The Week: What Caught Our Eye 1/16/21

January 16, 2021

A scenic view of ski trails on a mountain.Fill your lungs at sunrise with a deep breath of cold, fresh air. Now might be a good time to exhale. (Gore Mountain)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

How about a break from the madness?

Come clear your head in the Adirondacks. The cold air will do you good.

The Lake George Winter Carnival was a 60-year tradition until COVID-19 came along. Business leaders were not content to fold their tent. Their winter visitors wanted healthy, socially spaced activities, and their employees needed paychecks.

Announcing the newest Lake George event: WinterFest, four weekends of February fun – healthy activities you can do on your own or with small groups of family members and friends. Lake George hotels, motels and restaurants are offering discounts.

It’s your chance to try winter “fat tire” mountain biking, ice fishing, even axe throwing. Step into your cross-country skis or take a spin on a snowmobile or a dog sled. Relax with some hot chocolate and a horse-drawn carriage ride. A public ice skating rink will be open near the Shepard Park Beach. Ice sculptures will be on display at The Hyde Collection Museum in Glens Falls and Fort William Henry in Lake George.

Meanwhile, the Capital Region downtown with one of the hottest and most innovative dining scenes, Glens Falls, is playing  “Restaurant Bingo”  as two new restaurants open.

Minutes away, West Mountain in Queensbury, with 31 trails, all lighted for night skiing, 100 percent snowmaking, a tubing park and more, is “one of the most exciting winter wonderlands you can visit in the state,’’ says travel website Only in Your State.

Lake Placid gets a warm endorsement from the Times Union. How about a long weekend in the small but mighty Olympic Village of adventure and heritage where local kids learn to ski the moment they can walk and where even people who hate winter find they love it?

And if you crave an out-of-the-way place to stay, a luxury treehouse in the Adirondacks is the most popular New York listing on Airbnb. It’s booked into 2022. However, if you prefer a place where you can really get down, a 3,612-square-foot former missile silo once overseen by the Plattsburgh Air Force Base is on the market, the perfect place to ride out Armageddon.


STILL STORIES TO TELL: Robert Caro is 85 now and still at work on an electric typewriter in his spartan office. America’s greatest political biographer, author of “The Power Broker” and four volumes of biography about Lyndon Johnson, the “superstar chronicler of 20th century America” is spending his days writing the fifth volume in his Johnson series. He’s also collecting the papers and notes of his remarkable career for donation to the New York Historical Society.

NETFLIX AND A LOCAL HISTORIAN: By day, the late Warren County Judge John Austin of Queensbury used his prodigious intellect to help resolve complex legal disputes. On his own time, he was a distinguished historian, genealogist and author both of fiction and non-fiction. Perhaps his proudest publishing accomplishments were three editions chronicling the lives of a family that made its way to America on the Mayflower. Fast forward 400 years: In a new Netflix series, “Pretend It’s a City,” Martin Scorsese and the hilariously neurotic writer Fran Lebowitz explore the treasures and curiosities of the New York City we miss. They ramble through the New York Public Library and stumble upon a literary treasure with local provenance: The Mayflower Families series John Austin helped produce.

ADIRONDACK BOOST: SUNY Adirondack wins more than $4.8 million in federal funding to support financial aid to students, student support activities, and a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff training programs, and payroll. The funding comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik made the announcement. 

NOT QUITE LAST CALL: “May you always have walls for the winds,” the Irish pray, “a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, and all your heart might desire.” To that litany add Barstool. Last fall, fearing its days were numbered, 81-year-old Parting Glass owner Joan Desadora was about to put her Saratoga Springs haven of fine drink, live music and good cheer on the market just shy of its 40th anniversary. Alas, thanks to Bartstool, the Parting Glass shall live to pour another day. 

DUSTING OFF HISTORY: A new homeowner in Allentown, Pa., opened the box she found in the corner of a stone fireplace and came face to face with a piece of World War II history that was connected to a Saratoga Springs soldier and his fellow troops in the U.S. Army’s 385th regiment.

THE TOLL IT TAKES: A remarkable number of local elected officials with decades of institutional knowledge are calling it quits when their terms end. Their reasons vary, of course, but the relentless demands of their jobs during a pandemic and the financial pressure on municipalities are no doubt contributing factors. Among those departing: Nearly one-third of the Albany Common Council; Glens Falls Mayor Dan Hall, Councilwoman-at-Large Jane Reid and Council Members Jim Campinell and Scott Endieveri; Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly and Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan; Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan; Malta Town Supervisor Darren O’Connor; and North Elba (Lake Placid) Town Supervisor Robi Politi. The longest-serving of all, Lake George Mayor Bob Blais, still at work every day at 84, says he expects to retire when his term ends in 2023.

Women at work at a long table in a lab during the 1940s.More than 500 men and women once worked at a manufacturer of pigments and wallpaper in Glens Falls. (Chapman Museum/Look Magazine Collection)

SONS OF THEIR FATHERS: The names Jeremiah Finch and Samuel Pruyn are well known in Upstate New York as the founders of the upstart Glens Falls sawmill that helped build New York City, then transformed itself into a manufacturer of premium papers sold coast to coast. Not surprisingly, they were not the only entrepreneurs in the two families. Meet the other Finch and Pruyn — George and Howard.

REPLY ALL: Remember when you sent the sympathy card to the woman whose husband was very much alive? Or when you flew your entire creative team to the wrong city for the big client pitch? Those near-death career experiences are being pulled together in a LOL LinkedIn conversation started by Louis Diez, executive director of annual giving at Muhlenberg College. He calls them “Friday Fails,” part confession, part therapy. When did you hit send too soon? 

A CHAMPION TURNS 100: Agnes Keleti, a Holocaust survivor who went on to win 10 Olympic medals in gymnastics for Hungary, celebrated her 100th birthday last week, declaring, “I love life. Health is the essence. Without it, there is nothing.” The five-time gold medalist is the oldest living Olympic champion, and her six medals in 1956 made her the most successful of all athletes in the Melbourne Olympics.

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TIES: New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has found itself recently at the center of battles over the future of two old homes that may have links to the Underground Railroad, the clandestine network that helped enslaved people escape to the North before the Civil War. It’s part of a larger question about the emphasis placed on preserving landmarks that celebrate Black history in the city.


COMEBACK CATS: For centuries, they were considered harmful predators and were heavily hunted for their beautiful coats. As recently as the 1970s, they lacked legal protection in 40 states, where they could be killed on sight and shot or trapped year-round, without limit. But beginning in the early 1970s, New York State took steps to protect the bobcat, imposing limits on  trapping and harvesting to ensure a sustainable population. Today, bobcats are not considered endangered or threatened in New York, and the eastern bobcat is found in significant numbers.

CAT TALES: A cat believed to have perished along with her owner in the devastating mudslides that hit Santa Barbara, Calif., in January 2018, was found alive last month roaming around the same area she disappeared in. Closer to home, a cat named Muji wasn’t happy at all to be taken from his crate at LaGuardia Airport, biting and bolting from his owner and finding his way into the ceiling, where he stayed for 11 days before being rescued with the help of a golden retriever named Abby.

A HELPING PAW: Major, the German Shepherd that President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, adopted in 2018, is getting his own “indoguration,” an event to raise money for the Delaware Humane Association. Major will be the first shelter rescue dog in the White House.

HERE’S YOUR CHANCE: The Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots have gotten big enough to give you a shot at the world’s largest home: a 105,000-square-foot behemoth that overlooks Los Angeles with features that include 42 bathrooms, a 30-car garage gallery, a bowling alley and five swimming pools. The asking price: In the mid-300s. Million, that is.

PASSWORD123?: We’ve all been there, lingering in password purgatory, unable to remember that combination of letters, numbers and symbols that unlock our online lives. But how many of us have $220 million on the line if we can’t get it right?

PREPARE TO FAIL: That just sounds odd, doesn’t it? We’re always told to see ourselves succeeding and thriving, to focus on the positive and build on it. The truth is, all of us will confront unexpected events, and it’s worth it to spend some time thinking and preparing yourself for how you’ll respond so the unexpected doesn’t become the unnerving.

THEN RISE AGAIN: So, what are the most important lessons to teach your kids? Integrity, honor, confidence? How about resiliency – the capacity to recover and thrive after adversity? Check out the new podcast called “The Up Beat,” featuring stories of people who have faced life’s darkest moments and found their way back to joy. It’s hosted by NewsChannel 13 anchor Mark Mulholland, founder of the Kelly’s Angels charity devoted to helping Capital Region kids and families facing life-changing adversity.

WILD BILL: Bill Jones was a small-town supervisor west of Syracuse before he was convicted of official misconduct and a gun charge. He twice tried to elude prison before finally succeeding in 1997, disappearing to a fate that was unknown until December, when a police officer in Ohio found him limping along a country road.

TRUST NO ONE: 2020 was a rough year for trust, as measured by the global communications firm Edelman, which found in its annual trust barometer that faith in all manner of institutions eroded in 2020. According to Edelman, the results revealed “a new era of information bankruptcy and a trust ecosystem unable to confront it.”

IRONY IS DEAD: An internet service provider in Northern Idaho blocked Facebook and Twitter from its service, citing concerns over “censorship” in the wake of moves by the platforms to suspend users who were advocating violence. In this case, neither is censorship; that’s when a government tells you that you can’t say or publish something.


MATT McCABE was a musician’s musician. He loved guitars, sold guitars, loaned guitars, gave guitars, played guitars, helped get the Saratoga Guitar Show off the ground, and owned Saratoga Guitar and Saratoga Music Center. He was a fixture at First Night Saratoga celebrations and benefits and played at Saratoga’s most hallowed folk venue, Caffè Lena, first in 1995 and most recently on December 14, 2020. In between, he served two terms as Saratoga Springs’ finance commissioner. He died of COVID-19 at 63.

JOANNE ROGERS, the widow of Fred Rogers, nourished his message of kindness and became something of a celebrity herself after his death in 2013. An accomplished piano player, she gained new acclaim in 2018 and 2019, with the release of a documentary and a feature film about her late husband, both of which she appeared in. “I want to assure everyone,” Mrs. Rogers said in a TEDx Talk in Pittsburgh, “he was that person that you knew on television.” She was 92.

SHELDON ADELSON was the son of immigrants who grew up poor in Dorchester, Mass., before building a $35 billion fortune in the casino hotel industry and becoming one of most prolific donors in conservative politics. His contributions lifted conservative causes in both the United States and Israel, and he was a forceful advocate for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He was 87.

SIEGFRIED FISCHBACHER was half of a legendary performing duo, Siegfried & Roy, whose magic and artistry played to packed houses in Las Vegas for years. Millions watched Siegfried & Roy perform extraordinary magic tricks, a run that ended in 2003 when Roy Horn, who died last year of complications from COVID-19, was critically injured on stage by one of the act’s famed white tigers. Fischbacher died of cancer at 81.


“And I say to you: I have also decided to stick to love. For I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love. I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s
“Where Do We Go From Here” Sermon
January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968


FRIENDS IN NEED: Catherine Weatherbee has worked for 20 years at the United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, near Rochester. When she lost her car, about 50 of her co-workers chipped in and got her a new one, presenting it to her with a big red bow on top as news cameras rolled.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Maury Thompson, Tara Hutchins, Matt Behan, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt and Lisa Fenwick.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value or interest to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversation:

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