Category Archives: off the grid

Now THIS is recycling

I subscribed to Countryside magazine a few months ago. It’s a magazine all about “off-the-grid” living; stuff like alternative energy, organic farming, making soap out of lard and lye, etc.

Anyhow, one letter from a reader blew my mind. He’s talking about everything he does when he finds an abandoned washing machine:

. . . When I come across one, I load it up on my truck and bring it home. . . . I get a storage container and start disassembling the machine. I start filling the container with the screws, washers, bolts, retaining clips, hose clamps, springs, etc. used in the machine as well as the wiring harness. Many times this hardware comes in handy when a need arises.

Also, I save the small clear plastic tubing (there are so many uses for this quarter inch or so tubing), the steel drive shaft, and the spent motor. The drive shaft and spent motor I usually take to the scrap yard once I accumulate enough to take down there. Also, the gear at the end of the drive shaft is encased in a gear box partially filled with oil (not much, perhaps a pint or so). I open the gear box and drain this oil into an oil can. I use this oil on metal parts when they need to be oiled. When I accumulate too much oil, I take it to Discount Auto for recycling.

I use the “skin” (top and all four sides) of the washer as a good source of sheet metal for auto body repairs and for replacing fatigued metal on things such as my lawn mower, chipper / shredder, and rusted out metal doors (to name a few). . . .

I use one washing machine tub for a small burn barrel (lots of air holes to facilitate a good hot fire), and other tubs are used as planting pots to grow various vegetables and herbs (good drainage and easy to move if relocation is necessary). . . .

I cut up and save the machine’s rubber tub liner for a source of gasket material when needed. . . .

I snipped out a lot more detail to make this easier to read. Go get the September/October 2008 issue for the unabridged version.

This guy is my hero. When civilization collapses, he will build a giant landwalker AT-AT from old Maytags and rule the earth.

The USA-Soviet collapse gap

I love doomsday prophecies.

I grew up in the 1980s in Texas, watching stuff on TV like the The Day After and Damnation Alley and lots of other bad post-apocalyptic sci-fi schlock. Meanwhile, my parents took us to a church that was very focused on Christian eschatology*, so my childhood daydreams revolved around on how I would survive in the inevitable supernatural, post-armageddon war zone. I used to imagine how buildings would look when they were all burned out and destroyed and possibly occupied by mutants.

I’m sure that’s why I’m so into growing vegetables now. I’ll be ready with my basement full of turnips when the shit goes down.

One of my college professors argued that Christianity at its heart is a religion about redemption in the afterlife, and if the ancient Jews weren’t so miserable under the Romans, the religion never would have caught on. Even today, it appeals to people most often that are at the end of their rope.

I suspect a similar dynamic applies with all these doomsday preachers. People like talking about the end of the world because these scenarios offer them hope out of whatever mess they’re stuck in currently. For example, as a delinquent 7th grade kid, I knew that if we went to war with the Russians, or if a meteor crashed into the Earth, or if a super-virus plague broke out, or if aliens landed and started harvesting our life force, I wouldn’t get in trouble for not doing my world history homework, so on some level, I wanted it to happen.

[*] has very little in common with Christian scatology. It’s just a pretentious word that means what the religion believes will happen at the end of the world.