Offbeat

Stateside
3:43 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

It's time to unplug during the holidays

The judge who caught the juror says it's a problem that is likely to get worse.
Alton Creative Commons

Here we are, one week away from Christmas, and two weeks away from the New Year.

The folks who work retail are busy, busy, busy, but many other workplaces are going to see a mayor "thinning of the ranks" as we take our holiday breaks.

But, how much of break will we really get? Yes, we may be sitting at home, or out of town at Grandma's. But, there is that Great Big Umbilical Cord that connects us with the office: technology!

The smart phones, email, iPads, laptops they all keep us tethered to work. What's that "constant connectivity" really doing to us?

We're joined by Sarita Schoenebeck, an assistant professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan.

Offbeat
1:10 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Mega Millions jackpot jumps, now worth $636 million

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Mega Millions estimated jackpot has soared to $636 million, making it the second largest jackpot in U.S. history.

The jackpot had been $586 million, but lottery officials increased it Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales ahead of the evening drawing.

The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot in March 2012.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million.

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Offbeat
8:19 am
Tue December 17, 2013

There are 586,000,000 reasons to play the lottery today

Do you feel lucky?
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan Lottery players have more than visions of sugar plums dancing through their heads this holiday season.

A potentially record breaking lottery jackpot is on the line tonight.   

The Mega Millions jackpot stands at $586 million. The all-time biggest lottery jackpot in the U.S. reached $656 million back in March of this year. Depending on final day sales, the Mega Millions jackpot could break the record tonight.

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Stateside
3:39 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

The surprising history of one of Michigan's small island communities

A ferry heading to Beaver Island.
user urban.houstonian Flickr

An interview about Beaver Island's unusual history.

We turn now to a little-known and absolutely fascinating slice of Michigan history: Beaver Island.

It's a fairly remote island, plunked right there in the middle of northern Lake Michigan. Take a ferry northwest from Charlevoix, and you're there.

Fewer than 500 people live on Beaver Island year-round. A lot of them are descendants from Irish fishermen who fled the famine and troubles in 19th-century Ireland, and wound up on Beaver Island.

That's part of the fascinating history of Beaver Island. Later, years after settlement, one Mormon on the island proclaimed himself "King" of Beaver Island!

But how did Irish emigrants find their way to this island in Lake Michigan? And who was the island’s self-proclaimed king?

Listen to the full interview above.

11:50 am
Thu December 12, 2013

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

Lead in text: 
Planet Money published a story about used clothing trends. One T-shirt found in Kenya was originally made for a Michigan bat mitzvah in 1993.
We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.
Offbeat
3:08 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Stunt skiiers drop in on the ruins of Detroit

Clip from Poor Boyz Productions YouTube

These skiiers stopped in from out of town to "Ski Detroit."

Yes, it's another in a string of "check out how bleak Detroit is" videos. But their tricks are definitely worth watching. There's some pretty creative stuff going on here. (Lyrics in some of the soundtrack are NSFW.)

(H/T Sarah H.) 

Offbeat
10:52 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Snow, ice create hazardous driving conditions in parts of Michigan

www.parkwhiz.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Snow and ice are creating hazardous driving conditions in Michigan.

MLive.com reports 10 slide-offs and minor crashes Monday morning across parts of western Michigan.

No serious injuries were immediately reported. Much of western Michigan is fresh off of seeing anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of snow on Sunday. Slippery roads also were reported in other parts of the state, including the Detroit and Kalamazoo areas.

The National Weather Service says the most snow is forecast in parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, where advisories urging caution were issued. By the time the snow wraps up Monday, a total of 3 to 8 inches is expected in Chippewa and Mackinac counties.

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Offbeat
12:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Former Detroit broadcaster was inspiration for 'Ron Burgundy'

The man who inspired a character.

You might remember Mort Crim from way back when. He was a senior editor and anchor for the evening news at Detroit's WDIV-TV from 1978 to 1997.

If you don't remember him from that era, you might know him as the Majic Window Guy.

Here are some clips featuring Crim while he anchored at WDIV:

It turns out, Crim was the inspiration for Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character.

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Offbeat
9:35 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Not everyone in Michigan is eating their Thanksgiving dinner at grandmother’s house

Pass the menu?
dierbergs.com

Many Michigan restaurant owners are saying thanks today.

Thanksgiving is a big day for many Michigan restaurants, which offer special menus to sold out seatings.

In Lansing, Clara’s is open on Thanksgiving for the first time.

Cindy Jubeck says her father, who founded the restaurant back in the 1970’s, never would have opened the restaurant on Thanksgiving.

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Offbeat
3:31 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Battle Creek homeless shelter giving thanks for the community's response

The Haven of Rest, Battle Creek, Michigan
www.thehavenbc.org

The people who run a homeless shelter in Battle Creek are giving thanks for the way the community has responded to their need this Thanksgiving.

The Haven of Rest shelter was among the hundreds of thousands of utility customers that lost power for several days earlier this month, after a severe windstorm blew through the state.

Without electricity, days-worth of meat and produce spoiled in the shelter’s refrigerators.

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2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

10,000 turkeys used to walk from Vermont to Boston

Lead in text: 
Forget the great cattle drives in the Old West. I want to know more about the "great turkey drives" in the Old East. (This is one more for the "Thanksgiving story files.")
  • Source: Vpr
  • | Via: NPR Local Stories Project
Today, the term farm-to-table signifies the epitome of local food. But nearly 200 years ago, it meant something entirely different when Thanksgiving
Offbeat
10:00 am
Wed November 27, 2013

It’s the biggest bar night of the year – wouldn’t you love to move back to Michigan?

At Founder's Brewing Company in Grand Rapids.
Matthew Kanable Creative Commons

Tonight is the biggest bar night of the year, with many people visiting family and friends back home in Michigan. It’s a crowd employers in West Michigan are trying to reach. So they’re getting creative with their tactics.

Cindy Brown is executive director of Hello West Michigan. It’s a group made up of more than 40 businesses is trying to lure professionals back to the state.

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Offbeat
2:20 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

Demolition plans on track for Flint's tallest building

Genesee Towers, Flint, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Construction crews have started to put up plywood to protect nearby buildings in anticipation of the mid-December demolition of Flint's tallest building.

Uptown Reinvestment bought downtown Flint's 19-story Genesee Towers from the city for $1.

MLive.com  says plywood protection is going up at the nearby C.S. Mott Building, and Flint officials say two nearby streets have been closed and fenced off in the past week and will stay closed into the spring.

WEYI-TV reports that the new owners plan to transform the site into Exploration Park.

Offbeat
12:35 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Holiday lights brighten up Detroit's Michigan Central Depot

Snowflake lights brighten up the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit.
Michigan Central Station Preservation Society Facebook

Detroit’s Michigan Central Depot is looking a little more cheery today.

For the second year in a row, the former train station which now serves as the quintessential symbol of Detroit's urban decay, is decking the halls with holiday lights. According to The Detroit News, Matty Moroun, who bought the building in 1996, came up with the idea of sprucing up the 18-story abandoned station with the help of his family.

“Since we’ve put electricity back in, we decided to light it up, and it looks really nice,” President of the Detroit International Bridge Co. Dan Stamper said. “We’ve gotten a lot of nice comments and we just hope everyone has a happy holiday.”

Electric lighting has returned to the building as part of an effort to (slowly) give the station a facelift. Back in 2011, the International Bridge Co. began to replace windows and stairwells in MCD. 

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
12:00 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

VIDEO: Real-life Polar Express back on the tracks in Michigan

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolls into view in Owosso
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The steam engine that inspired the children's book The Polar Express and provided sounds for the movie version is back in service after a four-year refurbishment project.

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolled out of the garage Wednesday in Owosso, ringing its bell and spewing steam for train enthusiasts and volunteers gathered to watch the engine take its maiden voyage following the overhaul.

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Offbeat
12:12 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Are diverse, friendly neighborhoods possible? MSU research suggests the answer is "No"

Credit wikipedia

New research from Michigan State University suggests the less diverse a  neighborhood is, the more likely it will be neighborly.

Researchers looked at the relationship between neighborhood segregation, and the strength of social networks in a community.

They found that the more segregated a community, the more likely it is to be tight-knit.

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Offbeat
7:27 pm
Sun November 10, 2013

Video: homeless Michigan veteran gets a makeover

This video chronicling the makeover of a Michigan homeless veteran has been viewed millions of times online.

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Offbeat
11:06 am
Fri November 1, 2013

This twenty pound carp could be your new Ann Arbor city council representative

The face of your future city council representative? Only time will tell.
Credit Natural Area Preservation staff

You read that right.

A twenty pound carp that was pulled out of a pond in Ann Arbor's West park last November is making a run for city council.

The carp was initially removed from the pond because it was destroying the ecosystem.

Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation workers relocated it to the Huron River, where it is now running a write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council.

The carp has not yet responded to our interview requests, but it has engaged with other media outlets and even some current Ann Arbor City Council members on Twitter. (I suspect the carp has hired a social media director -- tweeting with fins seems difficult.)

The carp says the campaign is going well, and even has yard signs posted around town.

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Offbeat
10:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

You're never going to have a costume scarier than these

Halloween decorations are awesome.
user: Sarah_Ackerman Flickr

Mount Rushmore, one of our great nation's most iconic monuments was finished 72 years ago today. Harry Houdini died 87 years ago today. 

But all of that is unimportant.

It is Halloween, and Americans have been getting ready for months. What better reason to shell out about $75 dollars on costumes, decorations and candy?  (Answer: so many things.) 

(If you're one of those people who is just scanning this article for the scary costumes, scroll down.)

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Stateside
3:27 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Ann Arbor has its own Death Cafe

Merilynne Rush
LinkedIn

It's probably safe to say most of us shy away from thinking about and talking about death.

As medical science has developed the technology to keep us alive longer it seems we have become more and more squeamish about death itself, even though - you got to admit - it is the one thing in life that happens to each and every one of us.

There is a movement trying to change that: the Death Café. Merilynne Rush is a home funeral guide, and she has brought the Death Café to Ann Arbor.

Listen to the full interview above.

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