No. 368: On Jesus and Menorahs, Denzel and Lt. Uhura, and the end of 2018 as we know it

Auld lang syne: As this year comes to an end, we wish you bigger dreams in the year ahead, awe-inspiring innovation and the success you’ve worked so hard for.

What day is it? So hard to keep track at the height of the holiday season … but it is indeed Friday, dear readers, and the end of a short but jolly week of socioeconomic innovation (largely in the form of easier e-commerce and new online gift-return functionality).

It’s Dec. 28 out there, marking the fourth of the 12 days of Christmas – which has little to do with calling birds or turtle doves but is nonetheless a festive Christian season (also known as Twelvetide) celebrating the nativity of Jesus.

Light reading: It’s also a fairly important date for spiritual types who recognize Jesus as an important historical dude, if not quite the Son of God. A menorah was lit on Dec. 28 in the year 169 B.C., rededicating the Holy Temple of Jerusalem after two centuries of foreign oppression, and burned for eight days – despite lacking sufficient fuel to do so, thus creating the modern Hanukkah legend.

Nine readers reading: However you celebrate the day, celebrate it alongside new newsletter subscribers Cynthia, Robert, Lee, Michael, Suzanne, Edward, Joseph, Karen and Stan. Welcome to the show, happy holidays, all that good stuff.

Twinkle, twinkle: It wouldn’t be officially “discovered” by French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier until 1846, but an increasingly popular theory says it was pioneering astronomer Galileo Galilei who actually discovered Neptune on Dec. 28, 1613.

We have our Iowa on you: Speaking of 1846, it was this date in that year when the Hawkeye State was admitted as the 29th U.S. state.

Cleaning up: According to legend, dry cleaning was accidentally “discovered” on Dec. 28, 1849, when tailor M. Jolly-Bellin spilled turpentine and oil on his clothes and found they were cleaner.

Also cleaning up: A U.S. patent for the first commercially successful hand-cranked dishwasher was issued on Dec. 28, 1886, to inventor Josephine Garis Cochrane.

Other patents issued on this date include one in 1869 to chewing gum inventor William Semple and one issued in 1976 – recorded as the 4 millionth U.S. patent – to asphalt-recycling inventor Robert Mendenhall.

Happy birthday, Mr. President: Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the 28th U.S. President, would be 162 years old today.

Also adding a notch this Dec. 28 are recently departed comic book icon Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber, 1922-2018), race-busting “Star Trek” bridge officer Nichelle “Lt. Uhura” Nichols (born 1932) and Finnish-American software engineer Linus Torvalds (born 1969), who developed the Linux operating system that runs your Android device.

Glory: And take a bow, Denzel Washington – the multiple Golden Globe- and Academy Award-winner turns 64 today.

Wish them all a happy birthday (and start our New Year with a story tip or calendar suggestion) at

A few words from our sponsor: Nixon Peabody is an international law firm with an office in Jericho that works with clients who are building the technologies and industries of the future. We have the experience necessary to drive your business forward and help you negotiate risks and opportunities related to all areas of business and the law, including startup work, private placements, venture capital and private equity, IP and licensing, labor and immigration and mergers and acquisitions.


It’s that time again: One more gentle reminder that there will be no calendar e-blast on Monday and no newsletter on Wednesday. Innovate LI will be back at you with fresh website content on Jan. 2 and a new newsletter on Jan. 4.

Have a safe and happy New Year. Meanwhile, check out our online calendar for a full slate of networking events and business-building workshops, including these recent additions:

January 9
Long Island Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club
7-9 p.m., Farmingdale State College Conference Center 
The FSC Small Business Development Center presents the club’s first monthly meeting of 2019, featuring a discussion on the inventor’s 2019 mindset with Gander Group President Scott Nicholson. Admission is free, pre-registration is required. Registration and more information.

January 10
How to Believe to Achieve
9-11 a.m., Farmingdale State College Conference Center
The FSC Small Business Development Center presents “evolutionary coach” Bill Fauth in a workshop promoting PSYCH-K, an “evolution of consciousness” designed to promote new subconscious beliefs. Fees, registration and more information available here.

January 15-16
SBIR/STTR Workshop – NIH Focused

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.-noon Wednesday, Long Island High Technology Incubator, Stony Brook University
The SBU Center for Biotechnology and NYSTAR present a two-part session on federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs, with particular focus on grant funding from National Institutes of Health. Space is limited, pre-registration required. Fees, registration and more information available here.

January 15
2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series – Workers’ Compensation & OSHA
8:30-10:30 a.m., Adelphi University Hauppauge Business Center 
Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates kicks off its 2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series with a workshop on reducing workers’ compensation costs, preparing for OSHA and EPA audits and critical environmental and health-and-safety issues. Ticket pricing, registration and more information available here.

February 5
Investing in Long Island’s Regional Economic Development
5:30-8:30 p.m., The Irish Coffee Pub, East Islip
Join the Long Island Business Development Council for its annual Islip Town Dinner featuring keynote speaker Kevin Law, President & CEO of the Long Island Association and Co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. Networking and registration begins at 5:30, dinner and program follows an hour later. Sponsorship and registration information available here.

February 26
2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series – Creative Recruiting in the Manufacturing Industry
8:30-10:30 a.m., Adelphi University Hauppauge Business Center 
Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates continues its 2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series with a workshop on hiring qualified candidates, understanding Long Island’s resources and using alternative-marketing methods to recruit top job candidates. Ticket pricing, registration and more information available here.

March 26
2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series – Critical Cybersecurity Measures & Supply Chain
8:30-10:30 a.m., Adelphi University Hauppauge Business Center 
Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates continues its 2019 Manufacturers’ Breakfast Series with a two-part workshop covering cybersecurity (including recognizing potential breaches and other vulnerabilities) and supply-chain security (including the fundamentals of risk-assessment and the evolving role of human ingenuity). Ticket pricing, registration and more information available here.


Innovate LI’s inbox overrunneth with inspirational ideas from all North American corners. This week’s brightest out-of-town innovations:

From California: San Francisco-based AutoMotion rolls out a new mobile app for consumers interested exclusively in electric vehicles.

From Canada: Vancouver-based Sproutly Canada pours its first “functional beverages” featuring water-soluble cannabinoids.

From Florida: Oviedo-based Engineerica Systems updates its AccuClass student-tracking software with new attendance functions and other customizable solutions.


+ Qwick, an Arizona-based on-demand staffing company for the hospitality industry, raised $1.3 million in funding backed by Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, UA Venture Capital, Moving Capital, Desert Angels and XG Ventures.

+ Iris Nova, a New York City-based consumer goods company focused on non-alcoholic beverages, raised $15 million in seed funding backed by the Coca-Cola Co.’s Venturing & Emerging Brands unit, GGV, Greycroft, CASSIUS, Betaworks Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk, Kate Hudson, Alex Rodriguez and Scooter Braun, among others.

+ Halo Labs, a California-based life science instrumentation company, closed a $5.6 million Series B financing round led by Research Corporation Technologies, BroadOak Capital Partners, BioAdvance, the BenFranklin Technology Partners of South Eastern Pennsylvania, Paul McEwan and other current employees.

+ Devcon, a Georgia-based cybersecurity software company dedicated to defeating ad fraud and preserving independent journalism, closed a $4.5 million seed round led by Las Olas VC, TechSquare Labs cofounder Paul Judge and Ionic Security founder Adam Ghetti.

+ Malta Inc., a Massachusetts-based developer of electro-thermal energy storage systems, raised $26 million in Series A funding led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, with participation from Concord New Energy Group and Alfa Laval.


+ Jonathan Berkowitz has been named medical director of Northwell Health’s Center for Emergency Medical Services in Syosset. He served previously as medical director of the Westchester Medical Center Health Transfer Center.

+ Laurie Nordby has been promoted to staff coordinator at the Melville-based Long Island Whole Child Academy for Twice Exceptional Learning. She was formerly an English language arts instructor.

+ Peter Breingan has been hired as a comprehensive ophthalmologist and laser-cataract surgeon at Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island in Manhasset. He held the same position at the Eye Institute of New York in Manhattan.


Cold cuts: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t grill.

Frozen assets: It’s not white, it affects sound, monkeys love it and other amazing things you didn’t know about snow.

Cooler heads: Please support the great firms that support Innovate LI, including Nixon Peabody, where the Food, Beverage and Agribusiness practice helps you ice the competition.