10/02/14 8:00am
One local expert says stink bugs may become more of an annoyance in years to come.  (Dan Gilrein courtesy)

One local expert says stink bugs may become more of an annoyance in years to come. (Dan Gilrein courtesy)

For one thing, they are aptly named.

Residents who casually squash a halyomorpha halys underfoot will be assaulted by a sharp odor coming from the deceased marmorated (marbled) stink bug.

The smelly critters are here, with some people saying their houses are full of them: climbing walls, underfoot (careful) and hanging out in window curtains and drapes. “Everyone’s asking me about stink bugs,” said Wally Ogar of East End Pest Control on Shelter Island. “I’ve got them in my house, too.”

He’s not the only one. Joanne Sherman said she had never seen one until this spring, and there was no trace of them this summer. But just recently they were back. Neighbors, Ms. Sherman said, told her their house is covered with the bugs.

Mr. Ogar said it’s not a new phenomenon, but happens every fall when the bugs, ready to hibernate, make their way into houses.

But Craig Rosenberg of North Shore Exterminating in Southold said stink bugs are relatively new residents of the East End.

Daniel Gilrein, an entomologist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, said “there had been low numbers of stink bugs recorded over the last several years,” but that he and his colleagues “have seen more this year than previously.”

Mr. Gilrein added that he had about 15 in his Riverhead house last week.

Stink bugs might smell bad if roughed up, but they don’t bite and won’t hurt pets or do any structural damage. They’re unsightly and can be a nuisance in large numbers, the entomologist said. Stink bugs are not so benign to farms, orchards or gardens, however, feeding on fruits and leaves.

The jury is still out on getting rid of them, according to Mr. Rosenberg, who is cautious about using insecticides in homes without more information. He’s consulted with Mr. Gilrein and other entomologists and is waiting for upcoming seminars that will address a stink bug solution.

Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Ogar said some insecticides can be put down outside houses near foundation lines, and Mr. Rosenberg has used “fly lights” in attics, which attracts the bugs and then captures them.

They can be vacuumed, Mr. Ogar said, but the bag has to be thrown away immediately. What should you do if you’re sharing quarters with stink bugs?

Mr. Gilrein advised making sure all possible entry points are sealed or screened off, but admitted this could be impossible for older homes.

“Over the next few years the population may be building, so if that’s the case and they become a serious annoyance, you might contact a pest control professional for assistance,” he added.

What shouldn’t you do if you’ve got stink bugs in the house?

“Panic,” Mr. Gilrein said.

 

08/28/14 12:42pm
Residents from East End communities packed a Wainscott TV studio for a special meeting on aircraft noise Wednesday evening. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

Residents from East End communities packed a Wainscott TV studio for a special meeting on aircraft noise Wednesday evening. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

Too low, too loud, too many.

That was the consensus from nearly 50 residents from East End communities who spoke at a packed public meeting Wednesday evening about a record number of aircraft — mostly helicopters — buzzing their homes this summer.  (more…)

01/04/14 10:00am

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Tourists on NYC’s Wall Street in 2011.

Depending on who you talk to, the economy seems to be on the mend and 2014 will be a good year for Americans’ finances.

But that qualifier of who you’re talking to says it all. So in an effort to gather all the information we can, here at Gimme Shelter, on which way the economic wind will be blowing this year, we’ve been paging Babson & Roubini, but haven’t had any luck.

AMBROSE CLANCY

Even though these two might sound like sole partners in an up-island law firm monitoring police scanners for four-car pileups on the LIE, they are actually economic forecasters. Roger Babson and Nouriel Roubini predicted the two greatest financial catastrophes of the last 100 years.

Playing Chicken Little with the correct information, Mr. Babson saw the October 1929 Wall Street crash coming. And Mr. Roubini told everyone in 2006 who would listen — no one in power did — that the U.S. economy was heading for flameout.

Today some people prophesize doom, some say happy days are here again, and others rely on the unassailable truth that even a broken clock is accurate twice a day.

We’ll dispense with reading the entrails of housing starts, the labor market, factory orders, interest rates and currency supplies to look at seven other bellwethers telling us where the economy is heading.

1. Mens’ underpants. Former Federal Reserve Chairman and Ayn Rand acolyte Arthur Greenspan once said declining mens’ underwear sales means “a prescient, forward impression that here comes trouble.”
You’ve already crafted your own punch line to Mr. Greenspan’s unfortunate quote, so we’ll move on.

2. Sonny “Junior” Giorgio. In Chicago, during an interrogation of the alleged Cosa Nostra don — arrested for conspiracy and hijacking — Mr. Giorgio told investigators the price for federal judges had remained steady over the past quarter.

3. High heels. At the depths of the economic crisis in 2009, the median height of high heels was seven inches, according to Portfolio.com. That median figure has been steadily dropping since then. Meaning women can’t afford the bimonthly visit to the podiatrist?

Not so fast. Others took the heel indicator to mean the economy was strapping on its dancing shoes. Researchers at IBM broke down data from social media sites to find that flat shoes and kitten heels are hot, meaning, said IBM analyst Trevor Davis, that the proliferation of do-what-you-will-to-me shoes means buyers are looking for “fantasy and escape” from bad times. Lower shoes, brighter times ahead.

Which begs the question: Who comes up with names like “kitten heels?”

4. Hemlines. George Taylor, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, has noted that during the Roaring 20s women’s hemlines went north dramatically and plunged during the 1930s Great Depression. Taylor deduced women wanted to flaunt pricey silk stockings while Roaring and hide their bare legs when Depressed.

But a fashion clue these days is short skirts and bare legs. No word yet from Professor Taylor.
However, women’s fashion tastes must be analyzed because, referring to our first indicator, most men wouldn’t even have underwear if their wives didn’t buy it for them.

5. Seagulls. If you’ve noticed flocks of seagulls hanging out in Long Island parking lots with the occasional flap over for a dumpster dive, this means the economy is on the upswing. Forbes magazine recently noted the size of restaurant garbage piles means people are eating out more, since restaurants throw away more in preparation in fat times than in lean. Of course, seagulls in parking lots might just mean storms are brewing out at sea. But you can impress your dimmer dinner companions by either predicting the weather or the economy.

6. Alligators. In Cut Off, Louisiana, the 60,000 residents at Savoie’s Alligator Farm are breathing a bit easier as they bask in the mud or slither in the creek for a dip. Seems there’s less demand for their hides.

The gator farmers are suffering because Gucci, Vuitton and Versace haven’t made the trek for skins to Cut Off lately. Meaning the wealthy are settling for stingray, ostrich, python, eel and lizard for their shoes and handbags.

We’re not sure if that means anything, but it’s always fun to point out there’s a municipality in Louisiana called Cut Off.

7. The one-eyed car. An old friend, Martin Melkonian, professor of economics at Hofstra, sees merit in counting the number of cars sporting only one headlight at night. When those numbers increase, more people are going broke and putting off installation of a new light.

“At least in the neighborhoods I’m driving, I’m seeing more one-light cars,” Mr. Melkonian told us.

Professor Melkonian said he’d ask his wife about more “quirky” indicators and get back to us. “She’s good at that kind of thing,” he said.

It didn’t seem appropriate to ask if Mrs. Melkonian bought the professor’s underwear.

Maybe John Kenneth Galbraith had it right when he said, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

Happy New Year.

Mr. Clancy is the editor of the Shelter Island Reporter. He can be reached at a.clancy@sireporter.com

07/04/13 6:00am

AMBROSE CLANCY

Today, July 4, Americans celebrate themselves on the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Right?

Wrong.

Most signers put their “John Hancocks” on the document on August 2, 1776. After signing, Mr. Hancock remarked, “Gentlemen, we must now all hang together,” placing on a tee a reply for Ben Franklin: “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Franklin’s wit contains the bravery of the men in Philadelphia that summer. They knew if things turned out badly the document they had just signed guaranteed they’d wind up swinging from the wrong end of an English rope.

Another question: Which people are rated among the most ignorant in the world?

We the People.

According to the European Journal of Communication, 76 percent of Finns and 68 percent of Danes could identify the Taliban. Only 58 percent of Yanks knew who they are, even though we’ve been fighting them for more than 10 years.

Which leads us to ask the European Journal of Communication: What’s a Finn? And come on, a big brown dog is smarter than we are?

It’s not just creepy European and foreign stuff, either. A while back, Newsweek gave the U.S. citizenship test to a group of Americans and close to 40 percent flunked. A third couldn’t name the vice president, three-quarters didn’t know what the Cold War was and 44 percent couldn’t describe the Bill of Rights.

To which we reply: Yeah? So?

But don’t get down if you missed some (all?) of these questions. America is the land of second chances, and so is this column, so here’s an opportunity to prove your knowledge of our country’s history.

Answers at the bottom. Eyes on your own paper. Check your work at the end. Begin … now.

1) Where was the Battle of Long Island fought?
a: Brooklyn
b: Penn Station, before the last trains to Ronkonkoma between Christmas and New Year’s.
c: Southold

2) Who said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
a: Richard Nixon
b: Barack Obama
c: Samuel Johnson

3) What American president imported Spanish fly for personal use?
a: George Washington
b: Andrew Johnson
c: William Henry Harrison

4) Who was William Floyd?
a: Billy “Sandman” Floyd, president and CEO of Calverton’s Dig This, Inc., indicted, never convicted for bid rigging concrete contracts for the parkway named for him.
b: Only Long Islander to sign the Declaration of Independence.
c: Will “Iron Hands” Floyd, personal bodyguard to Robert Moses.

5) How many presidents are not buried on American soil?
a: Five
b: One
c: None

6) Who said that along with age and citizenship, business experience should be a qualification for the presidency?
a: Mitt Romney
b: Ronald Reagan
c: Steve Jobs

7) Name the last four businessman presidents.

8) What political leader compared himself to Charles DeGaulle, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Marion Barry and Ho Chi Minh?
a: Anthony Weiner
b: Newt Gingrich
c: Barack Obama

9) What does the Japanese word “Bushusuru” mean?
a: Choking on a pretzel
b: Stealing an election
c: Publicly vomiting

10) Name the president who once worked as a hangman.
a: Grover Cleveland
b: Ulysses S. Grant
c: John Adams

11) Who was the only president who held a license to tend bar?
a: Abraham Lincoln
b: George W. Bush
c: Ulysses S. Grant

12) Harry S. Truman and Ulysses S. Grant share the same middle initial. What does the “S” in both cases stand for?
a: Simpson
b: Samuel
C: Nothing

13) Who said: “Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change government.”
a: Barack Obama
b: Ronald Reagan
c: Abraham Lincoln

14) What was the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr fought over?
a: Money
b: Defamation charges in newspapers
c: “Sassy” Sarah Lippincott

15) Which Supreme Court chief justice rejected calls to adopt a judicial code of conduct?
a: John Marshall
b: Earl Warren
c: John Roberts

16) What did Dolly Madison save from the White House before it was torched by the British?
a: A portrait of George Washington
b: An ice cream maker and baking sheet
c: The silver

17) In Thomas Jefferson’s editing of his Declaration of Independence, what did he change to make the final “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”
a: “… life, liberty and the pursuit of the indolency of the body and the possession of outward things.”
b: “… life, liberty and property.”
c: “… life, liberty and the pursuit of slaves.”

Happy Independence Day. Class dismissed. You’re free.

Answers: 1) a 2) c 3) a 4) b 5) a — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama 6) a 7) Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush 8) b 9) c 10) a 11) a 12) c 13) c 14) b 15) c 16) a and c 17) b