Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Controlling Car Insurance Costs - The Big Picture

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Car insurance in New York is a highly competitive business. You can't pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch TV, or drive by billboards without being assaulted by cute little lizards with Australian accents, companies urging you to honk, etc... As we all know (or at least think we know) competition is very good for consumers, resulting in lower rates and better service as companies trip over each other trying to win your business.

Or does it really work that way? In theory, it should, and certainly we as agents have experienced rate reductions with our carriers, as well as new programs that have lowered costs a good amount for many people. But in a report by New York City comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., as reported in the Insurance Advocate, an industry trade magazine for the tri-state area, it seems like the competitive process is not working well enough or fast enough to be fair to the end consumer.

Now it would be pretty obvious that Mr. Thompson has a particular 'bias' towards his constituents, the residents of New York City. The city tends to be a difficult place for insurance companies to do business, with a high concentration of values, a lot of traffic congestion, and pockets of massive fraud. Still, his statistics apply to the whole state and present a picture that suggests insurance companies have a long way to go to get to rates that are fair to all.

He points out that in 2005, premiums of $10.5 billion were reported, against losses of $5.1 billion, leading to record profits among auto insurers. (Did you think they were doing all this advertising because they just like us a lot as people?) Those premiums are up 29% since 2000, while losses are down by over 20%!

In fairness, he notes that premiums have dropped somewhat and continue to drop. Insurance companies tend to be very conservative, and they are very careful because one good year does not make for a trend in lower costs. In addition, because of injuries that take a long time to treat, and lawsuits that can take years going through the courts, as well as insurance department rules that cause it to take time to process rate changes, we can't expect rates to change this month based on last month's claims.

Still, five years is a long time, and he makes very valid arguments for lower rates and more scrutiny from regulators and municipalities in trying to get the best rate for the buying public. Insurance is not an optional purchase, it's more like a tax on people, with private companies given the right to collect that tax. In that sort of situation, maybe not totally unlike rail, gas, and electric utilities, it's part of the government's job to make sure that private companies are not taking unfair advantage.

You can view Mr. Thompson's full report at

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Letters to the Editor: Long Island Progress or Destruction?

What have they done? The answer is nothing. The animals, trees, and wildflowers have done nothing wrong. We have. They just want to live as God designed them to. What has a small box turtle that eats berries, fruit and insects done wrong to us? or a chipmunk, or a little rabbit? What have the magnificent trees done so wrong to us? or the songbirds we hear each day? Nothing at all. They don't steal, lie, cheat, have a need for money, or demand their way. Man does though.

Nature is a God given creation that deserves and suppose to be here. It has a right to exist. But many have proved they don't see it that way. They, instead, see and open field or woodlands full of trees and wildlife as money. Pure and simple. They will build on it until it is exhausted of every inch of earth. They do not see beauty in nature, they see it in money and materialism. They destroy acres of land that were homes to all kinds of species, just to build another complex, or office building. Then they call it progress. I call it destruction.

Wildlife is insignificant to them; only the land they live in and on is of value. Then they make the buildings pretty by planting flowers and new trees, to cover up and hide the destruction they caused in doing so. They even build their own man-made ponds, yet neglect the natural ones that are full of garbage and debris. They're completely selfish. Man has ruined, and continues to ruin, so much goodness and beauty that God has given us.

We've ruined bays, lakes, streams, ponds, estuaries and creeks. We pollute them until one day they will not be able to sustain life in them anymore. Then one will blame the other, or else blame some species for all of it. The little children will have to resort to parks, zoos and public aquariums to see nature. The one's responsible will care little. Wildlife was insignificant now as it was then to them. They will leave here saying, "So long, your on your own."

One day people will yearn for what their parents or grandparents saw while wildlife was still to be seen around them. Their effforts to bring it back will be in vain. It is up to the property owners not to sell to the builders to begin with. It is up to the government to clean up the bays, creeks, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and streams, and not allow motorized leisure boats on them. As long as money is the only motivator, it won't happen. This is all an inconsiderate, selfish act, that mankind alone is responsible for. It will be irreversible one day, unable to sustain what was once full of life. - Ed Vermeulen

This email was sent to the editors of by a concerned Long Island resident. The views expressed are those of the author. The comment has been published as a courtesy, in an effort to open a public discussion. You are welcome to leave your comments and/or feedback about this post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Battle of the Bands Podcast On Long Island

This is the first official Online Battle of the Bands On Long Island sponsored by the Long Island Podcast Network

The grand prize is a full day of recording at Cove City Sounds Studios, owned and operated by Richie Canatta, Sax Player for Billy Joel. Cove City Sound Studios has recorded such artists as Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Dee Snyder, Jessica Simpson, Marc Anthony, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Billy Joel, and more.

Second place prize will be a music video with JL Video Recording Services.

If you would like to vote, sign up here.

How It Works:

Every Sunday from January 7 to March 25, we will be podcasting the music of 2 to 3 bands. The Long Island Podcast Network web site will be the source of the podcast. On the site each band will be able to get votes for their music for a period of two weeks after their music is podcasted. People will vote and as voters, they will need to register with a valid email address. Bands will be able to get votes for two weeks after their song is podcasted. On Sunday March 25, 2007, after the last podcast, voting will automatically open back up for all bands for 2 more weeks to acquire votes. So, in essence, every band will be able to get votes for 4 weeks.

On Sunday, April 8, 2007, we will tally the votes. The five bands with the highest number of votes will compete live at the Livin' Room Lounge in Glen Cove. The winner will win the grand prize as mentioned above.

To enter the Battle of the Band Podcast Competition, there is a $50 application fee per band per song. As the Long Island Podcast Network has over 10,000 listeners from Nassau and Suffolk counties, your music will also gain great exposure.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Feeling The Need To Feed


During the holiday season, gets many emails from people asking where they can volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry. Many people are aware of the hunger problem on Long Island, but what they do not realize is that it is an ongoing need.

Long Island New York represents a diverse background of people. Close to three million people call Long Island home. Adjacent to NYC, this region has the highest per capita income for New York state. Median family income is also considerably higher than state median income in both Nassau and Suffolk County NY. While this newly termed "techno suburb" enjoys the latest and greatest in gadgets, luxury items and technology, over 250,000 Long Island residents go hungry each year.

The needy represent close to ten percent of the people that live on Long Island. The majority of them are women, children and seniors. This is a sizable portion of a relatively affluent community. The hungry rely on food Emergency Food Programs (EFP) including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters as well as government assistance.

Realizing the hunger problem on Long Island, EFPs have been established for quite some time. Most of them are non-profit groups, funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. Finding the resources to meet the growing need is a constant challenge for many of these organizations.

Some government funded food assistance programs are available including Food Stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Child Food Nutrition and Public Assistance Programs including Welfare. Budget cuts and discontinuation of certain programs has led to an increased number of people looking to local food assistance programs for help.

Island Harvest is a food rescue organization that collects from those who have surplus food and delivers it to those who need it. Food is delivered to hundreds of soup kitchens, food pantries, and food assistance programs across Long Island.

Long Island Cares is a food bank, providing emergency food where needed. They also deliver to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, day care centers and senior centers.

Island Harvest and Long Island Cares worked together on a hunger study for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Hunger 2006: The Local Report details the growing problem and statistics on Long Island, NY.

"The face of hunger is the same as your face and mine, and not some homeless person", says Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest.

Long Island Cares and Island Harvest are just two of many organizations that assist needy families. Donations from individuals, businesses and community groups help to support their efforts.

There are thousands of people on Long Island that need to eat -- everyday.

Are feeling the need to feed yet?
If so, please drop off a can of food at the local food drive, volunteer your free time or make a simple donation.

Island Harvest
199 Second Street
Mineola, NY 11501
(516) 294-8528

Long Island Cares Inc.
10 Davids Drive
Hauppauge, NY 11788
(631) 582-FOOD

Thank you for reading my rantings.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Trying to Sort Out the Homeowners Insurance Mess

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

I hope everybody had a happy Thanksgiving.

Today I was reading one of a number of insurance industry email newsletters that come daily. It's the modern way to keep up with what's going on. One particular article caught my attention and relates back in an interesting way to our ongoing discussion of the Long Island homeowners insurance situation.

The article says that a new company is rolling out a big car insurance program across the country in something like 35 states including New York. But the auto insurance market in NY is, if anything, super competitive and super saturated. The big direct writers and one-company-agent companies have long held most of that market and so they are battling it out for the most part amongst themselves. '35% Savings' and 'New Low Rates' are all over the place.

But there is so much money to be made on car insurance overall that new companies continue to want to enter the fray. It's very good for consumers because the competition keeps prices low and service levels high.

So what does this have to do with homeowners insurance on Long Island, you may well ask. Well, I did too. So I went to the new company's web site and looked around. There was the car insurance product, branded under their name. Then when I looked at the homeowners insurance page, a different link showed up in the sidebar. It said 'view a list of the 40+ insurance companies we represent'. A very impressive statement, but it doesn't show up on the auto insurance page at all.

Why? Because like GEICO and Progressive and AIG and any number of 'auto only' programs, this new company doesn't want to get involved with property insurance except as a selling agent or broker! Yes, auto insurance is profitable right now. But more importantly, car insurance is homogeneous across the country. There are variations in state law, but for the most part, it's something the insurance carriers can work with.

But since 9-11 and Katrina, insurers have begun to realize that HUGE amounts of property in the form of homes and businesses can be wiped out in one event, and that those events can actually occur. The industry was able to pay for Katrina but what about here, with our row upon row of million dollar homes?

So part of the key to solving the Long Island homeowners insurance issue in the short run is diversification, spreading it out to more companies. In the longer run, there are other possibilities including government backstops, all-peril insurance policies, catastrophe bonding, and some exotic financial instruments that are beyond the scope of this blog (meaning I don't understand some of them either)

More to certainly come. Next: What's happening in Flood Insurance.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Take a walk in the park....

Photos by Alida Thorpe
Take a walk through
The Connetquot River State Park and Preserve.
...a beautiful experience for all.
It will be a pleasant surprise for those who have never been there.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Veterans' Day

Photos by Alida Thorpe
Veterans' Day, November 11th.
On the 11th day, of the 11th month at the 11th hour, the treaty to end the fighting was signed to end the first World War.
Armistice Day was renamed Veterans' Day in 1954 to honor all veterans of all wars.
The photo above is the memorial at Bald remember our Viet Nam veterans.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mild Hurricane Season Brings Record Insurance Profits

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

The past few weeks have brought third quarter earnings reports from some of the major insurance carriers, and it's been interesting. As has been discussed here during our articles about the homeowners insurance situation here on Long Island and elsewhere along the coast, insurance carriers spent the last year and a half going into a very conservative mode, cutting back on their coastal property risk (by cancelling policies in the case of Allstate, Encompass, Vesta Shelby and others) and raising prices.

What has happened is that this ended up being one of the mildest seasons in years for catastrophes such as hurricanes, and so we are seeing reports in the newspapers and financial publications that the companies are showing record profits. Sort of like what happened to the oil companies when prices rose a few months back.

Unfortunately, and maybe rightly so, these record profits will, if the industry is not very careful, create a public relations nightmare. While they are canceling policies and restricting coverages, crying that they need to protect themselves from catastrophe risk, the idea that their shareholders are making tons of money does not seem to be in the best public interest.

In addition, they are not encouraged by tax laws to put this money away for possible future losses, as would seem to make sense. Unfortunately insurance carriers are not allowed to set aside money on a tax-deferred basis for future losses. And we all know that savings, whether it's your personal IRA or other retirement plan, or planning for catastrophes, is driven by the tax code.

One of the parts of the overall future plans to help insurance carriers and the public to deal with the problems in the homeowers and flood insurance areas will be the ability to put money away on a tax-deferred basis to cover possible future losses. This will apply to both insurance carriers and insurance customers.

For the carriers, they would then be able to take some of these record profits and put them away for the inevitable bad year. Unfortunately Congress could not get agreement on this quickly enough to help with the current profits, which would have made for a great opportunity to get started.

This sort of thing will help consumers as well. Right now in the Long Island homeowners insurance market, most people anywhere near the water (and we're talking 3-5 miles here, which includes most of the island) face a deductible on their home insurance policy of anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 or more. (Most deductibles are in the form of a percentage of the coverage on your house - if you don't understand your coverage, please ask your agent or visit our web site at for contact info and we will explain it to you at no cost or obligation) . One proposal currently being reviewed would allow people to set up tax-deferred savings accounts, similar to an IRA, that would be used to cover that deductible in the event a major storm struck.

As always, for more info please visit our site and/or contact us. Insurance is one of those areas that the public needs to educate itself, because your policy these days can come back to bite you at the time you need it most.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Long Island Pets Need Help

Rex is one of the sweetest, most lovable cats you could ever meet. He greets everyone who visits him in the Bide-A-Wee veterinary clinic with loud purrs, and he happily spends his one-on-one time sitting on the laps of our staff and volunteers. He isn’t even scared by all the activity around him, including when our dogs bark.

Two weeks ago, things did not look so good for Rex, an 18-month-old tabby. He was at a municipal shelter and his time was running out — until Bide-A-Wee stepped in.

Rex was found in the Bronx with two injured legs — his left front and his right hind. His legs had started to heal improperly, and he could barely walk.

Click here to donate now.

When Bide-A-Wee staff visited the local municipal shelter, one of our veterinarians spotted Rex and heard him purring. As the injured cat climbed into her lap, she recommended that we take him and give him a second start. Rex went immediately to the veterinary clinic in Manhattan. After an X-ray confirmed that both of his legs were fractured, Bide-A-Wee staff arranged for an orthopedic surgeon to place casts on Rex’s fractured paws. The casts will help to ensure that his bones heal properly.

Rex is now on six to eight weeks of cage rest, and new X-rays of his paws are taken on a regular basis to check the progress of his healing. When the casts come off, he may also need physical therapy in order to strengthen his legs. It is possible that he will always walk with a limp. However, his charming personality has not been affected, and when he is available for adoption he will make a great companion.

We need your help to offset the cost of Rex’s medical care and to allow us to save other animals like Rex who are waiting at local municipal shelters for their own "Second Start." Please consider making a gift to our Veterinary Medical Assistance Fund (VMAF) or to our Second Start program today.

Click here to donate now.

All of us here at Bide-A-Wee thank you in advance for helping us to help animals in need.

To read more about Bide-A-Wee programs and animals like Rex that need your help, please click here for more information about Bide-A-Wee.

Ann H. Cohen
Vice President

P.S. If you know people who love cats and dogs as much as we do, please forward this post to them! Thank you so much.

Bide-A-Wee Wantagh, New York
3300 Beltagh Avenue
Wantagh, NY 11793
Adoption Center: (516) 785-4079
Cemetery: (516) 785-6153

Bide-A-Wee Westhampton, New York
118 Old Country Road
Westhampton, NY 11977
Adoption Center: (631) 325-0200
Clinic: (631) 325-0280
Cemetery: (631) 325-0219
Retirement Home: (631) 288-0591

Bide-A-Wee Manhattan
410 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Adoption Center: (212) 532-4455
Clinic: (212) 532-5884
Executive Offices: (212) 532-6395
Donations: (212) 532-6395
Volunteer, Outreach and Bereavement Counseling Information:
(212) 532-4986

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fire Island in November

Photos by Alida Thorpe
Fire Island National Seashore
I just had to post another photo. After all, it is November and Halloween is over. I couldn't leave the jack o'lanterns just sitting there!
Yesterday, November 1st, the weather on Long Island was beautiful.
The sun was warm and the breezes, mild.
The photo above was taken on the Fire Island National Seashore.
It was more like spring than autumn!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Autumn on Mill Pond

Long Island Photos by Alida Thorpe
Mill Pond, right here on Long Island.
Long Island has reached its full Autumn color this week.
This photo was taken on Wednesday, October 25th, in Sayville.
Sayville is about half-way between New York City and Montauk.
Click on the photo to see it in a larger size.
I hope the wind this weekend doesn't remove the leaves too quickly!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pet Halloween Costumes

Sorry we couldn't resist posting this picture sent from a friend. What is your pet going to be for Halloween?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mommy, Where Do Insurance Companies Come From?

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Hi All. Sorry for the long break between posts. I was away for five days at the annual Rotary International Northeastern U.S. conference, and another five wonderful days visiting Mickey and friends in Florida. Nice to get away but somehow life keeps happening behind your back and likes to spring on you when you come home.

In any event, I thought it would be interesting to write a little about the origins of insurance in general, and homeowners insurance in particular. A lot of people tend to think of insurance as one of those pain-in-the-neck things that the State or their bank makes them buy, but the truth is that a lot of the things we like so much, ownership of property being a big one, driving a car another, would be impossible without some mechanism to spread the risk.

A couple of thousand years ago, people lived in mostly small huts that could be rebuilt with a neighbor's help in a couple of days. And if you lived in a big house, you probably had plenty of money, and slaves to do the re-building if there was a fire or other damage. The concept of insuring something of value started with seagoing trade between nations and continents, and so the field of Marine Insurance was born. Marine insurance is the oldest and probably most interesting of all insurance. It continues today both in the Ocean Marine type as well as Inland Marine which is used to write everything from giant cranes and bulldozers to your diamond engagement ring insured on a rider to your homeowners insurance policy.

Back in the early days of shipping trade along the Mediterranean Sea (thing Ancient Greece), ships started to bring gold, spices, silks, and lots of other interesting stuff from foreign ports of call back to sell in their home areas. After a while, the value of the cargoes carried got so high that the ship owner/captain could not afford the risk to the cargo. Although standard shipping rules even in those days did not make the captain responsible for all losses, even if he was not held accountable, he still might lose all the revenue from the sale of a lost cargo, and that could put him out of business and land him in debtor's prison.

So someone came up with the idea that wealthy merchants could absorb all or a part of the loss that might happen from certain agreed-upon perils such as storm loss, stranding, barratry (fraudulent acts of the captain or crew) or other 'perils of the sea'. In return for their promise to pay a certain amount to the owner of the cargo in case of loss, they received a payment from the owner called a 'premium'. This would be done at the local taverns down near the seaports. A captain would post on a board that he was bringing a certain amount of such and such cargo from a named place, and local merchants and others would write their names under the posting including the amount of risk they were willing to accept. This is the direct beginning of the term 'underwriter', and in a broad way is still the way insurance is transacted by Lloyd's of London, the most famous insurer in the world.

For instance, if someone wants to insure the legs of a famous movie star for $10,000,000, it is presented to Lloyd's or another similar company (Lloyds is actually a group of many syndicated made up of people and organizations with money they would like to invest in this type of insurance). One or more syndicates will step forward and offer to accept all or part of the risk for a certain premium that they calculate. The people who calculate what rates to charge for insurance are called actuaries, and are some of the best math and accounting people on the planet. They make or break the success of insurance companies, and the good ones are very highly paid for their efforts. More next time. Meanwhile, for more info visit our site at

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The North Fork Farms

Long Island Photos by Alida Thorpe

Pumpkin Farm on the North Fork of Long Island.
It's pumpkin time on Long Island's East End.
This is the time to take a drive out east, along the North Fork, and stop at the farm stands and pumpkin fields, and maybe even a winery.
You can buy some fresh flowers and vegetables, as well as pumpkins and local apples.
Enjoy the autumn weather now... the leaves are just changing colors.
Every season on Long Island is special!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Less Multi Tasking, Less Stress

Have you ever noticed that when you talk on the phone while driving and are done with the conversation, you get a sense that you don’t even recall where you were driving while on the phone? It’s almost like a blackout while being awake. This is because the brain cannot focus on two simultaneous tasks with completely positive results.

Muti tasking is something that many people do every day. And women even more than men because we are better at it. No offense to the men; it’s just how our brains work. I know most of us cannot imagine how we would do all of the things we have to in a day without multi tasking. I am guilty of doing it many times during the day. But I have recently become more conscious of times when I am trying to do too many things at the same time and I have decided to try and put a stop to it.

Why? Well, it’s part of my mission to slow down my life a bit. Why do I have to cram so much into a day? I don’t. And I’m sure I can get everything done that I need to in a day without so much multi tasking. Besides, slowing down reduces stress and makes life feel more calm and balanced. And doesn’t that sound good to you? Instead of rushed, frazzled, stressed—it’s definitely the better choice.

Now I’m not talking about sitting down and waiting for your load of laundry to finish. There are obvious tasks in life that we can accomplish without sitting there and doing nothing else. I’m talking about simple things. Like when you drive, just drive. Try to cut back on the amount of time you are spending on the phone while in the car. I actually enjoy ignoring the phone while driving. The reason why is because I think it is more important than ever to pay attention when we drive. It’s just too risky with the number of people on the road these days to not give it our full attention. And also because when I talk to someone on the phone, I feel they deserve my full attention. How can I conduct business or listen to a friend’s problem and feel good about giving them my all when half of my attention is on the road?

This is an important reason why we need to cut back on multi tasking—full attention. If we give our full attention to tasks that we are doing, not only will we get them done just as quickly as if we are trying to piggyback another task in between but also that we will do a better job in general. Also, it keeps us in the moment if we give our full attention to the task at hand.

I believe that over multi tasking ends up in a similar result as someone who has ADD. Because our mind is here and there and we are jumping from one thing to another. They are definitely similar.

Just take time during the day to notice when you are multi tasking and how it makes you feel. I am sure there are a lot of you who thrive on the feeling of doing it and enjoy that low level of stress it causes. But it can also cause bigger stresses and interfere with a more balanced life. Whenever I catch myself trying to do too much at once, I force myself to slow down. One thing at a time, I remind myself. Because each thing I do deserves my full attention and my best ability in order for me to be the best person I can be. Give it a try and see how it feels to slow down. You might just find that you like it!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Monach Butterflies

Long Island Photos by Alida Thorpe
Monach Butterflies are migrating through and over Long Island at this time, every year.
Have you seen them? Probably, since they are so numerous, and colorful, and seem to be flying everywhere.
Did you notice that they all seem to be going in the same direction?
The next time you see one, watch where he goes. See if his fellow travelers follow.
He may stop for a snack on a local plant and then move on.
For more information about these beautiful butterflies, click here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Long Island Homeowners and Flood Insurance Issues, Continued

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

It's been a few weeks since I had a chance to write a post. Mostly it's because we have been renovating my office. We have had two or three work crews at a time here daily. Now it's getting down to the trim and painting, so it's just a little slower. You can see pictures of how it's coming out at my other blog,

Anyway, my being busy has not stopped things from happening in the Long Island homeowners insurance and flood insurance market. Since I last wrote, several more companies, some of them fairly large players, have either announced that they will no longer be writing homeowners insurance either here on Long Island or, in some cases, in New York State.

Part of the problem is that here on Long Island is where the largest concentration of high valued homes exists. So many companies tried to write lots of business here to increase their cash flow, but are now in panic mode because after seeing what happened with hurricane Katrina, they now realize that they have a big exposure here that is not offset by customers in other areas that are not subject to 'coastal' issues.

For instance, it's not that people in upstate New York never have claims. And they DO have 'catastrophic' claims using the insurance meaning, which refers to something that affects a lot of people all at once, as opposed to a fire at someone's house, which might melt some siding on the house next to it, but generally does not affect a whole area.

In some upstate counties, for instance, they can have major ice storms that damage a lot of houses. But it's still not nearly the same as here on Long Island, because the houses tend to be much further apart (less concentrated) in most upstate areas, and the values are lower. As we all know, a house that sells for $450,000 here can still be had for $200,000 in most other parts of the country, maybe even less in some.

Interestingly, some of these areas that you would not expect have flood issues as well. Newsday a couple of weeks ago had an article about a number of people who live in Pennsylvania, along the Delaware river, just 'downstream' from the reservoir system that provides water to New York City. It seems that because of droughts that have occurred in the past few years, the water people now try to keep the reservoirs at 100% of capacity. But the flip side of that is when it rains a lot, BILLIONS of gallons of water overflow the reservoirs and have been creating flooding problems along the Delaware river!

There are a lot of post-Katrina changes coming to the Federal Flood Insurance program through FEMA, and some of them won't be pleasant for those living in primary and secondary flood hazard areas. More to follow on that, but in the meantime if you have questions, you can contact us through our web site at

Friday, September 22, 2006

Connetquot River State Park

Photos by Alida Thorpe
Fly fishing on the Connetquot River, early morning....
My husband and I went fishing in the river before sunrise and watched the sun come up over the trees.
A mist was hovering over the water and the only sounds heard were those of the fish splashing and birds chirping.
It was serene and beautiful. It was an amazing morning!
Have you been in the Connetquot River State Park?
The fly-fishing season will end as of October 1st, but you can still enter the park for hiking and photo-taking. There is a parking fee and a permit is needed for fishing.
It is one of the secret places that many Long Islanders have yet to discover.
Click here for more information about Connetquot River State Park and Preserve.
Enjoy what Long Island has to offer!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Prelude to Long Island's BIGGEST Pizza Party!

Long Island New York Pizza Festival and Bake-OffLong Island, New York (September 2006) - The pizza celebration begins a bit early with a pre-launch pizza party taking place on Thursday, September 21, 2006 at Adventureland Amusement Park 2245 Route 110 in Farmingdale, NY. The mini pizza party is a prelude to the upcoming Long Island Pizza Festival presented by 101.1 Jack FM.

The Mini Pizza Party kicks off with pizza related activities. Highlighting some of the fun activities scheduled for the Long Island Pizza Festival coming in October.

Listen to the Pizza Party Podcast!

The Best Pizza on Long Island NY Competition presented by 101.1 Jack FM is an annual charity event put together to support local pizza shops and to raise money to feed the hungry on Long Island. The competition includes the pizza contest, bake-off and final judging which takes place at the upcoming Long Island Pizza Festival.

The pizzerias who have collected the most votes on the website are invited down for the bake-off and final judging at the Long Island Pizza Festival. The Long Island Pizza Festival takes place on Saturday, October 7, 2006 at Adventureland Amusement Park in Farmingdale from 12-6pm, rain or shine. Admission is free. Pizza related activities include pizza sampling, acrobatic dough toss, pizza eating contest, mini-pie making for the children, a kids' talent show as well as the bake-off and final judging to determine who makes the Best Pizza on Long Island, New York.

101.1 Jack FM is the presenting sponsor of this Long Island New York Pizza Contest. Co-sponsors include Optimum, Cremosa Food Distributors, Marsal and Sons Pizza Ovens, The World Champions Pizza Acrobats, Party Pizzazz, The Printing Experience, BBA Photography, Adventureland Amusement Park, Pizza Pup and all play a contributing role in making this event a success each year. The event benefits Island Harvest and Long Island Cares, non-profit organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long Island New York.

Adventureland Amusement Park
2245 Route 110 Farmingdale, NY 11725
Phone: 631-694-6868

Full details and event information is available on the website at

For more media inquiries and/or more information, please contact Ruthie Bergmann, Party Pizzazz event planner at 631-423-3445.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce Is First Long Island Chamber to Have Its Own Podcast

The Long Island Podcast Network ( has partnered with the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce to podcast its events and meetings. "This is a breakthrough for all Chambers of commerce to communicate with its members" says Fram Monico, Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce Director and Newsletter editor in chief.

Check out the podcast at Other companies and organizations in Long Island can contact the Long Island Podcast Network at to set up their own podcasts.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Greatest FREE Country on the Planet Commentary

The plan for 9-11 is a great plan. To fly the Stars and Stripes, our great symbol of freedom, in as many places as possible will show the world (or remind them) of who we are...the greatest FREE country on the planet.

But folks, it goes beyond the flag. The flag is a SYMBOL of our freedom, and that freedom not only includes QUESTIONING OUR GOVERNMENT but it demands that we question it. Of the people, by the people, and FOR THE PEOPLE. We should demand answers that have NEVER BEEN GIVEN by this current administration. THEY WORK FOR US!

While no one questions the effects of the 9-11 tragedy, the investigation into the how, what, and why of how it happened NEEDS TO BE REOPENED. There are way too many unanswered questions that not only the families of those affected deserve to know but THE ENTIRE COUNTRY WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW A HANDFUL OF THUGS HIJACKED FOUR PLANES AND HIT FOUR TARGETS IN THE MOST MILITARILY ADVANCED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Maybe you should ask why the government spent over $40 million of YOUR TAX dollars investigating Bill Clinton's sex life but spent less than $1 million investigating the 9-11 tragedy.

At best, the Bush administration is incompetent in the investigation and, at worst, PLANNED AND EXECUTED THE ENTIRE EVENT. No, no way, most citizens say, how could our government do such a thing? Best to stay informed and check out the many websites that have investigative facts that every citizen of this free country should at least look at and review. Google "Loose Change 2" (and actually watch the entire video) and check out sites like MANY scientific minds have come to the conclusion that the "facts" presented by the Bush administration do not make one ounce of sense.

The Bush administration has lied about most everything. One of the worst by-products is that anyone who questions our leaders, a right preserved by the Constitution as freedom of speech, is labeled as unpatriotic or a "terrorist" themselves. Folks, this administration should win the award for "terrorism". They take away your freedom, in exchange for the illusion of security, so they can let you know that they can MESS WITH YOU ANYTIME THEY FEEL LIKE IT (for those who like graphic language, replace MESS with the F word). By spreading fear, they control. Nazi Germany had this formula down pat.

Stand up, speak up, and let those in power know that WE WILL NOT BE TREATED THIS WAY! This great experiment in freedom called America has only been around for little more than 200 years. Most of the planet has been ruled by tyrants, dictators, and the like, with little or no freedom for its citizens. While not perfect, our founding fathers wrote some of the most important word and phrases in history in the form of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Don't let these freedoms die today! Let your voice be heard! Campaign for honesty of our elected officials. Good and decent people are waiting to serve this country. Don't fall into the trap of "what can I do?". The answer is MUCH! Yes, proudly fly the flag but back it up with more than talk, TAKE ACTION NOW! This country if full of history of it's citizens getting fed up with the BS of past administrations and they took action. Is it that we, in our modern homes and buildings, ARE TOO SOFT TO SPEAK UP!? Call your REPRESENTATIVES, e-mail them, fax them...eventually, they will "wake up" and take the actions the citizens request. It's not an option if you call yourself a citizen of the United States of America, IT IS YOUR PATRIOTIC DUTY TO CALL THESE PEOPLE TO TASK!

Respectfully Submitted,
Bill Moseley


This views reflected in this post are those of the author. Bill Mosely is an individual, a business man, a resident of Long Island New York and a concerned citizen. He is also a member of the 9-11 Seaford High School (SHS) Memorial Committee. Feel free to post your comments on the matter to open the discussion and free flow of ideas.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Kennel Cough

Jake writes, "My Chocolate Labrador was picked up and went to Brookhaven Animal Shelter now my dog has developed kennel cough.. I need to know what to do as far as medications?"

Answer: Sorry to hear about your dog but, glad you got him back. The best advice is to see your regular veterinarian.

This page has some useful information about Kennel Cough which is an airborne virus that is very contagious...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation…or how I met Bernie Williams (sort of)

Ask Mr. Long IslandBY MICHAEL WATT

I laugh whenever I see that commercial for Corona Beer – where a man and woman lounge by the clear blue sea with nothing but a bucket of ice-cold Coronas and the shade of a palm tree or straw hut to keep them company. I laugh because my wife Sharon and I keep saying we’re going to take one of those trips one of these days but at the rate we are going I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Not because neither of us drinks Coronas. Quite frankly, I think Sharon would learn how to chug-a-lug a six pack of Coronas while juggling three limes if it meant being able to spend a couple of days doing nothing more than tickling the tips of her toes in the cool rippling waters of the Caribbean.

But I have never really gotten the hang of this leisure thing and as a result I have never been able to embrace the concept of just laying around. (Memo to all you Grammar Nazis out there - I have tried to determine the correct usage of lay vs. lie using a variety of sources and I still don't know which is correct. I do know I am done trying).

I’m sure doing nothing is a lot of fun but I know the minute I start to relax my mind will wander toward all the work I should be doing, or that others are doing while I do nothing. It’s an Irish thing – God forbid you should enjoy yourself while someone somewhere is suffering, working or even just not enjoying themselves as much as you are.

Besides, while my family does not take what might considered “normal” vacations we do have a lot of fun. We like to center our trips around visiting different baseball parks. Since 2003 we have visited Fenway Park (Boston), Wrigley Field (Chicago), Jacobs Field (Cleveland), Petco Park (San Diego), Dodgers Stadium (Los Angeles), Angels Stadium (in Anaheim, Ca.), Rogers Centre (Toronto) and Camden Yards (Baltimore). Last week we visited Safeco Field in Seattle and AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Whenever possible once we visit the parks we create our own walking tours of the city we find ourselves in. In Boston, for instance, we walked the Freedom Trail - or whatever that thing is called up there - from one end to the other. Last summer we tried to see as much of Toronto as we could, but after a couple of hours we realized there really is nothing to see in Toronto so we just headed to the park. In Cleveland we walked to “The Jake” and came across a restaurant owned by Alice Cooper called “Alice Cooper’s Town Bar & Grill,” or something like that. It was a fun place. We were also able to walk back to our hotel after the game – try doing that from the Bronx or Queens. The only downside was pointed out by my younger son Max, who was all of nine at the time: “What kind of city doesn’t have any ice cream stores open after 10 pm,” he asked upon realizing our quest for post-game ice cream was going to go unfulfilled because, well, because there was nothing open. (I’m not picking on Cleveland here. The next day we got a GREAT tour of the Cleveland Browns stadium and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, as well as a bunch of bridges and a submarine. That really was a lot of fun.)

Now I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, “I’m sorry, Mike, but grabbing a cheeseburger and a Sprite at Alice Cooper’s Town before a game between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers is nice but does not even begin to compare to reclining in a lounge chair under the blue Caribbean sky next to the blue Caribbean water on the white Caribbean sand.” You’re thinking this especially if you are a woman and/or not a baseball fan. Or have an ounce of brains.

But try this on for size. While we were taking in Seattle’s Museum of Modern Music – or some such thing, I have no idea why we were there – I decided to rest my bones on a bench and check my email. My 12-year-old son Max was standing to my immediate left. After a spell I looked up from my cell phone and noticed a man standing not more than 10 feet from me. “Boy that guy looks like (Yankee outfielder) Bernie Williams,” and turned to share that thought with Max, a boy who would tattoo his arms in pinstripes if I would let him.

Judging by the drop in my son’s jaw, however, I quickly surmised that the man in question was in fact Bernie Williams, especially once I also remembered that the Yankees were in town that day for a game and that Bernie is an accomplished guitar player. Now it was my turn to drop the jaw, as I believe this was the closest I have ever come to an actual, real live current Yankee without some barrier between us.

My mind raced in circles. Should I snap his picture with my cell phone camera? Just shake his hand? Tell him thanks for all the great clutch hits and not signing with Boston way back when?

I did nothing but not in his direction, of course. I am not big on getting anyone’s autograph, nor did I care to interrupt what I assumed was a quiet afternoon away from the park for Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams. The guy is probably 10 years younger than I am and yet here I was all excited about my “Brush with Greatness.” To his credit Max went right up to him and said, “Hey Bernie.” To his credit Bernie acknowledged my son by saying hello right back, but gave us both the impression that he did not want to cause a commotion and preferred not to be recognized. We honored that and walked away, but not before my wife Sharon and my other son Alex happened by. The four of us spent the rest of the day marveling at our good fortune.

Let’s see the couple at the Caribbean top that!

Thank you for reading this column.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September at the Beach

photos by Alida Thorpe
Labor Day...The ending of summer, but not the end of the beach....
September is a wonderful time to visit the beach, and although you may not think it is warm enough to swim, you certainly can enjoy the ocean air and sunshine.
The weather for this Labor Day weekend does not look promising but there are better days to come. September is wonderful for beach walking or watching the birds.
The most favorite time at the beach, for many people, is after the summer rush has gone and the beaches are cooler.
The warmer ocean water temperatures on Fire Island actually make the beach air warmer than the Long Island mainland. Many people are surprised at the difference!
Take a ride, as soon as the rain stops that is, and see a September beach day for yourself.
You will love it!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Insurance Groups Disagree on Catastrophe Insurance

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

As we look back at Katrina with a year of perspective and new information on what can happen in a major hurricane, the insurance industry continues to hash out what needs to be done to try to make the next such event 'less awful'. And they don't agree among themselves. I read an interesting article recently about one of the major points of disagreement.

I think most non-insurance people would probably think that ALL the insurance carriers would immediately agree to what would amount to a Federal government bailout the next time there is a major catastrophe whether natural (a la Katrina) or man-made (think 9-11-2001). But the reality is quite different.

The American Insurance Association (AIA), which represents over 400 insurance companies writing $120 billion in premiums, came out with a National Catastrophe Agenda that contains specific steps they believe are necessary to prepare. They have recommendations for government officials, individuals, businesses, and insurance carriers. They believe that if we all work together doing things like strenghtening and enforcing building codes, giving tax incentives for retro-fitting changes to existing homes, improvements in the FEMA Flood Insurance program, and numerous other areas, we can greatly improve our overall readiness and restoration afterwards.

The one piece they don't necessarily want, believe it or not, is a federal backstop for major insurance losses. Their feeling is that, so far anyway, the private reinsurance market has been able to take care of 'backstopping' catastrophes through the standard industry practice of insurance companies buying their own insurance, in the form of reinsurance, for the large losses. They know there is work to be done with State insurance departments about how reinsurance costs are passed along (or not) to the consumer, but still overall they believe that there are sufficient resources in the private sector and prefer not to increase government costs and regulation.

On the other side of this issue, is a major player. This player is, first of all, quite large enough to be entitled to their own point of view. They also have gone along for many years with NO reinsurance protection, believing they were large enough to spread their catastrophe losses over their huge client base across the country. Unfortunately, four hurricanes in a couple of weeks in Florida, followed by Katrina a year later, pointed out a weakness in their plan.

That player is Allstate. Now that they have found just how badly they could be hurt because they wrote as much insurance as they possibly could in coastal areas, (not just right on the water, the danger zone goes 10 miles inland. That's why Long Island is having a particularly nasty time with homeowners insurance right now. Pretty much everything on Long Island is within 10 miles of a shore) they are in full-blown panic mode. Their management has a clear obligation to their stockholders to do something about this situation, hence all the canceled homeowners insurance policies all over Long Island and the downstate New York area.

Anyway, Allstate says the AIA proposal is badly lacking in that one key area - a Federal government 'backstop' that would basically bail out Allstate and maybe a few of the other really big players in a major catastrophe. This basically amounts to getting reinsurance that they should have been buying all along, but guaranteed by the government. They also figure that if it's a government program, even though they would probably have to put large amounts of money into the program, they would also probably be allowed to include those costs in their rates. Currently in New York, insurance companies are NOT allowed to include reinsurance costs in calculating rates. Rates have to be based on loss history that can be demonstrated with historical data. Reinsurance doesn't come in to play as far as the State Insurance Department is concerned.

These programs always get SOME funding from within the industry. The most common example is FDIC insurance for bank accounts. Banks pay a percentage of their income into a fund that is then used to cover insured accounts at failed banks. But when something really bad happens, like the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980's, the taxpayer ends up footing most of the bill. In addition, the S&L bailout showed that big companies (in that case, banks, but it applies to big insurance companies too) tend to be a lot less prudent and careful when they know their mistakes will be covered by taxpayer dollars.

It's all very interesting. And it will affect our daily lives here on Long Island in the form of higher homeowners and flood insurance costs going forward, no matter how you slice it. As always, for more info you can contact us through our web site at

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Putting Spam Back In The Can


Last year I was over burdened by spam. The server had spam filters, I set up hundreds of spam filters in my mail program, used Norton spam blocker (IMNSHO - useless) and even had my tech guys install the industrial strength version of Trend Micro PC-cillian (IMHO - somewhat useful). I was still spending over two hours+ per day weeding and deleting spam mail to get to the real emails., the site I manage is an extremely large website. It is a mecca for spam harvesters who use automated programs to scour the web looking for the @ sign.

The only solution I could think of was to remove every mailto: link on the site and replace it with a form. This project took months, but the benefit was worth the manual labor. Yes, I did it manually and updated quite a few pages while I was cleaning house.

I am happy to report that I turned the spam ratio in my favor; now receiving 90% real mail and about 10% spam still managing to sneak through. You cannot absolutely get rid of spam, but you may be able to put some of it back in the can.

Here is a very useful tip for those that get a lot of mail. Download message headers only. This saves quite a bit of time when downloading your mail. Instead of having to open or preview each message you can select the ones that you want to read and delete the ones that you can tell just from the title are spam. My advice - proceed with caution!

Spammers are a very resourceful bunch using vague or common titles like "Regarding your email" or "About your account" to get you to read their email. Questionable emails are a judgment call. If you are unsure, download the mail. If in fact it is spam and you have some sort of filtering program set up, you can block that sender or add them to your junk mail senders list. Next time they send you email, this should automatically send them to your junk mail folder or deleted items folder, depending on how you have your mail options set up. It is a good idea to parse your junk mail folder just in case a legitimate email was mistaken as spam. You may be able to add that sender to your safe list. This way future emails from that sender do not get misfiled.

I use Outlook to manage my email. In my not so humble option (IMNSHO - in case you were wondering what that acronym meant above), it is the most complicated mail program ever invented. Extremely feature rich if you can figure how to use all the features. I am still learning.

How to download email headers only, using Outlook:

Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups > All Accounts > Edit > Folder Options > Personal Folders > Inbox > Select Download Headers Only > Hit OK

This handy little feature saves download time as well as disk space. You can mark the items you want to read and delete the junk. Next time you connect to the server, the deleted items will also be deleted from the server, another Outlook option.

You can set your mail preference to delete the mail from the server, unless you need to store a copy on the server to access mail from a laptop or home computer.

How to delete your mail from the server, using Outlook:

Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups > All Accounts > Edit > Account Properties > Advanced > Delivery > UNCHECK BOX Leave a copy of messages on the server > Hit OK

Filters and/or software used to block spam are good devices but, are not perfect and often times a bit over zealous. Some Internet Service Providers and Spam Blocking Software offer their users a "smart feature." A feedback tool designed to educate the software, training it to better recognize spam. Users can mark a message as spam. It is then returned to the server or software program. The message is flagged and analyzed to educate the software to profile similar emails as spam.

The term "spam" when referring to the Internet means unsolicited commercial email -- that means you did not ask for it. If you signed up for a newsletter, a mailing list or joined a group, you gave permission to receive email from that sender.

Spam blocking and filtering programs are good ideas in theory. Giving too many people an easy button to report spam is not good in practice. Companies using the Internet as a communication tool are the ones most at risk. It is often times easier and faster for a recipient to mark something as spam than it is to follow instructions on how to unsubscribe. Lots of email is being labeled as spam, an association most legitimate companies look to avoid.

With all the controversy over spam, it makes me wonder what kind of impact the negative association of spam email has had on SPAMTM the luncheon meat, a product of Hormel Foods. They have a very interesting take on SPAM and the Internet that is worth reading.

Thank you for reading my rantings.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nassau County Restaurant Week, Aug 21-25, 2006

Debbie writes, "I heard that this is restaurant week on Long Island and that there is a list of restaurants honoring the discounts, can you tell me the website?"

Answer: Yes, it is actually Nassau County New York Restaurant Week and you can find the list of participating restaurants at the New York State Restaurant Association's Web Site - Long Island Chapter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Elmo Pitches and Makes Music for Long Island Kids

Elmo to Pitch for the Long Island Ducks Baseball Team

First Elmo makes a pit stop at the Long Island Ducks baseball game...

What: Sesame Street Live brings ‘sunny days’ to Uniondale next month with “Elmo Makes Music” at Nassau Coliseum. While the fun and furry musicians rehearse for their big engagement, Elmo will make an early visit to throw out the first pitch for the Long Island Ducks fans next week.
When: Wednesday, Aug. 30 at 7:00 p.m.

Citibank Park
3 Court House Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722

Then it is on to the Nassu Coliseum to make some music for the kids..

What: Sesame Street Live "Elmo Makes Music"

Thursday Sept. 14, 2006 at 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 15, 2006 at 10:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.
Saturday Sept. 16, 2006 at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Sunday Sept. 17, 2006 at 1 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.

Nassau Coliseum
1255 Hempstead Turnpike
Uniondale, NY 11553

Tickets: $15, $20 and $25. A limited number of $35 floor seats and $50 VIP seats are also available. Opening night, all seats (excluding floor and VIP seats) are $10. County and facility fees of $2.50 will be added to all ticket prices. Additional fees and discounts may apply. For more information, call 516-794-9300, visit the Nassau Coliseum website or

Monday, August 21, 2006

White Shoe Limo Rides

Ask Mr. Long IslandBY MICHAEL WATT

For all intents and purposes this is the last column for the summer of 2006. Oh sure there will be a column next week, but that column will kick off the Labor Day weekend and anyone who has ever put away his white dress shoes for the season knows how depressing that can be.

I actually owned a pair of white dress shoes, back in that wacky decade known as the 1970s. I was all of 13 years old and somehow talked my mother in buying me white shoes, red pants and a red/white plaid sports jacket to create an outfit that Bobby Knight would have laughed at. “You know you won’t get to wear them past Labor Day,” she might have said to me about the white shoes but I was undaunted. I thought I looked pretty spiffy.

I don’t know if she said that or not. I do know that I wanted that pair of shoes because the father of the family next door to us had a pair and at the time I thought he was somebody worth admiring. I have since come to learn that he was a Class A Jerk to his wife and family so now when I see white dress shoes I think of this jerk so I don’t buy them. Plus, and I am not totally sure about this, white dress shoes might not be in style in anymore.

Where was I? Oh yes, the end of summer. Both my sons (Alex, 16 and Max, 12) are heavily involved in travel baseball during the summer. I would venture a guess that between the two boys they played in more than 50 games since Memorial Day, games that included a trip to beautiful downtown Binghamton for the New York State High School Championship finals and another where we spent 11 hours on a field in Ronkonkoma in one day during a tournament. Not complaining, mind you. I know there are hundreds if not thousands of parents in hospital wards who would switch spots with me in a second. But as a result of all this baseball we have to put off our vacation plans to the end of August. In fact we are leaving right after I finish writing this. Just in case you wondering, our vacation is this: we will fly to Seattle to take in a Yankee game there then drive down to San Francisco to take in a Giants game, adding two more stadia to our growing list of baseball parks across the country that we have visited. That’s right, more baseball. We have gone certifiably insane.

The weird part about waiting to take a vacation is having to watch and listen as others go off on theirs. It’s like being the last person left in the college dorm at the end of a semester because of some stupid final or something. As everybody else leaves for their break they feel compelled to wish you “good luck” on their way out the door, and all that does is make you feel even more lonely and forlorn.

But now it is our turn. We go away today to see a part of the country I have never visited before. Woo hoo! I wonder if they wear white shoes on the West Coast.

A word or two about my summer, if I may. It was fun. It had its ups and downs but the Little League team I coach and on which my younger son played went to the finals in the local Williamsport tournament. After that we played in what is known as the District 34 tournament involving 17 other teams in our age bracket. We won the Gold Round of that tournament, first time ever. In doing so we beat the team that we affectionately refer to as “The Evil Empire” because it has prevented us from winning it all in the past several times. That made the victory all the more sweet. Sometimes the good guys do win. We also had an occasion to ride in a limousine bus to one of our games.

You may have seen the photo and story in Newsday. The team was getting ready for a game when my son Max spotted a Hummer limousine across the street from the field. “Hey dad, do you think the driver would let me take a ride in that limo?” he asked.

Not thinking this one through I replied, “You pitch a no-hitter today and I’ll get you your own limo ride.” Well, Max not only pitched a no-hitter, he pitched a perfect game. Eighteen up and 18 down against one of the better teams in the tournament. As he came off the mound amidst the celebration afterward he turned to me and said, “Now, about that limo ride.”

My friend Matt Silver (see and yes, that’s a shameless plug) set it up so that the boys could travel in style to their next game. You have not experienced actual kinetic energy until you’ve gone for a 10-mile ride with 13 11-year-old boys in a limo bus. How much fun was it?

Let’s put it this way: After we won the Championship we were posing for pictures with our trophies at home plate. Max said to his teammates, “Guys, you are going to remember this moment for the rest of your lives.”

To which one of his teammates replied, “No, I am going to remember that limo ride for the rest of my life.”

It was that kind of summer.

Thank you for reading this column.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Long Island Beaches

Long Island Photos by Alida Thorpe
The weather on Long Island has been beautiful this past week.
Sunshine and less humid, the beaches have a cool breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean.
There are many beaches open to the public as well as community pools and town beaches for residents.
There are New York State beaches and the National Seashore as well.
And, go to the beach!
Don't forget sun-screen and a towel. You will want to go into the water!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Long Island Homeowners Insurance Mess Continues

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

It's been a couple of weeks since I actually have had the time to post here on the blog. Our office has been swamped with calls and visits. The chief reason this time is that another homeowners insurance carrier has pulled out of Long Island.

This time it's a carrier who specialized in waterfront property, and rather than make a decision to gradually lower their concentration of customers on Long Island for home insurance, as Allstate did, this company was put into receivership by the Texas Department of Insurance and was required to cancel ALL their policies in New York as of August 24, 2006.

The company, Vesta Insurance otherwise known as Shelby Casualty was a relative newcomer, having only entered the home insurance market in the past few years. But almost all their policies were for homes right on the water, and so between that and the fact that they all are running out the same day, it's been hectic for all agents trying to find other carriers. About 8600 homeowners insurance policies were affected.

On the plus side, recent analysis of weather patterns now suggests that we may NOT be in for a more active storm year than usual, and that the chances of a Katrina-sized storm hitting us this year may actually be lower than normal. This is good news, but it still does not mean that there is NO chance, and it looks like when (not if) such a storm does hit, the dislocation in the Long Island insurance market is going to be tremendous.

Meanwhile there was a good opinion piece in this past Sunday's Newsday considering whether hurricane/windstorm needs to be put in the same category as flood insurance, unemployment, and several other key types of insurance that are considered potentially so large that only the government has the resources to assume the risk, based on their taxing power.

This article is fine as far as it goes, though it does not get into the fact that building codes also need to be changed, people need to take proactive steps to protect their property, and a number of other issues need to be addressed. This problem is not going to go away, and it's not going to be solved simply by insurance or government support of insurance carriers.

As always, for more information on flood insurance and homeowners insurance on Long Island, visit our sites at and

Saturday, August 12, 2006

'Drive,' he said. 'Ohmigod Watch OUT!' he screamed soon after

Ask Mr. Long IslandBY MICHAEL WATT

New York State has decreed that it is legal and lawful and presumably a good idea for my newly minted 16 year-old son Alexander to operate an automobile, as long as he is in the company of a licensed driver over the age of 21.

What does the state of New York know? Was anyone from New York State with me when Alex and I went to a nearby parking lot to learn how to ride a two-wheeler? Did anyone from New York State notice that he had trouble negotiating the turn in the parking lot, to the point where Alex hit the pavement more often than a guy who comes up short paying off his bookie? Does anyone from New York State care to explain to me how I am going to deal with this, both emotionally and financially?

Of course not. They just gave him a test that somebody who has to have the jokes on Blue Collar Comedy TV explained to him could pass and voila! Learner’s permit issued and new driver on the road.

I am somewhat bemused by the law that says he can drive with anyone over 21 who has a driver’s license. Why not just tell it like it is and say he can only drive with a parent? Who else but a parent would get into a vehicle being driven by somebody born in the 1990s?

I guess somebody who gives driving lessons for a living would do so. I would love to know the thought process behind that career move. “H’mmmm, I need to make some extra money. What are my options? Let’s see…I can drive the street-cleaning machine in downtown Beirut (no, I hate getting up early)…sell sensitivity training session to members of the Ann Coulter fan club (not rewarding enough emotionally)…no, I think I will become a driving instructor.

My driving instructor, a crusty sort named Mr. Pappas, loved to slam on the brakes when he thought the three students in the back seat were not paying attention to the goings on in the front. Despite that he was a good teacher. Ironically, the one thing that stuck with me he predicted would stick with me. He told us it was important to take our keys out of our pockets BEFORE we get into the car because it was easier than fumbling around while sitting in the driver’s seat. He was right, of course, and I think of him almost every time I do it.

I may even share that little nugget with Alex, once I get over the shock of having to deal with this.

Being the perfect son that I was, I spared my parents the trials and tribulations of giving me driving instructions. I got all the practice I needed on the vans rented by the catering firm I worked for as a teenager. I started out just driving around the parking lot and eventually took my show on the road. It must have worked. Soon after I got my license I was sent to pick up a van at the rental place but all they had was a box truck with a stick shift.

“Do you know how to drive a stick?” the guy behind the counter asked.

“Not really,” I replied, meaning no.

“Well, you’re gonna learn.”

And so I did. The guy handed me the keys to the truck and said, “good luck.” I drove that truck the ten-or-so miles from Bellmore to Massapequa on Sunrise Highway, grinding away like Tina Turner trying to win a “Dance Like James Brown” contest. I made a mental note that afternoon never to purchase a truck from a rental company no matter how good a deal they offer.

There will no dodging of the parental driving bullet for me, however. This weekend I will dutifully climb into the passenger side of the car (the engine of which I have just replaced) and start the process. I will do my best not to put a hole in the floor trying to hit the imaginary brake that will serve as the only thing between me and the same untimely demise I imagine becoming of me every time I fly and we hit turbulence. I will endeavor to say all the right things and exude Ward Cleaver-like patience when in reality I want to scream “For the Love of God, Man, don’t you see that other car coming?”

I am sure it will go well. Alex is a mature young man who, while still prone to goofy outbursts, understands that adult pleasures bring adult responsibilities. My trouble adjusting to this new development in my parental career really stems back from the day I saw one of my older brother’s friends driving for the first time. “I can’t believe I’m old enough to be friends with somebody who has a driver’s license.” Now I can’t believe I’m old enough to be responsible for somebody with a driver’s license.

At least that’s what New York State tells me. LIke I said, what do they know?

Thank you for reading this column.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hamptons Hip Hop Festival, Saturday, August 19, 2006!

Wow, the Summer is getting even hotter and I am not just talking about the heat. The first annual Hamptons HipHop Festival is coming to town! Yes, right here in Westhampton Beach @ Caseys , 225 Montauk Hwy.

This is going to be sick! and I mean sick like off the chain, fun, music, dancing, breakdancing. Hey! they are bringing Old Skool HipHop back to town with
Host: Fab 5 Freddy

Live Performance: (Nice "N" Smooth)

DJ's: Rob Swift (Formerly of the X-ecutioners)
Large Professor (Main Source)
DJ Myles, B-Rad, Chino (Triple Crown)
Dj Pookie and Big Bone (Napper Tandy's)

and we are definitely on board!!!!!

There is so much more! as a promoter and co-sponsor of this event will be in the house with Traci Islands, Ken Davis and the Crew. If all goes well (guys read this carefully, lol :)~~~ music artists Solomon and Crew , Black Attack and Crew will also be in the house to celebrate this grand occasion and event

Now come on down to Caseys, Saturday August 19th Doors open at 9pm and the party is jumping until 4am! Join in on the fun and celebration of what is to be an annual sensation! All you have to do is RSVP to get on the list! Email:
Please include your full name plus the number of guests.

People you don't want to miss this! Lets Do the almost ended Summer Season Right and party our booty's off!

-Traci Islands

Friday, August 04, 2006

Long Island New York Pizza Contest Gets Hi-Jacked

Long Island New York Pizza Competition 2006 is presented by 101.1 Jack FM Radio Station Long Island, New York (August, 2006) - The 4th Annual Long Island Pizza Competition is a charity event put together by ( to support local pizzerias and to help raise funds to feed the hungry on Long Island, New York.

This years' competition has been hi-jacked by 101.1 Jack FM ( Jack FM 101.1, a New York based radio station owned by CBS Radio has officially come aboard as the presenting sponsor of the local Long Island NY contest.

101.1 Jack FM - playing what we want!101.1 Jack FM presents the Best Pizza on Long Island Competition 2006, which includes the Contest, Festival and Bake-Off. The annual contest runs through the summer months. The Bake-off and final judging takes place at the Long Island Pizza Festival held during National Pizza Month in October.

The Long Island Pizza Festival presented by 101.1 Jack FM takes place rain or shine on Saturday, October 7, 2006 at Adventureland Amusement Park on Route 110 in Farmingdale NY from 12-6pm.

Pizzerias from Valley Stream to Montauk New York compete to be named "Best of Long Island." Votes are collected on the Web site ( Voting is free and open to the public. Pizzerias are encouraged to promote the contest to their customers to vote for them. The pizzerias who collect the most votes on the Web site are invited down as finalists to the Pizza Festival and Bake-off where they bake pizza on premises. The pizza is then taste tested by a panel of Celebrity Judges who rate the pizza to determine the winners. Winning pizzerias receive prizes, trophies and awards as well as the honor of being named "Best Pizza on Long Island."

In addition to the final judging, the Long Island Pizza Festival is a family oriented fun-filled day. The Pizza Festival is free for the public to attend. Pizza related activities include pizza sampling throughout the day, pie toss demonstrations, a pizza eating contest, mini pie making for the kids and photo opportunities with Pizza Pup, the Long Island Pizza Festival mascot. Pay-one-price (POP) bracelets to go on the rides are additonal. Discount coupons for sample slices of pizza are available for a nominal fee. A portion of the proceeds raised go to Long Island Cares and Island Harvest, non-profit groups dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long Island.

Joe Carlucci, a team member of the World Champion Pizza Acrobats is participating as a celebrity judge. In between taste tests he will perform an acrobat dough toss set to the background of Italian music. The American "Cutie Pie" Kids' talent show is a NEW feature added this year, with children ages 4-9 years old entertaining the crowds by singing and dancing.

"We are very excited to have 101.1 Jack FM as our title sponsor," says Suzi Batta, Chief Operating Officer of, "Jack FM will promote the event to radio listeners and help us to create an even greater buzz about the pizza competition." Mrs. Batta adds, "Prior to the Pizza Festival the Jack FM street team will be going on location to visit local pizzerias participating in our contest."

As the presenting sponsor of the Best Pizza on Long Island Competition, 101.1 Jack FM will be on hand at the Pizza Festival setting up a "Tiki Hut" offering prizes, t-shirts, CD promotions and giveaways. Co-sponsored vendor exhibits with special incentives for event attendees and a charity raffle will compliment the pizza related activites planned for the day.

The Best Pizza on Long Island Competition 2006 is proud to welcome 101.1 Jack FM as the presenting sponsor. Optimum recently joined the ranks as a participating sponsor. Cremosa Food Distributors, Marsal and Sons Pizza Ovens, The World Champions Pizza Acrobats, Party Pizzazz, The Printing Experience, BBA Photography, Adventureland Amusement Park, Pizza Pup and all play a contributing role in making this event a success each year.

The event benefits Island Harvest and Long Island Cares, non-profit organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long Island New York. You can make a donation to support their efforts, information is available online. Canned and/or non-perishable food items will be collected on the day of the Long Island Pizza Festival and may be redeemed for one free sample slice of pizza.

Full details and event information is available on the website at

For more media inquiries and/or more information, please contact Ruthie Bergmann, Party Pizzazz event planner at 631-423-3445.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Scary Stuff

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Well, back to our ongoing discussion about the Long Island and New York homeowners and flood insurance situation, and hurricanes in general. CBS News has an article today in their online version that has some scary information. Check it out here. I didn't realize that because of various geographic and weather issues, it would not take a category 4 or 5 storm, only a category 3 to really do some major damage to our area.

I live 2 blocks south of Sunrise Highway, and I bought flood insurance a couple of weeks ago. Coverage in those areas that are not considered high hazard is reasonably priced ($352 for the FEMA maximum of $250,000 on the structure and $100,000 on contents) and it's worth it for the peace of mind.

The one thing this article really points out is that the insurance companies, municipalities, and residents are basically in denial and are using the 'keep your fingers crossed' method of preparing for the inevitable. It might not happen this year, or next, but at some point it will.

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Topic - Vacation Car Rentals

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

This week we will take another break from talking about the Long Island homeowners and flood insurance situation and talking a little about a question we still get a lot at our office. That would be the one about what insurance you have to buy from the rental company when you go on vacation and rent a car.

A number of years ago, in response to car rental companies trying to add $10-20 per day onto the cost of a rental vehicle through things like 'collision damage waiver', the State of New York came up with mandatory coverage to be included on every New York car insurance policy so that NY residents would not have to pay the extra charges.

So now, every New York auto insurance policy contains a 'rental vehicle coverage endorsement' providing coverage for actual damage to or loss of a rental vehicle. The coverage extents to rental of a passenger car, station wagon, van, or pickup, anywhere in the U.S., its territories or possessions, and Canada. So right away, note that coverage does NOT apply to a truck larger than a regular van or pickup, such as the type you might rent from U-Haul to move your stuff, for example. And coverage does NOT apply to rentals in Europe or anywhere outside the U.S. and Canada.

Note that the coverage specifically DOES apply to 'loss of use' of the rental vehicle. That means that if you have an accident, and the rental company loses 3 weeks worth of rental income while the car is repaired, that loss is also covered. That's because once the rental companies lost the extra daily rental charge, they tried to come up with other things to add on that were not covered under the NY auto policy. So the state included additional coverage.

Please note that you must read your own policy and/or talk to your insurance agent to make sure your policy has the exact same wording, but basically on something like this where it's required by the State, the wording has to match the State standards and so should be standard. So when you rent a car on vacation, and comply with the restrictions set out in your policy, the bottom line is that you do NOT have to buy any extra insurance for the damage to the rental car.

For more info on this or any of your other insurance questions, please feel free to contact us through our web site at

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Summer Sunset Over the Great South Bay

Summer evening, hot weather and a beautiful sunset on the Great South Bay...
...birds flying low above the water...
This is just one view of Long Island.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Are the Blue Jays becoming extinct on Long Island NY?

Click for more information about Blue Jay species of birdsMrs. Kane writes,
"Since last winter I noticed that the Blue Jays (birds) are gone from my backyard. I use to see quite a few eating in the bird feeder in my yard, but I am very concern that I haven't seen any this summer. To make matters worse, my friend that lives in Rocky Point was visiting last week and he also asked me if I have notice that the Blue Jays are gone. I live in Huntington Station. Please let me know what's going on or if you know who can I contact about this."

Thank you very much,
A very concern citizen

Try contacting the folks at these Audubon Societies,
they may be able to shed some light on the situation...

If you have seen a Blue Jay lately or have also noticed a decrease in the population of birds in your neighborhood, please post your comments below and include your name and town.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Passing The Internet Buck One Click At A Time


When the Internet first started it was an awesome new medium. An open invitation for the budding entrepreneur with a keen eye, looking to find his or her niche in undeveloped territory with virtually unlimited potential.

One of the first groups of newcomers to settle into cyberspace were the ones with nothing to lose, everything to gain and almost no government intervention. The porn industry found it's new home on the Internet.

An entirely new industry segment developed from this group. Their objective was to drive people to these sites by sending emails to get people to click. This group became quite proficient giving the brand name "spam" a whole new connotation. Quite a few people shyed away from the Internet because of this bad rap.

Perserverance won the race and the mainstream finally adopted the Internet as the new marketing media. The Internet boom came fast and furiously aided by the most popular marketing tactic ever created, the word FREE. No cost, no obligation, here you go try it for free...

Pardon the use of a cliched expression, but nothing in life is free. Somewhere down the road there is a price tag attached to the word free. You pay the price sooner or later. An advertiser may be reminding you to buy a product or service now or in the future, or a website owner is making a few cents every time you click. Never the less, the buck is being passed from one IP address to the next. The Internet has become one big giant cash register every time someone clicks.

The pay-per-click technology when first introduced took a while to be adopted, especially with the "free" mindset. Free is a great attraction, but you still have to pay the programmer.

Diminishing click through rates on banner ads and the dot com bust forced the major search engines to look for new sources of generating revenue. They started taking a closer look at the concept of this new idea to get advertisers to pay when someone clicks. was one of the originators of the pay-per-click technology. They started doing well, making money and getting lots of attention. There was some branding controversy with Disney's "" and the name changed shortly afterwards to May be the owner was a musician or something, but I still don't get the connection.

Anyhoo, Yahoo swallowed Overture up a few years ago. By that time Google caught on to the the pay-per-click revenue model and built it's own version known as Adwords. MSN was incorporating sponsored listings into their search results, and recently introduced their own sponsored search program based on the pay-for-click bidding system.

Ok, so the cash register "cha-chings" a few million more times as I write this article. The good news is lots of money is flowing back and forth on the Internet creating some plush greenery. The bad news is the quality of content and the future of search engine relevancy is at stake.

Now that the value of a click is worth something there is a new breed of sites developing that are not worthy of the click. Basically these are sites with little to no value. Smaller search engines and directories that display sponsored search results disguised as real links. The objective is to get you to click. This costs the advertisers money everytime you do so. They also make sure their sites come up high in the search engine rankings, so you think you are actually getting useful results. Three or four clicks later you might land on a website that provides useful information for the subject of your query.

I don't think they have coined an exact phrase for this new crop of budding entrepreneurs, but for arguments sake I will refer to them as the "crabgrass." The crabgrass seems to be growing as fast as the greenery. The search engines may eventually figure out a way to get rid of the weeds, or the end user will have to learn to live with the crabgrass and pay for it too.

Thank you for reading my rantings.