No. 497: It’s May Day, but don’t panic – new month, same pandemic (plus BASIC lingo … and mmm, parfaits!)

Death star: A planet by any other name, Pluto officially became Pluto 90 years ago today.


Yes, you May: Welcome to Friday (we checked, it’s true) and a brand-new month in the surreal odyssey that is the Age of Coronavirus.

It’s May 1 out there – the earliest date Mother’s Day can fall in Samoa, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lithuania, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain and Romania, though today is not Mother’s Day in any of those places (nor in the States, where it falls two Sundays hence).

Above par: Yes, please.

Legally delish: It is, however, the American Bar Association’s annual Law Day, which celebrates the rule of law in a just society, plus National Chocolate Parfait Day.

A couple of reasons: It’s also Couple Appreciation Day, an annual expression of gratitude for our better halves.

(Due to the pandemic, this year only, judges will accept not impaling partners for chewing too loudly as adequate “appreciation.”)

Stamp of approval: Featuring a handsome profile of Queen Victoria, the world’s first adhesive postage stamp – the Penny Black – was first issued in Great Britain on May 1, 1840.

Speaking of black firsts that stuck around, Howard University – the historically African American institution that produced U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and many other high-profile alumni – first opened its doors on May 1, 1867.

Scraping by: Also achieving new heights (like, literally) was the Empire State Building, which was the world’s tallest when it opened on May 1, 1931.

Sphere of influence: Wait, no … that’s not right.

Belt loop: The Van Allen Radiation Belts – named for James Van Allen, the American scientist who devised the cosmic ray detector that found them – were officially named at a May 1, 1958, joint meeting of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society.

Also in space, the planet/not planet/dwarf planet Pluto was officially named – by 11-year-old Oxfordian Venetia Burney, who won five pounds for the idea – on this date in 1930.

BASIC instinct: And it was May 1, 1964, when Dartmouth University professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz wrote the first Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Codethe computer language Bill Gates et al would slip into personnel computers starting in 1975.

The mother of all labor leaders: Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (1830-1930) – a fearless crusader for employees rights, adopted matron of millions of U.S. workers and one-time “most dangerous woman in America” – would be 190 years old today.

Calamitous: Had gun, would travel.

Also born on May 1 were Massachusetts inventor Rufus Porter (1792-1884), who held more than 100 patents and was the founding publisher of Scientific American magazine; French chemist and industrialist Count Louis-Marie-Hilaire Bernigaud Chardonnet (1839-1924), who spun up artificial silk;  British surgeon Lawson Tait (1845-1899), the first to remove a diseased appendix; whiskey-swilling, sharp-shooting folk hero Martha “Calamity” Jane Cannary (1852-1903); and American actor, author and comedian Jack Paar (1918-2004), remembered best as the second host of “The Tonight Show.”

Keeping Coolidge: And take a bow, Rita Coolidge – the Grammy-winning pop and country star of the 1970s and 80s turns 75 today.

Wish these and all the other May 1 innovators well at, where story tips and calendar items always lift us higher and higher.


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Contact sheet: From here to there, coronavirus-style.

First contact: New York State’s innovative contact tracing program – a largest-in-the nation effort to better understand, and ultimately slow, the spread of the novel coronavirus – is set to kick off this month, and will likely operate through next winter.

Contact tracing – a longstanding core-disease control measure that sees public health officials determining, as best possible, where infected patients have been and whom they’ve interacted with, and then tries to educate those potential carriers – can be an especially important weapon in the current crisis, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said Thursday the pilot program would launch in conjunction with health officials in New Jersey and Connecticut, and with a big assist from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the program is already recruiting, interviewing and training potential “contact tracers,” with a target baseline of 30 tracers per 100,000 people (as many as 17,000 tracers statewide). “[This] will require, under any estimate, a tracing army to come up to scale very, very quickly,” Cuomo said Thursday. “We want the best system that we can have to get New York open and to protect New Yorkers.”

Future perfect: A big round of applause, please, for our friends over at Holbrook-based IT-solutions provider Future Tech Enterprises, who’ve stepped up big-time to ease the regional PPE crunch.

And let’s hear it especially for Future Tech CEO Bob Venero, who tracked down thousands of precious KN95 respirator masks online, paid $50,000 out-of-pocket to secure them and then gifted the lot to Patchogue’s Long Island Community Hospital – the Island’s last independent community hospital – and Hauppauge’s Island Harvest Food Bank.

“Anybody on the front lines who is putting themselves and their families at risk to support the sick deserves all the credit in the world,” Venero said. “They are saving lives every day. Their next patient could be your mother, grandmother, spouse or you.”



In remote control: When the coronavirus came, Stony Brook Medicine’s multidisciplinary menu of advanced telehealth services was ready to rock.

Over hill and Farmingdale: Also stepping up is Farmingdale State, where a “monumental” multipronged response has kept the college cooking.

Primer examples: Compassionate campuses? Childcare for essential workers? Virtual orgies? You want it, you got it, courtesy of Long Island’s one-and-only Pandemic Primer.



Virtual success with Hofstra University, practical thinking with the Suffolk IDA.



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

From Nevada: Las Vegas-based omni-channel marketing system Context Networks raises the stakes with poker tournament king Play Globally.

From Massachusetts: Burlington-based “smart city” tech-master CIMCON dispatches NearSky platform to map real-time road conditions in tiny test town.

From Florida: West Palm Beach-based organic superfood supplier Z Natural Foods introduces the organic instant mushroom coffee you didn’t know you needed.



Peter Grizzaffi

+ Peter Grizzaffi is the new chief information officer at Farmingdale State College. He previously served as assistant vice president/global IT officer for MetLife in New York City.

+ Anne LaMorte has been appointed chief financial officer of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. She previously served as chief financial officer of the City of Glen Cove Community and Industrial Development agencies.

+ Eva Chalas has been elected the 71st president of the Washington-based American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She is a professor and vice chairwoman of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine and physician director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola.

+ Jeffrey Levine is the new director of admissions and enrollment planning at Farmingdale State College. He previously served as director of enrollment management and special advisor to the vice president of student affairs at New Jersey City University.

+ Nicole Gill has been hired as an administrative assistant for the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. She is a recent graduate of the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Elmhurst.



Culture BellGrande: The more you eat, the more you art.

Smarter than your average AI: Cybercriminals are pouncing on the pandemic – and outpacing the artificial-intelligence guards trying to stop them.

Innovation, when we need it most: Twenty-six ideas to change the world (and maybe even save it).

Good luck rhyming “chimichanga”: Human literature peaks with Taco Bell Quarterly, a poetry magazine that dares to live mas.

Calling in backup: Business resiliency has never been more important – and it’s never been easier thanks to Webair, mission-critical infrastructure ace and one of the amazing firms that support Innovate LI. Check them out.