Perhaps we meet alien beings every day without realising it.
If you met visitors from outer space what would you want to know? What would you ask them? These are the 10 questions I thought of ~ probably you can think of your own, better questions.
- Why are you here?
- How long have you been visiting the Earth?
- What is your assessment of human kind?
- What’s the deal with all this abduction / experimenting / probing / sex thing?
- Are humans native to the planet Earth, and if not, where did we come from?
- What is a workable solution to the overpopulation of the Earth?
- Where’s the truth in ESP, Spooky Events, Time Travel, Ghosts, Precognition, Astrology, and all the other weird stuff?
- Where is the mistake in Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity?
- What is the ultimate truth of Life, The Universe, and Everything ?
- Is Donald Trump / Hillary Clinton one of yours?
If Star Trek is to be believed then the aliens won’t tell us about Faster Than Light travel, but they may tell us about who really built the pyramids. Or you might ask; ‘Is there a God, and what’s His email address?’
Some say that aliens from other stars are all around us. And that you can’t easily tell an alien being from an ordinary human. All I know is that the truth is out there.
the kind of alien I would like to meet
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
and all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by…..
At 05:20 each morning the haunting notes of Lillibullero announce the beginning of the shipping forecast on my wireless. Weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles, it’s as reliable as Death and Taxes, and as accurate as an atomic clock. The shipping forecast has to be accurate, sailors lives depend upon it. It’s all about the wind, the sea, the sky, and the clouds.
The shipping forecast has been made available to sailors for the past 151 years, (except during wartime when weather was a military secret), and has been broadcast on the wireless since 1911. In more than 100 years the BBC has only failed to broadcast the forecast once, on 30 May 2014, when due to a technical fault listeners heard the BBC’s World Service instead.
The 31 sea areas reported always come in exactly the same order. Mostly I mentally tune out the reports and forecasts for such places as Southeast Iceland, Faeroes, Fair Isle, Viking….. But I really listen up when the announcer intones Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger….. because that includes ‘my’ sea area, and as my garret is just 100 yards from the sea I get whatever weather the shipping forecast says is expected.
Utterly reliable, honest, dependable, accurate, and a little old-fashioned, the Shipping Forecast is a rock of stability in an ever-changing world, and I’m probably the only person I actually know that listens to it.
I should learn from the Shipping Forecast. I firmly believe that what women want most in a long-term partner are exemplified by the qualities of that daily radio broadcast; reliability, honesty, dependability, accuracy in thought, word, and deed ~ and maybe a little sense of old-fashioned style.
Some say that women want spontaneity, excitement, adventure, really cool things. And, that most women want guys who pick up the restaurant bill, arrange the vacations and buy the tickets, and who will go to wild parties and pretend to enjoy them. All I know is that when the shit hits the fan women want a guy they can rely on to keep them safe, a guy as dependable as the Shipping Forecast.
the cold grey North Sea is often a very dangerous place to be
Walking in clean, virginal snow makes me feel really special.
Where I live, in very temperate England, close to the sea, I don’t see a lot of snow. Well, today it’s pretty cold here ~ just below freezing. There’s been a little snow in the night, maybe 3 or 4 inches. Snow and England are not natural soul-mates.
One snowflake in Central London and the meteorologists warn of climatological Armageddon ~ and so it was yesterday. This particular cold-snap is being called ‘The Beast From The East’, and the weather men are saying this will be the worst cold weather in England since 1991, with ‘up to’ six inches of snow covering most of the country.
Thousands of London commuters were told they must complete their journeys by 6pm to ensure they would actually get home, and local authorities declared snow emergencies. Hundreds of trains and dozens of flights were cancelled last evening, and allegedly the major roads are in chaos.
Social media, women’s pages in the newspapers, and posters in doctors’ surgeries are full of advice on how to cope with the cold weather. Some of this advice sounds stupid; iced tea will warm you up more than hot chocolate, hug a hot water bottle between your thighs, stick your socks in the microwave, and think like a monk to get warm.
And, the ‘Met Office’ warns that the worst is yet to come… You’d think the English didn’t know about snow… Have you never heard of Scot of the Antarctic?
It’s not like we’ve never had snow here before. Back in the day, when I was nobbut a lad in short trousers, and central heating was something only the Queen had, we had some brutal winters. Whole trains were stranded in the middle of nowhere, Royal Air Force helicopters airlifted fodder to sheep starving in the hills, and the army was called in to keep major roads open. The wind cut like a knife, the ice was on the inside of my bedroom window, and my spit froze before it hit the ground. (Being young boys it wasn’t just our spit we tested to see how fast it froze.)
Although the Met Boys feign surprise, it’s not like here in England we don’t get a nasty cold snap in late February or early March. It happens most years, and it’s called the Buchan Cold Spell. Jeez the Taiwan Weather Girls might be better at forecasting English weather than our Meteorological Office.
The weather here is just a little inclement, so I will not be going far today.
due to the snow, today is cancelled
You need time, effort, and creativity to build anything worthwhile.
I intend to build a tiny teardrop trailer sometime this summer. These tiny camping trailers are built on a commercially built trailer frame, on top of which a plywood structure is mounted.
I could build this from scratch, just using half-inch sheets of 8′ X 4′ plywood I cut to shape for myself, or I could buy a kit ~ and I think I’m going to buy a kit.
Some of the available kits include:
Make: features 11 Teardrop Trailer Builds on its blog.
Including this, which I really like because of its squared-off shape, which will give more usable space than a ‘classic’ teardrop shape.
This is totally home built from scratch on a commercially bought steel trailer frame.
This teardrop camper kit is from Fyne Boat Kits, and I really like its sculptural, upturned, boat-shaped design.
So-Cal Teardrops has a range of kits, including this off-roader.
And, Little Guy Trailers has this 5 foot wide teardrop kit.
Or, I could also build just from plans, like the Wyoming Woody.
Living off the grid brings a dangerous reality.
Whether I finally end up converting a school bus into a camper / RV, or building a shipping container home in the deep countryside, the chances are that I will need to generate my own electricity. Luckily, these days this isn’t as difficult as you might think. However, modern living uses a hell of a lot of electricity, especially in America. We may be looking at an electricity usage of 30 kWh, (kilowatt-hours), every day. However, with a little bit of arithmetic, (math), you can calculate your own likely electricity consumption, and your generating systems should be installed with that usage in mind.
There are three main ways to generate your very own off-the-grid power:
- A generator powered by an internal combustion engine. Generators come in a huge variety of sizes, capacities, and prices, but a 6 kW (kilowatt), generator might set you back £1,500, ($1,800). Other than capacity, the choice boils down to petrol, (gasoline), or diesel power. Generally speaking diesel is better, (but may be noisier). With a little work you can also run generators on gas, (propane, methane, natural gas), wood alcohol, (methanol), and paraffin, (kerosene). With some work, diesel generators will run on cooking oil.
- Solar Power. Stick some solar panels on the roof, or in the yard, and you have electricity while the sun is shining. Typically, solar power systems for a camper / RV, (and perhaps a shipping container home), produce 12 volt electricity, which is then used to charge a big battery, from which power is taken when anything electrical is switched on. To step up 12 volt direct current to 110, or 230 volt alternating current you need an inverter. These come in a huge variety of capacities and prices. You can buy them at Home Depot. Larger scale solar power systems, such as may be required by a decent sized shipping container home, usually need specialist installation. You will probably need to find an appropriate contractor.
- Wind Power. Wind power for a school bus camper / RV /motorhome would be very small scale and probably part of a 12 volt system. A wind turbine for a container home would be bigger, but in the scheme of things, still very small scale. A free standing wind turbine on a mast may need various regulatory permissions before you erect the thing. Most likely you will also be digging holes and trenches, so I hope you can use a mini-digger, (tiny backhoe).
Typically, the ‘belt and braces’ type of guy, (that’s me), would install both wind and solar power systems for his Camper / RV / Motorhome, or shipping container tiny home, perhaps with a diesel generator as back-up for both.
If you haven’t realised from the above, then off-the-grid electricity comes in two flavours;
- 12 volt DC, (direct current). This is the same as you get from an ordinary car battery. 12 volt DC systems can be installed by anyone competent in DIY.
- 120 volt (USA), 230 volt (Europe), and 240 volt (UK), alternating current. This is what you get from the sockets in your home, and is often known as mains electricity. Working with AC systems is normally not a DIY job, and at some point you will most likely need to employ a fully qualified electrical contractor.
So, you are generating your own electricity. That’s only half the story. Your camper / RV / motor home, and / or your container home will have to be wired to make use of all that lovely power. Basic wiring is well within the scope of a person very competent in DIY, and 12 volt DC lighting is dead easy. Mains electricity 110 volt and 230 volt AC is more complicated and you would do well to have your circuitry checked over by a properly qualified contractor before you use it.
Of course, these days you can actually buy a fully kitted out container home, complete with connections for all services, so all the wiring would be done for you. That sort of misses the point, doesn’t it? Amazon will sell you everything else you need to generate your own electricity.
click to buy the turbine
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You don’t need more space, you need less stuff.
Back when I owned a trailer park, shipping containers often made instant buildings which could serve a myriad of purposes for me, from simple storage units, through a workshop, to a pretty nice office.
(not my office, a home made from shipping containers)
What I have never yet attempted is to use a shipping container to make a tiny home, or more likely, use several shipping containers linked together to make a decent-sized home. The place to start is to learn something about shipping containers, and then buy the right units.
Shipping containers are usually strong steel boxes with doors at one end, but they actually come in lots of versions. The standard width is 8′ (eight feet), the standard height is 8’6″ (eight foot six inches), and the two standard lengths are 20′ (twenty foot), and 40′ (forty foot). There are a whole raft of non-standard lengths starting at 5′, but a 10′ container is the more common of the non-standard lengths. The internal floor areas work out at 150 sq ft for a 20′ container and 305 sq ft for a 40′ container.
Given that most people regard 1000 sq ft as a decent size for a home, (plus a garage), then we are talking of at least a couple of containers to make anything that approximates a ‘normal-sized’ house. Container architecture is a discipline all of its own.
You obviously need a plot, the appropriate permissions from whatever building authority is responsible for all the regulatory stuff, and you may / or may not need to lay a concrete slab on which to stand the container(s) you’re going to turn into a home. (Whether or not you need to lay a concrete pad depends on the ground, and how long you expect the container home to stand there.)
It’s no good just buying a plot, plonking a used shipping container there and expecting to live in it. Shipping containers are steel boxes, and that means they are damn hot inside in summer, and bloody freezing inside in winter. To make a home you will have to line out the inside, and perhaps even clad the outside. Even if you just buy one 40′ container and are going to be happy living in 305 sq ft, you will still need to do a hell of a lot of work to make your steel box habitable.
One of the first things you need to learn is how to cut steel plate. Your box needs more than a big door at one end, you need windows, (at least), and maybe another door, and perhaps holes so you can link one container to another to make a bigger home. Luckily, shipping containers are mostly made of steel that’s only between 1.5mm and 2mm thick, so it’s easy to cut. Realistically there are 3 ways to cut steel on site, (using an ordinary hacksaw will take you aeons and you’ll hurt your wrist and hands).
- Oxy-acetylene cutting torch. These things are dangerous, and unless you’ve done this kind of cutting before, you would be best getting instruction before attempting to use an oxygen / acetylene torch. However, a cutting torch is fast and it’s easy to cut complex shapes. If you want circular cut-outs for round windows / portholes in your tiny container home, then oxy-acetylene could be for you.
- Electric jigsaw. The sides of steel shipping containers are pretty easy to cut, so an ordinary electric jigsaw will chop out your doors and windows. And, you can cut curves in steel with an electric jigsaw. This is possibly the best choice for the averagely skilled person.
- Stihl cut-off saw. STIHL is a trademark, but what we are talking about here is a big power saw of some description. Cutting lots of big holes in your containers, on site, you may well want something like a petrol powered Stihl saw, (and make certain you have the right disk for steel).
The benefits of using steel shipping containers to make a tiny home, (or something bigger), is that it’s pretty fast and inexpensive to get a weatherproof structure on site, they’re strong and durable, and you can put them down just about anywhere. A shipping container is probably the start of the ultimate off-the-grid home.
I can and have lived off-the-grid in a log cabin I built myself, (from a kit), but I would strongly caution anyone thinking of doing this concerning water. You will need a constant supply of potable water, either from the mains or from your own well / borehole. The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water every day of the year. It’s possible to finesse around all the other services; sewage, electricity, gas, heating, telephone and internet, but shipping water in a small bowser on a regular basis is an absolute non-starter.
Once you have a weatherproof structure with the doors and windows installed, and you’ve made a start on connecting your services, then you can start on the really fun stuff, which is fitting out the interior to suit your tastes. The only limit to your imagination is the dimensions of whatever containers you have bought.
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I’d like to sit back and take in the grandeur of nature.
There’s this long-term plan for me to buy an old school bus and convert the thing into a camper / RV. It’s a pretty vague plan right now because I have a lot of other things on my mind. However, I’m thinking of doing the conversion in Southern California, which obviously means buying the used bus somewhere in SoCal.
I’ve looked into how much it would cost to buy a used bus in the 12 to 18 seat range from somewhere around LA, and you can trust me on this, they are practically giving the things away. (I’ve seen one I like the look of for $2,500 plus taxes.)
There are a couple of caveats there, the look I want means an old bus, and that means lots and lots of miles, (100,000 or more), but as they are built to last with huge diesel engines, (7 litres or so), that shouldn’t matter so much.
The second caveat is that an old bus is going to need specialist rebuilding and servicing for the chassis and engine, before I start on the fun part of the conversion. There are plenty of companies who are set up to rebuild and service the chassis / brakes / engine / gearbox / exhaust on this kind of vehicle, but I know that’s going to be hideously expensive ~ (maybe).
Still, I don’t think I need a vast budget for this kind of project. I can work that out in detail over the next few months.
(There is also the option of buying something that actually started life as a camper van.)
The really fun part is thinking about the places I’d like to take my bus, (like Big Bear Lake) ~ and who I’d like to take along with me. (Marmy and I need a girl riding shotgun.)
Life is a journey, enjoy the ride.
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Really successful engineering is all about understanding how something will break or fail.
For some strange reason I am blessed with the ability to fix almost anything, install almost anything, make almost anything, and build almost anything.
I built myself a Caterham / Lotus 7 sports-racing car, which I then drove all over Europe on long road trips. The trip I enjoyed most in this little car was driving down the entire Loire Valley in France. (Or maybe it was the Stelvio Pass.)
Minor pieces of carpentry are child’s play for me ~ which is why I could rip out the old kitchen in my garret and replace it with something that I liked and suited my needs.
(With help from my friend Marmaduke of course.)
I’ve also erected log cabins and built vacation homes from plywood. (This is a stock picture, not one of mine)
Sometimes, half way through a project, I’ve wondered why I started, and if the thing would ever be finished. The picture above shows this kind of ‘why am I doing this’ project. Although, this wreck of an Austin-Healey Sprite turned into a really beautiful little car, finished in British Racing Green as a frog-eye. (the almost completed little car, I like that I did the white stripes)
For my next project I’m thinking about finding an old school bus, rebuilding it as an RV, (Recreational Vehicle), and then spending an entire year in the thing, touring as much of the USA as I can, on the longest road trip ever.
Something you need, if you want to tackle advanced DIY projects, is a really, really comprehensive tool kit. And, take my advice, always buy the very best tools you can afford. (You may need a hard hat.)
This post is sponsored by: http://www.amazon.com/shops/salinevalleyenterprises
some power tools are a must have
click on the power tools picture
Environmentalists are killing the planet, destroying the economy, and stealing your children’s future.
A bunch of rabid environmentalists have forced the British Government to announce that all petrol and diesel cars will be banned from the year 2040. Nobody ever accused rabid environmentalists of being intelligent, or having any common sense. Banning diesel and petrol cars, (or will it be all cars that have exhaust emissions?), has staggering implications that the officials, politicians, and environmentalists haven’t properly thought through.
In Sweden, Volvo has announced that from 2019 all of its new models will be either completely battery powered or hybrid vehicles. There’s a couple of interesting points here. Firstly this move will put a whopping premium on the price of all new Volvo’s. And secondly, hybrid cars still have to have a petrol or diesel engine that will produce nasty polluting exhaust fumes.
Diesel exhausts are killing us all, allegedly.
Across Europe several major cities, (Paris, Madrid, Athens), say that diesel cars will be banned from entering their environs from 2025. The Hell-Hole that is Mexico City has followed suit ~ ha! The mayor of London, Mad Sadiq Khan, wants to ban Petrol and Diesel cars from London by 2050.
These headline grabbing moves will achieve absolutely nothing except to cost consumers and taxpayers trillions of Pounds / Euros / Dollars. Banning diesel and petrol cars in the UK will impose vast costs on drivers for little environmental benefit.
There is no conceivable way that the British electricity generating and distribution systems will ever be able to provide enough power for all those battery powered cars, (and vans and busses, and trucks?). Just where will all the extra power come from? The back of an envelope estimate is that all these electric vehicles will add an extra 30 gigawatts to UK peak demand, and that means we would need 50% more generating capacity. That’s equivalent to another half-dozen huge nuclear power plants like Hinkley Point, or another 20,000 wind turbines, (which only work some of the time). I have no idea how many acres of solar collectors it would take to generate that amount of power, but they don’t work at night, which is when most people will be charging their electric vehicles.
The British Government says it will install a fast charging point every 20 miles on major roads ~ imagine how many holes in the road and road works delays that will mean.
The British Government are also considering slashing the maximum speed on our motorways to 60 mph, and what is that supposed to achieve except more fines from speeding tickets?
This all seems a bit rich considering that the whole man-made global warming agenda has been exposed as nothing more than a massive fraud. The best estimate is that if all the trillions of dollars Obama proposed to spend on his Clean Power Plan to tackle non-existent man-made global warming was actually spent, then global temperatures would perhaps be reduced by 0.057 degrees Fahrenheit ~ one five-hundredth of a degree.
Climate change is a normal, natural, and perpetual process which occurs, and has always occurred, with sublime indifference to man’s puny input. ~ James Delingpole.
There are a few inconvenient truths that politicians and environmentalists would rather the public didn’t wake up to;
- Man-made global warming / catastrophic anthropogenic climate change doesn’t actually exist in any meaningful form ~it’s nothing but a fraud, a massive scam designed to give politicians back control over an increasingly independent populace.
- There is no such thing as completely clean power. Green Energy produces nastier and longer term environmental pollution than does burning fossil fuels. Nuclear Energy is a case in point, look at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Wind turbines have a massively negative impact on the environment, are bad for wildlife, and a blot on the landscape. All batteries are inherently polluting, expensive, and dangerous.
- Switching to electric-powered private transport will require at least a 50% increase in electricity generating capacity in any country that tries it.
- A vast investment in an infrastructure of new charging points to support all these new electric vehicles will be needed.
- Electric vehicles cost a hell of a lot more than an exactly equivalent bike / car / van / truck / bus powered by an internal combustion engine.
- Electric vehicles are less capable, and have a shorter life-span, (about 5 years), before major maintenance is required, (new batteries), than do ‘conventional’ cars, trucks, and busses.
- There aren’t enough qualified mechanics to maintain the huge increase in the number of electric vehicles the politicians propose.
- Disposing of all of the ‘dead’ batteries will require a huge investment in a recycling technology that, as yet, doesn’t actually exist.
- The value of used vehicles powered by petrol and diesel engines will plummet, destroying the economies of the developed world. There is a vast investment in lending to finance vehicle purchases.
- Internal combustion engines don’t have to run on either petrol or diesel fuel. Is a ban on ethanol / methanol / vegetable oil / propane / butane fuelled vehicles also proposed?
- Are politicians also proposing to ban aircraft / railway engines / ships / electricity generators powered by fossil fuels ~ otherwise what’s the point?
- If Politicians think the backlash against Hillary Clinton was an isolated aberration, they’ve got a big surprise in store after all this banning cars crap.
In my life I’ve seen some insane ideas put forward by politicians at the behest of special interest groups, but a total ban on the internal combustion engine running on fossil fuels has got to be maddest thing I’ve ever heard. But then, politicians, special interest groups, and bureaucrats have never been known for putting much thought into anything.
Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford
At least I have the personal benefit of being able to totally and completely ignore all this banning petrol and diesel fuelled cars crap. Not only that, because I live in a democracy I can cast my vote in ways designed to discomfort the current crop of lightweight, insane, political pygmies. (And that’s an insult to pygmies and the mentally ill.)
Meanwhile, the Lotus 7 is 60 years old this year. Now that’s a great car.
read about the Seven
Life is a series of waves to be embraced and overcome.
Waves are born on the wind, they live in the deep ocean where their power grows, and then, eventually, they die. Waves die of old age. Waves die as they crash upon the rocks. And, waves die softly and quietly as they gently caress the shore. In the end, everything and everyone dies.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their end. ~ Shakespeare.
Waves are not objects like pebbles, or rocks, or cliffs. Waves are living things, more akin to clouds, more akin to trees, more akin to us. Waves are fascinating to watch, and waves are both science and art combined. Waves are filled with powerfully energetic emotions. Waves almost have personalities.
From time to time, one must release the grime built up inside them to free their emotions like the ocean. ~ Suzy Kassem.
Just as sound is not made of air, waves are not made of water ~ waves are made of energy. Waves do not move, only the energy within the wave moves. And energy is the mysterious force that binds everything in the Universe together. The movement of energy creates everything; the stars, the planets, atoms, life, relationships, love…
An understanding of the power of waves helps us to understand ourselves. Throw yourself against a rock, and you will break.
The energy within a wave is always changing, yet always stays the same. The energy within us and within our relationships is always changing yet always stays the same; relationship energies may move from disinterest, to desire, to love ~ and sometimes back again. In that way, our lives mirror the dark power of the waves.
photographs taken with a Lumix
click on the camera