Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lubbock, I Heart Photos, or something touristy like that

So, I showed up at the Yellowhouse this morning and found a little display with (what I thought were) postcards with big hearts on them. I am, by the way, a reading addict. If there is printed material in my vicinity, I compulsively have to read it. I have read every word on every breakfast cereal box ever placed in front of me. And I really like postcards. So I had to check them out.

The postcard in question

 After three days of blowing dirt and brown skies, I have been struggling to think of Lubbock as a desirable place to be, but the first thing I read on the card was this: Lubbock ranks as the 7th most popular destination in Texas. Hmm. I started making my list, and Lubbock was far from 7, but I don't really count. I can't really see home as a destination when I am home already. Hmm.
Yesterday's version

Nevertheless, I do often encourage others to seek beauty where they are, and the LIVELOVELUBBOCK.ORG campaign is working to do that same thing here in town. So, I encourage you to stop by YellowHouse Coffee on 34th (Tell them the Mesquite Hugger sent you and that he's a big fan of their Cafe Americano.) and pick up your own card to use as a frame for photos of your favorite parts of our sometimes fair city.

A flower/weed that is growing in my front yard

Ironically, you can use the photos you take to help you win a free ticket to get you the heck out of Lubbock on a big ole jetliner. Hmm.

Here's the youtube video that explains the process: LIVELOVELUBBOCK (The video features the very display where I picked up the card.)

May you find beauty where you are!

Bonus link for today: for those of you who want to see a darker (but interesting) series of local photos, here is a blog I follow: http://lubbockunplugged.blogspot.com


Monday, April 28, 2014

One more option for hauling stuff on the bike - Rat Rod Trailer!!!

I really like rat rods. Rat rods come from a tradition of ingenuity and adventurous DIY necessity. I have a photo I need to dig out of my dad and uncle with their purple Model A Ford Coupe. I don't remember all the details, but they painted it with 32 cans of purple spray paint, the motor came out of a '47 model GM -maybe a Pontiac, the fenders came from an old motorcycle...


A Rat Rod VW Swartzy and I saw a few weeks ago - Check out the sky in that photo!

Their little car was phenomenally cool, but it did not come about because they had money. It came about because they worked hard mentally and physically to bring a lot of different elements together. I have realized lately that this concept has dominated my thinking on cool vehicles for most of my life, and becoming the Mesquite Hugger has changed my focus but it definitely has not changed my taste. While I think a Nissan Leaf would be a phenomenal car to own and drive, I would be much more impressed (and envious) if someone rolled up in an old rat rod that had been built as a competent electric vehicle.

(Click here to see the Steam Whistle electric '58 Chevy pickup. It's a little nice for a rat rod, but it's very cool.)

But there is no reason that we have to limit that thinking to cars. An Instructable popped up over the weekend where a builder decided to build a bike trailer using the rat rod ideals. And this thing rocks! It rocks enough that I may have to offer up the sincerest form of flattery - to rip off the idea and build my own. Sure, I could run to one of the local department stores to buy a ready-made bike trailer, but how much cooler would it be to build something like this unholy pairing of a wheelbarrow and a dolly - that just ain't right! And I love it!

Rat Rod Bike Trailer by sKout -Check out the sky in that photo!

May one man's junk become your treasure!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happy Arbor Day

The white flowering dogwood from the Arbor Day Foundation is putting out a tiny leaf this morning. The crabapple is exploding with leaves. They seem to like the water from the rain barrel.

Orange is more than hope now.

We saw Robert Pinsky and Laurence Hobgood performing PoemJazz last night and had supper at a Relay for Life fundraiser at Georgio's Pizza (great and local!) I rode the bike this morning to Yellowhouse Coffee.

I am an eco-cliche today, and it is a great day so far.

May you enjoy whatever and wherever you are today!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Time Magazine Recognizes Texas Tech Climate Scientist

This is awesome on a much grander scale than just a hard-working local being recognized.

Texas Tech Today: Texas Tech Climate Scientist Named to TIME 100

If you have not seen or heard about Katharine Hayhoe, check out Years of Living Dangerously, a Showtime series dealing with current environmental issues. The premiere episode features Dr. Hayhoe interacting with Plainview residents in the wake of the Cargill plant closing. The show is very eye-opening and I found myself very impressed with Dr. Hayhoe and thankful to have her as a neighbor.

You can see the complete first episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brvhCnYvxQQ

May we be thankful for our neighbors!

(Thanks for the heads-up, Keith.)

Walter Mitty-ism, the Electric Mazda, and the TZero (Part 2)

In case you missed our last action-packed episode...

I was talking about all my (strictly) hypothetical plans for finishing the electric Mazda project and having the ability to use it as my one and only daily driver.

My quest for knowledge led me to this trailer: The Long Ranger.

The Long Ranger - HiHo Silver RAV4 EV!

The Long Ranger is a range-extending generator trailer. What's that? In very simple terms, it is an add-on accessory that could turn your Leaf into a Volt when you want to take a road trip - your battery electric vehicle could have a significantly increased range on those occasions where you need to travel farther than just your batteries could take you. For my little Mazda, it could give the around-town vehicle the capability to take a weekend trip to Dallas or Albuquerque. It would still burn gasoline (Snagit!) but would still get better mileage than most vehicles on the road today.

The TZero combined with the Long Ranger - better than peanut butter and jelly!

So, finally I get around to the TZero. Every time I research the Long Ranger, I see photos of it being pulled behind the TZero. When I first started learning about electric cars, the TZero was a mythical beast right on up there with the Tesla Roadster. Like Tesla, AC propulsion based their car on an existing platform - in this case the Piontek Sportech kit car, a very impressive little roadster that was designed to have extremely impressive performance utilizing a Japanese motorcycle engines. The TZero was all electric, was fast, and had a 300 mile range. I remember watching videos of the little electric drag racing with Porsches and Ferraris - and it blew their doors off!

Video of it blowing their doors off. (Skip to 1:05)

The TZero did get a lot of media exposure, but it never really made it past the prototype stage. And that saddens me, but the car still inspires me. Every time I see a sleek-bodied kit car for sale fairly cheap, I think of the TZero and the potential that AC Propulsion demonstrated with their impressive car. (Sigh)

Yesterday I pushed the Mazda out of the way so I could work on a small de-cluttering project. Does anyone know where I can apply for a grant to finish an unfinished ev project? (Sigh)

May your projects see progress, and may the world be better for their existence.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Walter Mitty-ism, the Electric Mazda, and the TZero (Part 1)

Sure, I really enjoyed the Ben Stiller movie, but I am thinking James Thurber short story here.


I suffer a lot of Mitty-ism these days. Some tiny little trigger sends my brain off on a tangent, and it's hard to get back on track. More often than not, my episodes deal with building things, with starting or finishing projects. Most of my close friends these days seem to suffer the same. When we find three or more together at a table, these construction fantasies dominate the conversation and we discuss how to make that happen for the dreamer du jour and the best ways to go about it.

(Picture this truck sitting silently, covered in dust)


The electric Mazda: a few years ago I found myself with more money and optimism than brains. I brought home someone else's half-finished project, a Mazda pickup that was half-converted to electric propulsion. The guy who sold it to me was a nice guy who did great work and bought quality components. He abandoned the project when he bought a Nissan Leaf. He sold it to me at a loss, and seemed happy to see it go.

I have done nothing with it. Zero, Zed, Zilch.

But I have Mittyed the tar out of that little truck. I have steadily upgraded it from 48 to 72 to 96 to 120 to 144 volts. I have built it with big heavy free batteries. I have soldered thousands of laptop batteries together for it. I have bought used Leaf and Volt batteries. I have plopped down the cold hard cash (from selling other projects) for some phenomenal battery packs that would make range anxiety nonexistent. I have built my own controller, bought a new controller, traded for a used controller. Ditto for the battery charger.

I'd like for it to become my main transport, so I have extended its range by building it as a serial hybrid. I have added a pusher trailer, a generator trailer (solar, gas, or veggie-oil powered), and a camper top with lots of solar panels. I have even built a solar carport for it at the house.

May I write part 2 soon, and may your inner Mitty bring you to a productive place.

Some of MH's Favorite Eco-Slogans

Give a hoot - don't pollute!

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Action = Priorities.

Let them drink gas.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Question internal combustion.

Burn fat, not oil.

Solar power. No war required.

Think globally. Act locally.

You are not stuck in traffic - you are traffic.

One less car.

Buy local.

Gas sucks. Ride a bike.

A big solar spill is called a nice day.

May the forest be with you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A (Very) Little Bit More Arbor Day and a Lubbock Local Business

Purple means Crabapple! Orange and Blue mean Snagit, I hope leaves pop out!

Since I posted yesterday about Arbor Day, I went home and snapped a pic of the tiny tree that is sporting leaves. Woohoo!


In the mail yesterday came a flyer from Mountain Hideaway, a great locally-owned business that promotes conservation and looking really good in the wilderness - even if the wilderness is the urban jungle. Well, it turns out that they are having a big sale on Arbor Day weekend and they are giving out free Arbor Day t-shirts and are having sign-ups to win a free tree! Be sure to tell them the Mesquite Hugger sent you!

May you get free stuff AND plant a tree or thirty!

Bonus Link for the Day:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gentlemen and Ladies, Start Your Shovels - Arbor Day is Friday

Forestation - is that a word? If not, let's get it started.

A friend of mine joined the Arbor Day Foundation recently and received ten (very little) trees free with her membership.  Since ten trees is a lot, she shared them with me - I love me some free trees! I will keep you posted on their growth, but I wanted to get the word out about Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation so that we can all work toward breathing a little easier.

Here is a pdf to give you a few reasons why we need to plant more trees: (Number 7 rocks!)


Copyright Chris Madden 

Learn more about Arbor Day here:
Arbor Day April 25th, 2014

May forestation start with you!

PS. If you end up with a few extra Arbor Day trees, one of our frequent readers has an empty lot that is just begging to be a forest!

It's Earth Day - Get Out and Do Something!!!

Two Images from Google's Earth Day Doodles

(For my wife who loves chameleons and puffer fish)



Instead of seeking out controversy and finger pointing, (Ugh! - Not loving our local TV news outlets lately!) please step outside today and spend 10 minutes (or more) doing something that will improve the cleanliness, the air quality, or the water or energy waste in your little corner of the world.

If you are looking for things to get involved in, check out this site:
Earth Day Network: A Billion Acts of Green

If you want to learn more about Earth Day's History
44 Years Ago Today - Earth Day History Lesson

My favorite poster from Earth Day 1970

May we cease to be our own worst enemies.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Forget the Cargo Bike, Let's all get Bad Bikes!


My wife has a dream. And she has had this dream for years. This dream essentially has five components: her, our good dog (Condo), a pair of Doggles, a cycle with a sidecar, and any excuse for them to hit the open road together. The only thing she is missing is the sidecar - and maybe Condo's cooperation. He likes the car with air conditioning. He definitely does not like the canoe. I figure the sidecar is a bit of a halfway point, but he really loves a good couch, an air conditioner, and for people not to disturb his sleep.

I have a two dreams that parallel hers a little bit: I want her and Condo to be happy, and I want an electric vehicle that can haul stuff like groceries, hardware, and the occasional passenger.

This morning, I ran across a Jo BorrĂ¡s article over at Gas2.org that featured a $3300 dream maker: the Bad Bike. [Sigh] And it hits all of the high points for me.

It's electric
It's Italian
It's semi-flat black (My last two electric builds were semi-flat black.)
It has racing stripes
It can haul stuff
It has disc brakes (I lust after disc brakes.)

And it has her missing ingredient - a sidecar.

Honey, we are going to need a bigger garage!

May your good dog know the joy of flying along in a sleek eco-friendly Italian sidecar.


Wildlife in Spring

A Burrowing Owl Chick - SPWRC


I keep seeing, hearing, and hearing of a lot more urban wildlife over the last few weeks. (And I love this time of year for that reason.) Most of what I have been seeing has been birds, but I have heard of more foxes and at least two possums this week. In preparation for all this life springing up, here are a few helpful links for how to react when you do run across a critter that may (or may not) need a little help.

How to Support Your Local Wildlife this Spring  Check out the little possum photo!

Baby Birds 101 - South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

While you are on the SPWRC website (designed by the rocking volunteer Amber Morales), be sure to check out all of the pages. Their mission statement is awesome! Read it and then see if you can help out with your time, with a donation, or with items on their wishlist. This is a group right here in Lubbock that is working hard to leave the place better than they found it.

May you be stunned by natural beauty this spring!

PS. The SPWRC has not yet announced their spring open house date. When they do, I will post it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Someone Wrote an Article About My Favorite Pass-time - Turtle Crossing!

In case it comes up in some deranged trivia game somewhere, my absolute favorite animal in West Texas is the common box turtle. And I am pretty darned fond of the red-eared slider. I am also fond of travelling the back roads where I sometimes run across these little RVs with legs. I always stop to help them across the road so they can avoid the RVs with wheels.

This particular red-eared slider did not care much for the old Mercedes, but it was excited to see Lake (Puddle) J.B. Thomas.

Imagine my joy today when I ran across an article on MNN instructing people in the proper ways to assist turtles in their road crossing!


May you be a turtle's saving grace some day!

Bonus Link: The Common Box Turtle on Wikipedia

A Milestone and this Blogger's Statement of Belief

I am a Christian.

I am a Christian who believes that climate change is real and is man-made.

I believe that we are on this Earth as stewards who have free will. And I believe that we (as a species) have acted as reckless, spoilt children who trash everything in our path in order to have a good or an easy or a profitable time. In essence, I believe we have been truly terrible caretakers.

As a steward, I believe my most important role here is to leave the place better than I found it, and to help others to do the same.

This is the my 200th post as the Mesquite Hugger. Thank you all for reading this blog and for any effort you make to leave the place a little better than you found it.

Regardless of what you do or don't believe in, I hope that we can find common ground and that together we can be good stewards of this world with which we have been blessed.

May we find hope and improvement by working together.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Quick Followup to Several Recent Posts

A Day Without Waste

For the day:
a q-tip
a small saline packet
two three small lids from one ounce container (the containers were recyclable)
a square of wax paper
4 receipts
Then I went home and blew it all by working at cleaning out the garage. I feel like the owl from the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercials.



Aquaponics

The system is rocking along. The bell pepper plant's health is improving. The wheat grass is skyrocketing. The basil is sprouting and looking good. The spinach seeds have done nothing. The fish and water quality are great.

The Aquaponics Instructable

WOW!!! In creating it, I hoped that Keith, Swartz, Fester, Leyva, and Toni would read it. Creating an Instructable was a mountain I had hoped to someday climb. In five days, 2200 people have checked it out and 120 have added it to their "Favorite" list. Yesterday, it was added to the "Featured" section of Instructables! Wow! I am amazed and very thankful!

The electric bicycle (and battery pack)


Installed the new fork with upgraded brakes - stopping is a wonderful thing. The battery is now housed in a small toolbox which has a nice little meter for volts/amps/watts and a pug-in for the charger. Now I just need to create a way to anchor the box to the built-in basket. I need to do the math, but I think missed my goal of staying under $200. My biggest mistake was choosing to build a vintage bike that needed a full restoration and had no provisions for good brakes. Had I chosen a more modern used but good-conditioned bike from Craigslist I would have been closer to the goal and would have been on the road much sooner.

Rain Barrel Workshop
I admit it - I cheaped out. Instead, Keith, the Swartz, and I had our own little rain barrel workshop and built three (rough-looking) barrels for less than $50. Now, if we could just get some rain...

The Arts Festival
It rocked! We spent more than $50 there...

May your followups be rewarding!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Some of MH's favorite scooter - moped - minibike e-conversions

It was a beautiful spring day Saturday (unlike today). A few of us were hanging out in the garage building rain barrels - it will rain some day! There was a lot of talk about vintage scooters being converted to electric scooters, and it got me to thinking about some of my favorite conversions on smaller two-wheelers on EValbum.com.


(This one is a bit of a cheat since it was built as a factory electric.)





(Snagit! That's cool!)

(Snagit! That's even cooler!)

May your inner voice scream with joy as you cruise silently along!

Keith, would you be seen on any of these?

Lubbock - The Local Paper



I am very proud of the local paper lately. If you have been following the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal lately, you may be getting flooded with articles about our ongoing drought, its devastation, and the importance of conservation. Everyone else around here is trying to figure out how to keep their yard green and what ornamentals to plant, but the AJ has been running a series called Tapped: Our Precious Water. The articles have, for the most part, not been sensationalist and slanted or vindictive, (Consider that, Mr. J.) but they have focused on the bleakness of the situation and the need for us to band together as a region and work for the common good.

If you have been following the series and are looking for ways to decrease your own household consumption, check out this video from Water Use It Wisely. (Just ignore the parts where they keep mentioning Arizona.)

May you have plenty.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Walking this Morning



When I tell people that I live in Lubbock, no one ever tells me what a beautiful place it is.

I have stood on mountain tops and I have soaked my toes in the sea, but there are days I still see beauty here.

May you see beauty wherever you find yourself today.

Thank you for reading this blog!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Personal Goal Accomplished - Aquaponics Instructable


May you have a wonderful day!


Lubbock this Weekend - Rain Barrels and Art

A few quick reminders for the weekend:

The rain barrel workshop is Saturday:

Make and Take Rain Barrel Workshop - this is your chance to meet good people and complete a DIY project that can help make a dent in the greatest ecological issue of our area - water conservation.

The Lubbock Arts Festival is going on all weekend. I was extremely excited to learn that the Festival's featured artist this year is a Lubbockite who happens to be a great sculptor, musician, motorcycle mechanic, and all-around great human being - Greg Goodnight. If you run into Greg, please tell him hello for me!

May your weekend be filled with solutions and the wonder of human ingenuity!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A new twist in green scootering - hemp!

(Thanks to Keith, MH's most dedicated reader, for sharing this)

I know the development did not go this way, but I picture a couple of Dutch guys sitting around with a pile of scooter parts, a pile of hemp fiber, and a vat of glue. "Dude, Demetrius, like, what are we gonna do with all this stuff?" "I don't know Ibrahim, but maybe we need get out and see the world. If only we had a scootmobiel..."
Hemp and flax fiber body panels

Enjoy the article for yourself at Wired.com.

May you scoot in renewable silence and joy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's been a while since MH posted an electric VW...

Well, like a week or so anyway.


This red electric Karman Ghia popped up on EVTrading Post recently. It actually looks like a decent deal on a converted EV, but my favorite part is reading the Q&A session from the local TV station posting: Defend-Your-Ride.

May you be able to defend your ride successfully!

Baby Steps - Aquaponics and A Day Without Waste

Woohoo! We have wheat grass sprouting! (and the bell pepper plants are thriving post-transplant.) We are now watching to see sprouts from the basil and spinach seeds.



As for A Day Without Waste, so far it's a day with very little waste - one Q-tips and a wrapper from a very small saline packet. I will keep you posted. Lunch is going to be a challenge - the boss just came in and offered buy-one get one free tickets for chicken fingers, and the tickets are only good today, snagit!

May green spring up all around you as your garbage shrinks away!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two Quick Reminders for this Week: Waste and Rain Barrels

No Waste Wednesday


Don't be a Straw Hog or a Napkin Nipper! 

Wednesday (April 9) is A Day Without Waste.

Rain Barrel Saturday

I was wishing this one had been last Saturday so that I could've caught this weekend's brief but wonderful rain!

The Make and Take Rain Barrel Workshop (Lubbock, 40th and University, 12-3)

May you not wake up on Sunday thinking, "Snagit! I missed it!"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lubbock Local Events: First Friday Art Trail is Tonight!

Get out and support the local arts AND the local food trucks!



First Friday Art Trail

May your local arts support you!

A Day Without Waste, Poetry, and Earth Day: Bring it on, Lubbock!

(Keith, get ready to mark your calendar!)

Somehow, I have turned into a cause guy. Which is foreign to me. I spent many years (decades) as an apathy guy. I am wearing a blue shirt today to show support for autism awareness. Yesterday I spent my lunch hour with a good friend talking to a group of hard-working people about the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life that is coming up in early May. (You will hear more on that one later.) Riding to work today (5 consecutive days without burning petroleum to get to work!) I was freezing my butt off and wondering how I became this cause guy - being an apathy guy is often much more comfortable.

April is a great month for causes and celebrations.


If you are a frequent visitor to MH, you know this one is near and dear. April 9th is a A Day Without Waste. Please visit the site and see what you can do to support this uber-important cause. Our affluence has made us consumers who give little thought to the amount of waste each of us creates every single day. Try for one day to see how close you can get to creating no waste. I tried it a few years ago after watching No Impact Man. I failed miserably, but I have been striving for waste reduction ever since.

(One of my favorite poems)

If you want to celebrate National Poetry Month in Lubbock, be sure to mark your calendar for April 25th at 7pm - Robert Pinsky and Laurence Hobgood will be performing PoemJazz at Texas Tech. If you like poetry or jazz, this is a phenomenal opportunity to see two true artists collaborating.


My struggle with Earth Day is that I want it to be Earth Decade. Every April 22nd is Earth Day, but I keep reading that many will be celebrating Earth Day on the 27th this year. I will keep looking to see what Earth Day celebrations you can find in our area.


May your causes be worthy of your time!




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cargobikes in Lubbock?

Alright, I hate to jinx it, but I am working on a perfect commute week. (Insert knocking on wood sound here.) A perfect commute week for me is one where I burn no gasoline getting to and from work. I know I am only halfway there, but it's looking good so far.

What could mess it up? Two things: needing to haul stuff/people, or weather. (I'd be ecstatic if the perfect week was interrupted by rain.) As for needing to haul stuff or people, I keep wanting a cargo bike.

Snagit, that's cool!

Do we have any cargobikers here in the Hub City? I have not seen any, but I keep watching. Since I have not seen any, let me encourage you, check them out. My favorites are the longtail cargo bikes and cycle trucks. They tend to be narrower than other styles, and I like the added mobility of having a skinny profile. I really like the Yuba Mundo and the Socrates Cargo Bike, but I also think the Xtracycle FreeRadical is cool - I like the idea of adapting the bike you already have. We have featured the NTS Suncycle on MH before - one of the coolest green vehicles on the planet!

If you want to learn more about cargo bikes and the people who ride them, check out the promo video for this Kickstarter  Cargobike Documentary.

If you want to build your own, check out Instructables for ideas or follow the Dorky Thorpy blog to watch a very cool build in progress.

May you have a perfect commute week!