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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 43: Wallyworld Rising

Life has a tendency to get in the way of important stuff, like writing. I expect to be back on the normal Monday schedule next week.

Friday, February 13, 2015
Wallyworld Rising

Poor Rene. I told him he was welcome to write up something for this month, and I’d either write around it or just give the whole post over to him, depending on how much he had to say. He got about a paragraph written up and met Mr. Writer’s Block. He was nearly in tears about it, even after I told him that it happens to everyone no matter how long they’ve been writing. After he calmed down a bit, he wrote a little more and told me to just use it if I wanted… but of course! Here he is, folks:
Holá, y'all! (that's how we say hello at the manor, at least us kids do.) Farf-Dad said I could say whatever I wanted, but I couldn't think of anything. So I guess I'll talk about our nights. Farf-Dad helped with the spelling some.

In the winter, we sleep downstairs in the living room by the woodstove. We put down two mattresses, one for me and Kim and one for the girls. The Mom's say stuff about us being in the same room with the girls but I don't know why. We lay down so our heads are all together, so we can talk if we're real quiet. Sometimes Kim or Christina will say something funny, and we have to put our faces in the pillows to laugh so the grownups don't come out and tell us to hush. We've got a wind-up flashlight if we need to see to go to the bathroom, and Serena's really good at making shadows on the ceiling. We have to put it under all the pillows to wind it up though or the grownups will hear. One of us has to get up in the middle of the night and throw a log in the stove, usually Kim because he's the biggest. Christina likes to hold the flashlight so he can see, if she wakes up too.

I don't know why we can't always sleep downstairs like this. Just because the girls will get boobs won't make us estupidos or anything. [I’m trying not to editorialize; but kid… you have no idea. —FARf] We don't go right to sleep like they want us to, but we get up to help Mom with breakfast in the morning. Sometimes Kim has some problems getting woken up, but that's because he puts the wood in at night. He only burned himself once, on his arm, because he was trying to go too fast. It really upset Christina, but it wasn't bad.

I can't think of anything else.

I got him a spiral-bound notebook and told him to start writing stuff down in it as it comes to him, even if it he runs out of steam in the middle — he might pick it up later and then he won’t lose what he wants to write here. :-) He and Serena, of course, are the ones who do the best in English and the composition stuff I slip into their lessons. They’re all passable at basic math (except Kim, who’s pretty good at it) and biochemistry — but Christina (the youngest) grasped biochemistry faster than the others, making leaps into material they’re not even covering this year. If she gets much farther, she’ll get beyond anything I can teach her by summer. Not bad for a 10-year-old Mexican girl (sorry, I had to say that to raise the blood pressure of any Pat-Riots reading). Between that and her artistic talents, I get some rather interesting flow diagrams for her homework.

Down in Gwinnett County, some folks got together, took over an abandoned Wal-Mart and named it “Wallyworld.” I laughed for a long time over that one. I must not be the only one… it’s already starting to get used as a generic term. Some of the more serious people want the generic term to be “enclosed community,” but you know that won’t win — they’ll be called wallyworlds until the last one’s abandoned. They’ve even picked up on the name out in Pacifica, where they tend to be a little more organized about setting them up. Some of the Pacifica wallyworlds created an Enclosed Community Housing Organization (ECHO, bleh) that passes “best practices” info around and at least tries to suggest a few minimum standards for living conditions. Some of these places already have several hundred people in them… and I imagine the funk has claws if the ventilation isn’t good. ECHO’s website — one of the few Pacifica sites that the junta doesn’t interfere with — has plans for wind-power systems that have enough oomph to run LED lighting indoors. They keep the windmills cheap to build, but good enough to mark out main routes at night when it’s dark in there (the Wal-Mart buildings at least have skylights for daytime). I’m thinking about trying out the design and adding another windmill to FAR Manor, but I’d have to expand the battery bank and that’s expensive.

Each wallyworld seems to be developing its own flavor, depending on the people inhabiting them. All of them are trying different things to keep the great indoors warm through the winter, or at least not cold: indoor houses, closing off un-used sections (which involves lots of tarps), or suspended ceilings (more tarps). Even the junta, which mostly couldn’t care less about homeless people, is rounding up tarps for them.

At least they’re doing something useful with those big-box buildings.



  1. Finally, Walmart is earning its place in the world. This was an interesting installment, Far, especially the parts about the kids.

  2. Finally, Walmart is earning its place in the world. This was an interesting installment, Far, especially the parts about the kids.

  3. Thanks, Boran. I think it's a logical step: big-box stores fail, people need a place to stay, what else are you going to do with those big buildings? I'll be expanding on the concept in future episodes.

    Yeah, the kids are starting to reveal stuff about themselves and I have to try to fit things in. I'm trying to figure out why I'm writing myself another pack of kids to raise. ;-)

  4. FarF-Dad, excellent installment in the series!

    When I reading the kiddy section, it reminded me of times not so long ago here in Northern Michigan. Especially among the poor, larger families.... I'm quite certain, that not much has changed and there are families who endure much the same, as you're suggesting here, now. In the near future, this kind of thing will ONLY esscalate, sleeping near the heat source.....Gee, I've had lots of burn holes on my sleeping bag caused by sparks from the fire, while living in the tepee...to demostrate this point.

    I suppose living in a Wally World might be feasible in a more southern climate. Here in the North, it's much more practical to dig a hole in the snow, throw a cardboard box into it and cover it.........if you want to stay warm.

    Hey Far, I like your "standardization thing" on the other post! Ok, about that little wind-up flashlight, let's pray that you have the standardized little lightbulbs when that one burns out...or it will be yet another piece of junk...(and poor Kim might end up being burned more than once..) Try making a light bulb, by hand, my friend...Doesn't this really put it into perspective, what I've been suggesting all along? It's definitely a mind-set.....(btw, I've such wind-up flashlights and dozens of spare lightbulbs...for what it's worth).

    On to my main point, if it was electricifaction that made our society what it is today, what would it take to cushion the fall once fossil fuels deplete? Of course, even MORE electricifaction... This can easily be accomplished by wind and solar generation.. By harnessing the power of the sun in the present, will be the ONLY source to replace the power the sun provided in the past......heh, heh... Good luck with that windmill, far! Lets hope that poor Rene, is watching your every move! (Along with The Boy).


  5. FAR, that was a cool episode especially about the Walmart buildings. Here in Australia, we don't have the large amount of massive box stores that you do in the US. Mainly just big hardware stores and some big malls in the state capitals. Don't know how we will go for housing for the suburbanites when oil gets scarce. But then again, we don't have a mortgage meltdown like you do over there.

    I also like the wind up torch, hope it is the LED type like mine. No bulbs required!

  6. Thanks, Yooper. I rather expect that you're right about sleeping by the heat source. During a couple of those long winter outages I told you about, we at least had the kids sleeping in the living room. FAR Manor has one nice feature in this regard: the upstairs has its own heating & cooling, so it's pretty easy to close it all off (although draining the water pipe to the upstairs bathroom is a potential issue that I need to look into).

    Yes, standardization is good. You stock fewer spares that way. They're actually replacing the breaker panels in all four houses this week, hooray!

    Re flashlights: I have the kind with white LEDs. Good point about spares; I should pop by Rat Shack and get some. You can always heat a soldering iron in a candle flame if the power's conked.

    Gavin, isn't Australia generally warmer on average as well? Lucky you guys, not having a housing bubble… no bubble, no pop. I hope your public transportation systems are built out better than ours, anyway.


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