Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Glass Recycling in Lubbock (Eek!) - A Call for New Ideas

Does our next subdivision need to look like this?

Lubbock owns a glass crusher.

But it is broken. And our city does not want to pay to fix it.

But that is mostly okay. It did not really recycle glass anyway. It crushed it, and we gave the crushed glass away for landscaping and such.

The frustrating part of glass recycling is that it is not economically viable even though it is very viable from a recycling standpoint. As a recycled material, it is excellent, very little if any loss involved. This is very unlike plastic that diminishes in quality with each recycling. But glass is very cheap to make initially, and with all the variations in color these days, it becomes more and more complicated to sort.

If you visit Lubbock's newest recycling drop-off points, you will notice that there is nowhere to drop off your glass.

While researching glass recycling in Texas, I found this very informative article:

Glass Recycling in Texas

So, does anybody have any suggestions or ideas for our town? Does anybody in town have ambitions of building an Earthship? Can we find something constructive to do with this glass that will keep it out of the landfill? Does anyone want to take an Instructable idea to the next level? What have you got?

There is a gentleman who has been building a bottle fence on Boston Avenue. Maybe we need to talk to him...


Instructables for Recycling Glass Bottles

Working together, may we find a solution.

(Thanks, JG!)

Mesquite Hugger Resolves to Give Up Resolutions

¡Gol, Estados Unidos! (Pero no resoluc√≠ones)

I have tried resolutions in the past, and they all turn out to be that nagging Jewish mother voice that sometimes haunts me. I won't subject you to that again, but you can check out the post from October 29th if you feel the need.

I hear that voice a lot. I hear it when I see the unfinished or unstarted projects - wind, solar, efficiency, transportation, etc. I hear it when I am pouring money into a gas pump and breathing those lovely toxic fumes. I hear it when I am drinking sweet tea from a styrofoam cup. I hear it when I analyze my bank statement and see how many things I support in reality but despise in theory.

The problem with a resolution is that it is vague. I am going to save the planet. I am going to live healthier. I am going to go to the gym. (I never say that last one - too much productive work to be done with that energy.)

So I am resolving setting a few quarterly goals, measurable goals that are attainable. If I hear Mrs. Baumgartner's nagging voice this year, I want it to be a specific nagging.

So, here are three small green resolutions goals for this quarter:

I will have an aquaponics system built and operational by April 2, 2014.
Details: 20 gallon tank, located in the laundry room, LED lighting

I will assemble a solar charging station in the garage specifically for charging the electric 2 wheelers that reside there (bicycle, motorcycle, and Vespa).

I will start carrying a refillable water bottle and stop buying drinks from restaurants that use disposable cups. Okay, this one feels a lot like a resolution, I will work on a more concrete plan for that.

For those of you who are thinking to yourself Oy vey, this guy talks too much - this blog needs more pictures! Here is a link to last year's HuffPo green resolution slideshow.

Huffington Post Green Resolution Slideshow

May you have a phenomenal 2014, and may the world in which you live become healthier, cleaner, and more filled with joy!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Chances - Don't Panic!

Such dreaded words: "This is your last chance to..."

On a self-serving, pandering to you, dear reader note, this is your last chance to join a very exclusive group (Thanks Brian and Toni!) by somewhat anonymously filling out the first annual Mesquite Hugger survey. Please! It closes at midnight on the 31st.

Don't think about it - just click here!

And, in other last chance news, we have a book/video/audio recommendation: Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. In a former life, I stumbled across a non-fiction Douglas Adams book in a junior high library. I was not a fan of non-fiction back then, but I knew where my towel was back then and had to read anything Adams had written. Essentially, the two authors took on the task of going to see and report on a number of profoundly endangered species. It's a travel book, a slightly humorous book, and a powerful picture of the impact that human beings have had on the other denizens of our big blue marble.

Good Reads - Last Chance to See

I am feeling rather slackerish to learn that the whole thing was actually a BBC production and that there was a follow-up series done in 2009. I now have some reading and watching to do.

So long, and thanks to all the readers!

May you always know where YOUR towel is.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wildlife Rehab Center Follow-Up

Huey and Tori

Amber, Travis, and Rocky 


Here are some pics in case you missed the spwrc.org open house. A great time was had by all! And we heard a bobcat purr! They will have another open house during the third week of June. These people are doing some great things and are very much worthy of our community's support.

May you be surrounded by people who care enough to do something!

PS. Don't forget the Mesquite Hugger Survey!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Electric Cars: Two Cities See Investment Pay Off

The Houston Fleet
First, let's get linguistic, if you have multiple Nissan electric cars, do you have "Leafs" or Leaves"?

Okay, the article is not sexy or terribly exciting, but there are two big take-aways.

  1. These cities are not located on the East Coast or the West Coast. (Texas and Colorado)
  2. There is no mention of environmental factors involved in the article - this is purely financial.

I find this very encouraging. I would like for us all to save the planet by trying to save the planet, but saving the planet by trying to save money, that works too. (As long as the planet gets saved.)

Green Car Congress Article

May your planet be saved!

Local Event Tomorrow!!! (Local Wildlife!!!)

Okay, so this blog is very much about local and very much about wildlife, so you can imagine how happy the Mesquite Hugger is to promote this event:

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 21st, from 11am-2pm, the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is having their open house. If you want to see local wildlife and meet the people who volunteer their time and efforts to care for local animals that have been injured or orphaned, this is the event for you. The link is below.


While you are on their website, please take some time to read their mission statement. Thank you, SPWRC!!! (Tell 'em the Mesquite Hugger sent you!)

And your bonus material for the day, Imagine coming home to find a bobcat in your blinds. I love this story for a number of reasons.
1.They called in the mounties.
2. "MacGyver" is used as a verb.
3. I learned another use for two broomsticks, a roll of duct tape, and a knife that does not involve jousting.

Honey, There's a Bobcat in the Blinds!

May your day be filled with pleasant surprises!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Mesquite Hugger First Annual Survey!!!

Dear Reader,

The Mesquite Hugger team (me) would like to invite you to respond to a short survey to help us (me)make this blog a better one for all of us (us).

I am leaving the survey open so that those who take the survery will be able to see the responses of others, and the survey will be open through December 31.

Thank you, and may you have a great day!

Mesquite Hugger Survey

Texas Wildlife - Sandhill Cranes

My mother lives on what is left of a lake 110 miles south of Lubbock. As is the case with most bodies of water in West Texas these days, there is almost no water in the lake. And that is mostly a terrible thing. But there has been a few distinct advantages for some wildlife. Since the water is shallow, the mud is deep, and the vegetation is thick, people no longer flock to the lake. But the birds do.

And my favorite birds there this time of year are the sandhill cranes. When I visit there, I am enthralled by these elegant and vocal giants. I usually sneak away for fifteen minutes or so to sit in a secluded place to watch and listen to them. I never feel more human or any closer to God than I do when I am in the presence of such natural beauty.

Then, being a stupid human, I usually pull out the phone to take a picture. A picture that ends up looking like a mudhole with gray dots.

On Treehugger.com this morning, there is an article that features some great Jaymi Heimbuch photos of sandhill cranes. Enjoy!

Treehugger Sandhill Cranes

May you be fortunate enough to be enthralled by the world around you today!

Special bonus link:

The International Crane Foundation - Sandhill Page

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two More Mesquite Hugger Christmas Gift Ideas

If you follow this blog (THANK YOU!!!), you know that Instructables is an integral part of this blogger's inspiration. So, why not offer this gift of inspiration to the people around you whose brains need inspiration to keep them out of trouble. Or, just log onto the site and find a great DIY gift to make for all those special someones.

Instructables Pro Membership

Does your intended gift recipient spend too much time on the couch? Is he/she starting to take on a zombie-like pallor from too much time spent indoors? Here is a gift that may actually help this condition and improve their overall outlook on life - get them a Texas Parks and Wildlife State Parks pass. ($70) Then drag them out to one of our many sites of natural beauty. Or plan a year where you visit several parks. Many have overnight accommodations, free fishing, and equipment rental. Many are also close by! (Caprock Canyons State Park is one of the panhandle's best-kept secrets.)

Texas Parks and Wildlife Pass

May your gifts this year offer joy, inspiration, and well-being to others.

Last-Minute Mesquite Hugger Gifts - Texas Wildlife Conservation

Does anyone else see a resemblance to Smaug?

For those of you looking for a last-minute gift for the nature-loving mesquite-hugging wonderful people in your life, here are some suggestions.

Donate money in their name or buy a membership to one of their favorite wildlife conservation groups. Below are some of my faves:

Attwater Prairie Chickens

Bat Sanctuary in Texas

Horned Lizard Conservation Society

Texas Land Conservation

Now, some of you are thinking, "That's great and all, but I want to give a REAL gift, something they can hold in their hands. Come on, Mesquite Hugger, man, be for real!" (My inner voice has a some strange speech patterns.) Well, you are in luck, many of these organizations actually sell tangible gifts. One of my favorite gifts from last Christmas is a black t-shirt from the Horned Lizard Conservation Society. I love to wear that shirt because people ask about it often and I have a chance to talk to others about the ongoing struggle to save these wonderful creatures.

Horned Lizards Store

Or let's say that you share an office with someone who talks about wine all the time. Wine, wine, whine! What better way to let them know they are driving you batty than a bottle of Bat Wine! (Just kidding, JG!)

Bat World Wines

May this list help you in your shopping dilemmas, and may your purchase help to create a better world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Heart of Lubbock Neighborhood Community Garden

Just a quick shout out for those of you wanting to support a cool local project that supports many of the Mesquite Hugger ideals.

The Heart of Lubbock Neighborhood Association is working with a group of Texas Tech horticultural students to build a neighborhood garden. I am excited to see what they accomplish this spring!

Please tell them that the Mesquite Hugger sent you!

May you live in a place where your neighbors work together for the common good!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rock On Dallas!!!

I am not accustomed to seeing this type of news out of my home state, but I hope Lubbock takes notice.

 Dallas Bans (Most) Fracking in the City

May you and your kids grow up in a clean and healthy world!

8 Reasons...Shamelessly Reposting from PlanetSave

Flipping through this article about reasons to buy an electric car today when I noticed that there is something for most of my friends and family in these reasons:

1: It’s all about the pickup, baby!
Who does not like kick-in-the-butt acceleration?

2: Goodbye to gas stations!
Grizz rides his 120mpg scooter in 40 degree weather. He hates paying for gas!

3: Hello, clean air.
Our family has a personal vendetta against lung cancer. Asthma and global warming suck too.

4: Global warming Jedi, they are.
I am surrounded by Jedi scum! (Rusty, Keith and Mellissa, Brian, Brent, my beautiful wife Toni)

5: You can plug your can into the sun!
Okay, that would be me.

6: Save massive moola!
I am and am surrounded by cheap bastards, but Jennifer takes the cake here - if it's free or there's a coupon.)

7: Smooth, quiet.
What we all aspire to be.

8: Essentially maintenance free.

Alright, you got me there, we're all a bit high maintenance. Maybe Spencer...

With all that being said, the article is still an enjoyable read, even if you don't want an electric car.

8 Reasons Electric Cars Kick Boot

May you have a phenomenal fuel-free Friday!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Rusty stuff do you get when you combine an anvil, a forge, and 3 railroad spikes?

One of the best parts of my day is the morning coffee. We have our own little daily dramedy going on where there are a few constants and a number of special guests. And you never quite know what is about to walk through the door. (Also, a Cafe Americano with a nice crema on top makes me pretty happy too.)

This morning's special surprise came when Rusty showed up and started pulling knives out of the cargo pockets. He brought three today. All had started their lives as railroad spikes. He brought stages of completion so that we could see the process.

Rusty builds things because he can or because he has never built a [insert random object] before. And his t-shirt tells no lies, he does indeed void warranties! And he roasts his own beans!
If you'd like to see more of his handiwork, be sure to swing by 5701 Avenue P after dark and check out the Christmas light show.
May you have a Rusty in your group of friends!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

EV Racing for us poor boys and girls!

Several years ago, I attended my first AHRMA (American Historical Motorcycle Racing Association) race. And, as the brain is wont to do, the planning started in my head. Okay, I can pick up a cheap vintage motorcyle from the early '70's and start building. I could have a bike together for around $1000 to race in the lower classes. Then I could...

Our good friend Spencer!

But the logical brain soon kicked in with a calculator subroutine.

Nearest racetracks: Dallas and Albuquerque
Safety Gear: $
Weekend out of town: $
Fuel to get there and to race: $ (and I hate burning dino fuel)
Entry fee, time off from work, emergency room visits:$:$:$

So, I quickly gave up on cheap racing.

A few years later, I discovered Puddle Duck racing and the brain jumped into action again. The brain planned a local(ish) challenge where a group of us would build our own recycled puddle ducks through the fall and have a winner-takes-all regatta in the spring.


Then I realized that none of my friends liked the idea of building their own boat, and that most did not like the idea of racing anything that did not burn rubber or gasoline. AND WE LIVE IN A DESERT!

So a few months back, the brain (reading Make Magazine) became aware of another form of racing that fit most all of the Mesquite Hugger criteria:
It reuses and recycles
It involves electric vehicles
Desert environments are ok
High dork factor!

This form of racing is...(Drumroll please!)
The Power Wheel Racing Series!

Barbie Jeep Revival

Okay, there it is. I am glad to have that off my chest. Gentlemen and Ladies, start your brains and start building! Spring will be here before you know it!
(Hi, Fester!)
May your brain be filled with your next recycled quest!!!

The Haven - A No-Kill, Non-Profit Animal Shelter

This handsome guy (the one in his beloved dino pj's) is Condo. His racing name was El Conde, but his sleeping-on-the-couch name and thrilled-to-have-a-cookie name is Condo. And he is very much a blessing in our home. He is our good dog. He, of course, is a rescue.
If you are looking for a Condo, Fido, Fluffy, Princess, Quiz, Newman, Sinka, Jenna, Pharaoh, or any other blessing for your family this holiday season, well, here is a great opportunity for you - the Haven is having an open house on Saturday.

May your home be blessed with a tail that wags at the sound of your voice!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Just a Normal EVTown (You Normal people rock!)

One of my favorite people in the world cruising around in his EV.

In my EV dorkiness, I keep a daily tally of all the electric cars that I see on Lubbock's streets. I have experienced days where I have seen as many as three electric cars in one day. I had a banner day yesterday when I saw two Chevy Volts on the street during the lunch hour. On our extremely cold last Thursday, I saw a blue Nissan Leaf. They are becoming more common, but not at an impressive rate.

So imagine my joy today when I learned about Normal, Illinois - a place where the town actually encourages electric cars. No big deal. Enjoy!


May you live in a place where the citizen and civic leaders want everyone to thrive and be healthy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

From My First Car to the Kitchen Table

I want to say thank you to my parents for my first car. Back in 1983 (Yeah, I know I am old.) We went from Odessa to Midland to pick up my first car, an old Plymouth. We loaded it on a trailer. After we loaded the car, we started loading things like doors, bumpers, etc. It was a basket case. It took us more than a year to turn it into a viable (and quite beautiful) vehicle. It took another year of driving and repairing to get the major bugs worked out. I already loved things with wheels, but that car cemented the relationship and taught me a great deal.

This weekend it was cold here. Very cold! And I have had lots of cabin fever lately. So I decided to find something to work on inside. The bicycle battery pack was a natural choice. And I have thoroughly enjoyed researching and building it.

So, thank you Mom and Dad for that piece of junk car that taught me the value of building it yourself. If you'd bought me or helped me to buy a middle of the road used but dependable car with things like a cruise control and an air conditioner, I would probably never know the joy of seeing a bunch of parts come together as a whole and functioning thing, and I have a hard time imagining a life without that.
If you would like to build your own similar pack, here is a VERY helpful link from a mad-scientist-electric-vehicle-genius Canadian who goes by DoctorBass:
And if you'd like a place to learn more about the value of young people learning to work with their hands, this is an excellent read:
May your hands know the joys of making old things into new things, and may you have a friend like Grizz (who brought me a box of batteries and who is generally just a great friend to have around.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Somewhat Green High Speed Adventures in Netflix and the birth of S.P.E.E.D.!

[Ok, this one may take a little stretching, maybe some YouTubing, and a whole lot of tolerance for this blogger's sense of how life should be enjoyed.]

Start on Netflix and find a really great BritSitCom called The IT Crowd. In Season One, find and watch an episode called "The Red Door". Pay attention to a character named Richmond. (approximately 22 minutes)

Next, while still in Netflix, find a documentary entitled Charge. I would recommend watching the entire film; however, for today's focus, just watch through the section where you meet Cedric Lynch, inventor of the Agni motor.

Now, on to Mesquite Hugger type stuff:
Charge is a documentary that outlines the challenges and triumphs of the first teams to build and race electric motorcycles at the legendary Isle of Man (Not the "I love man" as some have recently speculated.)

Keith, Mesquite Hugger's most frequent commenter and the subject of one early post, recently saw the film, enthusiastically encouraged all of his friends to watch it, and now wants to build an electric motorcycle. I like movies that have that effect on people. So, please watch Charge, maybe throw in a little Revenge of the Electric Car, and wash it down with a little WALL-E this weekend. Maybe we can start a local EV club. South Plains Eccentric Electro-Dorks (S.P.E.E.D.) or something like that...

May y'all have a great weekend and may you be warm!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Other Exciting EV News for the Week

The incredible, edible egg!

Dork selfie taken in front of a Waco dealership - this is the only MiEV I have seen in person.

Warning: Dork Factor Alert - In case you have not figured it out, I am a big dork. And I am really not afraid of people thinking I look like a dork. (This would be an appropriate time to have sympathy for my wife for being married to such a dork. She, however, refers to me as a "nork" in an effort not to ignore my nerd factor.)

The other exciting news comes in the form of an egg with four doors and four wheels.

News came this week that the 2014 Mistubishi MiEV electric car will have a $6300 price drop. And, it'll have more speakers, heated seats, sportier wheels, etc. But I don't care about that so much. I care about that price cut.

So, the car is now $23,000. The Federal tax break is $7500. The new Texas incentive is $1500.

If my math is correct, that makes it a $14,000 car with extremely minimal maintenance and a roughly 80% lower "fuel" cost. The scary part of the car? It has an in-town range of 80 miles. It is not a car for road tripping. At all. It is a car that has received great reviews as an in-town commuter. The only consistent complaints have been the high price and lack of creature comforts. And those have apparently been addressed with the 2014 model.

So, are you looking for a replacement for your second car? Do you want to save a great deal of money? Do you want to drastically lower your environmental impact while skipping around town? Are you a big fan of Mork from Ork? (Which, indeed, rhymes with "dork". Again, have sympathy for my wife. And no, Dear, I am not heading down to the dealership to put a deposit on an egg, but I may buy a new charger for the bicycle battery pack I have been building on the kitchen table.)


May you be warm and safe today, friends!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An Overlooked Piece of Recycling

You may be at that point where you are thinking, "Hey Mesquite Hugger, I sort my recycling and I take it all to the recycling center. What's next? How do I step up the recycling from here?"

There are lots of answers to that question, but one overlooked answer is to start seeking out recycled products for your own consumption.

One of the biggest goals in recycling is to stop using up natural resources by reusing the ones we have already harvested. Instead of cutting down more trees, squeezing more oil from the ground, or mining more metal from the earth, we need to reuse what we have already extracted. And one of the best ways to do that is to support the companies who specialize in reusing. This helps them to thrive and reuse more of your recycling. It also encourages their competitors to start looking at more recycling.

So, the next time you are out consuming shopping, look to see if there is a recycled version available.

Here are two quick examples we had lying around the house:

Paper goods are a prime example and an easy one to adopt. We have given up paper towels in our home, but I am not about to ask the family to give up toilet paper! So, the next best thing for us is to use toilet paper that is manufactured from recycled paper products. Locally, this particular brand can be found at Market Street and some United Supermarkets, but there are several other brands to be found in other places as well.

This one was a little surprising to find locally, but here is what can be created from used motor oil - more motor oil. Yes, it's a far from perfect solution - (insert shameless plug for electric car here), but if you are still running a gasoline engine, this is a great way to go. It is very competitively priced and can often be found on sale. And it gets high ratings. Unfortunately, it is a very slow mover. People are hesitant to buy an oil that is 50% recycled. As a consumer, this is where we can step it up. Encourage the companies who are trying to do a better job of conserving our resources.
If you have any favorite recycled products, please share them with us. And please keep your eyes open for new opportunities to support recycling efforts.
May your day be filled with recycled goodness! Take care, my friends!
(PS. An even better option for conserving resources is finding ways to consume less, but every little bit helps.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WOOHOO!!! It's real! (Electric Bike News)

In contrast to yesterday's rambling philosophic introversion post, this is something real, mechanical, tangible, and American designed and built.

They emailed me today! The Copenhagen wheel is available for pre-order. It is no longer on the list of vaporware that may never appear for us mere mortals. And I hope this turns into a VW beetle for the modern age.

You may be asking yourself, "What's so special about this thing?"

Let's start by recapping the virtues of an electric bicycle:
No gas.
No registration fee.
No insurance requirement.
Each (electric) fill-up will cost you less than a nickel - often less than a penny.
You can still exercise.
Free parking (and always a good parking space).
Very low maintenance.
You might actually enjoy your commute.
Phenomenally less environmental destruction.
(Keep in mind that most car driving Americans spend more than 30% of their income on owning, maintaining, and operating a car.

So, what's so cool about THIS electric bike?

Let's just check out two photos:

This is a fairly typical DIY ebike - it actually looks tidier than a few I have built. The cost for this particular setup was around $600.

This is the Copenhagen wheel DIY bike. The cost for the Copenhagen wheel is $699.
Need I say more? Well, I will let their very slick website do the talking!
And, just in case you want to check out the typical ebike and many more like it, head over to EVAlblum.
May you have a big red wheel on your bike soon and may you joyfully and healthfully ride on past the gas station!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wrestling with Socrates

Socrates versus Neo, or, um, Ted 
A life unexamined is not worth living. - Socrates

Every time I run across this quote it takes me aback. A life unexamined is not worth living?!!!

How about you? Do you believe it? Do you examine your life? Do you take time to look at yourself and figure out what the heck you're doing? Does it make your life worth living? (Forgive me, but I always get a little introspective when we head into the holidays and into colder weather. When it's cold outside, I examine life more. But I live in a mostly warm place, so I don't examine too closely. The whole thing explains the quality of Siberian writers to me. You seldom hear about the great Bahamian novelists - the weather is too nice.)

But I do make an effort to examine life fairly often. Many years ago, a young woman named Ginny handed me a blank journal and said, "It's your turn." I have been writing ever since.

When the writing is going well, I do examine life. I count blessings. I recognize missteps. I correct the course. I get things into perspective. I plan for betterment.

In neutral times, I make lists and document the daily comings and goings of a pretty average life.

When it's going badly, I do all of the things listed above, but poorly and with a negative slant.

When it's going really badly, I do not write at all, and life goes unexamined.

For me, it is one of the springs for the whole Mesquite Hugger thing. I examine what I do, I loosely categorize it, and then I decide what to do with it, and how things could be made better.

When I do examine my life, I try to categorize how I spend my time: positive, neutral, and downright bad.

Positive: spending time with family, spending time in worship, walking the skinny dogs, spending time with friends, making life better for others, teaching people how to make life better for others, fixing things, learning, time spent in nature, reading. (Just imagine the Mesquite Hugger joy for me if I could synthesize some of these things into a string - learning about some thing that makes the world a better place for others, building that thing, teaching friends how to build that thing...)

Neutral: washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning house, all the stuff that makes life no better or worse but does help one to exist in this world.

Downright Bad: time in front of mindless TV, dwelling on the negative, shopping for shopping's sake, playing video games, wasting resources, sitting around the house, focusing on depressing news stories, analysis paralysis.

May you have a friend like Ginny and a teacher like Socrates, and may your life's analysis bring you joy and improvement!