Friday, August 30, 2013

Update on Fire Aftermath

Actually there is no real update, and I am counting days since the fire on Day 0.

After the initial two weeks of hurry up and get over there to disarm and arm the alarm (electricity restored on Day 3), and lock things back up, besides making sure if they've removed a board from a window that it's replaced (not always done), nothing has happened in the past two due to waiting for the insurance company.

They have been to the house twice already - on Day 2 (ok to hire electrician to turn on power), and on Day 25 to confirm the adjuster's assessment on Day 2 regarding future structural work to restore.

Their initial structural adjuster on Day 2 talked about smoke in the hollow walls all the way up to the second floor. (I realize how lucky we were to catch the fire that quickly due to that tidbit about balloon construction used for over a century) 

Before any approvals can be given to do more than cut peepholes in the wall, another insurance company rep needs to inspect the house.  He has an appt for Day 35.

Even if I try to see it from their POV (point of view), this seems inefficient.  Let's say their initial person dispatched has no authority other than to say 'yep, it was a fire', the second one should have some assessment ability to report back to them and begin the approval process.

Also, I am using their chosen restoration contractor.  Do they distrust this company so much they need to do this many reinspections?  

There's also my sarcastic angle.  I was told this week I will be out of my house 6 to 12 months.  If they send two guys a month out to my house to stick a dry sponge in their peepholes that long, will they eventually come out clean?   When that happens, they say 'No further work needed other than some spackle and paint'?

I've also let my not-so-nice side out of the cage to talk on the phone since I'm 'definitely not satisfied' with the ability to utilize my loss of use coverage through a company that specializes in short-term disaster, emergency, corporate, and government leases for temporary furnished housing.

At first I was not sure how long I'd be out of my house, and I realize a dog-owner with cats would be difficult to place.  However, I expected at least ONE phone call or email for me to list preferences, quantity, or any dealbreakers at some point because I was told they would call me on Day 1.  They didn't.  They didn't call for many days.

This morning I rec'd a response to my 'not satisfied' ranting - Day 30.  I'm told expecting any query regarding my preferences would be premature because they need insurance company approval first.

Am I supposed to empathize with these bureaucratic buffoons because I know what it's like to have a place to live with all the comforts of home, including my pets?  But apparently since my life is not their life, these numbnuts prefer to dick around for a month.

Meanwhile my dogs have been sleeping outside for a month.  They made it to their golden or senior years without ever doing that for even one night.

Due to my reliance on these companies at this time, I am leaving their company names absent from this blog post, but I intend to edit them in later once I get a sliver of deplorable service out of all these slower-moving-than-a-glacier incompetents.  Future updates may reflect an improved level of service, but at the moment I'm not classifying the insurance company or temporary housing specialist as efficient or able.

Friday, August 16, 2013

LLCs to Protect Yourself - from what?

Things are moving slow regarding the house fire.  No real news to report.

So I'm going back to blogging about the publishing schemers.  Should you form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) as an author? 

Before I jump into the scheme, I will say that anyone can sue anyone in the United States for any reason.  So if based on that, I guess it wouldn't hurt except that LLCs aren't free.  I'm not overly concerned that someone will sue based on my fiction writing since I'm definitely sure I wrote it, have backup files, posted info about it during National Novel Writing months, went to writing groups, and from there it'll be a tough case to prove otherwise.  And what would they hope to gain, my royalties?  Plus their court costs?   Not a good get-rich-quick scheme.   Damages?  How does a fictional novel damage someone?  I even googled Vanna's name to make sure there weren't a bunch of Vanna Ames around.  There wasn't even a historic figure named Neferseshotep.

However, the real scheme (according to the schemers) is to use other work that you wouldn't legally be able to use and hide behind the LLC when it's found out.   That doesn't sound pleasant, but they were using as an example Broken Piano for President by Patrick Wensink.  I've actually blogged about Wensink's blog on Salon so when this scheme was floated at a dubious writing group, I knew exactly the book and author.   I don't think Wensink or his publisher started out with the intention of receiving an extremely polite cease-and-desist letter from Jack Daniels that they publicized because it was one of the nicest cease-and-desists ever.  Wensink admitted he made $12,000 in that six month royalty period because his book then became a bestseller so in Sharon terms this is also not a good get-rich-quick scheme.  I have imagination and like to think in terms of Powerball jackpot figures, rather than being able to cover a tuition bill.

But to the scheme -
(1) Set up a LLC. 
(2) Obtain a novel, search and replace names and insert products from chosen title.  The idea floated was similar to Marlboros and Budweisers. 
(3) The LLC publishes the novel.
(4) The LLC collects the royalties.
(5) The LLC pays every cent it receives to the schemer.
(6) Repeat steps 2-5.
(7) The LLC has no money when it is sued by the authors or trademark holders.

First off, I don't think this is very good for someone who claims to be an author.  Ideas should be popping up in your brain all the time so you don't have to manipulate someone else's text and slap your name on it.

Secondly and probably more importantly in legal terms, a LLC cannot be used to avoid personal liability.  Since I'm not a lawyer, I'll point you to Maxwell S. Kennerly, Esquire's post.

Basically, you can't set up a LLC to avoid taking responsibility for your wrongdoing.  Let's say I have my LLC and a teenager.  I register her car to the LLC.  When she drives through a red light, and a camera takes a picture, the ticket will be issued to the owner of the car - LLC.   Do you think I can say LLC has no money, and write ROTFLMAO across the summons? 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's a fire. Call 9-1-1

Last week, I was in class to renew my CPR certification.  As in previous courses, we had a good time pointing at each other and saying, "You - call 9-1-1 ..." followed by a list of instructions.

This week, I'm pretty sure I pointed at my daughter when I said, "Call 9-1-1."

M's a college student, had only been home five days from her summer course, and will be returning to school in less than a month.  She made the call and helped me get as many animals out of the house as possible, then handled the dogs for close to six hours after they were removed from the backyard with borrowed leashes.

The fire was in the basement.  I couldn't see the flames when I opened the cellar door when I was trying to track down the smoke smell.

The smoke detectors didn't go off until after the call was made and we were running around, trying to stuff cats in carriers.

Our town and the neighboring town's fire department responded and acted aggressively to put it out fast.  I'm thankful they were so proactive, and once the structure was deemed safe, the cat rescue folks, who all showed up with carriers, swarmed the house to find every cat that remained.  None jumped out a broken window or ran out an open door.