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A&L Home

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HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS Celebrate St. James kicks off its Classic Film Series with a screening of ‘That’s Entertainment’ celebrating MGM’s 50th anniversary on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m.
Ongoing

Winter break at the Vanderbilt 

During the February school break, Monday to Friday, February 21 to 25, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will be open every day from noon to 4 p.m. (and Sunday as always) for exploring galleries, guided Mansion tours, and shows. The Planetarium also will be offering shows on Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The gift shop and café will be open and visitors can purchase sandwiches, salads, and snacks prepared by the renowned Copenhagen Bakery and Café in Northport. Guests may purchase tickets for guided tours of the Vanderbilt Mansion and for two recently premiered Planetarium shows: Exoplanets: Discovering New Worlds and Explore. And parents can sign up their children for fun, creative workshops. For more information, please visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org or call 854-5579.

Thursday, February 24

‘Emergence’ art reception

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket invites the community to an opening reception for Emergence: Gerald Monroe, a memorial retrospective of abstract painter Gerald Monroe from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 751-2676.

Vanderbilt lecture

Join the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for a lecture by Elyse Graham in the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at 7 p.m. Graham, who writes under the pen name E.J. White, is the author of You Talkin’ to Me?: The Unruly History of New York English, will explore how commonplace words like “boss,” “dollar,” “tycoon,” and “rush hour” got started in the thriving metropolis of New York City and eventually became part of our shared vernacular. Fee is $10 per person. Register at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Native American Drumming

All Souls Church Parish House, 10 Mill Pond Road, Stony Brook will host a Native American Drumming Meditation program from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Led by elder drummer, Ric Statler, drumming meditation seeks to integrate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of the human self, creating a state of well-being. Please call 631-655-7798 for more information.

Atelier online workshop

The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James will present a free online demonstration titled Spring Tulips via Zoom from 7 to 9 p.m. Instructor and certified botanical artist Liz Fusco will demonstrate how to paint a beautiful tulip in watercolor from start to finish. To register, visit www.theatelieratflowerfield.org or call 250-9009.

Friday, February 25

Long Island Spring Home Show

Suffolk County Community College Sports & Exhibition Complex, Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood hosts the Long Island Spring Home Show today from 4 to 8 p.m., Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is designed for homeowners who are in all stages of remodeling, landscaping and decorating their homes with home improvement and remodeling exhibits with product demonstrations and sample interior and exterior vignettes in a fun, interactive environment. Admission is free with online registration (www.lihomeshows-sc.com) or $10 at the door. Call 516-624-1097 for further information.

Poets in Port

First Presbyterian Church, 330 Main St., Northport hosts a Poets in Port event in the Joshua Hartt Room at 7:30 p.m. Featured poet will be Emmy Sue Sloane, an award-winning poet from Huntington Station. An open reading will follow. The event will also be held on Zoom. Free. For further information, visit www.northportarts.org.

An evening of opera

Live opera returns to Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts Recital Hall, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook at 8 p.m. Arthur Haas conducts the Stony Brook Baroque Ensemble in a production of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis. Sung in the original English with projected titles. The show will also be held on Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10. To purchase, visit www.stallercenter.com or call 632-2787.

Friday Night Face-Off

Friday Night Face Off, Long Island’s longest running Improv Comedy Show, returns to Theatre Three’s Second Stage, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson tonight at 10:30 p.m. Using audience suggestions, FNFO pits two teams of improvisers against each other in an all-out championship! Recommended for ages16 and up, due to adult content. Tickets are $15 at the door only. Call 928-9100 for more information.

Saturday, February 26

Long Island Spring Home Show

See Feb 25 listing.

Turning Back Thyme

Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead presents Turning Back Thyme: A Taste of Hallockville from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Begin your morning in the Old Homestead and explore 19th-century cooking techniques with culinary historian and local preservationist Diane Schwindt. This is a hands-on cooking class utilizing an historic wood-burning stove. Participants will have the opportunity to prepare homemade sausage and other cold-weather delicacies. $65 per person. To register, visit www.hallockville.org.

Composers meet Whitman

Walt Whitman Historic Birthplace State Historic Site, 246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station presents Composers Meet Whitman from 7 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom. The virtual discussion will feature the works of composer, writer, and filmmaker Daron Hagen, who discusses works by a variety of composers based on Whitman’s verse; Filmmaker H. Paul Moon, and WWBA Music Collection Archivist George Mallis join the conversation. Suggested $5 donation. To register, visit www.waltwhitman.org.

Sunday, February 27

Long Island Spring Home Show

See Feb 25 listing.

Huntington Winter Farmers Market

Get your farm fix in the off-season at the Huntington Winter Farmers Market every Sunday through March 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located behind the senior center at 423 Park Ave., Huntington, visitors will find items ranging from hydroponic greens to artisan breads and vegan treats and everything in between. Call 944-2661.

Psychic Fair and Gift/Craft Show

The Radisson Hotel, 110 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, Hauppauge will host a Psychic Fair and Gift/Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 18 psychics will be available to give you a positive and uplifting reading. Choose from among mediums, clairvoyants, Tarot and Angel Card readers, palm readers and others. Personal one-on-one readings are $40 for 15 minutes or $70 for 30 minutes. There will also be free hourly door prizes as well an array of vendors offering unique items that you won’t find anywhere else. Free admission. Visit www.islandwidepsychicfairs.com.

Port Jeff Winter Farmers Market 

The Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market will be held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson through April 25. This year’s vendors include Brownies N’ Stuff, Joann’s Desserts, Farm Fresh Potions, Mello Munch Awesome Granola, O Honey Bee Farm, Sweet Melissa Dip, Mr. B’s Hot Sauce, Speedy Kiwi Bakery, Knot of this World Pretzels, Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery, Spilt Milk Macarons and many more. For more information, call 802-2160.

Monday, February 28

Alternative Medicine

Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station presents an in-person program, Alternative Medicine: CBD & Chiropractic, at 7 p.m. Get the facts about hemp-sourced cannabidiol and how it can complement chiropractic care from Your CBD Store Port Jefferson Station and Corrective Chiropractic. Registration is required by calling 928-1212.

Virtual Movie Trivia Night

Do you know a lot about movies? Well here’s your chance to prove it! Join the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington for a virtual Movie Trivia Night at 8 p.m. Hosted by Dan French, the winning team will get up to four CAC Gift Cards (1 per team member) and bragging rights. Tickets are $10 per team, $7 members. Visit www.cinemaartscentre.org to register. Questions? Email [email protected].

Tuesday, February 1

Daughtry in concert

Daughtry “The Beloved Tour” heads to The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington today at 7 p.m. (rescheduled from Nov. 17) with special guests Tremonti and Lyell. For tickets, visit www.paramountny.com.

Wednesday, February 2

No events listed for this day.

Thursday, February 3

Suffrage exhibit opens

The Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson celebrates Women’s History Month with an exhibit on the second floor titled Celebrating Women’s Suffrage and the Timeless Connection of Nan Guzzetta. The exhibit opens today and runs through March 31 daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The community is invited to a reception on March 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. See story in the issue of March 3. For more information, call 473-4778.

Vanderbilt lecture

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will present an evening lecture titled Necessary Ingredients: Astronomy and Life’s Origins at the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at 7 p.m. Dr. Tom Rice will explore one of astronomy’s most pressing issues—how the ingredients necessary for life, nitrogen and carbon, become part of terrestrial worlds like the Earth during planet formation. A stargazing event will follow the lecture, weather permitting. Tickets are $15, $5 members. To register, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

An evening of jazz

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook presents a concert by the Jazz Loft Big Band at 7 p.m. The 17-member band led by Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel performs jazz standards

and original compositions and arrangements written by band members. Tickets are $30 adults, $25 seniors, $20 students, $15 children, children under 5 free at www.thejazzloft.org.

Film

‘That’s Entertainment’

Celebrate St. James kicks off its Classic Film Series with a screening of “That’s Entertainment” (1974) at the St. James Community Cultural Arts Center, 176 2nd. St., St. James on Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. MGM’s stars present their favorite musical moments from the studio’s 50 year history. Hosted by Jack Ader. Refreshments will be served. $20 donation, $15 seniors. To register, call 984-0201 or visit www.celebratestjames.org.

‘Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen’ 

The Port Jefferson Documentary Series kicks off its 2022 Spring season with a screening of “Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen” at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Narrated by Jeff Goldblum, the documentary draws on behind-the-scenes footage and never-before-seen stills, capturing the experience of making Fiddler on the Roof. Followed by a Q&A with director Daniel Rain via Zoom. Tickets are $10 at the door. Visit www.portjeffdocumentaryseries.com for more information. See story on page B13.

Theater

‘Punk Rock Girl!’

The Argyle Theatre, 34 West Main St., Babylon kicks off the new year with the world premiere of PUNK ROCK GIRL! from Jan. 20 to Feb. 27. With book and arrangements by Tony-nominated Long Island composer Joe Iconis, arrangements and orchestrations by Rob Rokicki and directed and choreographed by Jennifer Werner, the new musical features a score of popular songs written and made famous by female artists and female-fronted bands including Blondie, Pat Benatar, Avril Lavigne, Joan Jett, P!nk, Gwen Stefani, and more. Tickets range from $49 to $77 and may be purchased online at www.argyletheatre.com or by calling 230-3500.

‘Rock of Ages’

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Rock of Ages from Jan. 27 to March 13. The five-time Tony Award®-nominated Broadway musical smash tells the story of a small-town girl, a city boy, and a rock ‘n’ roll romance on the Sunset Strip. But when the bar where rock reigns supreme is set to be demolished, it’s up to these wannabe rockers and their band of friends to save the day — and the music. Rock of Ages’ electric score features all your favorite ’80s rock anthems and power ballads, including “Every Rose has its Thorn,” “I Wanna Know What Love is,” Here I Go Again,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and more! Tickets range from $75 to $80 with free valet parking. To order, call 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com. 

‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Marvelous Wonderettes from Feb. 19 to March 26. This blast-from-the-past musical takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where we meet Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! Featuring over two dozen classic ’50’s and ’60’s hits including “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 and older. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. See review on page B9.

‘The Diary of Anne Frank’

Star Playhouse at the Suffolk Y JCCC, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack presents The Diary of Anne Frank on March 12 and 19 at 8 p.m. and March 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. In this transcendently powerful adaptation, Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl, who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. Tickets are $25 adults, $20 seniors and students. To order, call 462-9800, ext. 136 or visit www.starplayhouse.com.

Festival of One-Act Plays

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents the 23rd annual Festival of One-Act Plays, featuring the world premiere of six new works, at The Ronald F. Peierls Theatre, on the Second Stage from Feb. 27 to April. 2. Featuring Steve Ayle, Antoine Jones, Tamralynn Dorsa, Brittany Lacey, Steven Uihlein, Steve Wangner, Bradlee Bing, Sari Feldman, Eric J. Hughes, and Evan Teich. Adult content and language. Parental discretion is advised. Tickets are $20. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

* All numbers are in (631) area code unless otherwise noted.

 

Pixabay photo

By Michael E. Russell

Michael E. Russell

As I sit here on Sunday morning pondering what I would recommend to readers, I find myself in a quandary.

Ukraine is in the forefront of the news, while Canadian truckers are being arrested and having their bank accounts taken due to their opposition to Trudeau and his position on masking and vaccinations.

Is it time to put money to work during these uneasy times? Emotionally an investor could think not. History says otherwise.

Once again, the reader only has to look back in time and realize that sound investment decisions can be made at any juncture. 1929, 1952, 1987, 2001, 2002, 2008. These dates were extremely stressful to the investor. Sell, hold or buy? DECISIONS, DECISIONS!

Today, it is more of the same. Companies that we have mentioned are still financially strong with solid balance sheets. Yet, they are being punished by this market! Do we sell shares in these companies while earnings are robust?

Is 5G now a passing fancy? Not so.

Increasing interest rates will bolster the balance sheets of many Money Center and Regional banks. It is fair to say that even though the ten-year treasury is now yielding 2%, our checking and savings accounts are still yielding close to 0%! Thus, bank earnings and balance sheets are stronger than ever.

I believe that based on past history, investors should think about adding or starting a position in some great companies. Dollar cost averaging is a smart way to start or increase your positions. Emotion should not play a part in selling a stock. 

Banks need to watch their loan portfolios and manage the risk as to their non-performing loans.

We are all aware of the supply chain problems thus effecting the costs of goods and services.

With all of this in mind, we need to remember a basic tenet; try to have enough liquidity to cover 6 months of household and business expenses. It is especially important now to monitor your debt load due to higher interest rates.

Let us look at some stocks that have been mentioned before. Qualcomm is certainly a quality investment at these levels, even during this volatile market period. It is reasonably priced with a P.E. ratio of 14x forward earnings with a solid dividend. Morgan Stanley is another sound investment idea. The company is buying back $3 billion in stock each quarter while paying a 3% dividend. 

Still a favorite is Nvidia. This company has exceeded even the highest expectations of forward guidance for earnings. A great CEO, Jensen Huang, has Nvidia positioned to take advantage in the growth of 5G. For those suffering from cabin fever, look at Disney. Increase pricing power and high occupancy rates at their theme parks suggest good earnings growth.

In closing, let us hope the people of Ukraine will be safe. By the time this article is published we will probably know if Russia has decided to invade.

Be safe and stay healthy. 

Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor. 

Stock photo

The Kraft Heinz Co., the third-largest food and beverage company in North America, has agreed to set a goal to reduce total virgin plastic use following the filing of a shareholder proposal and engagement with As You Sow

The proposal asked Kraft Heinz to report on how the company would reduce plastic packaging, including planned reduction strategies or goals, materials redesign, substitution, or reductions in use of virgin plastic.

The company intends to set a substantial virgin plastic packaging reduction goal later this year or in the first quarter of 2023, the company informed As You Sow in a statement. In response, As You Sow agreed to withdraw its shareholder proposal. Kraft Heinz’s commitment continues a steady stream of major U.S. brands and retailers who have agreed to cut virgin plastic use after interaction with As You Sow

Kraft Heinz said it would “continue to drive towards its packaging goals and support of a circular economy through a variety of initiatives and investments, including reduction of virgin plastic material, packaging redesign, increased use of recycled content, and continued exploration and scaling of reuse models.”

“We were pleased to reach this agreement with Kraft Heinz that involves a substantial virgin plastic reduction goal for packaging including consideration of packaging redesign and innovative reuse models,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president at As You Sow. “We have similar pending proposals at AmazonMcDonald’s, and Kroger and hope that those companies can agree to reductions in the use of plastic for packaging.”  

Forty-five percent of Kroger shareholders and 35% of Amazon shareholders supported proposals last year asking for reductions in plastic use.

Five other large companies — Keurig Dr Pepper, Mondelez International, PepsiCo, Target Corp., and Walmart — agreed to virgin plastic reductions in 2021 after the filing of shareholder proposals by As You SowTarget and Keurig Dr. Pepper agreed to reduce virgin plastic in brand packaging by 20%, Walmart agreed to a 15% cut; and Mondelez agreed to cut 5% — all by 2025; and PepsiCo agreed to a 20% cut by 2030. Cumulatively, the reduction in use of virgin plastic announced by these five brands is expected to total more than 700,000 tons. 

As You Sow’s efforts have been catalyzed by a 2020 landmark study by Pew Charitable Trusts, Breaking the Plastic Wave, which said immediate and sustained new commitments throughout the plastics value chain are needed, including actions by brand owners, consumer goods companies, and retailers to reduce at least one-third of plastic demand through elimination, reuse, and new delivery models.

The largest cut in overall plastic use to date by a major consumer goods company was a 2019 commitment by Unilever to cut virgin plastic use by 50%, including a total elimination of 100,000 tons of plastic packaging by 2025.

# # #

As You Sow is the nation’s leading shareholder advocacy nonprofit, with a 30-year track record promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility and advancing values-aligned investing. Its issue areas include climate change, ocean plastics, pesticides, racial justice, workplace diversity, and executive compensation. Click here for As You Sow’s shareholder resolution tracker.

METRO photo

By Nancy Burner, Esq.

Nancy Burner, Esq.

On January 1, 2020, as we entered another year without any idea of what was on the horizon, a new federal law took effect regarding retirement accounts. 

The SECURE Act, “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement,” affects millions of Americans who have been saving through tax-deferred retirement plans with the biggest impact falling those set to inherit these plans. Now, two years later, SECURE is still a new concept for many clients who are unaware of the law or how it applies to their own situation.

One change is that the age at which a plan holder must take required minimum distributions (“RMDs”) was increased from 70 1⁄2 to 72. RMDs are taken annually, based on the full value of the account on December 31 of the prior year and the life expectancy of the plan holder. The delay to age 72 will result in a year and a half more of tax-deferred growth on the funds.

SECURE also created a $10,000 penalty-free withdrawal for someone giving birth to or adopting a child. The Act also expanded the ability for small business owners to offer retirement plan funding. However, the most drastic item in SECURE takes aim at the beneficiary of the plan after the death of the original plan holder.

Prior to SECURE, a non-spouse designated beneficiary had the option of converting the plan to an inherited IRA and taking a RMD based upon their own life expectancy. The beneficiary could take more than the RMD if needed, realizing that each distribution is taxable income. 

Consider a 90-year-old with an IRS life expectancy of 12.2 years who names a 65-year-old child as designated beneficiary. A 65-year-old has an IRS life expectancy of 22.9 years. That beneficiary could previously “stretch” the distributions over their life expectancy and allow those funds to grow tax-deferred for many more years. With SECURE, this stretch is lost for the majority of beneficiaries. SECURE prescribes a mandatory 10-year payout for a designated beneficiary. Being forced to liquidate in the 10 years will result in the payment of more income taxes than if the beneficiary had the 22.9-year payout.

The SECURE Act carved out limited exceptions to this 10-year payout rule. These five categories of designated beneficiaries include a spouse, minor child of the plan holder, chronically ill person, disabled person, or a person not more than 10 years younger than the plan holder.

If you have retirement assets, this change serves as a trigger to have your plan reviewed by your estate planning attorney and financial advisor. This review is especially important where an estate plan includes a trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account. The terms of the trust may need to be adjusted from being a conduit trust to an accumulation trust. 

A conduit trust forces all distributions out to the beneficiary, whereas an accumulation trust allows the distributions to remain protected in the trust. Other clients may decide to leave tax-deferred retirement assets to charities rather than individuals. Still others may rearrange allocations to make IRAs payable to a person not less than 10 years younger than them, such as a sibling, thereby focusing on saving other types of assets for beneficiaries otherwise forced to take a 10-year taxable payout.

Many Americans have spent their working lives contributing to tax-deferred plans with the idea that it will give them a stream of income in retirement, and pass on to their beneficiaries as a stream of income. While SECURE may not alter the plan for some, the impact of SECURE should be considered by all. Stay tuned for future updates because there are already whisperings about SECURE 2.0 which, among other things, may raise the age at which RMDs are required.

Nancy Burner, Esq. practices elder law and estate planning from her East Setauket office. Visit www.burnerlaw.com.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

Over these past two trying years, more and more people have been flocking to nature for recreation and solace. It’s no wonder that birding, also known as birdwatching, continues to grow in popularity. 

Birding can be enjoyed by all and in just about any spot you can imagine.  Not only is it an engaging hobby for the whole family, but it can also be emotionally therapeutic, mentally stimulating, and provide physical exercise.  Additionally, being connected to nature makes us more attuned to our planet’s needs, and more passionate about protecting it. There’s never been a better time to begin birding. I’d like to share a few easy tips to help you get started.

1. There’s no place like home. Odds are, you have a variety of birds right where you live. Get familiar with your common backyard species that are easy to identify such as Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays.  Then start to notice finer details in other birds such as different sparrows. You will be amazed at the variety you see.

2. Get your hands on some resources to help you identify the birds you see. 

◆ Merlin is a great free app. It allows you to enter some basic info such as color, size, and location, to help you figure out what you’ve spotted.

◆ AllAboutBirds.org is a phenomenal, user-friendly website chock full of helpful birding info.

◆ Field Guides: My favorites are the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, the Crossley ID Guide Eastern Birds, and the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.

3. Create a Backyard Bird Oasis. Make your yard a paradise for a wide array of bird species by offering various food and water sources, and shelter. 

There are many ways to feed your feathered friends, including planting native berry-and-seed-producing plants and offering feeders full of birdseed and suet. Some of my favorite native flora are Red Mulberry bushes to attract anything from Baltimore Orioles to Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, and Bee Balm flowers for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds as well as other pollinators such as bees and butterflies. 

In addition to native plants, especially at times when they are not in season, consider supplementing your backyard birds’ diets with quality seed and suet. Safflower and black oil sunflower seeds attract dozens of species of songbirds. Hearty suet is the perfect winter treat for woodpeckers, chickadees, and more, due to its high protein and fat content. 

If you choose to set up birdfeeders of any kind, (platform feeders, cage feeders, etc.) please be mindful of where you place them. Be sure they are several feet away from glass windows to avoid bird collisions. Additionally, they should be very close to shelter, such as shrubs and trees, so birds can easily hide if a predator is nearby. Keep your feeders clean to help maintain the birds’ health.

Providing clean sources of water is equally important. Birdbaths, ponds, and water dishes are wonderful ways to ensure your backyard birds are hydrated. Use a “water-wiggler” or similar device to keep the water from becoming stagnate and home to bacteria and mosquito larvae. Think about purchasing a heated birdbath in the colder months so the water doesn’t freeze. Lastly, the water should be shallow enough for birds to stand in.

Shelter for birds in your yard can range from a pile of wood to a stone wall to leafy trees and shrubs. Birds also require good nesting materials and nesting locations. Although it depends on the species, birds often nest on tree branches, in tree cavities, or in or around manmade structures. They build their nests using grasses, twigs, found objects, and even mud. If you are looking to attract more nesting birds, namely woodpeckers, consider not removing dead trees on your property. Dead trees are home to lots of cavities where birds like to nest, and they are home to millions of insects which are a vital food source to birds and their chicks. For more information, visit 4has.org/bird-oasis.

4. Seek out Other Birders. Join a local Audubon chapter or one of the many bird-related social media groups. The birding community can be very friendly, with members eager to share their knowledge.  What’s this Bird? from the American Birding Association on Facebook has very helpful and knowledgeable members.

5. Keep a Life List. It’s an exciting challenge to keep track of all the bird species you see. The ABA has a list you can download at https://www.aba.org/aba-checklist/

6. Get involved in Remote Learning. Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many resources (free and some with a fee) for learning about birds.  For youngsters all the way through high school, check out https://www.birds.cornell.edu/k12/, and for birders of all ages, check out Bird Academy, https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/

7. This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning eBird.org. This amazingly comprehensive website provides resources such as maps, photos, descriptions, graphs, notifications, and other data collected by birders worldwide.  Participate in community science by making your own account so that you can contribute to the findings and keep track of your life list using eBird. 

8. Optics such as Binoculars or a Monocular (I found a monocular simpler to use when I was younger) can certainly add to the experience and make it easier to enjoy birds’ behaviors and identify them. 8×42 binoculars are a popular choice among birders. The numbers refer to the magnification and objective diameter.

9. A few tips on how to Bird Responsibly. 

◆ Maintain a respectful distance when birding.  This is especially important for migratory species such as the Snowy Owl.  Remain at least a few hundred feet away from such species. There have been many unfortunate circumstances (out of not knowing or out of selfishness to get a better photo), of people getting too close and stressing out birds that require rest from their long journey. 

◆ Apply bird collision window stickers. Birds have trouble seeing the reflections in glass and often accidentally collide with windows. Adhering stickers to your windows can prevent injuries and fatalities because of this.

◆ Keep your cat indoors. Feral and outdoor pet cats kill 2.4 billion birds annually. By keeping your cat inside, you are protecting wildlife from your cat, and keeping your cat safe from vehicle collisions, parasites, and run-ins with other animals.

Whether you gaze through your kitchen window with a warm mug of coffee in hand or bundle up for a brisk jaunt through the park, our feathered friends are always there to make us smile. I hope these tips help you get started in a lifelong pursuit of birding that will accompany you wherever your travels may take you. Best wishes and happy birding!

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

ROCK ON! The John W. Engeman Theater presents ‘Rock of Ages’ through March 13. Photo from Engeman Theater
Ongoing

Vanderbilt Museum reopens

Starting Feb. 11, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport  will be open Friday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday nights for Planetarium shows at 8, 9, and 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org

Thursday 17

An Evening of Jazz

Join the Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook for a jazz concert by the Bad Little Big Band at 7 p.m. The 12-member band led by pianist, composer and arranger Rich Iacona performs the music of The Great American Song Book with vocalist Madeline Kole. Tickets are $30 adults, $25 seniors, $20 students, $15 children, children under 5 free. To order, call 751-1895 or visit www.thejazzloft.org.

Friday 18

No events listed for this day.

Saturday 19

Winter Forest Bathing

Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown presents a Mindfulness in Nature Walk from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Experience nature in this slow, mindful practice of forest bathing. Maureen Calamia will lead the walk, share some stories and some interesting facts about our connection to nature. But most of all, you’ll have time to experience it yourself. You can bring a small towel to sit on if you would like for one of the activities. $20 per person. To register, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org or call 979-6344.

Maple Sugaring class

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve, 25 Lloyd Harbor Road, Huntington will host a Maple Sugaring class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This interactive program, geared for the average adult, will teach you how to identify and tap a maple tree so you can make real maple syrup at home. You will also learn the cultural, historical, economical, and scientific background of this uniquely American craft. Not recommended for children. $4 per person. Advance reservations required by calling 423-1770.

Sunday 20

Huntington Winter Farmers Market

Get your farm fix in the off-season at the Huntington Winter Farmers Market every Sunday through March 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located behind the senior center at 423 Park Ave., Huntington, visitors will find items ranging from hydroponic greens to artisan breads and vegan treats and everything in between. Call 944-2661.

Port Jeff Winter Farmers Market 

The Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market will be held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson through April 25. This year’s vendors include Brownies N’ Stuff, Joann’s Desserts, Farm Fresh Potions, Mello Munch Awesome Granola, O Honey Bee Farm, Sweet Melissa Dip, Mr. B’s Hot Sauce, Speedy Kiwi Bakery, Knot of this World Pretzels, Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery, Spilt Milk Macarons and many more. For more information, call 802-2160.

Sunday at the Society event

Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport continues its Sunday at the Society series with a lecture by the President of the Jewish Historical Society of Long Island, author and presenter, Brad Kolodny at the Museum Gallery from 1 to 3 p.m. The author of Seeking Sanctuary: 125 Years of Synagogues on Long Island, Kolodny will discuss the history, architecture and other interesting aspects about every synagogue, past and present, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. A book signing will follow. Free. To register, visit www.northporthistorical.org or call 757-9859.

SBU Orchestra concert

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook presents the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra in concert on the Main Stage at 3 p.m. Featuring guest conductor Jens Georg Bachman and flute soloist Hae Jee Ashley Cho. Tickets are $20 per person at the door. Free pre-concert lecture with Michael Hershkowitz at 2 p.m. For more information, call 632-2787.

Monday 21

No events listed for this day.

Tuesday 22

Healthy Libraries program

Join Comsewogue Public Library, 170 Terryville Road, Port Jefferson Station for a Healthy Libraries program from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Healthcare professionals and graduate student interns from Stony Brook Medicine will be available in person to provide you with resources and referrals related to public health, social work, nursing, and nutrition. Just drop in! Open to all. For more information, call 928-1212.

Anything But Silent event

Join the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington for a livestream  Anything But Silent event titled Edward Everett Horton – Silent Comedian at 7 p.m. The Edward Everett Horton comedy shorts have not been seen by the general public in 95 years, and have recently been digitally restored from 35mm camera negatives preserved by the Library of Congress. Three of these hilarious, unseen gems will be presented in this program – Find the King (1927), Scrambled Weddings (1928) and Dad’s Choice (1928). The event will feature live piano accompaniment by  Ben Model. General admission is Pay-What-You-Want. To register, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

Wednesday 23

Seals of New York 

Northport Public Library, 151 Laurel Ave., Northport hosts a lecture titled Seals of New York at 6:30 p.m. This lecture is an introduction to the different species of seals seen in New York waters. An educator from the New York Marine Rescue Center will discuss best practices when observing seals in their natural environment, how human interaction can negatively affect seals, common illnesses and injuries, and what is involved in their rehabilitation. You will also find out how to get involved in helping to protect and preserve our local marine environment. To register, call 261-6930.

Jazz Loft Trio and Jam 

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook presents a concert by the Jazz Loft Trio led by bassist Keenan Zach at 7 p.m. followed by a jam session at 8 p.m. Tickets are$10 at 7p.m., $5 at 8 p.m. To order, visit www.thejazzloft.org or call 751-1895.

Thursday 24

Winter Break at the LIM

The Long Island Museum, 1200Route 25A, Stony Brook welcomes families for Winter Break Fun in the Carriage Museum today from noon to 3 p.m. Step back in time and explore their world class carriage collection! You’ll see amazing vehicles that show you what the world was like before cars!  Docents will be onsite to share information, hands-on objects, and activities. All ages are welcome and admission is FREE! *Please note, the Carriage Museum will be the only building open this day due to exhibition installation in other buildings. Covid safety protocols remain in effect; physical distancing will be required and all visitors over the age of 2 must wear face masks while indoors. The LIM follows CDC-prescribed cleaning protocols for all buildings. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Vanderbilt lecture

Join the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for a lecture by Elyse Graham in the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at 7 p.m. Graham, who writes under the pen name E.J. White, is the author of You Talkin’ to Me?: The Unruly History of New York English, will explore how commonplace words like “boss,” “dollar,” “tycoon,” and “rush hour” got started in the thriving metropolis of New York City and eventually became part of our shared vernacular. Fee is $10 per person. Register at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Native American Drumming

All Souls Church Parish House, 10 Mill Pond Road, Stony Brook will host a Native American Drumming Meditation program from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Led by elder drummer, Ric Statler, drumming meditation seeks to integrate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of the human self, creating a state of well-being. Please call 631-655-7798 for more information.

Atelier online workshop

The Atelier at Flowerfield in St. James will present a free online demonstration titled Spring Tulips via Zoom from 7 to 9 p.m. Instructor and certified botanical artist Liz Fusco will demonstrate how to paint a beautiful tulip in watercolor from start to finish. To register, visit www.theatelieratflowerfield.org or call 250-9009.

Theater

‘Punk Rock Girl!’

The Argyle Theatre, 34 West Main St., Babylon kicks off the new year with the world premiere of PUNK ROCK GIRL! from Jan. 20 to Feb. 27. With book and arrangements by Tony-nominated Long Island composer Joe Iconis, arrangements and orchestrations by Rob Rokicki and directed and choreographed by Jennifer Werner, the new musical features a score of popular songs written and made famous by female artists and female-fronted bands including Blondie, Pat Benatar, Avril Lavigne, Joan Jett, P!nk, Gwen Stefani, and more. Tickets range from $49 to $77 and may be purchased online at www.argyletheatre.com or by calling 230-3500.

‘Rock of Ages’

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Rock of Ages from Jan. 27 to March 13. The five-time Tony Award®-nominated Broadway musical smash tells the story of a small-town girl, a city boy, and a rock ‘n’ roll romance on the Sunset Strip. But when the bar where rock reigns supreme is set to be demolished, it’s up to these wannabe rockers and their band of friends to save the day — and the music. Rock of Ages’ electric score features all your favorite ’80s rock anthems and power ballads, including “Every Rose has its Thorn,” “I Wanna Know What Love is,” Here I Go Again,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and more! Tickets range from $75 to $80 with free valet parking. To order, call 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com. 

‘The Marvelous Wonderettes’

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Marvelous Wonderettes from Feb. 19 to March 26. This blast-from-the-past musical takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where we meet Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! Featuring over two dozen classic ’50’s and ’60’s hits including “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 and older. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

‘The Diary of Anne Frank’

Star Playhouse at the Suffolk Y JCCC, 74 Hauppauge Road, Commack presents The Diary of Anne Frank on March 12 and 19 at 8 p.m. and March 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. In this transcendently powerful adaptation, Anne Frank emerges from history a living, lyrical, intensely gifted young girl, who confronts her rapidly changing life and the increasing horror of her time with astonishing honesty, wit, and determination. Tickets are $25 adults, $20 seniors and students. To order, call 462-9800, ext. 136 or visit www.starplayhouse.com.

Festival of One-Act Plays

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents the 23rd annual Festival of One-Act Plays, featuring the world premiere of six new works, at The Ronald F. Peierls Theatre, on the Second Stage from Feb. 27 to April. 2. Featuring Steve Ayle, Antoine Jones, Tamralynn Dorsa, Brittany Lacey, Steven Uihlein, Steve Wangner, Bradlee Bing, Sari Feldman, Eric J. Hughes, and Evan Teich. Adult content and language. Parental discretion is advised. Tickets are $20. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. 

Pixabay photo
Lack of exercise may rewire the brain

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

What do we know about the brain? Startlingly little.

Certain drugs, head injuries and lifestyle choices have negative effects. Also, numerous disorders and diseases affect the brain. Among these are neurological, infectious and rheumatologic disorders. These can include dementia, Parkinson’s, strokes, meningitis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Cancer, psychiatric mood disorders, diabetes and heart disease also have potential long-term effects.

Although this list is long, it’s not exhaustive. And while these diseases vary widely, they generally have three signs and symptoms in common: they cause either altered mental status, physical weakness or change in mood — or a combination of these.

Cognitive loss, or mental decline, is a common fear and potential side effect of many of these disorders and diseases. Of course, addressing the underlying disorder is critical. Fortunately, several studies also suggest that we may be able to help our brains function more efficiently and effectively with rather simple lifestyle changes: sleep, exercise and possibly omega-3s. Let’s look at the evidence.

Clearing brain clutter

How many of us believe the stereotype that those in their 20s are sharper and quicker-witted than older folks? Are they really?

In a study, German researchers found that educated older people tend to have a larger mental database of words and phrases to pull from since they have been around longer and have more experience (1). When this is factored into the equation, the difference in terms of age-related cognitive decline becomes negligible.

This study involved data mining and creating simulations. It showed that mental slowing may be at least partially related to the amount of clutter or data that we accumulate over the years. The more you know, the harder it becomes to come up with a simple answer to something. We may need a reboot just like a computer. This may be possible through sleep, exercise and omega-3s.

Sleep removes brain waste

Why should we dedicate a large chunk of our lives to sleep? Researchers have identified a couple of specific values we receive from sleep: one involves clearing the mind, and another involves productivity.

For the former, a study done in mice shows that sleep may help the brain remove waste, such as those all-too-dangerous beta-amyloid plaques (2). When we have excessive plaque buildup in the brain, it may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. When mice were sleeping, the interstitial space (the space between brain gyri, or structures) increased by as much as 60 percent.

This allowed the lymphatic system, with its cerebrospinal fluid, to clear out plaques, toxins and other waste that had developed during waking hours. With the enlargement of the interstitial space during sleep, waste removal was quicker and more thorough, because cerebrospinal fluid could reach much farther into the spaces. A similar effect was seen when the mice were anesthetized.

In another study, done in Australia, results showed that sleep deprivation may have been responsible for an almost one percent decline in gross domestic product for the country (3). The reason? People are not as productive at work when they don’t get enough sleep. They tend to be more irritable, and their concentration may be affected. While we may be able to turn on and off sleepiness on short-term basis, we can’t do this continually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.2 percent of respondents reported having fallen asleep in the prior 30 days behind the wheel of a car during a 2009-2010 study (4). Most commonly, these respondents also reported getting usual sleep of six hours or fewer, snoring, or unintentionally falling asleep during the day. “Drowsy driving” led to 91,000 car crashes in 2017, according to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (5).

Make time for exercise

How can I exercise when I can’t even get enough sleep? Well, this study may inspire you.

In the study, rats that were not allowed to exercise were found to have rewired neurons in the area of their medulla, the part of the brain involved in breathing and other involuntary activities. There was more sympathetic (excitatory) stimulus that could lead to increased risk of heart disease (6). In rats allowed to exercise regularly, there was no unusual wiring, and sympathetic stimuli remained constant. This may imply that being sedentary has negative effects on both the brain and the heart.

This study suggests that a lack of exercise causes unwanted new connections. Human studies should be done to confirm this impact.

Omega-3 fatty acids may affect brain volume

In the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study, results showed that those postmenopausal women who were in the highest quartile of omega-3 fatty acids had significantly greater brain volume and hippocampal volume than those in the lowest quartile (7). The hippocampus is involved in memory and cognitive function.

Specifically, the researchers looked at the levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in red blood cell membranes. The source of the omega-3 fatty acids could have been either from fish or from supplementation.

It’s never too late to improve brain function. Although we have a lot to learn about the functioning of the brain, we know that there are relatively simple ways we can positively influence it.

References: 

(1) Top Cogn Sci. 2014 Jan.;6:5-42. (2) Science. 2013 Oct. 18;342:373-377. (3) Sleep. 2006 Mar.;29:299-305. (4) cdc.gov. (5) nhtsa.gov. (6) J Comp Neurol. 2014 Feb. 15;522:499-513. (7) Neurology. 2014;82:435-442.

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 www.medicalcompassmd.com. 

Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

Lady Sings The Blues, the Academy Award®-nominated biopic of the incomparable Billie Holiday, returns to select theaters nationwide in celebration of its 50th anniversary on Feb. 20 and 23. From working as a housekeeper in a brothel to headlining at Carnegie Hall, the film follows Holiday’s legendary, groundbreaking career and her tragic death at age 44.

Filled with the greatest songs of the incomparable “Lady Day,” the film received five Academy Award® nominations, including Diana Ross for “Best Actress.” Starring opposite Ross are Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor. 

This special anniversary screening includes exclusive pre- and post-film commentary, presented by TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz.

Locally the film will be screened at Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas on Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.; Island 16 Cinema de Lux in Holtsville on Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.; and AMC Stony Brook 17 at 7 p.m. on both days. To order tickets in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.

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Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

By Jeffrey Sanzel

Romantic comedies cover a broad spectrum. Whether classics, such as It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story, or The Shop Around the Corner or contemporary favorites, like When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually, most viewers have their personal favorites. 

On the low end are unwatchable travesties, usually humorless and coarse (thank you, Holidates, for ruining an entire year’s worth of celebrations). The majority play somewhere between, floating in that B-/C+ range on the bell curve. They are watchable but by-the-numbers predictable or just fail to reach their potential. Marry Me, now playing in theatres and streaming on Peacock, is guilty of both. 

Singing superstar Katalina “Kat” Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is poised to marry the younger Bastian (Maluma) in a spectacular event. The combination concert and ceremony will play to five thousand “guests” and twenty million watching from around the world. It will also unveil the titular duet. Just before she is about to enter and take her vows, an online news source posts video of Bastian carrying on with Kat’s assistant. After a speech about “love is a lie,” Kat selects an unwitting audience member to be her husband. He is math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who happens to be holding his daughter Lou’s (Chloe Coleman) “Marry Me” sign. He comes onstage, marries her, and the story begins. 

The premise is ridiculous, but there is an opportunity for both humor and insight if one embraces the idea. The opening shows preparations for a celebrity wedding in all its excess, both the over-the-top production and the media coverage. How much more interesting would the film have been to continue this path, emphasizing the misplaced values and the constant internet hype? Instead, the story becomes painfully predictable. 

Kat’s people convince Gilbert to continue in the faux marriage so she can “change the narrative.” Because he is such a good guy—the windbreaker is a dead giveaway—he agrees. But, of course, they fall in love. She takes him to openings; she teaches his mathalon students to dance. It is all precious and precocious. 

The supporting cast is reduced to ciphers, with Sarah Silverman playing Gilbert’s best friend, a school guidance counselor, who is the “kooky sidekick.” John Bradley (interesting in the execrable Moonfall) and Michelle Buteau play Kat’s considerate handlers. But they are given so little character, they function more to move things along, reminding Kat that she has a photoshoot or a plane to catch. The banality of their performances is no fault of theirs. Maluma, a gifted singer, is given the caricature Latin lothario. Coleman does well enough as Gilbert’s daughter, caught between divorced parents and trying to fit in her new school.

But the film’s sole reason is Lopez and Wilson, and, unfortunately, they seem uncomfortable much of the time. Lopez is saddled with the worst of it; she is the star who is lonely in the crowd. Lopez is a charismatic performer, which shines through when she is allowed to sing. Here, she engages fully, and these are the brighter spots. Wilson is trying to channel an everyman but just comes across as clueless (projected through his use of a flip phone). 

There is not so much a lack of chemistry as no fusion. Kat and Gilbert are quickly too comfortable yet remain distant, mouthing speeches that are a patchwork of cliches. It is as if someone has cut up Hallmark cards and pasted them together as a script. In this case, the someones are John Rogers, Tami Sagher, and Harper Dill, who penned the pedestrian screenplay (based on a graphic novel by Bobby Crosby). Director Kat Coiro fails to bring any originality or point of view.

Many obvious moments will either satisfy expectations or just annoy. The whimsical challenge: Kat will attempt to function without assistants; Gilbert will go on social media. (The arc lasts all of three minutes and then is forgotten.) The requisite surprise birthday gift:  A visit to a childhood amusement park. The romantic date:  They chaperone the school dance. The build-up to consummation: It might be the first time in fifty years that anyone has been inspired by Robert Goulet’s “If Ever I Would Leave You.” The final obstacles involve the Grammy Awards and the big math event, lacking stakes and tension. So much for conflict, contrast, and texture.

One of the major missed opportunities is mentioned in passing. Kat is “north of thirty-five.” Far more interesting would have been incorporating the fears of a not-young-star in a youth-centric culture. Lopez would have brought both depth and dimension to this element.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you want. If you hope for wit and originality, Marry Me does not deliver. But, if you can accept a bland if not unpleasant movie, there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours.

Rated PG-13, Marry Me is playing in local theaters and streaming on Peacock.

Pixabay photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Recently, I had a powerful discussion around a very toxic social issue. It was in my Honors Sociology class at Suffolk County Community College, which is probably one of the best kept secrets in public higher education on Long Island.

My class is diverse on every level. Their commonality is they are all bright and from all over Suffolk County. The respect and critical thinking skills they employed was refreshing. I have been an adjunct professor of Sociology there for over 35 years and I have never had a class that disappointed me.

However, this class has truly raised the bar. They took this very complex opinion piece  and were able to dissect it, respond and not react to each other. They raised phenomenal questions and pursued them. They acknowledged that civil discourse was critical and ad hominem attacks were not acceptable. They agreed to disagree in an acceptable and respectful manner. They also demonstrated a quality that is sadly lacking in Washington —  empathy for each other. Their quest for vetted evidence-based research for some of the more complex questions was refreshing.

The initial issue raised some important life issues and important life questions in a free society. The student’s quest for knowledge and truth was impressive. At the end of our discussion they were amazed at how much they all learned from each other because they were open and responsive instead of reactive and confrontational. They represent a real hope for tomorrow. Some who are leading us would learn much from their wisdom if they took the time to listen!

Recently, the federal government released another disturbing report regarding the heroin epidemic. They spoke about how this unfortunate health issue is out of control and is exponentially taking life senselessly. Most of us already know that!

However, the programs they are recommending money be spent on once again are misguided and will ultimately be ineffective in confronting this national health crisis. We in the trenches are dealing with this painful epidemic every day. The number of young men and women around the country who are senselessly dying is out of control. The lack of resources to make a difference in addicts’ lives and our response, at best, is pathetic.

Education and prevention are important, but we have no long-term treatment beds and no money being allocated to develop them. Our present system of treatment is inadequate and shameful. Every day we are bearing a growing number of young people that need not die. Visit the grounds of Little Portion Friary at Hope Academy in Mount Sinai, go behind the grotto of Our Lady of Hope to the Garden of Remembrance and you will find more than 100 crosses and other symbols that mark the young people who have died senselessly during this pandemic. Every day two or three more crosses are added. When are we going to say no more?

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.