MAY 28, 2016 -- BY JIM NEFF







This is Neff Zone column number 600. Back in 2004, who could have guessed that I'd still be spouting my weekly nonsense in 2016? In a non-scientific, unofficial, and almost nonexistent poll of the readers of this column, it has been determined that fifty percent of readers think my twelve years of longevity means that I have become an institution. The other fifty percent think I belong in an institution. That said, onward we go. I am going to be a presumptuous here and figure that my long tenure gives me the right to have some fun and be a bit of a wise guy now and then.


I see in the news that Governor Snyder has declared an energy emergency in Michigan (for this weekend). It seems that gasoline prices could skyrocket due to a pipeline problem in Wisconsin, a refinery maintenance glitch in Detroit and wild fires in Alberta, Canada. Geez, what bad luck for the poor oil companies, eh? These things always seem to occur right before a holiday weekend. What rotten luck. It's like some unseen force had planned these or something.


The only thing that has me stumped is the Alberta wild fires excuse. The last I looked, Alberta and North Dakota both touched the northern U.S.-Canadian border. In 2014 ND was the fastest growing economy in the country thanks to oil drilling. Now the state is in full recession, thousands have lost jobs, state government is cutting back, and in 2016 its economy will be the weakest in the nation. All because of a world wide oil glut. (


Here's a thought. If we're actually facing an oil shortage due of problems in Alberta, why not put Americans to work filling that gap with North Dakota oil? Unless, of course, this whole shortage thing is just another scam by oil companies to fleece people on a holiday weekend.


Well, if you don't want to drive this weekend you can always take the bus. Just avoid the brand new $6.3 million Capitol Area Transit Center in Lansing. It seems that the benches installed in the waiting area slope downward (from back to front). If a normal person tries to sit on these, they slide off. Forget placing a briefcase, purse, drink, or baby on one of these unless you want to watch it crash on the floor.


Officials say the benches were chosen to “fit with the architectural design.” However, they have ordered new (non-slanting) replacement benches to the tune of $24,000. Don't worry, though, because the center was “ built with federal grants,” so it's not like we're talking about real money. It's just taxpayer dollars, which is like Monopoly money. (


The whole transgender bathrooms issue is also a hot news topic. In relation to this, one aspect has not been discussed much – hair styles. A lady named Aimee Toms in Connecticut was recently accosted in a bathroom and called disgusting “because a woman had seen her from behind and mistakenly believed she was transgender.” Toms has a short haircut and was wearing a baseball cap. However, her hair is short at the moment because she donated hair—for the third time—to a charity that makes wigs for child cancer patients.” Said Toms: "I'm grateful that that woman only called me disgusting and didn't physically attack me." (


You know folks, if were going to start bathroom screening of women with short hair and men with long hair, we're going to need a bunch more bathroom police officers, a whole new state bureaucracy, not to mention a tax increase to fund the operation.


I like to read news items about young people and old people – opposite ends of the age spectrum. Did you see that 6 year-old perform in the National Spelling Bee? In conjunction with that contest, the Oxford English Corpus, an electronic collection of over 2 billion words, compiled a list of the most common misspellings. These words are: Accommodate, Bizarre, Colleague, Disappear, Embarrass, Fluorescent, Gist, Idiosyncrasy, Knowledge, Lollipop, Occasion, Persistent, Receive, Surprise, Tomorrow, and Unforeseen. (


I can see how people can misspell words, particularly millennials who have eliminated the letter “T” from the middle of words. (My pet peeve, by the way.) Recently, I heard a TV weathercaster pronounce Houghton Lake as “Hoe-in.” Mitten is now “mi-hen,” Martin is Mar-en,” and so on. It's irritating me almost as much as the sports announcers who say “have went” (instead of have gone), “has ran” (has run), and “have aten” (have eaten).


On the old end of the scale, there is only one person left on earth who was born in the 1800s. Emma Morano lives in Italy and she's 116 years old. “She credits her longevity to her very bizarre diet – she eats two raw eggs a day.”

Although she is really old, Italy has a tradition of longer lives. “Morano’s old age isn’t out of the ordinary for Italy, where there are a number of centenarians. In one village, there are roughly 300 people over 100 years old.” (


So, if you want to extend your life, you may want to move to Italy. Just a tip, however, so you don't get egg on your face (pun intended). When you get there, remember, the country is pronounced “IT-aly,” not “EYE-taly.” Therefore, the people are “IT-alians,” not “EYE-talians.”


Finally, a little Memorial Day humor. “Having passed the enlistment physical, John was asked by the doctor, 'Why do you want to join the Navy, son?' 'My father said it'd be a good idea, sir,' he replied. 'Oh? And what does your father do?' asked the doctor. The recruit responded, 'He's in the Army, sir.'"


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and

John Auchter
MLive Media Group
May 27, 2016