Are you really tired of talking about the weather? “How about that snow? Cold enough for you? The kids will be going to school in July.” Enough already! Talk about something else – anything else. The price of soybean futures in Upper Slabovia. How fast the lug nuts rust on a typical truck. Anything! Have Mercy!


So, here's the deal. Here are some things to discuss that have nothing to do with the weather. Engage your friends and relatives. They will thank you for preventing them from running screaming into the night. 


To begin, everyone wants to be happy. It turns out the easy way to achieve that exalted state is to get old. “Research has shown that people report the highest levels of happiness after the age of 55 in three key areas: their financial situation, their physical appearance, and their overall well-being. When it comes to their financial situation, people are least happy between 45 and 54, and happiest after the age of 55. In terms of their physical appearance, people are least happy from 55 to 59 and reach their happiest after the age of 70.” 


This scientific research is bolstered by a  Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report that found: “Most agree that it is an acceptance of aging that promotes contentedness." Geezerdom has its rewards. (


In a related discussion topic, for women there may be another reason for  happiness. “On average, women's brains appear to be about three years younger than those of men at the same chronological age. This could provide one clue to why women tend to stay mentally sharp longer than men. Women's brains start off at a younger age when they reach adulthood, and they keep that throughout the remainder of their adulthood, basically buying them a few extra years. The typical female brain is more energetically youthful than the typical male brain throughout life.” Men now know the reason why the phrase “yes dear” makes perfect scientific sense. (


With spring on the horizon many folks will be shopping for a new vehicle, so a good discussion topic might be the technological innovations on today's autos. While there are more bells and whistles these days, there are also some threats. “Your (new) vehicle is basically a 2-ton connected, mobile computer on wheels. Hackers can use that connectivity to access your private information, steal your car or even worse. They can completely take over and control anything in your car, from the brakes to the steering wheel. The scariest scenario is that you're driving and they make your car crash."


Making matters worse, research shows that manufacturers are security laggards. “Fifty-five percent of IT security practitioners and engineers in the automotive industry admit to making coding errors. Sixty percent acknowledged that lack of understanding and training on secure coding practices leads to vulnerabilities in automotive software and 39 percent said product development tools have inherent bugs. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said a malicious attack against automotive technologies is likely or very likely to occur in the next 12 months.” That old truck with the crank windows and AM radio may be the safest vehicle to own. (


If sports is up for discussion, a new development this week in high school football may be of interest. “New Jersey high school football officials voted Wednesday to implement the most restrictive contact limitations during practice at any level of the sport. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association passed a bill that reduces in-season full-contact limits from 90 minutes per week to 15 minutes and preseason full-contact hours from unlimited to six.”


Making this more thought-provoking closer to home is that seven other states are considering the same thing. “At the top of the list is Michigan, which is nearing approval for similar restrictions to New Jersey. The representative council (MHSAA) is expected to meet in May to discuss.” Something to monitor as football practices begin in August. (


Now, instead of sitting around discussing things, you might want to get out of the house and trek to a grocery store. Don't get used to finding things on your list the same old way. That shopping experience may undergo a radical change within the year. A new technology is about to bring “grocery shopping 2.0.” to the shelves.  


“If you're lactose intolerant, counting calories, or trying to fill your kitchen with gluten-free foods, you'll soon be able to use your smartphone to scan a grocery store shelf and pinpoint items that specifically meet your dietary needs. Swiss technology company Scandit expects some U.S. grocery stores to roll out the new feature in the next six to nine months. Shoppers at those supermarkets will be able to narrow down what they're looking for in an app similar to how they filter products when buying and browsing online. When customers open the store app, they will see different categories – such as lactose or nut free – and can click on what they’re interested in.”


Technology experts tell us: “The ability to search ingredients is the next leg in the race toward the store of the future.” Already they are testing store apps in which “customers can type an item and get a map that leads them to what they're looking for.” (

You can go to Scandit ( and see where this shopping technology is headed. This is in it's beginning stages, but snagging foodstuffs might never be the same.


Finally, if you have to replace your mailbox due to weather damage, here's a springtime home improvement tip. The location of your mailbox should be the distance from your house you can go in your underwear before risking arrest. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Red NeffZone columns online at and