Category Archives: Current Projects

Tiny Living T-Shirt

Just for fun I made this little t-shirt at zazzle.com. As you can see it’s a relevant tiny house living quote from Henry David Thoreau. One of the cool features at zazzle.com is that you can change the color and style of garment. So if black isn’t your color you can pick another item to put the quote. The proceeds help fund my tiny house blogging. Oh have you seen my first set of free tiny house plans? See the t-shirt.

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My Tiny House is in the New York Times!

This is a pretty cool day for me; I’ve never been in the New York Times before. A few months ago I started a little project, actually a tiny free house project, in an attempt to better understand my own values. I had also been admiring the people behind the tiny house movement for the freedom they have achieved. I wanted to built a tiny house too but do it with a different spin. My first tiny house would be free and made from reclaimed and recycled stuff. In fact I’m building it from mostly trashed wood pallets. You can follow my progress on my Tiny Free House blog.

If you’re interested in tiny house design I’ve got a blog on that too, tinyhousedesign.com. But by all means read the article in the New York Times. Photo credit, New York Times.

Look for me in The New York Times tomorrow!

Right after I started my tiny house project, The Tiny Free House, a reporter named Steven Kurutz contacted me curious about the project. In the following weeks the Times sent out a couple photographers and Steven interviewed me by phone a couple of times.

Steven just called me to check some facts about the story and told me it’s scheduled to run tomorrow as the lead story in the Home & Garden section (I think that’s the right section). I have to say… I’m very excited. :-)

Experimental Book Publishing Business Model

I recently decided to try an experiment for publishing my first book, Do It Yourself Freedom. Instead of seeking a publishe, I’m going to post the book as a blog one section per post. It’s broken into almost 100 different small pieces so it’s perfect for publishing in a blog format. Once the entire book is complete, edited and online I’ll publish a print version and offer it for sale on Lulu.com.

From a business perspective I’m giving up some book sales by making the full text available online. But I’ll also monetize the blog with ads. I suspect that some people will like the content enough to buy the paper version which I’ll make at least $2 from each sale. Other readers will be happy to read the book online and might also find the relevant ads valuable too, generating another income stream.

The experiment will test is the ad revenue will generate as the sale of printed books? If I were a popular author I’d guess that I’d make less money doing it this way. But since this is my first book I figure it’s a good way to get my name out there faster while still providing myself a potential ad revenue stream.

The other benefit is I’ll get it done. I back burnered it a few months ago. It needs a final edit and by posting it one piece at a time as a blog it’s taken the pressure off me to get it perfect for print. I’ll also get some feedback from readers which should help fuel my creativity. I hope you enjoy reading Do It Yourself Freedom.

The New York Times Wants To Talk To Me?

Since last summer, as the value in my house evaporated, I’ve been spending a lot of time noodling over issues like the real value of our homes. I’ve come to a simple conclusion, which should be fairly obvious and should go without saying, the value of our house is completely market driven. In other words the price of a house is completely dependent on what someone else is willing to pay for it. Normally I would choose to avoid a word like completely but in this case I think it’s 100% accurate.

According to Zillow.com my house is worth 35% less than about a year ago. Yeah YIKES! The house didn’t change. The number of rooms and square feet have stayed the same. Mortgage rates are about the same. The only thing that changed was the demand for homes in my area. Anyway as you can imagine this little fact got me thinking about the true value of a home.

At this point I’m certain that the true value of a home should be measured in security and usefulness, not square feet, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Yeah sure a home has to be big enough to meet the needs of the people living there but avoiding a big mortgage (or any mortgage) seems like it should higher on our list of priorities. But I digress…

Recently two movements came into my awareness, mostly thanks to my wife Julia and Oprah. Julia doesn’t watch Oprah very much anymore with Katie’s nap time often overlapping with Oprah but on two occasions she called me into the living room, (I work from home 100% of the time for a giant bank), to show me a story on tiny houses and a separate story on freegans.

More recently, after much baking in my brain, I become a bit obsessed with building two tiny houses, NINE TINY FEET and TINY FREE HOUSE. I’ve started blogs on both to capture the progress and help drive me along. Both house projects are inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, freegans, the tiny house movement, and the evaporation of my home’s equity.

NINE TINY FEET is all about building the smallest house possible while still being useful and meeting the requirements of one person. I’ll keep the budget low on this one but I expect to spend a little money.

TINY FREE HOUSE is about building a free house with reclaimed building materials and wood from old discarded pallets. For the few items I’ll need to buy (screws, nails, hinges, etc), I’ll make the money to buy them by selling free stuff I find on craigslist.

The other day a reporter, (Steven Kurtz), from the New York Times contacted me interested in doing a story on the TINY FREE HOUSE. I’m guessing I’m not alone in my ponderings and maybe not as crazy as I might appear. OR… I am as crazy as I appear and the New York Times thinks people will enjoy reading about a crazy guy. In any event I’m crazy enough not to really care [LOL]. I’m happy to share my story, point of view, and projects with them.Maybe someone will get something valuable out the story.

I’ll post updates here about my continuing conversations with the Times and if anything comes from them. I’d also love to hear any feedback, stories, or ideas you might have about my tiny house projects, the economy, home values, etc. Comments?

Concept For Definitely.com (if I keep it)

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So here’s an idea for my domain definitely.com, if I keep it. How about a web2.0 review site that lets people post reviews on anything? It would be a simple post and search site with a detail page for each thing reviewed. I could also build a couple little code snippets to make it easier for people to add reviews to their website, their score, etc. Ideally I’d like to start with a big database of reviews. I’ll have to see if someone offers mashable review data. What do you think?

Blogging a Book

Last summer, while on my long commute from Sacramento to San Francisco (which I’m happy to say I don’t do anymore), the idea of writing a book popped into my head. Ironically the topic has nothing to do with what you might expect, like web design, technology, etc.

The book is about freedom. WTF Mike? Yeah I know it’s a bit odd so let me explain. While on that drive I had a lot to think about like skyrocketing gas prices, an illegal war for oil in Iraq, a corrupt government, a crashing real estate market, my looming 40th birthday, and really wanting a better life for me and my family. Yeah kind of a depressing drive… but the worse part was that I felt helpless to do anything about it, except maybe the things I can control that directly impacted my life.

And then it hit me… no no not a Prius. I realized a simple truth. There are little things each of us can do to improve our own situations. In other words, every little choice we make has some kind of positive and/or negative effect on how we perceive our freedom. This led me to a second realization; we experience an increase of freedom when there are fewer limitations on us. I know this sounds simple and a bit naive but it seems to make sense. We feel freer when there is an absence of external controlling forces.

I started to feel better because I felt like I had a little more control. I started brain storming little and big choices I could make that would start making positive effects on my life. The first one was to stop commuting in this big truck. OK it’s not that big but it is definitely has an apatite for gas. Another was to spend less money on eating out. The list grew.

On the way home that day I knew that I should start writing it down. Being a web geek a blog was the first thing I thought of. But I had heard of lulu.com too, an online self-publishing website. After some back and forth and sporadic writing I’ve decided to blog a book. Start with a blog because it seems normal and natural too me and then once I have enough content download the database, extract the text, edit and build a book in word processor or page layout software.

Right now I think the book will be titled Do It Yourself Freedom. But I’ll worry about the book later, for now the blog is DIYfreedom.com. It is definitely a work in progress and I’ll keep it quiet until I get it cleaned up. In the mean time any feedback is welcome.

Basically it’s a bunch of things you and I can do to positively impact our lives and perception of freedom.There aren’t 101 of them yet but I have list of things I plan to add. If you have one to suggest I’d love to hear it.