The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 4, 2021

Classic cars at a car show in a parking lot, with a hotel in the backgroundThe 32nd Adirondack Nationals Car Show, sponsored by Albany Rods and Kustoms, returns to Lake George on Thursday, Sept. 9, a festival for anyone who’s ever ridden in, driven or admired hot rods, classics, customs, muscle cars or any other amazing automobile. The event draws thousands and kicks off a busy fall in the Lake George region. (Amanda Metzger)

Good Morning, Colleagues and Friends:

This weekend, in the grip of a crippling national shortage of workers, we will honor all who labor in any endeavor. Let’s also consider work itself — the blessings of hard, purposeful work. After family and friends, work may be the greatest refuge from the storms of life.

And consider, too, the benefit of work to a free society. From her post on the prairie in 1943, Rose Wilder Lane, the journalist and political theorist, saw the connection between work, freedom and human advancement:

"Why did men die of hunger for six thousand years?’’ she asked.

“Why did they walk and carry goods and other men on their backs, for six thousand years, and suddenly, in one century, only on a sixth of this earth's surface, they make steamships, railroads, motors, airplanes, and now are flying around the earth in its utmost heights of air? Why did families live thousands of years in floorless hovels without windows or chimneys, then in eighty years and in these United States, they are taking floors, chimneys, glass windows for granted, and regarding electric lights, porcelain toilets and window screens as minimum necessities? Why did workers walk barefoot, in rags, with lousy hair and unwashed teeth for six thousand years, and here are silk stockings, lipsticks, permanent waves, sweaters, overcoats, shaving cream, safety razors and more. On one small part of the earth, a few men use their energies so effectively to create a new world. It’s incredible.”

Rose Lane’s name may be lost on some, but she is best known as the first child of Almanzo Wilder and the American writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House on the Prairie” and the inspiration for the 1970s-80s TV series. Rose was the only child of her parents to survive into adulthood. Along with Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson, she is considered one of the founders of the American libertarian movement. She wrote those words in her 1943 book “The Discovery of Freedom.”

TOUGH TIMES AT THE NORTH POLE: Even Santa is having trouble hiring help this year. At Santa’s Workshop near Lake Placid, N.Y., they’re short 35 elves and will have to close early this fall.

THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO OWN LAKE GEORGE: You hear a lot about real estate transactions at Lake George. The truth is only 14 people — seven men and seven women — really own the lake. In the last 63 years, they are the only human beings to have accomplished the singular feat of swimming its entire 32-mile length.  And one swam it twice, 64 miles, first all the way north, then all the way south. The first person to conquer the lake, in 1958, was a 25-year-old single mom named Diane Struble. The most recent was Caroline Block, who, amazingly, swam the full length north, then turned around and swam it south. In 2016, the then-record for best time was set by Saratogian David Dammerman, CEO of Great Mountain Investment Associates, owner of the former downtown Glens Falls bank building where the WorkSmart co-working space is taking shape. Then along came Charlotte Brynn who, at 54, cut nearly an hour off that time.  

WATER WATCHERS: It was less than a year ago when an eagle-eyed Lake George lover spotted what turned out to be the lake’s first confirmed harmful algal bloom during a casual stroll along the shore. Now the Lake George Association is making it easier than ever for protective detectives like her to report potential water quality problems and quickly enlist the help of experts. LGReport.org, the LGA’s new water quality reporting tool, is always as close as your cell phone. Suspicious green streaking, excessive soil erosion, anything else that doesn’t look quite right? The LGA encourages you to report it.

THEY CALL HER FIERCE: Dianne Shugrue leaned into all the tough fights. When insufficient government reimbursements put Glens Falls Hospital in financial jeopardy, she led the campaign for increased government assistance and secured major grants. When she still needed to cut costs and lay off good people, she did it, even as it broke her heart. She summoned the energy to lead the hospital’s multi-year campaign to secure coveted Magnet status for high-quality care, achieved by only 8 percent of hospitals in the United States. Then she led Glens Falls through the dark night of the pandemic and helped cement a historic affiliation with Albany Medical Center, the region’s largest locally governed health system. She retires Dec. 31.

ALBANY MED RESEARCH: Along with their colleagues around the world, researchers at Albany Med are intensely focused on understanding the coronavirus. This week they published an important study showing patients’ robust natural response to COVID-19 quickly suppressed replication of the virus and the patients became non-infectious far sooner than expected — and even as they continued to test positive for COVID-19 weeks later. The study has major implications for how long to isolate patients and keep them hospitalized.

ONE VERY COOL IDEA: For generations, the Lake George-Warren County region has been a major center for hiking. In recent years, it’s become a major hub for biking as well, with scenic roads, rolling hills, canal way trails, and epic climbs to unmatched views of Lake George and the Adirondacks. The seeds for all of this were planted long ago, in a time of crisis, by a cool insurance man with vision. Historian Maury Thompson reports.

DON’T BE ALARMED: Fire towers across the Adirondacks and Catskills will be lighted Saturday evening. It’s part of a growing annual tribute to the smoke spotters who once occupied the towers and protected the forests and local communities from devastating fires, and recognition of the historic value of the structures themselves.

ILL-GOTTEN GAINS: A Colgate University professor is calling attention to the lack of transparency with respect to museums’ acquisition practices, specifically those of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which continues to rebuff Italian judicial orders that it return an ancient bronze statue that was retrieved from the open waters of the Adriatic in 1964. A 2005 indictment of the museum’s antiquities curator by the Italian government for receiving stolen goods prompted the Getty to return 46 objects to Greece and Italy and to adopt new acquisition guidelines, but many museums still avoid giving their audiences specific information about where their artworks come from and how they got to the museum. Elizabeth Marlowe, associate professor of art and art history and director of Colgate’s Museum Studies Program, says museums are missing a chance to engage their visitors in meaningful discussions about the ethical issues surrounding the collecting history, or provenance, of antiquities that some countries may consider part of their cultural heritage.

EYE OF THE STORM: More rain fell in one hour in New York City Wednesday than normally falls in a month, as remnants from Hurricane Ida drove catastrophic flooding in the Northeast, causing multiple deaths. The 3.1 inches recorded in Central Park shattered a record set just the week before. This, as New York struggles to come back from the pandemic and Broadway reopens.

A tweet showing images of a bagel storeOF BULLIES AND BAGELS: “Sex and the City” actress Cynthia Nixon had Andrew Cuomo’s number a long time ago. When she challenged him in a Democratic primary battle in 2018, she said Cuomo was “famously vengeful” and declared “bullies have to be confronted.” The Cuomo camp called her “unhinged” and spent $26 million to defeat her. Last week, in disgrace, he was stripped of the special Emmy Award bestowed for his COVID-19 briefings. Now, Nixon tweeted: “Neither of us is governor. But I still have my Emmys.” And after that salty shot, she stopped for a bagel in Queensbury, N.Y.

AN END TO GRADES: The New York City Department of Education is urging schools to end honor rolls and class rankings, calling them detrimental to kids who struggle. The DOE wants students to be judged on their mastery of individual learning goals.

SCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT: Heidi Jo Newberg and James Hendler are both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists who study matters few can comprehend and are respected around the world. Both also embrace religious faith, and discussed how science and their beliefs intertwine in an interview with the Albany, N.Y., Times Union. “For me,” Newberg said, “religion helps us address questions science can’t answer.” 

MEANWHILE, RPI and Harvard have chosen new chaplains: In RPI’s case, he’s a member of the Catholic order of Paulist priests, a Star Trek fan, science and engineering buff and communicator. The chaplains of Harvard, the college built to educate ministers, unanimously selected an atheist.

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

RACING TO THE END? Against the backdrop of last week’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, The New York Times’ respected racing columnist Joe Drape offered a stark message: If the stewards of horse racing don’t run “the dopers, cheaters and animal abusers” out of the sport soon, a very dark cloud threatens a storied Saratoga Springs tradition.     

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. PLEASE: The latest social-media inspired “challenge” is to stack milk crates and see how far you can climb up before they collapse in a heap, which of course has resulted in a bump in business for orthopedic doctors and additional stress for already overburdened emergency room staffs. Dangerous, faddish stunts have a long history that precedes social media by many decades, if not centuries. Behavioral scientists and doctors explain why.

A FOOTBALL FIASCO: ESPN and its viewers were victimized by a misdirection play that was breathtaking in its brazenness and might’ve been a great prank had it not been so reckless and dangerous. An online charter school called Bishop Sycamore, based in Columbus, Ohio, apparently tricked a marketing company that makes matchups for ESPN into believing it had a roster full of Division I college prospects and would be a worthy opponent for a nationally televised game against one of the best prep programs in the country. The result: A 58-0 mismatch that alarmed and infuriated just about everyone, including ESPN’s own announcers. Turns out that Bishop Sycamore had played a game two days before and was using a bunch of ineligible players. The fallout has been swift and severe, with the head coach losing his job, opponents canceling games and the governor of Ohio ordering a state investigation.

NOT PLAYING GAMES: Chinese authorities issued an edict limiting people under 18 to three hours a week of online video gaming, down drastically from the 1½-hour daily limit that authorities decreed in 2019. More than 110 million minors in China play video games. Authorities say this move is to protect the mental and physical health of young people.

DINGED OVER WINGS: Make no mistake, Buffalo Bills fans love young quarterback Josh Allen, and for good reason. He’s gifted, productive, improving and seems to love them right back, embracing the fans and their traditions. So it must have come as a quite a shock to see him schilling for Buffalo Wild Wings, the mere mention of which curls lips across the city.

NO CITY CAT: A couple in the Bronx voluntarily surrendered their pet cat after concluding that it wasn’t suited for apartment life. Considering that the cat was an 80-pound cougar, that’s a good call. The animal will live in a wildlife refuge in Arkansas.

ROUGH PATCH: Police in Northern New York arrested a man over the weekend as he attempted to drive his lawnmower through an intersection. Not surprisingly, his blood alcohol content was (allegedly, the lawyers would like us to say) roughly that of paint thinner. He’s now looking at a couple of felony DWI charges.

LIVES

DON POYNTER saw cash in kitsch, creating and selling such novelty contraptions as a hot water bottle in the shape of Jayne Mansfield, whiskey-flavored toothpaste and a device inspired by Thing on “The Addams Family.” He once said he had so many patents, he had lost count. Always a colorful entertainer, whose mother was an artist and father a photographer and inventor, he was 96.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 “When men are employed, they are best contented; for on the days they worked, they were good-natured and cheerful, and with the consciousness of having done a good day’s work, they spent the evening jollily; but on our idle days they were mutinous and quarrelsome.”

— Ben Franklin

 “Work is the grand cure for all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind – honest work, which you intend getting done.”

— Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian

THE SIGNOFF

WEATHERMAN’S BEST FRIEND: Anthony Farnell was delivering his weather forecast to viewers in Toronto the other day when his dog wandered into the picture and hung around for most of the segment. He somehow keeps it together as Storm — what else would a meteorologist name his dog? —  traipses over Denver and San Francisco, hangs out in the Gulf of Mexico and wags his tail over Lake Erie.

ON THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND, a special thank you to the people who do the heavy labor each week on Facing Out:  Bill Callen and Bill Richmond. A big thanks to all of this week’s contributors:  Lisa Fenwick, Matt Behan, Amanda Metzger, Maury Thompson, Gordon Woodworth, 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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