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A Step-by-Step Guide to Living and Surviving Completely Off the Grid

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Today the Times runs a story about a former Manhattanite who upped and moved to the far reaches of West Texas, where he built himself an isolated one-room house. So today we're forgoing our standard Thursday-morning Home & Garden Index in favor of the modern-day pioneer who has some valuable lessons to teach about finally overturning that whole "no man is an island" maxim:

· Live at least two-and-a-half miles off the nearest highway, preferably near an international border.
· Own a pickup truck. Definitely
· Presumably you won't be working, so make sure yearly property taxes are cheap—as in $86 cheap.

· Regular shaving is for city folk! Grow a beard and don a cowboy hats and boots.
· Make sure your past life is somehow glamorous—it makes for an interesting story when you leave it. Bonus points for being an ex-Manhattanite who worked in fashion.
· Ponder things. All the time. "Wind power or solar? What’s it like to hand-mix cement? How much water can you snatch in a half-hour of rain? Can you dam a gully? How do you build a swamp cooler, or an icebox? How long does it take to cook chicken cutlets in a solar oven? What’s the best Spam flavor?"
· Live in a one-room house on tons of land that you bought for cheap.
· Somehow, out in the middle of nowhere, blog.
· Eat "solar-oven baked bread" and shower with "water heated by the sun."
· Develop a following and make sure someone, somewhere, calls you a "modern-day Thoreau."
· Chain smoke.
· Have animal friends named Mr. Floppy and Benita.
· Unload your possessions until the remainder fits into a 24-foot truck.
· Make annual contributions to the Marfa public radio station.
· Own a gun and, of course, a Western holster.

· A Glow in the Desert [NYT]