We're at that time of year when get-togethers are on the docket. Admittedly, we're still in the caution-first mode, but with trepidation in mind we still need some safe topics to discuss at such soirees. After all, no one wants ruffled feathers to spoil the spirit of the season. Luckily, safe topics are all around us. 


For instance, pretty much every party will feature a selections of tasty treats. Don't be surprised if one of those is Spam. “Sales of the canned cooked meat Spam have hit a record high for the seventh year in a row.” Sales were up by nineteen percent in 2021.”


Spam is popular in the United States, but it's iconic in South Korea. “Spam is so much a part of South Korean culture, that it is the staple ingredient in one of the country's favorite dishes – army stew. Tins of Spam are even given as presents for the Lunar New Year, sometimes presented in gift-boxes.” (


Speaking of food, an interesting report was in the recent news that could be the basis for an interesting chat subject. “What is the worst meal you've ever encountered?”


A food critic described a culinary experience with the headline: “We Eat at The Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever."  According to the critic, the restaurant is Bros in Lecce, Italy.


The meal was memorable, to say the very least. “The twenty-seven courses included: edible paper slivers, dollops of meat molecules served via eyedroppers, frozen air (which melted before it could be eaten), shots of vinegar, a tablespoon of crab, fried cheese balls with rancid ricotta, reconstituted orange slices, and citrus foam served in a plaster cast of the chef's mouth.” The chef said the meal was “akin to abstract art.” 


Oh, yeah, one more thing, the dandy dinner cost $1500 per person. You know, that fruitcake Aunt Zelda gave you during the Nixon administration doesn't seem so unappetizing anymore, does it? (


If there are whippersnappers at the shindig, a standard question is always: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I'll bet no one comes up with one of the hottest new industries – space junk removal.


“Since the beginning of the space age, government programs have left decommissioned satellites and empty rocket stages orbiting above Earth. Now, with a new space race emerging among private enterprises, the cosmos could grow even more crowded. NASA estimated that there are over 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the planet, and over 100 million pieces of space debris larger than a millimeter.” In short, there is a need for “junk luggers” and money to be made. 

Two companies, Astroscale and Morpheus Space, are developing technologies to collect the debris so they pose no harm to other objects in space. This is just another example of employment possibilities that did not exist in the past. 



Still in the realm future employment, farmers in our neck of the woods might be interested in a project underway in Colorado – a farm under solar panels. “It's part of a burgeoning industry known as agrivoltaics. There are about a dozen (farms) in the United States known to be experimenting with it.” 


In short, the farm operates like this. 'There are 3,200 solar panels mounted on posts eight feet high. They're spaced far enough apart from one another so you can drive a tractor between them. The shade from the towering panels above the soil  help the plants thrive. That intermittent shade also means a lot less evaporation of coveted irrigation water. And in turn the evaporation actually helps keep the sun-baked solar panels cooler, making them more efficient. They generate power for three hundred homes to use in a year.' You can see the full article and some amazing pictures about this Colorado farm at:


Moving on, it's also the time of year when a lot of cuffing takes place. If no one at the party knows what cuffing is, it's a good opening to swoop in and enlighten the masses. Cuffing is explained in an article titled, “Ten New Dating Slang Words To Know.” 

According to “Cuffing is another way of saying people are committing to a relationship, and cuffing season is the period from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, when people are more inclined to pair up in committed romantic relationships. “These relationships may or may not go the distance once the seasons change.”


If the relationship status does change, beware of orbiting (when someone breaks off all contact with a person they were dating in real life, but they continue following that person on social media.) Also watch out for being benched. “Benching refers to the practice of keeping a potential romantic partner on hold in case others don’t work out.” More of these terms are covered at:


Finally, it could be fun to determine who in the throng knows the most about Christmas. On the Neff Zone Holidays page you'll find a Christmas Trivia quiz and a Charlie Brown Christmas quiz. There are also graphics that show the best and worst Christmas candies. (


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



(Interactive: Touch a state to see the favorite candy.)