Offbeat

Offbeat

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
USACOE

We've been hearing from the experts that, thanks to the great winter and our friend the polar vortex, this is going to be quite a year for allergy sufferers.

Perhaps it might be time to revive The Ca-Choo Club.

The Ca-Choo Club was a very unique way to attract visitors to Sault Ste. Marie.

Beginning in 1928, it welcomed allergy sufferers who turned up to breathe that clean, cool, pollen-free air that swept in off Lake Superior.

Writer Deidre Stevens dug into the history of this quirky Ca-Choo Club for Michigan History magazine, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

ANN ARBOR – Thousands of people are expected to attend an annual pro-marijuana rally that's been held on the University of Michigan campus for more than 40 years.

The 43rd Hash Bash is to be held Saturday in Ann Arbor.

This year marks the return of longtime organizer Adam Brook, who was released from prison in October after serving a two-year sentence for a weapons violation. He told The Ann Arbor News for a story this week that the experience only served to reinvigorate him as a pot activist.

mainfr4me / Flickr

How do you guide your city or town into the future, without losing those elements from the past that make it special, livable, with a true sense of place?

That's a challenge many towns in Michigan face. Many small towns have lost their unique look, buried by a profusion of generic shopping strips, lots of gas stations, drug stores and fast food restaurants. And then there are the wide freeways and highways that carve a city up.

The city of Marquette is an example of how a city can redefine itself, yet make itself something special, livable and walkable. And what they're doing in Marquette can be a model for towns and cities all over Michigan. 

We are joined today by Dennis Stachewicz, the director of planning and community development for Marquette. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Mark Sebastian / Flickr

The American office used to be rows of desks in a huge room with zero privacy.

All that changed when a Michigan-based company unintentionally invented the cubicle.

What led to the redesign of American offices?

We talk to Mark Schurman , of Herman Miller, to talk about how Michigan shaped the way offices across America look today.

Listen to full interview above.

Flickr user herzogbr / Flickr

Welcome, dear "Yooper." And we’re not talking specifically to those of you who live in the Upper Peninsula. We’re talking about the actual word "Yooper." It’s official, according to the 2014 edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Anne Curzan is an English professor at the University of Michigan, and she joins us every Sunday on Michigan Radio for "That's What They Say."  Anne joined us today to discuss the specifics of this new official word. 

Listen to the full interview above.

http://failure-lab.com/

Failure:Lab is an event that's been happening in Michigan and is spreading outside the state.

It's a program designed to get us thinking about the meaning of failure, to realize that failure happens to everyone and perhaps to inspire us to take intelligent risks.

You can see our past Failure:Lab posts here. And on April 1, you can hear Michigan State University Athletic Director Mark Hollis and other Failure:Lab speakers talk about their experiences at MSU's Wharton Center. More on that here

Today we heard from Andwele Gardner.

Andwele Gardner, better known by his stage name Dwele, is a singer-songwriter and record producer from Detroit. He's released six albums including his last Greater Than One. He was featured on multiple Kanye West tracks and brought his vintage soul to the stage once again – to share a story behind the songs.

This is the story that Dwele shared at Failure:Lab Detroit on November 21, 2013 at the Detroit Opera House.

Update 11:48 a.m.

This is the week that "the-people-seeking-attention" are really cashing in on their bet.

They're betting that you won't pick a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket, but you will give them all kinds of personal information to take a shot at it. 

As Carl Bialik from the lauded Five-Thirty-Eight blog puts it:

No sum of money can beat the math.

(See how statisticians calculate the odds in the original post below.)

ESPN.com's Rick Reilly figures the company sponsoring the contest stands to make a lot of money by gaining "as many as 15 million new sales leads with the registration process alone on this thing."

"You can't buy that kind of PR," [the guy] says. "We love this."

Reilly sat down with the rich guy backing the bet, who isn't too worried about someone picking a perfect bracket. He knows the odds, and he's known how to play them to his advantage all his life:

[The guy] loves making bets that tilt toward his wallet. When his three kids were growing up, he paid them their allowance in dimes. That's because he had a 10-cent slot machine in the house. "By the end of the night," he says, "I'd have most of my money back."

Original post, January 21, 2014

You're more likely to get struck by lightning, but what the heck.

The odds of you picking a perfect NCAA bracket vary.

Some say it's 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

In his video, Jeff Bergen of DePaul University says there's a 1 in 128 billion chance of picking a perfect bracket. He says the odds are a smidge better given that you would  follow the rankings.

The organizers of the contest say the odds are better – 1 in 4.3 billion. (There's no indication of how those odds were calculated.)

If you pick a perfect bracket, they'll give you a billion dollars. More specifically, they'll give you $25 million a year for 40 years, or a one-time payment of $500 million.

So there isn't much in it for you, but there's a lot of free publicity for them. You'll see them in your Facebook feed, or on the Google.

Lyon thinks this years clue leads to one of four light poles at this intersection.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

I got some bittersweet news this morning.

Bitter because after more than 30 years running, the last “Wyoming Riddler” treasure hunt is over. Sweet because one of the veteran hunters I followed to tell the story last month turned out to be the winner.

I watched Robert Lyons do the heavy lifting one day, shoveling about five feet of snow packed around a utility pole in single-digit temps.

We found nothing.

Wikipedia

We know that scent unlocks a wide range of emotions and memories. A whiff of Chanel No. 5 can take you right back to when you were a little kid, watching your mom get dressed up to go out.

Or smelling Paco Rabanne might remind you of your first boyfriend.

Advertisers of perfume and other personal-care products have been tapping into this for a long time; think of the scratch-and-sniff-spots on perfume ads in magazines.

A University of Michigan marketing professor decided to see if the same holds true for food.

Aradhna Krishna is an expert in sensory marketing, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Central Michigan University

A college class that involves poring over ancient biblical texts might not inspire much excitement.

But a college class that teaches some of the same lessons using zombies? Ah, that's going to grab 'em!

That's the idea behind a religion class at Central Michigan University that has, indeed, grabbed a lot of attention. It's called "From Revelation to 'The Walking Dead,'" and it’s taught by religion professor Kelly Jean Murphy.

CMU student Carl Huber is a junior who is double-majoring in Comparative Religion and Sociology, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Jaltembabaylife.com

WASHINGTON (AP) - Spring is closer than you think, and here's a sure sign: Daylight saving time arrives this weekend.

Most Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night. Daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time.

You may lose an hour of sleep, but daylight saving time promises an extra hour of evening light for many months ahead.

It's also a good time to put new batteries in warning devices such as smoke detectors and hazard warning radios.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan Lottery ticket worth more than $138,000 has gone unclaimed for a year and been deposited into the state's fund for K-12 schools.

The lottery said Friday that the winning Fantasy 5 jackpot from the March 9, 2013 drawing was bought at the Smokers Depot & Convenience store in the Detroit suburb of Southfield.

Terminal-based tickets are valid one year from the draw date.

Another Fantasy 5 top prize of $100,000 is set to expire Tuesday. It was purchased at Gould's Mini Mart in Sand Lake, and the drawing was held March 11, 2013.

Jodi Benchich (right), owner of the lost dog rescued by the Coast Guard on Monday, and Michelle Heyza, founder of A Rejoyceful Rescue, are all smiles during their time with KC at Wilson Veterinary Hospital, March 5, 2014. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutte
Kim Gordus / U.S. Coast Guard

Update: 11:08 a.m., March 7, 2014

The 14-year-old pup we wrote about earlier in the week was reunited with its owner (woman on the right):

From the Coast Guard's press release:

Jodi Benchich of St. Clair Shores, Mich., visited with her 14-year-old pet “KC” at the Wilson Veterinary Hospital before taking him back home. The dog sustained frostbite on his paws and also lost a significant amount of weight during the time he was lost.

"KC is happy to be back home and is eating everything we give him," said a very happy Benchich. "We're forever grateful to the Coast Guard and hope to be able to thank the crew in person sometime soon."

user: @dottidee / Instagram

A few weeks ago, we asked you to show us what your winter looks like on Instagram using the hashtag #PSWinterWhere.

We coordinated with KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) and NPR  and sent out a call to public radio listeners around the world and asked them what their world looks like this winter.

Here are 10 of our Midwestern favorites.

Mandy Warhol / Flickr

All right, you fans of West Michigan's Whitecaps, it's your chance to decide what treat will be added to the concession menu at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The annual online poll lets fans choose their favorite item from ideas submitted by fans. The team has pulled a top-10 list from hundreds of ideas.

Mickey Graham is with the West Michigan Whitecaps, and he joined us today to discuss some of the top choices. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Every winter, hundreds of people living around Grand Rapids go on a treasure hunt of sorts. They’ve been doing it for decades.

Robert Lyons has been hooked on the treasure hunt for 25 years. Over the years, he’s taken his kids and even his grandkids.

Lyons found the treasure once. He’s still got the newspaper clipping.

“I think it says right on here, I got a 1997 champion cup, which of course is about as proud as you can get of anything,” Lyons said. His treasure also included 34 silver dollars and a complete set of silver tableware.

Michigan Technological University / Michigan Technological University Photo Services

In response to what they call palpable hostitlity toward women, a group of students at Michigan Technological University has been publishing a newspaper called Beyond the Glass Ceiling. 

We wondered what this says about the campus culture and attitudes toward women at the campus in Houghton in the Upper Peninsula, and what those who write in Beyond the Glass Ceiling are trying to say to fellow students, faculty, and school administrators.

Katie Snyder, a PhD candidate in rhetoric and technical communication at Michigan Tech, joins us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Flickr user Synergy by Jasmine / Flickr

Picture this: thousands of people rolling out their yoga mats and getting into downward-facing dog, all in unison.

That's the vision behind the upcoming "Yoga Rocks Ford Field." It's happening this Saturday at the home of the Detroit Lions with the hope of getting 3,000 people to form the world's largest indoor yoga session.

Justin Jacobs is the president and founder of ComePlayDetroit, which is organizing Saturday's session, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan Humane Society staff to sleep in doghouses

Feb 16, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - Some Michigan Humane Society staffers will be spending the night in doghouses as part of an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving pets outside in freezing temperatures.

If you haven't seen it yet, the Google Doodle is all about love today. This American Life's Ira Glass narrates a candy heart collection of bite-size love stories.

Middle school love. Married love. Love and loss.

The stories are short and sweet and might make you have a little Story Corps moment right at your desk.

And if you haven't gotten a Valentine's card yet, there's always the NPR valentine option:

Jennifer Waters / Creative Commons

This is worth taking a look at as Facebook marks its 10th birthday. Social media is being used by the Michigan Humane Society to find homes for its orphaned animals.

Kelly Stork is the social media specialist for the Michigan Humane Society, and she joined us today to tell us more about it.

Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr user keithcarver / Flickr

Think about World War II and the ways Michigan helped the war effort: The Arsenal of Democracy, Rosie the Riveter, heavy bombers rolling off the assembly line at Willow Run.

And milkweed.

Yes, the common weed found in the northwest Lower Peninsula went to war.

Gerry Wykes is a historian and freelance author/illustrator who recently wrote about milkweed for Mlive and Michigan History Magazine. He joined us today to explain how this weed helped in the war effort.

Listen to the full interview above.

user andrewmalone / Flickr

Some might argue there's nothing more American than baseball. 

Well, did you know those Ball Park Franks that go with it are Michigan-made?

Back in 1958, the owners of Tiger Stadium were not happy with the hot dogs served at the games. So they asked Detroit-based company, Hygrade Food Corp., to come up with a better version. 

Gus Hauf, a Hygrade employee, had already developed his secret recipe for the hot dog that decade. His co-worker, Mary Ann Kirk, came up with the "Ball Park" name, cementing the relationship between baseball and hot dogs. For her out-of-the-park idea, Mary Ann earned $25 and a leather chair

"Michigan had kind of the best frankfurters in the country," said Joel Stone, the curator of the Detroit Historical Museum. "And the Ball Park was a perfect example of that."

Listen to the full interview above.

user: RTD Photography

The question of stray animals in the City of Detroit has been in the spotlight ever since Bloomberg News published a story painting Detroit as some place where "abandoned dogs roam in packs as humans dwindle." The article estimated the number of stray dogs at 50,000, a number that has turned out to be grossly inaccurate. 

Michigan State University political science professor Laura Reese has completed the first academic study of the problem, which hopes to shed light on the reality of the situation.

Listen to the full interview above. 

User / Flickr

The Livingston County chapter of the Salvation Army is out of food.

Brighton Ford is organizing an emergency food drive called "Fill-A-Ford Full of Food" Saturday with the goal of restocking the food pantry of the Salvation Army. It will run from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Brighton VG's Fresh Market.

In recent weeks the food pantry was pulling money from a summer children's fund to purchase food from Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan, according to Karen Swieczkowski, community relations director at Brighton Ford. Brighton Ford is spearheading tomorrow's food drive.

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The Winter 2014 Olympics began today in Sochi, Russia. America's athletes will once again be sporting designs by Ralph Lauren.

 

What you might not know is that the sweaters and caps they'll be wearing for the closing ceremonies will be made from yarn produced in Michigan.

Debbie McDermott is a shepherd, a spinner and a fiber artist. She owns Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Using the power of social media to do good – in this case, ordering a dessert or an appetizer and, in doing so, helping to feed a hungry child.

Our next guest has accomplished that with a mobile and Web app called FoodCircles currently up and running in Grand Rapids.

Jonathan Kumar is the managing director of FoodCircles and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Andrew Jameson / wikipedia.org

A few centuries ago it was not uncommon to hear Detroit referred to as "The Paris of the Midwest."

Just look at the history of Detroit and you can see that there are good reasons to link Detroit and France. The city’s early settlers were, by and large, French and French Canadian. But unlike, say, Quebec, Montreal, or New Orleans, there is no special "French feel" to Detroit beyond some French street names.

We wondered why Detroit's modern identity is so lacking in that French influence. For some insights, we turned to Guillaume Teasdale, a history instructor at the University of Windsor.

Listen to the full interview above.

Screen capture from YouTube

The Sochi Winter Olympics are just days away.

One of the most popular competitions is undoubtedly snowboarding, which joined the pantheon of Olympic winter sports in 1998. 

But there might have been no Shaun White, the "Flying Tomato," grabbing Olympic gold for the U.S. without a man from Muskegon looking to give his little girls a reason to play outside in the snow.

The snowboard is another "Made In Michigan" story.

"I took these two small skis and put them side by side and put a brace across them to hold them together, and something to put your foot against," said Sherm Poppen.

Poppen was the dad who got creative in his Muskegon garage some 48 years ago. "We literally started sliding down a hill standing up."

His wife named the new toy "snurfer" by combining the words "snow" and "surf."

Fourteen years later, Jake Burton Carpenter came to a contest in Michigan and saw the snurfers. He then went back to Vermont to make his own "snurfboards." 

"I wrote him saying the word 'snurf' and any derivative thereof belongs to Sherman Poppen and if you want to keep making these things you're going to have to pay him a royalty," Poppen said.

"That was probably one of the dumbest things I ever did, because he stopped making 'snurfboards' and started making 'snowboards.'"

Here's a longer interview with Poppen:

We want to hear from you. What surprising things do you know of that were invented or made in Michigan? We want to feature them as part of our "Made in Michigan" series.

Peggy Allen / Tawas Point State Park

Live the life of a Victorian-era light keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse.

That's the lure in an announcement this week that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for 2014.

Volunteers stay in renovated living quarters in the lighthouse. The accommodations  include two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. In return, volunteers pay $250 per week and lead tours of the lighthouse or perform maintenance work.

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