The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2022

Photo of space.Today we introduce you to the work of Andy Downey, who makes stunning photographs of deep space using precisely calibrated and specialized lenses, filters and other equipment that take long looks through powerful telescopes. This image is of NGC 281, nicknamed the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character. NGC 281 is an emission nebula about 9,200 light years from earth in the Perseus Arm of our Milky Way galaxy. Andy shares his passion with others as a volunteer at the John Glenn Astronomy Park outside Columbus, Ohio, which frequently features his work in its annual calendars. (Andy Downey)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. May this be the beginning of a season of joy, gratitude, and celebration for you and your families and friends. Amid the hustle, bustle, craziness and stress, we hope you’ll find some quiet corner and a moment simply to be grateful.

Now, let’s get down to dinner. When it comes to the trimmings, those of us in the Northeast are trending toward sausage stuffing, according to the folks at Google Trends, which found sausage stuffing is tops among uniquely searched stuffings in New York and Massachusetts, as well as Alaska and South Dakota. Delaware is a bit more specific — ground sausage stuffing. Nevadans evidently have a hankering for stuffing wrapped in bacon, and the good people of Oklahoma are down for some “red jello” stuffing.

SIZZLING INVENTION: We’re not sure that it will make its way into many Thanksgiving recipes, but the alternative bacon product MyBacon did make it onto Time’s list of the top 200 inventions of 2022. MyBacon is made from nearly 100% mushroom root and produced in Green Island, N.Y., near Albany.

SPEAKING OF MEAT ALTERNATIVES, the U.S. FDA is another step closer to approving cultivated “no kill” meat for domestic consumption. A company called Upside Foods was co-founded by a cardiologist who realized while growing human heart cells in a lab that it should be possible to grow meat using similar science, thus avoiding the slaughterhouse. Its production facility is capable of producing more than 50,000 pounds of cultivated meat products per year, and Upside Foods is not alone; more than 80 companies are racing to develop and market cultivated meat products.

HOUSE CALL: Chick-Fil-A consistently ranks among the top food chains in customer satisfaction surveys, and just last month, a survey of 14,500 teens ranked Chick-Fil-A as Gen Z’s top restaurant. The not-so-secret: A culture that values the customer, as demonstrated recently when a store manager in Georgia had a fresh order of fries delivered to the home of a customer who complained. The customer posted about her experience in a viral TikTok video that drew responses from several other customers who shared stories of above-and-beyond service from their local Chick-Fil-A. “That's how you reconcile the problem,” the happy Georgia customer said.

8 BILLION: That’s how many people populated the earth as of this week, according to models by the United Nations, just 12 years after the world population hit 7 billion (less than a century ago, it was 2 billion). The rapid rise in population throughout the 20th century coincided with significant advances in public health and medicine and high fertility rates in developing countries. The UN in July revised its projection of global population in 2100 down from 11 billion to 10.4 billion, though with the expectation that survival rates for children in lower-income countries will continue to improve.

Leigh_headshot[1].pngWELCOMING LEIGH: We’re excited to welcome a new member to the Behan team, longtime Albany Times Union journalist Leigh Hornbeck. Times Union readers know Leigh as the author of the popular House of the Week feature showing off the most interesting real estate on the market in the Capital Region. Her long experience as a reporter included breaking news coverage, politics, local planning and zoning, environmental issues, courts and school boards. Her work was recognized by the Society of Features Journalism and, most recently, the Journalists Association of New York. Leigh also was the senior writer at the Times Union’s Women@Work magazine. Leigh’s writing also has been published in the Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Life, and no wonder: She grew up in Minerva, in the Adirondack Park. As the daughter of Peter and Ann Hornbeck, the founders of Hornbeck Boats, Leigh spent her childhood messing around in boats and playing outside. In 2021, she completed the Adirondack Canoe Classic in a solo boat. The annual race covers 90 miles over three days on waterways between Old Forge and Saranac Lake. She is also an aspiring 46er. She does not cook but bakes a good apple pie. A trustee of the Saratoga Springs History Museum, Leigh loves history and old houses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. She and her husband Josh live in Wilton, N.Y., with their sons Rushton, 13 and Devlin, 10, and their beloved but ridiculous pets, a dog named Lando and a cat named Ginny.

Nancie_Skier.jpgWinter has returned with a vengeance after a mild fall in Upstate New York and other parts of the northern U.S., creating a peaceful backdrop for a day on the trails. (Nancie Battaglia)

THE EMPIRE OF SNOW: Buffalo is getting hammered with snow this weekend, and in the Adirondacks, Whiteface Mountain is open for skiing. Gore Mountain, West Mountain and Mt. Van Hoevenberg are not far behind. A brisk winter season is ahead with the 2023 Winter World University Games in Lake Placid and Ice Castles and Winter Fest in Lake George in January. Bring it on!

HOCKEY PIONEERS: Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., was part of a barrier-breaking moment in sports history earlier this month when the Dutchwomen faced Dartmouth College in women’s ice hockey — it was the first time two Black women coaches opposed each other. Olivia Soares, who played at Ohio State, is a 24-year-old in her first season as an assistant at Union. She joined the staff on August 4, a little more than a year after 26-year-old Nina Rodgers joined the Dartmouth staff, making her the first Black woman to coach in Division I. “I think it's huge for growing the game,” Soares told the Albany Times Union. “Nina said it really well: we do what we love and use our platform to show that this is a space for everyone at the same time. So it's a very unique opportunity for us.”

JOAN DIDION IS NOT DEAD: When the journalist and novelist Joan Didion died about a year ago and, sadly, the penetrating pen of one America’s most fearless and personal cultural observers was stilled, we did not anticipate what would happen next: A sudden rise in her fame. Young people are now carrying Didion tote bags and re-reading her work. “This young generation of 20- and 30-somethings who are really interested in what was happening culturally, artistically, in the late 60s and 70s, they're all interested in her and they're all reading her anew,” said one observer. This week, in Hudson, N.Y., her belongings and those of her late husband, author John Gregory Dunne, were sold at auction. Her dictionary went for $11,000 and the whole lot for $2 million.

CRYPTO IMPLOSION: So, you may have heard this week that cryptocurrency is having an incredibly bad time of it, specifically a company called FTX, which went from having patches on the uniforms of major league umpires and billions in assets to bankrupt practically overnight. Normally, a founder and CEO presiding over such a spectacular flameout and under investigation for how he handled customer funds would take some time to think and regroup. Not Sam Bankman-Fried, who in a series of exchanges with Vox attempts to explain himself. “Looming over our whole conversation was the fact that people who trusted him have lost their savings, and that he’s done incalculable damage to everything he proclaimed only a few weeks ago to care about,” the Vox reporter, Kelsey Piper, wrote. “The grief and pain he has caused is immense, and I came away from our conversation appalled by much of what he said. But if these mistakes haunted him, he largely didn’t show it.”

MINK STINK: Officials in northwest Ohio are warning people with small pets or who keep chickens and other small livestock to take precautions after someone broke into a mink farm and released as many as 40,000 to the wild. Several were killed on a nearby road and farm workers were able to capture many of the mink that remained on the property, but an unknown number remained loose. They’ve been known to wreak havoc especially on chicken farms and on the fish in ornamental ponds, but regularly hunt prey larger than themselves.

TROUBLING TREND: Lisa Beaty and Kim Hilton, partners for seven years, were scraping by on disability benefits that totaled roughly $1,500 a month, two-thirds of which went toward rent for their three-bedroom home in northwest Montana. The rent included utilities, which helped. Then came the notice: Rent was increasing to $1,800 a month, no utilities. She’s now living with her elderly mother and he in his car, part of a recent surge in homelessness among people older than 60, a trend exacerbated by inflation and changes in the housing market, especially in rural areas. Emergency homeless shelters in Montana, and across the country, are reporting that more seniors have been showing up at their doors over the past year, many of whom could no longer make rent or couldn't find a new place to live after their homes were sold out from under them, Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, told NPR.

CRIME HITS TARGET: Target this week reported that “organized retail crime” is to blame for $400 million in lost profits to date in 2022, a figure the discount retailer estimates will hit $600 million by year end. Goods stolen from stores increased to $94.5 billion in losses in 2021, up from $90.8 billion in 2020, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation. Rite Aid has reported similar issues with theft, with CEO Heyward Donigan telling analysts that the problem was particularly acute in New York City.

THE DISNEYING PRICE OF ADMISSION: We swear we don’t mean anything subliminal by placing this piece after an item about theft. It is, after all, entirely your choice whether to spend as much as $189 per ticket for admission to the Magic Kingdom, the Disney World flagship. Rates at three of the four Disney theme parks in the Orlando area will increase on December 8, with Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios both seeing more than a 12% increase. It’s the second increase this year.

LEADERSHIP CHANGE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week that she would not seek a leadership position among House Democrats when the new Congress convenes with her caucus in the minority, ending two decades at the top of the delegation. The first woman to serve as Speaker, and thus the most senior woman ever in elected office, Pelosi intends to retain her seat in Congress. The candidates to replace her as leader of the Democrats include U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, who happens to live only a mile from the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Jeffries, who called Pelosi “a leader for the ages,” is a former member of the New York State Assembly who was elected to Congress in 2012. Known as a disciplined messenger and effective strategist, he was among the team of House prosecutors appointed by Pelosi for the first impeachment of President Trump.

SURVIVAL STORY: Timothy Morales was stuck, with no place to run and few places to hide. As an American citizen in Russian-occupied Kherson, Ukraine, he knew he was at grave risk should he be discovered or given up by a local eager to curry favor. But he trusted the people he encountered in his daily life, including a young grocery store clerk he knew was a patriot, was careful about his movements and passed the time watching hundreds of downloaded movies. His closest call came when he passed himself off as an Irish teacher to the Russian secret police, all stories he is able to tell now as he walks about freely, the result of Russia’s withdrawal from the city.

LIVES

JOHN ANISTON appeared in more than 2,000 episodes of “Days of Our Lives,” the soap opera that was a staple of the afternoon lineup on NBC from 1965 until this year. Father of Jennifer Aniston, who followed him into show business, he played business baron and family patriarch Victor Kiriakis, and was honored in June with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Daytime Emmys. His daughter wrote in an Instagram tribute, “Sweet papa… John Anthony Aniston. You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew.” He was 89.

JOHN L. BARBIERI JR. excelled at sports in high school and was honored in 1994 as The Glens Falls Post-Star’s regional Football Player of the Year. He went on to play football for Ithaca College and earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. For the last 20 years, he was “Coach B,” the beloved bear of a phys-ed teacher and coach at St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus School in Glens Falls, N.Y., while also serving his alma mater, Hudson Falls High School, as a football, basketball and baseball coach. He loved kids, sports and his young family. He died unexpectedly at just 45.

MERHAN KARIMI NASSERI was a man without a country. Expelled without a passport by his native Iran for protesting the shah, he applied for political asylum in several European counties and had been approved by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, only to say his papers were stolen in a Paris train station. Arrested by French police but without a home country to return to, he lived 19 years in a terminal at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, an experience that inspired the Steven Spielberg film “The Terminal.” He left the airport in 2006, but had again been living in the airport in the weeks before his death, at 77, of a heart attack in Terminal 2F.

SAMUEL FOLSOM was 22, a Navy aviator who had never flown at high altitude and had fired the wing guns of his plane only once in a training exercise, when he dove into the thick of combat with the Japanese over Guadalcanal in the first major Allied land offensive since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The skies “were filled with tumbling aircraft,” he recalled. When the battle was over, 1,600 Americans had been killed, 4,200 had been wounded and several thousand had succumbed to malaria and other diseases. Japan had lost more than 30,000 troops and fliers. But the Allies’ victory was the turning point in the Pacific. Mr. Folsom was 102

ELLEN LEVINE had been the editor of Woman’s Day and Redbook when, in 1994, Hearst turned to her to be the first female editor of Good Housekeeping, the venerable bible of household perfection then in circulation for more than 100 years. But perhaps her greatest achievement was persuading Oprah Winfrey to launch O magazine, which Hearst called the most successful magazine launch in history. She described herself as a Little League Mom who did the grocery shopping. She was 79.

ROBERT CLARY played French Cpl. Louis LeBeau in the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, where allied POWs constantly outwitted their German captors at the fictional Stalag 13. His character was a French gourmet chef who trained the guard dogs at the camp to be friendly toward the prisoners. Clary, born Robert Max Widerman in Paris, was 16 when he was rounded up along with his family and taken to Auschwitz, where his parents were murdered in the gas chambers. He was later was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp before being liberated after 31 months of captivity. He was 96.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Ohhh, the wish has come true! That one’s for you, Cody. … Oh my gosh … I think all three of us are choked up here.”
—    NBC Sports commentator Larry Collmus after a horse named Cody’s Wish won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland. In 2018, during a visit to a nearby thoroughbred farm arranged by Make-A-Wish, a young foal walked up to Cody Dorman’s wheelchair and put his head in the boy’s lap. The foal would be named Cody’s Wish, and in addition to racing stardom, he has formed an enduring bond with young Cody that one of the horse’s handlers said, “you can’t explain.”

THE SIGNOFF

ANCIENT WISDOM: If you’ve ever wondered what the oldest known sentence written in the first alphabet said, or where it was written, wonder no more. An engraved comb from the bronze age, discovered in Israel in 2017, was found to be inscribed with characters that translate, “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.”

NEXT WEEK: We expect to be too busy picking the sausage and red jello stuffing out of our collective teeth to type next week, so we’ll not stuff a Facing Out into your in box next Saturday. Look for us Saturday, Dec. 3, and best wishes.



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THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Ryan Moore, John Brodt, Claire P. Tuttle, Lisa Fenwick, Leigh Hornbeck, Nancie Battaglia and Tara Hutchins.

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 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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