Archive for inspector

Old Tree House

Posted in Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2012 by javedbabar

It was Shama’s second day as Lucerne’s Building Control Officer, a job he was unqualified for professionally, but which had been offered to him for double his usual salary, which he had accepted. He began looking through the files on his desk.

“A tree house?” he said to himself. “Do you need permission for that?”

He asked the receptionist. “Yes,” she said. “Anything over one hundred square feet needs permission, whether below, upon, or above ground. That’s what the last person occupying your position told me. There are exemptions, but very few.”

“What happened to him? The last person. I can’t find any record of his name.”

She looked away. “It was a bad situation. We’re not supposed to talk about it.” He continued to look at her, and she said, “I’ll tell you later.”

The Old Tree House file was stamped “REJECTED”. There was no further explanation inside. Shama decided to investigate the matter.

He drove to the location, a farm fifteen kilometres up the valley. It was always a joy travelling up the Lucerne Valley Road, driving from the white mountain towards the dark one, passing shining forests and sparkling rivers, and glittering lakes with leaping rainbow fishes. It seemed like gems of many sizes had been scattered along his path, or maybe the whole valley was one vast gem, reflecting and refracting light across everything within it.

There was something strange about the farm. There were fences, gates and barns as expected, containing cattle, horses and pigs. There were flowering bushes and huge red trees. What was strange then? He realized that there were no tractors or trucks, no wires or machinery of any kind. This place was not mechanized. It was a Luddite farm.

An old lady emerged from the farmhouse. “Come in,” she said. “I heard you coming up the road. Have some tea and banana bread.”

Her lounge was presided over by a wind-up grandfather clock. There were candles burning, despite it being morning. She noticed him looking. “They’re to purify the air,” she said, “And to welcome the sun.”

She poured the tea and said, “You must be the new BCO. You look better than the other fellow, I’ll say, but you’re probably a rascal too. What business is it of yours? I’m fed up with these floods. I’ve seen all the big ones – ’38, ’64, ’84, 2004. And believe me, there’s another one coming – this year or early next. Don’t you see the pattern in the years? Ah, never mind, you educated folk never do.”

Shama liked this old woman and said, “Yes, I am the new BCO. I’ve come to reconsider the situation.”

“What do you mean?” She was suspicious. “Reconsider what?”

“The tree house. With all these floods, it makes sense to live above ground. But I have to ensure the use of proper methods and materials. I see you are a Luddite. How will you build it without power?”

“Without power? Like everything else! We’ll use ropes and levers and pulleys; we’ve got horses and cattle too.”

“Won’t your livestock drown in the flood?”

“Of course they won’t. We’ll haul them up too.”

He said, “But what if the tree died, or gave way?”

She gave him a patronizing smile, and pointed to the huge red trees everywhere. “These are Arcadian Firs. They’ve been here for over a thousand years. How long has your village hall been there?” Shama didn’t know. “I’ll tell you how long – twenty eight years. The last one was flooded and rotted out. I’ll take my chances with the trees. They will last much longer than any of your buildings.”

When he returned to the office, Shama changed the status of the Old Tree House file to “APPROVED”.

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Future Church

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by javedbabar

Shama had performed casual labour over the years, but was not a trained builder, never mind a member of the International Code Council. He was totally unqualified for the job of Building Control Officer. The situation in Lucerne was dire though; they needed a BCO immediately, and he was offered the job without him asking.

The previous BCO had disappeared, and so had his diary. Shama had no idea of his schedule. The best thing was to just sit and wait. At ten past ten a call came through on the main switchboard. “Good morning!” said a cheery male voice. “I’ve been trying to get hold of a BCO for a month now, but without success. I hear you’ve taken the position. How’s your day looking?”

Shama said, “Erm, I have some windows available.” He had heard project managers use this term on site. Windows. It seemed appropriate for construction projects.

“That’s great! You guys are usually so busy that we wait for weeks. There must be a dip in the building trade. My name’s Simon. What time shall I come over?”

Shama didn’t want him to come over. There was a huge stack of papers, a wall of manuals, a pile of lego bricks, and a playground of executive toys in his office. They gave the impression that he sat around amusing himself and rarely bothered with work. It would be better to meet the applicant at his place. It would provide a better idea of the project too. Shama said, “I’ll come to you at two.”

“You’re coming here? Really? Uh-oh! What have I done? You guys never come here otherwise…”

“That’s not the case,” said Shama, fiddling with lego bricks on his desk. He built a red squat structure. He also set chrome balls swinging to knock it down. “It makes more sense for me to see what you’re doing there. I will understand the big picture. Drawings and forms are only indications. I’d rather see what is going on.”

“That’s a healthy attitude you’ve got there, son.”

Shama wondered how the man knew his age. He must have a young voice. The man gave him the address and told him to “keep his eyes peeled” for the driveway, which was “your usual two tire tracks in the bush”.

Shama drove twenty kilometres out of town in the BCO’s truck – a silver Nissan Frontier. It was too clean and shiny for a work truck. Did the previous guy ever do any work? Shama found the driveway and drove right in.

In the centre of a cleared half-acre was a strange metal structure. It was like a small space ship that had landed there, with a blast radius around it. Had the guy burnt out the clearing? Maybe the structure had been dropped in by helicopter.

An alien appeared. It turned out to be Simon, wearing green overalls and goggles. He said, “It was already here when I bought the land. I want to extend it. It reminds me of a small chapel and I want to build a three-storey tower next to it, so it looks like a futuristic church – you know one of those English medieval ones, but in metal.”

This was unconventional, thought Shama, but imagine the sweeping views from the tower, and echoing river sounds in the chapel. Most seekers find solace alone. This would be a great spot. You could aspire to the heavens, then be baptized in the river, and walk within the Garden of Eden. Imagine how much professional people would pay to rent this. A thousand a week? It could kick-start spiritual tourism in the area.

He said to Simon, “Okay, go ahead.”

Stack of Applications

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2012 by javedbabar

Professional people were leaving Lucerne because there weren’t adequate facilities for their children. The schools were reasonable and parents also played their part in educating their children. They ensured they practised speaking, reading and writing at home, and also taught them manners.

They were busy people, tired from work, but knew that the prime duty for raising children rested on their shoulders, not on those of teachers, who could shape, but not make, healthy, happy beings. However the lack of a swimming pool or hockey rink was the killer. The wound continued to seep.

Every situation has a cutting edge through. Fewer professional people meant more jobs for unprofessional people. There was for example no Building Control Officer in Lucerne. Nobody knew what had happened to him. There was plenty of construction occurring in the valley – new facilities to attract new professional people – but no one to manage it.

Shama had been at a loose end since moving here from the city. He’d come to the village to enquire about a manual job, but had instead been offered the role of Building Control Officer, for twice the salary he’d expected.

He’d said to the interviewer, “I don’t have any qualifications. Sure I’ve worked on constructions sites, performing traffic duty and casual labour, but I’m not any sort of official.”

“You seem like a smart guy,” said the interviewer. “Give it a week. I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

Shama went to his new office on Monday. There was a huge pile of building forms and assorted documents balanced on his desk. Some were typed, some handwritten in pen, some completed with coloured markers, and some scrawled in pencil.

Who completes forms in marker? Were children submitting applications? What about pencil – had these adults not graduated from graphite to ink? At his own school, he had done so when eleven. The crazy, barely legible writing made the papers a modern tower of Babel. How would he get through them?

The bookshelves covering one wall were filled with building code manuals. There were at least a hundred, covering all aspects of national, provincial, and municipal building codes, supplemented by bylaws and case studies. These massed ranks of grey, green and brown books looked like the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem, which he’d visited as a child.

There was a pile of lego bricks on the corner table. They were mainly yellow, blue and red, with some transparent ones, built into a series of half-finished structures. Is that how building departments evaluated projects? Out of toy blocks to check?

The desk held many executive toys, no doubt there to illustrate engineering principles.

Shama chatted to the receptionist. She asked what he’d been doing before this. He began to lie, but then corrected himself. “I’ve been performing casual labour – unloading trucks and carrying lumber, and mudding and taping drywall. I’ve done some brick building too, and nailing on siding. Plus plenty of painting and decorating…” He was about to say he was totally unqualified for the job, but the receptionist interrupted.

“Thank God they’ve got a proper person at last. Someone who works with his hands and knows what he’s doing, not another person with a Building Services degree who knows only how to push pencils. We may finally have a service that works.”