The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 23, 2021

Three cross-country skiiers making their way through a field with snow-lined trees and mountains on either side.My heart begins to pump strongly and I feel it in my chest; but it feels good this exercise  so I push on, though I'd like to stop and rest — James T. Adair (Nancie Battaglia)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends.

And in the end, the transfer of power was peaceful. And majestic. The Republic shone. And the world exhaled.

TO CARE FOR A CHILD: Child care in New York’s Adirondack Region has reached a crisis point — for parents, providers and the region’s employers. So says a coalition of human services agencies, philanthropists, educators and economic development groups calling themselves Stand Up for Child Care Adirondacks. With an average cost of $15,000 per year for two children, the cost is out of reach for many parents in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, 30% of whom live below the poverty level. Without child care, these parents struggle to find and hold jobs, and nearly 50% of the region’s employers say unmet child care needs impede their ability to hire and retain workers. On the flip side, 70% of child care employees report having to work a second job to make ends meet. The coalition wants state legislators to direct an additional $1.5 million toward solving the problem, and they’re asking parents and business owners for help. This video drives home the problem. Thanks to our friends at the Adirondack Foundation’s Birth to Three Alliance for making us aware.

DUMPING SOCIAL MEDIA: The Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta shocked the fashion world the first week of January when it pulled the plug on all its social media accounts and declined to say why. Is it a clever stunt, or the beginning of brands reasserting control over the conversation? And what other organizations might follow?

SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE: Betty White. Just the name lifts your mood. She’s what the smile emoji would look like if it were a real person. The star of Golden Girls turned 99 this week, seemingly without offending a single person along the way. “I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside,” she told Parade magazine last year. “I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.”

BIAS BUSTER: Skidmore College Professor Corinne Moss-Racusin uses the tools of science to address difficult social problems such as gender discrimination and help our society to understand and overcome the persistent biases that hold people back. Now, she has been honored with the 2021 American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, the only known recipient in the history of the prestigious award to be affiliated with a liberal arts college rather than a major research institution.

AN EYE FOR SPLENDOR: Sylvia Vidal of Indian Lake typically works at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake, but it, like many cultural institutions, was closed for much of 2020 and remains closed because of the pandemic. With extra time on her hands, she combined her passions for photography and the outdoors to capture some spectacular winter scenes in the Adirondacks.

HELPING HANDS: The Open Door Mission of Glens Falls received $1.5 million from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co. to broaden its services for homeless people, including more beds and resources to help men and women get back on their feet and into the workforce.

SPORTING LIFE

OUTDOOR PIONEER: Robbi Mecus is a New York State forest ranger who, even as a child in Brooklyn, has always been attracted to the openness and adventure of the outdoors. She patrols the rugged mountains of the High Peaks, helping wayward hikers and saving lives. She’s also a transgender woman, who by sharing her story hopes to encourage other trans and queer people to be their authentic selves. “I had to accept myself more than forcing other people to accept me,” she told North Country Public Radio. “I had to accept that I can be strong. I can be dirty. I can be feminine. I can be all those things.” 

ONE AND DONE: New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks swings a pretty good stick, whether in the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium or the tee box at the local golf course. Hicks played a round recently with Cheyenne Woods, a professional golfer and Tiger’s niece, and proceeded to drain a hole in one — on a par-4 hole.

BREAKING NEW GROUND: Sarah Thomas, who made history in 2015 when she was hired as the NFL’s first permanent on-field official, will become the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl when she takes her position as the down judge in Super Bowl LV next month in Tampa. She became the first woman to officiate in a playoff game in 2019.

THUMBS DOWN: Thomas "ZooMaa" Paparatto, a professional gamer who played for one of the world’s top Call of Duty esports teams, announced this week that he is pausing his career “for the foreseeable future” because of a thumb injury.

WINE AND DINE

PIE IN THE SKY: Pizza Hut is experimenting with drones that drop pizzas for drivers to deliver to your door.

FOOD’S JUST (T)SO (T)SO: You may not love General Tso’s Chicken (or General Tao, as they spell it) at Montreal’s Cuisine AuntDai, but we can’t get enough of the menu.
HINT OF CHOCOLATE?: If grapes are the stuff of wine, why do reviewers so often detect a hint of cherry on the nose, a touch of chocolate at the finish? When the grapes ferment, something magical happens: Chemical compounds are created that are identical to chemical compounds found in other fruits and foods. Differences in grapes, in fermentation yeasts, in barrel choices and in many other winemaking decisions can all affect the way these flavors and aromas present themselves.

HARVESTING SUSTAINABILITY: Regenerative farming relies on natural practices to promote soil health — not tilling the soil, using cover crops to make sure the soil is always protected, reducing the application of chemicals. Widespread adoption of regenerative farming would likely result in significant reductions in emissions — agriculture, believe it or not, is responsible for 10% to 12% of the world’s emissions — but it comes with upfront costs and fundamental operational changes that farmers so far have been cautious about embracing. A farmer in Indiana captured the dilemma: “You have one shot each year to do something and get it right,” Craig Faut told the Indianapolis Star. “If they fail, the family fails.”

WASTE NOT: A growing number of states — at least 30 now — have legalized the salvaging of meat from roadkill for human consumption, providing high-protein food at little to no cost and easing the burdens of food insecurity. Oregon alone has issued 3,100 salvaging permits over the past two years, and the practice is widely supported by conservationists, hunters and even some animal rights groups.

Ice coating thin branches on a treeBefore long, these delicate branches sheathed in ice will shake their coat and blossom anew. (Crown Focus Media)

HOW WE’RE WIRED

LOSING BUILDS WINNERS: Almost every parent wants his or her children to win, but if you want to raise winners, consider the benefits of losing. In youth sports, as in life, losing creates strong bonds, teaches empathy and humility, and inspires the hard work necessary to win the next time. Anyone can be reasonably gracious in victory, but what of the person who loses for the first time as an adult and cannot fathom how to react gracefully?

COOL UNDER FIRE: The pressure is on. A confrontation looms. Your brain is activating all the functions that prepare you to either fight or flee. What it isn’t doing, unless you train it, is thinking much. If you’re a leader — of an organization, of a family, of yourself — it’s worth learning to self-regulate so you’re better equipped to help others regain focus and reconnect to shared goals amid a crisis.

MENTAL EXERCISES: It should be no surprise that more people are stressed, anxious, worried and depressed these days. Concerns about public health and the economy, compounded by civic unrest and political discord, can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to be just as intentional about your mental health as you are about your physical wellbeing. 

THE SURPRISE IS MUTUAL: Maintaining a long-distance relationship is tough enough, but to do it during a pandemic takes true commitment, the type that might compel one partner to book a flight to surprise the other. What was that about good intentions?

NATIONAL LANDMARK AT LAST: Dying of throat cancer, swindled out of his money, former President and Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant and his family left New York City in 1885 to spend his final days atop a mountain in Wilton, Saratoga County. In a cottage owned by his friend Joseph William Drexel, Grant spent the last six weeks of his life writing his memoirs. The two volumes were critically acclaimed. Sales saved his family from destitution. At long last, Grant’s Cottage, long a state historic site, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

MEME ME UP: Bernie Sanders is more than a U.S. Senator from Vermont and two-time Democratic presidential candidate; he’s a cultural icon, instantly recognizable and famouslyPhotoshopped image of Bernie Sanders from inauguration, at business office irascible. So it should come as no surprise that the photo of him seated alone at President Biden’s inauguration — peak Bernie — went viral. What is stunning is the speed at which a seemingly endless stream of memes were produced, and the array of merchandise that the look is spawning.

MAKING A PIECE OF HISTORY: The order was secret, and the work had to be done fast. And Hatteras Inc. delivered. The Michigan company, which is run by a mother-daughter combination, worked around the clock to meet deadlines and produce the masks that were worn by many of the people in attendance at President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. 

WHAT AILS US: Ken Burns is one of the most popular documentary filmmakers of our era, known for epic multi-part series on baseball, the Civil War, America’s national parks and the Roosevelts, among others. He has an eye for what moves us and a sense for what troubles us, and today he sees an America confronting what he regards as its fourth great crisis, following the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. The drivers: COVID-19, white supremacy and rampant misinformation.

CREATIVE IMPULSE: Marc Lore, an entrepreneur who sold his startup Jet.com to Walmart for $3 billion, then oversaw Walmart’s embrace of e-commerce, is off to a new adventure, telling Recode that he aims to build “a city of the future.” “Imagine a city with the vibrancy, diversity and culture of New York City combined with the efficiency, safety and innovation of Tokyo and the sustainability, governance, and social services of Sweden,” reads the vision statement for the project. “This will be our New City.”

TAKE A WHACK: The home in Fall River, Mass., where Lizzy Borden’s father and stepmother were hacked to death with a hatchet in 1892 is on the market. The house, now a bed-and-breakfast and museum, is listed for sale at $2 million.

CREATING BEAUTY: Corey Fleming works under the name Emilio Florentine, which is apt, considering that Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and that Italians often refer to it as Bella, meaning “beautiful.” He practiced his craft as a graffiti artist in Jersey City, painting abandoned and out of the way walls, before bringing his art to the mainstream, creating stunning images of vibrant flowers both indoors and outdoors around New Jersey.

JUST STOP IT: How many times do you catch yourself saying or writing that you “just” want this or “just” need that? (Or are lucky enough to have someone point it out to you when you do?) Just get that word out of your vocabulary; it weakens your language and diminishes what you are trying to get across.

LIVES

JIM MURPHY was only briefly out of Williams College and Albany Law School and relatively new to Saratoga Springs when, at just 28, he was elected mayor in 1965, at the time the youngest mayor in New York. When McDonald’s wanted to build a restaurant in Saratoga’s historic downtown, he told them they were welcome but their golden arches were not. The Brooklyn native married Constance King, also an attorney, and practiced law with her father, Congressman Carleton King. Jim and Constance Murphy are the parents of Saratoga County Judge James A. Murphy III and sisters Colleen and Constance. Jim Murphy died on January 5 at 84.

JIM HEALY was a longtime communications executive for GE, working to promote GE Power and GE Research before becoming head of communications for GE Renewables. “He was an incredible communicator whose wisdom and counsel was often sought by GE business leaders, scientists and fellow communication colleagues alike,” GE chief marketing officer Linda Boff said, as reported by the Times Union. “But most of all, we will remember the truly special and amazing person he was. Jim’s smile and sense of humor always brightened up a room and made us laugh. He will be deeply missed.” He died of cancer January 11 at 56.

MICHELE EVANS was a mechanical engineer who led Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics arm, the defense contractor’s largest business, and was responsible for the F-35 combat jet, the company’s most important product. In line to potentially become Lockheed Martin’s CEO, she continued to work while undergoing treatment for the cancer that would take her life at 55.

HANK AARON is on the short list of the greatest baseball players who ever lived — the all-time leader in runs batted in, extra-base hits and total bases, third in career hits, first to reach 500 home runs and 3,000 hits and yet, somehow, was only once named the league’s most valuable player. He played in 24 all-star games, and in the eyes of many baseball purists, he remains atop the career home run list, as well, untainted by the use of performance-enhancing drugs. His pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record in the early 1970s made him the target of vicious, racist attacks. A legend for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, he died Friday morning at 86.

NIKOLAI T. ANTOSHKIN, a deputy in Russia’s ruling party since 2014, was the commander of a daring helicopter firefighting operation that helped contain the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The operation lasted about two weeks, and when it was over, the helicopters were so radioactive, they were abandoned at the site. Several firefighters were killed by radiation poisoning, and others later developed cancers thought to be related to their service. Antoshkin died of COVID-19 at 78.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS 

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division

— Amanda Gorman, first national youth poet laureate, “The Hill We Climb.’’

THE SIGNOFF

QUITE THE LAYOVER: A passenger who flew from Los Angeles to Chicago in the middle of October told authorities at O’Hare International Airport that was he was too frightened by the coronavirus to fly back, so he simply stayed put, living undetected for three months in an allegedly secure and restricted part of the airport until a couple of airline employees confronted him.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, 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.  www.behancommunications.com

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:  mark.behan@behancom.com

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