The crate beneath my desk is overflowing. This is where news items that did not surface in past columns accumulate. It's time to dive in and see what oddities are lurking within. 


We begin with some former presidents going on a trip. “The DNA of four past US presidents will be blasted into deep space as part of a symbolic space burial flight.  George Washington, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Dwight D. Eisenhower will all have part of their remains placed in special capsules and sent into solar orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket.”


Why is this being done? “The DNA that will be present from these flights would be used as a method of data storage that would tell the story of America and humans, which future civilizations that settle in deep space could use as biological history books.” (


By the way, the presidents will be accompanied by other significant members of our civilization. “The remains of many of the people who worked on Star Trek” will be along for the ride. 


There is also some technology being developed at ground level. Car companies are beginning to file patents for vehicles can one day repossess themselves. “With autonomous driving tech likely becoming more prevalent in the coming years, all it would take is an automaker to introduce a system where that new car, truck, or SUV parked in your driveway can drive itself away if you don't pay.”


This concept is just on the drawing boards right now, but here's how it might work. “Vehicles might simply move themselves a short distance to a location where they can be more easily towed. For vehicles with more advanced autonomous tech, they could drive themselves to the lending company or the repo lot. In situations where the vehicle's market value isn't worth the cost of the repossession, it could drive itself straight to the junkyard.” (


Even closer to the ground, there is some interesting news on the Fido communication front. says what a bark sounds like to humans depends on where the humans live. 


“Woof, woof is the standard interpretation of a dog’s bark in thirteen English-speaking countries. However, in nineteen  Spanish-speaking countries, the noise a dog makes is written as guau, guau, and the standard in twenty-two mostly Arabic-speaking countries is hau, hau or how, how. The list doesn’t stop there. We counted over forty different phrases around the world for the same noise.” 


This phenomenon does not apply to cats. “Unlike a dog’s bark, cat noises are interpreted fairly consistently across the world. Cats meow in twenty-two countries. Elsewhere, cats are most likely to make a similar onomatopoeic noise beginning with an m, like miau, miaou or muwaa.” See a map of dog and cat sounds at:


In a related sidelight, there is one dog who might have an enunciation problem when it comes to barking. Licking, on the other hand, is not an issue. “An Arizona dog whose tongue is 3.74 inches longer than his snout was awarded the Guinness World Record for longest tongue on a living dog. The three-year-old English setter, named Bisbee, was awarded the title.”

That tongue may seem long, but it's not the all-time record. “The longest tongue on a dog ever belonged to a Michigan boxer named Brandy. Brandy's tongue measured seventeen inches long before her death in 2002.” (


I always like a good list, but there's something even more alluring when that list includes a high “yuk” factor. BuzzFeed notes: “Many of us have had our fair share of undesirable jobs, but history has us feeling pretty thankful for what's not offered these days. From the unpleasant to the outright bizarre, let's take a trip down memory lane to see all the jobs we've managed to dodge in the 21st century.” (


A few of these jobs are merely obsolete, like a knocker-upper. “Ever wondered how people got anywhere on time before alarm clocks existed? They hired a knocker-up! Knocker-ups carried a big long stick and would wake up their client by knocking at their bedroom window.” Pretty mundane, eh?


Well, being a knocker-up was better than being a gong farmer. “We didn't always have indoor toilets with flushes that neatly transport your lovely donations off far away. Before modern plumbing, people would relieve themselves over a raised board over a cesspit, and after a time, that cesspit would need emptying. Gong farmers would excavate the contents of these cesspits and take it away on a cart.”  


The list includes several jobs that were pretty yucky, but some of the jobs were a bit nostalgic. Bowlers will recall the days of pinspotters (pinboys) in bowling alleys. Billy Boys were the baristas of yesteryear. And many Cadillicans of yore were employed as ice cutters on Lake Cadillac. 


Finally, I have some sad news to report. The Creature from the Black Lagoon has passed away. Ricou Browning did all the swimming scenes in that 1950s monster movie. He was 93.  See the movie poster and promotional preview clip at:


As a youngster, I can remember cringing in the darkness of Flint's Della Theater as Julia Adams (hubba hubba) swam in the lagoon with the creature stalking her from below. It was terrifying fun! 


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