Summer is upon us and going to non-pandemic gatherings will be a great relief.  Because of this pent up enthusiasm, it will be more important than ever to have a wide range of topics to discuss, preferably things that won't incite a fist fight. Luckily, a wide variety of these are easy to find. 


Want to talk about sports? How about discussing one of the fastest growing high school varsity sports in the country? "According to the Associated Press, bowling is hot in high schools. It’s shown more gains than any other sport in terms of the number of players and the number of schools adding teams. The United States High School Bowling Foundation has compiled a total of 1,285 record performances across 34 states.  (https://www.tesh.com/articles/football-and-basketball-are-old-news-the-fastest-growing-high-school-sport-these-days-is-bowling/ and https://ushsbf.org/)


A discussion of bowling might be more technical than you would initially think. Do you know what goes on inside a bowling ball? A guy named Mo Pinel spent a career reshaping the ball’s inner core to harness the power of physics. “He had to tinker with a specification known as radius of gyration, or RG. Put simply, RG is a measurement of the distance between the ball’s center of mass and the tip of the invisible axis that extends to the ball’s surface. The square root of the moment of inertia divided by the mass of the object. The lower a ball’s RG, the more spin a bowler can create by applying torque; the higher the RG, the more power required to rotate the ball.” Did you get all that? Read Pinel's theories about bowling ball cores at: https://www.wired.com/story/one-mans-amazing-journey-to-the-center-of-the-bowling-ball/.


Not into sports? Well, most parties have food, so swapping recipes is a good go-to activity. This year offers a unique opportunity because cicadas are appearing after a seventeen year hiatus.  “There is the yuck factor," Johns Hopkins University sustainable food expert Jessica Fanzo acknowledged, "but people who are looking for alternative sources of animal protein shouldn't rule out cicadas. Once you get over the look of them, they're quite tasty."


So how do you prepare a cicada treat? Suggestions include: cicada nymph spring salad, cicada nymph chili guacamole , cicada tacos, cicada ramen, cicada pizza and cicada stir fry. These taste sensations and more are at: https://www.cnet.com/news/you-can-eat-cicadas-but-be-careful-if-you-have-seafood-allergies-fda-warns/.


Of course, we all want to look good when we appear at a party, so being in fashion is both a concern and a chat subject. News flash! Skinny jeans are out. Blame the pandemic. 


“Of all the changes wrought by the pandemic, a shift in blue jeans fashion is happening. Based on sales during the pandemic, mom jeans—that is, high-waisted, loose-fitting jeans—are taking over, for both men and women. Levi's says that forty percent of women's business in the first quarter centered on looser fit jeans. In particular, a new balloon style.” (https://www.newser.com/story/304991/pandemic-may-have-changed-thinking-on-blue-jeans.html)


Also making news on the fashion scene is a new style of shoe that leave some fashionistas a bit perplexed. “High fashion never rests. The comfort shoe of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a dangerous turn. Balenciaga has unveiled its latest collaboration with Crocs, in the form of a narrow heel, placed precariously on the sole of its trademark rubber clog. It's a Stiletto Crock. "The style apparently comes in green and black, and joins a knee-high rubber boot in the collection as well.” See at: https://nypost.com/2021/06/08/stiletto-crocs-are-here-to-erase-all-your-pandemic-comforts/


As adults know, if whippersnappers are at a gathering just getting them off their electronic devices is a major undertaking. Here's a thought. Show them something they can do on their devices that is really cool and then stand back and be amazed. (Hint: You may want to look over their shoulders.)


Here's the question. If a raindrop falls in a given location, where does that water  go? To find out go to an interactive website named River Runner. On a map: “Click to drop a raindrop anywhere in the contiguous United States and watch where it ends up.”


This gets very specific. For example, you can drop a raindrop at the City Dock on Lake Cadillac and watch as that raindrop makes its way to Lake Michigan. See this at: https://river-runner.samlearner.com/


After all the partying, you could be ready for some rest. If so, it may be interesting to find out if your fellow partiers are early risers or late risers. Scientist have determined that when you get up in the morning does make a difference. 


Night owls may have a certain cool factor, but chipper morning larks actually have it better. Research suggests people who naturally wake up early are often able to avoid serious mental health challenges. A study published in Molecular Psychiatry provides further compelling evidence that morning people are at an advantage. Those predisposed to late sleep schedules experienced more clinical depression.” (https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/being-a-morning-person-actually-keeps-you-happier)


This brings up a related discussion question. Do you sleep with your pet? “Nearly two thirds of all U.S. households have at least one pet. An overwhelming number of those furry friends are considered family members or companions, so it’s no surprise many of them find their way into an owner’s bed at night. But should pets sleep with you? The research varies, and studies show both risks and benefits to sleeping with your pet.” HealthGrades details the pros and cons at: https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/lifestyle-and-wellness/should-you-let-pets-sleep-in-your-bed.


Finally, for some oldster fun go to https://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/old-picture-test. You'll find photos there. “If You Recognize Any Of These Fifty Pictures  You're Officially Old.” (Disclaimer: I got all fifty.)


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