ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Sending a Notary Letter

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What we really want are declarations from people to express their
appreciation and concern for what is happening to my collection.  If
people care about the fact that I have built this collection since age 17,
used it to promote the hobby of collecting/preserving/appreciating vintage
computers, and sharing it with other hobbyists, then I would like them to
write in their own words what the collection means to them, and what it
would mean if the collection were to be lost.  Also, a deposition of any
positive contribution I have made to others would be useful in giving the
judge an idea of the my service to the public.  If people have ever heard
me speak, was there a particular quality of my speaking or what I spoke
about that they found valuable?  Have they found appreciation or received
joy from the efforts that I have put forth over the years in producing the
VCF?  Have my efforts to preserve the actual computer hardware, software,
manuals, and related accessories in their entirety been of benefit to
anyone?  Generally, if I have ever brought anything of value to anyone
through the collection or my efforts surrounding it then I would greatly
appreciate if they should put it into written words in a declaration
suitable for submission to a court of law.

A proper declaration should be formatted thusly [comments in square
brackets are for explanation only and should not be included].  Each
statement or paragraph is numbered for ease of reference in other


I, <name>, make this declaration:

[Who/what are you?  Include titles, degrees, etc.  I personally do not
judge people by such things but judges reading declarations do.]

1. I am a  I <perform such & such
work>.  My education includes … with degrees in …

[How do you know me? And for how long? It is important to establish this
foundational issue.  Use your own words as applicable.]

2. I am with Sellam Ismail.  I have
him/know of his efforts> for <length of time>.

[What personal knowledge, if any, do you have about my collection?
Personal knowledge means you have visited my collection in person. It is
not helpful to state that you have “heard about” or “read about” the
collection as that is what is called hearsay, and judges properly ignore
that. Only write about your personal knowledge of the collection and
what you remember about it in as much detail as you can remember without
being too lengthy. The idea is to establish that you know what the
collection contained and what it represents to you upon experiencing it.
This will also lend weight to the testimony I am giving to establish my
ownership of the collection. The judge is not going to be making this
assumption in the hearing until I establish it, so this is an important
part of the declaration.]

3. On occasions I had an opportunity to visit
Sellam’s collection .
about your impression of the collection>. <Write about your recollection
of certain artificts of the collection, and/or of its overall or general

[What does the collection mean to you?  Does it bring you value?  Express
this in your own words. What would a loss of the collection mean to you

4. <Explain in your own words how my collection or my efforts around it
have benefitted you, if at all. If I have ever done something for you
having to do with the collection that you particularly appreciate then
write about that as well.> <Perhaps write about what it would mean to
you personally if the collection were to be lost.>

[Include anything else you think might be important but keep it relevant
to the collection or my efforts related to the collection and its value to
you personally.]

5. …

[The last line of a declaration should be an averment as to its veracity.
The following wording is the exact wording required by California statute
for declarations. The part “under the laws of the State of California” are
only required for affidavits from out of state, but it doesn’t hurt to
leave that in if you are in California.]

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of
California that the foregoing is true and correct.

[Finally, put the date the declaration is executed (signed) and then a
place for your signature.  If you are going to have the document
notarized, leave the declaration unsigned until you are before the notary
public.  Include your name underneath the signature line.

Executed this <nth> day of December 2012 at <your city + county + state>.

By: ________________
<Your Name>

Finally, a declaration that is notarized (meaning your signature was
witnessed, meaning the identity of the signer was verified by a notary
public) carries more weight than a merely sealed (signed) document.  If
you can take the time and trouble and expense to have your declaration
notarized, the judge will note this.  It means you cared enough to go out
of your way to verify your word, which reinforces your expressed concern
about the collection.  It is not absolutely necessary, and if it
represents any kind of burden at all then no one should feel compelled to
do it, but if you can then it would definitely be worth the effort.
Almost all UPS Stores or public mailbox places have notaries public, and
the cost is usually $10 or so to notarize a document.  Sometimes banks
have notaries on hand and will notarize customer documents for free or
cheap.  Ideally you should bring the unsigned declaration to the notary
and sign it in front of the notary.

A notarized document must include an acknowledgement at the end that the
notary executes.  An example of a proper California acknowledgement is

State of California
County of ____________

On <date> before me, ________________ [notary public will write in their
name here], personally appeared <Your Name> who proved to me on the basis
of satisfactory evidence to be the person whose name is subscribed to the
within instrument and who acknowledged to me that he/she executed the same
in their authorized capacity, and by his/her signature on the instrument
the person, or entity upon behalf of which the person acted, executed the

I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of
California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.

WITNESS my hand and official seal.

(Signature of Notary)

An acknowledgement for your state may differ substantially.  If you can’t
find a sample for your state online, the notary you bring your document to
might have an acknowledgement certificate to attach.  Call ahead and ask.

Once your declaration is ready, please scan it into a PDF and e-mail it to
me <>, then put the original in an envelope and post
it to me at:

c/o 2082 Research Drive
Livermore, California [94550]

More than just my livelihood is at stake here.  I have always treated the
collection as a mission I am fulfilling for more than just my own personal
gain and satisfaction.  I have striven to build a comprehensive computer
history archive that leaves few details unrepresented to gain a deeper
insight and understanding of the development of computer technology and
its impact on society, and my work is far from complete.  Losing it all
now in such a hugely unfair manner as the current situation is manifesting
would be a grave injustice not just to me but to the entire computer
collecting and preserving community.  I hope you agree.

I will be putting together a full accounting of the story that has lead to
this juncture this weekend.  In the meantime, understanding a goodly
portion of the story that lead up to now can be had by reading my string
of letters to the building owner, available for viewing here:

More to come.  Thank you immensely for your support.



Followed by this:

Perhaps there is some slight confusion.  Hopefully this brief e-mail
clears up some issues.  I apologize for the suddenness of this information
and the terse nature, but I am pressed for time as I try to put together a
lot of paperwork today and other neglected errands.

1. The collection is not entirely lost yet.  I had already rented a new
warehouse approximately a mile from the old one and was moving things over
from about November 17-30.

2. Approximately 15-20% was already moved over to new warehouse before
I got locked out again, and I moved many important things like one of a
kind computer artworks and my recorded computer and electronic media
collection out early on, anticipating the possibility that things may go
south again.  Of course, many important pieces remained.

3. The recyclers are currently transferring my property to their warehouse
from the one I used to rent.

4. The recyclers know the value of the material.  They know what it is.
They are not intending to scrap it, but sell it, IF I DO NOT PREVAIL with
help in part from friends and colleagues who submit declarations.

5. They told me it would not be touched for a week anyway as they would
not be able to get to it until after their Christmas holiday.  I’m not
sure how much to trust this claim but it’s what I have to go on.

6. I was told by the police officer who stood by while I spoke to the
recycler that the recycler is sympathetic to my cause and hopes I prevail.
The cop does too.  I plan to ask him to be present at the hearing, or at
least to submit a report.

7. The landlords of the old building acted with extreme malice and fraud,
and have shown bad faith throughout this process.  Spend the time to read
my letters to understand that I was not just being irresponsible or
something, a vibe I have already gotten from some people, or perhaps its
resignation, but I don’t find it helpful.  I am simultaneously going
through foreclosure, so what I need now are words of encouragement and
actual support through declarations attesting to the importance of this
collection, which will be ammunition I need in my battle on Tuesday

8. When I prevail I will probably be on short notice to do something to
effect its transfer.  I will need to rent trucks and pay people.  I have
money come in but it can’t come in fast enough.  Short term loans of any
amount would be very helpful.  I am not asking for charity.

Thank you.




And finally:

I fell into arrears on rent for the warehouse where the collection is
stored earlier in the year.  I tried to work something out with the
landlords but they were not interested.  I made payments when I could with
an intent to catch up by September but they moved to evict me.  I was
formally evicted through a court process in July.  By the first week of
August I came to them with money to pay for the back rent but they refused
it for some odd reason and would not allow me to retrieve my property
either as local law requires.  After a series of letters from me
escalating into legal threats and a final notice of intent to litigate
with virtually no response from them, the matter went to court.  I
requested a restraining order and injunction to prevent the sale of my
property in mid-November but was denied by a hostile judge whom I believe
showed bias towards the landlord.  Outside the courtroom I was able to
negotiate an agreement (under duress, as I had no other good options at
that point) that included me paying them a monetary settlement where none
was deserving due to the monetary damage they had already caused me up
until that point, which left me deprived of my business property for two
months resulting in a great loss of revenue and great personal turmoil.
I was given from about November 12 until the end of the month to complete
the move out.  In between was the Thanksgiving holiday, so I lost two days
due to my desire to be with family.  When I was able to re-enter the
warehouse there was flooding in the back part from a problem I had noticed
the landlords about more than a year ago that had gone unmended and it had
caused water damage to some artifacts and destroyed others.  The flooding
remained an issue throughout the move and I was constantly having to deal
with water encroaching on boxes filled with rare books, magazines, etc.
and the landlord did not move to mitigate the problem until the end of the
move out period.  I lost much time dealing with the flooding.  I also lost
about a day and a half trying to revive my old forklift that requires
regular maintenance to keep running and had not had been tended to during
the two months I was locked out.  I finally had to pay to bring in another
forklift with dwindling funds so that I could begin moving.  On the
limited budget on which I was working I had limited assistance that was
unreliable.  The trucks I thought I had lined up to carry out the move did
not materialize due to illnesses and unfulfilled commitments.  The
equipment I did end up with was plagued with problems that caused the
movement of property from the old to the new warehouse to commence at a
slow crawl, averaging only about 10-15 pallets a day (of a total of about
200), whereas I was expecting to be able to move that many in an hour.
After some negotiation on the 30th of November (when I was to have been
done) I was able to extend the deadline to December 3.  But by the 1st of
December, with another no show of my helpers due to inclimate weather, and
having run out of funds, it was obvious to me the rest of the collection
could not be moved in the time remaining.  So I negotiated with the
landlord to allow me to take a break for a week to get some much needed
rest and also to raise capital to resume and complete the move.  However,
when I contacted him Tuesday of this week he had his attorney respond with
a new agreement they wanted me to enter into with untenable terms.  I
accepted with conditions to make it palatable but they simply declared my
proposal a rejection of their offer and moved to have my property sold

At this same time I am proceeding through foreclosure on my home and
trying to defend against a fraudulent process by an unrelenting bank
machine intent to steal my house from me.  I am being ripped in two
entirely different directions, either of which will have dire effects on
my livelihood if I fail.

If you can please spread this to as many people you know who have derived
benefit or value of any kind from my archive or who can comment on the
benefit of such a collection to society and the effects its loss might
have on our understanding of computer and technology history.  A stack of
declarations in writing from various people with lofty titles would be a
powerful sign to the judge that this is not merely a simple property
dispute matter and should be given more care and scrutiny in its

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