Merlino & Gonzalez February 2018

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February 2018





How I Met the Love of My Life For most people, blind dates probably bring up memories of cold sweat, awkward conversations, and meetings they wish they could forget. My thoughts on the subject are just the opposite. There’s a certain element of personal bias in my view, because I met the most amazing person I’ve ever known through a blind date. Her name is Joanne, and I’m proud to call her my wife of over 20 years.

Joanne is the person who keeps our family running like a well-oiled machine. Without her, the kids and I would be lost. She’s organized, selfless, and compassionate, and we definitely don’t take her skills for granted. She is the best wife and mother anyone could ever ask for. She makes every day a little better than it has any right to be. In addition to making me a better person, Joanne has also made me a better attorney. With a family of my own, I understand intimately the concerns many of our clients have. Whether they’re buying their first home or setting up an estate plan, I’ve been in their shoes. In fact, I made my first will at Joanne’s insistence. We were getting ready to travel on a vacation without the kids. She made it clear in no uncertain terms that she would not be getting on the plane until I created a will. Traveling is one of our favorite activities, so you can bet I had the will ready to go before we took off. It’s just one example of how Joanne keeps us all in check. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I wanted to use this space to pay tribute to my wonderful wife, and close with a message directly to her. Thank you for not running for the hills when you saw me making that sangria. The 25 years we’ve spent together have been rewarding, fulfilling, and altogether magical. Here’s to many more years of great experiences. I love you, Joanne!

I met Joanne through a friend I worked alongside during a summer internship

at a law firm. She was working as a paralegal and said she had a friend I should meet. For whatever reason, we weren’t able to connect that summer, but the friend called me a few months later. It turns out Joanne lived right around the block from me! I suggested she and her friend stop by on one of the nights I was working at Carmen’s, a local restaurant. When they arrived, I was knee-deep in sangria — not literally, I wouldn’t want you to think the place was unsanitary. From the moment I saw Joanne, it became hard to focus on my recipe. All I wanted to do was get to know her. This introduction led to an official first date. We’ve been together ever since, and the 25 years of our relationship have been the most joyous and fulfilling of my life.



What Your Child Can Learn From Baking EDUCATION IN THE KITCHEN

children measure out ingredients helps them learn about fractions and ratios. You can also test your kids by doubling or halving a recipe for multiplication and division practice. With older kids, practice unit conversions by asking, for example, how many pints are in half a gallon. FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS Not unlike computer science, baking requires a strict order of operations. The wet and dry ingredients often need to be mixed separately and then folded together. It only takes one deviation from the instructions for a pastry to go from delicious to disgusting. Spending time in the kitchen, then, is a great way for kids to learn the importance of reading directions carefully and comprehending what they’ve just read. CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING Cuisine is a fundamental part of every culture. Introducing your child to dishes from around the world will expand their horizons. Want your child to be a less picky eater? Involving them in the cooking process is the NUTRITION Now, you might not think that baking cookies will encourage greater nutritional awareness, but hear us out. Sugar is often buried within packaged foods. When you bake something at home, a child gets to see, firsthand, just how much sugar goes into certain sweets. Meanwhile, cooking savory dishes also allows them to learn what constitutes a balanced, healthy diet.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you’re probably wracking your brain for the perfect recipe to bake for your loved one. There’s nothing wrong with store-bought chocolate, but there’s no topping the personal touch of some homemade baked goods. If you have kids, baking alongside them can be just as rewarding as enjoying the fruits of your labor. As an added bonus, baking is a hands-on opportunity where your child can learn all sorts of important concepts. Here is a short list of some of the educational lessons hiding in your kitchen. MATH Baking is a numbers game. Just take a look at any recipe, and you’ll recognize the importance of math in building a beautiful cake. Having


It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. The birds are singing in a manic frenzy, doting romantics are plucking red roses by the fistful, and Cupid is practically blotting out the sun with a flurry of arrows. Or, at the very least, there’s a lot of candy flying off the shelves. Approximately $448 million worth of it, according to Chocolate may lead the pack in sheer poundage — 58 million pounds over the course of V-Day week, to be exact — but there’s no more iconic candy than Necco’s signature Sweethearts candies. The chalky, cheeky little buggers have been helping shy romantics articulate their aspirations for 151 years, and they’re a bona fide force of nature. These days, a staggering 8 billion Sweethearts are produced annually, at a rate of about 100,000 pounds a day. But how did these flavorless, yet eternally charming, treats come to be? In the mid-19th century, people were going crazy for apothecary lozenges called troches, small tablets made by hand with a smidgen of a medicinal substance and a dried, sugary paste. To capitalize on this trend, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase spent hours devising a primitive machine that could cut down on the manual labor involved in manufacturing troches, expertly rolling the “dough” into tubes and chopping it into perfect wafers.

Within a year or two, he’d abandoned his pharmaceutical leanings for a much more profitable enterprise: candymaking. Over the next 60 years, the popularity of these little candies exploded, forming the basis for the New England Confectionary Company, otherwise known as Necco. As Chase’s company grew alongside his riches, his brother began to wonder how he could get in on the action. Not to be outdone, he invented his own machine in 1866, designed to print red vegetable dye onto the Necco dough and cut the candies into shapes. They were an immediate hit. People loved their witty mottos like, “MARRIED IN WHITE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN RIGHT.” In 1902, Necco began to manufacture the candies in their signature heart shape, and over time, the sayings were condensed to match their small size.

Now, the hearts contain dozens of phrases, and they’re updated with new ones every year. Gone are the wafers reading “FAX ME.” They’ve been replaced by “TXT ME,” “#LOVE,” and “TWEET ME.” Whether you love or hate the sandy, goofy Sweethearts, it’s clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.


What happens when a patient arrives in the ICU on the verge of death with a tattoo on their chest that reads “Do Not Resuscitate”? This story may sound like a hypothetical question a student would be asked in a med school classroom, but it actually happened to hospital staff in Miami recently. Time was of the essence if the man’s life was to be saved, so medical workers had to decide if they would honor the tattoo or not. Making the ethical decision even muddier, the man’s tattoo included a signature, and he arrived at the emergency room unconscious and without identification. You can imagine what a conundrum this lack of clarity caused. Were the doctors to assume the tattoo was an accurate reflection of the patient’s wishes? Or was the tattoo the result of one regretful night of drinking? A ONE-OF-A-KIND DNR CASE Is a Tattoo LEGALLY BINDING?

They decided they should contact an ethics consultant to determine how best to proceed. In the meantime, they did everything they could to keep the patient alive without needing to violate a potential DNR request. Eventually, they were able to track down the patient’s official DNR, and he passed away peacefully the next morning. This story may be extreme, but it serves to illustrate just how important it is to create official documents like a medical power of attorney and living will. When you have these papers and carry your ID on you, doctors won’t have to guess your wishes. Instead, they’ll be able to contact somebody you trust to ensure you get the care you want. Would you rather have your wishes legally preserved and easily accessible, or are you better off with a tattoo? The answer is pretty obvious. BACON-WRAPPED TATER TOT BOMBS MICHELE’S RECIPE CORNER

take a break

Sure, your showoff pal can wrap a tater tot with a piece of bacon and call it “The Daniel,” but you can take it a step further. Prepare a couple batches of these savory snacks for your Super Bowl party or the next family get-together. Snag a few for yourself before they disappear! • 2 cups frozen tater tots, defrosted • 1 ounce sharp cheddar, cut into 1/4-inch squares • 4 slices bacon, quartered 1. Heat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 2. Press a cheese square into each INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS

• 1/4 cup brown sugar • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

3. Place tots seam side down on baking sheet. Bake for 20–25 minutes, using metal tongs to turn halfway through. 4. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.

tot, then wrap with a piece of bacon. Dredge each tot in brown sugar.




394 Manor Road Staten Island, NY 10314



A Tribute to Joanne Cook Your Way to Better Grades Meet Necco’s Sweethearts A DNR Tattoo Causes Confusion in the ICU Not Sure What to Bring to the Super Bowl Party? The Most Romantic Destinations on Earth

POSITANO, ITALY More than perhaps anywhere in the world, this place looks like it was lifted straight from a sappy romance novelist’s imagination. You and your partner can kick back on a balcony overlooking the entirety of this seaside town, taking in the century-old multicolored Italian architecture perched precariously on the verdant mountainside. Too small to accommodate swarms of tourists, it’s the perfect place to while away the hours ambling from shop to shop, sampling the delicious local cuisine, and maybe taking a dip along the 300-meter beach. THE MALDIVES From a water villa smack dab in the midst of the glassy, ultra-blue Indian Ocean, you and your main squeeze can enjoy utter seclusion. Sip champagne in the shade of a palm overlooking an otherworldly sunset or get a little more adventurous, strap on a mask, and check out the abundant aquatic wildlife. Many hotels in the area even include access to an array of boats, perfect for your own private excursion along the mild waves. Of course, you could also always just stare, dumbfounded, into the horizon, wondering how such a place could actually exist on Earth. THE BEST VALENTINE’S GETAWAYS to Fantasize About

Valentine’s Day is for fancy dinners, heart-shaped boxes packed with subpar chocolates, and fantasizing about the magical places you and your beau would have escaped to — if only you had the PTO. So, grab a glass of bottom-shelf cab sauv, cuddle up next to your special someone, and try to make them feel bad for taking you to Chili’s instead of whisking you away to one of these picturesque fantasy lands. UDAIPUR, INDIA These days, meandering through the cobblestone streets of Paris with your loved one is très passé . All the real high-rolling romantics are migrating southeast to the famous Oberoi Udaivilas hotel in western India. Set in a traditional Mewari palace, visitors will feel like royalty as they stroll around the labyrinthine gardens that surround the elaborate cream-colored structure. Travelers can relax beside one of the many glassy pools sprinkled throughout the estate, all of which are enthusiastically attended by an unparalleled service staff. 4

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