Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Pit Next Door

Inspected an old 1940s structure recently. A real mess. 

Downhill, next door just a foot or two away from the property line, these two fellows were in a 10' deep pit setting the foundation forms for their new structure.

My structure had a collapsing foundation on the entire side of the pit next door. . . Seriously cracked concrete everywhere. The adjoining shed also had a concrete pad that was dropping away on the side where the pit was. 

Conclusion: the pit that these fellows had recently dug caused (or aggravated) the structure and property that I was inspecting to drop away. 

Oh boy -- talk about the Money Pit.  But it sure did have a nice view of the ocean. . .

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Boundary Lines Materialize

“Show me what you stand for by the enemy standing opposite you. Anyone can speak words that stroke the ears and that multiply so-called friends. A person is rather defined by the enemies that he makes.” –CFL. 1994.

English is a product of many various languages. A strong personal interest is the study of word meanings and changes with time, known as etymology. Etymology is from two old Greek words, etumos (true, real, actual, genuine) and logia/logos (~word). Consider the English words trunk. Or gay, virtual, web. What they used to mean; what they mean now. How they evolved to their present meanings.  
Anyway, back in the school yard days, I learned the German word Trost. This word meant in older German comfort or consolation. The meaning over time has not changed, perhaps add solace. To trösten someone is to console, comfort, sooth, or cheer her.

Consider the various ways of comforting a person. A person with a fatal or harmful malady could be “comforted” by being told that s/he has nothing wrong with him/her; that in fact this person is in recoverable health. I have read countless examples of this by soldiers on the battlefields of the Eastern Front in WWII. A fatal wound. Life is flowing out of a person. The comrade tells the doomed that he is going to survive. The problem with this type of Trost is that it is not true. This comfort salves primarily the speaker and not the person in need of consolation.

Another way to comfort a person is to speak the truth. To prepare him for the inevitable future. To relay to that person what can truly help him succeed or pass an obstacle.

To the drowning person: “Here, take this life jacket (though I know there is a hole in it). It will help you float until you are found and picked up. Everything shall be ok. . .” Versus, “Take this life jacket that I know has integrity. Hold to it; it shall save you for a time until you may be picked up.”

One, false Trost. The other, true.

One inspection, a house with serious problems. Thousands upon thousands of dollars. Approximately $150,000 to get this structure in a minimum shape of safety and wholeness since it has foundation, structural, electrical, plumbing, and serious moisture issues that need addressing. Add to this that the seller is related to the listing agent! Oh my. Add to the political volatility: the listing agent refers the inspection/inspector for the potential buyers! A tangled web, this one! What sort of Trost does this listing agent seek? To not say so much to make the sale, or say the truth and risk the sale? Back to one of the early posts in this blog: what ethical motivation drives any given person in a given action? Egoistic, usually centered on greed, or also power, image, prestige, needing to succeed? In diametric opposition to a deontological motivation (doing what is necessary, proper, or right) regardless of the consequences. . .

How would this turn out for a good-old-boy-network inspector whom the listing agent knows will downplay issues and say what will promote the sale? Positively. How will this turn out for the inspector who sees the deficiencies in the structure and honestly and plainly reports the truth? Hmm.

This story ends inevitably: the messenger is killed (rejected) for the message. The agent henceforth disdains this inspector based on the results. Oh well, and SO WHAT!! For there must be a boundary between those who present false consolation from those who would speak the truth. Better a dollar earned honestly than a fortune gained at an angle. For this property, one form of Trost would put a bandage over a grievous wound and call it trivial to the financial distress if not ruin of the buyers. Another would speak the truth, come what may. And if business and reputation suffer, then this be stoically if not cheerfully embraced.