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By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Crazy time.”

That was the message a friend in California texted me yesterday. And she certainly summed up perfectly these days of our lives. Let us together count the ways we have gone off the rails. For starters, can you imagine a time when you had to decline a visit from your children at Thanksgiving in order to ensure your health and theirs?

I suspect the same for you; gathering around the table at Thanksgiving and appreciating our lives with our family and close friends has been a tradition for us as long as I can remember. After my children married and joined their wives’ families with ours, we have even traded off other holidays for Thanksgiving at our home every year. I guess we can include thanks this time for and via Zoom.

Could you imagine a political stalemate over the election at the presidential level like the one playing out in the courts in different states across the country? Yes, the 2000 vote was a handwringer, but it pales in drama when compared with this election. Back then, the decision hung on 537 votes. This time, with vital information withheld and with a pandemic raging, more is at stake than the outcome of the election. We are vulnerable to attack as a nation.

And as for that pandemic, as direly predicted this past spring, it is rearing its ugly head now that the weather has cooled and we are living more indoors and closer together. We have learned some things since the affliction started. Masks make a difference in protecting others and also ourselves from the spread of the virus. Fresh air, social distancing and hand washing continue to be vital. HEPA filters are powerful allies. And broad scale testing, followed by tracing, matter. Still, people are hospitalized, emergency rooms and ICU beds fill up and even some patients die, as we wait to be rescued by science. Incredible progress has been made developing a vaccine, and by more than one laboratory, but distribution to and acceptance by the general public of the vaccines will not happen during this imminent winter.

Weather has also been a villain. Violent storms and hurricanes, the ferocity of which has been unleashed, we are told, by climate change, have disrupted life for many in the United States and across the globe, even in the midst of desperate efforts to fight the pandemic. And further complicating rescue are the unprecedented fires burning in California and the far west. Then throw in assorted mudslides and tornados for good measure. Tragic!

The economy continues to worsen for many as it excels for the few businesses that benefit from the consequences of the virus. Restaurants, hotels, travel, transportation, formal entertainment, cultural events, retail, health care, child care, education — all have suffered huge financial blows. And the effects are not, curiously, shared equally among men and women. Most of the jobs in those industries are filled by women, who now have no jobs because of shutdowns, or have jobs they cannot get to because of child care responsibilities. This one issue is being viewed as a significant setback for women in the workplace, and for society as a whole, for years to come. Meanwhile construction, renovation, manufacturing and high tech, that makes Zoom and countless other products now deemed a necessity possible, are mushrooming.

The tenor of watershed events in people’s lives is tarnished. Weddings, graduations, significant and not-so-significant birthday parties, reunions, baptisms, funerals — all are put on hold or otherwise unwillingly altered in timing and attendance. Even an entitlement as innocent as looking forward to a thrilling freshman year in college has now morphed into a two-dimensional, remote experience. And returning college students are considered risks for households and communities.

There is no point in complaining. It will not alter this bizarre year and the troubles it has brought. The one thought I could offer my friend on a return text: “We will be able to say, as we someday will tell the tale, that we lived through it.”

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Are we coming apart together, coming together apart or just coming apart? The first in that list, coming apart together, gives us a chance to feel connected to others. By coming apart together, we are acknowledging the challenging year we’ve had and continue to have.

Without offering specific solutions, it helps to know we’re not alone and that, perhaps, through the together part, we can manage through conditions that are far from optimal, including the separation we feel from so many people we need in our lives.

Now, if we’re coming together apart, we are focusing on the fact that we can be, and are, together first, before we also admit that we may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from people whose hugs, smiles and laughter fill the rooms we share. Zoom, FaceTime and other modern conveniences make it possible for us to see each other’s faces, even though the image of the other person can feel flat compared to the reality of sharing time and space.

The third of those possibilities, just plain coming apart, enables us to throw up our arms and acknowledge the reality of our world. Many children are home most, or all, the time. Parents are still working through
Zoom, looking at small squares of people on computer screens for way too many hours during the day. The sameness of each day can become tedious and wear on our nerves, especially during this time when we’d typically plan for family visits.

And, of course, without passing any specific judgment, the hot button election continues to drive wedges among families, friends and neighbors, who can’t imagine how the other side fails to see the obvious realities their favorite anchors or faux news and commentary shows echo each day.

It’s agonizing to see how the differences between camps have become a defining feature and have stirred a sense of frustration and antipathy for the other camp.

Where are the adults in the room? For so long, the country brought together people from different backgrounds, uniting us under the umbrella of an American Dream that was available to anyone who worked hard enough for it.

Our sports-crazed culture believed in the winners they cheered for and used their teams as an inspiration to get ahead, to put more into their craft and to try to win the battle for original ideas. Even fans of hated rivals acknowledged the skills and remarkable games they witnessed from their rivals during heated playoff series. I always rooted against Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski, but I also recognized his incredible talent.

Will a vaccine enable us to come together, together? I hope so. Next year at this time, if we have returned to some level of normalcy that allowed us to visit with our friends, to celebrate weddings, graduations, birthdays, and newborns, we will have the structural opportunities to spend time indoors, even in crowded rooms, and support each other.

Between now and then, ideally we’d plant the seeds that enable us to move forward together. We are not an archipelago nation, separated from each other by the ideological, religious or other labels. We do best when we play to the strengths of a workforce dedicated to getting ahead, to providing for our children and to helping the country even as we help ourselves.

While many of us are physically apart, we can try to reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, even if their ideas temporarily baffle us. We can come together if we are there for each other and if we listen to views outside our own.

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By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I recently had a client from our clinic call who was interested in adopting a cat. The individual our client was adopting the cat from mentioned that she herself had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recovered (the cat never exhibited any symptoms). Our client was concerned that the cat could be an asymptomatic carrier and potentially infect her with COVID if she adopted.

I would like to be clear: there is no evidence of risk at this time. There are documented cases of both dogs and cats that have tested positive for COVID (some exhibited symptoms), there are no cases that dogs or cats have spread COVID to people. This question got me thinking: what diseases should we be concerned about?

Any infectious disease that can be spread from animals to humans is termed zoonosis (plural zoonoses), or a zoonotic disease. The human population most at risk for zoonotic diseases are young children (under 5 years of age), the elderly (over 65 years of age) and the immunocompromised. This following list of zoonotic diseases is not a complete list, but rather the most common I have seen in dogs and cats.

Intestinal Parasites: Giardia and Toxocara species (roundworms) are common. These parasites can be quite significant, especially if you have young children in the household. This is why veterinarians always recommend bringing in a fecal sample with new pets or on an annual exam.

External Parasites: Fleas and ticks can not only suck blood and irritate the skin, but also transmit disease. Ticks carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and many other diseases. Fleas carry Bartonellosis, or cat scratch fever, and bubonic plague. Certain mites such as Sarcoptic mange can lead to scabies.

Skin Infections: Dermatophytes, or ringworm, is very contagious. I usually see cases of ringworm infections in kittens that spread to humans. Certain bacteria such as Staphylococcus spp. can be of concern. Both dogs and cats carry numerous bacteria in their mouths that are dangerous so any bite or scratch should be evaluated immediately.

Viral infections: The most dangerous viral disease carried by dogs and cats, Rabies, has a vaccine available for prevention. Make sure both for your pet’s safety, as well as your own, you keep them current on their Rabies vaccine.

Remember to keep your pet safe, as well as yourself during these uncertain times. Remember to bring a fecal sample to your pet’s annual exam, stay current with vaccines, and maintain parasite control. Also check with your own veterinarian with any other concerns you may have.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. Have a question for the vet? Email it to [email protected] and see his answer in an upcoming column.

A hearty stew is the ultimate cold weather meal. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

The way things look, it’s going to be a long, isolated winter indoors. So, determined to extend our outdoor life even as the weather gets chilly and the garden goes brown, we’ve treated ourselves to a fire pit for the patio and are hoping we can bundle up, hunker down and keep warm long into the season as we fortify ourselves with lots of hearty stews and soups. Here are three unusual and delicious stews to try.

Chicken and Chickpea Stew

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 celery ribs, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 medium onion, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

One 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes w/ juice

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

4 chicken breast halves, bone in

One 15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed/drained

DIRECTIONS:

In an approximately 6-quart saucepan or pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add celery, carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is opaque, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add tomatoes, broth, parsley, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and chicken breasts; be sure the chicken is submerged in the liquid. Bring liquid to a simmer, stir occasionally, and turn breasts once until they are almost cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. With tongs, remove chicken and set on work surface till cool enough to handle, 5 to 10 minutes; discard bay leaf. Meanwhile add chick peas to mixture and simmer until liquid is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove skin and bones from chicken, cut meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot; bring stew to a simmer, then serve piping hot with crusty bread and a Caesar salad.

Pork and Sweet Potato Stew with Prunes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chicken broth

2 large onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 bay leaf

3/4 cup dry white wine

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 cup chopped pitted prunes, soaked in hot water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Season pork with salt and pepper. In Dutch oven or large enameled cast iron pot, heat half the oil over medium-high heat, add the pork and stirring occasionally, brown it on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. remove and set aside to keep warm. Meanwhile in small saucepan, over high heat, boil chicken broth until reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add remaining oil to Dutch oven, then onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are opaque, about 5 minutes; stir in garlic, cumin, pepper and bay leaf and cook over medium heat about one minute, until ingredients release their aroma; add wine and boil until reduced by half, then stir in tomatoes, broth and pork; bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to oven; cook for one hour. Return pot to stove top, add sweet potatoes; cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 20 minutes; drain prunes and add to pot; cook 5 more minutes; discard bay leaf. Serve hot with a side of cauliflower.

Sausage, Cannellini Bean and Broccoli Rabe Stew

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into bite-size pieces

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

Three 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained,

1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, then washed drained and sliced into 1” pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add broth, bay leaf, beans, broccoli rabe, salt and pepper; bring to a boil, then cook, covered, over medium-low heat about 10 to 15 minutes, until broccoli rabe is tender. Discard bay leaf. Place in soup tureen and drizzle with oil and grated cheese. Serve hot with orzo.

METRO photo

Here is the rub, we’re in tense, dangerous times. We all feel it, a sense of unease blowing on the wind from who knows where. We don’t know what will come in the weeks following election day Nov. 3.

Absentee voting has been around for years, but the pandemic has caused a new swath of residents looking to vote remote. In New York state, boards of elections will not even begin to count absentee ballots until Nov. 6, and that process could take weeks to finish, especially if this year’s Democratic primary is anything to go by. Some experts have said we could not see the final results until December.

Due to this, sites like FiveThirtyEight, which often analyses election polling, said New York may initially skew Republican and then edge Democratic as more absentee ballots are counted.

Effectively, as we look at the preliminary results in the days after Tuesday, we have to remember that nothing is set in stone, especially this year.

It’s only fair that every person who voted in this year’s election is counted, no matter which way they may have voted. Anything else would be undemocratic, and nobody can judge another for deciding to stay home and cast a ballot by mail, especially if they or a person in their family is in the high-risk category for getting COVID-19.

Despite this, President Donald Trump (R) has continually called absentee votes into question, despite the likely fact that many of the people voting for him have cast absentee ballots, and that he himself has voted by mail, specifically by giving it to a third-party individual to return. He has even suggested legal action to mandate only the votes counted by Election Day are applied.

We’ve been trained to want our results election night, but no state has ever fully counted every ballot on the first Tuesday in November. Some states, like North Carolina, are counting absentee ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 12.

And lacking any bombshell reports of vote mismanagement, we have to trust the system. New York’s process double checks each absentee ballot to make sure the person also did not vote in person. Voter fraud remains rare, and multiple states use mail-in ballots as the primary way people can vote in local, state and federal elections.

And what should we expect in those days after? Are we really going to see violence? Will people really accept the outcome of this year’s election? That’s the real question, and as we write this editorial for an issue that comes out two days after the initial results, we cannot say what’s on the horizon.

We urge everyone to stay safe and stay sane. We’re all looking for someone to take the lead in asking for calm, but it seems we should be looking to those in education for a guiding light. Stony Brook University’s new President Maurie McInnis wrote: “While we wait for the results, we are bound to be anxious and tense. Practice patience, extend courtesy and be considerate. When results do come, given the variety of political affiliations that are part of our strength as a diverse community, some are bound to feel elation while others will be disappointed and distressed. I encourage you to reach for empathy. Reach for critical understanding. Reach for the profound combination of caring and intelligence.”

We know tensions will be high, we know the national news will be covering unrest in different parts of the country, but we want to believe our communities have the right mindset to move forward, and that we can stifle the most radical voices with a bulwark of civic mindedness and a sense of neighborly compassion.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I’d like to add time to the list of things that have changed during 2020. In addition to our notion of personal space, our concept of public health and our ability to empathize with friends, neighbors and strangers around the world battling against the virus, some of us have a warped sense of time.

My brother calls it a “Groundhog Day” existence, the Bill Murray movie in which each day seems to be a carbon copy of the one before, as time stands still for him while everyone else thinks that one day is a unique part of a continuum.

These days, with so many people working from home and our ventures away from the house fairly limited, our daily existence, even in various phases of reopening, don’t change much, either by month or by season.

Indeed, for many of us, the weekends just mean two more working days from home until Monday. Now, we might not all be working as hard on Saturday or Sunday, but we are well-equipped to get that one additional project done before the week begins.

In addition to forgetting the day of the week, some of us have also developed a less clear connection to the usual merry-go-round elements of each year. Birthdays don’t involve the customary travel, we haven’t attended the same seasonal musical concert at school, and we don’t have the annual family traditions or gatherings.

That has meant both an acceleration and a slowdown in the movement of time. I am both stunned and not surprised that it is early November already.

To illustrate my point, I recently reached out to a scientist with whom I chat periodically. Not wanting to go to the same well too frequently, I try to separate my emails and calls by a few months.

Before I wrote to him, I guessed my last contact was about two weeks earlier. In reality, it had been two months since we spoke.

The mismatch between my memory of the interaction and the reality of the time that passed likely came from a host of factors, including the fact that I enjoy his insights, his sense of humor and the information he shares.

Additionally, however, the time warp is a product of the amount of running in place I do on a regular basis, whether that’s chasing down stories or providing updates on the ongoing twists and turns in our coverage of the pandemic.

Without much variability, each day achieves its own familiar rhythm, even if the days and weeks blend together.

For me, this week, with the election, arrived both quickly and not soon enough. It’s a relief that the attack ads, the cross talk and the vitriol connected with the election will end, even if the parties lining up on both sides of the fence line continue to shout into the wind about each other.

In addition to “Groundhog Day,” I have also pondered the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away.” When Hanks’ Chuck Noland — wait, I finally get it, Noland, as in “no land” because he’s cast away from his previous life — finally escapes and returns to civilization, I thought we missed out on the incredible opportunity to see Hanks adjust to speaking to people after four years with only a volleyball for companionship.

Once our lives return to some level of normal, I imagine we will all make numerous adjustments, including to the annual journey through years filled with more varied activities and in-person connections with people who live further away.

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

However devoutly to be wished, the election results concerning the next President of the United States of America are not yet known. Nor will they be for a good while, it would seem, as the avalanche of mailed ballots needs to be counted and recounted for accuracy. The suspense and anxiety remain.

What can any one of us do?

For starters, we do the obvious. We wait. As adults, we know we don’t always get what we want when we want it, and that goes for the political world as well.

This year, 2020, will be known as the year we all waited. We are waiting for a vaccine to save us from COVID-19 too. But while we are waiting, there is a lot we can do.

First, we can calm ourselves down. It does no good to hurl accusations and invectives at each other for believing differently. We are, for better or worse, all Americans, and we will be moving forward from here. As to how we can calm down, I suggest (and it may seem ironic) that we watch and listen to less news. One or two good and brief news reports a day should do nicely. My own preference is CBS News at the top of the hour on my clock radio first thing in the morning and PBS News Hour or the BBC in the early evening. I stress “early” because I don’t want the news to be the last thing I hear before going to bed.

As for the rest of the day, besides the daily efforts to keep life going — from brushing one’s teeth to doing our best job at work and at home — we can use our energies productively instead of shouting into a void. We can make a big difference on a local level economically and socially. We can donate food, and perhaps even time, if done safely, to local soup kitchens and food banks.

We can also donate unused clothing and even furniture through the offices of local houses of worship. We can spend a little time on the phone, calling those we love who live elsewhere in this large country, and those who live nearby but are elderly and don’t get out much, to keep relationships vibrant and perhaps share a laugh or two. Sometimes people just need to talk with someone who will listen in order to feel better. It is a merciful thing just to be willing to actively listen.

We can shop locally, especially at this holiday time when store owners depend on revenue gained during the last quarter of the year to keep them in business. By and large, those store owners and their employees are also local residents and the first ones to underwrite educational and sporting events for our children and funds for community betterment. If we don’t want to go indoors because of the risk of contagion, we can call in to the store or restaurant and the merchandise or orders will be brought to the curb. Or we can call and ask what precautions are being taken to ensure safety within a store: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizing and so forth to help us decide if we feel safe there. Together we form a tight community and look out for each other.

These are all pretty obvious, but we need to be reminded, especially when there is so much noise abroad. And I will further share with you my personal ways to escape the tumult of our times. Thanks to the marvels of technology, I think of my children and grandchildren as being in the computer room, in a way, where we Zoom with each other regularly.

And I regard my smart TV as a temporary replacement for the plays, musical performances and other cultural events that have of necessity been put on hold.

Netflix and other services allow talented actors to hang out in my family room, available with their performances at the mere flick of a switch. At the moment, I’m watching “Outlander,” a love story couched in time travel. Being transported to a different time can remind us that people have had their challenges whenever they have lived, and by and large survived them.

METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Cabernet Franc is a medium acid red grape variety grown in Bordeaux, France since at least 1784. It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to make the dry wines of the Médoc, Graves, Pomerol, and Saint-Émilion. Cabernet Franc is also grown in other parts of France, especially the Loire Valley where it is blended to make the AOC wines of Bourgueil, Champigny, Chinon, Rosé d’Anjou, and Saumur.

It is grown in many other countries and used for blending or to produce a varietally-labeled wine. The quality of its wine excels in parts of Ontario, Canada, New York State, Virginia, and Washington State.

Although not confirmed it is believed that Cabernet Franc originated in the Western Pyrénées in Southwest France and parts of Northern Spain. It has been genetically linked to both Hondarribi Beltza and Morenoa grapes from the Basque Country, but parentage is not yet certain.

In 1997, DNA analysis revealed that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. Although Cabernet Franc has over 30 synonyms, the most known are Bouchet and Breton, which are used in France.

Wines made from Cabernet Franc grapes are lighter, softer, and more aromatic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on where it is grown, some characteristic smells and tastes of Cabernet Franc wine include bell pepper, berries (blueberry, cranberry, mulberry, strawberry) black currants, black pepper, cherry, green olive, jam, and plum. Hints of basil, cinnamon, eucalyptus, herbs, licorice, mushroom, rosemary, tobacco, and spices are also present.

The wine pairs with beef including pepper steak, roast beef, and most hearty stews. Try pasta in a marinara sauce; barbecued pork loin with mushrooms; grilled tuna or other firm-fleshed fish. Also, soy and ginger-flavored Asian cuisine pairs nicely with it, especially duck or just a bowl of wild mushroom risotto.

If you like cheese, Cabernet Franc matches well with Appenzeller, Blue Cheeses, Brie, Butterkäse, Cabécou, Cantal, Chaource, Cheddar, Colby, Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Leyden, Maroilles, Sainte-Maure, and Saint-Nectaire.

Although most people who like Cabernet Franc drink the light to medium to full-bodied wines, there are other styles made. For example, white, dry rosé, and sparkling Cabernet Franc wines are made globally. Two excellent sweet dessert wines are Floc de Gascogne from the Armagnac region and Pineau des Charentes from the Cognac region of France. However, the grand prize is a bottle of Cabernet Franc Icewine, a specialty of Canada and New York State. It usually has a brilliant orange-ruby color and is ultra-sweet.

What are you drinking tonight?

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected].

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

As we trudge through the last quarter of a year filled with challenges, I wanted to share some light hearted, ridiculous and truly 2020 fortune cookie message ideas. Enjoy!

• A vaccine may be in your future. Whether you take it is up to you.

• You will Zoom again some time soon.

• You will continue to see toilet paper in a whole new light.

• You will have another opportunity to learn an academic lesson you missed years ago.

• You don’t have to look hard to find heroes.

• The four walls around you will look better at some point.

• You will save money on gas this year.

• The election will end, hopefully.

• If you get off the couch and do some push ups, your body will thank you.

• This is the only 2020 you have. Make the most of it.

• It’s okay to lose track of the day: don’t lose track of your goals.

• Watch one fewer episode. You can make better use of your time.

• Use a shower to wash away your cares, and your stench.

• Don’t use a mask to hide from the truth.

One person’s monster is another person’s savior.

• Feel free to pat yourself on the back. Don’t break your arm doing it.

• Petting the dog will bring you relief. Taking him out will bring him relief.

• Sometimes being odd is the only way to get even.

• Keep your enemies at bay. Six feet should work.

• Even while social distancing, do your best to stay connected.

• Love conquers hate, but hate can’t defeat love.

• Don’t forget to floss. Your periodontist will thank you.

• Lock your doors at night, but open your heart.

• Mythology occurs when we dare to dream.

• Take chances, but make sure you wash your hands.

• Consider what the younger version of yourself would do.

• Your children are not a younger version of you.

• Remember which days your kids are in school and make the most of them.

• Mute your computer before the dog starts barking. Your colleagues will thank you.

• Our editor is quarantined because he started coughing, so the gloves are off.

• When people calm down, they are better at solving their problems.

• When people stop telling other people what to do, they become more tolerable.

• Don’t expect a fortune cookie to change your life.

• Wow, you’re going off the rails there, George. Are we allowed to do that?

• Yes, Alissa, our editor is gone and we have to fill these cookies with something.

• Love has no statute of limitations.

• What, so you’re now a lawyer?

• I could have been, Alissa.

• Did you read about the shower? That one was for you.

• Perfect effort means giving 110 percent.

• You can’t give 110 percent. It’s not possible.

• Then why do these athletes say it?

• They’re talking about how hard they’re working. It’s an exaggeration.

• Your intelligence is an exaggeration.

• Get us out of here. They don’t even let us order Chinese food.

• Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

• You got that from the Airplane sequel. You can’t put it in a fortune cookie.

• In a fortune cookie? I don’t think someone from Airplane the Sequel is going to find us.

• That’s your problem. You don’t think.

• Thinking alone never cured anything.

• You’re wrong and you never tried thinking.

• I have to get out of here. That’s not the voice in your head. That’s me, George.

• Stop whining and start winning.

• You’re not a victim, you’re a survivor.

• That’s not bad, Alissa.

• How about ordering Italian next time?

A caravan of cars rolled through Port Jefferson Oct. 17 in support of President Donald Trump. Photo by Kyle Barr

Beyond the interruption to Saturday business for stores, some of whom are hanging on for dear life by their pinkie, beyond the traffic and the noise, where is this going?

Because we are two weeks before an election, likely one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime, and the Trump caravans taking over roads not just on the North Shore as they did last weekend, but from both east and west, have told us one thing: There are real efforts to take the general antipathy seen on the national stage and transport it to here at home.

Seemingly in response to a single Black Lives Matter march in Port Jefferson back in June, local right-wing group Setauket Patriots has hosted three events since July. One was a sanctioned car parade for Fourth of July. Another was an unsanctioned parade for 9/11. Now we have the most recent caravan supporting the reelection of President Donald Trump (R) last Saturday. All these events have contained many examples of people waving flags supporting Trump, but this latest parade finally dropped any pretense.

In videos shared online, some patriots members have displayed animosity to local officials, to neighbors or effectively anyone who doesn’t agree with them. One video highlighted an actor portraying Trump calling Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant “evil” for issuing the group a summons for marching without a permit. In another, a member of the caravan jokes about shooting counterprotesters.

Grown men and young children got into public shouting matches on the side of the street. There were reported examples of people in the caravan using gay slurs at any who showed disagreement. And, of course, not every example of bad behavior was carried out by Trump supporters. One counterprotester flipped the bird at all those gathered at the street corner, drawing jeers from the crowd.

Are these examples just small bites of a larger, more intricate context? We hope so, but there’s a real danger to thoughts like these. Yes, you can and should disagree with the decisions of public officials like the mayor of a small incorporated village, but what is the point of pejoratives? Where is this going? Is there going to be something like the planned armed coup by residents against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)? Not likely but, then again, officials like U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) have joined in on attacks against the mayor seemingly on political grounds. These attempts at further dividing a local community are not welcome.

And beyond that, if you joke about shooting your political opponents, no matter if they are protesters, officials or police, you no longer deserve the kind of public platform you currently enjoy.

Divided. That’s what we call ourselves now. We say we are polarized and distinct, with one red America and one blue America. Why? Why do we push this polarization as if it’s inevitable?

This month, TBR News Media has been hosting debates with candidates running for local elections. Would you be offended or glad to know just how often these people from two separate parties actually agree on local issues? Both Republicans and Democrats agree with how important it is to maintain our North Shore bays and the Long Island Sound in general. Both parties understand the issue of Long Island’s brain drain and the need to keep both old and young here. They might disagree on the particulars, but that is why we have the debates in the first place, isn’t it?

Even on the so-called hot-button issues like police reform, there is real nuance and ideas from candidates you likely won’t see on any nationally televised debate stage.

There are people, even in our local community, who are trying to twist us and divide us. We ask that we all look past that and attend to the facts to guide our political decision-making. Check back with TBR News Media Oct. 29 for our upcoming preelection issue.