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Happy 2014! Now, get back to work! :)

1 Jan

Greetings, Campers…

As 2013 slowly slides into history,  2014 beckons.

Here at RR we’re still working on projects that will roll into 2014 and become the foundation for future families. 2014 will bring us what we seek in it. 2014 will reveal all, depending on our viewpoint and determination.

2014 will grant to us the ability to change the world… each and every one of us, depending on our focus.

As I look toward 2014, I’m reminded of something that one of my favorite “sages” said (there’s a New Year’s Resolution” or three in here too!) ;

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.

A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak!

And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.”

George Denis Patrick Carlin
May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008

G_d bless you all and may 2014 be the best year ever!

You’re making me SICK.

8 Oct

Flooding in Colorado. Tornadoes in Nebraska. Loitering in Montana. What do they all have in common?

In each of these places, you can be exposed to things you don’t want.

Most of us hear “Salmonella” and either think of bad food… or a really bad horror movie on cable.

But did you know that Salmonella is contagious?

Yes, Virginia…  Salmonella infection is indeed contagious. Like any other bacteria based infection, you have to be careful to avoid spreading that nasty bacteria to other people. Did you know that there are over 2,400 different kinds of Salmonella bacteria?

The symptoms are a fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Crankiness and a lack of sleep follows, as well as scowling from family members you’re  being crabby to. At least that’s how it works in MY house.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control, which I think is still in SHUTDOWN due to those Congressional buffoons that can’t play nice together) says;

“People who are more likely to become ill from Salmonella include:

  •     young children and infants (their developing immune systems have a harder time fighting off the infection)    older people
  •     those with weakened immune systems (such as people with HIV and those with sickle cell anemia)
  •     people who take cancer drugs
  •     people who take antacids or stomach acid suppression medication

Preventive methods are especially important when preparing food or providing care for infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems. Be sure to cook food thoroughly and refrigerate or freeze food promptly.”

Rule Number One:

Wash your danged hands!

Even if your hands ain’t “danged”, wash ‘em anyway.

Washing your hands thoroughly can help prevent the transfer of salmonella bacteria to your mouth or to any food you’re preparing. Use anti-bacterial soap and wash your hands thoroughly for at least a minute under warm water.

You remember what your mom told you, right? You should always wash your hands after you do any of the following:

  •     Use the toilet
  •     Change a diaper
  •     Handle raw meat or poultry
  •     Clean up after your pet
  •     Touch reptiles or birds

Remember, some foods are “anti-social”. Just like you have to keep weird Uncle Jeffrey away from Aunt Gladys, you have to keep some things separate to keep things from getting out of control.

Proteins like raw meat, fish (and seafood in general) and poultry should always be stored away from other food items. Additionally, you should have a cutting board in your kitchen dedicated to those foods. You don’t want to prepare veggies on a cutting board that had meat on it previously.

Don’t contaminate prepared (cooked) foods by placing it directly onto surfaces that were used to prepare raw meats.

Don’t eat RAW eggs. No matter what you see on TV eating raw eggs is risky. Even the SHELLS can carry the bacteria.

We all sneak off a big pinch of stuff like cookie dough and homemade ice creams. Don’t do it. They contain raw eggs and raw eggs are a leading source of salmonella.

You want diarrhea and cramps? Raw cookie dough will do it.

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration — and diarrhea caused by Salmonella can be quite severe, you need to start hydrating yourself. You should drink plenty of water or drinks that contain electrolytes (you an find these sports drinks at your supermarket).

Lot’s of people with Salmonella reach for the anti-diarrheal medicines in their bathroom medicine cabinets, but it’s not a good idea for people with salmonellosis. These anti-diarrheals can actually make the infection last longer. Check with your doctor or nurse practitioner first, okay? If you have a fever, you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce your temperature, but only IF your consulted medical professional says it’s the right treatment.

Let’s be careful out there…

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Today of all days, shouldn’t we be as American as Apples…? ;)

11 Sep

I promised myself that I wouldn’t do a 9.11 soapbox speech, so I’m not going to. Suffice to say I hope that we all take a moment to remember those lost, and that it leads to a moment when we can be thankful for what we have.

In the days preceding 9.11, we’ve seen so many conflicting messages about that terrible event 12 years ago that I wonder if we’re all speaking the same language.

In these trying times, Americans need to focus on COMMUNICATION.

Apparently, Steve Jobs is still directing traffic from the grave, insuring that “An Apple a day keeps the Android away….” ;)

Yes, I DO realize that poor Steve is probably rolling over in his grave at the prospects of the iPhone 5C. I’m guessing that, like many of us, he’d think that the “C” stands for “Cheap”. ;)

iphone-5c-colors

That said, there’s something else to think about;

Apple designed and then manufactured an “everyman’s” iPhone. Now, if we believe the hype, just about anyone can afford an iPhone.

I think my pal, Chris Voss said it best;

“A lot of people are bashing the iPhone 5C as “cheap” – my bud Chris Pirillo seems to be defending it every post and rightly so. I’m starting to think the “C” stands for iPhone 5ChrisPirillo. Even though its fun to go there with an easy joke (an iphone for peasants) its actually very smart. If you understand the China Mobile Ltd deal – you might want to buy some Apple stock – The iPhone 5C is targeted to them and if you understand why Apple recently closed a deal with them, its freaking huge.”

Whatever you use, iOS or Android. use it today to call someone that you care about and remind them that they are in your thoughts. I’m reminded, in reflection, that the whole world can change in a split second…

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Recycled Respites

13 May

Here on RR, we talk a LOT about using “found” materials.

This leads to an email folder full of hate mail from irate housing pros (who also whine that we’re “UnAmerican” for “stealing jobs from them”), who claim that we’re teaching you to use garbage to build structure.

Bull. We’ve NEVER advised anyone to use “junk” to build with. We don’t teach people to build “hovels”. We teach them to build, strong,  sustainable, AFFORDABLE homes.

What we HAVE advised you to do is to find innovative ways to use materials (within specification and purpose, of course) to lower your building or even (gasp!) furnishing costs.

These same guys will tell you that you can’t really build “anything” for under $150 a square foot.

We usually suggest that they double up on their meds and read more. Maybe they’ll learn something.

Do we collect and use materials like “scrap” rigid insulation in our builds? You bet.

“Rigid” performs extremely well. You can find it in dumpsters at commercial build sites all the time. Ask a contractor or “yard  boss” and they may just let you haul it off. It gets that bulky stuff out of their dumpster so that they have room for more garbage. We see it on Craigslist and Freecycle, all the time. Is using it “labor intensive”? YES. You take large, cast off scrap pieces of foam and then piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes some forethought to get it right.  But, it costs you SWEAT instead of cash. The benefit is that you get a high performance insulation package out of the deal.

But you can find gems in (actually UNDER) the stuff that gets delivered to your building site as well;

palletbedThis is a bed that you could build in a few hours, tops.

Some thoughts;

  1. Sand the pallets (edges) to make them less prone to snagging your sheets or shins.
  2. Nail pallets together to keep them from moving once you’ve established your “pattern”.
  3. Use recycled LED Christmas Tree lights to illuminate under the bed. Low power and low heat.
  4. Remember that beds aren’t just for “sleeping”. If you’re in a relationship (or you are building this for a child)  consider putting a box springs under the mattress, to help “fortify” the bed system.

And then, have fun with it. While your neighbors are spending boatloads on high priced furnishings, you’ll have cash left over for “family nights”. :)

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Mother’s Day is coming… It made us think…

8 May

This is one of those week’s where you find yourself  thinking about “Mom”.  I mean… Sunday IS quickly approaching.

But for us, this week, It took an “odd turn”. We started thinking about a lot of other people’s MOMS.

Here at RR we support a lot of causes. One of them that is near  and  dear to our hearts is “Breast Cancer”.

We’ve personally lost family members to this terrible disease. Moms, wives, daughters. It’s a river of sadness that never stops flowing. We’ve shed tears over this and that is an understatement.

One of my best friends has a double mastectomy she received because of breast cancer. She has always been an incredibly beautiful woman. She was the textbook “California Beach Girl”. She had “curves for miles” and she was a pleasure to behold.

(Okay, I admit it. Men are more visual than women. We know it, YOU know it, so get over it.) :)

Despite her hardships, she is STILL the most beautiful girl in the room, everywhere she goes.  She may not have “the big  t-shirt” anymore, but she’s still a knock-out. She’s paid her price to stay alive and she’s an inspiration to us all. We adore her.  She reminds us that “beauty” isn’t just based on media hype for “this or that” figure. It’s not just “skin-deep”.  She’s a lioness who wears her scars well and she  keeps moving forward with confidence, helping others by deed and “by example”.

As a result of her impact on our lives, we’ve been involved with groups that focus on helping those afflicted with this disease as much as we possibly can. Many of these organizations are struggling as the economy tightens the purse strings of those with charities in mind.

Working for a “Cure for Breast Cancer” is noble. We’re all for those who push to aid those in need, especially in this cause. When you think of breast cancer, most of us think “pink”. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a front-runner in making breast cancer visible to the masses.

With walk-a-thons, public events and fund-raisers, The Susan G. Komen Foundation makes a lot of positive noise.

But, like many other charitable organizations, they see their coffers dwindling.

So, like many other families that start thinking about what they have and where they can send it to do the most good… we took a look at what the Komen folks do. We wished that we hadn’t. Truly. We’re sorry that we looked. If you look at the numbers, now we feel like we (and more importantly Breast Cancer victims) are being duped.

2012 may have been a very bad year for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but you’d never know it by looking at the tax returns for it’s leader. 2012 was a very good year for its CEO, Nancy Brinker. I’m talking about “over the top” good.

Nancy Brinker

Last year, Brinker said, “We are doing everything in our power to ensure that women have access to quality cancer care and the support that they need.” It’s a worthy, necessary goal. In our opinion, Brinker (at the very least) misspoke.

After so much disaster and hardship, it seems the woman who’s benefited most from Komen’s Breast Cancer charity is… um…  Nancy Brinker.

Many of us have read that in 2012, the breast cancer organization ignited a firestorm by announcing it was pulling its funding for breast cancer screenings and services for Planned Parenthood.

As you can imagine, this raised some eyebrows and some ire. Those screenings and services are one of the front-lines of Breast Cancer defense for American women. Komen hastily and ineptly apologized, then backpedaled.

We witnessed Karen Handel, Komen’s “Vice President for Public Policy” resign in the wake of the scandal. The people responded by quietly “defunding” Komen.  They saw registrations for its events decline in places like Maryland and Texas and just about everywhere else.

Komen got put in the “hot seat”.  People found it ironic that an organization that features the words “the cure” so heavily in its promotion and mission, an organization that boasts how its “research investment has changed the breast cancer landscape,” devotes such a minuscule and declining portion of its dollars to actually finding one.

Turns out that in 2011, Komen spent 15 percent of its donations on “finding the cure” – research — not even half of what it did just a few years prior. That’s 15 cents out of every dollar that you donated to them, folks.

And what about Komen’s founder, Nancy Brinker? You remember her, that woman whose vow to the sister she lost to cancer has served as the organization’s poignant, relatable narrative… Well, she stepped down as Komen’s CEO.

Did she “quit” or “give up”? No. She just invented a new role for herself in the organization. While she’s still listed on the records as the CEO of Komen, last August she took on a new role as “chairwoman of the executive committee”.

In short, the whole series of trainwrecks perpetrated by Komen was so offensive and appalling that Deanna Zandt, author of “Share This! How You Will Change the World With Social Networking,” called the Komen fiasco a teachable “example of what not to do.”

Leadership. It’s about leadership. You captain your ship and chart your course, steering clear of obstacles or you end up on the rocks… or do you?

It’s 2013. After more than a year of bad publicity and declining participation in Komen activities and events, Brinker herself seems to be doing just fine.

As Cheryl Hall pointed out this weekend in the Dallas Morning News, Brinker made “$684,717 in fiscal 2012, a 64 percent jump from her $417,000 salary from April 2010 to March 2011.

”That’s a whole lot of green for all that pink.”

Hall notes that’s about twice what the organization’s chief financial officer, Mark Nadolny, or former president Liz Thompson were making.

And as Peggy Orenstein points out on her blog Monday, it’s considerably more than the average nonprofit CEO salary of $132,739. We’re talking about five times the average, folks, for a CEO who has placed her ship firmly on the beach. And, the tide is going out, further grounding her vessel.

Of course, rewarding CEOs even as they’re bombing out is a way of life in America.

Appearently, where Nancy Brinker is concerned, they’re using an entire wing of “Stealth Bombers” to deliver her (in our view) unearned cash.

We ask those at The Susan G. Komen Foundation to think long and hard about how they operate. In our opinion, they’re giving themselves a black eye and doing a huge disservice to the “Breast Cancer” community.

Until they do this, we’re going to focus on “local” missions, helping those close to us, DIRECTLY, instead of giving aid to those who pocket most of the funds for themselves. We’d humbly ask you to do the same…

We may just be “small voices” that get lost in the crowd, but if enough of us do this, we can create a chorus that will drown out these “charitable failures”.

Please listen to your hearts and act accordingly.

I want to thank “our special Breast Cancer Survior who gives us so much, every day” and Mary Elizabeth Williams over at www.salon.com for compelling us to run this.

Stay tuned…

Another Birthday. How much longer can she live?

22 Apr

Of course, I can’t SEE the “earth” around here because it’s all covered with SNOW. “Spring”, my butt… ;)

Earth Day1Happy, happy. And… I hope for many more…

Bad News for Bears

14 Apr

It’s “Springtime”.

Okay, maybe not HERE, but elsewhere, I’ve heard rumors of Spring.

Montana Spring

In places were Spring really exists…

That means that all those critters are gonna start making appearances in your neighborhood, looking for food and frolic.

Lots of families are out scouting locations for their new ISBU home in the woods. That’s a great way to spend time with the family, learn about your surroundings and then find that “perfect place” to drop your boxes.

Here in Montana, we’re seeing more and more bears every year. We have grizzlies in Missoula County. While little bears look cute and cuddly, their parents are anything but. They’re serious thousand pound hunks of “Bite-yer-butt-off”.

Griz

You need to stay clear of them, unless you’re either crazy, or Chuck Norris.

Ten Ways to Avoid Bears While Camping

(Baselines swiped from the Boy Scouts. I just added my two cents worth.)

If you are traveling through bear country, you can follow these ten ways to avoid bears:

  1. Move food away from where you sleep! Keep your cooking areas and sleeping areas separate (100 yards or so is the rule of thumb). Ain’t it bad enough that your “better half” sounds like a bear when she sleeps? You wanna tempt the real thing? I didn’t think so.
  2. Find a tree and a rope… and then use the limbs. No! Don’t hang the neighbor kid who won’t shut up or gather firewood. Hang food and items with strong odors (ie, toothpaste, bug repellent, soap, etc.) at least 10 ft above the ground or use airtight, bear-proof containers.
  3. Just like home, change your clothes before you sleep. Nobody wants to sleep with you when you’re covered in mud and fire-stink. Don’t wear clothing with cooking or food odors to bed. Trust me.
  4. “Cleanliness is close to your alleged better half not griping at you for hours and hours…” Be clean –  wash dishes, and keep people in the cooking area well away from the sleeping area…
  5. Life on the trail is loud and boisterous… unless you’re hunting or stalking prey (or pretty girls from the camp across the lake!). Don’t surprise bears while hiking. Make some noise! Talk, sing or shout back and forth,  especially when close to rivers or streams. Remember that water sounds will drown out a lot. Don’t let the sounds of a rushing river mask your approach.
  6. Stay off the “rough bits”. Nobody is impressed at your alleged ability to get scoured by branches and brambles on those goat paths you’re pointing out. Travel on the established trails like normal folk.
  7. More is better. Duh. We all know this. Travel in a group of three or more. That way, if you do irritate a bear into pouncing, you can trip the slowest one as you run away! This, campers, is why I always go camping with my idiot brother-in-law. You need to plan ahead for some things… LOL!
  8. If you’re moving from camp to camp or just traveling through… travel during the daylight hours. Nobody cares if you have “acute night vision”. Nobody cares that you spent all your lunch money on Ebay buying Russian Night Optics. Bears are active at dawn and dusk and they don’t like surprises. And they don’t care what language is embossed on the headgear you’re wearing. They’ll still eat you.
  9. Keep your eyes open. Concentrate on the trail and your surroundings and not the rear end of the girl in front of you. Look for tracks, scat (poop, NOT music) and signs of bear activity.
  10. Boy Scouts are trained to “Be prepared”! Endeavor to do likewise. Study the facts and train your group before you go. Better yet, take a boy scout with you! Find one of those “know-it-all” kids and then insure he’s close enough to trip when the bear starts to charge! Hey, he’s young. He has a much better chance of evading that bear than you probably do. :)

Like many hikers, I’ve seen really big grizzly bears in places like the Alaskan wilds and in Montana.  As a kid, we lost fish regularly to bears who thought we were surf fishing in Alaska just to feed them. Bears are pretty awesome, but they are best observed from a great distance. Mom wasn’t so awesome as we had to go back to camp and admit that bears ate our dinner.  Nothing sucks as much as “Here’s your $&^%#@!! supper” as your mother throws a cold can of pork and beans at you. :(

You’re not going to just walk up on a bear every day. Those bears easily approached are BAD NEWS. They’re either already used to people (and thus you’re just a slow-moving “bear sized MRE”) or they are sick. In both cases, you should carry your butt outta there ASAP. Spotting or encountering a bear in the wild is uncommon, bear attacks are rare and injuries or fatalities from attacks are even rarer still. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

You should also know that most bear attacks are usually attributed to people making stupid mistakes, rather than finding bears that are “inherently aggressive”. Despite that knucklehead that had a cable show about living with bears and treating them like people… bears are bears. They walk like bears, they act like bears and they’ll KILL you like bears. They’ll kill YOU just like they killed that idiot who thought they were “warm, cuddly bundles of awesome fur” that needed to be played with.  Bears won’t see you as a new playmate. They’ll see you as FOOD. That idiot got what he deserved. I just feel sorry for the bears that he got killed because they were then punished for acting like bears.

You’re in THEIR land. Respect for your location and it’s conditions is imperative to your survival. To do anything less invites disaster.

Have a great time. Just stay alert and informed. You’ll have a great time and you won’t become Purina Bear Chow. :)

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I have you in my crosshairs!

1 Apr

april-fools-day-graphicHappy April Fools Day.

Now, go get someone. Get ‘em good! :)

You have our permission to do anything but commit a felony.

And, don’t call us for bail money. Nuh uh!

.

.

Thanks to that SOB “Texarcana something or other…” for pointing out our typo. ;)

Nope. You can’t do THAT!

20 Mar

I get email all the time asking me what you can do with ISBUs.

I get email all the time telling ME what I can do with ISBUs.

Admittedly, I know enough about anatomy to know that some of those suggestions were impossible, even for a gymnast or a “carny sideshow performer”.

But, I’ve recently discovered that there is ONE thing that you CANNOT do in an ISBU;

Cool Boys Bedroom

My kid would worship me like a GAWD if I built him this!

File this under “ISBU IDEAS”

28 Jan

I saw this on Pinterest, of all places.

I’m home resting and I have some time to go look at what others (besides myself) are doing in “little tiny spaces”.

(That makes me laugh because people still don’t get that you can “sister” these boxes up, take out the interior walls and then make much larger spaces…) :)

When it comes to bedrooms, there aren’t enough colors in the rainbow to cover all the needs and wants of families spread out all over the globe… families using these wonderful boxes that we call ISBUs to build “Corten Castles”.

The number one complaint I get when working with families lately seems to be;

“My young son/daughter doesn’t want a bedroom that sucks.”

This is further complicated by “architectural tradesmen” who can’t seem to figure out how to use that space at the end of a container effectively. I find this ironic, as the practice of Architecture is supposed to be about using space efficiently.

So, to that kid worried that Mom and Pop are gonna build them a bedroom that might suck…  I offer ideas like this;

ISBU Bunk for single 20 box

You could do this in the end of an ISBU, EASY.

The only thing that I would do is to us a “pull out” closet system on casters, instead of that “double closet” tucked in that cubby. That way, as your child gets older, he/she doesn’t outgrow being able to use that space.

Build TWO of these units and place them side by side (lengthwise along an ISBU wall) and you have a (2) child bedroom in less than 130 square feet. Remember that we’re talking about using twin sized mattresses here. Your child isn’t going to “outgrow” this room any time soon.

Or… even space them 4 feet apart and use that wall space in between them to build in a small seating area or homework desk.

This is a very space/cost effective solution to creating multi-purpose spaces in small footprints.

The Renaissance Ronin

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