Shut Up! You can’t actually LIVE “off-grid”!

14 Oct

Or… can you?

Greetings, Campers!

Lately, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of moving my family to a place “far and away” where power fears to go. And, you can forget about cable TV. Not gonna happen.

That’s right, I’m talking about (gasp!) Mississippi! Um… er… not really…  🙂

Contrary to popular belief, they really do have power and cable TV in Mississippi. It just doesn’t work all that well, yet… 😉

If you’ve been reading along, you know that my blog is aimed at building an off-grid alternative home out of shipping containers and recycled aircraft hangar comnponents, so that the family nestled safely within can take more responsibility for their lives and livelihood.

In our case, we’re building a home out of re-purposed shipping containers, commonly called ISBUs (or Intermodal Steel Building Units).

Like I said…  we’re not just using these marvelous containers, we’re also using some components we scrounged off of an old aircraft hangar, and anything else we could find that looked sturdy… but that’s another post, entirely! 🙂

The idea is to build a home out in the country, away from everybody else. Why? Well, it appears that the neighbors would certainly like it better that way.  It seems that around here, the locals are rather “ISBU intolerant,” and we need to get out of “eyesight and earshot”, if we want any peace and quiet.

Like having a two year old terror of a little boy is going to provide anything that resembles “peace and quiet.”

Yeah, right?!

I’m sure you already know that we’re replacing a home that was eaten by a hurricane. I am sure that you know that we’re doing it without the help of the insurance company that we paid to protect us from this kind of loss. As a result, much of our life as we knew it has changed.

And, I’m sure that you know my wife is going through radiation and chemo to combat cancer, as we do all this. So, you can see that we have our hands full.

One of the cool things about using containers is that they go up fast. On a Monday, you may have a vacant lot, but by Friday, you can have a nearly completed home sitting there.

It’s a LOT of labor, but it’s worth it…

And, I’m sure that you know that we’re struggling…

Well, you do now!

As we go thru day after day of torment and trial, waiting for somebody in charge to “man up and make a decision” (besides “NO!”)  people reading this blog are starting to get involved.

As in… we’re helping other people build THEIR ISBU homes.

And this has presented some interesting opportunities. I’ve told you about some people who have land to trade for help and labor, as they construct the homes of their dreams. And, I’ve told you about an idea I have, to build a hangar, that will house shipping containers instead of aircraft, as they get transformed into homes for worthy families.

Ronin doesn’t have a lot of money.

In fact, Ronin struggles each and every month, to insure that Joshua has diapers, and Momma has medicine. But, Ronin does have something that some other people don’t have. VISION.

I’ll just barter for the things we need, and we’ll just “rough it” until we get to where we’re going.

Where are we going?

Well, we’re going as far away as we can from “some people” (who shall remain nameless) who lack anything resembling common sense or even a grasp of reality.

Starting with transportable modules built from Intermodal Steel Building Units (shipping containers), you can actually fabricate a pretty solid home, for less than the price of a stick built one.

And, it’ll be made out of Corten Steel.

If you’ve been reading along for the last year and a half, you know that it is possible, and that it’s happening more and more. You may see an ISBU home in your own neighborhood, soon…

Or, you may drive past one, out on some lonely country road, or maybe on a far-flung beachfront lot, sitting there all by it’s “onesies”.

And you may wonder about the possibilities of living in a steel house “out in the middle of nowhere”.

WE don’t just wonder about it. WE crave it. It’s all I can think about, most days.

That’s right… we’re going “off-grid”.

Now, living “off-grid” means exactly that. No power hook-up. No water company. No sewer pipes to connect to, to haul your … um… er… well, you get the picture. If you don’t , I could SHOW you a picture, but you wouldn’t like it… nuh-uh! Ewwww!

Living “off-grid” means being responsible for all your needs and requirements. It also means that if you screw up, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.

Shhhhh! Don’t tell my wife that, though! She already blames me for nearly everything as it is!

One of the questions I get asked a lot, is whether or not it actually makes sense to build and live, totally off-grid.

“But Ronin, can you really live ‘free – in the wild’ in this day and age, without becoming something out of a SciFi movie plot?”

Virginia, take a  pill. You really can live “off grid”, completely  unfettered by utility poles and free from the monthly harassment of those pesky utility bills. Honest.

I’ve shown you how to do the hard parts. Earth friendly HVAC, Solar hot water production, Photovoltaic Electricity production… you name it.

We talk about it here. Constantly. Endlessly. Until “I’m blue in the face”… Get it?

And we’ll continue talking about it, until some of you finally get it thru your thick skulls… You know who you are! 🙂

The info is there, people… Hit the archives, if you doubt me…

But, unless you’re independently wealthy, there are other problems to solve.

Like, for instance… “If I live off-grid, how do I get paid?”

I mean, you have to buy groceries, right? I mean, if my son get s hungry, he gets REAL grumpy. If my wife gets hungry… well… let’s just say it’s hard to tell, because she’s ALWAYS grumpy… 😉

It’s because of stuff like this that people seem torn by the idea of leaving the safety of the subdivision, to go it alone, in “the wild and woolly outdoors…”

To those who fear “abandonment”, isolation, or possibly even becoming “pariahs”, I say this:

“Follow your heart. If your intent is to take care of YOUR family, the neighbors won’t matter that much. They don’t pay your bills, or make your meals.”

At least, MY neighbors don’t and if they did, I’d be afraid to eat it.

You see, Ronin doesn’t like being poisoned… 🙂

So I took a poll, on one of my other blogs…

And I discovered that more and more people who work over the internet, for companies in far away states.

Now, I’m not talking about “Google” type jobs, or “get rich quick” schemes.

I am not talking about “internet telephone answering” or “help-desk answering” jobs in Mumbai…

I’m talking about REAL jobs!

You know the kind… Highly paid, professional positions, held by responsible people. They do actually exist.

And, it’s starting to happen more and more… although it’s happening slower than might be possible if companies would just start giving thought to how their operations operate, and more importantly for them, what the actual costs of operation are.

Because in the end, we all know that in that boardroom, it’s about profit.

Alas, it has not happened on a large scale yet. Perhaps its because of a ‘warped” management mindset:

If we let our workers actually work from home, a bunch of managers will get laid off.

“Who can I terrorize, if they aren’t here?”

Obviously, in a telecommuter based operation, less managers are needed and their psychological power is vastly diminished when employee performance is measured only objectively.

(For me, that’s be a good thing. I got “fired” once, for decking a miscreant of a manager, after he started shaking his fist in my face and calling my kids bad words, after I refused to stay late and clean up yet another one of his messes. I didn’t exactly pummel him, according to the on-lookers. He just kept falling down…)  🙂

I say “fired” because he didn’t understand the phrase:

“Before I quit, I have something to show you… my fist.”

“And G_d smiled…” the company got taken over later that year, and he was one of the first to get canned. The next time I saw him, he was an assistant manager, at Wendy’s.

Having your workers actually work from home actually makes good sense to me. As a manager of one of these companies, you’d end up evaluating people on their work quality and their productivity. And, you wouldn’t be plagued by dealing with “office politics” or gossip, or even prejudice.

A worker would get merit (or maybe even “demerits”), based on actual work! What a concept! 🙂

Your company could “downsize” that corporate office they’ve been throwing money into, at a time when companies have to streamline in order to survive in this miserable economy.

And hey! The real estate market sucks right now, finding a smaller building should be easy!

Look… if America business is going to compete with “companies from beyond…” they have to think progressively. What’s more progressive than saving money, by making your operation more productive, and easier to manage?

It takes some adaptation, to be sure… but lots of companies are proving that it’s quite possible, and even profitable. Sure, some workers are going to be concerned about maintaining their little power structure, because they won’t be in the office to continually pucker up an kiss someone’s butt…

But frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of “brown-noser’s” anyway.

Companies claim that Internet service isn’t reliable enough.

Or, worse, that it isn’t available to all of their workers. Bull.

Companies like Dish IP are making Satellite Internet connection a breeze. You can get a satellite uplink for $50 a month. You’ll get more than enough bandwidth to work on-line, and blast email back and forth. You’ll even have enough to video conference, if the boss wants to catch you in your underwear, plowing through spreadsheets.

Remember that you’re dealing with satellites. If you can get a Dish TV setup, you can get an internet link. So, there aren’t really any limits to what you can do…

If you need to do some massive downloading, then get off your butt and head for the car. Hey, that’s what WiFi is for! Go find a WiFi hotspot, (or a McDonald’s) and download away on your laptop, while you eat a fast food lunch. Nearly every town has a free WiFi hotspot, somewhere. You can usually find one at your local library. You just have to go find it.

The benefit is that you’ll not only fuel your need for the latest iTunes upgrade, you’ll also get a tasty, calorie laden, over-priced  meal that you’ll have to pedal off on your exercise bike later.

But it’s all good! Attach your exercise bike to a car alternator and voila! You just made an instant “Idiot Powerplant!” You can even charge up your batteries in your home power bank! 🙂

Now, all you need is direct deposit paychecks, and on-line banking.


You’re off-grid, supporting your family and buying groceries! And, you don’t have to put up with that miserable bastard in the next cubicle, anymore!

Could it get any better?

Now get into your pajamas and get your butt in front of that computer! That’s it…

Good Job!

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin Addendum: Since I wrote this post, I’ve been deluged with people doing exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, Greg S. in Texas is doing exactly that, while he waits for the arrival (they’re enroute) of his (3) 40′ ISBUs, that he’s going to use to build HIS new Corten Castle!
Greg says: “… it’s totally off grid….wind power, solar, well, and septic…it’s the freakin’ dream.”
Way to go, Greg! 🙂

2 Responses to “Shut Up! You can’t actually LIVE “off-grid”!”

  1. Madrigorne October 15, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    ..other blogs? What are these other blogs of which you speak?

    • renaissanceronin October 15, 2009 at 11:24 am #

      Hi “M”,

      Like many others, I have views about life “that don’t confine themselves to the plight of the houseless.”

      And in the beginning, I got a lot of flack from readers here who really weren’t interested in my views on life in general. I don’t know why… I mean, I spelled all the words right, and everything! 🙂

      So, just so I’d have a place to rant, I created another blog, where I basically say things that everyone else is thinking.

      I ain’t skeered… 🙂

      I keep the two blogs separated. They tend to quarrel if put in close proximity to each other! 🙂

      “And that’s the rest of the story…”


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