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Caseythoughts It seems that I'm running across some pretty unique (read: sometimes pretty weird) stories in out of the way places. I'm carrying clippings around in my pocket saying to myself that there has to be a comment in 'this', or a speculation on 'that'. I just have to make sure I am not tempted to steal Dave Barry's immortal line: "I'm not making this up". Let's stir up the summer doldrums a bit, and tell ourselves it's never really boring in parts of our world, or at least parts of my little universe.

A reader sent me a news story in answer to my recent column that mentioned a restaurant in Manhattan that specialized in doggie menus: serving classy meals in a special bowl with the accompanying special prices for you, the canine lover's best friend. The newest article in question was headlined : "Would Your Cat Like Early Check-In?". it seems that in response to some hotel chains becoming 'pet friendly' (which most often means dogs) others, such as the Kimpton Aerston in Nashville, Tennessee, charge no additional fee to "...welcome any reasonable, house-trained pet, from pot bellied pigs to goats." (A Kelsey Ogletree is the reporter, here). This kitty-friendly haven offers a litter box, food and water dishes, and plush toys to gnaw. Beyond these basics, they will (for an additional fee, of course) track down anything for your feline friend, especially in the sustenance area. The concierge (what a racket that must be) has a list of activities to recommend including visiting nearby cat cafes, and taking (leashed) strolls around the nearby Vanderbilt campus. It had to be a college town, right? Maybe they're actually bowing to the Nashville music crowd.

Enough? Not quite. Loews' Hotels have a cat 'room service' menu including chef-prepared salmon pate for $12.00 (anything for you, dear Puss). Why not? Even here in local environs (Wegman's to be specific) there is a sign at the front door that approves of companion animals including 'miniature ponies'. That sign is right at their front door, I swear. Look for it instead of looking at your phone as you enter that lovable local food emporium.

I shared this next story with a co-worker I used to do yoga with and her reaction was "Oh, no...". Have you ever heard of Mondelez International? Well, you know their products, I daresay: Oreos, Triscuits, Swedish Fish, Cadbury chocolate and Nilla Wafers. What's the story? They are going whole hog (ahem) into a thing called 'mindful snacking', where their employees (guinea pigs, all, I guess) are trying out breathing and meditation exercises BEFORE taking one, lovely, tasty mindful bite of the cracker/cookie/snack. Then allowing the bite of the snack to be slowly appreciated as you chew or allow it to melt, before the next mindful bite. Chris McGrath is (get this, you aficionados of corporate titles) the Chief of Global Impact, Sustainability and Well-Being. How would they fit that on his office door, or on a business card? McGrath says: "It's about learning to enjoy and get more from how you eat 'our' snacks..."

Aren't they afraid people will buy less of their snacks with this line of thinking/marketing? Forgive me, Fat Chance. Wouldn't that be a cool name for a potato chip snack?. The company is going to start putting "Snack Mindfully" (kind of like "Drink Responsibly"?) tips on all of its packaging world wide by 2025. You know what? If I buy that package of Oreos (or whatever, I love 'em all) and feel the least snicker of guilt about failing to 'snack mindfully', I'm going to finish the rest of that package in one fell smiling, guilty swoop, as it were, and try not to feel any less mindful of the pleasure of stuffing them all in my mouth. Pass the milk, please!!

I wonder if anyone has yet trademarked 'Om' cookies, yet...

How about this one, datelined Williamstown, Kentucky, where a 510 foot long authentic replica of Noah's Ark resides as a tourist attraction. It's called Ark Encounter and the owners are suing their insurer (headquartered in Switzerland, of all places) after, get this, heavy rains caused nearly a million dollars in damage in 2017 and 2018. The insurer refused to cover the damage claim, claiming it was 'not built to standard'.

Now, Arlo Guthrie frequently prefaced his humorous commentary with the question 'This raises some interesting questions'. For instance: 1) If this actually goes to a jury trial (I would guess that it could) can you imagine the 'voir dire' questions asked of prospective jurors (in an effort to eliminate them from jury duty due to prejudice): "Have you ever read Genesis?" "Yes." You're excused. 2) Can you imagine the guy (or gal) who wrote the insurance policy telling his boss : "Don't worry. It's OK. It floats." 3) The judge will have a mirror installed by the door leading into the courtroom with a large admonishment written upon it: "No matter what, Do Not Laugh Out Loud!".

A final note here, in case you missed it. Apollo 11 celebrated its 50th anniversary. Ignoring the fact that millions believed it was a staged government lie (oh, thought conspiracy theory was a new phenomenon) and I thought you might find it interesting to know what else was on the front page of the Ithaca Journal on July 21st. July 20th was a Sunday, thus no paper. The headlines, as printed, follow.

  1. Kennedy Charged in New Tragedy (Ted K. charged with leaving the scene of the accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne of Wilkes Barre)
  2. Luna Landing Is Reported (Did you know the Soviet Union had a probe crash land within miles of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the same day? That's the story on the front page of the Journal, anyway)
  3. Israel Attacks Egypt on Gulf of Suez (Some things never really change, eh?)
  4. Rev. King Found Dead (in tiny print, MLK Jr.'s brother, A.D. King, was found dead in a swimming pool in Atlanta that day)
  5. Trade Eased With Red China (Gee, were those communists practicing their capitalism even then?)
  6. Denny McLaine and Steve Carlton were named as the starting pitchers for that year's All Star game. Ah, would anyone like to relive 1969 again? That could be an interesting Gallup poll question, wouldn't it?

Hope you're enjoying this fine Ithaca summer. So far, so good, I hope.

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