Tag Archives: rants

“I’m from the Government. I’m here to HELP you.”

23 Oct

Greetings Campers!

If you’ve been following along, you know that my family is trying to build a steel house, in a backasswards neighborhood.

I’m talking about using Shipping Containers and recycled Aircraft Hangars, to build homes for people who really need them. And, the goal is to do it affordably and sustainably.

Shipping Hangar HomeNo! Not ADAM’s house. but something like it…

It’s a long, pot-hole filled road, but we’re further from the start than we were yesterday, so all in all, it’s a good day.

Until you open your email.

As I sit here, my email box is getting flooded with email from politicians.

Yep, “POLITICIANS”.

im_from_the_government_im_here_to_help

It’s been going on for weeks, and I’m getting sick and tired of it.

They’re telling me about programs that I can sign up for, that will assist my family in building a home. They range from “government backed loans”, to grants for land, and  grants or long-term loans for building supplies. There are even grants that cover the costs incurred when you hire other people to help you build.

Oh Happy Day!” Right?

Wrong.

I’ve been raising hell about this for over a year. I’ve been using the Internet as a hammer, to try and beat some sense into those idiots in Washington D.C. who claim that they are “single-handedly saving America.”

Most of the email I’m getting (and it’s coming from aides, direct mail outfits, and morons… and not the “other morons…” the actual congressmen and representatives…) is just political double-speak, pointing me at programs that either don’t exist at all, are completely deadlocked by political bungling, or impossible to enroll and qualify for, by design.

Here’s an example:

I got a listing of banks and lending institutions that would write loans to people who qualified thru a “government program” allowing them to buy and build. It was a long list, with over 200 institutions on it.

I looked it over, and then like an idiot, started dialing.  I talked to what seemed like every banker in the South. And, I got the same story with each new opportunity.

“We have not made this kind of loan in the past 5 years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we even processed an application. If you come into the bank, we’ll explain why you can’t apply.”

And those were the ones that seemed to take an interest in my questions.  The rest of them said that they had stopped supporting this kind of loan program decades ago.

They claim that they are understaffed and not equipped to deal with additional workloads created by these programs.

When I did find a bank willing to work with me on this kind of loan program, the guy on the other end told me not to get my hopes up. It seems that you can apply, but the USDA refuses to communicate with the banks.

The USDA? The US Department of Agriculture? I’m not trying to start “Old MacDonald’s Farm!” What the hell?

Keep reading…

I found out that there is a grant program that would help me build my house. But there was one catch. I needed a USDA guaranteed surety bond, for $25 million dollars.

$25 million dollars. Whaaaa? For a house?

I was confused as a mosquito at a convention of Bubba’s (trying to figure out who to bite first), but I figured; “Hey if the USDA wants to help me qualify for this program, I’m game…”

So, I contacted the USDA. Guess what? That’s right. The USDA doesn’t even have a program that gives surety bonds to citizens, much less to help them build residential property. They suggested that I call the SBA (Small Business Administration).

I sent the USDA guys a copy of the grant I was applying for. And I bet it won’t surprise you to find out that;

  • (a) they’d never heard of  it,
  • (b) wouldn’t possibly support it, and
  • (c) didn’t have the funds, even if they could. In their exact words… I was “S.O.L.”

I contacted SBA, to see if THEY had any programs I could use to leverage the building grants. Guess what? That’s right. More governmental BS. The guy told me that I’d need to pay $5,000, to get a business plan written, that would allow me to apply for their programs. Now, it wouldn’t ASSURE that I qualified, it would just increase my chances.

Three days later, I heard from a different SBA official, who informed me that they don’t even have “a product that will accomplish the tasks you are trying to complete.” When I asked him what the $5,000 business plan was for, he replied:

“It’ll increase your chances of qualifying for a program. You should do it.”

When I pointed out that he’d just told me there were NO programs that allowed me to do what I was trying to do, he hung up. When I called him back, I kept getting his voice mail.

So, I talked to someone else, who told me:

“We get points for every person we get to enlist in the Business Plan program.”

Our government at work. Oy. And we actually PAY these people to do this to us.

In all, I called, emailed, or mailed letters to all 200 institutions. You want to know what I got for my trouble? Lost days of work and a huge dent in my cell phone minutes. Beyond that, I got nada.

Where’s the The Golden Fleece Award, when you need it?

I’ve seen a lot of grant paperwork in the last year. So far, my personal favorite grant was announced in July.

It’s an $85 million grant “to support at least 50 early career researchers for five years at US academic institutions and DOE national laboratories.“

The US Government, in all their wisdom, won’t help citizens build decent homes for their families, no matter what they TELL you. But, they’ll give $1.7 million dollars per “researcher” or $340,000 per desk, per year.

But WAIT! There’s MORE!

These university positions are for “summer salary and expenses” only. Only some of these positions — for DOE National Labs — are full time. And if you’re a “full-timer”? Well, full-timers get $500,000 in funding, per person per year.

Okay, color me “googled…” I race off to “Salary.com.” And what do I find? Well, the average salary for an assistant professor in the United States is $62,654.

So, I reread the grant. It seems that “undefined” excess in the expenditures is for DOE Lab expenses. That’s $438,346 per person.

Let’s put this in perspective. This 50-person “sweetheart program” received more money than nuclear energy R&D, hydroelectric power development, solar power research, or fuel cell research.

What is wrong with these people?

Somebody pass me a Tylenol, please…

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

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!

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!

In Tribute to Misunderstood “Container Crazies and Controversy” Everywhere!

10 Apr

You know…

I get contacted a lot by families that want to build an affordable home. Most of these families are living just like my family is, from paycheck to paycheck. These aren’t people trying to be “fashionable,” or people trying to buy a container full of “green envy.” They are people who are looking for a way out, that gives them a way in… to a home of their own.

They aren’t trying to draw attention to themselves, so that they can brag about their house being showcased on some cable TV show, or blabbered about on CNN or Good Morning America, like they were some kind of “American Folk Heroes.” They’re not your typical “attention whores.”  They’re just “average Joes,” trying to house their families.

And that brings me to the topic of this post;

Don’t believe everything you read.

Recently, a family approached me and told me that they were thinking about building an ISBU home, but the blogs they were reading were full of drama and angst. At first, I immediately started to apologize for messing with their vibe, because they were talking about ME! 🙂

Then, they recounted a story to me about a woman who was building her ISBU home in Missouri. This family actually got grief from the local planning and Zoning Nazi’s, because they were aware of this “other” ISBU  house, and “didn’t want their town turned into a circus by liberal lunatics and whining idiots!”

Hey, THAT sentiment I’m used to. It’s hard to be different.

But they were actually talking about a lady in Missouri who is building a container house “out in the country” on the James River.  She’s doing what I’m doing, in that she’s recording the build for posterity. Unlike me, (whether she planned it that way or not) it appears that she’s become a poster child for “Look at me!” I’m so cool! I’m better than you. I’m the center of the world!” if you believe the dozens of emails that I have received about her, and her project.

Now, I’ve communicated with the architectural firm that designed the home. They tell me that;

“”M” is probably one of the greatest people you could hope to ever meet. I wish I had the time to sit here a write everything down that is great about her but I don’t.  We have become very good friends with her over the last couple years. We have spent a lot of time working to get her into the house of her dreams because like your readers she doesn’t have a lot of money. We tried to design a house using conventional means but we were unable to get it within the budget.”

The designer, Michael Mardis,  goes on to say that;

“The shipping containers were our idea, knowing that it would save money and allow us to get all the features we were all hoping for.”

I spend enough time defending myself (I’m not quite sure “why?” I “seem” like such a nice guy!), so it’s odd that I find myself defending someone else, but here goes…

I’ve been aware of this build, for a while. It’s real cool that she’s getting media attention. It’s real cool that she’s spreading the word. If you feel like she’s acting out, you may be misreading what she’s trying to convey to you.  She ISN’T the “Countess of Containers!”

It’s not only zealots, idiots, and “deadbeats, drop-outs, or people with no life,” who build alternative homes. Some of those ISBU dwellers are just “enthusiastic old ladies caught up in the emotion of their build.”  I suspect this is the case, here.

I get LOTS of feedback on her. I’m not quite sure why, because I’m not associated with her at all, except in the “ISBU” commonality.

As a Jew in Mississippi, I get asked all the time if I know “so-and-so” who lives in NY, because they are Jews, too. Sure, all Jews know each other. We get introduced at birth, and we all exchange Hanukkah cards!

As a builder/designer/plasma cutting toadie of shipping container homes in America “and parts unknown,” I get asked if I know this lady. Again… you do the math…

I don’t KNOW her. I’ve never spoken to her. All I know about her, I learned just like you, by reading her blog, or from my communication with her designer. I’m sure that she’s a nice lady. I suspect that if you’re “set off” by her blog, you’re just seeing that she’s just a tad “overzealous.”

SO… STOP SENDING ME EMAIL ABOUT HER!

Here’s the gist of it;

Building a shipping container house is less about throwing money at an architect, designer,  or  contractor, and more about understanding that your life is changing. It’s less about “complaining about the right sofa,” and more about learning to live a simpler, more comfortable life, free of the drama that comes with “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Once you’ve figured THAT out, those conversations with that architect will become much more rewarding. An architects job is to design “space.” If you understand what “spaces” you need, their job get’s easier, and their creativity gets wings to soar with!

It’s important that you understand what you’re building, if you’re trying to change your lifestyle. That comprehension will help you build the bridges you require, to have that life you seek. So I urge you to swing that hammer or fire up that screw gun, at every opportunity. Get concrete on your shoes! Become intimate with a caulking gun! Don’t just pay someone else to do it, actually participate!

Living in an ISBU home, doesn’t make you “the new messiah.” It just makes you smart, and environmental, and capable of seeing life from inside the confines of your steel home.

Understand that when people say things like;

“Yessirree! Sign up NOW for a tour of a shipping container house in progress. Touch it! Stand inside! Look out the windows! Jump up and down! Close your eyes and imagine where this vessel has been! (or maybe not) Close your eyes again and imagine that this will be a real house someday soon! Self-guided tours are always welcome….day or night…..or make arrangements for an informative PCO/D (plasma cutter operator/designer) guide to show you around and tell you hair-raising stories of sparks and grass fires and a transient support team nearby. And all of this is just a step away…..downtown….in the Queen City of the Ozarks…..Main Street, U.S.A. …”

They aren’t necessarily trying to be “Carnival Barkers.”  Heck, when I read that, I immediately thought of Emerson, Lake and Palmer… “Welcome now my friends, to the show that never ends…”

I suspect that she’s just  caught up in the build, and excited about her new home. It’s not necessarily that she’s “overcompensating” for something… like the middle-aged guy who sells the Mini-Van and buys a Corvette…

There’s more to this “ISBU stuff”  than just paying someone else to do it for you. It’s the beginning of an adventure;

  • You’re probably going to “downsize” and get rid of stuff you’ve been hanging onto for years.
  • You’re probably going to learn what you can live without.
  • You’re probably going to become more organized.
  • You’re probably going to become more “accountable” for the things you do daily.
  • You’re probably going to plant a garden.

And, you’ll be the better for it.

As for “Marti…” I’m betting that she’s  the perfect candidate for a life lived out in the country, in her “steel box.”

She’s probably just an enthusiastic old lady, who is really passionate about her “new life.” She’s doing something “good.” And she’s proud of it. She’s realizing a dream!

Perhaps you read her blog, and see “circus antics.” But, I’d offer up that she’s the just trying to “spread the word,” just like the rest of us. She could be “mellower,” or tone it down, but that would be YOU, not her. She’s debuting “her new prom dress,” and she’s entitled to do it any way that she wants. It’s HER blog. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!

Where have you heard that before?

If you’re not sure… read MY disclaimer, up there on the right side of this page!

There’s a lesson here for all of us…

You know, something like; “If you find yourself visiting the Land of Oz… Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

FYI: Even in my blog, the disclaimer contains the “if you don’t like it here… leave” inclusion.

BUT… I really wish that she’d stop complaining abut DWELL magazine. It’s one of the few publications that gives press time to “Alternatives to McMansions.” Sure, it’s a little artsy. You have to appeal to a broad market, in order to get enough subscribers to keep a publication running. DWELL is full of ideas! Just strip out the “glitz and expensive glamour stuff” and you have the “nuts and bolts!”

I heartily endorse DWELL Magazine. So there!

‘Nuff said.

Stay Tuned!

addendum: I just saw (on “M’s” blog) that she actually loves DWELL magazine! So, that proves it! She’s not “CRAZY,” she’s just “exuberant!” Go get ’em, girl! 🙂

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!

One Last “Hurricane Gustav” Observation…

3 Sep

As Hurricane Gustav rolled toward the Gulf Coast, I watched a characterization recently which I suspect was actually intended to allay the fears of the national (and even international) viewing audience about a very specific and often feared sub genus of American culture:

I speak of course, about “the poor, misunderstood Southern Redneck.”

Now, in spite of the weather, the rain, the wind, and even the cops, the broadcasts were extremely well done, and it was obvious to all that the news commentators truly cared for and even perhaps loved their charges. Hell, the press, bent on sensationalizing the impending disaster, treated them almost like real people.

And the staging was brilliant! It was almost like looking at a life-sized diorama. It was authentic down to the swaying masts in the harbor, the vibrato of the rigging as the winds ripped through it, and the large snarling dogs barking and growling in the background.

The commentator illustrated the steely nerves of the “future” victims, and painted “pictures of personal bravery” that would make mortal men weep. He talked about the exodus of mankind from the oil platforms perched precariously in the Gulf of Mexico.

And the “real kicker” for me was the revealing display of the lower back tattoos on the womenfolk depicted, almost as if an anthropological commentary on “tramp stamps” as “redneck art.”

You’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, aren’t you?

As Hurricane Gustav prepared to meet Louisiana, a weather guy from the Weather Channel set up shop in front of a harbor filled with shrimp trawlers and oil tenders. Now, this wasn’t just any old harbor, it was pretty much “ground zero” for the coming storm, and all eyes were cast to the heavens and to one sorry vessel, packed to the forward bilge pumps with people. In fact, the weather guy (whose voice was literally reeking of distress) related that 10 adults and 8 children were on board because the guy who owned the boat didn’t want to risk losing it in the storm, and he couldn’t afford to flee to a hotel room, anyway.

Let’s put this in perspective, okay folks? A Category 3 hurricane is headed for your harbor, and where do you drag your wife, kids, and in-laws? To the boat anchored there at ground zero, of course! Because all those “extra hands” can help bail water, right?

I only have one question. Where in the hell were the cops? Why didn’t they taze this idiot, drag his sorry ass off to “safety,” and insure that his brood was sheltered from the storm? Most jail cells are “hurricane resistant,” right? I’m sure they could have found space for him.

Okay, that’s three questions. So sue me…

Now, I’m gonna admit that as a soon as I saw that, I started praying like a horrified Hebrew in the Gaza… and I wasn’t praying for him, I was praying for his poor family. In Hebrew, with feeling… If I had any hair left, I’d have torn it out!

I’ve done some time on Shrimp Trawlers. Admittedly, it was long ago, and I was a better (fit) man, but I’m telling you now, the last place I wanna be in the middle of a hurricane, is on a shrimp boat. And there’s no way in hell my kids would be within miles, maybe even scores of miles.

Now that the carnage is over, and things are settling down, I hope some social worker somewhere in that moron’s parish is looking hard at that tape, trying to figure out a name, to put with that dumb-ass face. And then, he needs to be given the chance to explain himself, while somebody tears him a new one…

If I had my way, they’d find the sorry bastard, tranquilize him with a few teaspoons full of Robitussin, and then extract his teeth one by one with a ball peen hammer and some old rusty fishing pliers.

And if he passed out along the way, well… I’d just wave a cold Budweiser in front of his face long enough to stimulate his salivary glands, and then start over…

This moron gives legitimate “Sons of the South” a bad name. I mean, this guy has got to be somebody’s “idiot stepchild.” He’s probably even got a laminated Confederate Dollar Bill in his wallet.

Don’t get me wrong, my entire family is rooted in the South. And, I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but sure, our family tree grows straight up, without a single branch! However, it is planted in “Southern Soil,” baby!

But this guy just really pissed me off. My only wish is that he lived near enough to me, so that I could offer to teach him a lesson or two in “parenting…”

And this concludes “Ronin’s look at foul weather and high winds,” at least for now. The next hot air you read about, will in fact, be my own…

That is all…

Stay tuned…

“Okay, who said it first?”

29 Jun

I’ve started blogging again, after a little bit of “holiday,” while waiting for the birth of my son. This was a time-consuming process. My wife was deathly ill while she tried to carry “the boy” to a safe delivery date. For a time, we weren’t sure which one of them would survive. My attention was elsewhere.

During that time, the hardship my family suffered reminded me that it’s important to leave something behind in case something happens. Life is so fleeting…  I have lot’s of things I want to share with my family, and so little time…

So, I figured out what “filing cabinet” I wanted to be included in, and I chose “Wordpress.” I did so for several reasons, but the most important one, was because of the diversity of the “bloggers.”

I committed a few words to page, and figured that their value would be measured by the masses. At first it was like “crawling through broken glass,” but after a while, it gets easier. Where else can “the common man” share his views with the planet, without being Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett?  And so, like some kind of demented chronicle, I decided that I could document the path I’ve chosen to trod, to friends, family, and even a few passers-by.

Hell, we can all use a good laugh, huh?

I’m admittedly a bit eccentric. I suppose it’s because of all those falls I took as a small child, while testing my boundaries. For whatever reason, I say what I think, and stand by what I say.

I really don’t go out of my way to harm, or hurt somebody else, even if you’re a slow-moving target. It‘s “The Code of Bushido,” don’t ya know…

But, I’d forgotten that in any “school of fish,” there are a few that want to stand out, mostly by flailing their arms (or fins) and screaming “look at me… look at me… dammit!!”

(I love the satire in it, but let’s face it… it just lowers your position on the survival scale… Act out long enough in front of the herd, and a predator will eventually see you, and then… you become lunch!!)

I recently had one of these encounters, and surprisingly, it came after I wrote a eulogy to George Carlin’s untimely passing, and the “automatic generator” built into WordPress linked me to another page.

I’m actually surprised that this thread was the one that drew the ire, as some of my other writings are (even in my view) far more inflammatory.

That page documented a literary piece called “A Paradox of History.” In it, the commentator innocently stated that she found “the words so very eloquent… and so very appropriate” so she proffered it to the public, for inspiration/satire/mirth or whatever sentiment you garnered from it. It had been referred to her, and the referrer attributed it to George Carlin.

I responded to it, mostly sappy “I’ll miss you, you bastard” stuff… I love George, and the world’s gonna be much quieter without his voice, and his insight. On my page view, I was the first “response.”

After thinking about the piece I’d commented on, I took a look at the George Carlin site, and found out that “The Paradox…” wasn’t a Carlin piece at all. They attribute it to Dr. Bob Moorehead. Further looks found other credible sources that claimed likewise.

So, more for “awareness” than “the striving for literary accuracy,” I posted another comment on the “Paradox” site, to disclose what I’d found out. I figured that if you liked the piece, you might want to investigate further and read some more stuff that Dr. Moorehead wrote. Hey, stranger things have happened…

Imagine my chagrin when I get blasted by somebody out in the ether, who claims I ‘dissed them. I’m obviously clairvoyant, because when I posted my follow-up comment, there wasn’t any other “land to conquer.”

All this time people claimed I’m an “orifice,” and I’m actually an “Oracle!” Who knew?

So, here’s the moral of the story, for those of you trying to keep track;

It’s all in the moderation.

Several people besides you, are responding to things they read, and sometimes it happens (gasp!) simultaneously. Some of those comments may share the same view, or the same basic tangent.  And while they’re recording their comment for posterity, they have no idea what already lurks in the “moderation box…”

You may be the first, and you may be the last, but it’s up to the moderator to decide where (and even IF) you’ll fall, on the “comment hit-parade.” After all, it’s the owner’s right, to determine what color the house gets painted. Period.

If you don’t like the curb-view, well… keep moving down the street, and find another neighborhood more to your liking.

But standing in the front yard hollering (and name-calling) like a child doesn’t do anything but make you look… well… like a spoiled child.

I really enjoy watching my new son do it, but frankly, if you’re a “grown-up,” you should probably act like one, if you want to be taken seriously.

And one more thing… It’s the Internet, for heaven’s sake. There are just as many wacko’s as wonders, out here. Try to keep an open mind, and just enjoy the ride.

As for the rest of you… well, moderators keep a list of “undesirables” for just this reason. Mine is apparently getting longer… (sigh…)

And, if I decide to ‘diss you, you’ll know. I’ll make it loud and clear. I live by the words;

“To speak out, first you must stand up.”

And I’ll be hard to miss, at 6’1″ and about 250 pounds.

I ain’t skeered. I have all these knife and gunshot wounds for a reason. I’m “well-seasoned.”

Amen.