Friday, February 12, 2010

Products and Services for the Permanently Unemployed Consumer

Developing and marketing products for a shrinking market poses an interesting set of challenges. Even if a company does an outstanding job and is able to steadily grow its market share, these gains are negated if the market itself continually shrinks by an ever larger amount. For instance, a company might have an outstanding electric vehicle design, but it is destined to fall by the wayside during a time when the number of consumers that qualify for a car loan is trending downward, the used car market is glutted by repossessions, and federal, state and municipal governments are unable to upgrade their car fleets because their budgets are far in the red.

Consumer product development caters to individuals who live in houses or condos, have jobs to which they commute by car, and generate a steady stream of disposable income. This is the group to which the business press often refers collectively as "the consumer": one often reads that the consumer is retrenching, that the consumer's credit is tapped out, that the consumer's disposable income is shrinking and so on. The consumer is not growing. What is there left to do except design and manufacture fewer and fewer products?

The answer is as simple as it is surprising. The consumer is not melting away; the consumer is mutating and evolving. In the United States alone, half a million people a month (in round numbers) are being shed from the workforce. Although this is often portrayed as a temporary condition, job creation is not expected to pick up pace any time soon, and few people are willing to forecast when it will again exceed population growth. Even a rose-tinted economic scenario has to admit that there is a high probability of new energy price spikes triggering new recessionary periods, which would drive unemployment higher.

Therefore, more often than not a job loss will set a person on a new career path, one that comes with a new set of challenges and options. Most significantly, these formerly employed people often no longer have sufficient income to afford the two items that dominate most household budgets — the house and the car, and all of the expenses that are associated with them. Medical expenses form a third category, and are highly variable, depending on a person's age and medical condition, and range from zero (for the healthy uninsured) to arbitrarily large (medical expenses being the largest single cause of personal bankruptcy).

Does permanent job loss mean that someone is no longer a consumer? In some cases the answer is yes: some people continue to spend as if they still had a job, and the inevitable result is eventual destitution. Once they run out of unemployment benefits, savings and credit, their purchasing ability decreases to the barest minimum provided by food stamps. I don't mean to sound harsh, but this makes them rather uninteresting from a new product marketing perspective.

But other people may be quick to shed their biggest categories of expense, walking away from their mortgage and their car loan, allowing their medical insurance to lapse, and developing a new lifestyle that is well within their new budgetary constraints. They may couch-surf, take advantage of house-sitting opportunities or rent a spot at a campground by the season. For the cold part of the year, they may head south and, again, camp out. They may look for seasonal employment, do odd jobs for cash, or use their skills to repair or make and sell items for cash.

With their largest expenses gone, their disposable income may actually be higher. However, their needs and requirements are quite different, and since most product offerings target the settled, fully employed consumer, they are in some ways under-served. This is an area where new product development opportunities abound, and companies that gain a share of this growing market segment and build brand loyalty among this fast-growing consumer underclass will lock in a decade or more of profits and rapid growth. As a marketing strategy, it is not just recession-proof but actually recession-enhanced.

In saying that the unemployed consumers are currently under-served, I do not mean to belittle the huge positive effect on their lifestyles that resulted from the recent major advances in mobile computing and communications. Laptops with wireless Internet access have made it possible for a homeless person to run an Internet business or a software company, manage an investment portfolio, or contribute to an international scientific collaboration. Any of these things can now be done from an Internet cafe or a public library, or, in fine weather, even a bench in a city park or a tent at a campground. Cell phones make it possible to give radio interviews and participate in teleconferences from just about anywhere that is within sight of a cell phone tower. Hand-held GPS units allow people to find their way around and to retrieve items stashed in the woods using their coordinates.

But even here there is plenty of room for specific improvements: the umbilical cord of the laptop power supply and the cell phone charger hampers mobility. It would not be difficult to add small solar panels to the backs of cell phones and the lids of laptops, making it possible to recharge them simply by leaving them in the sun for an hour or two. Many people would be willing to trade off certain features, such a high-powered microprocessor or a brilliant display, against reduced power consumption and a reduced need to use the power cord.

In addition to such incremental improvements, certain completely new types of devices can be designed to serve some of the unique needs of the permanently unemployed. For example, it is not uncommon for them to be living in places that lack public utilities such as running water, making it impossible to use flush toilets. A commonsense adaptation is to put together a composting toilet, using a 5-gallon drum and a toilet seat, and a length of dryer hose for the exhaust duct. A key component of this solution is the exhaust fan, which can be quite tiny and low-powered, but has to run continuously. A small computer fan connected to a lantern battery is adequate and lasts for many months, but an even better solution is a battery-backed exhaust fan powered by a solar panel that is designed to be installed in a partially opened window. Another example: a portable device that can detect the many environmental hazards that are likely to be present in such a less-than-ideal living environment: a combined smoke/carbon dioxide/carbon monoxide detector that can also detect toxic fumes from burning synthetic materials would be perfect. A device for testing the safety of drinking water would also be very useful.

In addition to such new products, the permanently unemployed would also benefit from certain services designed to fit their unique needs. For example, a campground at which campsites are paired up with garden plots, allowing people to spend the summer months growing their own food, would suit people who have plenty of time, little money, and nowhere to live. In the cities, low-priced dormitories styled after Japanese capsule hotels, and shower and locker facilities would make their lives much easier while also helping to improve sanitation and public health and to preserve public order.

We live in a time of steadily rising unemployment, and, consequently, much emphasis is being placed on stimulating job creation. To this end, the federal government has already spent a lot of economic stimulus money on a variety of infrastructure projects. An obvious question to ask is whether any of these projects have directly benefited the unemployed, beyond creating a few temporary jobs. It is a no-brainer that the jobs to create first are the ones in industries with the highest growth potential, where job creation can quickly become self-sustaining. As a matter of public policy, it would make perfect sense to provide seed money for what is bound to become a new high-growth industry segment: serving the needs of the permanently unemployed.


Philip Brewer said...

You're right that a lot of people are going to be unemployed for much longer than they expected. You're also right on the correct coping strategy: Downsize the cost structure of your household early, while you still have some assets. (I've written a four-article series on exactly that topic. It starts here: Getting by without a job, part 1—losing a job.)

I'm particularly intrigued by your list of consumer products for homeless and unemployed consumers—brilliant! Fortunes are going to be made by people who can tap this emerging growth market.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Dmitry! As usual, leagues ahead of the pack.

Glad to see you back posting, with comments turned on.

Best wishes,

John Andersen said...

Yes, there will always be opportunity, even with customers who are permanently unemployed.

However, I believe it will reach a point where large scale manufacturing, and hence, marketing to anyone will become no longer viable except in very limited situations.

That may be a decade or more in the future though.

Largesse said...

As a semi-jobless person with a mostly-jobless husband, we are developing a few products for our fellow jobless:
--portable solar hot water heaters/showers (more permanent than the bag-style showers sold at camp stores)
--passive solar window-unit heaters
--solar food dehydrators
--solar cookers

Plans for all of these are generally available online... and I expect that little money savers like these will be very popular in the near future.

fritz said...

take a look at items marketed already on solar chargers. While I distrust the owner's intent, has shipped a few decent small solar devices. Gotta think a decent engineer with collapse survival in mind can improve and cheapen some of these designs.

Glad to see more writing here. Gracias.

Anonymous said...

Great article, I liked the use envisioned of the computer fan. There's tons of great ideas out there just waiting to be found. Anyone know of any good websites with "survival/transition" tips that make use of common stuff lying around?

Unknown said...

Damn, I love the way your mind works. Inspirational, cheers Dmitry.

Unknown said...

Good post Dmitry. Regarding the 6 gallon bucket composting toilet there is a way to do it without fans. Basically you just put leaves, sawdust, or other organic material on top of each deposit (I think dirt would work too). It then no longer smells. When full you dump it into a compost pile and top with more of same. Tend the pile and after 2 years perfectly safe for garden use. Jospeh Jenkins has generously made his book The Humanure Handbook available free on the web at While some municipalities might frown on this better than just putting your wastes on the sidewalk. It is an elegantly simple system. Makes excellent compost.

Top your 5 gal bucket with a tossed out toilet seat and you have all the comforts of home!

Tom Crowl said...

Currencies and credit mechanisms are also technologies... very broken technologies, btw.

Internet-based mechanisms facilitating currency and credit-creation by ad-hoc groups based around their own criteria (units of labor or locally produced commodities)...

engenders a revival of this fundamental right of self-defining groups to co-ordinate their own social energy for mutual survival and advancement.

See On Social Energy, Enterprise & Expanding the Technology of Money for a few thoughts on this.

Neutral tech for this is a very badly needed service for our growing class of permanently unemployed consumers.

I'm pushing specific solutions if any are interested.

(... just trying to promote my own survival as I fall into this new class as well)

Andrew Butt said...

And don't forget the basic three - soap, booze and contraceptives!

sendoilplease said...

A wonderful can of worms, or a Pandora's box, as the case may be...

The world's underground local economies might look like a basket case to some, or like a case study to others. What can we learn? Will they rule the world for a long time to come ? (and the meek shall inherit the earth...Rush 21:12, blessed are the cheesemakers... Python,19:70, and the watch-repairers, etc,etc)

Vietnam: Regulating the Street Economy

Egyption Street Vendor Economy


While at your campsite and planning your garden you can play:
3rd world farmer

Becky said...

Small wood gasifier stoves built from scraps!

Bet, you can't just build one version. Keeps the brain and hands busy.

Just a ton more satisfying than pushing a button to cook something.

The "waste" or charred remains of fuel can be put back into the soil.

I guess you could tweak the thing and try to incorporate one of those handy computer fans.

Anonymous said...

Very good posting although I am not sure the unemployed people will be willing to spent their little cash in such devices when finding food will be the focus of their life.

I wonder if there will be an article comparing Obama and Gorbachev in the point of Afghanistan or the financial sphere. Or the peculiar fashion style of the US first lady and Larissa Gorbacheva:)

I read today about the big operation of the US forces in Afghanistan and the similarities between the present so called victories and the ones from the 80's are striking.

Anonymous said...


First, the donate button, It doesn't cost anything to have a blog on Blogspot. So why the button? I'm not against donating, but I may be a Permanently Unemployed Consumer. I say this because as of April 28, 2009 I have been an unemployed Computer Engineer. Now it's not because there are no jobs. It is more than likely that I do not like Bill Gates and $Microsoft, and am not afraid to say so. I prefer Mac's and Linux/Unix. However employer's don't see the same bottom line as I do. I get some strange looks when I say to possible employer's that I don't like $Microsoft, and then I don't get any call backs. Also, it turns out I'm trying to live as simply as possible, on a sailboat. That doesn't help either. But I just wanted you to know. That I may be one of the rank and file of the unemployed. My unemployment hasn't run out yet, but it will. Unless I swallow my pride and conform to the right wing conservative way. This does and yet does not bother me. I want to stick it to the man, but in doing so aren't I'm really sticking in my own butt? I already know the answer. We all make our own road, we just each do it in our own way. I guess I'll just be a professional beach bum, otherwise known as a
Permanently Unemployed Consumer.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, reading this posting left me wondering.. wait... is he joking? I mean, he has a good sense of humour, so maybe this actually is as comical as it seems? I mean, as our complex society begins to crack, we'll be accessing exactly what over that wifi network our portable solar panel charged laptop lets us connect to? Or is the wifi even working? Maybe short term I guess, it's not like it will vanish overnight, or even overyear.

I'm curious to see what society will decide has actual value. That decision won't be abstract, it will be seen in what society decides to try to maintain. Given the current wealth distribution problem, that's going to be an odd thing to behold.

Curiouser and curiouser, but even more curious is how the blogo-sphere is handling this all.

Keep up the great work Dmitri, your views are welcome in the foggy blur out here.

The interesting thing, have you noticed this, pretty much all the predictors of doom so far are significantly off, by a large margin. Not saying it's not happening, but I'm wondering why their mental models are at least 1 or 2 years off of what reality is unfolding to. Could we be looking at a boring, slow, grinding down decline coupled with occasional bumps as the world readjusts to a new lower consumption level?

Remind me again of what the actual decline and fall of the real actual physical structures of the Roman empire looked like, time-wise. Clearly we are more globalized, less connected to the real land than they were, and they didn't suffer from corporate agribusiness etc, and Bechtel trying to own our water, but still, the time frames are off here, and I think there's a reason for it in the actual core model.

I'm with you Dmitri, time to get out of the tech field, and soon....

Simon said...

Is there going to be something like the Bottom of the Pyramid market for the powering down devoped world, probably, but I think the politics will be the more interesting issue.

Do we honestly think after living in the consumerist society that many of the jobless that used to be the haves, will quietly adjust and accept no longer being able to get their consumer fix, while a small elite continue to do so?

Even if share banks or clubs pop up to share some consumer goods and we grow or provide for our basic needs; I think it unlikely that the new social and ethical mindset would accept anyone having the sort of wealthy lifestyle we accept or aspire to today.

Throw in ecological footprints, Climate Change and the ethics of finite resources, and no one will be getting wealthy or using a fair share of resources even if they can afford it.

The bread and circuses, and business as usual, will soon be over, and the unemployed majority -with or without a vote- won't accept the crumbs from the few haves.

fritz said...

yeh, come to think of it trapping seems a likely valued pursuit. rural for sure and probably now already. suburban and urban much more so. I have heard of folk doing well eatin rats. on a stick of course and not sashimi.

so what does anyone here know of basic trapping of small game? do we need to stock up at the camp store before collapse? might be better long term to be able to set snares or other traps post industrial.

polluted game or not, fishing's probably going to become much less of a hobby too.

Anonymous said...

Jon and Lisa, you're confused about Microsoft. The purpose of that company is to keep you employed and fixing their stuff, just like the purpose of unix/linux is to keep you employed as you google for solutions to arcane command line problems you might run into while trying to do what are in Windows trivial tasks. Just as in Windows, you struggle for days to do what are in Linux trivial tasks. Both suck at certain things, both are good at other things.

When you talk to employers, say: I like Microsoft stuff (because it keeps money in my pockets, said quietly to yourself). But for desktops, you have to be realistic, that's what the business world uses. And for technical office servers, it's often a far superior solution, just like Linux is in other scenarios.

Don't screw yourself at this late stage in the game on fights that will not matter in the future, and which will in my opinion leave future historians scratching their heads in confusion (let's see, let's get this straight, as their society was in a state off full collapse, people dove into arcana of software freedoms vs unfreedoms, as they were losing political freedom after political freedom in the real world?), that's my advice, MS stuff is ok to work with, you point, you click some stuff, rarely you dip into the registry, it's no big deal, and it's fine to use, often it's the only solution (try running ACT without it). If you don't like it, keep it to yourself, you don't have to love the stuff you work on, you just have to make it work. Mac or Linux desktop advocacy, unless the boss is already sold, is going to basically remove almost all real world job prospects in your field, except a few hosting companies.

dmitri, sorry, I'll never get technical again, but I think this poster is confused about the correct order of priorities. Hint: eat first, worry whether RMS is more free than Linux later... I say this as someone who puts out a lot of free software code.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Teetering -

I suppose I agree. I can't bring myself to use Microsoft junk or program in Java or .NET, but I see that as a personal failing rather than some sign of personal virtue. They just make me gag.

You are only partially right that free code doesn't matter. I expect we'll have some stuff that will keep running, like cheap little laptops running temperature sensors and zone valves in solar greenhouses. Those, I suspect, will either run Linux, or not run at all.

To me, you'd be insane to use Microsoft for anything so important as a solar greenhouse. A while ago the British nuclear navy thought that they'd use Microsoft Windows for Submarines. That made me laugh really hard, until I realized that if they went through with it, the blue screen of death wouldn't be limited to the display.

Anonymous said...

There's a big difference between telling an employer, if you are unemployed, that you do not know something than telling them they are wrong to prefer tools that work for them, or that are more marketable, or profitable, or whatever. This is a luxury that's ok when we are on the upside of the tech bubble, but on the downside, it seems foolhardy, unless your skills are such you can genuinely pick and choose.

Since Jon/Lisa didn't specify what area he worked in, can't get into more details

Mac I don't personally take very seriously because it's essentially a luxury product, like a BMW, nice to have, but hardly necessary. Telling an employer who doesn't care that you will only use Mac is like telling a driving job you will only use a BMW as far as I'm concerned. And anyway, most employers who like Macs are already using them, so the issue wouldn't even come up.

Personally, since I've actually seen blueprints of a chip fab plant, assuming we'll be using this type of technology on anything more than a short range basis long term is I feel not at all realistic, that's just my view, those plants are very expensive, they have incredibly short life spans, and they require a lot of free capital to finance them. Not to mention exotic and exceedingly rare and toxic raw materials. Not an ideal candidate for any realistically sustainable future in my opinion.

This is one reason I don't view high tech being anything more than roughly what Kunstler suggests re globalization, not a culmination, but a last gasp of a failing system, that has pushed complexity far too far to ever hope to sustain such a level in the future.

Short term (decades I guess), sure, the stuff will linger on, inertia, refusal to give up toys we think we need but which we don't need since humanity did not only fine, but in fact did great without them for hundreds of thousands of years.

The ultimate value of course of having free code bases will be shown over time, and it might be useful in some contexts on a more short term basis.

But my point was more pragmatic overall, the issue being: if one accepts that collapse is imminent, and if positioning oneself for that situation is a necessity, then excluding 92% of your options for no particularly good reason is not a very wise decision.

I used to think the free community found in the Free Software model might be a good one to serve as an example, but I don't believe that anymore, for reasons that get into what real gift cultures actually are, and how they work, ie, there is a web of reciprocity that not only exists, but must exist, for any true gift culture to really be viable. Free code does not have this web, and that's a major problem.

But this is just a narrow technical thing, not nearly as important as starting to pull yourself away from your virtual realities, blog readings, etc, and stepping back into the river of real life by doing the kinds of things Dmitri suggests, real things, involving real people. Everything else as far as I'm concerned is just a vestige of a failing system.

Unknown said...

I have been preparing for unemployment just along the lines of this essay.

I built a bio briquet press and instant hot water heater that utilizes a beer cooling stainless steel coil and a rocket stove.

I figure if I get forced into a tent city I can sell/barter hot showers.

I also have a few solar panels and I built a small Savonius turbine that is made out of nylon cloth and pvc pipe. Its real lightweight and can be unassembled very fast. I figure I can use my electricity generation ability to start a cell phone, ipod, etc charging business.

I also have seeds and snares and around 2000 books of matches I can sell. I also have a few 50 packs of bic lighters but I think I will keep those.

Any other ideas for a tent city business?

Anonymous said...

Ah, that's a big problem that teetering and others bring up, how to keep our technology going up to and through the bottleneck, even the basics. Sure, some of it will survive because it has security applications, so the military will defend some key plants, but what of the others? Cheaply available chip-based technology will likely disappear, along with globalization.

The computers I work with last for about 5 years before becoming obsolete. You can get another 5 years or so of use out of them before the hardware breaks. So I would expect maybe a decade, tops, with the chip-based technology we have now. Perhaps another decade could be pushed with recycling what we have now, but that would require a lot of skilled repairpersons and some reasonable infrastructure (power, AC) to maintain them in.

fritz said...

ok so I'm gonna learn abacus and start saving pencils.

Thank you much. Please note down where you got the ideas, plans and whatever else you found for those tentcityservices. That's the kinda genius stuff I've been looking for.

We're doing the same thing in our little suburban house with the hopefully not so naive thought that we might be able to ride out this storm into our ancient years here - even if and when unemployed.

I know that's a lot of hope. Still though, my grandfathers did something similar when they left the south side of Chicago in the 1930's and moved 30 miles west to farm chickens and build homes.

That homemade wind generator is especially intriguing.

Doom and Teetering. Been looking at cell phone and palm devices for years and blowing off upgrades for those reasons. Recently started looking at iphones and that palm device from apple that's just like an iphone with no phone. that anti-iphone intrigues me as a mini laptop with ridiculously low energy demand. is that something to consider for basic computing needs (more like desires - spreadsheets...) in the mad max years?

Bilbo said...

It is interesting to contrast this post with John Michael Greer's recent post about the US becoming a third world country. Having recently spent 2 years in a third world country with 80% unemployment and living the lifestyle, I can give some first hand experience of what the unemployed there actually buy. These are all consumable products.

Single use shampoo packets. A whole bottle of shampoo is unaffordable, so you only buy what you need right now.

Single use laundry detergent packets. Make sure it's strong detergent, too. When you can only afford to wash your few clothes once a month, your detergent had better get them clean. Enterprising people would go to town and buy in bulk and then resell it a cup at time.

Lamb flaps. People would buy cases of frozen lamb flaps, sit by the roadside, and try to sell them all before they thaw. What are lamb flaps? Well, they are a rather undesirable fatty cut from the underside, but really cheap because not many people are so desperate to buy them (yet). Fiji considers them so unhealthy that will not allow them to be imported into the country. If you go to New Zealand where they are produced, you'll find them in the frozen dog food section of the supermarket.

Canned meat products. In a third world country no one actually buys a product just to feed it to a dog. Many canned meat products are of a lower quality than the dog food currently sold in the US. There is a Chinese made canned curried chicken which is mostly neck and back meat with all of the bone. Hormel Spam, you see, is unaffordable.

Unpacked super heavy duty batteries. Forget alkaline batteries like Duracell or Everready Energizer, too expensive. Sure these batteries don't last long, but you can buy the precise number you need right now, no multipacks. Be sure your radio and flashlight use the same size so you can switch from the flashlight to the radio. Forget solar panels, not only are they too expensive, they are too easily stolen. Do you think you could hide a solar panel?

Codeine. Have a pain that aspirin can't handle? At the drug store checkout you can find affordable little packets of codeine right next to the Lifesavers. What's that? You find you're hooked and need more and more. Imagine Montgomery Burns saying, "Excellent."

Studies have shown that over 85% of the money spent by men in the country I lived went on just two products listed below. Keep in mind most people had a garden to grow their own food and a place to live rent free.

Tobacco. The most popular brand was called Spear. These were sold one at a time, wrapped in newspaper, and twice the length of a normal cigarette.

Alcohol. Almost anything containing alcohol will do. One of the most popular products was the pint bottle of imitation vanilla extract, 35% alcohol and a cheap buzz, no liquor tax. This product can make it easier to cope with the fact that the above list is pretty much all you can afford.

I swear the above is all true, except the part about Montgomery Burns. If you are still reading at this point, maybe you are one of the few Americans who can handle the truth about where we are headed.

Anonymous said...

For more ideas, get hold of an old copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog and look under "Nomadics".

Anonymous said...

People in the USA are funny, for some reason they believe that if they can't be the world's top consuming nation, they will be a third world nation. That's a typical mental error I see a lot, ie, construction of polar extremes, that's a popular method in the colonies, I don't know who started it or why, but it's really common.

Of course, when we look at real collapses, say the Soviet Union, things aren't so nicely defined. Or other collapses. There's a very wide gradation between consuming far more than our fair share while borrowing to pay it off and being a third world nation.

It seems people are in fact repeating 'those who forget history are doomed to repeat it'. The great depression didn't make the USA into a third world country, it just it poor, then people got mad, and started supporting and providing a powerbase for politicians willing to grab hold of that base to gain power, then we had: reform, financial regulations, social security, wpa, and a bunch of other things.

I know current politics are all about feeding corporate interests, but that's just because people still think that is connected with their own interests, no matter how misguided that belief is. But that doesn't mean it's going to stay that way in the future, it's going to dip right first, I'd guess, then they will fail so colossally and miserably, making Bush and company look like relative geniuses, that a real guy, a Nader type, who tells the truth, will be able to actually get into power. No sign of any such person yet, Obama isn't it, too young, too weak, and too unwilling to take a real stand, because the power base to do so is simply not there.

This doomerism is cute and I guess sells survivalist stuff or whatever, but it's not something I see as a real scenario, though shortening of lifespans as in Russia post USSR is certainly reasonable to expect, with a shrinking population.

Who knows re high tech, but iphones and that junk are just toys, built to break in a few years, hardly something to consider durable. An old pentium III machine is going to last you a lot longer, especially if you have access to some spare parts. But this thing about keeping all our technology going instead of doing more practical things (books? these work well, no recharging required, no backups, screens don't fail. Pens, paper, also reliable once you learn to refill etc)

Greer seems to be getting sloppier and sloppier by the posting, is it hubris, or is it something more material, editors, publishers, etc. Fast becoming uselessly unreadable.

sendoilplease said...

Thank you Bilbo for your comments. I do not doubt a single word.

Unknown said...

fritz, your welcome. I am trying to teach my neighbors about permaculture and get a real kick out of helping people.

My hot water heater was my own idea. I have never seen one like it anywhere. I got the idea from a old beer cooler icebox my friend used to have. You submerge a stainless 1/8" steel coil in a water cooler filled with Ice water and it cools the beer from a keg sitting in the sun to 40 degrees. I made a rocket stove of 6" water heater vent and added a
2' chiminy with the coil inside it. A few barbque briquets makes very hot water instantly. The whole deal is around the size of a kitchen waste can. I bought my coil from the web. This model has a 5" diameter and around 15 inches tall it is 50 feet of tube. i cost around $100. I love my water heater because I love hot water. Cold showers suck.

There are many plans for savonius wind turbines on the web. They are pretty easy to make but the charge controler is not so easy (at least for me). I still have not got mine figured out yet but I am working on it. I don't have a didgital cam or I would try to post some pics. I made half barrel frames out of pvp pipes and had a friend sew some old nylon flags I had to cover it. Any brushless electric motor can be modified to generate electricity. Low RPM generators do not cost much at all though.

A bio briquet press is really easy to make and I really recomend it to everyone. I copied this guy to make mine.

He uses sawdust and newspaper but grass, leaves, weeds, junk mail... work also.

I have thought about my panels being stolen but what can I do? I already bought them. Maybe a few of the fold up in canvas kind that come with charge controlers for small electronics built in would be a better idea.

Avi said...

Great article that's sadly only partly tongue-in-cheek. I grew up in late 70s Bombay so the collapse terrain seems familiar.
I think sturdy mp3 players will have a huge market - I have a low footprint Samsung U5 that holds Bill Mollison's permaculture course just in case:)
5 gallon food-grade plastic buckets will be worth gold- you can set up a business making Sub-Irrigated Veggie Planters with them:

Spanish fly said...

I've been trying to make a composting toilet in my future (mini) organic farm, but the "shit machine" I did was crappy...I hope to do it better next time (thanks for your ideas: solar, fan and so on).

Unknown said...

Does unemployed consumer have children in described scenarios which include seasonal relocations etc? Is non institutional education of own children part of the concept?

fritz said...

gracias joanhello
i ordered a copy today.

alright, I'm lookin over the archdruid now. and so as not to confuse genius with wisdom.... what exactly is meant by derp, derp, derp?

Ok. I read JMG. Yeh, he's good and so are the comments. This all brings to mind Chomsky, Diamond and Klein though.

Chomsky talked at length about how the fascism imposed in the US is mild and yet still effective. The only citizens in the US with time enough to know the truth are the intellectual/professional elite and the prisoners. (FAIR's EXTRA recently published a great letter to the editor from a literate federal US prisoner on just this subject.) All others in the US are preoccupied with survival. Cabbies don't have access to Klein, Diamond, Chomsky, Orlov, Greer, Baker,...... Besides, we don't have time to read them since we're compelled to our wage/slave labors and trying to stay out of debtors/healthcare prison. So all the leadership has to do is threaten anyone with a degree and loans to pay off with professional oblivion (aka: "Go get a job driving taxi since a career in engineering, science, whatever,.... is obviously not going to work out for a conspiracy theorist like yourself.") So yeah, while it might be a soft or ninja type of fascism in the US, it's definitely a much more effective means of controling the conversation than other more open fascist regimes. (Wanna see some panicky engineers? Bring up the obvious facts and have a good command on issues like 911, healthcare, Chernobyl, food inc, banking/investing/gamblin, military science, ... in a social setting loaded with DOE or any federal government employees.)

Diamond came to mind since he outlined in "Collapse" how the only instances of recovery from collapse, the regime in power had to be a (mostly benevolent) tyrant.

Klein comes to mind since she outlined so well in "Shock Doctrine" how all those fascist regimes were put into place and held in power by the profiteering families who are still in power now and mostly operated out of the US.

Thank you again for the gut check here and practical knowledge. It'd be nice if it only comes in handy as a character builder and camping trick. Either way, what language and what literal translation can I wiki for "derp. derp. derp?"

writtenwithwit said...

great post - smart, true, and memorable. A rhyme I wrote similar to the point:

Shop till you drop/ thats the motto of the pop culture/
spend it if you got it/ and if not/ then you rot/
vultures feedin on the poor/ with no wealth to feed the scores/
of the homeless and the hungry/ liquor stores are abundant/
but the money and the funding arnt enough to stop the problems that are coming/
try'n solvem but were missing pieces of the puzzle/constant struggle to survive/
in this bubble were alive, when it pops we all die/ we can save it if we try/
and i write with my eyes/ so i see through the disguise/ of the guys/
in the suits/ that always tellin lies/
gotta stop the cries and the pain/ thats the answer/
if you feel me empathize and start throwin tantrums/