Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shrink your footprint and Fight Hunger in the LBK this week


It's that time of year again - Citibus and the South Plains Food Bank are offering up free rides (for a tiny food donation) thru December 5:

So you can help people to eat, have a low-carbon commute, and save some moolah! Could life be better?
May we continue to find ways to serve one another while working to make life better for all!
 A few more MH posts that feature Lubbock Citibus: 

Low-Hanging Eco-Friendly Fruit 5: Getting Around (Plus Climate Change!)

[Without getting too political, this issue, more and more, is in OUR hands. If it's going to happen in the US, it will be we, the people, who make it happen.]

A few weeks ago, about 9 pm on a Wednesday night I was walking up the sidewalk to my house (in the dark) and decided to check on the tomato plants that had just exploded in the last few months. It was very dark outside, but I was comfortably wearing a short-sleeved shirt. I shined my relatively-smartphone-flashlight on the plants and found several new green tomatoes.

Green Tomatoes (in the dark)

So I headed to the porch and saw a tiny, newborn gecko scurry across my path. To recap - mid-November, short sleeves, new tomatoes, newborn tiny reptile. I realize that I live in a place known for crazy weather, but steadily warmer has become the new norm. And the new norm is happening a lot faster than most climate scientists had predicted. The climate is changing quickly and we are responsible for making it happen.

Temperature Rise Graph - thanks, Nova!

We are throwing more and more carbon into our atmosphere and we are taking away the natural buffers that have protected us in the past. It's a bad, bad combo.

So, what's a Mesquite Hugger to do?
  1. Find ways to stop releasing more carbon (by reducing our consumption of gasoline, diesel, coal, and natural gas.)
  2. Strongly encourage others to find ways to stop releasing more carbon. Stat!
  3. Pursue ways to restore some natural buffers (like composting and restoring native plant life to barren areas
So, let's look at getting around.

Here at Mesquite Hugger, we love tiptoeing around on the smallest carbon footprint possible. Lubbock, however, is a place that does not always make it easy. So, I am a big fan of walking, of biking, of e-biking, and electric cars. I am also fond of Citibus - our local public transportation.

[OK, I'm back. My brain just daydreamed off to a place where my tiny garage had a nice pair of hiking boots, a commuter bike, an electric cargo bike, and a Citicar parked happily together.]

So, dear reader, here is what I will ask of you:

  • Please analyze each trip you are about to take and choose the least harmful mode of travel available.
  • Please analyze all of your trips collectively. See which ones are unnecessary. See which ones can be combined or changed.
  • See if it's time to find more efficient methods of travel.

Riding the Bike

I write a lot about bicycles. I write too much about bicycles, but there's a big reason for it - bicycles (and electric bicycles) are some of the least damaging vehicles on the planet for short trips. And most of us take a lot of very short trips. Add in the fun factor, the super low cost, and the health benefits, and the bike becomes a bit of a miracle machine.

Taking the Bus

A bus traveling by itself is not a very efficient vehicle. It's large, heavy, and cumbersome, but the math changes when you put people inside the bus. The more people you haul, the more efficient the bus becomes in terms of carbon released per person, especially when compared with the carbon release of that many people riding solo in cars. If you'd like to try it out in Lubbock and fight hunger, this week is the week to do it:


Not many things are sadder for the eco-conscious than the number of single-occupant cars on the road. But here, that single occupant vehicle is deeply ingrained in the culture. The next time you are near a busy intersection, do a little survey - how many cars around you have only one person in them? (We won't even jump into how inefficient each of those vehicles is.) If you have co-workers or neighbors who can share a ride, you can divide your carbon footprint by the number of people in the car. As much as I am not a fan of big SUVs, I have to admit that four people riding in an SUV is more efficient than four people riding in four sedans. (But four people in one sedan makes even less pollution.)

Electric Cars (and Plug-in Hybrids)

I spend too much time talking about electric cars too, but for a culture so deeply addicted to the car, they make a lot of sense (and cents). The advantages can be huge. Imagine cutting your fuel costs by about 75% and cutting your maintenance costs by about 75% too. Imagine not having to go to the gas station and not being worried about the cost of gas going up. Imagine driving in a vehicle that does not promote asthma, lung disease, or cancer. Imagine a vehicle fueled by locally produced energy. No, a fully electric car won't cover each driver's needs, but it will cover most drivers' needs. And a plug-in-hybrid will cover most of the rest. (And it's not hard at all to find a late-model, low-mileage electric for around $10,000.) They make an excellent second car.

Trains, we don't have no stinking passenger trains around here.

Gasoline/Diesel Cars and Trucks

These are by far the most dominant form of local transportation, and the most damaging. If you do find yourself stuck in these, please do what you can to limit your pollution:
  • Keep your vehicle in good tune and keep the tires at maximum inflation.
  • Do your best to stop idling. Skip the drive-thru and go in.
  • Carpool.
  • Plan efficient routes for your travels.
  • For multi-car households, drive the most efficient car in your driveway as much as possible.
  • Slow down.
All of these things collectively can lighten your eco-load.

Regardless of what you drive, strive to be courteous to others, There's enough stress and frustration out there - please don't add to it with the way you get around. And please, watch out for that dorky blogger on the bike!

May you tread lightly and may we all be better for it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday Meets Carbon Reduction - Expand your reach!

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday.

Thank God It's Sunday.

Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.

The Story of Stuff. (Annie and Free Range, you are always in  my head.)

I lay in bed a few mornings ago with all of this stuff swirling in my head. I had to get up. I was getting nervous.

How do we make the world a better place? It's going to take a lot more than just parking our gas-powered cars and changing our light bulbs. (But those are a start.)

For me, everything goes back to slowing and stopping climate change. Yes, there are lots of other incredibly important causes to support; however, as it gets harder to live and breathe, all of those other problems get worse. As we see species quickly disappearing and cultures being wiped out, the term Pro Life takes on a much bigger meaning.

How do you slow climate change? You limit carbon release. (Yes, we've always had carbon release, but we humans have become experts at it and our ingenuity and creativity in that department is killing us all.) And we, the Americans, are doing more than our fair share of the damage. Look around you, do you see people near you working to limit carbon release? Do you see people near you working actively to increase carbon release? Answer the same questions about your immediate family.

Around me, most people want cheaper gas, a bigger car, a larger house, and more stuff.

Since today is Giving Tuesday, I thought I'd throw out a few of my favorite organizations that are working hard to slow climate change:

Citizen's Climate Lobby

I support the CCL because I am a cynic and the CCL offers me a different type of hope. The CCL is a multi-partisan approach to helping us reduce our carbon while supporting the economy and offering (financial) hope to all citizens. Their approach is not one that expects altruism to save our environment. They are offering a sensible approach that is based on a carbon tax and dividend (while making life better for all).

The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has been around more than 120 years. The original vision of the SC was to protect wild and natural places. Here in the 21st century that vision has not changed. but it has expanded to protecting the entire planet and all life on it - including us humans. The part of their mission that truly draws me in is their drive to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels. As times get more desperate, the Sierra Club keeps stepping up their game. (You can find the Texas chapter here.)


Pardon me on this one, but all my life I've known Greenpeace to be a bunch of non-violent badasses who go after whaling ships in little rubber boats. That's how they got started back in 1971 and they haven't backed down yet, but they've definitely broadened their scope.

(Yes, I had to throw in the bicycle screenshot)

Okay, so those are the biggies for me when it comes to saving the planet, but they are definitely not the only ones. So, if these don't fit your approach, do a little research and find those that do. Let this be one way your voice can be heard.

May your actions match your beliefs!

Bonus: 3 More Organizations near and dear to me:

The Haven - a Local, Non-Profit, NO-Kill animal shelter

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday Bike and E-Bike Deals (Minipost)

Bargain of the Day:

Detroit bikes are 25% off today - that puts the (oh-so-sweet) A-type and the B-Type under $400. The C-type is under $350.
Public Bikes are having a big sale - I really like their e-bikes and the D8.
RadPower has Free Shipping today on select bikes ($175 savings) (Blue Radwagon!)
That's most of the damage I can do today. May your temptations be green.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Food-Is-Free Planter in 2016 (Pics!)

Alternate title: horticultural moron has amazing success with a youtube recycle project.

The planter was a late bloomer this year, but well worth the while!

Sweet! (peppers)

Arugula grows fast!

Arugula gone wild!

Don't let your arugula get this big - super bitter!

 Siletz and celebrity tomatoes love the planter!

The 5-gallon Instructable - still going well!

Basil flowers 

Holy roly poly!

The ill-fated attempt to drown our roly poly problem

Very few tomatoes until October

November 5!

November 17 (at night)
November 18

November 18 (harvested before the first freeze)

November 20 (after freeze)


May your recycle projects bear fruit and give you a reason for thanks in the coming year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

More Holiday Cargo and E-Bike Deals (Minipost - 2/3 less calories)

If you don't like Radpower Bikes, or Yuba accessories, or Evelo products, or the Ariel N-Class, or building your own electric moped, move it along - there's nothing to see here.

This sale is color-dependent. Me, I'd rather have my Radwagon in Orange, but for $175 off, I could ride blue happily. And the RadMini looks tough in black, especially with the new fenders.
Yuba sent me an email today about new accessories they now offer. Did I mention that I almost got to touch a Yuba Cargo Bike this past weekend? So close!
The Go-Getter Bag looks sweet and useful!
Don't forget Yuba's Family Boda Boda Bundle sale, Evelo's Black Friday Scale Sale, Rad's (possibly still available) Radcity discount, or Ariel's N-Class sale.
And for those of you inspired to build a DIY Monday-Motors-type-machine, 1977 Mopeds has a big sale on this piece of coolness, but I am not sure how much it costs without the motor and with the discount and all that stuff.
Picture it with your electric motor instead of that nasty little gas/oil burner
May you satisfy your consumerist desires for something green to get you around cleanly!

Lubbock on a Bike: Last Commute 2016

Back in high school, we had a Horatio Alger Day where we learned that we could be anything that we set our heart to be. (I may need another one of those.) I don't remember much from that day, but I very clearly remember one thing that a guest speaker told us. On the chalkboard he had drawn a bunch of stars up high and a steaming pile of something down low. Then he drew a bow and an arrow. "It is better to aim for the stars and miss [he paused for dramatic emphasis] than to aim for the poop and hit it." (Yes, he really said "poop".)
It was 39 degrees and breezy when I left the house this morning. I was a little disorganized and was disappointed to realize that I had grabbed two right-handed mechanics gloves for the ride. I ended up riding with one hand on the handlebar and one in my jacket pocket. I also forgot my reflective vest. Oy vey! But not really - every ride is a good ride. Every day I ride is a better day than it would have been.
Bike shadow on the mall taken on this morning's commute
My goal for this year was to commute at least 1000 miles on a bicycle - to reduce my car driving by at least 1000 miles. My goal was to tangibly reduce my carbon output. And I considered 1000 miles to be fairly modest.
I have so far hit 84% of my goal - I have five miles to ride home. My daily commute to work (round trip) is about 10 miles or 1% of my goal.

My stats from today (National Bike Challenge website)
But today is the last day this year that I'll commute to work. My commute takes me very near the mall (a place akin to Hell this time of year) and there is no biking (or walking) infrastructure in place near the mall. And if you ever want to see man's inhumanity to man, just watch the non-gleeful Lubbock drivers trying to get to the mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas.(This is my overly wordy way of saying I am extremely scared to ride to work during the holidays.)
The red arrow is my commute path. The green arrow is the place where no one stops at the red light. An easy place to commit suicide by traffic.
But I am happy to say that I aimed for the stars. The 14-year-old Dodge pickup with 178,000 miles on it spent 84 days sitting in the driveway at home not burning oil or gas. That's 84 days I did not step in poop.

Okay people, I am shooting for 1200 miles next year. How about you? What is your clean goal for the coming year? (Feel free to answer)

May you aim for the stars and help us all to drag ourselves out of the poop!

A special thanks to the Norris family for donating a very nice bike to the Mesquite Hugger Office of Commuting, to my office mate and good friend who leaves the office so I can change into more work appropriate clothing, to my lovely and wonderful wife for putting up with bikes everywhere (sometimes including the dining room), and to all of the Lubbock drivers who have not run me over.

Non-sequitur: Milky Chance Covers the Pixies (to offer you a groovy day)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Struggling with Grace

With word of the attack on the protesters at Standing Rock last night, I am struggling.

To see another action against people on behalf of an oil company causes me to believe less and less in a country that is by the people and for the people.

It looks like a country that is by the government and for big business.

May we love our neighbors and stop supporting businesses (and governments) that serve only money.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Electric Cargo Bike Dream (Delayed in Dallas)

We are in the metroplex to see family and friends. (Which was awesome - I have missed you all!)

The trip also included a trip to Small Planet E-Bikes. While I love most (if not all) e-bikes, I was headed there to see one thing - an electric Yuba Mundo. As much as I have written about and schemed to try to purchase a longtail cargo bike, I have never actually seen one in person or ridden one. And it scares me to make an investment like that without any actual experience. Here was my chance. And I was excited!

I went to an honest to goodness electric bike shop!

So, we parked behind the store and walked around the front, but there were no bikes out front. And the windows were dark. And there was a sign taped in the window apologizing for the inconvenience.

So, I now need to send an apology letter to the proprietor because I left a little DNA evidence behind. No, I did not break in and take the Yuba for a ride. Yes, I did drool all over the windows.

Yuzipago, the patron saint of e-bikes, obviously knew I was coming. Notice how the late afternoon sun shown only on the Yuba. It was like a good/bad '80s movie. (I heard angels singing - really.)

[But I have to admit, that sucker was huge. Really really big! Like maybe too big for me. But I'll need to ride one before I make that judgment. Maybe I need to start looking at mid-tails. That Boda Boda V3 is looking better and better. Or maybe I can find a Kinn Midtail out there somewhere.  Or maybe I need to take my friend Dale up on his offer of sharing his welding skills. SnagIt, it would have been nice to ride that Mundo.]

For those of you who are obsessed with other electric bikes, let me share some more drool-soaked photos.

Maybe an E-Glide or an Easy Motion on the front, a green Boda Boda V2 in the back
Sure enough, those are Faradays (and they were gorgeous)

Easy Motions up front and (My Oh My) Stromers on the back row! 

Drool on windows
On a much sadder note, right around the corner from Small Planet we found a really really cool bike shop - Oak Cliff Bicycle Company - that was having a going out of business sale. They had some amazing stuff around and it was easy to see that this shop was a labor of love. But love does not pay the bills. Please support your local bike shop regardless of what you ride.
So there you have it, folks, the post where I almost got to check out a Yuba. All in all, it was a great day, and sometimes the wanting is better than the having.
May your green adventures go smoothly, or may they be filled with good friends!