Tag Archives: Modern Times

“Bubba Boxes” for the masses!

4 Apr

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…

Our country imports more than it exports! “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh My!”

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It’s called a “trade deficit.” But one byproduct of this development is the metal mountains of empty shipping containers piling up at  shipping ports and transport centers. And it’s not just here, either! These containers are becoming a blight on the landscape, blocking out the sun, and ruining the “environment” of the locals!

What to do with them all?

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Fear not! There are groups of innovative architects, engineers, and alternative housing visionaries who have THE answer!

How about an inexpensive home? Or maybe an Art studio in your backyard? Or how about a self-contained weekend get-away? Do you need a medical clinic in a remote area? And I bet somebody could use some FEMA type relief-housing after a natural disaster that actually makes sense!

Hey, howabouts a cozy “Corten cabin” in the backyard for when the “In-Laws” come to visit? I mean, that way… they’d have their own space and they wouldn’t feel like they were intruding on you… Yeah, right!

And you could slip out in the middle of the night, all “ninja-like…” slap a padlock on those wonderfully sturdy doors, and ship that puppy off to China! I’d tell ya the rest of the “plan,” but my wife is watching me type… 🙂

Lots of people all around the planet are building prefab, ecologically intelligent structures from empty cargo containers. And this may come as a shock to some of you… but they’ve been doing it for decades.

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A 40 foot container can cost you anywhere from $800 to $2000, plus a shipping fee to your building sight. That’s kind of crazy sounding, huh? You have to pay a shipping fee, to get a shipping container. Well, just like you learned in high school Science class; “There ain’t no free lunch!” 🙂

There are several companies and organizations  in America now, like [ISBU2YOU] that will actually outfit the container with doors, windows, insulation, HVAC, and all the amenities your little heart desires, from utilitarian (like building in composting toilets), to upscale (like installing solar and PV arrays).

Let’s face it, you either like ISBUs, or you hate them. I personally think that they get a bad rap, but that’s just me. Using the containers as housing is a  fascinating concept to some, and an  “industrial waste – eye sore” to others…

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But whatever your view, you have to admit that our concept of the world is changing fast. “McMansions” are out, and “Microhouses” are “IN!” And, GREEN is all the rage! It’s time to re-utilize the junk we’ve spent decades creating, and reconfigure the way we think, so we can reevaluate “our right to the disposable lifestyles” that we’ve been living, before it’s too late!

Now may be the perfect time. For the first time in “real” history, the Government is actually looking for alternatives to housing. It’s quite possible that there are “Stimulus Bill” dollars available to build a home out of recycled shipping containers. We’re going through the bill line by line, looking for places where we might find some assistance.  The way I see it, if we can bail out AIG, it’s time we bailed out families. American Families. You know, the people who actually built America in the first place!

Look, houses aren’t the only things you can build out of these wonderful boxes. Containers make perfect low cost structures for clinics in remote or impoverished areas. A building such as this might mean the difference in a non-profit having the money to start medical services or letting people suffer and die. Facility expenses can be a huge burden when calculating the money needed to get a project off the ground.

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A pal of mine, Paul Stankey has built a terrific “Holyoke Cabin” in Minnesota. It’s a “small scale beauty,” a masterpiece full of natural light and industrial-urban attitude out in the woods. It just takes creativity to create a sense of intrigue by capitalizing on the aspects of building with metal containers! Plus, it’s cheap, and the materials are readily available!

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Although Paul used “little boxes,” all the structural load in an 8-by-40-by-9 1/2-foot container is carried by the corner castings, steel columns at each of the four corners. This means that doors and windows can occur anywhere else in  the structure. Whole walls can be cut out and replaced with glass, and interior walls can be anywhere or nowhere.

You can build in walls that slide out (just like in an RV) to make your ISBU cabin even bigger! And when it’s time to go home, you just push the sliders in, lock the container doors, and off you trot! And, Your cabin is secure!

Plus, as an added bonus… The boxes can be stacked like giant Lego blocks, cantilevered into space to create intriguing overhangs and practical decks, or cut apart and reassembled into new configurations. Talk about versatile!

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So why aren’t you building one? Hmmm?

container-cabinEven a “modest” box makes a splendid cabin!

Help is available. There’s a new group setting up shop in late April, called “ISBU2YOU” that’s going to start turning out cabins you can truck anywhere, set down, and then, pick up and move to greener pastures, if you decide to! Think of it as an “Armor Plated RV.”

I call ’em “Bubba Boxes.”

They’ve promised me that they’re going to get a detail package ready, so that you can learn how to live in the woods (or anywhere else for that matter) in style, while your friends and neighbors go broke spending a lifetime paying for mortgages, second homes, and hotel bills! ! They’ll give you all the details on how they’ll fab a container cabin for you, and ship it out to your site!

Now I actually know these guys, and I’ve seen the stuff that they’ve built, “far afield” in disaster relief efforts. It’s amazing what you can do, with a little bit of creative energy, and a plasma cutter!

For the price of a new full-sized car, you could be in a nice warm container-cabin, without a huge mortgage! Think of the possibilities! Add a water line, and an electrical cord, and voila!

You’re in heaven!

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!

A Good Friend Remembered: Lyle Gillis – January 2, 2009

2 Jan

It’s the second day of the New Year, 2009…

Alas, it looks like it’s starting off real hard…

A very good friend of mine lost his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease) this morning.

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Lyle Gillis was just a little older than me, in his early fifties. He was a Church Minister, and a good family man.

Like the rest of us, my son Joshua adored him.

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He was much more than that. He was a friend, when you needed a friend, a confidante when you needed to vent, a guy who would listen to your pain, and distill it into a lesson that wasn’t quite so bitter sweet.

He did this, while the disease within him was tearing him apart. Slowly, he suffered in silence, never complaining, never calling attention to his suffering, never letting on that he was in agony. Instead, he lived like he preached. He lived with dignity, and faith in God, and demonstrated openly, lovingly, the adoration that he had for his family and friends.

Lyle and I didn’t always see “eye to eye.” He was a New Testament guy, and I am an Old Testament fossil. He strongly believed that love would conquer all, and I was too afraid to believe that. He bravely fought his fears and embraced his life, and we stood by, watching in awe as he faced the death that slowly approached him…

Lyle and I had many, many spirited conversations, about everything under the sun. I used to argue with him for hours, two men from different places, leading different lives, yet standing side by side, facing whatever would come. He was much more than a friend, to me. He was an inspiration.

Today, we visited his family, his wife Carolyn and her children, Charee and Cary. As we fought our own tears, we tried to help them cope with theirs. And, in spite of the suffering and grieving, they proved they were just like Lyle. They loved openly, kept a firm grip, and never once faltered.

I hope, when it’s time for my family to face such a difficult time (as all families must), that we fare as well…

Lyle didn’t just show us how to live, he showed us how to die.

In my life as a combatant, I’ve witnessed the passing of men more times than I care to remember. However, I’ve never witnessed a passing so profound in it’s life lessons, even now…

Lyle, you never stopped teaching… even now.

We’ll miss you as much as we loved you. Profoundly…

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Addendum:

There will be a memorial for Lyle, at 2pm, on January 4th, 2009. It will be held at the Rodenberg Church of Christ, in Biloxi, MS. If you need directions, just email me.

The viewing will be held at Clary Glenn Funeral Home, in Defuniack Springs, Fl, on Monday January 5th, between 1 – 3pm. The Funeral will follow immediately after.

We will miss him terribly…

The Renaissance RoninOn another blog, that echoes my posts, (I actually have fans! ME? Can you imagine that?) this was posted about Lyle, and I thought I’d share it with you;

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Tina Brannon Says:
January 3rd, 2009 at 10:37 pm I am Lyle’s second cousin the grandaughter of his Mother Bobbie’s sister.
Lyle has preached every member of my family’s funerals and I had assumed would be there for mine. We didn’t see each other taht often, but we didn’t have to for me to know he was a great man. He had more dignity than most people would ever be able to demonstrate in a lifetime. He held his head high even when it was hard for him to do that. His wife Carolyn and her daughters came along at such a perfect time for Lyle and his family, and they were definitely God sent. When it was hard to even look at them without crying Carolyn or Lyle would make you feel better almost immediately. Just in the short time of his illness I have learned what a miraculous family I come from, even though I new I was blessed from the start. If I can live my life half as well as Lyle lived his I will be blessed, just as we all were blessed by knowing him, and loving him. God definitely got an angel yesterday, and I am sure he is already hard at work.

G_d Bless you, buddy. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by, that I haven’t thought about you. We miss you so much…

You really never get a chance to say “Thanks…”

25 Oct

Usually, I’m talking about the goings-on, here on planet “Container Casa.”

Most of you know that my family is hip-deep in the middle of a project to turn several Shipping Containers and a few old aircraft hangars, into a home for our family in South Mississippi. It involves federal grants, State grants, a “re-urbanization parcel allocation,” and a lot of sweat equity. Why are we doing this? Because we’re masochists, that’s why… LOL!

But today, I’m gonna talk about something different, something that all of you have experienced at one time or another as well, if you rely on cable to juice up your big screen TV, or allow you the surf the Internet at lightning speed…

I bet you thought I was gonna talk about “Politics,” huh? I am so sick and tired of “politics, politicians, and all the hollow promises the media is broadcasting, like rice at a wedding!” I figure if you haven’t figured out who you’re going to trust to run the country yet, it’s on you…

Besides, I suspect that no matter who we pick, we’re in trouble deep… I know, I know… “Pappa don’t preach…” LOL!

Yesterday, after weeks of trouble-shooting, complaining and “experimenting,” the cable TV and Internet at my hovel finally got repaired. My connection was so bad, the TV signal looked like a snowstorm in the Himalaya’s, and my Internet connection was so bad, I thought for a while there that someone had stolen my computer, and replaced it with an abacus. Needless to say, my web-surfing and researching days slowed to a crawl. But that wasn’t the real problem…

I know that bad cable signal doesn’t sound like much, but when your wife is ill, and she’s hooked to a transponder that runs diagnostics on her vital signs every half hour, and then uses the Internet to relay them to doctors and specialists, in two different states, for observation, it’s a big deal. It’s a HUGE deal. Her health and safety depend on that Internet connection.

After a while, I suspect that we take the utility and cable companies for granted, I think.

I mean, I never catch myself saying; “Gee, those Cable geeks are swell…” Or: “Man I miss that Mississippi Power guy who screws with my electricity!!” In fact, when I do think about the “cable guys” lately, the mental picture I get comes from a really, really bad movie I had the misfortune to watch… In my defense, I only agreed to watch it because I like Jenny McCarthy… LOL!

Try getting THAT picture outta your head. I think I’m gonna need therapy…

Brrrrrr! Where was I? Oh yeah…

Anyway, if everything is working, they’re not even a second thought. But, when things go south, we get concerned, and some of us get cranky and frustrated. As I suppose that we take it out on whoever answers the phone at the help desk, or is unfortunate enough to show up on the porch, trying and find a remedy to our problem.

But today, my family got a solution, not because it was easy, but because ONE  team, and ONE GUY in the field really took a hard look at what was happening, documented it, and then… replaced everything from the wall, to the pole.

Now, it turns out that it wasn’t even “technically” the cable companies fault. The owner of the hovel I rent is responsible for upkeep and maintenance, when dealing with the actual wires and cables mounted to the building.

But, knowing that would go nowhere, I talked to the cable company (thank you Kristen!) and then waited for the team of cable geeks to arrive, like the cavalry riding in to save the day. It didn’t matter that it was raining “cats and dogs,” it didn’t matter that the problem turned out to be one they weren’t even responsible for…

What mattered to the cable company was that the connection I paid for every month, gave me everything I expected, no matter what effort it took, on their behalf…

So, a few days ago, a CableOne Cowboy showed up and made some changes. He crawled up the pole, in the pouring rain, and started switching things around until it looked like he had a good fix. This guy was really polite, attentive, efficient, and did everything he could to try and solve our problem. And, for a few hours, everything looked good. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and within a few hours, things got pretty muddy again.

Picture Ronin on the phone to the cable company, again, trying to make sense of a bad situation. It’s not a pretty sight. Every time the connection went south, the hospital called, thinking that my wife was in trouble. So, I’d have to rush into the room, wake her up, and see if she was still alive. Talk about stress…

I’m sure that Kristen got tired of hearing my voice on the line, day after day, whining about the cable and my wife’s dilemma. (For some reason, I kept getting Kristen over and over again. What are the odds of that happening?) But, Kristen jumped in again, and got more tech guys headed my way, to see if they could find a solution.

And, the guy they sent jumped in with both feet. Sure, first he blamed the VCR, and then, he blamed the TV itself, and I started thinking that my TV days were gonna be over for a while. Ronin can’t rush out and buy new TV components right now, medication is too expensive. But I pointed out that the computer was not working either, so it had to be “signal.” Process of elimination. And, by then, he already knew that on his own. He started doing diagnostics, and determined that the problem wasn’t inside the house, it was somewhere “outside” the house.

Uh oh… Landlords are responsible for the cable actually coming into their apartments, and my landlord… well… let’s just say that I saw a brick wall coming. Cable guys aren’t supposed to do anything with the cable attached to the building. It’s outside their domain. So we’re screwed, and my wife is gonna pay for it…

But, the cable tech (Ken Broy) had spent some time in my living room, being pestered by my inquisitive one year old son, and talking to my wife, while I was trying to put out a fire next door. Between my wife, and my son’s ability to “Jew-Fu” almost anybody breathing, old Kenny was putty in their hands… LOL!

So by the time I walked back in the door, he was determined to solve the problem, despite the rain, and the “responsibility,” no matter what.

So, outside we go, fording locked gates, and crawling over enough garbage to make a US Marines obstacle course look like a warm up, and then… we start looking at the cable… The problem becomes obvious. It looks like a “Cable Pirate’s” Wet Dream…

The Cable guy just starts laughing, and then… he decides to rerun the entire system, to make absolutely sure we never have a problem again. Did I mention that it was raining? Pouring. And this poor guy is outside my building, clinging to a ladder, getting drenched, fixing something that isn’t even his responsibility, to make sure we’re okay.

And now, a few hours later, with new cable carrying the signal from outside in, everything is working like it’s supposed to. After he’d replaced everything but the sink… he checked out every single component, and even spent time monitoring the signal to make sure that the hospital could connect to my wife’s monitors. Since he fixed everything else, I tried to get him to look at my refrigerator, but he said it was “outside his pay grade…” Damn. LOL!

He didn’t leave until he was absolutely certain that we had good signal. In fact, we have more signal than we can use. So, it’s fixed, probably forever!

Now, if I could get this damned remote control programmed! I asked him for help with it, but when I pointed it at him, he just turned white, and ran for his truck? They must be difficult, I guess… LOL!

And why am I writing this?

Don’t tell me “It’s his job.” In this case, it clearly wasn’t HIS job to resolve my “cable conflict.” I’m writing this because it seems like whenever something bad happens, everybody tends to blame someone else. It’s become human nature do do as little actual work as possible, and then move on to the next “problem.” We live in a society where we’re overworked, underpaid, and unhappy about everything including last night’s dinner. So, we tend to do less, when it comes to applying effort to solve a tough problem.

But, evidently, CableOne doesn’t suffer from that. In fact, where I live, nothing works like it’s supposed to. Except… the cable. And that didn’t happen by accident, it happened because a company did what it did, because they actually cared about their customers.

And how often does that happen? Hmmm?

Thank you CableOne, and especially Kristen, Ken, and that poor soaked cowboy whose name I never got.

Thanks for caring enough to follow-up, follow-through, and then… make certain we were okay, “no matter what.” It means a lot to us, and we won’t forget it…

So, I have one less thing to complain about. I have to take CableOne off my “bitch list,” I suspect permanently.

But don’t worry… I’ll find something else to complain about, I promise. After all, it’s kinda entertaining, huh?

Stay tuned…

I’m waiting for hurricanes… Should I “Google” Gustav?

30 Aug

Well, it seems that Hurricane Gustav is still trying to figure out where he’ll make entry.

Experts are now saying that the hurricane will come ashore somewhere between New Orleans, and Galveston. I suppose that’s it the high pressure area holds, and everything else works like it’s “supposed” to.


I’m not sure I’d wanna be the one dictating arrival zones to a hurricane, I’m pretty sure that’s a “spanking waiting to happen.”

They’re still saying strong Cat 2, possibly Category 3 hurricane, with 100+ mph winds, and several feet of tidal surge. And, it’s gonna rain like “cats and dogs.” So, we wait, like we’re waiting for a brand new bagel to come out of the kitchen. We stare out the windows, and we wonder what’s gonna happen…

And, it’s strange and kinda spooky around here. Nobody is on the streets, there’s no gunfire, no loud music from “Little Mexico” over the back fence, and the local cops aren’t chasing crack dealers down the alley.

Speaking of strange…

They say that “strange things come from strange places.”

And lately, people have been looking at me “strangely,” like I’m from another planet, because I want to use Shipping Containers (ISBU’s) as the basis of construction, to build a house for my family.

Now, if you look at a container for what it is, it makes sense that you could use it as the “framework” for a dwelling. You just have to think “out of the box.” It’s a steel subframe, clad with  steel skins, designed to carry precious cargo over thousands of miles in the worst possible weather, over and over again, for years.

And, all you’re gonna do is give it a different kind of “precious cargo” to hold safely, and it won’t even have to budge an inch while it does it.

So, although the idea sounds strange, it works. It’s all in the “finish…”

I can think of several other examples of “strangeness turned to spicy goodness…” LOL!

If not for the Beatles, we wouldn’t have CAT scans! Yep! The advanced medical scanning technology that lets your doctor see how badly your bones are broken, has a definite Beatles link!

You see, in the 1960s, a middle-aged engineer named Godfrey Hounsfield was working at Electrical & Musical Instrument Ltd. (EMI). He’d already been there for quite a while, considering he started working there as a radar researcher in 1951.

The company was a typical industrial scientific company at the time, working on military technology and the burgeoning field of electronics. And Godfrey had some skills but for the most part he was an unexceptional scientist. He led a team that built the first all-transistor computer in 1958. That’s cool, right?

Because of its work in the field of radar technology, the company began looking at it’s “discoveries,” and branched off into broadcasting equipment. This was a cool deal, because the company also owned several recording studios in London. Specifically, these studios were located at Abbey Road.

In the 50s, the company began releasing LPs, and by the end of that decade, thanks to an acquisition of Capitol Records, the company had become a major player in “pop” music.

Then in 1962, on the recommendation of EMI recording engineer George Martin, the company signed this unknown band called “The Beatles” to a recording contract.

You remember these guys, right?

Talk about your “Big Bang” theory put into action! Over the next decade (and for decades thereafter) the company earned millions of dollars from “The Fab Four.” They earned so much money, in fact, that the company almost didn’t know what to do with it.

So, the company gave old Godfrey the freedom to pursue some “independent research.” Hounsfield’s breakthrough was combining his work with computers together with an interest in X-rays. Remember that X-rays were still pretty much used to image bodies in two dimensions from a fixed position, right?

Hounsfield’s idea was to measure in three dimensions, by scanning an object – most dramatically, a human head – from many directions. The result was a cross-sectional, interior image that he called “computed tomography,” or CT.

And it’s all because of “The Beatles.” I bet Yoko doesn’t think it’s strange. I hear John left her all his EMI  shares…

And here’s some more “strange trivia;”

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying. But, chewing gum while crying won’t get your onions peeled, unless you have a sympathetic wife or girlfriend.

My wife just laughs. She’s like that.

The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo. When people found out what happened, the public outcry was so great that over 50 zoos were established in the United States. With Elephants.

And $40 dollar Pepsi Cola’s. You gotta take out a mortgage, to buy a hot dog. Sheesh, I thought Elephants ate peanuts!

African tribesmen loathe scorpions, for obvious reasons. So, they combat scorpions with alcohol. No, they don’t drink it to relieve scorpion sting pain. They figured out that if you place a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go nuts, and then sting itself to death.

I guess that then it’s already “marinated,” and they can eat it?

Where did the phrase “Rule of Thumb” come from? Any guesses? Well… The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

There’s a joke there… but I can’t quite “reach” it…

What does this seemingly strange list of stuff have in common? Bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers? Every one of them was invented by women. See? Women love us. Isn’t THAT strange? LOL!

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the “honeymoon”.

Keeping the groom loaded for a month probably also insured that you wouldn’t try to give that harpy back to her parents… It gave them plenty of time to move away! LOL!

More Hurricane Gustav Updates in a few hours… Remember, if you’re readin it here, we didn’t drown… Yet.

Stay tuned!

How to build a home from “garbage” – Part IV(ish)

12 Jul

Welcome to ALTERNATIVE HOUSING 101.5:

Those of you that have been following along, know that I’m in the middle of a project to build affordable housing for my family, out of discarded shipping containers, and aircraft hangar “parts.”

Although, I’m a guy who really appreciates a good challenge, this came more out of desperation, as opposed to “creativity.”

As it happens, my family, like many others, is suffering from the current housing crisis, in a major way.

I’ve already discussed this in my previous posts, so if you need a refresher course, well… I’ll just wait right here, while you figure out why I’m doing this. Just look over at that sidebar on your right, and start getting caught up. Don’t forget your “hall pass” though. I don’t want you getting detention, on account of me!

You’re back already? See, I told you that “Hall Monitor Lady” was a pain…

Now where were we? Oh yeah…

I’m just an “average joe,” struggling upstream like the rest of the salmon.  I’m having to stretch the limits of my hollow cranium, to try and get my family into some place warm and dry by winter.

You know why I’m doing this. In fact, if you were in my place, and you’d run out of options, you’d be doing it too, right? Right? Well?

I’ve already described the goings on here in coastal Mississippi, so I’m not going to recap this time. Like I said (you WERE paying attention, right?) a quick view of my previous posts will catch you up, if you’re curious.

My house isn’t going to be like other houses around here. It’s boxy, it’s not  reflective of the “local architecture,” and it’s tall. Really tall. So, actual placement is tricky. I’d like to think that I could just plop it down anywhere, but I doubt that’s going to be the case. Because it’s unconventional, I’m sure that the neighbors are going to have something to say about it. And, I don’t have time for years of Public Hearings.

Plus if I did it in the city, the city Planning and Zoning department would make me crazy. They have things like “roof height” limits, neighborhood Architectural Review Committees, and I’d have to educate them as to the structural qualities of the steel containers, as a construction component. God help you if you do something that they’ve never seen before.

“What in the hell is this?“

They’d be out at the curb by their city truck, discussing “the calamity” with their superiors on their cell phones, until Jesus comes back.

The fact that it’s a proven technology that’s been used over and over for decades will be beyond them. It won’t matter that it’s been proven over and over again, with these containers loaded to the bursting point with tons of cargo, and then stacked several containers high, in huge sea-going rafts.

In fact, without adding one single piece of weld, you can stack and bolt them  (5) high (fully loaded!), with very little possibility of a structural failure.

I’m going to stack shipping containers (4) levels high, in a 1,600 square foot “footprint.”

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that my garage level will be the “tallest“ level, but it’s because I want the “living spaces” to be way up over the tidal surge height of 12’.

Plus, I want the ability to park a loaded truck (with a roof rack) inside in case of inclement weather.

But after that, it’s a pretty conventional house, despite it‘s unconventional origins.

The house is going to be approximately 4,096 square feet under a/c, on 4 levels. (This doesn’t include the 1,600 square foot garage level.) I thought I was going to stop at about 3,200 square feet, but as it turns out, this 4,000 square foot configuration does everything we’ll ever need, the most effectively.

Our house has 3 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, an office to work out of, a recreation room, a greenhouse located at the very top of the house, a rooftop garden off the Master Wing level, a parking garage, and metal/wood shop, you know, the usual… It even has a secret loft at the very top.

(Oh crap, its’ not a secret anymore, is is?) #$%@!!

This house seems huge, but it’s really not. Using containers as “building blocks,“ I’ve just piled them up to form the rooms I wanted. The design  takes advantage of the layout, my goal was to provide both common and private spaces, in a pretty manageable plan so that we don’t become slaves to the house.

I’ve laid claim to every flat surface created, to build “life space.” Since the house is made of steel, I already have the “structure.” All I have to do is add doors and windows. You’ll see what I mean, as I go we go along.

We’re going to use every “green” technology we can incorporate to allow the house to sustain itself. We want to “live with the house and the land,” and “not on the land, with a big house.”

Now, I’m the first one to admit that the house will stick out like a sore thumb. It’s hard to hide a house that has to “start” 12 feet off the ground! I kinda think of it as a “redneck version” of the monolith in “2001; A Space Odyssey!” I hate that the house becomes so “public,” because I’m shy, don’t ya know… LOL!

It’ll be both a “passive” and “active” solar house. We’re using solar panels, a windmill generator (that gets assisted by a “solar still,”) radiant floor heating, “environmental” a/c, and even a bio-fuel generator for power back-up, and emergency power.

On good days, we’ll be completely off the grid. And that means I can afford more goodies, like comic books and baseball cards for the boy!! LOL!

We’re not embracing “green” to be fashionable. We’re doing it because it makes sense, pays for itself, and helps us live on a day to day basis, at a level we couldn’t afford otherwise. I am using LEED guidelines, and I hope to have the home qualify for a LEED “rating & award.” It would validate what we’ve done, and make it easier for others to repeat it.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.

You can find out more about them, at http://www.USGBC.org.

We wanted a house that was indoor/outdoor. I even had a ratio in mind. We spend a lot of time, outdoors. And Mother Nature is difficult here…

(It’s like living with Goldilocks! Too hot, too cold… too many #@%&*! mosquitoes!)

I had to figure out how to build outdoors space we could screen in, to keep the critters out. Don’t get me wrong, the weather can be pretty pleasant here, for those three or four days when it’s not either terribly hot and mosquito ridden, or freezing cold and rainy…

Before I moved here, I  thought that the South, like the tropics, was warm, mild, and island-like. I saw it on cable! Sheesh, those Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movies were written by a bunch of liars!

We built a lot of “surface area” into the house, intentionally. I know those big, gabled roofs look cool, but we wanted to “reclaim the space, for decks and water retention areas. I get to play on the roof without my wife yelling at me, and we get to “harvest” all the rain we get, for irrigation. In spring, and until late summer, it rains almost every day. That’s perfect for me, because that’s when I garden the most! Good, and good.

The house will possess lots of exterior decks off each level, and a big rooftop garden area to grow my “special brand of tomatoes” without interference, or garden vegetable thieves!!

Have you seen the price of produce lately? We’d eat more salads around here, but the store wouldn’t agree to finance my vegetable purchases out over 10 years… LOL!

(Actually, if anybody can scale a 30+’ vertical wall, and steal a basket of my homegrown produce without getting eaten by my dogs, they’re welcome to try it. It’ll make good footage for the DVD!) LOL!

I’m positive that there are other people interested in doing this.

(Not stealing vegetables! Building a house out of containers! Sheesh, you’re not paying attention, are you? And if you ARE a “vegetable ninja,” I have something for you… Come and get it! Heh-heh!)

FYI: Did you know that I was the only white kid in the world to ever get shot for stealing watermelons? Yep, I pedaled out to a field on my Schwinn Sting Ray after school one day, plucked one, stuck it between my handlebars, and hauled butt…

But… not fast enough. A grower saw me, and cranked off a round of rock salt from his shotgun, and I suffered… oh, how I suffered…

After my Mom pulled out most of the rock salt with tweezers (laughing hysterically the whole time!) she threw me in the station wagon, to go confront the “watermelon sniper.”

(She was laughing, I was… um… er… crying. Well, wanna make something of it? You’d cry to! That stuff hurts! Bad!)

And then, Mom did what Mom does best. She disarmed my assassin, and then actually beat him to a bloody pulp. I love my Mom. She’s the best… (sigh!)

And then, my mom ate all the watermelon, by herself. She didn’t share a single bite of it with me! And I was the one that swiped it, “fair and square!” There is no justice in the world, I tell you!

But, I got to brag for years that I got my first GSW (gunshot wound) at the ripe old age of 9. For the curious among you, I have several GSW’s now, plus some stab wounds, and a knife (slash) wound or two.

What does this mean? It means that I’m not smart enough to get out of the way, that’s what it means… Man, I hope Joshua got his mother’s brains… LOL!

Where was I? Oh yeah… Progress…

So, I’m going to document my progress, feed the blogs and news channels religiously, and start to recruit volunteers to come out on week-ends and help build it, so that they can get some hands on, before they build one of their own, just like “Habitat for Humanity” does.

(That way, progress will still be made on the house while I’m at the hospital getting the nail out of my head that I put there with the nail gun!)

I’m courting manufacturers, trying to get materials and technical assistance in exchange for publicity demonstrating how their “terrific products” are being used to develop this new groundbreaking and very “green” housing alternative. Hey, they can drag their photographers in any time they want!

(By appointment, please. You can never tell when Daddy might want some “private time” with Momma… Our lives are very hectic. Our son, “The Emperor of the World,“ is a devious little tyrant who is already trying to take over the galaxy! And he never sleeps! It‘s part of his evil plan, I think. Sleep depravation keeps mommy and daddy quiet, and obedient…)

Now, there’s another guy I know who claims to be the real “Emperor of the World,” but he’s just plain crazy… He’s had way too much “Rat Salad” for lunch! And anybody who “wrestles geeks” has way too much time on their hands. You know who you are, eh? LOL!

And, although I’m usually “press shy,“ I’ll let the camera lackeys in. That’s because if they’re gonna do photo-shoots, they’ll pony up for wall treatments, fancy windows, and good looking stuff to frame their products with! My mother didn’t raise no stupid kids…

So far, it looks really promising. I’ve got some “maybe’s” from kitchen appliance manufacturers, tool manufacturers, and bathroom fixture manufacturers, too! Advertising reps are chomping at the bit to get into the act. After all, “Hurricane Recovery” is hot, hot, hot!

I’m working on the “final” drawings now. I’ve done a lot of research, and I’ve seen some really good ideas, so I’m combining them all together in a blend I call;

“Casa del Don’t sue me for copyright infringement!”  or “Casa DeSMaFoCI,” for short.

I had to shorten it, because I couldn’t figure out how to get it all on the wrought iron gate, that goes in the driveway, to keep the riff raff“ out… LOL!

(To those guys who claim my work looks kinda familiar to theirs; I’ll give you credit if you earned it, I promise! Some of you guys (and gals) have been inspiring! But, for the record, I didn’t just “copy” anything. I’ve done my homework, burned up a batch of calculator batteries, made my computer puke about eighty times, and twisted designs pretty damn hard. Picture every book on Experimental Architecture, and “The Environment” you ever read, thrown into a blender! And just so you know, I don’t care about “the fame.“ I‘m not greedy. My wife and baby just want a house of their own, where they’ll be safe. That‘s all. Anything else that comes along will just be “gravy.”)

So, it’s gonna look like a great big box. It’s gonna look like a “Hillbilly skyscraper!” It’s gonna be really ugly. It’s gonna make all the neighbors mad. I couldn’t be happier! LOL!

(I’m tempted to let the local graffiti artists take a stab at my exterior! I’ll go for the “Industrial Zone” look! And, I‘ll save a load of cash on exterior paint! I wonder if I could get a NEA grant for that? Hmmm…)

Seriously, it’s gonna look like any other house, but taller. And it’ll just appear on the lot, one day vacant, the next day a big, building block of a beast!

You can see where I’m going with this. Once we do it here, others could too, and we could house families affordably, and quickly…

Plus, I keep having this dream that I’m entitled to get compensated for all my research and design time. In my dream, I’m going to produce a DVD with plans, drawings, elevations, and construction footage (start to finish), and sell it for $29.95 (plus shipping and handling).

I can see it now… I’ll get a local cable ad, and then, after I sell a few, I’ll get an ad in my regional building magazine.

In this delusion…

(probably brought on by eating Chicken Fried Ice Cream and Tobasco sauce too close to bedtime…)

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I figure that I’ll sell a few thousand of these DVDs, help people get back into houses, and offset the cost of my own construction, at the same time.

I might even be responsible for starting a “cottage container industry!”

I could become “The King of Containers!”  I even drew up a logo!

Wait, I remember something from a book I read about business school;

“Responsibility equals lawsuits.”

Never mind.

One thing I’m sure of, is that I’m gonna get press. The local newspapers and TV News are gonna be all over me like flies on shrimp husks. So, I’ll just put on my cleanest NASCAR T-Shirt, and welcome the press lackeys in.

(But they better bring their own beverages! I gotta draw a line somewhere!)

Free publicity is, well.. Free publicity. And who knows where it will lead?

I might get my own “reality show.” “Redneck Recovery: The Series!” I could give “American Chopper” a run for it’s money let me tell you! We grow dysfunction around here by the bushel basket!

I’m so excited, that I could just… uh-oh! What a mess!

(Oh well, I’ll just blame it on the dog…)

Stay tuned, because next time, we start getting really specific…