Hogwash Volume 21

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January 2014
Welcome to Hogwash!

Greetings,

Rosi & Gardner is pleased to welcome our new attorney, Marcelo Betti, to the practice. Marcelo graduated (summa cum laude) from Vermont Law School, and passed the Michigan Bar Exam in 2013. Marcelo not only adds attorney depth to our firm, but he also brings an interesting and varied background.

Born in São Paulo, Brazil (and a native Portuguese speaker), Marcelo now resides in Northern Michigan very much by choice. He visited here as an international exchange student, and attended Traverse City Central High School. He went back to the Southern Hemisphere, but made his way back here for college, and then "out East" for law school. While here, he was a co-owner of a record shop, worked at Poppycock's, and even completed an internship in federal court, with the Honorable Gerald E. Rosen, District Court Judge, Eastern District of Michigan.

Marcelo, now a U.S. citizen, is bringing his personal experience to bear in representing others in immigration matters. He will also be representing our clients in family law and divorce matters, real estate and estate planning, and civil litigation.

Marcelo now resides with his wife Norika (also a recent graduate of Vermont Law School) in Benzie County.

Child Support: Time for a Review?

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Has anything changed since your divorce? Has your income changed?

If it has, or your child's other parent's income has changed, you should check and see if you are paying, or receiving, the correct amount of child support. A child support order, whether entered in a divorce case or a paternity case is always modifiable. It is not retroactively modifiable though; it can be changed, upward or downward, only from the date that you ask for a change, going forward.

It is a myth that child support can only be reviewed or modified every three years. Under Michigan law, if there is a change in circumstances (either income or in the parenting time division) that would substantially change (upward or downward) the amount of the child support obligation, a review and modification of the child support order is warranted. The "three-year rule" that is commonly cited probably has its roots in the Friend of the Court policy that FOC will review the parents' incomes and review the amount of child support, free of charge, once every three years.

What's "substantial?" Three variables are used to calculate the amount in the Michigan Child Support Formula: your income, your co-parent's income and the parenting time arrangement (number of overnights spent with each parent). If any one of those things has changed by, say 10%, or more than one have changed by 5%, we recommend a review and recalculation of your child support order.


As you look at your 2013 income (we all love doing tax returns, right?), and your 2014 budget, ask yourself whether you are paying – or receiving – the correct amount of support. Has your income gone down? Has your co-parent's income gone up? Is your child spending more time with you than the Court order provides? If any of these questions cause you to wonder, you should probably check the amount of your child support order.

Downton Abbey: America's Favorite Legal and Financial Drama

To many American households, the dawn of a new year is made even more exciting by the prospect of a new season of "Downton Abbey," the PBS Masterpiece Theatre hit show. This January was no different, as millions of viewers tuned in again for a healthy dose of British melodrama, intrigue… and estate-planning lessons.

Over its first three seasons, the show treated viewers with plot twists based on legal curiosities and financial mistakes. Some of these issues were archaic: most of us will never experience Lord Grantham's plight as a mere temporary caretaker of a vast estate that he could not leave to his own daughters simply because they were, well, daughters.

But other Crawley problems remain relevant today, such as financial catastrophe brought upon by a non-diverse portfolio that could have been avoided had the family tied up its fortune in a properly prepared and well-administered trust. Another issue would be the enhanced suffering caused by the illness or death of persons who failed to prepare a will or, in Lady Sybil's case, an advance medical directive, which could have specified her wishes and eliminated confusion when she was unable to make medical decisions herself.

The bottom line: many of Downton Abbey's – or for that matter, real life's – bad turns could be alleviated, if not avoided, by sound legal and financial advice. After all, some drama is best left on TV.

Cyber Contracts: Is Your Email Signature Today's Version of a Handshake Agreement?

pensieve-work-man.jpg Did that email just create a contract?

Quite possibly if it contained your agreement to the material terms of a deal and you typed your name at the end. At least, that's what a New York court said, in a case involving an insurance company and a claim that was settled and agreed between the insurance company's representative (the claims agent) and the claimant's attorney. The adjuster and lawyer came to agreed settlement terms for the claim. Their agreement, with all essential terms was confirmed in an email and apparently only in an email.

After the insurance adjuster added her "signature" (she typed her name at the end, not just the outgoing message auto-text with name and contact information) a court threw out the claim. The claimant of course sought to uphold the settlement agreement as a contract. The New York Appellate Division Court agreed, and found that the email, "signed" by the insurance company's representative, was an enforceable contract and ordered the settlement amount paid. The Court found it notable that the insurance representative had manually added her name to the end of the email, thereby signifying her intent that it be treated as a signature, and making an enforceable contract. The case is Forcelli v Gelco Corp., 109 A.D.3d 244 (2013).


So, the next time you hit "Send," ask yourself first: am I making and "signing" a contract by email? You just might
be…

Tell Your Boss What You Think – But Beware of the Consequences.

freedom of speech

"Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." The First Amendment's passage on freedom of speech is often regarded as the pride and joy of the U.S. Constitution — but it will not keep you from getting fired from your non-government job.

The recent episode involving Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson is only the latest reminder of the limits of "free speech." Before him, famous folk like Alec Baldwin, Don Imus, and The Dixie Chicks also served as vehicles for the same constitutional lesson: the First Amendment protects individuals only from government interference.

Because of the First Amendment, the government generally may not stop you from, or punish you for, simply speaking your mind. But even these protections have their limits: it should go without saying that you could get in trouble for inciting a riot or crying wolf in an airport.


And once the government is out of the picture, you get the Duck Dynasty scenario: a private person or corporation (like a TV network) interacting with another private party. In these situations, freedom of speech is no longer involved — and free enterprise rules the day. What's more American than that?

National Cherry Month

In Northern Michigan we celebrate cherries and cherry production all year long! While much of the celebration focuses on the annual National Cherry Festival in July and the harvest that follows, February is also time to celebrate this superfruit during National Cherry Month.

Michigan produces annually about 75 percent of the tart cherries and 20 percent of the sweet cherries grown in the United States.

Credit for establishing the cherry as an agricultural crop in this area is often given to Rev. Peter Dougherty who established mission churches on Old Mission and at Omena (New Mission).

Once the staple of dessert – cherry pie, cherry ice cream and cherry cheesecake – today cherries are recognized for their health giving properties, especially for their value in relieving pain.

According to the National Cherry Marketing Institute "A substantial and growing body of scientific research has linked tart cherries to anti-inflammatory benefits, reduced pain from gout and arthritis and an extensive list of heart health benefits. Recent studies even suggest tart cherries can help reduce post-exercise muscle and joint pain." For more information on the nutritional and health benefits of cherries, visit the institute website.

Meanwhile, February is a great time to choose cherries: dried, frozen or in juice. The National Cherry Marketing Institute offers some great cherry recipes and ideas for using our local superfruit.

It's a great time to buy local and include in that buying cherries!

Issue: 21
In This Issue
Child Support: Time for a Review?
Downton Abbey: America's Favorite Legal & Financial Drama
Cyber Contracts: Is Your Email Signature Today's Version of a Handshake Agreement?
Tell Your Boss What You Think – But Beware of the Consequences
National Cherry Month
Auld Lang What??
"Pop" goes not only the "Weasel."
Some quotes from some very enlightened women
Let Us Each Enjoy the Voyage
Karen's Michigan Themed Winter Dinner Party

Auld Lang What??

Have you ever wondered what it is you and everyone else around you are singing, or rather mumbling, when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve? And what the heck does it even mean?

Originally written as a poem by Scotsman Robert Burns in 1788, Auld Lang Syne is translated in the English language literally as "old long since" but for the sake of making sense it has been loosely interpreted as "for (the sake of) old times".

The first verse of the poem is actually posed as a rhetorical question. "Should old acquaintance be forgot…", which is then followed by the chorus demonstrating that, in fact, old acquaintances should not be forgotten but rather toasted to for the sake of old times.

While the song is most popular on the last day of the year it is also common for it to be sung at funerals, graduations, the end of Boy Scout jamborees and endings to other occasions.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne?

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

And surely you'll buy your pint cup!

and surely I'll buy mine!

And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

"Pop" goes not only the "Weasel."

With the cold wind ever blowing and the snow falling, many of us ask the question "What can we celebrate in place of freezing?"

Well, according the the current Font of all Knowledge, Wikipedia, let us all celebrate Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

We at Rosi & Gardner do not know who made that designation. Perhaps some unnamed federal official to whom an earlier sequestration should have been applied did so.

What ever the history may be, the last Monday of January, which this year is January 27, has been designated Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. (Incidentally that day is also known as National Chocolate Cake Day & Thomas Crapper Day.)

What makes Bubble Wrap so deserving of this honor? Again, according to Wikipedia, Bubble Wrap is a brand of Sealed Air Corporation (US), whose product is described as a pliable transparent plastic material commonly used for packing fragile items. It consists of regularly

spaced, protruding air-filled hemispheres (bubbles) that provide cushioning for breakables.

Bubble Wrap's history can be traced to two inventors seeking to invent something else (a familiar story among inventors).

In 1957 Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, for reasons of their own, were attempting to create a three-dimensional plastic wallpaper. Apparently that idea was a failure.

However, instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak, they found that what they had developed made great packing material. For this, we are all eternally grateful.

The use for Bubble Wrap is not, of course, limited to wrapping fragile items. Who among us has not either enjoyed – or rejected – the opportunity to irritate other by incessantly

"popping" the many bubbles, usually by stepping – or even dancing – upon them. Such

enjoyment cannot be overstated – nor can it adequately be described – it has to be experienced.

So, in case you have not already disposed of the copious quantities of Bubble Wrap from your holiday parcels, before doing so, on this coming January 27, consider spreading it out on the floor or other favorite surface, and enjoy the exhilaration of popping one bubble after

another.

I know that we will.

Some quotes from some very enlightened women….

If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: Who cares?

~ Tina Fey

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch on fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one cares. Why should you?

~ Erma Bombeck

Let Us Each Enjoy the Voyage

On January 13, 2014 it's time to start the bath and welcome your inner child. Celebrate Rubber Ducky Day.

Apparently inspired by Jim Henson's song – we all remember Ernie's rendition on Sesame Street, "Rubber Ducky, you're the one. You make bath time lots of fun…" the little rubber duck has become iconic in both American culture and around the world.

Reportedly, according to Mail Online, on January 10, 1992, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a shipment of 29,000 floating toys, including bright yellow rubber duckies from Friendly Floatees fell off a cargo ship.

In the 22 years since they were "launched" several have been showing up on both coasts of the U.S as well as in Britain and being frozen in the Arctic ice with sightings reported in Indonesia, Australia and South America. Some of these rubber duckies have made voyages of more than 17,000 miles. A map of the intrepid travelers can be found on Wikipedia.

Our little yellow travelers well deserve the recognition bestowed on them for the length of their sea voyage as well as the distance of their travels. So, make certain that the water temperature is just right, jump right in and imagine that you, like your little yellow friend, are also traveling to rare and exotic places.

We will.

Happy Rubber Ducky Day!

January's Special Offer

Want to know what your child support obligation should be?

Call or email us until February 15 and we will "run the numbers" for you, at no charge. We have the same program used by the Court to apply the child support formula to your income and case.

Don't worry; nothing will be reported to the Court or Friend of the Court, unless you hire us to represent you.

Offer Expires: February 15, 2014

Karen's Michigan Themed Winter Dinner Party

My warmest New Year's wishes to you all! Our New Year's Eve highlight was a wild game dinner party.

We started the day before New Year's Eve when we took a drive up north to look at the Mackinac Bridge, visit relatives and buy some smoked fish. When we got home, we found a bag of frozen venison meat hanging from a plant hook on our front porch thanks to our friend, whose wife won't eat or cook venison.

So began my dinner party menu. We served up a smoked whitefish-white bean soup, which included sweet potatoes, venison Sloppy Joes with jalapeno coleslaw, wood stove simmered venison tenderloin, roasted duck, Mighty Mac and Cheese, and dark chocolate raspberry cake. We had way too much food, of course, but the leftovers have been divine and the menu would be great for a dinner party any time this winter.

Roasted Lucky Duck

1 big fat duck (or chicken)

Rub: paprika, orange rind, black and white pepper, sea salt, oregano and thyme

Stuffing: oranges, rosemary sprigs, garlic

Side Dish: potatoes

Sauce: Orange Marmalade simmered with orange peppers, red onion, a little jalapeno, a little vinegar and honey

Thoroughly rinse the duck and pat dry. Remove excess fat at openings of body cavities. Make little cuts in the skin of the duck, careful not to stab the meat. Mix up the herbs, spices and rind and rub all over the duck. Let the seasoned duck sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 24 hours (this dries up the skin so it will crisp up when you cook it). Make sure you put a rack on the bottom of your roaster so the duck is sitting higher than the juices when it cooks. Stuff your duck with a whole orange, cut into sections, lots of rosemary and at least four garlic cloves. Add potatoes to the roaster and put the duck on the rack, breast side down. Cook at 400° for half an hour. Turn down heat to 250 for another half hour. Turn the duck over and baste. Continue cooking about another hour. Check with a meat thermometer (crucial because everyone's oven cooks differently). You want to get the temperature to at least 165 deg. Depending on the size of your bird, it can take anywhere from 2 -3 hours.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Start with a good chocolate cake mix. Instead of water, add 1/3 semi-sweet red wine, 1/3 raspberry juice and 1/3 milk. Chop a dark chocolate bar and add it to the cake mix. Bake as directed.

Frosting – blend raspberries and juice into a cream cheese frosting. Top with shredded dark chocolate.

Leftovers:

Duck Fried Potatoes: Shred the potatoes, fry with onion and green peppers, top with poached eggs and Tabasco sauce.

Black Bean Burritos: Start with shredded duck and venison, add lots of peppers and onions. Top with lettuce, sour cream, sharp cheese and cherry salsa.

Duck Fried Rice: Sauté chopped veggies (carrots, onion, celery, etc.), add chopped duck and scrambled eggs. Season with sesame oil and soy sauce.

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Rosi & Gardner, P.C.
735 S. Garfield Avenue
Suite 202
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
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Philip R. Rosi

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Gary Allen Gardner
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