Thursday, December 31, 2015

More Save the World Resolution Denial

I sat down with my journal today to make a list of my "causes". I have come to realize that my causes have me overwhelmed a bit lot. So I decided to tackle the mongrel horde.

wildlife conservation
growing renewable/clean energy
reducing carbon release (petroleum and coal)
reducing hunger
reducing class disparity
reducing homelessness/serving those who are down
reducing gun violence

It's different when you see it as a list. It's different when you realize how closely related they all are.

I was a member`of the Horned Lizard Conservation Society for a while. It is a great organization with a very small focus. I love their mission, but the more I looked the more I realized that the cure for their little picture was a big picture change. If you specifically want to save horned lizards (that's a "horny toad" for you locals) you need to reduce petroleum-based pollution and and farming/sprawl-based environmental destruction. You also need to eradicate the feral cat population that we have so lovingly fostered. Big picture changes are needed to save these iconic lizards that have a very specialized diet (red ants) and are very slow and easy to catch. Yep, it's overwhelming, especially when cats are phenomenally successful hunters and chemical companies (like Monsanto) have a more powerful voice than our general populace.

What does it all mean?

I don't know, but here is where I hope to focus my efforts:
I will stop supporting retailers who sell guns. (Academy Sporting Goods, I will miss you.)
I will ride a bike more and do all I can to avoid carbon release in all forms.
I will educate myself and vote more responsibly for those who believe this world is in need of and worth saving.
I will educate myself and vote more responsibly for those who believe human beings are more important than corporate profits.
I will step up my own organic gardening and and support others who try to do the same.

Hunger, homelessness, and disparity - I need to find a better focus.

May you know your causes and may you work for what you believe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cargo Bikes again?!!

I keep waiting for the jonesing to go away, but this one just keeps hanging on. The cargo bike. Yep, the big honking eco-friendly stuff-and-people hauler with a very high dork factor has me up and dreaming at night. In my continued quest for personal carbon reduction and better role-model-dom, the cargo bike checks a lot of boxes and does it much cheaper than a Nissan Leaf.

I've checked out the used (somewhat out of the price range), the DIY (out of my available time range but close to my money budget), and the new (way out of my price range). So, it looks like I need to wait or e-evaluate. But a mesquite hugger can still dream...

So here is an article and a couple of videos to try to talk you into jonesing with me. We'll start with an article about replacing the family truckster with a cargo bike. Watch for words like "bionic" and "escape pod"!

This next delectable little video shows some die-hard East Coasters in a competition to load and transport large and heavy stuff on cargo bikes. It's a cool video featuring some bad mamma-jamma bikers, but my favorite part is the cargo dog.
(I am starting to realize something about my desire for a cargo bike - I may just be looking for another excuse to haul the dogs around. Hmm. I better look into that.) The next video is a promo video for a a crowd-sourced documentary about the cargo bike movement. Cool stuff!
LESS CAR MORE GO (youtube)
Sidebar to my beloved wife: Check out the soundtrack to this video - you will love it!
Another LESS CAR MORE GO video from the Kickstarter campaign
Non-sequitur alert: Speaking of Ross Evans at Xtracycle, I received an email last night from Ross that teased Xtracycle Leap (the Free Radical replacement) news in January. Fingers crossed!
Inspired yet? Are you ready to pedal the revolution? If so, my work here is done and I can get back to my youtubily driven holiday staycation.
May we all find carbon-neutral transport with a really great soundtrack and room for the dog!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What MH SHOULD Be Writing About - Tiny Houses

Mesquite Hugger Page Views
The clicks say it all. Check out the number after Tiny House Posts. The page has more than double the views of any other page. People love tiny houses and visit the tiny house posts often on Mesquite Hugger. Strangely, I write very little about them. Tiny houses are very appealing to me in theory, but not very realistic. Living in less than 400 square feet sounds very do-able for a single human being and it sounds like a pretty good way to cut down on one's expenses, but there's a bit of a hole in that logic. I keep seeing different amounts of money and time frames for building a tiny house.
$30,000 is not rare, and very few seem to be built in less than 1 year.
So, let's hop over to the Lubbock Craigslist for a second:
$30,000 will buy you four used travel trailers
Tiny houses make very little sense if your first goal is to save money. If you buy a $10,000 travel trailer you can move in immediately. Save $20,000 on the initial investment and save the money from a year of spending all your time and money trying to build a tiny house. And the trailer already has a title - so there's a lot less bureaucracy in making it legal.

Does the tiny house appeal to you because of mobility? Then check out a bus or a motor home. It's all about mobility. Again, you can get into one for very little money. You can even go off grid pretty easily. Many RV's already have 12 volt DC appliances, so the transition to solar is pretty easy. Tired of supporting oil companies? Convert your diesel to run on used veggie oil. If you get tired of the scenery, start her up and head over to greener pastures.

Now, for the pieces I cannot argue against. The value of building something with your own hands and from your own designs is immeasurable, and having the ability to choose reclaimed/recycled/green materials is amazing.
A few questions you might want to ask yourself before you start building:
How good are you at working with your hands?
How well do you persevere on big projects?
Whose nerves and toes will you be stepping on to make this happen?
A tiny house can be an amazing project and a worthwhile investment if you are the right person. On the other hand, for many of us (myself definitely included) the tiny house could easily be an unfinished money pit sadly hunkering under a big tarp in the backyard of the larger house you pay for every month. Sometimes the greenest option is the thing already built, the one that allows you to spend time pursuing things that matter most to you.
So how about it, tiny house dreamers? Where do you want to spend your time and money? What do you want to be doing?
May you find your answer and may it enrich your life and the lives of those around me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lubbock Christmas Gift Idea Numero Dos - Date with a Dog (The Haven)

Ok, it's not really a date with a dog - it's a calendar that features adorable animals from a really great non-profit, no-kill shelter just outside of Lubbock. The calendars are only $10 and the proceeds go to  helping the Haven do what it does - care for and find new homes for our local homeless pet population. You can purchase them through Paypal or you can swing by to get yours. At $10, you can afford one for almost everyone on your list.

For those of you who have no wall space but plenty of closet space, you can also pick up your Haven T-Shirts for $10 each.
You know there's someone on your list that needs this shirt!
May your shopping make a difference for pets in need.

Lubbock Christmas Gift Idea Numero Uno - SPWRC

One of my absolute favorite places/organizations/groups in Lubbock is the South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. I love wildlife. I love people who work to conserve and preserve wild places and wild animals. I love SPWRC.
With that in mind, I would like to encourage you to support them this Christmas by making a donation, volunteering some time, or buying your favorite nature lover an SPWRC t-shirt.


Speaking of the SPWRC, you have a rare opportunity this weekend to attend their open house and view their new barn and new waterfowl rehab center. The event lasts from 11-2 tomorrow (December 19). More info here:

You can also support this great organization through a GoFundMe campaign or through the Amazon Smile program.

May your gift giving spread joy and health in all directions.

Bonus links: Some of our previous visits to SWPRC

Lubbock People Who Rock: SPWRC

Lubbock Local Wildlife: Get Ready for Spring (SPWRC)

PS. Please tell them the Mesquite Hugger sent you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Mesquite Hugger 2016 Christmas wishlist: Citicar!

I haven't really wanted much stuff for Christmas - the Radwagon does not count, does it? - but that all changed today.

It's no secret that I am a fan of electric cars. It's no secret that I like quirky things, vintage things, and occasionally things that other people think are really ugly. Which leads me to the little Floridian electric supercar - well, it was an electric supercar until that Tesla car came along.

(Learn more here: Vintage Electric Car Profile: the almighty Sebring Vanguard Citicar! )

So there I was, stupidly inviting temptation by hopping on Ebay and typing "electric car" when I saw it: my favorite blue, very reasonably priced, mostly restored, nicely upgraded, and only one state over.

Isn't she love(ug)ly?

What a beautiful face (with an ugly bumper)
I saw an article today where Carlos Ghosn (head cheese #1 at Nissan) said now is the time to go electric if we want to avoid global climate catastrophe. Carlos, I hear you, man!
Now where was that grant application for buying a vintage EV one state over? Where is that anonymous wealthy benefactor Charles Dickens was telling me about the other day? Carlos, Elon, Lewellyn, Leno, hook a blogger up!
May your green dreams be as much fun as mine and maybe a little less love(ug)ly!
Happy holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Guns, Cars, Bikes - Sudden Death, a Proposal and a Prize

(This appears to be another chapter in my effort to alienate all West Texans)
The Nobel Peace Prize. Hmmm...
In my thoughts lately, peace has been taking a beating. I've developed a Lubbock barometer for it. Each day I look at two local news sources to see the list of car-based injuries/deaths and the number of gun-based injuries/deaths. It's a morbid thing, but it has become a very rare news day when one or the other does not appear. It's incredibly rare for both to take the day off.
Peace. I have been here long enough to know that suddenly losing a loved one destroys a person's peace for a very long time. Some people never recover from it. (We lost my older brother suddenly one year and seven days ago. I have known little peace since that day.)
If you pay attention to sudden deaths, you'll find that guns and cars are major contributors.
In non-local news, two stories have been ringing a bell for me this week.
The first one (the proposal) was pointed out to me (once again) by Lloyd Alter on Treehugger. Lloyd sent me to an Alissa Walker (on Gizmodo) article simply titled Ban Cars. Both articles are eye-opening and definitely worth a read. Some staggering numbers and concepts come to life with these articles: 1.3 million people die each year as a result of automobile collisions. Another 200,000 die each year from complications caused by air pollution. These numbers don't even take into effect the number of people who suffer life-changing injuries in non-fatal crashes.
Here in the wide-open Southwest, the thought of living without an automobile is a staggering concept for most of us, but it is hard to argue with most of the ideas presented here.
(Now for the prize)
My wife sent me an article from the BBC about some Italians who are promoting a Nobel Peace Prize candidate - the bicycle.

The article describes the bicycle as an "instrument of peace" that does not cause wars, reduces pollution and road casualties, and promotes child and social development. No wonder I love riding a bike!
Check it out here
Find it here
Ban cars? Give a prize to the bicycle? Yep, I know it's all crazy talk.
May talk of craziness lead to more peace and health.
More interesting reading on the impact of the automobile - It's time for a bigger recall of a seriously defective product : The Car.
Some interesting reading on the impact of gun deaths - Visualizing gun deaths: Comparing the U.S. to the rest of the world

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A $149 Cargo Cycle? You Bet!

Xtracycle. Radwagon. Yuba Mundo. There have been many cargo bikes around this blog lately. Two or three of you have even clicked on those posts, so I am assuming that somebody else out there has been wanting a cycle that can haul (stuff)! If that somebody else is like me, budget may be an issue. If you're that person, you've probably been thinking that I need to quit showing you all these high-dollar machines. If so, a Nimble Scooter may be for you - if you don't mind really small wheels.
Yep, here is your chance to kick-n-go your stuff all over the place. And this thing is actually a serious, eco-friendly piece of equipment made of quality materials and built in the USA.

Nimble is currently selling two models, the Classis and the XL, and they are gearing up to offer a third model, the Urban.

So, will it fit your needs and carry your stuff? Will it fit your budget? Will it fit your size-twelve footprint and help you lower your carbon footprint? If your answer is "yes" and you buy a Nimble, please send us pics and let us know how it works for you.
May your scoot be clean and green and more than capable. Happy hauling!

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Sad Day for US Electro-Dorks - the MiEV is no more

On September 22, 2012, I was driving through Waco, Texas on my way to a funeral. And I saw it.

There it was in the flesh - the Mitsubishi MiEV. I had seen it in magazines. I had read and read and read about it. I had written to Santa Claus and I had tried to find out who the patron saint of electric vehicles was so I could pray to her. I wanted to see (and test drive) the electric car inspired by Humpty Dumpty.

Two rarities: a MiEV in Texas and an eggheaded MH selfie
I looked at the car. I pondered the meaning of life. I looked at my phone for the time. I had a choice to make - test drive the car or be on time to the funeral. I hopped back in my rent-a-dent and motored on. I knew that there would soon be egg cars everywhere and I could test drive the next one.
Since that point I have looked and looked and looked at every Mitsubishi lot I travel past. Not one little egg to be seen.
Fast forward to a sprinkling of weeks ago. My wife and I were headed south into Taos. Coming at us was a burgundy MiEV. My heart leapt. My wife asked what that ugly thing was. Sigh.
Today I read on Gas2 an article that referenced Autoblog stating that Mitsubishi has announced that they will no longer sell my tiny, little dream car. Goodbye, Norma Jean.
Steve Hanley and Jay Leno, I don't care what you say! I will miss the Eggbert I never got to know!
December 7th, a day that will truly live in electric car infamy.
Dear Reader, may December 8th bring you brighter news.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Seeking Hope After a Dark Day

Wednesday evening was filled with horrific news.

I spent the day working in a local oilfield town (depressing enough) and was very unaware of the world around me. After 8pm I retired to my hotel room and called my wife. She told me of the shootings in California. News of the killings in San Bernadino, a terrible thing made even worse by knowing how easily we will move on, cast a darker pall over a world already darkening. When mass killings become commonplace and your people are numb to it, you know your society is in trouble.

After the phone call, I sat down to write, but no words came. I sat in silence for a bit, then turned on the TV. And I am glad I did.

Wednesday was also the American premier of Racing Extinction, a documentary aimed at educating a populace that too easily moves on. The gist of the film is very simple - our actions are killing off species at an astounding rate and we need to change our ways if we don't want to wipe out all life on Earth. The film's scope was broad - from blue whales to phytoplankton, from overfishing to forest clearing, from fossil fuels to methane released by cows and melting glaciers.

The Last Rabb's Fringed Limb Tree Frog (Joel Sartore/Photo Ark) 

For me, seeing the very last living frog of its species and hearing the song of the last living male of a songbird species endlessly calling to a female that would never answer, these were some of the more poignant moments in a powerful film. If you want to know more about rescuing endangered species, Racing Extinction is a great place to start.

While the message is deeply disturbing, the film also offers many points of hope and possibility. A portion of the film deals with the conversion of Lamakera (an Indonesian village) that was once the epicenter of destruction for manta rays. Now the village is at the epicenter of manta ray conservation.
(For you Shark Week junkies, there are lots of sharks and rays.)
[You already know what he looks like.]
(For you Musk junkies - there is a small cameo role.)

Please do what you can to see the film. If you do see it and find yourself called to action, you can visit, a website that is tied to the film and offers several ways to get started.

May we find ways to slow all of this senseless death of man, animals, and planet.

A few bonus links for today:

Photo Ark (Joel Sartore and NatGeo)

One gun owner's response to mass shootings

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lubbock on a Bike, a double re-think and a blog recommendation

I am taking a little bit of a break in my bike commute. It's a seasonal thing - but not a weather thing. While I love the reason for the season, I fear the reality of the season. (It's also a location thing.)

You see, I work across the street from the local mall. Ours is a "town" of a quarter-million people and the mall serves a population of more than a half-million when you look at the overall region. The mall is a magnet. As Christmas gets closer, the magnet gets more powerful and the drivers become more erratic, distracted, and dangerous. Consumerism at its most glorious! The anger, the light running, the honking, the middle-finger salutes, the wrecks, the sirens - all the signs are there. And there is no realistic way to avoid the mall in my commute. Our town is a less-than-bicycle-friendly place in the best of times, so I am laying off the ride to work for the duration of December. I still plan to ride to run errands and such, but the work commute (past the mall) is off the table.

I do, however, plan to come back with a vengeance in January. Details to follow in another post.

So, let's talk about the double re-think.

It's been coming for a little while and it's coming from many directions.

The money we are saving by driving old cars is wearing on me. I have recently had to put a throw-out bearing in my wife's truck. I had to fix the plastic underskirts of my wife's grandmother's hybrid. The daughter's headlights have quit working because the ballast went out. (Headlight ballasts? WTH!) And I need to replace the engine in my poor Lucy. My body is sore and my spirit is oh so weary. I am a desk jockey and that kind a mechanicking is a stretch.

And I have come to loathe things that burn gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products. And my spirit is oh so weary of it.

While Lubbock may not like cyclists, this cyclist really enjoys his time riding in Lubbock. Every trip is an accomplishment. I am healthier. The world is healthier. And my spirit is slightly less weary.

My recent bus rides have actually been pretty pleasant and stress free - not bad for a handful of quarters.

My brain has begun to look like a much more jumbled version of this:

While all of this has been rattling around in my brain, I have found another Yes Man to influence my thinking. (A Yes Man for me is someone whose crazy thoughts are very like my own and will therefore encourage me to pursue a path I already wanted to pursue.)
Yes Man
Bob Sharpe is a blogger. (I like him already.) Bob Sharpe is a bicycle commuter. He is also not a young studly spandex model (at least that's my impression from reading Bike 5, Bob's blog). Bob's blog's subtitle is For trips of five miles or less, bikes are best! By the way, it is 4.9 miles from my house to my office. Can you see why I've adopted Bob as a Yes Man?
So here's my hypocritical double re-think. I am giving up my bike commute for the month. And I am committing to more commitment to riding. I am also jumping on Bob's Multimodal train (figuratively speaking - we don't have any passenger trains around here).
In case you too are looking for a Yes Man because you like bikes or you're cheap or you just want to humor the ol' Mesquite Hugger, here are a few Bike 5 posts I recommend.
Transportation and Health Tool Tags Cycling's Most Dangerous Places (included because the town where I grew up is mentioned)

So, get out there and ride something healthier than a car. And go find someone with healthy ideas that inspire you. And pay attention to what's happening in Paris this week. May you be healthy, joyful, and safe.