This is the time of year when numbers can drive you to distraction. With income taxes due, numbers have a tendency to reduce your brain cells to pudding. Dealing with digits that are nonhazardous could offer a respite and even be enlightening. 


For example, how about a number that affects us all? We all live in a postal ZIP code, but what do those numbers mean? Since 1963, the “Zone Improvement Plan” codes have evolved with the goal of faster delivery times.


“The first digit represents a broad geographical area, from 0 in the Northeast to 9 in the West; the following two digits designate the code of a central post office facility in that region; and the last two digits represent small post offices or postal zones. In 1983, the ZIP+4 code was introduced to further increase the precision by adding a hyphen and four more numbers to the five-digit ZIP code. These additional numbers serve to identify specific delivery routes that can represent houses on one side of a street or even a particular building that receives a lot of mail.” (


Numbers in the form of percentages are sometimes fun. The Visual Capitalist recently featured a chart showing America's favorite beers by generation. Millennials chose Heineken (60 percent) and Modelo (59 percent). Gen X went with Guinness (57 percent) and Heineken (49 percent). Boomers also tabbed Guinness (49 percent) and Heineken (48 percent). 

The only “American” beer to make each top ten list was Miller High Life. See the full chart at:  


If you've been using a computer to work on your tax return, you probably have not given much thought to how many thousands of mouse clicks you've made. Do you know how mouse speeds are measured? “It's the mickey — a semi-official means of measuring the speed of a computer mouse.” gives an explanation. “Named after a certain Disney character who’s probably the world’s most famous rodent, it’s specifically used to describe the smallest measurable movement the device can take. In real terms, that equals 1/200th of an inch, or 0.1 millimeter. Both the sensitivity (mickeys per inch) and speed (mickeys per second) of a computer mouse are measured this way by computer scientists.” (


Numbers don't have to be big in order to be interesting. A couple of these involve travel and are close to home. The first one comes from BuzzFeed: “Eighteen Places Across America That'll Make You Feel Like You've Left The Country.” 


Number three on the list is Mackinac Island. “This vacation town on Lake Huron between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas feels frozen in time. You could easily confuse it for a seaside village in the English countryside. There are charming little boutiques, horse drawn carriages, fudge shops, and Victorian-style homes with sweeping porches. It's a rare and peaceful paradise untouched by honking horns and light pollution.” (


Even closer, an article revealed twelve details about the Great Lakes. “Their combined coastline extends for over 10,000 miles. Each year, they attract several million tourists from the U.S. and around the world.”


Lake Michigan lore is prominent. Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake that does not touch Canada. It's surrounded by 275,000 square acres of sand dunes. But cue the “Twilight Zone” music for something more.


“There's one part of Lake Michigan that is particularly treacherous for ships, so much so that it is often compared to the Bermuda Triangle. The Lake Michigan Triangle covers an area between Benton Harbor and Ludington in Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Tales abound of ships that mysteriously disappeared, never to reach their destinations. Divers have found underwater monuments the size of Stonehenge, complete with carvings of prehistoric creatures.” (


The shortage of affordable housing has been all over the news. In that regard, the numbers 20x20x8.3 feet and $12,000 are intriguing. says Amazon is now selling a foldable tiny house. “It comes with two bedrooms, a built-in bathroom, and a kitchen, when fully assembled. It’s waterproof, flame-retardant, and grade eight earthquake and grade ten wind-resistant.”


If the claims are accurate, this could be a pretty cool abode. “The cost of Officer Owl’s tiny home kit includes a professionally installed, fully wired electrical system, as well as a fully plumbed kitchen and bathroom. Once the house is assembled, all you need to do is connect the running water supply and the drain and sewer pipes, and voila! A comfortable, cozy tiny home that can be installed with minimal hassle.” (


Finally, speaking of really tiny homes, how about one where a family is living atop Michigan State's Spartan Stadium? MSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club has installed a peregrine falcon nest box on the roof of Spartan Stadium. “This project was designed to promote urban wildlife conservation of a state-endangered species while providing outreach opportunities to students and the public.” (


You can watch the action in real time at: When I checked earlier in the week I counted four eggs. A baby falcon is called an “eyas” and when they hatch they'll be covered in white down. 


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