Friday, June 29, 2007

Long Island Rail Road

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) which is a state agency. The MTA provides a resource of information on their website, but it is not always easy to find information quickly, especially when there are unexpected train delays. provides Long Island Rail Road information and news as a courtesy to our site visitors. LIRR news is updated on a continuous basis through feeds from a variety of news and media outlets. Although we are not directly affiliated with the Long Island railroad we have received quite a few emails from people frustrated by the system. Basic information with quick links to the MTA and LIRR schedules is provided below.

  MTA Web Site

  LIRR Train Schedules and Information

  MTA Feedback form for Questions/Comments

24 Hour Travel Information
  Nassau 516-822-5477
  Suffolk 631-231-5477
  New York City 718-217-5477
  In case of emergency call the MTA Police directly at 888-MTA911PD

The mailing address of the MTA:
  Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  347 Madison Ave
  New York, NY 10017
  212-878-1063 is website with information on how to send comments, suggestions or complaints....

Management and Government contacts:
Peter S. Kalikow - Chairman, MTA
347 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-878-7200
Fax: 212-878-7031

Howard Roberts, President
MTA New York City Transit
2 Broadway
New York, NY 10004
Phone: 646-252-5800
Fax: 646-252-5815

Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Phone: 311
Fax: 212-788-2460

Eliot Spitzer
Governor, State of New York
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Phone: 518-474-8390

You are welcome to post your comments.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Have you been to Watch Hill?

Photo by Alida Thorpe
The photo above was taken at Watch Hill on Fire Island.
Have you been there lately"
There is so much to do and see that you must check it out for yourself.
(Click on the photo to see the larger version.)
You can take the ferry from Patchogue. The ocean beach has life guards.
There are nature trails, a marina and an information center.
The restaurant and snack bar are now open after having been closed for the last few years.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Don’t Stop Bellyaching

Ask Mr. Long IslandBy Michael Watt

Okay, so Tony Soprano didn’t die. Or maybe he did. We’ll never know, at least until the movie comes out. The movie? Oh yeah, there will be a movie. “Sopranos” creator David Chase can deny it all he wants but just as you can be sure a Lohan Family reunion will require at least one restraining order, you can be sure “The Sopranos” will make it to the silver screen.

I did not have a big problem with how “The Sopranos” ended Sunday. Remember “Lady, or the Tiger”? That short story, which many of us had to read in grammar school, leaves the reader hanging, wondering whether the princess in the story points her would-be lover toward the door hiding a tiger or the door hiding a beautiful woman. The way I see it Chase did the same thing with “The Sopranos” ending, and he did for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, Chase wanted to make fun of us for paying so much attention to such silliness. They’re fictional characters, for gosh sakes. Murderers. Liars. Cheaters. The kind of people who – when they’re late returning books to the library - use the drop off bin to avoid paying the late fee. I’ll bet you Tony - and AJ, too, for that matter – doesn’t ever put the cap back on the toothpaste. Chase’s message was, “You people should have a lot more important things to worry about than whether Tony’s going to flip or die.”

I also think Chase was in a Malthusian no-win situation. There was no way to close the series that would please everyone. He’s not the first creative force to face this dilemma, either. Some of the great television series of our time ran into the same problem. Very few people, for instance, were happy with how “Seinfeld” ended. The final episode of “M*A*S*H” was a disaster that seemed to last longer than the Korean War; and the final “Friends” was sappier than a stack of pancakes slathered in Aunt Jemima syrup and left out in the hot sun.

I have documented in this space the genius featured in the ending of the second “Bob Newhart” show: Bob waking up in bed with his wife from the first “Bob Newhart” show, freaked out by a “dream” he had about owning an inn in Vermont. But in my book the best “last episode” was the ending of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Everybody but Ted Baxter the buffoon anchorman (redundant?) gets fired and they all have to leave the newsroom. Nobody wants to, of course, so while still in the midst of one last group hug they shuffle out en masse, while singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary.” I laughed. I cried. So do the rest of America.

No, I did not have a problem with how "The Sopranos" ended. I did have a problem, however, with Mr. Chase’s use of the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Like a lot of people as I watched “The Sopranos” over the years I became more and more enthralled with the show. The word “genius” gets tossed around too much these days but Chase certainly had a genius for drawing the viewer into the program, so much so that almost every time the show ended I would be caught by surprise when the credits started to roll, forgetting that I was watching a television program as I became totally absorbed in the drama and action.

As a result, after a while I began to think that this Chase fellow might be smarter than your average bear. Then he picks a Journey song. Journey! A mediocre band from a mediocre musical era. Just look at sample verse:

Some will win,
some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

Now, the hours spent learning literature from Len Gougeon at the University of Scranton may not have resulted in my becoming an imagery expert, but for my money there are not a whole of lot creative juices at work here. Couldn’t Chase have gone with something from Tom Waits or even that noted Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen?

More aggravating than anything, however, is that I have had that stupid song stuck in my head all week.

Whatever. Now it’s so long “Sopranos.” I’ve already canceled my subscription to HBO (who needs to pay a channel that runs “Momma’s House 2” six times a week.) I’ve also sworn off getting roped into watching another serial show. I hope to use the extra hour a week to finish the book I am working on, which no doubt will one day be made into a movie. I have to believe that to make it happen, but you can be sure the theme song won’t be “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Thank you for reading this column.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Coastal Homeowners Insurance - Has it stopped getting worse?

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Apologies for not writing in a while. I'm not unhappy to say that it's because our office has been very busy. We're having other adventures as well, having just installed a new 'paperless office' software and hardware system. There is still paper on everybody's desk, but the piles are slowly going down and will not return.

In any event, there is news, and some rumors, to report. In the very short term, like right now, insurance companies are still tightening up and cancelling or non-renewing homeowners insurance for many people on Long Island and other coastal areas. In the past two weeks, two fairly large players shut off new business in Suffolk County and most of Nassau. This is a matter of how much capacity they have overall, not a fear of any one house getting damaged. Another major carrier, one of the biggest in the country, in fact, stopped writing within a half mile of the shore and rumor has it they may start canceling those within 1000 feet of tidal water.

Insurance companies can buy reinsurance to protect themselves from major catastrophes. But how much they can buy is limited to some extent by their overall size and capital reserves (that's grossly oversimplified but the longer explanation is so boring that it hurts). And the insurance regulators as well as the financial companies that give insurance carriers their precious A and A+ ratings are threatening to lower them if they don't reduce their waterfront and coastal insurance exposure.

Add in to those issues that there are a number of large carriers that have come in to the market just writing car insurance, taking no part of the risk in the homeowners insurance department, and most especially not the coastal properties. That has also reduced the capital and reserves of the remaining companies that write both auto and home insurance. That's why one of the big criteria that a certain company is using to decide who to cancel is whether they have their car insurance with them or somewhere else. They are giving preference to customers who also insure their cars along with the home, and why not? Most businesses are expected to give some discount or other incentive to those who buy more from them.

But there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in a long time I heard at a meeting the other day some news of early discussions with insurance carriers who are not in the Long Island homeowners insurance market at all. That's what we need, some companies who can balance their exposure in other parts of the country against some new business in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This will still take probably the rest of this year to show any real progress, but at least it's a rumor in the right direction.