No. 503: In which we risk re-opening, plan retirements and map the world, with nowhere to go

Lest we forget: The days are definitely blurring, but this is a bona fide three-day holiday weekend, as we pause to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice.


A Memorial Day to forget: It’s the unofficial start of summer, dear readers, and maybe the unofficial end of sanity, as another homebound workweek wraps up with Long Island on lockdown.

Staycation: For the first time in two decades, the Automobile Association of American has not issued a Memorial Day travel forecast.

It’s May 22 out there, marking the start of the three-day Memorial Day weekend – another pandemic bummer for the tourism trade, though still an opportunity for innovation.

Calendar item: Innovate LI is clearing the baffles this holiday weekend, so no calendar newsletter on Monday. We’re back on the beat Tuesday; regularly scheduled Newsletter No. 504 coming Wednesday to an inbox near you.

By sea: Here on May 22, we pause to note National Maritime Day, the annual U.S. salute to the tough-as-they-come seafarers engaged in the dynamic maritime trades.

Hot off the press: Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, still available.

World view: Speaking of sailing off to see the world, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum – remembered as the first true atlas of the world, packed by Dutch mapmaker Abraham Ortelius with some 70 different charts by the era’s leading cartographers – was published on this date in 1570.

Howe about that: Farmer/adventurer Lester Howe and his intrepid heifer Millicent accidentally discovered the entrance to a mysterious cave near his upstate Schoharie Valley property on May 22, 1842.

Today, Howe Caverns remains a popular staple of the New York tourism industry (when there is one).

Innovative Abe: Abraham Lincoln became the only U.S. president to earn a patent – albeit, a dozen years before he took office – on this date in 1849, protecting a large contraption that lifted boats over sandbars and other submerged obstacles.  

Other U.S. patents issued on May 22 include one in 1892 for Connecticut dentist Washington Sheffield’s collapsible toothpaste tube and one in 1906 for the Wright Brothers, who designed some kind of flying machine.

Get to the point: And it was May 22, 1961, when construction crews – in a race to finish before the following year’s World’s Fair – poured the first concrete at the base of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

For the record, they made it – the 605-foot needle, then the tallest manmade object west of the Mississippi River, opened in time for April 1962’s Century 21 Exposition.

Lasting impression: Pennsylvania painter Mary (Stevenson) Cassatt (1844-1926) – a 19th century upstart who grew weary of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ rampant sexism, moved to Paris, ran with the likes of famed Frenchman Edgar Degas and became a leading contributor to the Impressionist movement – would be 176 years old today.

Dr. Doyle: More Watson than Holmes.

Also born on May 22 were way-ahead-of-his time English engineer William Sturgeon (1783-1850), who devised the first electromagnet that could lift more than its weight; Scottish physician Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), who was at least as smart as Sherlock Holmes; French mathematician Yves-André Rocard (1903-1992), who helped develop France’s first A-bomb and also dabbled in semiconductors, seismology and radio astronomy; and American gay rights activist Harvey Milk (1930-1978), the first openly homosexual man elected to any office in California.

Your song: And take a bow, Bernard John Taupin – the English poet, singer and artist, known best as Elton John’s primary lyricist, turns 70 today.

Wish these and all the May 22 Mona Lisas and mad hatters well at And don’t let the sun go do down on us – keep our crocodile rocking with story tips and events (guess that’s why they call it the news).


About our sponsor: Northwell Health is New York’s largest healthcare provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 750 outpatient facilities and 70,000-plus employees. We’re making breakthroughs at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and training the next generation of medical professionals at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. Visit



Virtual necessity: Pivoting within the pivot is the New York Institute of Technology, which has created a summertime virtual education program – online, of course – designed to help educators overcome the challenges of e-learning.

The program – offered as a six-credit microcredential course and as part of a 12-credit advanced certificate course – includes two required summer classes, Core I-Virtual Learning (running May 26 to July 8) and Core II-Virtual Learning Applications (July 13 to Aug. 22). The advanced certificate curriculum also includes a Curriculum Design and Development Course and a Computers in Education Seminar; more details here.

With COVID-19 altering the educational paths of some 50.8 million national schoolkids, New York Tech is keen on “provid[ing] teachers with the understandings and skills they need right now,” according to Department of Education Chairman Robert Feirsen. “The program enables teachers to develop expertise in how to use digital tools to expand student knowledge, build strong foundations for future growth and encourage students to express themselves in creative and safe ways.”

Watch this: Screen time is understandably up during the lockdown.

Screens cracked: From the Department of Silver Linings comes a new study by watchdog, which tracks Internet service providers and thinks maybe all this extra screen time piling up during the great 2020 pandemic isn’t so bad.

Yes, expert warnings about the negative effects of excessive screen time – particularly for kids – still ring throughout the land, but just as COVID-19 has forced society even deeper into our liquid-crystal and tin-oxide holes, it has changed how we use our tablets, TVs and phones. And that’s having some positive results, according to Screen Time and Kids, which lists benefits including social connectivity, educational programming, new-hobby discoveries and more.

The survey contains plenty of stats you might expect: 57 percent of Americans say their daily screen time has increased by at least an hour since entering isolation, for instance, while 30 percent admit they spend most of that time streaming movies and TV shows. But screen time “can in fact have many positive benefits,” Jessica Leichtweisz, CEO of Westchester-based, autism-focused Hope Education Services, notes in the report. “For example, young children often learn their letters, numbers, colors and shapes from watching YouTube videos.”



Balancing act: Re-opening businesses presents real risks, notes master innovator Mitch Maiman, who walks a fine line between caution and capitalism.

Letting off steam: Short of replacing the whole outdated plant, LIPA is looking to “retire” one of Northport Power Station’s four steam-driven units.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Inhibitors in the Renaissance School, volunteers in the Zucker School and a whole lotta LI to go around – it’s COVID-19, Island-style, in our exclusive pandemic primer.



Islip’s FindaTopDoc rolls up its sleeves; Nassau’s top fiscal watchdog sounds the alarm.



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

From California: San Diego-based digital “pet concierge” FIDUS trains owners to prepare pets for post-pandemic separation anxiety.

From Georgia: Atlanta-based rest-and-relaxation specialist NoiseZ retunes its block-it-all-out app with soothing new sounds and features.

From New York City: Personal health-tech innovator Lumen launches the world’s first handheld device (and app) for measuring real-time metabolism.



Junius Gonzalez

+ Junius Gonzales, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, has been elected to the Association of Chief Academic Officers Board of Directors.

+ Maryflorence Brennan has been promoted to executive director of Smithtown-based Retired Senior Volunteer Program Suffolk. She previously served as coordinator of the organization’s Health Insurance Information Counseling Assistance Program.

+ Hauppauge-based Teachers Federal Credit Union has announced three new hires: Inna Sprague, formerly vice president of sales and service for California-based First Tech Federal Credit Union, will serve as chief experience officer; Michael Rose, formerly senior vice president of technical and digital solutions at New Jersey-based Affinity Federal Credit Union, will serve as vice president of IT digital interactive and open banking; and Irene Sierra, formerly senior vice president of human resources for the Merchant Services Segment at Georgia-based TSYS, will serve as senior vice president of human resources and organizational development.

+ Phil Datz has been promoted to vice president of IT core capabilities and data at Hauppauge-based Teachers Federal Credit Union. He previously served as assistant vice president of information systems.


Whatever: You’ve got this.


Neat: How to keep that home office clutter-free.

Shaken: By necessity or choice, it might be time to reinvent your career.

Stirred: A handy guide to concocting cocktails with whatever’s in the fridge.

A toast: To innovation and those who embrace it – including Northwell Health, one of the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI and home of Long Island’s leading Coronavirus Digital Resource Center.