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Sometimes the Cavalry never comes…

27 Oct

Welcome back!

Now, before you start thinking; “Oh Man… that Ronin is on a tear again…” I’m going to ask you for a few minutes of your time, to read this post. I know how valuable your time is. I’m asking, because this is important.

Look, I know it sounds like I’m trying to become a “Political Activist…”

But that’s really not the case at all. Truly.

We’re living in a time… in an economy… that has changed the way “We the People” must do things, in order to insure that our families survive.

Congress isn’t going to save us. They talk… and they spend… but somehow, they manage to miss the mark on almost every target they supposedly focus their attention on. In fact, some would say that they are only making things worse.

That’s why I’ve brought forward some of my views on what’s happening in America, as I discuss the creation of alternatives to traditional housing…

Good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t have time to wait for the outcome… to determine who was “right or wrong.” My family needs help NOW.

Congress is completely insulated from the conditions that most of us are suffering from on a daily basis.

From their “Hallowed Sanctuary on the Hill” they make decisions with impunity, that affect each and every one of us, without EVER being subject to the circumstances they create. Remember, they’re wealthy, protected, and isolated for the most part, from the constituents who elected them.

It can’t be “just me.” I’ve already proven, for almost 200 articles/posts on this blog alone… that I’m not “all by myself” in this thought process.

If you’re reading this blog, I have to think that you are looking for answers, too. I don’t WANT you to feel like you’re alone in this.

In part, it’s why I have that Counter up there. It’s not “vanity.”

If it was vanity, I would have admitted defeat and quit, long ago. I know of many, many blogs that get that many views in a single day.

I want you to see that there are thousands of us, thinking in the same mind. This blog gets hundreds of views daily, from people just like you and I, from all over America and beyond… who are looking for a way to provide both ourselves and our families with safe, affordable homes, at a time in America’s history where they just don’t exist for most of us…

In the meantime, winter is coming, and we MUST house our families safely. My family cannot survive without a roof over it’s head. And neither can yours.

I’m bringing forward some of my “politics” so that you can see that it’s going to require a different way of thinking, a different course of action, to achieve our goals.

Because, Virginia… Sometime the Cavalry never comes.

I’m recycling, reclaiming, and even BEGGING for material (sometimes “on my knees”) because my family’s SURVIVAL is at stake.

I’m asking you to get involved.

If I’ve helped you, informed you, educated you, or just entertained you… consider donating a few bucks to the blog, to help us survive and build. Our family needs a home. Our situation is dire. And yes, I’m begging…

I’m not going to waste bandwidth plastering pictures up of my wife in her sickbed… or my little 2 year old son. I’ve written about the circumstances here, already. And… if  you’ve been reading the blog, you already know how cute he is. He’s our source of JOY.

The reason I try to keep this blog “humorous and light” is because if I can’t find something to laugh about, I’ll start crying. It’s my requirement for the ability to actually stop crying, that scares me…

If you’re building something, and you have scrap lumber or materials left over, find someone who needs them, and help THEM.

I talk about how we are helping other families build their homes. It’s not because I’m rich, or even because I can afford to… because frankly, I just can’t. It’s because I HAVE to, because I know what it feels like to live in fear. I cannot, will not let another family fail, because I stood idly by.

We don’t live in a housing tract, or even in a house. We live in a two room hovel, in a place where Landlord/Tenant law is devised to protect the property owners (because THEY pay taxes). We don’t drive an SUV or a big sedan… in fact, we don’t drive at all. The cars were sold long ago, to insure that my wife got the medical care she needed to survive. We don’t have a satellite dish, a widescreen TV, or even an iPod. We live – day to day.

My dreams aren’t about far off destinations or the next holiday. They are about whether or not we’ll be safe, the next day. I don’t have control over anything else. All I can do is try as hard as I can to influence the next 24 hours.

In fact, they aren’t even dreams, they’re nightmares.

“We’re” everywhere.

You probably know someone in your neighborhood, in your inner circle… who is going through what we’re going through.

If you’re talking to someone who needs help, even if it’s just understanding something, help THEM.

Even if it’s just to offer some kindness, do it. Strife and crisis isolates people, and they start feeling alone. That leads to feeling “lost…” a feeling I’m intimately acquainted with. FEAR is a wicked mistress…

Every single small step you take will lead toward helping a family.

And that will make all of us stronger.

And if you pray at night, please pray for us. We’re in “trouble deep,” and the water isn’t getting any shallower…

Ronin

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;

book1Nuh-uh!

book6Not this one either!

book13Definitely not!

book7Um… No.

And last, but not least…

book12

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

Making GREEN with “Green.”

25 Jun

Okay…

So you probably know that my family is building a house out of shipping containers, and other assorted cast-offs, because a hurricane ate our old one.

And… as you probably know, the local Planning and Zoning Nazis are giving us hell, because “we jist ain’t right…” 🙂

You probably also know by now that “Old Ronin” can be a “Sumbitch” at times… so here’s what I plan to spring on ’em at the next planning and zoning hearing…

First, we all know how important “green” is.

And, if you’ve been following along, for lo these many months, you’ve probably figured out that Ronin is a drinker. And, you gotta do something with all those bottles that you have to haul out to the curb every Tuesday and Friday.

Now, it’s not like I really need “the sauce,” it’s just that coming from California, and seeing how the State is almost bankrupt, I wanted to insure that the guys and gals in Napa Valley don’t go broke, and have to sell their wineries. So… after paying the alcohol tax on them (to keep Arnold from having a seizure! Pay Attention! Sheesh! Okay, I’ll type s-l-o-w-l-y so you can keep up!), and emptying them the good old fashioned way (a wine goblet in each hand)…:)

I decided that I’d use them to build walls in my house, the one that I’m building out of  ISBU shipping containers. It seems only fitting, as they probably got here in a container, in the first place. Plus, I was getting a hernia carrying them to the curb. And, boy, does it make my wife mad!

“Ronin, get those bottles outta the house! NOW!”

“Sorry hon… Can’t do it. Construction material, don’t ya know…” 😉

Glasscape

Pretty cool, huh?

Glasscape2And free…. except for the “emptying them” part…

Glasscape3Only 1,472 more to go, and I’ll have a den! (And a liver the size of Montana…) 🙂

Actually, Ronin don’t drink “that” much… It don’t mix well with my med’s. I’m loopy enough, without “mixing poisons” and then running amok in the neighborhood!

Speaking of pills…

Between “Daddy’s Crazy Pills,” and Momma’s “Boy, is I sick” meds, we have a ton of those little tiny pill bottles scattered all over the house. Now as soon as we empty them, we rinse them out real good, because frankly, I don’t want my kid addicted to “Demerol Dust” any time soon. 🙂

But, I was watching my kid stack them up like building blocks, and then suddenly it hit me. Right in the head!

“OUCH! Dammit boy, no throwin your toys at the Daddy!! Yer gonna put an eye out!”

Actually, it got me to thinking, and we all know that can’t be good.

So, I collected up all them bottles, and started gluing them all together into long rods. And then, I put some little tiny Christmas LED lights in ’em. And then, I put the long rods into groups, and glue ’em to a piece of plywood.

Voila, instant “Squib Stalactites” (or is it “stalagmites?” I forget which!) that glow in the dark!! Now, hang a few from the ceiling, and you’ve got instant illumination!

chemical-balance3Wha? It’s not like YOU don’t take medicine, too! You DO, right?;)

chemical-balance1See? “Objects Da Art.” 🙂

ChemicalBalanceIII_SAAMOoooooh! Purty! 😉

And frankly, between all the med’s and the booze, old Ronin is staying in shape. Round.

ROUND IS TOO A SHAPE! SHUT UP! 🙂

So, I decided to try and lose some weight. And what better way to lose weight, than to blog off a few pounds. It’s really quite easy. You just disassemble your keyboard and rebuild it, reassembling all the keys into one long string, mounted on the wall in your office. Then, you just dash back and forth hitting the keys, like “a crazed lab rat on the meth,” until you either;

(a) lose the desired amount of weight; or

(b) collapse and wake up hooked up to tubes, in the ICU.

office_weightloss_made_easyEither way, you lose a few pounds! Who need’s Jenny Craig?:)

And, while I’m talking about keys…

if you really wanna piss your wife off, you can do the same thing to your security keypad. You know the one you have to turn off in a certain number of seconds, or the rent-a-cops bust down the door and taze you until you pee all over yourself?

The key (I know…bad pun) is to reassemble the pad randomly. And don’t be afraid to leave out some of the keys. You can always use the “extra” parts on something else later on. 🙂

security_keypad_from_hell“Lemme see… what was that code again? Hey!!! Wha the hell? Roooooooooooonin!”

Incidentally, while I was testing the new “security features,” I got… you guessed it… tazed. After drinkin all that wine (I needed to, to empty the bottles for the room addition. Aren’t you paying attention? Gawwwwwwwd!) and then getting some 50,000 volts of “security sting,” the resulting stain wouldn’t come outta the carpet.

And it got me to thinking…

(I know what you’re thinking… Oh gawwwwd, here we go again!)

…about all the take-out food we order.

Why? Because if the heat in Mississippi don’t kill you, my wife’s cooking will. I’m not kidding! We’re not allowed to bring food to the potlucks at church anymore! After that last batch of “Banana Pudding”  they started praying for us like crazy… I mean, we thought that they loved it!  They were jumping all around and “speaking in tongues” and everything!

The paramedics said; “That wasn’t a religious experience, you idiots!  They were having convulsions!”

Oooooops?!?  That pudding took out half the congregation…

(Okay, so they was prayin that we’d move outta their district… But, a prayer is a prayer, right? Well? Isn’t it?)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah…

After my wife saw “the stain…” she gave me until she got back from running her errands, to have it either fixed, or else.  She said something about “large caliber handguns, packing up my stuff, and something about shooting my sorry butt off…” but I’m really not sure because when she talks to me, all I usually hear is:

“Blah, blah, blah…”

But, just to be safe, here I sit, trying to fix the floor. And who doesn’t like wood floors? Hmmm?

Wooden-Floor-1The “traditional parquet look”

Wooden-Floor-2See? And all it took was some patience, enough chopsticks to feed most of Bejing, and about 35 tubes of Elmer’s Best…

Wooden-Floor-3Perhaps you’re in the mood for “Herringbone?”

Wooden-Floor-4Relax. It’ll grow on you… like a fungus! 🙂

See, now, when those guys at the Chinese Restaurant start giving you the “evil eye” for taking extra chopsticks, you’ll have a good reason!

Wooden-Floor-5

Okay… Last choice. I’m going blind, here!

So, I’m takin a poll. Which pattern do you like best? And vote quick, because she’ll be back any minute!

Ah crap! She’s home and I ain’t done yet! Anybody got the number handy for “911”?

Okay… I’m lyin! Everything you see here was the work of an Artist named Jean Shin.

I just wanted to remind you how cool “Green” can be. To some people, all this stuff started “with garbage.” But, Jean is making a fortune, a statement, and saving the planet at the same time! And, so can we. But we’ll get paid in “comfort, security, and affordable housing!”

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance RoninRemember… Green is Cool. Especially when you share it with a friend. If you like what you see here, and you want it to continue, I urge you to consider hitting that Paypal button up there, and donating a few bucks to the cause. We need a house, so my wife can get well, and my little boy can be safe. And frankly, we’re running out of options. We appreciate anything that you can contribute.

I Wanna Be Responsible!

15 Jun

Okay, okay…

Since the beginning of civilization mankind has been using fossil fuels to “move mountains.” Hey, for centuries we thought that those fossil fuels were cheap. I mean hell, they were laying right there on the ground in some cases!

It’s true! Uh-huh! It is too! I know it’s true because I saw it on TV! That Jed Clampett was a genius! Who’da thought of using a scattergun to drill for “Texas Tea?” 🙂

But that was then, and this is now. Now that we’re more “civilized” and supposedly even smarter (I wonder whose yardstick they are using to measure THAT by, because I’m sure not seeing it…), we’re starting to see the real cost of using these fuels.

There’s no doubt that we’re destroying the environment. There’s no doubt that with all the newfangled technology that become so commonplace, we’re spoiled rotten, and even lazy.

Recently, I was in a store (okay, it was [gasp!] Walmart) during a thunderstorm, and the power went out. So what, right? Well, we couldn’t buy anything. The cashiers didn’t know how to tally up the sales any way but by punching register keys.

Where before, we walked to the store, or sent a letter, now we use our computers or a cell phone.  In most homes, we don’t wash dishes in a sink, we use a dishwasher. (Okay so in MY house, I’M the dishwasher.)  The point is, now we rely on technology instead of our backs. And, that’s a bad thing, I’m thinking. Our health has deteriorated as fast as our muscletone.

This is just the beginning of the bad news for the next generation. There’s more. Not only will they be rather unfit, and ignorant about how things work, the way things are going, there won’t be any power to run all of their gadgets. Mankind will come to a screeching halt. Why? Because everything runs on electricity, nowadays.

According to the newest forecast from the World Energy Council (WEC) global electricity requirements will double in the next 40 years. And at the same time, “the same guys” (OPEC) are gonna be in charge of the oil, so you can bet that prices for the dwindling resources of petroleum and natural gas are gonna go sky high.

I know that we’re trying to shift to other alternative sources of energy but frankly, the cost is still way too high for us “little people” to embrace. For example; we know that solar energy is a really great energy source. It’s clean, it’s green, and the sun isn’t going to go out any time soon. But the price of solar panels still resides heavily on a common man’s pocket. Our government has to stop talking about how much they’re doing to “help us,” and actually start doing it.

In my income bracket, giving me a tax credit isn’t enough. They need to step in and subsidize the cost of solar energy, especially in areas of residential usage.

They haven’t re-invented “the grid.” It’s still archaic, full of holes, and fraught with peril.  A windblown tree can knock the power out regionally, for days. One tree. And the resulting power outage from that single tree falling across power lines can kill people. I’ve seen it happen. And that’s not going to change any time soon.  I watched a commentary by two politicians the other night on CSpan, where they were debating where the funds would come from to rebuild the national power grid. They were throwing around numbers like $1 TRILLION dollars. A trillion dollars.

Subsidizing Solar Energy costs would cost far less, and give back some of the responsibility to the families that actually use electricity.  Making our own power would actually TEACH us to use it more responsibly. Imagine that… responsible consumers. If they really want to help fortify the infrastructure of America, they can start by taking off some of the load, by letting us carry it ourselves.

And, I can use one of them newfangled solar panel contraptions to help warm up my “cement pond!”

I bet you could even use one to power a still. I mean, I’ve heard about “solar stills” before. I wonder how many proof they get outta those rays for my ‘shine? Hmmm? 🙂

That’s what I think. I wanna be more responsible. Gimme the power! What do YOU think?

Stay tuned.

Yeah, I know… I’m more like Jethro Bodine, than Jed Clampett, but I can dream, huh? 🙂

Home Design and Responsibility

10 Jun

Here at RenaissanceRonin, we’ve talked a lot about how you design your home, using alternative materials. After all, it’s what we’re doing, as we build our home out of shipping containers (ISBU‘s), and recycled aircraft hangar components. We’re not doing this to be fashionable, or “particularly GREEN,” or even to make a name for ourselves. We just need a durable, sustainable home, that will provide for our needs, within our budget.

(Hey, if you’d been paying attention to the words in the posts, instead of all those pretty pictures, you’d know that! Right?) 😉

Speaking of “pretty pictures.” No progress on the “My use of images makes WordPress puke” situation. I’m still working on a fix. The pictures will return, I promise. Hey, if for no other reason than they fill up the page, and I don’t have to write as much! 🙂

After all, it’s not just about saving money, it’s about creating a space to live in, that will provide for your needs.

And, that implies a lot of responsibility. Moral Responsibility.

No, I’m not talking about trying to make sure that you please the Baptists down the street! I’m talking about looking at every side of home design, while you busily fill those wishbook pages that will lead you to your design.

Again… I have nothing against Baptists. I’m just surrounded by them, and we like to “brother-lovingly” poke each other in the eye… Call it “theological differences…”  I don’t know WHY they keep telling me that “I’m going to HELL.” 🙂

Your responsibility for protecting and sheltering your family has to be weighed against more than fire, or a building horror like a collapse, or a catastrophic natural event. There is a huge body of research that defines the intimate relationship between homes and human behavior.  After all, you’re creating an environment that your tribe will live within, right?

But how do you do this? It’s hard enough trying to figure out which stick goes into what slot, without having somebody suggest that you have to go find a “house psychiatrist” to help you plan out your space. I mean, I’ve heard of “horse whisperers,” and “dog whisperers,” and even “gossip-mongers…” But, I’ve never heard of a “house whisperer.” Hey! That might make a cool reality show on cable, huh?

“Well sir, your home says that traipsing around the house in your tighty-whiteys with your “crack” hangin out like some overweight plumber, makes it’s windows shiver… So, just stop it, huh?” 🙂

Think about things like “sanitary surfaces, and safety.” Where you actually live has a lot to do with which materials you use. If you live in a place where there is a lot of humidity and mold, you probably don’t want porous surfaces all over the place that you’ll have to maintain. If you live in a hot environment, you probably don’t want cinder-block construction, or low ceiling heights that will trap the heat down into your “living zones.” Think about railings on staircases, and stair tread height/depth, and access to important rooms like the bathroom!

I was watching a cable show today about “beautiful houses.” And, although some of them were just fabulous, I was reminded that some of us tend to think of our homes as “beautiful objects” and not really places for human interaction and participation. It’s really not surprising that we see so many photographs in the media of beautiful spaces that don’t have people in them. The spaces that are created just don’t compliment humans.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to live in a museum, or an aquarium. I want to live in a calm, soothing environment that takes care of me, with as little input as possible. After all, I have TV to watch and frosty cold beverages to consume!

(Preferably in a soundproof room that my wife doesn’t know about, okay? She can conjure up a “honey-do list” that would make Bob Vila or those “This Old House” guys commit suicide in about three seconds flat!) 🙂

Here’s the deal. Good home design begins with great discussions. Talk to your family about their wants and their goals for your new house. Think about ways to streamline the maintenance, using good design as a fulcrum. Think about ways to eliminate obstacles and hazards. You can still have a great looking home, that looks like people actually live in it! You just have to think it through!

You’ve got to figure out what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. And that will add a whole page of questions to your design list. If you don’t heed them, there isn’t any way you’re going to improve your design.

And, those unanswered questions will be a failure to your family (and their comfort and safety), later.

Enough for now, I just heard my wife, and I haven’t finished cleaning up the huge mess that “the kid” made! How does he DO that? Oy Vey!  🙂

If I only had a soundproof room… :p

Stay tuned!

Make a new plan, Stan!

3 Jun

Okay, so it’s that time of year again!

I’m sitting at my desk, toiling and sweating over a new set of plans for our “Shipping Container House,” and my wife asks me what I want for “Fathers Day…” So, after about 35 seconds of thought (and a pretty cool “daydream” that I can’t repeat here because it’s “a family show,” albeit “dysfunctional” after all… 🙂 )  I just rattled off the same old list that I’ve been recycling in my brain, seemingly forever… since I didn’t get them last year!

I want these things, in no particular order;

Now, most Dad’s would ask for “world peace” (like that’s EVER gonna happen) a healthy kid (if this kid doesn’t stop eating soon, Mississippi will collapse in on the empty cavity that he creates), a bright sunny day spent with my family (have you MET my family? I’d rather spend the day with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s family in a sandstorm), and a happy home (that doesn’t resemble a penitentiary or an insane asylum).

I can see it now;

Special News Flash! Mississippi, experiencing a cavernous emptying that reminds us of the chaotic mass migration out of the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina, fell in on itself today, only to be reclaimed by the Gulf Of Mexico. The roar of the tidal flow back into the swampland that is… um… was Mississippi was only rivaled by the ear-shattering belch that emanated from somewhere close to the hole’s epicenter, located near Biloxi.”

And I bet they’ll blame ME for that, too! 🙂

But… back to reality… I haven’t got a home. If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that, right? 🙂

You have been paying attention, right?

HELLO? Anybody there? Did I lose you already? 🙂

Okay, that’s it. No more pretty pictures for you to ogle over, until you start reading the words! 🙂

Here’s what I want for Father’s Day;

I want chores. Lot’s of chores. You know, stuff like “will you just wash the [expletive deleted] windows? We haven’t seen the driveway since December!”

I want a yard filled with crabgrass, weeds, and the neighbor’s dogs poop.

I wanna replace broken windows that the rotten kids down the street broke, because they think that being Jewish means I’m some kind of “cult member.”

FYI: Despite rumblings on the Internet, I am NOT a cult member. I’m just “charming and charismatic.” 🙂

I want a pool filter plugged to the top with debris, old socks, and girls bathing suits. (Don’t ask!) 🙂

I want to unplug toilets because my son has learned the phrases; “Bye-bye!” and “All Gone!” And… he’s learned how to use them in the same sentence!:)

I want to mourn my cell phone and my wristwatch, that my son has just “buried at sea,” with a tiny-voiced little chorus of “London bridge is going down, with daddy’s cell phone…” WHOOSH!

I want to toil away in 90 degree heat, risking heat stroke and death, to hang off a ladder unclogging gutters.

I want to “mow the minefield,” being careful to avoid the munitions and obstacles. You know, like my son’s “Hot Wheels,” the neighbor’s dogs contribution to my yard’s fertilization, and the Claymores that we so carefully placed, to slow down the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Amway/Mary Kay Salesmen that beat a path to your door…

And before you start, I have nothing against Jehovah’s Witnesses. Anybody who takes time out of their weekend to deliver newsletters and pamphlets about Jimi Hendrix is okay in my book…

That IS what “The Watchtower” is all about, right? 🙂

But Amway and Mary Kay salesmen… um…er… persons… Now, there oughta be a special place in hell for those nuts! Whenever they show up here, I ask them if they have any special “designer” creams for bedsores and hemorrhoids, that’s edible.

Why? Because we all know that “healing starts from within.” I learned that watching a recent Obama speech.

And… “I’d prefer Berry flavored, thank you very much…” 🙂

I want to work tirelessly on a weekend (or perhaps even several, if I survive it), to use power tools that no idiot should have ever placed within my reach, to build my son a treehouse, so that he can climb up there and scream “Death from ABOVE!!!” while he hurls empty snack containers and empty fruit juice cartons at us.

I’m thinking that you get the gist of this post. I want a HOME. A real live, built outta steel house that will keep us warm/cool and dry, and keep the nuts from getting in and messing up the furniture.

I want a place that my son can play in as he grows up in this country, that will allow him to be healthy and safe and provide for his needs. I want a place where my wife can recover from her illness and look forward to each new day, instead of feeling the stress I radiate while “I fight City Hall,” trying to get us to a safe place.

Hell, right about now, I’d settle for “40 acres and a mule.” At least it’d be a start in the right direction.

I gotta make a new plan.

Stay tuned.

Jackson and “Jacked Up.”

28 May

Okay, so I took a few days off…

It’s been “pretty difficult” around here lately (in fact, on a one to ten, it’s been an “eight”). The “Mommy” is slowly recovering (“Mommy” recently had a stroke), and Joshua, astutely sensing a momentary change in the balance of power, has taken the opportunity to wage a full frontal assault, and try to make the “Daddy” crazy…um… er… crazier. This is a pretty simple task lately, as Daddy has had his hands full… Oy Vey, have I had my hands full…

Beyond that, due to difficulties beyond my control my appearance at a “meeting of the mind” (singular) in Jackson, was accomplished “by notarized document/statement, read aloud by some unfortunate lackey who will have to bear the scars of having my words rattle around in their brain until the cows come home.”

I say “mind,” because after participating in several of these “Jacksonian jousts,” I’m convinced that there is only one sane person in “Jackson Authority,” and they just pass the brain around, at random.

I’m told that my statement was either well received, or thrown in a well (I’m not sure which), as the phone line that connected us was garbled.

It was just basically the same old “Ronin Rant.”

Get off your dead asses, and do your jobs! Families need homes. YOU need constituents.  The STATE needs to generate tax dollars HONESTLY! Families without homes don’t pay property taxes, and they sure don’t vote in your favor, come election day! We’ll remember that you didn’t give a damn, and then… we won’t either. I promise. Capish?”

For those of you keeping track, this was just another gyration, as the politicians in Jackson strive to drag this whole set of events out as long as possible, so that the people they are answering to either (a) drop dead from exhaustion, or (b) become so senile that they forget why they’re so pissed off.

The issue is whether or not to actually “release” the grant parcels to the families that qualified for them, MONTHS ago. I suspect that the truth of the matter is that they’re still trying to figure out how to make more money off the “re-urbanization” program. This program isn’t costing Mississippi a dime, folks. Not one penny! You see, the Fed has compensated Mississippi for the “land” that is being parceled out, but like most politicians, when the miscreants in Jackson smell money, they do just about everything they can to figure out how they can get their grubby little paws on more of it.

I’d remind them that “there isn’t anything honorable or even remotely responsible in standing between families that need homes, and the property that will make it possible.”

It’s ridiculous really. They complain that their tax bases are dying slowly on the vine and that people are leaving Mississippi for “greener pastures.” Then, they actually demonstrate WHY people are leaving, yet they fail to recognize it. Talk about “being detached and living in a fantasy.”

Attention, self-serving politicians; We will not forget, or go away. (In fact, some of us CAN’T, or we would have… as we’re really sick and tired of your greediness and irresponsibility.) Do your jobs, serve your constituents “honorably and responsibly,” or come next election, I promise you that you’ll be looking for work. (Good luck with that, by the way… as you idiots also killed off most of the jobs!) People like me are going to hold you accountable for your lack of action, and we’ll be more than happy to remind voters what miserable bastards you were, when we actually needed you to do your jobs, for once. I’m taking careful notes, and keeping a list of names. And, I have no problem being one of those who help fan the winds of change.

For example: The Internet is a powerful stick, and I’ll make sure that I beat you on the head with it, for all to see. Think about it for a minute, huh? I’m an “ex-military father/husband, with a dying wife and a baby child, who lost our (completely paid for) home to a greedy insurance company (who bought and paid for) a bunch of greedy politicians who just didn’t give a crap about anything but THEIR own power-mongering, “foreign-soil” junkets (and I’m not talking about ALABAMA), and excessive lifestyles.”

You really don’t want that, do you? Let me assure you… You REALLY don’t want that. I can spell “RECALL.” And, I know what it means, too.

That said, let’s talk about something more pleasant, huh?

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a home built, using containers as the primary structure. Unless you’re living under a rock, you already know that.

And as my own build is hopelessly mired in “red tape,” I’m currently involved in helping other families build their ISBU homes Some surprising developments have given me hope that soon, despite the procrastination of Jackson’s “finest,” we’ll be building our own “Corten Castle” soon. It may NOT be in Mississippi, but it’s going to get built.

We’ll talk more about that later.

Anyway, I’ve been asked a series of questions lately, that I found so intriguing, I’m going to post them here, and see if I can get a few of you to comment. And, to be accurate, lately the most interesting inquiries aren’t so much “questions,” as “ponderings,” about the combination of structures, essentially combining different types of alternative construction together, to form “habitats.” I’m frankly enjoying this, because it means that some of you guys and gals are truly thinking out of the box, while trying to use one.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Lately, I’ve been quietly working on a new ISBU project in New Mexico. The family involved isn’t building “in crisis,” or anything like that. They’re actually dedicating their own funds to this build, “simply to prove it can be done.” The home will be a vacation retreat, but it’s large enough that they could live there full time, if they choose to, later on. If I had to categorize it, I’d call it a “bug-out” build. It’s a place to run to, if things get stupid, or you just need to get out of town. I can completely relate to this mindset.

They’re using (3) 40′ HQ ISBUs to build a 24’x40′ box. It’s multi-level, with one ISBU level on what is essentially an elevated and insulated slab, that will hold all the mechanical and service elements of the home. The kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and mechanical room for the A/C and Hot water Heater is in the boxes. Also included in this level are the garage (2 car) and a small workshop. This entire level will be “earth-bermed,” in a manner that will make it similar to the “earthships” popular in the area. A greenhouse will occupy most of the south facing exterior.

Try as I might, the people building just aren’t interested in solar anything, including hot water, geothermal A/C or photovoltaics. Whaaa?

Okay, so there’s ONE solar panel, and it’s mounted on a pump system on a water tank.

Wait, it gets better! You know WHY they aren’t interested in using a bucket full of those “green” elements? It’s because they have their own “fast running” creek/stream/river, that never dries up or freezes over, and the guy building the home is an electrical engineer who has developed a hydroelectric turbine that will fit into a pipe. Big deal, right? Wrong. HUGE damned deal!!!

It’s only a 12” pipe!

And, this little beauty of a turbine will produce enough power to run just about anything he wants to plug in, forever. And to prove it, he’s gonna make it the SOLE source of power, for his home.

(The singular solar panel is used to power a pump that will help him move water to another parcel for irrigation of a “survival” garden. It was pre-existing.)

His “power-pipe system” runs out of the river, and then back into it.

A singular power source from water pressure. Talk about “guts!” If I tried to do that, I’d wake up dead in the morning, with my wife laughing over my carcass! 🙂

So, As I learn more about this little gem of a powerplant, I’ll fill you in, too! Suffice to say, I want one! I can picture this placed between cisterns filled by a well (which is operated by solar power). I have a few really big pieces of culvert pipe that are just begging to be used in a “power by water” experiment. If you filled a rather large primary tank, and then used an outlet pipe to fill a secondary one (and placed one of these little powerplants in that outlet pipe between them…) you’d get hydroelectric power from the water pressure that flowed thru it…

I’m not sure it’d work, because you’d have to keep that first tank filled to get enough pressure (in a constant flow), but I can see it in my head. However, my wife reminds me that “I see a lot of things in my head, most of them unrepeatable, unprintable, or felonious.” 🙂

Okay, I admit it. I get all caught up in this “grant property polka” currently going on in Jackson, and I want to go “postal.” Deal with it. 🙂

Here’s where his build is REALLY different. He’s gonna build his bedrooms and common areas into a dome built ON TOP of the containers. The dome will be 24′ feet in diameter and about 20′ high. It will be built entirely of SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels) and glass. A winding “freeform” staircase will allow access from level to level, with an ”open overlap loft” plan that will allow you to stand on the main level and look up, to see the top of the dome.

This isn’t such a bad idea. He gets a stable base to build on, lots of room for his “hard stuff” (plumbing, electromechanical requirements, etc…) and really bright and airy creative spaces for his comfort zones.

What other ways can you think of to combine different type of alternative homes together, to form a “super” alternative home?

The Renaissance RoninDo You Enjoy Our Articles and Features? Are you interested in helping a family that is helping others get back on THEIR feet? We could sure use the help, honest! Please Consider Making a Small, Secure Donation! Use our Paypal button!

Thank You.

23 May

memorial_day_rrMemorial Day, which was originally called “Decoration Day,” is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

But where did it come from?

Although dozens of cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, my favorite attribution is the evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication;

“To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead”

(Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920)

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30th, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

But it saddens me that when you ask people what they’re going to do on Memorial Day lately, it seems like it’s just turned into another opportunity for “Beer and BBQ,” or an automobile “Blow-out” at the local car lot.

The traditional observance of Memorial day has decayed over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and even the traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, and even neglected.

Thankfully, where I live (in this part of the South), this is not the case. At the Biloxi National Cemetery, it reminds me of growing up in Orange County, CA (a farming community when I was young), it almost looks like hundreds of fieldworkers picking produce, as legions of citizens place flags and flowers on the graves that cover the vast repository of our fallen. But this attending to graves, albeit touching, isn’t quite accurate either.

You see, most people don’t remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. And, some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

Memorial Day is specifically placed, a day to honor those paid the ultimate price and gave all, in the service of our country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address:

“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

“To all that have fallen…
Mothers, Fathers, Sister and Brothers…
We grieve as you are sorely missed.
Until we are all reunited,
May you rest peacefully in G_d’s arms.”

The Renaissance RoninG_d bless you all! Amen.

Assume The Position!

14 May

Look, when I started this blog, I told you that  I would take a position, and then…

The shouting matches would probably begin. Take a look around you.  America is in real trouble, and even with all the talk and banter about how screwed up things are, nothing is really getting done to fix things.

So, I’m just going to say it;

“What we need are better leaders and more capable and enabled discussions.”

And that’s what this blog is about.

You’ve seen some of the “slings and arrows” debates in the comment areas. A good example is when I commented on “M’s” container build in Missouri. I wasn’t attacking “M.” Anybody who thinks that is an idiot. I actually defended “M,” even though I was opposed to some of her actions…

I’m going to start writing some of these posts in Crayon, I swear I am…

Man, what a  brushfire that started… Good thing Corten containers are fire resistant! 🙂

Another is the proposed use of new “high-tech” Ceramic Insulative Coatings, to insulate that container project of yours…  that turn out to be anything but “high-tech”…  Talk about running headfirst into a big wall! 🙂

But the point of posting sometimes, is to stimulate “debate.” You can duel in the comment sections. You can voice opposing views. You can offer up thoughtful, insightful and even conflicting takes on situations. You can even stoop to name-calling and chair tossing if you want to.

In the end, it’s entertaining (sometimes) and informative (sometimes.) And, it’s worth the risk, I think. Sometimes education comes with a few lumps thrown in, to help you remember. Sometimes. Hey, every post can’t be a “winner.”

Personal blogs are about “private people making public opinions.” Duh! After all, the Internet is the “biggest” public you could possibly hope for. Never has mankind has the ability to say so much, to so many, so easily.

Every once in a while, I take a position that offends. Let’s face it, sometimes somebody has to step up and say: “That’s enough.” There are many reasons for it. Perhaps it’s because most people are too timid to point out the difference between right and wrong. And, I’m not afraid to do it. I learned a long time ago that in order to be seen, first you have to stand up.

Imagine if journalism or education consisted of more than a collage of conflicting talking heads, playing to cameras or crowded lyceums. Imagine the difference it would make if more of the media broke from the bizarre straitjacket of “liberal balance,” which equates fairness with putting all disputants on equal footing, regardless of  how deceitful, immoral, or moronic they may be.

I guess I’m just getting older and less tolerant of “idiots.” There’s a market for news that weighs counterclaims and assesses truth value, based on (gasp!) “truth value.”  But for some reason, it just hasn’t kept up with demand. I find it depressing that tuning into Cable TV News broadcasts only leaves me feeling empty and violated, and even lied to. I find it ironic that I have to tune into Cable Comedy Networks, to get a good read on what’s happening in America. It’s no wonder that guys like Jon Stewart and Lewis Black have such loyal audiences: their point of view is rooted in the reality-based — not the ideology-based — world. They deal in “facts.”  And they say things that everybody is usually already thinking, unless they’re “brain-dead.”

In the end, communication is about leadership and discrimination of the facts, and not the race, creed, color, age, or even gender of the viewpoint holder.

Feel free to send me hate-mail. Hell, if nothing else, it’s entertaining. And, it means I hit a nerve, and that’s the point. I WANT to make you think.

And BTW: Don’t bother sending me email or posting comments “telling me WHAT to post.” This is MY boat.  On your blog, you do whatever you want. On my blog, I’m doing what I need to do, by design and even a concept plan (which apparently, I sometimes stray from). You know who you are.

You’re all most welcome here, even though I’ll warn you once again that although “the sights and sounds” can be breathtaking and awe-inspiring, sometimes the menu still sucks.

If you don’t like it, I welcome you to jump ship. Watching the sharks is entertaining, too…

The Renaissance Ronin

I Gotta Get Me One Of These “Bug-Out Boxes!!”

27 Apr

Say hello to;

The All Terrain Cabin (ATC)

A bunch of Canadians, tired of being shown up by us “innovative Container types” decided that they’d “one-up” us by slapping together a cabin, and putting it on the road, for everybody to see…

atc1Little did they know  that they were playing right into our hands! You see, it’s exposure that we’re after! We want people to see us (but not “exposed,” because that’s against the law)!! 🙂

atc2

So, probably fueled by that horrid Canadian Beer, they bent over their drafting boards, and came up with this beauty of a cabin! Now, I’m guessing that they came up with it “lickety-split,” because everybody knows that Canadian beer isn’t all that good, and it goes right through you like “a bullet through butter!” 😉

atc3

Seriously, a few “bright bulbs” in Canada decided to show us how it’s done, and I must say that they did a fine job!  They’ve brought together good design, some great technology, and even some imagination and wrapped it in a “Corten Cocoon.” And now, it’s on the road, for everybody to see and experience!

atc4

In spite of being taxed by that terrible Molson stuff (how in the world do you drink that swill? Blaaaaech!) they designed a small cabin, using a standard ISBU shipping container as the basis, and then they brought the “Canadian Flair” to it. Now Canadian Flair isn’t a WWE wrestler, it’s a combination of all great things Canadian, squeezed into a very small package. Hmmm… That reminds me of a tiny little lass from Toronto I used to date, back when I still had hair on my head. I wonder what she’s up to? I’d call her, except for that pesky restraining order… 🙂

atc5

The result is a a really efficient cabin, full of style and smarts! The cabin, although quite small, is perfect for a for a family of four (and even your dog) to live or vacation in, “off the grid” in what can only be described as ” Corten comfort and contemporary style.”  Remember, it’s a shipping container. Delivery is as easy as you could imagine it might be! Just roll that lil beauty onto a train, truck, ship, airplane or helicopter (if it’s on steroids), and off it’ll go, to the destination of your choice. And, in travel mode, it’s all folded up and indistinguishable from any ordinary shipping container. So, you could move it every year! Talk about a “time-share” that keeps on giving!  This year; “The Rockies!” Next Year; “Tahiti!”  Yeah, Baby!

atc6

Once it arrives “home,”  it unfolds rapidly to 480 glorious square feet  of completely self-contained, sophisticated living space with all the comforts of your home in the city!

atc7

If you want to live softly, smartly, and stylishly on this rock of ours, this may just be the way! But, it’s just an evil April Fools Joke, I’m afraid. You can’t have one. Why? Because there’s only one ATC in the whole world and there are only so many places it will visit. They have no intention of building them for us to live in! Oh the horror! Why? Oh Why? 😦

atc8

See? I told you you had to watch out for those darned Canadians, they’re SNEAKY and they’ll break your heart!! I expected something like this out of Paul Stankey, but to have it perpetrated  by our neighbors to the north? That’s just wrong! 🙂

Stay Tuned!

The Renaissance RoninRenaissance Ronin is a blog dedicated to helping you help yourself. We’re going to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about building a home out of recycled materials. A home that will save you money, provide you with comfort and security, and provide for your needs, for decades to come. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, hit the Paypal button up there on the right, and lend us a hand!  We really need your help!