“It's a mystery to me.” How many times have you heard that exclamation? You may have even made that utterance yourself a time or two. The simple reality is that there are conundrums all around us. Sometimes it can be fun to demystify the mysteries. 


The Human Mystery. We humans have a pretty lofty opinion of our status on planet earth. However, we're actually a mere speck in earth's history. “Though humans have been the planet’s dominant species for some 50,000 years, our reign is a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. Homo sapiens has been on Earth for only 0.0067 percent of its existence, an infinitesimally small amount of time.” (


The Food Mystery. Although humans have not been around long, we have invented many tasty treats. Do you know what food made its debut in the year you were born? Taste of Home lists these from 1940 to 2000: Cheerios (1941), Peeps (1954), chicken nuggets (1983), microwave popcorn (1986). See your year at:


The Illegal Popcorn Mystery. Speaking of popcorn, it was outlawed at one time. “Popcorn used to be banned in movie theaters. In the 1920s and ’30s, cinema owners decided to ban the snack — it was loud, messy. Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn because they had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.”


Eventually, theaters realized selling popcorn was a real money maker. “By 1945, more than half the popcorn consumed in the U.S. was sold in movie theaters.” (


The Davenport Mystery. If you're watching a movie at home are you relaxing on a couch or a sofa? There's a difference. “These are technically two different pieces of furniture. Couch comes to us from French, namely coucher — to lie down. In the most traditional sense, a sofa would be a wooden bench that comes complete with blankets and cushions and is intended for sitting. Purists tend to think of sofas as a bit more formal and couches as something you’d take a nap on and let your pets hang out on.” (


Even more confusing, there may be a davenport in your living room. “In North America, a davenport most often is referring to a large lounger sofa.” 


The Dog Dreams Mystery. If there's a dog sleeping on your couch/sofa/davenport, you might observe gyrations going on. Don't fret, though, it's just your dog experiencing a dream. “You’ve probably seen them twitching or kicking in their sleep. They exhibit brain wave patterns much like we do when we’re in our most dream-heavy phase of sleep.”


So what is Fido dreaming about? “What we've basically found is that dogs dream doggy things. So, pointers will point at dream birds, and Dobermans will chase dream burglars. This indicates that dogs probably just dream about their everyday actions.” (


The Remote Work Mystery. While your dog is napping, you may be on the same furniture getting some work done at home. This is a better option in some states than it is in others. “Many businesses have embraced work-from-home positions, but people who are allowed to work from home may not always have the best environment for doing so. The best work-from-home conditions include low costs, reasonable comfort, a high level of security and a lack of distractions. Exactly how easy it is to work remotely may depend on where you live. WalletHub compared the fifty states and the District of Columbia across twelve key metrics.” Internet costs figure into this. 


The best states for remote work are: New Jersey, Utah, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The five states at the bottom are: South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, Montana, and Alaska (last). Michigan ranked right in the middle at twenty-five, but finished higher in the work environment category at seventeen. (


The National Anthem Mystery. Today is Armed Forces Day. “Many events across the United States take place on Armed Forces Day to honor Americans in uniform who served their country in times of war and peace. Those who are honored on this day include people who serve the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May because of their unique training schedules.” (


Certain types of music are played at Armed Forces Day events. This almost always includes the American National Anthem. There are 316 words in the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but remembering those words are not the biggest issue for most people. It's singing those words on key that presents the real challenge. This can be a struggle for even the most talented vocalists.  


Ah, but the singing of a national anthem is no problem for the citizens of Spain. Their anthem has no words. “Written in 1761 'Marcha Real' is a rousing national anthem similar to many others, except for one thing — it has no lyrics.” During events  Spanish people and spectators usually just hum the melody.” Three other countries also have anthems with no lyrics: Kosovo, San Marino, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.”  (


By the way, according to, the country with the shortest anthem is Uganda with just eight eight bars of music. Greece, which has an anthem totaling 158 verses, is the longest.  


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