The Week: What Caught Our Eye

June 26, 2021

A mountain biker on a wooded trailSummertime at Gore Mountain begins Saturday with hiking, mountain biking, sky rides and craft shows. Learn more at https://goremountain.com/

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We’re honoring high school graduates this weekend, the kids of the Class of COVID-19. They know about history, biology, algebra and English, of course, but what they are true experts in is endurance, sacrifice, perseverance and adaptability.

TOP DOG: Students in the graduating class at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, N.Y., named Zinnia, a young therapy dog who makes weekly visits to the school, as their prom queen. “The most amazing thing is her ability to zero in on the child who is having the worst day ever,” Sue Silverstein, the school’s director of campus ministry, told the Times Union. “I would look around and see the child who needed her most on the floor with Zinnia.”

ANGELS TAKE FLIGHT: One was so tiny at birth he could fit in his mother’s hand. He grew up to play five varsity sports. Six lost a parent or principal caregiver before graduating from high school. Some are now caring for parents with cancer or other illnesses. All have overcome adversity. This fall they’re headed to places like Yale, Cornell, Albany College of Pharmacy and The College of Saint Rose. Meet this year’s recipients of scholarships from Kelly’s Angels, the charity founded by NewsChannel 13 anchor Mark Mulholland.

ENGINEERING VICTORY: Anyone who lives in the Capital Region of New York knows about the Twin Bridges, the spans that cross the Mohawk River just south of Clifton Park. They may even have taken note of the formal name, the Thaddeus Kosciuszko Bridge — singular, for some reason. What you probably do not know is that Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a Polish student of art and architecture who, having been caught attempting to elope with the daughter of a provincial governor, decided a change of scenery was in order. He arrived in America in 1776, intrigued by the American Revolution, and soon became one of the most important engineers in the Continental Army, creating obstacles to slow the advance of British troops and building fortifications that helped to hand the British a tide-turning defeat in the Battle of Saratoga.

A bridge over a small river in a rural areaWarren County’s interested in giving you this historic bridge, with a few strings attached.

SAW IT ON E-BRIDGE: Imagine a historic bridge as a water feature in your backyard. Warren County is hoping to give away the 1896, timber-decked Middleton Bridge that crosses the Schroon River. The bridge is obsolete and has not been used in years but must be preserved because of its historic status.  

LAKE BAGGERS: You know about the 46ers: Hikers who have conquered each of the Adirondacks’ 46 High Peaks. Meet the lake baggers: Swimmers plying the waters of 47 Adirondack lakes. National Geographic says lake bagging is poised to be the next DIY wilderness adventure trend.

A magazine spread showing holiday decorations and American flags, with the title "A Family Fourth"It’s red, white and blue all over at a Lake George family camp featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

THE GIFT OF LAKE GEORGE: In 1908, Leah Olson’s grandfather made a purchase that would encourage family gatherings and create memories forever. He bought a camp on an island in Lake George. The family will be celebrating the Fourth of July there this year, and Better Homes and Gardens (the fourth best-selling magazine in the United States) got a sneak preview. Lake George continues to revel in the welcome warmth of the national media spotlight. On the first day of summer, Today show weatherman Al Roker, pursuing a world record by organizing TV forecasters from all 50 states to share the weather in their neck of the woods, turned to Lake George and WNYT meteorologist Reid Kisselback. And USA Today, in its Northeast Go magazine, spotlights the islands of Lake George as an ideal summer getaway for spiritual and creative renewal.

GREEN MOUNTAIN GEM: There were some extremely rare sightings this spring in Montpelier, Vt.: Professional baseball scouts. Several told the Boston Globe they were making their first trips ever to the state, which has produced just one draft pick who ever made it to the major leagues. They were there to watch Owen Kellington, a senior right-handed pitcher at U-32 High School who wields a fastball that tops 90 mph and just finished a season in which he allowed seven hits and struck out 133.

DANCE WITH ME: Sam Schmidt was a 35-year-old professional open-wheel racecar driver when a crash during practice left him paralyzed from the neck down. His daughter, Savannah, was 2½. That little girl was married this year, and when the DJ at the reception announced it was time for the father-daughter dance, there he was, taking steps for the first time in 21 years with the help of an exoskeleton designed by a team of four engineers.

LOST ART: “The Night Watch,” a masterpiece by the Dutch artist Rembrandt, was trimmed along its edges more than 300 years ago to fit a space in Amsterdam’s Town Hall. Now, thanks to modern scanning technologies and artificial intelligence, visitors to the Rijksmuseum, where the painting has resided since the 1800s, can see something very close to the original.

FAULT LINES: People who live in New York’s Capital Region tend to be pretty comfortable when it comes to threats from nature. No wildfires to worry about. Tornados and hurricanes are rare. Nobody’s siding is melting in the heat. No earthquakes. … not so fast.

FADED GLORY: It’s no stretch to say that the Eastman Kodak Company built Rochester, N.Y. Founded in 1880, it invented the first convenient camera for consumers, cornered the market on the consumer-film business and spread its profits lavishly to benefit its hometown. Local pride in the company, where thousands worked, was immense. But a company once on the cutting edge of innovation and technology has struggled to remain competitive in the digital age, with several false starts and initiatives that went nowhere. Kaitlyn Tiffany, who covers technology for The Atlantic and grew up near Rochester, takes a deep-dive look at what the company was, what it is and what it’s trying to be.

HUMAN KINDNESS: A Cincinnati animal shelter threw a party to celebrate the 19th birthday of Sammy the cat and the internet loved it. The shelter, which posted photos of the celebration, was inundated with offers to adopt Sammy, and wants people to know he’s not the only senior cat in its collection.

SOLAR CHALLENGE: Solar energy is resurgent in the United States, driven by public policies, regulations and incentives that encourage investment in renewable energy. But there’s a catch — as technology improvements make solar panels cheaper and more efficient, older panels are being discarded with little effective means of recycling them, creating what could be a huge surge in landfilled waste in years to come.

WASTE TO ENERGY: When we drag the garbage to the end of the driveway or the side of the curb, most of us forget it. Government officials, environmental leaders and industry experts are working to find sustainable ways to manage the enormous volume of household, industrial and hazardous waste. Regulators recognize that combustion is the safest and most effective way to manage many wastes that would otherwise be landfilled. The truth is, with modern emission controls, combustion turns waste into clean energy — good for society and good for the environment.

JEFFERSON REACHES OUT: The Jefferson Project, the innovative program that uses cutting-edge technology and research to guide water quality protection efforts on Lake George, is expanding to Chautauqua Lake in Western New York, which has long battled damaging harmful algal blooms, or HABs. “The teaming of The Jefferson Project with Chautauqua Institution will powerfully advance the science that will discover the root causes and drivers of HABs, benefiting not only Lake George and Chautauqua Lake, but lakes across New York State and around the world,” said Jeff Killeen, Chairman of The FUND for Lake George, a principal sponsor of the project along with RPI and IBM. Meanwhile, in Florida, researchers found that crayfish exposed to moderate levels of a common antidepressant — present in treated and discharged wastewater — spent significantly more time foraging for food and less time in hiding. The behavior could make the crayfish more vulnerable to predators, and their altered behavior could, over time, have other effects on stream ecosystems.

HELP NEEDED: Essex County, N.Y., and the Town of Keene, in the heart of the eastern Adirondack High Peaks, created a shuttle service to help ease traffic congestion and move hikers to trailheads along Route 73. Great idea. One problem: No one to drive, a familiar refrain among tourism-dependent businesses in upstate New York and elsewhere. The New York State Fair is returning at full capacity this summer, and already organizers are concerned about finding the 6,000 workers they need to staff the fair during its 18-day run. The labor shortage, combined with soaring housing costs, are taking a toll upstate.

WALKING OUT: Crises often result in changes no one could have foreseen. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 contributed to the invention of the modern skyscraper; the East Coast blizzard of 1888 led to the first American subway system. And while it’s still far too early to draw conclusions, COVID-19 may just lead to a fundamental shift in the employer-employee power balance. More people quit their jobs in May than in any month since the turn of the century. “Quitting gets a bad rap in life, as it’s associated with pessimism, laziness, and lack of confidence,” Derek Thompson writes in The Atlantic. “In labor economics, however, quits signify the opposite: an optimism among workers about the future; an eagerness to do something new; and a confidence that if they jump ship, they won’t drown but rather just land on a better, richer boat.”

TEACHING MOMENT: So much for the old stereotype that bankers are stiff and stodgy. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland created a series of three, 60-second animated videos starring Lego characters and scenes to explain what inflation is, why people should care about it and how the Fed controls it.

CHAMPLAIN TASTES: A 56-year-old man was arrested in Vermont after allegedly taking a $1.2 million, 48-foot yacht that isn’t his on a joyride across Lake Champlain.

SPORTS OF OUR TIMES

RED VELVET: That’s Kevin Huerter’s nickname, and he lived up to it in Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference semifinals. A native of Clifton Park, N.Y., Huerter scored 27 points to lift his Atlanta Hawks over the Philadelphia 76ers and into a conference finals matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 13 points in the Hawks’ Game 1 upset of the Bucks — Game 2 was Friday night.

SHOWTIME 2.0?: With apologies to the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, we can’t imagine a more entertaining entry to the NBA than the Harlem Globetrotters, who in their heyday delighted huge crowds on their barnstorming tours of basketball wizardry. Now they want to try their luck as an NBA franchise, or so they say.

GAME CHANGER: The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower-court ruling that, in essence, prohibits the NCAA from limiting a collegiate athlete’s ability to be compensated, a serious threat to the NCAA’s business model and a harbinger of further changes. In one columnist’s view, the NCAA is in denial about the impact.

NFL PIONEER: Carl Nassib, a veteran defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, this week became the first active NFL player to announce he is gay. “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” his coach, Jon Gruden, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  Nassib’s jersey instantly became the top seller on the website of sports retailer Fanatics.

LIVES

RICHARD B. STOLLEY spent six decades as a reporter and editor with Time Inc., covering major stories of the 1960s for Life magazine and acquiring for his magazine the rights to the Zapruder film of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He moved on to Time’s development team, tasked with imagining and developing new magazines. Thus was born People, one of the most popular and successful magazines of all time. He died of heart failure at 92.

JOHN McAFEE was an eccentric figure who made a fortune with his eponymous antivirus software company but later had several scrapes with the law, including for tax evasion. He lived lavishly and took pride in his ability to stymie the authorities who were hot on his tail. He was arrested in Spain and was about to be extradited to the United States to stand trial when he was found dead in his prison cell in Barcelona. He was 75.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS (FOR OUR GRADUATES)

“If opportunity does not knock, build a door.”
—    Milton Berle

THE SIGNOFF

Maybe we should call this one the Kiss Off. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the space-exploration company Blue Origin, said he will fly into space aboard the company's New Shepard rocket on July 20, its first flight carrying people. More than 70,000 people have lent their names to online petitions urging him not to come back.

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Lisa Fenwick, Jim Kneeshaw, Amanda Metzger, Ashley O’Connor, Claire P. Tuttle, John Brodt, Tara Hutchins, 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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