Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ghost calls, import biz, overworked volunteers,

Last week it was ghost moose, this week it's ghost fires. Our reactions were unanimous this morning when the pagers went off with a report of a brush fire 2 km west of Upsala:

"Brush fire? It rained enough last night to drown a frog in scuba gear."

But we're the fire department. We don't get to ask questions. Like the Light Brigade, 'ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.' So we went on another wild goose chase in search of the elusive wildland fire. We didn't find it, although we did see a few wisps of fog in the general area. Like usual, my wild imagination gets the better of me, and I muse about the Good Samaritan that called it in:

Good Samaritan 1: Hey, look at that wispy, cloudy stuff coming out of that swamp. Do you think it's smoke?

Good Samaritan 2: It's been raining for a week, but it could be . . . what d'ya say we stop and check it out. You know, make sure it isn't fog or something.

Good Samaritan 1: Naw, too dangerous. Besides, we'll get our shoes wet in all that standing water. Better call the fire department. They've got rubber boots.

Good Samaritan 2: Maybe we should at least slow down to get a better look . . .

Good Samaritan 1: Nope. Even Good Samaritans have to get on with their lives. I'll just use my trusty cell phone . . . hey, is that a moose back there in the wispy, cloudy, swampy haze? Better call twice. You never know, someone might hit it . . .

Click here to read about a wild goose chase that we declined to pursue. I guess we do get to reason why (or why not) sometimes.


You may remember that we broke our Amkus spreader last summer, and had to ship it away for repairs. In order to avoid the chaos of finding a replacement in the event of future breakdowns, we purchased another used set of Amkus tools, which I brought across the border today. Normal people hire a broker to import their stuff, but I'm not normal, and I wanted to save the brokerage fees, so I did the paperwork myself. Or at least, sort of did it myself. Here's how it went:

Very Nice Customs Guy: Do you have anything to declare?

Me: Not much, Just ten thousand dollars worth of equipment.

VNCG: Do you have all of the proper documents for importing?

Me: Um, yes sir [gee, I hope our import number on a blank sheet of paper is 'proper documents' enough . . .]

VNCG: Let's see. Um, that's all you have? Well then, are you familiar with the codes and other data to enter into the program on our computer?

Me: Yes. I mean no. Actually, I did it once about ten years ago with a lot of help from another really nice customs guy . . .

VNCG: You're supposed to do this yourself . . . [helpless, deer-in-headlights look from me] . . . but seeing you're from the fire department, I'll give you a hand.

Twenty minutes later I meekly walked out with a bundle of papers and some hand-scrawled notes about F2 and Country of Origin for future forays into the mystical world of customs brokers. Maybe next time I'll be able to do it myself.


Here is another article on the continued saga of Wandering River. I'll probably have more comments on this later. For now, I hope Canada's leaders stir from their slumbering ignorance of the personal cost that volunteers have borne, and wake up to the fact that the flimsy thread of support in small communities has reached its breaking point.

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