No. 483: In which life as we’ve known it is over, at least for a little while

Dark day: With national college tournaments, the start of the Major League Baseball season and both the NBA and NHL speeding toward their annual playoffs, March is usually one of the most exciting months for American sports. Not in 2020.


Scary as hell: They don’t call it Friday the 13th for nothing, dear readers, as your worst nightmares about plagues, recessions and sports-less weekends crash together in one horrifying global pandemic.

Global domination: The Earth is mine!

Yes, it’s Friday, March 13, and no, it’s not that bad – we’re certainly navigating unprecedented waters as COVID-19 quite literally takes over the world, but it’s not really the end of all things.

For example: Plenty of NASCAR and professional golf on TV this weekend. (FRIDAY UPDATE: Scratch that.)

And Tom Hanks is going to be OK.

Stop right there: But the NBA, the NHL, MLB and the NCAA, among others, are hanging them up for now. Colleges are closing their campuses and dialing up distance-learning options, and other drastic measures are being taken around the world to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (St. Patrick’s Day parades have been canceled across Ireland, akin to canceling gravity).

Of course, our very own 2020 Innovator of the Year Awards show, originally scheduled for March 24 at the Crest Hollow Country Club, is not immune. More below.

In other news: With all the dire statistics and dramatic closures and essential travel bans to European nations not hosting Trump golf resorts, it’s easy to forget there’s other stuff going on, including an entire history of great innovations associated with this date.

Case in point, two planets were discovered on March 13 (well, one and a half): Uranus, by astronomer William Herschel in 1781, and Pluto, by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 (he actually spotted the tiny orb in February of that year but announced it on this date, which is OK, since Pluto is technically not a planet).

Ken Carson: Anatomically incorrect.

Sam and Ken: Speaking of impressive debuts, enduring U.S. symbol Uncle Sam first appeared in The New York Lantern newsletter on this date in 1852, and Ken Carson – Barbie’s longtime friend with benefits – first made the scene on March 13, 1961.

Circle of life: And speaking of scene-making, New York City’s Minskoff Theatre – currently home of the long-running Broadway production of “The Lion King” – opened on this date in 1973.

Where credit is due: Tombaugh gets the glory, but Clyde knew where to look because of March 13 birthday boy Percival Lowell (1855-1916), an American author and astronomer who mathematically predicted Pluto’s existence.

Prognosis positive: Dimon is recovering at home.

Also born on March 13 were English innovator Fredrick Walton (1834-1928), who invented linoleum; Holland Tunnel namesake Clifford Holland (1883-1924), the first of three chief engineers to oversee construction; revered American journalist Janet Flanner (1892-1978), when spent 50 years as New Yorker Magazine’s Paris correspondent; the “Poet Laureate of Young Children,” children’s author Dorothy Keeley Aldis (1896-1966); and JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon (born 1956), still in control at the Big Four bank following his recent heart surgery.

Anything but: And take a bow, Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn – the Academy Award-winning rapper, actor, writer and philanthropist, known best as Common, turns 48 today.

Give the uncommon performer, the all-time executive and all the other March 13 innovators your best at – story tips, calendar suggestions and Purell coupons always appreciated.


About our sponsor: The Long Island Business Development Council has helped build the regional economy for 50 years by bringing together government economic-development officials, developers, financial experts and others for education, debate and networking.



Additional lines: TheCoderSchool, a Silicon Valley-based national program imparting both computing lingo and coder-required critical-thinking skills, is expanding again on Long Island.

On Saturday (which is March 14, a.k.a. National Pi Day), the fourth TheCoderSchool location to open on Long Island since 2017 – all owned by entrepreneur Noreen Kazi – will open in Commack, joining existing facilities in Bayside, Roslyn and Syosset. The schools use customized lessons on a variety of platforms to teach youngsters coding languages including HTML, Javascript, Python and others.

There’s plenty of business to go around, according to Kazi, who also owns a fifth franchise in New Jersey. “We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact and the growing importance of early coding education,” the entrepreneur said this week. “Since opening the first school, parents and students alike have come to us looking for guidance on how to prepare for this tech world.”

Make it count: Meesha Johnson (left) and Carolyn Peabody discuss Native Americans and the U.S. Census.

Native numbers: Preparing Long Island’s Native American communities for the 2020 U.S. Census takes center stage in Stony Brook University’s latest “Beyond the Expected” podcast.

In the fifth and latest episode of the university’s first-ever official podcast, host (and Interim University President) Michael Bernstein chats up Carolyn Peabody, a clinical associate professor in SBU’s School of Social Welfare, and SBU student Meesha Johnson about the census’ profound effects on government funding levels for schools, transportation programs, Medicare and more – issues of particular interest in Native American communities.

“The census count is important, especially for Native American communities such as Shinnecock, because a lot of times these indigenous communities are what we call ‘grant-based communities,’” Johnson notes. “A lot of the funding that does come into our community is based on various community block grants.”



Innovation in action: Yes, the coronavirus has canceled our uber-popular annual awards show – but that just means we’ll have to get creative.

Pour it on: Northwell Health wants the FDA to approve automated processing of COVID-19 tests, dramatically increasing speed.

Restrict this: Innovate LI’s thrice-weekly newsletters will continue traveling to Europe, unabated, for the foreseeable future. Free subscriptions for all.



Improving critical CPR practices, making workplace diversity work.



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

From Utah: Park City-based chatbot customizer AtlasRTX deploys an AI-driven EduBot to enhance the Rockhurst University website experience.

From Illinois: Chicago-based wearable-tech innovator ProGlove gives logistics a (back)hand with new glove scanner.

From Maine: Portland-based process-automation specialist CampTek rushes out a “coronavirus conference cancelation bot” to handle refunds and more.



Lisa Brighton Raffaele

+ Lisa Brighton Raffaele has been hired as community outreach program coordinator at Northwell Health in Great Neck. She previously served as a corporate social responsibility senior analyst at CA Technologies in Islandia.

+ Laura Lindenfeld, professor of journalism and executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, has been promoted to dean of the SBU School of Journalism. She previously served as interim dean.

+ Nicole Sampson, a distinguished professor of chemistry and interim dean of the Stony Brook University College of Arts and Sciences, has been promoted to dean.

+ Michael Silverman has been hired as chief operating officer at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. He previously served as senior director of operations and strategy at Rothman Orthopaedics in Manhattan.

+ Jeannea Baptiste has been hired as an assistant director in the Office of Career and Professional Development at Central Islip-based Touro Law Center. She previously served as assistant corporate counsel for the Family Court Division of the New York City Law Department.

+ Craig Handler, an associate at Riverhead-based Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin and Quatararo, has been promoted to partner.

+ Stephen Brodsky, of counsel at Woodbury-based Kaufman Dolowich and Voluck, has been promoted to partner.

+ William Henle has been hired as a staff engineer at Melville-based H2M architects + engineers. He previously served as an intern for the firm.


BELOW THE FOLD (Lighter Side of the Pandemic/Things Are Happening Fast Edition)

Ball fake: Nope, says Snopes.

You want fries with that? Drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Denver. (FRIDAY UPDATE: New York too!)

Carbon scoring: As the health crisis promotes telecommuting, global emissions drop fast.

Wilson! The world’s most beloved coronavirus patient has some famous company in isolation, and not just his wife. (FRIDAY UPDATE: Debunked!)

This too shall pass: And when it does, the great organizations that support Innovate LI will still be doing their thing – including the Long Island Business Development Council, steward of regional socioeconomics through wars and recessions and pandemics and more. Check them out.