No. 399: On soda jerks, community gardens and bag bans – plus, ICE in SBU’s veins

Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor: Now guided by its 13th editor, Janice Stillman, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is North America’s oldest continuously published periodical. The Almanac’s first editor, Robert Bailey Thomas was born Apr. 24, 1766.

Full speed ahead: As we hurtle the Wednesday hump, dear readers, and hustle through another exciting week of socioeconomic innovation.

It’s April 24 out there, and it’s a busy one – Children’s Day in Zambia, Concord Day in Niger, Democracy Day in Nepal, National Panchayati Raj Day in India and Kapyong Day in both Australia and Canada, among other festivities. Please celebrate responsibly.

Creature comfort: It’s also the World Day for Laboratory Animals, a circa-1979 observance meant to end the suffering of global lab specimens.

But we can still slaughter pigs, right? Because it’s also National Pigs in a Blanket Day.

We stand corrected: Before we get into it, a special thanks to eagle-eyed reader Paul Seigel, who spotted an error in our April 19 newsletter, which incorrectly stated that Guion Bluford Jr. was NASA’s first black astronaut.

In fact, Bluford was the first African American to fly into space – but NASA previously selected two black candidates for its astronaut program: PhD and U.S. Air Force senior pilot Robert Lawrence and USAF test pilot Edward Dwight, the first African American to train as an astronaut. Neither man was ultimately destined to break Earth’s surly bonds.

Book it: Happy anniversary to the Library of Congress, established on April 24, 1800, with a $5,000 appropriations bill.

Fountain of youths: American inventors Jacob Evert and George Dulty patented the soda fountain, a device for dispensing carbonated soft drinks, on this date in 1833.

Other patents issued on April 24 include one in 1928 for inventor Herbert Dorsey’s fathometer, an electro-mechanical sounding instrument that measured underwater depths, and one in 1934 for inventor Laurens Hammond’s pipeless electric organ.

Candy land: Originally intended for the exclusive use of his employees, chocolate tycoon Milton Hershey opened Hersheypark in Pennsylvania on April 24, 1903.

Around the world: On this date in 1970, China became the fifth nation to place a satellite into orbit, launching the DFH-1 from its Jiuquab Satellite Launch Center.

And it was April 24, 1990, when the space shuttle Discovery blasted off from Cape Canaveral, carrying the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

Farm report: American journalist Robert Bailey Thomas (1766-1846), founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, would be 253 years old today.

Other April 24 birthday boys and girls include English statistician John Graunt (1620-1674), who invented the science of demography (counting human populations); American architect John Russell Pope (1874-1937), who designed the Jefferson Memorial; English painter and optical art exponent Bridget Riley (born 1931); and prolific American detective novelist Sue Grafton (1940-2017).

A star was born: And take a bow, Barbra Streisand – the multiple Academy- and Grammy Award-winning singer and actress turns 77 today.

Wish Brooklyn’s favorite Funny Girl and the rest a happy birthday at And What’s Up, Doc? For The Main Event, look in the Mirror (Has Two Faces) and send us a story tip (Evergreens appreciated). Hey, you’re a real Prince (of Tides).

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Mission accomplished: A multidisciplinary team of American doctors, including two Northwell Health neurologists, has returned from a successful mission to Panama, where 12 children with intractable epilepsy received complex surgical care.

Northwell Health neurologists Raquel Fonseca and Ruben Kuzniecky, the health system’s vice chairman of academic affairs, joined physicians from Baylor University Medical Center and NYU Langone to perform those dozen surgeries over a five-day stretch in March at the Hospital de Ninos de Panama, treating children ages 4 to 15 who would otherwise be unable to access the multifaceted procedures –  including resective surgeries that removed seizure-producing areas of the brain.

The mission was the sixth for this group of physicians and a personal one for Kuzniecky, who was born and raised in Panama. “Although specialty care is available in Panama, epilepsy surgery services are not provided, as they are very complex,” the doctor noted. “It is so rewarding to be able to come back every year to help children with severe epilepsy who have no other treatment options.”

Putting the “farm” in Farmingdale State: Leaders of the Island Harvest Food Bank joined Farmingdale State College officials Tuesday to break ground – literally – on a quarter-acre campus garden that will grow nutritious produce for the food insecure.

As part of the food bank’s Giving Garden program, the Farmingdale State crops will support Island Harvest’s network of hunger-relief agencies in Nassau and Suffolk counties. During the 2018 growing season, 40 separate Giving Garden efforts contributed a combined 1.8 million pounds of fruits and vegetables to some 300,000 hungry Long Islanders.

Following Island Harvest’s organic-gardening guidelines, the Farmingdale State plot is projected to produce about 3,500 pounds of tomatoes, beets, garlic and other vegetables and herbs this season, joining 2019 Giving Gardens in Brentwood, Central Islip, Lake Grove and elsewhere. For more information on starting a community Giving Garden, contact Hillary Hess at (631) 873-4775.


Out of the bag: Trumpeting a substantial environmental effort, Albany has outlawed plastic bags, with single-use sacks banned as of next winter.

Efficiency or (com)bust: The rise of electric vehicles doesn’t mean the end of internal combustion engines – not if this crack team of diverse researchers has a say.

Incentivized innovation: Adelphi University will spruce up its Garden City campus with the help of tax-exempt bonds approved by Hempstead’s Local Development Corp.


Right over here: A bounty of business-building resources is available to Long Island’s early-stage entrepreneurs – but only if they know where to look, warns business-incubation expert Phil Rugile.


Crisis point: Forbes explains why, in a tech-fueled innovation economy, crisis planning has become a 24/7 endeavor.

Tis the season: With Memorial Day looming and summer on the horizon, Newsday offers a primer for seasonal businesses.

Monkey business: From Inc., a plan to save the world that starts with sea monkeys (yes, those sea monkeys).


+ Locus Robotics, a Massachusetts-based market leader in autonomous warehouse robots, raised $26 million in Series C funding. Backers included Zebra Ventures and Scale Venture Partners.

+, a California-based provider of bookkeeping services for startups and small businesses, raised $40 million in Series B financing led by Index Ventures, with participation from Stripe and existing investors.

+ Kindbody, a New York City-based women’s healthcare startup, secured $15 million in Series A financing co-led by RRE Ventures and Perceptive Advisors, with participation from new and existing investors including Green D Ventures, Trail Mix Ventures and Winklevoss Capital.

+ SilkTech Biopharmaceuticals, a Minnesota-based company focused on improving eye health through the development of silk-derived protein biotherapeutics, raised an additional $6.2 million in venture financing from Skyview Ventures.

+ Panorama Medicine, a Pennsylvania-based genomics- and computing-powered drug-discovery company focused on RNA therapeutics, raised $3.7 million in seed funding from WI Harper Group and a number of other venture capital firms.

+ AllyAlign Health, a Virginia-based developer and administrator of Medicare Advantage special-need plans that benefit long-term care providers, closed a $10 million strategic funding led by McKesson Ventures, with participation from existing investors Heritage Healthcare Innovation Fund, Health Enterprise Partners and the LinkAge Fund.


Head games: Forget nutrition … teens will eat healthier to defeat corporate manipulation, according to a new study.

Feet first: Everlane has crafted a sustainably chic sneaker with a smaller environmental footprint.

Leg up: Please continue supporting the innovative companies that support Innovate LI, including Webair, where Dedicated Private Clouds, Hybrid IT Management and other amazing tech services offer a clear advantage.