Friday, January 23, 2015

Stuff - Choosing to live with less

There's a guy who joins us for coffee most days. Hypothetically, we will call him Joe. (It's fun, because his name really is Joe.) He is a self-proclaimed minimalist and strives to make sure that his list of worldly possessions will all fit in a duffel bag. He is young and single. The minimalist lifestyle appears to suit him quite well. The rest of us swilling coffee around the table are anything but minimalists - we all have mountains of stuff that we work hard at maintaining, stuff that often owns us. For example, there's a Dodge pickup in our family that feels more like a part-time job than a transportation tool.

I have to admit that I find the idea of less stuff has a lot of appeal. And I see a lot of media these days that indicates that a lot of you are also interested in having and maintaining less stuff. Tiny house and bicycle-as-primary-transport articles consistently bring in more readers to this blog - especially from keyword searches. And Joe makes some compelling arguments.

Over the last few days I have run across a number of articles that deal with less, and two of them have really had me thinking.

The first is a Mother Earth News article from Kyle Chandler-Isacksen. And it is the more radical of the two for this middle-classer. It challenges the conventional American dream in showing a life choice quite foreign to what most of us consider normal.

Choosing Voluntary Poverty

The second is a Lloyd Alter article from Treehugger. Lloyd is a Canadian architect/writer who writes a lot of articles on tiny houses, green culture, and green tech. And I enjoy his writing because it tends to enlighten me more than sell me a product or trend.

This particular article is a combination overview and slideshow that covers a lot of ground on the value (and problems) that come with less.

Why small is the new green

May you never stop questioning what you know, and may your questions lead you to a better life.

Added bonus link from Lloyd Alter to keep you pondering:

Let's get real about cute little wind turbines

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hooning Around in the Spira4U Nerf Car

(From the video below)

Before you watch the video, you may want to learn what it means to "hoon around":

Wikipedia entry on "hooning"

The nerf car article has been fairly popular around here - about fifteen reads this week, which is pretty good for a blog with a steady readership of 3.25 loyal readers. One reader in particular (Hi KB!) wants to know when I am getting a nerf car - she wants to test drive it. She even facetimed (I love modern verbs!) me this weekend and asked about it. So, this moring I opened and saw a headline that promised a video test drive of the Spira4U. I excitedly went to the article, but found no video, snagit all to Midland! So I tried another browser. Still no video. I went to the vaguely trusty smartphone. Still no video.

Spira4U Test Drive - Gizmag

So, I went to youtube and found a Gizmag Spira4u video where I was rewarded to find a journalist from south of the equator hooning around in a nerf car in Detroit. And the video did not make me want one less. Sign me up! Let's take a second mortgage out on the dogs and get a pair of these headed to Texas. KB, get ready for a showdown - it's time to hoon!

May your daily commute be fun, green, and turn you into a Bednarzian hoonigan!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Sexy, Human-Powered Tractor and No Tech Magazine

There's a fancy device in my workplace that tells me that 25.71% of my body weight is fat and that my Body Mass Index (BMI) is 35.4. Anything beyond 30 is considered obese. Why do I tell you this? So that you will understand how badly I need to stop relying on machines that do everything for me.

So, I have a great fascination lately with human-powered machines. (Those of you with internal soundtracks running in your head should be hearing the beginnings of Queen's Bicycle Race about now.) Yes, I love bicycles. I also love hand-cranked ice-cream makers (Van Halen's Ice Cream Man). And over the last few days I keep seeing articles about a human-powered tractor (that country song where she thinks his tractor is sexy).

(The Culticycle - photo from No Tech)

So I moseyed on over to No Tech Magazine to see about this tractor thing. And it's pretty darned cool, but I don't know that I'd call it sexy. Really, it's downright ugly and a little mind-boggling until you watch the video - you can find the video link at the bottom of the No Tech Culticycle article. The video also lays out how few components are needed for the DIYer to build her own. If function is beauty, then, maybe this thing is sexy. Hmmm...

So, while we are in the neighborhood, let's talk about two online magazines that are most definitely cousins. If you are a fan of human-powered machines and that whole movement that has people reaching back for a somewhat simpler life, you should definitely check these two out.

No Tech Magazine - We believe in progress and technology

Low-Tech Magazine - Doubts on progress and technology

I don't really know how to describe their differences, but I'll try. LT has more history, culture, and cynicism, and a hyphen in the title. They both feature cargo bikes, velomobiles, building skills, alternative power, technology ethics, and other cool stuff for enquiring minds like ours.

May she think your human-powered creation is sexy too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Little Trashcan Existentialism

(Please bear with me - lots of technical difficulties with images lately. Imagine that the gray part is the top of a trashcan, the black circle is the hole where you drop your trash, and the white square is a napkin with a question written on it.)
So I was leaving the coffeehouse this morning and noticed a napkin on a trashcan asking me a question. (Today, by the way, started off very well - I rode my bike to work, and that always makes a day better.) "Why are you here?"
For the next 20ish minutes I rode to work trying to answer the question.
I was at the coffeehouse to see my extremely good friend Grizz, to drink an Americano, and to see lots of enjoyable acquaintances like Kelci and Zach and Joe. But mostly to spend time with Grizz.
I was on the bike to get to work and enjoy the chilly scenery while getting in better shape and not burning fossil fuel. (And I really like riding past the statue on 44th and Quaker - it's a llama wearing a tie. I really like llamas; ties  - not so much.)
I am here on Earth to....Dang, that one is a little tougher. But not really - I have spent a lot of time working on that one. I am here on Earth to serve and care. To serve my Lord, my family, my friends, and humanity in general. While I gladly embrace the treehugger label, I am not in it for the trees. I am in it because I believe that people need trees, nature, and the environment in general to be healthy in order for the people to be healthy, joyful, and non-malicious. (And the label "peoplehugger" has some really creepy connotations.) And, I really like possums, tadpoles, llamas, and great blue herons. (Possum-Hugger has some creepy connotations too.)
I am not here to buy a bigger house, to drive a shinier car, to support Verizon or Netflix or eat more fro-yo - but I have engaged in all of those pursuits. I support a lot of things that don't fit well in my vision of why I am here.
So, Dear Reader, I re-direct to you - why are you here? (You can take that however you like - why are you here on Earth(?) or why are you here reading this low-rent blog(?), or anything between.
May your answers help you know your path.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lubbock on a Bike: The Local Paper Supports Cyclists and the "Niche"Speaks

Last month, our local paper published an article in which the mayor referred to bicycle infrastructure as a "niche issue". Apparently, I am not the only Lubbock cyclist who took issue with the piece. Last week, a group of cyclists held an informal meeting with city representatives to discuss the need for better safety options and come up with plans for the future. And I am (guardedly) optimistic.

Lubbock Cyclists Mobilize to Address Bike Safety Concerns (January 14)

Our View: Improving Local Bike Travel Could Be Good for Lubbock and Tech (January 6)

Road Rage: Lubbock Cyclists Decry Lack of Safety (December 13)

May you cycle safely, save money, lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and care less about gas prices. And may your city support you in all of that!

Bonus links - a few more MH posts on the topic:

Lubbock on a Bike: No Love from the Mayor

Lubbock on a Bike: National Bike Challenge in August

Bicycle Friendly America: How Bike-Friendly Is Your Town?

Finding a Bike Rack in Lubbock

A Very Quick Post about an Upcoming Lubbock Bike Ride

Bike to Work Day 2014: Bring it on, Lubbock!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lubbock Drivers: Could a Nerf Car Save Us?

(All photos from

I read the local news sources each morning, and it's astounding how many auto-related deaths we have each week. Pedestrian deaths, roll-overs, single vehicle, multi vehicle. Each morning brings news of more death. And these are not attributed to terrorism, hatred, or disease - this is normal people trying to get from one place to another on a normal day. It is both terrifying and tragic.

Today, I found a news article that offered some small hope - a start-up auto company that is designing a car specifically to reduce traffic fatalities.

Gizmag's Recent Article about the Spira

And they are going about that goal in the same way that Nerf has strived to make play less painful - by covering the body of the vehicle with foam.

Watch it - they might swarm!
And this will shock you - but I want one! (Don't tell my poor wife!) You see, I have a history of dragging embarassingly odd and ugly vehicles home because of some intrinsic value that I see clearly enough to be blind to the ugly factor. And to be fair, the Spira is quite ugly. But it has its list of virtues:
  • Its safety
  • Its cheapness
  • Its efficiency
  • It can be electric (or gas)
  • Its uniqueness
  • It's upgradable
  • It floats
  • It can be tilted up on its butt for parking

How often do you find a car that has a list of virtues like that? (Have you seen past the ugly yet?)

Now, where did I put that fishing pole?

For you electro-dorks like me, here are a few stats:
  • electric version $9000
  • 70 mile range - upgradable to 140 miles
  • 62 mph top speed
  •  recharges in 2-4 hours on a standard 110V plug-in
(Honey, we need a taller garage.)
For those of you who prefer gasoline:
Get off your lazy mental butts and read the article for yourselves.

May the world in which you live try less hard to kill you.

Friday, January 9, 2015

More Mesquite Hugger Greatest Hits: Electric Scooter Posts

In case you are dreaming of green scooting this spring, here are some posts to keep you dreaming:

Making some noise:

A visit to an electric scooter shop:

Somebody's old Vespa on Evalbum:

Just wow:

Some available options out there:


(Very popular) collected conversions:

The Mahindra Genze:

Fido news:

Daymak Beast:

EVT 168 Custom Conversion:

A couple of new old Euro scooters:

Vintage Conversion Candidates:

Fido Update:

Gas 2 Articles:

Mini's mini-scooter (Yawn):

May your spring be green scootastic!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Flykly wins the race - at least to shipping

Tired of waiting for your autonomous powered rear wheel? Well, if you're a fan of the Flykly Smart Wheel and you have $1100 lying around, you are in luck!  I won't bore you with details - here is the link:

The FlyKly Smart Wheel for Bicycles is Now Available and First to Hit the Market in the Movement to Usher in a New Era in Urban Transportation

May you enjoy your roll!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Copenhagen Wheel / MH Greatest Hits

In the brief history of this blog, there have been two runaway posts. The most viewed post (but not for long) is the Mad Max Prius post. The second-most-viewed post is the Flykly vs. Copenhagen Wheel post, and that one still has lots of momentum. So, I thought I would collect all of the driven wheel posts for you in one entry.

Premature optimism:

The Flykly: (A good one for those of you trying to justify the investment in a e-bike)

Daymak DDS Wheel:

The Really popular post:

Daymak and GeoOrbital

Copenhagen Update:


May your chosen wheel carry you into a happy new year and all that.