No. 438: With stops in Cuba, Bulgaria and the Peconic Bay – plus, a V2G rollout

Leagues of their own: After 85 years, the women-dominant sport of roller derby rolls on, with more than 2,000 amateur leagues worldwide (including the two-team Long Island Roller Rebels).


Well-balanced: A palindromic 9-1-8-1-9 to you, dear reader, as we welcome Wednesday and the midpoint of another busy workweek.

Make Mesoamerica date again: Count on it.

Going for Yucs: It is indeed Sept. 18 out there, and if you had the 12th baktun of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar kicking off on this date in 1618, jach maʼalob.

A little Yucatec Mayan right there. Anyway, five-hundred cacao beans for you.

Hot air: Before we take off, all rise for old friend Gary Lewi, managing director at Manhattan-based strategic communications master Rubenstein, who wrote in to pop our balloon following Monday’s newsletter, in which we reported that a blimp docked at the Empire State Building in 1931.

That was no blimp, but a dirigible – “big difference in construction,” Lewi notes. Thank you, sir, we float corrected.

Diamond in the rough: Entrepreneurs Charles Tiffany and John Young co-founded a New York City “stationery and fancy goods emporium” – later renamed Tiffany & Co. – on this date in 1837.

Vol. 1, Issue 1: Happy birthday to The Gray Lady – still a bastion of truth, champion of the people and flagbearer of the Fourth Estate, The New York Times first published on Sept. 18, 1851.

Chief among them: Harriet Maxwell Converse, an American author of Scottish/Irish heritage and champion of Native American rights, became the first white woman named a tribal Indian chief on this date in 1891.

CBS news: Known first as United Independent Broadcasters Inc., the New York City-based Columbia Broadcasting System radio network was started on Sept. 18, 1927.

What is now a primary component of the colossal CBS Corp. was, at first, a string of second bananas: The network was launched by an ambitious talent scout who couldn’t land gigs on NBC for any of his clients.

I spy: Speaking of listening in (and little-known networks), the Central Intelligence Agency officially became a thing on this date in 1947.

Cuban missile: And it was Sept. 18, 1980, when Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendéz became the first Latin American (and, by all accounts, the first person of color) in space, rocketing up as part of the Soviet Union’s international Soyuz 38 crew.

And still swinging: Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault (1819-1868), the French physicist whose Foucault Pendulum experiment proved the Earth rotates on its axis, would be 200 years old today.

Also born on Sept. 18 were Charles Sédillot (1804-1883), the French surgeon who coined the word “microbe”; Siegfried Marcus (1831-1898), the Austrian innovator credited by many as the inventor of the gasoline-powered automobile; luminous Hollywood legend Greta Garbo (1905-1990); and gone-before-his-time heavyweight James Gandolfini (1961-2013).

Beach party: Happy birthday, Frankie Avalon (with Annette Funicello).

Beauty school dropout: And take a bow, Frankie Avalon – the actor, singer and one-time teen idol, who charted more than 30 U.S. Billboard singles, turns 79 today.

Wish the greaser, the Soprano and all the other Sept. 18 innovators a happy birthday at – story tips, calendar items and general howdy-do’s always appreciated.


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Gifted: Emilie and Michael Corey, blessed with the generosity gene.

Giveth: This year’s Peconic Bay Medical Center Benefit in Black & White was well into the black, thanks primarily to the largest gift from an individual in the Riverhead hospital’s history.

Held Sept. 13 at the Westhampton Country Club, the annual black-tie gala was colored by a $10 million donation from the chairwoman of the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation’s Board of Directors, Emilie Roy Corey, and her husband, Michael. The fresh generosity of the Coreys, already the founding supporters of the medical center’s Pegasus House Palliative Care unit, will “improve access to critical and primary-care services and enhance medical and surgical services,” according to a statement from the Northwell Health hospital.

Noting “an historic moment and exciting opportunity” for both the health system and the medical center, Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling reaffirmed Northwell’s commitment to turning PBMC into “a regional destination for exceptional and innovative medical care.”

Taketh away: The regional office of the Better Business Bureau is warning the indebted to be wary of credit scams posing as legitimate offers to reduce or even cancel student-loan debts.

Student-loan debt is at its highest-ever levels, according to the BBB chapter serving metropolitan New York, Long Island and the mid-Hudson region, which calculates nearly 45 million Americans in a $1.5 trillion hole – “prime targets for scammers,” says Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the metro New York chapter.

One common grift: “advisers” who offer programs with lower monthly payments or reduced payment periods (fewer months), then pocket the payments themselves, instead of passing them on to the original loan provider, with predictably disastrous results for victims. Information on these and other swindles are available through the BBB’s real-time Scam Tracker system.



Bus start: Three school buses and an ambitious “vehicle-to-grid” pilot program could mark the beginning of a new era in regional energy sustainability.

Euro pass: Two Long Island high-schoolers traveled all the way to Bulgaria to capture a top science prize for young thinkers.

Streaking: Records are falling and profits are soaring at Amityville’s Napco Security Technologies, where 20 straight quarterly sales records are just the beginning.



Suspension bridge: This week’s Voice comes from K-12 education expert Harry Aurora, who counts up too many out-of-school suspensions – and too few academic resources for the suspended.



Red tape redo: Forbes explains how government regulations don’t kill innovation, they inspire it.

Tanks a lot: Newsday dives in as Suffolk County antes up for more residential septic systems.

Chefs of the future: NPR celebrates history’s greatest kitchen hacks, from Robinson Crusoe’s breadmaking to the all-purpose skillet.



+ Edgewise Therapeutics, a Colorado-based preclinical company developing small-molecule therapies for musculoskeletal diseases, closed a $50 million Series B financing round co-led by Novo Holdings A/S and U.S. Venture Partners, with participation from Deerfield Management, New Leaf Venture Partners and Cure Duchenne Ventures, as well as existing founding investor OrbiMed Advisors.

+ Kaia Health, a New York City-based digital therapeutics company that creates treatments for a range of disorders, raised $8 million in funding led by Optum Ventures.

+ RoosterBio, a Maryland-based company developing tools to simplify human mesenchymal stem/stromal cell biomanufacturing, raised $6.5 million in the final tranche of its Series B funding round led by Dynamk Capital, with participation from Vanedge Capital, Bioeconomy Capital and others.

+, a NYC-based provider of an AI platform for accounting firms and mid-market finance departments, closed an $11.2 million Series A financing round led by GGV Capital, with participation from new investor Costanoa Ventures and seed-round lead investor Cowboy Ventures.

+ Wallit, a Maine-based, rewards-based savings app for families, raised $2.6 million in seed funding led by BlueIO, Mendoza Ventures, BoxOne Ventures and unnamed private investors, with participation from the Maine Technology Institute.

+ Dutchie, an Oregon-based e-commerce platform for cannabis pickup and delivery, closed a $15 million Series A funding round. Backers included Gron Ventures, Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital, Kevin Durant’s and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty-Five Ventures, Sinai Ventures, Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer and the founders of DoorDash.



Roll out: How wi-fi almost didn’t happen.

Roll call: Artisanal toilet paper challenges Big Tissue.

Roll on: Eighty-five years later, roller derby still breaks the rules.

Leading role: When it comes to regional business, nobody knows the scene better than the Town of Islip Office of Economic Development. Check them out.