The Week: What Caught Our Eye

May 15, 2021

Dandelions and grass in a field, with trees in the backgroundGood morning, Colleagues and Friends:

On this spring morning, put down the weed killer for a moment and consider the humble dandelion. Bundled into bouquets and presented to moms by countless 4-year-old fists, source of medicines, food and drink, this flower has morphed from delightful to despised, a weed that signals to judgmental neighbors and slick marketers that maybe you just don’t care enough to keep an immaculate lawn. Yet despite an onslaught of fertilizers and weed killers, the dandelion keeps rising. “There’s something admirable about that tenacity,” Albany Times Union columnist Chris Churchill writes, “if we choose to see it.”

YOUNG MASTER: Tanitoluwa Adewumi started playing chess three years ago, and instantly fell in love. He practices hours each day and says he can think up to 20 moves ahead. He took up the game while living with his family in a homeless shelter in Manhattan, having fled religious persecution in their native Nigeria. At 10, he just became America’s newest national chess master, and is aiming to become the youngest grandmaster ever.

ADIRONDACK LIFE SAVER: The ice climber from Connecticut fell 10 stories down the side of Pitchoff Mountain in Keene. He broke his femur, was hemorrhaging and screaming in pain. Julie Harjung could have skipped the call, left it to rank-and-file rangers. She was, after all, a lieutenant with the Department of Environmental Conservation, the first female lieutenant in the state. But her medical skills were urgently needed, so she scrambled with other rangers to the climber’s side and saved his life. She also was the first forest ranger to respond to the Dannemora prison break in 2015. She’s now become the first woman to retire with 25 years of service as a New York State forest ranger.

LEADING LIGHTS: Fortune Magazine is out with its eighth annual list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders for 2021, drawn from the ranks of business, government, medicine, philanthropy, athletics and the arts. At the top: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose nation endured a terror attack, the deadly eruption of a volcano and then COVID-19. All of the leaders’  stories are inspiring, and Forbes writes: “In truly unprecedented times, each stepped up to make the world better.”

CONFRONTING BIAS: Companies large and small have begun taking steps to diversify their staffs and build more inclusive workplaces, but research by Harvard’s Robin Ely revealed an ongoing stumbling block to equity — when a company’s talent arbiters are white men, they tend to more easily recognize the talents of other white men.

TAKES THE CAKE: Beautiful June Farms in West Sand Lake, near Albany, was buzzing with activity as it prepared to host its first wedding since the start of the pandemic. A team from Mazzone Hospitality was hard at work setting up for the reception, which included a towering, multi-layer cake that caught the eye of a rambunctious puppy named Luna. Fortunately for all, the happy young couple took it in stride.

WARNING SIGNS: Economist Jan Eeckhout argues in his forthcoming book that the generally robust stock market of recent years is hiding a significant underlying weakness in the economy — the growing power of a few companies with huge profits to dominate industry sectors, leading directly to stagnating wages and lower workforce participation.

A disc golf net among treesLearn to play disc golf and watch the pros play as Glens Falls opens a world-class disc golf course June 12-13.

GOLF FALLS: The Glens Falls Country Club regularly makes the list of the best golf courses in the nation. Last year, Golf magazine named the Donald Ross-designed course one of the top 100 in the United States. Earlier this month, Golf Week named it one of the top 200 classic courses in the country. And now the Glens Falls community offers more than conventional golf: A new, world-class disc golf course is opening and drawing rave reviews from the experts.

HONORING AN URBAN LEGEND: Yusuf Burgess was born in Brooklyn but drawn to the outdoors, a lifelong passion that ended far too soon with his unexpected death in 2014 at the age of 64. As an adult, Brother Yusuf, as he was known, made it his mission to expose kids from underserved urban neighborhoods in Albany to the wonders of the outdoors, leading outings to the Catskills and Adirondacks, among other activities. This week, state and local officials, along with Brother Yusuf’s family, gathered in Albany to dedicate the Brother Yusuf Burgess Trail, a one-mile path through the Tivoli Lake Preserve in the city's West Hill neighborhood.

DOG TIRED: An estimated 12.6 million U.S. households adopted a pet last year as the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools and businesses and gave people a lot more time than usual at home. At the same time, and for the same reasons, people were more likely to keep the pets they had, and to notice ailments they might otherwise have missed. Combine all of that with a shortage of veterinarians and vet techs that pre-dates the pandemic and you’re left with a lot of very overworked pet care professionals. “Unfortunately, compassion fatigue, anxiety, and depression already plagued our profession, and the pandemic has certainly taken it to another level,” one veterinarian told The AP.

SEA MONSTER: A fish normally found thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean washed up on a California beach, and it looks exactly as frightening as something you would expect to find living thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean.

A FRESH START: Times of disruption are a great opportunity for a fresh start in life, and few events have been as disruptive to more people than the global COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, The New York Times is inviting readers to participate in what it’s calling the 10-Day Fresh Start Challenge, beginning Monday, May 17. “We have this opportunity with this blank slate to change our health habits and be very conscientious about our day,” Katy Milkman, an author and professor at the Wharton School, told The Times’ Tara Parker-Pope. “What is our lunch routine going to look like? What is our exercise routine? There’s an opportunity to rethink. What do we want a work day to look like?”

THE HIGH LIFE: Treehouses aren’t just for kids anymore. In fact, you can find — and rent — them in communities across Upstate New York, adding a layer of adventure to that special getaway.

HELP (DESPERATELY) WANTED: Businesses in tourist destinations like Rehoboth Beach, Del., were crushed last summer by pandemic-related closures and other restrictions. This year, like vacation destinations here and everywhere, they’re worried about not having enough workers to meet what is expected to be a surge of visitors ready to resume normal vacation routines, with some offering bonuses and creative perks to entice seasonal help. 

PORSCHE POWER: The Saratoga Auto Museum in Saratoga Springs is offering an exhibition of 16 rare Porsches from the collection of trustee Steven Harris through this fall. The cars span the five decades of the second half of the 20th century. “These astounding and iconic Porsches, from the Steven Harris Collection, are absolutely works of art,” said Carly Conners, the museum’s executive director. “You do not have to be an automotive enthusiast to fully appreciate each detail, line and proportion. One glance at these stunning automobiles can convey the consideration, timeless design aesthetics, creative genius and effort that created them.”

WHERE DID IT GO? What happened to Cahokia, a city as big as Paris that rose 1,000 years ago on the banks of what we now call the Mississippi near St. Louis? It was a place of rich farms and public plazas, lavish feasting and religious ceremony, and its disappearance has intrigued archeologists for decades. One popular explanation has now been discounted. The truth is always more complicated.

Restaurant staff posing for a photoJoseph Carr, second from right, in his Sagamore days with Chef Tom Guay, far right, now the General Manager. 

A FINE TIME: He grew up in rural Rensselaer County, worked in the woods, drove a truck and went to college on a wrestling scholarship. When the wrestling program was cut, he discovered a surprising new academic interest – modern dance – and got a job at a local restaurant where he learned all about wine. He had never heard of The Sagamore Resort at Bolton Landing on Lake George before being hired, but young Joseph Carr soon made his mark, winning the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for his wine list design. The founder of Joseph Carr Winery and Josh Cellars looks back on his time at the Sagamore (including late-night dinners whipped up by current GM Tom Guay).

THE JOY OF TROY: Hudson Valley Magazine visits Troy and recommends a Collar City weekend getaway with a stroll along the spectacular riverfront and visits to the Music Hall, RPI campus, the Copper Fox and Wooden Shoe Trading company. Get some sass at the Ruck, a cocktail at The Berlin, and a beer at Brown’s Brewing.

MODEST START: At first, it was called Newman, a seemingly modest little mountain town with two family farms, a general store and a Post Office. But what’s this? Newman also had an opera house? Yes, and it sat 500 people. And up the street was Bennett’s Pond. You probably know it as Mirror Lake. It’s all part of the little-known history of Lake Placid.

GIVING PEOPLE A SHOT: Ohio is offering a $1 million cash prize for five vaccinated residents in weekly drawings that begin May 26. A similar drawing for those ages 12 to 17 who have been vaccinated will be for a full, four-year scholarship to State of Ohio universities.

LIVES

SPENCER SILVER’S invention has been in your hands a thousand times. He set out to find an adhesive strong enough to be used in airplane construction. Instead, he came up with a sticky substance that went nowhere until his employer, 3M, flooded Boise, Idaho, with free samples. The father of the Post-It note was 80. 

JONATHAN BUSH was bound for Broadway, a dancer and an actor who appeared in five versions of “Oklahoma!” But when he was passed over for a part, the fourth child of Prescott Bush and Dorothy Wear Walker Bush left the stage and set out for Wall Street. Brother to one president, uncle to another, he played electoral politics from the wings, raising money, brokering alliances and mending fences. He was 89.

LEIGH PERKINS learned how to hunt alligators from his mother. She also taught him to fish. And urged him to quit school and train dogs. Perkins didn’t take all her advice. He earned a college degree and worked in sales, but the outdoors was ever calling. In 1965, he took out a loan and bought a little-known fishing tackle company that had been founded in Manchester, Vt., in 1856. The man who turned Orvis into a global brand was 93. (subscription required)

HELEN MURRAY FREE planned to become a teacher until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sent men into combat and more women into science. She became a chemist at Miles Laboratories Inc. in Elkhart, Ind., where she and her husband, Albert Free, in 1956 invented the color-coded strips of paper that freed diabetics from frequent blood tests and allowed them to detect glucose levels in their urine. She died at 98. (subscription required)

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“If dandelions were rare and fragile, people would knock themselves out to pay $14.95 a plant, raise them by hand in greenhouses, and form dandelion societies and all that. But they are everywhere and don’t need us and kind of do what they please. So, we call them weeds and murder them at every opportunity.”
— Robert Fulghum

THE SIGNOFF

FORECAST FUN: When you mix high-tech computer graphics and the unpredictability of live television, you get not one meteorologist, but a whole carnival fun house full of meteorologists.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Claire P. Tuttle, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, Kelly Donahue, Katie Alessi and John Brodt.

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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