April 10, 2012

Meade wants to live in a shipping container.

He's always sending me stuff like this.

We do have a plan to move into a smaller dwelling sooner or later, but it's disturbing to realize that for Meade, that means living in something made out of a shipping container!

As long as I've enlisted you in helping me (or Meade) with this problem, help us decide where this shipping container/house should be. And no, we're not going to ship ourselves wherever this place is.

Song choice: "The Gift," Velvet Underground.

ADDED: Meade says living in something like that is a dream he's had since he was a little boy reading about the Boxcar Children, which he says was about a family of orphan children, who lived in a boxcar. And then there was "My Side of the Mountain," which was — I'm transcribing Meade in real time — "about a boy who — I can't remember the reason — runs away from home and lives in a hollow tree up in the mountains, and he adopts a falcon who... she'll be friends for life/she'll be just like a wife... and he lives on acorns. I liked the book because it gave practical advice... How to trap rabbits. It was like 'Survivor'... a survival manual... told by a 10-year old boy."

73 comments:

rhhardin said...

You don't need a small place if you don't mind your large place being messy.

Patrick said...

The kid in My Side of the Mountain runs off to find family property. Great book, the author has since published a book on wilderness survival. My oldest read it a couple years ago, and we read it out loud on a car trip out west. He didn't live off just acorns, he had plenty of other food. He used acorns for their flour after soaking them to remove whatever it is they have that is bad.

Ann Althouse said...

Our large place is messy, but we'd have to tidy it up to sell it, to move to a small place, which could never be messy.

We'll off-load all our possessions when we do it.

Hey! I've got a great idea for the "death panels" trend in America.

Old people radically declutter their big houses, move to shipping containers with almost no possessions, live minimally and ascetically until they peter out into death. Then bury them in the container.

It's the new hybrid: tiny house + coffin.

JackOfVA said...

Now if Meade wants a truly "small house" he should look at Tumbleweed's offerings. http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses/

I think the smallest design is 99 square feet.

jimbino said...

Tiny houses seem nicer than shipping containers:

http://www.thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/

Robert Cook said...

I've always been attracted to underground homes...one of those abandoned missle silos would be grrrreat!!

purplepenquin said...

My mom used to read us The Boxcar Children as well. I fondly remember it 'cause it was the first book I knew of that had someone who shared the same name as I.

Given how upset ya are with Madison over the past year it ain't a surprise that you're looking to get outta town...where-a-bouts are ya'll are looking to move to?

rhhardin said...

A woman's idea of messy is some stuff not put away.

A guy's idea includes large dust bunnies.

Ann Althouse said...

@rh Did you know you can dust with dust? Pick up the biggest dust bunny and use it as a duster. It attracts the other dust really well (as is its nature, having become the biggest dust bunny through that method).

Very environmental, because you're not creating new waste or using products that had to be made somewhere.

FWBuff said...

My dad and stepmom have a cabin in the mountains of northern New Mexico. One of their neighbors lives in converted shipping container. It has all the charm and comfort that you would expect. And, Meade, it is not the same as a box car -- it isn't nearly as well-built or well-insulated. My dad thinks it's very "keen" (his word), but all I could think of when we were going through it was that it would be like living in the small metal torture box they used for confining prisoners in "Papillon".

Meade said...

"Given how upset ya are with Madison over the past year it ain't a surprise that you're looking to get outta town...where-a-bouts are ya'll are looking to move to?"

Verona.

MadisonMan said...

Loved the Boxcar Children.

You could buy the Sullivan House carriage house. Isn't it for sale? It's tiny!

I'm afraid, though, that the time to sell a big house for big bucks in Madison has passed.

Michael said...

Here's what you do. Go to Aspen, CO and rent two bikes. Find the Rio Grande trail and head south toward Basalt. Along the way you will find, on the right side of the path, two rail cars that are occasionally inhabited. Not sure who owns or the cost of rental, but there you have it. Beautiful Roaring Fork valley at your doorstep, bike path out front, short walk to the Roaring Fork River and the Woody Creek Tavern and a short drive to Aspen or Basalt.

rehajm said...

Hey, that's the best architectural use of containers I've seen. Most of them fall to the crappy side of the 'shipping container for added storage at the auto parts store' scale.

When building with shipping containers you have to be careful of the local high temperatures. In most of the country it can get to be 150 degrees in one of those things on an afternoon in July. Better to construct an insulated shelter surrounding the container to protect it from the elements. Then, throw the container away and live in the shelter...

ricpic said...

Some folks wanna live under the stairs
Some wanna live in a box,
Best of all is to ditch ones cares
And go live under a rox.


...a small place, which could never be messy.

Good luck with that. Ain't no way to keep a small house neat.

rhhardin said...

The larger dust bunnies form at libration points, where air converges horizontally and the ascends, leaving dust behind in an eventually huge bunny.

Unfortunately after a couple years these finally get distrubed and put in to the main pathways by dogs, and must be picked up.

Then dusting with dust comes into play.

LordSomber said...

Don't they rent out nuclear missile silos to live in up in the midwest? Or, if you move overseas, there's always the Coober Pedy dugouts.

dreams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rialby said...

Meade needs a cabin in Montana as a place to write his manifesto.

David said...

Ship him down here. We have garden issues. We can give him a nice closet to live in.

Bill said...

I agree with Robert Cook. Underground bomb shelters are so cool. Every time I design one in my head I make it bigger and bigger and then I think "Oops, too big" and I start scaling it down to find that sweet spot where it's as small as it can be and still be realistically livable.

dreams said...

Meade is still looking for a great hideout. I grew up on a farm and remember my brothers and me building hideouts in the woods.

Fritz said...

"@rh Did you know you can dust with dust? Pick up the biggest dust bunny and use it as a duster. It attracts the other dust really well (as is its nature, having become the biggest dust bunny through that method). "

Good system; our husky produces dust bunnies big enough to harpoon.

Donutwarrior said...

The owner of my company built a house out of shipping containers in Flagstaff, AZ. Look up Jones-Glotfelty house (the hyperlinks are very long). Its quite modern looking inside, and has a very wide open feel, well except for Marvin's office out front. Insulation and how the walls connect to the containers exterior is critical, since the containers are poor for heat retention. Its very nice, but he never disclosed the full cost but I'd guess $500K....Its his second home, and its in the center of Flagstaff. Nice vacation home.

Flagstaff is also like Madison, lefty collecge town....but its nice. 7,000 foot altitude though.

The Drill SGT said...

I lived in a Conex (a square shipping container (8' x 8' x 10') in Vietnam for about 4 months. I was pulling night duty and trying to sleep in the conex, whose inside temp could reach 140 degrees and which never dried out during the monsoon.

I would not recommend it to a dog :)

Sanddog said...

I had completely forgotten the title of My Side of the Mountain until I read this post. I loved that book as a kid.

My husband has occasionally expressed an interest in living in a shipping container... or a geodesic dome... or an earth bermed quonset hut type of steel building. He's got a long way to go towards convincing me.

Zach said...

I really enjoyed both books growing up.

Looking back, it's funny how positive and optimistic both sets of books were. As I recall, the Boxcar children lose their house at the start of the first book, but they barely even miss a beat. They tidy up the boxcar, slap some paint and curtains on it -- I think they even remark that the boxcar has more floor space than their old house.

In My Side of the Mountain, the kid technically runs away from home, but mainly because he wants to live like Thoreau. He's actually astonishingly well prepared, and takes everything the wilderness throws at him in stride.

They were both great for firing the imagination because everything seemed so eminently doable.

Andy Krause said...

Ann, you want a Gypsy Wagon not a shipping container!
Romantic Design

paminwi said...

The Boxcar Children series was really fun reading.

Meade - Verona - really? I used to be on the city council there and we had to fight tooth and nail to keep the budget under control. They just gave up their conservative county board member, Mike Willett, for a woman whose only complaint against him was that, "He says "no" too often". Besides being a really good guy he does a great job on your car when you need body work done.

edutcher said...

Sounds like Meade is moving Left (say it ain't so) as Ann moves Right.

Ann Althouse said...

Our large place is messy, but we'd have to tidy it up to sell it, to move to a small place, which could never be messy.

Your large place looks small to me, but, then, I was raised in a house built for a family with 7 kids.

Old people radically declutter their big houses, move to shipping containers with almost no possessions, live minimally and ascetically until they peter out into death. Then bury them in the container.

It's the new hybrid: tiny house + coffin.


The new thing in one stop shopping.

Christy said...

Check out the
Clayton i House
. Look like they're mobile home systems with water catchment systems and solar panels and the like.

Bob said...

Come down here to North Carolina, lots of single-wides to buy, or rent if the money's tight...

Kirby Olson said...

My Side of the Mountain was written by Jean Craighead George who lives about an hour from here. Her dad was a wildlife biologist.

She set the story in Delhi,NY where I live, and the story takes place on the hill behind my college. George has often visited Delhi to talk about her novel, and once pointed out where the tree was on a topographical map which hangs in the tiny local library on Elm Street of Delhi.

There are no trees in that area now that could house a boy. There is a large hawthorne tree about ten miles down the road in a hamlet called Hamden which perhaps has a diameter of ten feet. Hollowed out, it could house a boy.

The winters here are generally ferocious with the temperature rarely going above thirty for several months at a time (this is Catskill Mountains area and we're several thousand feet above sea level).

So the story isn't particularly practical, but it's a good story. Jean Craighead George is over 90 now and wears elecrric blue pants suits whenever I've seen her.

People come from Australia and other places to see this town because of My Side of the Mountain. The boy runs away from Brooklyn basically for independence. He's about 12 in the book.

This would not be a particularly bright thing to do. Either the cold would kill you, or else the perps woiuld get you. We have a small number of perps, but we do have them. Kids of that age shoul stick with their parents if they want half a chance to make it to adulthood themselves. Still, this is a nice novel. I've read it a few times, and once tried to get our college to change their mascot from Broncos to Hawks to honor the novel. The Athletic Department said that it would screw up their whole heritage and necessitate changes in evertyhing from stationary to wall paintings and would throw the alums into a hissy fit. So it was scotched.

Quayle said...

Where to put it?

Option 1 - Somewhere around Buena Vista, Colorado.

Option 2 - A select spot on some Mærsk ship. (I'm sure for the right price they'd let you have an outside 'scenic' slot and allow you to haul in dirt to make a yard.)

Option 3 - Sturgeon Bay, WI.

paul a'barge said...

Gardnerville, Nevada.

A little over 1 hour from a major airport (Reno) and about 2 hours from the back door into Yosemite (Tioga Pass) and of course, literally next door to Lake Tahoe.

No state income tax.

Don't tell anyone else.

Christy said...

So does the plan include a green roof? What would you choose, sod, sedum,...?

Perhaps a 6 month cruise before you commit, to get the feel of a small space shared.

KJE said...

Althouse and Tinyhouseblog.com are my two go-to blogs, every day.

Rusty said...

If you stay in the rust belt you'll have to insulate the shit out of them. Steel is a wonderful conductor of both heat and cold.
Once you start cutting holes in them the holes will have to be reinforced. All the strength comes from the containers being corrugated. If you're seriously considering this route I suggest you or Meade take some welding classes. If for nothing else than to check the work of the people you get to assemble your, whatever it is.
The upside is they're cheap. Mostly waterproof, and if you don't live too far away, the company you buy them from will deliver them for free. Of course the crane rental to stack them is $250.00 an hour.

What they are ideal for is storage. Also, if you're into that sort of thing, with a modest amount of reinforcement they make a dandy doomsday bunker.

Unless you're broke or are out to make an artistic point, stick to lumber and bricks.

Christopher in MA said...

Just live by the side of the road and be a friend to all mankind.

Or live in a barrel, like Diogenes.

Or if you really want to get away from it all. . .beautiful downtown Centralia, Pennsylvania.

DADvocate said...

I knew a guy who lived in a shipping container, but, then, the garbage man took his refrigerator box one day.

Partridge said...

Of all the ways one could turn shipping containers into a building, that is clearly the ugliest.

Before I clicked the link I imagined a few shipping contained stacked, with clear holes drilled in the sides for windows and it fixed up really comfortably.

I wouldn't even want that building in my town. Let alone to live in it.

And it can't be true that in the long run, shipping containers are that much lighter on the environment. Not when you make it livable. Not after you've brought in insulation (needed if you're living in a metal box) and light and running water.

AJ Lynch said...

Most men would love to be in a box.

vet66 said...

I worked for three western railroads before I retired. Containers come in three sizes; 20', 40' , 50'. They weigh empty around 20 tons depending on the length. The usual method is to put one in the ground for a basement, one on top of that, and one on top of that for the upper deck. If you really want small, try a caboose, although they are difficult to find these days. You might find an old coach somewhere made of steel and stainless steel skin. Have fun. Don't forget that cost of transporting them to your site.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse: "...help us decide where this shipping container/house should be."

I'd say the most natural spot for such a box would be down by the river. As in, you'll be living in a van, down by the river.

I don't understand why anyone would want to live in a tiny space, if they can afford something spacious and comfortable. I don't understand why anyone would want to discard their possessions. You own that pizza cutter for a reason, dammit. You might make pizza.

I could understand your moving from Wisconsin. It's cold and full of fruit-loops. But move to a nice place. It's actually a good time to purchase up, not down; you'll get a bigger discount on a more expensive house right now than you'll lose on your current place by selling in this depressed marktet.

Re. geography: Check out the small towns in northwest Ohio, or coastal North Carolina. They're very friendly, safe places.

rhhardin said...

You can live in an Amazon box comfortably.

Kirk Parker said...

Hey, if you come to Puget Sound country, you could live aboard a sailboat. All the cramped charm of a gypsy caravan, plus you're living on the water--literally.

And the space isn't as much of an issue as you might think--at list in some places, like where one of my friends lives, where he has a 10'x20' dry storage area --basically the size of a one-car garage--so he doesn't have to fit literally *everything* on the boat itself.

wv: khernal -- what's at the core of the Turkish version of Linux.

Pastafarian said...

Oh, and if you have cash already saved up for a second house, just hold onto your current house. You can rent it out -- it's in a college town, after all. That will help with cash flow in your retirement; and then you can sell it later when the market comes back.

Bill Harshaw said...

Two things:

1 think "universal design" because two things are likely true--you're both going to be older than you are now and you're both going to be less able than you are now.
2 24/7 broadband access, which can rule out some of the more exotic places.

gerry said...

Is this suitabe?

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck66 said...

I loved the Boxcar kids! I read those books in class instead of paying attention to my teachers.

Chuck66 said...

Does Winona Minnesota still have those shacks over the Mississippi backwaters, where people lived full time in?

dreams said...

How about Raleigh, NC or upstate South Carolina.

Lawyer Mom said...

There's magic in small, cramped quarters. The Boxcar children never, ever quarreled.

Blue@9 said...

I've always thought it would economical if you could live in one of those 24-hr storage places. They've already got power--you just need a water hookup and you'd have some seriously cheap rent.

Thomas said...

A shipping container home can be quite nice, though the neighbors might not like it. See the link for an example:

http://www.kmbc.com/news/23860045/detail.html

Popville said...

... she'll be friends for life/she'll be just like a wife...

lol - Chestnut Mare. I saw The Byrds a couple of time during that era (winter 70 - spring 71). McGuinn appeared very enigmatic then, Warholish. But never knew till now that the song was to be part of a country rock musical he was writing with Jacques Levy called Gene Tryp

Freeman Hunt said...

I remember finding an old copy of How to Stay Alive in the Woods at the back of the game closet when I was a kid. Poured over that book. Still have it.

Methadras said...

Why not live in an underground dwelling or a renovated missile silo? I always wanted to live in one of those underground dwellings with a grass ceiling and open air feel.

Rusty said...

Where to put it?
How about back on the ship that brought it here.

galdosiana said...

I used to love the Boxcar Children and My Side of the Mountain! Great books! And I recall that My Side of the Mountain was also turned into a movie...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Meade's favorite childhood books are my favorite childhood books. You keep a hold on him, OK?

wv: ffsUsea ductP. These are getting pretty creepy.

OK, that one wasn't right. Now it is [crossing fingers] "actAg chationg," which sounds like a far-East agricultural lobbyist, though we ought not to jump to conclusions.

LoafingOaf said...

They showed a shipping container house on MTV Cribs once.

Ah, someone put it up on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZpB5pK-zp4

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

Living in a shipping container seems to be a widespread dream among men. Several people I know have said variations on the same thing, and obviously there are plenty of examples on the web of men living the dream.

Why? What is it about shipping containers specifically that turns on the nesting instinct in men?

Rusty said...

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...
Living in a shipping container seems to be a widespread dream among men. Several people I know have said variations on the same thing, and obviously there are plenty of examples on the web of men living the dream.

Why? What is it about shipping containers specifically that turns on the nesting instinct in men?


Let's be more specific.

In men that had never had to deal with one.

Deirdre Mundy said...

You know, they have these WHOLE DEVELOPMENTS where you can live in something roughly the size of a shipping container....

They're dense too--very ecologically friendly....

So why are liberals so opposed to trailer parks?

jimbino said...

Looks like Meade

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/video-bulldog-tries-sit-inside-tiny-cardboard-box-184559305.html;_ylt=A0oG7pPVnYRPGFcB0CEPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTExajZnYmVjBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDNQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkAwRsA1dTMQ--

Michael Haz said...

Hey Meade,

Haz the builder here. Mrs Haz and I are going through a similar exercise; planning to dispossess ourselves of most of our accumulated stuff in the next 48 months and move to a smaller home.

I thought about the shipping containers. They won't work for a few reasons. First, condensation will be a continuing problem, no matter how well insulated they are. The dew point will always be somewhere in the interior wall assembly. Second, they are lightning magnets. Third, they will muck yo any kind of radio wave reception. Fourth, you'd have to cut them apart for windows, doors, etc. Not worth it.

I'm planning two simple rectangles. One will be a 1,500 SF living unit with one large bedroom, a den/office, two nice bathrooms and an open kitchen/living area. Tall ceilings, fireplace, etc. Easily livable. It will be a simple to construct, probably ICF exterior framing with wood interior framing. Metal roof, cement board lap siding, vinyl windows; soffit, fascia, corner trim and window surrounds of aluminium coil stock. My exterior maintenance will be to hose it off once each year.

The second rectangle will be a garage/outbuilding. It will be the size of a three car garage, and divided into a two-car garage and a one-car sized room for exercise, hobbies and general puttering. This building may or may not be connected to the house, depending on the site constraints. The building will be wood frame with the same exterior as the house.

The whole deal is easy to plan and simple to execute. Planned thoughtfully, it will be a pleasant, modest, light place to live.

Now about the 30 years of accumulated stuff I no longer need....

ken in sc said...

Patrick, the bad stuff in acorns is tannin—very bitter. White oak acorns have less tannin than others. You can eat them after treating them like chestnuts. Boil them, peal them, and then roast them with butter and salt. You don't have to ground them into flour unless you just want to.

SukieTawdry said...

I read The Boxcar Children Mysteries, too.

There's a restaurant on the harbor in San Jose del Cabo that's a converted shipping container. Great fajitas.

I could live in a shipping container if it had the modern conveniences. And some windows. Or at least some skylights.

OldGrouchyCranky said...

Ah ha! So, now if you became a member of the religion of peace ( Or,is it "pieces?") you could simply repeat three times "I divorce you," or does that just apply to the man dumping the woman?

Regardless, there's an app for that! Besides, with Uncle O in the House, th econcept of privately owned dwellings for the Hoi Polloi is a non-starter.

Anthony said...

How about a hobbit hole?

http://www.ehow.com/how_5487265_build-hobbit-hole-house.html

Michael Hankamer said...

I lived in a shipping container both times I went to Iraq as a civilian analyst. They beat the hell out of tents.