Monday, October 31, 2016

An Opportunity to Learn More and Get to Work

Last night I had the opportunity to watch Before the Flood, a new documentary from Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens (Streaming on Hulu)

If you have interest in climate, climate change, or the ability for humans to continue existing, please take time to watch this important film. If you feel moved to action, please visit the Before the Flood - Take Action page to find opportunities that are available to you.

May we all figure out what we care about and get to work.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fossil Free Friday: Tiny Truck, Blue Pony, Hayhoe Talks Texas

Ebay offered up a couple of cool electric oddballs this week:
I love this thing - a 1965 Mustang that is fully electric! If you're gonna drive electric, this is one sweet ride to do it in! This one is in Simi Valley, California.

On the more bare-bones side of things is this sweet little electric pickup that is titled as a truck - not a neighborhood vehicle - in Ohio. It's not quite my dream electric truck, but I'd definitely drive it, use it, and enjoy it! (Nissan, why no electric pickup? Carlos Ghosn, we need you on this one!)

Dr. H talks Texas Energy (Carbon and Renewable) on the latest episode of GW
If you've not yet caught it, check this one out! This is the third video in the Global Weirding series. They are short videos produced here in Lubbock in association with KTTZ and producer Jonathan Seaborn (who had a booth at the recent Get Your Green Up event at the TTU Museum). A new video is being released every other Wednesday. These definitely get the Mesquite Hugger two thorns up!
May y'all find a greener way to get around - even if you live in Texas!
PS. If you're running to Ohio to pick up the little truck, will you please pick up this little beauty (also on EBay)? Mesquite Hugger is needing a new company car and this one would fit right in  - I already have the t-shirt!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Low-hanging, Eco-Friendly Fruit 3B: Bring Your Own!

In our last post, we covered the Just say no! approach to reducing plastic waste and pollution. Here is the follow-up - the Bring your own! method. The idea is pretty simple. Start looking at the single-use disposable stuff that you encounter all the time and find a way to utilize re-usable stuff instead. Somebody on the Mesquite Hugger staff went a little powerpoint crazy and cooked up a few examples for you:

When you are looking for easy (and cheap) ways to go green, BYO! is a biggie. Really, you can reduce, reuse, and recycle all in this one step. Just find reusable things to take with you. I am a big fan of Mason jars. (Are you planning to bring home leftovers? Put them in a jar. Wanting a to-go beverage? Put it in a jar. Shopping from the bulk bins for granola? Put it in a jar - but be sure to register your tare weight. Need a way to keep your phone dry when you are biking home in the rain? Put it in a jar!) I also find that thrift stores and garage sales offer up some amazing re-usables at very low prices: cups, plates, bags, silverware. The list goes on and on. And it keeps stuff out of the landfill and uses up fewer natural resources. Win-win!

The goal here is to stop promoting single-use plastic. Straws, bags, Styrofoam, lids, and drink cups are just a few items that get trashed by the millions every day. Do you want to see how you're doing on this? Make a trash journal. Pick a time period (a day, a week, a weekend) and take a quick note of everything you throw away (and/or recycle). Prepare to be a bit stunned. After you've made your list, look through it. What could you have said no to? What could you have brought with you?

Are you up for a more ambitious project? Try the No Impact Project Experiment. Me, I am not that ambitious, but I do find it very helpful to keep track of how much plastic (and paper) waste I am producing. It helps me to find more mindful ways to live and do less harm.

So, which Bring Your Own! items have you thinking? What simple steps can you to take to stop consuming plastic (and other petroleum products)?

May you Just say no! and Bring your own! way to a much healthier world for us all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Low-hanging, Eco-friendly Fruit 3A: Just say no.

Sometimes we get caught up in the wrong thing.

Yep, you've heard it a thousand times - Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle. Then everyone focuses on Recycle.
But we can do better. Let's focus on Reduce today.

How do you go about reducing?

There are two easy approaches - Just Say So, and Bring Your Own.

Before we get there, let's sidebar over to one of my favorite topics: Food. Alright, let's make a list. How about your top five favorite places to eat? (My list has me hanging out at a few local spots on 34th street.)

Okay, take a few seconds to savor the memory of all that good food. Mmmm...fooood!

Learn more here (or tune in for 3B)

Now, think about how that food is served. Is it on a plate? Is it in a carton? Ceramic? Paper? Steel? Glass? Plastic? Styrofoam? Is there a ketchup bottle on the table? Is it handed to you through a window? Restaurant food is one of those places where we can find a little more of that low-hanging, eco-friendly fruit.

The essence of Reduce
(This came from, which is no longer there.)

Just say no. (No, this is not a Nancy Reagan thing.) This one is pretty simple. Make a list of what you can say no to, and stick with it! (Any plastic thing you use only once is a bad thing.)
  • Straws and Lids - If you have to have one, take your own, but do you really have to have one?
  • Plastic Knives, Forks, and Spoons - again, take them with you - or go for the finger food.
  • Extra napkins - just how messy do you plan to be?
  • Bag - when you only buy two items, do you really need a bag?
  • Condiments (salt, pepper, ketchup, etc.)

A green straw hanging out on some fake grass outside my office

Another way to just say no is to patronize places where they make it easy for you. Look for places that serve food on non-disposable dishes or places that offer incentives for making healthier choices. As you go through your day, look for ways that you can make an impact by just saying no.

What are you going to say no to?

May a two-letter word lead to a healthier world.

(As always, thank you for taking the time to read Mesquite Hugger!)

Today's Low-Carbon Ride to Work and Another Trip to Scotland on a Bike

[Post summary: Bikes, E-Bikes, Gas sucks, the crazy guy from Scotland put out another vid and I decided to share it with you]

See, the Huff-E-Rat hugs trees too.

This really depressing article came out last week and it has strengthened my resolve to work harder at being carbon-free:

So this week I rode the regular bike to work on Monday and Tuesday. This morning, I rode the Huff-E on its maiden commute of  seven miles (one way). There's something to be said for a low-powered e-bike.
On a non-electric bike, I generally average about 9.5 mph on my ride to work and about 11.2 on my ride home. Apparently my body works better when it's warmer. This morning's ride to work on the electric bike averaged 11.4 mph. It was both chilly and a bit breezy.
I still pedaled the whole way - I can't stand to be a on a bike and not pedaling. It just feels wrong. But I was a little less winded and sweaty when I got to work. And I had the same smile. I burned quite a few calories. I burned a tiny amount of electrons - about eight pennies worth. I saw a beautiful sunrise. And I had that smile.

So, back to the low-powered e-bike thought. When you start shopping for e-bikes you run across a lot of 250 watt offerings. Conventional thinking says that anyone over 200 pounds should veer toward something larger. Me, I've plateaued at 240 pounds. The 250 watt setup is great for what I am wanting now - a little boost through the breeze and the cold and the slight inclines we refer to as hills around here. I am wanting to maintain consistent speeds. I am wanting to keep exercising. And this thing is perfect for all of that.

I think I'd be pretty happy with a number of 250 watt bikes. Would they work if I lived near hills? Probably not. Would they work if I wanted the bike to do ALL of the pedaling? Probably not. Would they work if I wanted to travel 20mph? Nope. Would they work if I lost 80 pounds? Sure.

I guess the moral here is to figure out what you want your e-bike to do before you start shopping for an e-bike.

On to the Crazy Scottish guy:

Watch it on youtube (Love the music!)
I watch Danny M videos for a tiny vacation and to keep myself humble. I'm impressed with myself for commuting on a bike three days this week - he's out riding on rolling hay bales. I guess I'll keep pedaling.
May you stay humble, stop burning gas, and have that smile.
PS. When you are looking at e-bikes, one of the things I have learned is that speed can be really dangerous on an electric bike, but it's probably not in the way you'd think. The bikes are perfectly capable of handling the speed, but the drivers around you are not. Anything over 15 mph and automobile drivers will misjudge your speed and pull out in front of you. Their brains are just conditioned to bikes moving slow. Watch yourself out there. Like many other things in the bike commute world, we can all point fingers and talk about fair and responsibility and heads up their...but the only thing that really matters is that we all reach our destinations safely.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lubbock Events: Cancer Hater? Dog lover? Climate worrier? Spiritual?

[Minipost for you linguistic minimalists]

Wednesday evening - who needs a website - it's all there (+ refreshments!)
May you find your place in making life better for others!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Huff-E-Rat Lives: My Latest E-Bike Incarnation

Where we are now

You're probably tired of hearing about it by now, but I had the opportunity to talk to people about electric vehicles at the Texas Tech Museum last week. Two friends were generous enough to bring electric cars to display, but I wanted an electric bike I could display too. So, last Saturday I gathered up pieces I had lying around and came up with the Huff-E-Rat. (Electric Huffy Rat Bike). And it was a big hit at the museum. So, I thought I'd do a quick post and show it off for you readers who like such things.

Where we started

A handful of years ago, my mother and two brothers gave me this old Huffy for my birthday. It has been together in a few different incarnations over the years, but none of them have really stuck. (Bicycles always make great birthday presents for me. My wife gave me a folding bike frame for my birthday this year and I am gathering up the pieces to make a very cool bike out of it!)

The Electric Bike Kit that is on it now
(If I had it to do over again, I would do things a little differently)

A few quick details - the battery (mounted on the rear luggage rack) is a 36 volt 10 amp/hour lithium battery. The motor is a geared rear hub motor. The controller is 250 watt and is pretty underpowered for a guy my size. It is a single-speed and (so far) only has front v-brakes.

The battery recharges by using a little charger. It's very much like charging a cell phone. And I'm very much enjoying the ride!

Just hanging out under the 34th Street LED streetlight

For those of you who are e-bike curious, here is a great Electric Bike Review article that covers a realistic view of e-bike ownership and costs: Electric Bike Review - The True Costs of Owning and Using an Electric Bike

On the Marsha Sharp Pedestrian Bridge

Leaning against the junky old Dodge I try to avoid driving AMAP

May you enjoy the ride cleanly, quietly, and non-destructively.

PS. I still want a Radwagon, but it's very nice to have this bike and the craigslist trailer!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Low-hanging Fruit #2: Let there be (more efficient) Light!

Okay, so you've sealed up and insulated your house and you are hungry to taste that next piece of low-hanging fruit. Well, look your light fixtures.

[Alternative title: How to get paid $23.24 for installing 6 free light bulbs in your home!]

First and foremost: Turn off your lights!

Turn off your lights when you leave the room. It's that simple. If you are not in the room and the light is on, you are wasting energy, spending extra money, and damaging the planet. I know - it's harsh, but it's true. (My wife and I are working on doing a better job at this too.)

Second and pretty darned huge: Go buy some LED bulbs already!!!

JG and I ran by Lowes at lunchtime today. (She still has a bunch of incandescent bulbs in her house.) We found this deal on LED bulbs:

That's $1.66 per bulb!

So let's say, hypothetically speaking, that she bought this 6-pack of LED bulbs. (She did indeed buy a 6-pack of LED bulbs, but she bought the daylight bulbs which ran closer to $1.85 per bulb, but I did not take a pic of those.) She plans to install them this weekend.

Back in blogger world, I googled incandescent vs. LED and this was the first graphic that popped up:

Find the original here 

Now, here is where it gets even better - very few modern homes have less than 24 bulbs in the house. And it's not rare to find homes with closer to 60 bulbs. So, if your home is still running old school light bulbs, you could be saving big money just by swapping for LEDs. And that doesn't even factor in bulb life. Most incandescents are rated for 750-950 hours of life. LEDs tend to range between 10,000 and 50,000 hours. I have been replacing bulbs in our home for a few years now and have not had a single LED burn out yet.

Okay, Okay. Enough about money. Let's look at what's really important here: saving the planet!

Check it out - a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions!

Imagine the impact if we all just switched to LED bulbs overnight. And this one is easy. It's easy on the budget, it's not labor intensive, and it saves you money. This one's a no-brainer. Just do it already!

A few more things about LEDs
  • Various formats, shapes, colors, sizes and features (some are even controlled by smartphone apps!)
  • Instant light (unlike CFL)
  • No mercury hazard (unlike CFL bulbs - the twisty ones)
  • They generate very little heat
  • They are more rugged than incandescent or CFL
  • They make you eco-sexy
  • Don't forget that 90% reduction in CO2 emissions!
So, here are six radical ideas for you to pursue after you get your own bulbs swapped out - start giving LED bulbs gifts!
  1. Have bulb swapping parties!
  2. Have LED interventions!
  3. Give them out for Halloween - save the planet while reducing cavities!
  4. Don't go to Jarred - go to Lowes or Home Depot or wherever to show them that you really love them!
  5. Coffee, tea, or LED?
  6. They make great stocking stuffers!
Okay, that's about it for low-hanging fruit #2.

May you save money and save the planet! And, may you now have a lot more gift ideas!

PS. LEDs make great Christmas lights too.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Quick Getaway: Abilene State Park

Who knew Abilene had a state park?
Get the map here
A few weeks ago we got away for a bit. Oh, it was nice! Some good friends had invited us to spend the weekend at Abilene State Park. It's a few miles south of Buffalo Gap and adjacent to Lake Abilene.

We stayed in a yurt (and we loved it!)
Inside the yurt
Yurt ceiling
It's a small place. Actually, it was just the right size for pedaling about on a bicycle. If you go, be sure to pack a bike! We did and were happy we had them. One of my favorite places in the park was the bird blind. It's maintained by local birders. We saw dove, several cardinals, and a few small wrens of some sort. I also read that the blind is a popular stopping point for painted buntings during their migration. (Note to self: Re-book the yurt for bunting season.) 

Don't know what it is, but it's beautiful.

Amarillo in Abilene

The Buffalo Wallow fishing dock

Tiny frogs bounded and abounded

and swam

 View from the smaller tower (CCC) 

The water tower
The centerpiece of the park is a very cool picnic area built by the Civilian Conservation Corp back in the 1930's. There's a huge swimming pool, a playground area, and horseshoe pits. I always enjoy seeing the CCC handiwork in person.

The water tower window

Things are looking up
Centipede outside the yurt
Mantis preying in the yurt

Mantis gets a close-up
For a tiny vacation, this place is just right. May you have a chance to get out and enjoy the world with which we have been blessed.