Opinion

Disaster Emergency Supplies. METRO photo

Once again, Suffolk County residents find themselves in the midst of hurricane season.

Hurricanes Fiona and Ian recently reared their ugly heads. While Long Island was spared, the headlines featuring the wreckage left behind in places such as Puerto Rico and Florida remind us of how devastating these storms can be.

In the Atlantic and Caribbean, hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. The height of the season is typically August, September and October.

Many Long Island residents remember the wrath of Gloria in 1985, and while it was downgraded to a superstorm once it hit our shores nearly 10 years ago, Sandy started as a hurricane, leaving damage and death behind, from the Caribbean to Canada.

Though we are well into hurricane season, it’s never too late to take precautionary measures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends preparing before a storm hits by programming all emergency phone numbers into cellphones, writing down the numbers and placing them on the refrigerator or near home phones. CDC officials also advise locating the nearest shelter and researching different routes to get there. Pet owners should also find pet-friendly shelters and hotels or an out-of-town friend or relative who can take in pets during the case of an evacuation.

The CDC suggests having emergency supplies handy in case of a weather emergency. People should keep in mind that water and electricity could be cut off, and it’s imperative to have a supply of items such as batteries, bottled water, flashlights, medications and important documents that are easily accessible.

All family members should know where the fire extinguishers are in the home and how to use them. And, most importantly, families should go over their emergency plan regularly.

When a storm is predicted, the CDC says to clean up any items outside of the house that could potentially blow around and cause damage. Installing storm shutters or putting plywood on windows can prevent shattered glass coming into a home. Carbon monoxide detectors should be checked to prevent CO poisoning.

The most important tip various agencies give is to follow the advice of government officials and first responders regarding evacuating or sheltering in place at home. When evacuating, take only what you need as well as your emergency kit. Drivers should travel on roads they are instructed to use even if there is traffic, and avoid any downed wires.

Those staying at home need to remember not to go outside, even if it seems calm, until news that the hurricane has finally passed. Also, stay away from windows and, of course, always be prepared to leave if responders tell you that it’s necessary.

For those who have a trip planned, AAA cautions travelers to be proactive when a storm is predicted to hit by monitoring weather conditions of one’s departure city and destination before leaving. When traveling after a weather event such as a hurricane, it’s imperative to call hotels to get an update on the storm’s impact and to confirm if flights are scheduled to leave on time. Remember that even if an area wasn’t directly hit by a storm, it could still be negatively impacted.

A bit of preparation and caution can help a person and families navigate most storms. Hopefully, Long Islanders won’t need the advice this season.

Cell phone etiquette. METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

You’re meeting with your boss, and you can feel your phone vibrating in your pocket with a new text message, an incoming email or a good old-fashioned phone call.

What do you do?

You’d be on pins and needles if someone you knew, your spouse or partner, perhaps, were expecting a baby. Or, perhaps, someone was traveling a great distance through a storm and you were eager to hear that your friend or family member had arrived safely.

But most of the time, the stakes aren’t quite as high with incoming information. In fact, some of the time, we’re getting spam that seeks our attention.

So, when we are talking to our boss, we generally realize that responding to our demanding electronics probably isn’t a great idea.

But what about when we are talking to a parent, a friend, a child or a neighbor?

Given the frequency with which I have seen the tops of people’s heads as they look down at their phones instead of in their eyes, it seems people have concluded that eye contact is so 20th century.

Since when did people outside the room become so much more important and demanding than the ones with whom we are interacting? If we can’t find people who are as interesting in person as the ones far away, perhaps it is time to move to interact with some of those fascinating folks.

I understand that people online don’t have bad breath and messy hair and aren’t wearing the same clashing outfit that they wore last week, and that continues to threaten to give us a migraine.

Maybe we ought to consider classes in electronic etiquette that teachers can share with students or with people who are receiving their first phone.

We can address not only how to handle an incoming text while in the middle of a conversation, but also how to unplug ourselves and our lives from endless messages, games, movies and TV shows.

If I could go back to the time when we handed phones to our children, ensuring that the phone would eventually replace bedtime stories, dinnertime conversation and eye contact, I would consider establishing our own “Ten Commandments” of phone ownership and usage.

These might be:

10. Limit the time each day when you use your phone, with only extraordinarily limited exceptions. If you need to use your phone for schoolwork for two or three hours, that still counts as phone usage.

9. Leave the phone in another room when you’re not using it.

8. If you can’t say something supportive or pleasant on social media, don’t say anything.

7. No anonymous messages or criticism. If you can’t use your name or stand behind what you write, you shouldn’t have written it in the first place.

6. Don’t take embarrassing pictures of your parents and share them with your friends. Older people don’t tend to look as glamorous in digital pictures as younger people, so be kind.

5. Internet fame is not a life goal.

4. When you become better at using your phone than your parents (which occurs in a surprisingly short time), share your wisdom and skills with them. Think of it as familial community service.

3. Don’t assume everything you find online is true. In fact, at least once a week, or even once a day, find something on the internet that you think is false. Use trusted sources to contradict what you think an internet provider got wrong.

2. If it looks like everyone else is having a better time than you, put your phone down. They aren’t.

1. If you can tell your parents to wait while you respond to a text or call from a friend, make sure you tell your friends the same thing when your parents reach out to you.

Insomnia. METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Have you been waking up thinking at night? There is so much to think about, even to be deeply concerned about. There is COVID-19, of course. No one wants to get the disease, and if you already had it, you don’t want to get it again, as some people reportedly have. You also don’t want any of the long-hauler symptoms to afflict you: fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains, trouble breathing, dizziness, headache, and at least nine more on a reported list. In fact, the list is so comprehensive, it’s enough to give you anxiety, especially if you already have had the illness. Oh yes, and anxiety is also one of the symptoms.

Then there is the Ukraine. Normally a country that was somewhere in Eastern Europe, in the same general area as “Fiddler on the Roof,” now its whereabouts as Russia’s western neighbor are known around the world. We watched as Putin sent more than 100,000 soldiers to overrun its borders. Poor little Ukraine, horrid bully Russia. We are sending them an unprecedented amount of money and military aid, and we have lowered our national oil and gas supplies. Will we have enough resources if we are attacked? Even as we cheer the valiant resistance and success of the victims of naked aggression, we worry about Putin’s possible use of nuclear arms. He has over 2000 small such weapons, apparently, and it’s the Cold War all over again.

The problem of immigration was brought right to our door with the arrival of immigrants sent by southern governors of border states. They have been literally deposited here by the thousands via buses, and they have been humanely received, if we are to accept what we are told by the media. As I have written in this column before, they can represent an opportunity as well as a challenge for areas in need of Help Wanted. Indeed, I am now reading that some of the immigrants are put to work cleaning up the devastation wrought by hurricane Ian in Florida. They are even being sent back down there to help. Who knows what to believe?

If you are going into New York City, how likely are you to ride the subway? The reports of incidents underground are frightening. So are horrible, unprovoked attacks on the streets. Now, I grew up in the city, and I am used to all sorts of miserable statistics concerning crime there, but I somehow never felt fearful. With some eight million people, crime is unfortunately inevitable. And NYC isn’t even statistically the worst. New Orleans is. But somehow, these recent incidents seem more violent.

Climate change has finally penetrated national conversation. The destruction and deaths in Puerto Rico and now in Florida and the Carolinas caused by the last two hurricanes have made those of us who live on islands and along the shores more conscious of future threats. While there have always been hurricanes, some with even legendary force, the prospect of more and stronger blasts due to climate change has prompted scary instruction about emergency bags and escape routes.

Inflation and its direction are also of grave concern. Going to the supermarket now seems to net about half as many bags of groceries for the usual food budget. Restaurants have decidedly become more expensive, as they have to pay more to function. And home values seem to have stopped rising and begun to cool. The stock market, while it is not the economy, has dropped like a rock. That negates the “wealth effect” homeowners and investors feel that encourages them to spend more freely.

Heck, I even worry about the New York Yankees. Yes, they have won their division, and you might say, “handily.” That’s exactly the problem. The last time they won by a big margin, they lost their competitive edge, along with the series, remember? It even happened this year right after the All-Star break. Teams do better when they have to fight until the last minute.

Awww, forgeddaboutit! Go back to sleep.

Go Green. Pixabay photo

Last month, President Joe Biden (D) signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a comprehensive investment package which covers taxes, health care and climate measures, too.

The climate portion of this act provides coastal communities across the U.S. with access to $2.6 billion over five years in federal funding through grants distributed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. These funds can be used for projects not only in response to sea-level rise and heavy storms but also to help communities to become more resilient against such disturbances.

Green infrastructure is a new trend in coastal resiliency that offers an alternative to traditional, human-engineered construction, also known as gray infrastructure. These are nature-based solutions, working with rather than against the natural terrain to battle the negative effects of climate change and related issues.

It is vital that Long Island communities make an aggressive plea for green infrastructure funding offered through the recent federal act. 

Instead of resigning ourselves to unsightly, inflexible, retrograde man-made sea walls to fight beach erosion, municipalities should explore more natural solutions for coastal hardening. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in July, “During the 20th century, global sea level rose by roughly 7 inches. Global temperatures are expected to continue to climb, resulting in rising sea levels, amplified storm surges, greater frequency and intensity of storms.”

Our era will be defined by these changes. Entire communities may soon be washed away. As shorelines continue to erode, homes and critical infrastructure will follow suit. 

The EPA suggests measures such as using plants, reefs, sand and natural barriers to create a living shoreline which in turn can reduce erosion and flooding. Wave heights can be reduced by restoring wetlands that serve as buffers against the water’s velocity and intensity.

Vegetative shorelines also help to improve water quality, aquatic habitat and carbon sequestration. Living shorelines also don’t have to be one thing. Designers can use native wetland plants, stones and rocks, oyster reefs, mussel beds and more to create different shorelines.

In many cases, natural solutions can be more cost-effective than gray infrastructure. Structures such as seawalls can deteriorate quickly after they are constructed, and they can be difficult and costly to repair and replace. Green alternatives can be more cost-effective, even though some critics say it is time consuming to replenish them. 

Of course, while choosing natural resources may work in some situations, in certain circumstances a home may be ready to fall in the water, and a seawall may be the only or quickest answer to saving the property. 

To meet the demands of this century, we must radically adjust our thinking. We are competing with other coastal communities nationwide for limited grant funding. If we choose to avoid the difficult environmental realities of our time, we are going to get passed by. In the intermunicipal survival of the fittest, communities that adapt themselves to the changing circumstances will survive and thrive. Those that don’t will wither away with the coastline.

To survive, we must adapt to the new pressures of an ever-changing environment. Moving forward, rigidity and narrow-mindedness will be our worst impediments, adaptability and realism our greatest resources.

Facebook photo/New York Yankees

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

If I were pitching to Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, I would probably take a long pause before throwing my first pitch.

I know it’s absurd to think of this older man who never threw a ball much harder than low high school level pitching to a generational legend, but let’s play out the fantasy for a laugh or two.

I wouldn’t pause so I could figure out how to get him out. Sure, it’d be nice to do my job well and my teammates might appreciate it if I gave us a better chance to win a game.

Instead, I would need to ponder the moment that history might be calling. I’d be thinking about the best choreographed reaction to him hitting a home run. I mean, after all, the pitchers who surrender his long home runs are, in their own way, famous.

They share the moment between when they release the ball, and he obliterates it into the night sky, sending thousands of people screaming out of their seats, arms in the air, sharing in the majesty that wouldn’t be possible without my meatball pitch sputtering, laughably, towards his powerful bat.

If he sent a ball out of the stadium, I would be joining select company, with so many pitchers around the majors surrendering home runs in a historic year.

I’d be thinking about how I’d look in newsreels or newscasts or digital versions of the Aaron Judge year to remember.

I could imagine ways to overreact. I could throw my glove on the mound, gesture wildly by putting my hands in the air, or shake my head so violently that my manager and the trainer would have to waddle out to the mound to put me in a neck brace.

Or, maybe I’d hold my glove up to my face and appear to yell a stream of expletives into my mitt, as if, somehow, I knew I should have thrown a different pitch in a different spot.

Then again, I could rub my fingers in some dirt and write a capital “AJ” on my uniform, like scarlet letters, except it wouldn’t be anything puritanical, and I would be acknowledging my inferiority.

None of that seems like me, even in my fantasy world.

Being stoic would make me too much of a personality-less pitcher. Let’s face it: even in my imaginary moment of being an above average starter or relief pitcher, the time to focus on me would be incredibly short.

Let’s say I didn’t blink after he hit the home run. Or, maybe, I tracked the flight of the ball carefully, like a zebra eyeing a lion suspiciously in the Serengeti. That might get me on TV and make me more than just another guy who gave up a home run to Aaron Judge.

Maybe I’d wait at home plate and give him a high five or a fist bump to acknowledge a full season worth of greatness. While kids do that in Little League, professional players generally don’t acknowledge the remarkable achievements of their opponents.

When he reached second base, I could put down my glove and clap from the mound, ever so briefly. Then, perhaps, I’d take off my hat and salute him.

Or, maybe I could take a page out of the more subtle but celebrated Mona Lisa textbook. I could give just a hint of a smile as if I were saying, “you beat me and you’re a pretty spectacular hitter. There’s no shame in losing this battle and now we’re weirdly connected, like we’re kind of twins, except that you’re great and going to be remembered forever and I’m just going to be remembered for starting the ball on its magical journey into the history books.”

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Have you ever heard of reflective listening? While I like to think of myself as being a good listener, and really I should ask others who speak to me to make that determination, I came upon this new technique and thought I would share it with you.

Reflective listening is a communications strategy that involves two steps. The first is, if you are the listener, seeking to understand what the speaker is saying. So many times in our lives, we think we hear what the other person is saying, and it turns out we didn’t hear that person correctly at all. I think that is particularly true when on the phone or when reading a text or an email. We don’t have the benefit of seeing facial expressions or body language. And even when on Zoom, we don’t get a good look at the other person, nor do they have a good read of us.

Then the second step is to offer back the thought, and even the words of the speaker, to confirm that his or her idea was understood. Here is just a simple example between two people who sometimes quarrel that could be misunderstood.

“Do you want to go to a Yankee game with me Friday night for a change?” asks the speaker. 

The listener hears, “Do you want to go to a Yankee game with me?” as opposed to with another person Friday night, and so reflects back the question accordingly by repeating, “Do I want to go to a Yankee game with you?”

The speaker can then clarify with, “Yes, do you want to go to a Yankee game Friday night instead of going bowling?”

By repeating the words, the listener has given the speaker a second chance at making his meaning clear. The listener then answers, “Yes, I would like to go to a Yankee game with you Friday night.”

This is probably an oversimplification of how a speaker might be misunderstood, but the essence of the reflective listening is to pay respectful attention to the content and the feelings expressed by the speaker. The listener hears and then understands what is being said and lets the speaker know that she has gotten the message.

This kind of “checking out” requires responding actively while keeping focused completely on the speaker. It’s a step beyond what is normally thought of as listening. It’s reflecting back accurately on both content and feeling levels.

Reflective listening offers a number of benefits.  It lets the speaker know that they have been heard, understood, and perhaps, even cared for and supported, depending on the nature of the exchange. It gives the speaker feedback on what he or she said and how it was understood. 

It allows the listener to check his or her own accuracy in hearing what the speaker said. It avoids the illusion of understanding. It helps prevent what has been termed the “mental vacation” in which the listener is inattentive during conversation. It can give the speaker a second chance to focus on self, vent, sort out issues, express feelings and deal more effectively with emotions. 

It allows the speaker to move to deeper levels of expression at his or her own pace. It can help the speaker to articulate more clearly. It may help the speaker to arrive at a solution to a problem being voiced. It helps the listener clarify what is expected of him or her. It helps the listener to deal effectively with the issue, problem or needs the speaker raised.

In a confrontational exchange, it gives a couple of seconds pause, which might enable a cooling down.

In a social situation, it can create a climate of warmth between speaker and listener. In another situation, directions can be clarified by the listener. And as a technique in leading a group discussion, effective hearing, then repeating all points of view, is certainly required.

I hope you can see why I thought this one communication technique was worth sharing.

Facebook photo

After months of controversy, the Town of Brookhaven’s redistricting process is nearing completion. Earlier this week, the town released its latest proposal to reapportion its six council districts.

While this new map signals progress for the residents of Council District 1, our work is unfinished. This map still splits Comsewogue School District unnecessarily. As this redistricting process enters the home stretch, let’s remember how we got here. 

At the outset, powerful and unknown forces sought to crack Council District 1, targeting Port Jefferson Station and Terryville which share a school district, zip code, library, civic association and chamber of commerce. The original draft maps proposed cutting this hamlet in two, dividing our residents across different council districts. If adopted, these plans could have caused a diversion of public resources away from our area and disrupted years of progress — and future plans — made by our residents.

Seeing that our interests were at stake, the people took action. Civic organizations and business groups mobilized the troops, sending members to public hearings to resist these plans. Many spread the word by writing letters to the editor, which appeared on this page. And our hometown paper regularly covered the issue and vigorously editorialized on behalf of our districts.

The people of Port Jefferson Station/Terryville and beyond presented an overwhelming, unified front — a force too large to be ignored. Confronted by such stark opposition, the redistricting committee had little choice but to acquiesce to the community’s demands, restoring the boundaries of Council District 1 to their previous form.

The Town Board’s new map looks promising for most Comsewogue residents, but not all. Under this plan, the dividing line between CD1 and CD2 is Pine Street, meaning Comsewogue families in the school district east of Pine will belong to Council District 2. 

This year’s redistricting controversy has brought our community together. It has demonstrated the power of civic and business groups in coordinating their efforts. It has taught us there is strength in unity. It has also illustrated the dynamic interplay between a community and a community newspaper. 

When we speak with one voice, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. The Town Board will hold a public hearing on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. On that day, we must tell our elected representatives to bring our neighbors back into CD1. For the betterment of our community, let’s finish our work to the bitter end. No Comsewogue family can be left behind. 

Building upon our successes, we should remember we are not alone in this cause. The Mount Sinai activists were equally triumphant in preventing the splitting of their hamlet. And in CD4, our neighbors in Coram and Gordon Heights continue to fight apparent attempts to gerrymander that area.

The Town Board has a 6-1 Republican majority, and must adopt a new map by Dec. 15. How we proceed over the coming weeks could impact Brookhaven elections over the next 10 years.

Twilight Zone. Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Conversations with friends, relatives and neighbors have taken a turn into “The Twilight Zone” episodes recently.

Decades ago, when I spoke with my friends, we discussed our activities, ambitions and plans. We might have complained about our bosses, described a business trip, shared an encounter with a stranger on a plane or train, or described our frustrations with our favorite sports teams.

Sure, we still do that, but, as the years pass, the discussions drift. This is where I’d cue the music.

In Episode One, we have two college friends who shared a room for several years, who sweated through a spectacularly hot summer in Boston with no air conditioning, and who, over the decades, visited each other’s homes with and without our wives and children.

So, these two friends recently started catching up.

“I can’t stand the hair that’s coming out of my ears,” I offered. “It makes it harder to hear and to be taken seriously by anyone looking at me.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty unwelcome,” my friend laughed. “My back is killing me. I wake up every morning and it takes me a while to feel comfortable enough to stand and shuffle to the bathroom.”

“My hip has been a problem,” I reply.

“I also don’t see particularly well. I don’t like driving when it’s dark,” he added.

“My knee is sore,” I added, “but I think that’s from compensating for my hip.”

And so it went, for about 10 minutes, until we broke the description of all that ails us and transitioned to a discussion of all that inspires, and worries, us about our college-age children.

“I hope you feel better soon,” I offered as we got off the phone.

“At this point, I’d just take not feeling worse,” he said.

Okay, so that wasn’t too terrifying, right? Two 50-ish guys chatted and shared personal details about the aging vessels that carry us through life.

That takes us to Episode Two. Imagine, if you will, a group of older adults, representing the 50ish and the 80ish generation, chatting in person together.

“Have you been to the doctor recently?” one of the people asked.

“Which one? For what?” a second one replied.

“How many doctors do you have?” a third one asked.

And that is where the conversation became a competition. Each person, slowly and deliberately, shared the number of doctors he or she visits.

“I’ve had kidney stones, so I have a urologist,” I offered, as if I were recounting trophies on a shelf or comparing the number of friends I have with someone else in fourth grade rather than recalling a specialist who helped me deal with excruciating agony.

“Do you have an ENT doctor? I have one,” someone else said.

My competitive spirit again got the best of me.

“I have the best GI guy, who gave me a great colonoscopy. I had such a nice rest while I was under anesthesia,” I said.

I pictured a younger version of me, sitting with the group, staring, open-mouthed at the enthusiasm with which all of us, me included, counted our doctors and the reason we needed them.

In Episode Three, a man in his 30s walked his dog, limping along with a supportive black boot on his leg. Another man (me) appeared, pulled along by his oversized dog.

“Not to get too personal,” I said, “but your shoes don’t match.”

The good-natured man smiled and said he thought he had shin splints from running, but discovered he had a hairline fracture that required several weeks of rest in a boot.

“I went to my parents’ house in New Hampshire and ran over five miles on an uneven road. The next day, I could barely move. I have to rest it for six weeks,” he said.

I nodded and wished him a speedy recovery.

“Well, maybe it hurts just because I’m older,” he offered.

You have no idea, I thought, as I could feel the urge to hold back a clock that pushes each of us forward through time. 

Cue the music.

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

COVID caught me. After two and a half years of bobbing and weaving, trying to elude the virus, I finally have been felled. It’s like being shot on the last day of the war. 

I did all the right things. I avoided crowds, driving back from my South Carolina vacation at the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 instead of using my return plane ticket. I stopped going to the opera and to Broadway shows in New York City. I didn’t eat in restaurants, even after they reopened, for fear of who might be harboring pathogens at the next table. We closed the office to all but those with appointments. We ordered masks for the staff by the dozens and hand sanitizer by the gallon. We practiced social distancing at the bank, that is, before the bank closed its doors and moved away. We stopped holding events, such as “People of the Year” and “Cooks, Books and Corks” and “Reader’s Choice” that might turn into superspreaders. My family and I zoomed rather than visited. Our family holiday celebrations and vacations were suspended. And we took to our computers, to the extent we were able, for everything from classroom learning to shopping for toilet paper.

Remember all that?

Well, as much as we would like to declare the pandemic over, as President Joe Biden (D) recently did, the virus is still with us. I stopped social distancing, then recently became casual about wearing my mask. I started getting together, first with family, then with close friends, then with business colleagues. Recently, I have been eating inside a couple of restaurants. I stopped asking every repairman to please wear a mask in my house. I pushed COVID phobia way down in my consciousness.

Then I got it.

There are, of course, some differences between catching COVID early on and now. The health care professionals know so much more now about treating the disease. Hospitalizations are fewer but still some 32,000 daily, intubations are less common. But people are still dying, some 400-500 a day, to put numbers on it. Through Sept. 19, Suffolk County reported more than one death per day for the month, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“We’ve had two million cases reported over the last 28 days, and we know underreporting is substantial,” Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota, was quoted in the Tuesday edition of The New York Times. He continued that COVID-19 was the No. 4 cause of death in the country.

Many of us were feeling what Biden was expressing. Yes, we have vaccines and medicines now that successfully hold the pathogen at bay, and most people have every expectation of recovering. Nonetheless, it has been a dreaded disease, especially for those of a certain age or with underlying conditions. With me, it started as a little dry cough throughout the afternoon, hardly noticeable. By nightfall, the cough had deepened and a headache began. The next day, the miserable irritation at the back of the throat started. By the end of the day, my temperature began to climb, eventually four degrees, and my body ached.

Of course, my doctor was on vacation that week, but the backup staff responded valiantly. They called me in for THE test, and when it was positive, they gave me three options. I could go to the Emergency Room and get an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, which would take an hour (not including the inevitable wait.) They could phone in a prescription for paxlovid, and I could take three pills in the morning, then three at night, for five days. They spelled out the side effects of both treatments, which didn’t sound too cheerful. Or I could just monitor the situation, drinking plenty of liquids, taking some Tylenol and see how it goes.

I chose the paxlovid.

Yes, it causes a metallic taste after it’s ingested. But it seems to have worked. 

Will I be as cavalier about relaxing precautions? No, I don’t think so. It is possible to get it again, and I REALLY don’t want it again.  I will get the next booster when I am eligible, I will continue to wear a mask regardless of what those around me are doing, and I will limit my dining, to the extent possible, to the great outdoors.

File photo

On a national stage, two U.S presidents are in a tug-of-war for the soul of our nation. 

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden (D) and former President Donald Trump (R) presented disparate visions for the American future. Despite diametrically opposing messages, one theme unifies these speeches: Americans stand at a crossroads in our history, and our trajectory is undecided.

Numerous problems plague our policymakers in Washington, from national security, economic uncertainty, immigration policy, among many others. In the face of these seemingly unanswerable questions, we must remember that all politics is local. Before we can even consider pondering the great questions of our time, we must first get our affairs in order here at the community level. 

From town and village halls to school boards, environmental demonstrations, civic meetings, and everything in between, our residents grapple with the most pressing issues confronting our communities. We find particular examples of the nation’s broader, systemic issues within these forums. 

What does it mean to have a representative voice in government? What is an equitable distribution of public resources? How and where should we build, and to what end? 

We are wrestling with these unsettled questions right now. At the local level, our citizens learn how systems operate. With this understanding, we begin breaking down the great questions into bite-sized, manageable tasks. 

In time, we will accumulate small wins. This formula can be scaled, meaning we can soon apply our takeaways from local politics to the higher levels of government.

We hold that this bottom-up approach is the best course of action, both for our residents and nation. Locally, our voices ring louder, our votes weightier. Let’s fix our problems here first, then set our sights on issues further from home. 

We must first create a solid foundation to build something meant to last. May we heal this divided but unbroken nation. May we find solutions to problems both near and far. And may we never lose faith in the principles that unite us as community members and Americans.