Tag Archives: personal

To Dome, or not to Dome…

11 Nov

It’s me again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah…

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

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

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

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

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

artic_domes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They look really cool!

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

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

Okay, I’ll give you that one…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instant shelter…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the one big problem with a dome…

Ever tried to live in a round room?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how I’D do it;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for now;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost for shell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grand total:

$6,199.00    OR   $19.99 per square foot.

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

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

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

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

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

Back to “spendy-spendy…”:

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

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

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

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

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

Now, you’re down to $7,200.00.

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

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

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

… and a decent bathroom runs right at $2000.00;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A WEEK. TWO weeks… TOPS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ronin… I have 8 kids…

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

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

POP QUIZ: Do the math.

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

Stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We survived it… barely… :)

13 Oct

Greetings!

Well, Josh is 2 years old. He got some goodies, he ate some cake, he experienced his first real “full-on” sugar rush…

Joshua-Oct12-2009-Bday

And we survived it.

On the way to this birthday extravaganza, we:

  • We lost power several times to huge rainstorms that ate everything in sight,
  • blew multiple transformers on our street in a massive electrical storm, one after the other… and…
  • lost the power supply in our computer.

Surge protectors don’t work too well, after getting slammed several times in a row, apparently.

All this before Monday, which, as it turned out, was a holiday. So, everything (of course)  was closed.

Then, Joshua’s B-Day took over everything, and we spent the entire day catering to his every whim, which seemed to orbit around him beating us senseless, and screaming “You bumped!”  Then he’d giggle like a mad man, and hit us again.

A friend of ours, Heather… got Joshua a really cool trike/rocking horse. Thank heavens that it’s too big for him to lift, or he’d be hitting us with THAT! 🙂

Thank you, Heather. We’re grateful. Truly.

It’s Tuesday night, and I’m finally back on-line. Josh is looking for something to hit me with, and Char is fast asleep.

The blog returns to it’s usual “caustic self…” tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

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.

Thank You.

23 May

memorial_day_rrMemorial Day, which was originally called “Decoration Day,” is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

But where did it come from?

Although dozens of cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, my favorite attribution is the evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication;

“To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead”

(Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920)

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30th, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

But it saddens me that when you ask people what they’re going to do on Memorial Day lately, it seems like it’s just turned into another opportunity for “Beer and BBQ,” or an automobile “Blow-out” at the local car lot.

The traditional observance of Memorial day has decayed over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and even the traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, and even neglected.

Thankfully, where I live (in this part of the South), this is not the case. At the Biloxi National Cemetery, it reminds me of growing up in Orange County, CA (a farming community when I was young), it almost looks like hundreds of fieldworkers picking produce, as legions of citizens place flags and flowers on the graves that cover the vast repository of our fallen. But this attending to graves, albeit touching, isn’t quite accurate either.

You see, most people don’t remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. And, some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

Memorial Day is specifically placed, a day to honor those paid the ultimate price and gave all, in the service of our country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address:

“Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

“To all that have fallen…
Mothers, Fathers, Sister and Brothers…
We grieve as you are sorely missed.
Until we are all reunited,
May you rest peacefully in G_d’s arms.”

The Renaissance RoninG_d bless you all! Amen.

Assume The Position!

14 May

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

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

So, I’m just going to say it;

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

And that’s what this blog is about.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Renaissance Ronin

Pipe Dreams

1 May

Once upon a time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, the wheels immediately started spinning.

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

I give you… The Das Park Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rooms: Three double-room pipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who could ask for more?

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

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

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

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

Dear President Obama,

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

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

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

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

Thank you for considering my request!

Respectfully… for now…

Ronin

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

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

BCC: Psychiatrist

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

Stay tuned!

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!

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)!! 🙂

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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!” 😉

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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!

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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… 🙂

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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!

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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!

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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? 😦

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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!

The 2 liter lightbulb!

23 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This invention is going to change lives.

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

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

A word about Donations, Charity, and “Hand-outs!”

11 Apr

The world is rapidly changing around us.

This blog’s followers know that I’m building a home out of shipping containers, for my family. I’m doing this very slowly, and out of necessity, because Hurricane Katrina showed us a side of our insurance company that we never wanted to see. The insurance company we dealt with decided that it was easier to string thousands of us along, than settle our claims.  And we’re still in court, to this day.

Fast forward to today. In light of the housing crisis, the mortgage crisis, the Stimulus Bill (and the imposed crisis it presents), rampant unemployment,  and the decaying state of the economy in general, Americans are facing times that may rival the Great Depression, if we aren’t very lucky, and real careful.

People are nervous, and more and more people end up without jobs, homes, and hope…

How can we make a difference, when things are so hard for us too?

Many of my readers know that I’ve frequently emphasized the theme of charity in my blog posts.

Quite recently, ole’ Ronin hit a logjam, and we didn’t have what we needed to satisfy our bills. The utility people don’t care if you have a tax check headed your way, they only care that you pay them on demand, or else. Period.There aren’t polite words to describe our frustration at them.

My wife is hooked up to several machines here at home, to help her get thru the days, and to let her doctors monitor her status “over the internet.” But, if we have no power, we’re dead. And, so is she. But, the power company doesn’t care. They just want their money. Sure, they could enlist us in “some program,” but they aren’t taking “new client” interviews for a few more months, because demand is so high.

Sure, they could list us on a “Medical Alert” program, but that only tells them that in case of a black-out” we  need power fast. It has nothing to do with falling behind on your power bill.

I’ve had to hustle, interview, and almost cry in anguish, to no avail. Except, for the help of friends that look over my shoulder, and help where they can. To them (I’m not going to embarrass them by naming names) I am truly and profoundly grateful.

I have a deadline coming up for the power bill, and I’m praying we make it. If not, well… everything will go as black as this text. We’ll see, in a few days.

So, it’s obvious that my family isn’t rolling in anything but our own stress. But be that as it may, I want to share with you a method that we’ve found, so that we’re still able to help the neighbors. We’ve found a painless way to do it, and it’s a way that makes a big difference.

What we’ve been doing is including several dollars worth of canned goods each time we go to the store. We also frequent the “day old” section of the bakery, and then freeze the loaves of bread. That food, carefully packed away, has fed a lot of families, and we didn’t even feel it leave.

We live in the Hurricane Belt. It’s a wild land, full of monsoon rains, catastrophic flooding, and utter chaos. So, for these times, it’s important to stock up on stuff like extra flour, cornmeal, rice, beans, sugar, powdered milk, and even (gasp!) peanut butter!

Let’s face it… The way that things are going, it’s become vitally important to keep far more food on hand than you expect your family can actually consume. Your first priority is to your immediate family. That’s pretty obvious. But if you’re one of “the faithful,” or you just have a good heart, it’s important to me sure that you’re well stocked, as things start getting tighter. If all that you have on hand is barely enough to supply your own family or “community,” you won’t be in any position to help anybody else.

Like many others, I was raised to believe that charity isn’t an option, it’s a  responsibility. I feel very strongly about this.  Whether you’re a Jew or a Christian, whether you read the Torah or the Bible, G_d made it clear that we are supposed to help others in need. If nothing else, it’s one of the ways that societies stay connected.

I was raised to believe that you should hold 10% of your wealth in reserve, to help others. It’s called “the the tradition of tithing, which has its roots in the Old Testament law. I’m referring to a law called  “Tzedaka.” This “law” says that you should provide for your immediate family first. After that, look to your extended family…  and then if you still have it… reach out to your local community.

Now I’m not going to preach except to say this;

G_d’s gifts to me are “unearned.”

I didn’t do anything exceptional. He cares for me, even though I’m a “screw-up,” who sometimes can’t take care of his own family. I can’t tell you how hard it is to speak that. But sadly, it’s true.

So, I’m going to do anything that I can, to help anybody that I can, because it’s the right thing to do.  We know what it’s like to be homeless, hungry, and without clean clothes. We’ve been there. We know what it’s like to be able to pay the rent, or the pharmacy, but not both.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve hit my knees, in tears, only to have Him help me get past whatever obstacle my family faced, over and over again.

There are people all around us that need help. There are those that are less fortunate and those that currently lack the foresight (or the means) to stock up for bad times.

The best charity is help that comes without strings. It’s one thing to get a “help check” from your “In-Laws.” But the strings are as strong as braided steel cables. The act of charity is supposed to be transparent, anonymous.  You don’t have to draw attention to yourself, or make a big deal out of it.

“It’s the right thing to do. Think nothing of it… Bye-bye!” goes a long way.

If you want to (and you have them), including uplifting spiritual material is  a good idea too. When you’re struggling, the words on those pages can yield great comfort. Take it from me. My Rabbi would be quite pleases with the amount of time I spend in my “soul-searching and studies.”

Think of how many lives you could influence in a positive way,  just by pulling food out of your storage pantry to help a struggling family!

God’s bounty is a gift to be shared. Consider yourself an ambassador of goodwill, and then… help out where you can. You’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it because “it’s the right thing to do.”

I’ve heard lots of “food storage” formula’s… but there’s the one that works best for us;

“Look at your food supply as a hearty one year supply for your family. Then reconsider it as a carefully measured out six month supply for three families, or even a ‘cautiously doled out’ three month supply for six families.”

And what if you find yourself in a disaster, with no hope in sight? I can only suggest that you do what I do and pray about it. And then… give until it hurts.

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninIf you like what you’re reading, and you can spare it, we need help keeping this blog afloat. I hate to ask, but between health care and medications, we’re scraping beyond the  bottom of the budget barrel and something has to give soon.  Hitting that Paypal button up there with a fews bucks would go a long way! Thanks!

“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!