Lindsay Christ


Sound Smart at a May Party

Sound Smart at a May party

Bad Medicine


If you want a job that rewards you for screwing up, join the health-care profession. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows hospitals actually make more money when surgeries have complications. Hospitals made $39,017 more when a patient with private insurance had complications post-surgery and $1,749 for a Medicare patient, according to researchers. Atul Gawande, author of the study and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, described the numbers as “eye-popping.” The most common complications: surgical site infection, sepsis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, heart attack and pneumonia.


Higher education is bringing young people down, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For the first time in 10 years, 30-year-olds who did not go to college are more likely to be homeowners than college grads with student loans. Back in the old days (the 1990s), college led to better paying jobs. With the current economy and the rise of education costs, graduates now have far too many student loans to pay off before they can even think about taking out a loan for a house. But don’t fret, college kids—at least you learned how to play beer pong and can teach it to your new roommates (mom and dad).

Cinco de ChihuahuaCINCO DE CHIHUAHUA

Every Cinco de Mayo, residents in Chandler, Ariz., celebrate with a festival and Chihuahua races. The mini Mexican pups compete for the royal crowning of King and Queen and Best Dressed, Best Temperament and Most Fashionable. Winners receive $500 and all money raised goes to the no-kill HALO Animal Rescue.


Baz Luhrman may have filmed the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby in his native Australia, but he still turned to Long Island for set design inspiration. He and his wife, designer Catherine Martin, based Gatsby’s mansion on places such as Huntington’s Oheka Castle, Upper Brookville’s La Selva and Sands Point’s Beacon Towers—some of the same Gold Coast mansions that inspired author F. Scott Fitzgerald while writing his classic American novel.


If you thought dating on Long Island was hard, you’ve never heard about what singles in Iceland go through. With a population of just 320,000, many Icelanders wind up seeing an ex years later—at a family reunion, since everyone’s basically a distant relative. But fear not, kissing cousins. A new smartphone app lets users “bump” phones and sounds an alarm if they’re too closely related. It uses an online database that contains nearly the entire population’s genealogical details stretching back 1,200 years. The slogan for Islendiga-App is: “Bump the app before you bump in bed.” Classy.

Kepler planets

NASA recently announced that its Kepler satellite had discovered three Earth-like exoplanets—planets whose main star is not the sun—that could host life. The trio is located within the “habitable zone”—the area around the star where water can exist. It’s referred to as the “Goldilocks Zone” because the planets’ surfaces are not too hot or too cold for living organisms. While scientists can’t tell if there really are aliens living on these planets, they say the discoveries bring us another step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, people have only explored 5 percent of the ocean.

BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II causes ions to become 250,000 times hotter than the sun.

Brentwood Man Found Dead in Road

Suffolk County Police are investigating the death of man found on a Brentwood street Thursday night.

A passing motorist called 911 after discovering Adrian Roberts lying in the street on Jefferson Avenue at around 11 .m.. The 24-year-old Brentwood resident was pronounced dead at the scene and taken to the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Detectives are asking for witnesses, or anyone who has any information about the circumstances that preceded this incident, to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Long Island Dog Parks on the Rise

Photo by Katherine Schroeder courtesy of North Fork School for Dogs
Photo by Katherine Schroeder courtesy of North Fork School for Dogs

Imagine a place where dogs run freely together, playfully romping on fresh green grass. Where canines of myriad breeds share the same water fountain while their owners exchange ideas. A place that’s clean, accessible, popular, safe.

While it may sound like dog heaven, this is actually a common description of a dog park—designated off-leash areas where canines can get much-needed exercise and socialization time while their owners trade tips on everything from training to proper nutrition. And following a national trend, they’re sprouting up all across Long Island.

“We’ve seen a really big increase in dog parks on Long Island, both in Nassau and Suffolk counties, over the last five or six years,” says Ginny Munger Kahn, president of nonprofit LI-Dog Owners Group. “It’s been the result of collaborations between organizations of dog owners and elected officials and parks department officials.”

Currently Nassau has 10 dog parks and Suffolk has 11, she adds. Just six years ago Suffolk had only one. Just within the past year, three new dog parks opened in Nassau County: in Valley Stream, Massapequa and Eisenhower Park. And more are set to open in both counties.
Supporters point to several reasons why dog parks are gaining ground.

Advocates contend that dog parks provide much-needed open space for those owners who may otherwise not have adequate backyards for their pets to roam in.

“There’s a lot of people that can’t exercise their dogs off-leash, especially the elderly, and it’s a great way to exercise your dogs,” says dog trainer Dawn Bennett.

Another major benefit, they say, is that socialization and exercise have been known to positively impact a dog’s behavior.

“People talk about how they see their dog’s behavior change for the better because they are getting adequate exercise at a dog park,” says Munger Kahn. “Over the last ten years it’s become common knowledge that dogs need exercise and socialization.”

Additionally, Kahn points out, dog parks are great place for owners to meet like-minded people.

“They build communities,” she says. “Many of my best friends I’ve met through the dog park.”

There’s definitely a need here on Long Island. Dogs are only permitted in Suffolk County parks if they are on a leash, she explains. In Nassau, no dogs are allowed in county parks—leashed or unleashed. Most town parks across Long Island carry the same or similar rules.

“I adopted a dog and realized that there is no place to walk your dog in parks or take her off leash,” says Peggy Heijmen, an Oyster Bay resident, dog owner and nonprofit LI-Dog Owners Group board member. “It’s very, very difficult.”
The group, founded in 1998, is dedicated to increasing public parkland for Long Island dog owners and their four-legged companions. Their efforts are paying off. Heijmen was the driving force behind the Massapequa dog park.

“We went to several town board meetings and did petitions and wrote letters to get this park running and successful,” she says.

Opened in June 2012 on Louden Avenue, the park features such amenities as doggie water fountains and separate areas for small and large dogs.

“It has been incredibly successful,” she continues. “We have a Facebook page so that people can share their pictures and their experiences, and we have over 200 people actively using the page.”

The Valley Stream dog park opened a month prior, mainly the brainchild of the Friends of Valley Stream Dog Park, an all-volunteer group organized to support and provide facilities to local dog owners.

President Richard Infield says the project went off without a hitch after receiving the support of the Valley Stream Mayor Edwin Fare and other members of local government.

“Once we started, it was very much a team effort between us and the village,” he says. “It’s really been an easy relationship and continues to be.”

Government officials and dog park proponents have been joining forces to open more spaces in Suffolk County, too. In July a dog park in Calverton opened under the guidance of Riverhead Town Councilman Jim Wooten and nonprofit Move the Animal Shelter (MTAS).

“We initiated the Calverton dog park to address the needs of our senior community, who live in modular homes or smaller lots,” says Woonten. “It gives their pets a chance to run about and play and socialize with other dogs.”

MTAS secured funding for the park, he adds, which along with private donations of benches and fencing, helped keep the cost down for taxpayers. After all, it’s the startup costs that can pose hurdles. Lack of funding was one of the obstacles Bennett faced when she tried to secure a bigger dog park in Southold, she says.

“I had come back from California and I was blown away with how many dog parks were there and how dog-friendly they were,” explains Bennett. “And here, where we live, the only off-leash area we had was this pitiful, very barren quarter of an acre dog park that wasn’t used by anybody.

Bennett and her business partner Asha Gallacher, who together run the North Fork School for Dogs, decided to create a petition for their cause. After two months, the duo collected about 500 signatures.

“I just put the petitions in every store,” Bennett says. “We collaborated with all the pet stores and the animal shelter. The squeaky wheel gets the oil—I just went to every town meeting and got all the petitions together.”

While the request to build a new park was ultimately denied, officials agreed to expand upon an existing dog park. The environmental nonprofit Group for the East End donated trees for shade, and the town installed benches. After a year, the park was completely overhauled and is now more than an acre in size and full of people and dogs every weekend.

Bennett is grateful for the help from Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

“He was very corporative and he was a big help,” she says. “He listened. Even though we had a strict budget, he gave us a piece of the recreational pie.”

Dog parks aren’t just gaining popularity here on Long Island. According to data from the Trust for Public Land’s 2011 City Park Facts, dog parks in major U.S. cities jumped 34 percent over the last five years. In comparison, parks overall only increased 3 percent during that time.

“This is not unique to Long Island,” says Munger Kahn. “There’s a tremendous demand for these areas, and a love for them.

“They are now what the playground movement of the 1950s was,” she adds.

So far, Long Island’s new dog parks have garnered so much positive reception that more are in the works. In Suffolk, the LI-Dog Owners Group is working on a campaign to build a second dog park in Centereach with Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Kathleen Walsh. Councilman Wooten also hopes to create another dog park this spring at Stotzy Park in Riverhead. In Nassau, Heijmen is now looking to add more dog parks in the Town of Oyster Bay.

Besides the additional parks, owners also seek more on-leash access in both counties’ parks.

“A lot of people exercise with their dogs,” says Munger Kahn. “Dog walking is their primary form of exercise. At most Long Island town parks you’re not allowed to even walk your dog on a leash. So dog owners are regulated to walk on the sidewalks in the neighborhoods that have them or in the street, and it’s dangerous.”

Munger Kahn says the main criticism against this is concern about people not picking up after their dogs. Yet with increased access, she says, comes increased accountability among responsible dog owners. And that can only lead to more access for dog lovers.

“We understand by asking for more access it means we have to be responsible. We have to pick up after our dogs,” she says. “I am confident that as long as the majority of us dog owners are responsible and pick up after our dogs that we will continue to see improvement in gaining access to public park land.”

“I think that as more dog parks have been developed, elected officials have seen how successful and popular they are,” she adds.

It’s a sentiment Councilman Wooten shares.

“Dog parks are a wonderful thing,” he says.

Black Dog and Cat Syndrome Awareness Month

Maxx and Pepper Conforti
Long Island Press pets Maxx and Pepper Conforti
Maxx and Pepper Conforti
Long Island Press pets Maxx and Pepper Conforti

February is Black Dog and Cat Syndrome Awareness Month, an issue close to my heart.

Many animal rescuers say that black cats and dogs are less likely to be adopted than other shelter pets.

Why? There’s no set reason, and the people who look over black pets likely do so subconsciously. One reason could be because lighter animals generally photograph better, which can sway people who use adoption websites.

Personally, I feel like black cats have it the hardest (I mean, a black dog did just win Westminster Best in Show). A lot of people associate black cats with witches and other ridiculous superstitions. One time I was telling someone about Herbie, and when I finally showed a picture of his handsomeness, I was shocked at his response.

“Oh, he’s a BLACK cat?”

The fact that Herb is missing an eye didn’t faze this self-proclaimed cat lover, but the color of his fur caused him to react in a tone that was almost one of disgust and disappointment.

What makes it even worse is the fact that Herbie isn’t even an all-black cat. He is a tuxedo cat, which means his underside and the tips of his paws are white (think Sylvester from Sylvester and Tweety or Felix the cat). If this guy were so turned off by a tuxedo cat, what would his response to an all-black cat be?

In a post on old RCD website I listed the “Top 10” reasons to adopt a black cat. I feel like this list needs to be repeated.


10. You’ll save money on their Halloween costumes
9. You can always find them in the snow
8. Holding a black cat is very slimming
7. Black cats will match any decor
6. A lint brush isn’t required for a black-tie affair
5. When you love a black cat luck is on your side
4. Black cats are like onyx—a beautiful gem.
3. They don’t care what color you are!
2. Some research suggests black cats are friendlier

And the number 1 reason:

They are the least likely to be adopted.

Long Island Weather: Snow to Snarl Commute

Snow plows clear the Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.
Snow plows clear the Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

Long Island will see more snow Wednesday that will affect both Wednesday night and Thursday morning’s commutes.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory that runs from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Meteorologists forecast anywhere from two to five inches of snow accumulation, with the highest amounts across Eastern Long Island. Winds will be 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.

There is a low probably that heavy snow banding could leave four to eight inches of snow.

Officials warn that travel conditions may become hazardous due to reduced visibilities and snow-covered roads. The worst conditions will be from Wednesday evening during rush hour into the overnight, but drivers can also expect snowy roads during Thursday morning’s commute.

The Long Island Rail Road is providing eight extra early-afternoon trains from Penn Station Wednesday for commuters who may want to leave early as a result of the winter storm. The trains will supplement the regular off-peak service and will depart from Penn between 2:09 p.m. and 3:48 p.m. on the Babylon, Port Jefferson, Port Washington and Far Rockaway branches.

The area will get a respite from snow from Thursday through to President’s Day Weekend with clear skies and warmer temperatures.

Sound Smart at a February Party

Sound Smart at a February Party

Prisoners NPR

United Kingdom jails apparently have their own radio station called National Prison Radio, commonly referred to as NPR. That alone, should be a magnificent Sound Smart factoid. But it gets better. The station, which has a captive audience of 84,000 inmates, will play their requests, and it compiled a list of the most popular artists. It turns out the prisoners have excellent tastes. The number-one artist was Tupac. Although the rapper “died” in 1996 (exaggerated wink), he beat out artists like Rihanna, Drake and Lil’ Wayne. And yes, Notorious B.I.G. was on the list. He placed ninth.


(nu-di-uhs-TUR-shuhn) is an actual word in the English language that means “of the day before yesterday.” You can also just say two days ago, but that doesn’t sound as cool.

Slippery When Wet

Have you ever wondered why your fingers and toes get all wrinkly after spending too much time in the bathtub or the swimming pool? Well, scientists now know why. Recent research shows it’s because of an evolutionary trait that allows humans to have a better grasp on wet objects. The wrinkles appear because of vasoconstriction, which occurs when blood vessels constrict beneath the skin, creating a consistent pattern that allows “water to sluice away.” Researchers compared the phenomenon to treads on a tire. Back in the day, we probably used this feature for gathering soggy vegetation or food from ponds and streams, and it also helped our feet get better footing in the rain.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]


The horse

that Django rides

in the movie

Django Unchained

is actor Jamie Foxx’s

actual horse

in real life.


You’re So Vein

The ancient Romans believed that the fourth finger of the left hand contained a vein that ran straight to heart. They called the vein the “vena amoris,” which means the “vein of love.” While the theory is incorrect—all fingers have a similar vein structure—many historians consider this belief explains why people in Western cultures wear their wedding bands on that finger.

Reality TV on Mars

Did you grow up idolizing Marvin the Martian? Probably not, but now you have a chance to live on his home planet—and be on reality TV. Mars One, a Dutch-based non-governmental organization, wants to send human colonists to live on Mars. The listed criteria that travelers must have are: resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and creativity/resourcefulness. To make the story even more bizarre, the contestants are picked by other Earthlings, via reality TV. Viewers will watch the show and determine who they think is suitable for becoming one of the first humans on Mars. If you’re interested, the application process begins this year for a launch set for 2023. Also, you have to be really sure you want to go—since there is no return flight scheduled, due to funding.

“PANDAS is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections.” [See Fortune52: Marianne Russo: Founder, The Coffee Klatch]

Winter Tips for Pet Owners

Daisy Christ
Daisy Christ enjoying the snow. Yes, we're related.
Daisy Christ
Daisy Christ enjoying the snow.

Winter is here, unfortunately.

Many people think that animals fare better in the cold than humans do. While they do sport fur coats, they aren’t immune to harsh weather conditions and get just as cold as you and I.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your pets safe and healthy during this lovely season, courtesy of the Nassau County SPCA.

If your cat or dog is an “outdoor” pet, bring them inside to warm up, and keep them there. Abrupt temperature contrast can be just as harmful as keeping them out in the cold all the time.

Dogs obviously need to go outside at some point to use the bathroom. Keep these potty breaks short and sweet: have them do their business and let them right back in. If you can, stay out with them so you can properly judge when it’s time to go back inside. Make sure you always stay outside with your animal if you live near a lake or a pond so you can make sure that they don’t fall through thin ice.

During snow or sub-zero temperatures, wipe your pet’s paws and underside when they come in from outside. Ice balls can cling between the toes or on the sole of the foot. Pets that walk on pavement can also pick up rock salt and other substances in their paw pads. They can become sick from the chemicals if they lick their paws before they’ve been wiped thoroughly.

Take extra care of your senior dogs when they go outside in the snow and ice. Like people, their arthritic bones can make them more likely to fall and injure themselves.

Don’t be afraid to get stylish with your pup. Stores everywhere sell sweaters, jackets, raincoats and even boots that you can use to protect your pet from the elements. That being said, you can’t slap a sweater on a dog and leave them out for hours. If the clothing gets wet it will actually start to take away heat and make things worse.

Not everyone is going to keep their cat indoors during the cold weather, and stray cats unfortunately have no place to go. Many times they will seek warmth near or on a car engine, and can be seriously injured or killed when you start your car. The people I rescued Herbie from actually thought that that could have been what happened to him. So please, rap on the hood of your car a couple of times to chase off any cold kitties before you start the engine. For my little man.

Is it Spring yet?

Long Island Weather Coldest in Years

Frigid weather is on horizon for the next few days on Long Island and residents will see low temperatures that haven’t hit the area in over two years.

The National Weather Service said that temperatures in Suffolk County will drop down to the single degrees Wednesday night, with parts of the Pine Barrens hitting zero degrees. Nassau County is expected to be slightly warmer with temperatures around 10 or 11 degrees.

Wind chills could make temperatures feel below zero, meteorologist Dan Hofmann said, adding that the current stretch of frigid weather is expected to continue Thursday into Thursday night.

“The coldest of the weather is probably going to be for the next 36 hours,” Hofmann said. “Tomorrow’s highs are going to struggle to get out of the low 20s for most of Island and the wind chill is not going to get above zero.”

On Friday, temperatures will rise slightly into the 20s, but forecasters are watching a potential storm system that could hit late Friday and linger into Saturday morning. The exact track and amount of snowfall has yet to be determined.

The NWS warned residents to look out for frozen water pipes and fire sprinkler piping with the cold weather. Officials also advised residents to dress warmly to limit direct exposure and prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced that the WARMBED program is up and running through March 31 2012. Homeless individuals can call 1-866-WARMBED (1-866-927-6233) for shelter on evenings and weekends. During the weekday hours they are encouraged to routinely go to DSS at 60 Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Uniondale.

The Long Island Rail Road also announced that all station waiting rooms will remain open around the clock until Monday due to the extended cold spell.

It’s Reigning Cats and Dogs! Again…

Lindsay and Misty
Lindsay and Misty
Lindsay and Misty
Lindsay and Misty

It’s a new year, and a new beginning for Reigning Cats and Dogs.

As you know, the Long Island Press underwent some big changes over the past few weeks: we’re now a monthly investigative journal and we have an awesome new website.

And, like Tupac, Reigning Cats and Dogs is being resurrected (a hologram is still in the works). This blog will be updated more frequently, but the content will be the same: pets. Some of the topics may look familiar to loyal RCD readers, but that’s only because this is a clean slate of sorts and they’re topics that are important to pet lovers (i.e pets and thunderstorms, dog parks, car safety, etc).

For my three loyal readers, you already know the stories of Herbie, Misty, and Daisy (so Mom you can stop reading now). For new readers, here’s a little background on the blog:

The blog was created to discuss all things pets, whether it’s local issues, tips for pet owners or interesting facts and studies. I am not a pet professional, just a pet lover who likes to share stories and information with fellow pet lovers. I have had a pet since I was three. I currently have the best dog in the world named Daisy and a sweet little one-eyed cat named Herbie. I also have canine nephew named Scooby who loves giving kisses and playing football.

Before Herbie rescued me I was in a deep depression because my beautiful, diva cat Misty had passed away. She was my best friend for 14 years, pretty much the definition of perfection, and I may or may not have a tattoo of her likeness. I have two other pet angels in Heaven: Sylvester the cat, my very first pet, and Lucky, a ridiculously good-looking dog. This blog is dedicated to them. They raised me after all, with a little help from my parents.

Enjoy the new and improved Reigning Cats and Dogs!

Long Island Weather Forecast Calls for Snow Monday

Long Islanders can expect some wintry weather in the near future, with snow showers late Monday accompanied by low temperatures that will linger for the remainder of the week.

The snow is expected to start late Monday afternoon into Monday night, but accumulation should be minimal, according to National Weather Service meteorologist David Stark.

“Precipitation shouldn’t be too heavy overall, but we are expecting a band of snow to move in later this evening that could be briefly heavy at times,” he said. Stark added that temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing, which will allow whatever snow does fall to stick.

Stark said that Nassau County can expect a half to one inch accumulation, while western portions of Suffolk County could see an inch to an inch-and-a-half of snow. Eastern Suffolk is expected to see the most with two inches or more predicted in some parts.

On Tuesday, Long Islanders can expect temperatures in the low 20s, and by Wednesday morning temperatures will be in the low teens. Stark said that the wind chill factor could make some areas near or below zero degrees. The trend will follow into Thursday.

Friday may warm up to the low to mid 30s, but with the higher temperatures comes a chance of precipitation. Whether it will come down as snow or a snowy rain is still uncertain at this point.