Saturday, October 31, 2015

Good News Everyone: Flykly, Copenhagen Wheel, and Fido

Emails from Fido and Superpedestrian came in this week, and Flykly has a new product and a new kickstarter to kick it off.

Simple and cool: the Fido

I will start with my favorite. Jeb Gast and crew (all of whom I hope to meet someday) are entrepreneurial scooter heroes to me. I have followed Jeb's story for years because I have followed electric scooters in the states, and he has been present throughout my searches. I first discovered him running a shop called Soundspeed Scooters in Seattle. He worked with gas and electric scooters there and even created a conversion kit for turning your old Earth-hating Vespa into a beautiful green machine. If you google "electric Vespa" you can still find lots of info about those Seattle days and scoots.

But Jeb (apparently) discovered the same thing I discovered when I converted an old Vespa to electric - they don't make the ideal electric scooter. I went looking for better candidates to convert; Jeb decided to create a better scooter. So, he designed such a beast and then set off on the daunting task of going from an idea and one machine to a full-fledged manufacturer of a high-quality, user-friendly scooters - the Fido.

And, if you know vintage scooters, you will probably recognize vintage design elements adapted for a modern machine: the simplicity of the old Cushmans, the simple maintenance of the Vespas with their easily removable wheels, and the strength and simplicity of the Lambretta's tubular frames. Did you notice that I used the world "simplicity" too many times? Well, that was part of Gast's plan. He wanted to build a machine that the end user could easily maintain and even repair if need be.  Good shops to service scooters are hard to find and afford, so he wanted to build a scooter for the common human being with simple tools.

I look at lots of electric two-wheeler plans and companies, and I admire this machine and company more than most anything I have seen. I hope they thrive, and I get excited each time I receive an email update from Fido. Which I did this week. There was news of lots of testing, a new employee, and updates to their really cool digs in Kalamazoo. They report that they are heading into pre-production. Yes, I am excited for the Fido team!

Check out the Fido blog here and enjoy the short video of the Fido in action.

Flykly Smart Ped: What a great idea!

Flykly has a new product out, and this one is a scooter, and it makes a lot of sense. I will readily admit that I am not a huge fan of kick-n-go scooters. If I were 37 years younger I would be a big fan, but being the oldfatguy that I am, they just don't hold that much appeal, but the new Flykly scooter might just get me past my oldfatguy prejudices.

Folded Flykly

It's a small, foldable machine that could help you with mid-distance or last-mile travel and replace a bike or electric bike for lots of tasks. It seems a perfect application of the powered wheel, possibly even a better application than the electric bicycle. (It feels a little sacrilegious to type that.) (And I have to say it - Flykly is putting out a second product while the oh-so-long-awaited Copenhagen Wheel is just starting to roll.) Check out the scooter and the kickstarter to learn more.

I hope you like red!

Superpedestrian (Copenhagen Wheel) sent out an email this week. The email communicates that things are heating up for them - they even feature a video of a person in the real world who has actually finally received one: video here. It looks like they may actually get a product out there. (I am still thankful that I did not ask my family to sacrifice the "deposit" money to pre-order a CW two years ago when the opportunity was first put out there. I would have had to do a lot of apologizing and regretting.)

The most exciting part of the email for me is that it also features a Copenhagen Wheel review from Electric Bike Review. It's a very comprehensive review and answers a lot of questions about the CW. Even the comments are worth a read. (If you like e-bikes and you don't yet know EBR, you are in for a treat. Enjoy!) It really should be an amazing product and good enough to get past the bitterness of vastly delayed delivery.

May your week bring lots of good news and may you find the wheels that reward you and and the planet.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I met a climate hero!

Saturday was a great day to be a Tech professor fan! Apparently, the Tech football fans can't say the same.

Okay. I am excited.

I generally don't have a lot of heroes. I don't get excited about athletes or movie stars. But there are a few people...

Yesterday I met Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. If there is such thing as an eco hero, she's high up on the list. She is an atmospheric scientist based out of Texas Tech, but her reach is worldwide. You may have read about her in Time, or seen her on Showtime, or read her book. You may even be one of those five people who have have read about her on Mesquite Hugger. Yes, I am a big fan, and, after hearing her speak, I am an even bigger fan.

You may be asking what makes her such a rock star among climate celebs. It's fairly simple - she has a powerful grasp of a large number of complicated concepts, and she is able to explain them in very simple terms. (It doesn't hurt that she's an entertaining speaker.)

But does that make her a hero? Almost. I mean, yes, it does. People listen to her. People listen to her and learn. They listen to her and have a better understanding of the climate-based challenges we face. They listen to her and they are inspired to  make positive change. That is what makes her a hero.

It's not the first time it's happened, but I listened to her (again) and am inspired to make another positive change (again). This time, I am joining the Citizen's Climate Lobby (So is my wife!) - be sure to check them out if you want to save the planet AND receive a check in the mail for doing so.

I will tell you more about that adventure as it happens.

May your heroes inspire you to create a better place for us all!

PS. I have now met Robert Hass, Bill McKibben, and Dr. Hayhoe. Now, if I can figure out how to bump into Annie Leonard and Dr. James Hansen in the grocery store, my hero checklist will be complete!

As always, thank you for reading!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Climate Talk in Lubbock?!!! A nice welcome home!

I read the news with excitement this morning. There is a climate change talk at the local university this Saturday.

Last week my wife and I took a mini vacation in a beautiful place and a place where there are signs that some of the locals give a damn. Monday was our first day back, and I have to admit that it was hard to settle back into our home town.

Free publications encouraging green energy and conservation - imagine that!

Speaking of conservation...

A business operating completely on its own solar power
My kind of carport!
Not so much.

I watch closely and see few signs that anyone here gives any thought to (or even believes in) climate change. The main local focuses seem to be bigger houses, more powerful cars, and more extravagant ways to tailgate. Yep, I sometimes feel like a green peg in a black hole.

But I now have plans for Saturday. From 1:00-3:30 (Room 169 of the Human Sciences Building at Texas Tech) there is a free talk about climate change. And I am excited. There will be two speakers, and one of them has shown up on Mesquite Hugger before - Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, the internationally known climate scientist, a woman who gives me hope as a mesquite hugger, as a Christian, and as a human being

Learn more here:

May we meet somewhere to deal with the damage that we have been inflicting on our badly battered planet.

Monday, October 19, 2015

My favorite infographic was made into a (short) movie!

Saturday, my wife and I were standing in my favorite store in New Mexico - Seconds. It's a shop where every product could be the final product of an Instructable gone incredibly right. Everything in there is recycled, upcycled, solar, or some kind of renewable. We were drooling over lots of cool items, and we found ourselves focused on a set of eco-friendly eating utensils. (They were designed to carried into those eating establishments that normally serve food with disposable plastic sporks and such, or to take with you camping.) They were beautifully crafted from bamboo and came with a washable carry bag. And they would make a great gift for someone who is looking for another way to achieve personal carbon reduction.

Something like this.

Being the cheapo simpleton that I tend to be, I loved the idea but thought I would be better off running by the local thrift store to pick up a stainless-steel knife, fork, and spoon to carry with me. Then my brain drifted off to my favorite infographic of all time - you know, the one with the spoon.

While we were in New Mexico, we were partially off-grid and had little contact with the internet-connected world, so I did not check out Treehugger or the plethora of other favorite online news outlets for five days. I spent a little time this morning catching up and was pleasantly and coincidentally surprised when I found a TH article about GreenPeace's new video version of my favorite infographic of all time.

May you be moved to get off your lazy butt and wash your own snagging spoon! (Can you tell I have a small case of the post-vacation grouchedy?)
Have a great day - and wash a spoon, a fork, a plate, a coffee cup, or anything else that will keep the world from cranking out more disposable plastic crap!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lubbock Culture Minipost - Flatland Film Festival this Weekend!

Yep, it's that time again and this time I am giving you some advanced notice! The FFF happens on Thursday-Saturday of this week. Here's the schedule:

The FFF is my favorite annual event in Lubbock and I strongly urge you to go check it out for yourself. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed last year when I found out that the festival would not include the short film segment. But that's not a problem this year - the shorts are back at 9pm on Friday.
If you're a fan of local music, the festival has a treat for you as well. Flat land and Open Skies appears to be a comprehensive documentary that outlines the Lubbock music scene over several decades...and there will be a performance by the Lubbock Allstar Band after the closing reception. If you only attend one cultural event in Lubbock this year...well, you know the rest.
May you enjoy getting to know your neighbors!
PS. Please tell Scott Faris that the Mesquite Hugger sent you!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mesquite Hugger's Favorite Electric Scooters (in the US) (Updated 3-2016)

I've been listening to a band called "Milky Chance" lately. They snuck into my awareness through a few soundtracks and a little satellite radio in JG's car, so I looked them up. The first Milky Chance video I saw hooked me easily - they were riding around on funky German scooters, Schwalbes. And that got me to thinking about my favorite Schwalbe - the e-Schwalbe that was introduced a few years back. It's one of those forbidden fruit things for me. It's a very cool vintage scooter that sits right at the top (with Fido) of desirable, factory-built, electric scooters - but they are not sold on this side of the Atlantic (and would be out of my budget if they did.) Yep, I am an incurable scooterholic.

And that got me thinking of desirable, factory-built, electric scooters that are available in the US. I made a quick list. Then I realized that many on my list are still not quite available. So the list kept changing.

So here's the available list:

Interesting bikes - they look cheap and their designs borrow very heavily from famous Japanese gas-powered scooters, but I have read many positive reviews. They definitely have the highest ranges and speeds I have ever seen listed for production electric scooters. (I have recently read several bad reviews for ZEV and their speed/range claims)

Daymak Beast (Check out the expanded Beast offerings)
This one skirts the old scooter/moped/electric bike line pretty heavily, but it's low priced, rugged, based in Canada, and looks like a blast to ride. To Daymak's credit, they have followed through on their Kickstarter promises beautifully. Bonus points for a solar panel on the battery pack!

The only one on this list that I have seen in person. The Govecs scooters originate from a German company that obviously has high quality standards. Not cheap, but I think this one may be worth the money if you are in it for the long green haul. (I linked to the Austin electric scooter shop where I saw the Govecs.)

At first glance I wanted one and I have not gotten over it. I would sticker it up like an Apple product and tell people that it came from Steve Jobs' personal collection. ;-) Seriously, though, it has impressive specs and it's readily available. Bonus points for high geek factor!

Coming Soon

Built by a huge transportation company (Mahindra) with lots of resources for design and manufacturing, this bike looks promising, low-priced, and has more hauling capacity than most two-wheelers - the Genze could fill a lot of needs for the right buyer. They have been selling e-bikes here for a little while, but they are still taking reservations for US sales of the Genze scooter.

Currently on an Indiegogo campaign, the Bolt M-1 looks very promising, but it's not yet available. It's American designed and built by some dedicated mopedders. Bonus points for the long-legged white hound photo! (my Sasha approves!)

My dream American electric scooter - built by American scooterists who have been dedicated to the cause for many years now. They are getting close to production in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but they are not quite there yet. Bonus points for company dog motif!

Not Coming at All

e-Schwalbe (Turn on the translator)
A vintage bike with modern running gear, impressive performance, and German engineering. Sigh...They are not sold here and it does not look like there are any plans to do so in the future, snagit!

May you scooter dorks (like me) enjoy knowing what's out there to choose from and may you find something non-polluting to get you around!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Regional Carbon Reduction: an Alien Sun

Props to Roswell, New Mexico and Excel Energy!

Lubbock is a town where we battle our own beast. We "own" Lubbock Power, Light, and Water. And it is an unruly beast. Local politics over the last few years have centered around LP&L, its  mismanagement, its shortsightedness, and its lack of response to the needs of its "owners" .  Our power company is very opposed to renewable energy in any form. We live near some of the most productive wind generators on the continent and we live in a very sunny place. We get our power from coal and natural gas.

So, when I see our neighbors making better choices, I like to draw attention. Here goes:

Excel Energy cleared for solar purchase near Roswell, NM

Excel is a big power company in the region. Roswell (you know - the place famous for a UFO coverup) is a strangely nifty place just west of us. Our part of the world is ripe for solar and wind power, and these two entities are working to take advantage of that. And I want to say thank you to both!

In case you find yourself in Roswell, be sure to check out all of the alien stuff - the museum makes it hard to be a UFO cynic, but be sure not to miss one of Roswell's truly best- kept secrets: 

The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art

It's an astoundingly good collection - the Luis Jimenez motorcycle sculpture is worth the trip.

Thank you, Excel. Thank you, Roswell. Thank you, everyone who works for a healthier world!

May you be surrounded by such people!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Personal Carbon Reduction: Becoming the Coolest Carbon Reductionist Around

I read the news recently with great excitement - Shell is pulling out of the Arctic. Whether they truly figured out it's not worth it for them or because a whole lot of people were protesting to tell them what a phenomenally bad idea it is really does not matter. The bottom line is that a lot of carbon will remain buried deep in the earth and the potential for environmental disaster up there is drastically lower. Thank you, Shell. Thank you, protesters. Thank You, Lord.

I don't have a good label for myself in this whole eco obsession. I strongly believe that climate change is real, is man-made, and is primarily caused by releasing carbon into our atmosphere. I guess I'm a non-carbonist. Maybe I'm a carbon reductionist. It's probably easier to say I'm an environmnentalist. I've never met a non-carbonist. Of course, I don't meet many environmentalists around here either. I also don't run across many local people who are working at Personal Carbon Reduction. It's why I get excited when I see any electric vehicle running around town.
So,where do I focus my non-carbonist efforts? Broad focus is pretty easy. The biggest areas of carbon release are transportation and energy production. So the broad answers are easier too. Adopt carbon-neutral transportation and adopt carbon-neutral energy production. Ride a bike and get some solar panels. Done.
It all sounds good until I decide to snack on a South American apple. Now it all goes out the window. My apple flew in from South America. Or it rode in on a boat. Then it hopped on a train or a big diesel truck. By purchasing that apple, I tell the world that I support that plane flight, boat/train/truck ride provided that I get a tasty apple in the off season. Screw you, world! I have an apple.
The coolest guy in my neighborhood is a 91-year-old man who spends a great deal of time volunteering for a hospice organization and tending the sixteen or so fruit trees in his yard. He is very happy to share the fruits and always shows interest in the people who live near him. He walks slowly but he is phenomenally quick to forgive and accept. Did I mention that he is always happy to share the fruit?
Fruit can be canned, preserved, frozen, dried. etc. What this means is that fruit grown a few houses away can be ready to eat all year long, and that fruit doesn't require any carbon-fueled transportation beyond human endeavor.
I keep asking questions lately about becoming better a carbon reductionist. I flip-flop between high-tech green solutions (like solar panels and electric cars) and low-tech green (like gardening, canning, and bicycling) when I should be focusing on green integration to fit the needs we have regardless of high-tech or low-tech. I also need to look at eliminating the non-green practices we have in our home. I think the best place to start might be an apprenticeship with a 91-year-old man who walks by my house often. Maybe some day I can be the coolest guy in the neighborhood.
May your accomplishments be selfless, positive, powerful, and inspiring.
As always, I thank you for taking time to read this blog!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Follow-Up On Our Napkin-Sketch Dream Bike: Bolt M-1 on Indiegogo

1000 watts or 5500 watts? Your choice

You may remember a few months back, a San Francisco company announced the Bolt M-1, an electric moped built on a Puch Magnum frame with some pretty standard (but impressive) electric motorcycle components. No? Then check it out here:

Electric Moped: Somebody built our napkin-sketch dream bike!

Well, it looks like things are progressing well at Bolt. They now have a bigger shop and an Indiegogo campaign that is showing lots of progress. Is it cheap? No, but $5000 is not out of line for what you are getting in components, engineering, and capabilities. (I still find it curious that they have chosen to keep the voltage so low, but conventional wisddom isn't always so wise.)

Are you a DIY type with money, time, and tools? If so, you could build a similar bike for yourself and (maybe) save some money.

Are you planning on staying in economy mode and keeping it around 20 mph? Get an electric bicycle and save a lot of  money, weight, and shipping costs.

If you plan on using the sport mode, however, this may be the bike for you. A very cool bike for you. A very cool bike that does not burn gasoline and could stay under a lot of radars. I still want to have the head-to-head shoot-out with the Bolt, the Boxx, and the Fido. (Where is that high-powered electric-vehicle-testing job I have been praying for?)

May you end up with the transport you deserve!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Green Cars at the Texas State Fair Auto Show - Toyota Wins, Nissan Fails

I am feeling pretty proud of myself. Today marks 1 week of avoiding temptation - no, Craigslist, no EBay, no
However, I did find myself in the midst of massive temptation this weekend. I found myself at the Texas State Fair Auto Show. It may shock you to know, but I was really excited to see the hybrids and the two all-electric cars in the auto show. I got to see the new Volt in person. My wife and I sat in all three Priuses, a Ford Fusion Energi,  a Ford C-Max, a Hybrid Kia Optima, a Hybrid Hyundai Sonata, and a Hybrid Toyota Avalon. The Avalon is a gorgeous car. The C-Max was my favorite in which to comfortably sit.
What was the coolest green thing I saw? The Toyota i-road

It's hard to categorize the i-road in conventional terms, but people who want the size and feel of a big scooter but want the protection of a car and the eco advantages of a plug-in electric in which to zip and lean around town should look no further - if Toyota decides to sell it here.
Maybe it's the BMW Isetta for a modern age.

I've seen lots of pics, but it was cool to see the quirky thing in person. It was also cool to see such a fluke for Toyota. Toyota, the true pioneers of the hybrid world, have shown themselves to be very opposed to battery-electric cars. They see the future as hydrogen-powered. The all-electric i-road flies in the face of that - and I would love to see Toyota build competitors for the Leaf, Bolt, and Telsa Model 3. In the meantime, I would love to drive an i-road!
I've seen bigger rear tires on scooters!
The New Volt - Malibu meets Accord?

The new Volt is sleek and good looking, but it has lost a lot of its distinctive look. I like the old body style better, but the greater battery-only range trumps the loss of individuality. Hopefully, the new look will attract more conventional buyers. I had hoped that Chevy would bring out one of the battery-only Bolt prototypes, but no such luck. I also hoped to see a Spark EV, but I doubt that car will ever extend much outside of California.

The Nissan Leaf, hidden in a corner behind a trash can. Carlos Ghosn, where are you?

The biggest disappointment of the show for me was the Nissan display. The center of their area was a $150,000 gas-guzzling GT-R straight out of Grand Theft Auto. The display was impressive and had crowds of teens and mid-life crises gathered the whole time I was around. Lots of chrome, video, and pretty girls who actually knew a fair amount about the cars they were showing off. My disappointment came when I could not find a Leaf. I did eventually find one. It was hidden in a dark corner with no display, no info, no brochures. It just had a standard window sticker. Sigh. One of the most successful electric cars on the planet gets no respect at all in the Lone Star State. Big fail for Nissan to show no love for its own electric baby. Do I sound bitter? I sure feel it. (Even so, lots of people found it and checked it out thoroughly.)
As for Tesla, you know they are not very welcome in Texas.
Kia had an impressive presence at the show, but they left the Kia Soul EV at home as well. They could have brought it and a cardboard cutout of a hamster and they would have blown Nissan out of the water.
Strangely, there were no European cars of any kind in the auto show other than the Fiat/Chryslers. The Fiat people displayed the Alfa Romeo logo, but no actual cars. So, no BMW i8 or i3. No exotic Porsche hybrids. No electric Golfs. No Smart FourTwo Electrics. Also, there were no Hondas. Hmm...
What does it all mean? It means that gas is cheap and that we have a long way to go when it comes to carbon-neutral transport. Even with Nissan's big fail, they had the only readily available EV at the fair. They just don't really want you know they have it.
May we find our way to something better and may manufacturers be excited about those somethings.

Green Revolution - Kick-Aspirational PB and J

Find the shirt here

I love words.

But I am generally not crazy about new buzzwords and catchphrases. Words like synergy and paradigm shift, literally, and Bruh...eek! The literary equivalents of the tramp stamp.

But I picked up on a new buzzword this week - aspirational, and I like it. My wife came home from a heated discussion with a board member and relayed the discussion to me, and that word popped up. The board member kept telling her that she is too aspirational, that she needs to scale back instead of reaching outward and upward. I hate to admit it, but my mind wandered from the conversation a bit (Sorry, Dear!) as I digested the word in its adjective form.

Aspire. I know that one. It's the verb that stands somewhere between hoping, longing, and reaching for a positive change or state. I aspire to be carbon-free! Aspiration. I know that one. That's the noun form of the same. I have aspirations of saving the world through blogging. Aspirational. Nothing terribly new, but novel nonetheless. And very useful. I filed it away and thought I might use it sometime.

[Liguistic sidebar: don't confuse aspire with aspirate, a word which has more to do with breathing and exhalation.]

This morning I was reading through a Lloyd Alter article. (I really like Lloyd Alter articles too.) This one was about the problems we have had with marketing climate change and the need for behavior changes. He spoke about our past messages being gloomy and subtractional. <> For some reason, people turn away and look at kittens on social media when they see these messages.

But then Lloyd busted out the a-word on Slide 12. Lloyd writes for On TH, the most popular stories tend to be about Tesla. People eat up Tesla stories - save the world with really amazing self indulgence! Yep, the Tesla gives you the option of having a positive (or at least carbon- neutral) impact while wrapping yourself in flashy, luxurious, rock-star excess! The Tesla scores huge on the WIIFM (pronounced whiff-em) scale - What's In It For Me?!!!

While I'd love to think that we can save the world through aspirational altruism, history has proven over and over that people (in general) are selfish and short-sighted. We have to remember that when we tell people why they should give a damn. Our local blood donation center recently saw a drastic increase in donations when the blood donation was tied to the opportunity to win a brand-new car. Wanting to help people in need of blood is one thing, like maybe peanut butter. Wanting a brand new car is something completely different, like maybe grape jelly. Put those things together and you have a really great sandwich combination of altruism and WIIFM.

So, let me prove that I am terrible at marketing with a question:

We are all going to die if we do not make positive changes. What tangible WIIFM will it take for you to donate blood aspire to a carbon-fneutral lifestyle?

May you figure out your price and have it met.