Offbeat

Seeking Change
11:21 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Improving Detroit, $5 at a time

Ifmuth Flickr

On Mondays Christina Shockley speaks with someone who is trying to change their community for the better. This morning, as part of our Seeking Change series, Shockley spoke to Amy Kaherl. Kanerl is with Detroit SOUP, a group that gathers money to support small projects that benefit the city of Detroit.

Offbeat
4:05 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Windsor man, accused of jewel theft, blocks police investigation

user jurvetson flickr

When you think of a jewel heist, you probably imagine a cat-like thief dressed in all black slinking around a bank vault or dark mansion with a set of lock picks. On the trail is a clever police detective who needs quick wits to make the bust.

But a recent caper in Windsor is proving to be a bit more irregular.

According to CBC News, Windsor police have a man in custody after he allegedly not only stole a diamond from a jewelry store, but swallowed it in a effort to dispose of the evidence. Now they're playing the waiting game.

A clerk at the jewelry store became suspicious when the man fumbled the $20,000 stone, the CBC reports, and the jeweler determined that it had been switched with a fake. They managed to stall the suspect until police arrived.

More from the CBC:

Sgt. Brett Corey said the man is being kept in a special cell, without a toilet.

"We are monitoring his bowel movements, if you will. Our forensic identification people are the lucky ones who have to go through the waste to obtain the diamond once it passes," Corey said.

But things aren't coming out exactly as planned.

The suspected thief was arrested last Thursday, but as of this morning, he was still holding back the evidence police need to clinch their case.

Here's the report from the CBC:

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Seeking Change
7:32 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Trying to end bullying, one text at a time

Tray Flickr

Last week in our Seeking Change series we heard about the kindness journal, an effort to get kids to write about being kind. One of the effects was fewer incidents of bullying among the kids who took part.Today we’re going to talk about cyber bullying. Paul McMullen is a father and he’s come up with a smartphone app, called Parenting Pride, to help combat cyber bullying among kids. It records text messages, but also aims to respect a teen’s desire for privacy. Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with McMullen about how he hopes to decrease bullying.

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

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Seeking Change
10:18 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Michigan children open up in kindness journals

Every Monday Christina Shockley talks with someone who’s trying to make change in their community, and find out why they’re doing it.

In January, each elementary school student in Muskegon County received a journal. In that journal, they wrote about their daily acts of kindness. Bill Page came up with the idea.  He’s a children’s book author and former superintendent. Page spoke with Christina Shockley as part of our, "Seeking Change" series.

Offbeat
4:19 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Michigan teen from Ishpeming makes prom dress out of Starburst wrappers

Ishpeming teen Diane McNease's Starburst prom dress.
WLUC-TV YouTube

I remember making little chains out of Starburst wrappers when I was a kid, but building an entire garment with them?

That's what Diane McNease of Ishpeming High School has done.

WLUC-TV produced a short piece on McNease and her dress. Here it is (I like the host's reaction to the lead of the story):

McNease definitely has some artistic flair. She said she strung wrappers in the dress below the corset to "give the illusion that the dress is, kind of like, falling apart."

She said friends donated around 18,000 wrappers for the corset, matching hair bands, and purse. It took her around 5 months to make.

More evidence that young kids today are far from slackers. We stopped after stringing 10 Starburst wrappers together.

Offbeat
9:09 am
Fri May 4, 2012

"Stemfest 2012" t-shirts hot selling item for Holland's Tulip Time

There are some tulip blooms left at Window on the Waterfront Park in Holland.
Andrea Smith

Organizers of Holland’s Tulip Time festival are having a little fun with the fact the usual draw - million of blooming tulips - will be missing this year.

In Holland, you hear some worries about it almost every year. But this year it was especially bad.

“The weather’s been so warm. When tulips were blooming on St. Patrick’s Day we all looked at each other and said 'we’ll have nothing by the festival.”

Luckily there are some tulip blooms left; about 30-percent Auwerda estimates.

 “The locals have always called it a stemfest when there’s not a lot of tulips. And so we thought, let’s just do a little tongue in check and have a little fun with it.”

They made official “Stemfest 2012” t-shirts and buttons. Demand was so high for the original 300 stemfest t-shirts, they had to stop taking online orders shortly after they hit the shelves Thursday. 

Auwerda says they’ve reordered the shirts. They're expected to restock Tuesday, but she can't promise they'll have enough to sell online. (I read other businesses are selling unofficial versions.) 

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Offbeat
12:49 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

When journalism ethics involve the whole family...

Scorpians and Centaurs Flickr

Being married to someone in the news business isn’t easy. Our spouses deal with our long hours and travel, our preoccupation with news when we’re at home, unexpected interruptions on holidays and weekends, and our refusal to accept those free family tickets offered by the nearby theme park.

Lots of families have to deal with long hours and work that follows you home, but that theme park ticket example separates journalists from many other professions. We have an ethics code to follow.

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Offbeat
5:12 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Bee Sting's identity revealed, shunned by peer, others raising cash

Bee Sting talking to Lansing 6 News.
YouTube

Last week, the identity of "real-life superhero Bee Sting" was revealed at an arraignment.

Now we know that "Bee Sting" is actually Adam Besso of Sterling Heights. 

Besso was arrested after pulling a shotgun on a motorcyclist in a trailer park in Burton, Michigan.

Besso approached the man saying the man's motorcycle was too loud. A struggle ensued and Besso's shotgun discharged. Thankfully, no one was injured.

MLive spoke with Tom Carter, the man who was approached by Besso. Carter told MLive he was surprised when the masked man confronted him in the trailer park:

"I couldn't hear him, so I started to approach him and that's when the gun came out," said Carter, 38, about the incident with Bee Sting.
"As soon as I saw the gun I was thinking I didn't want my kids to get shot."

The use of a gun has not only offended law enforcement, it offended another real-life superhero.

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Offbeat
2:13 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Queen to enjoy "Great Lakes sea lamprey pie" at Diamond Jubilee

Old BBC newsreel of a Gloucester lamprey pie. The crust is not to be eaten.
BBC

According to the BBC, a sea-lamprey pie made for the monarchs in England by chefs in the city of Gloucester was a Christmas tradition that dated back to the Middle Ages.

The custom stalled in the 19th century, but has been revived of late for special occasions.

This year, Gloucester chefs plan to cook up a lamprey pie for Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in June - marking 60 years of her reign.

And this time around, the lampreys in the pie will come from the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Free Press reports the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Marc Gaden will gladly make an official delivery of the lampreys while vacationing in England this May.

Here, the lampreys are an invasive species that continue to threaten the sport fishing industry. But that's not the case in England:

Although lamprey used to be abundant in the Severn River near Gloucester, the creatures are now endangered and protected.

"It would be like us making a pie out of piping plover," an endangered shorebird in Michigan, Gaden said.

Gaden already has shipped 2 pounds of slimy Lake Huron lamprey, frozen, to Gloucester, but he is vacationing in England and will put on a tie and officially present the fish to the mayor May 4.

The Free Press reports chefs will consult an old recipe for the occasion:

One traditional 15th-Century recipe calls for the creature to be cooked in a sauce of wine, vinegar, cinnamon and its own blood, then baked in a tall crust...

[Marc]Gaden said he doesn't plan to eat any.

The BBC and the Free Press both report that no one can predict whether the Queen will partake in a piece of lamprey pie, or simply quietly admire it.

The BBC has a video about the Gloucester tradition of lamprey pie baking.

For more on how the sea lamprey snuck into the Lakes, check out "The Earliest Invader," a piece David Sommerstein did for the Environment Report's Ten Threats to the Great Lakes series.

Offbeat
10:39 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Michigan superhero "Bee Sting" arrested, other Michigan superheroes named

BeeSting's identity will be revealed at an arraignment expected this afternoon.
screen grab michiganprotectors.weebly.com/members.html

Another Michigan superhero has drawn the attention of local police.

Just as Petoskey Batman is wrapping up his probation, Bee Sting turns up in Burton, Michigan with a little shotgun mishap.

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Offbeat
12:46 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Great Lakes inspired shoe, Nike's "Petoskey Stone" Dunk Low

A shoe design inspired by the Petoskey stone.
Nike

Nike worked with the Grand Rapids-based skateboarding shop Premier to create the shoe style.

The Petoskey stone inspired shoes will go on sale at Premier on April 28 with a price of $104.

Here's more, appropriately, from the Petoskey News:

To pay tribute to the store's Great Lakes roots, the leather of the blue and gray shoe is embossed with Petoskey stones and will feature a tote bag with a Petoskey stone print.

"We decided to do something a little more in-depth than the state colors or theme colors. We wanted to take different elements from the landscape and nature side of the state," said Premier co-owner Eric Blanding. "The Petoskey stone had a different print on it that we've always thought would look cool on a shoe."

Premier has worked on several other store-exclusive shoes in the past. Blanding said from design to the rack the entire shoe creation process can take up to a year and a half.

You can see more images of the shoe here at "Kicks on Fire."

Offbeat
3:30 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Underground pot mine in Michigan? Not as far out as it sounds

A PPS marijuana crop in Canada
Prarie Plant Systems

A Canadian company specializing in plant-based pharmaceuticals wants to turn an old copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula into a large-scale medical marijuana farm.

Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press reports that Prairie Plant Systems (PPS), along with their stateside subsidiary SubTerra, purchased the White Pine Mine in 2003 and began using it for other types of plant-based research. But the company hopes to start using the facility to produce pot and tap into Michigan's market of 131,000 medical marijuana users.

According to Egan, PPS already operates a marijuana growing facility in Canada and has a lucrative contract to supply medical pot to the Canadian government. But while Michigan voters have approved medical marijuana use, the project is still a long way from becoming a reality.

Egan writes:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder would all have to sign off, and in the case of the first two agencies, reverse direction on policy. Federal agencies consider marijuana illegal. DEA agents have not cracked down on small operations to supply licensed patients but almost certainly would view SubTerra as a major bust opportunity.

Legal hurdles aside, why use a mine to grow an underground pot crop?

Egan spoke to Brent Zettl, president and CEO of PPS:

Growing marijuana hundreds of feet underground - the same way the company started its Canadian operations in 2001 - provides security, constant temperature, controlled light and humidity, and protects the plants from bugs and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides, Zettl said. He said any medical marijuana sold in Michigan should be subject to the same regular and rigorous testing as is found in Canada.

However, according to Egan, PPS's regulated growing techniques have caused some Canadian users to complain about the quality and taste of the company's product.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Seeking Change
9:33 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Creating opportunities for local job training

Each Monday on Morning Edition, we speak with someone who is trying to have a positive impact in the lives of others. This morning we speak with Bryan Wilkinson. He's with Michigan Gifts, an organization that creates those gift baskets you often see from corporations. Michigan Gifts also provides job training and opportunities for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. It's part of The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, or C.I.L.

Offbeat
11:44 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Do we really need foam and lycra baby helmets?

The "Thudguard" helmet in action.
user chkpnt YouTube

These helmets are not for kids with medical conditions, but for your run-of-the-mill little snappers who take a dive every now and again.

Sue Toms on MLive asks whether these helmets are necessary on their "Question of the day."

I can’t help but feel sorry for parents of small children trying to figure out how much to protect and how much to let go in a world where their fears are fodder for profit-making marketing campaigns.

Do infants need 3.2 ounces of foam and Lycra, with little bunny ears, strapped on their heads as they crawl or walk in their living room? The doctors, paramedics and psychiatrists endorsing the product on the website say they do.

But watching a YouTube video of a toddler cruising along a coffee table wearing a Thudguard on his head is a little unnerving...

Here's the video... complete with a close call with a sandal.

Too much?

Offbeat
11:08 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan pair lose appeal in John Stamos extortion

John Stamos. A Michigan pair tried to blackmail the actor.
user hyku wikimedia commons

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a man and woman from Michigan's Upper Peninsula who were accused of trying to blackmail actor John Stamos.

A three-judge panel in Cincinnati rejected challenges to the indictment Monday as well as claims that Allison Coss and Scott Sippola should have received a break at sentencing for accepting responsibility.

They were sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after a jury convicted them of conspiracy and using email to threaten a person's reputation. Coss and Sippola threatened to sell old photos of Stamos with strippers and cocaine to the tabloids unless he paid $680,000. The FBI said the photos didn't exist.

Stamos met Coss in Florida in 2004 and had a friendship.

Seeking Change
9:55 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Seeking change in Haiti: One student at a time

Destroyed buildings in Jacmel, Haiti after an earthquake hit the region on Jan. 12, 2010
Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock USAF

Today in our Seeking Change series, we have a story of a high school teacher who made an impression on one of her students. Then, that student made an impression on her.

Chris Trainor is a teacher at Saline High School. Last year, a former student named Jeremy Searls told her about the group he co-founded, “Poured Out.”  The group was installing water filtration systems in homes, schools, and churches in Haiti.

Trainor told her family about the group and her twelve year old son urged her to go and help the group in Haiti.

Now, Trainor is trying to help the young Haitian translators who worked with her group in Haiti attend college in the United States.

Listen to the interview!

Read more
Offbeat
4:01 pm
Sun April 15, 2012

Tax Time

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The clock is ticking if you haven’t filed your state and federal income tax returns.   But there’s still time.

April 15th is usually the day taxpayers must file their income tax forms by.

But since April 15th fell on a Sunday this year, and because of a Washington D.C.  holiday (Emancipation Day) falls on April 16th, the Internal Revenue Service decided to make April 17th the deadline for this year.

Caleb Buhs is with the Michigan Treasury Department.     He says most of the returns filed this year have received refunds.

Read more
Offbeat
11:31 am
Fri April 13, 2012

UPDATE: Petoskey Batman suit goes for $152.50

Mark Williams as Batman. The infamous suit went to the highest bidder.
Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

Earlier this week we told you that Petoskey Batman (a.k.a. Mark Williams) was planning to auction off his... ahem, laundered caped crusader suit to help pay for his legal fees.

Last May, Williams was arrested after police spotted him hanging off the wall of a building in Petoskey. He was charged with trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons (a striking baton, a can of chemical irritant spray, and a pair of lead lined gloves).

Now he's got a little extra cash for his effort. After 8 bids, the suit sold for $152.50. Congrats to the winner!

The suit does not come with the sand-filled Sap gloves, but DOES come with a signed statement of authenticity, and a signed photograph of Williams standing next to the suit.

Offbeat
9:30 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Searching for Bigfoot in the Mitten State

An alleged Bigfoot in the famous Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967
wikimedia commons

In terms of hotspots for giant, bipedal ape-men, Michigan might not come to mind, especially compared to states in the Pacific Northwest. But the mitten state is not without its share of alleged Bigfoot sightings.

According to the Detroit News, some high-profile Bigfoot hunters are paying visit to Michigan with camera crew in tow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive cryptid.

From the News:

Producers from the Animal Planet TV program "Finding Bigfoot" have been filming in the Houghton Lake area this week, looking for signs of Sasquatch.

Phil Shaw, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, said there have been more than 130 Bigfoot sightings in almost every county in Michigan.

The episode including the Michigan investigation is set to air sometime this summer, the Detroit News reports.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
3:08 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

"Petoskey Batman" hanging it up, plans to auction off suit

Mark Williams as Batman. The infamous suit went to the highest bidder.
Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

It all started last year.

That's when police in Petoskey turned on their caped crusader - "Petoskey Batman."

From UPI:

A Michigan man nicknamed the "Petoskey Batman" after he was arrested while wearing a Batman costume on a rooftop was sentenced to six months of probation.

Mark Wayne Williams, 32, of Harbor Springs, was arrested May 11 after being spotted on a Petoskey rooftop while wearing a Batman costume and carrying weapons including a baton-like striking weapon, a can of chemical irritant spray and a pair of sand-filled Sap gloves.

This raises two questions. What in the world are "sand-filled Sap gloves"? And what was the plan for them?

Last October, a judge sentenced Williams to six months of probation. He was banned from donning his bat-suit for the duration of his probation.

Now we hear news that "Petoskey Batman" plans to hang up the suit permanently.

He's auctioning it off on E-Bay, with a starting bid set at $100. From the listing:

Well folks here's the deal my bud got himself in trouble last year hanging off a building(i'm sure you've all seen it on the news, we got a good chuckle here.) Seems "The Petoskey Batman" Needs some cash for his legal fees. So what were doing is Auctioning off the suit that was made famous round the world on the nightly news and most of the late night comics(gloves not included lol.) Will come with a signed statement and picture of him next to it, hell he'll even sign the picture for you.

p.s. It has been laundered lol
happy bidding folks
Shipping listed is for U.S. only Canada and International will be higher 

So far, there have been zero bids. But there are more than 2 days left. No word on yet on plans for, or the existence of, the Petoskey Batmobile. 

*Correction - a previous version used the phrase "begs the question" incorrectly. It's been corrected in the copy above.

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