No. 353: Don’t be scared, it’s just our Halloween edition (featuring spacemen, blood machines and ghost chickens)

Jack of trades: Whether they're delighting kids or warding off evil spirits, carved pumpkins are big business in the United States, with estimating that $575.2 million was spent on gutted gourds this year.


In the spirit: Welcome to Wednesday, fearless readers, the midpoint of another busy week of socioeconomic innovation and the start of another holiday season.

It is, of course, Oct. 31, a date that needs no introduction – though whether Halloween is a pagan ritual dating back to Celtic Druids, as many believe, or actually a Christian creation is open to some debate.

Boo: Either way, the first jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips, the fear of Halloween is known as “samhainophobia,” the original mask worn by “Halloween” hatchet man Michael Meyers was actually a William Shatner mask and a bunch of other stuff you didn’t know about the spookiest day of the year, from our friends at

Heavy lifting: Between the candy, the Thanksgiving pies, the Christmas cookies and any other excuse to feast from now to New Year’s Day, the average American gains 2 pounds every year between Oct. 31 and Jan. 1.

And remember, that’s the average – so for every health-conscious dieter, gym rat and metabolically blessed skinny kid who just doesn’t gain weight, someone’s really hitting the bite-sized Snickers.

Silver state: Happy anniversary to Nevada, which was admitted as the 36th U.S. state on this date in 1864.

Waist not: Happy anniversary also to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which was “completed” on Oct. 31, 1941, after 14 years of work. The memorial was actually supposed to depict Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt from the waist up, but funding shortfalls limited the work to the heads of the former heads of state (true story).

The magnificent seven (billion): This was also the date in 2011 when, according to United Nations Population Fund estimates, the human race eclipsed 7 billion people.

Other Oct. 31 notables include “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (first published by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1892) and pneumatic bicycle tires (patented by Scottish inventor John Dunlop in 1888).

Lost and founder: Hidden among the costumes and candy is a lesser-known Oct. 31 tradition – Girl Scouts Founder’s Day, marking the birthday of Girl Scouts of the USA originator Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927).

Also born on Oct. 31 were English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821); Chinese political and military leader Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975); Indian-American physicist and “father of fiber optics” Narinder Singh Kapany (born 1927); American newsman Dan Rather (born 1931); and American newswoman Jane Pauley (born 1950).

Command performance: And take a bow, Michael Collins – the Apollo 11 command module pilot, who orbited the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked into history, turns 88 today.

Wish the spaceman, the newspersons, the girl scouter and the rest a happy birthday at – the gifts, though, are for us (we love story tips, one size fits all).


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Astro turf: Speaking of Apollo missions, a bona fide space hero and two regional business stars will be honored during the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s 2018 Air & Space Awards Gala, scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Garden City institution.

Astronaut Walter Cunningham – a pilot and systems engineer on NASA’s Apollo 7 mission, the first Apollo program flight to carry humans into space – is slated to receive the museum’s Spirit of Discovery Award. Cunningham, a recipient of NASA’s Exceptional Service and Distinguished Service medals, has amassed a long and storied career as a fighter pilot, physicist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author.

Also at the annual gala, Teresa Ferraro, president of Ronkonkoma-based East/West Industries, will receive the museum’s Leroy R. Grumman Award, while Tyler Morse, CEO of New York City-based MCR Development, will receive the Aviation Leadership Award. Ticket pricing and more information about the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s 16th Annual Air & Space Awards Gala are available here.

The road to victory: None of the state-highway projects (or any of the combined $48.9 million in state investments) are new, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo – with nary a thought to his third-term reelection campaign, which culminates next week on Election Day – trumpeted a multitude of existing Long Island resurfacing, pedestrian-safety and electronic-signage efforts in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

Helpfully (if misleadingly) titled, “Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $50 Million for Long Island Transportation Projects,” the completely-unrelated-to-the-election rehash featured Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schafer, among others, singing Cuomo’s praises.

Among the projects the governor reminded registered voters ab … sorry, announced … were $3.9 million for enhanced pedestrian safety along Suffolk County’s Route 110 corridor, $15.9 million for the rehabilitation of Nassau County’s Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway and $12.2 million to refresh pavements markings on a multitude of state highways in both counties.



Circling back: A circa-2017 licensing agreement with an India-based global manufacturer continues to pay off for Stony Brook biotech Applied DNA Sciences.

The check is in the mail: The Suffolk IDA has granted a tax-abatement deal to a Brooklyn-based pharmacist hoping to bring his home-delivery business to Hauppauge.

First blood: Northwell Health is among the first adapters of – and primary investors in – an AI-driven technology designed to monitor blood loss during surgical procedures.



Social security: Fast Company runs through the iPhone’s most critical tools for defending against hackers and other intruders; Android users, check out ZDnet’s similar safety review.

Lucky 13: Forbes shares a baker’s dozen of big ideas on how to keep your team on the “innovation fast track.”

Well fed: Newsday reports on the Lake Success-based Hain Celestial Group’s new CEO, an experienced food-industry veteran.



+ Knotel, a New York City-based global provider of agile workspaces, closed a $60 million funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Newmark Knight Frank and Bloomberg Beta.

+ Clear Labs, a California-based platform for food-safety testing combining next-gen sequencing, advanced microbiology, robotic automation, data science and software analytics, closed $21 million in Series B2 funding led by Menlo Ventures, Wing VC, Dentsu Ventures, Felicis and Khosla, with participation from several food-production companies.

+ WiredScore, a NYC-based provider of a digital-connectivity rating system for commercial real estate buildings, secured $9 million in Series A funding. Backers included Bessemer Venture Partners, Fifth Wall, Sterling.VC, Legal & General, KingSett Capital, U+I, Town Centre Securities, MOMENI Digital Ventures and Savitt Partners.

+ Summersalt, a Missouri-based direct-to-consumer swimwear brand, raised $6.1 million in Series A funding led by Founders Fund, with participation from Lewis and Clark Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Dundee Venture Capital and Breakout Capital, among others.

+ Lorem, a NYC-based marketplace for freelance website developers and designers to work on task-based projects, secured $2.5 million in funding led by Flybridge Capital Partners, with participation from HubSpot, FJ Labs and Fresco Capital.

+ Visla Labs, a California-based, AI-driven medical-diagnostics platform, raised $3 million in seed funding led by Lux Capital with participation from former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and former Twitter COO Adam Bain, as well as prominent healthcare experts and advisors.



Plucky spirit: From Mental Floss, a tale of innovation, philosophy and an undead chicken.

Poultrygeist: The CDC has issued strict guidelines for dressing up your hens and roosters on Halloween.

Mad scientists: Rounding out the leitmotif, Smithsonian Magazine counts down 17 of the best-ever Halloween-themed U.S. patents.

Scary good: Please keep supporting the great firms that support Innovate LI, including Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, where dozens of practice areas leave nothing to fear (from a business perspective, anyway).