The Week: What Caught Our Eye

June 12, 2021

A partial solar eclipse seen through cloudsThe sun was almost completely eclipsed by the moon just after sunrise Thursday, creating “Devil’s Horns”  over Halfmoon. (John Bulmer)

Good morning, Colleagues and Friends:

Welcome to another beautiful (we think) pre-summer weekend. Enjoy every minute of it.

TOGETHER IN THE WILDERNESS: When he went off to college, R.J. brought chest waders, a life jacket, some good hiking boots, snowshoes, a warm sleeping bag, fishing pole, camp hatchet and a pocketknife. He had followed his grandfather’s foot steps to Paul Smith’s, the College of the Adirondacks, where he would study wildlife science, hoping one day to become a forest ranger. He found the academic program the perfect fit, finishing in three years at the top of his class. He also found Carrie. An Adirondack love story.

DIAMOND GEM: Zach Ashline, a junior at Colonie High School, near Albany, is having an outstanding season on the baseball field, batting well over .400 and also leading his team in runs scored, runs batted in and home runs, a school record-tying six. You would never know that seven months ago, doctors at Albany Medical Center took a tumor off his brain.

ROCK MOTEL: The B-52s singer Kate Pierson and her wife, Monica Coleman, have listed their Hudson Valley motel for $2.2 million. Kate’s Lazy Meadow features 10 units and is situated on 6.5 acres along the Esopus Creek in Ulster County, near Woodstock, N.Y. It comes fully furnished, with design touches from artist friends. Pierson is working on her second solo album and also working on future projects for The B-52s.

BUILT ON MILK CARTONS: Four miles from the heart of Lake Placid lies Snowhill Farm, a magical retreat with captivating views of Sentinel and Stewart Mountains, seven bedrooms, three fireplaces, a family room, a library, two sunrooms and a ski room, plus a private pond on 250 wooded acres. Next door there’s a farmhouse with five more bedrooms for those evenings when friends and family drop by. Snowhill was built by the Kieckhefer family whose Kieckhefer Container Co. pioneered the use of fiber shipping containers, including the paper milk carton.

HIGH (REAL ESTATE) PEAKS: The demand — and soaring prices — for homes in the Adirondacks continues unabated, with availability reaching a 15-year low in April. North Country Public Radio reports that the number of homes on the market shrunk by 58% year over year from April 2020, and that the median sale price climbed 32% over the same period. The owner of a Lake Placid real estate company told NCPR, “They’re buying vacant land, commercial, residential. They’re buying everything.”

DOG DUTY: The New Skete Monastery, nestled in the bucolic hillsides of Cambridge, N.Y., has a well-established and widely known dog-training program that attracts, pardon the pun, well-heeled clients from around the country with the means to part with $3,295 for the 2½-week course. With pet adoptions soaring during the pandemic, the demand for services has never been higher. “The pandemic created a life situation where people had to spend time with themselves in solitude, and for many there was a need to be immediately connected with another creature,” Brother Christopher, who leads the training program, told The New York Post. “But I don’t think they appreciated how much work would be ­involved.”

A NEW FRONTIER: Jeff Bezos is accustomed to conquering earthbound pursuits; now he’ll try his hand with the heavens. The bazillionaire founder of Amazon.com and Blue Origin and owner of The Washington Post announced that he and his brother, Mark, will be on the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

JOIN THE CLUB: Time to update those geography texts and map apps: On June 8, World Oceans Day, National Geographic cartographers determined that another body of water belonged in one of the world’s most exclusive clubs, and so declared the waters around Antarctica to be the Southern Ocean. It joins the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific. “The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” says National Geographic Society Geographer Alex Tait.

IS THIS REALLY A SURPRISE? A University of San Diego business professor and his colleagues are sounding the alarm about their findings that about one of every eight corporate senior leaders display a range of psychopathic traits, defined as egocentricity, predatoriness, recklessness, a lack of empathy, and a propensity for manipulation and exploitation. He argues in an essay for Fortune that these traits can flourish unchecked because “psychopathic individuals tend to display traits that are widely associated with effective leadership, such as charisma, persuasiveness, and creativity.” This poses all kinds of risks to organizations, including their ability to carry out corporate social responsibility initiatives, a critical factor for many job seekers.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS? An image of a child mysteriously appears on a chair in City Park, the green and peaceful center of Glens Falls. No one seems to know who the child is or why she is there, but the purpose may be to send a message.

Mountains and a still lake just before dawnStill life for the ages: Sunrise at Harris Bay on Lake George. (Kevin Kelly/Crown Focus Media)

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN: The weddings that COVID canceled last summer are coming back, and that means bachelorettes are lining up to swim, party and go tubing with the Queen.  

CULINARY STARS IN OUR MIDST: When the oldest culinary organization in the world (Paris, 1248) holds its international cooking competition in September, two Capital Region women, chefs at Saratoga Springs restaurants 15 Church and Hamlet and Ghost, will be the sole young chefs representing the United States.

SYRACUSE KID: During those Syracuse summers decades ago, he ran a driveway sealing business, first out of his childhood red wagon and later with an old truck from his uncle’s Byrne Dairy. In the winters, he cleared snow. He sold flowers in an office building and emceed concerts. As an adult, Terry McAuliffe helped found a bank, was an early investor in internet ventures, and became one of the most successful political fundraisers in history. He’s running for Virginia governor again and may become only the second person in the commonwealth’s history to win nonconsecutive terms.

WATER WOES: The Hoover Dam was a marvel of modern engineering when it was built in the 1930s, and it remains so today, a 6.6-million-ton giant that provides power and water to thousands of square miles of the American West and created the largest reservoir in the country, Lake Mead, which covers a surface area roughly 11 times the size of Manhattan to a depth of 532 feet. But the water in Lake Mead has been dropping steadily since 2000. It’s now just 37% full and headed to its lowest level on record as the West endures another prolonged drought.

IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER: The New York State DEC Forest Ranger Highlights for this week included word of a wilderness search in the Town of Clifton in St. Lawrence County late on the afternoon of June 3. The call for help came from the staff of the Wanakena Ranger School; a 30-year-old student was lost in the woods. Two Forest Rangers and Ranger School staff found her by using cell phone coordinates, and the whole thing ended with a lesson: The Rangers helped the student use her compass to find her way out of the woods.

NEW TEAM, SAME SCHOOL: Syracuse University this week announced the retirement of longtime men’s lacrosse head coach John Desko. His replacement: Orange legend Gary Gait, who takes over after 14 years as head coach of the Syracuse women’s team. Gait is just the fifth head coach in the history of the men’s program, which has been around since 1916 and won 15 national championships.

RICH IN CHIPS: Saratogian Alan Richer has chops when it comes to chips. He’s an expert on the history of the potato chip whose origin some trace to 1853 and Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake and others to 1817 and a doctor’s recipe for “potato shavings.” Whichever way you slice it, Richer is the media’s go-to guy for a quip about chips. CBS, NBC and The Boston Globe called him and last week he appeared for the second time on the History Channel program “The Food That Built America,” where controversial claims about the potato chip’s local origins still have people spuddering.

PEDAL POWER: State Senator John Liu biked to work the other day. No big deal, you say? Consider he started the commute in Queens and finished it 164 miles and 16 hours later at the State Capitol in Albany.

LEADING THE TROOPS: It was the murder of a construction foreman named Sam Howell during a robbery in Westchester County in 1913 that led New York State to establish the State Police. Cities had police departments, but many rural areas did not and, at first, Troopers patrolled New York’s backroads on horseback before cranking up Model Ts to chase gangsters. This week, Kevin Bruen of Glens Falls, an attorney, former Corrections Department official and former prosecutor, became the 17th superintendent of the New York State Police, leading more than 5,000 Troopers and civilian staff at what may be the most challenging time in decades to lead a police agency.

YALE BLUES: Robert M. Hutchins enjoyed a long and distinguished career in academia, including service as President of the University of Chicago and Dean of Yale Law School. He once wrote, “Though I do not know much about professional politics, I know a lot about academic politics — and that is the worst kind. Woodrow Wilson said that Washington was a snap after Princeton.” So imagine what he would make of the dust-up now under way at Yale Law.

COLORFUL IMAGINATION: A 35-year-old Wisconsin resident was informed by his homeowners’ association that he and his husband no longer could fly their Pride flag outside their home, though they had done so every year during Pride Month since 2016. Too many flags with political statements were popping up, so only American flags are allowed. But there was nothing in the rules against colorful lights.

EATING THE ENEMY: The state of New York is taking aggressive steps to stop the spread of wooly adelgids, the small but fearsome invasive predators that are threatening hemlocks on Lake George’s eastern shore, and now it’s bringing in bugs that are native to the Pacific Northwest and releasing them to feast.

SELLING HIS SCHTICK: Jake Paul knows what his fans want, and he delivers. It’s worked out well for him, with millions — mainly young men — following his edgy, combative exploits on YouTube. He’s been focused on boxing lately, even going the full eight rounds in an exhibition last week against Floyd Mayweather Jr., an all-time great who also knows a thing or two about playing the villain. For Paul, it’s all about the image.

ART IMITATES LIFE: Fans of Mad Men, the period drama that explored the boozy, bawdy world of a fictional Madison Avenue ad agency in the 1960s, may recall the episode in which the fictional Conrad Hilton gets upset with Don Draper because Don didn’t follow through on his request to create concepts for advertising a Hilton on the moon. Fans of Mad Men certainly know the show built episodes around actual events, including the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston fight and the moon landing. Turns out the plan for a space hotel was real, too, only it came not from Conrad Hilton but from his son, Barron.

STILETTO CROCS: Really, what more is there to say?

EARLY TO BED: A study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry found that people who get up early, function better in the morning and keep fairly regular schedules are less apt to report depression, anxiety or general malaise than people who are night owls.

LIVES

KATHRYN TWOMEY was a beloved elementary school teacher in East Greenbush, N.Y., who kept in touch with her former students, offered financial support to those in need and loved to escape the upstate winters with her husband, John, taking monthlong trips to warmer destinations. They were in Hawaii when she died at 69 while on a hike.

RAYMOND J. DONOVAN was Secretary of Labor under President Reagan before resigning in the face of a fraud investigation stemming from his time as an executive of a New Jersey construction company. He was charged but later acquitted, leading him to famously ask, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” He died of congestive heart failure at 90.

JIM FASSEL coached the New York Giants for seven seasons, leading them to the Super Bowl after the 2000 season and compiling a record of 58-53-1. The Giants held training camp at the University at Albany during Fassel’s tenure, where he was remembered fondly. He had chest pains Monday night and had a heart attack while under sedation. He was 71.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”

— William Butler Yeats, born June 13, 1865.

THE SIGNOFF

TOMATO, TO-MAH-TO: Entertainment legend Cher assailed Senators Kirstin Gillibrand and Joe Manchin as “fake Democrats” who should be booted from office. Wrong Kyrsten. Cher apologized, and Gillibrand jovially agreed “of course we can turn back time.”

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

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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