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GARDEN ORB

Jay Gao recently snapped this unique photo of a large gazing ball, an art installation called The Sphere, at Avalon Park & Preserve’s wildflower field in his hometown of Stony Brook using a Nikon D750. 

Fun fact: Bavaria’s King Ludwig II loved gazing balls so much he had them produced in many sizes to be hung in trees, floated in ponds and displayed atop ornate pedestals around his Herrenchiemsee palace. King Ludwig’s obsession led to the use of glass baubles as Christmas tree ornaments.

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com.

This article was updated on Sept. 19.

Honey

MEET HONEY!

Honey is an adorable 2-year-old Catahoula mix currently waiting at Kent Animal Shelter for a new home. She was rescued in Texas where she faced an uncertain fate. All she needs now is a loving family to make her one of their own. Is that you? Honey comes spayed, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. For more information on Honey and other adoptable pets at Kent, visit www.kentanimalshelter.com or call 631-727-5731.

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I didn’t see a horrifying and preventable accident this morning. I didn’t see a little girl, let’s call her Erica, on her way to her first week of school.

Erica, who, in our story, is 10 years old, wants to be a veterinarian, and has pictures of animals all over her room. She begged her parents so long for a kitten that they relented. They saw how well she took care of the kitten, putting drops in her eyes when she needed them, making sure she got the correct shots and even holding her kitten in the office when they had to draw blood to test for feline leukemia, which, fortunately, her kitten didn’t have.

Two years after she got her kitten, Erica continued to ask for additional animals, adding a fish, a rabbit and a hamster to her collection. Each morning, Erica wakes up and checks on all the animals in her little zoo, well, that’s what her father calls it, to see how they’re doing.

Her mother is convinced that the animals respond to her voice, moving closer to the edge of the cage or to the door when they hear her coming. When mother leaves to pick up Erica from school, the animals become restless.

I didn’t see Erica walking with her best friend Jenna. Like Erica, Jenna has a dream. She wants to pitch for the United States in softball in the Olympics. Jenna is much taller than her best friend and has an incredible arm. Jenna hopes the Olympics decides to have softball when she’s old enough and strong enough to play. Jenna thinks bringing a gold medal to her father, who is in the Marines and has traveled the world protecting other people, would be the greatest accomplishment she could ever achieve.

I didn’t see a man, whom I’ll call Bob and who lives only four blocks from Erica and Jenna, put on his carefully pressed light-blue shirt with the matching tie that morning. I didn’t witness him kissing his wife Alicia, the way he does every morning before he rushes off to his important job. I didn’t see him climb into his sleek SUV and back quickly out of his driveway on the dead-end block he and Alicia chose more than a dozen years earlier.

I didn’t see Bob get the first indication from his iPhone 7 that he had several messages. I didn’t witness Bob rolling his eyes at the first few messages. I didn’t see him drive quickly toward the crosswalk where Erica and Jenna were walking. The girls had slowed down in the crosswalk because Jenna pointed out a deer she could see across the street in a backyard. Jenna knew Erica kept an animal diary and she was always on the lookout for anything her friend could include in her cherished book.

I didn’t see Bob — his attention diverted by a phone he had to extend to see clearly — roll too quickly into the crosswalk, sending both girls flying. I didn’t see the ambulances racing to the scene, the parents with heavy hearts getting the unimaginable phone calls, and the doctors doing everything they could to fix Jenna’s battered right arm — her pitching arm.

I didn’t see it because it didn’t happen. What I did see, however, was a man in an SUV, driving way too quickly through a crosswalk, staring at his phone instead of looking out for Erica, Jenna and everyone else’s children on his way to work.

It’s an old message that we should repeat every year: “School is open, drive carefully.”

This Column is reprinted from September 14, 2017 issue.

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When we have visitors, we like to show off our neighborhoods. We take our guests to the beaches to admire the beautiful shoreline and we bring them to our villages to enjoy restaurants and shops. But some stores have been forced to close largely because so much shopping now takes place on the internet.

The owners and managers of stores that remain have learned that they must do more than in the past to attract customers. That is true of malls, department stores and especially smaller retail shops. To compete with the convenient internet, they have to offer an appealing experience for the consumer to visit them.

We are proud of our downtowns and want to publicize their efforts to attract business, especially for their best season before the holidays. To provide a local shopping event and a fun experience, we have arranged a private holiday treat at the Bates House opposite the Emma Clark Library in Setauket. Hometown stores and services from Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor, Northport, Smithtown, St. James, Stony Brook, Setauket-East Setauket, Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Mount Sinai, Miller Place, Rocky Point, Sound Beach, Shoreham, Wading River, Centereach, Selden and Lake Grove will feature their offerings at this charming venue for our local residents. Those who come out to enjoy this showcase will find a discount of 20 percent for some products and services.

Shoppers will be exposed to neighbors and friends as they sample community gatherings. Business owners will look to demonstrate what’s new for the holidays, from products or services to gift certificates and one-time discounts.

To make the occasion more delightful, there will be dessert bites from Elegant Eating and prosecco wine provided by TBR News Media/Times Beacon Record as a treat for shoppers, who will attend free.

Those businesses who are participating will enjoy a discounted rate at the gala in addition to their advertising in our holiday book, “Time for Giving.” They will also have advertising on our internet website and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Furthermore, we will have spot interviews with each exhibitor and streaming live video throughout the event on Facebook on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 5:30-8:30 pm. For further information, please turn to the large ad in our Arts & Lifestyles section in the center of the newspapers. also see our website and social media.

We will be proud to feature our private holiday shopping experience and hope you will, too. Please join us.

Placing one foot in front of the other can lead to impressive mental and physical benefits. Stock photo
Benefits are seen with modest exercise

By Dr. David Dunaief

Dr. David Dunaief

There is great emphasis on exercise. We have heard it is good for us ever since we were children in gym class striving for the presidential fitness award. 

The average reaction, unfortunately, is an aversion to exercise. As kids, many of us tried to get out of gym class, and as adults, we “want” to exercise, but we “don’t have time.” The result of this is a nation of couch potatoes. I once heard that the couch is the worst deep-fried food. It perpetuates inactivity, especially when watching TV. Even sleeping burns more calories.

I think part of the problem is that we don’t know what type of exercise is best and how long and frequently to do it. 

Well, guess what? There is an easy way to get tremendous benefit with very little time involved. You don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t have to join a gym. You can sharpen your wits with your feet.

Jane Brody has written in The New York Times’ Science Times about Esther Tuttle. Esther was 99 years old, sharp as a tack and was independently mobile, with no aids needed. She continued to stay active by walking in the morning for 30 minutes and then walking again in the afternoon. The skeptic might say that this is a nice story, but its value is anecdotal at best. 

Well, evidence-based medicine backs up her claim that walking is a rudimentary and simple way to get exercise that shows incredible benefits. One mile of walking a day will help keep the doctor away. 

Walking has a powerful effect on preserving brain function and even growing certain areas of the brain (1). Walking between six and nine miles a week, or just one mile a day, reduced the risk of cognitive impairment over 13 years and actually increased the amount of gray matter tissue in the brain over nine years.

Those participants who had an increase in brain tissue volume had a substantially reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment. Interestingly, the parts of the brain that grew included the hippocampus, involved with memory, and the frontal cortex, involved with short-term memory and executive decision making. There were 299 participants who had a mean age of 78 and were dementia free at the start of the trial. Imagine if you started earlier? 

In yet another study, moderate exercise reduced the risk of mild cognitive impairment with exercise begun in mid-to-late life (2). 

Even better news is that, if you’re pressed for time or if you’re building up your stamina, you can split a mile into two half-mile increments. How long does it take you to walk a half-mile? You’ll be surprised at how much better you will  feel — and how much sharper your thinking is.

If you ratchet up the exercise to running, a study showed that mood improves, mollifying anger (3). The act of running actually increases your serotonin levels, a hormone that, when low, can make people agitated or angry. So exercise may actually help you get your aggressions out.

Walking has other benefits as well. We’ve all heard about the importance of doing weight-bearing exercise to prevent osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures. The movie “WALL-E” even did a spoof on this, projecting a future where people lived in their movable recliners. The result was a human skeletal structure that had receded over the generations from lack of use. Although it was tongue in cheek, it wasn’t too far from the truth; if you don’t use them, bones weaken and break. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps strengthen your joints, bones and muscles. 

So remember, use your feet to keep your mind sharp. Activities like walking will help you keep a positive attitude, preserve your bones and help increase the plasticity of your brain.

References: 

(1) Neurology Oct 2010, 75 (16) 1415-1422. (2) Arch Neurol. 2010;67(1):80-86. (3) J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2010 Apr;32(2):253-261.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

We invite you to check out our new weekly Medical Compass MD Health Videos on Times Beacon Record News Media’s website, www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

Ute Moll. Photo courtesy of Stony Brook University

By Daniel Dunaief

In the battle against cancer, human bodies have built-in defenses. Cancers, however, can hijack those systems, turning them against us, not only allowing them to avoid these protective systems, but converting them into participants in a process that can often become fatal.

Such is the case for the p53 gene. One of the most closely studied genes among researchers and clinicians, this gene eliminates cells with damaged DNA, which could turn into cancer. Mutations in this genetic watchdog, however, can turn this genetic hero into a villainous cancer collaborator. Indeed, changes in the genetic code for p53 can allow it to produce a protein that protects cancer from degradation.

Ute Moll. Photo courtesy of SBU

Ute Moll, professor and the vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, has made important strides in studying the effect of mutations in this gene over the last five years, demonstrating how the altered gene and the protein it creates are an important ally for cancer.

Moll published her most recent finding in this arena in the journal Cancer Cell. The Stony Brook scientist, working with an international team of researchers that included collaborators from her satellite lab at the University of Göttingen, advanced the work on previous results.

This research, which is done on mice that develop tumors through a process that more closely resembles human cancer growth, is a “very good mimic in the molecular and clinical features of human colon cancer,” Moll said.

The main research was done on a faithful mouse model of human colorectal cancer that produces mutant p53, Moll explained. She then confirmed key findings in human colon cancer cells and in survival analysis of patients.

This model allowed Moll to “study tumors in their natural environment in the intact organism with its tumor surrounding connective tissue and immune system,” Ken Shroyer, the chairman of the Department of Pathology at SBU School of Medicine, explained in an email.

The tumors that develop in these mice are driven by mutant p53 and are dependent on it for their continued growth. “These tumors overexpress mutant p53 at high levels,” which makes them a “formidable drug target for their removal,” Moll said.

By deleting the mutant p53 gene, she was able to slow and even stop the progression of the cancer. “We can show that when we remove mutant p53 either genetically or pharmacologically, we are cutting down invasiveness.” Mice with deleted mutants had fewer and smaller tumors and showed over a 50 percent reduction in invasive tumor numbers, she explained.

Finding ways to mitigate the effect of mutant p53 is important for a wide range of cancers. The mutated version Moll studied is the single most common p53 mutation in human cancer, which has a mutation that switches an amino acid for an incorrect one. This amino acid change destroys the normal function of the p53 gene.

The mutation she studies represents about 4.5 percent of all cancers. That amounts to 66,000 cancer patients in the United States each year.

More broadly, mutations in p53 in general, including those Moll didn’t study, are involved in half of all human cancers, Shroyer explained, which makes it the “single most common cancer mutation.”

Yusuf Hannun, director of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, suggested that the work Moll did could have important clinical implications.“The deciphering of this mechanism clearly indicates new cancer therapy possibilities,” Hannun wrote in an email. The models she worked with are “quite promising.”

In addition to finding ways to stop the progression of cancer in mice with this damaged gene, Moll and her colleagues also used an Hsp90 inhibitor, which blocks a protein that protects the mutant protein from being degraded.

Inhibiting this protein has other positive effects, as the inhibitor eliminates other co-mutant proteins that could also drive tumors. “We are hitting multiple birds with one stone,” Moll said.

Hsp90 inhibitors are a “complicated story” in part because they have strong side effects in the liver and the retina. Researchers are working on the next generation of inhibitors.

A class of anti-cholesterol drugs called statins, which Moll called “one of the blockbuster drugs of medicine,” also has mutant p53 degrading effects, which work against some mutants, but not in others. The benefits are inconsistent and involve confounding variables, which makes interpreting their usefulness difficult, she added.

Moll said her recent article in Cancer Cell has triggered a number of email exchanges with a range of people, including with a patient whose cancer involved a different type of mutation. She has also had discussions with researchers on several other possible collaborations and has started one after she published her recent work.

The scientist is hopeful that her studies will continue to contribute to an understanding of the development and potential treatment of cancer.

Degrading mutant p53 has shown positive results for mice, which indicates “in principle” that such an approach could work down the road in humans, she suggested.

FAUNA AND FLORA

Sound Beach resident Bonnie Boeger took this beautiful photo while walking in Rocky Point with her iPhone8 Plus. She writes, “The multicolored coneflowers were all lined up and this little guy was posing for me. Apparently I was talking to him, asking him to move and spread his wings. I love photographing butterflies and plants and as much butterfly- and bee-friendly stuff as possible, but you never know where they will be.”

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com.

A view of the Barone Cornacchia winery with sunflowers in the foreground.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

The Barone Cornacchia winery is situated in the region of Abruzzo (known as Abruzzi in Italy) located in a mountainous area east of Latium in the south-central part of Italy off the Adriatic Sea. In this region the two most prolific and popular grape varieties are trebbiano (a white grape) and Montepulciano (a red grape).

The winery, which dates to 1577, is run by Barone Cornacchia’s son Filippo and daughter Caterina. It specializes in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a single vineyard Le Coste wine in addition to the everyday Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a reserve from the prestigious Colline Teramane DOCG.

I tasted some of the wines with Caterina Cornacchia on several occasions and here are my notes:

2016 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (100 percent trebbiano grapes): If you don’t like trebbiano because it’s thin and neutral tasting, well you’ve been drinking mass-produced examples. What a wine! Medium bodied with citrus notes of orange along with almonds, apple, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, melon, pears and wild flowers.

2015 Pecorino “Colli Aprutini” (100 percent pecorino grapes). No, not the cheese! Pecorino is a white grape that deserves considerably more attention. Straw colored with flavors of apples, citrus, figs, peaches, pears and tropical fruit. Quite dry, with a bitter almond aftertaste.

2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). Dark almost purple color with plenty of dark fruit, blackberries, black cherries, jam, anise, chestnuts and a spicy warming aftertaste. Not a mass-produced wine! Forget a bottle, buy a case!

2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigna Le Coste” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). This elegant “single-vineyard” wine was aged for 14 months in Slavonian oak barrels. Deep ruby color with flavors of plum, spices, black currants, cherries, and earthy overtones of mushrooms and chestnuts.

2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Colline Teramane” DOCG “Vizzarro” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). The wine was aged for more than 2 years in oak barrels. Rich, dry, full bodied and powerful with concentrated fruit; flavors of jam, blackberries and black licorice; with dried leaves, vanilla and plenty of tannin to ensure longevity.

Two cheeses from Abruzzo worth searching out are scamorza and Scanno:

Scamorza, a cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella is light yellow, with a rindless pear-shaped exterior and soft to semisoft texture. It is mild and slightly salty tasting and often smoked (affumicato). In southern Italian dialect, the name scamorza means “dunce.”

Scanno, a sheep’s milk cheese from the mountain village of Scanno is traditionally eaten with fresh fruit. The exterior is black with a buttery pale-yellow interior. The flavor has a mild burnt tinge to it.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

By Barbara Beltrami

Like so many holidays, Rosh Hashana, which begins the Jewish New Year on the evening of Sept. 9, features an assortment of traditional foods. Among them are carrots, pomegranates, fish and, last but not least, bread, apples and honey. Each of these has a symbolic association with the idea of plenty, prosperity, newness, beauty and sweetness — all very happy and positive bodings for the new year. I would love to go into what each means, but my editor would have a conniption if I wrote all that. Anyway, below are recipes that feature three of those very important elements of the Rosh Hashana table … apples and honey for a sweet and happy new year and challah for a prosperous one.

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

Apple-Honey Loaf Cake

 

YIELD: Makes two 9×5×3-inch loaves.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 apples peeled, cored and shredded 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour loaf pans. In a large bowl combine sugar and oil; add eggs and beat until mixture is pale yellow. Stir in ¾ cup of the honey and vanilla. In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir into egg mixture just until moistened. Fold in apples. Pour batter into loaf pans; bake 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Heat remaining quarter cup of honey until warm. Let cake cool 15 minutes, then invert onto plate, prick with a fork and drizzle warm honey over top. Serve with dessert wine, coffee or tea.

Holiday Challah

Holiday Challah

YIELD: Makes 2 large loaves.

INGREDIENTS:

Four ¼-ounce packages quick-rise yeast

4 cups warm (105–115 F) water

2 tablespoons salt

¾ cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening, melted

4 eggs

10 to 12 cups bread flour (approximate)

1 egg

¼ cup poppy seeds

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; stir to moisten. Stir in salt, sugar, shortening and the 4 eggs. Gradually mix in flour, one cupful at a time until dough becomes slightly sticky but not wet. (You may not need all the flour.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Grease two baking sheets and set aside. Cut dough into two equal pieces, then divide each of those pieces into 3 equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll each of the smaller pieces into a 12-inch rope about the thickness of a thumb, but thicker in the middle and thinner toward each end. For each loaf, braid the 3 ropes, pinch together and tuck under at ends. Gently pat each loaf into a circular shape and lift onto baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel let rise in a warm place until double in size, 60 to 90 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat remaining egg with ½ teaspoon water and brush top of each loaf with mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until tops are shiny and golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

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Question: Put together some sci-fi, add a bit of spy thriller and what have you got? Answer: The latest hypothesis for what caused the symptoms and illnesses of our diplomatic representatives in Cuba and then in China. The Cuban incident caused a serious rift in the newly mellowed relationship between Cuba and the United States. Now scientists are suggesting that microwaves might be the weapons.

It seems that weapons emitting microwave radiation, not the short waves that come from our kitchen microwave ovens or connect our cellphones to antennae towers, have been considered by military specialists for mind control since the Cold War. These invisible beams can transmit painfully loud booms and even spoken words into people’s heads, according to an astonishing story by William J. Broad on the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times. Now Douglas H. Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the lead author of a recent study of 21 affected diplomats from Cuba, pointed to this possible cause of the brain injuries.

The Frey effect, named after American biologist Allan H. Frey, occurs when microwaves cause the brain to “hear” ordinary sounds, like loud noises, ringing and even human voices. These can be the result of stealth attacks with sonic weapons.

Jason, a secretive group of elite scientists that, according to The Times, helps the federal government assess new threats to national security, has been called in to figure out the cause of the symptoms. While the group has not issued any explanations, nor has the FBI, it is certainly studying the possibility of microwaves being the agents. Frey, 83, who lives near Washington, agrees. He even thinks that a group of Cubans aligned with Russia, their longtime ally, might have launched such an attack. “It’s a possibility … a perfectly viable explanation,” to disrupt a closer United States-Cuban relationship.

Microwaves, a form of electromagnetic radiation, are everywhere and are generally seen as harmless. However, when tightly focused, as when dish antennas turn the disorganized rays into concentrated beams, they can cause even deaf people to hear false sounds. Frey, in effect, founded a new field of study on the neural impact of radiation waves. He realized that the human head, because of its dimensions, is a good antenna for picking up microwave signals. The temporal lobes, beneath the temples, are where nerve signals from the outer and inner ear are processed. The effect is now called radio-frequency hearing.

Others took note. The Soviets built labs with armed guards to study the neural impact of microwaves and envisioned arms that they called psychophysical or psychotronic. These sounds, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned, could disrupt military or diplomatic personnel.

The U.S. Air Force jumped in to research how to beam comprehensible speech into the heads of enemies. The Navy sought to paralyze with the beams. Russia, China and European nations know how to make such weapons today. The weapon might look like an innocuous satellite dish and could fire beams over relatively short distances. We do know that Russian President Vladimir Putin resurrected “work on psychoactive arms” as recently ago as 2012, according to The Times.

There is still no definitive explanation for the sickness of diplomatic personnel in Cuban and subsequently China, but suspicions of microwave radiation remain high on the list. The problem in pinpointing them is the stealth.

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