Offbeat

Offbeat

HOLLY, Mich. (AP) - Despite a few hiccups due to some wild weather, Michigan's holiday crops are looking good.

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that the state's Christmas tree growers say that while some trees were victims of the weather, it's unlikely to affect consumers.

Pumpkin growers say they're doing well after the drought and heat of the summer.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Multistate lottery winners in Michigan could remain anonymous under a measure being considered by the Michigan Senate.

The bill would prohibit the disclosure unless the winner agrees to it in writing. Lottery officials are authorized to disclose a multistate game winner's identity.

Sterling Heights Republican and bill sponsor Tory Rocca says winners should be allowed keep their privacy, particularly for their own safety.

The MGoPatio in Ann Arbor.
Martin Vloet / Facebook

Marketplace's Tess Vigeland handed out their "Piggy Bank Award" to Ann Arbor's Martin Vloet.

Vloet and his wife bought a house in Ann Arbor a few years ago near Michigan Stadium.

They knew the garage needed some work, so when they re-built, they decided to make the space big enough for tailgaiting events.

"I found through some of the people that I worked with and through some of my connections in town, that there was a lot of interest in a space like that, because it was so close to Michigan football. "

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on the Dating Game.
YouTube

The buzz began yesterday afternoon and continues this morning, so what the heck - let's post it.

It started when the Detroit Free Press posted a part of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's past - an appearance on the Dating Game.

She's acknowledged her appearance on the show in the past, but now we get to see it.

A Carp Hunter in action near Peoria, IL.
YouTube

Shark Week, schmark week.

It's Asian Carp Week here at Michigan Radio!

All week long, The Environment Report has been bringing us stories about Asian Carp & the Great Lakes.

A glimpse of the disturbing Belle Isle to come - from today's press materials about the proposed Belle Isle agreement.
State of Michigan/City of Detroit

Many Detroiters have long been suspicious of outsiders coming in to control their city, but once they lay their eyes on what Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder have in store for the city's crown jewel, Belle Isle Park, they finally have real reasons to be afraid.

Belle Isle, it appears, will soon be overtaken by Photoshopped people from Pleasantville.

Only Detroiters won't have the pleasure of romping around their Utopia with Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. They'll have to share the park with out-of-proportion picnickers, a cardboard blue heron, and a dancing DNR park ranger.

Let's give a shout-out to a man who may have set the new "gold standard" for generous bosses.

Long-time Ann Arbor auto dealer Howard Cooper is retiring this month.

As his employees reported for work this week, they got an unexpected "expression" of Mr. Cooper's appreciation: a check for $1,000 for every year of service.

US Navy / via ourflagwasstillthere.org

The US Navy’s past and present is on display in Detroit this week.

Detroit is just one “Navy Week” stop on a Great Lakes tour commemorating the War of 1812.

The war pitting the newly-independent US against Great Britain was more or less a draw—though it’s seen very differently just across the border in Windsor, Ontario.

But everyone agrees that the war gave birth to the modern US Navy.

Michigan will get $90,000 from the US Department of Transportation to help prevent damage to underground pipelines. The federal agency announced the grant today. It's granting $1.5 million total to 22 states. The money will support advertising efforts for MISS DIG.

"The number one cause of pipeline damage is people excavating on their own property without knowing what’s underground," said Judy Palnau, a Michigan Public Service Commission spokeswoman. The MPSC applied for the grant.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Dawn Yarbrough is from Benton Harbor. These days she lives part time in Milan, Italy. But, she has been spending more time in her hometown lately to start a new public television show called Harbor Lights. It will focus on positive things happening in Benton Harbor. Some of the programs  Dawn highlights include the local boys and girls club, a group that teaches teens how to make and allows them to sell their work at an art fair and a school program that brings students from St. Joseph and Benton Harbor together to discuss issues of race.

Bedbug on human skin
Piotr Naskrecki / CDC/Harvard University

Yesterday, 36th District Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller cleared her courtroom after bedbugs were reportedly seen on a man sitting in the courtroom.

Today, the Associated Press reports the court is back in session:

Court officials say a pest control company was called in to investigate and found no evidence of the presence of bedbugs. A release called it a "false alarm."

The man was accompanying a witness to a hearing before Miller. His daughter later said she knew there were bedbugs in her father's house.

Miller said Thursday the evacuation was "for everybody's well-being." Her staff was sent home after Miller was unable to move her cases to another courtroom.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A 13-year-old entrepreneur from Holland finally opened what’s become a controversial hot dog stand Thursday after several weeks of going through red tape.

Nathan Duszynski wanted to make some money. So he bought a hot dog cart and set it up in downtown Holland. But he didn’t realize the cart it went against zoning laws that restrict where and when food vendors can operate.

“I didn’t think the hot dog cart would be such a big deal,” Duszynski said.

Holland city officials shut the cart down.

Elaine Ezekiel / Michigan Radio

The annual Shopping Cart Race attracted a crowd of about one hundred people outside the Fleetwood Diner in downtown Ann Arbor last night.  Each year, competitors personalize their shopping cart(s), don costumes and protective gear and push their teammates down the half-mile Main St. slope from E Ann St. to the railroad bridge past Depot St.

Scroll through the photo gallery above to see some of the racers and their creations.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Lottery says it has been contacted by the winner of last week's $337 million Powerball jackpot.

In a news release issued Wednesday, the lottery says details about the ticket-holder won't be released until the prize is officially claimed.

The winning ticket for the Aug. 15 drawing was sold at a Sunoco station in Lapeer.

It was the third-largest Powerball jackpot in the game's history. Lottery officials have said the winner could take home a $241 million lump sum.

06 27 46 51 56 21. Those were the lucky numbers for the winner of over $300 million from a Powerball lottery ticket sold in Lapeer, Mich. That's the most money ever won in a Michigan lottery jackpot. Follow the link to read more.

Matthew_Hull / MorgueFile

In 1985, nine-year-old Sean Moeller came up with an idea for a new holiday.

He wanted there to be a national relaxation day.

He's getting his wish, at least on a smaller scale, because today Grand Rapids is observing its own Relaxation Day.

"It doesn't have to be a whole day, just a few minutes at a time, to refresh and invigorate your mind and your body and just take a break for a few minutes," Moeller says. "There are tremendous health benefits."

YouTube

A Michigan man who once belonged to a costumed band of self-professed real-life superheroes has been sentenced to time served in jail after pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors, the Associated Press reports.  More from the AP:

Adam Besso was nicknamed "Bee Sting" and pleaded June 22 to a misdemeanor charge of attempted assault with a weapon. The agreement with prosecutors calls for the 36-year-old Sterling Heights man to be released after sentencing. Besso apologized at his court appearance Monday before formally receiving the sentence of 102 days already served and two years' probation. Authorities say Besso's shotgun fired in April as he struggled with a man at a trailer park in the Flint suburb of Burton. Police say he was wearing a bulletproof vest, black leather jacket with a bee logo, shin guards and knee pads.

"Bee Sting" was once part of a larger group known on the Internet as the "Michigan Protectors."

Read about U of M scientists' and space enthusiasts' reaction to last night's successful landing of Curiosity on Martian terrain after the dreaded “seven minutes of terror." Follow the link to also see the accompanying video reaction to the landing at NASA.

MichigaMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder at a Univ. of Michigan basketball game.n Gov. Snyder gets cagey on subject of weight loss.
Facebook

For a Governor who creates online "dashboards" to measure goals he has set for the state, he gets a little evasive when it comes to one of his goals.

Last fall, Mr. Snyder called Michigan's system of health care "a broken system."

He said too many people in the state smoke, are overweight, and don't exercise.

To set a good example, Snyder said his goal was to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year.

Some time has passed since that speech, but I thought we should check in on the goal. Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith sat down with Governor Snyder yesterday and put the question to him.

Here's his answer:

"I've lost some, but not enough," said Snyder. When Smith pushed for "poundage," Snyder wouldn't give it up.

It looks like his weight goal has gone the same way as another goal he set for the state in that speech last fall. He asked the legislature to set up a state health care exchange under the federal health care law: so far, this goal is out of his control.

texting with a cell phone
Alton / Creative Commons

"Sexting," the act of sending racy messages or photos using a mobile phone, isn't a sign of moral turpitude, according to researchers from the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. They say the act is just a part of normal dating for young people.

Researchers surveyed respondents for their study, which will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

From a UM press release:

University of Michigan researchers looked at the sexting behavior of 3,447 men and women ages 18-24 and found that while sexting is very common, sexting isn't associated with sexually risky behaviors or with psychological problems.

The findings contradict the public perception of sexting, which is often portrayed in the media and elsewhere as unsavory, deviant or even criminal behavior, said Jose Bauermeister, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Public Health and co-principal investigator of the study.

Previous research has been done to identify who is "sexting," but the UM researchers say this "is the first known study to connect sexting with a behavioral outcome."

They found nearly half of the respondents said they took part in sexting, and most people who said they received "sexts" also said they sent them. The results, researchers say, suggests sexting likely happens between romantic partners.

And it's not just young people, more older adults are participating as well.

From Sarah Gates of the Huffington Post:

A recent Harris Interactive poll found that one in five Americans sext or share racy text messages with others on their smartphones.

Sponsored by Lookout Mobile Security, the results of the 2,097 adults surveyed focused on a particular rising trend -- adult sexting. While the convention may be popular among text-savvy teens, sexting has become more prevalent among older generations, as one in 10 baby boomers surveyed admitted to sending or receiving explicit photos.

While sexting might be risqué, it's also risky (to which Anthony Wiener, Kwame Kilpatrick and several other politicians can attest).

No doubt, there are, or there will soon be, privacy apps for the behavior.

Check out what MyNorth.com thinks are the top-ten best Leelanau Peninsula beaches the state has to offer. An up north escape from this heat sounds pretty good right about now...

Scale of the Universe 2
screen grab / Scale of the Universe 2

Cary Huang (with a little help from his twin brother, Michael) built the interactive web page "The Scale of the Universe 2." It's their second pass at the concept, according to Discover Magazine.

With it, you can scroll down to see a representation of the microscopic (i.e. E. coli bacteria), and scroll back out to see the galactic.

ABCNews.com writes the ninth graders from Moraga, California were inspired by a teacher to create the page: 

"My seventh grade science teacher showed us a size comparison video on cells, and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to make my own interactive version that included a much larger range of sizes," said Cary in an email forwarded by his mother. "It was not a school project -- just for fun. However, my science teacher loved it so much she showed [it] to the class! My brother, Michael, helped me put it on the internet."

Cary said he worked on the project, on and off, for a year and a half, getting information from Wikipedia and astronomy books. It is now spreading virally online.

H/T to the A2Chronicle

Lake Michigan Sunset
User acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

Earlier today, Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris posted a story about Michiganders’ love of traveling north of their hometowns for an in-state getaway.  On our facebook page, we asked fans to join the conversation:

“Ok, let's hear your favorite thing about going ‘up north.’”

Followers posted comments detailing the perks of their favorite spots up north.

Several answered that the drive north is the best part of the experience.

Gary: Crossing the tension line (or "ecotone") between southern and northern forests. The pines and sand sneak in so slowly you barely notice, until they seem suddenly to dominate.

Cathrin: Not only do the trees change, but the landscape begins to rise and fall in drastic contrast to the flat plains of the center of the mitten. So beautiful!

Dani: crossing the bridge to the u.p ...being so close to 3 of the great lakes the beautiful scenery the falls the fudge in mackinaw smoked fish in st ignance and most of all being away from the big city

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

This drone doesn't shoot missiles, like the military's multi-million dollar flying death machines.

It just takes some amazing pictures (and can cost in the neighborhood of $500 to $1,000).

The video from the four rotor hobbyist helicopter was posted by YouTube user "Tretch5000."

Bill McGraw of Deadline Detroit reposted on the video late last night. He writes:

Tretch5000's drone buzzes over the green lawns and trees of Belle Isle. 

It glides between floors of an abandoned factory and out over a meadow of discarded tires. 

It zig-zags among the pillars of an old church that looks like a Roman ruin. 

It soars up the back, over the top and down the front of the Michigan Central Station in a dizzying trip that gives the viewer the sensation of falling -- or flying -- off the roof.

Here's the video, flying to the sounds of Ruby Frost and Mt. Eden's "Oh That I Had":

Remotely controlled flying machines are nothing new, but their capabilities are significantly increasing while their costs are significantly decreasing.

Wired Magazine's Editor in Chief Chris Anderson attributes the "drone" boom to burgeoning smart phone technology in his self-promoting piece "How I Accidentally Kickstarted the Domestic Drone Boom." (One poster commented, "Next up: How I kickstarted the Internet, by Al Gore.")

Anderson writes:

—sensors, optics, batteries, and embedded processors—all of them growing smaller and faster each year. Just as the 1970s saw the birth and rise of the personal computer, this decade will see the ascendance of the personal drone. We’re entering the Drone Age.

And Anderson and his company hope to be there to capitalize on it.

Right now, these "drones" can't really be drone-like unless the Federal Aviation Administration steps in.

FAA rules require that UAS (or unmanned aircraft systems) have to be within the operator's line of sight, have to stay under 400 feet, have to be flown during the day and have to be away from airports.

To be a "drone" implies that it flies somewhere either far from the person controlling it, or on some type of pre-programmed auto-pilot course.

With increasing pressure mounting (the government says in the United States alone, approximately 50 companies, universities, and government organizations are developing and producing over 155 unmanned aircraft designs), the FAA is looking into how it can regulate the coming "Drone Age" safely. They expect to have new rules by 2015.

Who knows? In 2015, Michigan Radio might finally be able to afford its first news chopper.

user cohdra / MorgueFile.com

If you get an email from President Obama, saying he wants to pay your electric bill, it's best to delete it.

A countrywide email and text message scam in which the sender offers to pay the recipient's utility bills through a new federal program in exchange for sensitive identity information has hit metro Detroit.

And some are taking the bait, reports The Detroit News' Charles E. Ramirez:

DETROIT (AP) - Utility workers are battling high temperatures as they work to restore electricity to tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses without power following thunderstorms this week.

DTE Energy said early Saturday about 45,000 of its customers were without power, mostly in Oakland and Wayne counties. Consumers Energy reported about 23,700 of its customers without power.

Most of those without electricity lost service after storms late Wednesday and Thursday. DTE says most of its customers should have power back by Saturday night.

... And you thought you were hot this week!

user Coolcaesar / wikimedia commons

Nearly 150,000 Michiganders are sweating through today without electricity.

Severe storms earlier this week knocked out power to more than 400,000 Michigan utility customers.

Spokesmen for DTE and Consumers Energy say it may be late Saturday or early Sunday before all the electricity is restored.

Dan Bishop is a spokesman for Consumers Energy. He says utility crews expect to make a lot of progress today, despite having to work in temperatures around 100 degrees.

“The heat is obviously the story of the day,” says Bishop. “The most important concern for us is to make sure our crews are well hydrated and working safely.”

Consumers Energy is getting some extra help from linemen from Missouri and Indiana.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The hot weather is not stopping most Michiganders from getting out and enjoying Independence Day.  

But organizers of many of today’s events are concerned.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The National Weather Service has put much of southwest and lower mid-Michigan under an “excessive heat warning” through Saturday. With the humidity factored in, it could feel as hot as 110-degrees in some places later this week.

Chapters of The American Red Cross are prepared for the heat wave. Chip Kraght directs emergency services for the west Michigan district.

“It can become a disaster, however, with some really easy preventative stuff and some careful monitoring people can really prevent any sort of side effects,” Kraght said.

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