The Week: What Caught Our Eye

April 18, 2020

Montage of health care workersFACES OF THE FRONT LINE: What strikes you immediately is their youth. So many of the nurses, physicians, respiratory care technicians, pharmacists and lab techs on the front lines in this war seem so young. Kindly warriors, great of heart, they are part of the new Greatest Generation, working shoulder to shoulder with caregivers from other generations including retired physicians who’ve re-enlisted and nurses who could be their mothers. Some are parents with small children at home, some are also caring for their own elderly relatives. Some are parents of newborns; some have grandkids they aren’t seeing. These are the shock troops waging hourly, hand-to-hand combat in face shields and scrubs with a fearsome guerrilla virus that hides in deadly waiting, that resists treatment, that mocks conventional therapies, that seems to delight in misdirection, receding in deceit only to come roaring back. They wait impatiently for cures undiscovered and use every conventional and high-tech tool at their disposal – including the greatest tool of all, human mercy. For even as they push the bounds of medicine to ease their patients’ urgent suffering, they are practicing its oldest and finest traditions, holding their patients’ hands, turning them, comforting them, encouraging them, connecting them with families who can’t visit and reassuring them they are loved. These nurses know theirs may be the last human face their patients see. And you wonder: How did we get so lucky?

ONE FAMILY’S FIGHT: The daughter of a coronavirus patient conducts a desperate national Facebook campaign to obtain the virus-fighting antibodies that might save her father’s life, and Glens Falls Hospital becomes one of the first in the nation to treat a coronavirus patient with convalescent plasma therapy. Mother Jones magazine tells the story.

THANKING THEIR BROTHER’S KEEPERS: Alex and Camden Passino, 14-year-old twins from Queensbury, lost their little brother, Brayden, to brain cancer in December. Brayden never got to open the gift their grandparents had selected for him, a 3-D printer. Then the coronavirus hit, and Brayden’s brothers knew just how they wanted to thank the professionals who cared for him at Albany Med.

Street sign for hospital, with posters underneath thanking health care workersA sign on Lake Avenue expresses the sentiment of a grateful Saratoga Springs.


ROCK STAR TREATMENT: Rolling Stone, venerable chronicler of all things pop culture, has a hybrid profile and Q&A with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, noting that while he was behind other governors in closing schools and issuing stay-at-home orders, “as a communicator, in particular, Cuomo has risen to the occasion, proving especially adept at walking viewers through the nuances of the daily barrage of bad news, offering realistic glimmers of hope but never magical thinking.”

The Albany Times Union’s Chris Churchill says wait just a New York minute. It’s time, he says,   to tone down the praise of the governor’s performance.

SECRETARY OF ACTION: She grew up in politics, and the messaging and organizational instincts came naturally. Early on, Melissa DeRosa knew the job she wanted was the most powerful unelected position in New York state government. She has it now, Secretary to the Governor – and she’s the person Gov. Andrew Cuomo has entrusted with coordinating the state’s response to the pandemic.

A GOVERNOR FROM AN EARLIER CRISIS: George Pataki was in his second term as governor the morning of September 11, 2001, so he knows from painful experience the demands of leadership in the midst of crisis. In Beyond the Great Divide: How a Nation Became a Neighborhood, published last week, Pataki presents “inspirational and never-before-seen moments, as well as behind-the-scenes stories and insight into the historic moments from that horrific day, September 11, 2001, and the days after.” By the way, this is Pataki’s second  book – his autobiography was first – and no small feat. But another Pataki, his daughter Allison, is the real publishing star in the Pataki family with eight titles and counting.

COLOR US CAPTIVATED: Few people have more important things to do these days than Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator. Her daily appearances at nationally televised briefings have made hers a household name, and it seems we’re all fascinated with those scarves.


A JOLT FROM GE: It’s no secret that General Electric was navigating rough seas before the pandemic, and, like most companies, has been battered in the ensuing economic downturn. CEO Larry Culp and the company’s other senior managers aren’t just taking pay cuts — they’re contributing to a relief fund to help employees and family members affected by the coronavirus.

A GRAND SLAM: John Krasinski, the multi-talented and acclaimed actor, writer and director probably best known for playing Jim Halpert on “The Office,” has launched a wonderful and spectacularly popular YouTube series called “Some Good News,” highlighting the touching, the warm and the uplifting. In the latest episode, he teamed with another Boston icon, David Ortiz, to salute a team of COVID-19 care professionals in a way they will never forget.

It seems people just can’t get enough good news. In fact, we’re craving it.

KINDNESS ALL AROUND US: The pandemic, awful as it is in every respect, has at least reminded us that we are surrounded by goodness, grit, creativity, character, determination, and all manner of traits that are expressing themselves in wonderful acts of kindness. We see examples literally every day. In Glens Falls, the Salvation Army is delivering food to their neighbors in quarantine. In Saratoga Springs, when the local Ben & Jerry’s was forced to close, a friend of the owner started raising money to buy the ice cream and donate it to local senior centers. And comedian Adam Sandler made a Clifton Park boy’s 16th birthday one to remember.

THIS BREAD IS ON THE RISE: Talk about making the best of a bad situation. When Andreas Mergner was forced by the pandemic to close his escape room in Colonie, he tells the Times Union’s Steve Barnes, he decided to put all of his efforts into the Bread Butler, which makes an assortment of organic breads and delivers them to your door. The verdict: “I’m officially hooked.”

Banner on a building thanking frontline workers.They know how to hang masterpieces at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls. They hung one Friday.

#QUARRANTINE15? #SOWHAT: Christine Byrne has seen the anxieties expressed on social media about quarantine-induced weight gain, and concerns that we’re not doing enough to keep ourselves fit as we adapt to all-new routines. Her advice: Cut yourself some slack; there’s nothing normal about any of this.

A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE: Southeast Michigan is among the nation’s hotspots for COVID-19. Detroit Free Press reporters Tresa Baldas and M.L. Elrick, who are married, both endured the virus, and Baldas’ first-person account of the fears and thoughts she dealt with, in addition to the physical discomfort, is both riveting and terrifying.

WE’LL DRINK TO THAT: When Saratogian Lisa Elovich founded One With Life Tequila in 2015, she wanted to lift the spirits of those who lifted her spirits, so she started including little inspirational messages on the labels of her award-winning, organic tequilas. And who can’t use a little extra encouragement these days? Bonus: Three margarita recipes at the end.

NEW DIGS: Stuck at home? Imagine a house with floor-to-ceiling windows — in the bathroom. Not your style? How about a teak deck overlooking the ocean? Or a movie theater and poker room? Travel vicariously through the homes keeping celebrities cozy during the quarantine.


GLAMP IT UP: The founders of Huttopia are betting that, once this crisis ends, we’ll be ready to go glamping. They’re planning a campground in Lake Luzerne with more than 100 sites, capable of accommodating 300 people who will sleep in tent-like comfort and be able to retrieve an espresso from a 3,000-square-foot lodge.

A BIG INVESTMENT IN THE ADIRONDACKS: Jim Rucker is a retired banking and finance executive, and an optimist. He and his wife, Frances, co-owners of North River’s Garnet Hill Lodge, just bought 110 more acres around the property in Warren County, securing much of the resort's 30-plus miles of skiing, snowshoeing and hiking trails. "In a strange way,” Rucker told the Business Review’s Robin Cooper, “I think this (economic shutdown) could benefit places like the Adirondacks. When we come out of this, people will be less inclined to get on an airplane, but they may look for places where they can drive that are a little remote and have lots of fresh air.”

ALL QUIET ON THE NORTHERN FRONT: Traffic across the U.S.-Canadian border has slowed to a trickle since both countries to took measures last month to restrict cross-border movement in an effort to contain the coronavirus. Now, those who work at those border crossings are using similar terms to describe the new reality: “Eerie.” “Surreal.”

RITUAL REINFORCEMENT: There’s something about rituals that make us all feel a bit more grounded, in our element. Comfortable. We turn to rituals in times of stress precisely because they help us restore our sense of control. Mike Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School who has studied rituals and their effects on wellbeing, explains.

WORDS WORTH A THOUSAND PICTURES: Sometimes the headline just begs you to read. “The Poughkeepsie Photographer Who Took a Bath in Hitler’s Apartment” is one of those times. If you’ve never met Lady Penrose from Poughkeepsie, now’s your chance.

ONE STEP AT A TIME: Speaking of headlines that get right to the point, Harvard Business Review asks the question so many are afraid to ask out loud: “Is It Even Possible to Focus on Anything Right Now?” (It may take some practice, but it can be done).

THE UKES: A musically inclined friend of Facing Out plucked this one out for us: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, a group of all-singing, all-strumming ukulele players, uses instruments bought with loose change to play all genres of music — from Tchaikovsky to Nirvana to Otis Redding. Turns out anything with sharps and flats is ripe for reinterpretation on the ukulele.

CATCHING UP: He was a mailman in Maywood, Ill., a storyteller and songwriter on the side. He wrote what he saw and what he knew: loneliness, addiction, aspirations for a better life, the loss of special places, the couple who made love 10 miles apart. John Prine wrote a song about a Vietnam vet and will be remembered as the author of one of music’s best lines: “There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes.” And he was a hero of Bob Dylan’s.

A FIRST FOR BOB: Speaking of Bob Dylan — it’s difficult to understand what took Billboard so long, but his new 17-minute epic about the Kennedy assassination, “Murder Most Foul,” has finally landed the Nobel laureate a number one spot on a Billboard chart. And at 78, it seems he’s just warming up: This week he put out his second new release in three weeks.


ALL THE PIECES FIT: Each of us has something we can do to help right now. Last week, a generous Facing Out reader, Tracey Clothier of Lake George, picked up on the story about the surge in popularity of jigsaw puzzles as so many people look for healthy and productive distractions. Now, the nice collection of Ravensburger puzzles that had been sitting in Tracey’s closet is making its way to local homeless shelters and senior citizens centers.

SOLIDARITY IN SOLITUDE: Last week we brought you news of the nightly communal cheer for New York City’s health care heroes. Now, Pastor Scotty Matthews is bringing the salute upstate, suggesting local churches ring their bells at 7 p.m., as he is doing each evening with the 1825 bell at Bolton’s Community Church.


There on the beaches of Normandy I began to reflect on the wonders of these ordinary people whose lives were laced with the markings of greatness.
—  Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation


THE SOUND OF PATIENCE: Like many sports commentators, the BBC’s Andrew Cotter has found new ways to pass the time without games. Sometimes the words and pictures just work, and now Olive and Mabel are stars.

MORE HEROES TO HONOR: In upcoming issues of Facing Out, we’ll continue to honor the people on the front line. Please email us photos to share at

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: John Brodt, Bill Richmond, Bill Callen, Lisa Fenwick, Colleen Potter, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, Emily Behan, Matt Behan, John Behan, Bob English, Katelyn Cinzio 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 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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