WHO: Our Planet Retreats

WHERE: Tropical climes around the world

WHAT: An Ewok-worthy treehouse retreat

SIZE: I’d have to use my latent geometry skillz to figure the area of a sphere. Let’s just say about 350 square feet, okay?

Wicket? Is that you?

Now’s your chance to invest in a South Pacific vacation spot, Swiss Family Robinson–meets–Star Wars-style. Our Planet Retreats (OPR), the start-up makers of these wild, suspended fiberglass spheres, are taking on the wooded areas of far-flung locales, including the Philippines, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. Want to get in on the action? Purchase a share for just $30. Or, to have a greater say in the company’s decisions, buy a sphere for $2,500. Once the company raises $55,000, they’ll start paying dividends.

The globes run on solar power, and shares are offered to locals before the general public to foster “good relations.” I’m a little skeptical, and more than a little concerned about the imperialistic connotations of these fancy novelty retreats. It appears, however, that OPR are supplying jobs for island residents, who are employed to prepare locally sourced food for guests, for example. Moreover, OPR has this to say: “Everything we do is geared towards what is best for YOU, LOCAL PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENT and OUR PLANET.” All caps. So they must be legit, right?

No word on how much accommodations cost, nor whether you can buy a prefab sphere to hang in your own backyard, but we’ll definitely keep an eye on it. Visit the OPR website for more pics and philosophies. And grab a copy of The Ewok Adventure while you’re at it. Warwick Davis as a furry humanoid living in an proto-OPR sphere? Boss.


It’s St. Paddy’s Day. And, for many, St. P’s means brew — more often than not, green brew. Let’s get something straight: green beer is disgusting. I know this. Yet emerald ale can be green in the eco-sense, too; as Brendan Koerner observed at Slate, the vessel in which your suds stay afloat bears something on the environment. According to Koerner:

If your chosen tipple is produced very close to home and your town has a robust recycling program, then glass bottles are probably the way to go. But if your preferred suds are brewed far away, by a company that’s even mildly eco-aware, aluminum cans are the wiser choice.

Koerner goes on to crunch the numbers. While aluminum takes a far greater toll on the environment through extraction and manufacutre (can = 2.07 kWh; bottle = 1.09), it is lighter to ship interstate, thereby reducing its truck-related carbon impact. Says the article, an empty bottle weighs more than six times the heft of an empty can. Heavier items take more fuel to carry, so up go the greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, aluminum has a greater chance of being manufactured from recycled materials (about 40 percent, on average). Plus, it has a greater chance of being recycled in the after-party cleanup.

Of course, if you’re sloshing local beers, more’s the better — provided those longnecks aren’t trucked cross-country. Call up your local brewhouse to find out where they get their bottles. If they’re rollin’ down the highway for hundreds of miles, you might be better off tottering down to the neighborhood rathskeller for an on-tap tipple. Kegs, says Koerner, can last up to 20 years.

For my fellow Seattleites, a few local watering holes:

  • Elysian Brewing Company. Three outposts in Seattle. I’m down with the Perseus Porter.
  • The Pike Brewing Co. Located in the Pike Place Market. Cool industrial decor. Plus tons of old beer ad serving trays. Tons.
  • Redhook Ale Brewery. The carboys and stuff are in Woodinville, but the big ol’ pub is in-city, down by the stadiums. Check out their mini-vids about the Brewing Process (under Our Ales in the nav bar); the Packaging video screams “doin’ it our way!” Makes me want to get a monogrammed sweater and date a guy named Squiggy.
  • Dick’s Brewing Company. Okay, so this brewery ain’t in Seattle, but I had to give a shout-out to my hometown barley-slingers. Located in Centralia, next door to Northwest Sausage and Deli. I *heart* Dick’s Danger Ale. The Working Man’s Brown Ale is awfully sweet, too.

For those outside the Emerald City, some equally enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day associations:

  • Ireland. Yes? No?
    Flag of Ireland
  • Leprechaun. Warwick-ho! This sextet of flicks kicked off with ’93’s smash flop starring a pre-Friends Jenny Aniston. Taken as a compendium of butchered Irish folklore grafted to bad horror makeup and the man who made Wicket the Ewok famous, they make me day! (Living Small Pick: Lep 2, featuring Warwick Davis driving a tricked-out miniature stock car down an L.A. highway.)
  • Warwick Davis = Leprechaun

  • The Riverdance Rap. Heaven bless YouTube. I laughed. I cried. I memorized. Then, in a flash of blinding clarity, realized: I went to college with these guys. Boss.

Straight outta Dublin. Happy St. Pat’s.