Hi all, Some of you may remember, I had a house fire on June 3rd of last year. Everyone was safe, including the two puddy-cats. But the house and contents was a total loss. I have been in a nice apartment in town ever since, cleaning and testing my surviving station gear. Some of it is fine, some are not. Mostly it's the newer stuff that didn't fair well, while the vintage stuff is fine business. However, not having a station in the interim has been a disappointment. More so when you consider how long I didn't have the ability to set up a decent station due to living as a renter for most of my life. Now I have a house and did put together a great station, only to be denied by "the event". Grr ... What advice I can give to anyone who owns their house outright (no mortgage) is to make sure you have excellent homeowners insurance. The costs are huge otherwise. Saving money each year by not having insurance would be a recipe for potential pain and expense, if not total homelessness. Ya know ... a penny wise, dollar foolish sort of thing. Trust me, saving a few thousand a year on insurance is just ignorant. I had had great insurance fortunately, yet of course, it's a process. Like I said the fire happened last June and the house will not be livable until late May. This is due to "the process" of filing and receiving payment on a claim. Take for instance that a complete, and I mean complete, inventory on every item in the house had to be performed before any construction could be started, including remediation. Even with a professional company doing the inventory (under my watchful eye) it took five months to get a preliminary payment. However, I know dealing with "the process" is far better than trying to secure financing equal to or greater than the resale value of the property, which is generally is what it costs at a minimum to replace the home and contents. I have my own public adjuster, who oversees and negotiates with the carrier, however that doesn't mean I can sit by and let things go on their own. I have spent everyday since the fire on the phone, paying bills, front-loading moneys, acquiring permits and inspections, and overseeing construction. Everyday. It's a full time job, even with the excellent professionals I have on this. There is an upside to all this though. A brand new house and stuff. Everything is being replaced and upgraded. For instance, I now have a 300A AC service back to the utility pole, versus the 100A service I had previously. It is configured for the addition of solar power if I go that route in the future. The entire house (not just my station) is now wired to code. The entire house is now insulated; every wall, floor and roof. It wasn't previously. The heating system and boiler are new efficient units. The previous boiler was from the fifties and oil. It's now piped gas. The cost for heating was over $500/month every month all year on an oil contract. Mind you in the winter we kept the thermostat at 69F! Now we estimate from the required energy audit that heating will cost only $75/month averaged over 12 months at 72F. Quite a savings indeed on this small two-bedroom house. New appliances means better efficiency on power overall, which means more utilitarian savings. The entire second floor was removed and replaced down to the deck, including the various gables. The only original structure was the first floor framing, which was also adapted to modern standards such as proper headers across the top of all entryways, doors and windows, along with reinforced vertical support beams. The original wood single-pane casement windows and doors are all replaced with modern energy efficient replacements. New sheet-rock throughout the entire house. No changes to the original floor plan nor square footage. I could have added some more room, but I was concerned about tax assessment. The town assessors office came in to do an inspection and actually reduced my real estate taxes slightly, since the property values in the area had dropped from when the last assessment was performed in 2007. Surprise! The actual construction costs are coming in around $200K and the contents replacement costs look to be about $125K. This is a small house, very small. It's enough for a family of three or two people at best. No dining room. Just a small kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, a tiny front room (converted porch), one bath, an attic and unfinished basement. It is what some would call a Long Island bungalow. The point is ... I can't imagine what I would do if I hadn't had good homeowners insurance. While getting the approvals and money out of the carrier is like pulling teeth on an elephant, in the end they will be paying for all of it. To date we have about 80% paid and in hand at this point, with more promised and highly likely to come. Another point ... make sure you have a separate endorsement to cover amateur radio equipment and associated gear. I added that last year in February, and I am ecstatic I did. Otherwise none of it would have been covered at all. Most homeowners policies do not cover electronics, or is depreciated by 80% or more if it is. I had a full replacement cost value endorsement added to the policy (for the entire contents of the house), along with a separate similar endorsement for all of my electronics, which means everything is covered outright and any depreciation is recoverable once replacements are purchased. This cost me an additional $261 per year on my premium. My losses, including my professional audio, home audio and my shack gear, are about $50K. So the added premium was well worth the cost in the long run. The point I am trying to make here is all these benefits that did come out of this disaster are only happening because I had insurance ... good insurance. Proper insurance, not the bear minimums. I know there would have been no way I could have been able to perform or finance a fifth of what has been done to date without good insurance. As far as the station, during the interim the town came and took down the last tree in the front of my house. Damn invasive species insects did it in. So the east end of my dipole has nowhere to go. So it looks like a pole is going up in my front yard. Gotta talk with the neighbors and see what they think, not to mention my friend the mayor. Funny thing is the construction went on around my masting on the house for the feed-point of the dipole which was on the chimney, much to the dismay of the workers. But they didn't mess with it at all. In fact they coiled it up neatly and secured it. I plan to be back on the air sometime late summer, maybe sooner. Of course it all depends on delays caused by our little "democratic hoax" that "will go away like a miracle in few weeks". Umm ... yeah. Hope all of you are healthy and heeding the warnings of the reasonable sensible people. It only seems bad in New York because we are actually doing large scale testing, 10 to 1 of other states. I got tested and I am asymptomatic. So the numbers here are more reflective of the truth; not the results of the hopeful or uncommitted. If you're outside of New York, do yourself and others a favor. Stay home. Where there is little testing going on you must assume you and everybody else have it; there is no way to know for sure since few people have been tested outside of NY. This is not a flu, and hundreds of thousands will be dead at the end of this in the US. So stay home and keep you and your community safe or at least safer. Play radio!!!!