Tag Archives: Humor

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You…

30 Sep

Greetings, you “Corten Crazies,” you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the gist of the post…

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

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

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

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

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

Man, that stuff will give a kid nightmares!

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

But, not these books;


book6Not this one either!

book13Definitely not!

book7Um… No.

And last, but not least…


Oh, man…

Wait…. Now that you mention it…

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

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance Ronin

I want MY Independence!

4 Jul

Oh Happiest of Happy Days!

And I’m not talking about that “Fonzi/Potsy/Heeeeeeeey!” stuff neither!

Today is THE day, around the “Ronin Roost!”

It’s the day we get to demonstrate our um… er… “glee” at the living in America! You know, that place where we all complain about everything under the sun, while people in the third world complain about things like clean water, epidemic diseases, and criminal despots acting like tyrants!

We forget that here in America, we actually have it pretty good… Even if those rotten bastards in Jackson don’t like the idea of my building a house out of Shipping Containers!

So, today… just for 24 hours mind you… you can cast all your cares aside, push all your frustration onto the back burner, and then…

Go out there and blow some %^*$#@!! UP!

july4aOh yeah… I forgot the “legal stuff…

july4dHappy 4th of July!

The Renaissance RoninFYI: Twisting up a sparkler, and then using it to “brand” your little sister is a bad idea, no matter WHAT family you live in. Trust me on this… I got grounded for the whole summer! Oy!

The Truth about Michael Jackson

3 Jul

Michael Jackson died a few days ago, apparently of a heart attack brought on by drug abuse. And, if you’ve been watching the media marathons on Cable TV, you can see that people all over the planet are mourning the loss of the King of Pop.

Even that “Mouthpiece of Merchandising” jumped on the bandwagon… “I’m more famous than the King of Pop!” boasted Billy Mays. And then, HE suddenly fell over dead.

RIP Billy MaysJust goes to show you, you should never mess with “The Gloved One” or he’ll give you the finger… 🙂

In cities across the globe people gathered in squares and parks with candles in hand to mournfully sing classics like “Beat It” and  “Don’t Stop till You Get Enough.”  According to one source, the Salt Lake City Boys Choir did an acappella version of “Billie Jean”  that was broadcast on loudspeakers into the city and on Mormon Television Networks.

heaven_or_hell4michaelMichael had a hell of a run… It makes you wonder where it will all lead…

And, did you see the “Youtube Prison Tribute?” Some warden has “Michael Jackson Fever” baaaad! In a far flung prison, an entire criminal population broke out in dance, waving flags, and singing “Beat it!” at the top of their lungs, to the beat of a hundred tasers… um… er… prison guards tapping out the medleys in unison! Zaaaaaap! Who’s BAD?

Now, being “The Ronin…” and having mastered a measure of “ninja stealth…” I’ve become privy to a document, found floating in Lake Neverland at Michael’s “ranch,” that spelled out Michael’s wishes should he ever “Stop before he got enough!”


It’s Michael’s wish that his remains be cremated (no last minute anal probes, please). He wishes to be carried to the crematorium gates on the shoulders of  his teammates, The Harlem Globetrotters (he was made an honorary team member in 1978), while they perform Stevie Wonder tunes on the kazoo.

“I just called… to say… I gloved you!”

Once his ashes are given “the big bake-off”… Michael would like to have his ashes scattered over his homeland… the surface of the moon. Oh yeah, and don’t forget his favorite microphone…

rogersAfter all, we all knew that he wasn’t from around here.

However, since the recent discovery of “the state of his affairs –  financial,” it’s not gonna happen.  Instead, he’ll be cremated and put into a hollow plastic egg, and that will be strapped to the nose of an Estes Model Rocket. His pet monkey (Bubbles the Fifth) will press the banana flavored launch button, and his remains will be shot up into the heavens, to commit a “cosmic coupling” (probably by embedding itself in the belly of any passing 767 lucky enough to be headed for LAX during launchtime!)…

Included in the plastic egg will be the ashes of some of Michael’s favorite things, the charred remains of Elephant Man, Bubbles the Fourth, and Lisa Marie Presley’s… um… er… Macauley Caulkin’s  lips.

Michael also asked that on the anniversary of his death, Diana Ross, and The Four Tops be cremated and shot into space, in a similar fashion. Whether they are still alive or not isn’t really that important, according to the document.

The family has decided to hold a wake (complete with rocketship shaped casket), and it gives one pause to Wonder (no relation to Stevie)…

The closed casket at the wake is bound to raise some questions. Is Michael really dead? Did he pull an “Elvis?” Did he fake his own death?

varvel1Was that REALLY his nose? All eyes are turned to the scientists harbored deep in the bowels of Area 51. Why? Because the sky is buzzing…

One scientist, who asked not to be identified, replied simply:

“Jackson Dead? Samuel DIED? Oh Gawwwd!…


Oh wait! You meant Michael? Hell, he’s not dead! He’s just went home… Nanoo-nanoo!”

RIP Michael…

And kick up a little dust while you’re up there, so we know that you’re okay!

The Renaissance Ronin Ah, relax! Hey… If you don’t laugh, you have to cry. In the last week, everybody started dropping dead! You could be next! So smile a little bit, and remember the good… because dwelling on the bad… will make you move to Mississippi! 🙂

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.

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.

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

27 Apr

Say hello to;

The All Terrain Cabin (ATC)

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Stay Tuned!

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

See the Classiest “Top” in Town!

8 Feb

We interrupt this broadcast, to bring you this late breaking news:

Many of you have followed along, as my family (slowly, methodically, and offtimes painfully…) builds a new home, using stuff that most people would consider “alternative’ construction materials. Our use of Shipping Containers and recycled Aircraft Hanger Components does make the neighbors nervous, I admit.

angry_mobAt least I think it’s “nervousness…” It’s hard to tell with all the glare from the pitchforks and burning brands…

However, even our “Alternative House” uses many of the same components you might find in other “conventional” homes in the neighborhood. Some of these  “cross-over” components can be used by anyone seeking lower utility bills, better energy efficiency, and an enhanced lifestyle.

Like for instance; I get email all the time from readers who want to “go solar,” only to find themselves mired in “pitched battles” with their Homeowner’s Associations.

This cracks me up, considering I live about a stone’s throw from “Hooterville,” where a neighbor’s status in the village is measured by how many derelict cars he has dumped in front of his trailer. Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad, but it’s an absurd, surreal little corner of the rock, to be sure! LOL!

It seems some people (damned neighbors, anyway!) think that solar panels are ugly, property depreciating diversions, destined to rob them of their hard-earned equity.

Okay, I can see how a few panels thrown up on your roof might be considered “unsightly.” Even I have to admit that I’ve seen a few panel arrays that “didn’t quite look like they belonged there…”


These aren’t exactly “unsightly,” but they could use some dressing up, to make them blend in with the roof. Can you say; “Afterthought?”

Well, you can take a big sigh of relief because those clever folks over at Fabral have come riding in, to your rescue!


Fabral’s Solar SSR is a standing-seam metal roof system that harvests energy from the sun.

You remember from previous posts how much I like Standing Seam Metal Roofs, right? Well…

The wizards at Fabral have invented (fanfare, please…) The Solar SSR, a photovoltaic solar laminate, produces electricity when exposed to sunlight and offers a green solution for metal roofing applications.

And before you start in on me… NO! It ain’t magic! It’s science. You remember, it’s that stuff you slept thru in high school, so you could dream about cheerleaders, and puberty, and cars… eh? At least, that’s what I did…

Electricity generated by the laminates is fed through the electrical system into the power grid. The flexibility and durability of these laminates make them ideal for metal roofs, where expansion, contraction and curving are considerations.

And fear not, ye dwellers of Hurricane Alley! Fabral has your back!

The panel/laminate bond that’s created up there on your roof has been tested and proven to withstand winds up to 160 mph.

So not even your Mother-In-Laws screaming and hollering at you, will dislodge it!

Take that, Hurricane Katrina!

HINT: For those of you compiling your Christmas and Hanukkah lists, I want this! I’ll be good, I promise.

Okay, I probably won’t be “good,” but I’ll keep it on the “low-low…” Okay?

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Note: In “celebration” of both winter, and “frozen friends…” I give you a new header photo “Container Cabin in the Sky!” Some of you will recognize the cabin, it’s a “Stankey Monument.”

How having “Beer-breath” can actually save the planet!

6 Feb

Now, if you’ve been following along…

You already know that my family is all about scrounging in the garbage…  um… er… recycling.

You also know that we’re building a home out of recycled Shipping Containers.


Yep those 40′ “Boxes O Blight” (this according to the neighbors, and those “experts” down at Planning and Zoning) are going to be turned into a multilevel palace where this “Grand Puhbah of Prognostication…”

(Okay… I admit it, the title is self-appointed! I even made myself a really cool “proclamation!)

… can continue telling anyone who will listen that saving the earth isn’t just for Zealots and “Eco-whackjobs!” It can actually enrich your life, save you money, and help your family.

And all that hard work gives me a headache. So, every once in a while I retreat to “daddy space,” to just contemplate my navel, and take a deep breath…

But just like recycling, nothing is actually “free…”

You know, there is nothing worse than my wife intruding into the “Man Cave” to holler at me about chores, while I’m drinking a frosty brew and watching a game! Talk about a “buzzkill!”

Finally, there’s a way to save the environment and drink a frosty brew at the same time!

From Earth2Tech: “Dude, DIY Ethanol From Beer Yeast. Totally brewtastic!…

Now there is a home ethanol kit that runs off of discarded beer yeast.

Let me repeat that for the hearing impaired…

Now there is a home ethanol kit that runs off of discarded beer yeast.


The entrepreneurs behind startup E-Fuel, who have been hawking a washer-and-dryer-sized home ethanol system called the E-Fuel 100 MicroFueler, tell me that they’ve done a deal with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to use the beer maker’s yeast waste as a feedstock.


So, the next time my wife decides to interrupt “Lager Time…” I’m gonna bow right up and tell her that “I’m not just laying around drinking beer… I’m just doing my part to save the planet!”


Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Note: In “celebration” of both winter, and “frozen friends…” I give you a new header photo “Container Cabin in the Sky!” Some of you will recognize the cabin, it’s a “Stankey Monument.”

I’m Getting Into Hot Water, and I’m Liking It!

4 Feb

Okay class, welcome back to “Ronin’s 10 simple rules to live by when designing and building a home, because you’re poor, and you can’t afford a new one any other way… and your mother-in-law is a harpie who won’t shut up about it and what a bum you are…” LOL!

Whew! Try saying that three times fast, while your wife smacks you on the back of the head for talking about her mother… LOL!

Building a new home is complicated. Now those of you who frequent this blog (need to get lives, because you’ve obviously got way too much time on your hands…) know that my family is building a new home to replace the one that a hurricane ate. And, you know that we’re building it out of Shipping Containers, and recycled aircraft hanger components, because… we… um… er… the price was right.

If you didn’t know all that, you do now.

Where was I? My ears are ringing!!! Oh yeah… The 10 “Simple” Rules!

We’ve already discussed some of the “rules for homebuilding” that I’ve decided to bombard you with. And, I’ll remind you that a pop quiz is always possible (but not very likely).

After all, you’re too far away to be smacked on the head with a ruler, eh? Don’t make me put my wife in a car. Her “smacking prowess” makes Mike Tyson look like a sissy…

We’ve talked about  (#1) the Sun, (#2) Spray Foam and SIPs (you remember what SIPs are, right? Cuz’ I’m warming up my smackin’ hand…), (#3) building mass (thermal) walls, and even (#4) heating the floor.

This time, we’re gonna talk about an element of that heat system.

Using High Efficiency Condensing Boilers

Heating is the single largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for 35-50% of annual energy bills in colder parts of the country.

Have you watched the News lately? Not only have terrible Ice Storms caused power blackouts, crisis and death all across America, there are Ice Storms in Florida! It’s official folks, Hell has frozen over!


So, reducing your heating energy usage is the single most effective way to save money and reduce your home’s contribution to global environmental problems. And, your teeth will stop chattering!

But what in the hell is a “Condensing Boiler?”

boiler2_largeOkay, you’ve figured out that a condensing boiler is a boiler designed to provide heat. After all, there’s no opening in it for eggs or hot dogs, right? LOL!

A condensing boiler is a high efficiency modern boiler that incorporates either a larger heat exchanger or even a second heat exchanger. It produces lower flue gas temperatures, lower flue gas emissions, and reduced fuel consumption .  It typically converts more than 88% of the fuel used into useful heat, compared to, typically, 60%-78% for modern conventional types.

By recovering and using heat that would otherwise be lost up the flue the best high efficiency boilers can operate with seasonal efficiencies in excess of 90%.  Recovering the heat from the flue reduces the temperature of the flue gases to a point where water vapor produced during combustion is ‘condensed out’. Thus the name high efficiency condensing boiler.  A side effect is that this ‘condensed out’ water, known as condensate, which is acidic, has to be piped away to a drain.  All condensing boilers will produce ‘pluming’ from the flue terminal which appears as steam. This pluming can drift into neighboring  property causing annoyance and possible condensation on window glass or frames so careful consideration should be given to siting of the flue terminal especially if it may effect neighboring property.

A condensing boiler can work at over 90% efficiency.

Whaaaaa? Okay, I’ve read all yer damned gobbledegook, Ronin! What the hell does all that mean?

Hey! Don’t blame me! It gave me a headache just writing it… um… er… copying it… if the truth be known… pass the Tylenol, please…

Well, it just means that when a condensing boiler is working at its peak efficiency, the water vapor produced in the gas combustion process condenses back into water – hence the name “condensing” boiler. Capish?

This condensation of exhaust gases releases the latent heat that is given off whenever the vaporization of water takes place. Together these two processes create the high efficiencies associated with…  you guessed it… “condensing boilers.”


A high efficiency boiler can save more energy for your dollar than any solar thermal system. A High efficiency (95%+ AFEU efficiency) direct vent, condensing boiler(s) should always be used to supply energy for radiant heat *and* even your home’s domestic hot water via a sidearm, or indirect, tank.

Now, I’m not sure why we’re suddenly talking about Nolan Ryan, but… (for those of you who don’t know who that is… “Google!” Actually, he is a Baseball Pitcher who could knock a fly off the end of a bat, at 90 feet…) The fireballer had 324 wins, 5,714 strikeouts, and seven no-hitters.


Ah… never mind…

Housing Experts are telling us that these boilers are now reliable, proven and inexpensive. This translates into: a couple of extra thousand dollars spent now (you didn’t expect them to be cheap, right?), will return the average homeowner’s investment within the first year or two.

What else should you know?

It’s a good idea to avoid tankless hot water heaters or standalone gas or electric water heaters, if you’re going to use Radiant In-Floor Heating.

Energy efficiency should be a major consideration when choosing a water (or gasp! HEAT) heating system.

Tankless Hot Water heaters guzzle energy.

Standalone systems aren’t very efficient, from a money standpoint. Combining all your water heating needs (Radiant In-Floor Heating and  Domestic Hot Water Supply) together will save you money. After all, with a Condensing boiler sitting right there, you already have everything you need.

And, if (G_d forbid!) your home is too large for one central hot water source (I should have such trouble… Oy Vey!), Solar hot water can be used to supplement if your budget allows and your solar electric space is maximized already.

Here’s a tip, that should border on “A hard rule tattooed on your forehead…”

ALWAYS, always, always… use an accredited HVAC engineering firm (not your plumber!) to design the HVAC and geo-exchange systems. These boiler systems are complicated beasts, and you want someone who works with them EVERY DAY to design yours. Trust me on this one.

Otherwise, your mother-in-law will never shut up…


Before you let me have it, I admit that there is some “negative feedback” bordering on “controversy” on these boilers.

Naysayers say that:

“Condensation is needed for high efficiency boilers and it only occurs if the flue gas temperature is below 120deg F, so to lower the temperature they bring in cold winter air (which obviously defeats any heat savings) when the boiler is running extra hot in winter. These systems don’t work!”

In part, that’s WHY you need a good, solid design for your boiler system. Comprende?

Next time we’ll talk about… lemme’ see… hmmmm… well… you’ll just have to check back, to find out!

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninNote: In “celebration” of both winter, and “frozen friends…” I give you a new header photo “Container Cabin in the Sky!” Some of you will recognize the cabin, it’s a “Stankey Monument.”