Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Official 'I Love LI' Merchandise is now available at the
I Love Long Island online store
Our exclusive merchandise is emblazoned with the 'I Love LI' logo and includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, mugs, mousepads, baby-t's, pet items and more! Great gift ideas for friends and family for the holiday.
Free Shipping now through Dec. 6th - see store for details. Shop now for the holidays... I Love Long Island Store
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
As the nation prepares to break bread with family and friends, the burning question of the day is, without a doubt: Is it possible for me – Michael Watt - to “enjoy” the holidays?
It all depends on what your definition of enjoy is, to borrow a phrase from former President Clinton (as opposed to the future President Clinton – Hillary, by name. Might as well get used to the thought, even though her election in 2008 will mean the last four presidents have been, in order, father, husband, son, wife. Weird.)
Anyway, “enjoying” the holidays really depends on what turns you on. Me? There’s nothing I enjoy, in public anyway, more than reading the Sunday newspapers with the Yankee game on the radio and an unlimited supply of seltzer water at the ready. I could be sitting in a downtown bus station and still be happy as long as I had my newspaper, baseball and seltzer. (God, I used to be a lot more fun to hang around with. What happened to me?)
Last time I looked, however, none of the major holidays are celebrated in such a fashion. Can you imagine if they were? Whole families sitting around the den, with piles of newspaper sections on the floor. Seltzer for all! The day would put Frank Costanza’s “Festivus” to shame. It would also kill the national economy, although it might save our crumbling newspaper empires.
Far be it for me to inspire a movement that destroys our economy, so I have resigned myself to the fact that there will never be a national day of newspaper reading. And the chances of getting 270 million Americans to sit down to listen to the Yankees on the radio are fairly remote, unless of course they somehow qualify to play in the Super Bowl. Which brings us back to the burning question of the day: Can Michael Watt enjoy the holidays?
Let’s look at the facts, shall we? I don’t like to cook. I hate to shop. I don’t drink and I try to watch what I eat, so the 24/7 cookie consumption carousel that could exist based on the sheer volume of holiday cookies I will see and be offered between now and January Second will not be a factor, either. Looking pretty bleak here, isn’t it?
All is not lost, however. I do like to go to parties – not that I get invited to a whole lot of them, at least not work-related ones (maybe that’s because I don’t drink or eat cookies). I do a Killer Karaoke version of “Twist and Shout” (just ask John Kominicki – he’s one of the few people who has seen it twice). I am not afraid to stand under Mistletoe, either, although at six-foot-four more often than not my head will obliterate the Mistletoe and nobody will know it’s there.
I can also make small talk with the best of them. Not to name drop but a few years ago I found myself at a Holiday function standing between Steve Forbes (President and Chief Executive Officer of Forbes magazine) and Bob Buchmann (of WBAB and Q104.3 fame). I introduced them to each other (see last week’s column on good networking techniques) and then, from out of nowhere, I remembered that as a teenager Bob started his own pirate radio station from his parents’ basement, or something like that. I mentioned this to Steve and as it turns out Steve is a radio freak as well as the Chairman of Radio Free Europe and Radio America and Radio Forbes and all sorts of radio-related stuff. Well, I have to tell you those two hit it off and for all I know have been best friends ever since. Do I ever get invited to any of their soirees? Hell no. How’s that for gratitude?
Where was I? Oh yeah, so I had fun and I was a lot of fun at that party. Decorating is a big part of the holidays, and I am afraid I come up a little short in that department, too. A couple of years ago I acceded to my wife Sharon’s pleas to put up those hanging icicles on the front of our house. Nothing too elaborate, I agree, but I did so grudgingly. As I stood on the ladder, pushing in the pins to hold the icicles in place, however, the ladder gave out and I did my best Clark Griswold imitation, landing flat on my back in the dirt behind the hedges in front of my house. As I lay there, wondering if this was the moment when I realized I am paralyzed for life and - if so - just how guilty I could make my wife feel, I heard peals of laughter from my beloved.
Conclusion: I may not be able to decorate, but Lord knows I can amuse. My celebratory shortcomings notwithstanding – and all kidding aside - I can and do enjoy the holidays because they involve family and friends and as we know from the last scene in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” that’s all that really matters. I should point out, however, that Christmas is on a Sunday this year, so we may want to consider incorporating my idea for a national newspaper read into the activities, just to see if it catches on.
Thank you for reading this column. Happy Thanksgiving. [2005-11-23]
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Do you have the time, money, and contacts to properly market your home? Would you get the best price for your home? Do you have the time to wait for the phone to ring then allowing strangers who may not be able to afford your home come in and waste your time?
Here’s how a Realtor can help you sell your home from pricing it correctly, to marketing, negotiating, renegotiating and closing while netting you the most money in your pocket.
Knows the current real estate market and helps you price your home realistically.
Is familiar with mortgage loans and can assist you when deciding which loan is best for you.
Can point out and make suggestions on preparing your home to sell.
Will show your home to qualified buyers
Can familiarize you with the closing costs and procedures by explaining them and attend the closing with you
UTILIZING AN AGENT MEANS:
No unescorted, unqualified buyers will enter your home.
Your home will be marketed to the fullest.
You are no longer sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring.
The sale will result in a higher net profit.
This is just a brief summary of what a real estate professional can do for you.
The bottom line:
Your Realtor works for you and with you throughout the home selling process. If your home does not sell the Realtor does not get paid. So trust that he/she will be working hard to sell your home.
Think about it.
If you have any questions or need advice feel free to contact me.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I hit the Trifecta the other day.
No – not that kind of Trifecta. I couldn’t pick a winning horse if the race was limited to two horses and Star Jones was the jockey for one of them. The Trifecta I hit was the work-related meal Trifecta – breakfast, lunch and dinner all tied around some kind of business networking event – and all paid for by someone other than me. Those are almost always the best meals.
With as much networking as I do as part of my day job I am surprised it has taken me this long to accomplish such a feat – not that doing so has been some lifelong dream. There have been days, for instance, where I have had breakfast and lunch on somebody else’s dime, or lunch and dinner. There was even the time when I had lunch and dinner in the same catering hall for two different events on the same day. But never did I get all three in one day.
Until this past Wednesday. I attended a breakfast event at the New Huntington Towne House, lunch as the guest of some corporate and governmental honchos in Bethpage and then a business association dinner at the New York Institute of Technology’s Culinary Institute in Central Islip. Not bad work if you can get it, right? Right. Seeking free meals and networking is an odd way to go about one’s business. For the uninitiated, basically “networking” involves voluntarily walking into a room full of strangers and endeavoring to make sure as many of those people are no longer strangers – at least to you – by the time the event is over.
It’s not quite that simple, of course. For one thing, it helps to know at least one person in that room so you can strike up a conversation with that person. That way you’re not standing there by yourself, pretending to be fascinated by the pattern of the wallpaper. “But wait a minute, Mike,” you’re probably saying. “Didn’t you just say the whole point of networking is to meet people you do not know already?” I did. But just like the adage about how it takes money to make money, it takes acquaintances to make acquaintances. It is a lot easier to meet people, for instance, if you are talking to someone and then a third party comes up to the person you are talking to and says hello. Ideally the other person will introduce you to the third person and voila! A newfound friend.
Well, that’s how it is supposed to work, anyway. Sometimes you find yourself having a conversation with someone and all the while you are trying to remember that person’s name. Take the other night, for example. I was having a conversation with a fellow I had met recently – at a networking event, naturally – but whose name I could not remember. As we were chatting a young lady walked up to me and called out, “Hey, Mr. Watt!” Panic City. I knew I knew the young lady but for the life of me I did not know from where. Given her relative youth and her use of “Mr. Watt” I had an inkling that she might be a former student, but I was not certain. I asked her clue-seeking questions like “how’re you doing?” and “what are you up to these days,” but her responses – “fine” and “not much” offered no helpful insight.
Then the real nightmare started because there was a pause in the conversation and I realized it was incumbent upon me to introduce the young lady to the fellow I was having the conversation with. It can be a little tricky, of course, introducing two people to each other without knowing either person’s name. Well, my predicament was short lived, and you might say it was Mother Nature to the rescue. In addition to being young, you see, the lady who approached me was also attractive. So the guy I was talking to originally was, shall we say, quite emphatic in making sure she knew his name. Interestingly enough the woman did not reciprocate with her name and it took me many hours of mental Rolodex flipping to finally figure out who she was. (She was indeed a former student from three or four semesters ago).
When all else fails, on the other hand, you can always rely on one of my favorite ways out of this scenario: the old, “You two know each other, right?” Of course they don’t but usually one will step up and say, “No, we don’t. I’m so-and so.” There are other perils to networking besides not remembering the names of the people you are conversing with. Many of these events revolve around food, for instance, and sometimes the food is even edible. You hate to do it but ya gotta eat. While there aren’t too many certainties in life, you can be damn sure the minute you put something gooey or chewy in your mouth, somebody you need to speak to will walk by. Your full mouth will prevent you from saying anything, however, lest you run the risk of having the first impression you make forever be associated with projectile food bits being shot out of your mouth as you speak.
Such is the life in the world of networking. The chow’s often free, but the price you pay can be horrific.
Thank you for reading this column. [2005-11-17]
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Now, individuals and families have an interactive, personal and secure health record on the internet. My SmileGuide has many tools such as a "Dental Visit Check List" that shows what should checked when you see your dentist and a "Snack Contract" to help parents control their child's harmfull snacking and childhood obesity.
Oral health is about knoweldge, parenting, lifestyles and reducing health care costs. Your smile will predict your wellness and quality of life.
You go as your smile goes
- Article contributed by Dr Fred Ferguson, CEO - AboutSmiles
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
BUYER’S AGENT VS. SELLER’S AGENT
Before you buy your home decide which type of real estate agent will best suit your real estate needs. You can work with agents who work for the seller (Seller’s agent) or agents who work for the buyer. (Buyer’s agent}
Most of the time listing and selling agents work for the seller. This means they negotiate in the best interest of the seller. Buyer agents work for the buyer. A buyer’s agent can negotiate in favor of the buyer.
Here are some examples of the differences in a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent.
Both agents can arrange to show properties to the buyer.They both can explain forms and applications. Both can assist you with financing information. Both can follow through from first showing, to making an offer, to meeting you and the engineer, then to contract, to closing.
A Buyer’s Agent can give you a market analysis of what other properties in the area sold for. Keep your financial position confidential. Keep you best interest first and advise you on your purchase and provide you with all available facts that could influence your decision about making an offer on the home.
Negotiate the best price and terms for you. They can point out reasons not to buy the home. ( for example a crack in the foundation, bad roof, plumbing etc.)
You are more likely to see more homes with a Buyer Broker. A buyer broker can show homes that are for sale, for example, office exclusives, for sale by owners, foreclosures and of course multiple listings.
When you hire a buyer’s agent an agreement is signed by the buyer and the agent. The contract will state how long the agreement is for and how the agent will be compensated for his/her services. This agreement is a binding contract. Be sure you understand every aspect of it before you sign it.
If you have any questions related to this topic, feel free to contact me. Sue Mignone-Mogel Remax email@example.com or aim messenger: realestateofli
Monday, November 14, 2005
For a good town-by-town map showing all the villages and hamlets in each of LI's 13 towns, read on:
Each year, LIPA, as successor to LILCO, publishes a report (the report is published by LIPA, but is written by KeySpan, previously known as LILCO) updating the census population numbers (by using people-per-electric meter ratios) for all the 293 communities on Long Island.
There are 2 cities and 13 towns (as well as 2 Indian reservations) in the bi-counties and the 13 towns (3 in Nassau and 10 in Suffolk) are further sub-divided into 95 villages (incorporated municipalities) and 196 hamlets (unincorporated areas), yielding 293 communities (2 + 95 + 196 = 293).
Nassau County / Suffolk County Totals:
The heart of this 40-page report are maps of each of the 13 towns (3 in Nassau, 10 in Suffolk), showing the true borders of all villages and hamlets (not the postal zone borders) in each town. The facing pages list which communities are villages or hamlets and their populations. (You'll find villages and hamlets that you never knew existed because they are in some other community-named postal zone.)
To help you understand these different geographic terms, a NYS Geographic Glossary with the NYS definitions of county, city, town, village, hamlet and postal zone is at the end of the article
The Geography Maven considers this the best resource available in understanding the geography and governmental organization of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
You can download a copy of the 2004 edition of the LI Population Survey by going to:
If you will be so kind, please let the Geography Maven know what you think of this report by leaving comments here after you have downloaded and reviewed it.
NYS Geographic Glossary:
....Cities, Towns, Villages, Hamlets and Postal Zones in New York State
New York State is divided into counties.
A county is a municipal corporation, a subdivision of the state, created to perform state functions; a "regional" government. All counties are divided into cities, towns and Indian reservations.
A city is a unique governmental entity with its own special charter. Cities are not sub-divided, except into neighborhoods, which are informal geographic areas.
A town is a municipal corporation and encompasses all territory within the state except that within cities or Indian reservations. Towns can be sub-divided into villages and hamlets.
A village is a general purpose municipal corporation formed voluntarily by the residents of an area in one or more towns to provide themselves with municipal services. The pattern of village organization is similar to those of a city. A village is divided into neighborhoods, which are informal geographic areas.
A hamlet is an unincorporated area in one or more towns that is governed at-large by the town(s) it is in. A hamlet is divided into neighborhoods, which are informal geographic areas.
Postal Zone "City" and "Town"
A postal zone "City" and "Town" is an administrative district established by the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail. Postal zone "City" and "Town" may not (but are encouraged to) conform to municipal or community borders. Thus, postal zone location does not always determine city, village or hamlet location.
Please be aware: In many areas of New York State, the problem of non-conforming postal zones leads to a situation where the majority of places have a different community name in their mailing address than the community where that place is actually located.
- Article contributed by Geography Maven
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Here are some resources to help you find information on getting the flu shot for the upcoming flu season in the Long Island, NY area:
The Food and Drug Administration provides quite a bit of information and resources on the Flu Virus, Links and Resources.
The NYS Department of Health offers tips, advice, information as well as links to resources and information on the influenza virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide flu related resources on the influenza virus and other strains of the flu virus.
You can do a local search, click on one of the link below and enter your zip code to find flu vaccination providers in your area...
Flu Shots Nassau County
Flu Shots Suffolk County
Last year there was a shortage of the flu vaccine on Long Island. Several clinics, hospitals, medical centers and doctors were given rationed amounts of the vaccinations. They were also specifically instructed that the supply were to be allocated to the 'high risk' groups first, including children and the elderly.
If your doctor does not have enough of a supply, you might want to get a referral from your health care network, managed care provider or insurance company for a list of providers offering the flu shot.
Medicare offers a searchable database of health care, managed care and insurance providers by town, county, zip or state.
NYS Department of Health offers an endless resource of health related information, services for the elderly, family programs as well as managed care options and health providers.
Last tidbit of information...the typical 'flu shot' also know as the influenza vaccine does not protect against the Avian Flu. For more information about the
avian flu, try the search Web sites mentioned above but modify your query to include 'avian flu'.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
So, question is can we help Diane find other Long Island Blogs? Please leave your comments and if you know of a blog specific to the Long Island, NY area, please let us know.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Please leave your name, email, town and comments and tell us why you love Long Island. If we re-print your story in our weekly eNews, you win a FREE t-shirt!
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You have to love getting new stuff. There’s just something about de-boxing a new purchase and reveling in how much better it is than that old piece of crap you’ve been tolerating for the past few months because you were born good looking instead of rich. Not that buying new stuff happens all that often in my life, at least not as often as in other households. Then again, it happens for me more often than it does for some others. I suppose that’s the essence of being middle class.
Anyway, these past couple of weeks have seen a lot of new things finding their way into the Watt household in Babylon. Some items, such as the new washing machine in the basement, were purchased out of necessity – thanks to the biblical rains Long Island experienced in the middle of October and the subsequent flooding of the aforementioned basement. The rains also lead us to purchase a “Wet Vac” and sump pump. Functional products with a purpose, but let’s face it. Buying a Wet Vac and sump pump is about as exciting as watching C-Span.
The new washing machine, on the other hand, is pretty neat. It has buttons, beeps and bells so it is actually fun to operate. Its predecessor was a Bess Truman model and by my estimation was only one or two model lines removed from the washboard and ringer combo often seen in the “The Three Stooges” and “Little Rascals” movie shorts. Its cousin the dryer was not affected by the flood and therefore it will not be replaced anytime soon. Or so we hope. It’s not often you come across appliances that were installed by Mr. Maytag himself, so we’re hoping this dryer might have “Antique Roadshow” value once it is done drying clothes.
The tenant in the legal studio apartment in our house moved out and my wife, Sharon, and I decided it was time to take the room back. That has caused us to buy a lot of new things, too, which is a little daunting because our expenses are going up while our revenue – the rent the tenant was paying – is going away. Too bad we’re not the federal government because increasing expenses while decreasing revenues seems to work for the folks down in D.C.
Most of these purchases were of the mundane variety – a screen door here and a toilet there – but we also got to pick out a couch. I should say Sharon picked out a couch. As I may have mentioned before, the rule of thumb in our house is I forfeit my right to comment on anything purchased for the home in exchange for Sharon not dragging me on any shopping excursions. We also bought an armoire / entertainment center. I’m not sure what you call it but I am proud to report that Sharon and I put it together – and just as proud of the fact that it only took the handyman we hired to fix up the apartment two hours to “adjust” it so that its doors actually close.
I also purchased a laptop because the one I had is close to three years old, which in computer years makes it just slightly older than Henry Morgan (the guy who played Colonel Potter in “M*A*S*H. “) Oddly enough, I did not realize that my laptop was as old as it was until I received a cell phone as a birthday present. I went to synch the cell phone with the laptop (oooh – that sounds so technical) and, in a moment right out of a Ziggy cartoon the laptop told me I was crazy if I thought it was going to keep up with that the young, whippersnapper phone.
Now that I think about it, the cell phone is pretty cool, too. I can use it as a camera and a video recorder, as well, just as long as I don’t mind video playback that reminds me of the sound that emanated from my older brother’s single-speaker record player when he played Led Zeppelin I on it back in 1968. For all I know the cell phone can also figure out Pi to one hundred digits and order pizza at the same time. I doubt I will ever get around to figuring out all the features. Right now I consider it a success when the phone rings and I get it out of its holster without hanging up on the caller.
But there is nothing like buying a computer to truly test your mettle as a consumer. I ordered it over the phone and the woman who took my order talked me into buying so many “add-ons” that I had no idea what to expect when the boxes showed up a few days later. I do know I have set some kind of personal record for trips to the local Best Buy for the “not included” stuff the saleswoman somehow neglected to mention. Does anyone even know what a DSL filter is?
I think our little spending spree is over for now, just in time for the holidays. I would not be surprised, however, if Alan Greenspan thanked my wife and me for single-handedly keeping the economy buzzing these past few weeks during his next address before Congress. It’s the least he could do. Unless, of course, his doing so means Sharon and I have to go out to buy him a thank you gift.
Thank you for reading this column. [2005-11-04]
Friday, November 04, 2005
Historically, interest rate adjustments are made in small increments (say @ ¼ of 1%) and trend in one direction over a long period of time. The last time interest rates were at 6% was in May 2004. So it took 18 months of trending down and then back up to return to the 6%.
A buyer finds a house for the right price but the new higher interest rate will mean a greater monthly mortgage payment and walks away without bidding. A seller, being informed by his agent, is made aware of a probable sale agreement and the concerns at hand. One option is for the seller to adjust down on the asking price thus offsetting the higher interest rate. The end result is that the buyer gets the desired home at the same monthly payment and the seller has sacrificed a very small percentage of the asking price.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
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If you have any real estate related questions feel free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or aim messenger: realestateofli