No. 499: In which Vasco da Gama resurfaces – and moms, PPE and coconut pies have a day

Benchley player: "Jaws" author Peter Benchley, who appeared briefly in the classic 1975 Steven Spielberg film based on his blood-curdling bestseller, would have been 80 years old today.


The mother of all weekends: Welcome to Friday, dear readers, as we wrap up another work-from-home workweek and kick off a bittersweet, locked-down Mother’s Day weekend.

Crossroads: The International Committee of the Red Cross plays a huge role in the global pandemic response.

Freedom (to choose): It’s May 8 out there, and if states aren’t being liberated as quickly as you’d like, perhaps you’ll find solace in the Czech Republic’s Liberation Day.

If not, try Parents Day in South Korea, Veterans Day in Norway or World Red Cross Day.

Cream of the crop: And if none of those do it for you, give National Coconut Cream Pie Day a whirl.

Victorious: Less creamy, but no less sweet, is today’s 75th anniversary of V-E Day, marking Germany’s official 1945 surrender and the end of World War II in Europe.

…and a smile: Let’s mark the occasion with an ice-cold pop – the very first Coca-Cola was served on May 8, 1886, at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.

And yes, it contained copious amounts of cocaine.

Gas guzzler: George Selden of upstate Rochester, one of history’s earliest patent trolls, filed the first U.S. automobile patent on this date in 1879. While he never designed or built a car himself, he’d ultimately collect royalties for years.

Related/not related is the U.S. patent issued May 8, 1847, to English inventor Robert Thomson, the first covering rubber tires.

Beta Ray Ernie: Rutherford was on to something.

Had a glow about him: Dubbing them “alpha” and “beta” rays, British physicist Ernest Rutherford first described the existence of two forms of radiation on this date in 1899.

Pass the salt: The U.S. Department of the Interior opened the nation’s first practical seawater desalination plant on May 8, 1961, in Texas.

Better days: While we struggle through the worst global health crisis in decades, let’s recall one of humanity’s great healthcare victories – the eradication by vaccine of the deadly smallpox disease, announced May 8, 1980, by the World Health Organization.

Positive latitude: And a 16th century astrolabe – a primitive instrument used to determine oceanic latitudes – was discovered on this date in 2014, more than 500 years after it was lost in a shipwreck off the Oman coast.

Scientists traced the 175-millemeter disc to a doomed 1503 voyage led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.

When dignity mattered: Plain-spoken man, monumental decisions.

The S stands for … S:  Thirty-third U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) – who dropped the bomb (twice), implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe after WWII and had no middle name, just the initial – would be 136 years old today.

Also born on May 8 were slave/renowned poet Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), the first published African American woman; American aerospace pioneer James “Dutch” Kindelberger (1895-1962), who designed Douglas Aircraft’s workhorse DC series; “Jaws” author Peter Benchley (1940-2006); and English broadcaster/natural historian Sir David Attenborough (born 1926), who’s won Emmy and BAFTA and Peabody awards and was knighted in 1985.

Putting the band back together: Earth, Wind & Fire singer/songwriter Phillip Bailey (1951), Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz (1951), Fleetwood Mac guitarist Billy Burnette (1953), Van Halen drummer Alex Van Halen (1953), Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham (1960) and Spanish-Filipino singer/producer Enrique Iglesias (1975) were all born on May 8.

Wish the A-list talent, the BBC legend and all the other May 8 innovators well at The buck stops there for story tips and calendar items, too.


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Cue card: Stony Brook nurses are working hard to share each COVID-19 patient’s “Story.”

Top ‘Story:’ One of the pandemic’s more heartfelt innovations is making the rounds at Stony Brook University Hospital, where the “My Story” initiative is giving a voice to patients silenced by COVID-19.

In April, staffers began contacting those closest to coronavirus patients – including patients left literally speechless by intubation – to learn everything they could: nicknames, grandkids’ names, favorite music and TV shows, anything that could enhance interactions between providers and patients, all gathered in photo-heavy, info-rich “My Story” documents posted at each patient’s bedside.

A team of nurses, naturally, spearheaded the arduous research effort, drawing inspiration from a similar program focused on Alzheimer’s disease patients created by Stony Brook Medicine Elder Life Coordinator Carolyn O’Neill. “It’s such an unprecedented time, with no visitors,” noted Nurse Practitioner April Plank, part of the team that brought “My Story” to COVID-19 patients. “We have had nothing but great feedback from both families and patients.”

The one that got away: A little thing like a global pandemic wasn’t going to stop the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, which hosted a virtual final round for the first time in its prestigious 23-year history.

But time and tide wait for none, as they say, and for perennial ocean-sciences powerhouse Mount Sinai High School, which has reached the NOSB finals seven times in the last 11 years, the big one wriggled free once again. The Mustangs joined 18 other teams in the April 20 virtual finals – which included buzzer-style multiple-choice questions and long-form critical thinking questions – but finished out of the money. Ladue Horton Watkins High School of St. Louis, Mo, swam off with top honors.

The Mount Sinai squad doesn’t leave empty-finned, however. To qualify for the finals (something 259 other teams in the national competition failed to do), the Mustangs – including students Katherine Fedotov, Aaron Angress, Arielle Mule, Matthew Miller, Jake DeBlasio and Jonathon Jacobson, and coaches Andy Matthews and Glynis Nau-Ritter – had to win the regional 2020 Scallop Bowl, marking the ’Stangs seventh Scallop Bowl title since 2009.



Stunning stat: Governor Cuomo plugs PPE as state survey shows frontline healthcare workers are less-coronavirus-infected than the general population.

Mother’s Day can’t hurt: Though sales aren’t the problem for, which reports both higher quarterly revenues and mounting losses.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Bethpage FCU vs. sneaky SOBs, a pediatric practice group stays vigilant and the coronavirus ate my SAT – all that and more in our one-of-a-kind, Long Island-heavy pandemic primer.



Why Long Island may be the wellspring for a COVID-19 vaccine; why doctors would like to see more emergency-room patients.



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

From Washington: The national nonprofit New Mask Coalition presses returning Peace Corps volunteers back into service, distributing PPE to healthcare workers.

From California: Menlo Park-based three-dimensional-mapping trailblazer REscan “emerges from stealth mode” to reveal “human perspective” digital 3D models.

From Colorado: Denver-based positivity pros Elia Gourgouris and Konstantinos Apostolopoulos write up pandemic-approved “7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis.”



Sean Silverbrook

+ Sean Silverbrook has joined Port Washington-based BEB Capital Lending Division as vice president. He previously served as director of loan originations for Manhattan-based Maxim Capital Group.

+ Melville-based H2M architects + engineers has announced eight new hires: Peter Braverman, formerly a senior project manager at Melville-based Nelson and Pope, is now a senior architect; Paul King, formerly an associate principal at GACE Consulting Engineers in Manhattan, is now a senior discipline engineer; Gregory Austin, formerly a junior mechanical designer at Washington-based Engenium Group, is now a staff engineer; Kathleen McBride, formerly an adjunct professor of architectural engineering at Suffolk County Community College, is now a staff engineer; Ralph Michele, formerly a contract employee for the firm, is now a project manager; former intern Matthew Li is now a staff engineer; New York Institute of Technology graduate Peter Angelone is now a staff engineer; and Pawandeep Kaur, formerly an account analyst for Farmingdale-based Swimwear Anywhere, is now a project accountant.

+ The staff of Port Washington-based Russell Giammarino Wealth Management has joined Coastline Wealth Management, also located in Port Washington. Wealth Management Directors Sean Russell and Philip Giammarino and Client Service Manager Jean Kunkel will retain their titles.



Politicizing PPE: Oh, it’s on.

Weights and measures: The Town of Huntington is on a diet.

Missing metrics: Nassau and Suffolk counties might be the last in the state to reopen.

Math-proof: Ignore the overwhelming statistics – wearing masks is liberal vs. conservative now.

Calculating: Please continue supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate LI, including Bridgeworks, where the flexible office options and dynamic business-development services always add up. Check them out.