Friday, January 31, 2014

WATER: Today's Avalanche Journal Front Page

Why should we need incentives? We live in a desert under extreme drought conditions. Towns in our region have completely dried up. We have a great deal invested in living here, and we are quite screwed if we run out of water.

Why should we need incentives to conserve water?

A decent place to start if you want to make changes:
The EPA's Water Use Checklist

May your home town not dry up and blow away.

Pete Seeger's Boat

A great article about Pete Seeger and a truly beautiful form of ecological activism appeared on today.
“My Dirty Stream”: Pete Seeger’s anti-pollution legacy 

To learn more about Pete and his boat, go to this link:

May your actions make the world a healthier and more beautiful place!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

3 VW Microbuses: Old, New, and Electric

I'm not even going to write about them. They're microbuses. Just love them from a distance!

The Last Type 2 (Gas 2)

The 2014 Microbus (

Ben Graves' Truly Awesome Microbus Conversion (

May you have peace and keep on truckin'!

Bonus Link:

Build Your Own Nap-Time Microbus (Instructables)

The Great Blue Heron and Red-winged Blackbird

I originally saw this photo on They were reposting the original from the The Nature Conservancy.

It's funny. Both of these birds can be found locally, but the photo was taken in Canada. If you are a Lubbockite and spend any time looking around our playa lakes, you will see a great blue heron. In fact, I believe that the gbh is probably the largest wild animal you are likely to encounter within our city limits. It's a rare week that I see fewer than four as I travel around town.

As a teenager, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of early mornings fishing by myself. During those times, I came to view these solitary and graceful birds as kindred spirits as they stalked the shallows in search of fish, frogs, crawdads, and snakes. I often stopped fishing so that I could watch them efficiently pick out their breakfast. One of my favorite things to see was a heron stretching its wings in the early morning sunlight.

The other bird in the photo is a red-winged blackbird. They have a very distinctive call that I have come to associate with water. You will often find them nesting in cattail reeds. If you do, don't get too close. They are quick to attack and will very aggressively defend the nest. (I was once knocked out of a small boat by one.) Respect the blackbird.

May you have the opportunity to be moved by natural beauty soon.

Bonus links:

NatGeo Great Blue Heron

NatGeo Red-Winged Blackbird

Bobby McFerrin sings "Blackbird"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Few Local Lubbock EV's for your viewing pleasure (from

I may have mentioned that I love the site before. It's where you can see how other people have tackled the problems involved with EV conversion, and it offers some real-world data on using specific components in your own build. One somewhat disappointing aspect of EVAlbum for me is that there are very few conversions to be found between I-35 and Albuquerque. There are three electric vehicles listed for Lubbock:

I have seen this one on the front page of the Avalanche Journal and  I have seen it driving down Milwaukee Avenue. It's a very cool machine.
1973 Opel GT

I keep watching for a bright yellow Escort around town, but no dice so far.
1981 Ford Escort Jet Electrica

I saw this one last night just a few feet from our kitchen.
1961 Piaggio Vespa VNB

This one is not quite local, but I did get to see this one a few years ago in Luckenbach at a vintage motorcycle rally. It is from Blanco, Texas. I was very envious. Be sure to check out the before pic on this page.
1947 Cushman Road King

And then there is this beautiful specimen of automobilia. This pristine Viper SRT10Volt will hopefully be Lubbock's next EVAlbum entry. Yes, I finally found the right starting place for my wife's entry into the Power Wheels race in May. Be watching this space for updates and build progress. Be prepared for 1440 Watts of mean-n-nasty EV power!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'd hammer out a warning: Pete Seeger Dies

I think it was 1981 the first time I ever really heard Arlo Guthrie. It was early on a very cold Sunday morning. My dad and I sat in the truck outside our shop listening to every minute (about fifteen minutes in this version) of "Alice's Restaurant". It was the beginning of my education on American counterculture.

Arlo lead me to his father, Woody Guthrie. Woody led me to Pete Seeger.

(Later, I would learn Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Steinbeck, Ochs. And they would all keep leading me back to Steinbeck.)

The one (and only time) in my life that I was brave enough to stand up with others in an environmental protest, we sang Pete Seeger songs and I have came to understand just how much of an American hero he was. Pete spent a life standing up for the oppressed and voiceless in our country.

Pete Seeger died last night.

Here is a quote from the Yahoo News/Associated Press article about his life and death:

"I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American."

And here is the full article:

Folk singer, activist Pete Seeger dies in NY

Hammer on, Pete, and thank you!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why the Mesquite Hugger keeps pushing bicycles and EVs

Support your local arts: Arroyo!

Feeling a bit hypocritical on posting this one because I have not seen it yet, but there is a movie showing at Premiere Cinema (you know, the new place in the mall) that was shot and (mostly) produced in this area and the actors are local celebrities. It is called Arroyo, the lead role is played by Kenny Maines, the movie was shot in Slaton and Post, and it will be in the theatre through Sunday. Enjoy!

See the trailer here:

May your popcorn not get stuck in your teeth!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For you tiny house fanatics out there

(Notice that I snuck in a gratuitous vintage scooter shot here. Somebody get that guy a helmet - and some arms!)
We are resurrecting an old house for my mother and brothers after last week's fire, and it has me thinking again about tiny houses. The house we are re-building is actually three tiny houses tied together. (These tiny houses were called lake cabins when they were originally built.) Keith, Grizz, Swartz and I had great fun installing roofing, sheetrock, flooring and lots of other wonderful stuff on a building that was originally 14' x 20'.

I have mentioned Derek Markham's writing before and thought this would be a great time to share his website that has all kinds of great tiny house resources. Enjoy!

Derek Markham's Tiny House Site

By the way, how cool would it be to introduce yourself as, "I am Joe Smith, builder of tiny houses"?

May your house be Goldilocksian - just right!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Infographic for this Morn's Coffee Conversation: Big Backyards

Cluckers need room too!

Grizz and JB were talking this morning about that little chunk of land where they could (separately) raise their own food. Grizz had recently looked at an acre east of Lubbock and JB had looked at land in roughly the same area.

JB said he'd like five acres, but he thought one acre would work. And that got me to wondering. How much land would they need? Apparently, there is an infographic to help just that question, so here you guys go!

1 Block Off the Grid - How Big a Backyard?

May your backyard be big enough!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fire in Drought and 10 Sustainable Living Tips

On a more personal than usual note for this blogger, I have often written about the drought conditions near my mother's home. The lake is dry and the land surrounding her home is filled with brush. Two days ago, those conditions proved to be just right for a fire. No people were hurt, two beloved dogs, her house, two other houses, and all their contents were completely destroyed.

Only one plastic flamingo succumbed to smoke inhalation!

Please keep brush clear from your home and be prepared with fire alarms, extinguishers, and emergency evacuation plans. It is amazing how quickly fire can spread in these dry conditions.

And, to all of you who have shown support to our family, THANK YOU so very much! We have been amazingly blessed with the caring and generosity of the people and communities around us.

For those of you missing your Mesquite Hugger fix, here is great article outlining ten greener living tips that require little investment in time or money. The article is written by Derek Markham, a New Mexico Treehugger writer who is definitely worth following if you are a follower of this blog.

10 Low-tech tactics for living more sustainably

May God bless and keep you all safe and surrounded by people who care.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Wife's Response to the Backyard Chicken Post - Pretty Funny

Lubbock Local Businesses - An Open Invitation

The Mesquite Hugger survey responses for local businesses contained the following places:

West Crust Pizza (Love it - be sure to try the tortilla lunch pizzas and 3rd Coast Sodas!)
Yellowhouse Coffee (Love it - I drink coffee there daily.)
Bangkok Thai (Try the Larb Nau or Pad-See-Euw) (sp?)
Gaydon Wholesale Lumber (open to the public - a great place to start if you want to build something beautiful)
The Bull Stop (Slaton, TX  - excellent selection and customer service)
Tristan at the Encore Salon (I don't have enough to bother with, but I have seen some beautiful hair come out of there)
Culture Clothing (hope to try it soon)

Here are a few more that I frequent or have heard good things about:
Aranda's Mexican Food (34th and Memphis - great service and even better gorditas)
The Ranch House (Downtown - the best deal on a great breakfast)
Peace-O-Cake (try the Heaven Cupcake)
Orlando's (Yum)
The Honey Ham Company (82nd near Indiana - great sandwiches and a great selection of local products)
Serios ( a new cereal lounge in town that I have heard great things about)
The Slaton Bakery (many consider it a destination rather than a business)
Armadillo Camera - I owe that place my wife! (And it is a place we need more of - local experts with great prices and great service)
Crawford Air Conditioning - a phenomenal blend of ethics, hard work, and a giving spirit

The open invitation:
I would really like to feature more local businesses. If you would like to write a small review for your favorite local business, please send me a story! And throw in a few photos too!

May we support our neighbors and be supported in return.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Tale of Two DIY Electric Cars

As a kid I always wanted a go-cart. As an adult I still want a go-cart, but the practical side of me knows it'll just gather dust.

As a kid, I thought Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby were two of the coolest guys ever. I still think they're pretty cool. If you are not familiar with either of them, they are both Texans who took it upon themselves to build extremely cool cars of their own.

But now, I'm an electric car guy, so I need to find another cool Texan who is taking it upon himself to build his own cool electric car. And it would not hurt if it looked like a go-cart.

Enter Gary Krysztopik. He is a San Antonio electrical engineer who watched Who Killed the Electric Car? in 1997 and developed a dream. You can learn more about him and his dream (and how he is sharing that dream) on the following page:

Open-Source DIY Electric Car (

Of course, Texans don't have a patent on all of the fun, so here is a somewhat similar European electric car that can be ordered in kit form.

Flat-Pack DIY Electric Car(

So, would you build or drive either of these?

May you you know the joy of wind in your face!

Bonus material:
Yes, I understand the irony in this, but if you find yourself in Midland, Texas, be sure to stop by the Petroleum Museum and check out the Jim Hall Chaparral exhibit. You will quickly learn why I thought Jim was so cool.
Jim Hall Cars on Display in Midland.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

E-Waste Recycling: A Few Options for Locals

Did you get a new [TV, Blue-Ray, DVR, Phone, Computer, Pad, Printer, or Video game console, Camera] for Christmas? If so, what did it replace? What are you going to do with the old one? As we get more and more stuff, what do we do with the old stuff? It's becoming a bigger and bigger question. And, if you're not careful, it can be an overwhelming one. Just check out this not-so-uplifting article from Treehugger:

Treehugger E-Waste Article

So, what are some good options?


If the thing still works well, look for someone else who can use it. From the college kid down the street to any of a number of thrift stores around town, there are lots of people who could probably use what you no longer use. If you have a working cell phone, please strongly consider donating it to Women's Protective Services or other groups who serve abused adults.

DIY Recycling:

This would be a great time for an infographic:
Metrofax DIY E-Waste Recycling (Click here to see the big version)
This infographic from Metrofax offers up several DIY methods of reusing electronic waste and offers other suggestions for keeping your electronics out of the landfill. (I've always wanted a Macintosh fish tank.)

I was working in Northern California a few years ago and saw an e-cycling event sponsored by the City of Eureka. People were dropping off all kinds of electronic devices things to be recycled. I have never seen anything like that around here, but I have been looking around for options available to us West Texans and Eastern New Mexicans. I have apparently been looking in the wrong places. I kept looking to see what our local municipalities were doing. And it seems they are not doing much.

But a little searching in the private sector reveals that we do have some local options.

Retail Recycling:

Staples has a free e-cycling program where you can take your electronic items in for recycling:
Staples Free E-Cycling Program

Many cell phone stores will recycle your old phones and cell phone batteries. Home Depot will take your CFL light bulbs and rechargeable batteries.

Best Buy and Target want to help you to recycle some items and are willing to pay you to recycle others:
Best Buy Electronic Recycling Program
Target Recycling Program

So, the next time you are headed to the dumpster with your old electronic devices, please take a few minutes to find a way to keep it out of the landfill.

May you not live on a toxic trash heap.

Meet Lucy - And Save Some Fuel!

 This is Lucy. For all of my sighing and dreaming of electric vehicles, Lucy is my current vehicle of choice when I am not on a two-wheeler, when I need to haul something, when I need to travel more than 20 miles or 60mph. She is a 1994 Ford Ranger with a four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. I bought Lucy from Janet for an extremely small amount of money and have spent that amount of money again doing some needed repairs. This morning, it was 20 degrees and foggy when I left the Yellowhouse, And I was very thankful to have Lucy. I find myself thankful often to have Lucy.

But it's a bittersweet thankful. Lucy runs on gasoline, and I do not like burning gasoline. I have a long list of reasons I do not like burning gasoline, but we will save those for another day.

Until I can make a switch to a much more Mesquite Hugger-ish vehicle, I want to keep working on ways for Lucy to burn less fuel. So this post is to share a few of the resources that are available.

The best wealth of info I have found for learning how to burn less fuel is a forum called Ecomodder. The posters on Ecomodder regularly reduce their fuel consumption by more than 30% and are happy to share their tips and tricks on the forum. I find their threads downright addictive.

While there are many great places on the forum to learn more, I will start you off with a list of 109 Hypermiling/Ecodriving Tips.
Next on the list is a site and Youtube channel called MPGomatic. While Ecomodder is a forum for the hardcore hypermilers and modders, MPGomatic is more geared for the average Joe or Jo who wants to save fuel and get the most out of their existing ride. MPGomatic started as a Kickstarter campaign, which I gladly supported for the cause AND so I could get a sticker with their rocking logo:

You can find MPGomatic here at
(I'm also a big fan of the Maryland Terrapins' mascot even though I am not much of an athletic supporter.)
May your ride sip rather than guzzle!
Bonus link for the day, the Bottle Rockets singing $1000 Car.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

But would you ride it? (an E-Bike question)

GAS2 is one of my favorite blogs lately. The writing is often of a higher (or at least more enjoyable) caliber, and if you like green-ness and wheels, it's not a bad place to hang out. Lately, they have featured some gorgeous electric bicycles. They all have that board-tracker/retro chopper look to them and they truly are works of art. Here are three for your perusal/ogling:



Icon E-Flyer

At $3000-$5000 each, one could still make an argument for their economic viability in the same way that I have seen many people convince or try to convince their spouses that a motorcycle made financial sense. See Dear, at 40mpg this $16,000 Harley will save us lots of money! And when you factor in virtually no fuel costs, no insurance payments, no registration, and no parking fees, an-e-bike does make a lot of sense.

But, do these bikes make any sense? Will they be comfortable to ride? Will you worry all day about your $5k baby disappearing from the bike rack? And will it be rough on you when some dork on a $600 diy e-bike goes flying by you?

Just as a reference point, our good friends Keith and Melissa recently put together a nice little e-bike that has the same capabilities as the Otocycle. They invested less than $300 in that bike and had the full installation accomplished in just a few hours. They bought the bike from a Craigslist ad and the conversion kit from this company:

Green Bike Kit

And Melissa looks stylish and has a smile on her face when she rides the beast!

So, would you spend the money for one of those three up top? Would you build your own for a tenth of the price? Or would you not do either?

 May you enjoy your commute with an EV grin!!!

Added bonus for those of you who don't mind spending the money but want performance rather than image:

Stealth Electric Bike

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Quick Trip to Austin - Part 2 (Solar Power)

Less sexy than the Teslas and electric scooters (see Part 1), but just as exciting for me, was the number of South Austin homes sporting solar panels. We saw lots of houses with PV arrays on the roof and a few on free-standing pedestals.
Yes, I have solar envy. I did a little searching and found that our state capitol strongly encourages the installation of solar systems for residences and businesses.

Austin Energy Solar Programs and Rebates

If you follow the link to the bottom of the page, you can even see a form to help homeowners find loans for solar installation.

Grid-tied solar that is encouraged (not banned) by the city. Sigh.
May you find yourself in a place that works to make this a healthier world.

Rusty Announces the Power Wheels Race! (May 10-11, 2014)

From the creative mind(s) who brought you lots of crazy fun stuff, including the internet sensation Cthurkey, we have the introduction of Lubbock's own Power Wheel race. Mark your calendars and get to building! In his own words:

Okay… in the endless quest for fun, but really stupid things to do ( or conversely stupid but really fun) There’s going to be a power wheels race come May 10-11. A page will be made at https://powerwheelsracing.lsdg.orgAs the details are hammered out, they’ll be posted there.
Rules are going to be vaguely based on these guys – obviously several of their organizational things don’t apply
Summery for those who just want the gist:
· o Chassis from a ‘power wheels’ style toy

· o Electrically powered, 12-36 volts.

· o Racing for fun in a parking lot. Adult drivers.

· o Built as cheaply as possible, recycle, reuse, repurpose!

o The guideline for no more than $500 dollars is a big point of this. Less is more. I don’t think anyone is really interested in maintaining a log of receipts, so this will be on the honor system. If you manage to build something for the cost of a roll of duct tape that can roll an adult around… you definitely succeed! Cheaper and scrounged is much cooler than throwing cash until it goes fast!
Currently there are 4 vehicles being planned, the more is merrier!
If you want to participate, but don’t want to do bad funthings to a beloved toy… race ‘officials’ would be very welcome, and anything that isn’t clear a profoundly unsafe idea is encouraged!
No entry fees! No paper work! No liability on my part!
Things that haven’t been decided yet:
Exact format of race:
Sprints, endurance, combo, ¼ mile? If you are building a entry you get a say
Exact location/ layout of track:
Probably an empty parking lot somewhere in town, suggestions that don’t cost anything are very welcome! Ones that are just cheap are still welcome!
I don’t have a score board, a racing ‘tree’, or an automated timer so that’ll need to be sorted out…
Things that are quite certain –
If you build an entry, bring an electrical fire appropriate fire extinguisher. Adult drivers. Cheap Prizes.
May your days be filled with fun, but really stupid things to do.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I was very excited, now I am pretty excited - Ford C-Max Solar Energi

To start with, my family's most (realistically) appealing electric cars on the market today are the Ford Plug-In hybrids (PHEV). The Energi versions of the C-Max and the Fusion top our list for what we'd go buy today if we had it in the budget. Yes, we'd rather have a Tesla, but considering the price point, we'd buy one (or two) of the Fords for a lot less money.

And, during the government bail-outs a few years back, Ford impressed us a great deal more than GM or Chrysler. And the Prius PHEV has a dismally low electric-only range.

So imagine my excitement when I see a solar-powered C-Max pop up on all the EV and green media outlets.

Clean Technica Solar C-Max Article

This car can sit in the sun (sort of) for 6 hours, and then drive you 21 miles without using a plug-in or a gas station. With a full tank of petrol, it can take you 620 miles without stopping. So we've got an off-grid around-town EV and a long-range family road tripper when needed.

But my initial misunderstanding came with the idea that this car had built-in fresnel lenses to amplify the solar panel. After a closer reading, I came to understand that the lenses would be placed in a carport-like structure and the car would be parked under it. So, it won't charge up through solar power in six hours just anywhere. It would do that only under its special carport.

Even so, it's pretty darn cool! The idea of a mass-produced car from an established manufacturer that can power itself for the majority of its travel without a plug-in or a gas pump...bring it on!

May you travel cleanly soon.

Electric Vehicle Glossary

Cool Fresnel Lense Video - Please don't try this at home without inviting me over to watch.

And the final Mesquite Hugger Response Post

(Fish-eye Oak Tree)
Being lazy, but we had three more responses over the weekend. Here they are in total:

Thank you to everyone who contributed!

May you have a wonderful day!

A Quick Trip to Austin - Part 1(The Mesquite Hugger 100th Post!)

Grizz and I made a short trip to Austin Friday-Saturday, so I feel compelled to keep you informed of the green-ness we encountered.

Electric car count:
1 blue Nissan Leaf
6 Chevy Volts in Austin
4 Chevy Volts out on the road
3 Tesla Model S in Austin (Poor Grizz had to endure a lot of my dorky enthusiasm)
Several Ford CMAXes, but I never get close enough to see if they are the plug-in models.

Electric Scooter News:
We visited Electric Avenue Scooters (off of North Lamar). I could not be near a shop that sells nothing but electric vehicles and not stop by. We met the owners and I had the opportunity to test ride a lightly used Vectrix VX-2 scooter - and fell in love just a little bit.

The VX-2 costs less than $3000 new, this one was priced at a negotiable $2100 and still had roughly 18 months of warranty left. And it was fun! It was quick, it handled well, and the regen braking (which recharges the battery pack while braking) was great fun! Yes, I fell in love a lot, but my overcrowded garage and undercrowded bank account made it a bad idea to bring it home. If you, however, are looking for phenomenally cheap, fun, and Mesquite Hugger friendly transportation, you could do a lot worse! (Go buy a scooter!)

They also have some electric scooters with close to a 100 mile range (!!!!). My little Vectrix was only rated at 45-55 miles. If you stop in, please tell them that the Mesquite Hugger sent you. It's a great shop and they are definitely living one of my dreams.

Oh, and by the way, this is the Mesquite Hugger 100th post.
I kept thinking I would do a big extravaganza for this milestone, but this ain't no extravaganza, it's a blog. I hope you enjoy and learn a few things. I sure enjoy researching and posting here.

May you reach a milestone soon, and may it be an enjoyable one! (Thank you for reading!!!!)

Bonus link for the day:
Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another Survey Response Follow-Up

Due to popular demand (Hi Keith and Spencer), the survey is being re-opened through the weekend. So, anyone who did not get their say, please jump in!

The now infamous survey! Click here to respond.

And the public face of West Crust was very happy to know that WC had received the largest number of votes for favorite local business.

May your voice be heard and may there be joy in your voicing!

Stop living in a trashy neighborhood!

I have been walking a lot lately, and on my walks I have come to realize something shocking. I live in a trashy neighborhood.

My first reaction was pretty simple. It is time to move. I need to move to a nicer neighborhood.

My second reaction(s) shot that down a few milliseconds later. I like our house, I like our neighbors, I hate moving, I am too cheap/broke to pay realtors and deposits and all that fun stuff. Then the $ money side kicked in - we have two or three college educations to pay for, the chihuahua needs braces, one of the greyhounds needs bifocals and a toothbrush, the other greyhound needs to be put on a frequent visitor account at the emergency vet…

So, my third reaction hatched a plan. It's time to start a neighborhood cleanup committee. I can create a website or social media page or a blog. I can post flyers and do a direct mail-out.

But that sounded like a lot of work.

So, I came up with another plan, and it is working out great. If you see a dorky middle-aged guy walking around my neighborhood with a little trash bag, that's me carrying out the plan. It's been going a few weeks now, and the neighborhood is looking much better. And my recycle bins are filling up a lot quicker. And I am getting a little exercise. And, I am getting closer to being able to touch my toes.

And I no longer live in a trashy neighborhood.

May you find simple solutions to complex problems.

City of Lubbock Solid Waste Services Homepage
(Be sure to stay on the page long enough to watch the retro-cool-dorky infographics)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mesquite Hugger Survey Responses

Happy 2014, y'all!

A special thanks goes out to the five people who took time to respond to last year's survey! (Why is it so much fun to say that yesterday was last year?)

Here's a quick run-down of the responses:

What would you like to see more of on Mesquite Hugger?
2 requests for more local news and events
1 for more Power Wheel Racing
1 for a monthly local animal spotlight

What would you like to see less of on Mesquite Hugger?

Have you been inspired to make any changes based on what you have read in this blog?
3 yes
    more environmental awareness
    more use of non-disposable cups
    now carries a personal water bottle instead of ordering restaurant drinks
2 almost
   one being dragged along by her spouse
   one less lousy about recycling

When you think of West Texas wildlife, what animal/plant comes to mind first? (Surprising variety)
Fauna: stray cats and dogs, horned lizards, ground hogs
Flora: cactus, tumbleweeds, native grasses

Your favorite local biz?
Local Restaurants
West Crust (twice)
Yellowhouse Coffee
Tristan (hairdresser)
Bangkok Thai

Anything to add?
Good work!
Round Toits are hard to come by (I misread that the first time as "round toilets")

May you have a wonderful year filled with constructive and positive criticism!