Authors Posts by Leah Dunaief

Leah Dunaief


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These paraprosdokians were culled from the internet and intended to give you a chuckle.

A paraprosdokian is a form of wordplay where the latter part of a sentence is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part.

The effect is frequently humorous.

Some examples:

1.   Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

2.   Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

3.   If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

4.   War does not determine who is right — only who is left.

5.   Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

6.   They begin the evening news with “Good evening,” then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

7.   To steal ideas from someone is plagiarism. To steal from many is called research.

8.   In filling in an application, where it says, “In case of emergency, notify,” I put “doctor.”

9.   I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10.   Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they look sexy.

11.   Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

12.   A clear conscience is the sign of a bad memory.

13.   I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

14.   Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Nor is there any future in it.

15.   Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

16.   Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

17.   Finally: I’m supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

18.   The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

19.   Two guys walked into a bar. The third one ducked.

20.   A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.

21.   Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but has to check when you say the paint is wet.

22.   Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

And my personal favorite:

23.   I am not arguing with you, I am explaining why you are wrong.

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Do you ever wish you had asked for advice about life from older members of the family or friends who have now passed away? I certainly do. Like an inheritance, advice that has withstood the test of time can make the life of the beneficiary easier. Hence the clever idea, by an assisted living community on Long Island, of producing a distributable calendar filled with some of the wisdom of its residents was immediately interesting to me. The Gurwin Jewish-Fay J. Lindner Residences, located in Commack, collected the thoughts of one person or couple in the community for each month and named the project “From Generation to Generation 2017.”

As the calendar states in the introduction, “The advice contained in these pages … is priceless, and made all the more meaningful because of the life experiences that season [the residents’] words of wisdom.”

The January advice comes from Gerald Burberry, who was sent to England on the Kindertransport — also known as Children’s Transport — during World War II and was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. Gerald focuses on the beauty in life through the lens of his camera and is an enthusiastic nature photographer. He and his wife have visited as many U.S. National Parks as they could in pursuit of his goal to “appreciate nature.”

Janet Munday adorns February and urges everyone to “blaze new trails.” She was a computer engineering major at Hofstra, one of few women at the time, and also played the bass guitar in a cover band and traveled to Italy just to learn Italian.

Others, like Helen and Mel Morgenstein, who are wedded 73 years, offer this advice to married couples: “Respect each other.” Mel adds, “Respect your differences, and have your own interests. It makes for a much better life together.” Mary Falcone says, “Cherish family.” She has four daughters, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, “They’re wonderful,” she declares and she sees them regularly. “Their heart is my heart.” Florence Levenbaum, who is 91, loves to dance. She urges, “Keep moving and smile.” For her, movement and good humor are the keys to good health. She posed for her photo in the calendar carrying a Wilson wooden tennis racket over her shoulder.

Further advice includes “Pursue your passions” from Stewart Greene, a devoted lifetime sailor; “Keep learning” from Sandra Peltz, a former registrar at Hofstra who feels she learns from each new person she meets; and “Be independent” from Ruth Kaufman, who doesn’t worry about what others might think and say. “Use common sense!” urges Edwin Zola, who feels that people could find a way to end war and suffering if they would treat others as they would like to be treated, adding, “This just makes sense.” And Sidney Klein speaks proudly about serving one’s country, as he did during WWII.

What advice would you pass along to those younger than you? I asked that question of some of the newspaper staff, and here is what they offered.

“Live in the moment,” said one. “And enjoy the moment.” Another counseled, “Don’t put it off,” whether a task, a career move or a relationship. “Anticipate life’s many stages,” suggested another. “Be yourself, don’t be afraid to be who you really are rather than trying to please others,” is one piece of advice one mother had just shared with her daughter. Another mother offered, “Enjoy your childhood. You are only a child once.” And how about this one for your children? “We were young once too!”

Some others included, “Work hard, play hard and include balance in your life,” “Be kind,” “Stick together with family,” “Hang around with happy people,” and this timely bit for today’s world, “Be entrepreneurial.”

You might ask what words I would offer the next generations. My advice: “Have courage.” Have the courage to be the person you want to be, to do the things you most wish to do, to go to the places you yearn to see, and to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

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The mood, to say the least, is unsettled. On the eve of the inauguration of the newly elected president of the United States, his approval rating is at a historic low in modern times. That said, there are two facts we know indisputably about President-elect Donald Trump. One is that he is not a politician. He does not say or do any of the politically correct things an incoming president typically says or does. He has engaged in a war of words with respected civil rights leader, John Lewis, to no particular benefit for himself. He has also responded forcefully to Meryl Streep, denigrated the CIA and largely gained the worried attention of many foreign leaders. He has done all this during the “honeymoon period,” when the incoming president traditionally tries to bind the wounds caused by pre-election campaigning and to unite the country behind him. In short, he has not stopped being himself.

But that is, after all, how he got elected. He is not traditional, he does not follow the rules. And that brings me to the second fact about Trump. He is our next president, the 45th to be exact. An outlier is what his supporters wanted, and that is how he is sweeping into the White House.

So much for polling and personal approval. And so much for rhetoric. Trump, once in office, will be judged on what he does, and so far he has scored some successes even before he enters 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. As the Disrupter in Chief, he seems to have persuaded some automotive companies to reconsider their plans for building new plants outside the country. And while the exact number is in dispute, he has managed to save some manufacturing jobs already. He has also secured an examination of the costs for building a new Air Force One.

Trump bills himself as a great deal maker. Certainly he has made a number of deals. Maybe the strategy when entering such a negotiation is to disrupt what has preceded the start of such talks. If that is true, he has surely succeeded in the foreign policy arena. Members of NATO are puzzled by his characterization of the post-World War II alliance as “obsolete.” For many believers, it is the foundation for long-awaited peace in Europe, especially between France and Germany. It also is thought to be a buffer between the United States and Russia. Maybe he is just rattling that cage to get members to pay a greater share of the costs of maintaining the alliance. He also questioned the value of the European Union, reserving some uncomplimentary words for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies. She and other European leaders are facing serious challenges from populist parties who are strongly anti-immigration. If Trump’s goal is to keep Europeans off balance, he seems to have won this round.

By indicating that the One China policy was open to negotiation, Trump has unnerved the Chinese leaders to the point of their declaring that “Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves.” By warning U.S. automakers of possible 35 percent tariffs on automobiles made in Mexico, he has elicited warnings from our neighboring country. The Russians, however, were not unhappy. “Let’s wait until he assumes office before we give assessment to any initiatives,” said a Russian spokesman.

Sounds like good advice to me. This is a most unusual incoming president with a mighty different style. Still, he is not to be underestimated, in the words of President Obama. He is an American and also, perhaps to our advantage, a New Yorker — the first to inhabit the White House since FDR.

Let’s give Trump a chance. We can always get excited if necessary and resist.

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Here we are, in a new year, and I am going to start off with a cautionary tale. I was just about to take a shower when I felt a small bump on my left thigh. I thought that was strange since I hadn’t before felt anything there but it was just beyond my view as I fingered the spot and craned my neck to try and see. Then, to my amazement, the bump came off in my hand, revealing itself to be a tick. Ugh!

The legs were moving so it was clearly alive and rather large, so I guessed it was a dog tick. With wonderful coincidence, I happened to have an appointment with the dermatologist that afternoon, so I put the tick into a little plastic baggie and brought him this present. Although I half expected him to just throw it away, he in fact filled out the paperwork and sent it to a lab.

Now I am sharing this with you because I suspect that, like me, you thought tick season had ended with the start of winter. I even stopped putting Frontline on my golden retriever, figuring any ticks would have gone into hibernation or been killed off by the colder weather. But I should have realized that the calendar and the weather aren’t always in sync. We have been enjoying fairly mild temperatures for this time of year and, as it turned out, so have the ticks.

Now I don’t know if the tick fancied me rather than my dog, or if he just found me as I was walking across the lawn or brushing against a bush while putting out the garbage. However it happened, I was, so to speak, stuck with him until that lucky moment when my fingers brushed against his body. Anyway, I got a call from the doctor four days later with the surprising news that despite its large size, the critter was an engorged deer tick.

Not good. We all know that deer ticks can carry Lyme disease and transmit it to humans when they suck up to you. We have had several deer sightings in the neighborhood, especially around a wooded piece of property nearby. To me they are beautiful, graceful animals, and I watch them with admiration as they run. But I certainly don’t appreciate the bugs they can bring and leave behind as a souvenir of their visits.

The doctor asked me if I preferred waiting for the blood test, six weeks away, to determine if in fact I had been infected or if I wanted to go on the antibiotic regime immediately. I chose the latter and began taking 100 mg of doxycycline, with lots of water but no food as seriously instructed, every 12 hours. But the story doesn’t end there.

After only two pills, I developed a headache that just wouldn’t quit. This is apparently a not uncommon side effect with this medicine. So I was then transferred to 500 mg of amoxicillin three times a day for at least 20 days and advised also to take a daily probiotic, though not within two to three hours of each other, and to eat lots of yogurt. As we know, that only partially works to offset the distress to the gastrointestinal tract that accompanies regular doses of antibiotics. Plus I have broken out in splotches of itchy rashes, another unhappy side effect.

Bottom line: A tick bite can be a nasty thing, bringing along all sorts of minor and even major miseries. So from my experience, I hope you will check your skin regularly, even hard to see places, and not assume that a tick is just another summer pest.

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year!

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“News” is one of my favorite four-letter words. Since I was a kid and watched the newsreels that preceded the feature films at movie theaters, before television, I have been engaged by the events that unfold around us on a daily basis. When they installed the public address system in my elementary school, instruction would stop for a half hour every Friday morning as “Let’s Look at the News,” a New York City-sponsored program, was transmitted to all the classrooms. The format involved student panelists each week, and I listened with great interest. I was even on the panel at the radio station when I was in fifth grade, which necessitated my reading the daily newspapers throughout the week. So in hindsight, I guess it is not so surprising that I wound up being a newspaper publisher, despite my teenage plans for a different direction. Hearing the news and interpreting its implications are as much a habit for me as breathing.

So you can understand my distress at the current tsunami of fake news that has overtaken us. News, by definition and tradition, must be factual. If not, it is either a parody in the guise of news; or it is opinion or partisan, clearly presented as such; or it is propaganda, to be thus evaluated by the viewer. Now, those in the business of offering the news can certainly make mistakes, sometimes colossal ones, as in telling us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction rather than emphasizing the fog and controversy surrounding that conclusion. Respected journalists told us that as fact, and though they believed what they were sharing, they were wrong.

That is different, however, from the plethora of so-called news stories that are deliberately fabricated and shared every day with millions thanks to access to social media. Everyone with a digital device can now become a publisher and disseminate half-truths, conspiracy theories and flagrant falsehoods as news, without any form of vetting. The more gullible or, perhaps, less informed, or those enjoying the partisan slant, like tabloid readers, are rapt viewers. Sometimes they respond, as did the North Carolina guy we heard about who shot up a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. because he heard that there was a child-abuse ring operating there. While extreme, it is not any more false than the news that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump before our recent election. Regardless of one’s political orientation, that sort of phony and hyperpartisan stuff is alarming — or should be. Further troubling is how to deal with the question of vetting versus censorship.

Worst, as a result of the proliferation of so much fake news, is the confusion it sows about all news. What’s true, what’s a lie? Whom and what to believe? The marvel of the internet and mobile phones to bring inside news about brutality of dictatorships or other previously secret horror stories to the world’s attention and thereby reduce their occurrence has now been inverted. All sorts of false horror stories can now be broadcast as truths. The impact on the real news is to diminish the effect and value of good reporting.

As Thomas Jefferson preached, without an informed public, democracy is not possible.

Ironically, speaking of Jefferson, he or his supporters placed deceitful and, in today’s view, libelous stories in early newspapers when he ran against John Adams for president, and Adams’ followers did the same. So this fake news epidemic is not something new; only having so many decentralized outlets for transmitting the lies is. Somehow we will sort this out, just as they did two centuries ago.

Meanwhile, read the hometown newspaper. We never lie and while we are not always accurate, publishing corrections for our inadvertent mistakes in the following issue, we hold fact to be sacred.

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This is a big THANK YOU to the Village of Port Jefferson and all those who worked hard to transform the village into the Charles Dickens Festival. For the 21st year in a row, the seaside village came to life in the time of Dickens, with decorations, lights, greenery and especially costumed characters roaming the streets and welcoming visitors. This year, a second THANK YOU for naming us, Times Beacon Record News Media, the honoree for the event.

The entire weekend was a thrill, for us and for the thousands of people who chatted with the characters, shopped in the many varied stores, ate in the wide selection of restaurants, rode in the horse-drawn carriage, enjoyed the festival of trees and took in the harbor views. How do I know? I asked the festivalgoers, because I was there every day from Thursday to Sunday, and they told me how they decided to come into the village. Some came from Connecticut, enthusiastic about the magical event because they had visited before and knew of the many fun activities. It also helped that Port Jefferson ferry general manager, Fred Hall, offered a two-for-one price special during the weekend. The 10:30 a.m. boat on Saturday morning had 300 walk-ons alone, and they came without cars so no parking problems, and they had money in their pockets to spend for a good time. And people came from towns to the east and west, responding to the publicity and reputation surrounding the annual fantasy on the Long Island Sound.

Everyone might take the festival for granted after all these years, but I know how it came about because I was also there at the beginning. It was the brainchild of Jeanne Garant, the mayor at the time and mother of the present mayor, Margot Garant. Jeanne, a woman of vision, wanted the many organizations and groups to come together and work as a whole on a project to strengthen the sense of community and to celebrate the village. And she figured it wouldn’t hurt if the project helped the local businesses. So the first weekend in December was designated as the ideal time to capture some of the holiday shopping, and the theme was to be the Dickens stories and characters, who would come alive during those couple of days. And so it happened.

This was no small project to get the organizers’ arms around. Among those invited to offer their talents and to hold special events was the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, which would become the managing body alongside Port Jefferson Village, the historical society, the school district, the churches, various cultural paeans like Theatre Three (“A Christmas Carol”) and Harbor Ballet Theatre (“The Nutcracker”), the chamber of commerce and the civics, the constables, the ferry company, music groups, the harbormaster, the individual businesses and the residents just for starters. Events were designed for all age groups.

Eventually the Currier & Ives-like ice skating rink — another Jeanne Garant idea — joined the enchanting picture. And a special THANK YOU to nationally famed and charming confection artist, Pat Darling, for once again creating the whimsical Santa’s Workshop in the historic Drowned Meadow Cottage on West Broadway.

There are new offerings each year, and this past weekend Mrs. Cratchit’s Colorful Christmas Crafts was one such in the Village Center, along with an expanded Festival of Trees that each sponsor creatively decorated.

Port Jefferson Village was rich with events running through Saturday and Sunday. Indeed, it required more than two full pages in our Official Festival Guide just to list them in their many different locations hosted by the various community groups. So the original vision of a unified village has once again been realized. And the businesses were delighted with the results. “Never had an empty table all weekend,” one restaurateur said. “Shoppers buying all afternoon,” a jewelry store owner said.

Dickensian pleasure will go on throughout December this year, with the decorations and specials. And I would like to end on a personal note. I have watched countless parades in my lifetime as a child, a mother and a grandmother, but until this weekend, I had never been on a parade float. As the honoree of the Dickens weekend, I got to ride atop the ferry float and to wave at the thousands of people and shower them with (artificial) snow as they waved back, calling out greetings. What fun! We are deeply honored to have been appreciated in this way.

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There were two extra place settings during our Thanksgiving weekend. They were for a couple we met when my husband and her husband were serving at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, some 50 years ago — a golden anniversary of sorts. The idea that we met half-a-century ago and have maintained our connection is astonishing and lovely because we were quite fond of them then and are happy to still be friends now. When they left the service, about a year before we did, they returned to their home state of North Carolina, and we, of course, returned to New York. Over the years, we have kept up sporadically through Christmas cards stuffed with letters about our lives.

Our family wound up at Sheppard because we made the right decision for the wrong reasons — as so often happens in life.

Just after my husband began his internship at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, he came home one evening somewhat puzzled. “Look,” he showed me paperwork, “if I agree to enter this lottery called the Berry Plan, I will be allowed to finish my residency in the specialty I choose, but then I will have to go into the military for two years. The benefit is that I will not be drafted out of my training before I finish, but I will delay starting my practice two years while I am serving Uncle Sam. What should I do?”

“Do it, do it!” I urged. “They will send us to Germany or Japan and we will get to see the world.” I yearned to travel and we had not had the chance or the means. The year was 1963, and aside from a few military advisers in Vietnam, there was no war involving the United States. There was a draft but we were at peace.

“OK,” my husband said, still seeming dubious. “But only about 5 percent of those who apply are selected.” He went off the next morning with the completed paperwork and the two of us promptly forgot about the whole matter. That is, until the next spring when he came home and announced, still unsure what he had gotten us into, that he had been selected. I was happy at the prospect of travel in our future.

With the benefit of hindsight, you know that by 1965, we were in a hot war and I will tell you that many physicians were drafted out of their specialty training and sent to Vietnam as general medical officers. Some of them never returned.

We, meanwhile, now had one child and a second on the way when we were sent to Texas. It was not Germany or Japan, it wasn’t even California or New Jersey, as we had requested when asked by the Air Force, but it was — just by dumb luck — stateside, which meant we could be together. In fact, we had a house to live in, our first, with a washer and dryer, and each child had his own room. Wichita Falls is not a particularly beautiful place, as far as scenery goes. There were no real trees, little grass, no bodies of water and only an occasional bit of mesquite shrub blowing across the brown dirt. But it was heaven for us, and we were thankful to be there for the duration of the two years. We learned to eat chicken fried steak and barbecued beef on a bun, and before too long our third child was on the way.

It was on the base that we met our friends, who were serving under similar circumstances. He was a pediatrician who worked alongside my husband at the hospital, and with his wife they also eventually had three children, went home and started their professional lives together. But we stayed in touch, as I have explained, and they have rejoined my family with lots of conversation and laughter.

Old friends are treasures because they are irreplaceable. We are older now, quite a bit older, and we might not have recognized each other immediately on the street. But the basic persons that we were are intact.

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Thanksgiving is arriving at the right time. With so much to be thankful for, it should be hard to remember one’s passions about the outcome of the recent presidential election. Yet there is talk about families who are calling off their Thanksgiving reunions around grandma’s richly laden table because they don’t want to talk politics with relatives who were on the “other” side. What a travesty, as if anything were more important or enduring than the safety net of family.

People have a right to think differently, even if they are related. There is, after all, no accounting for the distribution of genes, and anyway that’s not important in the scheme of things. What is important is the love family members feel for each other and the security that they have each other’s backs. If that is not the relationship one has with one’s family, I guess differing political opinions are a good enough reason to break off what was a meaningless business of just going through the kinship motions to begin with.

Even though the present situation is not nearly as dire, I am reminded of the Civil War or the War Between the States, which pitted brother against brother on the battlefield. That was a tragedy of deepest proportions. Right now, we are merely dealing with the outcome of an election whose consequences are perhaps feared or cheered but have not been actualized. If matters do get worse in our nation, we are going to need each other all the more to manage. And if they get better, then we can all cheer together.

Let’s wait and see — and break bread together, treasuring the love that binds us rather than the rhetoric that divides us.

As we go forward, we should remain vigilant about what is happening in our country and speak truth to those in power. The end of the election, at long last, is but the beginning of the next chapter. We have the right, as Americans, to speak our minds and expect those who represent us to hear us. Indeed, we have the obligation to remain active in our society, letting our lawmakers know how we feel even as we set an example of staying informed and engaged for our children and grandchildren.

What we should take great care to do, however, is work to separate fact from fiction. Communication in today’s world is infinitely more complicated than when our founding patriots read newspapers to learn what was happening. And even then, they had to be sure whose words they were reading and whether the writers could be trusted. By comparison today, there are so many different vehicles claiming to give the “facts.” Newspapers, radio and TV networks have been joined by cable, the Internet and dangerously, social media, where anyone can say anything without the benefit of fact-checking and their words can be transmitted to literally millions of people.

This is how jihadists woo recruits. This is also how politicians’ supporters win voters. So how can one tell if what one is reading is fact? The answer is obvious but hard. We must use that same Internet to check out what we have read on social media, not just assume that what we are told is correct because it comes from a good friend or loved one. Facts must be corroborated by multiple news sources, not just by opinions. Indeed, the more dramatic an assertion, the more likely it will be published in many places, not just on Facebook or Twitter.

Also, we need to talk with more than each other, by which I mean those with similar views. We need to talk to people on the “other” side of issues and ideology. At the least, we may learn how they come to the conclusions they do. And maybe we can hear something we might agree with, creating a bridge and not a wall. Some of those we talk with might even be our relatives. But that brings me back to grandma’s dining room table: Wait until everyone has finished and enjoyed dinner first before discussions commence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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When I was a child, my parents would sometimes take me out of the city and to the Catskill Mountains where my father was raised. There, in rustic accommodation, we would spend some weeks during the summer, happy to be out of the heat and humidity. But for a child used to the protective shield of tall urban buildings, I would be fearful when a summer storm, with high gusts, thunder and lightning would rage across the country horizon and pelt the windows and roof of our cabin.

Seeing my fright, my mother would leap into action. “Oh good,” she would say. “It’s a perfect day for pancakes.” As I would watch, she would whip eggs and milk from the antiquated refrigerator, then heat some cooking oil in a pan. She would ask me to beat the eggs while she measured out the flour and in short order the divine smell of frying pancakes would fill the kitchen. The storm outside now merely made the feast inside more cozy and safe, and by the time my mother, sister and I finished eating and looked up from the table, the summer squall would be gone.

Security, thy name was silver dollar pancakes.

In these unsettled times of postpresidential election, how I wish I could cook up some pancakes to help calm the people around me. My neighbors, my friends, our readers, many of them seem anxious, even afraid. Whether they voted for Clinton or Trump, they don’t like what they are hearing about bullying, demonstrations that can turn violent and slurs that seem to have been unleashed by the election. With each possible pick for the new administration, from chief strategist to possible EPA chief to a trial balloon for secretary of state, a shudder goes through the minds of many. Our outgoing president urges us to give some space to the incoming one, and then leaves the country for his last overseas trip. He has already visited Greece with Germany and Peru to follow, undoubtedly to try and calm those unsettled by the election in distant capitals. Anxiety, it seems, is global, but not entirely.

The stock markets are celebrating. The prospect of government spending on infrastructure and tax cuts that will stimulate the economy has sent the markets around the world on a tear as they hit all-time highs. Monetary policy is out — fiscal stimulus is in. At least that is the presumption at this first blush of transition to a new administration.

Meanwhile we have a country that is equally divided. What could be better proof than to have the razor-thin popular vote go one way and the Electoral College go the other way. How do we deal with that?

Despite the closeness of the election, the fact remains that the GOP won and won across the board: senators, representatives and governors. At least the next two years of political party leadership have been determined, and there is no further contest for now. But we also, as a democracy, are obligated to protect the rights of the minority — all minorities. That’s the part of the definition that some majorities don’t get. If we could all acknowledge and teach that point, those who feel threatened because they are in the minority could stop being afraid.

Further, the GOP is not a monolithic bloc — there is not just one shade of red. Nor are the Dems just one color blue. There is enough potential for bipartisanship as long as neither side digs in and vows to prevent cooperation between the parties. We Americans want our elected leaders to work actively on our behalf, not just to abdicate and coast in office. It will take the best of both sides to steer our nation through these challenging times. And by the way, the times have always been challenging.

We, on Long Island, have set a pretty good example with our state, county and town legislators often working together for the regional good, regardless of party. So there is hope. That’s my impression — and I’m not just serving up pancakes.

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One fact that we can all agree on at the tail end of this clamorous and divisive election season is how happy we are that it is almost over. In a presidential campaign that has been part entertainment, part embarrassment, only slightly about the grave issues of the day, but wholly history making, the people are exhausted. Bombarded relentlessly with political messages, robocalls, knocks at the door, endless campaign literature and ugly ads, citizens are yearning for an end. May it all truly be over next Tuesday night.

For all the talk, though, about how insufferable the electioneering has been, the candidates have gotten the attention, albeit negatively, of the electorate. At business lunches, during hair-stylist appointments, at cocktail parties and the daily exchanges at the bus stops, the latest election tomfoolery is the topic of the day. Conversations about the weather, that perennial conversation fodder, are finally being overtaken by the latest political revelations. For a nation that has long been declared apolitical, we breathlessly keep up with who has hurled what insult at whom and what new leaks the media are revealing. It seems to matter little if the leaks are corroborated or not, and social media, the preferred vehicle for dissemination, does not automatically offer any fact checking. Anyone can get away with saying anything, and the more outrageous and indecent, the greater number of viewers. The gloves of decency and civility are off.

In our presidential election, we are exploring the twists and turns of sexual accusations — out in the open for everyone to see. London’s backbenchers in Parliament pale with their insults compared to us. At least theirs are often witty. Except for Saturday Night Live, there has been little in these last two years of intense campaigning to earn a good laugh.

Has our country demonstrated less bigotry by naming a woman as standard-bearer for one of the two major parties? Or has our obvious double standard become only more painfully obvious, with so many men declaring publicly their unwillingness to ever vote for a woman as leader? The same question, about race rather than gender, was posed eight years ago when we elected the first black president. With painful irony, amidst our self-congratulatory open-mindedness, it seems more racial incidents have played out since that election than when George Wallace stood in the doorway and refused entry to black school children. Will the same ironies ensue in the event of a Clinton victory?

Perhaps it is cleansing to have our faults out in the open — acknowledgement as the first step toward healing. At least there has been no talk about ageism the way there was during the Reagan campaign in 1980. Both candidates today are within a couple of years of each other and of the biblical endpoint of three score and ten. At least that is something to be grateful for.

In this election season, as with every other during which we have been publishing, we have tried hard to remain as neutral as possible and present you, our readers, with the news in a balanced fashion. There are a number of local races, all critically important for their ultimate effects on our daily lives. As we have always done, we have spent hundreds of hours throughout the month of October interviewing candidates for each local office, two-by-two, and we have asked them questions and passed the answers along to you in our election section this week. We have also distilled this information during many more hours of discussion among our editorial board members and offered endorsements on our editorial pages. In no way do we intend this to dictate how you should vote. Rather we are telling you how we will vote after the journalistic privilege of personally questioning the candidates and covering the incumbents throughout their terms.

We owe you, our readers, no less.