Well kids, it's time to clear out the items from the crate beneath my desk. These are random leftovers from research not used in previous columns. I may have to stretch a segue to link items, so groaning is permitted. 


Have you noticed the days getting shorter? Did you experience dizziness on June 29? There's a reason for both of these. “The Earth spun faster around its axis on June 29, making it the shortest day since the planet's rotation began being measured with atomic clocks in the 1960s. Earth completed one spin in 1.59 milliseconds. The record comes as Earth has seen consistently shorter days in the past few years.” 


This will probably continue. “Natural disasters and weather can also influence the speed of the Earth's spin.” You may recall when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean in 2004 shortened the length of the day by nearly three microseconds. Boy, that was a doozy! (


While you're waiting for your dizziness to pass, it's a good time to relax with a cool beverage. Luckily, you live in Michigan. Vernors is now offering a new flavor pop – Black Cherry Ginger. “The new flavor is available only for people living in Michigan. This is the first flavor variation of the ginger soda in more than fifty years.” (


You may need the new Vernors to wash down some chicken nuggets. Act fast because there is an ongoing chicken nugget war. “Globally, there's an arms race in nugget innovation, with mom-and-pop stores vying with chains.” 


Nuggets are big business. “By one count, the U.S. fast food chicken market has been growing at nearly five percent a year and is expected to reap $40 billion in revenue in 2022. Since the pandemic, more consumers in general are snacking and looking for those easier-to-eat, smaller bites.” (


Another aspect of chicken tension is in the sandwich arena. One restaurant in a national chain proposed paying its workers in chicken rather than money. “The fast-food chicken restaurant promised free entrees instead of monetary compensation. Volunteers would earn five free entrees per shift (one hour) worked.” After a lot of squawking from the general public, the restaurant withdrew its proposal. (


On a historical chicken note, did you know there once was a candy bar named “Chicken Dinner.” The story is in an article: “Seven Old-Fashioned Chocolate Bars That Were Discontinued.”


It debuted six year before the Great Depression. “Chicken Dinner was billed as 'candy made good.' It was advertised as a complete dinner meal in a candy bar, inferring that the product had tons of nutrition.” It didn't actually taste like chicken. It was sort of an early Snickers-type bar. (


Having a few bites of a Chicken Dinner bar might be appropriate when you're watching a television series about bites – shark week. Sharks are scary, but your chance of expiring as the result of being chomped by a Great White is pretty slim. “ deaths. “The estimated chance that one will die by shark in their lifetime is one in 4,332,817.”


However, you may be interested in another category of danger. Back in 1987, experts observed that you are more likely to be bitten by a New Yorker than a shark. 'That year only thirteen shark bites were reported compared to 1,587 people bitten by New Yorkers.' (


Dealing with gnawing New Yorkers takes a lot of daring, but a new study indicates how this trait can be developed. The research comes just as school sports are beginning this fall. 


“Here’s another good reason for kids to participate in organized sports: They can develop the 'grit' that helps them overcome challenges as adults. Grit is defined as the combination of passion and perseverance that helps people achieve their long-term goals. The grit they develop playing sports can help them the rest of their lives.” (


If you have grit, it might come in handy dealing with aliens. There could even be one in your house right now. “A respected Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an invasive alien species. Domestic cats have a harmful impact on biodiversity given the number of birds and mammals they hunt and kill. The criteria for including the cat among alien invasive species are one hundred percent met by the cat.”


Critics of the classification argue that man, then, should be on the list of non-invasive alien species. “Cats are unfairly assigned too much blame.” (


Finally, if you're a cat lover have you ever wondered about the exotic descriptions on the cat food cans. Does “Ocean Whitefish in Seared Salmon Gravy” really taste like that? Now you can find out first hand. 


“Fancy Feast, the most popular brand of gourmet wet cat food in the U.S., announced today the opening of 'Gatto Bianco by Fancy Feast', a limited-time, Italian-style trattoria and culinary experience in New York City. Gatto Bianco will bring the mealtime experience of cats to life. The dishes (for humans) take inspiration from Fancy Feast Medleys recipes and are prepared in ways that help cat owners understand how their cats experience food – from flavor, to texture, to form – in a way that only Fancy Feast can." (


You know, I don't have enough grit to try this. You go first. I'll hold your Vernors Black Cherry Ginger. 



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