Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Housing Market and Domain Names

When I tried to buy the domain , I was forwarded to a company called URL Collection ( ) … the company who owns the domain name. They buy domain names that they think people may want and then hold it hostage until they find someone who will pay an extravagant fee for it. After I inquired about the domain name, they emailed me to let me know that I could buy it for $3500. Their email mentioned how it was a steal, being that they usually start their domains for $10,000. I have purchased domain names before, so I know how much they are supposed to cost. $10 !

The reason I am posting this story on this blog is because their practice selling virtual space is a good analogy for the current housing market and the reason why we are approaching an unecessary housing crisis.

While there is plenty of space and resources for everyone to live debt free in a home somewhere, most housing is artificially priced and controlled to where debt free home ownership is out of reach to most people. Due to strict city codes and outlandish property taxes, even a tiny plot of land in the central city is out of reach to someone in the creative class who could use that space to build their own home. This is a modern phenomenon. Housing has never been this indebting anywhere ever before.

In modern times, housing is quickly aquired by investors who are not as interested in building community as they are in making a return on their investment. This drives up housing exponentially for everyone because it creates a pyramid scheme where the investors up the chain must make thousands of dollars every time a house changes hands. And so the property, whether it is a domain name or a small plot in the city, doesn't go to the person who would make the best use of it, but rather, it goes to the person who is the most ambitious to make a profit. Perhaps who is most affected is the investor at the bottom of the pyramid who didn't cash out in time.

The spot where I am building my studio is not necessarily my first choice, but it is a domain that hasn't yet been considered by investors. There are many more of them ! When this project is done, the price tag of the five acres, building materials, and water and energy catchment will be less than $10,000... the price of a domain name from URL Collections.

While URL Collection sits on an address they will never sell for what they want to, I will have to keeping telling people, "It's Earth Language dot com, but with a dash in the middle of Earth and Language, NOT an underscore."

For more information, go to or

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

bicycles and gardens

I have started riding my bicycle to get my mail. The mailboxes are about 3.5 miles from me, so it is a nice 7 mile roundtrip exercise chore. The ride takes me on dirt roads right past camel’s hump. It then spits me out onto the Terlingua Ranch road, which is paved and mostly flat. Sure beats driving ! The weather right now is ideal for bicycle riding. Most of the year is condusive to bicycle riding really...may have to just adjust the time of day you choose to ride ( mornings and evening in mid-summer, mid-day in the winter ).

In other news, I planted some seeds today. Tomatoes and beets. John Wells then showed up with some green bean and squash seeds, so I planted those too. I attempted planting tomato seeds twice already, but they didn’t germinate in this soil. It dries out too fast. This time I used potting soil so we’ll see what happens. Planting seeds is a good practice in patience and planning. It makes the fruit of one's labor that much more tasty. There are many ways to plant seeds in our lives and those are the things that are most worthwhile. And the motivation behind it is that while new seeds are being planted, older ones are yielding, giving a constant flow of, in this case, FREE food. It works the same way for energy and water harvesting. The instant gratification of a mass produced, purchased item can wear out quickly without leaving any residue of appreciation for what was consumed.

The dome building is back to a snail's pace since Emile left back home to Oregon, but progress is being made. The window wells are now fully lathed, and I've started to stucco them.

I have been listening to too much news while working, so I have begun listening to a music station called Sirius Disorder, a satellite station that is actually pretty good. No commercials. I am still only using 45 watts of solar panels, but it has been plenty so far, especially since Don Mcdowell ( another local Don ) graciously donated a brand new 12 volt battery. Thanks again Don !

Don't forget about total lunar eclipse tomorrow !

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

watering the dome

For 28 days, I am supposed to water down the stucco on the dome each day. This helps to cure it and make it much more stout over the long run. Being that there was a heavy dew this morning, I was able to skip a day. The thick dew saturated the dome inside and out. I asked Don what would happen if I missed a day and Don replied, “In a thousand years noone will notice”. It takes about 6 or 7 gallons of water to shower the dome, so this morning’s dew saved some agua.

Friday, February 1, 2008

cracking open the shell

Today was another exciting day. We removed the top form as well as one of the side forms. They came off a lot easier than we thought. It was a huge relief, because we had been worrying about this stage. This is the first dome of this shape and size that Don has used his new tracing method on and we weren’t completely sure that the stucco wouldn’t cement the outer form to the traced structure underneath. If that had happened, we would have had to leave them stuck to each other and it would have also meant that that the reusable form would be embedded into the structure forever. Furthermore, the days and days of tracing that we did would have been redundant. But that was all needless worry. The reusable forms broke free rather easily.

What was left standing underneath the cracked shell was a new self supporting structure of it’s own.

Today, we also finished coating one of the window wells. Don warned us not to go any further until we do a brown coat. The brown coat is a second skin of stucco on the inside of the dome. This will make it more stout before removing the rest of the forms.

The dome is no longer translucent. It is now a structure that blocks the sun and wind… two of the biggest hurdles out here.