Friday, July 31, 2015

Lubbock on a Bike: July NBC Update and Alamogordo

Red means rode!
Better than June, not as impressive as May. I did not ride the bike that much in July. By the time I get home today, I should be just a little shy of 40 miles for the month. Excuses, I have a few. First, it was really hot. (I rode the electric bike on several of the hot days - but those miles don't count in the National Bike Challenge.) I also spent the better part of the week working in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
MH wandering brain sidebar:
Man, I was jonesing for a bike to explore Alamogordo; all those hills, curves, bike lanes, and solar panels... Alámo gordo means "fat cottonwood" in Spanish. If I were a town in New Mexico, I would call myself Abrazador Gordo de Mezqite. I think it would work because they have places with names like Truth or Consequences and they have a lot of cactus huggers out there. I'd fit right in.

A rocket and a rainbow!

See the reclining woman?

See the solar panels!
Back to my flat town:
After my mid-month bicycle hiatus I logged back into the NBC expecting to see that I had tumbled down in the Lubbock rankings, but there I was still in the top three with Ms. Wilde and Ms. Wilcox. (I have never met either of them, but I do appreciate the competitive camaraderie!) Apparently everybody else found the sun to be a bit much.
I did get an email telling me that I am in an NBC drawing for a New Belgium cruiser - I'd love to win one...

...but I'd probably be better off winning one of the other glamorous prizes:

They are Tube-Free!
May you know the earth-saving, health-improving, budget-bettering joy of the wind in your spokes!
[Allen, I am calling you out - get off your scooter and pedal!]

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lubbock Electric Vehicle Sightings this Week 7-29-15

Monday we saw a black Tesla Model S on Milwaukee Avenue. It is the first I have seen in town. (Yes, I know, we live in the sticks, all 250,000 of us.)

Speaking of living in the sticks, I went by Battery Joe's on 19th Street yesterday  and saw this little armbreaker for sale: (Skateboards and the Mesquite Hugger = lots of pain.)

36 Volts and 800 Watts. This thing should be pretty fast. $600. (Eek)

On Craigslist this week, a cheap Panterra Electric Scooter (needing work) popped up:

Oh, the temptation! Have I always dreamed of owning a Panterra Electric Scooter? No. Would I love to have a 750Watt 48 Volt complete running gear with lots of re-usable parts AND a brushless hubmotor for the next FrankenProject? Absolutely. All of that for $175! Alas, I have vowed to drastically limit spending and to stop bringing more projects junk home. So you other mad scientists can have at it, snagit!

Finally, the most tempting EV in town lately has been a Used Chevy Volt on a local car lot:

It is only the second used Volt I have seen in town. I would be more tempted by a Leaf, but I have never seen a used Leaf for sale around here.

So, there you have it - four EV sightings in one week! (You have to start somewhere.)

May your ride be joyous and non-polluting, and may you stay out of the emergency room!

Personal Carbon Reduction: The Mesquite Hugger Workout Plan

Bike, shoes, lawnmower
(With apologies to JG whose dedication to working out impresses me.)

I struggle with gym memberships. I don't like the idea of paying money each month so that I can drive somewhere to burn up all my energy and return home worn out. There is a lot of work to be done around me, and I definitely have a finite amount of energy.

So I work at finding productive ways to burn that energy while not doing further damage to the world around us.

I love time spent riding a bike. My spin class lets me see the world around me and how it changes each day. I love it even more when I can use the bike to replace a car trip. I feel stress behind the wheel. I feel exhilaration behind the handlebar. And I feel rather smug when I ride past a gas station. I feel downright patriotic when I lessen our nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The same can be said for walking. When I can run a short errand by walking, I feel better, my budget feels better, and the neighborhood is often a little cleaner. For me, walking the dogs is better therapy than trudging along on a treadmill, and we all sleep better at night.

The little reel mower in the photo has been with me a while, and I like it for the same reasons. Burn more calories and fat while burning less gasoline. And it contributes less to all of the suburban noise. Admittedly, it leaves an uncut blade of grass here and there, but perfection has never been a personal trademark for me. (It is funny how often my neighbors feel sorry for me when they see my gas-less mower and offer to loan me their machines.)

I look forward to a day when my family can avoid consuming fossil fuels altogether and when the health monitor at work will quit telling me that I am obese. We are getting closer to both, but not as quickly as I'd like.

How about you? Is there any activity you choose to improve your health, our environment, and your finances?

May you be blessed with health, wealth, and air that is easy to breathe.

Monday, July 27, 2015

ATX 8080 Update Minipost - Snagit! They cancelled the Kickstarter

On the updates section of the Kickstarter campaign this message appeared:

Dear Backers - we wanted to thank you for your response on Kickstarter - and the many positive supporters on our social media platforms, but we have decided to end our campaign. Please look out for information from Austin Electric Powersports in the future.

I did not find anything else on their website about the cancellation, but the website still has provisions for reserving one of the first 500 (and a chance to win one of two different t-shirts).

I really hope that this scooter makes it to full production. Godspeed, electric scooterists!

May your drawing-board dreams become a reality!

In case you find yourself in Austin and want to check out some electric scooters that have made it into production, be sure to stop by Electric Avenue Scooters to see what they have in stock. Grizz and I really enjoyed our last visit.

(I apologize for the goofy formatting.)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Saturday Garden Stuff - Lubbock

Most of this summer's gardening experiments have gone well, so I thought I'd post a few more pics for you.

The Food Is Free Project planter is finally coming around. I finally figured out where I botched this one in the beginning. My soil had/has too much clay and will not allow sufficient water wicking to occur through the soil. So, I started watering and fertilizing from the top and the plants are (mostly) thriving.

I left town last week for four days. When I left town the plant had three green tomatoes on it. When I returned, there were seventeen!

The olla tomatoes are recovering from the physiological leaf roll (too much water from our monsoon a few weeks ago) and the tomatoes are looking good and tasting great. Thanks Lubbock Master Gardeners for these hardy plants.

This locust was hanging out on the back fence and I liked the look of him. So here he is for you to see. If you want a little locust info to ruminate - all locusts are grasshoppers but not all grasshoppers are locusts. Don't even get me started on crickets!

This locust was on the sweet pepper plant. I snapped this pic and then relocated her to the four-o'clock jungle at the east end of the yard.

Other news, my second try at vermicomposting was a dismal failure. It's too snagging hot here to try that in July.

My friend the grackle girl once again hung out while I mowed. She scarfed up lots of juicy bugs. It's good to have neighbors. We also have a young mockingbird hanging out and being a punk. He seems to have a strong dislike for bluejays and is keeping the pretty boys (and the neighbor's cat) at bay.

May your experiments bring you this much joy and tasty food!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lubbock Local Wildlife: An Eternal Tadpole Update

A little over two years ago I caught some tadpoles in Clapp Park. I thought it would be cool to keep them for a few weeks and watch them transform. Well, they had other plans. So here it is two years later and there are still five tadpoles who refuse to be frogs. They were apparently wise to choose to leap into my net way back then. Within a few months pond dried completely as part of our epic drought. (This year we have received epic rainfall and the pond is once again full.)
Yesterday I was cleaning the tank and noticed something shocking. Another of the tadpoles has decided to make the leap (You know darn well the pun is intended!) to frogdom! I apologize for the terrible photos, but I knew you'd still want to see them..
Look closely - the back legs just appeared.
And just in case you wanted to see one of the others - look Ma, no legs!
I am a little heartbroken, though. I am leaving town for a few days and will not be around for most of the transformation. I will come home to find that a big tadpole has become a small frog with a very tiny tail. They  grow up so fast!
In case you want to get caught up on the Clapp Park Tadpole saga, here are the links to the older posts.

May nature enthrall you and may we all work together to protect this planet with which we have been blessed.

Thank you for taking the time to follow this blog!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Your Saturday Grackle (posted on Sunday)

I found a natural, free-range form of pest control yesterday.

There I was Saturday afternoon tackling the backyard jungle, and I noticed I had a helper. Wherever I had just mowed, there was this female grackle pouncing on all the displaced bugs. She was quick, efficient, and very graceful. And she was the only one. The dogs noticed her and startled hassling her, so I shut them in the house. She kept a wary distance, but less than most birds would. And it was a treat to watch her at work.

So, we have a big spider on the back porch, the gecko in the compost box, a few ladybugs near the ollas, and a grackle working the yard. 

May you find help in unexpected places.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lubbock on a Bike: A Book, Articles, an NBC Update and the BellaMonster speaks

You never know when you'll get good advice from a prairie dog!

My friend JG has been riding a bike a lot more lately. I'd like to think that it comes from her reading this blog, but I know the real reason - her daughter, the bella monster, has recently learned to ride without training wheels. With this newfound mobility, they've been talking a lot about bike safety/the rules of the road/common sense and common courtesy. And the kid is sharp. She asked her mom why there weren't any designated places for bikes to ride in safety. Her mom pointed out some of our miniscule bike lanes around their neighborhood. (They live near one bike lane that is one block long.) Mom also explained that there are few cyclists in town so the city does not bother to add more lanes. So her daughter asked a simple question, "Wouldn't more people ride if there were more bike lanes?"  This particular kid already has a way of asking questions in a way that implies Duh, isn't this obvious?

A book recommendation from Jesse over at Just a Car Guy - Roads Were Not Built for Cars. This one looks very interesting. I hope to purchase it soon.

Two more thought-provoking Lloyd Alter article from Treehugger this week - Sign the Pledge: "It's a crash, not an accident." and Bikes are not cars, and infrastructure is better than helmets. Lloyd and the bella monster have a lot in common.

As for me and the National Bike Challenge, I have been stinking it up pretty badly. It's been hot and breezy around here, so I've dusted off the electric bike and I rode it to work three days this week. The ultimate goal is carbon-neutral transport with exercise, and it is pretty darn close. And I still have the energy to accomplish things around the house when I get home. On hot and breezy days on the pedal bike, I take about an hour to recover, and I often lose momentum and opportunity. So, yes, I am still biking, but I am not logging the miles.  The electric bike definitely helps to level the terrain and help with the wind.

Well, I better wrap this up. The Lubbock Downtown Farmers Market beckons and the backyard jungle has swallowed another explorer.

May you pedal one way or another!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

PCR: Lubbock Master Gardeners, a Garden Instructable, Random stuff

Snagit! Things were looking so good...

Okay, I admit it - I don't know what I'm doing. I am more mechanic than gardener. The front-porch-olla tomatoes have been rocking right along and putting out some beautiful and very tasty fruit. (My wife and I have been very impressed with our green thumbs.) Then we got up a few days ago and found that our beautiful green plants had turned brown and wilted overnight. Snagit, we were doing so well!

So, what do you do when you run out of solutions - you go look for smarter people who know more than you do. And I am a big fan of keeping it local, so I sought out the Lubbock Master Gardeners Association. Sure enough, a little bit of time on their site and I found some answers. Maybe physiological leaf roll, maybe bacterial canker, maybe late blight. (I still have a lot to learn.)

If you want to learn more about local gardening and conservation issues, check out these upcoming training presentations from the LMGA or consider becoming a Master Gardener yourself. Master Gardeners to share conservation tips (AJ article)

This really cool, heavily-hyphenated, self-wicking, recycled, water-collecting, good-looking, raised-bed planter showed up on Instrucatables this week. Check-it-out!

Last Saturday morning I found these size 12 mushrooms at a central Lubbock school playground.

The red wigglers arrived last Thursday and are happily munching away on newspaper, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps. Stay tuned for more footless compost.
May you find your answers, get smarter, get healthier, and help us all to heal our overly stressed world.
Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ElectroPigeon 1 Progress and Shop-Time Zennishness

My wife was working late last night, so I took a little time to get started on ElectroPigeon 1. Stage one is the dismantling. For years now I have worked mostly on Vespas and bicycles, so it was great to see how something else was built.

A very Teutonic pigeon on a Japanese horn
 The reason I have wanted to build a Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon is that it is an interesting melding of Italian Lambretta styling (The Lambretta LD has always been my favorite scooter design.) with American Cushman drivetrain layout all through the interpretation of the Japanese who were beginning to emulate German design principles. How's that for an international mouthful? Also, it has lots of room to work and lots of room for batteries. My first scooter conversion was a Vespa and there was little room for either.

Handgrip and light switch - great branding!
So, there I was down at the shop. It was a hot evening, but the shop had a nice cross breeze passing through. Mosquitoes were absolutely absent. Through streaming music I heard Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man," Elvis Costello's "Allison," and Colin Hay's acoustic version of "Overkill" back to back. I try to keep my dreams pretty simple, and I realized that I had spent a lot of time lately daydreaming about being there doing exactly what I was doing. I figured out that the dream has not been to have an ElectroPigeon (or two) - the dream is to build an Electropigeon.

The holder for the D-batteries that ran the original lighting - with Mitsubishi logo

The VIN plate under the (very rusty) seat (Lots of brands on this scoot!)

Rear brake pedal and drive belt
FIG - Farmers Insurance Group
Original Wards Riverside 4"x8" tire
It's funny, I don't care to be a hermit or lock myself away from family and friends, but a few occasional hours alone and working toward a goal sure feeds the soul.
May the journey be at least as satisfying as the destination for you too, and may the destination be a better place for us all.
(I'll keep you posted on Pigeon progress as it happens.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

That New and Nekkid Electric Scooter from Austin

Become the hippest, coolest, most eco-friendly big kid on the block. Because the road to the future is electric, let's ride it together! 
Christian Okonsky                                       
(Okay, they announced pricing, so it's time for a real post.)

CleanTechnica has now posted two articles about this very promising electric scooter out of Austin, Texas. Be sure to watch the Kickstarter video to see the bike in action around Austin. I can't think of a better vehicle for getting around our capitol. For years now I have watched for a non-running Honda scooter like this one for a candidate for conversion. Thanks to Austin Electric Powersports, I can quit looking!


This scooter appeals to me for four reasons:
  • the range (50 miles)
  • the speed (50 miles per hour)
  • the functional style (borrowing heavily from the wildly popular Honda Ruckus)
  • and it's from the Lone Star State. (They really hooked me when they took off from Home Slice and took a pic at Jo's Coffee on South Congress - lots of good memories of scooting in South Austin!)
 From the Kickstarter video (Hopefully, the check-engine light, low-oil light, and neutral indicator won't make it to the production version.)
May all of us eco-friendly big kids ride together on machines like this.
[Shameless blogger self-promotion time: If you like this machine, be sure to check out the Fido, the Daymak Beast, the Boxx scooter, and the Bolt M-1.  You can find most of them on our Electric Scooters and Mopeds page. You can find the Beast on our Electric Bikes and Conversion Kits page.]

[More shameless blogger self-promotion: If any of you big-time blogs out there need a guest writer to run down to Austin to do an in-depth article on the ATX 8080, you know where to find me!]

Gardening, Bicycling. Recycling, and Electric Cars - Keeping the Faith

This front-porch tomato will save the world, snagit!

I read an article yesterday that made me feel a little better about my Mesquite-Huggerism.

You see, there have been lots of discouraging articles lately, articles about the futility of recycling in America; of the miniscule impact the individual has in the face of corporate, industrial, and governmental environmental destruction. And I live in Texas where the trucks are never big enough, where oil is never black enough, and people wait in line weekly to buy ammo.

Some days it's hard to be excited about the neutral impact of bicycling to work as I ride past car after car idling empty and "warming up" on cool July mornings. It's hard to be excited about recycling when you read how little recycling happens in America  - even in places where we sort it into bins to make it easier for the municipalities and companies in which we have faith.

So, running across the Treehugger article How important is your personal carbon footprint? helped me to re-orient my perspective and to encourage me to step out a bit more in publicly supporting environmental protection, conservation, and restoration.

It also reminded me of the Starfish poem that everyone should read at least once a year.

So, I have a renewed energy in pedaling a bike, raising tomatoes, and dreaming of the day I can drive around in my electric car that is fueled up by solar and wind power. I will vote with my actions, with my wallet, with my words, and with my vote - far from perfect but striving for better.

May you stand strong and optimistic in pessimistic times.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Lubbock Local Wildlife: random picture post 7-15

If you are like me, life is better when you get to see wild creatures. I've seen lots of cool (and small) wildlife lately and wanted to share. I have also seen two orioles, a hummingbird, and a yellowjacket (stinging my hand), but I did not get any photos to share.
Tiny toad - South Lubbock (Thanks for the photo, KB!)
Not-so-tiny toad South Lubbock

Carp schooling in a Lubbock park

Fingerling catfish schooling in the same Lubbock park

Llama crossing sign in a garage I visited
A butterfly on my porch
Gecko in the compost box
Red-lettuce flowers in the food-is-free planter
(check out the depth of field!)
May mother nature be happy to see you with your phone/camera! 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Minipost: Two project beginnings and a gecko surprise

More humble beginnings

Okay, so it's not much progress, but Knippa helped me drag Electropigeon #1 out of the back room and place it on the motorcycle stand. The journey of a thousand amps.... (For you gas-o-holics out there, we also dragged his Vespa Rally project to his house and placed it on his motorcycle stand.)

Also, I ordered 500 red wigglers from Uncle Jim so we can begin vermicomposting soon. Worm woohoo everybody!

Cooler than the Geico spokeslizard - but they may be cousins

And I added some produce scraps to the compost box today and saw this little dude hanging out - a Mediterranean house gecko. He's doubled in size since the last time we encountered each other.

May your green projects flourish and attract exotic and interesting visitors!

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Old News Minipost - How a Citicar can get you into Tesla

Since the Mesquite Hugger loves Citicars and wants to honor the Citicar's contribution in American electric car history, I had to (re)post this article from 2010.


So, do you think Mitsubishi will hire me when I get one of the ElectroPigeons restored and electrified?
May your small green pursuits turn into great opportunities!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Project Itch List - Green Brain Dreaming

(I sometimes write about the old overactive brain and its need to create and learn and work with the underactive hands. Be warned - this is one of those. The creative itch has turned into a burning need lately. Busy-ness is frustrating, snagit!)

The Practical Hipster Electric Bike

The simply elegant Maxwell ebike
The Faraday, the Vela, the Genze, and now the Maxwell (That thing is so snagging cool it hurts!) have been working on me, and the one-wheel and two-wheel trailers gathering dust in the garage along with the direct-drive hub motor mounted to another dust-gathering e-bike have all fermented in my head to make me want to build my own hipster e-bike that I could use for shopping, water gathering, recycling, and commuting with the little brother. And really, I have all the parts...

Compost happens, but it requires a little work or some worms

The backyard box composter is rocking and rolling, but I need to start another compost pile (or two) so that the current one will have a chance to mature. I have been wanting to build a compost tumbler like this instructable or this instructable (Itch itch itch). To tide me over until I get to build that one, I plan to order 500 red wrigglers to get the vermicomposter up and digesting. I will keep you informed about our descent into the wormhole.

Here Comes the Sun

More and more solar-powered vehicles, refrigerators, fans, and projects have presented themselves to me lately. (I love the little solar-powered Zenn that just popped up for sale on and Ebay this week.) All of it serves to remind me that I have the components lying around to build a solar-powered charging station that would be sufficient to keep the Vespa and an e-bike charged pretty easily.

And the project I most want to work on: the Electric Pigeon

Yep, I had already been feeling it, but this weekend I rode the electric Vespa and (BOOM!) realized that an electric vintage scooter (for me) is the pinnacle of enjoyable transport. The Vespa is my first-draft version with lots of bumps and hiccups along the way. I am ready to build the second draft scooter now.

Pigeon 1 and the donorcycle

May your overactive brain and your underactive hands find some common ground in your green projects! If mine do, I'll let you know.

Thanks for reading!