When you go birding you never know what you’re going to see. During four days last February, walking a Florida beach on Longboat Key that has a rich variety of shorebird life, I was able to see up close some things I’d never before noticed about familiar birds.
Feb. 3. On Beer Can Island, which is the Longboat’s northernmost tip, are some ravaged ash colored fallen trees with huge exposed root systems. One is wet with weeds and clinging to it are barnacles and shells. Nearby is an oystercatcher, large at 17.5-inches, with a long, thick red bill, white breast and black back. Digging in the wet sand this shorebird is putting on a demonstration of how it gets clamshells. That thick red bill is partially buried in the sand. When it pulls the bill out there’s a small white shell that is quickly swallowed. When digging, the bill is turned somewhat to the right. Last year when I saw these birds feeding I wondered if they weren’t “right-handed.” Now I’m again wondering.
As we approach the Oscars, a formidable field of movies awaits recognition. Some years are more fruitful than others. The past year had a distinct variety of movies, of which I saw many.
Anna Karenina—Leo Tolstoy must be spinning in his Russian grave at this adaptation of his great novel. The story of Anna is indeed a great tragedy. A married woman, played nicely by Keira Knightly, falls for a dashing soldier and winds up being shunned by Russian society, and throws herself under a train. Greta Garbo played Anna in the black-and-white version years ago.
Communities across Long Island and New York State are safer as a result of the passage of the most comprehensive and sensible gun reform legislation in this state’s history. I am proud that proposals I have sponsored over the years have been incorporated in this life-saving measure. I have long supported a complete ban on high capacity magazines, prohibiting the sale of ammunition over the internet, requiring permits for ammunition purchases, increased penalties on individuals who commit crimes with illegal guns and tracking large transfers of ammunition.
Along with the 74 percent of Long Islanders who favor a more restrictive Assault Weapons Ban and the 72 percent of Long Islanders who favor a ban on high capacity magazines, I will continue to fight against senseless gun violence.
There hasn’t been much hard news on the battle over the old Cerro Wire property in Syosset lately, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. The Taubman Company, the developer that has been trying to push through a spectacularly unpopular proposal to build a mega-mall on the former hazardous waste site for going on 20 years now, is still plugging away.
It’s a little convoluted, but basically after the New York State Court of Appeals upheld the Town of Oyster Bay’s original decision to turn down the project in 2009, Taubman has been trying to take the decision away from the town. In 2010, spokesmen from Taubman convinced the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council (LIREDC) to add the project to a short list of “regionally significant” projects, next to the Nassau HUB. LIREDC recommends that the state assume control of the environmental review process for projects on the “significant” list in order to circumvent a lot of local red tape, which could take the mall decision out of the town’s hands.
The difficulty in which many writers find themselves is, should they pass up a good, solid interesting story or should they “rat out” some friend or acquaintance?
Joan Didion says, “A great memoirist, even one moved primarily by love and devotion, must possess a certain amount of ruthlessness.” The question to the author is, “Should I put down the truth about the person in my story or should I sugar-coat perhaps the lying and devious aspects with falsehoods and fiction?” That is the moral question!
Six months after my wedding in 1962, my father handed me an ultimatum that stated “You are a married man now…you must join the Lodge so you can have a burial plot.” The Lodge was called the “First Kopyczyncer Young Men’s Independent Lodge.” It was formed by the landsmen from my father’s village in Poland.
I tried to put it off as long as possible because I was just married and had opened a dental practice on Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. My father persisted, so I joined the group for their monthly meetings at Ratner’s Restaurant on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side.
The whole country continues to mourn the deaths of 20 children and six adults who died in last month’s school shooting in Newtown, CT. And while we wait for the motive to emerge and policy proposals to surface, we can speak out now on behalf of families who need greater access to mental health treatment and other social services that ultimately will prove more effective in protecting and strengthening all of us; children, adults and our communities.
As the head of a human services organization, I believe it is part of our mission to inform and educate the public on important issues facing today’s families in a balanced and professional manner. As the result of this tragic event, there will be a temptation to look for quick answers; overly simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions.
For eight years my wife and I have been staying near Whitney Beach on Longboat Key, Florida. For the first time it has two huge tidal pools, which I call Lake Victoria #1 and #2. These tidal pools, stretching for almost half a mile, not only have given this beach the look of a wild coast, but appear to have attracted more birds to this already avian rich beach.
On a recent morning thick fog covers the beach, making it mysterious. Two laughing gulls, a willet, a black-bellied plover and some brown pelicans are early morning habitués. Two ruddy turnstones, birds that turn over anything and everything, looking for a morsel, are at the end of lake Victoria #1. One is preening, the other digging. A black-bellied plover flies. I‘ve seen more of these birds in a few days here than in some winters and wonder if the tidal pools have attracted them.
It’s hard to imagine that the advantage could be so great since relatively few people use these putters. Tiger Woods doesn’t like them and you hardly ever see them employed by casual players. The golfing community seems to be coalescing around the idea that there’s something wrong about these ungainly putters, and that they shouldn’t be part of the game.
I was pleased to hear that the Plainview Water District got so many donations this year for the Toys For Tots program, along with other local collection sites. Unfortunately, I haven’t donated many toys myself this year (although I have in years past), in part because I was too scared to face the crowds and the lines at the toy stores.
Disappointed with my 2012 toy donations, I’ve decided that in 2013, I will buy toys all year round, while the stores are nice and peaceful. I can hoard toys and pretend they’re for me, but then redeem myself come holiday time, when Long Island children’s organizations will see a deluge of fashion dolls, stuffed pandas and coloring books emerge from the depths of my closet. It’s win-win.
Happy Holidays to everyone in the community, and I hope some of you will join me in stocking up on toys next year—what’s not to like?
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