The Warmest Village in Alaska

This is a video produced by an outfit out of Montana called WX TV  (Weatherization TV). It’s part of the program in weatherization offered by Montana State University.

You wouldn’t think that a video about insulation and weatherization would be interesting….but….it is pretty interesting.

This shows what life in an Indigenous Alaskan village is like better than most of the videos I’ve seen, too.

And who would you want to teach you about insulating something? A guy in a place that’s really cold? Or a guy in a place like Costa Rica?

I’d want to figure out how to stay warm if I wanted to learn about insulation….but….that’s just me.

This video is about a job in Alaska in a place called Goodnews Bay.


Good for you, Insulation Guys!

If we’re going to be spending tax dollars, I sure do love to see it going towards something good….like helping these folks make it through the winter.

For more on the programs at Montana State University, go to and for more of this type of video, look on their webpage under “WXTV” (lower left on current webpage).

Side-door container 2nd life as WA’s ski town outdoorsy home

I’ve never seen a container with side doors.

And….that brings up an interesting design option that the more common container doesn’t bring to mind: why not use the container as a protective shell….and build and insulate your house like you would if the container wasn’t surrounding it?

It’s kind of goofy….but it would be cool to be able to completely shutter and secure a small place that you would be away from while you traveled.

Some of these alternatives seem kind of expensive….even if you’re using something cheap like an old container.

It’s expensive to figure out how to retrofit a cheap base option to live in.

Still….a container with doors like these is pretty interesting.

I like to see all this creativity.

This is another great Kirsten Dirksen video.

More about Jacob and his “Wooden House”

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog post.

Jekabs Dimiters!

That’s the dude! Building the house! And….in the video below…..playing the music.

To do something with extreme competence…..and play music, too….that’s a good life. And….his family seems really nice, too.

There’s a lot of people out there who do interesting things….and who do those things well.

That’s inspiring.

These are really good videos….some of the best.

Watch the “wooden house” video from yesterday’s post first.



The Birth Of A Wooden House….the best video!


To say that this is the “best video” is hype.

Hype, hype, hype….crazy hype.

But….this really is one of the single best things I’ve watched on YouTube.

Here’s a fellow who builds this great house using hand tools and traditional methods….and the end result is an amazingly attractive and functional house for his family.


You can waste a lot of time watching most of the videos on YouTube…..but this one isn’t a time waster.

Here’s the YouTube description:

This is a documentary movie uncovering the process of building a wooden house with hand tools from local materials starting from forest till the living space.

I built my house from trees that I felled with an axe and two man crosscut saw in my own forest. I did it following the research of old carpenter’s calendar that coniferous trees should be felled in January’s first days when the new moon rises and the deciduous trees should be felled in the winter time during the old moon. In winter time trees are sleeping and the juice and moisture content is very low in them. As time passes timber felled in winter becomes light and strong.

In the building process I used mostly traditional carpenters hand tools – axes, hand saws, timber framing chisels and slicks, old Stanley planes, augers, draw knives and mostly human energy. All the ground work for fundaments and the basement earth digging was done by hand with shovels. The foundation consists mostly of bigger and smaller rocks and boulders. Lime, sand and concrete mixture are using only in small amounts – to hold the boulders together. The visible part over the ground level – boulder mosaic has been masoned with hand split local granite.

The House has been built based on the western part of Latvia – Kurland/Kurzeme (German influence) historical wooden architecture typical technique – Timber Frame construction with sliding log walls between the posts. House is two carpentry technique union – Timber Frame (that is typical in France, Germany, Great Britain, North America and other countries) and traditional Latvian log building technique, between the logs using moss from the local swamp.

In the walls, timber frame and roof construction there I used only wood joints and wooden pegs to hold the main construction together – no nails, screws or steel plates. Walls are insulated with 250mm thick dry pine and larch shaving layer (leftover from the local cabinet makers workshop). Overall exterior wall thickness is 50cm. In the walls (except wind vapour breathable membrane over the roof) has not been used any plastic or modern synthetic materials.

To preserve the wood from the spoiling, fame posts, sills, top beams and final cladding boards are treated with fire and pine tar mixed with Tung oil. This wood preservation technique was adapted from the Japanese traditional wood preservation technique Shou Sugi Ban (焼杉板).

Exterior cladding boards recoating each 10-15 years Tung oil and pine or birch tar mixture, the house can last more than 500 years. As an example is taken Norwegian stave churches that stands more than 500 years until nowadays.

Roofing is three layer white oak shingles (each 10mm thick, 120mm wide and 720mm long) laid in two directional technique. Overall amount of shingles used is 15 000 pieces. Roof walls are insulated with ecological wood fibre wool and wood fibre panels. Over the wood fibre panels are plastered natural plaster – mixture of sand, clay powder, lime, linen fibre, salt, wheat flour. Overall thickness of the plaster is 20mm and over all amount of plaster used on the walls are 5000 kilos. It works also as thermal mass and improves energy performance.

Exterior measurements of the house is 6.5 x 13 meters. Living space in both floors are 120sq/m. The house is being heated with clay plastered brick bread oven and smaller oven made of clay tiles in the kitchen. To heat up both floors of the house, when outside it is minus 10 degrees (Celsium) only small oven is heated once a day. When freeze gets below -15, -20 C, we heat up the bread oven. Once it is heated, because of it’s thermal mass of 5 tons, it keeps the warmth 2-3 days. To heat up all the house (120 sq/m) in the winter time we use not more than 4 m3 of dry firewood. This is 2nd winter we are living there and we still heat up the house with the leftovers of lumber from the building process. And it will be enough for 3 more years.

I have fulfilled my vision to a build natural, ecological house with high thermal efficiency, low energy consumption, sustainable, using local materials such as – wood, stone, old and new clay bricks, moss, linen fibre, clay, water, lime, wheat flour, salt and wood shavings.

Jacob, carpenter, craftsman and founder of Northmen (ex John Neeman Tools).

Here’s Jacob’s contact info….

Couple makes garage home + campervan a consistent life combo

Look at the design work in this garage apartment….the built-ins….the concrete countertops….the use of space!

Skill + Creativity=a powerful combination!


That’s cool!

This couple lives in their van most of the year while they’re travelling and uses this apartment when they’re home in Portland and….. rents their house (all the time) and the garage apartment (when they’re on the road).

This is another great Kirsten Dirksen video.

The YouTube description:

Bryan and Jen Danger spend most nights on the road in their converted Sprinter van, but when they’re back home in Portland, they sleep in their converted garage. They rent their 3-bedroom home (attached to the garage), as well as the garage when they’re not in town.

Five years ago, the couple quit high-paying jobs (after tucking away a nest egg), rented out their home and moved into a remodeled VW van. Back in Portland after a year and a half on the road (to Central America and back), they realized their 3-bedroom home was too big for their shrunken lifestyle and they began to focus on creating shelter in their garage. Upon discovering their remodel would qualify as an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), making it free from permitting fees, the couple joined a local wood-and-metal-working shop (Bryan learned to weld) and began to craft the old parking into a 480-square-foot home.

Using mostly recycled wood and steel, they lofted their bed above storage stair unit that includes a closet, washer/drier den and a built-in TV and fireplace. With he same materials, they built floor-to-ceiling storage along one wall (they don’t use all the space). They laid the OSB floor and poured concrete into molds to create industrial countertops. A section of the counter swivels on casters to become a dining table, workspace or cocktail bar. The bathroom, the biggest room in the home, is a “wet bath” in acrylicized waterproof concrete inspired by the road trip’s outdoor showers.

Not wanting to give up on travel, they sold their Westy (not reliable enough) and bought a Mercedes Sprinter van. After adding insulation and wood paneling, they dropped in temporary OSB furniture to test run on road trips. Once they were comfortable with the layout, they crafted permanent furniture in bamboo, including marine-grade off-grid refrigerator, toilet and automated retractable awning (built to withstand high winds).

Today, the couple work designing small spaces for clients, and thanks to their light lifestyle, they haven’t had to return to full-time work even after 5 years on the road.

Bryan and Jen’s blog –

Their small home design. –

Sprinter van conversions –

the right eyes…

I’ve said before that sometimes to see the beauty in the things around us we just need to look at it all with the “right eyes”.

There’s beauty everywhere….if we look at it in the right light.

And I really do believe that.

Having said that….some places really are more beautiful than others.

Some places don’t need a lot of aggressive positivity or altered perception to be thought of as being beautiful.

Good grief…..Norway.

Look at this!

And look at the big dogs these Vikings have!

Sometimes the ability to find things to satisfy you just keeps you from finding the really great things around us.

What do they call that?



(English is easier.)

Maybe “contentment” is a softer word to use.

Contentment keeps you in the same place…..just as much as complacency does.

Here’s another long Norway video….it’s Norway overload.

Couple Builds DIY Remote Off The Grid Alaskan Yurt Village

These guys did a nice job with this “yurt village”.

No heavy equipment….limited power tools.

Even with a yurt village….it’s always “location, location, location”.

How do you find a site like this?

Good for them!

Here’s where you can find out more about this couple:


A short PS:  Check out these rates! Is that expensive? Maybe….to me, at least.

  • 500/night – 2 guests
  • 675/night – 3 guests
  • 850/night – 4 guests

Just a Couple of Hours….

This lake is a couple of hours away from some property in Idaho that my father grew up on.

It’s in the St. Joe National Forest.

“Just a couple of hours” is kind of deceptive, though.

It would take us a long time to get to Crystal Lake.

We don’t live in Idaho!

That’s not something we do….yet.

It sure is pretty out there, though.


Norwegians are the happiest!! I’m a Norwegian!! YEAH!!! YEAH!!


Heck, yeah!!

Talking about the Norwegians!!

Go, Norway.

Here’s the short YouTube description:

Norwegians are on average the happiest people in the world. What‘s their secret? It has to do with a high living standard, a life close to nature and a generally constructive attitude.

That’s beautiful.

And, if you think about it, it’s a question of “which came first….the chicken or the….”

Which came first: you’re happy because you have….or….you have because you’re happy?

Check out the “open air day care”, too.

I’ve got to get my kids outside more.

All this electronic stuff (I say….typing on a connected and electrified little black box) is going to be the death of us.

We’re going to Twitter and YouTube and Satellite and E-mail and ….what else?….our lives away.

These Norwegians have it going on.

Isn’t that something?

I’m Norwegian….and these guys give me something good to aspire to.

Live a Norwegian lifestyle in the good ol’ US of A!!

How great would that be?