THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- SEPTEMBER 24, 2022
Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. As usual, we begin with an item from Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.
Much of the news coming out of Flint over the past few years has been sad, but there are glimmers of hope in my home town. Tossing aside their trials and tribulations, some students are doing something altruistic and uplifting. “Volunteers donned 'Bunks Across America' t-shirts, aprons and safety glasses, building beds for Genesee County students in need.”
It turns out that a bed is more than just a bed. “Providing beds for children in need creates a ripple effect on their lives. It helps with so many other things for the child as well. They get a better night’s sleep, which means that they can function better during the day. They do better in school. They do better in sports. It improves their self-esteem.” One “Bunks” representative summed up the effort. “I am impressed with the students and their teachers. That’s the kind of spirit we need.” (https://flintbeat.com/flint-area-students-build-beds-for-youth-in-need/)
Having a comfortable bed is great, but it comfort can be a moving target. This is illustrated in an interesting case submitted to the New York State Supreme Court. “A Manhattan attorney and his dentist friend have filed a lawsuit arguing that their summer vacation was ruined when the owners of their $10,000 Hamptons rental prevented them from lowering the air conditioner. They say not only was their safety threatened during their stay, but they were treated like squatters in the uninhabitable luxury home. The problem? A thermostat set to 70 degrees instead of 68.” (https://www.insider.com/families-sue-claim-prevented-adjusting-air-conditioning-down-in-hamptons-rental-2022-9)
Those Hampton folks would probably be even more uncomfortable during in an annual event in Spain. “La Tomatina has returned to the village of Buñol, near Valencia. The fiesta is billed as ‘the world’s biggest food fight.’Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, thousands of people visit the small village of Buñol to attend a battle in which revellers throw ripe tomatoes at one another. Tomatoes used for the event are overripe and low quality, which makes them inedible.” This is one of those stories when a picture is worth a thousand words. See twenty thousand words at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2022/aug/31/spain-la-tomatina-tomato-fight-festival-in-pictures.
Another picture/words scenario deals with the age old question of whether a toilet seat should be left up or down. In this case, perhaps down might be the preferred option. “An unusual incident occurred recently when a Gray Rat snake was found in the toilet of a home in Alabama. The Eufaula Alabama Police Department came to the rescue and removed the unwelcomed creature from the toilet seat. They posted a picture of the snake coiled up inside the toilet seat.” This reptile appears to be several feet long. See the unusual visitor at: https://www.firstpost.com/world/alabama-police-removes-massive-snake-from-toilet-inform-about-incident-in-cheeky-post-11285021.html.
Also in the unusual animal genre, comes a story about a unique pet that lives in Philadelphia – Wally, the emotional support alligator. Apparently, Wally is a lovable guy. A video by Wally's owner shows the gator on a leash and greeting visitors in a park. “He doesn’t show anger. He doesn’t show aggression. He sleeps with me, steals my pillows, steals my blankets. He’s just awesome. Wally is the only gator I’ve ever been around that refuses to bite.” (https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/28/us/philadelphia-wally-emotional-support-alligator-trnd/index.html)
Wally is cool, but some animals are a bit more tech savvy than an alligator. “Lily the cat's clever thinking helped her return home after she went missing for four days. Lily's home has a Ring doorbell camera that is linked to the TV through Alexa. When someone approaches the front of her home it triggers the doorbell camera.”
So, on the fourth night without Lily, her owners were surprised by a Ring doorbell notification. "The notification popped up, and it was Lily's face. She reached up to touch the camera. The feline was clever enough to jump up and activate the doorbell camera once she reached her front door.” Now, she hops up on the railing in front of the camera and starts meowing whenever she is outside and wants back in. (https://people.com/pets/missing-cat-reunites-with-family-after-using-home-doorbell-camera/)
Finally, playing with our pets is always enjoyable. But did you know that the world's oldest toy may be the stick? According to the National Toy Hall of Fame: “Animals play with sticks, and we use them to play fetch with our dogs. Children find sticks an endless source of make-believe fun. Sticks can turn into swords, magic wands, majorette batons, fishing poles, and light sabers.”
Well, joining the stick (and 77 other toys) in the Hall of Fame will be three new candidates. The finalists for the National Toy Hall of Fame are contenders for a coveted handful of spots. In potential Hall of Fame inductees, the selection committee looks for four qualities: iconic status, enough longevity to be enjoyed by multiple different generations, a sense that the toy fosters learning or discovery, and some kind of innovation in play or toy design.”
The twelve nominees this year are: Bingo, Breyer Horses, Catan, Lite-Brite, Masters of the Universe, Nerf Toys, Piñata, Phase 10, Pound Puppies, Rack-O, Spirograph, and the Top. The final inductees will be revealed on Thursday, November 10. (https://www.npr.org/2022/09/15/1123235286/nerf-catan-bingo-toy-hall-of-fame)
I must admit, I am so old that many of these toys that are considered “vintage” are brand new to me. Then again, I'm still working on mastering the stick.