No. 501: On Kepler, Mickey Mouse and Joltin’ Joe – and an A+ for Farmingdale State

Taking flight: Months before Mickey's full-sound, much-heralded appearance in "Steamboat Willie," Mickey and Minnie Mouse made their official screen debuts on May 15, 1928, in the silent short "Plane Crazy."


Almost there: Another work-from-home workweek ends, another stuck-at-home weekend begins – welcome to May 15, dear readers, exactly two-thirds through The Spring That Time Forgot.

Of course, it’s a very different Friday in other parts of New York State, which are set to initiate reopening protocols today. Alas, as of Thursday, Long Island remained a couple of metrics short.

Ahoy: Feeling a little chippy.

Better shared: Speaking of sheltering in place, the UN’s International Day of Families and America’s National Chocolate Chip Day, both uniquely suited to a lockdown pandemic, are both celebrated on May 15.

Today is also International Conscientious Objection Day – kind of like objecting to state policy by storming the capital in masks and combat gear, waving automatic weapons and swastikas and screaming at police officers, only sane.

Man in motion: German astronomer/astrologer Johannes Kepler cracked a key code on May 15, 1618, when he doped out the mathematical principles governing planetary orbits – now known as Kepler’s Third Law.

The People’s Department: Back on Earth, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation on this date in 1862 creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And on the topic of famous names taking big steps, iconic women’s rights crusaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in New York City on May 15, 1869.

What happens in Vegas: It wouldn’t be incorporated as a city until 1911 and it was decades before gambling would be legalized, but Las Vegas – at the time, just a 110-acre Nevada railroad town – was established by auction on this date in 1905.

So, could you inject it for coronavirus? “Listerine” was trademarked on May 15, 1923, but not the modern mouthwash – the original product was a surgical disinfectant.

M-I-C…: Mickey Mouse, seminal symbol of the vast Disney empire, debuted on this date in 1928 in the cartoon short “Plane Crazy.”

Untouchable: The Yankee Clipper’s 56-game hitting streak is not likely to be matched.

Streaky: And on May 15, 1941, New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio singled to left field, finishing that day’s game against the Chicago White Sox with that lone hit in four at-bats.

Joltin’ Joe would hit safely in 55 consecutive games after that, among a handful of professional baseball records some say will never be broken.

Strong language: Ukrainian-American mathematician Ida Rhodes (1900-1986) – a pioneering computer-analysis expert, occasional Albert Einstein collaborator and key contributor to early U.S. computer-language development – would be 120 years old today.

Albright light: Tough, intelligent, not big on fascists.

Also born on May 15 were Scottish-American astronomer Willamina Fleming (1857-1911), who discovered white-dwarf stars; iconic author L. Frank Baum (1856-1919), who took us to Oz; radical radiation researcher Pierre Curie (1859-1906), Marie’s better half; “Lady of the Lines” Maria Reiche (1903-1998), the German-born Peruvian mathematician/archeologist who safeguarded the Nazca Lines; and American entertainer-turned-peace-activist Hugh Romney (born 1936), the Woodstock relic known best as Wavy Gravy.

Czech mark: And take a bow, Madeline Albright – the Czechoslovakian immigrant (born Marie Jana Korbelová) and first woman to serve as the U.S. secretary of state turns 83 today.

Wish these and all the other May 15 innovators well at Story tips, event listings and general howdy-do’s always welcome.


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.



Hope floats: The S.S. Ohana Means Family, winner of the 2020 Roth Pond Regatta.

Whole lotta regatta: One of Stony Brook University’s best-loved traditions has remained afloat by charting a course around social distancing restrictions.

Considered a rite of passage by the SBU community, the annual Roth Pond Regatta challenges student teams to design and build boats – using only cardboard, duct tape and paint – that can cross the pond in the campus’ Roth residential area. Co-chaired by the Undergraduate Student Government and the Stony Brook Computing Society, the 31st annual challenge went virtual, waving traditional size and material limits, adopting a “Disney+ theme” and inviting competitors to submit photos of their finished vessels.

Entries were judged on appearance, design, originality and “apparent seaworthiness,” with the Stony Brook chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon – an international co-ed medical fraternity that no doubt observed proper social distancing protocols during the engineering and construction phases – sailing off with top honors. “We’re not going to allow the pandemic to stop the best and most fun tradition at Stony Brook,” noted Dean of Students Richard Gatteau. “Roth Regatta is our one-of-a-kind celebration of the end of each academic year.”

Structural support: A six-figure grant will help the New York Institute of Technology offer scholarships and other financial support to future architects.

The IDC Foundation, legacy organization of  the Brooklyn-born nonprofit Institute of Design and Construction (1947-2015), has awarded grants totaling $650,000 to New York Tech, Columbia University, NYU, the Pratt Institute and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The grants are designed to “support scholarships, fellowships and student experiences at a time when the financial circumstances of many students … and their institutions are severely challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the foundation.

The grants are each fairly modest – New York Tech’s School of Architecture and Design and the other four schools each received just $130,000 – but the $650,000 total pushes the IDC Foundation’s total grantmaking over the last two years past $10.6 million. “The IDC Foundation is excited to be able to support these institutions,” President Raymond Savino said Wednesday. “The foundation extends the legacy of the Institute of Design and Construction by advancing opportunity … to new generations seeking to study, join and lead the fields of architecture, engineering and building construction.”



Close observation: New York’s largest healthcare-employee union is warning federal lawmakers to do the right thing on PPE for front-line providers.

Honors classes: A Farmingdale State College program bridging the collegiate gap for high-achieving high schoolers has earned prestigious national accreditation.

Primer directive: Stony Brook’s nonverbal net, Farmingdale State’s visual effects and the Island’s metric pursuits – it’s Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus, like only Long Island can do it.



The Debrief returns, with PR great Hilary Topper; Gov. Cuomo reverses, with a dire warning.



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

From New Jersey: Somerville-based product developer Trutek picks a winner with NasalGuard, an electrostatic gel (and PPE alternative) that bounces airborne particles.

From Canada, eh: Ontario-based animal doctor/entrepreneur Sharon Quinn races around the world with Smart Vet telehealth platform.

From Florida: Fort Lauderdale-based clinical-stage innovator Veloce BioPharma rolls out proprietary antiseptics with “rapid viricidal efficacy” against the novel coronavirus.



Stacy Gibbons

+ Stacy Gibbons has joined Uniondale-based Health Plus Management as vice president of operations. She previously served as vice president of revenue cycle management for CityMD.

+ Steven Cheng has joined Uniondale-based Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein as an associate in the Corporate Department. He previously served as counsel at Manhattan-based Bohrer PLLC.

+ Michael Spolarich has joined First National Bank of Long Island in Glen Head as senior vice president and senior credit officer. He previously served as senior credit officer for the New York City/Long Island region at People’s United Bank.

+ Elissa Gargone has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing at Jefferson’s Ferry in South Setauket. She previously served as director of sales and marketing.

+ Bohemia-based P.W. Grosser Consulting has announced three new hires: Timothy D’Agostino, formerly a civil and water engineer at Woodbury-based D&B Engineers and Architects, is now a senior engineer; Hayley Schatz, formerly an engineering geologist with the New York State Office of Conservation, continues as an engineering geologist; and Peter Connolly, a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, is now a staff engineer.



Rockin’ restaurateur: Food-insecurity activist JBJ, backstage at his Tom’s River “community dining” eatery.

Livin’ on a prayer: Jon Bon Jovi (stage name) and Dorothea Bongiovi (married name) rock East End food insecurity.

Smells like team spirit: How to boost the gang’s WFH performance.

Working for the weekend: A 10-day weekend? Might be the only way to restart business and stop COVID-19.

The song remains the same: For five decades – through wars, terrorism, recessions and now a global pandemic – the regional economy’s music and lyrics have been fine-tuned by the Long Island Business Development Council. Check them out.