THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- APRIL 6, 2019
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, when we play this game we begin with an item that relates to Big Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.
Good news for Flintites! A missing book has been returned to the Flint Public Library after being checked out in 1968. A local resident found the book while going through a family member's things. It was a volume of the 1950 edition of John Forster’s “Life of Charles Dickens,” which was borrowed on May 16, 1968. In case you're wondering, the book's return was 18,579 days late. “Using today’s fee of ten cents per day, the overdue amount would calculate out to $1,855.60, given the three-week-long checkout period before the penalty kicks in.” However, the late fee was waived and the library, just happy to have the book back, has placed it on the shelves once again. (https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2019/03/overdue-library-book-returned-after-51-years-which-is-cool.html)
If you're tired of having the fillings in your teeth rattled when your car hits a pothole in the road, you may even grind your teeth more when you find out your state wasted $90 million of road repair money. “An analysis by a University of Michigan researcher has found that the state spent $90 million more to hire private contractors for engineering and design work than it would have if it had maintained that work in-house over just one three-year period. From 2011 to 2014 the state overspent for engineering and design services in order to make up for 'self-inflicted' staffing shortages at MDOT.” Thank your “fearless leaders” the next time a pothole causes your noggin to bounce off the ceiling of your vehicle.
Ski season has concluded for most Midwest resorts. As a skier, I really appreciate all the efforts of the National Ski Patrol in keeping the slopes safe. That's why a headline caught my attention – “The Silent Killer of the Slopes.”
The article explained: “What you may not know is that the innocent-looking depression in the snow that appears around the base of a tree after a lot of snow falls are quicksand-like funnels. If you fall into one (of these tree wells) while skiing or snowboarding, it will likely be headfirst—and the edges easily collapse, trapping you. Trying to get out usually just causes you to be buried deeper, and others may not see or hear you. Snow immersion suffocation kills, on average, around as many people as avalanches do every year.” This is not much of a problem in the Midwest, but in the Rockies and in Europe it's a major concern. (http://www.newser.com/story/272873/these-are-the-silent-killers-on-ski-slopes.html)
Tree wells are not the problem on Mt. Everest, but climate change is. “Not even Mount Everest appears immune to global warming. A new concern has emerged as a result of glacial melting: exposed bodies. Melting ice and snow on Everest caused by higher temperatures is revealing the bodies of dead climbers. More than 200 people have died on Everest's peak since 1922.
Making these grisly discoveries even more daunting is what to do with the remains. “Removing the bodies is expensive. According to a 2016 report from The Washington Post, it can cost $30,000 to $70,000 to retrieve a body from the mountain.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/03/22/mount-everest-melting-exposing-bodies-dead-climbers/3245459002/)
Another mountain climbing location has an additional “challenge” due to global warming. Denali (previously known as Mt. McKinley) in Alaska is experiencing the thawing of human waste that has been left behind and is now beginning to matriculate downhill.
According to the National Park Service, the yucky math goes like this. The average length of a climber's stay on Denali is 18 days. Each “deposits” half a pound of human waste per day. That adds up to two metric tons of human waste each year. This calculates out to 66 metric tons over the past century. Needless to say, the last thing Denali's climbers want to hear is the classic Monty Hall line: “Come on down.”
This is a serious problem. “The National Park Service instituted a policy that all such waste below 14,000 feet must be carried off the mountain.” This means that in addition the the 100 pounds of gear a typical climber carries, “...you’re adding another 20 pounds of waste.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/31/climate-change-could-soon-melt-years-worth-human-poop-alaska-park/3299522002/)
If you are scratching Mt. Everest and Denali off your travel list, you might also think twice about Singapore. Or, at least if you go there, plan to leave your handgun at home. “Singapore has perhaps the world's strictest gun laws. Ordinary citizens are not permitted access to any firearms and, if caught, are physically beaten by caning with no fewer than six strokes, according to the Arms Offences Act. Anyone who uses a firearm while committing a crime faces a mandatory death sentence, even if no one was killed or injured.” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/03/22/new-zealand-mosque-shootings-how-12-countries-compare-weapons-ban/3235123002/)
On a different note, one of the best things about the improving weather is the abundance of fresh foods. Just be aware of what you're buying. The Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue, is now available. The group found that more than 90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides, while multiple samples of kale indicated the presence of 18 pesticides. Nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues.”
The Dirty Dozen are: strawberry, spinach, kale, nectarine, apple, grapes, peach, cherries, pear, tomato, celery, potato.
On the other side, the Clean Fifteen are: avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, sweet peas, onion, papaya, eggplant asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, cauliflower, cantaloupe, broccoli, mushroom, honeydew.
I don't know about you, but I am crushed to learn that I have to cut back on my intake of kale. Oh, the devastation! Please pass the guacamole.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at Cadillac News.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.