Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mesquite Huggerism and a few big questions

We saw (and heard) Cornel West speak Thursday night, and I am thankful we were there. The speech was based on four questions asked by W.E.B DuBois.

(Image from this article)

The questions have been ringing in my head since. You see, I have been struggling with integrity lately. I believe that our actions reflect our beliefs. But my actions have been focused on paying bills and whittling down "the list". It's not so much a selling of my soul but an ignoring of it. I basically worship the list and try to squeeze thoughts of of integrity, truth, and virtue away.

I am a Christian, but I sweep my beliefs under the rug of convenience.
I am an environmentalist, but I am scared to offend others with my words and actions.
I am a husband, father, son, brother, and friend, but I juggle the people in my life more than I embrace them.
I love books and reading, but I seldom read.
I love time in nature but I spend free time on my phone.

And the damn shame of it all is that I am making no effort change that.

Thank you, West and DuBois, for shining a light on integrity.

May your list lead to integrity, truth, decency, and virtue.

Thank you for reading. How's your list?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday electric bike bargain - Evelo Omni Wheel!

I got the email this morning and pondered having the talk with my wife. You know - the one where I channel my seven-year-old self and tell her how I will do my chores and everything if I can just have this one thing?

Evelo is now offering their second-generation Omni Wheel, they are offering it with a discount, and they are offering interest-free financing. At this point, you may be asking, "What the heck is an Omni Wheel?"

Well, imagine turning your current bike (the one you already love, have, know how to ride, and have already paid for) just by changing the front wheel. No batteries, controllers, wires, or racks to add - you just change the front wheel and put a little mount on your handlebar. And boom! You're an e-biker!

The deal

So, there you have it! If you have been e-bike curious, here's an easy way in from an American company that offers real support and a 7-day trial. You will have to do the math - can you save $80 per month for a year by sporting an Omni Wheel? Or (unlike the MH) do you have that much extra $ available each month? Oh, such tempting stuff!

May you find ways to save money, enjoy the ride, and stop poisoning us all with fossil fuels!

PS1: If you buy one, please let the MH staff know!

PS2: Evelo Staff, I am doing an electric vehicle talk in town at the end of March. Do you have a demo wheel I can borrow? It could be awesome!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Vintage Electric Car: Double the Zagato Elcar Fun!

In October of 2014, I posted a profile of the Zagato Elcar - a tiny Italian electric car that that showed the dangers of leaving a Citicar alone for too long with a Maytag washer. And people have really liked that post, so I knew I would be remiss if I failed to share this with you, Dear Reader.

There are two (Yes, two!!!) Elcars for sale on Ebay right now. California? Kansas? I have never seen two on the market at the same time. Actually, these are only the second and third I have seen for sale at all. (I hope you want a blue one.)

This one is in Santa Rosa, California. What is it with Santa Rosa and electric vehicles? With four days to go the bid is still low. It has some virtues - clear registration, it kind of runs. Somebody hop to it.

Much closer to home is this Elcar in Topeka, Kansas. It's going to need batteries and some work, but it does have a black racing stripe - that has to be worth something, right? Act quickly, this auction closes today!

You know how the Mesquite Hugger loves vintage Eye-tallions!
May your dream vehicle be less dorky and even more enviro-friendly than mine!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lubbock on a Bike: Bridget Hauls Stuff

Last week was a good one for biking. Summer weather in February? Yep, we had it. Terrifyfing on the climate hand, but really great bike weather on the other. I pulled off an ultra-rare fivefecta - I commuted on a bike to work all five days! Four days on the regular bike and one day on electric Bridget. I also rode Bridget for two errands on Saturday. Low-budget Personal Carbon Reduction transportation indeed! 
8 gallons of water! (It was a wobbly ride!)

64lb payload and no kickstand!
A few more upgrades and the workhorse will be complete - panniers and a kickstand need to be found or built, and the lower-power controller is in the mail.
Who needs an electric pickup? Or a Leaf? Or even an old Prius? (Admittedly, I'd take any of them, but I'd still ride the bike as much as possible.)
The moral of this story? Yes, carbon neutral on a budget is very possible for an obese middle-aged guy with high blood pressure.
May you find your carbon neutral steed(s) and have as much fun as I am having!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Be a Master of Foul, Fish, Flowers, and Veggies in Lubbock!

Yep, you have to love beings with "Master" in their title. Master Yoda. Master Splinter. Master Bean. Master Blaster. Masters of the Universe. And, of course, Master Gardener.

Be a Master G! (Sugarhill Gangsters unite!)

The Lubbock Master Gardeners are at it again - and it's your chance to become an apprentice in the art of gardening and backyard farming.

They are offering four stand-alone 2-hour classes - $15 per class or $50 for all four! (Liking the math on that one!)

  • Chickens and the Garden
  • Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies to the Garden
  • Aquaponics
  • Mastering Vegetables

Learn more here (Avalanche Journal) and here (Lubbock Master Gardeners site).

May you go to the classes and become a Lubbock Master Eco Hero!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bridget Stone's Diarygram - DIY Electric Bike Update

For those of you who read the first Bridget post, here's an update:

I downloaded a second bike-tracking app this week so that I could keep the regular bike stats separate from the electric bike stats. I want to keep track of how many miles I put on the e-bike this year. Since I travel mostly the same route to and from work, it made comparison of the two pretty easy. Check it out.

Wowser - 25 miles per hour!
There it is. The electric bike knocked 8 minutes off of my commute and raised my average speed by 3.5 mph. To be honest, the bike is a little more powerful than I want it to be, so I am planning to replace the controller with something a little less powerful and a little more dependable. The lithium battery pack has a little built-in breaker for surge protection. It keeps tripping when I try to take off. It takes more juice than the battery wants to give to get me rolling, so I take off pedaling and get up to speed. Then I gently roll on the throttle, and the battery pack may or may not shut itself off. I may or may not have to stop, turn the battery off and on again, and repeat the process. It's pretty darned annoying!
That's all there is to an electric bike.
For you technical types, here are a few specs:
Battery: 36 volt, 11.6 amp-hour, lithium-ion. (It's removable - I can take it inside to charge it.)
Motor (in the front wheel): Old Aotema direct-drive brushed hub motor - it's a beast
Controller: Generic Chinese 1000 watt controller
Throttle: Leftover from a Razor scooter (I wonder if the throttle is not a little of the shutting-off problem.)
Next steps:
I have been eyeing 36V 500W controllers on Ebay - less than $20 shipped. I still need to make some panniers (Goodwill Pound Store, here I come!) and try out the trailer. I may also need to do something about a kickstand.
Overall, I am very happy with the results. If I can drop her back to an 18mph bike that takes off easily and has a great deal more range, I will be even happier. This could be a great season for electric bike commuting and errand running.
May your green projects thrive and may you enjoy your commute too!

Lubbock on a Bike: A Tiny Personal Milestone Reached

It's been a good week to be on a bike. I rode the regular bike to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I rode Bridget, the electric bike pack mule, yesterday. I rode the regular bike today. That gives me a full week of non-petroleum-based work commuting. WOOHOO!!!

Yep, it's the carbon-neutral-transport-for-poor-boys plan. It's also the lose-weight-and-lower-your-blood-pressure-for-obese-middle-aged-guys plan. Maybe it's the save-money-for-eco-simpletons plan.

Any way you go about it, it's a big step in my quest for Personal Carbon Reduction. Am I single-handedly saving the world? Absolutely not. It's barely a scratch, but that old saying about the journey of a thousand miles...

So come with me. Jump on a bike. Take a walk. Recycle. Conserve water. Plant a small garden. Replace an old bulb with an LED. Join the CCL. Keep your body and your mind moving in better directions. Find a milestone and reach for it. Then find another.

May you get better and better with each single step (and have a great weekend!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Little Advice About Stuff and Things

[Advice I wish someone had given me over and from the time I left high school (or maybe earlier)]

Stop looking for stuff to buy. Start looking for things to do.

I get it. We are human beings. We have big brains. We have opposable thumbs. When brains and thumbs get together, we start wanting. We want lots of things. And when we get those things we start looking for new things to want. Eventually, lots of us end up buried in things and stuff.

That's me. Absolutely buried. And I spend lots of time worried about what to do with all the stuff. Especially all the broken and neglected stuff. And it just keep breaking too. It's a monster that seldom lets up.

Monday I had a really crappy day. And it refused to get better. I went to bed early because I wanted that crappy day over. I got up Tuesday with a residual crappiness hangover.

I went to coffee and got to see Knippa, Grizz, the Canadian Knievel, and JB. Some of the crappiness melted away. Then I headed to work on the bicycle. After 3 miles I had a moment. I was riding down a long, paved alley - you'd be surprised how peaceful those can be. As I rode along I heard a lot of honking. I looked up and saw a few hundred Canadian geese flying over. I stopped pedaling and coasted. I was in a trashy alley in a Texas panhandle town on a garage-sale bike, and it was magical.

Yep, I know it sounds crazy, but time with good people, appreciated moments, and small accomplishments bring a lot more peace and joy for me these days than things do. And there are fewer monsters involved.

May your wealth be in experiences and may they not be covered in dust.

PS. Watch The Story of Stuff already!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

News of another low-cost, low-impact Tesla?

Yep, they just keep coming. Those Tesla stories.

You may notice that Tesla does not show up on Mesquite Hugger very often. It's not that I am not a fan. I am. I think that electric car development has leapt ahead directly due to the work done by Tesla, and I very much look forward to new developments from them. And I hope they will be the first to market with a legitimate and widely available electric pickup. But Tesla stays vastly out of my league. I am currently scrounging for free five-gallon buckets right now. A Model S or Model X just does not fit in my world. Also, the internet has Tesla covered.

But every once in a while, I do feel compelled to share some info with MH readers. Here it is - the $500 Tesla!

Electrek story link (lots of Tesla articles here)

Yep, this is not really a Tesla article - it's a Radio Flyer article. And Radio Flyer is one of my favorite low-carbon transportation providers (along with Razor).
The original

Cargo trike heaven!

You know how I love vintage scooters!
May your low-carbon transport suit your needs and your inner (or outer) child!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday Morning Musing: Art

There must be art.

Middle class and middle aged - I find myself defined these days by worry. I would like that not to be true, but...

Last night, my beautiful bride and I went to see Black Violin perform at the local university. It was a sold out crowd and these guys were phenomenal musicians. I saw my wife dance with joy. I found myself in awe, I found myself smiling, I found myself laughing. I even found myself swaying and clapping (which is pretty darned good for a stiff guy like me). Did I mention that I saw my wife dance with joy?

She and I don't seek out enough art. We keep ourselves caught up in the worry and bustle (and exhaustion) of everyday life. But last night was a very good night.

May you find yourself dancing with joy this week and may your worries melt away for a bit!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Random with Three e-Bikes

The attention span has been a little short this week.

#FossilFreeFriday, is this a real thing like Meatless Monday or Time-Travel Tuesday? (If not, I think I'll take advantage of Tuesday to make it a real thing.) Me, I love Friday, I love Fossil Free, and I am pretty fond of alliteration. Yep, I am liking it.

In the spirit of Fossil Free Friday, let's talk about some electric bikes. (Yes, I know, electric bikes aren't completely fossil free and are sometimes recharged by carbon-fueled sources, but an e-bike carrying an eight-tonner like me is massively more fossil-free than driving a two and a half-ton pickup across town, so there, smarty pants. How did you get to work today?)

By the way, I have been riding the newly functioning electric workhorse some this week. I am even planning some trailer work with it this weekend. Life is better on any bike!

Three bikes have popped up on my e-bike radar this week, an inexpensive crowd-funded roadster, the Porteur's lovely new crowd-funded female companion, and a cool and established workhorse I keep forgetting to include when I drool on about cargo bikes. So, let's start with the cargo bike.

I really hope to test ride a Juiced Rider ODK some day. From all reviews and such, it's an unsung hero in the cargobike world. It looks a little cutesy until you start reading stats. I'd write them all down, but that short attention span - so here goes:

For you e-bikers, I'll add that they all use 48 volt electric systems and have scads of name-brand, high quality components. The combo of front hubmotor and 3-speed rear hub should make for an ideal drivetrain. Also, 20" wheels offer easier loading, a lower center of gravity, and more structural strength. Lots of good stuff! (And some of you will be excited to know that it's not orange!)
(While you're on the website, check out their new offering - the CrossCurrent, but it's not one of today's three.)

Next up is the brand new offering from Faraday. Faraday made its name when the Porteur came out. It is a stylish e-bike that is gorgeous and does not look like an e-bike at all. The only visual indication that it is electric is a very discreet 250 watt front hubmotor.
It is apparently not good for a manly bike to live alone, so Faraday has created a companion for the Porteur, and her name is Cortland. And, if you jump on the Kickstarter bandwagon you can save yourself a cool $800! You will pay ($2000.) Be sure to check out the long list of feature and options - my favorite is the additional battery pack in a tiny saddlebag. They make a beautiful couple!
At the other end of the spectrum is the promised roadster the Propella. It's fun to say, isn't it? (Especially if you adopt a New Jersey accent!)
You could have gotten one for only $599 on Indiegogo if this blogger had been a little quicker (that short attention span again), but now you'll have to pony up $699 (+ shipping) or more if you wait longer. You get a pretty sparse bike for your money, but that's not always a bad thing. It's a bike you could fairly easily build yourself, but I don't know that you'd save much money. You can buy the same running gear from (+ bigger battery) and a few other places. Don't get too excited until you factor in shipping.
So, there it is. Fossil-almost-Free Friday with very few attention span breaks and a bevy of e-bikes to check out.
May your attention span be long enough to read an article like this, and may you find yourself fossil free on Fridays and other days that end in "y".


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More dogs and cargo bikes!

This is a season where I stress my way through the days.

Kylie the Wundermutt and I were sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon. The TV was off. The house was quiet. She sighed with contentment. Yep, life is better with a good friend by your side. Stress, like butter left out, melted a bit.

This morning I rode the new electric Frankenbike to work. I crossed town on 38th. I did not head down Indiana Avenue. I did not get on the Loop. The bike kept me distant from the racing rats. Stress, like butter left out, melted a bit.

So, if bikes and dogs help melt stress, then...

Cargo bike here. Sharky the Shark Dog here, Eek!
As you can tell, I already have my dog and cargo bike inspiration, but I can tell that you are still on the fence about all of this. So, here is a video for you. This video is about Ollie, and it's about Howard's quest to help Ollie acclimate to riding on/in a cargo bike. Besides a dog and a cargo bike, you will get to take a short trip down the Santa Monica Pier. There's also a reference to Craigslist. This video has everything and bike lanes! Enjoy!
Next up, let's head to a hotbed of bicycle culture - Copenhagen, Denmark to continue the inspiration. Copenhagen is the home of Nihola, a manufacturer of fine cargo bikes. These people get the whole dog/cargo bike connection. They even build a model especially adapted for dogs - the Nihola Dog. Check it out. While you are there, check out the intro video and the gallery of dog and bike shots. (One dog - the small, black shepherd - looks just like our Matilda.)
Okay, I can see it in your eyes - you're starting to see how happy you and your Fido would be cruising about town. Yep, life is better with a good friend by your side.
May you and your four-legged furball find fun and butter in your quest for green transportation!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Lubbock on a Bike: Electric Bridget Lives!

Sometimes you have to tell yourself to put up or shut up. I keep yammering on lately about cargobikes and personal carbon reduction and hauling stuff greenly. Well, it was time to do something about it and to do that within the MH family budget. So here goes.
Meet the Bridgestone:
This $5 garage sale beauty has hung around the garage and or the back porch for a year and a half now. Honestly, I have not paid much attention to it. I have even tried to give it away a few times - but its virtues have not been apparent to anyone around me. It's old, it's faded, it's scratched up. And really good deals keep popping up on Craigslist used bikes, so it's been hard to get excited about a 25-year-old $5 bike.
But the budget and my desire to de-clutter a bit lead me to take a closer look. Suntour shifters, Araya rims, Ritchey and Shimano components - all quality stuff. This was a nice bike back in the day. Really, a set of tires, a seat, some brake shoes and a mild tune-up could yield a great (if not pretty) bike.
But I have been wanting a Radwagon, an Xtracycle, or a Yuba. Why have I wanted one of those? So that I could haul stuff - so that I could drive a car or truck a whole lot less. You know - that whole Personal Carbon Reduction thing. If I start setting money aside now, maybe I could afford one of those next year.
Or I could learn to weld and get to work on my own longtail bike. By the end of summer I could have one built.
Or, I could (and did) refurbish the Bridgestone (mostly with stuff I had lying around) and start hauling stuff on a bike now.
Guess what I did this weekend?
You've come a long way, Bridget!
Now, the Bridgestone has a new front basket, a used rear rack, new(ish) tires, seat, handlebars, pedals, and an axle hook-up for the Craigslist trailer. Oh yeah, I also pieced together a 36 volt, 1000 watt front hubmotor system to help me haul the heavy stuff from further away.
The trailer is a dustier version of this.
Needless to say, I am pretty jazzed about my spring commutes and the ability to haul stuff. I don't have to burn gasoline to buy groceries, to haul water, or to bring home pieces/parts/soil for Mesquite Hugger projects. I am ready to live the dreamier!
As always, I will keep you posted and invite you along for the ride.
Special thanks to Sun Adventure (my most-local bike shop) and their winter clearance sale for tubes and shoes and the front basket.
Are you green with envy?
For those of you who are jealous, solid used mountain bikes are pretty easy to find and the electrification portion is well documented in lots of places. My favorite place to learn more is Endless-Sphere - here is a thread that is a great place to get you started.
Now, it's time to make some panniers. Does anyone have a pair of pink messenger bags lying about?
May we all find healthier ways to travel and may we enjoy the ride.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Derelict Hat Day in the Trashy 'Hood

Yep, walked to the coffee house this morning. As is my habit, I stopped and picked up trash along the way. There are often trends in the trash - beer, cigarettes, Starbucks, Monster, etcetera - but this is the first day it's been hats.

Christmas in February? Santa has fallen on hard times in these parts.

May the trends in your trash

May your 'hood have no trash - trendy or otherwise. May you be blessed with wisdom, patience, and joy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Protected Bike Lane Infographic - Ah, Lubbock Bike Geek Happiness

If you show up around here very often, you know there are three things that make me very happy - bicycles, infographics, and Vanguard Citicars. Lucky for me, people like to make infographics about bicycles. (I just did an image search for a Citicar infographic and found no such creature, but I did find a bunch of Mesquite Hugger images. The Mesquite Hugger staff is feeling somewhat internet famous.)

(Back to our story) Green Living Ideas inadvertantly sent me a little love today when they posted an infographic about protected bike lanes. I get pretty excited about those too.

Protected bike lanes are a dream for me. Generally speaking, "protected" and "bicycle" are two words that don't fit together in Lubbock, but we do have a protected bike lane in Lubbock on Flint Avenue near Texas Tech. (There may be others somewhere, but this bike commuter has not encountered them.)

Here is half of it. (Thank you, Google Maps!)

Here is the other half of it.

Here is an aerial view of the entire "protected" portion of the Flint bike lane.
(BTW, I am so snagging excited to see those solar panels on that roof! You have to jump through some serious City of Lubbock zoning hoops and spend some serious money to have a solar system inside the Lubbock city limits. Bravo, you eco-rebel!)
[Sidebar note to Lubbock mayoral candidates - more protected bike lanes and allowing grid-tied solar in town would have this blogger voting and spreading the word for your campaign. Dan, Victor, Todd, how about it?]
I shared the Radwagon $500 drawing with a co-worker this week. He got quite excited about the Radwagon (cargo bike) and went home to share the good news with his wife and to start the campaign to invest that amount of money on a bike. Her response was quick, loud, and emotional. "Are you crazy? You can't ride a bike in Lubbock! You would die!" It's a prevalent attitude here. We have car-centric road system. Our population is terrified to ride. It's so strange to live in fear in middle-class suburbia, but we do and should.
Yep, that infographic makes me happy!
Want to learn more about protected bike lanes?
Check out the  Bike5 blog or check out People for Bikes' Green Lane Project.
Want to learn more about Lubbock bike lanes - check out this Mesquite Hugger post: Lubbock on a Bike No Love from the Mayor
May we find ways to make the world safer and healthier for all (and may we not be impacted by the price of oil).

Gratuitous Citicar pic!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lubbock - Here's your chance to help save humanity! (CCL)

Are you that other Lubbockite like me? The one that sees a need to do something about our changing world but you're not sure where to start? Are you tired of everyone pointing fingers but accomplishing nothing?

Me, I don't want to fight with anybody. I want to work with others - with all others - to fix the problems. Let's talk about and work towards limiting and reversing climate change. Who cares if it's man-made, god(s)-made, Mother-Nature-made, Barney-the-Dinosaur-made, or just way too many cow farts? If there's a hole in your boat, it doesn't matter how it got there (or who put it there), it matters that you stop the flow of water into the boat.

A little perspective:

The two slides that follow are from A Climate for Change - a presentation by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. (Thanks, Dr. H!!!)

This is the stat that we keep seeing lately - each new year becomes the hottest year on record.

This graph hits me the hardest. We were actually in a cooling trend until the Industrial Revolution. Look at that spike at the end! And this is concrete, measurable data - not someone's far-fetched theory or agenda.
I don't know about you, but that last graph is what terrifies me for our future and makes me want to do something about it.
A group that is working to do something:
So here's my pitch. This Thursday evening, the local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby will be meeting at Mahon Library in downtown Lubbock from 5pm-6pm.
What's this CCL thing all about? It's pretty simple actually. The CCL is a group that is working to limit carbon production and carbon release and to do so in a way that creates economic growth. In the US, the CCL's approach is bipartisan and strives to encourage all political parties and social/spiritual groups to work together to acknowledge and tackle a common problem - climate change. And they seek to do it on a large and impactful scale.
Does this approach appeal to you? If so, please join us on Thursday evening, or go to the Citizens Climate Lobby website to learn more. Here is your chance to get involved with a group that seeks positive change for a healthier future.
May we all work together to make this world a healthy place, and may our efforts be enough to make it happen.
Citizens Climate Lobby Meeting - Lubbock
Mahon Library 1306 9th Street
Thursday, February 4, 5-6pm
Point of contact: