Tag Archives: green

To Dome, or not to Dome…

11 Nov

It’s me again…

I’m like that unruly relative who keeps showing up at the front door because: “My wife threw me out again, because I didn’t do nothing wrong, except get really hammered… again… and then wreck the car… again…” 🙂

WAIT! That’s not it! Nuh-uh! I’d shoot that guy in the head. Twice!

I’M the guy building a home for his family, out of shipping containers and aircraft hangar parts. And, I’m teaching other people how to do it, too! And… some of them are actually listening to me… the rubes! 🙂

Seriously, we’re trying to demonstrate by example that you can build your own affordable, sustainable, energy efficient home without being a NASA scientist or tying yourself to a huge mortgage, or living a life fueled by “keeping up with the Joneses.”

And we’re doing just that. 7 of my families are building their own homes, as  I type this. You could be  too…

NO! Not “7 of my families” in the biblical sense! What are you, nuts? 🙂


In between fighting with Planning and Zoning Nazis and the State of Mississippi, and helping other families get their projects moving, I check my email. I don’t know WHY?  Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment.

Every time I open my email… I get accused of being (a) stupid, (b) crazy, or (c) both.

But… you know what they say… “sticks and stones…”

I’m just going to have to change my email address so that my Mom doesn’t know what it is! 🙂

Lately, I’ve been getting a ton of flack over this whole “ISBU” thing…

Okay, so it’s not just “lately,” it’s been since Day ONE…

And, I get all kinds of people who send me stuff that starts out with:

“Forget that ISBU nonsense! I’ve read all about these polycarbonate domes on the market now, that are touted as being ‘the next big thing’…”

camo_domeI keep having people ask me about the “domed shelter” idea… you know the ones I mean… that come in a 20′ diameter (314 square feet) configuration.

Of course, they’re talking about Intershelter’s Polycarbonate Dome system. And, I’ve gotta say that at first glance, they’re pretty enticing.

And okay, I’m warning you up front, that I’m going to have some fun, at Intershelter’s expense. And, I hope that they have a sense of humor.

Look, I’m well known because I say exactly what’s on my tiny little mind.

You don’t like it? Well… Tough Noogies…

I’m not a politician or a diplomat. If you have any doubts about what I’m talking about, read the disclaimer  over there on the right side of your page. Capish?

In advance: I don’t hate their product at all. In fact, it’s kinda cool. But like every “shelter solution,” it has it’s potentials, and it’s pitfalls.

You want something that you can deliver by C-130 aircraft or military helicopter and slap up in a hurry, when you’re on an expedition into the Great White North, to document Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, or even a bevy of attractive Eskimo girls in seal fur… this may be the solution.

Wanna explore the Sahara looking for buried African treasure troves? Well, give a bunch of camel’s a humongous hernia… or parachute a bunch of these puppies into your base camp. Hey, all those Nigerian Internet scam artists had to hide the loot somewhere, right?

Wanna start a cult out in the middle of nowhere (that you can pack up and move at a moments notice)?  You know… like when the trigger-happy guys from ATF  (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) show up dressed in bulletproofs… after they figure out your “current” address? Okay, here ya go!

001_ADozenDomesv02And, they can even interlock, to form big old “chemistry class bubbles!” Yahoo!  🙂

Wanna have a “Jewish Jamboree” in the land that Moses spent 40 years exploring? I bet you could even find a Kosher bunch of “half shells…” Um… maybe not.  Shellfish ain’t never kosher!  And… Probably not even plastic “half-shell – Jonah eating”  shellfish. We’ll have to  ask a Rabbi… Oy Vey! 🙂

Looking for a cool camping “tent” that ain’t a tent? One that’ll make your kids really mad at you, when you make them haul it out of the truck, piece by piece, to erect in the clearing of your choice? Okay! This will do the trick!

(And, it’ll keep the little buggers out of your hair all weekend, because they’ll be so mad at you for making them do chores! And, they can’t kill you by sneaking up and burning it down… that burning insulation will make a terrific popping sound as it combusts! )  😉

Hey all this talk about “popping sounds” is making me hungry… Time out while I make a batch of popcorn!  🙂

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah…

Does the dome system have some really cool “Military Applications?” Probably, if you can find a way to insure that it’s capable of being transformed into something “anti-ballistic.”

Nothing screws up “a nice dream about home…” like getting shot in the butt… while it’s still in your rack.

But is it really an affordable housing solution? I’m not so sure…

Let’s run it up the flagpole, and see who salutes… okay?  😉

The domes we’re talking about are made of a very cool polycarbonate panel system (that you can insulate for $2,500 extra) that costs about US$12,000+  for the base structure. (This figure is based on the  most recent pricing data I’ve seen – as of November 10th, 2009)


So… that’s $14,500.00 plus crating and shipping, for an empty, non-floored, non-foundationed, insulated 20′ beer cooler/dome. And that shipping and handling is going to add at least another $500 bucks…

(I’m being generous here, it will probably cost substantially more.)

But hey… they gotta be cool, because they (somebody overheard one of the manufacturers reps say it, repeatedly…) claim that Brad Pitt bought some of them, right?

So what? That’s almost $48 per square foot! WTF? Are you absolutely freakin’ nuts?

Sorry… lost it there for a moment… Let me just take several deep cleansing breaths… ah… that’s much better! 🙂

Evidently… my suspicions have been confirmed. Even if Brad was “mondo cool enough” to get Angelina… (sigh! excuse me a moment while I pleasure myself with a little daydream about “Angie baby“)…

angelina-jolie-pregnantHow can you not love this face? (sigh!)

… if Mr. Pitt thinks that these domes will work as “affordable permanent housing,” well… Brad Pitt is a complete whacko! He’s “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” crazy… His “bats” have bats… in his belfrey.

But; “wait a minute…” you say… “domes have some good things going for them!”

They look really cool!

Yeah, I agree. They DO look cool. IF… you’re an Eskimo! Otherwise, you live in a house that looks like it fell out of a seagull’s butt…

And hey! I mean… NO corners – So… No place for the wind to grab, during a “big storm event.” No wind shearing!

Okay, I’ll give you that one…

“They’ll withstand a Category 5 hurricane direct hit! I know it’s true ‘cuz they said it on their website! I think… “

Uh huh… Sure it will. Prove it. THEY haven’t. Give me the address of the house. I’m POSITIVE that they didn’t say that. That would be incredibly stupid. Not even an idiot would say that.

And… because it has NO corners… floodwater goes around them  without knocking them down… right? Well Ronin? What you gotta say now, Mr Smarty Pants? Huh?

Um… Jeez, you are one gullible sap, aren’t you? You honestly believe that a wall of hurricane driven water won’t knock down a plastic dome that weighs nearly nothing, in comparison… Uh huh… again… PROVE IT!!

Well, okay… you gotta admit that they’re easy to wash… Just start hosing off the top, and it’ll all come running down, and wash the sides.

Seriously, when’s the last time you washed the outside of your house? Me? Like NEVER. That’s what G-D made “rain” for… duh! 🙂

And when they’re all shiny clean? Those domes will still look like great big bird droppings.  🙂

So, when the poop hits the fan… there’s gonna be a line for them at Walmart, huh? Just whip out that GoldCard, and “Kerblammo!”

Instant shelter…

Well, “bull-hoo-hoo-hoo-freakin-hooey!”

First, who is their right mind would live in a plastic dome, without any insulation? And, what Planning and Zoning Nazi would let them, even if they wanted to?

That said, why does the insulation cost extra? Hmmm? Why didn’t they just include it in the first place?

That’s just kinda STUPID, with a “capital” STUPE! But, I could be wrong. It could happen… some day. 😉

And, I could go on about the polycarbonate shell, but I’m trying not to make you feel like a complete imbecile… sort of…

I mean, it IS kinda fun… ya big dope!  🙂

Here’s the one big problem with a dome…

Ever tried to live in a round room?

Ever tried to lay one out so that you could use decent “off the shelf” materials to finish it out?

Ever tried to do it without being a Master Carpenter? Ever tried to cut exactly correct complex curves, into every single piece of wood in the freakin’ place? Huh? Well?

Ever tried to squeeze every wasted part of a circle into something usable?

clint-eastwood-dirty-harryWell, have ya, punk? 🙂

There’s a better way… if you’re not stupid.

You’re not, right? Cuz’… I mean.. If ya are, you better stop reading now… and head on over to “Google Games” or something… 🙂

Now where was I? Oh yeah… and pay attention, because there’s a “pop quiz” at the end….

I need an insulated shell with an area of approximately 310 square feet, right? One that I can haul in by myself, without any heavy equipment…

Here’s how I’D do it;

(Now remember, Ronin don’t have a team of NASA engineers, or a plastics lab, or a manufacturing facility, or a million dollars in start-up money. He’s flyin’ solo…)

Start with 1″x 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood. Exterior grade, about (16) of them will do. Match that with (12) 4′ x 12′ x 1/2″ sheetrock panels. Get the mold resistant ones, huh? Condensation is a real pain in the butt…

Put that all together with some spray-on closed-cell foam insulation, and you’ll get pre-Insulated and Interlocking 4′ x 8′ “sandwich” panels, that paired up… will form (8) 8′ x 8′ Wall assembly sections of your octagon.

NO! Not “Octomom…” If  she’s gonna live there, you’re gonna need a LOT more room… and medication. A truckload of med’s….

2″ of sprayed on closed-cell foam would provide approximately r14 walls. You’ll need that much insulation at LEAST.

But, just for the sake of holding you up to public ridicule, we’re just gonna go “cheap…” 😉

Precast steel corner pieces will adjust each wall assembly to the “right” angle, and that will allow assembly of  the “octagon.” These pieces already exist, off-the-shelf, so why make them, when you can buy ’em already? Look ’em up in a catalog on-line… that’s what I did.

Buy em LONG. At least 10′. We want at least 18″ up over the top of that wall. Why? Well, if we extend the supports up past the top of the insulated panels we just made, we can put thick clear plastic sheeting in there to “daylight” the center of that octagon.

And, if you keep following this post series, you’ll see what else you can do with an 8’x9’6″ opening.

But for now;

Several different “panel component” assemblies will allow for window insertion or door insertion, etc…

(16) panels would create an (8) sided, 310 square foot housing unit, with (2) 36″ entry doors and (4) 32″ windows.

Of course, you could always install a set of 8′ sliding glass doors, too. Just replace one wall assembly with the door set. That’d bring in a ton of light, and even help you heat the home, if you used a thermal mass floor… like maybe concrete. And you could do it for the price as one of the wall assemblies,  if you used a “salvaged set” from a scrapyard or salvage supplier.

The octagonal roof would simply be (8) interlocking SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) approximately 10″ thick. Each panel would be light enough to be handled by (2) men. The assembled roof would require no “support.”

In the center of the roof would be a “draft inducer assembly” built into an 8 sided SIPs “receiver” to complete the roof.

This inducer would allow a wood stove or other heating device to be placed in the center of the housing module, to heat the unit. Or… forget the draft inducer, and install a skylight.

This entire housing module would “flat-pack…”  enabling it to be transported by a pickup truck or small flatbed trailer..

Assembly onto a pre-built wooden “foundation” platform would take approximately 3-4 hours, with 2 able-bodied men.

Yield: (1) Small (approx 310 square foot) family unit with a 12′ roof, includes sleeping loft, kitchen, bathroom, living area, and additional sleeping quarters for Ma and Pa Kettle.

Cost for shell:

Note: I’m just talking about the empty structure (just like the dome shell quote), the foundation is extra.

$108.00     (12) 4′ x 12′ x 1/2″ Sheetrock  @ $9.00 each

$  40.00     (16) 104″ 2x4s – for bottom and top plates  at   $ 2.50  each

$850.00    (10) Blank 4′ x 8′ x 3.5″ Insulated Panel at approximately $85.00 per to fabricate

$770.00   (4) Window 4′ x 8′ x 3.5″ Insulated Panel at $192.50  each

We used “good” Dual Pane insulated glass 32″ x 60″ windows.

$390.00    (2) Door 4′ x 8′ x 3/5″ Insulated Panel at $195.00 each

We used decent – contractor grade 6-panel 36″ steel – (foam insulated) doors.

$ 80.00     (8) Panel Interlocks – Straight at $10.00 each

$ 96.00     (8) Panel Interlocks – Angled at  $12.00 each

$680.00   (8) SIP Interlocking 10″ Roof Segments  at approximately $85.00 each to fabricate

$ 85.00     (1) Draft Inducer Roof Crown at $85.00 to fabricate

$100.00   (1) Hardware/Sealer Kit full of nuts, bolts, screws, silicone caulking, flashing, and other stuff…

Grand total:

$6,199.00    OR   $19.99 per square foot.

Now… you have a complete shell with r15 (actual) walls that perform like r19, and r41 (actual) roof that performs like r62.

What? What’s this “actual/perform” crap?

Because air-tightness, moisture resistance, and thermal mass are properties that are inherent with closed-cell foam and SIPS, so they will out-perform their given R-Values in comparison to fiberglass batts. That’s why! Don’t you READ the blog? Well? Huh?  🙂

Not feeling silly enough yet? Okay, let’s pave the road to “Dufasberg” further… 🙂

Now… just add (on your own dime, because we’re just trying to compare “likey-likey”) a concrete foundation or an elevated wood deck platform, maybe a solar panel to help with domestic hot water production, and even a photovoltaic panel or two, to bump that utility meter backwards a little bit… plus the necessary electrical and plumbing.

Back to “spendy-spendy…”:

Waterproof it (just in case, even though that closed-cell insulation forms both a water AND a vapor barrier), side it, and slap some felt and shingles on the roof.

Roofing material for that 325+ square foot roof is going to cost you about $600.00

After all that, you still have about $8,200.00 to play with.

Put some kind of siding on the outside of the house.

I’ll give you a grand to do that with…

Now, you’re down to $7,200.00.

Figure a kitchen at  (let’s be generous, okay?) about $3,000.00;

$500    36″ Stove
$500    Refrigerator
$250    Sink (double) and fixtures
$200    Microwave (?)  Or your wife will kill you…
$900    Cabinets – Home Depot or Lowe’s – El Cheapo’s
$165    Countertops (I’ll make them outta stained concrete)

That’s $2,515 bucks… So, you can afford a new set of pots and pans…

… and a decent bathroom runs right at $2000.00;

$725    60″ x 42″ Tub/Tub Surround/Shower Access
$250    Toilet
$150    Sink and fixtures
$250    Lavatory Cabinet
$250    Tile for flooring

$500   Hot Water Heater  (40 gallon at least…)

$2,125.00 IF you bought everything at retail.  Oops… My bad…

But, we did have a few bucks left over from the kitchen, so we’re okay…

And you’ll need a heat source…I’d buy a wood stove, if I wanted to stay in budget. Can you say “Craigslist?”

But… Here’s what I’d actually do… even if I had to cut out my kid’s allowance to pay for it;

I’d go out and get  a 1.5 ton Heat-A/C unit like this one…

m_s_splitAnd, yes… even the “Dome nuts” agree with me that it uses 50% less energy than other existing HVAC units.

If you’re “careful shoppers,” and you “google” your brains out… that HVAC system is gonna cost you about $3,000.00 to $3,500.00. I know it sounds steep, but you’ll thank me later…

Now, you have a home that can be heated to 72 degrees year round – summer heat or winter snow… for just pennies a day. Plus, it has a built in battery back up system that will operate it for up to 12 hours, if the power fails.

It runs on DC voltage, too. Couple that baby with a dedicated photovoltaic panel array, and you’d have a killer heat/cooling system, that didn’t cost you a dime to operate. Ever.

Okay… ‘cept maintenance. Sheesh… everybody’s a critic! 🙂

It’s not like I’ve actually thought this out or anything, but…

Do all that, and then throw in some nice patio furniture (because it’s cheap, durable, washable, easy to haul up there in your pick-up, and it’s probably on sale right now, at a Walmart near you!) and voila!

Instant “BOB” (“Bug-Out-Box”) easily assembled in a week.

A WEEK. TWO weeks… TOPS.

And, if you’re careful, you’ll probably have spent that $15,000+ that those dome guys were trying to “bamboozle” you out of… but you’ll have AN ENTIRE HOUSE, filled with BRAND SPANKING NEW appliances and fixtures.

Okay, they’re not really trying to bamboozle you!!  Those domes cost money! They put some serious work into producing them. They’re worth every penny that you spend for them, in the right conditions and circumstances.

If  I was faced with ANY of the scenario’s that I described up at the top of this post… (especially that “cult one…”) I’d buy one, myself… or maybe 12!  😉

But, for that kinda money, or maybe a little bit more (if you buy the “super deluxe” HVAC unit I showed you) you can have an entire house that will last for years… that any idiot can build… all by themselves in just a few weekends….

AFTER they built the foundation, and installed the septic tank. Duh!   😉

So what if it’s not an ISBU! I don’t care, as long as your family is safe. That’s the ONLY thing I care about…

And… it’ll be complete and ready to move into at a moment’s notice.

For a few bucks more, you can turn that same box into an eco-friendly completely off-grid home (simply by adding some more photovoltaic panels to your array), perfect for weekends in the mountains, or even as an emergency shelter, when things go nuts.

brad_pittBrad Pitt… what a moron… lucky… but a moron if he thinks these domes are the answer to “permanent housing”… IMHO.

I hope he doesn’t.  Angelina deserves better…  😉

(Picture Ronin rolling his eyes, and waving his finger in a circle around his ear…)

Now, if I build one of these little houses… (again… Shhhh!)… I’m gonna come in WAY under that…

… because I’m going to use salvaged cabinets from a “Habitat for Humanity” store, recycled “appliances and fixtures,” and anything else I can get “recycled,” like doors and windows.

And, I’ll do almost ALL of the labor myself.

I’ll spend about $10-12,000 to do it, all the way through. And, you’ll never be able to tell the difference.

Wait… yes you will… Mine will be the one surrounded with barbed wire…  and “Border Buddy” landmines. 😉

YOU could do it too. This ain’t rocket science…

In conclusion (I bet you thought that this would never end, huh?);

Those polycarbonate domes would be terrific as “fast-set” Emergency Housing, or a FEMA alternative. Any idiot (myself included) can see that! And, they’d also be great for temporary quarters for a homeless population while permanent structures were being prepared.

But as a “permanent” solution? No, I’m not convinced.

But wouldn’t they make a cool “camping” alternative?

“I’m sleeping in that camo speedbump, right over yonder…”

(I know… I’m gonna get “hate mail,” and probably even a letter from Intershelter’s lawyers…)

But Ronin… I have 8 kids…

I bet you’re wondering WHY I chose to build 8′ x 8′ wall segments, right?

How big is the business end of a shipping container? Hmmm?

POP QUIZ: Do the math.

C’mon… you knew I was gonna slip a container or two in there somewhere, now didn’t you?  😉

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance RoninOkay, you all know what’s going on with my family, so I’m not going to beat you up with that…

If this blog has helped you, educated you, amused you, or even just made you shake your head and wonder why I’m not locked up in some room clad with rubber tiles…

Please know that this site has required a great deal of money, time and effort to develop & maintain. If it’s been useful to you at all, and you can afford to… You can help my family and support this site by making a small donation by hitting that Paypal button up there on the right.

Paypal is the VERY BEST “secure” way to donate to any cause… like ours.

This will help keep us alive while we try to remedy our own situation, and empower me to carry on writing, maintaining, providing countless hours of hard work, and including any updates or topics that you might suggest.

And… No anatomical impossibilities, huh? I’m not as young as I used to be…

“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.


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.


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…


… 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.


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!

Shut Up! You can’t actually LIVE “off-grid”!

14 Oct

Or… can you?

Greetings, Campers!

Lately, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of moving my family to a place “far and away” where power fears to go. And, you can forget about cable TV. Not gonna happen.

That’s right, I’m talking about (gasp!) Mississippi! Um… er… not really…  🙂

Contrary to popular belief, they really do have power and cable TV in Mississippi. It just doesn’t work all that well, yet… 😉

If you’ve been reading along, you know that my blog is aimed at building an off-grid alternative home out of shipping containers and recycled aircraft hangar comnponents, so that the family nestled safely within can take more responsibility for their lives and livelihood.

In our case, we’re building a home out of re-purposed shipping containers, commonly called ISBUs (or Intermodal Steel Building Units).

Like I said…  we’re not just using these marvelous containers, we’re also using some components we scrounged off of an old aircraft hangar, and anything else we could find that looked sturdy… but that’s another post, entirely! 🙂

The idea is to build a home out in the country, away from everybody else. Why? Well, it appears that the neighbors would certainly like it better that way.  It seems that around here, the locals are rather “ISBU intolerant,” and we need to get out of “eyesight and earshot”, if we want any peace and quiet.

Like having a two year old terror of a little boy is going to provide anything that resembles “peace and quiet.”

Yeah, right?!

I’m sure you already know that we’re replacing a home that was eaten by a hurricane. I am sure that you know that we’re doing it without the help of the insurance company that we paid to protect us from this kind of loss. As a result, much of our life as we knew it has changed.

And, I’m sure that you know my wife is going through radiation and chemo to combat cancer, as we do all this. So, you can see that we have our hands full.

One of the cool things about using containers is that they go up fast. On a Monday, you may have a vacant lot, but by Friday, you can have a nearly completed home sitting there.

It’s a LOT of labor, but it’s worth it…

And, I’m sure that you know that we’re struggling…

Well, you do now!

As we go thru day after day of torment and trial, waiting for somebody in charge to “man up and make a decision” (besides “NO!”)  people reading this blog are starting to get involved.

As in… we’re helping other people build THEIR ISBU homes.

And this has presented some interesting opportunities. I’ve told you about some people who have land to trade for help and labor, as they construct the homes of their dreams. And, I’ve told you about an idea I have, to build a hangar, that will house shipping containers instead of aircraft, as they get transformed into homes for worthy families.

Ronin doesn’t have a lot of money.

In fact, Ronin struggles each and every month, to insure that Joshua has diapers, and Momma has medicine. But, Ronin does have something that some other people don’t have. VISION.

I’ll just barter for the things we need, and we’ll just “rough it” until we get to where we’re going.

Where are we going?

Well, we’re going as far away as we can from “some people” (who shall remain nameless) who lack anything resembling common sense or even a grasp of reality.

Starting with transportable modules built from Intermodal Steel Building Units (shipping containers), you can actually fabricate a pretty solid home, for less than the price of a stick built one.

And, it’ll be made out of Corten Steel.

If you’ve been reading along for the last year and a half, you know that it is possible, and that it’s happening more and more. You may see an ISBU home in your own neighborhood, soon…

Or, you may drive past one, out on some lonely country road, or maybe on a far-flung beachfront lot, sitting there all by it’s “onesies”.

And you may wonder about the possibilities of living in a steel house “out in the middle of nowhere”.

WE don’t just wonder about it. WE crave it. It’s all I can think about, most days.

That’s right… we’re going “off-grid”.

Now, living “off-grid” means exactly that. No power hook-up. No water company. No sewer pipes to connect to, to haul your … um… er… well, you get the picture. If you don’t , I could SHOW you a picture, but you wouldn’t like it… nuh-uh! Ewwww!

Living “off-grid” means being responsible for all your needs and requirements. It also means that if you screw up, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.

Shhhhh! Don’t tell my wife that, though! She already blames me for nearly everything as it is!

One of the questions I get asked a lot, is whether or not it actually makes sense to build and live, totally off-grid.

“But Ronin, can you really live ‘free – in the wild’ in this day and age, without becoming something out of a SciFi movie plot?”

Virginia, take a  pill. You really can live “off grid”, completely  unfettered by utility poles and free from the monthly harassment of those pesky utility bills. Honest.

I’ve shown you how to do the hard parts. Earth friendly HVAC, Solar hot water production, Photovoltaic Electricity production… you name it.

We talk about it here. Constantly. Endlessly. Until “I’m blue in the face”… Get it?

And we’ll continue talking about it, until some of you finally get it thru your thick skulls… You know who you are! 🙂

The info is there, people… Hit the archives, if you doubt me…

But, unless you’re independently wealthy, there are other problems to solve.

Like, for instance… “If I live off-grid, how do I get paid?”

I mean, you have to buy groceries, right? I mean, if my son get s hungry, he gets REAL grumpy. If my wife gets hungry… well… let’s just say it’s hard to tell, because she’s ALWAYS grumpy… 😉

It’s because of stuff like this that people seem torn by the idea of leaving the safety of the subdivision, to go it alone, in “the wild and woolly outdoors…”

To those who fear “abandonment”, isolation, or possibly even becoming “pariahs”, I say this:

“Follow your heart. If your intent is to take care of YOUR family, the neighbors won’t matter that much. They don’t pay your bills, or make your meals.”

At least, MY neighbors don’t and if they did, I’d be afraid to eat it.

You see, Ronin doesn’t like being poisoned… 🙂

So I took a poll, on one of my other blogs…

And I discovered that more and more people who work over the internet, for companies in far away states.

Now, I’m not talking about “Google” type jobs, or “get rich quick” schemes.

I am not talking about “internet telephone answering” or “help-desk answering” jobs in Mumbai…

I’m talking about REAL jobs!

You know the kind… Highly paid, professional positions, held by responsible people. They do actually exist.

And, it’s starting to happen more and more… although it’s happening slower than might be possible if companies would just start giving thought to how their operations operate, and more importantly for them, what the actual costs of operation are.

Because in the end, we all know that in that boardroom, it’s about profit.

Alas, it has not happened on a large scale yet. Perhaps its because of a ‘warped” management mindset:

If we let our workers actually work from home, a bunch of managers will get laid off.

“Who can I terrorize, if they aren’t here?”

Obviously, in a telecommuter based operation, less managers are needed and their psychological power is vastly diminished when employee performance is measured only objectively.

(For me, that’s be a good thing. I got “fired” once, for decking a miscreant of a manager, after he started shaking his fist in my face and calling my kids bad words, after I refused to stay late and clean up yet another one of his messes. I didn’t exactly pummel him, according to the on-lookers. He just kept falling down…)  🙂

I say “fired” because he didn’t understand the phrase:

“Before I quit, I have something to show you… my fist.”

“And G_d smiled…” the company got taken over later that year, and he was one of the first to get canned. The next time I saw him, he was an assistant manager, at Wendy’s.

Having your workers actually work from home actually makes good sense to me. As a manager of one of these companies, you’d end up evaluating people on their work quality and their productivity. And, you wouldn’t be plagued by dealing with “office politics” or gossip, or even prejudice.

A worker would get merit (or maybe even “demerits”), based on actual work! What a concept! 🙂

Your company could “downsize” that corporate office they’ve been throwing money into, at a time when companies have to streamline in order to survive in this miserable economy.

And hey! The real estate market sucks right now, finding a smaller building should be easy!

Look… if America business is going to compete with “companies from beyond…” they have to think progressively. What’s more progressive than saving money, by making your operation more productive, and easier to manage?

It takes some adaptation, to be sure… but lots of companies are proving that it’s quite possible, and even profitable. Sure, some workers are going to be concerned about maintaining their little power structure, because they won’t be in the office to continually pucker up an kiss someone’s butt…

But frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of “brown-noser’s” anyway.

Companies claim that Internet service isn’t reliable enough.

Or, worse, that it isn’t available to all of their workers. Bull.

Companies like Dish IP are making Satellite Internet connection a breeze. You can get a satellite uplink for $50 a month. You’ll get more than enough bandwidth to work on-line, and blast email back and forth. You’ll even have enough to video conference, if the boss wants to catch you in your underwear, plowing through spreadsheets.

Remember that you’re dealing with satellites. If you can get a Dish TV setup, you can get an internet link. So, there aren’t really any limits to what you can do…

If you need to do some massive downloading, then get off your butt and head for the car. Hey, that’s what WiFi is for! Go find a WiFi hotspot, (or a McDonald’s) and download away on your laptop, while you eat a fast food lunch. Nearly every town has a free WiFi hotspot, somewhere. You can usually find one at your local library. You just have to go find it.

The benefit is that you’ll not only fuel your need for the latest iTunes upgrade, you’ll also get a tasty, calorie laden, over-priced  meal that you’ll have to pedal off on your exercise bike later.

But it’s all good! Attach your exercise bike to a car alternator and voila! You just made an instant “Idiot Powerplant!” You can even charge up your batteries in your home power bank! 🙂

Now, all you need is direct deposit paychecks, and on-line banking.


You’re off-grid, supporting your family and buying groceries! And, you don’t have to put up with that miserable bastard in the next cubicle, anymore!

Could it get any better?

Now get into your pajamas and get your butt in front of that computer! That’s it…

Good Job!

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin Addendum: Since I wrote this post, I’ve been deluged with people doing exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, Greg S. in Texas is doing exactly that, while he waits for the arrival (they’re enroute) of his (3) 40′ ISBUs, that he’s going to use to build HIS new Corten Castle!
Greg says: “… it’s totally off grid….wind power, solar, well, and septic…it’s the freakin’ dream.”
Way to go, Greg! 🙂

Water, water, everywhere…

28 Sep


Look who’s back! I’ve been sitting here, waiting patiently for you to show up. You know how I hate to lecture… with empty seats.

Don’t bother looking around… Yep, that’s right… You’re the only one here!

But, this is a pretty good “shipping container sermon”, if I do say so myself, so you’re just gonna have to suffer thru it all by your “onesies”!!

Sorry about the $25 soda’s and the $32 popcorn being sold in the lobby… diapers are expensive! 🙂

And don’t try no sneakin out… You’re the only one here. I’ll notice. 🙂

Now, we’re off to today’s topic…


We’ve been talking about Geothermal Energy, and how you slap a harness on it.

Now, I ain’t taking about any of that “freaky bondage” stuff, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re on the wrong blog. No, I don’t have a link! Man… what a perv! 🙂

I’m talking about getting the temperature out from under your feet, and into your house, where it belongs. After all, what’s the sense in owning land, if you can’t take full advantage of it? Hmmm?

I know it’s hard to think of heating and cooling and then throw a swimming pool sized blast of water into the conversation, but that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.


Man, my mother asked me that for years! I’d just roll my eyes, and then utter those magic words…

“I Duh Know…”

And then, I’d run like the devil himself was chasing me… 🙂

And SHE was…

And no! I’m not talking about water because I’ve been overdosing on “Dangerous Crabbing” or “Deadliest Catch” or whatever it’s called… on Cable TV, either!

Anyone stupid enough to head out into the Bering Sea to catch anything but a severe case of pneumonia, is a complete nutjob! ‘Sides that, crab ain’t even Kosher! 🙂

Crab aint kosherSee? Told Ya!

I’m talking about water, because water is the ideal thermal transport media. That’s WHY!

“WAIT! You were talking about Geothermal HVAC, you Bald-headed Bastard! Stick to the subject!”

I know… I know… Okay, let’s talk about heating and cooling.

Since winter is coming (unless you’re reading this in Australia…) we’ll talk about heating, first.

Everybody and their brother has an opinion about how you heat and cool a house.

Me? Like  I said… You already know that I use Mother Nature… and a lot of chili. I can heat up a room, clear it out, and then… have it all to myself, with just one bowl. And, I get to watch whatever I want on TV… at least until the room airs out…

Were you not paying attention? HELLO? Am I talking to the thin air? Huh? 🙂

Wait… that’s not it… 🙂

Seriously, we all know that there are many ways to heat a house.  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention (you have, right?) I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face (I look like “Papa Damned Smurf” sometimes!) about solar energy and passive solar, so for now, this is what you get (like it or lump it, bucko!)… 🙂

OK, let’s make a list… because I’m really anal that way (according to my wife):

  • You can make heat by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or gas, etc.
  • You can make heat by burning renewable fuels like wood, methane, chili… etc.

(But never roast your marshmallows over a methane flame… Blaaahhh! They’ll taste like poop…) 🙂

  • You can even make heat from electric elements.

(Of course, you realize that the heat you generate will be generated in a variety of not-so-greenish ways unless you have a garage fulla bio-fuel powered generator, or a photovoltaic panel array… right?)

  • Or, you can just pay attention to what I’m telling you… and use a $%&$#@!! Heat Pump!

You don’t need to be a nuclear physicist, a rocket scientist, or even possess the alleged brains of your “Know-it-all” Mother-In-Law to see that all of these except the last one seem pretty crude.

And the last one… is extremely crude.  Hey, put the rocks down… I have it on good authority (and a semi-secret poll) that most of you have one of these, too… 😉

The first three are all less than 100% efficient.

In fact, my Mother-In-Law is (gasp!) less than 100% efficient (unless it’s about sucking up all the food on the dinner table), but that’s another post… that could go on for days… weeks maybe! 🙂

No matter how you cut it, energy costs money, so the less efficient your heating system is, the more it will cost you.

Heat pumps can be more than 100% efficient.

“Whaaaa? No way! Impossible! You can’t get more than 100%! It’s a trick!”

You can too! And, it’s really simple.  Heat Pumps don’t generate heat, they pump it. When a heat pump operates in a suitable environment, it can be up to 400% efficient.


So how come heat pumps get such a bad rap, especially in cold winters?  That’s easy too.

When it’s 70 Degrees inside the house, and 25 Degrees outside the house, heat pumps have a really hard time pushing heat from the outside to the inside (kinda like a sump pump trying to pump water up a steep incline).  It’s all a matter of differential.

And I’m not talking about the one on the back of your pick-up, so don’t rush out into the yard thinking you got a one-up on the deal, huh? 🙂

Did you know that when the difference between the outside temperate and the inside temperature is only about 20 Degrees, heat pumps are extremely efficient?

Well, you do NOW!

And that’s exactly what Geo-Thermal Exchange systems are all about. Underneath your yard is an unlimited supply of stable, constant, “love to let me love you…”  temperature, perfect for a heat pump.  Hammered by the desert sun, or buried under the snow… it’s stable, constant temperature. Wait, I already said that…

Well, it bears repeating! And, I just did! See? I’m efficient, too! 🙂

FYI: Told ya I’d get around to Geothermal… You just have to live through all the mindless meandering! 🙂

So… you have a “hunka hunka” slab of stable temperature right under your feet. Big deal. How do you get it out? Easy.

Pay attention, cuz’ I’m gonna learn ya somethin…

All you need to do is sink a long length of tubing beneath the ground, and circulate water through it. For those of you who keep track of facts, it’s called a “ground loop“.  Then, instead of trying to pull heat from the sub-zero air outside your house, you now pull heat from the earth beneath your yard.


The newfangled machinery that does this for you is called “Ground Source Heat Pumps” (or GSHP for short).

There are many different tubing configurations, and the best one to use depends on your personal situation.  If you behave, we’ll talk about those, too!

But for now… let’s talk about Cooling;

Ask anybody and they’ll tell you that the most popular way to actively cool a home in the USA is with a heat pump.  Some desert locations may use evaporative cooling, or even ICE, but these don’t really work in humid climates.

I know that you saw that library on the Science channel that uses Ice to cool the whole building, but that only works in places with “dry heat.” Anywhere else, and it isn’t so effective.


Instead of using peak daytime (and often more expensive) electricity to cool your home or office during the day, in some places you can use your air conditioner to make ice at night (it is cheaper and cooler) and use the ice during the day to stay cool.

But, not around here! “Momma Humidity” will kick your …um… er… butt.

So, it’s back to heat pumps. The high efficiency of a heat pump is a direct result of the temperature differential that the pump must overcome.  In raging summers, this difference may be as high as 30 Degrees, which is luckily still within the operational range of a modern heat pump. Simply put, it pulls air from outside, processes it, and then it pumps it inside…

If it’s over a hundred degrees outside, you have a fight on your hands, and one tired Geothermal Heat Pump. Say it with me…


But what if you use the earth as a constant temperate source.  Now the heat pump is pushing heat from an inside temp of 75 Degrees, down to a nominal 55 Deg Earth temperature through those same in-ground coils.  Since the heat already wants to go from hotter to colder, the heat pump is operating in an ideal environment.  The highest possible efficiency is absolutely “guaran-damned-teed” here. 🙂

Here are some other benefits of the “mysterious Geo-Thermal” exchange.

Geothermal systems rely on loops of pipe placed in the ground. And… burying the earth loop is a hassle, but so is burying power lines, but we do that!  Why? Well, from then onwards, the system is invisible, silent and low maintenance (no noisy fans outside, and no motors exposed to the elements etc.).


Wait! There’s more! I’m a big fan of “multi-tasking.” Since the Geo-Thermal heat pump is already dealing with one water loop, why not go all the way and replace the interior forced air system with an in-floor radiant heat system fed directly from the heat pump.

Radiant In-Floor Heat and cooling is the way, man!

If you do this, the interior noise of your house will also be reduced, and space isn’t taken up with heating ducts. (Great for locations that don’t have a cooling requirement).

Unless, of course, your Mother-In-Law is in town… that insures a “loud house with less space…” argh!

Geo-Thermal heat pumps are also capable of supplying your household hot water service with heat.

So, you won’t get home from work, to find out that dear old “Mom and a half” has used up all your hot water!

Since the cost of heating water for cleaning and bathing is a significant component of any home’s heating bill, the efficiencies of the Geo-Thermal heat pump can have a considerable cost saving.

In fact, Geothermal HVAC systems can pay for themselves.

Next time, we’re gonna talk about houses, Geothermal Heat Pumps, and how the different types of “loop scenario’s” work…

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance RoninAnd for the last time… I don’t “hate” my Mother-In-Law…
We just have “issues.” My therapist says “it’s good to talk about your feelings…”
So stop sending me “hatemail”, huh? 🙂

Making GREEN with “Green.”

25 Jun


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…” 😉


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.


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!


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.

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!

The 2 liter lightbulb!

23 Apr

Every once in a while, you hear about something and wonder why nobody had thought of it before! This… is one of those times!

Think simplistic, powerful, cheap, easy to “manufacture,” and capable of affecting lives all over the entire planet.

Step right up folks, See the future! And if you slap down those $20s right now, we’ll double your order, absolutely free!  You’ll never pay for light again! It’s the “Ronco 2 liter lightbulb!”

Actually, Ron Popiel had absolutely nothing to do with this. But I bet he wished he did!

Alfredo Moser is an Brazilian inventor. And like all inventors (that we all hope to be) hes invented somethingthat will aid mankind. Not just “rich” mankind, but ALL mankind! Alfredo’s newest invention is spreading like wildfire through his neighborhood in Brazil.

“Like all really great ideas, it was born out of necessity. During a 2002 energy blackout in Brazil,  Alfredo’s workshop was plunged into darkness. And so, using a simple 2-liter bottle of water,  a cap full of bleach or two of household bleach and an old 35 mm film canister, he created this lightbulb.”

He figured out that all he had to do was cut some holes in his workshop roof, so the new water-bottle lightbulbs could shine the sun’s rays directly into his dark workplace, bathing it in light! Voila, instant illumination, and he could go back to work!  And he shared this invention with others, too! Now they have been using his invention to light their homes without having to pay for electricity.

Now, unless you’re a moron, you’re not gonna go hack holes in your house roof, so that you can use these lil beauties to light up your life. That would border on “idiotic.”:)

But…  it could easily work in that shipping container shed or workshop in your backyard! I’d be willing to bet you money that there are a gaggle of geeks looking at this environmentally friendly light source, as we speak!

Of course it has flaws. It works using the sun. No sun, no light. However, It’ s not a solution to all our lighting needs. It’s a solution to light up a dark place during the day, without spending one single penny on electricity.

Have you ever watched National Geographic specials on Brazil? I didn’t see a lot of cash floating around those barrios and shanty towns.  And this works wherever there is sun, you know, even in the poorer third-world countries… places like Laos, India, and the African nations…

This invention is going to change lives.

Now all I have to do is go down to my favorite deli restaurant, and see if I can get a sandwich named after him…

“Excuse me, I’d like a Moser on Rye, extra oil and vinegar! NO BLEACH!”  🙂

They’re Getting Paid to Reproduce!

15 Apr

I keep hearing about “get rich quick” scams…

In fact, at one point, I’d won over $1.2 Billion dollars in lotteries I never bought a single ticket for! Plus, I had hundreds of millions of dollars in Nigerian Bank money left in my control to distribute to poor widows and orphans! Imagine that! I’m sitting in Mississippi, trying to just survive each month, and all this time, I was a billionaire, and I didn’t even know it! LOL!

nigerian_scamI even got checks in the mail for thousands of dollars, so I could become a secret shopper! All I had to do was deposit the check in my bank account, wait for it to clear, and then send the bulk of the cash to some obscure post office box, in Outer Hicksville, USA. Yeah right, like I’d do that!

And I keep having people ask me if there is any truth to the rumor that you can actually make money with your photovoltaic panels.

No, it’s not a Nigerian Lottery scam. I’ve talked about “net-metering” before. In fact, I ‘ve talked about it several times. But we’re not talking about “net-metering” this time. We’re talking about the thousands of dollars that American families make from the subsidies paid to people generating renewable energy.

Here’s a typical example;

I just read that Bill Ball decided to hitch a 9,900-watt solar-panel system to his 4,000-square-foot home three years ago. Now, he had some real hard decisions to make, but he made them.  Even though the Sergeantsville, N.J., couple got a generous 70% subsidy from the state, they had to borrow from their retirement savings to pay the balance, a total of almost $20,000.00.

In retrospect, however, “it was the best decision we ever made,” says the Ball family. The panels lowered the families cost of electricity to be sure. But, the Balls also earn between $6,000 and $7,000 annually from the photovoltaic panels, according to news sources.

Here’s how it works:

Each year, the state of New Jersey provides the Balls with SREC‘s (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which represent the cost of offsetting pollution-generating energy. The Balls then sell the certificates for between $5000 to $7000, on the open market to brokers or electricity suppliers who are required to invest in solar energy under New Jersey’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.  They usually get upper market value for them. They have no trouble turning them into cash income, let me tell you! It’s cheaper for the utilities to buy these certificates, than to actually underwrite solar energy programs.

It makes a difference come tax time, too! Having this added income is especially helpful as the Balls’ 7 acre homesite  costs  $13,000 a year in property taxes.

“To me, that $19,000 investment on the roof is the equivalent of having a rental property, except you don’t have a tenant,” Mrs. Ball says.

So forget that “mother-in-law” apartment! Put photovoltaic panels on the roof, and then put some money in your pocket! You’ll never need to evict an unruly boarder  again!

Now that we have THAT figured out, we can address the second most common question I get about “alternative energy…”

How do photovoltaic systems actually work?

Here’s the “Readers Digest Condensed Version” of the answer;


PV Panels

On sunny days the photovoltaic panels convert sunlight to direct current (DC) electricity which can be used to charge batteries or to supply loads.

Charge Controller

The charge controller manages the efficient charging of the batteries using the DC energy from the pv panels.

DC energy mane by the photovoltaic panels is stored in deep cycle lead-acid batteries. Just like the batteries in your flashlight, this electricity is then released on demand, for instance, when no charging energy is being produced (like night-time).  Like a bank account, energy put into batteries over a period of time can be taken out more quickly when needed. Like a bank account, you cannot take out more than you put in. Moreover, lead-acid batteries need to be quickly 100% re-charged to remain in good condition. They should not be drawn down below 50% , because this harms the lifespan of the battery.

Here’s the “nuts and bolts” of batteries;

Battery life can be estimated by average depth of discharge and by time to full recharge. A battery with an average of 30% depth of discharge will last about 1,200 discharge/charge cycles, or about 62% longer than the 450 cycles at 50% average depth of discharge. A battery with an average of 50% depth of discharge will last twice as long or more than if it uses the maximum 80% average depth of discharge. Got it?

The inverter converts the DC energy from the batteries or panels to 120 volts AC for standard house loads.


A generator can be fueled by bio-fuel (our personal favorite), diesel, propane gas, or gasoline. It is another source of AC power for heavier loads and a backup for charging the batteries when there is insufficient sunlight.

And remember, there’s still wind power, hydroelectric power via tidal generation, geothermal power production…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninAnd please remember that we’re trying desperately to save this blog. As my wife’s illness worsens, the budget gets tighter and tighter. If you like what you read, and it helps you find your path, please consider hitting the Paypal button, and donatining a few bucks to the cause, okay? We really want to keep this blog going!

When Money Falls From the Sky…

1 Apr

Why is is, when we’re always claiming to be “first” at everything…

We  have to be “last” in alternative housing?

America is in the grips of what could be the worst economic times since the Great Depression. And families are going to bear the brunt of it, I assure you. The politicians in DC are so insulated that they won’t even hear our teeth chatter.

I’ve been going on and on about “container houses” for months now. At least, that’s my story on the Internet. It’s actually been a lifelong passion, spawned from the simple, yet abstract, realization that those steel boxes provide the “core” of some really unique and durable homes.


When we were younger, we did it because we didn’t have any money.

Now, with this infusion of “Stimulus dollars,” it may be possible to build that Corten Castle, and let Uncle Sam help you pay for it.  Everybody I talk to expects “money to be falling from Heaven, like Manna to the Israelites!” I’m not so sure that it’s gonna work that way… but I’ve been wrong before.

You can bet that Ronin is going over the Stimulus Bill, line by stinking line, looking for ways to get money out of “Big Government,” to help the families that actually make up the America they misrepresent, seemingly at every turn.

I know, I know… color me “jaded.”

Look, it’s like this… it costs £20,000 to build and buy a container studio in London. That’s about $28,620.15 in USD, according to the Currency Exchange, today. That’s the cost of a new GM car or a Toyota, folks.

It’s affordable. Living in modified shipping containers (ISBUs) has become an increasingly attractive option, to many Americans.

They’ve been doing it overseas for years, kids. I’VE  been doing it for years, overseas. It’s not that hard! England, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, you name it… there are “container homes” there.

Containers aren’t just for residences, either. Travel Lodge opened a hotel in Uxbridge (in the UK)  made out of 86 containers.  We talked about this very hotel, earlier  in the blog history of “RR.” And the Travel Lodge powers that be say that most of the rest of their new projects will use Shipping Containers as their core.  Clearly, there must be advantages to using them. Right?


Aren’t those the “same” advantages that we’ve been talking about all along?


  • Durable
  • Structurally Strong
  • Low Cost
  • Versatile, and…
  • Readily Available

There are places like Container City, in London where you can rent a “Container Condo.” They work in the housing marketplace, and the rents are reasonable.  Studios go from about $350 USD, up to about $2000 USD per month, depending on how big they are. The studio’s have everything that “a conventional building does. The only thing that really sets them apart is the exteriors, which have been left rather industrial, and the fact that many of the units sport “portholes” instead of traditional windows.


Both of those “peculiarities” could nave been easily changed, and you wouldn’t know WHAT was under that siding, and behind those double-hung windows.

Sounds great, right?

Here’s the rub:

If ISBUs are so cheap and are gaining such popularity, (especially now, during the current state of “housing failure” that we’re living with),  why aren’t we all rushing out, finding some land and setting up home in our very own boxes? And why aren’t more of the developers doing this? Talk about an opportunity to provide a low-cost quality product, complete with GREEN recycling benefits?

Even though container houses have been here for decades, it’s a relatively “new” concept to the housing marketplace, and not many “production” people are doing it well. We didn’t exactly scream from the rooftops that we were living in shipping containers, back in the day.

In fact, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret… Shhhhh! sometimes we didn’t even have building permits. We just dropped them onto foundation blocks, hooked up water and power, and lived as quietly as we could. After all, it was the middle of the forest? Who knew?

Now, when people do that, they call them “wilderness cabins.”


The cool thing about them then, and even now… is they were cheap, they were “Tonka Tough,” and they went up fast. Isn’t that what America needs right now, especially in places like the Hurricane belt, and Tornado Alley?

Another cool thing about these Container developments is that they have the ability to be “self-contained.” You can put them in places where other houses wouldn’t go. Places like brown-field sites without fear of contamination.

What’s a brownfield site? Well, according to Wiki;

“brownfield land (or simply a brownfield) is land previously used for industrial purposes or certain commercial uses. The land may be contaminated by low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution, and has the potential to be reused once it is cleaned up.”


And America is covered with places exactly like this.

Building “production” homes out of a container is an “off-site” operation, easy. Use warehouses to prefab the containers to suit your floorplan, and truck them to your site. Then you just set them in place with a crane. You could turn that “shoddy, dirty, dangerous” old industrial relic into a thriving community, in months. Months. Talk about turning America around!


And, up to 80% of the construction materials could come from “recycled” sources.

Of course, you’re still going to heat and insulate, like a “normal” house. So, you’re not increasing the “expected ” carbon footprint. But I suspect the same minds that craft these boxes into place will embrace concepts like passive heating and air handling, and solar and wind power production to assist the local grid.

Those naysayers that argue about the “blight of boxes…” (you know, the “not in my backyard type…” right?) can be soothed by the simple use of siding, and modified roofs, just like any other house in the neighborhood.

Personally, I like the “Mad Max meets Armagedon” kinda look of Shipping Containers. They have character,  they look “modern and manly,” and most of all, they’re both cheap, and GREEN.


If Travel Lodge can embrace them, it’s only a matter of time before your local Planning and Zoning Nazis are forced to!

I’m looking forward to the day when we can go into a county commission hearing, and spread our plans out on the table, without the local cop reaching for his holster. Aren’t  you?

Hey, I can dream, can’t I? Huh?

I bet my conservative stick-up-the um… er… well… neighbors wish this was an April Fools Joke, huh?

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

And, please remember that we’re trying to figure out how to keep this blog going. If you enjoy the blog, please hit the PayPal button up there and donate a few bucks to keep it up and running! We really, really, need the help! Thanks!

Ronin sentenced to “Six Feet Under!” Film at 11pm!

10 Mar

Dear Readers,

I gotta tell you that I’m a little thrown at my recent emails. It seems that you’ve been telling me that after your visits to the blog (or after reading my posts syndicated on other blogs), you’ve become concerned about my “emotional well-being.”

It appears that based on reading a few posts, you have overwhelmingly decided that I have “Anger Management Issues”  that “clearly need to be addressed.”

I’m not sure where you get that… It’s not like I’ve ridiculed my neighbors, shaken my fist at authority, poked the occasional Baptist in the eye, or even refused to eat my wife’s cooking.

Wait… I’ve done all of those things… Some of them more than once… Never mind… 🙂

Some of you were also kind enough to remind me that I have many things in my life to be grateful for.

Like that I wasn’t within driving distance, so you could “teach me a lesson…”

When I finished reading your emails, I was (this should come as no surprise to you…) angry.

I know that when you read my posts, you probably do a double-take at some of the things that fly off my keyboard. I can hear you now;  “I can’t believe he said that! Whaaaat an idiot!”

But in my heart, I know I’m already vindicated. You know why? ‘Cuz even though you sputter and fume at the things I say… I know that “you were thinking that too! Weren’t you? Hmmm?”

I just say the things that other people are afraid to say. My wife says it’s a element of “My Unholy Jerkitude.” “Sticks and Stones,” I say…  😉

But I come by it honestly… They say that “everything starts at home.” Does my wife (my one true friend and companion), ever tell me that my posts are “informative and funny?” NOPE.

She just tells me that; “If our son turns out to be an emotionally retarded felon, it’ll be YOUR fault!” Alas, she may be right!

I look forward to reading your responses to this post, perhaps on your own “wildly popular and informative” blog that YOU write! 😉

And because there are those of you who wish me to be “six feet under…”

I’ll show you how I might do it!

In one of my last “angst filled Cornucopia’s  of Container Courtship” I told you about a pal who built a home underground, by using containers as the primary structure.

I thought I might show you what his floorplan looked like. I think you’ll be amazed, and even “mildly interested!”

If I gotta get covered in dirt to fulfill some of your “wishes and aspirations…” I hope it’s like this!


The home is built of three 16′ x 40′ assemblies, each consisting of (2) 8′ x 40′ x 9’6″ (HQ) Containers. You don’t feel like you’re in a steel box. The ceilings are high, the rooms are spacious, and the wood that surrounds you just warms you up to your soul!

The home wraps around the subterranean courtyard, filled with plants, a fountain, and even a hot tub!

We used enough cabinets in this one house to do at least three. There is enough storage here to last the entire winter, without one trip to the store.  You can see them in the kitchen/dining room area, and in the main entry area. There’s over a hundred feet of cabinetry in there, topped by “handcast concrete countertops.”

Each room has a “skylight.” The Bathrooms have “Sola tube skylights.” If you didn’t know you were underground, you’d never guess. It’s that “comfortable.”

This home is not only “six feet under”  (more actually), it’s in a seismic activity area surrounded by geothermal events and under 8′ of snow in the winter. On top of that, in the Spring and Summer, they get “monsoon rains.” And, not one leak, not one mold spot, not one temperature deviation. Can you say; “Safe and Stable?” I knew you could…

I’d ask him to leave it to me, in his will… but he’s got three kids and a wife that could arm-wrestle a grizzly bear and win!

Next time… who knows what we’ll talk about… Probably my new medication… 😉

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

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