Tag Archives: Commentary

“I’m sorry – We’re Broke.”

1 Nov

I have been accused of being a “treehugger”around here, recently. Again…

I’m not sure why…  Sure, I write posts about saving energy. Because I have to pay for the energy I use! Well, duh!

I like CFL’s (Compact Fluorescent light bulbs). Why? Well,  because I don’t have to change them as often, and they save me money.

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Sure, I write posts about being kind to the trees that give us WOOD, and oxygen, and shade… Why? Wood gives me an excuse to use POWER TOOLS!  Plus, if you water those trees, they give you SHADE! Shade saves energy, and gives me a place to hang the hammock!

I’m not a militant “tree-spiker”, and I don’t agree with a lot of the “treehugger agenda”. Or maybe it’s just the methods I don’t’ agree with. Saving a tree is never worth killing a human being over. And that’s what “tree-spikers” do. I know from first-hand experience.  If you kill a person over a tree, you’re NOT an “environmentalist…” You’re a MURDERER.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what “flag” you wrap it up in.

Nothing good can come of it.

But… people see shipping containers being cut up and reassembled into houses, and they immediately think “Eco-Whackjob.”

Look, I love trees. Truly! But my primary goal isn’t to clean up the earth, or save the environment, or even make sure that my kids breathe clean air right now.

WHAT? RONIN SAID WHAT?

As my wife slowly dies, as my two year old son starts venturing out into that great big world… my family is living in a hovel. It’s a horrid little box, that hasn’t had anything resembling “real maintenance” done to it, since about the Kennedy Administration.

It wasn’t always like this. We had a nice home, and it was almost paid for. We had a decent car, and we had money to pay the bills. Until…

A hurricane wiped it all out. Sure, we had insurance. But, you know what? The insurance company is pleading “bankruptcy” if they are forced to pay off all their claims. So, we’re part of 2,000 families in a class action lawsuit against them now, trying to get the “protection that we paid for.”

The facts are that they HAD the money.

But, the stockholders would’ve taken a huge hit (okay, an even bigger hit), and the fat-cats in charge would have seen their bonuses (and possibly even their jobs) diminish. So guess who gets screwed? Guess.

I’ve written extensive posts about all this before, you I’m not going to rehash it now. It just raises my blood pressure.

While all those environmental goals are noteworthy, and even applaudable, I just don’t have the means to change any of  circumstances that contribute to them. I have to leave that to you guys and gals.

What I am out to accomplish is getting my family back into a safe, secure, weather-resistant house, that we can afford to live in. One where we have the same basic needs covered that most of you have. And, we’d like to do it without a huge mortgage, huh? Is that too much to ask?

And if I manage to slay any environmental dragons along the way, well, that’s just a wonderful bonus.

From the feedback I’m getting, you’d certainly think that I might be asking too much…

I’ve groveled,  I’ve crawled, I’ve lobbied politicians, I’ve made speeches before “Capital cronies,” I’ve written “blood-covered” posts, and I’ve even begged, because my family is FAILING, but help is just not happening…

Some of you already know that we just got a shipment of damaged shipping containers, that we’re cannibalizing for fun and “experimentation.” Okay, three. We got three. It’s not like we got a container ship fulla boxes. Don’t I wish. I’d build houses  for families that needed them… until I dropped dead from exhaustion.

While I was out behind a warehouse recently, using a plasma cutter to dissect a Corten Cubicle, I had a guy walk over and get on my case about my “ambition.”

It seems that if you cut up a steel box and then live in it, you’re “putting carpenters out of work” in an already failing economy. Why, what you’re doing is downright “un-American!”

Exact words.

I had to laugh. Right in his face.

That just made him madder. For a minute I thought that he was looking for something to hit me with, but everything laying around was steel, and way too heavy for him to lift. So, he just rattled off a string of obscenities, shook his fists at me repeatedly, and then waddled off.

I guess he forgot that you have to put interiors into these boxes in order to make them livable, and then… you’ll probably put insulation and siding on the outside of them, to confuse the neighbors even further… I think carpenters do that, unless I’m mistaken. I’ve never seen any “Container Gnomes”, or anything like that… 🙂

If wanting a safe, affordable, sustainable house to live in is considered “Un-American”… then sign me up and send me a lifetime membership card.

Having had just about enough of his nonsense (and his threats), I calmly put down the plasma cutter (Remember, campers… always treat your tools with respect. Your neighbors? Well… um… er… it depends on what day it is…), and took off my goggles, and my wristwatch.

This was going to be just the “attitude adjustment “I needed. I hate taking “anti-stress and blood pressure medication.” But, I’m all pent up with frustration. What better outlet, than an idiot cursing my family ancestry? Hmmm?

But he didn’t possess enough “conviction” to actually put his butt behind his mouth. He literally ran away.

Now, I realize that I seem a little bit “up-patriotic” at times. I’m disenchanted with government. I’m tired of give-away programs that only benefit the elite, or fund projects that seem unlikely to succeed, while the rest of us suffer.

Bailing out Wall Street?

I’ve heard all the arguments. And now, I’ve seen everything go right back to the way it was… except the bonuses are even bigger. Why?

Bailing out the Car Companies?

Again, why? Not ALL companies started withering like grapes in a heatwave! Only the ones that refused to change with the times.

Cash for Clunkers?

Okay, some of us got new cars. (I didn’t.)

But, I’ll remind those of you who did that the REST of us are paying for them. Billions of dollars. So, when you go out into the driveway, to start up that new car you bought with your $4500 free bucks, remember that the rest of the taxpaying citizens of America helped put it in your driveway, and now we’re helping you pay for it.

Like it or not. I don’t remember voting for that one. Oy.

The Stimulus Package?

Sure, now hundreds of large US-based corporations can afford to outsource jobs to Malaysia, to build solar panels and other cool environmental stuff. And, it’s exactly what’s happening. I just read a report that several large companies here in the US are on a hiring binge in other countries, to build these products, now that they have government money to do it with. In fact, they may offer to move you to that country, if you want to keep your job. I hear India is nice this time of year. And, the  curry is good…

We just picked our own pockets until there was nothing left but lint. Am I really the only one who sees this?

Recently, I ran a post that talked about grants, and loans, and “money lost.”

I got a list of grants and banks, and “other” organizations helping American families to build homes. And, it wasn’t worth the paper that they printed it on. Should I be surprised? After all, I got it from a Government official.

And, I got pissed off, and wrote a post about it.

People emailed me like mad, telling me that I was crazy. After all, the Government is just giving money away, to anyone who wants it!

Yeah? Bull.

Apparently, they’re only giving it away to people OUTSIDE this country, who supported Presidential Campaigns.

Want yet another an example?

The Wall Street Journal (Yes… Ronin reads… I don’t just look at the pictures…) The Department of Energy just awarded $529 million to Finland…

FINLAND!

… for an $89,000 all-electric sports car, while US projects die, jobs languish, and American companies go bust.

The U.S. Government has offered a $529 million loan to FISKER,  an Al Gore-backed company making $89,000 all-electric sports cars in Finland, while US projects, and the resulting US jobs go unfunded.

Why are US projects unfunded? The Government says they don’t have the money to fund them… Whaaaa?

It might interest you to know that Fisker‘s top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a “significant” partner.

Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million recently to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.

A representative from the CRP added; “And that’s just the money that we can actually track.”

You wonder why I hate (okay… I don’t “hate” him, I just dislike him…a lot…) Al Gore?

Here’s yet ANOTHER reason. This backstabbing b@st@rd continues to rake in the cash, by using his “global warming platform” as an ATM.

There is a distinct difference between “Global Warming” and Climate Change. I totally, totally, totally…  believe in Climate Change… but “Global Warming?” Bah-Hooey! 😉

But, back to Al Gore… First, it was “Bad Science“. Hey, if nothing else, Al Gore IS the Paris Hilton of the Scientific Community… He’s stinking rich for no apparent good reason, he’s a “charismatic idiot,” he turns up every time he sees a press camera light go on… and he looks good on camera… sometimes.

Thousands of notable, credentialed scientists (including many who specialize in Climate Change Science) are now going on record to state that Gore pulled a fast one on EVERYBODY…

Then, it was “carbon credits.” Again, Gore‘s “Carbon Credit Trading Company” made millions of dollars.

Now FISKER is using Gore‘s contacts and political prowess as a “Hollywood backed media darling“, to bilk American taxpayers again, and again, and again.

Other car companies have gotten money recently. Hello? You know, GM, Ford, and Chrysler, for example. Even one of my favorites, TESLA,  got some cash, in the form of a loan.

Now, I’m okay with Tesla getting some cash. Tesla builds electric cars. Cool electric cars, I might add. Those idiots in Congress gave Tesla $465 million bucks, in the form of a loan. Okay, so Tesla has to pay it back… I’m okay with that. They actually build their cars here. So Americans get jobs and Americans want, and will get the cars they build.

But Fisker? Wait a minute!

The Silicon Valley-based Fisker said that the bulk of loan proceeds will go towards the development of a $40,000 family sedan.

That they haven’t even designed yet!

And if that’s true, why are they diverting a large portion of the funds to fuel yet another car, an “alleged” $90,000 electric car that nobody can afford except status seeking… um… er… Hollyweirdo’s and fatcats…. Oh… I get it… never mind! 😉

Wait a minute! you say… It’s a Silicon Valley corporation! That’s not  “alien.”

Um… where do Finnish cars get built?

So far… FINLAND.

So, how many American jobs will that money fund?

I’m Betting ZERO!

Fisker‘s Silicon Valley operation is just a glorified design center. It’s a place for the top 1% of their employees to hang their hats. So either Fisker plans on giving them HUGE pay raises, or that money is going overseas.

I read the data. The plant in America (Wilmington) that they’re talking about is hopelessly locked in turmoil. Moses couldn’t bring that plant on-line any time soon. The Union isn’t budging, and there are big troubles ahead…

But… employees of Fisker’s top investor, KPC&B, donated more than $2 million to the Obama presidential campaign, and customers who have pre-ordered the Fisker include… who else… Al Gore.

Wanna bet that his doesn’t come with an invoice?

The DOE denied that politics played a role in the decision.

abductions

Yeah, right. And yesterday I was abducted by aliens…

I’m thinking that if you spend about $4 million dollars on the right politician, you can get a hell of a loan… no matter where you live. But, I bet that the DOE will deny that, too…

But zero is still zero. Unless you count the millions of bucks that Finland (and Al Gore) just raked in.

For 1/10th of 1 percent of that money, I could have built homes for 15 small families. Okay, sure… it’s only 15 families, but it’s a START! It’s 15 families safe, dry, and warm in their 600+ square foot houses made of steel. And one of those kids could grow up to be President. But probably not… because growing up to be energy efficient, self-reliant, and socially  responsible… would probably disqualify them.

Somebody pass the Tylenol…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin Look, if you like this blog, if it helps you plan your ISBU project, or even if you just enjoy watching me make an @$$ out of myself … hit the Paypal button up there (if you can afford to), and donate a few bucks to help us out. Look, if I didn’t REALLY need it, I wouldn’t ask. It’s humiliating, and it’s embarrassing. I just ran out of options. If we don’t help “ourselves,” no one will. Government isn’t going to do it. If something doesn’t happen REAL soon, my family will fail, and we don’t have a safety net. I write this blog, to help as many families as we possibly can, while we try to heal, ourselves. Thanks for reading!

Bye Bye Mikey…

28 Jun

Okay…tjones

After watching an almost endless loop of “Thriller” video clips, I’m wondering what everyone else is thinking.

I for one, am sad to anyone die before their time. But, I suspect that Michael Jackson had been courting his death for a long time, prior to this.

His family tried to get him into rehab for drug abuse. Morphine always catches up to you, no matter how many times you look over your shoulder at it, as you “run away…”

The prosecutors in California tried to put him into prison, for being “not normal,” to put it politely.

And from watching the spectacle that was Michael’s life… Michael didn’t exactly live on this planet, huh?

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His music… well, that tried to put him a step above everyone else, and many would say that he succeeded.

Like many people my age, I grew up listening to Jackson amaze us with his talent, as he slowly slipped away from us…  as his eccentricities and ailments made him more and more reclusive. In a way, he was my generation’s Howard Hughes.

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Regardless of how you feel about him as a person, he was a musical genius. And, that’s the way I want to try and remember him. To remember him as  “Wacko Jacko,” or a deviant, or someone I couldn’t trust around my kids… well… that’d just make me sick. And, there’s already enough sickness in the world. So, I’m just gonna get caught up in the “where was I when?” memories that all those video marathons are helping me relive. It’s just easier.

chappatte

Hey, if nothing else, watching your relatives and creditors try to destroy each other as they try to loot your estate should prove interesting…

I just hope that somebody steps up, to look after your kids. They’re the “innocents” that I wanna see protected from the media hurricane that is about to engulf them.

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

“What if I was to drop dead tomorrow? Who’d take care of the kids?”

Man… what a tragedy…

The Renaissance RoninAddendum: June 29th, 2009 – Michael Jackson is STILL dead. And he took that loud-mouthed Billy Mays with him!

A while back, Billy Mays ran his mouth about how “he was more famous than the King of Pop.”
Just goes to show you… You should never mess with “The Gloved One.”Or, he might give you the finger…
Well, Mikey, at least you did SOMETHING right…

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.

So you want to build a house…

1 Jun

As you know, my family is building our own house out of shipping containers (ISBU’s), if the idiots in Jackson  will just get the hell out of the way.  But, you probably already know that, right?

It’s a long hard fight, because we’re not building a “traditional house out of straw, or sticks, or even bricks…”

And it seems that the “Big Bad Wolf” (aka: the local authorities and the knuckleheads at the State Capital) are trying to “huff and puff and blow our house down” faster than we can get it built up.

Will that finally stop us? No. We’ll just get a bigger can of “Wolf Repellent” and administer doses liberally, until we accomplish our goals. Now “Wolf repellent” comes in several different varieties, but so far, the one that seems to be the most effective is the “strutting all the facts out in public and then using them as a hammer” brand. Liberal sprinklings of “veiled threats to use the media and your voting record” seem to help as well, as supplements. So, the fight continues.

The sad thing is that the path we’ve chosen (albeit different from most) still puts a family in an affordable, durable house, that is sustainable and efficient. And for the life of me, I can’t get the powers that be, to recognize that fact.

It’s frustrating to the point of “tears and medication” at times, but if we’re going to help other families like ours get back into homes, we have to prove it can be done, in spite of what sometimes seems like overwhelming odds. So, we get up each morning, say our prayers, and look to the new day, to see what develops.

And, that brings me to the topic today.

Once you’ve determined that you’re going to build your own home, how do you actually do it?

Now, I’m not talking about putting “stick (A) into slot (B)” and then repeating that until you have a house. I’m talking about how you actually afford to have people in your employ, to assist you in building your dream home.

As the economy crumbles, and as more and more people end up on the unemployment line, I’m curious as to whether some of the assistance money programmed into the “stimulus package” can actually help you build that house.

Sure, most of the money is aimed at Big Business. But, some of it will manage to trickle down to us “little guys” at the bottom of the feed chain. And it might even do it in the form of Tax Incentives and Tax Credits, if we do it right.

This stream of thought started when I picked up a copy of the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009. It expands tax credits for hiring new workers. You know, guys and gals from groups like the disabled, people on public assistance, and even (gasp!) veterans.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s a pretty narrow stream, huh? But despite what you’ve heard, Jews can swim… We can even walk on water… Well, some of us can. 🙂

Okay, okay… Here’s the gist of my rant today; Those tax credits are only for businesses, right? Well, what if, while acting as your own General Contractor, you actually established a business that employed your help? There’s a really thin line painted here, that looks like it might enable “the common man” to basically start a company that just supplied “independent contractor” labor to be supervised by licensed tradesmen, and in doing so, be entitled to this tax credit.

Now, you want your guys and gals to be independent contractors, for several reasons. First, independent contractors aren’t subject to payroll taxes. Second, you don’t have to include (or even establish for that matter) fringe benefit programs like health insurance or retirement plans.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Here’s the guts of it;

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) will actually benefit “labor employers” that hire people from 9 targeted “groups,” with a tax credit equal to 40% of qualified first-year wages. This includes different amounts for qualified vets or teen summer hires. The only real hitch seems to be that they must work at least 120 hours for the wages to qualify.

I’m curious as to whether or not you can find a way to make this work for  you, as a homebuilder.  I’m going to investigate this further, and see if I can find a way to put some of those “Stimulus Dollars” in your pocket.

And I’m going to take a hard look at other ways to become eligible for those Stimulus dollars, as we build our Corten Castle. After all, if Wall Street and the car companies can benefit from federal handouts, I’m pretty sure that as a taxpayer, I should be entitled too. It’s my kids (and yours) who will be paying off this monumental debt.

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

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

5 May

I’m reminded today of the “Battle of Puebla” where 4,500 untrained Mexican commoners courageously defeated 6,500 Mercenaries, Indians and French soldiers, to voice their opposition of oppression.

That history lesson seems particularly fitting, as America tosses and turns in it’s bed, waiting to see what each new day brings. The economy is in shambles, mortgages are falling into foreclosure faster than a fat kid on a happy meal, and the national debt is climbing faster than an F-18 Fighter Jet at an air show.

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I can relate to those Mexican commoners! Being the builder of an ISBU home puts you in situations where you face about the same odds!

There’s an awful lot of people lined up to tell you that you’re gonna fail. But you know what? The “Big Guy” upstairs gave us middle fingers for a reason.  So, I say;

“Trim your fingernails (because I’m sure that your momma taught you that “neatness counts!”), and then… apply that finger liberally! Make sure that they know you mean business! 🙂

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Building that home is your war, a campaign that is going to be full of battles with forces seemingly stacked against you. But, if you plan carefully, act responsibly, and exercise due diligence, you’ll have them running like a “Frenchman” all the way back to  the edge of your property lines!

¡Páseme otra cerveza fría, y apresúrese para arriba sobre ella!

And to all those valiant Mexican warriors who gave their all in the name of freedom… This one’s for you! Salute!

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Joshua! Gimme that back! You Rotten kid! 🙂

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninNo children were intoxicated during the recording of this message! (Unless you count “Benadryl.”) A “Stunt child” was  used instead of “actual” rotten kid. Drink your milk! Don’t run with scissors! Be Hip! Don’t double-dip! 🙂


Isn’t Missouri the “Show Me State”?

4 May

Recently, I ran a post about a lady in Missouri that is building her container house. I’d spoken with her designer and provided him with a copy of the post I intended to publish, out of respect for “a fellow tradesman.”

But, lately, I’m still getting email from people asking me about what’s going on, and why I got so pissed off. And from the look at the comments, it appears that the circus is trying to pitch a tent in MY yard, and THAT is not gonna happen!

The lady in question posted a “response” to my post (on her blog), after somebody emailed my commentary to her. And that just seems to have stirred things up a bit more.

Here’s the deal. I’ve asked my readers NOT to to air their views on her build (if they were negative) because of the “bad press” it lends to the cause. It’s that simple.

The point of all of these ISBU blogs is to promote PROGRESS, and not create CONTROVERSY. There’s already enough of that, housed most squarely in the jugheaded fascists that run most local Planning and Zoning departments. Becoming a sideshow barker at your buildsite just gives them more fuel. Why give them more ammunition to use against us?

Remember that all readers see is what is on the page, in black and white. And that’s where their opinions are drawn from. The public just sees the “antics” and the “media circus” end results. But, it’s the antics that they’ll remember, trust me.

My blog is a “niche” blog. I cover ISBU construction almost exclusively, as an alternative for people who apparently are in the same position as Miss “M” from Missouri. I have considerable experience here. I’ve personally built, or participated in the construction of almost a 100 of these “Corten Castles,” in the last three+ decades, spread out over several continents.

Anybody out there who has an equal number of ISBU projects is welcome to chime in. If not, then shut up and just read, for once. 🙂

I didn’t “go out of my way to single out “M”.” An almost endless stream of email made me address her situation. In fact, I’ve got to tell you that the post I originally intended to publish was much more  strongly worded.

Using ISBU’s is controversial. Because of the topic, I don’t get hundreds of thousands of hits, I get readers looking specifically for a “new” path to home ownership.  And of the 35,000+ readers we “entertain” (hundreds daily) only a handful will actually build.

Not everyone who walks into an architect or designer’s office actually builds a project, but they all still have opinions, made after first impressions.

I can tell you that as a result of my blog, I’ve witnessed over 20 ISBU projects that are either in design phase or development with construction professionals. And, I’m sending leads to architectural firms weekly, on prospective ISBU projects. So, some of the readers are building.

I’m currently consulting into a few of those builds, myself. I know the homes are getting built, because I’m seeing it firsthand.

My goal is simply to make ISBU construction more palatable. Even the idea of using a shipping container to build a structure is a “comedy act waiting to happen” when you approach planning and zoning, in most locales.

Why? Well, it’s because the predominant press about container houses (if you believe cable TV, or the printed press) is that the people that are building them are paying exorbitant rates (hundreds of dollars a square foot), to be “fashionably green.”

The houses showcased are usually framed around a client who expects adoration for his “green environmental stance.” To think less, is naive. The phrase “attention whore” fits.

I’d personally be excited about the current circus of “ISBU coverage” if it came off as being more “credible.” But, that means that the owner of the project has to actually realize their impact on the whole, instead of just basking in the “ME” spotlight. It’s not about ONE ISBU home, it’s about all of them to come.  As builders apparently giving birth to a new construction “baby”, we have a responsibility to see it safely off and standing on it’s own.

I toned down the post a LOT (something that I NEVER do) even though I was pretty pissed off,  to prevent “M” from having her feelings hurt. (I have a mother too…) I’m positive that she means well.

But, I’m known for calling them like I see them. Reread that disclaimer up there on the right. I’m sure the “middle finger” clause is in there… 🙂

I think I can speak for most of you when I say that most of my readership just wants to have a roof at the end of the day to hunker down under. The “celebrity” that has been recently rammed down our throats isn’t why most of my readers are wanting that ISBU in their yard.

I conducted a poll a while back, where I asked readers WHY they wanted to build an ISBU home. Know what the number ONE reason was? They wanted to live away from everyone else, secure in their home, with a defensible buffer. Self-sufficiency was number TWO. Being “Green and Sustainable” was number SIX.

Being “fashionable or “acclaimed” didn’t even make the top ten.

In fact, due to the lack of understanding by P&Z Nazis, you won’t see ISBU homes in your average neighborhood anytime soon.

Anyone who says otherwise is living on a different planet than most of America.

Sure, I’m guessing that the publicity is cool, at first. But, unless you have a huge need to have your ego massaged over and over again, it’s gotta get old after a while. And actually inviting people to come scrutinize your build is just absurd. Not only will it give your insurance agent a heart-attack, it’ll disrupt your workflow, and cause your workers distractions that will translate in elevated construction costs for you.

Entertaining the minions takes time. Dealing with “looky-lo’s” takes even longer. Having your worksite interrupted by people wanting answers, is expensive.  I urge all my people to close their worksites to the public until the job is complete. Cite “insurance matters,” or whatever, but keep them off the site. I don’t want the sanctity of my site violated by mini-vans filled with “Ma and Pa Kettle” getting in the way.

Then do one of two things;

(A) After the C/O, run one or two “press events,” if necessary, and invite the Realtors, et all… in… or;

(B) Point ALL inquiries back to the Architect or the Design/Builder. Let them handle the press, and deal with the minions.  Inspections by appointment only. The people responsible for the build are the best ones to deal with it’s “public face…” on THEIR time.  Otherwise, the client goes off and reinterprets the build, which only creates more confusion later.

(Which I often compare to asking a “sales rep” how something complicated actually “works…”)

Either way… After that, it’s; “Get the [expletive deleted] off my lawn. Period.”

Here’s something else that you might consider;

Most builds of this type finish higher (appraise higher) than they actually cost, if the team in control has any brains.  Making a big roar about your new house will bite you on the butt when it comes time for the tax appraiser to come in and place a value on it.

Whaaaa?

If that “really cool job”  is out there for everybody to talk about, and your worksite is surrounded by camera crews… you’re probably gonna get hit with a high appraisal. And that means you’ll be wasting a lot of time in front of your county commission, trying to talk sense into them, and bring it back down to reasonable levels. After all, you’re still going to pay property taxes, right? And as a the home owner, you’re the one who’ll be facing the town council, all by your onesies…

As to “first impressions…”

Although I encourage people to look to the positive, sometimes the scale appears to be “out of balance.” That’s not jealousy. It’s fear that another’s actions (implied or otherwise) may either prohibit you from doing what you want, or impact the way you wish to accomplish it in.

I was recently told, by “M’s” designer that;

“I think people who do not have experience in building see a budget of $150,000 and think that her “container house” will be extravagant. What people don’t realize is the cost of getting a site ready for a house which includes clearing the land, foundations, drilling a well, installing a septic system, getting electricity to the site. The actual amount of money being used to build and make the home livable is greatly reduced when you add the expense of all these things.”

That may be the experience that he suffers under, but readers of this blog don’t fall into that category at all. I go to great lengths to talk about how much has to be spent, to build a successful project. And, nearly every one of my projects are “off-grid,” or “near off-grid.” We understand what has to happen.

That’s the beauty of a “niche” blog, compared to a blog like “Treehugger.com.” You might SEE a Shipping Container house there, but on MY blog, we talk about how you actually DO it. And then… we put our money where our mouths are, and we produce.

He went on to say;

“I could try defend all the negative things people are saying but it’s not worth it. None of these people will ever get to meet her and that’s a shame. My wish for people is that they would take all the time and energy being used in criticizing and trying to bring others down and put that energy into a project. I think the world would be  a better place for everyone and those people would be much happier.”

My wish is that people see successful projects (without any “circus acts” or drama to act as a distraction, or an inhibitor to the next guy trying to build) and see it as another stone in the foundation of the “ISBU Home” future. But, I stopped trying to “dictate the actions” of others a long time ago. That weapon is firmly resting on the mantle, now. I don’t have enough hair remaining to pull out in frustration!

I want a house for every family, world peace, basic medical care for everyone, and an end to hunger, but I might as well go outside and spit into the wind…  🙂

In conclusion, “M’s” designer told me that;

“There’s only a small percentage of people who are going to buy into living in a container house or working in a container office.  The container should be used as a model to explore the possibilities of using less and more efficient materials and systems to build.”

While it’s possible that used to be true in America, it’s not true globally at all, and it never has been. I’ve been participating in ISBU builds for decades, both here, and offshore. Out there across “the big water” people see them for exactly what they are; “high speed steel frames” that you build housing into.  And, as America goes through growing pains, it’s changing the way we look at housing too, if my email is any indication. I see hundreds of families looking for affordable housing that takes advantage of millions of steel boxes just laying around collecting dust. I hear from twenty families a week (A WEEK) who want me to help them build a home out of these boxes, so that they can be safe and comfortable. That means that the tide is turning.

More and more people are trying to figure out how to find affordable housing, as times get harder and harder. When I was doing this in the 70’s, we were “just those damned hippies.” Now, in the 21st century, all of a sudden, “we’re visionaries.” There are a million dormant containers parked on America’s shores. If we can find a way to soothe the “but Grandpa didn’t do it that way” ills, more people will find a home.

The same could be said for Rammed earth homes, straw-bale construction, “Little Houses,” and even Earthships, I suppose, but my way happens to be the one that I see work the most effectively, in many different environments.

It’s also my hope that the Stimulus Bill may actually have money in it for families to build with. It would put a lot of Americans back to work, and provide homes at the same time. I’m working with Congressman Taylor to figure out whether that potential exists.

I’m not trying to single out “some poor old lady,  because it’s an easy post. I have TONs of material. Hit the archives, folks. I have well over a hundred posts in the last year alone, and all of them have lots of content. “I don’t think that “M” is dancing like a “Trained Circus Bear” to drum up publicity for herself, and I’m not saying that she built this home simply to get the spotlight.

I’m just asking her to consider using that new fame a little bit more responsibly, to help other people trying to do what she’s done. It’s as simple as that.

But in the end, it’s her “pig in a prom dress,” and she can wear it any way she wants. This is, after all…

America!

And “M”…

I wish you all the success in the world, where your ISBU home in concerned. Just make sure it’s a success, huh? Contrary to what you might think, we’re pullin’ for ya!

  • SHOW ME (and everybody else) that your project was more than just the media hype and “cable TV chicanery” that hungry reporters have seemingly turned it into
  • SHOW ME that you’re in your home, happy, secure, safe, and full of resolve about what a great job you did! And then…
  • SHOW ME that you’re gonna live a long happy life in that new home of yours! 🙂

So, that’s my last word on “the divine Miss M…” she’s on her own, in capable hands, and ‘Nuff said…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Pipe Dreams

1 May

Once upon a time…

As you no doubt know by now, my family is building a new home out of shipping containers, and other cast-off stuff. (I suppose the first clue was that blue box up there in the banner, huh?) 🙂

It’s a tale told with turmoil, torment, treachery, and even some triumphs, and we’re not through yet!  Along the way, we’ve picked up a few stragglers, and even managed to help some folks start building their homes, and get their feet planted firmly on the ground again. THAT is what this blog is all about. We want to help all of you, every single one! Why? Because we’re givers!

Actually, it’s probably because misery loves company, and it’s kinda lonely sometimes!  I mean, really… If we’re laughing at you, we’re not crying at “us!” 🙂

And trust me when I tell you that sometimes we’re not laughing “with” you, we are indeed laughing “at” you. You know who you are! 🙂

I received an email from a contractor that saw a little blurb I did, about building a “Roman Crane” out of a 20′ shipping container, a flatbed trailer, a couple of scrap hydraulic cylinders, and some scrap steel beams that we’d gotten from an aircraft hangar demolition.

Well, I dug out the original drawings, and even the detail photographs, and sent them off to him with a hearty “Good Luck… You’re gonna need it.”

Now, this contractor expressed his gratitude, and he swore up and down that he’d make it right by me, somehow. But, I just took it as “lip service” because we all know that contractors can’t be trusted! 🙂

I know this for a fact ‘cuz I used to be one! 🙂

Oh just stop it… I’m kidding. I like contractors just fine… But you have to marinate them a really long time… LOL!

Anyway, last week, I get a call from this guy;

“Remember me? Well, we followed your plans, to the “T!” And, it actually worked great! It worked so good that we got another contract, and we’ve inherited a service yard to work from, out by the Space Center!

Say, I’ve got 17 sections of concrete sewer pipe here, left over from a DOT highway build, I think. They’ve been here for a few years now. And, I bet you could use them for something, if you put your mind to it. After all, you’re a really smart guy!

Ya want ’em? You can store them here until you need them, and we’ll even help you load them. I mean, it’s not like we don’t have a crane now!”

Now, the wheels immediately started spinning.

I recalled that I’d seen them used before in novel ways. In fact, I’ve even showed them to you once before. I was kinda caught in a “Deja Vu” moment there, on the phone… Wait… here’s another one, now!

I give you… The Das Park Hotel

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Here’s some hotel rooms built from giant concrete sewage pipe segments!

Although this is a one-of-the-kind hotel, it has been designed from the outset to use worldwide standard concrete drainage or sewage pipe sections – so you could well see more of them in the future.

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The idea of Andreas Strauss in 2004, the first rooms were provided in Linz. Now in nearby Ottensheim, rooms are accessed by a digital keypad, whose code is provided by the self service website upon booking acceptance.

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The beauty of these pipes is that their concrete utilitarian look needs little alteration to make them habitable – a coat of varnish is all that is necessary.

The tubes have also have received wall paintings by the Austrian artist Thomas Latzel Ochoa to make them seem a little more user friendly.

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Each tube weighs more than you can possibly imagine! In fact, they tip the scales at over  20,000 pounds…  So although some might be tempted to rock or vandalize them, they are incredibly robust and need little maintenance, provided you can keep those pesky miscreants with spray cans away from them.  But… that’s what dogs are for, I suppose.

More advanced lock and electronic keypad systems had to be fitted in 2007,  (to keep unauthorized users out) but the original concept is working very well.

Like cave hotels, Das Park Hotel is fairly cool in the summer, and perhaps still warm in winter, although at the moment the hotel is only open from May to October.

Rooms: Three double-room pipes

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Once inside the pipes, the facilities are pretty basic, but they do have everything you’ll need to get a good nights sleep –  a double bed,  a lamp, a power strip so you can plug in that alarm clock,  a couple of blankets and even light cotton sleeping bags are provided.

But, if you’re one of those guys who has  to pee in the wee hours, you’re gonna have to hike for it. The toilet and (cold) showers are a couple of minutes walk away, with details provided on booking. Ignore the guy hiding in the bushes with the big knife and the hockey mask, he’s just waiting for his turn in the pipe!

The price is right, and we’re not talking about Drew Carey or Bob Barker here! Rooms are based on a donation basis only. There is no set pricing. Nada! Zip! Bupkiss!

Located in a lovely spot next to the Danube in Ottensheim municipal camping area the tubes have had a several seasons of use but are still clean and functional.

Hello? Concrete! After all, you can just hose them out, or even sandblast them from year to year, to get them ready for the next season!

The travel blurb says: “While there are many restaurants in the town square 15 minutes walk away, we particularly recommend the El Danubio campsite bar and it’s host Sergio, who will prepare excellent rib and fried potato dinners a minutes walk from your room. Details of places for breakfast, drinks and bathroom facilities are provided in the joining instructions.”

“Joining Instructions?” Ah… to stay in the pipe, you give  “a donation,” but to eat or pee, you have to join a “special club.” I see…” Hmmmm… 🙂

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The campsite has beach volleyball courts, a kiddie paddling pool and nearby spots for swimming in the Danube.

Who could ask for more?

Well, from what I can see, the only things that they’re missing are a small Photovoltaic panel to power that lamp and the alarm clock, and maybe a nice little solar hot water heater system, to allow a little bathroom to get tucked in there! You know, like the ones they put into boats! They’re more like little closets, but they do the job! If you did that… (FEMA? Are you paying attention?) these could build dandy little emergency camps!  No formaldehyde here, folks!

You could put your relatives in there, and then slam that door shut! Hey it’s not like they’ve starve… You could drop food in, thru that skylight hole in the top!

Okay, maybe not. But it’s a fun thought…

But  you could put them in an RV park, or wilderness park even… The pipes, not the relatives… It gives one pause to think… I wonder if there is any “Stimulus Package money for projects like this? I mean, it’s green, and it’s housing, and it’s recycled… 🙂

Dear President Obama,

Like Martin Luther King… “I have a dream.”

Okay, it’s not as noble as Martin Luther’s but it’s a dream, none the less! Okay, it’s a “Pipe Dream!” Gimme a break, huh? What did you expect? I’m just a regular “Bubba!” I don’t “habla” Political Doublespeak… I don’t “sprechen Senatorial smack!” I don’t even comprehend “Congressional Stupidity.”

I was just thinkin’ since you’re givin all that money away (apparently to anybody with an empty wheelbarrow), that I could sure use some of it to build a place for my “in-laws” to stay when they decide to punish… um…er… visit me.

Now I promise I’ll “build green,” and even recycle. No trees will be harmed, and no fat cats will get one penny of this project “bailout.”  The only boost that they’ll get out of me…  is my bootprint on their behind.

Thank you for considering my request!

Respectfully… for now…

Ronin

PS. Hillary? Are you kidding? What were you thinking?

CC: Lawyers – so they can start preparing my defense…

BCC: Psychiatrist

I’ve got all kinds of ideas. This could get really interesting! And the bonus is that it’s gonna drive the Planning and Zoning guy absolutely nuts! LOL!

Stay tuned!

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