With your host, Category5.
This is a long and epic read today. Sit down and pore yourself a glass. It should make up for and explain my lack of presence lately.
I’m starting to write this today, just as the remnants of Hurricane Florence finally rambled its way all the way to Dark Green Mountain in Nova Scotia. It’s the Fall equinox this eve but will be much later before you read this. Nothing dramatic to report here as the storm has already shot its load, and like a selfish lover, once it has caught it’s breath, will put on it’s pants and leave without much fanfare. (Hold on, This is the ghostly apparition of C5 coming to you from the future. The storm remnants came back less than a week later to dump a bunch more water and if I read the signs right, we should get more of it later in the week. Ah, The returning 2AM booty call)
I had been pushing hard to get to this moment, worried that a deluge and winds would topple all my work before I could get it all held up and strapped down. Its been a mentally and physically exhausting experience. More mentally exhausting. Every step of the job confronted me with an unforeseen problem, usually impossible to fix and requiring me to pull off a C5 miracle, every single fucking day. I generally say, I can only perform one miracle or impossible task a month. But no rest between miracles for C5 this round. This is the nature of building, stream of consciousness, with salvaged materials and limited resources… at the end of the Empire, in early stage Economic, Environmental and Energy collapse. Hold that thought.
I noticed by the stats that people kept coming to check in with this blog, assuming that the latest disaster would force my pen and that I would have something to say about the matter. I felt, at this point, it was sort of redundant. Plus, I was rather busy. Instead, I decided to Show instead of just Talk.
That, and people saw the start of the tower in the previous article and wanted to know more. Woe there, folks. I could write or I could build. I chose to build.
Maybe, some of you have heard the colloquialism, “Women and cats rule the world… and Men and dogs should just get used to it”. That is far too uncomfortably true for any of us manly men to admit publicly. MrsC5 hit me with a lefty uppercut this year that I didn’t see coming. As Mike Tyson explained, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face”. I had a hearty plan for how this year was going to work out… but it didn’t include this.
Now. I am pretty good at looking her straight in the eye, with my best Han Solo smirk and saying, “O.K. Princess. Did your daddy not spank you enough?”. But when she said she wanted the wind tower put up this year….
I dont remember who said, “War is rarely fighting. It’s moving troops around to convince the other guy that any fight would be too costly”. I realized that if I did not do this, I would probably end up doing dishes, vacuuming and laundry.
I’m still good. She doesn’t realize I out maneuvered her (until she reads this). Any time she complains about the slovenly nature of maleness, I will simply point to the monstrosity on the front lawn that I wrestled from the gods, with a good amount of being punched in the face, to be wrenched from non existence out of the tentacles of Cthulhu, like an anarchist Prometheus.
If I was going to be conscripted into this job, I had a few requirements of what the end result would be. #1- It needed to be able to be raised by one person alone, without a tractor or mechanical assistance. #2- It needed to be able to survive a Hurricane or Bomb Cyclone. #3- It needed to be able to be taken down for maintenance or repair and most importantly, It needed to be able to be taken down right in the middle of a storm if things get too much and it had to be able to be done by one person without mechanical assistance. No biggy. I can pull that off….. cough.
I decided the materials I already had on hand would allow me to base this on a Medieval Trebuchet. When telling people what I was up to, I would say trebuchet and they would blank. That glazed over stare and nod that says, I am listening to you but have no idea what that nut bar C5 is talking about. So I dummed it down a bit and said catapult. I was, basically, building a “Wind-apult”. Catchy name… but technically, it is not a catapult. Not anything like it. Oh well. I’m stuck with it cause I cant come up with a catchy name that has trebuchet in it.
I will save my thoughts on wind power, till further down the article, some of which you have heard me say before in previous articles. But a word to the wise…
C5 Rule Of Survival- Any essential project will cost twice as much and take three times as long
When I got to this next point, after weeks of misfitted parts, cursing, swearing and several periods of complete despair, I called Mrs C5 outside to be there when the hinge point either succeeded or crumbled into bent metal and broken concrete.
After several years of just staring at materials, last minute modifications, and completely Micky Moused materials, the moment that hinge worked, and I felt the strength, realizing it was three times as strong as I had hoped, I said to MrsC5, “Just so you know, there will be absolutely no living with me tonight”. I was so fucking awesome that even I would hate me and not want to be in the same room with me.
That high was good because their was a world of fuck ups to come.
Now, finding an appropriate counterweight was really working my nads. After a week of trying to fit several heavy objects in from my scrap collection, I finally realized I could reshape some old duct pipe in there and fill it with concrete. By complete and utter fluke… it turned out to be close to the right weight. No, really. It surprised the hell out of me. But none of this went smoothly. I pored the counterweight then let it set for a week in its upright position
Notice the ominous clouds building in the back ground. I had made my goal to get this far before the hurricane…stared at it and then said, “Ah, Hell. Fuck, No. Those cables wont do if a meter of rains fall, turning the earth to slurry and winds rocking cement back and forth to be ripped out of the ground. Cables wont do. I want any sway to be met, not just by pull, but also push. That brought me here. I’m not too humble to say, once the storm passed, that looks way too cool in a Transformer, Star Wars Imperial Walker, Mechano Set, sort of way
As we got to the final cable anchors, I tweaked the balance weight and saw it go up and down with ease…..
…Well, a photo just wouldn’t do.
It was time to re invent my YouTube image.
Now to wire it all in. That is turning out to be the priciest part. Costs! Now, THAT is the part I really want to talk about. There is no getting around that. All of this is pricey…. Even with me doing all the fabrication work and using recycled, repurposed metal.
A good percentage of our culture and growing, can not come up with 1000$ to to meet an emergency car repair or medical expense. I have been one of you. Most are so far in debt that any further debt into “Adaptations” is not just a pipe dream but is possibly an existential threat. So I try to keep in mind at all times, here at DGM, that just because I can do this doesn’t mean everyone can… if they just try harder. That window has closed. We now live in the Age Of Consequence. Collapse is not a theoretical future event. Its here and will simply play out as it will in accordance with the laws of physics, math and biology. Throw in some Chaos Theory and at least you can say it is going to be the most interesting period of human history.
The metal was CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP. I have truly learned to LOVE our couple of metal recycling yards within an hour of where we live. It was just labor and travel intensive, not always finding what we needed, figuring out work arounds, and being surprised by incredible random finds. I recall an online prepper friend once saying, “If you control a scrap yard and a Value Village (a large second hand store), you are a king during the apocalypse”. How true. All for metal cost alone. Any aluminum is really expensive though. If this is outside your social world, I recommend you do a visit to a metal recycling yard and consider it “Survival Training”. Its far more valuable “Training” than something ridiculous like “Bug Out Training”.
But concrete got very expensive, fast. Where it also got really expensive fast was all the little fasteners, nuts and bolts , tension wires, U-bolts, tension adjusters and of course all the trips back into town each time I figured out what I didn’t have but needed before I could move on to the next part of the job. I kept looking down at the little bag of hardware doohickeys and realizing we were a hundred plus dollars poorer with each trip to town.
Considering this, I’m glad I let MrsC5 pressure me into doing this job now instead of after the theoretical collapse, where it no longer would have been possible.
Perhaps, that could be a defining principal of what I am coming to call “The Adapters Movement” as opposed to the Survivalist or Preppers movement. An Adapter accepts the future and adapts there life NOW to flow through it. It’s a full time gig. There is no last minute running away while continuing to live BAU or Business As Usual. If you do have to Bug Out, that means “YOU FAILED”.
Welding would have cut down on some of these costs but that was not in my skillset or tool collection.
But, lets get to the wind generator itself. Now, this article is all about the tower. Not the generator…. but it is part of the story.
One day, MrsC5 showed up with with a wind generator. I could not fault her in that she had got a once in a lifetime deal. It was about a three thousand dollar model, that she had got used for Six hundred dollars. I have lived in vehicles cheaper than that. As a prepper, you would think I would be happy… but no. I saw an expensive and time consuming chore to be added to my list of “Honey Do… before the apocalypse” chores that was way beyond my skillset. We had already just spent a good chunk of our retirement saving putting in solar.
Now, for those drooling and fantasizing about our set up, it’s time for a big reality check.
That is what, Yours Truly, The Warrior of The Wasteland, God of Prepping and all round spiffy dresser, is here for.
C5 Rule of Survival- There is a big difference between KNOWING in the biblical sense and KNOWING in the porn sense.
There is this general idea in our group consciousness, that if you can simply come up with the money for solar and wind power, that it is free power forever. That it is sustainable, clean energy. We have the technology. We can rebuild it.
Now, picture the 6 million dollar man, 20 years later.
He is in a wheel chair. Electronic systems have worn and shorted. Medicare doesn’t cover being rewired. He is riddled with cancer from leaking batteries and heavy metals. All the joints have worn and need complete replacement. His spine and other organic parts are just fucked because the two technologies were never meant to work together. He is addicted to opiates, in constant pain and anger at how he was used by corrupt, corporate governments that used him to stay in power. The government considers him a disposable asset that they might have to make disappear and they have unplayable dept obligations. The energy and replacement parts are now much more expensive and harder to get due to declining EROEI and all their credit is tied up in huge armies to steal that stuff from others. And with inflation due to a monetary system designed to steal financial wealth from the masses… 6 million dollar man?…PFFFT! Try 6 Billion adjusted to inflation, paying share holders of military contractor industries and graft for elected officials to look the other way while calling this scam, contributions to the next election and healthy democracy.
Or, a simpler way to put it would just be to think about it like your last car. It seemed like a good idea at the time… but how long did you really think that car was going to last you.
Moving parts ware out. Plastics break down. Solar radiation cooks and rust never sleeps.
Not to mention storms. All of this, hopefully wont be burned… or blown away.
All we have really done is take the retirement funds associated for future electric use and put it into our own hands. We are taking all the risks… and we are stuck with it now. We will also not make our money back. This is very expensive electricity.
But it is ours. And it is a temporary buffer against interruptions. So, I am of two minds on this. I’ll get to that in a bit
So! Lets say it now, just encase no one has ever explained this to you. Solar, Wind and BATTERIES is NOT a replacement for fossil Fuels. It is simply a store of Oil, or the excess energy left over and then either financialised or manufactured into product.
Solar panels are quite cheap at the moment. When people are considering this, they miss that it is the cheapest part of the system. Wind and solar have two Achilles Heels. Batteries… and everything else. Remember what I said about The Six Million Dollar Man. It’s two systems that were never made to go together. To solve our problems of pollution associated with Too Much Complexity, we are trying to solve it by adding even more complexity. What can possibly go wrong.
Lets start with the batteries. Turns out, you don’t just wire it in and walk away to business as usual land. We have found it to be like caring for a child. Its not as simple as checking the water occasionally. There is regular equalization, as well as testing the acid in each cell of each battery and heat control. Its also constantly monitoring your system and learning a completely new knowledge base. If you don’t get that all right, very expensive batteries stop functioning and need to be replaced far sooner than advertised. We have been waiting for affordable Lithium Batteries. Here is the problem though. Remember what I said about trying to solve problems associated with complexity by adding even more complexity. The is no shortage of Lithium at the moment. Getting it is becoming a major environmental disaster though. Go figure.
So, here is your first bonus read today. The Spiraling Environmental Cost Of Our Lithium Addiction- https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact
The next problem I mentioned was… everything else.
The panels produce DC current. The turbine produces DC current. The batteries, you got it, DC current. Our entire electrical infrastructure, house wiring, and appliances… AC current. To add insult to injury, most of the electrical products we use actually run on DC but have converters built in to accept the AC. Now, the powers that be decided a long time ago to build their entire infrastructure on AC because it pushed electricity long distances.
To run your house on on DC, it requires huge inverters to turn it into AC. That processes waists a good chunk of your electricity. Its very expensive and inefficient… and this was the system, god luv her, that MrsC5 wanted. Women and Cats….
Well, She paid for it so what can I really say in the Matter. She was smart enough to realize banks were not a trustworthy store of wealth and she may never see the majority of the pension she had paid into for life and wanted to divest a percentage into tangible assets… so she gets mondo brownie points for that. I, on the other hand, barely had a pot to piss in. Living on rage and Adaptive survival skills.
I guess I am one of the Haves now. I have electric, pumped, fresh drinking well water to flush with. I can communicate via the internet with all you fine, sketchy folks, watch Netflix and have all the porn I can possibly watch. Good times.
And this is a great moment for DJ-C5 to share a local Atlantic cana’duh, punk roots band with something to say worth listening to. I had been saving this one for my New Years predictions but it seems to fit here. Feel free to hit pause often and read what is said in the background.
Some of you have heard me say before…
“C5 Rule of Survival- If you want to know how to prepare for the dark future I see coming, it all starts by coming to grips with that Refrigeration is a privilege and not a right. If you can fully wrap your head around and accept that, all else follows.”
This is another inspirational quote from Chris Martenson that we both like-
“So I guess I could be an optimist….. by telling them that I have 99% confidence that humans will someday be powering 100% of their energy needs from the sun. I’ll just leave out that what I mean is that, in 100 or 200 years, humans will have painfully reverted back to a 1600’s-style subsistence farming lifestyle.”
I find that overly optimistic. I give us a 20 percent chance of not going extinct as a species in the next 100 years. I’m working for that. Cheers to optimism.
Where I can get behind solar and wind power is as a psychological buffer to help people not blow their heads off while they get used to the idea of those two quotes. Something to help them Transition mentally while they come to grips with that we will not be able to fully keep our lifestyle by simply changing technology. We will eventually come to realize that we wont be able to live, work, farm, heat, get water or find a spouse from anywhere further than we can walk… and that is a big mental shift.
It does seem that technological solutions will rest in Do It Yourself guys hands. If you really want to create Environmentally Responsible technologies, beyond the worn out cliches, here are some of my suggestions to save the planet, making use of technologies we already have and don’t need to wish into existence.
That fridge thing. A complete redesign of refrigeration units. I have wanted to build one of these but it is beyond my skillset. No more stand up fridges. It would take up much more floor space and it would be wise not to keep it anywhere that you actually heat like a kitchen. Inconvenience. Get used to it, suburb rats. It would load from the top like a chest freezer so cold air doesn’t flow out of it each time the door is opened. It would be hyper insulated (at least a foot and a half of high density insulation and reflective material)… and it would work on the principle of an Ice Chest buy freezing a chunk of ice then turning off. It would use a DC or Direct Current Motor, hooked into your solar of wind power, and only need to work during sun or wind while storing that cold. No need for batteries to be used up getting you through the night or interruptions. It could work just the same with grid tied AC current, only using power when it is available. Yes, get used to interrupted power, either from super storms or brown outs or black outs in our over taxed, vulnerable and aging grid… or simply, poverty, no longer being able to afford unlimited electricity. This is already what it is like in less “developed” countries I have been to. The power goes off all the time. Its no big deal. People stop what they were doing and socialize for a while or go for a walk. Or they learn to store energy for when they need it.
How about old school DC motors and power tools converted to work as such (like an electric chainsaw or woodmill that only works when when your panels give you enough juice and don’t work when they don’t. Or how about putting a DC motor in an already existing Generator to convert DC to AC for tools on demand as solar is available. Ill get to that in a moment.
As pointed out by others, solar heating water is a technology we already understand and have since the 1800s. Water can be heated to steam for energy generation. Simple tech. No need for batteries, solar panels or complex wind turbines. Speaking of which, physical wind power. We have been doing that A Very Long time. Go Dutch. There is a finger in the dyke joke in here somewhere but I am getting nothing.
I am going to point out something obvious. Key Survival Products that you should purchase Now while they are cheap and available. This is called, “Prepping”. Its also where Me and the prepping/ survivalist world started to go our separate ways. Faced with some of the short sighted lunacy of the survivalist world, I decided to point out my top 5 prepper items, non of which you carry in a Bug Out Bag or strap to your combat harness. (Sigh****. And you guys are consider experts for what reason?) #3 and #4 are below.
The reason I made this proclamation was because I knew from first hand experience what products actually got used. These were Real Force Multipliers and indispensable. A reason to store oil in the form of a solar system. If there is any doubt, the vast majority of that tower was built with these two tools. The greenhouse in the backdrop was screwed together with a drill. I wouldn’t want to pull off that job with a screw driver. I can just hear experienced construction guys in my head, helping me to confirm to memory, “Nail the ones you love. Screw the ones you don’t”… but that was a loving screw job that nailing would not do. Well, that unsavory construction principle is now stuck in your head as well. I believe in sharing.
Look, I had to shoot a skunk a couple of days ago that had moved in under our house and was making our lives and pets miserable. I was conflicted about this because I consider the skunk my spiritual power animal. Even a grisly bear does not fuck with a skunk. You might try it once or twice but then you learn. But for every round I have needed to fire to actually kill something, I have had to use these two tools HUNDREDS of times. And that should give you your perspective of priority change. Don’t say I never taught you anything.
When I first pointed this out, MrsC5 recalled an experience when she was doing volunteer work in Costa Rica. A fix it job came up that required a drill. There was no drill in this town so a runner was sent to the next town where there was one. When it came back, the drill bit was a nail. Put that story to memory. Internalize it. I broke or wore out 6 drill bits on this job. One killer 22 caliber bullet was fired. 6 drill bits.
The grinder was also used to cut this recycled water tank. This is what we mixed the large amount of concrete in for the windmill base, with a common hoe. Hot water tanks are common, free and handy. My friends Mythos and Logos have an advanced version of this they mix all their Cob in.
This was another chore I used these two tools for this year. Getting those windows in.The metal I cut out will go back over the windows as storm shutters. This is our fireproof, storm shelter (at least once I get it anchored to the ground like the tower). One of the reasons for the window on the end is if a storm blows it on its side, we can break our way out.
While you are looking at that photo, I want to point out two subtle things that tie into things I mentioned earlier in this post. I also had to lift the rear end of this container this year. The ground had settled it on a minor slant. I had to rent a couple of two ton bottle jacks for the job. I kicked myself because I always saw them in garage sales, but thought to myself, why would I need a large bottle jack. Since we are getting two more of these containers soon (divesting more retirement saving into tangible assets. One for a goat barn. One for a rental cabin) a bottle jack will become an essential part of my life. A true Force Multiplier that is indispensable. Here is the tie in. I saw a rack of them at the scrap yard… to be purchased for metal cost alone. Now if you look even closer, you will notice a once in a lifetime find, leaning up against that container, that we found at the scrap yard. Its a Sulky horse racing buggy. Believe it or not, such an item had been on MrsC5’s and myself’s list of must find items. But never in my wildest imaginings did I think I would find one that is stainless steel, in newish condition, light enough, I could pick it up over my head and carry it home by roping it onto the roof of our Honda Civic. And never could I imagine I could get it for metal cost. 60$. By the way, we don’t have a horse. I think I will save my reasons for this build for a future post.
Here is your next bonus read of the day- 12 reasons people refuse to address near term societal collapse- https://www.lowimpact.org/12-reasons-people-refuse-idea-societal-collapse/
I noticed, the term he came up with, independently, of what was necessary to survive all this, was something he has called “Deep Adaptation”. Hundredth Monkey thing going on here.
One final Bonus read is this. If you are all readed out at this point, scroll down to his personal photos near the end and his explanation of them for an eye opener as to where we are right now in collapse. https://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/114404/our-delusional-economy-poised-slam-brick-wall-reality
Ah, heck. I’ll throw in one last C5 practical survival adaptation as a, Thanks for playing the Adaptation game, parting gift. This upgrade mod made me very happy each time I walk past it.
Unlike that other build, this one was so quick and practical. There is a zen like simplicity to it. Even considering the near drought conditions and heat this year, we were able to catch enough rain water to keep the greenhouses watered. Next year I may add window screens to keep mosquitos out. Unlike rain barrels, I have never had one of these crack when the water froze. And C5 likes free. This one goes out to all the poor men that have heard, “Honey. We should renovate the bathroom”. My heart goes out to you.
And with that, Lets end this with a song. A rather unusual remake I stumbled upon of one of my favorite “Angry” songs. How, oh how did my dirty, tiny, underground music scene become GenX classic rock?
“And that is why I wont do two shows a night, any more.”
If you would like to give a Tip for writing services rendered or to support the cause, go to the top of the page and hit, “Giving just the Tip”. All “Tips” go towards material costs for future experiments.
(FYI- No donations were used in this project) (And thank you, R.T. and S.R. for the donations. I was truly honored and touched to get a donation from all the way over in Germany. It gave me a moment of remembering we all share this ball floating in space and face the same future)