Friday, September 30, 2016

Lubbock on a Bike: Ending a 5 Month Era

I was afforded the luxury of riding my bike to work today. (Yes, I know that most people don't equate riding a bike to work with luxury, but it is for me.)

It felt so very good.

[Life has changed lately. Most of those changes involve taking care of someone in the hospital and taking care of a very talkative third grader. My hat is off to those of you who are raising children. I honestly don't know how you do it.]

Today is the final Day of the National Bike Challenge 2016. And it has been a good run!

Recently I wrote about a guy named David in town who has kept me pedaling. He pulled ahead this week and my hat is off to him - Congrats, David E! (Unless I can turn my five-mile commute home into something over 50 miles, he has it in the bag.)

We've bumped up the MH art budget!

The funny thing about riding a bike is that the more I ride, the more I want to ride. And the more I drive a car, the more I want to ride a bike. And the more I eat donuts, the more I need to ride. And the more I get stressed out, the more I need to ride. It's like life is a big funnel trying to pour me onto a bike.

Here are my cycling stats for this year (so far)
So, where do we go from here?
Locally speaking:
Lubbock is looking at updating its bike and pedestrian paths. I want to see what the plan is and see if it serves the entire town or just the areas near the University. My biggest concern for the Lubbock update is that the focus is on recreational cyclists and that little thought is given to those of us who ride for transportation. This year I have crossed paths with a lot more cycle commuters than in the past, and I seldom ride north of 34th Street. With our town beginning to experience actual traffic jams, cycling could do a lot to lessen the burden on our streets.
My quick Lubbock-on-a-Bike wishlist:
  • Protected Bike lanes
  • Existing Bike lanes expanded to include intersections that cross major streets (i.e. 50th at Memphis)
  • East-West bike lanes (not routes)
  • Provisions for crossing Loop 289 (and other major roads)
Personally speaking:
I plan to keep riding through the winter as much as possible and I plan to keep scheming up ways to get my hands on an electric cargo bike. (RadWagon, Yuba, Extracycle, Juiced - I'm not picky!)
May you get your own luxury and may no one else have to pay for it. Keep pedaling!
PS. Special thanks to People for Bikes for putting on the National Bike Challenge for another year - keep up a great work that motivates so many of us! #bikesCANsolvethat

A Green Revolution in Lubbock, Texas? Oh Yes! (Updated)

It's a lonely thing - being an eco blogger here in the LBK. (But it's getting better!)

Looking at the Mesquite Hugger blog stats, it's easy to see that the people who read it don't live around here unless they know and (hopefully) love me. It may be that it's a terrible blog and that it's poorly written and horribly unappealing, but I like to think that the subject  matter just doesn't appeal to the majority of Lubbockites. (Yeah, that's it!)

Lubbock is just not a place known for its eco-friendliness.

I do have to admit, however, that there are signs of hope. Here and there you see local people addressing (and acknowledging) the issues surrounding climate change and our role in it. More people are choosing to ride a bike. Our town has also started embracing recycling and water conservation. There are sparks.

This week, I had a chance to see a Green Revolution very close to home. At the Texas Tech Museum, you too can see this Green Revolution on display:

For this lonely eco-blogger, it is an upcycled slice of Heaven. An exhibit aimed at helping real-world people find ways to green their everyday lives speaks my language. Really, as I walked around the installations, my smile widened and widened more: alternative energy, energy and water conservation, carbon reduction, recycling, upcycling, and bicycling! And I was seeing all of this here in Lubbock! Plus, there were real, live worms!

I love this idea, but I don't seem to be the best of worm farmers. I have, however, turned out to be a very successful composter.

Unlike the catastrophic worm composting experiment, I have been very successful in capturing rain water in my home-made rain barrel. (It's amazing how little rain it takes to fill up a 55-gallon barrel!)

You know I love me some recycling!

Lubbock, you know we need this!

You mean you don't view everyday life as a green challenge? I keep hoping my maker friends over at ULabs will create an Eco-Fit-Bitty type thing so we can all track our daily eco-friendly steps.

Bicycling (I may have mentioned this topic a few times.)
Yep, it was downright amazing to see all of these displays right here in my own backyard. I am now feeling so much less lonely. There are people in the world who speak my eco-language! And they are spreading the word! [Sigh.] It feels good to be the Mesquite Hugger!

If you're still reading, you must be (a.) intrigued (b.) really bored, or (c.) you love me, you really love me! In case you fall in category (a.) or (c.), I have some exciting news for you.

On Sunday, October 16 from 2pm-4pm, there will be a Green Revolution event at the museum. The coolest part of the event will be a short talk from our own world-famous climate scientist, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. If you have never had a chance to hear Dr. H speak, you are in for a very educational treat! After the talk, you will be invited to go around to different booths to speak to local experts (and a long-winded blogger) on a number of life-greening topics. You might even have a chance to win a (really tiny) Tesla Model S!
May you find local opportunities to learn and grow, and may that be a blessing to everyone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lubbock Local Wildlife: Turtle Rescue 2016

So there I was Saturday morning working on the National Bike Challenge post. The phone rang. SnagIt! The Saturday morning curse kicked in. I packed everything up and hopped on the bike to (literally) check on a false alarm. I was riding on the 34th Street sidewalk (What an amazing place 34th would be for a bike lane!) Crossing the sidewalk in front of me and heading toward the busy-ness of 34th, was a yellow mud turtle. Unlike the red-eared slider and the soft-shelled turtle, the mud turtle is seldom seen around here. I don't think they are uncommon - just much stealthier than their sun-seeking cousins. She was the first I've seen in a few years, and she was just a few blocks from my house! By the way, mud turtles don't seem to care much for travel by bike.
Is that a great face or what? (And check out those fingernails!)
After dealing with the false alarm (at the neighbor's house), my wife and I took her over to the wilderness habitat area at Clapp Park. (You may remember all the Clapp Park posts from the tadpole era a few years ago.) She posed for a pic, then leapt (like a very clunky cheetah) toward the water and was gone!

Notice the speed blur - she was trucking it to the water!

Not quite a cannonball, but definitely speedy!
May she enjoy some local Lubbock mud and may you enjoy knowing she's around!
Thanks for reading!
PS. She smells better on the internet than in real life.
Bonus pic: Gecko on the house last night (2016 -Year of the Gecko!)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lubbock on a Bike: National Bike Challenge 2016 Update

The Concho Pearl and my bike earlier this week

Nope, I have not been writing about it much, but it's still going and I am still pedaling - a lot! (Or at least a lot for an out-of-shape middle-ager.)

So far, I have ridden more than 50 miles on the bike this week. And I hope to do five or so more today.

So, let's be very honest here. I can not afford an electric car -  not even one of those really inexpensive used Nissan Leafs. I can't afford a decent non-electric car. Shoot - I can't even afford a decent electric bike. But it's funny, that lack of money has turned out to be a blessing in a lot of ways.

If I could afford an electric car, I fear I'd be quite lazy (and smugly self-righteous to boot!)

For my own personal code of ethics, choosing to burn gasoline is wrong, so I have worked to have a life where I do not have to burn much gasoline. I live in a flat place where it rains and snows very little. I work five miles from home. Most days, I work in the office. I have bought (second-hand but very functional) electric or manual yard implements.

And I ride a bike as much as possible.

So, I am healthier, lighter, stronger, and more at peace. (I like myself and others better when I ride than when I drive.)

And all of that fits right in with the thing that gave me a big push in becoming a bicycle commuter - the National Bike Challenge.

It may shock you, but I am generally not a competitive person. It shows up here and there, but generally it's not what I'm known for. Strangely, that goes out the window when it's National Bike Challenge time.

That's me in first - but it's a tenuous lead!

You see, there's a guy in town named David, and he and I have fought it out all summer. I don't know David, but he has become a bigger part of my life than I'm ready to admit. Every day I log in to see where we are standing, and it's reaching a fever pitch. You see, the challenge ends in SIX DAYS!

My stats for this year

You can see from my stats how much I owe to David. Ten percent of my points for this challenge have come from this week. And it's all his fault. (And I don't even know if he knows that I exist.)

To be honest, my legs are getting tired, but I plan to keep pushing all week! Thank you NBC! Thank you David, Les, Bradley, Spencer, and  Allen for pushing me to ride more. Thank you to my Toni for putting up with all the biking!

David, if I ever meet you I'll buy you a beverage in a non-disposable cup!

May we all find encouragement in the healthy places!

Bonus San Angelo on a Bike pics:

It's a town with culture,

and a river,

and River Beetles,

and one seriously cool trash can. (It would be even cooler if it were a whole recycle train!)

Friday, September 16, 2016

National Drive Electric Week: 2 Skinny Wheels - Thinking Smaller

So, what's National Drive Electric Week all about? Is it to get everyone into an electric car? Or is it to get people out of gas-burning cars? For me, it's the latter. It is an opportunity to make a concerted effort to promote ways to help us all stop extracting, buying, and burning fossil fuels so that we can do less damage to the environment in which we live.

To celebrate National Drive Electric Week, I took Electric Bridget out for a ride on Saturday. And, no, Bridget is not an electric car -  she is an electric bicycle. Electric Bridget came to me as an old Bridgestone mountain bike that sat out in the weather for a while and was generally just neglected over the years. When I decided to build a low-dollar e-bike workhorse, EB got a new lease on life.

To be honest, I have ridden EB very little. Since EB does not (yet) have a pedelec controller, miles ridden on EB do not qualify for the National Bike Challenge. (But there are only 15 more days of that.)

So, I had kind of forgotten what it's like to ride an e-bike. It's awesome! I did a quick 8 miles. It was windy. I went up all of the slight inclines that feel like big hills on a non-electric bike. I still arrived home breathing hard and sweating, but I did eight miles in about the same time (and exertion) as I normally do four. I did not check, but I doubt that I ever exceeded 17 mph.

But it sure keeps me thinking...

One of my favorite blogs to read is Bike 5. The premise of that blog (Go read it already!) is pretty simple, For trips of 5 miles or less, a bicycle is best. (Health, budget, breathing, saving the planet, etc.) (Ironically, my office is 4.9 miles from my home.)

With the electric bike, it seems you could easily go to a bigger radius. (With apologies to Bob, who writes and lives Bike5.) One could easily create a blog for e-bikes called E-Bike15. For trips of 15 miles or less, the e-bike is best. From all of my DIY days, I have learned that having the right tool for the job makes almost everything better. I have lots of days where the bike (with me powering it) is not up to the job, but the 4,000 pound Dodge in my driveway is definitely overkill. At those times, the e-bike is the best tool for the job. It's hyper-efficient, fairly low-cost, and amazingly inexpensive to maintain and operate.

And then there's that whole commute with a smile idea. Some people refer to it as the "EV Grin". When I ride a bike I smile a lot more than when I drive a car. (E-Bikes are funner than cars, y'all!)

Honestly, not everyone needs an electric car in order to make a positive impact. With that in mind, consider the advantages of an electric bike: they are easier to park - you can even park one in your tiny house. Try that with a Nissan Leaf! You don't have to buy a big fancy charger or have your house rewired. And there are lots of different options for different needs, different budgets, and different physical abilities.

From this... this,
there's an e-bike for everyone.

In case you are wondering, this is not a Don't buy an electric car post. I love electric cars and see them as one great tool for cutting our dependence on carbon, but not everyone is in a place to own one. (I'm not.) If you're like me, the e-bike might be the next best thing. You might even come to realize that an e-bike is the best thing for you.

May you find the best thing for you and may it be a better thing for us all!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

National Drive Electric Week Begins: 2 Local Used Electric Vehicles for Sale

[Yep, it's a minipost]

Both ends of the spectrum here:

a 2014 Tesla Model S and...

an "as is" electric bike.

The Tesla is on Amarillo Craigslist and there is no price listed. It's the first Tesla I've seen for sale locally. The Ezip bicycle is on Lubbock Craigslist and says "as is". If it just needs batteries, the $100 price is not bad for a very basic entry level e-bike. (If it needs a rear wheel, I just happen to have one for it.)

Be sure and tell 'em the Mesquite Hugger sent you!

So there you go. I will keep looking to see if anything somewhere between these pops up.

May you find green transport that fits your budget and your needs while making the world a little healthier for us all.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Electric Vehicle Sightings in Lubbock and a Super-Fast Electric Beetle!

[Since National Drive Electric Week starts in two days, I thought I'd write about EV's in the LBK this week.]

Yesterday morning, I left the house (in the pickup, snagit all to Midland!) around 6am. I pulled up to the bicycle lane on Flint and noticed a high-powered LED bike light coming toward me. He was moving pretty quickly. I was thinking that he must be pedaling hard, then I noticed he was hardly pedaling. Then I noticed a big honking hub motor in the rear wheel and a battery pack hanging under the rear rack. It's a rare thing, but I saw an electric bike in the wilds of Lubbock traffic. Woohoo!

Most of the EV sightings this week have been (battery only) Nissan Leafs: a silver, two blues, a white, and a black one. I also saw the white BMW i3 humming down Marsha Sharp yesterday - it's such a cool car with all that carbon fiber and such. The two semi oddballs for this post were both PHEVs (plug-in hybrids).

I saw the Ford Fusion Energi yesterday afternoon. I often wonder how many of these I see without noticing since they look just like the standard models and the hybrid models.

And I parked near this last-generation Chevy Volt this morning. I like that the first Volts were a distinctive model that looked different enough to be noticed. The new generation Volt blends in much more.

When talking about EVs and Chevy, I have to mention the Bolt somewhere, so check out the next link. I have seen questions like this about the Volt a few lately: Does the Chevy Bolt EV make the Chevrolet Volt irrelevant? Is that a problem? (EV fans - Read more John Voelcker!)

And here's a link to a Gas2 (by way of Inside EVs) article that tells about EV sales AND has a list of all the EVs that are selling in the States: Electric Car sales Up Strongly in August. Be sure to check out the top 6, and (sadly) the last car on the list. (Toyota, what's up? Still waiting for the perfect storm for hydrogen?)
Saving the good stuff for last: Black Current did it Again: All-Electric Black  Current III sets 1/4 Mile Record 8.28 Seconds (Inside EVs again). Be sure to watch the video! Dang, that thing is fast!

National Drive Electric Week starts in two days - go test drive an electric car already! See what you're missing!

May you not miss pumping gasoline, or burning gasoline, or smelling like gasoline, or paying for gasoline.

Self Congratulatory Minipost with More Mailbox Pics

Yesterday evening,

there was a mantis on the mailbox,

another gecko behind the mailbox,

and veggies on a Vespa.

I actually finished a project(!!!!!!),

and Mesquite Hugger received its 40,000th pageview.
Life is good here in Lubbock!
May the same be said of wherever you are.
Thank you, and keep hugging those trees, cutting back on the carbon, and pedaling!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Visit to Lubbock's Maker Space: ULabs

So there we were - a pack of unruly scooter hooligans looking for some trouble to stir up. Or more realistically, there we were - two middle-aged dorks on old scooters heading over to see another middle-aged dork who also rides a scooter, but this is no scooter post.

This is a post about the maker movement in Lubbock and a peek inside their lair. I mean space. I mean ULabs.
Wait - you don't know what a maker is? Well, a maker is essentially one who would rather make it than buy it. What's the "it"? Pretty much anything - from a tiny piece of jewelry to a tiny house and pretty much anything in between. If you come to this blog looking for DIY/re-use/upcycle, there's a good chance that you are or want to be a maker. (I consider myself a low-rent maker.)
One of the big holdups for most makers is lack of access to tools and space and expertise to build the stuff their dreams are made of - things like welders, 3D printers, laser cutters, etcetera.
And that's where a maker space comes in. Imagine a place where you can pay a small monthly fee and have access to all that stuff and to people who know how to use it AND love the idea of learning and experimenting and making cool stuff happen.
Oh yeah, they offer classes for all this stuff too!

The rather cool patio area.
Besides a patio, there is also a metal shop, a wood shop, a welding shop, a textile shop, an electronics/robotics lab, and there are more in the works. There's even an art gallery/meeting place. 

I love Rule 0!

You have to love anything with a big, red Emergency Stop button!

Lathe, anyone?

Yep, I can barely print in one dimension - this thing can do it in three! 

Really - this a place where you want to pay attention to signs!

4 3P0

The important stuff

The jewelry maker room

It's not fair - we missed the Faire!

A robot and a rubber band-ball walk into a bar...
For those of you who want to learn more - check out the grand opening!
If you just can't wait - here're all their digits: 
May you find a place where you can truly make your dreams come true!
PS. A special thanks to Keith and Rusty - scooters dorks who are so much more.