Tag Archives: Opinion

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! 🙂

Home Design and Responsibility

10 Jun

Here at RenaissanceRonin, we’ve talked a lot about how you design your home, using alternative materials. After all, it’s what we’re doing, as we build our home out of shipping containers (ISBU‘s), and recycled aircraft hangar components. We’re not doing this to be fashionable, or “particularly GREEN,” or even to make a name for ourselves. We just need a durable, sustainable home, that will provide for our needs, within our budget.

(Hey, if you’d been paying attention to the words in the posts, instead of all those pretty pictures, you’d know that! Right?) 😉

Speaking of “pretty pictures.” No progress on the “My use of images makes WordPress puke” situation. I’m still working on a fix. The pictures will return, I promise. Hey, if for no other reason than they fill up the page, and I don’t have to write as much! 🙂

After all, it’s not just about saving money, it’s about creating a space to live in, that will provide for your needs.

And, that implies a lot of responsibility. Moral Responsibility.

No, I’m not talking about trying to make sure that you please the Baptists down the street! I’m talking about looking at every side of home design, while you busily fill those wishbook pages that will lead you to your design.

Again… I have nothing against Baptists. I’m just surrounded by them, and we like to “brother-lovingly” poke each other in the eye… Call it “theological differences…”  I don’t know WHY they keep telling me that “I’m going to HELL.” 🙂

Your responsibility for protecting and sheltering your family has to be weighed against more than fire, or a building horror like a collapse, or a catastrophic natural event. There is a huge body of research that defines the intimate relationship between homes and human behavior.  After all, you’re creating an environment that your tribe will live within, right?

But how do you do this? It’s hard enough trying to figure out which stick goes into what slot, without having somebody suggest that you have to go find a “house psychiatrist” to help you plan out your space. I mean, I’ve heard of “horse whisperers,” and “dog whisperers,” and even “gossip-mongers…” But, I’ve never heard of a “house whisperer.” Hey! That might make a cool reality show on cable, huh?

“Well sir, your home says that traipsing around the house in your tighty-whiteys with your “crack” hangin out like some overweight plumber, makes it’s windows shiver… So, just stop it, huh?” 🙂

Think about things like “sanitary surfaces, and safety.” Where you actually live has a lot to do with which materials you use. If you live in a place where there is a lot of humidity and mold, you probably don’t want porous surfaces all over the place that you’ll have to maintain. If you live in a hot environment, you probably don’t want cinder-block construction, or low ceiling heights that will trap the heat down into your “living zones.” Think about railings on staircases, and stair tread height/depth, and access to important rooms like the bathroom!

I was watching a cable show today about “beautiful houses.” And, although some of them were just fabulous, I was reminded that some of us tend to think of our homes as “beautiful objects” and not really places for human interaction and participation. It’s really not surprising that we see so many photographs in the media of beautiful spaces that don’t have people in them. The spaces that are created just don’t compliment humans.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to live in a museum, or an aquarium. I want to live in a calm, soothing environment that takes care of me, with as little input as possible. After all, I have TV to watch and frosty cold beverages to consume!

(Preferably in a soundproof room that my wife doesn’t know about, okay? She can conjure up a “honey-do list” that would make Bob Vila or those “This Old House” guys commit suicide in about three seconds flat!) 🙂

Here’s the deal. Good home design begins with great discussions. Talk to your family about their wants and their goals for your new house. Think about ways to streamline the maintenance, using good design as a fulcrum. Think about ways to eliminate obstacles and hazards. You can still have a great looking home, that looks like people actually live in it! You just have to think it through!

You’ve got to figure out what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t. And that will add a whole page of questions to your design list. If you don’t heed them, there isn’t any way you’re going to improve your design.

And, those unanswered questions will be a failure to your family (and their comfort and safety), later.

Enough for now, I just heard my wife, and I haven’t finished cleaning up the huge mess that “the kid” made! How does he DO that? Oy Vey!  🙂

If I only had a soundproof room… :p

Stay tuned!

Jackson and “Jacked Up.”

28 May

Okay, so I took a few days off…

It’s been “pretty difficult” around here lately (in fact, on a one to ten, it’s been an “eight”). The “Mommy” is slowly recovering (“Mommy” recently had a stroke), and Joshua, astutely sensing a momentary change in the balance of power, has taken the opportunity to wage a full frontal assault, and try to make the “Daddy” crazy…um… er… crazier. This is a pretty simple task lately, as Daddy has had his hands full… Oy Vey, have I had my hands full…

Beyond that, due to difficulties beyond my control my appearance at a “meeting of the mind” (singular) in Jackson, was accomplished “by notarized document/statement, read aloud by some unfortunate lackey who will have to bear the scars of having my words rattle around in their brain until the cows come home.”

I say “mind,” because after participating in several of these “Jacksonian jousts,” I’m convinced that there is only one sane person in “Jackson Authority,” and they just pass the brain around, at random.

I’m told that my statement was either well received, or thrown in a well (I’m not sure which), as the phone line that connected us was garbled.

It was just basically the same old “Ronin Rant.”

Get off your dead asses, and do your jobs! Families need homes. YOU need constituents.  The STATE needs to generate tax dollars HONESTLY! Families without homes don’t pay property taxes, and they sure don’t vote in your favor, come election day! We’ll remember that you didn’t give a damn, and then… we won’t either. I promise. Capish?”

For those of you keeping track, this was just another gyration, as the politicians in Jackson strive to drag this whole set of events out as long as possible, so that the people they are answering to either (a) drop dead from exhaustion, or (b) become so senile that they forget why they’re so pissed off.

The issue is whether or not to actually “release” the grant parcels to the families that qualified for them, MONTHS ago. I suspect that the truth of the matter is that they’re still trying to figure out how to make more money off the “re-urbanization” program. This program isn’t costing Mississippi a dime, folks. Not one penny! You see, the Fed has compensated Mississippi for the “land” that is being parceled out, but like most politicians, when the miscreants in Jackson smell money, they do just about everything they can to figure out how they can get their grubby little paws on more of it.

I’d remind them that “there isn’t anything honorable or even remotely responsible in standing between families that need homes, and the property that will make it possible.”

It’s ridiculous really. They complain that their tax bases are dying slowly on the vine and that people are leaving Mississippi for “greener pastures.” Then, they actually demonstrate WHY people are leaving, yet they fail to recognize it. Talk about “being detached and living in a fantasy.”

Attention, self-serving politicians; We will not forget, or go away. (In fact, some of us CAN’T, or we would have… as we’re really sick and tired of your greediness and irresponsibility.) Do your jobs, serve your constituents “honorably and responsibly,” or come next election, I promise you that you’ll be looking for work. (Good luck with that, by the way… as you idiots also killed off most of the jobs!) People like me are going to hold you accountable for your lack of action, and we’ll be more than happy to remind voters what miserable bastards you were, when we actually needed you to do your jobs, for once. I’m taking careful notes, and keeping a list of names. And, I have no problem being one of those who help fan the winds of change.

For example: The Internet is a powerful stick, and I’ll make sure that I beat you on the head with it, for all to see. Think about it for a minute, huh? I’m an “ex-military father/husband, with a dying wife and a baby child, who lost our (completely paid for) home to a greedy insurance company (who bought and paid for) a bunch of greedy politicians who just didn’t give a crap about anything but THEIR own power-mongering, “foreign-soil” junkets (and I’m not talking about ALABAMA), and excessive lifestyles.”

You really don’t want that, do you? Let me assure you… You REALLY don’t want that. I can spell “RECALL.” And, I know what it means, too.

That said, let’s talk about something more pleasant, huh?

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a home built, using containers as the primary structure. Unless you’re living under a rock, you already know that.

And as my own build is hopelessly mired in “red tape,” I’m currently involved in helping other families build their ISBU homes Some surprising developments have given me hope that soon, despite the procrastination of Jackson’s “finest,” we’ll be building our own “Corten Castle” soon. It may NOT be in Mississippi, but it’s going to get built.

We’ll talk more about that later.

Anyway, I’ve been asked a series of questions lately, that I found so intriguing, I’m going to post them here, and see if I can get a few of you to comment. And, to be accurate, lately the most interesting inquiries aren’t so much “questions,” as “ponderings,” about the combination of structures, essentially combining different types of alternative construction together, to form “habitats.” I’m frankly enjoying this, because it means that some of you guys and gals are truly thinking out of the box, while trying to use one.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Lately, I’ve been quietly working on a new ISBU project in New Mexico. The family involved isn’t building “in crisis,” or anything like that. They’re actually dedicating their own funds to this build, “simply to prove it can be done.” The home will be a vacation retreat, but it’s large enough that they could live there full time, if they choose to, later on. If I had to categorize it, I’d call it a “bug-out” build. It’s a place to run to, if things get stupid, or you just need to get out of town. I can completely relate to this mindset.

They’re using (3) 40′ HQ ISBUs to build a 24’x40′ box. It’s multi-level, with one ISBU level on what is essentially an elevated and insulated slab, that will hold all the mechanical and service elements of the home. The kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and mechanical room for the A/C and Hot water Heater is in the boxes. Also included in this level are the garage (2 car) and a small workshop. This entire level will be “earth-bermed,” in a manner that will make it similar to the “earthships” popular in the area. A greenhouse will occupy most of the south facing exterior.

Try as I might, the people building just aren’t interested in solar anything, including hot water, geothermal A/C or photovoltaics. Whaaa?

Okay, so there’s ONE solar panel, and it’s mounted on a pump system on a water tank.

Wait, it gets better! You know WHY they aren’t interested in using a bucket full of those “green” elements? It’s because they have their own “fast running” creek/stream/river, that never dries up or freezes over, and the guy building the home is an electrical engineer who has developed a hydroelectric turbine that will fit into a pipe. Big deal, right? Wrong. HUGE damned deal!!!

It’s only a 12” pipe!

And, this little beauty of a turbine will produce enough power to run just about anything he wants to plug in, forever. And to prove it, he’s gonna make it the SOLE source of power, for his home.

(The singular solar panel is used to power a pump that will help him move water to another parcel for irrigation of a “survival” garden. It was pre-existing.)

His “power-pipe system” runs out of the river, and then back into it.

A singular power source from water pressure. Talk about “guts!” If I tried to do that, I’d wake up dead in the morning, with my wife laughing over my carcass! 🙂

So, As I learn more about this little gem of a powerplant, I’ll fill you in, too! Suffice to say, I want one! I can picture this placed between cisterns filled by a well (which is operated by solar power). I have a few really big pieces of culvert pipe that are just begging to be used in a “power by water” experiment. If you filled a rather large primary tank, and then used an outlet pipe to fill a secondary one (and placed one of these little powerplants in that outlet pipe between them…) you’d get hydroelectric power from the water pressure that flowed thru it…

I’m not sure it’d work, because you’d have to keep that first tank filled to get enough pressure (in a constant flow), but I can see it in my head. However, my wife reminds me that “I see a lot of things in my head, most of them unrepeatable, unprintable, or felonious.” 🙂

Okay, I admit it. I get all caught up in this “grant property polka” currently going on in Jackson, and I want to go “postal.” Deal with it. 🙂

Here’s where his build is REALLY different. He’s gonna build his bedrooms and common areas into a dome built ON TOP of the containers. The dome will be 24′ feet in diameter and about 20′ high. It will be built entirely of SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels) and glass. A winding “freeform” staircase will allow access from level to level, with an ”open overlap loft” plan that will allow you to stand on the main level and look up, to see the top of the dome.

This isn’t such a bad idea. He gets a stable base to build on, lots of room for his “hard stuff” (plumbing, electromechanical requirements, etc…) and really bright and airy creative spaces for his comfort zones.

What other ways can you think of to combine different type of alternative homes together, to form a “super” alternative home?

The Renaissance RoninDo You Enjoy Our Articles and Features? Are you interested in helping a family that is helping others get back on THEIR feet? We could sure use the help, honest! Please Consider Making a Small, Secure Donation! Use our Paypal button!

Assume The Position!

14 May

Look, when I started this blog, I told you that  I would take a position, and then…

The shouting matches would probably begin. Take a look around you.  America is in real trouble, and even with all the talk and banter about how screwed up things are, nothing is really getting done to fix things.

So, I’m just going to say it;

“What we need are better leaders and more capable and enabled discussions.”

And that’s what this blog is about.

You’ve seen some of the “slings and arrows” debates in the comment areas. A good example is when I commented on “M’s” container build in Missouri. I wasn’t attacking “M.” Anybody who thinks that is an idiot. I actually defended “M,” even though I was opposed to some of her actions…

I’m going to start writing some of these posts in Crayon, I swear I am…

Man, what a  brushfire that started… Good thing Corten containers are fire resistant! 🙂

Another is the proposed use of new “high-tech” Ceramic Insulative Coatings, to insulate that container project of yours…  that turn out to be anything but “high-tech”…  Talk about running headfirst into a big wall! 🙂

But the point of posting sometimes, is to stimulate “debate.” You can duel in the comment sections. You can voice opposing views. You can offer up thoughtful, insightful and even conflicting takes on situations. You can even stoop to name-calling and chair tossing if you want to.

In the end, it’s entertaining (sometimes) and informative (sometimes.) And, it’s worth the risk, I think. Sometimes education comes with a few lumps thrown in, to help you remember. Sometimes. Hey, every post can’t be a “winner.”

Personal blogs are about “private people making public opinions.” Duh! After all, the Internet is the “biggest” public you could possibly hope for. Never has mankind has the ability to say so much, to so many, so easily.

Every once in a while, I take a position that offends. Let’s face it, sometimes somebody has to step up and say: “That’s enough.” There are many reasons for it. Perhaps it’s because most people are too timid to point out the difference between right and wrong. And, I’m not afraid to do it. I learned a long time ago that in order to be seen, first you have to stand up.

Imagine if journalism or education consisted of more than a collage of conflicting talking heads, playing to cameras or crowded lyceums. Imagine the difference it would make if more of the media broke from the bizarre straitjacket of “liberal balance,” which equates fairness with putting all disputants on equal footing, regardless of  how deceitful, immoral, or moronic they may be.

I guess I’m just getting older and less tolerant of “idiots.” There’s a market for news that weighs counterclaims and assesses truth value, based on (gasp!) “truth value.”  But for some reason, it just hasn’t kept up with demand. I find it depressing that tuning into Cable TV News broadcasts only leaves me feeling empty and violated, and even lied to. I find it ironic that I have to tune into Cable Comedy Networks, to get a good read on what’s happening in America. It’s no wonder that guys like Jon Stewart and Lewis Black have such loyal audiences: their point of view is rooted in the reality-based — not the ideology-based — world. They deal in “facts.”  And they say things that everybody is usually already thinking, unless they’re “brain-dead.”

In the end, communication is about leadership and discrimination of the facts, and not the race, creed, color, age, or even gender of the viewpoint holder.

Feel free to send me hate-mail. Hell, if nothing else, it’s entertaining. And, it means I hit a nerve, and that’s the point. I WANT to make you think.

And BTW: Don’t bother sending me email or posting comments “telling me WHAT to post.” This is MY boat.  On your blog, you do whatever you want. On my blog, I’m doing what I need to do, by design and even a concept plan (which apparently, I sometimes stray from). You know who you are.

You’re all most welcome here, even though I’ll warn you once again that although “the sights and sounds” can be breathtaking and awe-inspiring, sometimes the menu still sucks.

If you don’t like it, I welcome you to jump ship. Watching the sharks is entertaining, too…

The Renaissance Ronin

Isn’t Missouri the “Show Me State”?

4 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then do one of two things;

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

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

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

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

Here’s something else that you might consider;

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


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

As to “first impressions…”

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

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

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

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

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

He went on to say;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And “M”…

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance Ronin

Is there a defense of Defense?

29 Jan

No, I’m not writing a blog post about the upcoming Superbowl.

WARNING! I’m gonna warn you in advance that I’m really pissed off. Cover your eyes, if you have to! This isn’t gonna be a “kid-friendly” post…

I know that you’re shocked, and that this is out of the blue, but…

I’m on a mission. I’m so pissed off that I wish I still had a truck with a tank  full of gas, so I could drive to certain “author’s” house and kick his sorry ass all the way to Canada. I haven’t been this pissed off in a while… I’m talking “breaking bones with each blow” pissed off…

Some of you don’t know me, but I’m just a guy trying to help my family get back into a home, after Katrina. There’s no news in that, there are thousands of us facing the same dilemma. I don’t wave any flags in anybody’s face, and I don’t wear anything on my sleeve that resembles my heart. I’m no different than anyone else, I’m just trying to get my family to a better place.

My blog finds it’s roots in my travels around the rock, bouncing from “Banana Republic to Banana Republic.”

And I’m not talking about the ones you find in Strip Malls…

I’ve admittedly seen way more of the “human experience” than I wanted to… For instance, I know that a “sit rep” isn’t a machine you find a Bally’s Fitness gym.

My blog gets a lot of reads by people who have decided to “drop off-grid” and become “self-supportive” to the point of Isolation.  I can really get behind that. My lifelong goal was to find a hundred or so acres somewhere, and build a “Net Zero” abode, complete with “hot and cold running kids” and filled with laughter and happiness. Hell, I might even grade the dirt road, so you could come visit, in the summer. But, life being what it is, I’m just trying to deal with the realities of the day.

On another list I read (because some of my readers frequent and refer to it) they’ve started a discussion on how we deal with youth today, kids looking to the Military to help them on their way to adulthood.

I’ll remind you that a “list owner” isn’t responsible for the commentary of his readers. Let me say for the record that the owner of the list I’m talking about is kinda cranky sometimes, but I don’t hold him accountable for the ravings of some of his “readership.” However, after my last visit to his list, it makes me sick to even be vaguely associated with some of the assholes that post there.

To that end, for reasons I’ve already explained to the list owner, I’ve written a response to something I read there. However I’m going to post it here on RR, to avoid it harming his list, and to prevent the matter from being being “round-filed” or buried for being “inflammatory.”

Here’s the meat of the post today:

I’m the author of a fairly popular blog about “alternative construction.” I usually don’t get involved in conversations about politics, religion, or (gasp!) government. RennaissanceRonin is a blog that documents the attempt of one family to build a home out of recycled materials, because frankly, we can’t afford to just go out and purchase whatever we need, to complete the task at hand.

Many people have been following along (we’ve gotten about 15,000 “reads” in the last several months), while my family attempts to recover from the loss of our home, due to a natural disaster. The reason that this has dragged out so long has more to do with appeasing Insurance Company stockholders and politics, and less to do with effort on our parts, but the result is the same. Each day, my family strives to take one step closer to the goal we have set for ourselves… reclaiming home-ownership.

Because of both where we’re from and where we live, our family’s solution to this dilemma isn’t the same as the one others might make, but we truly feel that our path provides opportunity, and even reward, if we work hard enough to finally find it within our grasp.

Many of you know that my family is having a terrible time. My wife is gravely ill, my son is just a baby, and I’m not going to lie to you… we live “day to day,” trying to find a way out in circumstances that are slowly crushing us…

But, we have a roof over our heads, enough blankets to stay warm, and we have enough to make sure that anyone around us who gets cold or hungry gets fed and clothed. My blog is an attempt at helping people find roads out, so that their families can heal from disaster and find new opportunities, as we try to find them, ourselves. We’re thinking “out of the box,” but in our circumstances, the box burst a long time ago…

Although we live in a minefield (something I have intimate personal experience with) we see any step forward that helps us achieve our goals as a good, well-placed step.

Teamwork helps you achieve goals. Working together to solve problems helps insure success. My life experience,  much of it purchased on foreign soil, taught me that.

Recovery is always complicated. And, recovery is often measured by the tools you bring to the wreckage. We accumulate those tools, during the course of our lives, via our life-experience and training. And then… we use whatever gray matter Mommy and Daddy gave us as we toil away, until we succeed (usually in spite of those who would take pleasure in watching us fail).

Recently, I started getting email from readers about  a thread on a list that I lurk, one where the question came up about whether a youth should trust the “speech” (or the contract) given him by Military Recruiters about “guaranteed training,” and a job in his choice of fields, when he “graduated.”

Many of the responses urged the solicitor of this advise to be extremely wary, and spoke harshly about the integrity of the recruiters, and the Armed Forces in general.

Okay, I understand this. In this day and age, there are a lot of things “wrong” with the system. Like everywhere else, it’s “Buyer Beware.” But then, the tone on the list seemed to have shifted, and it was implied that most of the people who enter Military Service are incapable, slave-minded zombies, murdering miscreants incapable of succeeding at  anything resembling a normal “day to day life,” in society. I’m summarizing here…

Few of them spoke of the opportunities presented to kids who might not have opportunities for education and job skills otherwise, especially in this horror of a failing economy.

Few of them spoke of the desperate circumstances one might leave, or the ability to leave impoverished conditions, to obtain this opportunity for growth, in the most honorable of ways.

Few of them spoke of the skills one can acquire while serving honorably in Military Service.

Few of them spoke to the foundation that Military Service can provide, as one grows into adulthood.

Anyone talking to military recruiters today knows that signing the contract may mean finding yourself in conflict. (We fight wars on television, for crying out loud.) The United State’s position in the World Arena isn’t a mystery.  Joining the Military means taking a stand, and becoming part of something greater, in spite of the rants from “idealistically challenged” liberals who think that the world is just “Roses and Honey” without American Intervention into tyranny.

But here’s my “favorite” response;

Beginning of quoted post:

“This is my message to any young person with ears to hear it:

There are few jobs in the world where losing your life is a daily — and highly likely — possibility. There are even fewer jobs where you are paid — and fully expected — to kill men, women, and children withOUT questioning your superiors (or their motives) at any time. Unless you’re a psychopath and murder, mutilation, and mayhem is your idea of a gay ol’ time, find something else to do — find ANYTHING else to do.

Yes, you read right. The author is claiming that those serving in our Military are nothing more than brainless, morally deprived, psychopathic “woman and baby-killing murderers,” who actually take pleasure in participating in the death of others…

If you want to fight for “freedom”, try fighting for your own personal freedom from our oppressive corporate culture FIRST and then find your own unique path from there. Don’t pretend to defend *my* personal freedom and liberty when you don’t have it yourself and most likely have NEVER had it and then spend the rest of your life acting like *I* or anyone else OWES you some vague debt of gratitude.

Need I remind the author that the lives (and deaths) of all those “brainless, morally deprived, psychopathic “woman and baby-killing murderers” paid for his right to not only attack and libel their character, but to voice his views in public?

And, trust me, the second you sign on with the military, you just LOST whatever tidbit of personal freedom you thought you once had. Don’t let the military machine destroy your spirit while you’re figuring out who you are and what you’re meant to do in this life.

Yeah, you get shanghai’d, and smuggled onto a ship, where you do forced labor until you die, or get a debilitating disease. And then… you die. You can’t possibly grow stronger, find your place in this world, and then return home to make the world and your local neighborhood a better place. After all, that would be uncivilized…

There are a THOUSAND better options: wander in the wilderness, become a monk, work in a soup kitchen, work in a homeless shelter, build a mountain retreat on FREE government land, fix bicycles for kids and give ’em away, serve the poor . . . you’re much more likely to remain ALIVE and actually do some good in this sorry-ass world — instead of promulgating death and destruction as a hired killer for the rich white guys. And the bonus? You’ll sleep better every night for the rest of your life . . . I guarantee it.”

Sure, there are other options, but for many of us, the unemployment rates are climbing faster than a Space Shuttle lift-off, and a life lived as a monk wandering the wilderness isn’t going to feed our families.  Oh… and that FREE government land you’re going on about was paid for with blood, too… Soldier’s blood.

End of quoted post.

Look, I know that “Big Government” and even the Armed Forces are things to be leary of. I know that, as “the little guys,” we sometimes get lost in the shuffle, and in fact, it seems like it happens pretty often. Those in “Authority” aren’t always  “fair.” But, I can assure you that after traveling  all over the world, life here in the United States is indeed better than a life lived in other places on the rock.

Me? I’m old enough to remember guys and girls who left America as kids, and returned as grown men and women, whose lives were forever changed not only by what they endured and witnessed, but by the way they were treated when they returned to us.

I remember watching them spat upon in airports, and I remember watching their terror at the mobs that threatened them, as they simply tried to return to their families. I remember their tears, as they tried to readjust to “life” after living with death.

I remember those we left behind, those we couldn’t find, those we couldn’t rescue, those we couldn’t save.

I remember watching as my friends were slowly lowered into the ground, and covered with sod.

I’m old enough now to remember that I became one of those guys…

And although I’m scarred too… I’m the better for it.

I remember, and I cannot, I will not ever forget.

I’m not going to name the author of the above quoted post, although I’ll add that he says that he’s a Vietnam Vet.  Suffice it to say, the author makes me genuinely sick to my stomach. However the fact that brave American Men and Women put their lives on the line every day gives the author the right to say it.

Contrary to the “quoted author” of that post, I don’t think of people looking to serve our country as “murderers, baby-killers, or psychopathic criminals.” I think of them as brave and heroic souls who are willing to put their bodies where their mouths (and hearts are), and stand the line so that we (and evidently this author I quoted) can say whatever we want, while they risk flying bullets, bombs, and death…

And I owe them a debt that I can never repay, for their sacrifice, their heroism and their patriotism.

What would YOU tell someone thinking of joining the Armed Services?

I know what I’d tell them…

It starts with telling the author of that “advise” I quoted above, this:

Okay, gentle readers, if you’ve gotten this far… have you got any suggestions?
I’m listening, if you have any advice. Right now, I’m going to go take an antacid…

Stay tuned…

The Renaissance Ronin