The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 16, 2022

A high school baseball pitcher throwing a pitchHigh school baseball is back — a righty of spring, you might say — as captured perfectly by Saratogian writer and photographer Kyle Adams.

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

This is a religious holiday for many – Easter, Passover and Ramadan – and so we begin with a few words on beginnings from Irish philosopher John O'Donohue

“(L)et us look again at the lives we have been so generously given and let us let fall away the useless baggage that we carry — old pains, old habits, old ways of seeing and feeling — and let us have the courage to begin again. Life is very short, and we are no sooner here than it is time to depart again, and we should use to the full the time that we still have.

“We don't realize all the good we can do. A kind, encouraging word or helping hand can bring many a person through dark valleys in their lives. We weren't put here to make money or to acquire status or reputation. We were sent here to search for the light of Easter in our hearts, and when we find it, we are meant to give it away generously.”

THE KIDS WILL LEAD: Colin Read has been teaching college students for 35 years and never has seen young people so weighed down by the condition of the world they are inheriting. Climate change. Pandemics. Violence and polarization. So, his students and others like them are taking matters into their own hands, reinventing businesses and redefining markets and institutions based on their greater awareness of environmental, social and governance concerns. Why this matters to anybody who hires, works, leads, sells, or helps the world.

BETWEEN THE LINES, INTO HISTORY: The San Francisco Giants were playing the San Diego Padres in what otherwise was just another major league game Tuesday night when the Giants’ first base coach got into a scrape with the Padres’ third base coach in the third inning, his subsequent ejection from the game leaving the Giants with a vacancy in the first-base coach’s box. The Giants dispatched their bench coach to go find Alyssa Nakken and tell her she would be filling in. And just like that, a woman coached on the field in a major league game for the first time ever, 75 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

WHITHER TWITTER? The world’s wealthiest man (those who think Jeff Bezos are just not keeping up), Elon Musk, is now the largest shareholder in Twitter, with a stake of $3 billion-plus. He is also its most famous user. A week ago, Twitter said Musk would be joining its board. Then, suddenly, he wouldn’t. Now he’s made a hostile offer to buy the company. A week of comic drama has revealed Twitter is really all (and perhaps only) about Twitter. Now, The New York Times has told its reporters to give Twitter a rest. It’s concerned that too great a focus on tweeting warps their reporting and may harm their credibility.

NOT THE LEAST BIT SOCIAL: James Madison saw it coming. When he was drafting the Constitution, Madison sought to find mediating mechanisms that would cool the unruly passions of the angry mob and give elected leaders some insulation from the mania of the moment while still holding them accountable. Then Facebook invented the Like button. Surely, social media have given the public a powerful tool to hold the powerful accountable, but they’ve also provided a platform to spray “a fire hose of falsehoods,” cultivate a toxic gnarl of hate and hostility, and hand out free megaphones to extremists. The Atlantic takes a thoughtful look at what we need to do to preserve America’s critical institutions from destruction.

A placemat showing all of the US presidentsHARVESTING HISTORY: Sometimes Millard Fillmore got a loose pepperoni in his eye. Sometimes red sauce obscured the kindly face of FDR. For 50 years, every U.S. president watched from beneath their plates as customers enjoyed the food at the popular Harvest Restaurant in Queensbury, N.Y., Rachael Ray’s favorite pizza place. Studying the placemats, kids could memorize the names of all of our presidents while awaiting a cheese pizza. Moms and Dads argued over whether Calvin Coolidge was number 30 or 31. The wonderful food abides, but the Harvest’s placemat manufacturer is discontinuing the presidents. What does that say?  

MORE SUPERLATIVES: The “second best pizza in the world” is said to be tossed in Poughkeepsie. The Food Network’s Alton Brown says “absolute pasta perfection” is to be found at More Perreca’s in Schenectady. And Travel and Leisure proclaims three of the world’s best new hotels are to be enjoyed in the Hudson Valley.

CRITICIZING BITIN’: First Dog Major had some difficulty adjusting to life in the White House. The German shepherd was used to protecting and accompanying his master. Now the Secret Service seemed to get in the way, and there were so many unfamiliar visitors. Turns out Major had gone on bit more of a biting spree than previously known.

EXCELLENCE IN CARE: Nearly six million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias. The CDC predicts that by 2060, the number of cases will rise to 14 million. Glens Falls Hospital and Albany Med have each been awarded $2 million in recognition of their excellence in the care of Alzheimer’s disease and related brain conditions.

WINDS OF CHANGE: Block Island, R.I., sits 12 miles off the mainland, luring summer travelers with its endless beaches and hiking trails and relaxed pace. There, you can purchase unique gifts, dine in 5-star restaurants, browse an art gallery or cruise in a kayak. Until not long ago, the historic community’s sole source of power was a diesel-fueled power plant located a half-mile from downtown, its sounds and soot carried on the breeze. Since 2017, those breezes have generated all of Block Island’s power — it is the only community in the United States fully powered by offshore wind — and made it a case study for other communities that are evaluating wind options as more transition to renewable energy sources.

MARINES REMEMBER: U.S. Marine Eddie Ryan was on his third tour of duty in the War on Terror when he was shot in the head in Iraq in 2005. It was friendly fire, an accident, but he came home unable to see with his left eye and with limited use of his right arm. His indomitable Marine spirit has saved him, and this week his friends gathered at the Holiday Inn in Lake George to celebrate 17 years of recovery since that fateful day.

Closeup of purple and white crocus flowersFrances Ellen Watkins Harper, The Crocuses: “Not a daffodil nor daisy / Had dared to raise its head / Not a fairhaired dandelion / Peeped timid from its bed / Though a tremor of the winter / Did shivering through them run / Yet they lifted up their foreheads / To greet the vernal sun. (Nancie Battaglia)

THE CITY IS ASLEEP: The pandemic emptied offices throughout New York City, home to an estimated 1.4 million private-sector jobs. Every surviving business that relied on those workers has been starving for their return, a call echoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. It seemed as if the private sector would cooperate, announcing return-to-the-office plans only to discover a problem: a lot of the workers who have those jobs have no interest in returning to an office, and their willingness to walk away has employers scrambling to accommodate them. It’s becoming a huge problem for the city.

FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE: The Adirondack Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary and not resting on its many accomplishments, but looking ahead to the future of the Adirondack region. It’s seeking input from its neighbors, supporters, partners and community members about how to work together even more effectively and create a better future.

THE WILL TO ACT: Various stressors in life, be they internal or external, can make it difficult to form and stick to healthful habits. Time management consultant and author Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests the key is to take small steps, focusing first on getting enough sleep, then on nutrition and exercise to get yourself in the right frame of mind to make lasting change.

LETTUCE HOPE: Florida’s manatees are starving. Their seasonal home in the Indian River Lagoon has turned into an underwater desert, barren because it is sun-blocked by algal blooms that choke the sea grass that the manatees used to eat. Now, Floridians are trying everything to save the beloved sea beasts — even lettuce.

THE HERALD OF HOCKEY: Mike Kane was a run-and-gun young sports editor when he broke the story in 1979 that Glens Falls, N.Y., had scored a Capital Region sports coup, landing the first professional sports franchise in its modern history: the Detroit AHL franchise, the Adirondack Red Wings. Kane covered the Red Wings from their first game to their penultimate game 20 years later, with four Calder Cup championships in between. He wrote a book on the experience, and, in his spare time, became a nationally prominent expert on thoroughbred racing, too. On Friday, he was inducted into the Adirondack Hockey Hall of Fame along with longtime NHL star Claude Loiselle of Queensbury, who helped Adirondack win the Calder Cup in 1986 and remains involved in management of what is now the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls, and James Henry, the face of the Adirondack Thunder for six seasons who leads the franchise in games played and career points.

WELCOME, MADI! This week we celebrate the arrival of Madilynn Canastra, beautiful infant daughter of Nicole (Brodt) Canastra and Brian Canastra, born Saturday, April 9, at Glens Falls Hospital. Madilynn is the first grandchild of our own John and Lisa Brodt and the great granddaughter of Genevieve Brodt and the late John H. Brodt Sr. of Hudson Falls, N.Y., and Lou and Mary Jane Di Fiore of South Glens Falls, N.Y.

AN IDEA TAKES FLIGHT: David Prescott is the James Audubon of America’s War Birds — the planes built by Americans to win World War II. He buys them, flies them, preserves them, names them, and maintains them at his Warbird Factory. Now, the former Navy nuclear engineer wants to build a museum near the Albany International Airport in Colonie, N.Y., so the rest of the world can touch these marvels.

WISHFUL THINKING: Make-A-Wish Northeast New York has been granting wishes to children with critical illnesses in its 15-county service area since 1987. This week, the organization celebrated the granting of its 2,000th wish — a trip to Disney for Anthony DiScipio, a 7-year-old fighting leukemia, and his family.

WALK THIS WAY: A secretive group of volunteers in Los Angeles, no longer willing to wait for the city to address traffic safety concerns, has begun painting crosswalks at well-traveled intersections. The Crosswalk Collective, as the group calls itself, said it’s getting so many requests for new crosswalks that it is setting up an online request form.

LAST ONE OUT: Journalist Michele A. Berdy moved to Moscow shortly after college in 1978 and never left. A writer and editor at The Moscow Times, which before the invasion of Ukraine had been an independent newspaper, she writes that she was slow to recognize Russia’s true intentions in Ukraine, but immediately realized when the moment had come that she urgently needed to leave the country. More than 40 years had to be undone in as many hours, and involved a journey to safety that began with a 3 a.m. van ride in 0-degree darkness.

THE ART OF PEACE AND UNITYPysanky, (subscription required) the ancient Ukrainian art of intricately decorating Easter eggs, is bringing people together in the United States to promote peace and raise money to help Ukrainians. “The community aspect that has kind of sprouted from this is just really beautiful,” Sarah Bachinger of Round Lake, N.Y., told National Public Radio. “It's just creating a space where people can come together to the table and learn from each other, focus their intention on something good, and just relax and connect.”

THE GORGEOUS DARKNESS: Schenectady native Jeff Sharlet, author, journalist and teacher, was writing the final paragraphs of a book in a borrowed office when he got the call that his father, a retired Union College professor, had died of a heart attack. Two years later, he returned to the same office to complete the book and had a heart attack himself. His “This Brilliant Darkness,” an empathetic work about people suffering in isolation in “pockets of the world most of us will never see or bother to notice,” continues to draw national attention. The New York Times called it “gorgeous.”

LIVES

GILBERT GOTTFRIED had one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood, a shrill series of staccato shrieks delivered with a thick Brooklyn accent. His most memorable voice roles were as Iago, the sarcastic parrot in Disney’s “Aladdin,” and the voice of the duck in popular Aflac commercials. His comedy could be edgy and crude, which got him in trouble more than once, but he had far more fans than he lost. “Although today is a sad day for all of us, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert’s honor,” his family tweeted after his death at 67 of myotonic dystrophy type 2, a form of muscular dystrophy.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and true love. Don't even try to tell me different.”
— Dolly Parton

THE SIGNOFF

HITCHING A RIDE: Upstate New Yorkers love their ATVs, and will do whatever it takes to get them out to the trails and fields, even if it means stuffing one in the trunk of a Camaro.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Troy Burns, Kyle Adams, Nancie Battaglia, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, 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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