Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Shhh. Listen. If what you hear is nothing, then maybe you’re onto something.

Noise envelops us. Some of it, like the sound of a Broadway musical, the waterfall laughter of a giggling child, or the deep resonant breath of a humpback whale surfacing amid floating cubes of ice in Alaska can give us peace, pleasure and joy.

Many noises, however, are irritants or worse. We step out of a loud airplane onto a jetway, where loudspeakers announce the boarding in group four of a flight awaiting takeoff. We walk through a crowded airport, as fathers shout to their children, a woman calls to ask Breanne if she “wants fries with her burger,” and a man informs his wife that he “has to pee so badly that he’s not sure he’s going to make it.”

We step outside of the airport, where whistles from people directing traffic echo in our ears and where officials in orange vests bark orders at drivers to “vacate this spot immediately!”

We try to ignore many of the harsher and more abrasive sounds, even though our nervous system tracks noises as a way to protect us in case someone yells something we need to hear.

And then there are those wonderful moments when we hear nothing, not even the buzzing of a lightbulb, a dog drinking in the next room, or a cat cleaning himself on a nearby chair.


If it lasts long enough, it’s the pause that refreshes, giving our ears a rest and our brains a chance to hear an inner voice that might otherwise get lost.

We can find those moments when we’re on our own. When we’re surrounded by others, the silence is harder to discover, as we either speak or hear the noises they make as they unwrap a newspaper, chew their gum, or shake their leg up and down so rapidly that the material from their pants makes a repetitive rubbing sound.

But then, we can go to a meditation or yoga class or a religious or memorial service and reflect with others who sit still like a slope of shaded stones in an Ansel Adams photo.

During those moments, we can slow our breathing, think beyond the constant fast twitch need to act and react to our phones, and can allow our minds to make unexpected connections.

During one of those recent times, I pondered symmetry in nature, where you can draw a line down the middle of something like our faces, and see that the image on one side, excluding freckles, beauty marks, and that scar from the time we tripped and got stitches, is incredibly similar to the one on the other.

With so much chaos in nature, I wouldn’t expect such symmetry. At a distance, most leaves have remarkable symmetry, as do the shape of most animals. Human designs often have a pleasing symmetry, with windows, flying buttresses and A-frame houses looking remarkably similar on the left and right. Almost every field or arena for a sporting event has some symmetry, except for those with irregular outfield fences.

During a recent service, I enjoyed time when I couldn’t look at my phone and when I could read religious text. I haven’t considered these texts in a while and was drawn in by their drama and story value, as opposed to the spiritual and life guidance I often imagine. Basic struggles for power, sibling rivalries, and the search for food and stability dominate these narratives, which makes it clear why religion (and mythology) continue to offer connections for people whose lives, at least on the surface, are considerably different from the ones people lived lo those many years ago.

Ultimately, silence can be refreshing, giving us auditory time and space to reflect and to clean a cognitive filter cluttered with chaos and cacophony.

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Suddenly it’s June. Didn’t we recently put our holiday decorations away? Wasn’t it mid-winter break just a couple of weeks ago? Time warps, especially if we have busy lives. We look up and five months of the year have already passed. 

But of course, June is most welcome. It is the month of high school graduations, of weddings, of the official turning to summer with the summertime solstice and the most daylight hours of the year. For those readers interested in random data, June is the second of four months to have a length of 30 days and the third of five months to have fewer than 31 days. Take that to “Jeopardy!”

June is also the month when all the trees are dressed in their finest, lushest leaves, when the weather beckons us outdoors because it is neither too cold or too hot quite yet. June is when the swimming pools in the neighborhood shed their covers and offer to the eye patches of refreshing blue as we drive along the local roads. June is when allergy season begins to recede with the gradual lessening of tree and grass pollens.

Early June is when I like to travel because each day is longer, and I feel I am really getting my money’s worth on a tour. That’s also when most families are still home, their young ones not yet finished with school, and therefore all services, from palaces to restaurants are less crowded. Unless I am in the southern hemisphere, where it is technically the start of winter, the weather in June tends to be perfect, not much rain, the temperature ideal.

June was probably named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity, Jupiter, There are also other suggestions for how the month got its name, but we really don’t have to list them all because no one I know is actually preparing to appear on “Jeopardy!”

That said, you still might like to know a few of the month-long observances for June. There is: 

African American Music Appreciation Month 

ALS Awareness Month in Canada 

Caribbean American Heritage Month 

LGBTQ+ Awareness and Pride Month 

National Oceans Month 

PTSD Awareness Month 

Great Outdoors Month 

And my personal favorite, National Smile Month, which is celebrated in the United Kingdom and should migrate across the globe.

There is also: 

International Children’s Day on the first Tuesday 

World Bicycle Day on the first Wednesday 

National Donut Day on the first Friday 

Father’s Day on the third Sunday 

Here is one to ponder: Seersucker Day on the second Thursday 

And on the third Friday, National Flip Flop Day. 

Hmmm. Maybe with all that said, we should give a second thought to “Jeopardy!”

When our children were in elementary school, I always welcomed June with enthusiasm. It meant that July and the end of the academic year were not far away, which in turn meant sleeping in and not having to prepare for the early bus to school, long, lazy days at the beach, family baseball games on the empty school fields on weekends and frequent outdoor barbecues. This year, June means, among more hedonistic pursuits, a month with five Thursdays, and therefore five issues of the papers and website to fill with local news that we will report to you. 

Happy reading!

METRO photo

Boating can be one of the most joyous parts of summer, especially on Long Island. 

There is truly nothing like the breeze running through our hair as we relax with family and friends, soaking up the natural beauty and the overwhelming landscape. 

But it’s important to remember that boating is a privilege, not a right. Despite the fact that a night on the water could create lifelong memories, you don’t need a boat to get to work, the doctor or the grocery store.

This makes it even more imperative to be safe and considerate while on the water. It also makes it even more senseless when tragedies occur. Even the most experienced of boaters, like James Jaronczyk, of Massapequa, who died in the Great South Bay earlier this month, clearly can succumb to the dangers of the water. Sadly, these stories are not unique.

According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 636 boating fatalities nationwide in 2022, a 3.3% decrease from the 658 deaths in 2021. The most devastating aspect of the statistics is that several of the deaths were preventable. 

Of the total fatalities 88 deaths, or 16%, involved alcohol. “Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and machinery failure,” were other contributing factors, according to the Coast Guard report. Of the victims 75% drowned, and of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket. 

As the Coast Guard advises, boaters must stay sober, check the weather, carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon — which signals if you get into trouble — and have VHF-FM radio on hand in case cell service drops. 

Also always let someone who is staying onshore know your float plan, which breaks down where you are going, how long you will be gone, a description of your boat and the safety equipment you have on board. Boating is not a time to take risks or explore coves and inlets you have not been to before, if you do not know what you are doing.

Most importantly, boaters should register for a boating safety course as they can never be too experienced to refresh their knowledge or learn something new. They have an obligation to themselves and those on board to practice responsible boating habits and return home safely. 

We at TBR News Media wish you a happy, fun and safe summer on the water with your families and friends.

Osteoarthritis is a risk factor. METRO photo

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Despite the best efforts of public campaigns and individual physicians, heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S. (1). To put that in perspective, every 33 seconds, one person dies of heart disease.

While some risk factors are obvious, others are not. Obvious ones include family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and smoking. In addition, age plays a role in risk: men at least 45 years old and women at least 55 years old are at greater risk. Less obvious risks include gout, atrial fibrillation and osteoarthritis. 

The good news is that we have more control than we think. Most of these risks can be significantly reduced with lifestyle modifications.

How much role does weight really play in heart disease risk?

Obesity continually gets play in discussions of disease risk. But how important is it, really?

In the Copenhagen General Population Study, results showed an increased heart attack risk in those who were overweight and in those who were obese – with or without metabolic syndrome, which includes a trifecta of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high sugar levels (2). “Obese” was defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30 kg/m², while “overweight” included those with a BMI over 25 kg/m².

Heart attack risk increased in direct proportion to weight. Specifically, there was a 26 percent increase in heart attack risk for those who were overweight and an 88 percent increase in risk for those who were obese without metabolic syndrome.

It is true that those with metabolic syndrome and obesity together had the highest risk. However, it is quite surprising that obesity, by itself, can increase heart attack risk when a person is “metabolically healthy.” Because this was an observational trial, the results represent an association between obesity and heart disease. Basically, it’s telling us that there may not be such a thing as a “metabolically healthy” obese patient. If you are obese, this is one of many reasons that it’s critical to lose weight.

Do activity levels really affect heart disease risk?

Let’s consider another lifestyle factor; activity levels. An observational study found that these had a surprisingly high impact on women’s heart disease risk (3). Of four key factors — weight, blood pressure, smoking and physical inactivity — age was the determinant as to which one had the most negative effect. Those under the age of 30 saw smoking as most negatively impactful. For those over the age of 30, lack of exercise became the most dominant risk factor for heart disease, including heart attacks.

For women over age 70, the study found that increasing physical activity may have a greater positive impact than addressing high blood pressure, losing weight, or even quitting smoking. However, since high blood pressure was self-reported, it may have been underestimated as a risk factor. Nonetheless, the researchers indicated that women should make sure they exercise on a regular basis to most significantly reduce heart disease risk.

How long should you suffer with osteoarthritis?

The prevailing thought with osteoarthritis is that it is best to live with hip or knee pain as long as possible before having surgery. But when do we cross the line and potentially need joint replacement? In a study, those with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee joints that caused difficulty walking on a flat surface were at substantially greater risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack (4). Those who had surgery for the affected joint saw a substantially reduced heart attack risk. If you have osteoarthritis, it is important to improve mobility, whether with surgery or other treatments. Of course, I have written in previous columns about techniques for managing osteoarthritis.

When does fiber matter most?

Studies show that fiber decreases the risks of heart attack and of death after a heart attack. In a recent analysis using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study, results showed that higher fiber plays an important role in reducing the risk of death after a heart attack (5).

Those who consumed the most fiber, compared to the least, had a 25 percent reduction in post-heart attack mortality. Even more impressive is that those who increased their fiber after a cardiovascular event had a 31 percent reduction in mortality risk. The most intriguing part of the study was the dose response. For every 10-gram increase in fiber consumption, there was a 15 percent reduction in the risk of post-heart attack mortality. For perspective, 10 grams of fiber is a little over one cup of raspberries or two-thirds of a cup of black beans or lentils.

How much does lifestyle really affect heart disease risk?

In the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 120,000 women for 20 years, those who routinely exercised, ate a quality diet, did not smoke and were a healthy weight demonstrated a whopping 84 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks (6).

We can substantially reduce the risk of heart attacks and even potentially the risk of death after sustaining a heart attack with modifications that include weight loss, physical activity and diet. While there are many diseases that contribute to heart attack risk, most of them are modifiable.


(1) (2) JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(1):15-22. (3) Br J Sports Med. 2014, May 8. (4) PLoS ONE. 2014, 9: e91286 (5) BMJ. 2014;348:g2659. (6) N Engl J Med. 2000;343(1):16.

Dr. David 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 or consult your personal physician.

Zhishan Wang. Photo from Chengfeng Yang

By Daniel Dunaief

This is part one of a two-part series.

As Erin Brockovich (the real life version and the one played by Julia Roberts in the eponymous movie) discovered, some metals, such as hexavalent chromium can cause cancer in humans.

Chengfeng Yang and Zhishan Wang

Environmental exposure to a range of chemicals, such as hexavalent chromium, benzo(a)pyrene, arsenic, and others, individually and in combination, can lead to health problems, including cancer.

Recently, Stony Brook University hired Chengfeng Yang and Zhishan Wang, a husband and wife team to join the Cancer Center and the Pathology Departments from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

The duo, who have their own labs and share equipment, resources and sometimes researchers, are seeking to understand the epigenetic effect exposure to chemicals has on the body. Yang focuses primarily on hexavalent chromium, while Wang works on the mechanism of mixed exposures. 

In part one, TBR News Media highlights the work of Wang. Next week, we will feature the efforts of Yang.


In certain areas and specific job sites, people can be exposed to environmental pollutants.

Sometimes, the introduction of a metal or element can cause cancer after long term exposure. The effect of another carcinogen can be synergistic in triggering disease, triggering a stronger progression of cancer than an individual exposure alone.

Zhishan Wang, who joined Stony Brook in March and is a Professor of Research in the Department of Pathology, is trying to understand what changes this mixed exposure creates at a molecular level.

“If we find out some gene or pathway change, we can try to intervene,” said Wang, who is a member of the Stony Brook Cancer Center and earned MD and PhD degrees from her native China.

Among the many possible environmental triggers, Wang chose to study arsenic, which is common in rock soil and water and is present in some places in drinking water.

“People living in high exposure areas to arsenic and [who] are also cigarette smokers have a significantly higher risk of lung cancer,” she said.

Arsenic can cause three different kinds of cancer: skin, bladder and lung cancer. For skin cancer, Wang explained that direct contact can lead to the kind of irritation that promotes the disease. 

As the heavy metal works its way through the body, parts of it get excreted through the urine system, which means that bladder cells come into contact with it as well.

For a long time, scientists knew arsenic exposure through drinking water caused lung cancer. The underlying mechanism for the development of that cancer was not well understood. 

Wang’s lab studies the mechanism by which arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene (or BAP) co-exposure increases lung cancer risk. Exposure to arsenic alone causes cancer, but it takes a long time in animal models. Arsenic and BPA co-exposure significantly increases lung cancer risk.

Wang’s study showed that co-exposure increases lung tumor burden and malignancy. She plans to continue to study the mechanism of how arsenic and BAP co exposure increases lung cancer risk.

“That’s our big goal: to try to find some useful method to prevent this tumor from happening,” she said.

Wang believes the cancer cells caused by the mixed exposure increases the number of cancer stem cell-like cells, which could mediate therapeutic resistance.

Wang explained that generating the mouse model took considerable time and effort. She tried to find the exposures during particular windows of time that lead to cancer.

“By using this model, we can do a lot of data analysis” including single cell analysis and can determine which cluster or pathway will change.

Choosing SBU

Wang suggested she and her husband chose Stony Brook for several reasons. The couple would like to help the University earn a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, which would give scientists the ability to compete for ambitious, well-funded, multidisciplinary efforts.

Both Wang and Yang “lead NCI-funded research programs that will enhance the [Cancer Center’s] eligibility for NCI designation,” explained Kenneth Shroyer, chair of the Pathology Department at Stony Brook.

Shroyer, who described both researchers as “highly competitive candidates with the potential to enhance the status of any cancer center,” is looking forward to working with his newest recruits.

Wang is eager to use the tissue bank at Stony Brook, which Shroyer explained has also attracted other cancer research scientists recruited to the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook.

The new scientists also hope to tap into the expertise at nearby Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which has become one of the leading centers in creating organoids. 

In the early years of her training during her MD and PhD years in China, Wang developed her technical skills. Through her career, she has worked on several genes that play important roles in carcinogenesis. Down regulation of the gene known as SOCS3, for suppressor of cytokine signaling 3, plays an important role in arsenic and BAP co-exposure caused lung tumorigenesis.

Early in their careers, Wang worked in her husband’s lab for seven years until she received her own research funding.

Outside of work, Wang enjoys playing badminton and ping pong. She also cooks every day. She and her husband bring her home cooked meals to work.

When she was in high school, Wang had ambitions to become a writer. Her teachers regularly read her work out loud to the class.

Her father, who was a lawyer, had encouraged her to join the legal profession. She had heard that people called others “smart” when they joined the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “I want people to call me smart,” she said, so she changed her career and went to medical school at Tongji Medical University where she earned top scores. 

Her father had a stroke, surviving afterwards for seven years. When she was in medical school, Wang hoped to learn ways to help him. Wishing she could have done more, she pursued clinical research in the lab. She passed the tests to become a practicing physician in the United States, but she was more inspired to work as a scientist.

As for her work at Stony Brook University, Wang appreciates the beauty of Long Island. She hopes this is their “last move,” as they continue their careers.

ETFs can diversify your portfolio.

By Michael Christodoulou

Michael Christodoulou

Mutual funds offer investors a chance to own shares in dozens of companies, as well as bonds, government securities and other investments. But you might be able to broaden your portfolio further by owning another type of fund — an exchange-traded fund (ETF).

An ETF, like a mutual fund, can own an array of investments, including stocks, bonds and other securities. Many ETFs are passively managed in that they track the performance of a specific index, such as the S&P 500. In this respect, they differ from most mutual funds, which tend to be actively managed — that is, the fund managers are free to buy and sell individual securities within the fund.

Another difference between ETFs and mutual funds is that ETFs are traded like stocks, so shares are bought and sold throughout the day based on the current market price, whereas mutual funds are traded just once a day, at a price calculated at the end of the trading day. Whether this ability to make intra-day trades is meaningful to you will likely depend on how active you are in managing your own investments.

For some people, the main attraction of ETFs is their tax advantages. Because many ETFs are index funds, they generally do much less buying and selling than actively managed funds — and fewer sales mean fewer taxable capital gains. These ETFs are somewhat similar to index mutual funds, which are also considered to be tax-efficient, as opposed to actively managed funds, which constantly buy and sell investments, passing on taxable capital gains to you throughout the life of the fund. 

Keep in mind, though, that mutual funds that trade frequently may still be appropriate for your financial strategy. While taxes are one element to consider when evaluating mutual funds, or any investment, other factors, such as growth potential and ability to diversify your portfolio, are also important.

ETFs typically also have lower operating costs than mutual funds, resulting in lower overall fees. Part of the reason for these lower costs is that actively managed mutual funds, by definition, usually have larger management teams devoted to researching, buying and selling securities. By contrast, passively managed ETFs may have leaner, less-costly management structures.

But while most ETFs may share the same basic operating model, many types are available. You can invest in equity ETFs, which may track stocks in a particular industry or an index of equities (S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and so on), or you can purchase fixed-income ETFs, which invest in bonds. ETFs are also available for currencies and commodities.

Of course, as with all investments, ETF investing does involve risk. Your principal and investment return will fluctuate in value, so when you redeem your ETF, it may be worth more or less than the original investment. Also, liquidity may be an issue. Some ETFs may be more difficult to sell than other investments, which could be a problem if you need the money quickly. And because it’s so easy to move in and out of ETFs, you might be tempted to “overtrade” rather than following an appropriate long-term investment strategy.

A financial professional can evaluate your situation and help you determine whether ETFs are suitable for your needs. At a minimum, they represent another investment opportunity that may prove useful as you work toward your financial goals.

Michael Christodoulou, ChFC®, AAMS®, CRPC®, CRPS® is a Financial Advisor for Edward Jones in Stony Brook. Member SIPC.

By Rita J. Egan

Setauket and Stony Brook residents know if they want to learn about local history, they can turn to Carlton Edwards, known by many as Hub. However, Edwards, 93, is more than a local history lover — he was also a part of history. A veteran of the Korean War, he served during the early years of desegregation in the armed forces.

Segregation in the armed forces was banned in 1948; however, it took a few years before the military was integrated. Edwards’ outfit was one of the first to be desegregated, he said, and the veteran trained and served with people from different backgrounds and nationalities including Filipino, Korean, Chinese and American Samoa. He said everyone got along well.

His brother-in-law, who served in 1950, was with an all-Black unit. When Edwards, who is also part Native American, sent him a letter including a photo of himself and his fellow soldiers, his brother-in-law asked him, “What army are you in?”

Hub wrote back, “I’m in the United States Army. The same as you.” 

The road to Korea

Born in Stony Brook, Edwards was only a few years old when his family moved to Chicken Hill, a neighborhood in Setauket. He was known in the area for his athleticism as a baseball player, pitching for the school’s varsity baseball team in 8th grade. In 11th grade, he continued pitching for the school and a local semi-pro team.

In 1951, at the age of 21, he received two draft notices — one from the United States Armed Forces and the other from the Brooklyn Dodgers after the team heard of his three no-hitters. The baseball milestones occurred while playing for his high school team, the Setauket Suffolk Giants and Setauket Athletic Club.

Despite the stroke of luck potentially to play professional baseball, Edwards had no choice but to join the army during draft time.

“Uncle Sam took first precedent,” he said.

Edwards added he wasn’t alone in the community. “Most of the young men that I went to school with all ended up in the service.”

Before joining the army, all he knew was the Three Village area. After stops in Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and Camp Stoneman, California, he was put on a boat to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he trained.

The veteran, who served from 1951 to 1953, said the Schofield Barracks they slept in while training in Hawaii were nice but still had bullet holes from the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. After training in Hawaii, his unit headed to Busan, Korea. He said it was a different world than what he knew. His unit worked with injured soldiers, helping them get to hospitals in Japan, or even home.

“That’s why I never talk about it because I saw a lot of wounded,” the veteran said.

Growing up and attending Bethel AME Church in Setauket regularly when he was younger helped Edwards keep his faith when he served. He still wears the cross he had in the army. “Even with the dog tags, I kept it on,” he said.

Despite what he experienced in Korea, Edwards feels the military provides much-needed discipline for young people.

“If you’ve been in the service, you learn how to take orders,” he said.

Being raised by a strict mother and grandmother, Edwards said he already possessed discipline when he joined the army. Edwards said he missed his family while away from Setauket and looked forward to receiving letters from his mother and grandmother as well as family members, friends and a girl he was dating at the time. “In fact, I still have some of those letters,” he said.

Life after Korea

After his time in the army, where he began as a private first class and ended his service as a corporal, Edwards returned to Chicken Hill. He carried the memories from his service, and while teaching Sunday School at Bethel AME Church for 20 years, Edward said he tried “to teach peace for your fellow man.” 

Soon after his return home, he met and married Nellie Sands. The couple bought a house in West Setauket and had two sons.

Edwards, a retired custodian for the Three Village Central School District, where he worked for 40 years, has been an active member of the Three Village Historical Society. Before the pandemic, he would greet guests at the society’s Chicken Hill: A Community Lost to Time exhibit every Sunday to answer visitors’ questions. 

Edwards has also been a member of the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766 since 1953. For decades, he has participated in parades, memorial services and other veteran events locally as well as in Washington, D.C., Rochester, Buffalo and all over Long Island to represent his post. He said being a member has allowed him the opportunity to meet veterans who fought in different wars through the decades. 

In the early days, some members had fought in World War I and World War II. Edward said Nelson Combs, an early member of the post who was Black, had to fight in the French army during World War I because he was unable to sign up for the armed forces in the United States. Combs went on to receive the Croix de Guerre, which is comparable to the U.S. Bronze or Silver Star.

Joe Bova, who has volunteered with Edwards at the Three Village Historical Society and conducted research with him for the Chicken Hill exhibit, is currently working with the veteran on the renovation of the Irving Hart Post. Bova said his friend developed a lot of empathy while serving.

“He really felt strongly about what his commitment to people should be and that just transferred over to the community that he belongs to,” Bova said. He also credits Edwards with being actively involved with the Irving Hart post since he returned from Korea, recruiting members and playing a major part in the current renovations and plans for the post’s future.


Edwards isn’t sure if he will be able to attend Setauket’s Memorial Day Parade this year, but he said it’s always touching when veterans are acknowledged.

“Every veteran appreciates it when people recognize that you have served your country,” he said. “It makes you feel good that people appreciate what you did.”

As for his athletic accomplishments, those haven’t been forgotten either. On May 18, he was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame for those three no-hitters in his pre-war days.

METRO photo

By Nancy Burner, Esq.

Nancy Burner, Esq.

When a couple gets divorced, the court attempts to divide the marital property as fairly and equally as possible. 

This doctrine of Equitable Distribution considers factors such as the length of the marriage, age and health of each party, and the earning power of each spouse. Under New York State law, “marital property” is broadly defined as property acquired by one or both spouses during the marriage. “Separate property” is defined as property acquired by an individual prior to marriage. Separate property is not subject to Equitable Distribution.

However, certain types of assets acquired during marriage are not subject to Equitable Distribution. Inheritance, gifts received from individuals other than one’s spouse, and personal injury compensation are considered separate property.

At first glance, it may appear that your child’s inheritance does not need protecting, but this is not the end of the story. Separate property can become marital property if “commingled” with marital property. 

For example, if your child were to deposit their inheritance into a joint account with their spouse, use inherited assets to purchase a home titled jointly, or your child’s spouse contributes to the maintenance and capital improvements of inherited property, the assets would become commingled and thus subject to Equitable Distribution upon divorce.

The best action you can take to prevent this from occurring is to leave your child’s inheritance in a trust. You could name your child as trustee or appoint someone else, and you would be able to limit distributions from the trust as you see fit. Importantly, the trust adds a layer of separation, better protecting the inheritance from a divorcing spouse and creditors by maintaining its status as separate property.

Moreover, with a trust you can control the remainder beneficiaries of the property you leave your child after his death. If you were to leave them their inheritance outright, your child’s own will would dictate how their estate were to pass. But with a trust you could stipulate that upon your child’s death any remaining assets pass to whomever you wish. This could be your grandchildren, your other children, or your favorite charity.

Nancy Burner, Esq. is the founder and managing partner at Burner Law Group, P.C with offices located in East Setauket, Westhampton Beach, New York City and East Hampton.

A grilled lamb burger pairs nicely with an El Capitán cocktail

By Heidi Sutton

Memorial Day is the official start of grilling season. The weather is finally warm, making it the perfect occasion for a large celebratory gathering. 

This holiday, step it up a notch by making juicy, flavorful grilled lamb burgers served with traditional bbq sides including potato salad and corn. The meal pairs well with an El Capitán, a signature spring cocktail often served at Mirabelle Restaurant in Stony Brook.

Grilled Lamb Burgers

YIELD: Serves 4


1 1/2    pounds ground lamb

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


2/3 cup full-fat Greek yogurt

1 clove raw garlic, grated

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 small English cucumber, thinly sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1/4  cup microgreens

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 brioche buns

1 medium tomato, sliced into rounds


Divide lamb into four parts, 6 ounces each, and shape into rounds slightly larger than buns. Place covered in refrigerator, 1 hour.

To make yogurt sauce: In small bowl, mix yogurt, garlic, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard; refrigerate until ready to assemble burgers.

To make salad: In medium bowl, mix cucumber, onions, parsley, mint leaves, dill, microgreens, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil; refrigerate until ready to assemble burgers.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat with direct and indirect zones. Salt patties then add to grill, cooking about 6 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 150 F. As patties near this temperature, or start to brown, move to indirect zone to regulate doneness. Transfer to plate and let rest about 5 minutes.

To build the burgers, add a dollop of yogurt spread to bottom buns. Top each with tomato slice, lamb burger, herb salad and top bun.

El Capitán

Recipe courtesy of Mirabelle Restaurant

El Capitán cocktail

YIELD: Makes 1 serving


1 ½ oz Casamigos tequila

1 oz fresh grapefruit juice

½ oz fresh lime juice

½ oz rosemary simple syrup

Salt rim

Garnish with a torched grapefruit twist & rosemary sprig


Add all ingredients to an ice filled mixing glass. shake thoroughly and strain over a large ice cube in salt rimmed rocks glass, torch grapefruit peel and garnish with rosemary sprig. 

Stitch the Red-Tailed Hawk is just one of many raptors living at Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown. Photo by John Davis


Crafternoon at the Library

Children ages 3 to 12 are invited to drop by Emma Clark Library, 120 Main St., Setauket  on May 27 between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. to make a patriotic owl ornament. Free and open to all. No registration required. Questions? Call 631-941-4080.

Superheroes of the Sky

Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown presents Superheroes of the Sky on May 27 from 11 a.m. to noon. Take a walking tour with Jim while he feeds the Center’s Birds of Prey and tells you about their incredible adaptations that help them survive in the wild. You’ll be seeing and learning about bald eagles, turkey vultures, owls, hawks and many more. Fee is $10 per adult,  $5 per child age 11 and under. To register, visit 

Open Play at the Explorium

Join the Long Island Explorium, 101 East Broadway, Port Jefferson for Open Play on May 27, 28 and 29 from 1 to 5 p.m. with hands-on activities, crafts, and more. Admission is $5 per person, Long Island Explorium members and children under 1 are free. Call 631-331-3277 for further details.

Code Breakers 

Head over to the Whaling Museum, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor this week for a game of Code Breakers during gallery hours Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m, to 4 p.m. Uncover the secrets of maritime communication in this self-guided adventure. Hunt for hidden messages around the museum and decode clues left by mariners, using Morse Code, semaphore, and signal flags. Complete your trail by decorating your own personal flag to take home. For ages 6 and up. Admission fee plus $10. Call 631-367-3418.



Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson closes its children’s theatre season with its original retelling of the poor waif Cinderella from May 27 to June 17 with a sensory sensitive performance on June 4 at 11 a.m. The classic love story finds its power in a pumpkin, a palace, a prince and a young girl whose belief in herself can overcome any obstacle. When her Fairy Godmother adds a dash of excitement, the magical possibilities are endless. Don’t miss this musical enchantment for the entire family. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit

‘Flat Stanley’

John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley from May 28 to July 2 with a sensory friendly performance on June 10 at 11 a.m. Stanley Lambchop is an ordinary ten-year-old who longs to travel the world and do something amazing! Careful what you wish for, Stanley! One morning, Stanley wakes up really, REALLY flat! In a whirlwind musical travelogue, Stanley scours the globe for a solution to his unusual problem. He’s stamped, posted and mailed from Hollywood to Honolulu and beyond hoping to once again become three dimensional. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit


‘The Muppets Take Manhattan’

Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington continues its Cinema for Kids! series with a screening of The Muppets Take Manhattan on May 28 at noon. When Kermit the Frog and friends start a stage act, they decide to take the show from their college town to Broadway. Rated G. Tickets are $12, $5 children 12 and under. Visit

‘We Are Guardians’

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport has just premiered a new show, We Are Guardians. Audiences take a journey into, under, and around the many ecosystems across our planet and discover how each component fits together, and how the health of each part is vital to the health of Planet Earth. Find out how, with the help of satellites and scientific study, we can understand the links between human activities and climate change, and what we can do to work together to improve the health of our shared home. For ages 8 and up. For tickets and more information, visit