Have you ever forgotten the name of something? A hundred years or so ago, one of my teachers said the human mind can only remember seven things at the same time. The teacher was a nun, so who am I to question this? However, my experience tells me that seven might be overly optimistic. 


Remembering things can be tricky, so we tend to simplify when possible. This happened to the ancient Japanese calendar. It broke the year into seventy-two microseasons. These seasons were pretty specific: “'Last frost, rice seedlings grow,' (April 25 to 29), 'rotten grass becomes fireflies' (June 11 to 15), or 'crickets chirp around the door' (October 18 to 22).” The confusion ended in 1685 with the adoption of winter, spring, summer, fall. (


Still in the calendar genre, the “in” colors for the coming seasons have been announced. “Sherwin-Williams has released its long-awaited 2024 Colormix Forecast.” The company notes: “We broke the stories down into color families. That will tell a better story to designers. These paint palettes will be everywhere in 2024.”


The four categories are: “Red, Berry, and Pink; Barely There Tints; Deep, Deep, Darks; Blues and Greens.” To see the specifics of these palettes, go to: As for me, I'm still trying to decipher all the colors in the 96-crayon Crayola box. 


Sometimes you come across a term that is a bit confusing – like “road lasagna.” it's actually a Michigan thing. “It's being tested by the Ingham County Road Department. “Named by after the Italian dish, the technique involves layering materials to offer stability beneath the surface. In this case, the layers included old tires filled with aggregate -- particulate like sand, gravel and stone -- along with shredded scrap tire and geotextile fabric.”


Ingham officials add: ““There’s certainly a lot of application for this across the state in these areas where you have water going under the road in wide sections. Probably every county in Michigan has a section of road that could use this.”



While “road lasagna” is an apt descriptive, some words don't mean anything like what they really are. Sweetbreads, for instance, are not a pastry. Sweetbreads are made from of offal (organ meats). “These small cutlets are actually the thymus and pancreas glands from calves or lambs.”


Another example is head cheese. “There’s no dairy involved in making head cheese. Head cheese is actually an aspic — a savory gelatin packed with scraps of meat and molded into a sliceable block. And while not a cheese, it’s likely the dish is named such because early recipes called for pressing the boiled meats together in a cheese mold.” (


Confusion can also come to the fore when two words mean almost the same thing but not quite. This occurs with chicken tender versus chicken finger. “The two items are practically identical, but there’s a key difference between them.” Adding to the perplexity: “All fried chicken tenders qualify as fingers, but not all chicken fingers are tenders.” 


Here's the difference. “The word tender refers to a particular cut of chicken located at the bottom of the breast. The pectoralis minor, or inner filet, measures roughly 1.5 inches wide and five inches long on an average bird. Chicken fingers, on the other hand, are defined by the preparation rather than the cut. The dish is traditionally made by slicing chicken breast into strips. Some heavily processed chicken fingers may be made from separate chicken bits and pieces that have been molded into strips.” Mystery solved! (


Finally, in a lucky bit of happenstance, every once in a while some wordage expresses exactly what it is. Such is the case with “Pop-Tarts Croc-Tarts.” Hang with me here. 


“Pop-Tarts and Crocs are partnering on a promotion to create a combined package that includes shoes and toaster pastries. The limited-edition promo includes a pair of custom Crocs clogs along with Pop-Tarts-inspired Jibbitz charms (decorations that go in the holes in the shoes) and a package of unfrosted strawberry Pop-Tarts that come with Crocs-shaped candies that can be used to decorate the food.” (


I know you're wondering how you can get one of these packages. Well, only 240 of these kits will be available, but you can qualify for the opportunity by registering on If you win you'll be the most stylish person in your neighborhood. 


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