Pick up any newspaper and a large number of articles are about COVID-19. It's important to keep up with all the important developments. Added to these, however,  is news that is semi-pandemic related but not of a critical nature. These stories exist around the edges of the main story. 


For instance, the  virus that has caused families to shelter in place has also led to a surge in home-bound activities, like gardening. “People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family friendly hobby. Fruit and vegetable seed sales are jumping worldwide.”


Some famous names in seed catalogs are doing record business. “Burpee sold more seed than any time in its 144-year history in March. Johnny’s Selected Seeds saw a 270 percent jump in orders the week of March 16. Stokes Seeds received 1,000 online orders during the weekend of March 21, four times more than normal.” Apparently digging in the dirt is good for the soul. (


When it comes to hauling all those gardening supplies around it helps to have a pickup truck. Truck sales are at an all time high and Ford wanted to know just how much people love their trucks. They commissioned the Great American Truck Survey to find out.


One question was what would truck owners be willing to give up for a year instead of their truck.  Seventy-nine percent said they would give up drinking alcohol, eighty-two percent would give up Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, seventy-one percent would give up drinking coffee, forty-seven percent would give up using their phone, forty-one percent would give up eating meat, and thirty-eight percent would give up sex.


As if that was not revealing enough, the survey also found “nearly one in five tattooed truck drivers have a tattoo of their truck and twenty-five percent have named their truck.” (


Many truck owners like to keep their babies pristine clean, which includes removing bugs from the grill. Hold the phone, though. Covering your vehicle with bugs may be a good thing. “Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have created a new coating, inspired by a species of longhorn beetle, that can passively cool surfaces without using up more energy. This means your car could be wrapped in a material that could help the environment.”


See, the Neocerambyx Gigas can survive in some of the most unforgiving climates. Using a substance found in the wings of those beetles, “...researchers found their film could reduce surface temperatures of items in direct sunlight by about nine degrees Fahrenheit.” (


Speaking of keeping vehicles pristine clean, one way to do this is by spraying off the grime on your car or truck at a coin operated car wash. Oddly enough, the virus has made this a bit more problematic. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused a nationwide coin shortage, according to the Federal Reserve. The pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin.” 


Three things have contributed to the coin shortage. Coin deposits from local banks to the Federal Reserve have slowed. The U.S. Mint’s production of coin also decreased “due to measures put in place to protect its employees." And “many businesses have encouraged consumers to use contactless payment systems.” Note to the kidlings in the audience. You may want to hide your piggy banks. (


With all the staying at home stuff going on, some people might want to go on vacation but at the same time are somewhat leery about doing so. If you're in this dilemma how about a pretend vacation? 


An airport in Taiwan is experimenting with this concept by offering “Pretend Vacations and Flights to Nowhere.” Here's how it works. “The airport is hosting a tour that will allow people to go to the airport, without actually going anywhere. The half-day experience will include a tour of the airport, a mock immigration experience and finally, the chance to board and then disembark an airplane. (This is) the perfect opportunity for new fliers to acclimate themselves to the travel process or for veteran travelers to get their airport fix.” 


Let me guess. You can also get patted down by security, get an in-flight snack left over from the Coolidge administration, and have your luggage sent to Kathmandu --- each for an additional fee, of course. (


Finally, as long as you are going nowhere, perhaps you can try to beat a record. One such accomplishment was just awarded by Guinness World Record for his unusual skill – stacking three eggs vertically.


“Guinness announced Kuala Lumpur resident Mohammed Muqbel, 20, was awarded the record for the world's largest stack of eggs when he managed to balance three chicken eggs in a tower formation. The record-keeping organization stipulated that the eggs had to remain stacked for at least five seconds and all three eggs had to be fresh and free from cracks in their shells.” (


This seems impossible, but you can see him do it on a video at If you decide to try this at home, I would suggest doing so around breakfast time. You may make a new record, but it's more likely you will make an omelet. 


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