Sometimes, when you're reading along minding your own business, you can  find some really interesting bits of information that are hiding in larger news articles. This happens to me quite often.


I've accumulated some of these random bits. All come from legitimate news sources, so I won't burden you with a litany of long website addresses. Off we go in no particular order. 


Jeopardy is one of TV’s most valuable properties, with thirty-eight percent of viewers watching at least three times a week. If you were not watching this week you missed a new Jeopardy record. A contestant recorded the all-time worst score of negative $7,400. The previous worst score was negative $6,800.


The skies in northern Michigan have been a bit smoky for a couple of weeks due to wildfires in the Western states. At least we don't have to deal with what's happening in Oregon. Smoke and heat from massive wildfires are creating giant “fire clouds” — columns of smoke and ash that can reach up to six miles into the sky. The extreme forms of these can create “fire tornadoes.” Yikes!


W.C. Fields once said about elephants: “I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one.” He might have had a different opinion if he had lived in Sicily about 400,000 years ago, when elephants were cute little things. “Through analysis of ancient fossils of elephants on the island, scientists found that the creatures descended from behemoths that stood twelve feet tall and weighed ten tons lost eight-five percent of their body mass over about 1300 years. The result was a miniature elephant. 


Just because animals are small, however, does not necessarily mean you want them around. “A plague of mice has ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia and has forced the evacuation of homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and prisons.” They also devour crops and haystacks and gnaw on electrical wiring. Even the region's cats are afraid. 


A drought in many areas of the United States has been in the news. One state, Nevada, is attempting to conserve some of that precious water. “Nearly one-third of all of the grass in Southern Nevada will need to be removed by the end of 2026 under a new bill signed into law.” A two-decades-long drought that has shown no signs of ending. “Specifically, the bill will prohibit water being used to irrigate “nonfunctional turf.” This will include the grass between roads and sidewalks, in medians and traffic circles and decorative grass outside businesses, housing developments and similar areas. 


Living a healthy lifestyle is always a laudable goal. Living in a  city where fitness is a priority might be desirable. The American College of Sports Medicine rated one hundred cities and found the ten fittest cities in the U.S. were: Arlington (VA), Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Madison (WI), Washington, D.C., St. Paul, Irvine (CA) Portland (OR) and Atlanta. The least fit cities were: Toledo, Memphis, Bakersfield (CA),   Louisville, Chesapeake (VA), Indianapolis, Wichita, North Las Vegas, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The only Michigan city on the list was Detroit at eighty-three. 


Well, if you want to be fit spending time sitting in your car while stuck in traffic is not too desirable. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that drivers in the New York-Newark region spent 494,268 hours stuck in traffic last year, while the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim had 365,543 hours of time in traffic. The worst individual wait times per year were: New York-Newark (56 hours), Boston (50), Houston (49), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (46) and San Francisco-Oakland (46). 


Sitting in your car is no fun, but lounging in your pool on a summer day is mighty nice. Did you know the pool noodle is the most popular pool toy in North America? Ah, but therein lies the Great Canadian Pool Noodle Controversy. Two guys claim to have invented the pool noodle, Canadians Steve Hartman and Richard Koster. The debate goes way back to 1986. However, while they were arguing, neither man ever applied for a patent. Now other companies are free to produce similar pool toys.


Finally, a personal observation. This is the time of year when National Football League teams begin preseason camps. This means we here in Michigan will be inundated with news articles about “our” Detroit Lions. If our long-suffering past is any barometer, we will be reading about what the Lions NEED to do, PLAN to do, HOPE to do, PROMISE to do. I, for one, would like them (for once) to save their collective breaths and just DO. How refreshing would that be? 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews