As we enter the Fourth of July holiday period, it's important to have safe conversation topics ready to roll out at any given soiree. Being the center of congenial chitchat can even be quite gratifying. 


For example, everyone likes an interesting fact. Most tool kits contain a roll of duct tape, but did you know duct tape was invented by a woman? During World War II, Vesta Stoudt had two sons in the Navy.


The quick version of the story is this. 'Stoudt worked at a factory packing and inspecting ammunition boxes. The packages were sealed with paper tape and then the entire box was dipped in wax to make it waterproof. The cumbersome packages were hard to open, particularly during a battle. So, she attempted to invent a new type of packing tape that was both waterproof and easy to open.'


When her employer rejected her design, she wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt. “She received a reply explaining that her idea was being implemented. Soldiers found the tape so quick and easy to use, they called it '100 Mile an Hour Tape.' Today, we just call it Duct tape.” (


Facts are nice, but jokes are better. Right? So who does not like a good dad joke? has come up with the most common dad joke in each U.S. State. “On a scale of one to five in terms of dad joke usage, Pennsylvania takes the cake with a 4.9. Mississippians are the least accepting of dad jokes, with a rating of just 2.2.”  Michigan scored a 3.3. 


As for universal dad tendencies, two items topped the list. “His sneaker collection consists of two pairs of the same sneakers: one for mowing the lawn and one for going out. Before using the tongs when grilling, he clicks them together two or more times to test them out.” See a great dad jokes map at:


It turns out that moms like dad jokes about fifty-one percent of the time, with one major exception. “'I’m not sleeping, I’m just resting my eyes' is the single dad-ism that moms find most annoying.” 


Ah, but a new report indicates that napping dads may be onto something. “Having a quick nap in the afternoon could slow the rate your brain shrinks as you age. The researchers involved in the study said the average difference in brain volume between serial nappers and those who do not nap was parallel to 2.6 to 6.5 years of ageing. The study found that those who were predetermined to snooze in the afternoon had a larger total brain volume.” (


In essence, when a dad is napping he is actually hard at work extending his life. This also means that he will have more years during which he can accumulate more dad jokes and even turn them into granddad jokes.  Everyone wins!


A spate of dad jokes may provoke the kidlings in the group to run and hide, so while they are gone it's a good time for adults to reminisce. BuzzFeed observed: “Before the '90s and the advancement of technology, a lot of people had a unique set of skills to help them get through the day.” The site lists nineteen of these obsolete talents at:


I'm sure you recall when schools issued textbooks that you carried for the entire school year. To keep the books in pristine condition, you needed a certain skill. “You can make a cover for a textbook using a brown paper bag."


Back in the day, some technology was very easy to repair. "You could adjust your TV by giving the television a karate chop to fix reception."


If you needed to go somewhere and your auto was balky, you had a solution. "Crash-starting a manual car by rolling down a hill in second gear with the ignition on, then popping the clutch.” 


And you know, there was a time when you did not need Apple Pay or Venmo in order to buy something. You could use actual cash money. “You had the ability to make and count out change for a purchase." 


One of those obsolete skills can still come in handy: "I can re-fold a map correctly." Not everyone uses GPS and summer road trips can actually be more enjoyable without an electronic navigator droning in your ear.


If you or anyone at your gathering is contemplating a summer vacation, WalletHub has some pertinent information. “This summer, nearly eighty percent of American adults plan to take some sort of road trip. Deciding to take a trip is the easy part. Picking a destination is harder. WalletHub compared the fifty U.S. states based on thirty-two key metrics to find the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations.” See at:


The rankings may surprise you. The top five destinations are: Texas, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Idaho. The least desirable are: Montana, Hawaii, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Remember, it's all in the metrics. 


Michigan finished at number eighteen. However, in overall costs our state finished at fourteen. Camping costs in Michigan are the fourth lowest in the country. If your vehicle breaks down, the average cost of repairs is third lowest in the nation. 


Finally, are there dogs at your get-together? If so, how ugly are they? You can compare the canine attendees to the World's Ugliest Dog 2023 – Scooter. “The seven-year-old Chinese Crested dog, with reversed hind legs, is nearly bald but for a shock of white wispy hairs.” See Scooter at:


For comparison, go to: There you'll find the “Seventeen Ugliest Dogs in the World Ever.” Feel free to fill in your own dad joke.


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

2023’s Best & Worst States for Summer Road Trips

(Point to a state to see the ranking.)

Source: WalletHub