Coping: A Man’s Home Is His Castle…No! Really! It Is!

(Near Weston, CO)  OK, you’ve heard the term before “A Man’s Home Is His Castle!”  All sounds good, but the courts have continued to water it down (the legal notion of home as a as one’s inviolable castle) , yada, yada, yada…but what happens someone actually starts to dream about building their own castle – for real –  with all the modern accoutrements including wireless, solar, highly insulated panels, and all the rest of it?

We  found out Sunday as we arrived at the home of long-time readers Shirley and Mike Bean who started off to use their life’s masterpiece as a bed & breakfast, but for now, it’s theirs to share with a just friends.

So, how would a modern-day castle work?  Who would design such a thing? 

The answer is Mike made his mark in mechanical and solar engineering in Hawaii (back when the islands had just poked out of the Pacific, right?) and he did OK in engineering, playing the markets and real estate such that he was pretty much able to check out from “civilized life” in the land of prefabs and coups(condos) and tiny homes and decided to really “roll his own” – a spectacular one-off Castle in the Pines at 7,700 feet in the mountains.

So what does a modern castle look like when you come in the front door?  Here’s the entryway into the Great Room:

Upstairs, the kitchen as everything (yes, big gas stove for gourmet cooking and there’s an icemaker in the fridge, I mean what’s a castle without a martini?) and looking up from the Great Room (where this morning’s report is coming to you from) it looked like this last night just before dinnertime.  That’s Elaine and Shirley looking down from the dining hall which is one level up with a panorama down into the great room…

The ladies ( I prefer wenches of the castle) deliver drinks  downstairs to the men of the House and when done,  up we go to the dining hall, and a feast on Burgundy elk, harvested in season on the property.

Now, this is not a remodel.  This is a serious ground-up effort that’s 6,500 square feet.

Interestingly, we have something in common in our fascination with the castle era and lifestyle.  We’ve both been members of the Social for Creative Anachronism, and like Elaine (oops!  Lady Elaine) and me, they also dropped out. (I could never figure out the org chart of the SCA and apparently I’m not the only one.

So here’s more of what the local Renaissance Faire types are missing out on:

So, this morning I have to sit back look at the pile of crap that needs doing in Texas, wander around the castle rooms….and ask myself….”So if the world ends tomorrow, do I have anything anywhere near this cool (less the boiling pots of oil up on the parapets) to make our stand in East Texas?”

No…not even.

What’s the coolest thing about the home?  Besides eye treats in every possible place?  The answer I think is the people who built it.  How many people do you know who have set their eyes on a big, serious dream and then set about building it and seeing it through to completion?

We’ve been fortunate enough to meet two such couples on this trip and – if you live in a small apartment or condo – it’s especially encouraging that people can still find a patch of ground and built a dream with their own hands from the ground up. 

It’s not common, but it is seriously cool and an inspiration to anyone who’s ever picked up a tool with the idea of creating a “life’s work.”

Government: Buying Friends?

With plenty of people asking about the role of government, and especially given the cozy, soft-ball questions from the mainstream media, you can’t imagine how happy I was to see a good-sized report on the growth of government public relations efforts over the past 20-years, or so.

This one isn’t a particularly easy matter of public policy (though the Statesman article makes it clear that maybe the pendulum has over done it…a lot) but having tried to deal with government in the early 1970’s – just as the government PR move was coming along – I can see two sides to the story.

On the one hand, public officials can literally be hounded too death by reporters at all hours of the day and night.  And most don’t have the luxury of personal protection other than a key contact in the local police department in event of issues.

But the other side of it is that PR types can – and do – serve as gate keepers.  And that means less access and more “soft-ball” questions.

Where the role of PR morphs into propaganda orchestration is when gag orders come down for Department Heads from an “executive.”  I remember the days when a county official, like the county engineer for example, could talk openly with any reporter who wandered along.

But not these days, at least to the degree as previously.  A county executive, mayor, governor, or even president, can quash and squash reporter inquiries.  This gives the executive even more power than they really need as well as it gives them a way to slip untold numbers of stories under the rug if they don’t seem to pass PR muster.

Ultimately, if comes down to the executive level tightening up their reins on control and the co-opted major media who go along with this crap get more access at the expense of the little guy.

Makes you wonder how many people remember Ben Franklin was at one time part of the alternative media?

Fukushima Fears Slowly Growing

While we actually looked at a home on a golf course during our Seattle area visit last week, we ‘re both in no particular hurry to sock away a few profits from our life in Texas and then turn around and invest it in an area which is downwind and down-current, from Fukushima.

Reader John sent an email this weekend which edgesd up to the point:

I have been looking over responses to the latest information. The official responses are now admitting localized trouble, ie FDA banning of seafood from most of Japan. But they are adamant that dilution will prevent any effect on CONUS.  As you know from reading EneNews and other sources, there are educated opinions to the contrary.

If we use the “follow the money” method, it might be construed that both sides have something to gain from their statements.

So another method of reasoning is necessary. I propose that, although the ongoing catastrophe is enough to make us stop eating seafood, it is not enough to make us emigrants. But criticality of the reactor 4 cooling pool rods could easily cause us to take a one-month vacation to the dry side of the state.

Our canary indicating permanent relocation is the evacuation of WA or CONUS by those American experts watching Fukushima. But how do we keep a close eye on them?

And once again, we circle back to that Idaho Statesman note on public relations.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a truly independent press with unfettered access?

Seems to me that the PR departments of government units involved will hide behind a wall of “It’s in the public interest!” as their justification for not being more forthcoming.  “But see here, George:  We don’t know the truth and we don’t want to panic people unnecessarily!”

There ought to be a variant of treason which would preclude public officials at any level from acting on inside information to move their families, change investments, and so forth, ahead of the rank and file working people.

The great unemployed masses?  We can arm wrestle on that point, but even here I’d argue that no-holds-barred access to officials at all levels is what a free press is really all about.

Regrettably, the soft-ball press won’t ask the really hard questions for the fear of offending, but one such question might be:  “So how many Federal Region X employees have been moved out of the Puget Sound area and to other – inland  – locations since the radiation levels started going up?”

I can already here the “Oh, we don’t track THAT kind of information – it’s not in our mission statement…”

No rug, no dust pan needed.  Just a simple gag order to prevent real journalists from asking real questions.

Well…off on another day of driving.  As we’ve been away from the ranch for two weeks (and then some) I’ve got more crap piled up back there than you can shake a stick at… so one more night on the road and there we will be.

Write when you break even…