The Week: What Caught Our Eye

October 9, 2021

An old truck covered with pumpkins in a field’Tis the season for pumpkins, as seen at Northern Orchards in Peru, N.Y. (Nancie Battaglia)

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends:

Social media has been in the news a lot lately, blamed for everything from an epidemic of loneliness to inciting extremism and awful behavior (more on that below).

Now is as good a time as any to remember that social media platforms are tools of communication, and while their mysterious algorithms may trigger Pavlovian responses in some, they can’t make us think, feel, believe or do anything. That’s on us.

Consider the telephone, which one early critic said should be used strictly for business, and not for the “exchange of twaddle between foolish women.” But guess what? Telephone companies discovered that people craved the connection the new devices offered, and changed their entire marketing approach. “Distance rolls away and for a few minutes every Thursday night the familiar voices tell the little family gossip that both are so eager to hear,” Bell declared in a 1921 ad.

And just like social media platforms, a telephone has a user who can decide how it is used.

FACE-PLANT: Facebook, savaged in whistleblower testimony by former employee Frances Haugen before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, is drawing more heat for its aggressive response, in which the company attacked Hausen’s credibility, challenged her accuracy and questioned her reasoning. We get it; it’s hard when you’re under what feels, to you, like unjustified, uninformed or misguided criticism. One question to bear in mind: what is your reaction likely to achieve, and does it advance your plans to address and resolve the issue at hand?

GLOBAL PROBLEM, LOCAL SOLUTION: America’s supply chain constipation has hit schools, which are running into short supplies of the foods they serve in the cafeteria. But the problem is far less acute for schools that have established ties with local farmers who are delivering fresh produce, meat and dairy products to hungry kids.

BURNED OUT NATION: If you died tomorrow, which would be published first — your obituary or your job posting? The pandemic has changed our world in fundamental ways, and our relationship to work is one. In what we now call The Great Resignation, 4 million Americans have quit their jobs. Millions more are asking whether their current work is how they want to spend their days. They’re burned out, betrayed by the false promise that work would bring them the joy they sought. As a nation, as businesses, can we find a way to harmonize the needs of employees and the needs of employers?

CARING FOR EMPLOYEES: Glens Falls Hospital, one of the largest employers in Upstate New York, is also one of its best. It’s secured a place on the Forbes list of best employers in New York State. Forbes identified America’s Best Employers through an independent survey of approximately 80,000 Americans working for companies with more than 500 employees. The sample included 25 industry sectors and 1,329 employer brands.

WINTER WONDERS: Two extraordinary winter events are coming to the Adirondacks and are likely to catalyze a reshaping of the hospitality landscape for years to come. Ice Castles opens in Lake George in January 2022 and is expected to attract 90,000 people, as the Warren County-Lake George region solidifies year-round tourism. The following year, in January 2023, the World University Games open in Lake Placid, bringing international attention, major broadcast coverage and — get this — twice as many athletes as were present during the 1980 Winter Olympics.

ALL IS FORGIVEN: The New York Public Library, the largest public library system in the country, announced this week that it would no longer charge fines on overdue materials, and that all library card holders would have their accounts cleared of any late fees or fines, including replacement fees for lost materials. “This is a step towards a more equitable society, with more New Yorkers reading and using libraries, and we are proud to make it happen,” New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx said.

WEEKEND AT FOLLENSBY: In 1858, Ralph Waldo Emerson brought some heady company to the Adirondacks. The party consisted of James Russell Lowell, also a poet; two scientists, Louis Agassiz and Jeffries Wyman; two lawyers, Ebenezer Hoar and Horatio Woodman; two doctors, Estes Howe and Amos Binney; John Holmes, the younger brother of future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and William James Stillman, a writer, artist and skilled woodsman. Their trip and the creative work they produced while in the Adirondacks contributed to a new view of nature and preservation— the recognition that wild places should be preserved as a source of inspiration and national heritage. The site of the first “Philosophers’ Camp” on Follensby Pond is now the subject of discussions between New York State and The Nature Conservancy about a potential sale to the state. As with practically any issue in the Adirondacks, there are questions and controversy.

MEANWHILE, not far away, the Ausable River Association is celebrating its work to re-engineer the flow of the river to prevent the type of flooding that devastated the region when Hurricane Irene rolled through in 2011. They’ve deepened the channel, built up the banks, removed dams, widened culverts and retrofitted bridges.

Low clouds over a lake just before dawnIslands in the mist … on a still and beautiful morning on Lake George, looking out on Canoe Island (Jeff Killeen)

COLLISION COURSE: Madison Sylvester, a 5-foot, 100-pound eighth-grader, was no match for the scared 130-pound doe that ran her over during a middle school cross country meet in Michigan. She suffered a fractured clavicle and a concussion in the collision, which her sister, running about 10 feet behind her, witnessed. ““It could have been ugly,” their father, Josh Sylvester, told MLive. “The messed-up part is that they all saw it coming, including her. Madison saw it coming through the woods. She expected it to zig-zag. When a deer gets scared, it starts the zig-zag stuff. But it didn’t. It barreled right over her.”

BOLDLY GOING: William Shatner, who is 90, is scheduled to be on Blue Origin’s next space flight because of course he would be. It’s scheduled to lift off October 12.

CRAM AT THE CAPE: The American architect Ralph Adams Cram was the prolific creator of soaring Gothic-style academic and religious buildings that still glorify the campus of Princeton University and include the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. He’s also the architect of two of Glens Falls’ finest buildings, the First Presbyterian Church and St. Mary’s/St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School. But his genius was not confined to the ecclesiastical and the academic. The Boston-based architect also helped connect people to summer. Consider his gift to Cape Cod, the bridges of Barnstable County, the Sagamore and Bourne, which connect millions of people to summer fun.

TO THE SPA, PLEASE: Need a break from the house and the housekeeping? Good Housekeeping recommends a long weekend in Saratoga Springs. In the city of health, history and horses, “you’ll still find a beautiful and bustling small town filled with spas, bars, restaurants, sprawling parks, art galleries … And with Saratoga Lake nearby, some of the area’s best activities are social-distance friendly: hiking, boating, fishing or simply just sitting by the water during the warmer weather months; winter is no slouch either, with snowshoeing, ice skating or cross-country skiing on offer at Saratoga Spa State Park.”

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: U.S. News and World Report has named Albany the best city to call home in New York and one of the 150 top places to live in the United States.

FALSE ALARMS: We’ve all been there. Your phone rings, you pick up and you hear muffled voices, maybe a ruffling sound. You’re yelling, HELLO?!? HELLLLOOOOOO?!? until you realize it’s hopeless; you’ve been butt-dialed. The consequences typically are no worse than some good-natured ribbing, unless you have the misfortune of sitting the wrong way as your phone dials 911. It’s a major problem for emergency services dispatchers.

HISTORIC DISCOVERY: Julian Gagnon, a 6-year-old from southeast Michigan, was on the lookout for a dragon’s tooth while hiking with his family last month at the Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve, and was excited when he found one while wading in a creek. His dad thought he had enough treasures to bring home and suggested he toss it back. Mom’s view was, what’s one more thing? When they got home and started examining the object, they thought it might actually be a tooth. They were right: it was the upper right molar of a juvenile mastodon, authenticated by scientists at the University of Michigan. Julian donated the tooth — about 12,000 years old — to the university’s Museum of Paleontology.

BRICKBATS: Goshen, N.Y., is a small town just beyond the bustle of New York City’s northern suburbs, a quiet place whose normally placid local politics was upended when, in 2016, it was announced that Legoland, a $500 million theme park, would be built. The project promised thousands of jobs and millions in local tax revenue. The park opened in July, but the bad blood between opponents and those who fought to secure it hasn’t gone away. “Legoland divided this town,” one resident told The New York Times. “It’ll never be the way it was.” The town supervisor, a supporter of the project, characterized opponents as a vocal minority made up of recent arrivals who “want to pull the bridge up after them.”

LIGHTS, CAMERON, ACTION: Glens Falls filmmaker Cameron Gallagher has produced a short, proof-of-concept film that will have its North American premiere at the legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 17, during Screamfest, the biggest horror film festival in the country. The film will show Hollywood producers that Cameron and his organization — who produced outstanding films for Behan Communications celebrating our home city of Glens Falls and its nightlife, as well as a moving tribute to the healthcare heroes of Glens Falls Hospital — are capable of leading the team that could bring a full-length film to fruition.

LOVE FINDS A WAY: Karen Mahoney and Brian Ray, like many residents of Northern New York State, have friends and family on both sides of the international border. With their wedding date fast approaching and Canadians still unable to drive south across the border, they faced the prospect of a bittersweet ceremony, including the exclusion of the bride’s parents and her 96-year-old grandmother. With the help of a friendly border patrol agent, no one had to miss it.

COOKING UP TROUBLE: If there’s anything a good cook loves more than fresh ingredients, it’s a gas stove to cook with. More than a third of U.S. households cook with gas stoves, but environmentalists committed to the cause of eradicating fossil fuels entirely are suggesting that the stoves are bad for indoor air, and producing the data to back their claims. No one expects people to rip out their gas ranges en masse; the idea is to get you to think twice when it’s time for a new one.

ATTENTION, RIPLEY’S: Ripley’s, which has been marveling at news of the improbable and absurd for more than a century and published its first “Believe It or Not!” book in 1929, will have to chew on this one: Veterinarians and veterinary suppliers in some parts of Indiana are reporting a shortage of Ivermectin — commonly used to treat heart worms in domestic dogs and cats and parasites in cattle, horses and hogs — because so many people are using it as a treatment for COVID-19. “It just seems like a bad idea to start trying to take cow drugs to treat or prevent a viral infection,” one veterinary office manager told WISH-TV in Indianapolis. She’s concerned that a continued shortage will affect farmers’ ability to sell their livestock.

THE BEARS AND THE BEES: 480 Otis mounted an impressive comeback from a shaky post-hibernation start to 2021, packing on the pounds throughout the summer and emerging with his fourth Fat Bear title, as voted on by viewers of a livestream of Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, where bears gather to dine on the abundant salmon. About 96,000 people voted, giving 480 Otis a landslide. We follow the news last week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared 23 species extinct with a report that the American bumblebee, whose population has dropped about 90 percent because of pesticides, habitat loss and other factors, has now vanished from eight states, including Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is on borrowed time in New York. A group of Albany Law School students is part of a push to have the American bumblebee federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY?: An 18th century Georgian manor home in Kinderhook, N.Y., that is said to have hosted British General John Burgoyne before his forces were defeated in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Saratoga is on the market, listing for just under $3 million. There’s some question about whether Burgoyne ever slept in the house, but there’s no question it’s a beautiful and carefully maintained property.


ANGELO CODEVILLA was a hardline conservative who shifted his focus from a critique of America’s foreign policy establishment to what he saw as the disproportionate influence of the “ruling class” on domestic politics, drawing a connection between growing government power and progressive ideas that disregarded the concerns of ordinary Americans. In 2010, he authored a seminal piece in The American Spectator that, in the eyes of many, foretold the rise of Donald Trump, arguing that the best hope of conservative voters was to remake the Republican Party from the grass roots. He died in a car accident at 78.


—    Ex-major leaguer Ty Kelly, who singled as a pinch-hitter for the New York Mets in a 2016 wild card playoff game, the only postseason at-bat of his career.


THE PANDEMIC, as we know, is messing with our heads. The latest proof: People are paying up to $270 on the resale market for Hidden Valley Ranch Crocs.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Kate Fowler, Lisa Fenwick, Nancie Battaglia, Jeff Killeen, Tara Hutchins, Claire P. Tuttle, John Brodt, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

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 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. 

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