says.

Because the tiny houses offer dwellers more privacy than big shelters, they may appeal to people who are reluctant to give up the sense of independence that comes from living on the street. The micro homes could also be cheaper than temporary emergency shelters, which cost up to $16,000 a year and lack plumbing.

“If there is a potential to get even one person off the streets, it’s worth trying,” says Alpert. “Simply having a roof over their head may enable them to springboard into finding a job.”

TIME U.S.

Not Too Cool For School: Tufts Offers Class on Hipsters

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Getty Images

Grab your trucker cap and pop open a Pabst Blue Ribbon. A new class on hipsters will teach you everything you need to know to become one. (Actual hipsters need not enroll.)

College is fraught with all kinds of anxiety, not the least of which is social. Now Tufts University in Massachusetts has found a way to combine fear of failing your classes with fear of not being cool in a single, one-credit course called “Demystifying the Hipster.”

Taught by professor Jackie O’Dell, the class will examine everything from film and fashion to art and literature in order to decipher just what makes a hipster a hipster. “Students will become critics and sociologists of today’s hipster culture as they explore how hipster identity reflects larger cultural anxiety,” according to the course description.

While hipsterdom may seem like a modern-day phenomenon (or affliction, depending on your perspective), the term itself has been around since the early 1900s. Long associated with Harlem jazz culture, hipsters were also known as “hepcats” through the 1940s. Jazz singer Cab Calloway’s Jive Dictionary, published in 1939, defines “hip” as “wise, sophisticated, anyone with boots on.” Even Norman Mailer weighed in on the matter with his 1957 essay, “The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” which is required reading for the Tufts course.

But since trying to be cool automatically disqualifies you from actually being cool, we suspect all this diligent dissection of the topic won’t turn “A” students into hipsters. At best, they’ll just be groupies. And there’s nothing hip about that.

TIME technology

Remote-Controlled Robots Let You Explore Tate Britain at Night Without Leaving Home

After Dark project robot with Jacob Epstein's The Visitation (1926) at Tate Britain Alexey Moskvin—Alexey Moskvin

Great way to beat the crowds

Fancy a trip to the Tate but can’t cross the pond anytime soon? No worries, the venerable British museum is letting anyone with a (Chrome) browser roam its galleries without the pesky crowds or security guards dampening the experience.

Just one catch: you can only do it in the dark. Starting tonight at 5 p.m. Eastern (10 p.m. London time), visitors around the globe can log on to the Tate After Dark website and explore the Tate Britain’s collection using internet-controlled robots. (Think Roomba with a webcam at eye level). The four robots — which were designed and engineered by the London-based consultants The Workers with help from space research firm RAL Space — let remote users explore five centuries worth of British art, ranging from Elizabethan portraiture to video works by Gilbert & George, currently on display.

“It’s about getting lost in the museum,” says Tommaso Lanza, who co-created the five-night interactive event, which runs through Sunday. “It’s also about fun.”

Each of the four robots has seven sonar sensors on board, an off-the-shelf webcam and a hardware encoder. The bots have no sense of direction, so it will be up to the users to navigate the dimly-lit space. “The whole point is that you control it,” using nothing but the arrow keys on your keyboard, says Lanza.

Even if you don’t get a chance to “drive,” you can still join in via a livestream on the Tate website here.

TIME food & driink

Cronut King’s Latest Creation Looks Like a Pretzel Bear Claw

Courtesy Dominique Ansel Bakery

Dominique Ansel unveiled his $8 pretzel lobster tail on national TV

Updated August 8 at 11:30a.m.

Have the cronut king’s novelty pastries jumped the shark? We’ll find out sometime before dawn on Saturday, when the line starts forming outside Dominique Ansel’s Soho bakery for his latest oeuvre: the pretzel lobster tail.

Introduced on Good Morning America Thursday, the $8 invention is comprised of pretzel dough wrapped around a buttercrunch-peanut butter filling and comes with a warm dipping sauce made from whipped honey and browned butter. The entire concoction is “sprinkled liberally” with Maldon sea salt.

Sounds delicious. But ever since Ansel captivated us with his doughnut-croissant hybrid last spring, his subsequent novelties — the waffogato, the frozen s’mores — have been a lot less thrilling. And then there’s the dubious move of announcing the new pastry on national TV, which has already prompted one food writer to implore, “Please stop distracting from all that by appearing on national television to introduce pastries like they’re the next iteration of the iPhone … You’re better than that. “

Not that we’d turn our nose up at the chance to try one.

Update: Dominique Ansel heard my plea and invited me to his bakery to try the pretzel lobster tail one day before it goes on sale. What surprised me most was the generous amount and distinctive taste of the peanuty brittle filling. (Ansel told me the nuts are caramelized and salted before they are ground down into a butter.) And there was so much dipping sauce that I brought some home to spread on toast later. The verdict: tasty, and extremely filling.

TIME Food & Drink

This Magical Tree Grows 40 Different Types of Fruit

Sam Van Aken, Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Art

Using an ancient grafting technique, Sam Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit can bear dozens of stone fruit varieties

Add this to your truth-is-stranger-than-fiction file: an art professor in upstate New York is modifying plum trees so that each can bear not just one, but up to 40 varieties of stone fruit.

In what feels like the backdrop for a children’s tale — move over James and the Giant Peach; this is the real Giving Tree Sam Van Aken of Syracuse University has developed a years-long technique that involves grafting buds from various antique, heirloom and native fruit trees onto the branches of a base tree to create one-of-a-kind hybrids. As he explained in a recent TEDx Manhattan talk, “I take a sliver off one of the trees that includes the bud, I insert it into a like-size incision in the working tree, tape it, let it sit and heal in all winter, then I prune it back and hope that it grows.” The result: a single tree that bears 40 varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines and cherries.

Sam Van Aken

“It started as an art project. I wanted people to have this experience where a tree is blossoming in all these different colors or growing all these different kinds of fruit all at once,” Van Aken told TIME. As he began researching the various stone fruits available, however, he learned that there were literally hundreds that aren’t in stores because of their size, color or short shelf life. That led to the project evolving into a conservation effort for hard-to-find varieties. Among his favorite: Greengage plums, which came to the U.S. from France and look like Granny Smith apples.

Van Aken plans to use proceeds from the trees, which he sells for around $30,000 each, to create an orchard that will serve as an archive of native an antique stone varieties. He’s also growing a small grove of the trees in Portland, Maine, where the trees — and their abundant harvests — will be available to the public. Since it takes nine years to graft branches from 40 different fruit trees onto each base tree, chances are Van Aken’s creations won’t end world hunger. But they might get you to think twice about the fruit you eat next time to you bite into a peach.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Truth About 6 “Superfood” Seeds

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Thomas Del Brase—Getty Images

Edible seeds haven't been this popular since our hunt-and-gather days. Here's everything you need to know before you dig in

When it comes to nutrition-dense superfoods, seeds are having a bit of a moment. But do they deserve their health halo? “There is an obsession with healthy fats, protein and fiber—it’s like the trinity—and seeds have all three,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago, Illinois. Of course, shortly behind every health food trend are enterprising food companies quick to sell you packaged foods that contain them—making it tough to tell what’s truly good for you and what isn’t.

Here’s a quick primer on six seeds that will help you separate the hype from truth:

Chia

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Karen Schuld—Getty Images/Tetra images RF

What’s good: Chia’s evolution from punch line to power food has finally earned the tiny seeds some respect. Packed with 10g of fiber and nearly 5g of protein per ounce (just under 3 tablespoons), the seeds — which come from a plant in the mint family — can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, making for a fun addition to everything from puddings (think tapioca without all the sugar) to pancakes. Chefs at the Cleveland Clinic even add the seeds to meatballs for extra bulk and flavor, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian at the Ohio hospital. Sold both in big bags and small, single-serve packets for mixing into smoothies, the seeds are also a good source of calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and phosphorous.

What’s not: Assertions that this ancient seed can lower blood pressure and make you lose weight have not been proven. Chia doesn’t come cheap either: At $12.99 a pound at my local market, it costs more than twice as much as most other seeds.

Hemp

What’s good: Hemp is a variety of cannabis plant, but the only high these seeds will give you is a nutritional one. They’ve got more protein (about 10g per ounce) than any other seed we can think of, making them a great alternative to animal protein. “For adding protein to a smoothie, I am going to go for hemp seeds,” says Blatner. And because protein takes longer to digest than carbs, they may help you feel full longer. Bonus: Each ounce contains three-quarters of the daily recommended Vitamin E and nearly a third of the recommended zinc to help boost your immune system.

What’s not: Search on “cannabis cures cancer” and you’ll find a large and ardent contingent who believe that cannabis, particularly in its oil form, is a magic elixir. Not only is this claim not proven by scientific studies, but the cannabis oil promoted is not the same as the oil made from hemp seeds, which is commonly found in health stores.

Flax

What’s good: An ounce of these slightly nutty seeds contains nearly 8g of fiber along, 12g of fatty acids, and more than a quarter of your daily recommended magnesium, which helps boost energy. The fiber helps with digestion, and there’s also some evidence that flax seeds can lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Available in either brown or golden varieties, both are equally nutritious.

What’s not: Unlike other seeds, just sprinkling a handful of these bad boys on your yogurt won’t yield their full benefits. As Blatner notes: “Flax seed is best in its ground form so we can get the nutrients out of its shell.” Due to flax seeds’ high oil content, you should refrigerate ground seeds (as well as flaxseed oil).

Pumpkin

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John Block—Getty Images/Blend Images

What’s good: For a tasty snack you can enjoy a la carte, roasted pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – are the hands-down winner. But where pumpkin seeds really shine is in the kitchen: found in everything from pesto to pipian verde, they’re one of the most versatile seeds you can buy. The green seeds are high in fat (14g per ounce) and relatively low in fiber (2g), but make up for it with nearly 10g of protein and a slew of minerals, including half or more of the daily recommended doses of copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. They’re also a close second to hemp when it comes to zinc. Pumpkin seed oil has also been shown to relieve symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate – a common condition for men over 50.

What’s not: Pepitas are so delicious that it’s tempting to eating too many. Kirkpatrick, RD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute recommends no more than a handful a day, which contains about 160 calories. If you’re worried about your salt intake, consider buying a mix of salted and unsalted pepitas, then mix them together – and enjoy!

Sesame

What’s good: “They’re kind of overlooked because people don’t know what to do with them,” says Kirkpatrick, “but they’re high in zinc, which helps immune health.” Per ounce, the seeds, which are also known as benne seeds, have 5g of protein, 4g of fiber and contain more than a third of the recommended copper (which we need for energy and collagen production) and manganese (which supports bone health). They’re also a good source of calcium, magnesium and iron.

What’s not: Although seed allergies are fairly rare overall, sesame seed allergies in particular are on the rise, with an estimated 0.2% of the population (about half of those who are allergic to cow’s milk) affected in areas where the seeds are available. Chances are you and your kids will be fine, but use caution when introducing the seeds to those who have never tried them.

Nigella

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lois.slokoski.photography—Getty Images/Flickr RF

What’s good: Native to Southwest Asia, nigella seeds are popular in Indian cuisine but have also been used for centuries as a traditional treatment for a broad range of ills, including pink eye, the flu, colic and congestion. Commonly referred to as black seed, kalonji or black cumin, the seed is also sold in an oil form at stores like Whole Foods. An ounce contains 11g of fiber, 5g of protein and 4g of fat, and is a good source of calcium, magnesium and iron.

What’s not: Nigella has been touted as “a remedy for everything but death”—including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. But as dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic points out, “Some limited research has been done, but more needs to be completed before concrete recommendations can be made.” What’s more, the oil form does not contain the dietary fiber or protein found in the whole seeds, so if you want the full benefits you need to eat the whole seed.

TIME viral

Atlanta Cops Want You to Know How ‘Happy’ They Are

Even the police chief gets down in this video set to Pharrell's fun tune

Think the fuzz are no fun? In an effort to boost its public image, the Atlanta Police Department’s Public Affairs Unit released a video this week proving its officers can kick it with the rest of us.

Set to Pharrell’s Happy, everyone from Police Chief George Turner to the gang squad show off their best dance moves. Beat officers dance on city sidewalks and in Centennial Olympic Park, while cops on motorcycles, bikes and horses get in on the action — some even flash the tasers holstered to their belts while they’re at it. (Oops.) Not surprisingly, the cops look happiest when walking out of a Krispy Kreme store, no doubt elated by their sugar high.

Most YouTubers seemed to dig the vid, which has racked up more than 100,000 views in less than two days. Others used it as an opportunity to make some predictable digs at the po-po: “Hmmm…with the crime rate they’re experiencing, I’m not so sure what they are ‘happy’ about,” observed one commenter. (Although homicide rates have dropped lately, Atlanta is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S.)

Okay, back to work guys!

TIME relationships

How to Dump a Cheater: Say It With a Freeway Banner

Why get mad, when you can publicly humiliate the jerk instead?

Revenge fantasies can be fun, but are often illegal, immoral or just too complicated. But two women in the United Kingdom appear to have found a simple way to get back at their lothario — who was allegedly dating both of them at the same time — with maximum impact.

On Wednesday, a banner appeared on a bridge above a busy freeway near the cities of Newcastle and Gateshead, which read: “Steve Frazer You’re Dumped! By Both of Your Girlfriends.” A joint selfie of the two women and a photo of the (alleged) cheater were emblazoned on the banner as well.

To be clear, we have no idea what the backstory is behind the banner — nor does anyone else who’s gone public, anyway. The most obvious scenario would be that the ladies, who bare a disturbing resemblance to each other, found out that their man was dating both of them and were pissed. (Wait, wasn’t there a movie about this?)

Whatever the case, we’re pretty sure Steve was squirming in his car seat when he saw the banner, which was taken down later in the day. As one tweep noted, “Not a great day for Steve Frazer”.

TIME technology

This Blanket Will Tell Your Flight Attendant Precisely How Unhappy You Are

LED lights in British Airways' "happiness blanket" turn red when you're on the verge of a panic attack and blue when you're too drunk to notice you're flying straight into a thunderstorm

British Airways wants to make its planes your happy place. To help take your mind off the alarming air turbulence, the hundreds of strangers you’re sardined in with, and the full-body stop-and-frisk you may have endured for flying with them, they’re testing a “happiness blanket” that will convey your “meditative state” throughout the trip.

The blanket doesn’t magically make you happy. (If only …) Instead, it helps the airline figure out what makes you happy other than copious amounts of bloody Marys and a double-dose of Xanax. It works in conjunction with a headband, which measures your brain wave activity, then wirelessly conveys it to the blanket, which is embedded with red and blue LED lights. They flash red when you’re miserable or blue when you’re in “a Zen-like state of mind.”

Not surprisingly, flyers’ moods fluctuate the most when using in-flight entertainment or eating. “What we found was that the blankets turned bluer when people were relaxing, such as sleeping, listening to relaxing music, or eating, as that created a feeling of well-being. However, eating cheese for example can often turn the blankets red, as that releases a chemical in the brain which increases brain activity,” says the airlines’ consumer PR manager, Michael Johnson, who adds that the blankets will not be made available to paying customers.

No word on how flyers reacted to arrival delays, abrupt changes in elevation or news that they’re out of the chicken entrée but the vegetarian meal is still available.

TIME relationships

For Just $5,000, Match.com Will Find You a Date Who Looks Just Like Your Ex

Courtesy Three Day Rule

Match.com is teaming up with a matchmaking startup that uses facial recognition to help you meet someone new -- sort of

If you think you can never move on from the love of your life — who recently informed you that the feeling is anything but mutual — signing up for an online dating service is probably the last thing on your mind. The parade of weirdos and just plain ugly people is enough to get you to swear off dating forever. All you want is your ex back, and nothing else will do.

So here’s a thought: what if you could date someone who looks just like your ex? That’s the idea behind a new “white-glove” dating service offered by Three Day Rule in conjunction with Match.com. For a mere $5000, you can send in photos of your ex, which Three Day Rule will use to help you find a more suitable suitor. Starting June 25, Match.com will send an email to targeted Match users inviting them to try the new approach. Initially emails will only go out to users in cities where Three Day Rule currently operates, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, but the offer will be extended as Three Day Rule expands to other cities.

“If you like one facial structure, you will probably like someone with a similar facial structure,” explains Three Day Rule founder Talia Goldstein, who notes that women are just as visually-oriented as men these days. Her high-end service doesn’t stop at scanning for lookalikes either: coaches will interview you in person and even go on pre-dates with potential matches to help weed out the bozos.

But here’s another thought: if the only way you can stomach online dating is by trying to find someone just like your ex, maybe what you really need is a time out instead. “Sometimes you need a little bit of time in between rather than jumping right back in,” says online dating coach Julie Spira. Once you do, consider dating against your type. “I’m always encouraging [daters] to jump out of their comfort zone,” says Spira. After all, changing things up may be what you really need to snap out of your dating funk.

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