Wednesday, September 25, 2013


This is my Sasha. This photo was taken at the pound in July of 2009. She came from a very bad situation in a rough part of our town.  She was picked up by Lubbock Animal Control twice. Her owner paid for her to get out the first time. The second time she showed up, she was thirty pounds underweight and her hind legs would barely hold her up. Her owner left her there that time, and I am very thankful for that. She was taken in by A Place for Us Greyhounds, a local group that specializes in rescuing and finding homes for dogs like Sasha. The driving force behind this group is a kind-hearted tempest named Linda Dunn, whose actions place her at the top of my hometown hero list. (Side note: Sasha’s owner was later arrested for several counts of animal cruelty and neglect, and his animals were taken away from him.  The group found homes for those dogs too.)

Sasha, by the way, is a terrible dog – the worst greyhound who has passed through the door of our home, and there have been many. She is smart, sneaky, fast, and very powerful. She has done her best to train us not to leave food, trash, or expensive shoes anywhere that she can reach.

She also loves people more than any greyhound we’ve ever met, and she is not shy about her feelings. She brings a great deal of light and laughter to our home, and I am thankful to be loved by that incorrigible beast.

Recently, Brian Ridge, a friend who does a lot of volunteer work to help care for and place homeless animals, pointed out to me that Lubbock’s new(ish) animal shelter had euthanized more than 5,900 animals since its doors opened a little more than a year ago. An article on Treehugger last week focused on the stray population of Houston – 1,200,000 animals roam those streets of that one city. The images from that story are horrific. You do not have to look far to see what an epidemic this is.

So, if you are considering a pet, please look to a group that places existing animals. If you want a certain breed, a rescue group is just a Google search away. (My wife has found rescue groups for everything from llamas to betta fish.) If your heart is set on a puppy, those can be adopted too.
If you have pets, please spay or neuter them so that the epidemic does not get worse.

On the other hand, if you do not have the time or the means to care for an animal, please don’t bring one home. After you bring a pet home is not the time to figure out that your 80lb puppy is not a good fit for your tiny apartment or that your life is just too busy to take care of another life.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Save a Lot of Water with VERY Little Sacrifice (with Gratuitous Sci-Fi Link)

For a few years now, we have been using these shower heads in our house: Low Flow Shower Head

They are not sexy, they do not pulsate-gyrate-vibrate, they do not have extensions and protrusions and other such fancy gadgets that inspire consumer lust while still on the shelf.

What they do accomplish (much to our intial suprise) is significantly decrease our water use while increasing the spray pressure. Even the teenager seems to be impressed - a very rare thing when introducing eco-friendly devices. The big orange box store will sell you one for less than $20 and installation takes less time than opening the package.

For some other tips on saving our most vital natural resource, take the 40 Gallon Challenge:

40 Gallon Challenge

May you have a phenomenally blessed day, and may you always have enough water and not have to live like Tank Girl in a world run by Water and Power. (Unless you really want to.)

Green Sci-Fi Movies

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chasing a Rabbit - Graffiti Artist Applications Now Being Accepted(?)

So I went through the gate a few weeks ago and found graffiti on our back fence. And I was pretty disappointed, but probably not for the right reasons.

I’ve been watching graffiti in Lubbock for a few years now, and I’ve seen a (kind of) new breed emerging, but my particular artist is definitely not from that particular gene pool. And I am trying to figure out if his work points out my ignorance or his. But it does nothing for me and creates only one question in my head: “Huh?!!!”

The new breed is a person or a group who obviously studied Banksy . (If you don’t know him, he’s an English “underground” artist who’s risen way above ground by making whimsical, powerful, and often political stencil-based graffiti.)

I knew that graffiti on our new fence was inevitable in our neighborhood and I was really hoping for a stenciler with a sense of humor or a political statement or a prairie dog or all three.

 But I got this:

Now I’m trying to decide, do I sand it down and hope for better art? Do I call the graffiti removal crew? Do I start stalking dark alleys in search of a spray can artist, research more eco-friendly forms of graffiti, and have said artist conduct a seminar on my back fence? Do I wait for the city code enforcers to send me a letter fining me for putting up a sign without a permit? So many options…

Here are a few local examples I’d have been happier with:

Dig the spray can for personal reasons and the rakish tilt.

Dumpster Munster!

Local politics and symbolic humor 

Prairie dog and panda - I have seen several variations of these around town.
May you have a blessed and wonderful day, and may your graffiti be art!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lubbock Farmers' Market

If you are a fan of local, fresh, and possibly organic, be sure to head down to the Depot District tomorrow.

There are only a few left this season - let's support our local people and help this part of our culture to flourish and grow.

And if you see Kelly B, be sure to tell her hi from the Mesquite Hugger!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Live Green L-Town

Live Green Lansing Lubbock

Looking forward to a future day when a twin of this video appears on our local news.

(Or the day when I put one of these up at my house.)

Backyard Chickens - or - Hen Retirement Home (?)

I have watched the backyard chicken movement with great interest. There is a lot of appeal to having the lovely little cluckers keeping the yard bug free while providing the main ingredient for omelettes and helping us to grow our own mostly organic food. And, the older I get, the more I like birds, almost all birds.

But when I look at the overall picture, I shy away. Hens produce eggs for about two years. Then they last several more years. It's those several more years that have me concerned.

The logical among you are probably thinking, "Well, gee, when they stop laying eggs, just eat the chickens. Problem solved."

But our world does not work that way, and I am okay with that. Enter my wife. My wife has a phenomenal capacity for love and sympathy when it comes to animals, and a tremendous respect for the sanctity of life, all life.

So, all those Instructable plans for backyard chicken coops and chicken tractors seem inadequate to the task - the task of housing hundreds of hens who are living out their golden years in my backyard.

For those of you who have been reading this and thinking, "Well, gee, I want me some of them there backyard chickens," here is a link to get you thinking:

And for those of you local entrepreneurs who are looking for your entry into a sustainable small business (Hi Grizz, KK, and JB), here is a great idea that somebody up north has come up with for wimpy backyard farmer wannabes like me:

Happy clucking!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time for a re-invention: Shower Power!

Grizz, the guy I drink coffee with while we create schemes to power the world, has this dream of living next to a stream where he can place a water wheel to power his house.

But (common theme here) we live in a drought-stricken desert. So, the stream-power scheme is only a dream.

Today, though, I saw this article about an old device that generates electrical power by utilizing the power of water flow.

So, why could this idea not be adapted to modern plumbing? Place it before your shower head, or the dishwasher, or the water heater, or...

May your head be swimming with ideas!

11 September 2013 - Brace yourself - it's a long one and there are no pictures or links.

First and foremost, please take a moment today (to pray, to meditate, to think good thoughts) to remember those who have passed and those who were left behind to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of those devastating attacks. We Americans were snapped out of our comfortable and apathetic attitudes and once again became citizens of a much bigger and much more menacing world.

I did not know it at the time, but I became an environmentalist on that day.

I was born in the West Texas oil patch to a family of gearheads, and I always thought I had high octane gasoline running through my veins. I have always loved things that run on gas - cars, trucks, motorcycles, Italian scooters (don't ask); I thought "Ralph Nader" was a truly dirty word (and I still want a Corvair.)

But 9-11 changed all of that. My brain (that likes to overthink everything) started with a question: Why do these people hate us so badly? And every bit of research and every bit of history I could find to answer that question centered around our relentless national pursuit of petroleum. If we had not had such poor dealings with others so that we could feed our collective addiction, we would not have made such a large and fanatical number of enemies.

From that point on, I started feeling despicable every time I pulled up to a gas pump. And I still do. And I feel even more guilty every time I hear of another American soldier losing his or her life in the Middle East so that I can have access to cheaper gasoline.

Then the Deepwater Horizon spill started in the Gulf of Mexico - and still hasn't stopped spilling.

Then the obsessive brain got really busy seeking ways to break that addiction in myself. The next thing you know, I pursued a self-guided education of non-fossil-fuel burning transportation. (I did take several wrong turns - becoming obsessed with kayaks and canoes while living in a desert - way to go brain!) I learned more about bicycles, about electric cars and motorcycles, hybrids, hypermiling, burning ethanol, veggie oil, solar power, hydrogen, lpg, etc. And my study of these things led me down other paths - the damage we are doing to ourselves and our planet.

Now, the over-active brain believes that pursuing and burning petroleum (and coal) is the most destructive thing we do to ourselves, our environment, and our society; especially when pursuing cleaner energies is well within our grasp and economically viable.

So, if you see a middle-aged dork riding an electric bicycle through town, know that he is being a patriot in the only way his overactive brain knows how.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Augustructables Followup

Ok, I admit it. I'm a slacker. I did not tackle a new Instructable in August, but I did re-visit one I tried out a few months ago.
Bleach Shirt Printing

I looked at aquaponics systems
and building a greenhouse
 but the days and the vacation caught up with me.

How about you? Did anyone tackle one in August? If so, please share it!

Have a phenomenal day, and be careful hugging those mesquite!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Mesquite Hugger Dream Rears Its Ugly Head on Lubbock Craigslist

Today, in the Barter section, I found this ad. At first I wondered which of my friends posted this. I even briefly wondered if I posted it in my sleep. Whoever it is, I will say a prayer for them tonight for success in this brave and honorable venture. Godspeed, Craigslist poster!