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I’d like a “short stack” and Ice Water please!

7 May

First, sorry for the absence of new posts lately. We’re just getting swamped here at Corten Central.

As you can probably imagine, we are busier than bees right now, getting ISBU Home builds tracked out and running smoothly. It’s the time of year when building  projects pile up faster than Corten boxes next to a Container ship being unloaded!

Beyond that, there’s some very interesting news in store for you guys as we explore new opportunities that will allow us to spread the Corten Gospel across the planet!

I want you to stay tuned for that because it’s gonna blow your minds!

And since we’re talking about mind-blowing. what if you dropped a short stack of 20 foot boxes onto a CMU (concrete block) root cellar by a  creek? Just take (4) 20′ High Cube ISBUs and add water…

ISBU Micro-Condo - 1stISBU Micro-CondoNow add photovoltaic panels. solar hot water and a dish (for TV) and you have a remote retreat ready to sooth the aches and pains of city life!

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Digging out of Haiyan

11 Nov

Many of our readers know that we are actively involved in emergency and rescue operations globally.

Typhoon Haiyan in the Eastern Pacific Ocean is once again testing us as we try to help as many as we can reach.

Thousands are dead.
Hundreds of thousands are injured.
Millions are displaced.

We’re working around the clock right now. We’re tired, hungry and frankly, dragging, knowing that whatever we do, it won’t be nearly enough.  And despite all that we’re doing at this end, it’s easy to feel like we’re not doing enough as others do the heavy lifting – on the ground (in the debris and carnage) looking, digging, searching for victims of this terrible disaster.

If you want to help, please think about WHERE and to WHOM your donations and volunteer efforts actually go. Please think about how much of your donation will actually get to the people who need it. There are already reports  about well-known aid organizations in the Philippines filming  the carnage (to raise money), but not actually doing ANYTHING to aid those in need.

Haiyan - early estimates

A good friend of ours that is heavily invested in the financial sector recently reminded us of this:

Another example worth considering…

Consider a small charity ($1,000.000) with an operating efficiency of 80%. It has $200k expenses, primarily fixed. $1 million donated, and $800k actually goes to the stated purpose of the charity.

Compare that to Goodwill. $1 million donated, and only $175k goes to the stated purpose. The first $725k is used to pay the CEOs compensation. The only reason these large charities can state such an “attractive” efficiency ratio is because their extreme size actually allows them to pilfer the charity, i.e. their large inflow dwarfs their absurd fixed costs (compensation).

Also – these large charities will serve as feeder-funds to some of the smaller charities. This feeding comes with rather draconian strings attached. Most smaller charities will decline the money, because it corrupts their mission. When they feed the money to the other charities it counts 100 cents on the dollar as efficiency, regardless of the fed charities operating efficiency. Guess what a lot of these subordinate charities are? That’s right – 100% affiliated subordinates of the feeder, with abysmal efficiency. They pay excessive consulting fees the management of the feeder (superior) charity. This allows the larger charity to mask their compensation, and protect their own efficiency rating…

Be careful of charities. They are very, very, very often set up as a tool for financial or political advancement.

I have a good amount of experience in analyzing and suggesting charities. Personally, I recommend the small, grass root charities. Often, they may not have the best operating expenses on paper, maybe somewhere in the 70% range, but those numbers are deceptive. Especially when the CEO and founder has a NEGATIVE income from the charity, because they are putting so much of their own money into it.

Please consider supporting First Responders, those brave men and women on the ground in the carnage, risking all to help others. They need supplies, food, shelter. This costs huge amounts of money in lands torn apart by disaster. Remember that know that these families, these people in the streets fighting over scraps… could just as easily be US. It’s time to get our hands dirty, folks. If you’d like to help, please contact us.

God Bless Us, every one.

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It’s just “Ice Water” – How about a dip?

23 Jan

I’m constantly getting email from “housing professionals” that claim I’m all wet.

They read my posts about “the state of the housing market” and then they saber-rattle about the media’s claims of recovery.

Yeah? It’s just “wishful thinking”.

No one wants to see housing stabilize as much as I do.

Most of America’s primary source of personal (family) wealth comes from the house they live in… wealth that is quickly disappearing as those housing values plummet.

How many of you lost your retirement saving in 2008 when the market ate everything in it’s path?

After 2008, most families TNW (Total Net Worth) was reduced to little more than the values invested in their homes.

Is your house worth as much now as it was a few years ago?

Are you “underwater” in a condition that makes your outstanding loan value more than the current street value of your home?

When “the experts” and other ilk spout that:

“The housing market is rebounding! Don’t worry! It’s Happy Happy Fun Time!”…

I get really hacked off.

It’s NONSENSE.

There’s a reason that I teach families to build their own affordable, sustainable homes.

From the Federal Reserve FOMC statement September 21, 2011:

“…the housing sector remains depressed…To help support conditions in mortgage markets, the Committee will now reinvest principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities. In addition, the Committee will maintain its existing policy of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.”

What does this mean?

It means that the FED realized that forecasts defining the bear housing market for 2012 were spot on. So they used their control of the fiat money supply to temporarily inflate demand of the highly leveraged purchases.

The result was not naturally occurring “supply and demand” market conditions as some “experts” claim. The results were just a “Created and crafted market condition” – one that cannot be maintained “forever”.

First, anyone foolish enough to “forecast promise like Moses getting tablets off mountainsides” in  a sector that is so dependent on government action (or more accurately government inaction) isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. In fact, those forecasts should be printed on toilet paper, because then they’d be worth something… appropriate to their substance.

I have to wonder just how deep these people have their heads stuck in … um… the sand. They use words like “job creation” and “household formation”.

The best way to disguise failure is to try to redirect your attention.

“We’re producing jobs!”

Nonsense. Define the “jobs” being created, please.

Sure, the administration is producing Public Sector jobs, despite the requirement for “private sector jobs” to fund them.  Remember,  Public Sector jobs, regardless of how important they may be, do NOT contribute to the GNP. The creation of Public Sector jobs actually creates a hole… that taxes must fill.

And these taxes are paid HOW? By private sector workers in a job market that is slowly eroding, like ice on a hot sidewalk, that’s how.

Demographics don’t support the conditions that some “experts” claim to be in effect.

Sure, the fat cats are getting fatter. However, there aren’t a lot of fat cats. Most families lack an abundance of advanced degrees, high paying job skills or “work in a market that they’ve cornered”.

Now, add an economy that isn’t as strong as the media claims, higher taxes (checked your paychecks since the first of the year?) and a wage scale that is slowly eroding as bosses demand more and more work for less compensation (because you should feel lucky that you have a job) and you have a time bomb waiting to go off.

Want to really screw up product values? Eliminate millions of potential buyers from it’s purchase group.

The housing market is just such a product;

  • The millions that got foreclosed are no longer buyers.
  • The millions that will be foreclosed in 2013-14 are no longer buyers.
  • The millions that are unemployed will not be buyers.
  • The millions of graduates without jobs will not be buyers.
  • The millions of empty-nesters whose homes have devalued (and will devalue more) as additional foreclosures (bank reo – “Real Estate Owned” inventory) are released will not be buyers.
  • The millions of families that will see their taxes, healthcare and other expense increase will not be buyers.

How many of us have said things like;

“I should have sold in [fill in the blank]!”

When housing values return to previous highs and then SURPASS them, I’ll buy that the housing market is recovering. Until then, moves north of the baseline are just making up a small percentage of housing value LOSSES that lived under that baseline for years.

This isn’t about blame. You can finger-point anywhere you want. It doesn’t change the conditions. It’s about common sense.

Until the economy rebounds, until jobs are plentiful, until governmental spending is balanced by “fair and equitable” taxation… things won’t change.

Who will buy all this housing to drive values and sustain the allegations of growth?

It won’t be “Mom and Pop America”, let me assure you.

It’s going to continue to be the rich and famous… like wealthy Russian “Oil” children and the denizens of Hollyweird…

The Renaissance Ronin

Lest we forget why we can be thankful, on this most “Turkey-est” of Days…

24 Nov

It’s pretty simple, really;

Many of us either come from Military families or we ARE active or EX-Military personnel.

While we sit here eating turkey and watching football…

Many of these Patriots, brave men and women of our Armed Services are in harms way, instead of being at home with their own families.

Many of them chose this – to be counted by standing up for the way of life that we all cherish in spite of  “those around them”.

When I lay my head down at night, I am thankful for all of our servicemen and servicewomen…

… realizing that we are only able to lay our heads down on our pillows safely at night because of the work that these brave Warriors do.

Here at RR (and The Bubba Effect) we’re working on a mission;

We’re insuring that these Warriors get a little message from home, so that they KNOW how very proud of them we are.

In one particular case, we’re going to literally “Rock his World” in spite of some who would actually like to see us fail. Wait and see...

Here is the “real” deal:

  • Thousands of America’s Warriors are in harms way on the battlefield instead of home with their families.
  • We are able to enjoy the freedoms of life here in America – with our families –  because of the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform have made.
  • We need to show our support for all our brave men and women in uniform and let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers.

I don’t care if you’re FOR or AGAINST the War, you have to respect the Men and Women that pledge their own lives to allow us to run off at the mouth on Internet blogs, safe behind our monitors, while they flap from the handlebars in rough, cold places…

And if you don’t respect that…

Well then you need to be somewhere other than around ME.

Happy Thanksgiving!

God bless all of them… and you.

Semper Fi.

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Joshua’s Health Update

28 Oct

Many of you know that my little boy has been ill and that we’re doing our best to help him get well.

I’ve been getting swamped by people wanting an update on the little guy, so here’s the deal:

Right before Joshua’s 4th birthday, we had to take him to the emergency room of our local hospital.

His face was swelling severely and we thought that he’d fallen and struck his face, it was so pronounced.

He wouldn’t let us examine his teeth. That was our first clue.

Antibiotics started after it was determined that his lower jaw was inflamed.

Swelling slowed somewhat and then… just exploded. His face swelled to the point where both his eyes blacked.

Back to the emergency room. More antibiotics, but they refused to treat him further. And, they refused to refer him to an oral surgeon “because it was against hospital policy”.

I started raising hell. No avail. So we took him home and I started “reaching out and threatening to smack someone”… if they didn’t help me find a way to help my child.

NOTE: Do NOT go without health insurance in Mississippi, especially if your child has a dental problem. They’ll literally let your child suffer and even possibly perish…  in the street.

Yes, there’s Medicade. It’s designed to be nearly impossible to qualify for.

Yes, there’s CHIPs. Both take at least a month to get approved and no one will see your child while you wait to be “processed”. In the meantime, your child will grow sicker…

In the U.S., 50 million citizens without medical insurance statistically die too soon for lack of proper care.  It’s a big club, that unfortunately my family is a member of.

And… Medical insurance is NOT health care. Obama spent three years campaigning for his health care reform touting numerous times that 45,000 people die each year from a lack of health care insurance.

Yet when it came time to enacting legislation to save those very same people they used as a club, Obama and the Democratic party choose to delay support for those people by four years, thereby “officially sanctioning” the death of 180,000 more Americans, based on their own quoted numbers and rantings.

How many American CHILDREN fell through the cracks?

Um… mine, for one.

It is… a mess.

Ironically, the doctor now treating Joshua is ON that hospital’s staff and HE doesn’t understand why he wasn’t called immediately. We are STILL trying to get to the bottom of that.

Joshua needs surgery. He has a severely abscessed tooth and the infection has spread throughout his lower jaw, in spite of the massive bombardment of antibiotics we’ve applied (so that they could treat it).

Joshua was scheduled for oral surgery last Monday and the dentist/doctor looked into his mouth and then punted. The situation was enough that Josh now needs a HOSPITAL operation and a severe rework of his lower jaw. It’s pretty serious.

The infection isn’t responding to “normal” pediatric antibiotics and now we’re using the “mega-strength” stuff. We’re currently trying to keep the infection from entering his brain, while we wait for surgery.

Joshua’s surgery is scheduled for early morning on Friday, Nov. 4th.

In the meantime, it’s Pre-op physicals to insure he can deal with  anesthesia and battles with hospital finance departments to insure he gets his surgery without delay.

We don’t have health insurance and they (hospital administrators) have been anything but cooperative. It’s not about “patients”, it’s about “profits”, even when the patients are little children.

We’re being told that the surgery and aftercare are going to run at least $15,000 and probably closer to $18,000…

If not for aggressive doctors championing Joshua’s cause, I’m not sure where we’d be.

We’ve literally had to move mountains to make this happen.

Joshua is NOT a happy camper.

Try telling a four year old that “it’s going to be okay…” as his face throbs like it’s on fire. Oy. Would that my own tears could douse those flames…

Char continues to fight her illness and we’re just doing all we can, day to day.

So, that said, posts are going to be farther apart for a few weeks, I suspect.  The Gang at the Corten Cavalry will help out, but we’re going to focus on getting my family healthy.

Sometimes, regretfully, helping families means helping your own family, first.

We’ll get things back to normal, as soon as possible.

Taken 2 weeks ago on his 4th Birthday, before the swelling blacked his eyes.

Thanks for your understanding and your prayers. They are appreciated.

Ronin and family

As an addendum:

Many readers have emailed me personally to ask how they could help.

Bless you Amanda (you know who you are), you were the first.

We’re going to try to help other kids. This has really opened our eyes.

We just returned from the Medical Center. Joshua just received his “pre-operative physical”. Surgery is scheduled for Friday, the 4th of Nov. 6am. I don’t know whether to be happy or cry. He’s getting his surgery (several hours worth) the day after my birthday.

It’s the best birthday ever.

WE have spent the entire day hearing about kids who can’t see doctors for lack of a $20 co-pay.

Want to help my son, and kids just like him?

You can click on the “donate” button on the RR sidebar (it’s located below the information about the new – soon to be released – book – “Nuts and Bolts”) and comment in the note you can leave that that you just want it to go to help “Joshua’s kids”.

We appreciate your kindness more than you know. It’s easy to feel alone in times like this. Other family’s are hurting just like mine is. It’s heartbreaking knowing your child is hurting and you have nowhere to turn.

So long Jack.

24 Jan

If you listen, you can hear the sucking sound of a thousand people all inhaling at the same time.

Hold it…

Now… exhale.

You’re wondering what I’m talking about, huh?

One of my personal idols passed away yesterday afternoon. He dedicated his entire life to trying to make us get up off our butts and get healthy.

I remember watching him swim the English Channel towing a boat with his teeth.

While many of us were watching football games…

One of this nation’s heroes was involved in a struggle of his own that makes most gridiron bouts look like simple traffic gridlock.

Pneumonia claimed a guy so tough that he could give Arnold, John Wayne, Sly Stallone and that Aikido idiot “Steven what’s-his-name” a serious run for their money.

He’s the action hero that never was.

And now, he’s up there in heaven, whipping those angels into even better “heavenly shape”.

Jack LaLanne was 96 years young.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll miss him. HE was tougher than Corten Steel and one of the few people that you could rely on to do the right thing.

Rest in Peace, buddy. You sure earned it.

And before you get all uppity: I have nothing against martial arts – especially Aikido, seeing as how I personally trained in dojos and studied Aikido  for decades. I DO have something against “loudmouthed martial arts bozos” from the “bonecrusher” school, who only seek to exploit it for personal gain… 😉

Okay… Who stole my railroad tracks?

29 Nov

Where do Sri Lankan Lieutenants live?

Well, in ISBUs in Sri Lanka… of course!

A Holiday Cabana at Maduru Oya sits on an army training camp surrounded by jungle and faces onto a lake with mountains beyond.

Sounds like paradise, huh?

It was designed by a Sri Lankan architect named Damith Prematikake.

I LIKE this guy! He supervised the cabin construction after he scoured the site for building materials. Everything used to construct this cabin was “found goods”.

As in, the Lieutenant barked at his grunts and they gathered and assembled…  everything they could carry off when nobody was looking. 🙂

It was entirely constructed using unskilled labor.

(That means that even your knucklehead brother-in-law can help you do it.) 😉

The architect noted that it was designed to be a place to relax.

Because anyone who has ever been in the military knows how much relaxation a lieutenant needs after kicking butts and shuffling papers all day, right?  😉


The architect says:

“The Client was advised to find the material such as timber strips form the old bunkers and weapon boxes, old used ‘H’ irons, rods, used railway sleepers for the interior and exteriors. The idea was to create the space using the available resources within the surrounding environment.”

Which translates to that age old Military mystery; “%*&#@!! Who freakin’ stole my railroad tracks?”

Remember, there were no trained construction teams undertaking the project to make it a reality except the poor soldiers’ who were in the camp. The architect had to ensure that the soldiers were able to transform the imagined abstraction into reality.

How’d he do it? The same way I would, I bet…

Gunpoint.  🙂

Enjoy.

Image credits to: Logan MacDougall Pope
You need to check this guy out. He has some beautiful residential and Commercial photography on his site. Just looking at it gave me several ISBU ideas… 😉

Thanks to Michael Janzen for the heads up!

Thank YOU!

11 Nov

There really aren’t words.

We are grateful to you, for your service.

Ronin

John Wayne could fix it…

5 Jul

As the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill brings heartache and disaster to all…

…we sit here shaking our heads wondering why somebody didn’t do something RESPONSIBLY to stop it from happening in the first place.

And I find myself asking questions I don’t want to give voice to, like:

Why is a multi-national company STILL making US policy after they’ve created the biggest oil spill in history?

America wasn’t benefiting from that oil and BP isn’t beholding to us, at the end of the day. They can just go home. WE have to deal with the mess they’ve made, and all the terrible hardship that they have created.

I wish old John Wayne was here, he’d know what to do.

He’d just take a deep breath, free-dive down to that stinking hole, and cram a few of these into the pipe to plug up that leak…

And then he’d start kicking some BP Oil Company Butt…

I miss old John… May he R.I.P.

Stay tuned.

PS. Did ya know that my NEW BOOK is out? Hmmm? 🙂

Honor, Courage, and Remembrance…

31 May

Okay, so I’m not the only Veteran here…

It’s Memorial Day.

I know that a lot of you see this as the first long weekend of summer…

But, it’s more than that. Much more.

If one more person wishes me “Happy Memorial Day”, I swear I’m going to hit them in the teeth.

There is nothing HAPPY about it. When I think of Memorial Day, I think of those who fell alongside me and many like me,  in places many of wish we could forget… as we faced our lives and deaths, from dawn till dusk on fields covered with blood. I think of family buried in places like Arlington National Cemetery. I think of tears and sadness.

Memorial Day is about the sacrifice of soldiers… soldiers who cast themselves into the fire, to preserve our freedom.

Soldiers are not “sacrificial objects”. Our soldiers are Americans with the same rights, morals, and virtues as the rest of us. Each of them wants to pursue their own goals, their own dreams, and their own happiness. Soldiers aren’t mindless drones, they enjoy the work of military service, they take pride in their abilities, and they gain profound satisfaction in the knowledge that they are protecting the freedom of every single American, including themselves. They are motivated by the knowledge that they are making the world a better place, for everyone.

And some of them make the supreme sacrifice, to insure it.

Memorial Day is a very solemn and sad occasion that honors the American soldiers who lost their lives in war. It’s a hallowed day too;  like the blood running thru their veins, the values those men and women who “fought to defend”… form the very core of our nations principles:

Democracy, freedom for all, and the protected rights of the individual.

They were men and women from all walks of life…

They were Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Husbands and Wives…

Some were drafted and some volunteered.

They fought for all sorts of reasons. Some did things that they would only forget in death.  Many more became heroes.

Some fought wars with meanings far beyond imagination or understanding. Some actually changed the world. And some were actually changed forever.

You may question WHY they served. You may question the wars they fought. You may even question the leaders that gave them their orders.

But, you can NEVER EVER question their sacrifices.


Please take a moment to remember our fallen. Without their sacrifices, the world you live in would be a much different place, indeed.

May God bless ’em… every one.