Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
By Jason Reis
Most school age children in today’s society have full access to the internet. While it is true that the internet possesses an infinite amount of information which can help with schoolwork, it also opens up a whole new social world and brings together people from all over the world that may be preying on children.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 5 children state they have received unwanted sexual advances while online.
And, a 2006 study by the Zandi Group of teenage students reported the following disturbing statistics:
54% of students surveyed said they frequently have private conversations with online strangers
42% of teens said they have posted personal information online
30% of teens reported that they have talked with a cyber stranger about
meeting in person
16% of pre-teens and teens discovered that someone online was an adult
pretending to be much younger.
In the same study;
33% of pre-teens and teens say that their parents know little or nothing about what they do online,
22% say their parents have never discussed Internet safety with them
42% of parents don't monitor what their children read or type in chat rooms.
95% of parents have stated they don't understand the shorthand lingo kids' use in chatrooms such as "A/S/L" which means age/sex/location, or "P911" which means parent over shoulder.
Parents need to know what their children are doing on the internet at all times. The internet is a world that is the total opposite of the offline “real world.” For instance, we teach our children never to talk to strangers or give out personal information. We even define a stranger as anyone the child has not met and does not know. Yet in cyberspace, with the popularity of sites like Facebook or MySpace, kids are talking to strangers and even exchanging personal information on a daily basis.
Even internet games have become a source for predators to contact children, as well as a place where children get harassed and bullied. X-Box, PlayStation and even many computer games now include features that allow children to talk to each other real time (using a microphone).
Many parents are still intimidated by computers because they simply don't understand them, yet kids seem to grasp technology much faster. However parents need to educate themselves and learn the lingo. It's only after they learn the language and put aside their technology fears that they can truly understand the threat and protect their child from it.
Here are important tips to keep your children safe online:
1. Create your own home computer rules that each child should read, understand and sign. Keep a copy posted near the computer.
2. Keep the home computer in a common space that can easily be seen by parent(s) as they do house choirs, not in a child’s room.
3. Look into purchasing filtering programs such as “spyware”, “adware” and anti-virus, and parental block software to safeguard web surfing.
4. If your child uses chat or e-mail, talk to them about never meeting in- person with anyone they first "met" online.
5. Talk to your child about who they are emailing and chatting with online.
6. Visit the websites your child visits on a regular basis. If your child has a MySpace or Facebook account, log in and become familiar with the site and review what your child has posted.
7. Type your child's full name, username and any alias you know your child uses into a search engine. Children often post on message boards and social networking sites. This is a good way to discover what your child is posting online.
8. Monitor where your child goes online. For example, all computers have a history folder and temp files folder which enable you to see what websites have been visited, as well as any files that have been downloaded.
9. Teach your child the golden rule of cyberspace: Never do anything online that they would not do offline.
10. Get involved with your child and stay in the loop of what he/she is doing online, while still allowing some level of personal space.
Jason Reis is the owner of Session Media, a website development and branding solutions firm based out of Selden, NY. Session Media strives to provide the service and solutions that satisfy their existing customer needs—as well as to meet the needs of new customers. With access to some of the best resources for product development and branding services, Jason welcomes the opportunity to provide advice and solutions on a myriad of IT topics, including safety and security. For information, check out his website at www.sessionmedia.net and drop him an email.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Greetings, all. Like most small businesspeople these days I have been very busy trying to make sure I do those things necessary to keep our office busy and profitable in tough economic times. So I thought this would be a good time to talk about how the financial crisis is affecting the insurance companies.
We have all been reading about the failure of many Wall Street firms and banks. Some even have divisions in the insurance business such as AIG whose a widely publicized problems have many people worried because of their insurance policies with various parts of that group. However while banks and brokerage firms were de-regulated a number of years ago which is part of the reason for the current mess, the same is not true of the insurance business.
Insurance is one of the most heavily regulated businesses and New York in particular is considered the model for other states and around the world in keeping New York insurance companies solvent and able to pay their claims. Even in AIG, it is the parent holding company not the insurance units that are having problems.
As long as you were insured with a New York licensed insurance company you would have nothing to worry about in terms of whether claim would be paid up to $1 million, which is a guarantee that is part of the New York State insurance guaranty fund. And if you are one of those people on Long Island who have coastal or waterfront property and have been forced to get your insurance with an unlicensed carrier such as Lloyds of London or any number of other carriers out there, you are probably even safer because these companies have been managed for the long-term as opposed to the short-term money making goals of some of the big American financial companies which is what caused them to get in trouble.
One of my biggest fears about the insurance industry is that up until recently, there was a lot of talk about deregulation for insurance. What we have seen in this financial crisis is that deregulation leads to sacrifice of long-term viability in favor of short-term profits. That might be fine if you are talking about selling TV sets, but insurance simply must be based on a longer-term perspective including reserves for catastrophes that might only happen every 50 years. If we allowed the same sort of short-term thinking that led the large brokerage houses to package up toxic loans and sell them to people and then run with their commissions, we could easily cause a similar disaster in the insurance business by allowing people to suck out this money instead of putting part of it away for long term catastrophe management.
What we are seeing is a huge drop in value of all stocks in the financial sector based on the problems of the banks and brokerage houses. There really is not much reason for this in the insurance industry but there are probably some great bargains to be had on their stocks right now because they have been trampled with the rest of the sector.
But for the average person just wondering if they would get paid if they needed to put in a claim on their flood insurance or homeowners insurance (or car insurance for that matter) then the answer is that in general there should be nothing to worry about and the vast majority of insurance companies have plenty of money to pay claims. What we will most likely see is some consolidation of companies who do have very strong balance sheets who will be out there looking for other companies they can buy at bargain prices.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Do you love nature photography? Well, if you do, don’t miss this show!
The NWPLI (Nature and Wildlife Photographers of Long Island) will have its third annual Autumn Exhibition beginning October 18th through November 22, 2008.
It is being held at the Castello di Borghese Winery in Cutchogue.
The exhibit will showcase the group’s best work in nature, wildlife and landscape photography.
NWPLI has been awarded numerous honors for its work, most recently winning the Nature’s Best Photography International Awards (Camera Club Category) sponsored by Nature’s Best Photography Magazine.
Visit the group's website: http://www.nwpli.com
The photography on display will include natural subjects that have been captured with digital and film cameras. Photos are from Long Island's own natural surroundings.
Some selected images will also be available for purchase.
The Show will run from Saturday, October 18 - November 22, 2008
The reception, with refreshments, will be Saturday, October 25 from 1-5 pm
For directions to Castello di Borghese…Click Here!
For additional information, contact Lou Buonomo at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you have the opportunity to stop by the exhibit on your yearly autumn visit to the wineries and to the pumpkin farms!
It’s nature photography at its best!
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
FEMA, the government agency that oversees the National Flood Insurance Program, has been in the process of re-mapping Nassau and Suffolk counties, which is done about every 10 years. This is the first one for our area since Katrina so expect some changes.
The new maps take effect next summer. But in the meantime FEMA is hosting two meetings in Nassau County for anyone who might be interested in more information. The meetings will run from 4 to 8 p.m. and will be on September 9 at Valley Stream High School on Fletcher Blvd and September 10 at Long Beach Middle School on Lido Blvd.
According to the Newsday article, 28,000 more buildings will be brought into flood hazard areas next year when the new maps take effect, and of those, the people who have mortgages insured by FNMA and other government backed plans will get a letter advising that they are now required to buy flood insurance where they did not have to before.
In the meantime, people have an opportunity to be 'grandfathered' into the maps and plans that are in effect now. If you buy flood insurance before the change next summer, and your flood zone changes under the new maps to a higher rate, you will still be able to keep the previous zone. So if you think you might be on the border of a flood zone, and may be in a higher rate class next year, you might think of buying coverage now to lock in your current zone.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
It seems a little strange to be blogging about hurricane and flood catastrophes as I sit in my office and look out on to one of the most beautiful days we have had. Still, the 2008 hurricane season is underway, with Bertha chugging around the Atlantic as a reminder. Of course once again you can find experts who are saying that this season will be more active than normal, but those same experts have been saying that for several years and so far they have been wrong. I only wish I had a job like the weatherman, where I could be wrong half the time and still get paid.
There has been one interesting development recently that could make it easier to get homeowners or similar insurance down near the water. The New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association has been permanently authorized by the state legislature. This may not seem like much to the average person, but for years now, this New York State-backed insurer of last resort has had to be re-authorized every year, and has been held hostage by various groups within the legislature. They would only authorize the renewal if downstate legislators, who had to make sure this coverage was available to their constituents, would in turn vote for other things that they did not necessarily want. Ain't politics wonderful?
In any event, they have now been made permanent. In addition, they have been authorized to offer broader coverages, and incentives to partner with regular insurance companies who would then be able to write supplemental coverage known as 'wraparound' so that the two policies together will provide something closer to a homeowners policy. Naturally it will take some time to put this in place, but kudos to the state legislature for getting this done.
Meanwhile, on the flood insurance side, the re-mapping of Nassau and Suffolk Counties continues. Newsday had a big article this week on the changes that are being revealed now in Nassau. A lot of folks who were previously right on the edge of a 'special flood hazard area' as defined by FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program may now find themselves drawn into the hazard area by the new maps, which use more accurate mapping techniques as well as information drawn from the government's experiences with Katrina and other flooding situations.
If you think you are close to a flood hazard area but not in one, you might want to think about buying flood insurance soon. If you are outside the zone, in what's called a 'preferred zone' and buy coverage at those low rates, then it changes, you are grandfathered in to the low rates for as long as you keep your home. The difference can be thousands of dollars. And if it turns out that you were NOT one of those now lumped in to the higher hazard area, you can always stop carrying the flood coverage in a year or two when we know more about the new maps.
As always, for more information you can contact us through our web site at www.NYInsuranceWithSerivice.com.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The following programs are being presented by The Parent Resource Center (PRC) of Port Washington on Tuesday nights and are geared toward kids and families. All proceeds generated by PRC hosted events are used to support the Parent Resource Center and its programs.
The Parent Resource Center is a non-profit cooperative dedicated to providing affordable, quality educational and social opportunities to all of our community’s families. Operating in an economically and culturally diverse area, PRC members celebrate their differences through the open exchange of ideas and experiences. At the same time, families come together at the PRC to share the joys and challenges of raising young children while their children play, experiment, and learn in a safe and nurturing environment.
The Parent Resource Center
232 Main Street, Suite 4
Port Washington, NY 11050
Port Washington Parent Resource Center
Sundown Series: Port Washington Police and Fire Department/BBQ
Tuesday evening July 8, 2008 6:00-7:30pm
Meet our local firefighters and police officers. Climb aboard a real Fire Truck! Learn all about fire safety and wear a fire helmet. Bring a blanket and join us outside on the lawn at Landmark Park (across from the library). A BBQ dinner and other tasty treats will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person. Children under 1 year are free. No reservations or advanced ticket sales necessary. Please call the PRC office at 516-767-3808 for details.
Port Washington Parent Resource Center
Sundown Series: Jeff Sorg and his Songs Say So Much Band with tips for “living green”
Tuesday evening July 15, 2008 6:00-7:30pm
Dance and sing along with the music of this popular recording artist and Port resident. And pick up some tips for “living green”. Bring a blanket and join us outside on the lawn at Landmark Park (across from the library). Pizza, beverages, and other tasty treats will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person. Children under 1 year are free. No reservations or advanced ticket sales necessary. Please call the PRC office at 516-767-3808 for details.
Port Washington Parent Resource Center
Sundown Series: Miss Holli and Tommy with a Luau theme
Tuesday evening July 22, 2008 6:00-7:30pm
Kick up your heels and enjoy this fabulous duo’s fun interpretations of children’s classics! Our Luau theme will create a more festive evening so don’t forget to try some Hula-dancing lessons and the Limbo. Bring a blanket and your best dance moves to the Landmark Park (across from the library) for plenty of warm weather and musical fun! Pizza, beverages, and other tasty treats will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person. Children under 1 year are free. No reservations or advanced ticket sales necessary. Please call the PRC office at 516-767-3808 for details.
Port Washington Parent Resource Center
Sundown Series: Laugh and Sing with Bruce
Tuesday evening July 29, 2008 6:00-7:30pm
Sing along to original music and old time favorites with Bruce Katz of Little People Entertainment. This fun interactive show will let your children participate with props and musical instruments. So gather the kids, bring a blanket and join us outside on the lawn at Landmark Park (across from the library). Pizza, beverages, and other tasty treats will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person. Children under 1 year are free. No reservations or advanced ticket sales necessary. Please call the PRC office at 516-767-3808 for details.
Port Washington Parent Resource Center
Sundown Series: Lynda Quinn – DJ extraordinaire
Tuesday evening August 5, 2008 6:00-7:30pm
Turn the beat around! Join us as we reunite with the PRC’s favorite DJ, Lynda Quinn! She’ll be sure to have everyone up and dancing! So gather the kids, bring a blanket and join us outside on the lawn at Landmark Park (across from the library). Pizza, beverages, and other tasty treats will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per person. Children under 1 year are free. No reservations or advanced ticket sales necessary. Please call the PRC office at 516-767-3808 for details.
The Parent Resource Center
232 Main Street, Suite 4
Port Washington, NY 11050
The PRC is a Parent CO-OP that offers members classes for pre-school aged children (with and without their parents), social gatherings and field trips for the whole family, workshops for parents, drop-in playtime (with parents) , drop-off baby-sitting and a myriad of resources for the whole family. For more information and upcoming programs, visit the website at www.parentresource.org
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Newsday's recent cover story, "Look Who Needs Help Now," may seem like an eye-opener, but sadly it is a situation with which we at Island Harvest are all too familiar.
With the cost of such essentials as home heating oil up 50%, gasoline up 21%, food staples up 18 - 22%, unrelenting taxes, and increasing mortgage payments - we find ourselves in a crisis that is compelling solidly middle class Long Islanders to turn to food pantries and other local charities for assistance with the basics.
We hear the stories every day - and have been hearing them for a while about the struggle working people must face to provide their families with nutritious meals to make it through a day. Demand for turkeys by our network of member soup kitchens, food pantries, and other agencies reached 22,000 last holiday season - a shocking 42% increase over the prior year.
As Long Island's largest hunger relief organization, we are supplementing over 5 million meals each year - yet it is still not enough to meet the growing demand of those struggling to make ends meet.
We continue to work hard to find creative ways to fill in the ever growing gap between the supply of donated food and demand for it - including securing commitments from new businesses and trucking in more food to Long Island from other parts of the country.
Your help is needed to address this not always visible, but serious and growing situation. You can help by making a contribution, volunteering, donating food, organizing a food drive, or getting your company or school involved with us. Our Web site offers many great suggestions on how you can get involved in the fight against hunger and food waste - and lend a hand to our neighbors in need.
Or if you want to talk to a person, you can call us at 516-294-8528.
Thank you for your concern and continued support as we work together in ending hunger and reducing food waste on Long Island.
Randi Shubin Dresner
President and CEO
199 Second Street
Mineola, N.Y. 11501 USA
Island Harvest is a non-profit organization the bridge between those who have surplus food and those who need it. Our staff and volunteers “rescue,” or “collect,” good surplus food from over 600 retailers and wholesalers. Then, they deliver it, free of charge, to our network of 440+ soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, Head Start programs, senior and community centers, and other places where those who need it can get it, all across Long Island, New York.
There are so many ways you can get involved with Island Harvest, from making a contribution or making a long-term investment by leaving Island Harvest in your will, becoming a volunteer, conducting a food drive or becoming a sponsor. For more information call 516-294-8528 or visit the website at www.islandharvest.org
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The National Flood Insurance program, administered through FEMA which is in turn part of the Department of Homeland Security, is currently how the vast majority of Long Islanders and people all around the country buy their flood insurance when needed. The idea of the program was that because flood is catastrophic in nature, meaning that it can affect large numbers of people at the same time, that only the taxing power of the federal government was enough to make sure that when the time came to pay huge claims, the money would be there.
The problem is that the rates being charged in the program are not nearly enough to pay the claims, so additional monies have had to be put in over the years by Congress, and those funds basically come out of taxes paid be everybody, not just those in the flood hazard areas. There are some social arguments back and forth about whether that's right or wrong, but after Katrina, it was decided that the program needed to be revised to be 'actuarially sound', meaning that it would collect enough premium dollars to pay the claims, without resorting to general tax revenues or other bailouts. The difference is many billions of dollars, and the answer they have come up with is to include more people in the flood hazard areas and also to increase rates.
But since a couple of the people whose homes were destroyed in Katrina happened to be influential members of Congress, they are not looking to stop there. In trying to judge who was responsible to pay the claims of Katrina, there was a lot of finger-pointing on the part of insurance companies who denied some claims that they felt should have been paid under flood coverage. However since many of the affected residents had been told that the work of the Army Corps of Engineers, in building the levee system, would protect them from flood, they did not carry flood insurance and so were left with no way to rebuild.
What is being proposed is to move windstorm coverage from the private homeowners insurance industry to the government-backed flood insurance program, and price it accordingly. Interestingly, this has the insurance industry up in arms. Although as we know here on Long Island, and particularly as you get farther out on the South Shore of Suffolk County, many insurance companies are shying away from providing policies at all because of the windstorm exposure.
Now this sets up an interesting position for the insurance carriers. On the one hand, they are arguing that wind insurance should NOT be taken out of their hands and put into the Government hands. In general, a founding principle of our country was private ownership, and that the Government should not set itself up as a competitor to private industry. But there are many cases (Medicare, Workers Comp...) where private industry was not up to the task and the government stepped in.
To me, it seems simple enough - if covering losses for hurricanes is a money-losing proposition for insurance companies (which one would have to think it must be if they won't write more coverage) then why would they care if the government took it over? And virtually any argument that could be made for or against the government covering windstorm could be easily turned into the same argument for flood insurance. So which is it? The coverage is too risky and they don't want it, or it's profitable and should be left in private hands? The answers being given by the industry suggest they are trying to play both sides of the fence.
As for me as an agent, I have to say it doesn't really matter. I sell both the government flood insurance as well as home insurance for all kinds of waterfront property. Our job is to deliver, explain, and service the product. So I have no great stake in the outcome here, but I know a snow job when I see one.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Hello all, and please accept my apologies for not having written a blog entry in quite some time. But this morning's Newsday article regarding flood insurance had something in it that got me so frustrated that I had to write.
The article is about the re-mapping of flood zones on Long Island by the FEMA, the government agency in charge of the national flood insurance program. They are using new equipment and techniques to reevaluate all the flood maps which may or may not result in people now being required by their bank or mortgage company to carry flood insurance where they may not have been required before.
FEMA is suggesting that some who live near a flood zone are currently outside of it might want to think about purchasing flood insurance now because the price may change dramatically if they are included in a flood zone after the new maps are issued. For instance right now someone who is not in a flood hazard area here on Long Island would pay under $400 for the maximum flood insurance available from the government. If your house is deemed to be in a flood hazard area when the new maps are complete your rate could easily be four to five times higher.
Under FEMA rules, if you have a flood insurance in place and your zone changes you grandfathered in to the old zone for as long as you keep your insurance in force. So if you live close to a flood zone but outside it you might want to think about buying one of the inexpensive policies now. If you end up in a flood zone and your bank requires the coverage, you will be locked into the lower rate. If you remain outside of flood zone under the new maps, you could cancel the policy after a year if you wish. (FEMA will not allow a policy to be canceled in the middle of the year unless you sell your home)
My problem is that in the article there is a quote from County Executive Steve Levy saying that homeowners should be allowed to make their own decision on whether to carry flood insurance or not, as opposed to having that decision made for them by FEMA or their bank. The fact is that we hear every day from people who are only buying flood insurance because their bank is forcing them because of government regulations. They feel that the fact that they've never seen a flood in their home means they will never be flooded. Unfortunately this is not the case and we only need to look at the ongoing problems resulting from hurricane Katrina to see that.
In addition, the idea coming from the County Executive that people should be able to choose which government programs and mandates they participate in and which they choose not to is absurd. If that were the case most people on the South Shore would probably still have cesspools in their backyards except that the government mandated participation in the Southwest Sewer District in order to protect our drinking water in the long run. The same logic is behind a part of our sales tax collections which go to fund open space purchases.
And how about school taxes? I have no children in school anymore. Can I opt out of school taxes because I no longer see the direct benefit to me? I found this to be a very irresponsible statement by the County Executive and contrary to the whole reason for the existence of virtually every government program. It's fine to be a fiscal conservative with the general opinion that government should take the least role possible in people's day-to-day lives. However say that these decisions should all be left to the individual homeowner and rely on them to make the best decision for everybody for the long-term simply does not work and is not valid.
Monday, January 28, 2008
In the heart of the hamlet of Bethpage is Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
Old Bethpage Village recreates the times of pre-Civil War Long Island and shows the agricultural and commercial, as well as the domestic lifestyle of the era.
There are more than 55 historic buildings on 200 acres, all original structures.
The Old Bethpage Village Restoration is the center of community activity.
It is a wonderful historic destination and can be part of family life for those living near the village especially if the family interests involve historical America.
This is just one reason to drive out and visit Old Bethpage!
Directions from the Southern State Parkway:
Southern State Parkway to Exit 28A Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway (NY135) North. Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway to Old Country Road East exit 10. Right turn onto Old Country Road Eastbound to Round Swamp Road. Right onto Round Swamp Road and village entrance will be on your left.