The word “inflammable” is interesting because it can mean opposite things at the same time. The prefix “in” can mean “not,” but it can also mean “tending toward.” Thus, something “inflammable” cannot burst into flames or it can tend to catch fire easily. That's why the word “flammable” has become the preferred alternative on warning labels.


Topics for conversations at Independence Day gatherings can present the same conundrum. What may be an argument inducing subject for one person could be a nothing burger for someone else. The key, then, is to have non-combustible items in your chit-chat quiver. 


That said, we must get something out of the way. You know, sometimes in life something happens that is so earth-shattering and mind-blowing that it's a challenge to imagine continuing on at all. Before I reveal this, please sit down. Take a deep breath. Be brave. Marshall your resources. You can survive this. The sun will rise tomorrow morning. Ready? 


Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is changing its name to Kraft Mac and Cheese. This is a real shocker, right? “For eighty-five years, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has been America’s original and favorite comfort food. With over a million boxes sold every day, the cheesy bowls of deliciousness iconic role in every stage of people’s lives. Kraft Mac and Cheese is unveiling a new brand identity that includes an updated logo, noodle smile and even a new name.” (


Now that this once in a generation news is out of the way, holiday discussions can resume. If temperatures are hot on the Fourth, perhaps cooling off with an icy treat would be appropriate. Ask everyone what is their favorite popsicle flavor. Chances are no one will come up with one being test-marketed in Canada right now.


“French's Ketchup will debut its new limited-edition ketchup-flavoured popsicle, to celebrate the first week of summer. The savoury tomato flavour is perfectly balanced with a hint of salty sweetness. Made from one hundred  percent Canadian tomatoes, it combines some of the best traditions the season has to offer: ketchup and popsicles.” (


Well, on a hot day you may not choose to cool off with a condiment-sicle, but here's a hot question to ask people. If given the opportunity, what would you name the next heat wave? 


“There's a growing effort to name and categorize heat waves the way we do hurricanes — to call attention to their significance, alert people to dangerous temperatures and prod public officials into action. Heat waves are the deadliest type of weather emergency in the U.S. They're bigger killers than floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.” (


Money is always another hot topic, so here's a thought-provoking question. If the world had only $100, how would that be distributed by country? “The U.S. comes in first place, holding $29.40, or almost a third of total wealth, while China comes in second, accounting for $17.71. Japan ranks third on the list, accounting for $6.93.” See a nifty graphic of this at:


Speaking of money, a recent warning is worth everyone's attention. A sheriff in Tennessee is one of the first to recognize a problem. “If you see money on the ground, leave it. Someone picked up a folded bill found on the floor of a gas station that had a white powdery substance inside that tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl. Please share and educated your children to not pick up the money.” (


That's serious stuff, but a fashion trend this summer is sure to produce some laughs. “Hoochie daddy shorts are any short shorts that show off more leg than other types traditionally marketed to men.” Older folks will remember this look. “The basketball uniforms used to look like this — high socks, Converse, and shirts tucked into those tiny little shorts.” (


The “hoochie daddy” in you family might look good in these, but I'll pass. I inherited the Neff family chicken legs. Legs shaped like mine usually come in a red and white striped bucket. 


Having people laugh at your legs can be embarrassing, but it's rarely fatal. Other things are much more dangerous. “Everything we do in life involves a risk. Some risks are greater than others. Even simple daily activities, like getting out of bed, walking down a set of stairs, or driving, expose us to personal harm.” (


A good question is what sports or activities are the most dangerous? A study tells us about the fatality rates: Base Jumping (1 in 60), Hang Gliding (1 in 560), Mountain Climbing (1 in 1,750), Boxing (1 in 2,200), Dance Parties (1 in 100,000), Skydiving (1 in 101,083), Bungee Jumping (1 in 500,000), Running or Jogging (1 in 1 million), Skiing (1 in 1.4 million), and Snowboarding (1 in 2.2 million).


One the safest things you can do is play board games. There's just a 1 in 100 million chance of a fatality. Chutes and Ladders sounds dangerous, but it's much safer than a dance party. 


Finally, some high tech fun. Have everyone gather around the family iPad. There's an optical illusion at:


It's a photo of a drawing. “The scene appears to show a husband sitting reading a newspaper, with his wife in a chair opposite and their daughter playing on the floor. While these characters are easy to spot, it may take you a little longer to see the concealed felines. Only one percent of people can find the two hidden cats in this image.” Good luck.


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




(Find the two cats.)