Coping: With Nevada and Freedom

(Las Vegas, NV) – As we left Reno, Nevada Wednesday morning – as spoon as I got Peoplenomics published,  we couldn’t have had a better stay than at the Peppermill Casino/Resort.

One reason is the food:  Chi Chinese was great on night one and then in the Milano coffee shop for breakfast and dinner Tuesday.

After that, it was a long, though speedy drive down to this – which is what the view from our room looks like:


This is the real deal (taken by Elaine) and not retouched.

I wish I could tell you that the reason Las Vegas was at my feet is because of my gambling prowess.  It is not.  Although being up $300 at one point, I failed to heed my own good advice about walking out when you’ve got a double.  “Fold money and walk out… “

When you don’t do that, you lose.

Having done that (and losing a total of $50 bucks on the trip and having gotten maybe six hours of gambling (did I mention free drinks?) out of it, I thought things were going OK.

– – – – –

The trip from Reno down to Las Vegas is something of a ball-buster (well, not for Elaine, but you get the drift…):  There are miles and miles of tamarack, sage, and some greasewood to be found along the way.

Then there was this oddity, which Elaine was kind enough to write up so that I could snag three minutes of vacation from writing and thinking about writing:

“On the highway US 95 corridor from Goldfield, Nevada there were animal carcasses splattered across the highway for some distance.  Like from seven to eight miles.

After that, it thinned down to only a few scattered victims on the newly surfaced highway going into the small town of Beatty, Nevada.

The next hour, or so, was spent discussing why this was very much like a dead zone for wild life.

The jack rabbits I could understand.  Back when I was a kid (half a century or more) up on San Juan Island in Washington State, hunters would go out with shotguns at high powered flood lights.  They called this rabbit hunting…though it was more harvesting.

The unwary rabbits, being all over the place, would look,, into the bright lights and being blinded became easy prey for the hunters.

Near as I could reckon, the same kind of thing happens at night up in the high desert:  jack rabbits aren’t too smart to begin with (although they don’t hold elections and come to think of it, they don’t pay taxes) and being blinded by the light just pushes them over the edge.

Not sure what to make of it, but due to the size of the carnage, I thought I’d come up with come kind of clever point to all this.  You know… like “Let’s register all cars and trucks” (along with knives, guns, billyclubs, stun guns, and bank checks…).  But that seems to have already been done.

On the other hand, registering all wireless keyboards to high powered websites hasn’t been done yet, but don’t despair, I’m sure there’s a pod of do-gooders out there who would string my keyboard up…if they could find it.

Hope they bring flood lights.

“A WHAT Fee?”

Before blowing out of Reno, which for us was the rude-driver capitol of the world, surpassing Seattle-Tacoma and Salt Lake with ease, I slipped downstairs for a bite of food.

Elaine stayed upstairs as a “lady” needs a sense of privacy in the morning…

In order to save time  (I have several bags of it now but it doesn’t keep well) I ate at the counter.

Next to me was a fellow who – it turns out – had retired and was down in Reno for a little friendly golf scramble.

Turns out he has retired from construction for a big retail outfit and we got to talking about home construction prices.

In my spare time (see the aforementioned bag of saved time) I have been running out wild and crazy ideas like “Why don’t Elaine and I build a brand new house?”

Now I know why that’s off the table.

This retired serious general contracting sort of fellow raised an eyebrow when I said I could build a reasonable house for about $100 per square foot for the house – not counting the land.

He then slowly walked me through the reasons that plan is just too much hot air in Washington state.  Let me paraphrase:

“Well, unlike your situation in Texas, we DO have building departments and they want to have plans for EVERYTHING on file./  This means you can’t do too much of your own wiring.

Then there is the architect sign off on the roof loading and so forth.

and THEN we have something called a Development Fee now…”

What the hell is a Development Fee?

“Well the idea is that when you put in a new home, you should kick in something for infrastructure – so in our area it is a fee of about 10% of the project cost…and that’s on top of the 10% the architects want and that only if you don’t have outside engineering like soils and so on…”

Holy crap!  Even a rebuilding of a shell home?

Nope – doesn’t matter.  you build, you pay. Old house or a heavy remodel.

Well crap.

On the safety side, I lay in all my wiring with 12/2 with ground.  If I live in a city, go to the building department, and pay a fee I can chintz and do 14-2 with ground.  IO don’t think that’s safe.. but the National Building Code is something of a “negotiated” document. 

The hard-working do it yourselfer gets screwed even if doing better that Code work most places.  (I will kiss the ground when I get home.)

What this real boils down to is that if you sit on raw land and you hook up to a sewer in the street 20-years after the fact when initial investments were made and that municipal sewage plant built, today’s breed of pocket-lining politicians want to retroactively screw you.

They assess on whim – not fully depreciated value of infrastructure and so on…go figure.

Back in the old days a property owner actually owned their property.  You  could put in a septic system and tell the county to buzz off.

But now?  Well, the hand-in-your-=pocket club has created a bazillion dollar industry screwing the little people who actually persist in believing that a man’s home is his castle.

It is not.

It is rented.

You rent from the government and your rent is a series of taxes and fees – including this here development fee – so that you can’t do what you want with your land, even if it doesn’t infringe on the happiness of others like neighbors.

No sir.  You need to keep government happy.

And if you want to know how achievable THAT is, call Bill Clinton and ask him.

Is it too early for a blood Mary?  I’m sure Elaine would like to drive in peace and quiet while my blood pressure settles down a bit…

Some Really Great News

Panama reports from the ranch that the County has been paving our road!

Hallelujah.  I didn’t need to run for office…an d I can live the life of poor (pink neck) gentry to the fullest.

Damn shame.  I was hoping to parlay this into a career, but it’s time to let some of the young come along and work on leadership skills.

Which they will be able to do, as soon as we can find some role models for them.


Write when you get rich (don’t hold your breath though)

21 thoughts on “Coping: With Nevada and Freedom”

  1. Hope you dont mind my adding a gambling observation Ive made over the years of playing cards.

    “Its not you that is lucky, its the spot you are in.
    Any luck you have is sitting in the spot that Lady Luck is visiting. Many a time in the past,I played slow and minimum bets waiting for L/L to visit my chair from the process of elimination.

    When someone is on a “burner” every hand is a winner and if they are not careful will end up with second hand cards and “bet the farm.

    If you have 2 burners at the table of say 6 players, You be in deep do do unless the two burners have a show down. Thats when I go into a sleep mode waiting for that mistake of “heads up, all in by the two major players.
    If that happens you have a chance if not, no amount of bluffing is going to matter when the 2 players are holding Aces or Kings full.
    Lady Luck is fickle she moves around when bored “you just have to keep her attention so she hangs with you.

    Remember that slogan? Location..Location..Location!

  2. You never really ‘own’ anything. If you believe you do, try not paying your property tax for a few years. In a lot of states, you even get taxed on your car (PERSONAL Property Tax – WTF?).

    You’ll be SWAT’d eventually. All because you didn’t pay for the privilege of living in the county. The King shall have his tax.

  3. You can’t write about Vegas without writing about water. It’s a zombie city. The only question is when it keels over.

  4. Do you really think you should get your water and sewer hookup for free just because the pipe is already there when you decide to build? Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s paid for- usually long term bonds are issued in anticipation of the hook ups from development. Why should your earlier-building neighbors subsidize your new house? Where’s that good old American “pay for what you use” spirit? Sheesh!

    As far septic systems, they can be fine with properly-sized leach bed and proper maintenance. Most in-town sites are too small and many folks don’t bother with maintenance in our “flush it and forget it” society. Don’t forget, before central sewage systems, cities would have cholera and other epidemics on a regular basis.

    • OK…so explain to me (I am slow) why an existing home that I want to do a make-over on should have to pay the development tax? That’s the bottom line – double dipping pols, bud

      • It’s just a case of Americans finally paying full cost for what they get. The American public has been subsidized for at least a half century because of the dollar being the world trade currency and because they own the printing press for that dollar.

        Second and third world countries have always suffered from exchanging their currency into dollars for foreign purchases (and foreign sales), a cost of between 3-6%.

        And keep in mind the $500 BILLION annual trade deficit, and the increasing national debt, (another $500 BILLION or so) both of which are subsidies.

        When these subsidies finally end, the resulting carnage and impoverishment will make the country unrecognizable as the country in which I grew up.

        The future of the USA is American wages equal to Chinese wages, prison labor, and economic colonization of the USA by the Chinese and other monied interests as they seize assets to redeem their USA treasuries in exchange for anything of value. I suggest you teach your children Mandarin, so at least they will be able to communicate with their employers when they clean their houses and mow their lawns.

        Without this reduction in wages, America cannot become competitive in world markets. The manufacturing overhead, the additional costs George talked about in building a house, (it’s worse if you start a business) makes American products too expensive.

        In Ecuador, to open a restaurant one just finds a space, puts up a menu on a chalkboard, a couple of relatives in the kitchen and files for a tax ID. This allows them to provide a full nourishing meal for $3 and still make a profit.

        In the USA, you go into a restaurant, the person waiting on you is paying $100 a month for phone, $80 for cable tv, $800 for an apartment, gets her hair done for $60, her nails for $15, etc. You are holding a menu that cost $15 to produce, the restaurant has thousands in signage out front, the owner is being inspected by multiple agencies and has to pay to meet those requirements, and is paying at least seven taxes. When you walk to the register and pay, you are paying for all this. The only thing that is produced here is by the cook, and that is still a service occupation.

        And then there is medical expenses, sucking up 17% of the GDP.

        The American economy is 70% services, services most of which we do not have in Ecuador, AND MOST OF WHICH WE DO NOT EVEN MISS! Americans, are you starting to get the picture?

        Americans, your pinnacle of a country is like being on the roof of a ten story building, and what you do not realize is that you have already lost your balance on the edge. The 94 million adults not working and the 45 million on food stamps and those depending on government furnished pharmaceuticals (antipsychotics and antidepressants at record levels)
        are already on the way down. As the guy who jumped said as he passed the third floor on his way down, “so far, so good!”

        Second world countries are going to have a two story fall, third world a one story fall, and refugees, they are already on the ground floor.

      • Could very well be an inspection fee to make sure that the changes you make are ‘up to code’ – because you say that you can ‘do your own electrical work or other ‘trade work” doesn’t mean that everything is covered.

        When my grandparents got older, climbing the stairs to the bathroom became a chore so my three uncles (engineers all – communications, mechanical, and aerospace) said that they could put a bathroom in the pantry next to the kitchen. As a child I used it once, after being warned not to say anything.

        Even then I realized something was wrong – it was small, too small – and the floor felt ‘funny’ – as an adult, I know the foundation was probably bad and being ‘right off the kitchen’ was not a good thing.

        Somebody needed to inspect the damn thing – as well as say that making everything pink – bathtub, sink, commode, tile, flooring, paint (my grandmother’s favorite color) – was too much!

        Just because someone is intelligent doesn’t mean they know everything they need . . .

      • Just like you buy the car taxed, sale the car taxed, sale the car again and of course taxed again.

      • I agree with you in general as to make-overs (after 39 years in public finance, I’ve never seen a development charge for a simple remodel but then, I live in a rational-thought Midwestern state) but I would qualify it to the extent that the make-over increases the burden on the infrastructure, e.g. adding more baths so more people can flush more sewage into the system, adding more pavement which increases storm water run-off.

        Anyway, I fully expect that President Trump will remedy the situation you describe.


  5. Well said Jo Mann! Good luck and her ugly sister Bad luck, are whimsical and flighty at best. Controlling your losses while waiting your turn for Good luck to come by is the most important part of your chances for success.

  6. > Reno, which for us was the rude-driver capitol of the world,

    Obviously, you have never driven in Massachusetts or New Jersey. A month ago we went to visit dear old friends just south of Plymouth, and the number of people on the MassPike & 495 that ended up on MR. CRABBYPANTS’s S**TLIST!!!!! (which is always to be read in all caps at top volume) was quite large. There’s a reason they’re referred to as ‘Massholes’.

    And don’t even get me started on which airline ended up on that list after a FUBARd return from a business trip last week…

  7. Hi George, I see you noticed the “blacktop buffet” driving through Nevada. This is the corpse laden highway which serves to feed the scavengers, primarily Ravens, which have drastically extended their natural range as a result. When they run out of corpses to consume they turn predator and go after Sage Grouse nests. This in turn enables the feds to scream “endangered species” and drastically extend their regulatory range. It’s all a business model as you say.

  8. George:

    Not that many years ago I was employed in the home building industry in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area and a local civil engineer of some standing told me that of a home price, if you were judicious about 60% went on “sticks and nails”, while the rest of the price went to various governmental fees. That situation has only worsened in the years since. The gaping maw that is Leviathan must be fed.

  9. Wow. Peppermill!

    That reference brings back a wonderful memory of spending a night there with my heart’s desire, right after leaving Burning Man on Labor Day a few years ago.

    I always got lost in that place trying to find the room. The lights, mirrors, noises and almost psychedelic look of the place is disorienting. Of course, we spent almost all of our time in that room having real fun.

    We both tried gambling for the first time in our lives. We put a dollar into a slot machine, and watched lots of crazy patterns of lights as the thing digested our dollar. Eventually, the thing stopped whirring and blinking, and went silent. Neither of us had any idea what just happened, but the dollar was never to be seen again. My beloved then uttered the most memorable words ever:

    “This is dumb”.

    I never forgot. And now I concentrate more on gambling in the areas of life where I have much greater control. It just works better for me.

    We never tried the food so I can’t comment on that. I dropped her off at the airport and drove down that lonely highway toward LV, with a yet another treasured memory.

  10. In Grays Harbor County (WA) you can build an 800 sq. ft. building without a permit. Permit needed for wiring.

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