The Week: What Caught Our Eye

November 19, 2021

An image of the moon during the lunar eclipse.A six-hour lunar eclipse — the longest in a span of 1,000 years — gave stargazers plenty of time to catch a glimpse from Saratoga County on a clear Friday morning. (John Bulmer)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families and loved ones. We live in a world of abundant beauty, joy, surprise, and wonder, but also a world of want, challenge, loneliness, heartbreak, and frustration, as was ever so. This week we will gather in gratitude and celebration – not because everything is always as we wish it would or could be, but because we have each other to treasure. And we have hope.

As we gather, please be careful. Upstate New York is in the grip of a new round of COVID-19 infections. Last week a Saratoga County family suffered a horrible heartbreak: The loss of a father and son within days of each other. Both were hesitant to get the vaccine. A grieving wife and mother and two siblings — all vaccinated — are left to treasure their memory but not their presence. “He took care of us. He made us feel safe,” the widow of Rick Martin told the Albany Times Union. “He was a diplomatic man of integrity.’’

One of the great blessings of life is the capacity to be grateful. Why not make the daily practice of gratitude part of your routine? If you find that hard to do in the midst of turmoil, maybe it’s time to avoid politics and social media and turn to  more calming activities (subscription required) like playing a sport or listening to music.

A JOY TO BEHOLD: The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards always crack us up. This year behold gossipy raccoons, dancing bears and ’roos, gravity-defying fish, and a prairie dog with so much moxie it’s scary. This will make your day.

TIME TURNING: The first Harry Potter movie debuted 20 years ago. We’ll just let that sink in.

JUST SAY NO: Each summer the Village of Lake George, N.Y., is packed with families strolling a main street lined with motels, restaurants and shops. One thing it won’t be selling: Cannabis. The village joined the Town of Lake George, which surrounds it, in prohibiting cannabis retailers within the village. Village leaders faced a choice: Give up what might be significant new revenue or enhance the family image of the community. Barring cannabis retailers, of course, won’t stop pot smoking, but it sends a message. As one visitor put it, “I and everyone else, can still smoke all the cannabis we want in Lake George. It just means other areas get to benefit from the tax revenue.”

FAST CLIMBERS: The Pearson family of Lyons Falls, N.Y., in Lewis County, hiked their first Adirondack High Peak in May, a journey that nearly ended after a mile in a haze of black flies. Five months later, the family — parents John and Alanah, and children Logan, 10, Carson, 9, and Ariana, 6 — had completed all 46, and had started on a journey to conquer other tall peaks. “Every weekend from May on, we were hiking in the Adirondacks,” Alanah Pearson told NNY 360. “We just kept going.”

MAN’S BEST FRIEND: Wyverne Flatt lives in the village of Canajoharie, N.Y., a speck on the map along the New York State Thruway between Albany and Syracuse best known as the former home of Beech-Nut, the baby food maker. It’s been a rough few years for Mr. Flatt, who said he gets emotional support from Ellie, the 100-pound pot-bellied pig who lives with him. The village says Ellie is livestock, and livestock are prohibited in the village. The issue has been tied up in court for two years, and now the village is telling Mr. Flatt he has until December 14 to part with Ellie.

THE WORDS OF WORSTER: In 27 years as the editorial page editor of The Glens Falls Post-Star, Ed Worster wrote 24,000 editorials. Each Thanksgiving he faced the writer’s bane: A blank page. But in 1946, with World War II over, Worster hardly had to search his typewriter for hope. The editorial almost wrote itself: “The turkeys, they say, are a size that walks like a man, and the cranberry crop was good. The squash are in fine supply, and the flour to go in biscuits is white, not gray.” Historian Maury Thompson looks back.

LIVE YOUR LIFE: Many people spend so much of their time and effort trying to impress and please others that they forget to think about what they want and how to achieve it. Hyper-focus on what others want at the expense of our own aspirations can leave us anxious and miserable, as if we’re living someone else’s life. Instead, advises author Julie Lythcott-Haims, “This is your one wild and precious life. To heck with them! What you want is valid and matters.” Start by asking, who am I afraid of? Whose judgment do I fear? Whose approval do I seek?

Hikers walking a trail in a forest with fallen leaves in autumnIt may be late autumn, but the benefits of a hike — fresh air, a slower pace, a break from the day-to-day — are still abundant, as seen here on Tongue Mountain near Lake George. (Nancie Battaglia)

LAST PICTURE SHOW: Anyone who has passed through downtown Schenectady, N.Y., has seen the deep green storefront on State Street that stayed true to film long after the world had moved on to digital. The Photo-Lab, in business since World War I, is closing for good on November 30, a victim not of waning interest but of tiresome tussles with the landlord.

APPLAUSE ALL AROUND: Proctor’s in Schenectady is a not-celebrated-nearly-enough gift to the entire Capital Region. Not only does it bring the best of Broadway (and so much more) to local stages, but it has led the effort to preserve historic buildings and revitalize them as first-rate entertainment venues: Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs and Capital Repertory Theater in Albany. This week Proctors was among several groups and individuals properly honored with an Excellence in Historic Preservation award.

THEATER OF KINDNESS: Watching live theater may make you laugh, or cry, or tap your feet to the beat. And it may make you reflect on lives very different from your own and make you more empathetic and charitable. “Attending theater could be a vital way to build psychological skills (subscription required), especially empathy,” Steve Rathje, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Cambridge University, told The Wall Street Journal.

GETTING IT RIGHT, NOW: The economist John Maynard Keynes once observed: “In the long run, we are all dead.” The point was: Get it right now, in the short-term. Economist Colin Read argues inflation is high and may go higher. The new physical and social infrastructure bills will be too little and too late: “What we need now is a stronger hand at the till, a more cohesive and less coddling economic policy, and a movement consistently in the right direction.”

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: There’s been a lot of buzz lately about electric cars, with billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending and thousands of dollars in tax credits designed to accelerate the change from internal-combustion engines to battery-powered, to say nothing of the fascination with Tesla and its colorful founder, Elon Musk. But had the New Deal and rural electrification come along sooner, there’s a chance that electric vehicles would be in the historically dominant position, as they were, believe it or not, in 1900. The bottom line: It’s all about infrastructure.

CRYPTO FLOWS INTO THE MAINSTREAM: First, it was major league umpires wearing the logo of a company that helps people invest in cryptocurrencies. Now comes word that the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers and the NHL’s Kings, will have its name changed to Crypto.com Arena (subscription required) as part of a 20-year, $700 million deal with the Singapore-based cryptocurrency brokerage. “If you want to reach several billions of people, sports is the way to go,” Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek told The Wall Street Journal. “Our objective is to be, in the next three to five years, one of the top 20 consumer brands alongside Nike or Apple.”

BUCK STOPS HERE: Rural Michigan is not a friendly place for a young buck on the opening day of deer hunting season. That is, unless you take sanctuary in a church, as one 10-pointer did briefly this week.

ASKED AND ANSWERED: This feels like something the late, great Andy Rooney would have fun with: Did you ever wonder about those stickers they put on raw fruits and vegetables? What happens if you eat one? Turns out, the little stickers have to be edible because they’re stuck on food and, well, you never know. But though the stickers are harmless to people, if you compost, be sure to remove them anyhow to prevent contamination with microplastics.

TRASH TALK: Train cars packed with garbage are causing a stink in Stillwater and Mechanicville, N.Y., adjacent communities along the Upper Hudson River. The cars belong to a trash hauler that ships them to a massive landfill in South Carolina, but the supply chain bottlenecks we’ve all heard about are having an effect on the hauler’s access to rail lines, leaving the garbage stranded, sometimes for days. The Stillwater town supervisor has had enough, and is threatening employees of the company with arrest.

AIMING TO INSPIRE: Ta-Sean Murdock is a respected community leader in Albany, N.Y., who is known for his work in youth advocacy and program development. But before that he was a kid trying to make his way through a gauntlet of bullies and doubters. He has written a children’s book, “I Can and I Will,” that he hopes will inspire and encourage young people living in difficult circumstances.

LIVES

WERNER FEIBES was 9 when his family escaped Nazi Germany for the freedom of New York State, where he spent the rest of his life making things more beautiful. He and his future spouse, fellow architectural student James Schmitt, met at the University of Cincinnati and later found their way to Schenectady. Werner became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an adjunct professor at RPI. Together, they helped save the historic Stockade neighborhood, designed a new chamber for the New York State Assembly, and a public library for Schenectady that the American Institute of Architects said was among the most notable architectural contributions in New York State in the 20th century. In 2016, he donated the stunning modern art collection the couple had lovingly assembled over four decades to The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, a gift valued at $11 million, the largest donation of art in more than 50 years. He was 92.

JUSTUS ROSENBERG was a beloved professor of literature for 60 years at Bard College. But the real story of his life came before Bard: As a teenager in World War II, he served as a courier in a fabled rescue team that provided safe passage to artists and intellectuals out of Vichy France. He fought in the French Resistance, lobbing grenades at German tanks, and aiding the U.S. Army, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He narrowly escaped death when the Jeep in which he was riding hit a land mine, killing the soldier who had taken his usual seat. He was 100.

BILL LIA SR. was the patriarch of an eponymous billion-dollar automotive empire that started with a single Honda dealership in Delmar, N.Y., growing to dealerships at 22 locations in the Northeast and more than 1,500 employees. A Brooklyn native who grew up in foster care and got his start working as a coat cutter in Manhattan’s Garment District, he was a fixture in the Capital Region philanthropic community who never lost his zest for the business. He died at 85.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

THE SIGNOFF

HANDYMAN: The Pittsburg State (Kan.) football team was on its way to a game last Saturday when one of the team buses broke down. Fortunately for Pittsburg State, the team’s long snapper is an automotive technology major who quickly diagnosed and fixed the problem, allowing the team to continue its journey to a 34-24 win in their season finale.

NEXT WEEK: We’ll give the Facing Out team a break next week so they don’t get their keyboards greasy with mayonnaise from the leftover turkey sandwiches.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, John Bulmer, Nancie Battaglia, Claire P. Tuttle, 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.  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 conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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