Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's almost here - National Bike Challenge 2016

I am excited! It's time for the National Bike Challenge. It starts this Sunday.

This is my third year. Before I joined the NBC, I questioned whether I could do it, whether I would follow through. I was overweight, overstressed, and very short of breath. And a five-mile ride to work was very intimidating.

Now I am still overweight, but 20 pounds lighter. I am still stressed, but manageably so. It takes a lot more for me to be winded. Five miles these days is no big deal (unless I am running late.) In short, life is getting better.

There are a hundred good reasons for you to join. You probably know most of them better than I do. What have you got to lose other than weight and debt?

May you pedal your way to a much better life.

For you electric bicycle fans, I found this little tidbit in the FAQ section of the NBC website.

Now, if I just had a pedal-assisted bike...
Thank you, NBC for working to get more people out there on a bike and out of a car!
[One small disclaimer - the NBC has a brand-new website and they are still having a few teething pains. Be patient - it'll be worth it!]


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Real Reasons to Ride a Bike; The Challenge Begins

When I started this blog, I had no idea how big a bike would be for Mesquite Hugger. The more I write, learn, and ride, the more I see the life-saving, earth-saving beauty of a simple bicycle.

This post has three places to look and learn:
  • a great video talk
  • a great blog post (someone else's blog)
  • the beginning of the National Bike Challenge (just five days away)

The great video talk

Last week I ran across a TedX Talk by Zach Krapfl on Electric Bike Insider. For a seemingly low-key guy, Zach is a very engaging speaker, and I have no plans of taking a road trip with him. (Watch the video if you want to know why.)

In the video, he talks about one image that has become a screensaver in my head:

Scott at Small Potatoes Farm
Please watch the Change in your Transportation Future to see why. (It's 16 minutes, but it flies by on slender tires.)
The great blog post
[Feel free to skip this part, it is a blogger self-motivation sidebar: I am a semi-reformed gasoholic. While there may have been other seeds germinating, there were two events that defined my conversion: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Both of those tragic events were direct results of our people lustfully pursuing oil in places we should not have been. That realization led me to a lot of questions that keep leading me to the need to stop seeking fossil fuels.]
One of my favorite bloggers these days is Bob Sharpe over at Bike 5. Bob is not a problem guy. Bob is a solution guy. His blog title comes from his belief that trips under 5 miles are better served by a bicycle. His most recent post asks a fuel question - What Do You Run On? It's obvious that Bob and Zach have come to a lot of the same conclusions from different directions.
If you pay much attention to either or both of them, you might be looking for motivation within yourself to hop on a bike more. Well, here is one that got me rolling a few years back.
The Challenge
More about the bike challenge in tomorrow's post
May we pedal our butts off and make the world safer, healthier, and better for all!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Suggestions: #4.6 Start with 1 BIG thing

Back in September, the movie Racing Extinction was released. It is huge in its scope and its message. (My breaking point in the movie was a little segment about a lonely tree frog. Go figure.)
A big part of the film launch was the #startwith1thing idea, which encouraged everyone who watched to find one environmentally friendly step and commit to it. And that is a good start.

However, as much as I love every green gadget, DIY project, electric vehicle, and giving up straws, I also know that it is going to take a lot more than a few of us making a lot of tiny changes. We have been doing serious environmental damage for more than a century. It is going to take a lot of work to slow down and reverse the damage. But I believe it can be done.

Take a deep breath.

Before we jump into it, what do you care about?

Children, cancer, deforestation, whales, lung disease, water conservation, recycling, poverty, surfing, skiing, food production, food waste, farming, fossil fuels, pollution, gardening, government reform, sea-level rise, bees, endangered species, camping, renewable energy, or that thing I missed.

Yes, please find something. Then start with one BIG thing (something bigger than your daily life) and get to work.

For me, I kept looking at the big list and everything kept pointing back to carbon. The more we release, the more everything else goes downhill. And now I have found my one BIG thing - the Citizen's Climate Lobby.  This group focuses on limiting carbon release through a carbon tax and redistribution of those funds to the general public. This bipartisan plan is designed to use market pressure to limit carbon extraction, encourage the adoption of renewable energy, and stimulate a country's economy. (By the way, we even have a Lubbock chapter!)

(Take another deep breath and have a flower break)

For you, please look at the things you are most passionate about, find a group working to save, preserve, or support that passion, and start with that one BIG thing. Few of us have the time, energy, and resources to tackle the whole list, but if we each tackle one BIG thing, we can make whole lot of big positive impacts (and not absolutely overwhelm ourselves).

May Earth Day be your line in the sand!

PS. Keep up the good work on all of those LITTLE things too!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Minipost: Super Cheap LED Lights to the Rescue

An ad from today's local newspaper - man, that's cheap!

Do you want to save the planet?
Do you want to pay less for electricity?
Are you a cheap !@#$% ? (I am!)

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then it's time to switch to LED bulbs in your fixtures.

Lots more great info here
So, let's do a little quick math. The average number of bulbs in American homes is 60.) If your house used 60 watt incandescent bulbs, those 60 bulbs would cost you $775.62 per year in electricity.
60 bulbs x $12.92 per year = $775.62
If you switched those 60 bulbs out for LED bulbs the math looks a lot better:
60 bulbs x $2.58 per year = $154.80 per year
And those numbers don't even take into account the short life of the incandescents vs. the extremely long life of the LED bulbs.
When all is said and done, each LED bulb uses around 1/5 of the power of an incandescent. Think how much coal and natural gas we would not have to burn if we just made that one switch. Think how much money you could save.
I have been replacing all of our bulbs for a few years now and have been stepping it up since the bulbs in the ad above became available at our local big box store. They have great, instant light, they put off virtually no heat, and I have never had an LED go out in the house.
So, what are you waiting for? Go buy at least one package and try it out, or do yourself a favor and buy a bunch.
May all eco-friendly choices become this easy.

Earth Day Suggestions: #4 Tiny Neighborhood Cleanup

You never know what you'll find 

Ok, this one is obvious and simple, but it is one of my favorite low-budget ways to accomplish lots of things (and celebrate Earth Day 2016):
  • clean up your neighborhood
  • increase recycling
  • meet your neighbors
  • model positive green behavior
  • reduce stress
  • get a little exercise

From - a really great blog!

 If you're an over-achiever you can multitask and accomplish a few more things:
  • walk the dog, cat, or possum
  • teach life lessons to your kids, the neighbor kids, or the jerk down the street who litters a lot
  • meditate on the meaning of humility and the importance of not calling your neighbor a jerk
  • bird watch
  • crime watch
  • bird crime watch (those grackles get into a lot of stuff)
  • take pics for your ______ Hugger blog (may not apply to all readers)
  • revive a few new years resolutions (more exercise, less time on the couch, less phone time)
  • ponder the meaning of 42
  • prove to yourself that carbon-negative transportation is possible
 How do you do it? Walk around your block picking up trash.

What tools are needed? a hand and a bag, bucket, or sack

Any optional tools? Those grabby pincher things, good tennis shoes, pepper spray (in case you live near a burrito place that is not spicy enough), sun protection, a smile, latex gloves, clothing

What can I expect? Beverage containers, cigarette packages, lots of straws, papers; the satisfaction of doing something for your planet, your fellow humans, beauty, and yourself

May simple steps lead to better living for all.

[If you really want to see changes, try doing this weekly - you will be amazed.]

Bonus MH posts about this topic:

Stop living in a trashy neighborhood!

PCR Sidebar: Trashy Neighborhood Revisited

Derelict Hat Day in the Trashy 'Hood

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Earth Day Suggestions: #3 Seek Greenspiration

Before we get started, start thinking about something you really enjoy. (For me it would be something with wheels.) Not a green something, just a plain old something you enjoy. Do you have it pictured? Take a second to enjoy your mental image.
Now, go to your favorite search engine, type the name of that thing you enjoy along with one of the following adjectives: sustainable, eco-friendly, green, carbon-neutral, recycled, upcycled, ecological, reclaimed, green, or earth-friendly. Next, hit the search button.
This Instructables photo changed my thinking about transportation several years ago.
So, what popped up? Is there something there that appeals to you? Is there a new take on something you already love? If yes, start researching, dreaming, and scheming. If no...
...let's try a different approach.
Start your day ready to take notes. Title your notes something like There's got to be a better way or The world would be better if or What would Ed Begley Jr. do in my place? Give yourself a few days to look around. Write down lots of stuff. When you look back over your list, see if you are passionate (or at least curious) about something you wrote down.
Still nothing? Well, I almost give up.
Still nothing?
If none of that offers you inspiration, swing on by the Mesquite Hugger compound so I can introduce you to my little friend!
May (lots of ) you be inspired to make Earth Day 2016 the day you started a great and mighty work. 

Earth Day Suggestions: #2 Get Down and Dirty

[Alternate title: Save the planet, save money, grow veggies, possibly have worms!]

This shirt helps me with my self-image issues.

Unlike yesterday's suggestion, this one is all about the dirt. But (and this is a big but) there are no car salesmen involved.

For me, Earth Day is about a few big things - tackling climate change, cleaning up the mess we've made, and finding ways not to make such a big mess for the future. Today's topic deals with all three and it's about making a little mess to drastically reduce some bigger messes.

It's all about COMPOST!

In the past, I did a little composting here and there, but last year I was blessed with a big wooden box that helped me kick up the composting in a fairly big way. (And I now have a Mediterranean gecko preserve in a box in the backyard too. Win-Win!)

The first thing you need to know about composting - it's cheap and easy! This may sound simplistic, but composting is just throwing a loosely balanced bunch of trash together, stirring it up occasionally, and ending up with a bunch of free fertilizer.

Why should you do it?

You can easily cut down your household garbage production by 1/3. You can cut down on greenhouse gas production in your local landfill and you can lessen the need for more landfills. You can save $ on fertilizer (or you can donate it to someone who will use it - like a neighborhood garden or grub farm). It could be your opportunity to finally have 1000's of worms as pets - if you decide to try vermicomposting.

Want to learn more?

Check out this infographic from a 2011 Treehugger article. (Good composting is timeless!) (Separated for easier viewing)

May we conquer our problems one food scrap at a time!
PS. For those of you who are all about the worms, Uncle Jim is having an Earth Day sale (for you big spenders).


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Day Suggestions: #1 Burn some electrons!

One of my favorite holiday-ish days is this Friday (April 22). This is Earth Day #46. If I were a more ambitious blogger, I'd work on 46 suggestions. Being me and not being ready to quit my day job and all of that, I am shooting for 4.6 suggestions.

Number one is actually fun, and you won't get dirt under your fingernails, and it takes very little commitment on your part, and no money is needed.

Go test drive an electric car.

A Leaf and Charger at McGavock (Love the blue)

Why? Because you are human. Because the best way to learn about something is to experience it with multiple senses. A few weeks back I had the opportunity to take people for rides in an electric car. It was great to see how surprised they were. I am not sure what they expected, but the car far exceeded everyone's expectations. You should test drive one so that you know what it is, so that you can see whether or not an electric car makes sense for you or anyone around you. You may be surprised too.

What does test driving a new car have to do with Earth Day? If you are like most West Texans, you are a car addict. (I know I am.) That means we are all addicted to burning fossil fuels, which also means we are directly responsible for creating a type of pollution that damages the air, damages our lungs, damages our water, and damages our soil. Electric cars offer us a way to maintain our car-based lifestyles without doing nearly so much damage. (And there's a good chance that you will save a lot of money in the process.)

Original Poster from 1970 Earth Day

A few things to keep in mind before you go:
  • If you buy a new (completely) electric car, you are eligible for a $7500 income tax break next April. (Whoohoo!)
  • Your fuel costs will be about one-fourth of what you are currently spending.
  • Electric cars are a phenomenal choice for multi-car families.
  • There's a good chance that your salesman will know less than you do about the car.
  • There's also a good chance that your salesman will try to steer you away to a gas-powered car.
  • There's a good chance that you will experience the EV grin. Electric Vehicles have that effect on people.
There may be others, but I know that there are currently two new electric cars for sale in the LBK. McGavock Nissan (6312 Milwaukee Avenue) has a dark blue Nissan Leaf and Reagor Dykes Mitsubishi (6540 82nd Street) has a pearl white Mitsubishi MiEV.

Mitsubishi at Reagor Dykes

If you go drive either, please do me two favors: tell them the Mesquite Hugger sent you, and please send me a pic (

May you be pleasantly surprised and may we all be one step closer to breathing easier.

PS. If you're not quite so hardcore but want to make strides, Gene Messer Ford has a black Ford Fusion Energi (plug-in hybrid) and Gene Messer Chevrolet has a silver 2015 Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid).

Find many more Mesquite Hugger electric car posts here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mesquite Hugger Disclaimer 2: Solar/Wind Power vs Energy Conservation

[Earth Day is just 4 days away!]
Yep, you know me. I'm an eco-dreamer. One of my struggles with going green is how snagging expensive it can be, especially if you follow popular media and conventional wisdom. If you pay much attention, you quickly develop a high-dollar list of must haves in order to go green:

  • solar panels
  • electric car
  • high-efficiency appliances
  • rain collection system
  • organic food
  • so forth
  • so on

It's pretty easy to see that I bought in - at least figuratively. My finance manager, however, did not buy in. My finance manager believes that you should not spend money you don't have. (We argue a lot.)

So, the Mesquite Hugger home does not have solar panels mounted to the roof or a wind generator spinning away in the yard. But I have done a lot of reading in preparation.

The first two things people do to prepare for going solar is assess their home and clean up their act. The more energy efficient you can make your home, the smaller your solar setup needs are, and that means less money out of your pocket.

So, where do you start?


One of my favorite electricity tools - simple and inexpensive

This one is multifaceted and can have a huge impact. It can be as simple as working to reduce energy use in rooms you are not in (no lights left on, close a/c and heater vents, eliminate phantom power losses) or measuring power usage of the electric devices you have (Switch to LED bulbs already!!!) or finding ways to not use your electric devices (Hanging your laundry up to completely or partially dry can drastically reduce electricity usage).

Air leaks

Doors, windows, vents, even light switches - these can all contribute to air loss in your home. Sure, it would be great to have someone come over and replace them all, but most air leaks can be dealt with using much less intense and expensive approaches, and many of them can be done by a less expensive technician - you.


Similar to dealing with air leaks, adding insulation to your home can be a great way to conserve resources and make your house more comfortable all year round.

Looking through these on-line resources, you can see that there are lots of projects you can tackle yourself with very little time, money, and skill. Small efforts can make big payoffs when it comes to making your home (or workplace) more energy efficient.
May you find a path to green conservation and money conservation with no financing involved!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

When you gonna ______? (A live better sidestep)

Grizz and I discussed it over coffee yesterday morning. Most of us have that thing to get past. Some of us just skip from one to the next. What's yours right now?

Need some help? Just fill in the blanks.

Is your head swimming now? Mine does when I fill in those blanks. A lot of Mesquite Hugger motivation comes from chasing these statements. It goes something like this:
  • I am going to start eating local after I grow some veggies.
  • I am going to grow some veggies after I build a greenhouse.
  • I am going to build a greenhouse after I trim the trees.
  • I am going to trim the trees after I buy a saw.
  • I am going to buy a saw after I sell some unused stuff.
  • I am going sell some unused stuff after I clean the garage.
  • Snagit - when am I going to clean the garage?!!!
  • I guess eating local is going to have to wait.
  • But wait, there is a five-gallon bucket and a little space on the porch - Honey, we're gonna grow tomatoes!

Mesquite Hugger blog posts often look like this.

Where do we go from here? Maybe it's time to figure out our I am going to statements so that we can figure out how to sidestep them. You don't have to be wealthy to live healthy, smart, or well.

So here's your challenge for this week. Identify one (or several) of your I am going to goals and get creative. Find a detour or a shortcut. If you get stuck, google it. Someone else has been there and may have good advice.

A few Mesquite Hugger suggestions to help with your planning: garden, transportation, energy conservation, compost, water conservation, recycling, xeriscaping, food production, food waste, homelessness, hunger, wildlife preservation, simple living, reducing meat consumption, minimalism, spreading the word, anger reduction. You can tackle the whole big world or a tiny piece of your little slice. Any improvement is a win for all of us.

If I can help, shoot me an email.

As always, thank you for reading! May our little sidesteps lead to huge improvements.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fossil Free Friday: Electric Vehicle Smorgasboard! (Updated)

Riding to work this morning (on the non-electric bike) I was thinking, Self, what are you gonna write about today? It's FFF. I can't think of anything. Then my brain started running though a list of cool stuff happening right now. I thought to myself, Self, which of these cool things are you gonna write about? Being a man of great decisiveness, I answered, All of them!
My biggest EV dream is to create a vehicle that recharges itself while it sits in the sun. While the idea is not yet practical for those of you who drive a lot, for someone like me who has a 10-mile-round-trip commute to work and a very sunny parking lot, it could be a real possibility. Grizz and I have sketched it out many times, but our budget has always come out much stouter than $1900.

But we could run on up to Bozeman, Montana (a place I have always wanted to see) and bring such a beast home for $1900. Ah the temptation!
For those of you who are seriously considered buying an electric car (on a budget) be sure to check out Leafs on Ebay - there are some great deals on low-mileage lease returns.
Several on Ebay under $10,000 and free nationwide shipping
Color me skeptical on this one, but there's a new-mid-drive bicycle motor on Indiegogo this week. It looks like a very simple setup, but it turns the crank, so when it turns, your legs have to keep up. It's called the Bimoz and you can Indiegogo in for $899.

Rad Power Bikes sent out an email yesterday to introduce their third product. They squeezed lots of categories into this one:
  • folding bike
  • electric bike
  • cargo bike
  • monster-tired bike
When I first saw it last night I chuckled, and thought to myself, No way, Ted! But today, my logical brain started putting pieces together and it is starting to appeal to me. They are announcing pricing and pre-orders later today, but if it comes in cheaper than the Radwagon (of my dreams), I may be tempted. It could pull a trailer, haul light loads, fit in a trunk. Maybe it's time to get past my prejudice against those big honkin' tires.
RadMini announced yesterday (They announced the price -  see the bottom of this post)
Just 10 more days to learn about the GeoOrbital Wheel - so excited!
Speaking of temptation, the only cargo bike on Austin Craigslist lately is this Xtracycle FreeRadical setup for a rather tiny amount of money. Do I need it? Not sure. Do I want it? Absolutely! It's a tremendous bargain for such a competent and useful machine, and it has accessories included. This combined with a GeoOrbital Wheel...good stuff for Mesquite Hugger daydreaming.
May you find the green vehicle of your dreams in this appealing and motley crew!
(I know I have.)
$1500 + $175 shipping (?) Hmm...


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mesquite Huggery Stuff in Lubbock this Weekend

Yep, it's a crazy busy weekend in the LBK this weekend - arts festival, wine festival, secret society of introverts avoid-a-thon, etc. In the midst of all that, I wanted to throw out a reminder for those of you who like gardening and locavorism and teaching kids about the world outside.

Good luck! (There's not a lot of info out there.)

May you have a phenomenal Saturday regardless of where you end up!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

DIY Instructables Project Daydreaming - Plus a Challenge to You

The list of stuff I want to build:

a front porch stand (for the self-watering pickle bucket planters)

a trials bicycle (to jump curbs - not buildings)

a successful worm composting setup

The projects I want to finish:


The dream project:

So, what triggered all of this daydreaming? Well, besides the usual overactive brain thing, Instructables has two contests going right now that have definite Mesquite Hugger appeal - the Urban Farming Contest and the Bicycle Contest 2016. Yep, bikes and urban farming - what could be better?
Urban Farm Prizes

Bicycle Prizes, you Nutcase!

The challenge?
Well, I'm giving you a big heads-up on our second annual Mesquite Hugger Augustructables contest. That's the one where you have a chance to create the coolest earth-loving thing you can find on Instructables, send in a pic and a brief description, and have the opportunity to win a really crappy prize -we are a very low-budget operation around here. What's the prize? We do not know yet. What are the rules? Ditto. When is the deadline for entries? August 31, 2016.
May you build your earth-loving Instructable project and may we all be winners for it!