Friday, December 31, 2010

Michigan Expats Podcast Episode 19– Pretty Decent


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Mr. Sig botches the first run at his podcast by messing up his microphone, but quickly regroups and produces and excellent show (in his opinion).

Want to participate in the podcast?  Share a song on our dropbox account – just share a folder with michiganexpats @  Want to be on the show?  Ping us on google chat or send us an email and I’ll give you my skype details.  Let’s make this show a partnership.

Remember to tell your friends about the podcast (only if you think it’s good) and know that you can subscribe to us on iTunes.

Support the music by purchasing it on Amazon

Figures on a Beach – You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet – Purchase on Amazon

Chris Bathgate – Serpentine – Purchase on Amazon

Frijid Pink – Drivin’ Blues – Purchase on Amazon

Della Reese – Someday – Purchase on Amazon

Geno Washington – If this is Love – Purchase on Amazon

The Raconteurs – Steady as She Goes – Purchase on Amazon

Del Shannon – Rag Doll - Purchase on Amazon

Electric Six – Improper Dancing – Purchase on Amazon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Michigan gets press in the New York Times

By Mr. Sig

Michiganexpats - News - See All News

The New York Times had an article outlining the mass exodus of Michigan residents over the past decade.  While the article seems to be nothing new, the comments are quite similar to the original post that started this blog.

It seems that there is a mix of frustration and nostalgia out there.  People are angry and gone, but would like to come back.  This brings up the inevitable debate... Stay and fight or just leave?

More on that later.  For now, take a gander at that article and let us know what you think.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Michigan Christmas Nostalgia Post

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Being the Christmas season, I attended a school Christmas program. Watching a hundred parents and grandparents with cameras, camcorders, and smart phones permanently clued to their hands watching kids younger than 6 sing such classics as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer complete with hand gestures and Santa hats.

This sparked the aforementioned nostalgia moment: of my own school programs. Growing up in Traverse City and attending Bertha Vos Elementary (RIP BV) in Acme, MI, we were extremely fortunate to have our Christmas programs at the Grand Traverse Resort.

There are numerous advantages to having your school Christmas program at a resort instead of a gymnasium, but the best was the Christmas lights at the resort. Not only did you enter the resort along a quarter-mile fully lit entrance, the lobby hotel had an incredible Christmas display complete with fountains, fake snow, multiple scenes, and robotic Christmas creatures.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Michigan Expat Podcast – Episode 18


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By. Mr. Sig

Mr Sig discovers that his new webcam has an excellent microphone.  New bands, old bands, all from Michigan.

As always, we encourage you to purchase songs from these bands if you like a particular song.  Writing and creating these songs is a ton of work, and, hey, these folks are our own, so throw a few buck their way.  We try to make it easy to purchase the music here by giving you direct links to the Amazon store.

The Dirtbombs – Chains of Love – Purchase on Amazon

Who Do You Love – The Woolies – Purchase on Amazon

Fire Away – The Swellers – Purchase on Amazon

Danger! High Voltage – Electric Six – Purchase on Amazon

Poem – Taproot – Purchase on Amazon

Secret – Madonna – Purchase on Amazon

Love Lockdown (Kanye West Remix) – My Dear Disco – Purchase on Amazon

Free For All – Ted Nugent – Purchase on Amazon

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Michigan Party in New York a Big Hit


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By Guest Contributor – Dax De La Monta


Dax de la Monta sent us details about a Michigan party he held in New York.  Sounds like a good time!


I'm an Okemosian writing from the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. There are a lot of Michiganders here in the Big Apple, as you might imagine. When I moved here about 4 years ago looking for work, I only knew a handful of people from college. Since then, I've reconnected with a bunch of folks from the Mitten and met friends of friends; at this point I know more Michiganders here than I do back home. Last year my housemates and I struck upon the idea of having a Michigan-themed party (I live with a couple other members of the diaspora -- when I first landed I was calling Craigslist sublet ads and randomly hit on someone from high school). It went over pretty well, so this year we ratcheted it up. Highlights included:

  • Decorations -- a wall of celebrities hailing from the Great Lakes State, maps and flags, state symbols (bird, rock, tree, etc.).
  • Euchre.
  • People wore Michigan-related apparel and had their first name and hometown written on nametags.
  • Corporate sponsors -- Meijer, Dart, Carhartt, Whirlpool, Kellogg's, 5 Hour Energy, etc.
  • Coney dogs -- Koegel's Viennas were overnighted from Detroit; we weren't ambitious enough to make pasties, maybe next year.
    - Movies -- Roger & Me, Evil Dead, The Big Chill, 8 Mile, American Pie.
  • A mega-mix of Michigan music spanning multiple genres which included, but was not limited to, post-War blues, rockabilly, rock 'n roll, garage rock, psych, hard rock, hardcore, techno, horror rap, blues punk, hip-hop, indie rock/folk/pop, and outsider.
  • Reading material in the bathroom included the Wikipedia entry on Michigan and Pure Michigan tourist brochures.

Hey Dax – any music suggestions for the podcast?

This was a great idea… maybe the Doctor and I will drive up there next year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Free NFL Football in Detroit

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First, congratulations to the Lions for the win yesterday against the Packers, 7-3.  It was a tough old school battle, but a big win for the Lions who snapped a 19-game NFC North divisional losing streak. Hopefully the Lions can end their road game losing streak either next week in Florida these next two weeks (Tampa Bay, Miami) before they wrap up the reason at home against Minnesota. 

The Vikings get a surprise visit to Detroit today as they take on the Giants at Ford Field after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed early yesterday under the weight of the heavy snowfall in Minneapolis. 

Tickets to the game are free! You can pick them up at the Ford Field box office beginning at 9:00AM. A ticket stub from yesterday's win over the Packers will also get you in the game. All tickets are general admission and gates open at 5:30PM for the 7:20PM kickoff.

Get tickets, go, wear your Lions, Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings, UofM/MSU, or Michigan Awesome gear with pride, cheer and enjoy the game, and most importantly be welcoming and gracious hosts representing our great state.

It's an incredible public relations opportunity. If Detroit displays that it can fill Ford Field on one day's notice to watch two out of market teams, it helps the city continue to attract other big sporting events (Final Four, All-Star games, Super Bowl, etc.).

Video of the Metrodome roof collapse after the jump

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr Sig’s 17th Symphony (Episode)


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By Mr. Sig

Another fine production including some of the best songs so far.  Also featured is Mr. Sig attempting to get his new sound setup to work.  All in all, a good listen.

Don’t forget.. this podcast is on iTunes.  Just go to the store and search for MichiganExpats.

Frijid Pink – House of the Rising Sun – Purchase on Amazon

Esham – Stop Selling Me Drugs -  Purchase on Amazon

Freda Payne – Band of Gold – Purchase on Amazon

Smokey Robinson – Crusin’ – Purchase on Amazon

The Rationals – I Need You – Purchase on Amazon

Rare Earth – I Just Want to Celebrate – Purchase on Amazon

Marv Johnson – You’ve Got What it Takes – Purchase on Amazon

Rhythm Corps – Common Ground – Can’t find it???

Friday, December 10, 2010

Michigan Breweries Expanding

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Shorts Brewing Company from Bellaire, MI has been in the news lately, and not just in Michigan newspapers and beer publications due to their rapid growth. CFO Scott Newman Bale was recently on Fox Business News to discuss the brewery’s eclectic beer line-up and exponential growth.

If you can get past the clueless Fox anchorwoman, you can watch to Newman Bale talk about Shorts creative beer process that has produced some of the most innovative beers in the United States including this year's Gold Medal Winner in the experimental category at the Great American Beer Festival , Key Lime Pie.

Shorts is currently undergoing renovations at both their Elk Rapids brewing and bottling facility and their brew pub in Bellaire after growing a robust 30-35% in the last year. You can even watch the renovations happen live on the Shorts website.

The Doctor sees MSU Win the Big Ten

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By Mr Sig

Check out the photos from MSU's big win.

Photos courtesy of the Doctor. (Remember him?)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Should Rich Rod be given more time?


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By Mr. Sig


Good article above by Matt Deyoung from the Grand Haven Tribune.  Although his analysis is much more detailed, I will echo his sentiments and add one more.

I’m with Matt 100% on his statement that Rich’s past success indicates that he will eventually get the program around.  In addition, Rich Rod had some structural recruiting disadvantages upon arrival.  He failed on turning that around, but that would be a tall task for any coach.  If you think about it… what other coach in football could salvage that situation.  Or… if you were put in Rich Rod’s situation, what would you do differently that you actually believe would have kept the program on the top of its game?  As I’ve followed this, I hardly come across any pundit with a top 10 list of specific things Rodriguez should have done differently.

Let me add a few of my own points to Matt’s article.

  1. If you replace Rodriguez with another coach, how will that coach be able to take over a team in transition and start churning out wins?  I expect that whatever new coach comes in will lose at first.
  2. Give D Robinson another couple years.  Denard Robinson has 2 more years of eligibility left.  Do you really want to bring in another pro-form coach back to Michigan?  This guy is a SOPHOMORE.  Think about what is possible in the next 2 years.  He’s certainly not going to get worse.
  3. Not much really needs to be done to make this a winning team again.  What if Michigan had just an AVERAGE defense this year?  They’d be 10-2 or 11-1 right now.  Heck, they might even be undefeated.  Unfortunately, Michigan’s defense is one of the worst in the country which shows in the 7-5 record.  I’d say 7-5 is pretty impressive given how awful the defense has been.  The defense just needs to be OK.  How hard can it really be for Michigan to put together an AVERAGE defense?  And imagine if we had a GOOD defense.  I know I’m really stretching here, but we’d be unstoppable!  Field goal kicking gives us the same scenario.  It’s not that hard to go get a good one.  Just plug that hole and let’s be on with it.

All this being said, I’m not a big fan of Michigan’s coach, but I definitely think he’s capable of getting us some wins and even some shots at the national championship.  I think Michigan fans as a whole are going through some withdraw right now.  The fans simply cannot accept losing under any circumstances whatsoever.  It’s simply not acceptable and unfortunately, they’ve reacted accordingly. 

Given Matt’s points and my points, my vote goes to keeping him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pure Michigan Gets Another Shot in the Arm

Michiganexpats - News - See All News

By Mr. Sig

Michigan lawmakers are trying to get more money to push into the Pure Michigan advertising campaign.  The campaign won an award for best state tourism advertising.  To be honest, I don't see much state tourism advertising going on at the national level besides the Michigan ads.  They are the only ones I've seen out here which makes me wonder how much real competition was out there.

Michigan is really beating the tourism drum as it has for years.  But this time the reach seems a little more urgent and desperate.  When times are tough in a company, the marketing budget is usually the first one to get cut.  Around Michigan, it gets a $10 million raise.  Maybe this is smart, but I have my doubts.

On the bright side, at least the state does have a good tourism "product" to sell.  The emperor has at least underpants and a T-Shirt.  Certainly those who travel "up north" will marvel at it's beauty, I have no doubt.

But will they come in the first place?  Or will state tourism go the way of Autoworld?

For those of you living outside the state.... do these Pure Michigan commercials make you want to come back for a visit... even if it is just tourism related?

Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Michigan Expats Interview : Josiah Ryan


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By Mr. Sig

I took the liberty of interviewing international sophisticate, Josiah Ryan.  He’s a friend of mine, but is well travelled and brings his own unique perspective on the benefits and pitfalls of considering Michigan to work or live.

This is in the podcast feed, so if you are subscribed, you already have it.

To everyone else, you can listen in here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Michigan Expats Podcast–Are you subscribed?


Michiganexpats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

This podcast was added last weekend to the feed. If you were a subscriber, you would have downloaded it automatically in iTunes or your chosen RSS reader.

If you don’t want to be left in the dark again, head on over to the iTunes store and search for “Michigan Expats.”

Last week’s episode was a mix of all my favorite tunes from the previous 14 episodes.  I hope you enjoy!


Mr. Sig.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Michigan vs Ohio State anyone?


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By Mr. Sig


Does anyone care about this game anymore?  Sure, it is still the biggest rivalry in college football from a historical standpoint, but in the last few years it’s just seemed uninteresting since the result was (and is) always inevitable.

I remember that as a kid, this game typically had major national title implications and was almost always the game that determined the Big Ten championship.

It will only be a matter of time before Michigan gets its program back to a point where the stakes of this game are more than just pride, but in the meantime, don’t expect much of a game this weekend.  But… what an upset and national story it would be for Michigan to go in and win.  It’s not likely, but certainly possible.  I suppose we can safety say that this game has gone from assuredly being a good game to hoping it will be a good game.

Oh well, at least we took the UP and left them with Toledo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Detroit, Flint, Impress again in 'Most Dangerous Cities' List

Michigan Expats - News - See All News

By Mr. Sig

Of course!  It's good to see that there is some stability in the world.

But let's not forget that there is a lot more to Michigan than Detroit and Flint.

Is there anyone out there live in either of these 2 cities that thinks these studies are bull?  I certainly take these things with a grain of salt, and safety depends a great deal more on "not being an idiot" rather than crime statistics.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Invasive Carp Seek to Devour Michigan Alive


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By Mr. Sig

This article regarding Asian carp taking over the Michigan lakes and rivers has always piqued my interest.  My only experience with carp was watching them chill out at the bottom of the Flint river trying desperately to get them to bite on the worms hanging off of a cheap fishing hook.

A quick Bing search (yes, I said Bing search) turns up over 300,000 results for the topic.  Apparently, these carp are a real pest to the existing wildlife in Michigan’s lakes and rivers.  And no doubt, these carp are probably hurting existing marine-related businesses which is why politicians are making noise about this.  Why else would an environmentally conscious public support the manual “screwing around” with the natural course of things?  Granted, these fish were imported from Asia and dumped into catfish farm ponds and escaped into the Mississippi river after some flooding temporarily connected the river to these ponds.  This just goes to show that it is very tricky to mess around with nature.  It is all connected and the consequences of messing around in one place set off a chain reaction of future needs to manually mess around.  Which again leads to more.. and .. well, you get the idea.

Anyone out there know anything about these carp besides what can be picked up on the news?  Can we eat these things?  They are freaking massive fish.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Weekly Delivery of Michigan Music


Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Here we go again, folks.  Another excellent deliver of music produced by Michigan talent.  I’m really starting to love My Dear Disco.  They really know how to put some good music together.

Here is this week’s list.  I encourage your to support the artists that produce this music by purchasing their songs or albums.  I provide a link directly to the purchase section of’s music store for your convenience.

Remember, you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.  Simply browse to the podcast section and search for ‘Michigan Expats.’  We’re there.  In addition, you can manually add our podcast to any software that supports podcast subscription by using the RSS link on the top right-hand side of the blog.

Was (not Was) – Can’t turn you Loose – Purchase on Amazon

Flaming Ember – Mind, Body, and Soul - Purchase on Amazon

Madonna – Celebration - Purchase on Amazon

Al Green – For the Good Times - Purchase on Amazon

Funkadelic – Good to your Earhole - Purchase on Amazon

Jr Walker - (I’m a) Road Runner - Purchase on Amazon

My Dear Disco – Replaceable - Purchase on Amazon

Friday, November 12, 2010

Michigan and Recreational Pharmaceutical Tourism

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By Mr. Sig

As a strong proponent of legalization of all drugs, these particular articles always pique my interest.  This particular case highlights a Wal-Mart worker in Michigan who took marijuana for medical purposes.  This is all fine and dandy since Michigan passed medical marijuana laws in 2008.  However, this is not fine and dandy with Wal-Mart.  And that's fine.  Just because something is legal doesn't mean that it cannot harm your ability to perform the job your employer hired you to do.  And employers should be able to exercise that disgression so long as it is made clear to the employee before work starts.  I would personally disagree with Wal-Mart's policy, but I respect their ability to do what they want with their own company.

This kicked off a train of thoughts regarding Michigan and drugs.  Why doesn't Michigan try to do the same thing that California attempted?  Decriminalize marijuana.  Make it legal not just for medical purposes, but straight up legal.  That's right.  You should be able to purchase it from CVS if you are over the age of 18.  The benefits of legal drugs have been proven in Portugal, and marijuana has been proven time and time again not to be a gateway drug as many claim it is.  Alcohol and cigarettes are much worse!   The California initiative failed.  How about Michigan picking up the torch and doing what needs to be done?

The main arguments for legalization of marijuana are typically:
1.  Legal drugs are taxed.  This means more money for the government to burn and a lower defecit.
2.  Drugs are not going to be stopped, but legalization as a containment policy will take the novelty out of smoking dope.  It won't be "cool" anymore which will help slow the inevitable increase in usage
3.  Regulated, legal drugs are safer for consumers than the shady alternatives offered in the informal market (gangs).
4.  The legalization of drugs eliminates the vast majority of the black market.  The black market results in crime, violence, and killing.  You eliminate the black market, you eliminate many of the effects.

It seems like arguments 1,3, and 4 directly target two of Michigan's problems.  Lack of public funds and high crime are two items that will not be completely resolved by the legalization of marijuana, but its passage will certainly help.  This all seems like a no-brainer for Michigan folk, and I think it will greatly benefit the state from a tourism perspective.  Think about out of staters going "up north." and rather than drinking alcohol that makes one tired, sick, fat, and/or unpredictable (in a bad way), they would smoke the peace pipe.  This would make them happy, peaceful, relaxed, and harmless - isn't that what vacation is supposed to be anyway?  I can actually see boutique marijuana spas opening up and attracting individuals from other states and countries.

Maybe this fantasy of mine is outrageous and would be a terrible business, but I think it's something Michigan should seriously consider.  I highly doubt an initiative like this has any chance in Michigan since our culture is much different than that of California's.  But if we get enough out of the box thinkers around here, I think it would be a spectacular project for Michigan to try.

With all of Michigan's issues right now, we are at a perfect opportunity to really try some radical new ideas.  Marijuana legalization might just be one of them.

Am I stupid for thinking this?  Or.. are there other "out of the box" ideas that sound crazy, but just.... might.... work?  What's your idea?  Let us know in the comments

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10 Anniversaries

Michigan Expats - News - See All News

There are a pair of anniversaries we'd like to draw your attention to today. The first is that today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Michigan Expats would like to thank all of the Marines past and present and give a personal thanks out to Dwight, John, Louis, and Kent.

Today is also the 35th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and our thoughts and prayers to the family of the 29 crew members perished on Lake Superior.

On the eve of Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day), these two anniversaries serve as excellent reminders as to the great service and dedication Americans have given to ensure our way of life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Michigan Expats Podcast– More Music! Episode 13


Michigan Expats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Another pallet of good songs lined up for you this week.  Some old, some new, but all enjoyable.

For those of you new to the blog – each week I record a podcast featuring music by Michigan artists. If you like any (or all) of the songs, then I encourage you to purchase them on Amazon.  I need to find a way to get a kick back from that.  Ahh well, at least this keeps the music industry lawyers away.

My Dear Disco – Sizzler – Purchase on Amazon

Cinematic Sunrise – Pulling a Piano from a Pond – Purchase on Amazon

Iggy Pop – Cold Metal – Purchase on Amazon

MC5 – Ramblin’ Rose – Purchase on Amazon

The Four Tops – Baby I Need your Loving – Purchase on Amazon

The Spinners – Working My Way Back to You – Purchase on Amazon

The Dirtbombs – Chains of Love – Purchase on Amazon

Tribute to Sparky Anderson

Michiganexpats - Sports - See all Sports

By Mr Sig

We've seen enough stories about Sparky Anderson.  Here at Michigan expats, we understand the great contribution he made to baseball, and more importantly to us.. to our beloved Tigers.  We owe it to him to laud him as a great Michigan figure.

That being said, I'll let the other news outlets post their tribute videos to Sparky. I think the below one is more enjoyable.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Michigan couple say Waldorf-Astoria hotel bedbugged them -

Michiganexpats - News - See All News

By - Mr Sig

Michigan couple say Waldorf-Astoria hotel bedbugged them -

Bedbugs have arrived in Michigan! As with many things, Michigan is still catching up to the national trend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Michigan defense Rich Rodriguez's undoing?

Michiganexpats - Sports - See All Sports

By - Mr Sig

How hard can this be to answer.

I'll do it for everyone else...


Michigan has a great offense, but only a high school level defense.  This is the most obvious problem with the team and it needs to be hammered home until the team does something about it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Michigan Expats Podcast Episode 12


Michigan Expats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Finally, I’m getting back into the swing of things.  Being out of the country tends to delay and postpone routine activities.  However, in the age of the internet, there is no excuse for not publishing a podcast in the previous 2 weeks.  Rest assured – I will work as hard as I can to assure you that we’ll pump out a new podcast every week.

For those new readers out there, this podcast is normally a recording of 8 songs by artists from the state of Michigan.  The purpose is mainly to provide entertainment, but also to increase your Michigan music education.

Below are this week’s songs and links to purchase them on Amazon.

Commander Cody – Lost in the Ozone Again – Purchase on Amazon

Commander Cody – Mama Hated Diesels – Purchase on Amazon

The Falcons – You’re so Fine – Purchase on Amazon

Anita Baker – Angel – Purchase on Amazon

Carl Craig – Dreamland – Purchase on Amazon

John Lee Hooker – My Dream – Purchase on Amazon

Lamont Dozier – Fish AIn’t Bitin’ – Purchase on Amazon

Marshall Crenshaw – Someday Someday – Purchase on Amazon

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hell Yea! Ford turns another profit

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By Mr Sig

Ford is at it again.  They're making tons of money and paying down their debt.  The best part is, they did it in spite of rejecting the bailout money that was offered.  I absolutely love seeing things like this happen.  As an unrealistic Libertarian, seeing companies succeed because of innovative product creation and giving customers what they want is one of the things that makes us as a human race great.  People got together, thought about what makes a great car, then somehow figured out how to make it at a cost that consumers were willing to pay.  For anyone who works in the private industry that has any experience working on large projects... or who has any idea how complex cars have become can appreciate the amount of work that Ford had to do to get this right.  It's amazing how individuals can figure all this out.

Kudos to Ford and a good thing for Michigan for sure.

I used to think that Ford was boring (and they were) but now I'm really getting interested in what they have to offer.  As a techie, I'm pretty interested in their 'My Ford Touch' feature, and, darnit... the cars just look cool now.  Too bad I'm not in the market for a new car, but let's just hope they keep it up.

I'm particularly interested in the Fiesta.  Good gas-mileage, incredibly low price of around 15K when you add in all the extras like taxes, fees, etc, and a really cool interior.  I remember at my old job that I would love getting a Nissan at the rental car agency because I felt like I was driving an X-Wing space fighter.  When I got a GM or Ford, it felt like I was driving just an average car.  It had a gas-pedal, a radio, a steering wheel and sometimes a jack for my iPod.  Looking at these new Ford cars makes me think of what I felt like stepping into a new Nissan Altima.  If you compare the two cars now, the Ford looks much cooler.

Let's chalk one up for a great, then crappy, then now great again Michigan Company!

What do you think about all this?  What "Big 3" cars are you interested in at this point?  I've said what I think, let me hear what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What can Michigan learn from Ecuador?

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By Mr. Sig

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I can continue posting during my week-long stay in Ecuador. I come here as much as my work allows since my fiancé lives here. Whenever I visit, I try to pay attention to the little things in order to gauge how well the country is advancing. Ecuador is not a third-world country, but it is still considered a developing economy. This makes everything more interesting. Some of the questions I try to answer are: how fast does the internet seem? How old are the computers in internet cafés? How clean are the bathrooms? Are there even bathrooms? How much trash is on the ground? Are the roads moderately smooth? Do I see cranes in the skyline? Do all the light bulbs work? These are the sorts of things that I try to pay attention to that gives me more of a feel for how the country is doing. Many people will argue that these observations are much more powerful and valid than measures of GDP, poverty, and unemployment. I tend to believe statistics only when they are outrageous one way of another.

This leads me to think about those who are looking to invest in Michigan. Surely, they pay attention to the small things to attain a certain comfort level with the investment in consideration. Here are some items I would pay attention to. How many dollar-stores and payday advance stores are around? How is the clerk at the gas station dressed? Is the gas station bathroom clean? Which establishment is fuller, McDonalds, or a real restaurant? Are the lawns mowed? Are the leaves raked? What does the public park look like?

As stewards of our own community, these are the small things we need to think about that can tilt the scale one way or another. How many times have you heard.. “I just don´t have a good feeling about this place.” This is not something that can be measured by any Economist, although the University of Michigan tries to do it with its consumer confidence index.

Here are some items that give me confidence that someone would like to invest.

  1. Our roads, although not in the best repair are clean of trash. This probably has something to do with the Adopt a Highway program which I can imagine is a pretty inexpensive way to keep our highways clean.
  2. The people have a Midwest charm. As John Galt mentioned in an earlier post, there is something different and charming about Michigan people versus those in, say, California. Friendly people make for a good work environment investors might think.
  3. Michigan people are proud of their home. Sports teams´ shirts and flags can be seen all over the place. Stadiums are full (well, maybe not the Lions) and fans are passionate. This sense of pride shows loyalty. To a prospective investor, this means that our workers are not likely to jump around to different jobs all the time. It says that employees that it hires are worth investing in.

I´ll stop at 3. If you want to see all the sorts of observations that scare away potential investors, I´m sure you can find plenty of articles outlining those. I´d rather not repeat what´s been said.

What do you think? What are the other immeasurables or “little things” that Michigan has that might (or not) convey a feeling of confidence to an investor?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Property in Northern Michigan : What to do in the winter and other thoughts


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By Mr Sig

Should we start buying up all the cheap property in Michigan?  I keep hearing the international sophisticates and US expats talking about purchasing swaths of cheap land to prepare for the coming economic apocalypse.  This seems to be a tune many people are singing these days.  What can we do about it?

Without having any knowledge of real estate markets, I think it's pretty safe to say that we'll leave the expensive downtown penthouses and multi-million dollar homes and commercial property to the experts.  But when I hear that I can buy about 10 acres or so of land near Quito, Ecuador for around $3,000, I start thinking really hard.  This stuff isn't just for those who have built large sums of capital over time.  Having a good chunk of property is well within even a moderately responsible saver.

I can only imagine that it is the same way in Michigan.  Although the prices of Michigan property are going to be higher than in Ecuador (I think!), they can't be THAT much higher.  Is Michigan going to be the next target for a major property grab?  Do we keep a high property tax because we want to try and ward off the big guns from essentially buying up all the land in this state?  Those may be questions for another time (and for the comments) but is now the time to start thinking about getting a few acres "up north" in preparation for the land boom or building that cottage you've always wanted?

I say yes.

It's a buy low, sell high principle.  In my experience, when news is terrible, it's time to buy.  When guns are blazing and everyone is getting right, it's time to sell.  So it's time to short Apple and Gold, right?  And then take the outrageous profits you make from it and grab 50 acres or so in Northern Michigan?  Absolutely!  Or, hell, you can buy up a city block in Flint, Lansing, or Detroit.

But back to Northern Michigan.  What do you do up there in the Winter?  In the summer, you are shielded from the 90+ temperatures and you get to experience the most beautiful place on earth.  Right now, there is snowmobiling, skiing, ice-fishing, and... hmm.. cold cold cold.  While these outdoor winter activities are attractive to some, I don't think they are attractive to the masses since I don't really see people retiring up there yet.

I'm going to pose a question now to our readers.  Of what value is northern Michigan property?  As part of a diverse portfolio of lifestyle options, how would property in northern Michigan contribute to the likes of Simon Black and Jim Rogers?  Maybe it would be a good location for a modern Galt's Gulch.  There has to be more to do and experience up there than what is currently going on, and I’m at a loss for ideas.  Help?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grand Valley State University LipDub

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There was a lot of focus last week on Michigan and Michigan State and the instate rivalry (update). That does not mean that we here at Michigan Expats are not aware of the many other fine Michigan institutions of higher education.

We bring up Grand Valley State University up today because of their spectacular LipDub video below. Yes, it is all one amazing shot. No cuts or edits. Be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes/making-of videos.

Apparently, this LipDub idea is a worldwide phenomenon that began in Germany. It's actually really cool. You can learn more at and see all of the of LipDub videos from all over the world.

My brother says that Calvin College has also done their own LipDub video, but they didn't release theirs this week, so it is not as timely. Once I find it, I'll post it on the Michigan Expats Facebook page and on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pink Arrow Pride

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One of the things I miss most about Michigan is the emphasis on high school football. The Washington D.C. metro area is so nationally focused in the news cycle with the center of the federal government that local high school sports easily gets lost in the shuffle.

It's important to remember how high school football can rally a community and have a positive impact. The Pink Arrow Project  raises cancer awareness and a supports a local Gilda's Club, but more importantly it has transcended football in uniting a community. Granted I am a little bias as a graduate of Lowell High School and former Red Arrow football player, but the story is merited on it's own and it's great to see it highlighted by the national organization, High School Football America.

Detroit Beer Week, October 16-24

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After the past couple of weeks have been dominated by Art Prize and UofM/MSU rivalry coverage, it's time to get back to one of our favorite topics here at Michigan Expats: Michigan Beer. 

There's a lot of exciting Michigan beer events coming up in Michigan that we want to let our readers know about in case you have plans to travel back home in the near future particularly as we are in the heart of homecoming season.

Goods news if you are going to be in the Detroit area in the next couple of weeks. The second annual Detroit Beer Week will begin this Saturday, October 16 and continue until it culminates in the Detroit Fall Beer Festival on October 23 in Eastern Market. There are great events scheduled throughout Detroit all week long.

I may be in Michigan that week and am going to make an effort to attend the beer festival or the after party at Atwater Block Brewery. If I make it, I'll be certain to post pictures and a full recap.

At the very least I always look forward to trying new seasonal Michigan brews that are not available here in the Washington D.C. market, and the Boffo Brown Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Co. of Marshall, MI is certainly high on my short list to try after reading Mark Sheppard's raving review. I may make a special stop in Marshall off I-69 and fill up a growler.

If you missed it, Mr. Sig and I recorded a series of podcasts tasting and reviewing beers from Bell's Brewing Co. out of Kalamazoo. You can also listen to those on iTunes (search: Michigan Expats). 

Let us know what your favorite Michigan breweries and beers are and what beers you would like us to review in the future.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Morning Links

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Good Morning and welcome to Monday. There was a lot of news coming out of Michigan this past weekend, but we'll try to touch on a variety of topics to help everyone stay informed and up to date. Please continue the discussion on any of these topics in the comments section, on Facebook, on Twitter @michiganexpats, or you can always shoot us an email at

After the jump:
Lions win and more Michigan sports news from this weekend; the Michigan gubernatorial debate; and stories on Michigan's economy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Electric Cars will be cool, but won’t save the world

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By Mr. Sig

My interest in electric cars jumped again when I saw a pair of articles regarding the recent craze in this week’s Economist Magazine.  I’m very skeptical about how practical they are, but I’m also pretty excited to see them on the road.  This excitement stems from two sources.  First, it represents the first real leap in automotive infrastructure in a long time.  Second, I’m tired of seeing all those Toyota Prius’ out on the road.  These cars just make me think of socialist hipsters sipping some goofy drink at Starbucks and talking about how great their Mac is.  Based on what I’ve read, the extra expense for them doesn’t start saving you money in gas until many years after you’ve owned the car.  So, by default, the car is a statement car which only leads me to what I consider accurate conclusions about the people who drive them.  But enough with judging individuals I’ve never met.  It always seems to lead to trouble anyway. 

Let me get back to my first point.  “It represents the first real leap in automotive infrastructure in a long time.”  I use infrastructure rather than call it “revolutionary” because I don’t consider anything in electric cars to be revolutionary in the way the internal combustion engine was.  I can only conclude that the electric car promoters must have hired the PR people from Apple Computer.  Let’s think about that.  Steve Jobs has never invented or created anything all that new or revolutionary.  No, not even the graphical user interface… that was Xerox.  He didn’t invent the smartphone, he didn’t invent digital music.  He didn’t create anything.  What he did was take existing things that sucked, thought about them a little bit, and then repackaged them into something that didn’t suck.  There is something to be said for that, that’s for sure, but let’s not call him the inventor of these things.  I see the electric car the same way.  Let’s take the Tesla car for example.  It takes some mighty balls to do what Elon Musk did… that is… really take a big jump into an industry that is thus far unproven and technologically questionable within a consumer price range.  What I ask is, how hard is it really to just take a bazillion laptop batteries and shove them into the trunk of a car.  Then route them to electric motors that drive the powertrain.  I couldn’t do that, but I know enough that it can’t be terribly complicated to do with a handful of good engineers.  Mr. Musk was just the first person to put all the pieces together.  So far, the business is not doing well, but that has not stopped the Tesla Roadster from generating a massive amount of publicity.

The Economist’s article brings up several valid criticisms of the electric car craze.  First, it notes that while electric cars do not put out greenhouse gasses, they still need electricity.  And electricity comes from power plants which spit out greenhouse gasses.  The more electric cars we have, the more power plants will be necessary.  Decades in the future, it is possible that we will not use petroleum for our power generation, but that is still many years away.  Next, it brings up a point that I’ve never thought of before.  Even if we have an alternative way of generating our energy, or even just a “greener” fuel to use in our power plants, electric-powered vehicles are still a “costly way of abating CO2 emissions.”  I was amazed to see another example touted by Richard Pike, an executive with the Royal Society of Chemistry.  He commented that replacing all of Britain’s petrol-powered cars with subsidized electric ones would cost about 150B pounds.  This change would reduce carbon emissions in the UK by 2%.  With the same amount of money, “Britain could replace its entire power-generation stock with solar cells and cut its emissions by a third.

All this leads me to the conclusion that electric cars are awesome, and I want one.  I also want a computer monitor that I can roll up like a piece of paper.  And I would like all LED-light bulbs in my house.  These technologies are certainly possible, and any one of them could be propped up to get going with heavy subsidies.  But the natural “real” development of the industry is still a ways off.  I fear that our government is jumping on this electric car bandwagon too early, and the money they spend subsidizing the industry is diverting resources away from perhaps more important but less sexy things like battery technology.  This has been the historical record of industry subsidies which makes me very skeptical that the electric car movement is going to go anywhere and could perhaps ruin existing car companies in the process.  This would not bode well for Michigan whose car companies (save for Ford) are still gasping for air.

However, if I was given the option to trade in my 2007 Monte Carlo for a Chevy Volt, would I take it?

You bet I would!

Would you?  Let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Football Fix (links)

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We are less than 24 hours away from the hottest ticket in college football kicking off and I have a mini-keg of Bell's Oberon chilling in the fridge and will begin cutting up ingredients for chili tomorrow, but first lets get a final rundown on what people around the state and the nation are talking about the Spartan/Wolverine clash.

If you haven't found it yet, scroll down and you can listen to Mr. Sig and I preview tomorrow's game including our own analysis and predictions. Or download it on iTunes and listen to it on your commute home tonight or en route to the ballgame tomorrow.

UPDATE: Apparently, ESPN wants to kick the state of Michigan this week. First, College Game Day chooses the Alabama/South Carolina game. To add injury to insult, it has assigned Matt Millen to provide the color commentary for the Michigan/Michigan State game tomorrow. I'm so outraged, I don't know where to begin. Please feel free to help me out in the comments.

First lets start out with high school football where the top two teams in the state square off at Bob Perry Field at Red Arrow Stadium. Yes, East Grand Rapids (6-0) travels to Lowell (6-0) to take on the Red Arrows this evening. The long-standing rivalry has taken on new meaning over the last decade as the two OK-White teams have combined for nine state championships. Jane Bos takes a look at the last ten years of the rivalry.

Back to the Saturday clash in Ann Arbor. Links and predictions.

Art Prize Winners Announced

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"Cavalry, American Officers, 1921" by Chris LaPorte, 2010 Art Prize 1st Place Winner

Unfortunately, we were not able to make it back to Grand Rapids to check out Art Prize in person this year. Nonetheless, the competition intrigued and fascinated us from afar and we will have to make a better effort to make it home to experience Art Prize next year.

It is still a remarkable event and tremendous economic and public relations boost for the city of Grand Rapids and West Michigan drawing visitors, artists, and media coverage from around the world. More importantly, it has introduce thousands of individuals, especially children, to the wonders of art through a variety of mediums. Yes, some improvements can be made, but that is to be expected from this type of event as it continues to grow and mature.

Enjoy these final Art Prize links and please share your feedback and thoughts about Art Prize.

Michigan + Michigan State Preview


By Mr. Sig

Sports – See All Sports

In our first (and successful) attempt ad being sports broadcasters, the Doctor and I provide the most thought-provoking analysis on the upcoming Michigan vs Michigan State game that you will find anywhere across the fruited plain.

Check it out on iTunes, or just listen in here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art Prize Winner Announced Tonight - Featured on NBC's "Today Show"

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By Doctor

It must be big to draw our attention away from the pending football game in Ann Arbor this Saturday, yet "big" may still fall short of describing Art Prize and it's impact on Grand Rapids and West Michigan over the past few weeks. However, "big" would be an accurate description of the Steam Pig Experiment, one of the top ten finalists at Art Prize this year who will be awarded at total of $449,000 in prize money tonight.

 Over the past couple of weeks almost 45,000 voters have cast over 450,000 votes to narrow down 1713 entries to this year's winner who will receive the competition's top prize of $250,000.

Kathy Lee Gifford was in town last weekend and gushed about her fantastic experience on the "Today Show" earlier this week. Apparently she left an impression on the producers of NBC's morning show as they returned and featured Art Prize in this morning's broadcast.

Michigan/Michigan State with Apologies to Dr. Suess

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#17 Michigan State (5-0) v. #18 Michigan (5-0)

Mike Thompson does a fun take on the Michigan/Michigan State rivalry in the Detroit Free Press Dr. Suess style that encapsulates the rivalry and more importantly ends up at the heart of the matter: the real winners this week are those profiting from selling us all of the team apparel we proudly display.

The M- and S- Bellied Sneeches

More rivalry week links after the jump.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Rivalry

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#17 Michigan State (5-0) v. #18 Michigan (5-0)

It's rivalry week in Michigan. Michigan v. Michigan State. Michiganders need no further introduction to understand the importance of the match-up. Each autumn Michiganders display their allegiances as the Spartans and Wolverines clash for bragging rights for the next year.

This game means a lot to Michiganders. We grow up with it. You pick a side or your parents pick the side for you. You begin boasting and exercising bragging rights as early as grade school; arguing with the enemy (a.k.a. friends the rest of the year) on the school bus and the playground (some of my most intense MSU/UofM debates were on the school bus as a 4th and 5th grader).

Beginning with adolescence, the rivalry will escalate into pranks, bets, and eventually an arms race to see who can most prominently display their school colors on their car, yard, house, pets, children, etc...Once this begins, we never grow out of it.

I cannot escape the rivalry and the dragging rights of the game out here in Arlington, VA. On Saturday morning, a few hours before the teams kick-off in Ann Arbor, I'll lead a team of Michigan State alums against Michigan alums in  a game of flag football in Washington DC. (Disclosure: I bleed Green and White. Further disclosure: the QB for the UofM alumni flag football team is an Ohio State alum).

More coverage after the jump...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just In: Famous Lush Still Loves Michigan!

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Who needs the Pure Michigan ad campaign? The state of Michigan should probably just budget funds for Kathy Lee Gifford to fly to Michigan once a week, so she can gush about all the wonderful places and things Michigan has to offer. It's a win - win. Kathy Lee gets a fantastic weekend in Michigan and the state of Michigan gets the great endorsement and cheap advertising as she chats about her weekend on the Today Show.

Yes, Kathy Lee Gifford made another trip to Michigan recently, had a wonderful time (no surprise), and raved about it this morning on the Today Show. Particularly she raves about beautiful Holland including a gift of wooden shoes to host Hoda Kotb, Evergreen Commons, and about Art Prize and the flurry of activity it has created in downtown Grand Rapids.

With no further ado, here's Kathly Lee making here second appearance on gushing about beautiful West Michigan.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Where in Michigan should Kathy Lee go next?

The State of Michigan Sports

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There's no reason to beat around the bush today. Most Michigan Expats are thinking sports this week. Whether it is agonizing over the Lions coming up predictably short again yesterday, what lies ahead for the Tigers this off-season, or most likely, the upcoming battle of the undefeated ranked teams at the Big House this Saturday.

Specifically, sports are an important way for Michigan Expats to stay connected to our home state as well as a means to meet and relate to other Michiganders. Michiganders take pride in their teams, even the Lions (I saw a family all decked out in Lions jerseys at Arlington National Cemetery this spring), and do a great job of supporting our teams - Red Wings fans in particular do a fantastic job of supporting the Wings on the road.

We apologize for not discussing Michigan sports more here on the blog and promise to talk about the subject more often going forward. Of course, this is a great week to begin the discussion with so much going on with the Lions, Spartans, Tigers, and Wolverines.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Michigan Expats Podcast Episode 10


Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

I mumbled my way through this one, but that’s ok.  It’s about the music anyway.  For new readers to this blog, this podcast focuses on good music from Michigan artists.  I typically play about 8-9 songs along with some commentary in between many of them.  Links to purchase the songs on Amazon are provided below.

In addition, you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes so that you can sync it with your iPod device.  One of these days, I’m going to get us in the Zune podcast directory.  I think there are a couple technical tweaks that I need to make to our feed and then it should be ready to submit.

I hope you are enjoying this music, and if you have any special requests, you can always send them to

The Detroit Spinners – It’s a Shame – Purchase

Hank Ballard and the Midnighters – Annie Had a Baby – Purchase

I See Stars – 3D – Purchase

Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops – Purchase

Jack Scott – What in the World’s Come Over You – Purchase

Marshall Crenshaw – Someday Someday – Purchase

The Miracles – Tears of a Clown – Purchase

We Came as Romans – Dreams - Purchase

Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally – Purchase

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nerdvana Exported

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By John Galt New-maker-faire-Sept-2010-in-Queens-NYC[1]

With all the talk lately of Detroit’s creative rebirth, which I have to say I did not fully understand until recently, I have been inspired to revisit a topic near and dear to my heart.

It’s no secret that I have found the San Francisco hype a bit overblown. There really isn’t much here that can’t be gotten elsewhere. In fact, I used to be quite vocal about this belief until this past June when I was proven wrong, at least in part. It was when I first attended the most glorious festival in all of nerdvana, known as the Bay Area Maker Faire.

Maker Faire is a Bay Area festival for all things creative, held since 2006. This year was my first time, and it was the most bizarrely satisfying expepost-tm2-13[1]rience I have ever encountered.  It is a festival celebrating the Bay Area’s most bizarre, creative, eccentric, and ultimately fascinating works or invention, art, science, and engineering.  Remote controlled boats were battling (and sinking) each other in a mock WWII scene. Racing go-carts that were shaped as cupcakes. A giant terrifying vehicle that walked like a steel tarantula.  A snow cone maker built out of a full size steam engine.  A flame throwing fire engine that created such an explosion one could feel the visceral thump in your chest from across the fairground. It was a mad scientist/wacky artist Woodstock that would make the acid-tripping hybrid offspring of Nikola Tesla and Dr. Emmett Brown proud. In a word, it was magnificent.  And only a place like San Francisco could pull it off.  Until now… 

This year, for the first time, Maker Faire exported their orgy of creative explosion to other U.S. cities. The two other cities were New York (of course, I suppose), and Detroit. Wait, Detroit? Not Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles or Austin? I would have expected Branson, Missouri before I expected Detroit. When I heard that the Henry Ford Museum was involved in bring it to Detroit, I smugly dismissed it, thinking it was just another corporate sponsored attempt to bring culture to the cesspool of Detroit. Little did I know that Detroit already had more than enough inventive wackiness to fit right into the Maker Faire starting lineup.

Only recently have I really begun to educate myself on the resurgence of alternative art culture that seems to be reinvigorating (parts of) Detroit. After seeing the recently posted Detroit Lives documentary, I have a much greater appreciation for the creative renaissance taking place in what was once viewed as the black eye of my home state.

Looking at Detroit with this new perspective, I now better understand why Maker Faire chose Detroit. I am sad to say that Maker Faire: Detroit 2010 has already passed in early August, and I didn’t seem to hear much about it. I hope it catches on, so I can go next year.