Hogwash Volume 28

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August 2014
Welcome to Hogwash!

 

Rosi and Gardner

 

If this is the first edition of Hogwash! you’ve received it’s because someone you know thought that you would like to receive it and perhaps pass it on to a friend.   

 

If you enjoy this E-newsletter and know others who you think would like to be on our list or receive a copy by mail, please let us know at info@rosigardner.com   

 

The highest compliment we can receive is a referral from a friend.   Although we’ve been in business together for more than twelve years, have more than 50 years of combined legal experience experience, we are never too busy to help those you refer to us: your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

    

. . . or in your safe deposit box?  Do you have U.S. Savings Bonds?  If they were purchased many years ago, they may have stopped earning interest.  For example, Series “E” and Series “H” bonds no longer grow in value.  If you or someone close to you have any of these bonds, or any of the others that have “matured” – in other words stopped earning interest you are losing money (to inflation, at the very least) by leaving them unredeemed and not otherwise invested. Click here to see the full list of fully-matured bond types.  

 

Want to calculate the value of all the U.S. Savings Bonds that you have?  Use the Treasury Department’s “Wizard”.

 

Similarly, some people have been known to use cashier’s checks as a de facto “investment” or estate planning tool.  Do you know of anyone who has a cashier’s check in a safe deposit box or firebox, made out to himself or to a family member?  Some of those checks have a stated expiration date; others do not.  Even if they do not, will that check be “good” eight years from now?  If that check says “Valid for 60 days” on its face, what happens if you (or the person who bought it) die unexpectedly six months from now?

 

Neither of these is an effective, or efficient, estate planning tool. Although savings bonds are generally considered very safe, stable investments, eventually they stop earning interest.  Using a stored cashier’s check to pass an asset to someone else has many other risks associated with it.  If you or someone you know is leaving money lying around, or might be, do them, or yourself, a favor, and ask them to look at it, and evaluate how that money is invested.  It almost certainly could be put to more effective investment.


After all, it is “What Will Be Your Legacy?” month (August).  Your financial gift is only one part of your legacy, but it is undeniably an important part.  You should put your money to use, and not leave it on the table.

WHAT IS A “REFUGEE”?

 

The plight of thousands of unaccompanied children caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has been a national news story for weeks.  Reports indicate that many of the children have come from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to flee gang-related violence, raising the question of whether these children should be considered “refugees” upon their arrival.      

 

There is a reason this question is important. Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee. That protection includes the right to not be deported back to the country the person fled. 


And there is a reason this question has no easy answer:  the very definition of  “refugee” listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act is over 300 words long-almost as long as this entire article!

Technically, refugees are people outside of BOTH their country of origin AND the U.S., and who are unable or unwilling to return to their home country because of “persecution on account of

[1] race,

[2] religion,

[3] nationality,

[4] membership in a particular social group, or

[5] political opinion.”

 

Because the children currently held under the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are already on U.S. soil, they are more accurately described as potential “asylees”-but to be granted asylum, they must still meet the definition of a refugee (go figure).  In short, a person can only ask for “refugee” status from outside the U.S., and “asylum” status when already in the U.S. But the criteria are the same: past persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution upon return to the home country, based on one of five categories. 

 

This is why, under current U.S. law, the children stuck at the border face an uphill battle: in order to be granted asylum, each child would have to establish that they were – or could be – persecuted in their country of origin for a very specific reason. But the drug-related violence that has ravaged parts of Central America apparently has nothing to do with race, religion, or nationality. And rather than being persecuted because of membership in a particular social group or political opinion, it is possible that many of the unaccompanied children were in danger simply because they lived at the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Whether their misfortune warrants a broader definition of “refugee” is up for Congress to decide – once Congress return from break, of course.

Issue: 28       
In This Issue
Are You Leaving Money on the Table?
WHAT IS A “REFUGEE”?
What’s Funny About Romance?
AUGUST: THE MOST ROMANTIC TIME OF THE YEAR?
Paradise Lost or Firewood?
Class Action Denied!
Celebrate National Creamsicle Day!
Karen’s Home Cooking

What’s Funny About Romance?

    

August is not only National Romance Awareness month with a Kiss and Make-Up day on the 25th, it has also been proclaimed, by someone, somewhere, with no definable origin, that August 16th is National Tell a Joke day. I suppose there should be some humor tied in with romance because, after all, those who laugh together…

 

Here are a few “good ones” to get that very special day started off on the right foot:

 

 

You want to hear a pizza joke? Never mind, it’s pretty cheesy.

 

What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

 

What’s the best part about living in Switzerland? Not sure, but the flag is a big plus.

 

How does NASA organize their company parties? They planet.

 

The dyslexic devil worshiper sold his soul to Santa.

 

I used to think the brain was the most important organ. Then I thought, look what’s telling me that.

 

Happy National Tell a Joke Day!!!

 

AUGUST: THE MOST ROMANTIC TIME OF THE YEAR?

    

Here at the Hogwash editorial offices we are always attuned to odd holiday celebrations-especially when they last for the entire month.

 

Our latest discovery is that August is the “official” National Romance Awareness month. While it is unclear who proclaimed it so, the polls back up the choice: when asked what the most romantic days of the year are, 34% of Americans chose “summer vacations” (in comparison, Valentine’s Day received only 24% of the votes). Clearly, there is something else in the air besides pollen.

 

And should your romance go sour over the course of this month (possibly as a result of a National Lampoon-type summer vacation), do not despair! The mysterious holiday gods have a fallback plan: August 25 is the National Kiss and Make Up Day.

 

(Moral of the story: as family law practitioners, ROSI & GARDNER believe this would be a good time to remind readers that a divorce is not final until the judge signs a divorce judgment. Up until that point reconciliation is always an option.)

 

Paradise Lost or Firewood?

 

It has been said that there are two kinds of people – those who marvel at a stand of ancient trees as if in a cathedral and those who only see lumber and firewood.

 

In 1837, when Michigan became a state, nearly all the land was forested although the types of forests varied by region. Here in Northern Michigan forests were a mix of conifers and hardwoods. The dominant hardwoods were sugar maple, beech, yellow birch and oak while the conifers, all softwoods, included pine, hemlock, spruce and fir. In contrast, most of the southern third of Michigan was covered by hardwood forests dominated by oak and hickory. Reputedly, a squirrel could have crossed the state without having to come down from the treetops and a traveler from Detroit to Traverse City would rarely see the sky.

 

Today about half of Michigan’s 36.4 million acres are forested, mostly by second or third growth trees. As a timber state, most old growth forest was removed during the 19th century.

 

The value of Michigan’s timber was recognized early on when early 19th century legislators passed the “Tree Statute” says that “Any person who cuts down or carries off any wood, underwood, trees, or timber or despoils or injures any trees on another’s lands . . .without license to do so, is liable to the owner of the land . . . for three times the amount of actual damages.” In 1896 our Supreme Court in Longyear v Gregory, in response to a lumberman’s claim that the only damage that the landowner suffered from his wrongful taking of too many trees was the timber value of the trees explained the statute this way:

 

“An inspection of their bill of sale would have indicated to them that they had no right to cut the timber . . . . It cannot be the law that no degree of care is required of one who goes on land to cut timber, or that he may recklessly, and without trying to ascertain the facts, cut and carry away timber, and then say that the owner, who may have wanted to keep his timber, must content himself by receiving as his damages only what the timber was worth on the land. It was to meet such cases as the one at issue that the statute was passed.”

 

In a recent decision of our Court of Appeals, litigation in which we participated and which extended for more than six years, the court determined that a lumber buyer who purchased three truckloads of trees for $12,000 with a simple one-page handwritten agreement but who directed that the woodsmen cut six truckloads had not only caused the landowner to suffer damages of more than $29,000 but also that the lumber buyer was liable for treble damages under both the Tree Statute as well as the Conversion Statute, MCL 600.2919a, a total of more than $174,000. In addition the court left open for further determination an award of attorney fees to the landowner.

 

What does this all mean? We suggest that both a landowner and a lumber buyer should tread carefully when dealing with the purchase and sale of standing timber. A simple one page agreement, such as the one in the recent case, could be the recipe for wholly unanticipated and very expensive consequences. Consequently, we strongly recommend that, at the very least, the parties consider using this SAMPLE TIMBER SALE AGREEMENT 

 

If there is substantial timber to be cut it’s best to consult with a forester, attorney and/or tax advisor.

Class Action Denied!

 

May you prosecute a class action against the manufacturer of a coffeemaker because you cannot make Starbucks coffee with it, when the box says that you can?  A federal judge in Michigan said, rather resoundingly, “No.”

 

Ms. Montgomery filed a case in federal court in Michigan, claiming that the manufacturer and distributor of Tassimo coffee brewing machines violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, because the box wore the Starbucks logo and represented that it could be used to make Starbucks coffee.

 

The Tassimo system uses “T-Discs” to brew coffee in a “closed system,” meaning that the only way to make coffee with this machine is with T-Discs.  After Ms. Montgomery purchased her Tassimo machine, she learned that Starbucks T-Discs were no longer available for purchase.  The two companies had ended their relationship, and the neither the manufacturer nor Starbucks were distributing or selling “Starbucks” T-Discs.  For her, that significantly diminished the worth of the machine.

 

So, what did she do?  Presumably after contacting the manufacturer and not receiving a satisfactory response, she filed a law suit.  Then, her attorneys asked the court to make it a class action (and name her as class representative) of Michigan individuals who suffered similar “injuries” by their purchase of the Tassimo machine during a period of approximately 14 months (11/1/10 – 2/20/12).  

 

Judge Gordon J. Quist, U.S. District Court Judge, denied her request to certify it as a class action.  He ruled that Ms. Montgomery had not met her burden to prove that the ability to make Starbucks coffee with the machine was critical (“material”) to a significant number of consumers, in deciding to buy the Tassimo machine.  Even further, Judge Quist ruled that a class action was not appropriate, because the “damages” suffered by different purchasers (that is, how important making Starbucks coffee is to them) is very different from purchaser to purchaser.  He also found that different evidence for each of them would probably be necessary, to show what their individual expectations were in purchasing the machine, whether and how much it matters to them and their lives whether it brews Starbucks coffee, etc.  The manufacturer submitted a market study indicating that different people bought their Tassimos for different reasons (and that Starbucks discs were of differing importance to different customers, and completely unimportant to some).  Tassimo also said that in 2011, it made it known on its web site and social media sites that Starbucks T-Discs would no longer be available.  Presumably, Ms. Montgomery did not receive those notices before purchasing her machine.

 

Ms. Montgomery’s individual claim and case have not been dismissed.  So, what’s the lesson? Perhaps, “Let’s not make a federal case out of it.”


The case is Montgomery v Kraft Foods Global (U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, Judge Gordon J. Quist, Case No. 01:12-CV-00149).

Celebrate National Creamsicle Day!

 

  

Those of us of a certain age are bound to remember the Creamsicle – orange-vanilla ice cream on a wooden stick.

 

Has it been a few years since you’ve indulged in one? What has happened to it? Also, we may ask what happened to what to some – including the author – consider the most iconic harbinger of Summer: the Good Humor Trucks?

 

First of all, Creamsicles are owned by the same company that brings you popsicles and they’re now available in raspberry-vanilla and blueberry-vanilla as well as the traditional orange-vanilla.

 

Meanwhile, let me tell you the results of our research on The Good Humor Ice Cream Company Good Humor was created in 1920 by Harry Burt, a candy maker working in Youngstown, Ohio. Burt had already created what he called the “Jolly Boy Sucker,” a lollypop on a stick. Being unhappy with the name, Burt changed it to the “Good Humor Sucker.” An early advocate of health food, Burt believed that his Good Humor Sucker not only tasted great, but was healthful, too.

 

Burt soon added ice cream treats to his candy store. While working late in his store one summer evening, Burt created a chocolate coating for ice cream. Informed by his daughter that the sample treat was too sloppy to eat, Burt put wooden sticks in the ice cream to use as handles. The wooden sticks became solidly frozen into the ice cream due to the ice crystals formed from the residue of water in the wood handles. “Voila,” Burt had invented the Good Humor Bar.

 

A natural genius in marketing, Burt hired 12 trucks to transport the Good Humor Bar to his customers’ doorsteps, attaching bells on each of the trucks to draw attention to the product. Later he also began the use of pedal operated ice cream carts with the name Good Humor prominently placed on the sides. Sales of Good Humor Bars skyrocketed from Youngstown to Detroit and then Chicago with the ever present white trucks and pedal carts announcing their presence with ringing bells. It is reported that when Burt refused to pay protection money to Chicago gangsters, BAM!!, they blew up some of his trucks. The publicity was invaluable: Good Humor ice cream became Chicago’s favorite dessert.

 

Not everyone could become a Good Humor Man. Each was intensively trained and expected to live up to the image of the Good Humor Ice Cream Company: drivers in clean, white uniforms with a cheery manner who were friendly with children and looked after their safety. The drivers became the trademarks of the Good Humor Man. Burt was so successful in molding the image of the Good Humor Man that by the 1950s such virtues as enthusiasm, dedication, friendliness, dependability, and honesty had come to be associated with his ice cream company. Newspaper reports of the local Good Humor Man rushing a baby to a hospital for treatment and breaking up a counterfeit money operation in Long Island, New York, only added to the image.

 

In 1961, Good Humor began a downhill slide. Purchased by Thomas J. Lipton, a subsidiary of Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, with Burt gone and the company now managed by non-family members, Good Humor Ice Cream Company went through a period of significant change. While the Good Humor Bar remained the company’s primary product, such items as the Chocolate Eclair Bar and Strawberry Shortcake Bar were added to a growing product line. With the changing demographics of urban America, the friendly Good Humor Man who drove slowly through neighborhoods ringing his bells also began to disappear. In 1976 the last of the Good Humor trucks were sold and the company chose to focus on selling its ice cream in supermarkets and grocery stores.

 

Although we may miss the jingle of bells that were an important part of our childhood, fear not, all is not lost! Good Humor bars are available at Target in Traverse City and carts and trucks are available for rent for parties in several cities. You can find them on the “web” at Good Humor Company. Keep smiling!

August Special Offer

Wondering if a Trust is for you?  


45-minute free, no obligation consultation with an attorney to find out,
 if you call in by Aug. 31 and say “Hogwash!”

 
231-941-5878 

Offer Expires 8/31/2014

Karen’s Home Cooking 

 

 

Summer’s Bounty on the Table!

 

We have been eating a lot of walleye and perch this summer and are looking forward to salmon season coming up at the end of the month. The best way we have found to cook walleye is simply soaking the filets in milk or cream and then dipping them in ground saltine crackers sprinkled with a little pepper and dill.   Fry the filets in vegetable oil with a couple tablespoons of butter added just before they are done. No tartar sauce needed – only lemon juice please!

 

I’ve also been picking a LOT of berries – Saskatoons, currants, yellow and red raspberries and gooseberries. My next stop is the blueberry patch. I am experimenting with gin infusions and berry simple syrups   . . . soooo many possibilities from the lake, the bush, the vine and the soil.

 

Here are a few recipes we’ve come up with lately. Cheers to summer eating in Northern Michigan!

 

Earl Grey Infused Gin with Lavender Syrup

 

Soak four good quality Earl Grey tea bags in one cup of gin for 20 minutes. Discard the bags and chill.

 

For syrup: cook one part water to one part sugar and 2 tbsp. chopped Lavender flowers and leaves until the sugar dissolves. Strain the Lavender out and chill.

 

Add a couple ice cubes to your martini glass. Pour in the infused gin, a touch of vermouth or tonic, and a touch of the Lavender syrup. I like to mix sugar and salt together and dip the rim of the glass. Experiment to your taste. Watch out because the simple syrup can be too strong.

 

Jazzed Up Virgin Lemonade and Mint

 

Fill a clear glass with ice. Add 1/3 lemonade, 1/3 peppermint tea (sweetened or unsweetened), and 1/3 tonic water. Add a teaspoon of berries (I used red currants, but whatever is in season is ok), a slice of lime, and a peppermint leaf. (Crush the leaf with the back of a spoon before adding to your drink for extra flavor).

 

Herbed Chicken and Pearl Couscous

 

2 lbs. chicken thighs (with bones. Be picky about where you buy your chicken)

1 lemon

Lots of fresh herbs, garlic, smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper

Olive Oil

Coconut balsamic oil

Tomatoes

Goat Cheese, Feta or Mozzarella

 

Pearl Couscous (or rice) cooked with vegetable broth.

 

Cover chicken thighs with water. Add the zest and juice from one lemon and a handful of your favorite herbs, sea salt, black peppercorns and four cloves garlic. Boil steady for about 20-40 minutes depending on the size of thighs. Strain the broth and save it for other dishes.

 

Remove chicken from bones and chop into bite size pieces. Drizzle the chicken with coconut balsamic oil, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and smoked paprika. Mix it well with your hands.

 

Place the seasoned chicken on top of the cooked couscous. Drizzle with the herbed chicken broth. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes, goat cheese or mozzarella and fresh chopped basil and/or cilantro. This is a great dish to make ahead of time and bring to a potluck. It is very good at room temperature. Just add the tomatoes, herbs and cheese when you get to the party so they are fresh.

 

Poached salmon in this dish works well too.

 

Carrot and Coconut Salad

 

Ingredients

 

5 large carrots, grated

1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut

1 cup dried figs, chopped (optional – you can use raisins or dried cherries or cranberries instead)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 bunch chopped parsley

bunch chopped cilantro or mint

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

cup olive oil

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Lettuce or radicchio leaves (to serve it on)

 

Place the first six ingredients in a large bowl and combine.

 

Make a dressing with the lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Serve on lettuce or radicchio leaves.

 

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Rosi & Gardner, P.C.
735  S. Garfield Avenue
Suite 202
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
231-941-5878
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Philip R. Rosi

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Gary Allen Gardner
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