The Week What Caught Our Eye

October 17, 2020

LakePlacid1.jpgSunrise over the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, where the community already is preparing for the
Winter World University Games in 2023 (Kevin Kelly/Crown Focus Media)

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends:

As if Lake Placid weren’t already cool enough, today we introduce you to The Cliff: a new Cliffside Coaster, which travels alongside the bobsled track used in the 1980 Olympics and is, at 7,650 feet, the longest mountain coaster in the world. 

If your bobsledding days are behind you, no worries: The coaster, which operates on weekends and weather-permitting, is equipped with a timing and audio system that "allows visitors to experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic bobsledder during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid." The driver controls the speed.

The Cliff is the latest in a series of investments by New York State to upgrade facilities in Lake Placid and cement its place as a year-round destination. The 700-foot Sky Flyer zipline at the Olympic jumping complex opened in July.

FOREVER YOUNG: The Rev. Peter Young is an Albany saint, a tough man with a gentle soul whose Navy captain encouraged him to study for the priesthood after he prevented a gang of drunken shipmates from raping a woman while on shore leave in the Caribbean. He saw first-hand the toll taken by alcohol, drug abuse and homelessness in his hometown, and devoted his life to helping men escape the cycle of despair. Today, at 90, as he fights for his own life, he is the very embodiment of the power of redemption as he continues to fight for those who need a second chance.

CANINE KINGDOM: St. Johnsbury, in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is home to a 150-acre hilltop expanse known as Dog Mountain, a leash-optional haven for dogs with plenty of space to swim, hike or just relax. It even has a chapel where dog owners are invited to grieve and celebrate the furry friends they’ve lost.

WE WANT TO KNOW IF YOU’RE OK: Wartime England had Mass-Observation, a citizens’ army of volunteer observers and paid investigators whose job was to keep tabs on and document the mood of the public. We have Twitter. More precisely, we have the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont, which uses a tool it developed called the Hedonometer to gauge how happy we are based on an analysis of daily posts on Twitter. They can even tell you the saddest day of what has been an extraordinarily sad year: May 31, when “terrorist,” “violence” and “racist” were the most commonly used words on English-language Twitter.


END TO ZOOM BOOM LOOMS? Remember when Zoom calls were going to be the end of all offices? Now, some CEOs have done a 180 on Zoom meetings. After finding them awesome and productive at first, they're questioning how much they really achieve and are suggesting they lead to a sterile work culture lacking in imagination. Human contact, we miss you so.

THE REAL POWER BEHIND CUOMO: Three remarkable young women have been by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s side throughout the coronavirus crisis. They see his vulnerabilities. They worry when he does not sleep. And they push him when he misses opportunities.  

FAMILY TIME: CEOs, long-accustomed to sacrificing family time because of the demands of running a business, are reconnecting with spouses and children over family meals, reshaping life at home in a way that research suggests has significant long-term benefits.

SOFA, SO GOOD: The odd shapes of a pandemic: Curved sectional sofas are surging in popularity, for much the same reason as outdoor equipment: the coronavirus and social distancing. “I feel a curved sectional is akin to the 1960s conversation pit,” Los Angeles designer Jamie Bush told The Wall Street Journal. “You can sit across from one another and talk in one singular furniture piece.” 

IMG-8803[1].jpgIn this time of turmoil, rainbows are a sign that we as a nation, and as a planet, can and will prevail. Let’s seek out our Greater Angels, as we create the future and embrace all of its possibilities. (Jeff Killeen)


NEXT STOP …: You’ve heard the advancing footsteps of New York City families as they decamp to new homes in the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley and Vermont. The urban refugees are also finding new lives in Maine and Connecticut.

LAKE OF LUXURY: The Albany Business review shows us around some of the pricier homes on the market on and near Lake George.

COPING ON THE SLOPES: Skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast should prepare to have fewer amenities and longer wait times as operators institute new protocols to keep their customers and employees safe during the pandemic.

JUST PICK UP THE PHONE: Researchers examining communication preferences and the reasons behind them found that misplaced fears of an awkward interaction can lead to a mistaken preference for texting or emailing rather than talking. They found that study participants — some of whom were directed to contact an old friend in writing, others by phone — reported feeling more connected, and less awkward than expected, after hearing the friend’s voice.

YOU CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES: So-called deepfake videos — digitally manipulated to make it falsely appear as if someone is saying or doing something that they’re not — have been used in marketing campaigns and in Hollywood for years, but today they are fast becoming a weapon of misinformation, shared widely on social media despite the efforts of tech titans like Twitter and Facebook to root them out. They’ve also created opportunities for a whole new class of performer — deepfake actors

RULES OF THE REGION: Back in September, the Albany Times Union published its 20 unwritten rules for living in the Capital Region, a quirky insiders list that will feel very familiar to those who have lived south of the Twins for any length of time. But wait, readers said: there’s more

FOND FAREWELL: John McArdle, the longtime Communications Director for the New York State Senate, reflects on the life and legacy of the late Joe Bruno, in a touching, behind-the-scenes tribute to Bruno’s approach to life, his work ethic and high standards that makes clear the author’s deep admiration and respect for the former Senate Majority Leader. 

THAT’S THE SPIRIT: Spirit Halloween, the retailer that pops up every fall and disappears just as fast, has opened even more storefronts this year than last, betting that people who were stuck at home for the past seven months would be eager to burn some energy, and cash, on Halloween costumes and décor. If what we’re seeing in a lot of yards is any indication, it was a wise bet.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Kyle Burgess was jogging through a canyon in Utah when he came upon a group of what he thought were bobcats frolicking on the trail and started recording with his phone. Then it dawned on him that they were mountain lion cubs. That’s when momma showed up

NEW RULES: The pandemic has caused a slew of rules changes for high school sports, including moving volleyball outdoors and playing 7-on-7 football in Vermont. But if you really want to see radical changes in effect, check out a soccer game in Massachusetts, where headers and throw-ins are out and social distancing rules are strictly enforced. 

GOOD SPORTS: Congratulations to North Country Public Radio’s Emily Russell and her former colleague, Brian Mann — now with NPR — for receiving the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting for their piece about a grueling trail race in the Adirondacks. The awards are presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association.

LIQUID GOLD: Nick Drummond, an architect with a passion and talent for historical restoration, figured he’d found a gem when he and his partner settled on a fixer-upper in the Cooperstown area. Little could they have known exactly what secrets lay hidden within its walls.

ADOPTED SON: Former Vice President Joe Biden spent only a few years in Syracuse, where he attended law school, but his connection to Central New York, and to the people he met along the way, remains strong more than five decades later.

NEW SCHOOL: Raj Peter Bhakta, the founder of Vermont’s WhistlePig Whiskey, just paid $5 million to purchase the defunct Green Mountain College in Poultney, pledging to keep the name and revive both the institution and the town where it’s located.

No Spring, nor Summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one Autumnal face — John Donne (Skip Dickstein).


JOE MORGAN was a two-time National League MVP and a key cog in the powerful Big Red Machine of the 1970s, leading them to back-to-back World Series titles and later becoming a longtime color commentator in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth. He is the sixth member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to die in 2020, following Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Whitey Ford.

BERNARD COHEN was an ACLU attorney who received a 1963 letter from Mildred Loving that changed his life and the law. Five years after they were married in 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were in their home in Caroline County, Virginia, when the county sheriff and two deputies burst in and arrested them. The crime? They had violated a law banning interracial marriage. Thus began a legal odyssey that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

ROBERTA McCAIN, born a week to the day before Arizona became a state, was the wife and daughter-in-law of Navy admirals and the mother of the late U.S. Senator John McCain, who credited her with his will to survive during years of confinement and torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. A fixture on the campaign trail at 96, when her son ran for president, she loved traveling the world, often at high speed when she was behind the wheel. Denied a rental car in Europe because of her age, she bought one and had it shipped home.  


“I not only get recognized. I get recognized from behind.”

—   Actor George Wendt (Norm)
       Born October 17, 1948


Broadway is dark, movie theaters are closed and you’ve exhausted your must-see list on Netflix. Fortunately for one New York City neighborhood, there is live entertainment each night — the raccoons of Riverside Park.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Troy Burns, Kevin Kelly, Jeff Killeen, Skip Dickstein, Matt Behan, Bill Richmond, Kelly Donahue, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, and Claire P. Tuttle.

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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