We're quickly approaching the fall sports season and this means it's also tailgate time. The tone of these should be camaraderie and not controversy. Therefore, keeping the chatter as anodyne (inoffensive) as possible is a laudable aim. 

Choose topics with this in mind.


After all, those in attendance could be historically important. Mathematicians estimate that as many as thirty-five million people are descendants of passengers on the Mayflower. “DNA technology has given a scientific gloss to traditional genealogy, allowing scientists and average Americans to trace their lineage.”


The math is beyond me, but here it is. “Simple math means each one of us has 64 fourth great-grandparents, and 4,096 tenth great-grandparents. The further back one goes, the direct ancestors increase exponentially. Over 400 years later and with ever-dropping infant mortality rates, the descendants definitely number in the millions now.” (https://mymodernmet.com/descendant-ancestors-mayflower/)


You may part of the Mayflower clan, but you also share ownership of something with every other U.S citizen. We are all partners in a pile of cheese. 


“In the early 1980s the enactment of a $2 billion dairy subsidy left American farmers drowning in excess milk. The federal government bought the leftovers and turned much of it into cheese for storage purposes. Ownership of the stockpile eventually passed into private hands. In 2016, the USDA announced plans to purchase eleven million pounds of cheese to lessen the strain on private facilities. As of April 2021, there remained 1.4 billion pounds of the stuff in storage.” The upshot of this is it could be downright patriotic to add several slices of cheddar to your tailgate cheeseburger. (https://www.interestingfacts.com/strategic-reserves/YoLyNluKogAHE3jP)


Weather is always a safe subject, but recent weather events have been disastrous. We're fortunate to live in an area that is relatively safe. According to WalletHub: “People in some states are much less prone to having to deal with these tragic events than others.”


WalletHub did a study involving metrics. “Those metrics are the number of climate disasters causing at least $1 billion in damage since 1980, as well as the loss amount per capita of those disasters.” The most vulnerable states were: Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Iowa. Michigan ranked far down the list at number thirty-five. (https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-impacted-by-natural-disasters/111223)


In another ranking reported by CNBC, Michigan finished at the top of a list of states that are most prepared for extreme weather. This is good for business. “Companies are paying close attention to which states not only can avoid climate risks, but also which states are best prepared to mitigate their impact.” 


Oddly enough, Iowa topped this ranking. “While climate change is wreaking havoc on weather patterns, Iowa is more insulated than many states from extremes.”


Michigan was a respectable number nine. “The Great Lakes State boasts the longest freshwater coastline in the world. The lakes tend to moderate temperatures in many parts of the state.” (https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/28/these-are-the-10-states-that-are-the-most-prepared-for-extreme-weather.html)


Michigan did not make the grade on another list, but in this case it's actually a good thing. Can you guess what's the dirtiest city in America? No Michigan city is even close.


“Some cities in the US are considerably more gross than others. To find out which of the country's cities are the dirtiest, HouseFresh analyzed 12.3 million sanitation-related 311 complaints made over the past year, and ranked locations based on the number of reports made per 100,000 residents.” 


The study revealed that Baltimore is America's dirtiest city. Milwaukee is the cleanest city in the US. The cleanest zip code is 77546 – Houston. (https://digg.com/data-viz/link/the-dirtiest-cities-in-the-us-ranked-by-number-of-complaints-FnJMuKhzxe)


There may be a wide range of age groups at your tailgate, so it's good to know that some opinions bridge the generations. A Buzzfeed headline proclaimed: “Fourteen Things Gen Z And Millennials Say Boomers Get Right.” 



For example, everyone agrees that concerts should absolutely start on time. One commentator said of a show that began two hours late. “Really not fun standing around crammed next to people waiting that long."


There's another music-related agreement: “Music everywhere is too loud! I can't tell you how many times noise has chased me out of a store." 


Food is also an area of consensus. “Not all food needs to be 'gourmet,' 'deconstructed,' or 'elevated.' When I ask for something,  it’s because I want that thing. I don’t want the chef’s own interpretation." For me, hold the garlic on my strawberry shortcake. 


Finally, a classy rule of thumb all the generations seem to endorse. “Always bring something with you to a small get together or party. We've lost our manners in this regard. Even if it's just flowers, a bottle of wine, a store-bought dessert, fine. You contributed."


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


States Most Impacted by Natural Disasters

(Point to a state to see the ranking.)

Source: WalletHub