10 July 2008

Imaginary Urban Homesteading

I have been remiss. I haven't posted anything for nearly nine days. As justification, I can say that in that time I have rescheduled my jury duty, cleaned my backyard, painted my back door, and worked a full schedule of hours. I haven't had time!

Yet another reason to homestead: I want to get away from Homeowners Associations and Condominium Associations. Every time they send me a list of "repairs" I need to perform to my house, the "simple" tasks grow and blossom like the Audrey II of "Little Shop of Horrors".

In 2005, for example, the task was, "Paint the rear bandboard" (a 12" plank separating the upper and lower siding). First, I had to wash it, so I wouldn't be painting dirt. That was when I found the soft spot in the corner. "I'll just cut that out and nail in a new piece," I said, and action followed words. But there was nothing to which to nail. Termites had eaten away the stud.

To get 3 estimates was a matter of 3 MONTHS; then the work could not begin for 2 more months. I had to replace all the siding, remediate the termite damage, and replace the glass door and windows on the back of the house--$15,000 dollars--before the job was finished. The loan will be paid off next month.

This time, I am painting and scraping, washing and raking...and trying to convince myself that I'm enjoying it, that I'm creating my homestead. It really does help.

02 July 2008

On Growing Up: Part 2

Specialization REQUIRES community. If you can't do everything yourself, you need a community to support you.

Community ENCOURAGES specialization. If you are a member of a community, you can focus on developing your skillset to the benefit of the community.

Specialization leads to commerce. I'll trade my skill for yours!

A specialist without a community is DEAD, sooner or later.

Dangers of overspecialization: you die faster outside the community.

Sex-based differences lead to the smallest, simplest communities: families.

Commerce leads to Currency. If we can agree on a system of value (valuta), then our exchanges are simplified. Barter becomes complicated when several parties are involved.

But any item only has value because we AGREE it has value. All currency, whether gold or paper, has only the value we agree that it has. All currency is fiat currency.

As skill in a specialization increases, the time to perform a task decreases (within limits). Therefore, the less time the specialist needs to spend on a task, the more his time is worth.

The process of learning and teaching may lead inevitably to guilds. One teacher and her students have different techniques and methods than another teacher and his students, and all it takes is one teacher who refuses to share his work.