Small Houses, Small Farms

I’ve been researching what it would take to set up a weekend farm for myself.  Learnings:

1. Distance.  Two hours away from DC, you can get a 5 acre plot for $100,000.  Three hours away you can get a 15 acre plot for $50,000.  Those are minimum prices an additional 1/2 hour out it you can find that with a better selection.

2. Modern Cabins/Small Houses. I found out that housing designs exist in the 100 to 400sqft range.  They tend to have all custom built in furniture.  Without the custom fixtures and build in futurniture, they would be too small to put conventional stuff into.  Even with that, these ultra small houses will leave almost no room for extra stuff, like extra shoes or extra dishes.  Prebuilt on wheels they sell for $35,000 to $45,000.  When built on a foundation it costs $100 to $200 per sq foot.  I also found out that when building on undeveloped land, you have to budget an unknown quanity of money for wells, septic and road building, or an unknown quantity of time and money to get a muninciple hookup.

3. Farming.  Some good crops for plants that a weekend farmer could grow would include plants that sometimes grow wild, like paw paw, persimmon, hazelnut, black walnut, crab apple, grapes and some berries like the serviceberry.  These can be turned into juice for fermenting into cider or wine, or in the case of nuts crushed for oil.  Completely unprocessed, they aren’t worth enough to sell, although they could help offset grocery bills.

4. Financing.  Undeveloped land requires up to 50% downpayment, building the house requires financing.  The house part requires a construction loan which is a loan that starts out as a line of credit, then turns into a mortgage.

 

Job hunting, Swedish Meetups, Dropped a MacBook

Don’t tell anyone, but there is a serious lack of software developers in DC, particularly ones that have been working since about 6 to 8 years ago. I think this may have something to do with the dot net bust of 2001, when there was a mass exodus from the IT industry as Pets.com and others shut down. Something has to explain the call volume I’m getting.

In any case, I’m job hunting. In order to provide professional and respectful service to hiring agencies and principles, I’ll be going on leave from my current post to focus full time on getting a new job and cramming SharePoint documentation. SharePoint is *HOT*!

Funny story: I keep getting asked what I’d like out of a job. I want the camaraderie of working on a team. A short commute. But what brain keeps telling me–that mammalian brain that evolved on the savannas of Africa–is I should find a job with good coffee, a reasonably quiet place to write code, a workstation with two monitors and 3GB of RAM. This works out to about $250 worth of benefits. Some flint, fire and wooden spears sound cool, too. Fortunately, that part of my brain is not in control of my job search.

Swedish Meetup
My Swedish meetup today was a dud– if everyone who RSVP’d yes had shown up actually showed, there would have been 5 people. As it was, I drank coffee and talked to employment agents on my cell at Domku, a genuine Scandinavian/Eastern European cafe and bar located in DC not far from Petworth Metro station. The cafe is located so far from where you’d expect to find a trendy cafe, maybe that is why people didn’t choose to show or RSVP. Next week looks better.

Dropped MacBook
I dropped my MacBook. And worse, it was dropped on a corner. There is no worse way to drop a laptop. Either it was a miracle or the remarkably good engineering and workmanship on Apples part, but the MacBook is okay. The screen didn’t crack, the drive still takes and ejects disks. Sounds still works. It still powers off when closed and turns on when opened.
If a genie offered me a chance to go back to any time in history, I’d go back to 4:55 today and make sure I didn’t drop that laptop.

Companies I like

In the words of Scott Hanselman, don’t blog bile. Having blogged enough about lousy customer service, it is time to list the companies that I do like.

Website Category
Meetup.com’s software development team.
Lala.com, the entire company
Bookmooch.com
Half.com

Big Companies
Microsoft. No one can beat their community outreach.
Apple’s product development, design and engineering and usability departments.

In Person Stores
Starbucks
Whole Foods
IKEA

Peripheral Things
Xooter for the best way to get to the post office before it closes

Government
USPS. In many ways their customer service is better than the private sector’s, especially for packages.
State of Ohio University System.
I encourage everyone to use the above services and products.