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Don’t Vote.

2 Nov

I repeat:


Look, no one is paying you to participate.

There aren’t any “Voting Cops” that will come drag you out of your house if you don’t go stand in line at a polling place.

This isn’t China, or Russia, or even (gasp!) Canada! 😉

We don’t need your opinion! We’ll figure it all out, without you and your two cents.

I mean, hey…

We’re doing pretty good so far, right?

Everybody’s working.

Everyone has an affordable home and great, affordable utilities.

We all have great Health Care.

And the economy has never been stronger!

So… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what Ronin always says…

Wait… um…

Okay, some stuff could be better, I suppose. But, if we just let things keep going, eventually, they’ll fix themselves, right? Or some really smart guy or even (gasp!) a girl… will come along and fix it for us.

Gawd knows, if you vote, you’re just gonna screw things up.

And then how would you feel? Huh?

So just sit there on your butt, like a bump on a stump, watching reruns on TV, and let someone else (who is obviously smarter and more enthusiastic than you about “things Democratic”) decide how you and your family are gonna live.

It’s okay. We don’t mind… It’s not like this is a republic, or anything…

Your one single, lonely, solitary vote couldn’t possibly make any difference anyway.

And it’s not like you’re all that smart, anyway. Heck, your kinfolk probably won’t even let you choose the brand of toilet paper they use…

Still sitting there?


This has been brought to you by the letter “D” and “The Ronin Initiative”.

My apologies to Will Durst, whom I basically stole this post from. Okay, I didn’t steal it, I just did the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version thing to it…

Okay, I didn’t just hack his post, I said stuff. Important stuff. Sarcasm is important.

Don’t like it? Tough Noogies.  It’s my birthday tomorrow. I get to be sarcastic If I want to. Says Me.

If you want to read a good post… read his, in it’s entirety, here.

Remember: Vote or Die. Do it or I’m gonna send the Voting Cops to your house to kick your butt.

I know where you live. I trap IP addresses.


Image Credit to Daryll Cagle – Love his work!

Out of the HOLE! :)

14 Oct

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program…

All the Chilean miners are SAFE! G-D bless ’em, every one!

THANK YOU! to all those diligent rescue workers who worked tirelessly, to insure the safety of these guys.

It serves to give us ALL hope, huh?

Plywood and You!

20 Apr

In honor of the upcoming Earth Day:

And because I’m under the weather and I didn’t feel like writing a long “ISBU” post today…

(When the heck IS Earth Day, anyway? Anybody know? The 22nd of April?)

Here’s a “Construction Site Recycling” project for you!

  1. Got some extra plywood scraps and a bucket of wood glue laying around that nobody wants?
  2. Got a battery powered screwdriver with a knapsack fulla screws?
  3. Wanna tick off the neighbors by filling your street with every News crew from a hundred miles?
  4. Got WAYYYYYYY too much time on your hands?

Build this!

The Ultimate Plywood Pachyderm:

If this don’t get your kid an “A+” at the Science Fair, nothing will!

Stay tuned!

The “Santa” Sequel

26 Dec

Man, Christmas was a tough day!

Joshua got up, expecting toys, and sugarplums,  and candy canes, and all he got was an old dented can of peaches (in heavy syrup!) with a big red bow on top.

I had to tell Joshua that Santa had finally given up on bringing presents to little boys and girls, and was probably checking himself into rehab, courtesy of that Dr.Drew character we keep seeing on TV.

Oy! That kid howled and howled until the sugar rush from that peach syrup finally wore off! I thought he’d never go to sleep!

And, it took FOREVER for that EXTRA STRENGTH TYLENOL to finally kick in.

Ever been pummeled in the head with a one pound can of peaches by a hysterical child? I didn’t think so!

So, while I got up today and prepared my icepack (for my concussion) and my black coffee, eager to shake visions of my howling two year old terrorist out of my head, I finished watching the security tape of Santa leaving a message stuck to my TV.

You know, for a spry old guy who can fly around the planet in one night, and squeeze down any chimney ever built… he was moving awful slow and he had a bandage on his face.

Now, I figured that he was just stumbling  around in my living room because he was bringing bad news…

But I received  this in my email  (anonymously no less), this morning…

Somebody’s gonna get coal in their stocking for YEARS!

And finally, I can actually say that I didn’t have anything to do with  it!

So, since I’m “Scott free” on this one…

(No relation to those “Clark, Roger or Scott” characters at

Stay tuned!

Because right after I hide this other can of peaches so that my kid doesn’t try to kill me with it… again…

Next time, we’re gonna start a three episode series on finding that “perfect place to call home”.

After all, those shipping containers you’re converting into an affordable home have to go SOMEWHERE, right?

See ya tomorrow!

A message from Santa about “Statistics”

25 Dec

After a Christmas Eve filled with rain, cold, and virgin eggnog…

I retired, to try and get a few hours sleep…

Okay, so I didn’t sleep with visions of “sugarplum colored containers” dancing in my head…

But…I got up this morning, and raced to the Christmas tree…

Only to remember that we didn’t have one. Oy.

But, there it was… stuck to the TV Set;

A note… addressed to me, held in place with a gooey peppermint candy cane (that looked suspiciously like it had been hurled up by a sick reindeer who’d been eating chili);

Dear Ronin;

This is Santa… that jolly fat guy with the beard that isn’t your “weird Uncle Ernie”. You know the one I mean… the uncle that lives at the penitentiary.

I just wanted you to know that Christmas is gonna be a little bit light, this year. You see, people are getting stranger by the minute!

I started off the year like I always do, “googling” each household, to find out “who’s been naughty and who’s been nice…” and quite frankly, it’s no wonder the dinosaurs disappeared. I suspect that one of them was a psychic, and figured out how people were gonna turn out, once they crawled out of the primordial ooze…

But, I know how you are about “statistics” so here’s the meat of the data;

I Googled “naughty or nice.”

The first result showed:

428,534,120 Good
428,523,119 Bad

I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I ran the numbers again. The second result showed:

428,534,118 Good
428,523,121 Bad

I know that, even for you, the indicators are clear;

I really can’t, in good faith, fuel up the reindeer (man, they love that mistletoe chili!) and head out into what’s left of the ozone, to  deliver presents, all the while knowing that it’s just a “crap shoot”, and I could make a big mistake.

C’mon, try and understand, some of you are just plain nuts!

I can barely afford the liability insurance! I’m not kidding!

Hey, I’m up to my “Ho-ho-ho” in litigation right now, what with the elves trying to “organize”.

It’s gotten so bad that I’ve had to spend the “toy money” to hire bodyguards!

To make matters worse, those PETA crackpots are giving me grief about “reindeer abuse”, and then there’s that ACLU nonsense about my trying to “restrict the rights of children to free expression and free thought” because of my theme song;

You better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not pout.
I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you are sleeping
He knows when you’re awake,
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness’ sake.

Like  I could actually control kids! If I could, I’d bottle it and then retire to Tahiti on the profits!

Anyway, it looks like Christmas is going to have to take one for the team, this year.

Sure… Maybe Joshua finally started behaving.

I mean, there hasn’t been a suspicious fire in Biloxi for a week now. I mean, it COULD happen… maybe… when pigs finally fly in formation over the White House dropping… um… er… “encouragement”  from the sky, onto the heads of those elected officials that are there to spread “tidings of good will throughout the land” in the first place….

So, in direct violation of the “new” work statutes those “nasty little unionized midgets” drafted and posted for all to see…

… I have enlisted the help of the some of the elves who remained loyal to me (and even the Mrs. who is just back from getting a much needed “lift and separate” surgery…  on her er… um… well, she’s back from the “spa”… with a rack bigger than Blitzen’s!)  to assist me in making sense of the numbers.

It’s turned out to be a daunting task, and much larger than we first envisioned. Unfortunately we missed the deadline this year, so I’m having to let this holiday season slide, like Joan River’s last facelift… We hope to have this finished up by 5pm on the 24th of December 2010, but there is a good possibility that it might take even longer.

You see, like an idiot, I bought some “bargain basement” HP computers with new Intel Processors (man, I’m gonna get those Ebay guys!)  and now… I’m stuck in a tech-support loop with a guy in Mumbai.

And the scanners I bought on sale on Ebay aren’t helping matters any. First, the shipping cost more than the danged computers! Don’t even get me started…  Next year those Ebay brats are gonna get a stocking full of rocks, let me tell you!

And the economy has drive the price of toys up into orbit! My operating budget graphs look like a rollercoaster diagram at Disneyland! (Hey, you try balancing a budget when every kid in the world wants a “Transformer” or an “Action Barbie with genuine gold plated high heels“…)

Anyway, it appears that the scanning software is having trouble reading the checkmarks the elves made (I guess I should make them cut back on the “spiced eggnog” during working hours… and now the blasted thing can’t read the datasheets.

Good, bad, um… whatever???

So now that you’ve awakened this Christmas morning and there are no presents under your tree (by the way, WHERE did you hide your tree?) at least you can tell Joshua this story.

Did you really think I was gonna tell him myself? Heavens no! I’ll have you do it. People already hate you, so you should be used to it!

And hey, Joshua is  young and he’ll probably forget this eventually, with the help of a good therapist.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in these trying times… or, like it or lump it, Buddy!



PS. One peep out of you and I swear you’ll be moved from the “whatever” list to the “naughty list” for the rest of your life! You aren’t the only one with a middle finger, Bub!

Christmas In the Container Homeland…

24 Dec

Okay, so it’s Christmas-time in our “Container Homeland…”

In light of the fact that the weather is horrid and I’m afraid to go outside with all the nuts running around trying to buy last minute presents…

And it grows closer to that time when Santa will load his sleigh, and fly from the North Pole to places “hither and yon…”

I look at the melees at Walmart and I’m reminded that people have forgotten that the really cool thing about Christmas (aside from the religious significance), is the attitude of the people trying to fool Santa into thinking that they’d  been good ALL year long…

So, I thought I’d take a moment to post  some of “Ronin’s Observations About the Holidays” to remind some of us what is really going on…

Stuff like this;

When caught up in the Christmas Madness and surrounded by crazed shoppers…

“Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.”

Remember Campers, H1N1 is everywhere.

I decided to buy a friend a book for Christmas. So, I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman behind the desk;

“Excuse me… Where’s the self-help section?”

She actually said:

“If I told you it would defeat the purpose.”

My neighbor says that the main reason Santa is so darned jolly is because he knows “where all the bad girls live”.


At that book store, I overheard another customer ask that same saleslady;

“Excuse me, Ma’am… I’m going to buy a Christmas present for my new girlfriend. What do you think she’d like?”

She replied;

“Does she like you?”

He answered:

“Well, yeah, I think so…”

And she said;

“Well, if she really likes you, apparently she’ll like anything.”

And I hope that I don’t make the same mistake I made last year;

In our house, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, so that Joshua doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on something fun.

Josh got a toy, and I bought my wife some expensive perfume… and I gave my brother-in-law a pistol I’d had for years.

And when I was wrapping them, I put a ‘flowery’ note in her present saying:

“Honey, I hope that you love this and that you’ll try it out on yourself sometime really soon…”

When she opened it up and read the note, she got a really weird look on her face, and then just gave me one of her;

“There’s a reason people are afraid of Indians, Paleface… ” look…

I had accidentally given her the pistol.

And last… I had to take a bus to another town to go shopping recently. How do Santa’s reindeer know to cross at that yellow “Deer Crossing” road sign?

More later. I have to fight off an old lady and her seven kids… to make sure that Joshua get’s this “Talking Elmo” Doll he’s been seeing on TV… Thank goodness I know Jew-Fu!  Oy!

And now… Enjoy the Movie… without further interruption;

Christmas in Container Home-land…

19 Dec

You know…

You can’t play with plasma cutters all day, every day. As much as I’d like to, sometimes I have to step back from the shipping container (soon to be a Container Home), put all the tools away, and just sit down to rest.

After all, I’m not getting any younger, especially not with a two year old terrorist living in my house, trying to kill me at every turn. 😉

So, we’re gonna take a break from the “Cult of the Corten Container Church” today… and talk about “the holidaze…”

For some reason, here at Container Home Central… people send us Christmas cards.

Now, I’m sure that they know we’re Jewish, because we have everything but a Menorah stenciled (in spray on snow) on our front window.

And aside from the suspicion that they’re still trying to recruit us into their own “special brand of religion” (just kidding…)

I’m starting to realize something about this “tradition;”

It appears that you Gentiles really need to spend a considerable amount of time and planning to insure that you’ve delivered “the maximum effect” for that Yuletide Greeting!

Stuff like timing, size and quality are evidently really, really important!

Well, here’s something… Even us Jews get caught up in this contest! But, you can’t do like I do, and rush to get everything taken care of, before the Thanksgiving Turkey has even hit room temperature! Noooooooo!

Why not?

Well, apparently… sending Christmas cards too early is not only ineffective…  it can be really humiliating!

It’s like giving the competition “early warning.” It reveals your “social position”, it reveals your resources (the size and quality of card), and it gives the enemy a chance to levy a devastating “counter-attack”.

And, if you’re late sending out that little piece of Christmas Cheer… a late Christmas card runs the risk of shaming the recipient into sending you a crappy one back, thus reducing your own incoming “quality card  Christmas Haul.”

So, it’s better to be early, but not TOO early.   Remember, you’re not trying be the starting gun… you’re trying to just set the pace, and compel your neighbors to think about that “perfect” card,  just for you and yours.

Why would you do this?

Well, if they’re in the card section at the store, you’re gonna have more time to yourself in the toy section, right? Hmmm?

Let’s face it, a kid without that “most desired of toys at Christmastime” can be a real downer…

Plus, it means that you’ll get a really good card in return… and in the end, it’s still all about you, right? I mean, you actually WANT people to see those incoming cards, and use them to determine your social status!

Especially the ones that fold out to form “pop-up” diorama’s and stuff!

Am I right? Huh? Admit it. It’s okay, We’re all adults here… mostly. 😉

And in spite of what they “say”… like everything else, SIZE MATTERS!

Important people (or at least people who are actually foolish enough to think they are important) send big, gawdy, intricate, life-sized or even sparkly, glittery, shiny… looking Christmas cards.

Why do they do this?

It’s easy. They do it to assert their “largess” and make you feel small in comparison. It’s okay to acknowledge it.

They just know the rules of the game, that’s all…

They want you to know that they’re the “big dawgs”…

Having their card on your mantel makes them the “big dawgs” in YOUR house too! It’s an invasion, I tell you! 😉

Now, if you want entry into this “club”, it’s gonna cost you, but supposedly it’s usually worth it.

And don’t forget that there is a time and place for everything, including those “cheap and dirty”  Christmas cards.

You know the ones I’m talking about… the ones that are “4 for a buck” at the dollar store. You can tell these from the rest because the ink smears when you touch them, the envelopes are the wrong color,  and they smell like Santa’s butt (after he’s sat in that sleigh for 250,000 miles in a row)…

These are the “real cards.”  This is the “meat and potatoes” of Christmas Cheer. They’re the ones that insure your “prey” that you’re “in the game” completely!   Just using them insures that you send this message to the recipient:

“This card totally embodies my feeling about your family during this festive Yule… and yes, it eagerly implies bad taste, poverty or blatant disrespect to you and your seventeen idiot children who leave their toys in my driveway.”  😉

PS. I want off your Christmas card list.

I love these cards! These are particularly effective for ending pointless long term Christmas card exchanges with those people you met in 1984 at a rest stop outside the Ozarks, whom you can’t even put a face to, any longer.

And, here’s a “Christmas card rule to live by”;

Avoid the urge to do a “drive-by” Christmas Card.

You know… That “first-time” Christmas card sent on impulse to that guy or girl you just met on the Internet, or at work. These cards can have devastating consequences.

Some of those cards will send an “unintended invitation” to show up on your front porch, completely unannounced, with six other losers that you don’t even know…  to drink all your “Christmas Cheer” and eat all your fancy shortbread Santa Claus cookies.

You know, the ones that come in those  cool little tins! Nothing is more fun than sitting on the couch biting the head off Santa, while the kid tears through the house with his toy trucks! Vroom vrooooooom!

Merry Christmas!

FYI: Ma is keepin ’em busy, while I weld the doors shut on their Lexus… Let ’em stand in the rain until the tow-truck gets here… That’ll teach ’em… the “door-crashin’ knuckleheads!”

And… Yes, it’s “satire.” I’m just kidding.

I’m not really a cruel, heartless, mean-spirited Grinch of a  miscreant…

Wait, yes I am!  It says so right here – in this card I got from my mother-in-law.

Never mind… 🙂

Note: I can’t take “complete” credit for this post – it’s my own “parody” of a post I read a while back… I only wish I could remember where it was, so I could credit THAT author, too!
“If it be YOU”… contact me, okay?

Go to your ROOM!… Um… Corten Cubicle!

30 Oct


I know…I know…  I’m gaining a reputation as a “Corten Crazy…”

I’m building a home for my family (if it kills me), by using Shipping containers as the core. I’m doing it for a lot of reasons, and I’ve talked about them all here, over the last couple of hundred posts.

As I continue down my ISBU laden path…

I’m experimenting with boxes that are being cut up into smaller boxes. Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes these boxes get their butts handed to them, and when they do, they go to a shipping container graveyard. And I just happen  to have the keys to one, and a plasma cutter…

I’ve been talking about this, on the blog.

Recently, a family in Louisiana contacted me, to see if I knew of any solutions for “storm overcrowding.”

After reading about our “tree-house project” , they wanted to do something similar, and build a pair of small modules to be used for “EGQ“.

Now, when I first read that, I wondered what EGO had to do with it, until I re-read it.

Then… I thought they were just talking about building something that would be cool enough to grant them “bragging rights” (or possibly house some “top secret military project”), but they were actually talking about;

EMERGENCY Guest Quarters.

They really needed a place… so if the relatives flocked to their house during a weather event, these boxes would be waiting, and they’d have a safe place to put up their kinfolk.

Yes, Virginia, there are actually some kinfolk that you don’t let in the house. In the yard… maybe. In the house? Nope. 🙂

Now… in MY family, you’d never get INTO one of these boxes in the first place… for fear that someone would slap a padlock on it, and ship your sorry butt  to China! 🙂

Hey, if I lived in Louisiana, and my kinfolk showed up unannounced, that’s exactly what I’d do…

I’d have  a “kinfolk Cattledrive”… herd them into those boxes, lock ’em up tighter than Fort Knox, and then ship ’em off to “points unknown…” But, that’s just me. 😉

Anyway, the folks in Louisiana knew that we were cutting up High Cube containers, to make smaller boxes.

Surely, being “hurricane victims” ourselves… we could come up with a solution to their dilemma.

So, plasma cutter in hand… I started cutting, with the idea that I’d turn ONE 40′ box, into FIVE 8′ boxes.

Okay, there are some things that have to happen immediately here.

As you cut these boxes up, you have to support the “cut” end. We do that, by bracing them up in the first place, and then welding “columns” into them, between the floor and the ceiling frames, after they’ve been dissected.

Granted, you need some extra steel, to replace the framing that you’re eliminating. Where does this steel framing material come from? Well, in our case… Garbaged containers… where else?

Each frame connection is actually “sleeved”. It makes for a stronger connection, in case we decided to stack these boxes back up. It’s not that much more work, so why take chances?

Then, you weld in crossmembers. It’s easy. Now you have a steel box with a steel frame at each end, AND steel framed sides. Congrats! You just delivered a “baby box!” Okay, it weighs about a thousand pounds… so don’t try to carry it. 🙂

A High Cube container is 9’6″ tall. So, has a 8’9″ ceiling inside (on average, all containers are NOT alike).

But, if you lay it on it’s side, now you have an almost 9′ width to work with.

If you insulate that box on the outside…  you have a little steel cocoon to hide from the weather in…

Like I was saying… years ago, we built a small hunting/fishing encampment up in the mountains, using this same kind of idea.

We built several insulated (it was a LONG time ago, so we used firring strips, fiberglass batts and old reclaimed siding…) “sleeping modules” that had 2 burner hotplates, a double sink and a dorm (under-counter) refrigerator.

In-Law_CellCozy, secure and big enough for that long winter’s nap! 🙂

A small closet was included, and most of the storage came from 9″ deep cabinets we fabbed to hang on the walls, floor to ceiling.

A Mexican wedding hammock that we stretched out, was mounted to the top of the ceiling, to give us about a foot more more “hanging” storage.

We’d forgotten to tell the guy who owned the pair of hammocks that we were using them, but… oh well… 🙂

We built a U-Shaped bench that filled one end of the container. A table fit into the center, that would raise or lower, depending on function.

Anybody who has ever been in an RV has seen convertible dinettes that turn into a bed. Well, that’s what we did.

We made three big thick foam pads to cover the platform we’d just built. Then, we made three more bolsters to line the walls around that bed/sofa platform.

The three bolsters equaled the depth of the bed platform, to form an additional layer of foam. The back one had a hinge in it, to allow a part of it to be folded over to form a big pillow/headrest.

Yes, we made a foam pad the size of the table. It’s stored under the bed.

I bet you’re wondering why we made so many pads… Well, we got the foam for free, but it was really too thin. So, we figured that if we doubled it up, it would make enough for a suitable mattress.

It was actually an evil plot hatched by the fabric store we got it at. That lady knew that if we were going to build sleeping platforms  and use that “free foam” to do it, it’d have to be doubled to actually work… so… we’d have to buy twice as much fabric to cover it with!

There are words about women like that… but I’m trying to cut down on my swearing… 🙂

Anyway, the whole thing ended up being about the size of a queen sized bed.

Under the platform, you had all kinds of storage room.

Probably even enough to stuff that old lady into. But, we could never get her to come out into the woods to visit us… 🙂

In sofa mode, you could sit several people easily, and above your head were cabinets and bookcases that covered the walls. We punched in a few salvaged windows in, to complete the package.

Each unit had two windows, and two doors.

In between these sleeping boxes, we sandwiched a bathroom module, that had a sink, a toilet, ample storage and a 4′  diameter “soaking tub/shower”.

The tub was the product of a few years living in Japan, where they actually bathe in special tubs, called “Ofuro”. In our case, it was essentially a big half barrel that you climbed down into. We found several of them in Napa Valley on a wine buying spree, and we decided they needed a good home.   Also included was a solar assisted – wood-fired hot water heater (carefully boxed and insulated OUTSIDE the module), and all the necessary plumbing to get water in and out of the sinks in the sleeping modules.

We wrapped copper tubing around a barrel that we turned into a firebox. Water circulated thru the tubing and got warmed up. The whole thing sat a couple of feet from the back of the bath box, so you had to reach thru a sleeve of steel ductwork (by opening a steel door) to stoke the firebox, in order to aid the hot water production, from inside the bathroom.

It was “hokey,” but it worked really well.

And, we only got burned… um… sometimes! Okay, it wasn’t “kid-proof.” But, that firebox put out enough heat to actually heat up all three modules if you left the bathroom doors open.

And, if you opened the firebox door, you could read by the light of the fire, while you were… um… otherwise engaged in the bathroom… 🙂

Now, the idea was to allow the boxes to get disconnected and moved around. Hence, only the center “bath section” really had any guts…

It’s ability to be relocated wasn’t an act of “coolness”.  It wasn’t because we were particularly “Nomadic”. It was because the whole thing was built without building permits! 🙂

On the roof of the bath module was a solar hot water system that more than provided enough hot water for the pair of modules. We used a pump to get the water up to a holding tank on the roof (it was actually an enclosed Army water bladder) and then gravity did the rest.

Now, we were up by a river so we did a little bit of “MacGiver Hydro-power”, into truck batteries.

A boat dock plus a very small hydro electric generator… equals power. All we needed, in fact… and then some…

Voila!… “Instant fish camp”.

We scattered a few of these all long the riverbank of the property, and soon the vegetation pretty much concealed them from view.

Decks built outside the front door made it easy to go outside and commune with nature, and they were quite comfortable, all things considered.

The whole thing measured about 9.5′ x 24′, and it stood about 12′ tall, after we put a pitched roof on most of it, to shed snow. That pitched roof also gained us some attic space over each module.

I say “most” of it, because some idiot decided that it would be cool to use a part of it as a terrace deck. So, when it snowed like hell, somebody would have to climb up there and clear that section off, before the snow got too thick. Not a good plan…

BTW: I’m sorry to have to admit that the “idiot” was me. Hey, I thought it’d be cool. In the summer, we could get up there and watch girls in bathing suits (and sometimes even less) go by…

And in winter… it was… about 20 degrees “cool” and knee deep in snow. Brrrr!

Oh well, live and learn… 🙂

At least we were smart enough to get small electric heaters for each unit that ran off a generator.

Back to the guts of this post.

I’m going to toy with the idea of building a series of “In-Law” lodges, that are essentially just “bedrooms.” You’d be able to just set one in your backyard, on cinder blocks, like a utility shed. Run a hose and an extension cord to it, and you’d have a place to sleep, away from everyone else.

The idea is to use the same concept as the “Fish Camp”.

  • Cut up a 40′ High Cube Container. Put the pieces on their sides in order to get more square footage.
  • Build in furniture and fixtures to allow them to be used for extended periods of time, as temporary dwellings.
  • Make them efficient (and even cozy) but not so cozy as to make you want to overstay your welcome!
  • Use solar and maybe even photovoltaic panels, if possible.

They’ll all utilize an existing bathroom. You’ll just have to knock on the back door first, and hope that someone’s awake to let you into the house!

The budget is $5,000.00 each.

Wanna bet it’ll turn out cool?

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You…

30 Sep

Greetings, you “Corten Crazies,” you!

Joshua-23mosSeveral of you have emailed me lately, asking me what my son  Joshua wants for his Birthday.

We’re happy to report that on October the 12th, our son, and “Future Emperor of the Universe”… will turn two years old… and that both of his parents have survived it thus far!

As my family struggles to get Char through Chemotherapy and Radiation treatment, all the while trying to get a shipping container home built so that she and Joshua will be safe…

We’re stretched pretty thin and Joshua’s birthday isn’t going to all it could be.  In fact, we had to scramble to keep the power turned on this month, due to a conflict we’re having with the power company.

Last month, our power bill DOUBLED. (It was outrageous to begin with. I mean, we live in a tiny 2 room apartment.)  The billing period that I’m talking abut was the one where Char headed straight to Intensive Care, “Do Not Pass GO!”, after the Chemotherapy tried to kill her. In fact, she went back and forth a few times. As a result, we were out of house for quite a few days… And, as a result, we were gone for part of that time, while Char was in the hospital. And, everything was turned off, except the refrigerator. So, by using common sense, you’d think that the power bill would be less… and it should have DROPPED.  But, it zoomed up into “nosebleed” amounts.
I did what anyone would do. I had a coronary on the spot… Wait, that’s not it… I called up the power jerks, to try and figure out what the hell went wrong. I mean, it’s not possible for us to have used an extra $150 worth of juice, when we weren’t even home part of that time.
And while they were very polite, they informed me that they’d be happy to come out and run diagnostics on the meter, for $45, plus the service charge. So, they want ME to pay them to check a meter that THEY own, that is probably going nuts due to all the lightning and heavy weather we’ve been having lately. That, and just plain old age. This is by far the most miserly utility company I’ve ever seen…

This doesn’t make any sense to me, at all. It’s not even MY meter. Why should I have to pay to have them check their own property? Especially when the bills seem to confirm the reason that I’m contesting the bill in the first place?

In the meantime, I’m on the hook for the bill, and there’s a late fee if I don’t pay on time. Oh yeah, they finally told me all of this several “go-rounds”, and then after the bill I disputed had become “late and disconnectable.” I know $300 doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re living from paycheck to paycheck and paying for medical treatment and medications out of that… it adds up quick.
Needless to say, the “Birthday Bucks” we were trying so desperately to save (literally saved… $10-20 a month) for Joshua’s birthday is mostly gone now, thanks to those Mississippi Power jerks.
So, Joshua’s not gonna get the birthday that we’d hoped for…

Back to the gist of the post…

While it’s hard to tell sometimes, he DOES like to read.

Rather, he get’s his hands on my “trades magazines” and then he flips through the pages… and then he turns them into confetti. It makes my wife crazy. It’s starting to look like we have a fifty pound hamster living with us! There’s paper shredded all over the house!

And he giggles like a demented mental patient while he does it. It’s really quite disturbing!

But, it does indicate that he likes books. But, we’re being rather selective in choosing his reading materials. For instance, have you ever really paid attention to the “goings on” in that age old classic; “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”?

  • Kids getting baked in ovens by mean old ladies? I mean, all they did was EAT HER HOUSE!
  • Trolls under bridges trying to kill you, just for trying to walk home? I used to walk 20 miles uphill, to school, in the snow… both ways! A troll’s gotta make a living, too!
  • Girls kidnapped and hidden away in tall towers, who get their hair ripped out while trying to escape? Um… er… never mind.
  • Girls in red cloaks getting eaten by wolves? Hey, that red cloak was only supposed to protect her against hunters!

Man, that stuff will give a kid nightmares!

We’re opting for books a little less “trauma inducing”.

But, not these books;


book6Not this one either!

book13Definitely not!

book7Um… No.

And last, but not least…


Oh, man…

Wait…. Now that you mention it…

I’m thinking he doesn’t want books at all. Maybe a cool rocking horse, or some blocks, or even some Hot Wheels…

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance Ronin

Welcome to ‘My Shipping Container’ Farm!

21 Sep

“In the Beginning, Gawd created an idiot… named Alex…”

At least, that’s what my wife says……

Hey, if you’ve been hanging around, you already know the drill…

I’m the guy in Mississippi trying to use recycled and re-purposed stuff to build a home for my family, after a hurricane ate my old one.

And just like thousands of families on the Gulf coast, we’re still not back in a house.

Now my build is a bit complicated, for four reasons.

First – Because the insurance company turned out to be greedy @ssholes who don’t want to pay off claims, “we’re stuck like Chuck”.  So, we’re in a pool of over 2,000 families waiting for the resolution of a class action lawsuit.  The lawyers say it could take years…

Second – The Planning and Zoning Nazis in this neck of the woods see ISBU container homes as a blight on the landscape, and they don’t want them anywhere near their neighborhoods. So it’s a fight, from the very beginning, to the bitter end.

Third – We have to pay as we go, because there isn’t any “formal” build money. Walk into a bank and then tell them you want a loan to turn steel shipping boxes into a house. They’ll treat you like you’re a stand-up comedian… Oy.

Fourth – My wife has a disease that is killing her, and we’re racing against the clock against the cancer.

In the meantime, we’re still without a home of our own.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that my wife has cancer, and she’s having a rough go of it. And, we now have a healthy almost 2 year old son (October 12th), who was “the chocolate icing on a horrible ‘crap’ cake…


Where did the time go? Where did my hair go? Where? Ah… never mind…

You see, we found out that she was very ill, the same day we found out she was pregnant.

My wife is a trooper. In fact, my wife is the “General Patton” of wives. She elected to risk her life to carry our son.  She knew that the treatment she needed to go after the cancer, would kill him. She knew that waiting for the treatment would probably kill her. But, she waited until after Joshua was born, to start treatment. A life, for a life.

By then, the disease had taken a firm foothold, and now we’re fighting it with everything we have.

I’m not going to kid you… It’s real hard, and we pray it will turn out okay, but we’re doing the best that we can. Facing and fighting cancer without medical insurance is a real bitch. Massive layoffs after the storm, and then again after the economy tried to commit Hara Kiri (Seppuku)…


… put a lot of us in dire straits… it’s a big boat, so grab an oar, huh?

(And for those who are wondering… No, you can’t get Medicaid in Mississippi, if you make more than $500 a month. We tried, until the frustration nearly drove us mad. You CAN get “near death – indigent care” treatment, but the quality of this care is pathetic.)

And, so… as we fight this… we still need a home. She DESERVES a home. I OWE her a home. G_d knows she’s earned it…

Time out… Just amuse yourself while I go take a pill… okay?

Okay, now that my blood pressure is going back down to something that resembles “normal”….

Our home goals aren’t “lofty”. They start the same place as yours probably did;  It all starts with a safe place to sleep and enough room to store all of your crap… 🙂

Many people have asked me how I’m going to fabricate containers for an ISBU home, without having to have two homes at the same time. Many of your know that I’m pretty much home 24/7, as I need to be close enough to help out at home. I’m also the full-time care “nurse and chief cook/bottle washer. So, I need to be “steps away.”

It only complicated things further, because… on top of that, it’s hard enough making ends meet, with chemo and radiation and medications, and all the damned diapers…

Diapers… My kid goes thru a diaper an hour… or so it seems… He’s almost ready for potty-training…

Thank G_d! 🙂

So, like I was saying, we need to find a way to cut costs, so that all of our resources are headed at this build. But how do you do that?

Well… like the old saying goes; ‘The sky’s the limit!’

Remember those aircraft hangars that we took down?

A while back, I told you about a federal program that allowed for the removal of Aircraft Hangars from specific airports around the country, so that “proper” brick and mortar boxes could be rebuilt (according to the FAA and Homeland Security). After miles of paperwork, you “won” the right to find contractors with the right credentials, and you couldn’t resale the buildings, after you took them down.

And… No “Scrapping for cash… buddy!” like it’d be worth it. ‘Cash for Clunkers’ has provided all the scrap steel anybody could need, for a while, at the expense of taxpayers, again… Don’t even get me started!:(


Now, the powers that be thought that some terrorist might try to blow up a bunch of airplanes, or perhaps hijack a small plane to use as a fuel filled missile, or whatever…

I’m not sure I buy it, because you don’t store a “fully fueled” airplane in a hangar. You fuel it on the tarmac, before you take off… usually. And, a typical small aircraft won’t haul enough fuel or payload, to make it a “formidable weapon” in the hands of bad guys.

But, whatever… if they want to give away hangars, I’m taking one… or maybe even three…

And, that’s exactly what I did.

One of the hangars was 80′ x 120′ x 40′. It was actually (2) 80′ x 60′ hangar structures, connected back to back. And it had 30′ walls, and a gabled roof.

Recently, an ISBU experiment I’m participating in made me start re-thinking about HOW you build shelter.

And that started me to thinking…

Rather than just cannibalizing the big ugly boxes for ‘steel and siding’, what if you put one back up to store all your junk in, and then… you found a way to carve out a place inside it, to sleep… huh? A box in a box that rocks!

It could work. But how?

The hardest part about having an aircraft hangar on your property is this;


“It’s the elephant in the yard.”

After all, it’s huge, it looks like it belongs somewhere else, and it sticks out like a ‘sore thumb.’

But, what if you put a wrap-around porch on it? Now… it’s starting to look like something else, eh?

Barns are big, but nobody has a fit when they see them… Especially around here.

So, we just build a “barn”.

No! I ain’t painting it RED. Nuh-uh!

Barns have big doors. Gotta get a tractor in there somehow, right?

Hangars have huge doors in them, too… to let planes in.  And, they frame those doors with big internal trusses.

Now, a “regular” aircraft hangar door wouldn’t bear the additional weight of a porch… but if you added internal framing and bracing to it, and then increased the hydraulic lift capacity, by, say…

… using larger rehabbed cylinders from an industrial scrapyard, it sure would.

Aircraft hangar doors use a small truss inside them, to keep the door rigid. That truss only has to carry the siding, basically. But, I’d need a much bigger “door truss” system in order to carry the weight of a roof, a deck and the porch railing.

But, it’s not THAT much weight… a pair of 4′ trusses would do it, easy.

I’m not the first guy to think about this. In fact, I know of a guy in Florida who did exactly what I’m talking about, he just went “store-bought.”

And you know me… I’m a cheap bastard who would rather “do-it-myself… or do without.”

No “Jew” jokes… I’m watchin you!

And turn your speaker volume down, the soundtrack is terrible! 🙂

And, I just happen to have (8) rehabbed tractor cylinders. Barter is a beautiful thing.

So, I’m thinking to myself;

“Self..” I says… “If I build a box that’s 80′ x 80′ by 40′ tall (30′ at the East/West ends)… I have a fab shop. And, if I build a balcony into that ‘fab shop’, that’s 24 feet deep (3 containers), way in the back… I have a 24′ x 80′ loft, one that’s got a pretty high ceiling if I cut the tops out of the containers.”

And, I would, too. The hangar I’m thinking of rebuilding has a gabled ceiling, that starts at 30′, and goes up another 10′. I’d build my loft up in the air almost 20′.

Why so high?

Well… A High Cube shipping container, sitting on the ground, is 9’6″ tall.

And I’ve gotta get both under it and on top of it. The containers will set on roller frames, that hold it up the same height as a tractor trailer flatbed. That way, I can just winch it off the flatbed onto my fab frame and then… winch it back onto the flatbed, when it’s time to move it to the site.

The roller frames are just really “dummy tractor trailer flatbeds”, basically. That gives you about 50″ underneath to punch holes, weld flanges, and just generally make a mess.

It’s not that complicated, if you think about it. The roller frames are just big steel frames made out of scrap I-Beams, with “casters” on them, to let them get pulled around, if necessary. Along the rails, there are several rollers, that will allow the container to by pulled on and off.  Remember, they don’t have to be monsters, as a 40′ Shipping Container isn’t that heavy, even after you add an interior to it.

Now, we have several hangar doors, so we’ll cut them down to fit our needs… We’d gonna put one “monster” door in “the front”, and we’d mount (2) in the back. The rear ones will measure approximately 25′ across and they’ll be 15′ high.


Jeez, you ask a lot of questions! Well, since you asked…

We need to get those containers back out, once they’re ready to move… “slide in –  slide out…”

Now, a bay 80′ wide by almost 60′ deep gives me the space to work on (4) containers at a time. Easy.

And, after all… I’m the “Corten Commando”, I is! Here’s how we’ll do it;

Recently, we came across a “container graveyard” where “old  and damaged containers go to die”. Upon inspection (actually, we’re still going thru them), we discovered that many of these containers were still usable, if you just cut off the “nasty bits.” In fact, we’re building a “small village” out of several of these segments, as an “experiment.”

So, I earmarked several containers, for cannibalization. We’ll cut them off at 24′. Take (6) of those 24′ segments, and then stack them (2) high, as one “8′ x 24′ x 19′ assembly” on each side of the hangar, all the way in the back.  Now take that last stacked segment, and place it all the way back, dead center.

Now you have a 24′ deep “base” for (2) rows of (3) High Cube containers. And, you have (2) 28′ wide corridors under it, to allow you to move stuff in and out of the hangar.

Are you getting this?

You just built a 24′ x 80′ x 9.5′ “residential space”, 19 feet up off the ground.

Plus, you get to use all that “stacked area” for storage, small offices/bathrooms, and “what not.” All welded together, it’s solid steel. Wind isn’t going to bother it all that much. It’ll shed rain like a Himalayan cat sheds hair. Flood waters? Hello! I’m 19′ up in the air. I spit at flood water! Fire? Last time I checked, you gotta play with a lot of matches, to get a steel building to burn down…

And, it’s shipping containers!

I’m staying within my theme of “Build it fast, build it to last!”

Okay, now I have a “building box” that has room to burn, and a 1,920 square foot loft space, that is easily turned into a small residence.

It’s “the Hangar Home from Hell…” I tell ya!

I have a place to live while I build my boxes out, and I don’t have to worry about the weather, unless it’s a hurricane. And, I suspect that I’m not going to be building in this part of Mississippi. I have a few irons in the fire and the first good one that heats up… well, let’s just say I’m itching to pack. It might even be out-of-state. We’ll see…

Sure, the hangar itself will require a bit of insulation to make it ‘livable.’

The reinforced concrete slab… miles and miles of it… will need to be insulated to at least r11, on the interior. The perimeter slab gets nada…

The Hangar walls and ceiling?

That’s what spray-on closed cell foam is for! An inch of closed cell foam will get you an R value of about 7. Most residential building codes call for r values of 26-30 in the ceiling, and at least 13 in the walls. So, figure on about 5 inches in the ceiling, and at least 2 inches in the walls. And yes, more is better.

And remember, kids… Closed cell foam is a extremely rigid. The foam cells are closed to each other. That’s why they call it “closed cell.” This property makes it a very good vapor and water barrier.  So, no leaks!  And, it doesn’t eat up a lot of your cavity space, either! It doesn’t expand as much as open cell foam so it can be applied a lot flatter and you only need half as much.

Plus, just to keep the Planning and Zoning Nazi’s at bay…

Closed cell foam does indeed meet building code requirements as a vapor barrier. It also does double-duty as a water and air seal.


You know how much I love SIPs, but can you imagine what the materials would cost, to put Structural Insulated Panels on THAT roof? Oy Vey! I’d have to sell my kid…

I could cut back on the insulation in the shop area, but why? I gotta work in there! Besides, there’s a method to my madness…

The residential section needs windows, right? Could you achieve decent window glazing surface areas to meet code? You’re gonna need at least 20-25%. Yep! Easy. That’s why we pushed it all the way back. You have three exterior walls right there to punch thru!

Plus, the internal “container castle?” It’s inside an insulated and roofed box, already!

See? Told ya…  Say it with me; “A method to the madness…”

All I need to do is “isolate the residential bits” to cut down on the shop noise driving the inhabitants crazy. After all, Mom needs her sleep, and if she get’s woke up… well lets just say it ain’t pretty… Using the term “grumpy” ain’t even close!  I’d rather dance with a Grizzly Bear!

Am I worried about interrupting Joshua’s sleep? Nope.

Know why? It’s because he never sleeps. I love him to death, but the damned kid is almost two years old, and he’s never once slept thru the night. Not once! He sleeps for three to four hours, and then, he’s up and going 400 miles an hour. Doctor says he has a “high metabolism.”

So, anyway… I’ll just close off  the ISBU roof section, and insulate the inside wall, floor to ceiling. I will put in a window or two so you can look from the house to the hangar build shop.  I’ll just need to be careful about where they get placed. After all, windows have an r value of about 12, if you’re lucky. Do they slow down “sound”? Maybe. Will they stop the sound of a grinder? Never!

On that inside wall… Again, spray-on closed cell foam is a wonderful thing. We’ll use about 3 more inches. I want to not only keep the space warm, I want to quiet it down.

Plus, now I have an insulated attic space, or even a small “second floor” for the residence…

Underneath the residential section, more closed cell foam. A few inches, please… No need for a “cold butt”, huh?

I’m thinking that we do a pretty simple floor plan, a trio of bedrooms (two on one side, and the Master on the other), two full baths, a kitchen and a great room configuration that incorporates a dining room, and a family room. This is a good sized space, you could even cut it in half. I don’t need any structural walls, so it’s all partitions. We could start out in one huge “loft-like” room, with a couple of bathrooms punched into it. Then, along the way, we could finish it out, by installing wall segments. In the meantime, we’d be high, dry, and safe.

See? It’s easy.

And, after we get the containers below it ready to set, we just walk them across the yard!

It would give us time to build them out at our leisure, and then assemble them next spring. Because each level of the house is container based, we’d always have a roof overhead. So, we could even add one level at a time, until we reach our goal.


Yeah, I know that it would require a few visits by “the crane man…” to do it that way. Oy! Crane’s are expensive!

Or, we could just move them out of the hangar as they get finished (to be stockpiled/stored behind it) until we have all the “assemblies” finished. Sure, we’d have to close up any openings, but hey, that’s what plywood is for!

When we get the main house finished (hell, it could take a few seasons), we just use the “hangar house” as a guest house and the shop becomes a big garage.

Or, better yet… we could even use the set-up to fab more containers for someone else’s house! Split that upper residential section in two, and you could have “worker housing!”

That huge roof would also allow you to mount enough solar and photovoltaic panels to power most of Mississippi. So, I’d have ample power.  I need panels for the radiant in-floor heat system, too! No problem! That roof is so big, you can probably see it from space!

(Okay, not really, but it WOULD be huge!)

And, I do love SSMR (Standing Seam Metal Roofing)! So, the roof would go on, fast, fast, fast!

I could even carve out an “upper deck”, to use some of that roof space above the container housing section. Maybe put in a greenhouse and a small garden!

You could launch a water balloon at the neighbors for miles, up there! 🙂

I’m giving this some serious thought. In fact, I may just go down to the local planning and zoning office and spring it on ’em.


Well, to be honest… it’s because I love to make them turn blue! It’s funny as hell watching their neck veins quiver like that! Sure, it’s evil. But hey… I gotta be true to my nature… huh? 😉

Now, all I need is about $19,000 for concrete…

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance RoninExciting, huh? Wake up! The post is over! Go home! 🙂

Addendum: October 14, 2009: I heard from Joe today… the owner of the “Florida Hangar House” that I showed you in this post. He has more photos of his build, and they are available, HERE.

Take a look!