Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lubbock: Support Your Local Farmers Market AND Eat Local Foods Year Round

(Find this image and lots of cool canning info at

In case you are headed to the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday morning AND you are looking for a productive and tasty indoor activity for the hot hot hot afternoon this week, here is a Treehugger article on canning that I found pretty inspiring:

9 Reasons to Try Canning this Summer

Personally, I was really impressed with six of the nine reasons, but I know that many of you wish I'd get to the point a little quicker, so, here are my top three - 1, 3, & 5.
1. Canning is almost zero-waste
3. Canning at home allows you to keep additives out of your food
5. Canning helps you to support local farmers and reduce food miles

Bonus for those of you still reading: my favorite is #6!

6. Canning can save you a lot of money

May you get off your can and can soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Followup on the Daymak Beast Kickstarter

Yes, the Beast has become a weird little obsession lately. No, I have not sold anything valuable and thrown any money at the campaign, but I have been watching from the sidelines, a lot.

As for the Kickstarter campaign, things look promising - 7 days to go and slightly over 80% has been pledged. Now, if six people pony up for the Early Bird Deluxe 2.0 (which looks like a smoking bargain to me,) then Daymak will reach their goal and go into production.

Today I ran across something I have been hoping to find - a third-party review. And, since I know y'all are having the same weird little obsession with the Beast (Right?), I wanted to share it with you: Daymak Beast Electric Bike First Ride Review

It did answer a few questions for me. I had wondered if the 48V version had lead-acid batteries - it does. (So, if you are planning to support the Kickstarter in a big way, go for one of the 60V versions with a lithium battery pack.) That was a little unclear on their website. I had also wondered about the seat being so close to the pedals and whether or not the floorboard is too long. Apparently yes, those are both issues they are dealing with for the finalized versions.

So, is it just me? Am I the only one with this strange obsession with this ugly but practical machine? Talk amongst yourselves - I will keep watching the drama unfold.

May you enjoy your own little eco-soap operas.

Friday, July 18, 2014

EBike Infographic

Amen on that 67% stat! (My co-workers would agree.)

Ok, you know that I love e-bikes, and you know that I love infographics. So you can imagine how excited I am any time I run across an e-bike infographic. (Both of these images and a video can be found in this article: Electric Bikes Enable More People to Ride Bikes More Often)

Me, I am still pedaling a regular bicycle right now, but I am hoping to upgrade to an ebike this fall. It would have been nice today.

I took a motorcycle jacket to coffee today to loan to a friend.
Another friend brought back a motorcycle helmet I had loaned him.
My office mate brought a bunch of clothes for us to sell in this weekend's garage sale.
And I have vowed to not drive a car (or any other petroleum-powered vehicle) to work at least two days per week through the summer.

An e-bike with a large basket or two would have been great today. Sigh. We will get there!

For those of you who just can't get enough of reading about e-bikes, here are three sites I recommend highly: (the granddaddy of all forums for the DIY e-biker)

May you get there too!

PS. Don't forget the downtown farmers market tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Be sure to check out the solar oven and get a free cookie!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Mad Max REALLY Needed - in Wichita Falls, TX

My family is in search of a fuel efficient car. So, I am being good and searching for realistic cars in which the family would be seen and would have a reasonable chance of arrivng safely and joyfully. I have been avoiding search terms like Rat Rod, Very Rare, Vintage, Home-Built, Unique, and so on. So there I am flirting with the edges of the list last night by typing in Prius. And up popped the only Prius currently for sale in Wichita Falls.

(Sidebar: Wichita Falls is a dangerous place for me. The last thing I bought in Wichita Falls was a half-finished electric pickup project I bought a few years back, knowing that within a few short months, I would have it completed and on the road. If you would like to buy a well-done but half-finished electric pickup - let me know. I have not touched the thing at all and do not see myself getting there any time soon. Wichita Falls is bad juju for me. And, yes, they really do have falls there.)

Do you remember the second Mad Max movie, the one where they went all post-apocalyptic and Mr. Last-of-the-V8-Interceptors spent the whole movie searching for and fighting over gasoline? Well, he would not have had to fight near as much to keep this little jewel fed. Check it out!

Licensed, inspected, and street legal. Where is Tina Turner when we need her?

So no, I will not ask the family to be seen in this one, but If I were an overly wealthy man, I would buy it for my friend Rusty, and I'd offer to drive it a lot! I have a lazy greyhound at home who looks great in doggles - Max had a dog too, you know.

Actor portrayal - not our actual greyhound

Not an actor - this is the real Rusty.

This is what Rusty would look like if he were played by a young Mel Gibson. 

May you not be tempted by any vehicle this ugly - ever!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Elf, and Lubbock, would you ride a velomobile?

Not this Elf!

Last year I sold a really cool kayak. It was a well-used Perception 10' sit-in that I had picked up from a friend. I owned it for three years, and the only time it saw any water was when the roof leaked on the shop. A kayak is very green, efficient, and exciting transportation - if you live in a place and have a life where you can enjoy it. I don't. Which is why I try not to bring home the following items any more:
long-distance motorcycles
dirt bikes
hang gliders

And to a lesser degree, velomobiles. Velomobiles, however, are growing on me - they do have wheels, after all. They are lightweight, simple, and very very efficient. They offer a degree of weather protection. And they can look very cool.

The coolest of velomobiles! See more here.

I have liked them for some time, but I just don't know about them in our local version of the real world. Our town's traffic is not terribly bike friendly, and a bike has the virtue of being skinny enough to obstruct traffic very little.

This Elf!

A velomobile (and Kickstarter campaign) I have been watching with great interest is the Elf. It's not as sleek or small as most velos, but it has quite a list of virtues. Organic Transit, the company that builds the Elf, refers to it as "...the cleanest, most efficient vehicle on the planet." (1800 MPGe  - 1800 miles for the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gas!!!!!)

Mechanically speaking, the Elf has the same powertrain as a 750 watt electric bicycle. It has pedals, an electric motor, a lithium battery - high quality but pretty standard stuff. But it also has more comfortable seating, more carrying capacity, and a 60 watt solar panel on the roof. (And it has a roof!) And it's a turn-key production vehicle you can just jump in and cruise - unlike all the cool plans on the internet that will take you two years to build.

So, yes, Organic Transit, you have built (and successfully campaigned) a phenomenally cool and worthy vehicle, and I wish we all would switch to transportation like this for our city driving, but who in the world I live in will drive it in or near traffic?

May we all find a cooler and less polluting way to get around!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Really Cheap Greenhouse (If You Don't Mind Digging)

(Find this image here.)

So there we were at at the Sinus Spectrum watching the kids and our spouses run wild, when my sister-in-law started inexplicably speaking my language. "Bryan thinks I'm crazy, but I want to build the kids a playhouse with a green roof." She pulls up a photo on her phone of a thriving green roof. The conversation rolled forward quickly as she got around to some even better buzzwords for me. "I really want to build a 10'x20' aquaponic greenhouse, and I want it to be completely off-grid." Now we're talking! So we started discussing details. She wants to start small with an aquaponic setup using a single IBC tote filled with veggies and tilapia and start expanding from there. When we got around to the off-grid portion, we discussed a solar water system for heating and solar electrical for cooling, and I remembered an older Treehugger article about building a greenhouse partially underground in order to insulate the space very well and to cut down the amount of building material (& $) needed.

All that is to say, for those of you contemplating building a greenhouse, here is that Treehugger article I mentioned:
Build a $300 underground greenhouse for year-round gardening (Video)

May you start your own healthy and delicious underground revolution!

Friday, July 11, 2014

For Lubbock Animal Lovers: Support Your Local No-Kill Shelters


These two cuties are Kylie Minogue and Matilda Dundee. They wandered up to my mother's house a few weeks ago. These two young sisters are inseparable and they are great fun to have around. We figure they are 3-4 months old. Both are smart and are learning quickly. Kylie loves being held like a baby. Mattie likes to he held, but would rather play fetch.

So, what are they doing on Mesquite Hugger? Like millions of other dogs and cats in Texas, these two were strays who would have ended up being put to death merely for existing. We brought them home so that we can find them a better life.

Strays are not a small problem. They are an epidemic worldwide. And the reason I bring this up today, is to show support for some of the people in our area who are working diligently to find homes for strays.

This post showed up on Reddit recently: Hello fellow Lubbockites! The Haven Animal shelter needs your help! If you have the means, please consider this very worthy cause, please spay or neuter your pets, and if you are looking for a new family member, adopt an animal in need.

Here's a link to an earlier MH post on the same subject: Sashadoption

May you and yours find love in all the right places!

A Little EVAlbum Inspiration: A Cure for Barbie Scooterism

Come on Barbie, Let's go scooter!

 So I have this electric scooter, an EVT168. And it's a pretty cool machine. A completely functional and street legal machine that is capable of 35mph and a roughly 20 mile range with fresh lead-acid batteries.

She's a beauty!

Mine could use some fresher batteries, but everything works. I bought it to steal the running gear from, but I have had a hard time bringing myself to scrap out a perfectly good machine. Yes, it's a very competent machine, but I have to admit it is a little hard to get excited about its plastic Barbie scooter looks.

Well, today I decided to take a quick glance at where I saw this little jewel. Pieces of it seemed familiar, but I did not realize why until I saw it listed as an EVT168. This particular DIYer took the same scooter and turned it into a pretty cool mini-motorcycle. That's it. I found this exciting and I wanted to share it with you. (Just what I needed, another inspiration for a project...)

May you find a little Friday inspiration today!

On Being a Green Christian (in West Texas)

I admit it, I cringe when I see an article that mentions green and Christian in the same line. I even cringe when I tell people that I am a green Christian. I don't thrive on conflict. I thrive on working for improvement. So, when I read the title of this article on yesterday, my skin did a little creeping. And the article said what I knew it would say - that we modern Christians for the most part are a selfish and destructive lot. I don't know it to be true everywhere, but I know that in my immediate circles in this dusty Texas town, most Christians could care less about saving our environment. There is a lazy and prevalent attitude that God is in control and that we can sit back and do whatever we want as long as we stay vaguely close to the Ten Commandments. We can't be bothered with things like preserving resources and environmental destruction. That would interfere with our green yards, long showers, and short drives to get cold stuff in styrofoam cups - none of which are addressed in the Ten Commandments.

When I finished reading the article, I went for double jeopardy - I started reading the comments. Generally, religion + comments on the internet = loads of inflammatory crap that does nothing to improve anyone's situation, but those comments do a great job of fueling anger and hatred.

But I found a nice surprise in several of the comments:

Yea! A Katherine Hayhoe reference! (You can find her in a few earlier MH posts.)

Yea! I learned about, an organization I will be learning more about and hopefully getting involved with.

A beautiful and inspirational verse for us huggers of trees.

A few more passages I will read closely.

I take most of my biblical inspiration from the New Testament where I see countless examples of living in non-judgmental generosity, of serving others, and of leading a fairly simple life; however, I (unsuccessfully so far) aspire to to follow a mandate that I find in the first few pages of the Old Testament:

And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.
Genesis 2:16  (KJV)

May we ALL work together to make this a better place. Period.

PS. To my non-Christian friends who read this blog (most of whom are known for their generosity and eco-consciousness - I was offended that you are all addressed as heathens in the article. You are anything but.)

PPS. I sincerely apologize to our local Christians who very quietly and tirelessly work to serve and work for the betterment of others. I look at groups like the Carpenter's Church, the Dream Center, the Salvation Army, and many others with awe and thanks! Keep up the great work!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lubbock on a Bike: National Bike Challenge Update

Sticking with it!

The  numbers:
Since the challenge started, I have put in 128.9 miles - 28.3 of them this week! I have lost 10 pounds without changing diet or exercise outside of my rides to work. The ride to work is right at 5 miles, so I figure that is about 25 trips in the car that I have replaced with a bike. In my first week, I was struggling to go 5 miles in 30 minutes with an average speed around 9 mph. Now I am pretty steadily making the ride in less than 25 minutes with an average speed around 11 mph. I had one ride this week where I made it home in 23:10!!!!

The other stuff:
I feel less hypocritical. I feel less animosity toward others since I am not mixing in traffic so much. I enjoy the days more when I ride. And I do more bird watching. I also spot more cool stuff. Yesterday it was a snowy egret, today it was a green 14' Old Town canoe at a garage sale, snagit! (38th Street between Quaker and Salem - in case you are tempted too.)

And better yet, over the last few years I have found my physical limitations to be much more evident. But I am pushing back on that decline. Mowing the grass and walking the dogs doesn't wind me as much. Roofing no longer makes my chest hurt. I am still pasty, round, and overweight, but I am moving.

And I believe my phone a little more when it says, "You are acting as Mesquite Hugger."

May you find a set of (metaphorical) pedals in your life!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Following another Green Blog - (It must be Canada Day around here.)

Check out all those arrows!

This Why Bother post hooked me and reeled me in. Then I saw a tab for Random Acts of Kindness and one for a rather cool Tiny House project. I will definitely be following this one.

May you enjoy learning every day!

Kickstarter Followup: The Daymak Beast (with a FlyKly / Copenhagen Wheel Tie-In)

I have been really intrigued with the Beast. And I think it's mostly because I am cheap and want to be green.

Here are its attributes:
It is cheaper than most electric bikes (in any form) - if it were priced at $3000, I would not even consider it.
It re-charges itself if you leave it in the sun.
It has lithium batteries.
It has that pseudo-Ruckus appeal.
No fossil fuels are required for its operation.
Its parent company is located in North America.
It is classified as a bicycle - no license/registration/insurance.
My wife still loves me no matter how dorky I would look riding it.
It is named after Dr. Hank McCoy.

So, I decided to check out the parent company a little more. You can too at

And I was a little less excited. But only a little less. They are dealers of lots of generic Chinese electric vehicles that look a little sketchy in many cases. And their on-line reputation was pretty poor a few years ago, but that seems to have improved over the last two years. And strangely, most of their electric bicycles have higher price tags than the Beast.

While I was on their site, however, I did run across something very interesting - the Shadow ebike. I have been waiting to see when we would start seeing this - another product like the Copenhagen Wheel. Notice that the Shadow has no external signs of being an electric bike: no cables, no wires, no battery pack, no controller, no brakes. (Actually, if you look very closely, it does have a coaster brake and a thumb throttle.) Most everything that makes this thing an ebike is located in the front wheel.

With apologies to the poor Canadian guy in the photo - but those big yellow wheels are just crying out to be smileyed!

To be honest, I would much rather have a Copenhagen Wheel or a FlyKly to convert my exisiting bike to electric, but neither is scheduled to ship until the fall, and I am spoilt enough to want it now while the weather is really hot and the traffic is light. So, I guess I'll keep pedaling without assistance a little longer. Sigh.

But snagit! It's an exciting time to see electric vehicles evolving!

May no one cover your face with a smiley today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lubbock, get a huge flower, support a local green business, and eat some cookies!

I had a few minutes to swing by the Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market this weekend, and I fell in love with a big silver sunflower. There, in front of the Cactus Theatre, it was churning out fresh-baked cookies. And it was not hooked up to electric power. And it was not hooked up to gas power. And there were no flames. It just sat there taking in a few rays, and it baked cookies in twelve minutes. Really good cookies! (Yes, I have a great weakness for fresh-baked cookies.)

The woman passing out the cookies was Janie McNutt, the president of Solar Chef International. Be sure to check out the website to see these really great solar ovens that are being produced here on the South Plains. I keep looking at plans for diy solar ovens, but I have not seen anything yet to rival the intelligent design features packed into these powerful ovens.

May your cookies do very little damage to the environment and your waistline!

PS. You can apparently use these ovens for things other than cookies, but why?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kick(Starter) Your Commute Off-Grid, Off-Road, and On-Budget

Oh Kickstarter, how you tempt me!

As regular readers know, I have been jonesing for a new e-bike. My frugality extreme financial stinginess has kept my search at the low end of the spectrum - bikes in the sub-$1500 category. A Kickstarter for one popped up recently on - it falls into the price range, but it does so rather differently than most. It's called The Beast. For a pledge of $999 (+ $249 shipping) you can (hopefully) get yourself a 48V Lithium-powered electric off-road scooter-bike with built in solar panels and a removable battery pack, and there are some upgraded models with larger battery packs that look well worth the upgrade money.

So, if you are comfortable with Kickstarter wait times and want to be the first one in town to have something funkycooldorky, check this one out! Snagit, it's a good thing I don't believe in buying on credit!

May funkycooldorkygreen turn your head today! (Happy 4th of July, good friends!)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Seriously Jonesing for a Simple E-Bike Blues (Cheapos take note)

All images from today's post can be found at

(Those of you not interested electric bikes might find this one worth skipping. And, I pity you those of you who are not interested.)

Yes, it may be raining today, but it was hot yesterday. Very hot yesterday. Summer is upon us, and those triple-digit temperatures actually scare me a bit, especially with my commute home landing at 5pm. I am not a big fan of stroke and/or heart attack, and those would definitely defeat the purpose of riding a bike to work.

My electric bike dreams have been pretty simple lately. I have been commuting to work a few days per week on a non-electric bicycle, and it has been great to know that I am capable of that. And the ride is one of the best parts of the day. But I show up very tired and quite sweaty. Applying extra deodorant is a must! Most days I average 9-10 mph and the ride takes 30 minutes. Windy days slow me down a great deal and triple digit temperatures are a great struggle. I live in a hot and windy place, and I want some electric assistance to overcome those two obstacles. But I still want some exercise.

I'm a rebel, Dotty!

The goal looks something like this:
15-18 miles per hour
15-18 mile range
Less than $500 in the conversion

The plan looks something like this:
Thirty-six volts. Five hundred watts. Ten amp-hour. Rear, geared hubmotor. I have the bike already, a garage sale hardtail mountain bike that I have already enjoyed a great deal. I am hoping to keep the conversion money under $500. I want a pedal-assist setup. I would love to have a torque-sensor setup with no throttle, but that would require a much bigger cash outlay. I want the geared hubmotor because they are smaller and lighter than direct drive and (most importantly) they maintain the ability to freewheel, so I can pedal without a friction penalty.

Shouldn't her e-bike be invisible?

I want to do something like this kit from Green Bike Kit. It looks well under my budget until you throw in the $200 for shipping. It goes downhill even further when you start factoring in reported shipping times of up to 6 weeks - mid August, snagit! It may be time to raise the budget or gamble with something from Ebay.

We are going to need a lot more batteries and a bigger wrench over here!

The reality looks something like this:
Snagit even more, the family budget is not quite up for a $500 or more hit right now. So, maybe I need to leave earlier and pedal slower. Maybe I need to sell off some other projects. (Anybody wanting an EVT 168 electric scooter, a Rally 200 project, a Voloci, a couple of vintage balloon-tire cruisers, or my first diy electric bicycle?) It is pedal and peddle time!

May you get over your jonesing for an e-bike blues more quickly than I do!