Thursday, October 31, 2013

upCYCLE- Please take this idea and run, I mean, well, um, PEDAL with it!

reduce, reuse, upCYCLE
Lubbock needs a bicycle exchange.

A short time after the spring semester ends, if you watch closely, you can see the trailers at Texas Tech that gather up all of the abandoned bicycles that students leave behind. Then you can see the mountain of them parked outside the police station waiting for the annual fall auction.
Many of the large bike retailers in town receive a fair number of bicycle returns after each holiday season. These bikes tend to have very small issues, but most are scrapped.
The simple advantages of using bicycles for daily transportation are huge: better health, extremely low cost, less traffic, easier parking, phenomenally better for the planet that we would like to pass on to future generations, etc.
So here it is - open a bike exchange. Run it as a private business. Run it as a non-profit. Run it as a social club. Run it as a school that teaches repair, restoration, or simple maintenance. Run it as a way to offer a leg up for those who are in rough financial straits. Run it as an outreach to provide bikes and safety training for children. Run it as a place to give retired mechanics a sense of purpose.
Feel free to use the name, the logo, the idea, the enthusiasm.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
May you experience the joy of a fall breeze rustling through your hair, no matter how much you have.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Another Cool Aquaponics System and Send in the Clones

Those of you who have been following this blog know that I love aquaponics systems and I love locally produced, organic food. The two phenomenal women in my life bought me a pair of aquaponics setups for Christmas last year, and I have learned a great deal from them and have a much better idea of what is needed to be successful with an aquaponics setup. The system limitations taught me the following lessons (Except number 6 - Google taught me that one):

Lesson #1 - Grow bed flooding needs to be intermittent - not constant. Constantly flooded roots = root rot. So, your plant that shot up and thrived for a month will quickly drop dead.
Lesson  #2 - You still need convenient access to the fish tank. You still get algae and other detritus that needs to be cleaned.
Lesson #3 - the fish still need supplememental aeration - apologies to the brave little guys who gave their lives for me to learn this one.
Lesson #4 - 3 gallons of water is not enough for a stable aquatic environment. See apology in Lesson #3.
Lesson #5 - LED grow lights are a game changer and encourage the plants to grow up straight rather than leaning toward the window light.
Lesson #6 - There are mystery crawdads that exist and have the ability to clone themselves. (No - I learned this is a real thing - not just a movie starring Tara Reid on the Sci-Fi channel.) They were somewhat randomly discovered in a German pet shop several years ago. Now you can buy them on Ebay - but you probably should not mess with things like that - especially the mad scientist guy that reads this blog. You know who you are.

Today, I learned about another modular aquaponics system that seems to address lessons 1-5 to some extent, and it looks cool in your Manhattan apartment. And it's got that vaguely hourglass shape that made a big cola company lots of money...

I don't think I'll ask for this one for Christmas - I want to build an ugly one that uses reclaimed materials and has absolutely no visual appeal - so I'll let you judge for yourself.

By the way - the random business idea for the week - the Tupperware brand needs to be resurrected if we are going to keep popping out these modular aquaponics systems. :-#

May your food be pesticide free and may you know the joy of seeing something in your care thrive!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easy Breezy Bupkis

As I lay in bed last night trying to go to sleep, I listened to the wind brushing the crepe myrtles against the house. The wind did not cry "Mary" or "Mariah" or any other woman's name, but the wind did speak to me in an annoying Jewish mother voice. "Oy vey," said the wind, "my son the so-called 'mesquite hugger' - but he won't even get off his tukhus and build a little wind generator! What a schlub he is!"

And what she meant was that I have all the stuff - batteries, treadmill motor, bicycle wheels, inverter, and God knows we have the wind here, a charge controller, several defunct computer backup systems. Oy vey, I am a schmo! It's time to get to work!

For those of you who have heard similar groanings in the wind, here are some more Instructables for inspiration:

And, in the past week there have been four separate treadmills posted in the "free" section of the Lubbock Craigslist.

So, get out there and build your own, be a mensch among shmucks! Shalom!

(RIP Lou Reed - your music has been a blessing in my life.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Electric Car Optimism

More excited than I should be about this one - I had my fourth Tesla Model S sighting on Saturday around noon, but unlike the others, this one was in our part of the world. It was just a little south of
Justiceburg on Highway 84. It was black and running with traffic on a 75mph road.

So, why am I so darned excited? Because this is an electric car that is a real car - a road trip car. Realistically, it probably came from the Dallas area and still had enough charge to be running 75mph way out in our West Texas boonies. It's not a car for the masses yet, but it's a big step closer than anything we've seen. And the bigger car manufacturers have a target to aim for.

I guess it's time for me to break out the soldering iron and get to work!

May you have a glorious day and may our Monday morning fog be a blessing rather than curse.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Random Insect of the Day

I see these guys every once in a while. This one was on our mailbox this morning. No idea what it is or does. 

May your day be filled with the wonder of creation!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Urban Wildlife - Lubbock Style

At the local coffee a few times lately, the discussion has turned toward urban wildlife. In one week, three people had spotted foxes in their neighborhoods and my wife and the chihuahuanator had a pretty funny run-in with a possum. Two days ago, Brian posted a this pic of a fox strolling past his office:

How about you? Any cool or disturbing sitings in your 'hood lately? Please share.

May you have a wild and wonderful weekend!

PS - I am going in search of some native killifish tomorrow to keep the tadpoles company. Woohoo!

Today's Bonus pic: urban flamingo from Pueblo

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaf, Volt, Tesla S - all from the same owner

It's no secret - I want an electric car. Sure, I have loved gas and diesel cars in my day, and I have checked out veggie oil cars, hydrogen cars, steam cars, wood-burning cars, CNG cars, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But electric cars sing to my soul, or maybe hum to my soul, or silently appeal to my soul when sitting at a stop-light.

But initial buy-in on electric cars is pretty high, especially for a cheap bastard like me. My last three cars together cost $3150, so, you can see why I have not run out and purchased a brand-new electric car.

But the guy who wrote the following article has lived the dream. He bought a Nissan Leaf, a Chevy Volt, and the Tesla Model S. So, sit back and quietly enjoy the ride with me as we read about the experience of living with all three of these groundbreaking electric vehicles. SIGH

May your ride be peaceful, powerful, and less destructive than those smelly beasts around you!

ADDED BONUS MATERIAL for you dedicated readers (all 4 of you!):

Here's the under-rated Citicar - if your neighbor has one under a tarp in the garage, please call me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Electric Beetle Article - ElectroFahrvergn├╝gen

Slug Bug - Red! I drove a 1964 Beetle in college and I was always amazed at the amount of random violence I started just by driving around town. Friendly games of Slug Bug quickly turn into slugfests and people rolling around on the ground in pain looking for their teeth. Some days I cringed, some days I laughed, most days I just drove away as (feel free to laugh) quickly as possible.

The bug in this article may inspire a little less violence since people might not hear it coming or going.

I do not believe that everyone should own a vintage car; I don't believe that everyone should own an electric car (yet); and I especially don't believe that everyone should own a vintage electric car. If you can change the motor in your car, rewire your brother's-in-law trailer house, and your cell phone never goes dead BEFORE you plug it into the charger, you may be a good candidate to own this car. For the rest of us, the closest comparison I can think of is someone who is not quite cut out for cat ownership coming home from the mall pet store one day with a Bengal tiger cub.

So with that caveat thrown in, enjoy this article in the same way you might enjoy seeing a tiger in a zoo or a great white on Shark Week. Just fantasize about stealthily sneaking along inspiring wannabe Mike Tysons while emitting virtually no toxic gases and cruising right past all the gas stations. And if you decide to take the tiger by the tail....have fun!

Electric Slug Bug

Have a wonderful day and may your batteries never go completely dead!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Art vs Budget

Last night was the Flatland Film Festival performance of Metropolis Elektro. I was very disappointed to miss it the several months ago and very excited to have a second opportunity.

Then I went online to buy tickets. $35 each for two people. I hesitated. 

Times are tight and my wife and I have been working hard to curb our spending. We have goals, we have a phenomenal young woman who'll enter college in the spring, and there are many people in this world we would like to care for.

So, I hesitated. I talked to my wife before buying them. We talked and decided to spend the money.

Last night we sat on the front row enraptured by the score created by local musicians Amy and Scott Faris and we knew that we had made the right choice. The powerful imagery created by Fritz Lang in 1927 combined with the powerful sound created by twenty-three talented musicians have left my brain reeling with inspiration and motivation that I have not felt in a long time. 

I stay caught up in government shutdowns and selfish environmental destruction, and last night's performance was a glimpse above all that

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Very Simple e-bike Conversion Kickstarter
I have seen a few variations of this idea and love the concept - unbolt your original wheel, replace it with one of these, and take off. No throttle or battery pack to mess with with and no wires to zip-tie all over your bike. Simple, elegant, and very cheap compared to almost any other form of motorized transport.
Factor in registration, insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking, and see how long it would take to recoup your price of entry. Or, just factor in the fuel and maintenence costs if you did 40% of your travel on this bike and see when your return on investment would kick in.

May you enjoy your commute today!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Solar-Powered e-bike

This bike is not terribly exciting from a practical standpoint, but in it you can see that we are getting much closer to autonomous solar-powered transportation, and that has me reeling with hope. Roll on, Canadian e-biker!

May you travel with absolutely no concern for the price or cost of gas!

The Flatland Film Festival Starts Tonight in Lubbock

Lots of cool stuff and the opportunity to support the local arts while being a couch potato.

For you sci-fi and/or live music geeks, there will be a reprise of the Metropolis Elektro on Friday night (and I am very excited since I missed it the first time around.)

My favorite part is always the short films, and those will be shown on Saturday afternoon.

I will buy a bag of popcorn for anyone who attends and mentions a horned toad, a mesquite tree, or a tiny house.

May you have a blessed day filled with art and joy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tiny Houses

I keep finding tiny houses fascinating. The compactness and efficiency, the idea of building a home that costs less and takes up little more space than an SUV, the thought of being very debt free. I have known the pressure of being overwhelmed with debt and with being overwhelmed with stuff. And I am a pretty typical middle-aged American in that sense - too much debt and too much stuff still overwhelms me and will continue to.

I also like the idea of creating a place that is completely self-sufficient. One of the biggest complaints my fellow Lubbock-ites have had this year is being at the mercy of our local utility company. A tiny house can help get you away from the massive costs of monthly utility bills or the massive cost of installing off-grid power systems.

Another advantage for a person like me is the excuse to tweak and innovate in building and improving the house. I am a happier person when my brain has little problems to solve.

With all that being said, no, I must admit that I have no intention of building or moving our family into a tiny house, but if any of my friends decide to go there, I will be happy to help - or at least find inspirational online videos to keep you hopping!

Here is a video that popped up recently and presents a lot of great ideas:
(Be sure to watch the part where she describes the measurement for building the stool.)

And, in case that house was just too big for your tastes, here is a smaller one to keep you dreaming:

So, are you or do you know anyone in this area who is building or living in a tiny house? If so, please let me know. I would love to interview and feature them in this blog.

May you have a day filled with joy and tiny inspiration!

Friday, October 11, 2013

More Good Stuff from Annie Leonard

I am a big fan of The Story of Stuff video series and was pleased today to learn that Annie and the team have released a new video. If you like whiteboard animation, have a passion for improving our societal impact on the planet, or just have nine minutes to kill, check this new video out:

The Story of Solutions

Have a great weekend and do something lavishly generous for someone else!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Solving One Electric Vehicle Problem

This is my stealth scooter, but I did not rebuild it to be a stealth scooter - I rebuilt it to be an electric scooter. When I did get it on the road, I learned that the stealth part is just inherent in the electric part.  I also have an electric bicycle and an electric motorcyle, and they are all quite stealthy, but the scooter is by far the quietest of the three. They are so darn quiet! It's really nice and peaceful to ride until you come upon someone walking.  When you ride it through residential neighborhoods, you startle almost all pedestrians - dogs, cats, squirrels, people. They jump, they scream, they run in circles. I tap the horn a great deal when riding it just to give everyone or everything a heads-up, but I still end up startling a fair number of creatures. I have seen many different methods for drawing attention when travelling electric, and some have been very creative. My favorite so far is an mp3 player that plays sound effects from the Jetson's vehicles.

Here's a video of some comedians who have found a bit of hilarity in solving this problem. Enjoy!

Electric Vehicle Attention

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Supporting the Local Arts - Flatland Film Festival

Quick Post: We are less than two weeks from the Flatland Film Festival. Don't miss out on one of Lubbock's kept secrets!

Flatland Film Festival - LHUCA

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Following Your Dreams (!@#$%???) - Lubbock Food Trucks

This is Keith:

Until recently, I did not know Keith well enough to call him a dreamer. (By the way, he's not a Pastafarian, that I know of.) I now know that Keith has two dreams. Dream One is to rebuild an old Italian scooter and to race it from Alaska to the Big Easy. Dream Two (the one important to this post) is to have his own coffee cart and to sell phenomenal coffee to the good people of our town. I don't know that he wants to pedal his cart, but I do know that he creates some very tasty beverages.

Lately, it seems that several of my friends have been talking about food trucks and vending carts in Lubbock, so I started looking around.

Yelp thinks we have no food trucks at all:

But the Twist'd Texan would seem to disagree:
The Twist'd Texan (By the way, this article mentions a ban on food trucks in Lubbock.)

When searching for the best food truck in Lubbock, I found that the best Lubbock food truck is actually located in NY, NY, and most of the rest don't actually have wheels.
Best Food Truck in Lubbock

That might be because of the Lubbock ban on them and the obstacles that businesses like Crusty's Wood-Fired Pizza have faced here in the Hub City:

So Keith, Grizz, JB, and all you other food truck hopefuls, I don't know what to tell you guys about following your food truck dreams, but I promise to be a customer if and when it happens.

Dear Reader, what other food trucks have you seen around here? What foods would you like to see rolling up to a location near you?

Have yourself a wonderful day and be sure to support your local businesses - especially if they have wheels.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fuel Mileage - More Better Math

I read this article today and now find myself very intrigued by the More Better idea. The 10mpg to 20mpg switch is more better than a 33mpg to 50mpg switch.

A little fuel mileage knowledge...

From the Article:
(2) Improving a low number saves more gas (and money) than improving a high number.
It saves way more gas money to improve a car from 10 to 20 miles per gallon than it does to go from 33 to 50 mpg. (Here's the math.)
But most Americans surveyed think the opposite is true; they get gas mileage exactly backwards.
While a 50-mpg Toyota Prius hybrid will give you great bragging rights, if you move up from a 33-mpg compact car, you're only saving 1 gallon every 100 miles.
If you can replace your old 10-mpg truck with a new 20-mpg pickup, you'll save 10 gallons every 100 miles. You do the math on that one

Of course, going from 10mpg-50mpg would be even better; however, if you are looking to upgrade and you're waiting until that even better mpg vehicle becomes available, maybe it's time to double-check your math.

May you have a more better day and a pleasanter tomorrow!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thoreau for your brain, my Sasha for your smile

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

Henry David Thoreau

May your day be filled with wonder and thanks.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


[I strive to keep Mesquite Hugger a positive and encouraging place, but I will diverge a bit today.]

Spoilt brats. How often do you see spoilt children who throw a tantrum and shut everything down until they get their way? We see it more and more often.

When you read the lists of government entities that are now shut down (and whose workers will not be paid) because of children who have been taught that their way is the only way and that there is no compromise, please know that the spoilt brats who create our policies have made sure that they will continue to receive their paychecks. The citizens of our great nation will now suffer because our congress has not learned basic human decency or simple economics. UGH

On a bittersweetly ironic note, today's very cool Google Doodle celebrates Yosemite National Park's 123rd anniversary, and the park is shut down with the rest of the government.