by Gilles d'Aymery
"Idiocy and hate should be blessed. They drive the world."
—Author wishes to remain anonymous
(Swans - March 13, 2006) THEY ARE AT IT AGAIN. According to the story line in some quarters, right and left, not only did Israelis foment 9/11 or knew about the attack and kept silent, but they then incited the U.S. to launch Gulf War II on their behalf. Now, the story goes, the USA is readying its formidable military forces to launch "Another War for Israel," this time against Iran. That is, of course, if you believe and religiously follow the Paleolithic nutcracker at Antiwar.com. Israelis, with their fifth column (the Jewish lobby), truth be told, control the US government, the world, and even the heavens. Remember, in this crowd, Mr. Bush cozily resides in Ariel Sharon's pocket as in lies, vegetable-like, in a hospital.
JOINING THE FRAY, self-defined leftist radicals don't miss a chance to concur in seeing Israeli hidden hands and dirty tricks behind another crisis, that of the racist caricatures published by the Danish reactionary publication, Jyllands-Posten. In short, according to the authors of "The Caricatures in Middle East Politics," the publication of these xenophobic caricatures was a covert operation concocted by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, "to silence [Iraq] war critics and heighten animosities to the Islamists/Arabs in general and Iran in particular." Then the plot thickens. As the "initial response from the Islamic countries however was limited," the Mossad unleashed its trump card, the sayanim: "By early January 2006, Mossad 'Katsas' (Hebrew for case officers) activated sayanim (volunteer Jewish collaborators outside of Israel) throughout Western and Eastern European media to simultaneously reproduce the cartoons on Feb. 1 and 2, 1006 [sic]." And this, friends, "rapidly provoked the subsequent massive escalation, doubtlessly aided by covert Mossad operatives among Arab populations."
FUNNY ME, who had thought that the republications of these caricatures in mostly European media were a direct reaction to the moderately violent, or intense (compared to Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, etc.), demonstrations in various Middle Eastern countries -- that is, the republications occurred after the fire had started, not before. But, hey, what do I know about timelines and how can one dispute the bona fide and deep insights of a "genuine revolutionary" such as James Petras?
LET'S SUMMARIZE: Maybe "they" knew, or maybe "they" did it (9/11). On "their" behalf, the USA and their British lackeys invaded and occupied Iraq, and "they" manipulated the US and British governments to do so through lies and disinformation. "They" are now driving the U.S. to attack Iran, on "their" behalf again. Perhaps it'll begin with UN sanctions obligingly voted for by France and England (funny again, I thought the Europeans in their majority were highly critical of, and opposed to, "their" treatment of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories -- but then, once more, what do I know?), but "they" will manage, after an oh-so-unmistakable campaign by "their" human assets (the sayanim) to get the U.S. to nuke Iran. And, as always, the Western media marches along the lines "they" draw.
MY, MY, MY, has Swans been infiltrated and subjugated by a sayan, too? -- you know, this "huge world-wide network of Jews in strategic or useful places (real estate, mass media, finance, car dealerships etc...)" (cf. Petras, et al.) It would be funny, almost laughable, like those caricatures -- ha, ha, ha, let's drink another one... -- if it were not so detrimental to those of us who are highly critical of Israel's appalling treatment of the Palestinians, and who genuinely struggle to find a rational and reasonable outcome to this tragedy (the two-state solution).
JAMES PETRAS, PLEASE JOIN JUSTIN RAIMONDO on the bandwagon of Pat Robertson and the fundies out there. You people.... err, don't let me get personal here... These people, regurgitating several centuries of Judeophobia, at an historical time when anti-Semitism is relatively bland and low, do a tremendous disservice to the cause of peace and justice with their recurring fifth column allegations. Perhaps they need a refresher course and should go browse the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism (PDF file) that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) of the European Union developed in 2005. Among various definitions, and in relation to the "sayanim," they'll read: "Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations." Or, who knows, they'd rather keep that kind of filthy company -- just one example of the many sites out there that peddle this type of filth.
TALKING ABOUT THE FIFTH COLUMN, Dick Cheney paid a visit to the 2006 Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 7, at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. The remarks he delivered aside from the good words about Israel and his friend Ariel Sharon, "one of the great statesmen of our time, and a man of peace," stayed startlingly close to the message the administration has been peddling for the past four years with a slight recentering due to the absence of WMDs in Iraq. First, let it be no mistake about the "Long War" -- one could not be clearer: "The war on terror is a fight against evil," said the Veep. He repeated the words terror, terrorism, terrorists, thirty-eight times. And who are those evil people, Mr. Cheney? "The terrorists believe that by controlling one country, they will be able to target and overthrow other governments in the region, and to establish a totalitarian empire that encompasses a region from Spain, across North Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, all the way around to Indonesia. . . . their ultimate ambitions: to arm themselves with chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons; to destroy Israel; to intimidate all Western countries; and to cause mass death here in the United States."
OH, MY gOD, are we talking about a repeat of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, here? My spine is shivering at the very allusion... But, I breathe better: Thanks to the white knight that leads our purposeful, god-driven nation, I am in safe, benevolent hands (praise the lord). Dickety, Dickedoo, Dickeboodoo declaims with a conviction I can only, assuredly, espouse (how could I not? Do I want a deportation order stamped on my un-christian forehead? Or, worse, a free trip to Guantánamo?): "Since the day our country was attacked, we have applied the Bush Doctrine: Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account."
WHAT CAN WE DO, what can we do? Simple, follow papa Dick's steps and you'll be safe: "Across the broader Middle East, we will work to replace hatred and resentment with democracy and hope." Papa, is there any hope? My son, "the best hope for peace in the world is the expansion of freedom throughout the world."
OH, THANK YOU, PAPA, there is hope after all. But, tell me, dear sir, what about Iran? Those Irabians are really scary, no? Don't worry, my son, says the Veep, "America supports, as well, the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran. (Applause.) Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the world's primary state sponsors of terror. . . . We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE IRANIAN PEOPLE, good, god-fearing people? Here too, son, do not worry, "The people of Iran can be absolutely certain that we respect them, their country, and their long history as a great civilization -- and we stand with them. Iranians desire and deserve to be free from tyranny and oppression in their own homeland. Freedom in the Middle East requires freedom for the Iranian people -- and America looks forward to the day when our Nation can be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran."
THE SAME WAY, FATHER, you dealt with Iraqi civilization, leveling the country, letting the museums and libraries be destroyed and some 10,000 archeological sites be looted (to this very day, for the enjoyment of our own museums)?
SON, GOOD PEOPLE OF AMERICA, trust the president, trust Papa Dick; "we will continue to act with the kind of resolve that has made these past five years a time of progress in the broader Middle East." A-ahmen, progress is on the horizon for all to see. Thank you godickboozouk and may georgie boy be blessed. Vive l'Amérique! Now that the Iraqis are entering their fourth year of progress we can all admire the magnificent results of freedom and democracy brought at the end of a bayonet, no? (For those readers who may not appreciate my sense of humor, allow me a serious and short comment: I don't think we will ever be able to atone enough for the human and ecological catastrophic tragedy we've unleashed on the people of Iraq and their country for the past 15 years.)
(The entire Dick Cheney civics lesson can be browsed at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/03/20060307-1.html (sorry, no hot-link since it will disappear in the near future).
THINKING OF THE BUSH DOCTRINE -- "Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account." -- I'm reminded of a little story that occurred last year on Swans' private mailing list: There was some sort of heated discussion regarding the US administration and the Iraq War. One participant from overseas ended his post with either "long live the [Iraqi] resistance," or "we must support the resistance," or some likely expression. Another participant was quick to object and remarked that he supported life, the end of killing on all sides; that he supported the troops and wanted them back home now; and he supported peace, not war. He then cordially reminded the members of the list that in the US of A anti-seditions laws are on the book and anyone, especially when working in a state or federal institution, could be either prosecuted or fired, or both.
ANOTHER PARTICIPANT, also from overseas, laughed off the threat, alleging that the government didn't care a boot about a little-known professor in a small state college, or some blogger here and there. Well, ladies and gentlemen, please meet Laura Berg, a nurse at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In September 2005, she wrote a letter to a local newspaper criticizing the Bush administration for the mess in Iraq and New Orleans. Furthermore, she wrote that people should "act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit." Her office computer was confiscated (though she had written the letter from home) and she was told in writing by the V.A. that they had to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition." You read it properly, sedition...for a letter criticizing the government... (see the report on Democracy Now!)
NOT CHILLING ENOUGH? What about Jay Bennish, this high school geography teacher in Colorado who got temporarily suspended recently? His sin, according to Michael Yates ("Right-Wing Attack Dogs Go after a Colorado High School Teacher," MRzine, March 3, 2006), was to ask "his class which country has the most weapons of mass destruction and answered the United States. He suggested that capitalism was inimical to human rights and that the U.S. wants to create by military force if necessary a world in its own image. He suggested that there were chilling similarities between Bush's words and those of Hitler."
NO SIR, NO SIR, the U.S. does not have WMDs, only Weapons of Freedom and Democracy -- WFDs -- which are liberally used in defense of human rights that, of course, were invented thanks to the goodness of the capitalist system and the funding of altruistic philanthropists such as George Soros to create open societies in the image of our great country. To dare suggest that Mr. Bush's words have even a remote similarity with those of Hitler is an insult to a good man who's doing god's will and uses WFDs for the betterment of humanity (and Halliburton). We had Hitler in Yugoslavia (Milosevic, the "butcher of the Balkans," who just died on March 11, 2006) and our WFDs took care of him; Hitler was also spotted in Iraq (Saddam, the "butcher of Baghdad") and see what our WFDs accomplished -- Freedom and Democracy in Iraq, no less. Don Rumsfeld has discovered a new Hitler in South America, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela who appears to have displaced Fidel Castro as the most dangerous man in our peaceful hemisphere (he has oil; Castro, only sugar, doctors, and educators). There's also another Hitler in the Hermit Kingdom but before we can dispatch him to calmer mornings six-feet under we must confront a more formidable Hitler found in Persia. This latest Hitler incarnation is stubbornly bent on wiping out our friends in the region. He denies the Holocaust. He's adamant about acquiring nuclear weapons (what peaceful country, in its own sound mind, would want to develop nuclear weapons when WFDs is all that's required to spread freedom and democracy?). This new Hitler is the gravest danger civilization has ever faced, and President Bush (peace be upon Him) will get rid, god willing, of this terrible menace sooner or later (better sooner than later... Yahoo!).
JUST AMAZING HOW so many Hitlerites have sprouted lately, like cauliflowers in the spring. So many Barbarians are knocking on our door. Will we have enough WFDs to contain them, defeat them all? America, don't worry, in the name of god and humanitarian rights (like DU...just an example of our goodness), has a mission: we will defeat them. We will. (And, if in so doing, the world is destroyed, so be it. That's our destiny, god's destiny. Enjoy the road to Rapture in your SUV.) But don't criticize the US government or compare Mr. Bush to the man with the moustache, at least if you wish to keep your job.
WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, what do I hear through the grapevine? Kurt Vonnegut, no less, mixed or analogized Hitler and our dear president too... I can't believe it! Let the record speak for itself: "The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected." He also said that, "George W. Bush is the syphilis president." Will Vonnegut get the Bennish or Berg treatment or is he fortunate enough to be famous -- and cannot be fired? Stay tuned.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, children, American freedom is a god-given right that we want to export to the world...and that we are increasingly curtailing at home.
PARENTHESIS: The two contributors who could not give a damn about sedition in the U.S. (for good reason: they live elsewhere) have long fled the Swans bevy, which, to their thinking, is not sufficiently kosher (meaning revolutionary, Leninist, anti-imperialist, and what not) and departed to greener pastures.
NO IDEA WHO THIS other blasted blogger is, but he's nastily gone after Louis Proyect's book review of "Cliff Conner's A People's History of Science." Now, Louis does not need me to defend him. Clearly, he is better equipped than I am to go after idiots. The only reason I have this short entry is to point out that Louis's blog, Unrepentant Marxist, has moved on and found a new home: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/ (I have little sympathy for blogs and bloggers as readers well know, but, I guess, there is always an exception to the rule!)
"NO MAN HAS EVER BEEN MORE SORRY," said Randall "Duke" Cunningham, the former Congressman from California who has been sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in jail for accepting bribes. A typical American response to a recurring problem (bribery is the U.S. at the local, state and federal level -- check your history books at your local library...if it's still funded). Of course, the next one will not be deterred -- has the death penalty stopped violent, deadly crime? Has the stoning of infidel women kept women "faithful"? Has abortion rendered illegal abolished abortion? Have fatwas and other religious edits stopped life? Has the penitentiary system in America lowered crime? Has the drug war and its casualties lowered the drug use? Etc., etc., etc. You know the answer.
WHY NOT GET a bit creative and deal with the problems where the problems actually lay? For instance, in Cunningham's case, like so many in our society, greed, sheer, obscene greed, was and is the culprit. So, why not teach a greed lesson to the greedies? I'd keep Cunningham out of prison and 1) confiscate all his belongings that he stole from the people, and 2) give him a new job cleaning the bathrooms of the august house he abused, Congress, all the while paying him the so-called decent minimum wage he was so intent not to raise.
THAT, FRIENDS, is creative societal retribution. Anything else -- his stay in minimum security for nice white middle class caught in the act -- is window dressing and only serves to perpetuate a system that is destroying us all. Get bold. Send the higher-ups to the ditches where the no-voice lower paddles in the mud of nothingness, poverty, disease, and ultimately death. Do this, and the system will change rapidly and dramatically.
THE JUDGE SHOULD be ashamed of himself for that sentence. But then, that judge drinks from the same fountain where Cunningham got his daily elixir. It's the system that should be on trial, not individuals.
BOONVILLE NEWS: As I'm dutifully pounding on my keyboard, the hills are whitening with snow. Perhaps tomorrow I'll join Martin Murie and go play in the dirt. Snow is a nice break from the rain. This past week, we got 6.6 inches of rain for a yearly grand total of 47.65 inches...for comparison, last year to date we only had 28.50 inches -- and it kept raining until June... Gimme snow, gimme snow.
Three leaks, we found on our head. Now, in the middle of heavy rains, how does one scramble on a roof that has, I suspect, a 12" by 12" pitch? For those unfamiliar with American geometry, it means a roof that raises 12 inches every 12 inches, or, in metric parlance, a roof that raises 30.4 centimeters for every 30.4 centimeters in roof's length. I found out that the leak that seemed to have a direct relationship to the one in the bathroom came from a vent located at the corner of the roof. Fine, no problem; I dressed as a firefighter and went on with the task at hand. Had roof cement handy. Spread liberally the gluey stuff and hoped for the best.
Hours later, with more rain, the bathroom leak was in full force still. At a loss, I looked for help. Dennis Toohey, who had worked on our shed, was gone for the holidays (to Hawaii, the lucky one). So I tried Speedy Hulbert who had worked with Dennis to bring our shed to the 21st century. Speedy, luckily, was on the other side of the phone... The next morning he was here, after driving some 55 miles, from Nice in Lake County, through hail and hell, to answer my call for help. Yep, there still are exceptions to the rule.
He fixed the leak (and two more that he found), but it was not the one getting to our bathroom ceiling. This one, we figured out a week later, was right under our deck, where we had torn apart a chunk in order to make a stop-and-go repair. This happened a good month ago. Such a funny story, I suppose it will keep going on for another year or two!
Since then, I decided to bring electricity to the newly renovated shed turned workroom. A workroom without juice would not do much good, would it? Now, as much as I was advised, from Mike Shapiro (the king of real estate in the Anderson Valley) to Dennis Toohey and others, that I did not need a county permit for the shed's work so long as I was not adding more than 140 square feet of floor plan, electrical work is a different story. Even Mike Shapiro told me, "Gilles, you better get a permit."
So, I drove to Ukiah with Priam to fetch a permit at the Mendocino County Administrative offices on Low Gap Road and stopped by the Department of Planning and Building Services. I approached the front desk and a young lady, whose name I did not fully grasp -- Lise or Lisa (I ain't good with names, sorry) -- after a minute or so asked me from behind her desk whether she could help me. "You sure can, Ma'am," I said.
"Okay, what can I help you with?" she asked, as she stood up from her desk and walked toward me.
"I'd like to get a permit to bring electricity from my house to the old shed that I've remodeled," I said.
"Hmm," she said, "an old shed...remodeled... First we need to find out whether the shed was legal. Was it built before 1974 or after 1974?"
"Err, I'm not sure. The house was originally built around that time; so was the shed, I suppose," I answered.
"Well, let's find out. What's the address?"
"10343 Highway 128," I replied, proudly surprised that I could remember the land address, since, in the past two years, the only address I've had to use is a P.O. Box (the USPS does not deliver mail in our off-road hills).
"Okay, let me get the file," says the down-to-business lady.
Up she goes, left and right around the aisle, to a set of drawers. Takes some time. Minutes elapse. No problem, I'm a patient man. It's a nice environment that our taxes afford. I enjoy it thoroughly, looking at all these busy people working on behalf of the greater community -- that is, us, and them.
She finally comes back with a very thin folder.
"I see one permit in your file, to change the electrical main, but no house or shed..." she says with an aura of suspicion... No house, no shed, she seems to be thinking -- how could I ask for a permit to bring electricity from a house to a shed that do not exist?
She has a point, definitively.
"Ma'am, there is a house and a shed. I, and my companion, bought them in 2003," I say with a hint of surprise (by her assertive assertion) and assertiveness of my own.
Tension is in the air. We go back at each other with little improvement in the situation. It seems very clear: We cannot ask for a permit to bring electricity from a house to a shed that do not show up in our file. She has a logical, quite pertinent...and frustrating point.
A gentleman approaches the bench -- Guy would be his name, but I would not bet my life on it. Sensing the tangible built-up tension, he friendlily asks what's up.
Lisa tells him the story as she sees it. I try to explain.
"Look," I say, "we bought the place in 2003. It had a different street address then. When we closed we received, with the official papers (title, etc.), notification that we had a new street address..."
"Well, do you have the title and the deed with you to prove it?" interrupts Lisa.
Argh, I feel... Just came for a darn permit and now I have to prove we (Jan and I) own the property... Patience has its limits, no?
Guy, a really friendly person, becomes a mediator. "Tell me more about it," he asks.
"We bought this place in September 2003," I volunteered. I think we closed in October of that year. It had a different street address then; something like 10401....or something like that."
Guy asks Lisa to go and search for the 10401 folder. Meanwhile, I keep trying to convince him that I am legit.
"Look," I say, "we bought it from a woman, Marsha O'Bannon, who had bought it from the original owner, Mr. Tallmon, who built the place in the early seventies. She remodeled the house, bought an additional 1.5 acres, and put the property on the market, and ran away smiling all the way to the bank after having done a shoddy job."
"Marsha O'Bannon," Guy says, his eyes lightening with savvy, "it rings a bell..."
"You betcha," I say, "she created mayhem, sued the main contractor who was doing the remodeling, went on to do the "job" by herself with whatever short-hands she could find..."
"Yeah, yeah, I remember," says Guy. "I went there...looked good..."
"Looked good?" I asked. "You want to be kidding. Everything she did was make believe, a Potemkin of sorts; and we got had as you guys did... We've been trying to fix the mess ever since."
"Sorry to hear that," says Guy.
(By the way, opening a parenthesis here, all the work done under Marsha O'Bannon's banner was dutifully okayed by the county. I wish the "inspectors" would revisit the premises that we are painfully trying to fix; but that's another story...)
In the meantime, Lisa is going through the exercise. "I don't find a 10401," say she.
"Try to find Marsha O'Bannon," prods Guy.
"Try 401 to 499..." say I. "It starts with a 4...."
Alleluia, she finds the folder. It's 10451 Highway 128. She runs the address through her computer and comes back to the front desk with two printouts. 10451, as of January 2006, belongs to Marsha O'Bannon. 10343 belongs to Gilles d'Aymery 1/2 (the 1/2 signifying that the other half is owned by Jan Baughman). These are two different lots.
I object. This is not January. It's March, and three years after we bought the darn place that we should never have bought. (No, I am NOT upset.)
She matter-of-factly tells me that I have to clear this out with the Assessor's Office. It's out of her hands. The computer spoke. The printouts tell it all. Marsha O'Bannon owns 10451. I own 10343. That's all there is to it.
Now, I'm getting real, but real, upset. Where do I go, I ask, "where is the Assessor's Office?"
Guy, having been a mediator from step one, offers to walk with me and direct me to the next step. Not only does he offer to help, he actually does. A novelty.
We walk to the next department exchanging feel-good chit-chat, and Guy calls upon human help to straighten the quandary. Another lady, close to my age, comes to the front desk and asks what she can do for us. Guy explains the circumstances. She looks into it. Comes back and advises that another part of the department should be able to clear the conundrum. We, Guy and I, move to the next front desk, situated 90 degrees within the same space. Another woman takes over. Guy, introducing himself (his department is at the most 100 feet away), explains again, and salutes the company. I'm on my own.
The lady walks to a computer and enters my name. We wait a fraction of a second. I do not exist, says the computer.
"Err, ma'am," I venture to say, "I do exist. Instead of entering "aymery," could you try "daymery"?
"Oops," she says after entering the American spelling properly, "you are right; you own 343. I don't get the 451 discrepancy though. Let me direct you to..." (as you can imagine at this point, beside my usual self, I've long forgotten names and titles) "...my colleague."
Thank you colleague. Nice man, mind you. Sends me to the next in line... At that point, very sorry to all concerned, I am annoyed to say the least. What's new? He's not sure, but he assures me that I am correct. Thank you, dear. What's next? "My colleague will clear the deck," says number three.
Annoyance makes a point. Reason too. The latest incumbent, number four, decides to choose reason above annoyance, and walks with me back to the planning and building department.
Lisa takes her time. It's a busy day at the office.
"Okay" she says, "is the problem figured out?"
Assessor man: "Yes, 451 has been 'retired.' 343 is now the name of the game."
Lisa: "that's beyond my pay grade [she did not actually say it but indubitably inferred it], let me talk to the boss."
Minutes go by. As said, it's a busy day at the office. The "boss" shows up. His name is Veil (again, don't hold me on the name game).
Veil: "What can I do for you today?"
Assessor man: "We need to straighten up this man's record. 451 has been retired. 343 is his for the foreseeable future."
Veil: "Sure, let me look at the recording book."
He opens a large ledger.
"Yes, indeed," he says, "451 has been retired. Actually it was the wrong address in the first place. The lot used to be #19; then it became #27 -- the address should have been changed then. Now it's #31 and #31 is 10343. You are right. No harm done. We are now in sync."
Don't get me wrong or right regarding #19, #27, #31... At that point I was utterly helpless. The ledger was corrected thanks to Veil, and the help of six different individuals. 451 was officially retired. Lisa transfers the content of the 451 folder to the 343's. 343 is now officially re-born.
Lisa: "We still need to know whether the shed was legal or not..."
Darn, reality never let go...
Assessor man: "Okay, let's go back and check the record."
Back in the Assessor's Office. Get the book. Another long and thick ledger, where private properties have been recorded since the 1800s, by hand (yes, this is computer land America, circa 2006...). Assessor man uses his index finger to follow the history of our property. House? Yes. Water system? Yes. Septic system? Yes. Water heater, yes?
Shed? . . . . . . . . . . Nope. No record of it.
Back to the front desk of the building department, after having thanked the Assessor's Office profusely (they were quite helpful, indeed.)
Minutes go by. Lisa is on the phone... Time is no worry when you're having fun, right?
"So, is the shed legal or not?" asked Lisa after having noticed me again and hung the phone.
"No way to assert," I answer. "It's not in the Assessor's ledger."
"Well, we do have a problem, don't we?" says her.
"We do," I acknowledge. "What can we do about it? What's the next step?"
Another lady approaches the bench -- oops, front desk -- with a friendly and cooperating smile.
"Don't worry," she says. "We can fix this."
I try to explain: "Look, I did not know. I know it's not an excuse. But, please hear me. I checked with the locals in Boonville. I talked to Mike Shapiro, the real estate agent. I talked to various local people, contractors. They all told me that I could fix the shed as long as I was not building a bigger than 140 square feet addition. I... I.... I...."
"You were wrong," says the gentle lady. "And Michael Shapiro was wrong too...and we know him well...and he's a good friend...and he was still wrong. How big was the old shed?" she asks. "I don't know, about 80 square feet, I'd presume," I answered.
"Follow me then," she goes on. "First, your shed did not appear on the Assessor's ledger because it was less than 120 square feet (and 120 square feet it is, not 140 square feet, whatever Mike Shapiro says). Since the shed was less than 120 square feet there was no reason for any one of us in the building department to react to it or take note of it. Now, you add 140 square feet to a pre-existing 80 square feet and you end up with 220 square feet, almost twice the legal and authorized 120 square feet. Do you see the problem?"
Do I see the problem? Do I SEE the problem? Heck, all the locals I consulted, included Michael Shapiro who made a bundle out of the purchase we made, told me to go ahead, no problem. So, do I see a problem? You tell me...," I conclude with a minor absence of humor.
"No worries," she says, trying to soothe my feelings, "we will fix this."
"Well, sure no worries," I add, "but it seems that whatever I do to fix this darn place is hitting the county wall."
"What do you mean?" she asks.
"I got in there with no garage or storage room; no work room. You cannot live in the boonies and have no place for your tools, no coverage for your old truck, etc. I bought and brought in a second-hand shipping container. I added a carport to keep the old truck and the tractor out of the natural elements. I work to fix and improve a place that was supposed, when we bought it, to have been fixed and improved. I work my ass off to undo or do what Marsha O'Bannon did or didn't, and from what Mike Shapiro profited. I work with people who come or not (when it rains and they have nothing else to do, they come) and could not give a peccadillo about the end result. What else do you want to know out of me?" I concluded.
"No worries," she answered again. "You do need a permit for the container and for the carport, by the way. But one thing at a time. Let's fix the shed and get you a permit. Here is the paperwork you need to fill out. We'll get you a K-permit. Will allow you to finish the shed, which is already completed, and do the electrical work. Then we'll look at the container and the carport. Everything at a time. Don't worry, everything will be fine. As a rule of thumb, almost everything you do need a permit. Want to add a plug? Need a permit. Want to replace the water heater? Permit. Want to install a washing machine? Permit." "Finally," she adds, "look at it this way. Say something bad happens and you ask your insurance company to cover the repairs. If they find out the work was done without a permit, you're out of luck. They would not pay for the work. So, you are better off playing by the book. Again, don't worry, we'll fix the problem. Here is the paperwork. First you must complete the State Fire Safety Regulations and mail it to the CDF in Willits. This is the first step. Once this is done apply for a Class K Compliance, prepare three sets of building plans, and fill the application for a building permit. Then come back here. See, it's simple..."
"Yes, Ma'am, thank you Ma'am, and thank you all for your help. I'll be back in a couple of weeks, hopefully..." and I departed, mumbling to myself, "Hey, I only wanted an electrical permit...See what happens when you want to be kosher...darn!"
Priam had been left for over three hours in the truck. He needed to pee. He did his business and we aimed home.
Since then, Dennis and Speedy have been AWOL and I am left dealing with the mess.
I'll learn, I suppose. This will make a field day for our local editor, another idiot who, I must concede, is smarter than I am. He, as all those accomplices in the get-ya game, knows how to play.
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.