Offbeat

Offbeat

Vincent Duffy

I always enjoy the holiday related updates I get from friends and relatives at this time of year. Some send old fashioned Christmas cards, others send elaborate newsletters highlighting the successes (usually) of each family member from the previous year, and still others just send a quick email or Facebook post to say they’re thinking about me.

It’s also the time of year when I’m frequently accused by listeners of being a soldier in the war against Christmas.

(photo by Jason Roland) / fleetgod-snowice.blogspot.com

Michigan is getting its first significant snowfall of the year this evening. If you live in southwest Michigan, you may notice the snowplow in front of you is moving slower than you’re used to.  

When a snow plow is dumping salt on icy roads, state Transportation officials refer to it as "Bounce & Scatter".   

As the salt hits the road, faster truck speeds mean more salt tends to bounce and scatter, much of it landing off the road. 

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa says to reduce the scatter salt trucks in nine southwest counties will slow from 35 to 25 miles per hour this winter. The hope is slower speed will save money by using less salt.  

But Schirripa admits the slower speeds could put the trucks at greater risk of being rear-ended by inattentive motorists.   

“If we find out after a season, or a few weeks of it, the crash rate is simply too high, that safety is too much of a factor, the (pilot) program may in fact be dropped," says Schirripa.  

If the slower salt truck pilot program is successful, it may eventually expand to the rest of the state.

While the Detroit-based rock duo the White Stripes officially broke up early this year, they are still providing inspiration and encouragement to Michigan students, including some from Flint's Michigan School for the Deaf.

According to the Flint Journal, D-Pan (Deaf Professional Artists Network), an Oakland County-based nonprofit, is working to give deaf students the ability to enjoy music and one of the organization's recent projects was to create a music video set to the White Stripes “We’re Going to be Friends” featuring students signing the song's lyrics.

As the Journal reports, the White Stripes were not directly involved with the project, but some D-Pan supporters were personally acquainted with the band, who not only gave D-Pan their blessing  to use the song, but also gave the project a shout out on their website.

Check out the video below:

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Every year the Michigan Humanities Council invites Michiganders to participate in a statewide initiative, the Great Michigan Read. This year’s selection, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, explores a crucial moment in the northern Civil Rights movement—the events leading to the trial of African American physician Ossian Sweet and his family.

On September 9th, 1925 Dr. Sweet and his wife Gladys moved into their new home, crossing the color line into an all-white neighborhood on the east side of Detroit.

Two days later, a crowd of whites gathered in the street to drive the family away. Dr. Sweet and 10 others chose to stay, armed and barricaded inside the house, to defend against the mob. Tensions reached their limit and someone fired into the crowd. Two whites were shot and killed, and the 11 people inside the Sweet home were charged with first degree murder.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice.

The Michigan State Park System won the gold medal award this year for the top state park system in the nation. People use the parks for swimming and boating during the summer, and hunting and downhill skiing during the winter, among a host of other activities.  We wanted to find out more about how the parks system affects our lives.  So, as part of our series, "What's Working," we called Ron Olson, the Chief of Parks and Recreation.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

In honor of Thanksgiving... we're revisiting a Michigan farmer who raises heritage turkeys.

Those are turkeys that have a little bit of a wilder history. Some farmers are trying to keep these older turkey breeds from going extinct.

John Harnois has a yard full of turkeys. He says he knows his turkeys so well, he can speak their language.

"The turkeys pip, they bark, they gobble."

These turkeys are mostly males. They're trying to look all big and macho as they strut around in front of the hens. These birds are the Narragansett breed.

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s responsible for his family’s Thanksgiving feast this year. But he says working in the kitchen is a lower priority than another holiday tradition – the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game.

“I’m cooking. I’m doing two turkeys. Actually, we’re cooking them on Friday, though, because I’m hoping – the family’s all going to the Lions game. So, go Lions – We’ve got a great chance to beat those Packers,” said Snyder.

That could cost the governor some support in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where many sports fans have regional loyalty to Green Bay.

The governor has predicted the Lions will be in a Super Bowl before he leaves office.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Sometimes we collect some great sound for our stories.

Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams caught this sound of Narragansett turkeys gobbling and barking for her microphone.

Their timing is perfect.

As the farmer described them for Rebecca, they speak up at his disconcerting words. Have a listen:

("They're old time turkeys, much closer to wild. They don't have the broad breasts, so proportionally for eating..." *turkeys gobble in unison here* "...they have more dark meat to white meat.")

So, for your Thanksgiving enjoyment, here's a Narragansett turkey ringtone pulled from this Thanksgiving feature story:

To make the ringtone work, right click and download the MP3 file above.

Once you have it, you can send it to your phone. From WikiHow:

Send the file to your phone. Here are three ways:

1. Email the MP3 file to your phone as an attachment. In just a minute or so, your phone should receive your file. Your phone’s email address is your 10-digit number at your carrier’s email URL.

Example: 5555555555@company.net

AT & T: @mms.att.net

Sprint: @messaging.sprintpcs.com

T-Mobile: @tmomail.net

Verizon: @vzwpix.com or @vtext.com

Send a picture message or text message to your email account if your carrier is not listed. This will give you an address to reply to your phone.

2. Use Bluetooth technology to directly send files from your computer (at a short distance). This only works if you have a phone that is BlueTooth enabled and has the OBEX File Transfer Profile and it is also dependent on what kind of computer system you have.

3. Transfer the file by an USB cable (if applicable to your phone model).

Open the email on your phone, save the sound clip under message options, set it as a ringtone, and enjoy!

Gene Firn is the founder of Paint for Kids, an Ann Arbor-based organization that mobilizes parents and community volunteers to paint schools.

Firn, who teaches a DIY painting class, was looking for practice walls for his students when he learned that the Ann Arbor school system doesn't have a painting department. He thought he could help, so he submitted a proposal.

The concept is simple: an experienced painter supervises parent volunteers as they transform hallways and classrooms over holiday weekends.

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Firn, who said that Paint for Kids fulfills the needs of local schools, but also attempts to create a culture of volunteering.

plastanka / Flickr

Upward mobility: the idea that, if you work hard enough, you can climb the class ladder. It's part of the American Dream, right? That you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, that you can make a better life for yourself, that your children and grandchildren will have a better life than you do.

But, the fact is, upward mobility in the U.S. is just not that easy. And, it doesn't happen nearly as much as many American believe.

As part of our The Culture of Class series, we spoke to Economics Professor Steven Haider, of Michigan State University, about why the myth of upward mobility exists and why Americans, in particular, are so apt to believe in it.

Inform our coverage: Do you believe in upward mobility?

All this week, we're looking at how social class plays out in our everyday lives. Most folks agree that you can't talk about class purely in terms of income bracket - to do so would be one-dimensional. So, for our series, The Culture of Class, we asked a number of Michigan residents for their take on the word "class" and how it applies to them.

You can take a listen here.

A four-mile section of I-94 in Detroit is among the most congested highways in the nation. That’s according to a new report from Texas A & M University.   

Bill Eisele is a research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute. He says the organization identified 328 choke points in the nation’s urban roadway system. Eisele says the stretch of I-94 in Detroit is a good example of where heavy commuting use often collides with special events downtown.   

“So if Justin Verlander’s on the mound…we’re probably picking that up…that extra traffic downtown…we’re picking up any construction…work zones…all of those things…that occur throughout the year," says Eisele.  

Eisele says encouraging downtown workers to telecommute or shift their schedules is one way to reduce traffic congestion along I-94 in Detroit.  

Michigan had only one roadway on the list.

89 of the 328 congested roadways are in California.

Many service members face hardships when they return from active duty.  A program at the University of Michigan puts new vets in touch with other veterans to help guide them through the process of returning to everyday life back at home. Brandon Brogan is the program manager of the Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran program. As part of our What's Working series, Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Brogan.

wikimedia commons

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported on the find by an attorney from Howell, Jules Fiani.

They report that Fiani found $1,160 in a white envelope outside of a Dairy Queen last May. He turned the found money into police, but when no one claimed it, the police returned it to him.

From the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus:

Although Fiani could keep the money, he said, "It's all going to charitable organizations."

"It's found money and it's the right thing to do," Fiani said. "I wish I had more to give away."

The first $250 is earmarked for the Sheriff's Department's Shop With a Cop program, which pairs underprivileged children in the community with a police officer to shop for Christmas gifts.

"It's been really exciting dropping money off," Fiani said Thursday, noting that so far he's made donations to Make-A-Wish and Gleaners Community Food Bank.

Nearly 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Half-a-million people will die of cancer this year. But millions of others are affected by cancer in some way. 

Wives, husbands, children, and friends of cancer patients can also face a crisis when a loved one is diagnosed and treated for cancer. As part of our weekly What's Working series, we spoke with Barb Hiltz, executive director of the Cancer Support Community of greater Ann Arbor. The organization works to help the family and friends of cancer patients.

"1-1-1-1" was not a lucky number for many would-be Michigan lottery players today.  

So many people decided to play today’s date, "11/11,"  in today’s Daily Four game, that Michigan Lottery officials were forced to stop letting people purchase tickets with that combination.    

The Daily Four lottery has a maximum daily payout of $40 million.  At a certain point today,  lottery computers showed if the combination won that the maximum payout would be reached. 

So the system automatically blocked any more tickets from being bought with that combination.  

Australian Broadcasting Company / Flickr

I received an email last week from a listener angry enough to write the most common threat I hear from Michigan Radio listeners, “I will never donate to your station again!”

We hadn’t libeled or defamed this man. We didn’t misquote him or make an error in a story he thought was important. He wasn’t even accusing us of left-or-right wing bias.

Update 3:12PM

Today's Detroit bus shutdown has come to resolution.

From the Associated Press:

Officials say drivers have ended a work stoppage and public buses resumed running following an announcement that Detroit police officers will randomly stop and board city buses in some high-problem areas.

Mayor Dave Bing released the plan at a press conference Friday.

Steve Burt / Flickr

Colder weather means squirrels are looking for indoor homes and places to cache their food. Some are more aggressive in establishing their indoor domiciles than others.

From the Associated Press:

Officials at Consumers Energy are blaming a squirrel for knocking out electrical service to about 10,000 customers yesterday in the Grand Rapids area. The critter managed to get into a piece of equipment at a substation, briefly knocking out power.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor residents were warned about a potential danger lurking around the city today.

These are likely the smaller, softer, and less dangerous versions of true velociraptors.

Be alert today!

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