I listen to old time radio shows in the middle of the night. Insomnia aside, I have a Grace Mondo Elite internet radio which can access hundreds of these stations. The audio quality and script writing are outstanding, even from programs from as far back as the 1930s. 


My favorite shows are the ones featuring gumshoes. These detectives solve the toughest crimes by uncovering clues and information often missed by those not privy to private eye insights. Stations like Audio Noir and Hank's Gumshoe Radio are 24/7 in this genre. (Goggle OTR for more.) When I grow up I want to be like Same Spade or Boston Blackie. 


Taking a cue from these sleuths, I try to apply the same diligence to the news. With an imaginary magnifying glass in hand, I love to uncover overlooked morsels hiding in the news of the day. 


First up, the Case of the Zigzag Rune. Look at your metal zippers. Are any of your zippers are inscribed with the letters YKK? If so, do you know why? “YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha. This company, founded in 1934, uses its own brass, polyester, threads, and even zipper machines, so YKK can deliver high-quality zippers. The combination explains why half of the world’s zippers are YKK zippers.” (


Next, the Something Fishy Whodunit. If you've ever used an ATM machine for a financial transaction, you might be interested in a new type of ATM. In short, go fish. In Singapore, they now have ATMs that dispense frozen salmon fillets. “The Salmon ATMs selling Norwegian salmon are strategically located in various bustling neighborhoods and shopping centers across Singapore, making it incredibly convenient for locals and tourists alike to get their hands on high-quality salmon at any time of the day.” No word yet if a northern Michigan version (Automated Trout Machine) is in on the drawing board. (


Onward to the Mystery of the Prehistoric Predator. While you were thumbing through your copy of the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, you may have glossed over news of a discovery. “The fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of dinosaur have been discovered in the United Kingdom. Fossils of the species, named Vectipelta barretti, were discovered on the Isle of Wight, just off England's south coast. The newly-discovered dinosaur had blade-like spiked armor, but despite its fearsome appearance, it would have eaten only plants.” 


Also noted:”Twenty-nine different species of dinosaur, from various prehistoric periods, have been discovered on the Isle of Wight over the years.” Apparently, the Isle of Wight must have been a popular dino vacation spot. (


Moving along, the case of the Counting Sheep Conundrum has some odd twists. Have you heard the term “sleep divorce?” According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, thirty-five percent of American couples are doing this.


“A sleep divorce entails partners amicably deciding to retire to separate beds or rooms. The separation could be due to loud snoring, conflicting schedules, temperature preferences, or even blanket hogging. In a survey, nearly half of men reported moving to another bedroom or a sofa, in comparison to a quarter of women. Millennials reported the highest rate (43 percent) of consistently or occasionally sleeping in another room, followed by those in Gen X (33 percent).” 


My suggestion? As long as you're awake in the middle of the night, tune into Dragnet Radio or Conyers OTR. (


If you're having trouble sleeping, then the Stodgy Stickball Mindboggler File could be the solution. A sport trying to make inroads in the U.S.A. might induce some snoozing – cricket. This is sort of like baseball with breaks for tea and crumpets. “A new US cricket league backed by tech money hopes Americans will find the sport wicket awesome. Some of the biggest business execs in the US and other investors have pledged at least $120 million to the league to make sure cricket finally sticks.” (


This version of the sport supposedly will have games lasting three hours. However, according to, other versions of cricket matches can last from 'seven hours to multiple days.' Sounds compelling to me. You too?


Speaking of sports, how about the Chainsaw Not Quite Massacre? Powder magazine found a ski innovation that luckily never caught on. “Here's a new, confounding sentence for you to mull over: Chainsaw motor-powered skis." A guy actually attached a chainsaw to each of his skis and the action moved him across the snow. Powder observes: “It'd be a shame to be cruising along only to have the back half of your ski explode.” 


Oddly, the chainsaw motor skis inventor pitched the idea to the U.S. Army. “This pitch was doomed because the U.S. Army didn't like the idea of a platoon trying to sneak up on the enemy with noisy chainsaw skis strapped to their feet.” See a hilarious video of these things at:


Finally, we end with the Clock Complexity Confusion. Specifically, this deals with the Five Second Rule. This is the idea that if food that’s fallen on the floor has been there less than five seconds, it’s still acceptable to eat. (


Science considered this dilemma. “An experiment conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign proved that as long as the food was picked up within the five-second time limit, the presence of microorganisms on the dropped food was minimal. However, the experiment was conducted after first sanitizing the flooring, and it only applied to hard flooring like tile and wood. No testing was conducted on carpeting and other soft surfaces, which can hold moisture and become breeding grounds for bacteria.”


Researchers offered some guidance. “It’s definitely not recommended to blindly follow the five-second rule. You have no way of knowing which pathogens are on your floor, so unless you regularly disinfect, it’s best to play it safe and follow another rule: When in doubt, toss it out.”


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