A few of random pictures I took.

With all the driving back and forth to Lansing I’ve been doing lately I decided to start carrying my digital camera with me. The decision came about in part due to a rather stunningly lovely morning drive to Charlotte, which is just south of Lansing, which showed off a particularly nice part of the Michigan countryside. I already carry the little 1MP Kodak — it was the first digital camera we ever bought — in the glove box in case of accidents. That was all I had on hand that morning and so the pictures are somewhat small, but not bad I thought. The next day, after thinking about it, I packed up the 4MP Canon PowerShot we have just in case I came across anything interesting.

Here’s a few of the results. The first three pictures are from the lower-res Kodak:

Pic of Michigan countryside.

A random stretch of Michigan road.

A different random stretch of Michigan Road.

Pic of Michigan countryside.

Yet more random Michigan roadness.

The camera didn’t really capture the amazing aspect of the morning light as I saw it, but I still thought they looked pretty good for a crappy little digital Instamatic-style camera. The next couple were taken the next day using my Canon PowerShot A80:

About to drive into a weird fog bank.

Graffiti on a power transformer box in downtown Lansing.

Driving into the fog bank was pretty weird. The day had started off brightly sunny all the way up until just before I hit Lansing when the road ahead was suddenly obscured with a wall of gray. Once we passed into it the mood became very gloomy almost immediately and it was hard to remember how beautiful the day had been just moments before. It was foggy like that all  the way into Lansing, but it had lifted by noon.

I saw the graffiti on a power transformer box sitting between two buildings next to the parking structure I’ve been parking in all week long. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be, but I have seen other similar “faces” spray painted elsewhere around town. The building I’m working in is ten stories high and I can see one of the faces painted on the back door of a business the next block over, too far to get a shot with the camera, and the others I’ve seen in passing while driving.

The state Capitol building is just a block over from where I’m working, but you can’t see it from inside so I’ll probably take the time tomorrow to snap a photo of it as I leave for the day. I do have some interesting views of other buildings downtown including the Comerica bank building, one of the oldest in Lansing, that is a very cool bit of architecture with at least one amusing item on a fifth floor balcony. I’ve not taken a shot of that yet as I’m worried about hauling a camera out in the middle of a department full of potentially confidential information.

Though that didn’t stop me from using my phone’s camera to take a quick grainy snap of a science experiment I found growing in one VP’s office:

Pic of moldy coffee cup.

That's an impressive mold colony you have going there!

Yeah, someone’s been out on vacation perhaps a little too long.

Michigan-based Christian terrorist group raided by the FBI.

So we had a bit of excitement here in Michigan over the weekend thanks to the FBI taking down a Christian terrorist group that was plotting to kill a cop and then bomb his funeral in hopes of starting an uprising that would overthrow the government:

Seven men and one woman believed to be part of the Michigan-based Hutaree were arrested over the weekend in raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The ninth suspect was arrested Monday night after a search in rural southern Michigan.

FBI agents moved quickly against Hutaree because its members were planning an attack sometime in April, prosecutors said. Authorities seized guns in the raids but would not say whether they found explosives.

The arrests have dealt “a severe blow to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Apparently these yahoos have been running around in Michigan’s rural woods pretending to be literal Christian Soldiers since 2008. Like all good religious nutcases they even have their own website where you can learn more and watch a YouTube video of them simulating hunting down the Antichrist in a forest. What these nine idiots were planning is nothing short of a terrorist attack in Jesus’ name, because that’s how he would’ve handled things.

The sad part is that when you see their mugshots they look like a perfect cliche of FOX News watching redneck assholes:
Hutaree Christian Militia Members

Hey, that guy second from the bottom left looks kinda familiar. No, that can’t be me. I’ve never had the shaving skills to managed a half-way decent looking goatee. Besides, I’m still sitting here typing so that also rules me out.

As I’ve said before, a lot of hillbillies came north to work in the automotive industry and I can only assume that years of working on the assembly line absorbing all the various semi-toxic chemicals involved in car production is to blame for them going crazy on religious fervor after they’ve been laid off for awhile. Surely it couldn’t be an irresponsible “news” channel that acts as the unofficial propaganda wing of the Republican party and which promotes pundits who have a tenuous grasp of reality as though they were prophets, right?

What’s even more amazing is that instead of calling these terrorists what they are — terrorists — there are already a number of Right wing bloggers stepping up to defend these idiots:

Glenn Reynolds smells a politically-motivated conspiracy.


So does American Power.

Hey, is the administration taking after Christian militias to get in good with CAIR and the neo-communist left?

Dan Riehl finds something about the terrorists to praise.

Just three days ago, members of the group were assisting LE in a rescue search. Must be some really evil people there, what?

Classical Values sees nothing illegal going on.

Last time I looked, wanting to start a civil war (insane as it is) was not a crime.

You can hear echoes of “black helicopters” and “Ruby Ridge” and “Waco” in Confederate Yankee’s lament.

I question the wisdom of using such heavy forces (including armored vehicles and helicopters according to witness reports), when light, fast and quiet raids would have been at least as effective. More than the timing, I question the leadership.

And Roy Edroso flagged this reader’s comment at NRO.

We have to take a stand against creeping totalitarianism. I’ll take the risk that the regime will somehow get the NRO donation list and use it to round up the freedom-loving counterrevolutionaries.

You’d think these pundits would be clamoring for them to be shipped off to Gitmo and water boarded repeatedly what with how well it supposedly works on Islamic terrorists. The fact that these are Christian terrorists and stereotypical fans of FOX News wouldn’t have anything to do with the lack of calls for harsh interrogation methods, would it? Why that would be callously hypocritical and no Republican would engage in blatant hypocrisy.

You can bet your sweet ass on one thing though. The revelation of this extremist right-wing militia group will not get Republicans to admit that the report on right wing extremism put out by the Homeland Security department last year, which they had a fucking fit over, was in any way valid. Sure, they’ll happily paint every liberal as being a Communist clone of Stalin, but don’t you dare suggest that these nutcases are anything but an aberration among their mass of moral purity.

As Yoda would say: Begun, invasion of the Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle, has!

It’s autumn in Michigan which means it’s time for the swarms of Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetles to start making a nuisance of themselves. The insects look very much like our native ladybugs, but are distinct in several ways including their tendency to invade homes in preparation for the coming winter.

I first noticed them last night when I walked in the house after work at 12:45AM and heard a peculiar “tink tink tink” sound as I passed through the dining room. My initial thought was that the faucet in the kitchen was dripping, but checking found that not to be the case and that the sound was now occurring behind me. My next thought was that we had a leak of some sort that was dripping into the dining room, but I was having trouble locating the source of the sound. Pacing about comically sticking one ear out in the way cartoon characters do when listening for something eventually brought me to look up at the dining room light where the source of the sound was discovered. Three or four of the ladybeetles were happily knocking themselves senseless against the dining room light fixture.

Then this afternoon as I got ready for work I stepped into the foyer to grab my shoes and found the place home to at least a dozen of the beetles, most of whom where trying to figure out why they couldn’t move through the glass window next to the door and out into the yard beyond. There was another beetle hiding in the bathroom, four more in the dining room, and one totally lost beetle near the back door in the kitchen. Stepping outside and going around to the front of the apartment, which faces the sun this time of year, there were literally hundreds of the beetles plastered to the wall soaking up the rays.

As if often the case when presented with phenomena that I’ve encountered before, but hadn’t stopped to think much about, I decided it was time to look these guys up on the Intertubes. As it turns out the fine folks at Michigan State University have a whole webpage devoted to the Multi-colored Asian Ladybeetle complete with a FAQ page. Here’s a couple of snippits:

What is the correct name of this insect?
You will hear several versions of the common name of this insect. It has been called the multi-colored Asian ladybird beetle, multi-colored Asian ladybug, Asian lady beetle and even the Halloween beetle. The name we are most familiar with is multi-colored Asian lady beetle. The scientific name of this insect is Harmonia axyridis. It only has one of these!

Where did the multi-colored Asian lady beetle come from?
This insect is native to northeastern Asia.

How did this insect find it’s way to Michigan?
There is some confusion about this issue. There are records of attempts to establish this insect in the U.S. as far back as 1916. In the early 1980’s the United States Department of Agriculture experimented with this insect in the southeast U.S. They were trying to establish it as a predator against aphids and other soft-bodied pests of pecan trees, a valuable nut crop. According to USDA scientists, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to establish the beetle. However, in 1988 an established population was discovered in Louisiana, near New Orleans. The multi-colored Asian lady beetle was first officially reported in Michigan in 1994 but has probably been present since the early 1990’s. Today, it can probably be found in all 83 Michigan counties and several other states.

Why do so many multi-colored Asian lady beetles show up in and on my house in the fall and sometimes—lasting right into spring?
In the fall of the year, multi-colored Asian lady beetles begin to seek out cavities where they will spend the winter hibernating. They require cavities that will stay cool and dry and offer concealment. Throughout their native range in Asia, the adult beetles seek out cavities in cliff faces and other naturally occurring cool, dry cavities. In our part of the world, they have found equivalent winter quarters in the exterior of buildings. They are most commonly found gathering in the fall on the sun-facing exposure of the building—usually a southern exposure. This activity often results in the beetles getting into the inhabited portions of the building. In the spring, they will all leave.

If the multi-colored Asian lady beetle hibernates all winter, why do I get them in my house in the winter?
Even on cold winter days there are often times when the wind is calm and it is sunny. On these days (especially later in the winter when days grow longer), there is sufficient radiant energy on sunny exposures (especially southern exposures) to warm the siding. If the temperatures where the beetles are hibernating get near 50 degrees F, some beetles will wake up and begin crawling around. Some or many will then find their way into inhabited areas of the house.

When they get into the house during the winter, I see many of them gathered on and around windows, but for the life of me, I cannot find any cracks or gaps around the windows where they may have gotten into the house. How can this be?
These insects are photopositive—they move toward the light or towards the window in this case. Insects also have very small brains. They can’t figure out glass and why they can see the outdoors, but can’t get there! They have found their way into living areas by other routes and have only ended up on the window.

It’s true that most of the year you’d hardly know they were around, but come about this time in autumn you can’t miss them. They’re pretty harmless and they’re just looking for a warm place to ride out the winter. Some people are allergic to the beetles after prolonged exposure to an infestation, but for most folks they’re just an annoyance. If nothing else, though, they can be a good indicator of the need to check your home for cracks and poor caulking that could result in higher energy bills as they have to be getting in some way.

Of course if you use the door on the sunny side of the house then some will just fly in with you, but if you have dozens of them then you’ve probably got a problem some place. My guess for our apartment is that they’re getting in through the vent for the downstairs bathroom which has an external port. I’ll have to ask the maintenance guys to check the screen on it. In the meantime the recommended means of dealing with them in your home is to use a dust buster and just vacuum them up.

So that made for an interesting bit of reading on what is a wonderful fall afternoon here in Michigan. It also made me a bit more sympathetic to the plight of the multi-colored Asian ladybeetle. They don’t mean to invade my home, they’re just too stupid to know better. I’ve known some people that were just like that.

“Red Dawn” remake is filming largely in Michigan.

So I’m cruising through my collection of RSS feeds when I come across an article on IO9 with set pics from the upcoming remake of Red Dawn, a movie I really don’t see a need to be remade. It’s most notable for two things: 1) It was the first movie with a PG-13 rating and 2) it once held the Guinness World Record for most acts of violence in a film.

For those of you fortunate enough to be young enough not to have seen the film, or who just never got around to it, it was a 1984 flick about World War III where the Russians manage to invade and take over America practically overnight only to be foiled by a bunch of high schoolers who take up arms and set up a guerrilla resistance to defend their sleepy Midwestern town. Supposedly it took place in Calumet, Colorado, but it was actually filmed in New Mexico with Las Vegas, NM standing in for Calumet. I don’t remember a whole lot from the movie as it’s been decades since I last watched it, but I do recall thinking at the time that it was a stinking pile of shit. Granted I was 16 years old when it came out and hadn’t developed the refined sense of criticism that I posses today, but my opinion probably wouldn’t change much if I were to watch it again.

So anyway, as I said previously, I’m reading the IO9 RSS feed and it comes to an article about set pics from the remake. Just as I’m about to roll my eyes and scroll past it, because I just don’t give a shit about this movie, my eyes alight upon the following:

The Red Dawn reboot rallies to re-educate the workers of Pontiac, MI to fight corporate corruption. Check out some new set pics and video, which show the anti-captalism propaganda plastered across the streets after the Chinese and Russians have invaded.

As many of you know Pontiac is my home town so my reaction to seeing that was, what the fuck? They’re setting the remake in Pontiac? That’s hardly a sleepy midwestern rural town and there aren’t any mountains in the damned state (in the original the kids hide in the mountains until they form a plan). Turns out that, no, the film isn’t set in Michigan, but it is largely being filmed here. The actual setting has been moved to Spokane, Washington and the invaders this time are the Chinese, with help from the Russians later on.

Apparently they just started shooting back on the second week of September and are using a number of different cities as locations. In addition to Pontiac they also had some major action taking place in Madison Heights, Royal Oak, Detroit, and a few other locations further north. I suppose if I’d been paying attention to the local news media I’d already know all of this as they did a story on it back when filming started, but that would require actually watching the news.

I have no idea if this version will be better than the original, word has it they’re upping the action and perhaps the rating, but I’m duty bound to watch it now if for no other reason than to see my hometown dressed up in Chinese propaganda posters. It also looks like they’re looking for extras so perhaps I’ll dash off an email and see if I can’t score a little time in the background of a scene or two. Been meaning to start paying attention to the film industry in Michigan for the chance to be an extra and now is as good a time as any. In the meantime I’ll keep an eye on the Red Dawn 2010 fan site for more location pics so I can giggle at the surreality of Chinese troops invading places I grew up in.

Measuring Town Quality not Through Growth?

Since when has manisfest destiny not mattered in our world? Or at least to those within this country? Well hopefully its starting to die thanks to a small Michigan town, Flint. From a New York Times article on a topic I learned about listening to BBC World News

Instead of waiting for houses to become abandoned and then pulling them down, local leaders are talking about demolishing entire blocks and even whole neighborhoods.

The population would be condensed into a few viable areas. So would stores and services. A city built to manufacture cars would be returned in large measure to the forest primeval.

So rather than try to re-build they are giving up?

“Decline in Flint is like gravity, a fact of life,” said Dan Kildee, the Genesee County treasurer and chief spokesman for the movement to shrink Flint. “We need to control it instead of letting it control us.”

The recession in Flint, as in many old-line manufacturing cities, is quickly making a bad situation worse. Firefighters and police officers are being laid off as the city struggles with a $15 million budget deficit. Many public schools are likely to be closed.

So yes, giving up indeed. Sounds pretty un-American to me. They must be terrorists!

Nothing will happen immediately, but Flint has begun updating its master plan, a complicated task last done in 1965. Then it was a prosperous city of 200,000 looking to grow to 350,000. It now has 110,000 people, about a third of whom live in poverty.

Flint has about 75 neighborhoods spread out over 34 square miles. It will be a delicate process to decide which to favor, Mr. Kildee acknowledged from the driver’s seat of his Grand Cherokee.

Jokes aside, the basic idea is this. Flint has come to the realization that they will never be a thriving town of 200,000 again. The problem is Flint today is built as a town of at least 200,000, being spread across 34 square miles. Well it makes no sense to spread out that much when you only have a population around 100,000. So rather than try to re-build the decrepit outlying areas the town of Flint is going to turn them into green spaces and focus on spending all money to rebuild the core areas of town, and save money at the same time too (or at least not waste money).

A block adjacent to downtown has the potential for renewal; it would make sense to fill in the vacant lots there, since it is a few steps from a University of Michigan campus.

On many streets, the weekly garbage pickup finds only one bag of trash. If those stops could be eliminated, Mr. Kildee said, the city could save $100,000 a year — one of many savings that shrinkage could bring.

The green spaces can be anything from a forest, to a park, to just simple trees and grass.

“If it’s going to look abandoned, let it be clean and green,” he said. “Create the new Flint forest — something people will choose to live near, rather than something that symbolizes failure.”

I think it’s a wonderful idea and a great way to make use of land no one wants to buy. Another way Flint can make money, and hopefully someone is thinking of this, is the city can create a committee for the soul purpose of going around and consulting to other towns to help them with similar ventures. What a great way to help the world and do some good.

Michigan’s staggering population losses continue.

Back in January of 2007 I wrote an entry titled Last person to leave Michigan please turn out the lights.

Things haven’t improved since then:

People are leaving Michigan at a staggering rate. About 109,000 more people left Michigan last year than moved in. It is one of the worst rates in the nation, quadruple the loss of just eight years ago. The state loses a family every 12 minutes, and the families who are leaving—young, well-educated high-income earners—are the people the state desperately needs to rebuild.

[…] Michigan’s exodus is one of the state’s best known but least understood problems. Long ignored or downplayed, outmigration has been shrugged off partly because it was assumed that those who were leaving were unemployed blue-collar workers and retirees, groups that, in economic terms, don’t cripple the state with their departure.

But a Detroit News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of outmigration.

The state’s net loss to outmigration—the number of people leaving the state minus those moving in from other states—has skyrocketed since 2001. Although the Census Bureau does not report totals moving in and out each year, Internal Revenue Service records show that the population decline is a result of two disturbing trends: The number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in plummeted by nearly one-third.

Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights—the state’s second-, third- and fourth-largest cities.

I’ve said before that if I were as smart as a lot of folks seem to think I am that I would have packed up and moved years ago. Anne and I did spend some time discussing the possibility in 2005 during the period when I was laid off for the first time. I’m the reason we didn’t leave the state then and looking back on it that was probably a mistake. It’s probably an even bigger mistake to stay now, but this is my home. I love this state despite all its problems and the sucky economy. It’s totally irrational and it’s probably cost me quite a bit of money, but I still have a hard time thinking about leaving.

• Those leaving Michigan are the people the state most needs to keep—young and college-educated. The state suffered a net loss to migration of 18,000 adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007 alone—the equivalent of half the staff of the University of Michigan crossing the state line.

• Michiganians who fled the state in 2007 took with them almost $1.2 billion more in paychecks than the paychecks of those moving in. That represents a 45 percent increase in lost wages in just one year, money no longer spent in Michigan businesses, paying mortgages or paying taxes.

• The net loss of school-age children was more than 12,000 in 2007 alone, costing individual school districts roughly $84 million in state aid.

• With about 36,000 more households leaving the state than moving in, that leaves 36,000 empty houses and apartments, damaging already weak home values. “When there are more properties on the market, it drives down prices,” said Ron Walraven, a real estate agent in West Bloomfield. “With the layoffs and the buyouts at the auto companies, people are leaving. Some are just abandoning their homes.”

• People moving from state to state are disproportionately young. While almost 13 percent of Michigan’s population is over 65, only 2.5 percent of those leaving are that old. That means outmigration is adding to the costs associated with an aging population, such as the state’s share of Medicaid payments to retirement homes.

• There will be fewer tax dollars to pay for those services, maintain roads or run schools. According to Senate Fiscal Agency estimates, the income leaving the state cost Michigan more than $100 million in personal income tax revenue in 2007 alone.

I’m 41 years old and I still don’t have my college degree, though I am working on one. I don’t own a home yet. My daughter has graduated high school and is attending community college with me. I’m not as young as the other folks leaving Michigan, but I also don’t have as much holding me here so I could move if I could convince myself to do so. Every time I think about it I rationalize it back and forth. For example I tell myself that, without a college degree, it’s arguable if I’d be much better off someplace else over where I am now, but then I’m looking at a couple of years before I’ll even get my associates at the pace I’m taking classes currently so by the time I do have it it’s arguable if moving would still make sense.

Those with college educations were more likely to move than those without a degree. One-quarter of adults still in Michigan have at least a four-year college degree, compared to 39 percent of those who left.

In simplest terms, those with the skills to leave Michigan are doing so; high-skilled people from other states who once might have moved to Michigan are choosing to go elsewhere.

“Migration is good for the migrants but bad for the state they’re leaving,” said Mark Partridge, an economics professor at Ohio State University who specializes in the study of migration patterns. “It’s a vicious downward cycle; the best and brightest leave; entrepreneurs don’t come to the state because the best and brightest are elsewhere; as more people leave, that leaves fewer people to pay for services. Neither one will make Michigan a very appealing place.”

People who know me in real life often compliment me as being amazingly intelligent, but clearly I’m not as bright as I’d like to think I am. The funny part is that I’m quite well educated in how the human brain works in terms of rationalizing and wishful thinking and confirmation bias and yet, in spite of knowing all of that, I still fall victim to the same rationalizing and wishful thinking and confirmation bias as everyone else. I can even recognize the fact that I’m engaging in it and yet I still let it override my decision making process because I don’t want to move out of Michigan.

With all these other people going, I say to myself, I become that much more valuable to the companies that are still here. All the while ignoring the fact that the companies that are still here that I’ve traditionally worked for most of my career are on the verge of bankruptcy and begging the government for bailout funds. Granted I’m currently working for Big Dot.Com here in Ann Arbor which isn’t likely to go belly up anytime soon, but even they are eliminating 200 jobs to trim a little fat in these trying times. And before you ask, no, my job isn’t in danger of being eliminated in the fat cutting. Especially not since we went from three techs to two. The only threat to my current employment is the fact that I’m just about to hit my one year anniversary giving me one more year before my contract comes to a mandatory end. Still, I tell myself, I’m contributing to Michigan’s comeback by staying!

Yeah, right…

As bad as the outmigration numbers are now, Metzger worries they may get worse.

“The pattern used to be that people would move away from Michigan and then move back,” Metzger said. “Now, people are moving and then drawing the rest of their (extended) family with them.”

Gina Damuth’s husband, Fred Damuth, was laid off from Pfizer in 2007. Later that year, they moved from Farmington Hills to North Carolina.

Now, Gina Damuth has convinced her parents to move to North Carolina, too.

“I feel so bad for the people stuck in Michigan,” said Damuth, 34. “I was in the Detroit area recently and I didn’t realize the number of people who walk with their head down. You can see it if you pay attention—nobody smiles, everybody looks depressed. My dad says it’s scarier now. People are talking about how they don’t know if Michigan is going to recover this time.”

That recovery will be harder because of the people who have left, said University of Michigan economist Don Grimes. “You can’t grow your economy if you’re shrinking. You basically have an infrastructure built around a certain size of economy, and if you shrink below that scale, you have fewer people to support the infrastructure.”

That can mean higher taxes, poorer services or both.

Some of those costs won’t be felt for decades.

“When you lose people in their 20s, in five years, you won’t have their kids entering school; in 20 years, you won’t have their kids entering the work force,” Grimes said. “It puts you in a downward spiral.”

Indeed, demographers have said the sharp population losses from 1979 to 1983, when the state lost nearly a half-million people in four years, created an “echo dip” in the state’s population nearly two decades later. The current migration, which has seen similar total losses, has lasted twice as long.

I can see it right in front of me: Things are bad and they’re likely to only get worse. Michigan has the highest unemployment in the nation (11.6% in January compared to 7.9% nationally) and has held that status for years. We’ve lost the most jobs out of all the states between January 2007 and 2009 (-7.3% versus national average of -2.0%). Again, if I were as smart as I’m supposed to be, I’d have moved back before I wrote the first entry about Michigan’s population losses. If I were smart I’d use this entry as the motivation to finally make the move now.

But I probably won’t. I don’t want to move out of Michigan. I love this stupid state and I want to see it succeed. Call it misguided loyalty. Call it stupidity. I won’t deny it. I’ll probably still be here in another two two years when I write the next entry about Michigan’s continuing population decline.

Hollywood may set up shop in Michigan.

When I was younger I knew I wanted to be an actor when I grew up, but other than a small voice role in an anime dub, an impossible to see stint as an extra in Hoffa, and being cast as the lead in a community theater production of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown that I had to drop out of due to work commitments, I’ve never actually achieved that youthful dream. A lot of that is because it would have required moving to either New York (for stage plays, which I’m not fond of) or to Los Angeles (where they have earthquakes and wildfires) and I’ve just never been motivated enough to do that. There’s enough theaters and such around Michigan that it’s possible to make something of a living as an actor locally as my brother-in-law has managed to do, but it’s nothing that’s likely to result in you hitting it big time. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve had absolutely zero training as an actor outside of a high school drama course I took 20 years ago. But perhaps that’ll change as more and more of Hollywood moves to Michigan. With stuff being produced locally there’s the chance that I could at least have some fun being an extra a couple more times.

And the chances of that are improving as things heat up in Michigan’s new film industry. Early last year our state legislators passed a bunch of laws and tax breaks designed to make Michigan much more attractive to film and television productions and it’s already worked quite well. There’s a whole bunch of movies filming in Michigan with more on the way and now word comes down that we may end up with some full fledged production studios too:

State film officials say they are on the verge of sealing an $80 million development deal that would create three film and television production studios in southeast Michigan, boosting one of the state’s few fast-growing industries.

Two of the potential locations for the permanent studios — including one in Detroit — haven’t been used in years, while the third site would have to be built. One of the facilities would be a multi-studio complex that would occupy up to 130 acres, state officials confirmed. Another facility would be geared toward post-production work, such as audio and editing.

The Detroit facility, if the deal is finalized, could be in operation by the end of the year.

[…] “It’s a game-changer,” said Anthony Wenson, CEO of the Michigan Film Office, the agency that promotes the local film industry. “We truly (will) have a year-round industry. We can see a television series shot here. We can provide space for filmmakers to build large-scale sets. We can greatly expand our offerings to the video and digital media community.”

The state film agency has been working on the deal for months and contends it would create the infrastructure to support what has become a $100 million industry in the nine months since Michigan passed the most aggressive film industry tax incentives in the nation.

That would be wonderful if it does grow that big as Michigan is in desperate need of a shot to its economy. Plus, who knows, maybe I’ll finally get a chance to live out that youthful dream.

Found via the Michigan Messenger.


BREAKING NEWS: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula secedes and no one really cares.

Somehow I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true. Satire by SEB regular Stormin’ Norman over at his blog:

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula secedes from the United States out of sheer boredom. – Alligators In The Sewer

The Upper Peninsula, or “U.P.” as it has been called by locals, so-called “Yoopers,” will become a sovereign commonwealth nation of the United States, the first of its kind. The new nation-state will be self-ruling, with its own constitution and political leadership, but will remain closely tied to the U.S., borrowing some federal government services as needed and sending truckloads of logs in return.

“It just seemed like the thing to do,” said Terry Urbanski, director of regional promotions for the U.P. “This should put us back on the map and get us some media attention for a while. And hopefully, some more tourist money.”

I’ve spent some time in the U.P. and it’s quite beautiful up there… and incredibly boring if you stay too long. There’s only so much logging industry history you can take before it gets a little repetitive. Still, it’s worth checking out at least once for the views.

The first snowfall for this year…

So this picture to the left here, click to embiggen, is a crappy cellphone camera shot of, what passes for, our backyard. As you can see we got a reasonable amount of snow Saturday night into Sunday morning. It was pretty wet and we only got maybe two inches total, but it was enough to put you into a holiday frame of mind. Considering we’re in Ann Arbor, which is in southern Michigan, it’s a decent amount of snow.

Now if you drive just a mere hour and a half north to Otisville, where my parents live, the same snowfall nets you pics like these my mother took.  Here’s an example in the image to the right. Again, click to embiggen.

As you can see a mere 75 or so miles can make a huge difference in how white your your landscape becomes during a given snowfall in Michigan. If it weren’t for the fact that there’s not jack in the way of jobs for my chosen career or much of anything else to do further up the state then I’d be inclined to move there just for the better snowfalls. Though given the shortage of funds to do much of anything other than hang out at the house probably makes the fact that Ann Arbor has quite a lot to do rather a moot point. Just the same, I have snow-envy.

Michigan McCain Candy Nazi: Parents supporting Obama? NO CANDY FOR YOU!

We’ve got our fair share of assholes in Michigan, some might argue I’m one of them, but at least I’m not guilty of spoiling Halloween for kids to promote my choice of political candidate:

A Grosse Pointe Farms woman has doled out political tricks by refusing Halloween treats to children whose parents support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Shirley Nagel passed out candy Friday — but only to those who shared her support for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

Fox 2 News says a sign posted outside Nagel’s house, about 12 miles west of Detroit, served notice to all trick-or-treaters. It read: “No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters.”

Nagel tells WJBK-TV that “Obama’s scary.” When asked about children who’d been turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: “Oh well. Everybody has a choice.”

And here’s the spot from FOX 2 News:

To put it bluntly, Shirley Nagel is a douche bag. To even think of asking kids what political stance their parents have before handing out candy is raising the art of douche baggery to new and unprecedented heights. What the fuck is wrong with her? Does she seriously think that by making their kids cry that suddenly Obama supporters will see the light and switch their votes to McCain? Someone get that woman a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People stat!

Vote McCain or your kids will NEVER GET ANY HALLOWEEN CANDY AGAIN!