Reflections, Ideas, and Delusions

Keith Howard | Thursday, April 9, 2015


In a perfect world, every day I’d write a pithy essay of 500-750 words, complete with a controlling theme, a reader-grabbing intro and a conclusion tying the whole thing together. Unfortunately, as my friend Tonio K says, this ain’t no perfect world. Here then, instead, a laundry list of reflections, ideas and delusions. (Ed. Note: It is the reader’s responsibility to categorize each item below into the appropriate basket.)

  • The insulation has been ordered and scheduled for delivery on Friday. Decisions were made after hours of wrangling between George P., a former resident, and Dan D., a current resident with a background in project management for large California hotels, and me, a know-nothing about construction who will need to live with the insulation we chose. After a verbal skirmish in a Home Depot aisle over the benefits of rolled versus hard insulation, we’ve decided to go in a third direction.

Dan has found a good deal on blown-in foam insulation, along with the equipment to install it. This will allow us to heavily insulate the roof, moderately insulate the walls and lightly insulate the floor. No date yet for this work, but we will need volunteers for sure.

  • Making decisions about electrical needs has been considerably harder than I’d thought. Our intention still is to go with solar power, and this seems perfectly easy to meet my peculiar needs. The challenge is that this Liberty Home is proof of concept for a broad swath of homeless veterans, not just one cranky old coot.

Let me explain in the form of a humble brag: I don’t watch television at all, and haven’t since I quit drinking, although I don’t think there’s a connection there. Maybe once every two or three months, I will watch a video or single TV episode on Netflix, but always on my laptop. So, my electrical need for a TV set is nil. Likewise, I don’t use a microwave, I drink my coffee black, and get my dairy through cheese (no anti-sodium lectures, please), so I don’t have a real need for a refrigerator. Coffee can be made on the stove using an old-fashioned coffee pot. I can meet my monthly need for toast either through a diner meal or by toasting bread over a gas stove flame.

In short, to live off the grid I just need to power eight or ten LED lights and, maybe, recharge my phone, although that can be done through my car. As proof of concept for others, though, we need to meet the needs of a normal veteran, not just me. We are trying to provide enough solar energy to power a television for a few hours a day, a microwave for five or eight bursts a day and a coffee pot, a considerably more challenging task.

If anyone out there knows the secrets of solar power and its harnessing, we could sure use his or her knowledge now.

Positive Press

  • Very positive article on Liberty House and this Liberty Home by Carol Robidoux (Manchester Ink Link). Very positive, but also embarrassingly effusive, since it focuses on good Saint Keith and his acts on behalf of the homeless. The Liberty Home Project is really about the future and possible options for currently homeless vets, not any hardships we are encountering now.

As an egomaniac with an inferiority complex, though, I must point out how unphotogenic I am. If anyone out there would be willing to stand in for photographs/videos of me, I’d appreciate it. I’m not looking for Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Jon Hamm lookalikes. If you resemble, say, Matthew Broderick and can be available for any photo shoots to play the part of Keith Howard, please be in touch.

Seriously, it is a really good article with generous quotes from Dan Bricker of the Manchester VA about Liberty House and our mission.

Going Forward

  • One more immediate need we have, a documentarian for this project, someone who can commit to stopping by on a regular basis to shoot still photos and video of the project. This work can all be done on a cell phone or other simple setup—the big need is to have someone commit to being here on a twice a week basis for a month or six weeks to capture the progress as it happens.

If you are that person, please be in touch.

It is a good time to be at Liberty House, living in a Liberty Home. The journey is just beginning but the auguries are good.
-Keith Howard

camping cot
Interior of the trailer with my sleeping cot.

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