Off the Grid

I spend a lot of my free time researching how to get off the grid, and when my friends find out I’m wasting hours on the internet, looking up Quonset huts and wind turbines, they ask, “Why? Why are you throwing time away staring at pictures of underground housing and solar panels?”

I usually bark, “2012. End of the Mayan calendar. Ever hear of that?” If I’m on the phone, there’s usually a long pause, and if I’m yelling at the person, they look at me like I’m a nut. To be honest, that’s not the real reason I want to get off the grid, but it’s one most people have heard of and can comprehend in some fashion. The real reason I want to get off the grid is not because I want to go green, or parts of the earth and its community services are coming to a close. The real reason is I’m cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. I fantasize not paying the mortgage, the electric bill, the water bill and the garbage pick up. I think about putting that money in my own tiny pocket. Call it greed, instead of green.

And I think it might be hard to go greed, I mean green, in the middle of Oakland, getting off the grid, camping in the middle of town in a house that looks like every other house but doesn’t need an electrical line or sewer connections.

I approached the Big Guy recently about taking the first step. “I think we need a composting toilet,” I said.

“Are you out of your mind?” he asked. “Can you imagine the stench?”

“No, not really,” I responded.

“Go outside, into the garden. Open the compost bin. Take a big whiff. That’s just dirt and grass clippings in there now. Imagine a load of poo,” he said.

Hmmm, I could see his point. Late last night in my ever vigilant search for grid greed, I ran across the incinerator toilet. It heats up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. I was quite taken with the idea in the middle of the night, this morning, not so much. I kept envisioning these words coming out of my mouth, “Sorry Hon, I flushed the toilet and burned the house down.”

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6 Responses to “Off the Grid”

  1. I knew a guy who lived off the grid. He and his wife had built a nice cabin on one of the forks of the Smith River, and he had a little hydroelectric generator in the water which took care of all of his power. He used wood for heat, and he and his wife had the most amazing garden. I don’t know if they were 100% off the grid, but I suspect they came close. Nice guy, too. I miss him.

    • What happened to him? You make it sound like he’s dead. Which is another problem with living off the grid. There’s no emergency rooms.

  2. I have fond memories of going on bivouac as a young troop. All one needed was an intrenching tool (little shovel) to dig a small hole and fill it in after doing what one had to do. It was okay, but in winter when the gound was frozen, it became a task.

    • I had to look up the word bivouac yesterday, and now this morning I’ve forgotten what it means. The army is full of the original “off the grid” folks. Wonder how you say, “bivouac?” Back to the online dictionary.

  3. Significant other once tried to lure me into a conversation regarding 2012, and I explained to him why the Maya Calendar ends abruptly, it was due to lack of interest on the part of the calendar makers, yuppers Catunta and Acarapi worked on the calendar for years, and one day they just looked at each other and said “are you bored with this shit?” And they just quit working on it, Catunta put in his application to Nazca, Inc., and Acarapi went into Vicuna ranching, I swearz!

    As for the poop furnace I watched Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, when one of them poop furnaces died mid-cycle, and they had to scoop half-torched poop out of the poop furnace, not good, not good at all.

  4. I think it was more like, “We’re going to quit with the calendar to mess with folks’ minds around 2010. And they’ll make a movie about what they think is going to happen. It will be a bad movie with John Cusak.”

    I laughed about the discovery channel, but I have to wonder why they didn’t do a retake. And I don’t think these poop furnace are particularly green. They use a huge amount of electricity to fry the do.

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