Monday, December 12, 2011

Screw You Wisconsin and Ohio

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Andy Kerfoot's Not So Pure Michigan videos are a favorite of ours here. After the Packers defeated the Lions on Thanksgiving, the Badgers spoiled Michigan States Rose Bowl dreams, and the latest Wisconsin mitten WTF ad from last week, it is necessary to strike back at the Cheesehead state and if you're going to figuratively shit on a regional neighbor, it's always fun to include Ohio.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Much to be Thankful for in Michigan

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Happy Thanksgiving from Michigan Expats. Upon the eve of one of our greatest national holidays, let us reflect on some of the many things Michigan, Michiganders, and Michigan Expats have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

To begin, on a personal note for us here at Michigan Expats, we are thankful for Mr. Sig and his new wife, Mrs. Sig, who were married in Ecuador in June. Furthermore, we are thankful to celebrate the marriage this weekend in Flint. 

What Michigan Has to Be Thankful For:
  • It's Thanksgiving which means that the Lions are playing in their annual Thanksgiving day game. Be thankful that the Lions are good this year (7-3), and are hosting the reigning Super Bowl champs and undefeated, Green Bay Packers, so plan to postpone the post dinner nap for the Miami-Dallas game.
  • It's going to be a beautiful Thanksgiving day here in Michigan with temperatures expected in the 50's. Excellent weather for those annual family Turkey Bowl touch football games. Rules from WSJ.
  • A return to winning for the Michigan Wolverines under first year head coach Brady Hoke. Win a win over that team from Ohio this Saturday, Michigan will finish the regular season 10-2 and be in a great position for a BCS bowl game.
  • Likewise, Spartan fans can be thankful for their Big Ten Legends division championship. Michigan State will play the winner of Saturday's Penn State v. Wisconsin game on December 3 in Indianapolis in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game.
  • The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central Division and beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young and MVP.
  • Michigan must also be thankful for good economic news: Drop in unemployment. Job market outlook brightens. The economy is improving (although still has away to go). Fifth Third Bank announces it'll invest $5 billion in Michigan next year.
  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs Thursday night at 8PM on ABC (I'm a big Peanuts fan).
Please let us know what else you and Michigan should be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Safe travels to those on the road or in the air this weekend, especially those headed home to Michigan. Enjoy your time with family and friends and lots of Turkey.

I'm off to enjoy the biggest bar night of the year at the Waldorf Brewery in Hastings, MI. Please drink responsibly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Veterans and Michigan Innovation

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It’s Veterans Day, and some Michiganders are commemorating the holiday in a very unique and exciting way.

The Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team will open their season this afternoon against pre-season #1 ranked North Carolina. While it would be exciting in and of itself for two of the most successful basketball programs to tip off the season against each other, the game today is even more remarkable because of where it is being played and how it came about.

The Spartans and Tar Heels will play the game today outdoors on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier docked in the San Diego, CA harbor. President Barack Obama and roughly 7,000 active duty service men and women will be in the make-shift stands on board the deck of the aircraft carrier that laid Osama bin Laden to rest at sea earlier this year.

That’s just the scene and you can get most of that information online or during the broadcast during today’s game. However, if you watch the game tonight, do not be fooled into thinking that this was the brainchild and product of the ESPN mothership.

The Quicken Loans Carrier Classic tonight is the brainchild of Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis who over the past decade has been at the forefront of innovation in college athletics and another fantastic example of the state of Michigan being a leader in leadership and innovation.

It was Hollis, then the associate athletic director, who came up with the idea for the “Cold War” hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State to be played outdoors in Spartan Stadium in 2001. The game set an at-the-time attendance record for a hockey game and established a model for additional outdoor hockey games. The National Hockey League’s (NHL) now annual Hockey Classic, played annually on New Year’s Day, is held outdoors and has been played in historic venues such as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. And last year, the Spartans and Wolverines held a “Cold War” rematch in the Big House. These exciting outdoor hockey contests all got their start after the success of the first “Cold War” game.

Another Hollis idea, the 2003 “Basketbowl” between Michigan State and Kentucky at Ford Field set the attendance record for a basketball game (and still a record for a college basketball game). Not only did the game feature two marquee basketball programs in a new football facility, but it changed the mold by placing the basketball court in the center of the football field. Previously, basketball games played in big football stadiums put the court in one of the end zones and blocked off half of the stadium seating. The game’s successes paved the way for the NCAA Final Four to be held in Detroit at Ford Field in 2009 and set the current standard of holding the Final Four in giant indoor football stadiums with the court located on the 50 yard-line.

The Carrier Classic is Hollis’ latest innovation and if today’s game is successful, another standard bearer as the game is proposed to be an annual event to help draw attention to the start of the college basketball season, but more importantly, to bring attention and support for America’s service men and women on Veteran’s Day.

The game wouldn’t have happened without the support of another Spartan, Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans, who is sponsoring the game to the tune of $3 million covering most of the costs of the event (hence the official name: “Quicken Loans Carrier Classic”), and the Morale Entertainment Foundation, founded by former US Marine, Mike Whalen, who had the connections and drive to make the logistics work.

The game airs today at 7PM EST on ESPN. Watch to cheer on the Spartans in hopes that they can pull off an upset win. Better yet that the game and the secret post-game concert act provide great entertainment for America’s service men and women who will be attendance and it helps bring attention to Veterans Day as much more than a federal holiday.

More importantly, take a moment today to say a prayer for the men and women, past and present, who have served to protect and defend the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Michigan State, the Not So Pure Michigan Video

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Here at Michigan Expats, we're big fans of John Kerfoot's (Not So) Pure Michigan parody videos. A year after taking on UofM fans in this classic spoof, Kerfoot kicks off the 2011 football season with his Michigan State parody video.

Again, Kerfoot is spot on and we'll toast to the Spartans (Beat Notre Dame) and "Spartan girls...they're Pure Michigan."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Michigan Party - October 15, 2011

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A year ago, reader Dax de la Monta, sent us an email about a Michigan theme party he hosted in New York. It was a big hit and aligns perfectly with our mission here at to discuss and celebrate what we love about Michigan, that Dax, Mr. Sig, and I decided to try and expand the concept to Michigan Expats everywhere.

We picked October 15 because Michiganders already have a great reason to get together as Michigan and Michigan State battle at Spartan Stadium that afternoon for the Paul Bunyan-Governor of Michigan Trophy.

You can RSVP and invite other through the Michigan Party Facebook Event Page. However, not only do we want to get as many people to respond to event page as possible, we want to help Michiganders coordinate, plan, and throw an awesome Michigan Party themselves and share that with us so we can share it with other Michigan Expats. Consider us your source for your own Michigan Party.

Michigan Party Ideas and Items:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Michigan Remembers 9/11: Photos from the West Michigan Healing Field

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It was a beautiful and solemn tribute in honor of the victims of the horrific attacks of September 11, 2011. This weekend, 3,200 America flags covered a hill at Canonsburg Ski Area, just north of Grand Rapids, MI.

The power of the memorial is not only the sea of American flags (93 rows of 3'x5' flags, but in the brief biographies attached to the flags honoring the victims by listing their name, hometown, age, a brief biography, and where they tragically lost their lives (flight #, WTC, or Pentagon).

It is a powerful tribute. Particularly, when reading the short biographies and fully grasping how these innocent men, women, and children were murdered and robbed of growing up, getting married, or meeting unborn children.

The Healing Field memorial is not unique to West Michigan. The idea originated in Sandy, Utah by Colonial Flag who helps organize temporary memorials across the country. You can visit their website to locate a Healing Field coming to your area as well as purchase fields to help support the memorial.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pink Arrow Pride Pictures

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Wow. I finally got to attend a Pink Arrow game at my high school alma mater last Friday and I was blown away by the community involvement, support, and inspiration of the day's events. 

It is indeed an event. Gates opened at 2:30 in the afternoon before the schedule 7:00PM kick-off and both a soccer game and volleyball match were played in the stadium before the football game. 

Roughly 7,000 attended the game and almost every single one wore this year's Pink Arrow Force IV t-shirt sold at a local store and at the high school. The t-shirts are a large part of the project. Sold for $15, all of the proceeds benefit the Pink Arrow Force project and charities, and the t-shirts serve as tickets into the game (over 7500 t-shirts have been sold). For an additional fee, individuals can have a name(s) listed on the back of a friend or family member who has battled cancer. 

It's amazing to see how many t-shirts had names printed on the backs, and how many people even in a small community are impacted by the disease. It is an emotional experience that goes above and beyond just a football game. I am extremely proud of the Lowell community and football team who puts on the event without any administrative costs and had raised over $700,000 in the first three years and is likely to pass the million dollar mark this year with the proceeds going to support cancer research, scholarships, and local families battling in need.

I hope you enjoy the photos and the positive story from Lowell. As I posted last weekend, the NBC "Today Show" was there filming a segment, and I intend to post that as soon as it becomes available. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NBC "Today Show" Coming to Lowell, MI

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Americans certainly take sports seriously, and no sport is as important to Americans than football. The Rose Bowl on New Year's Day and the Super Bowl every winter are national cultural events, the latter is the largest watch television event each year. Even tonight, the American President has moved up a speech before a joint session of Congress in order not to conflict with the kick-off of the first game of the National Football League 2011 season. It's no wonder that we sometimes question if we have our priorities in order.

Which is why it is refreshing that the festivities in Lowell, MI this weekend are getting so much attention. I wrote about the "Pink Arrow Pride" last fall and how it was featured nationally by High School Football America (and back on their home page), for how it has unified a community and raised over $700,000 in three years to support local families battling cancer.

The event continues to grow and garner national attention as a film crew from NBC's "Today Show" will be there tomorrow capturing all of the festivities and interviewing coaches, players, and volunteers for a segment to air next week.
It is indeed a community sensation. Pink banners and t-shirts have lined the town lamp posts for weeks and almost 6,000 official Pink Arrow Pride t-shirts have been sold. Many of those t-shirts, like the pink jerseys the football team will wear tomorrow night, feature the name of a friend or relative on the back who is or has battled cancer.

As I mentioned in my post last year, this event hits more closer to home for me because Lowell, MI is home. I look forward to finally being able to attend a Pink Arrow game at my high school alma mater and join in the sea of pink in the bleachers as a crowd approaching 10,000 is expected. I hope to go over early and watch the soccer game and volleyball match scheduled to take place on the football field prior to the football game. 

I'll plan to post pictures this weekend or early next weekend of the festivities and hopefully the NBC crew. I'll also do my best to alert you to when the segment will air on the Today Show and do my best to re-post it here on our site, so be sure to check in on the site or with us on Facebook or Twitter (@MichiganExpats) for more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grand Rapids–#2 Best Place to Live in the US


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By Mr. Sig

Did you ever expect to see this?  I’ve been to Grand Rapids several times and I know people who live there.  It’s actually not that bad of a place.  It’s good, in fact.  So good, that Marketwatch thinks that it is the 2nd best place to live in the US.

Marketwarch technology columnist, John C Dvorak – of who I am a big fan - often mentions how these sorts of lists get made.  He used to work at Forbes and participated many times in the careful decision making that accompanied the creation of these lists.  Here’s how it worked – a bunch of editors sat around at lunchtime and threw out some candidates.  Everyone talked about it, argued back and forth, and eventually came up with a consensus.  Some predictable comments might be,  “Those guys got it last year… let’s drop them to 2 or 3 this year.”  “Naa, I’ve been there, that place is a dump.”

I’m sure this list was formed the same way, but there has to be some truth to it.  Someone had to think of Grand Rapids and argue strong enough for it to get it up to #2.

I’m sure my hometown of Flint just didn’t quite make the top ten.  I’m guessing it is #11.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Michigan Lighthouse on Bing!

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By Mr. Sig

Say what you want about the Bing search engine, but I might use it a little more now that they are featuring a beautiful Michigan Lighthouse. You have to get to it today before they change the image.

Check out more details regarding the Wawatam Lighhouse in St. Ignace here below.

Pretty cool!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michigan Most Beautiful Place in America

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Confirming what Michiganders have long known, ABC's Good Morning America has crowned the Sleeping Bear Dunes along the Northwest shores of Lake Michigan the Most Beautiful Place in America.

After thousands of submissions from viewers were narrowed down to a top ten, the Sleeping Bear Dunes beat out other beautiful American spots such as the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Lanikai Beach in Hawaii, the Rocky Mountains in Aspen, Cape Cod, and the Grand Canyon.

Of course, Michiganders and those who have had the pleasure of visiting our beautiful state are well aware of her beauty and they came in numbers to vote on Good Morning America's poll and confirm our state's rightful place as most beautiful place in America. Thanks and congratulations to all of those who appreciate Michigan's beauty and voted for the Dunes.

Personally, it's a good reminder that I need to plan a trip back to the Sleeping Bear Dunes and hike up the sand dunes from Lake Michigan, tube the Platte River, and camp nearby like I did with family and friends growing up.

What are your favorite memories of the Sleeping Bear Dunes and what other spots in Michigan would you nominate to include in Michigan Top Ten Most Beautiful places? Let us know in the comments before or on our Facebook page.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Enjoying the Michigan Outdoors

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I’ve been back in the Mitten State for a little over a week and it still hasn’t sunk in quite yet that I’ve dug in and moved back and need to find a job and begin this next phase of my life. Last weekend I was up in Traverse City for the Cherry Festival and the Fourth and I spent this past weekend on the Muskegon River and in Ludington.

Of course, one of the reasons this was such a good time for me to come back to Michigan (at least how I have rationalized my decision) is that it would feel like a vacation at first followed shortly by my brother’s wedding which would all help (1) initially make it fun and (2) deflect the attention away from my decision within the family.  – at least, during the first month.

This weekend I took off with my brother and brother-in-law for my brother’s bachelor party. We took off Saturday morning from Lowell, MI and headed north to Big Rapids where we rented tubes at the Sawmill Canoe & Livery and set off down the Muskegon River. It was a beautiful day and we got on the river before it got busy, so we were able to leisurely float down the river with a cooler full of barley sodas. Don’t be fooled with the fact that you hop on in Big Rapids, the Muskegon is a big beautiful river and a great way to relax and enjoy the Michigan outdoors.

Next stop was Jamesport Brewing Co. in downtown Ludington where we had a late lunch (fish and chips). The ESB was good, the Scotch Strong Ale was great, and we left with a growler full of their Altbier for the evening at the campground. We stayed at Cartier Park Campground just north of downtown which worked out great for the price and location. We cooked steaks, potatoes, and veggies over the campfire, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores before finishing the night with bourbon and cigars.

Sunday morning we had a great breakfast at Brenda’s Harbor CafĂ© in downtown before going to the beach at city park for a few hours. We laid on the beach, threw the football and baseball around, walked out to the lighthouse, and swam in Lake Michigan. Before we left town we stopped at House of Flavors for delicious ice cream. It may not have been as outrageous as Rick Gassko’s bachelor party in the Tom Hank’s classic, Bachelor Party (1984), but it was a fun and relaxing weekend featuring Michigan’s natural beauty as the perfect backdrop for a brother’s retreat.

No big travel plans this weekend. Going to watch Verlander pitch tonight for the Tigers and lounge by the pool tomorrow afternoon. What does everyone else have in store for the weekend?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Traverse City for the Fourth and the National Cherry Festival

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I grew up in Traverse City and the National Cherry Festival. I always loved it. I know some of the locals avoid downtown Traverse during the Festival – many even leave town for the week – but I love it: the people, the venues, the activities, etc…

This year was no exception. The timing of my return to Michigan couldn’t have been better. Driving back to Grand Rapids on Friday, July 1 gave me Saturday to recuperate before driving up to Traverse City on Sunday in time for the Air Show.

The Festival has changed the configuration a bit in the open space area in recent years following the demolition of the old power plant, and this year featured the beer tent at the north end of the open space where for years featured the stage for the evening concerts. This made the beer tent area perfect for watching the air show and fireworks without being concerned about finding a good seat. Plus the beer was right there.

Although the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were not a part of this year’s show having visited TC last summer, I was thoroughly impressed with this year’s air show. The demonstrations of the A-10 Warhog and the F-18 Hornet by the US Army and Air Force respectively were cool to watch – I’d hate to have to challenge America’s air superiority – but the best part of the air show were the two flight teams.

More about the show after the jump...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Big Changes at Michigan Expats

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It’s been a busy and crazy past month for us here at Michigan Expats. Both Mr. Sig and I have undergone substantial changes in our personal lives, which help explain some of recent lack of original content on the blog, but more importantly, will impact the direction and content of the blog moving forward.

First, congratulations to Mr. Sig, who got married June 18 in Ecuador. Needless to say, marriage and, for the time being, living abroad is a big change in his life and will bring with it a unique perspective. Previously both of us were young single guys from Michigan who missed our home state and discussed wanting to return. Certainly having a family, particularly a wife of foreign descent, will offer Mr. Sig an opportunity to share his perspective of being a married Michigan Expat living overseas.

Likewise, shortly after Mr. Sig packed up and departed for Ecuador, I made the decision to return to Michigan. Five years after moving out to the Washington D.C. area following college graduation, I decided not to renew my lease and turned down an offer to remain in my job in Arlington, VA, and to move home to Michigan.

I’ll elaborate about my decision to return to Michigan in an upcoming post. However, just because I did return to Michigan and am no longer officially an “Expat”, I will continue to write on the blog and the various topics will not change. The main difference is that I will now be able comment and discuss everything from the perspective of an ex-Michigan Expat facing the challenges and enjoying the benefits of being back in Michigan.

Hopefully, I will chronicle a successful transition back home including finding a good job, housing, and stories of exploring the multiple of fun and majestic events and spots across Michigan.

Thanks for following us. Expect more content coming up in the near future and please be sure to send us feedback via email (, Facebook, or Twitter (@michiganexpats).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grand Rapids Lip Dub

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We've shared the Grand Valley State University lip dub and the Calvin College lip dub. Here's the latest lip dub out of Michigan. This one comes from the City of Grand Rapids featuring a live edition of Don McLean's American Pie.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

MichiganExpats Podcast Episode 27–Not a Month too Soon


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By Mr. Sig

We got em!  Well, after a brief hiatus due to some scheduling and availability issues on the weekends, I finally got another episode out.  This is episode 27 folks, and it’s not a month too soon.

We have an awesome lineup of sings that we have for your this week along with some excellent (horrible) commentary by the Doctor and Mr. Sig.

Keep in mind that before each podcast, we tweet and Facebook all over the place creating a huge mess but also letting you know that you can call in and be on the show.  We might just make you famous.

Here are the songs from this week’s lineup.

Was (Not Was) – Spy in the House of Love – Purchase on Amazon

The Contours (Dirty Dancing) – Do You Love Me – Purchase on Amazon

The Spinners – Midnight Special – Purchase on Amazon

Jackie Wilson – Higher and Higher – Purchase on Amazon

Eminem – Beautiful – Purchase on Amazon

Electric Six – Escape From Ohio – Purchase on Amazon

Electric Six – Synthesizer – Purchase on Amazon

Kelley Stoltz – 84 Tigers – Purchase on Amazon

Monday, May 2, 2011

Keep the Canadians Out – A suggestion to our Immigration workers


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By Mr. Sig

So…. Michigan accepted 4 million in border aid for “better communication systems.”  Although taking money from Lucy Napolitano to secure the borders is pretty much non-negotiable, it brings up an interesting point.  Michigan has an international port of entry from Canada.  It is one of the things that you seldom hear people talk about when Michigan’s advantages are thrown around, but it’s something we cannot ignore.

Welcoming immigration workers and border patrol agents are seldom nice people, but this is the midwest, darnnit.  People here are nice and that should be reflected in the way we present our customs and immigration experience to the Canadians.  The last thing any foreigner wants when entering into this country is to deal with some jerk immigration official.  Give people a lot of power, keep their pay low and, well, you see what happens.

Given all of this – I call on our immigration folks to (legally) welcome people into our country.  Smile when they come up to get their passport stamped.  Be kind to them if they don’t understand you or speak another language.  When they pass through, tell them “welcome” “thanks for visiting,” “I hope you have a good time here", ”please come back again.”  Hell, give them a good suggestion for a nearby watering hole.

Being married to a non-US citizen has given me a lot of perspective about how we treat our guests.  Simply put, we treat them like criminals even though the vast majority of them have done no and mean no harm to the US.  This experience alone just kills our tourism industry since many people don’t want to come visit anymore.

Think about how much good customer service could do for Michigan’s tourism industry coming through our Canadian ports of entry.  Is it a law that immigration workers make others feel small and scared?  Is this what Napolitano wants?  Maybe so, but I don’t think it’s in any manual that simple politeness, friendliness and good old fashioned midwest charm be excluded from the behavior of our immigration workers.

Foreigners are our clients and customers, not criminals.

Until next time….

Anti-Tressel Billboard

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By Mr. Sig

Come on, Michigan.  Let's get some wins first and then start ragging on the guy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Huge Hockey Buzzkill–UM Loses National Championship


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By Mr. Sig

Did anyone know that the University of Michigan was in the NCAA national championship hockey game?  They just lost 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth.

Given that the most important thing in Michigan sports is to beat Ohio State in football and win the big ten, we often overlook how excellent the hockey team is.

Each year, UM and MSU both have top of the line programs, and the state of Michigan in general has dominated in hockey.  Check out these screenshots I grabbed out of Wikipedia.


Yea -  that looks like domination to me.  Michigan has a total of 5 schools that have won national titles and leads the overall titles count by more than double the next contender.

The most recent victory by a Michigan team was MSU in 2007.  Michigan had victories in 1998 and 1996.  You can see the whole list here.

Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Economist Magazine Features Detroit

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By Mr. Sig

One of my favorite publications, the Economist Magazine, recently featured Detroit in an article - link below.

As a technology worker myself, I can comewhat relate to the thesis of this article.  That is, technology hiring is starting to ramp up in the Detroit area mainly due to carmakers bringing back their tech employment to pre-recession levels.

Certainly, Detroit can be an attractive place for a technology worker.  A skilled tech worker has pretty good job security, and given that making 80K in Detroit can be compared to making about 150K in many other cities, taking a tech job in Detroit can be a great financial decision.

This particular article poses an interesting question regarding what might attract good tech workers to Detroit.  One downside is that if a worker is laid-off, there are not really any other options for him/her.  This is not the case in a place like Silicon Valley or even places like Charlotte - also mentioned in this article.

While I agree with this thesis, I really don't think it is a problem for a tech worker.  I have spoken many times with executives in my company and I know first hand that the recession didn't really hit IT.  While other areas are suffering, companies have an insatiable demand for technically competent workers who know "how to do things."  If you are a competent employee, the likelyhood of you losing a job in Detroit is awfully low.  Even in Detroit, technical folks are not likely to be out of work for long.

The other advantage of being a technology worker in Michigan is that it's quite likely that you can become king.  Or, at least, you will be able to walk with kings.  If you are a rare breed with specialized skills, you are likely to be pampered and given a metaphorical red carpet while on the job.  The last thing that your company wants is for you to quit.  Then what will they do?

For skilled IT workers, Detroit can be an attractive option.  There is a lot of potential there (can it get any worse?) and the cost of living is so low, that a worker can live very comfortably.  At some point, this will resonate and a few folks will start to trickle back to the Motor City.......


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Michigan Expats Podcast Episode 26 – Jimmy King


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By – Mr. Sig

That’s right – we discussed Jimmy King, the former Fab 5 member on this week’s episode.  There was a pretty big spat following the showing of the new documentary on ESPN between Grant Hill and some of the comments that the Fab 5 members made.  More on that later.

As for now, we are celebrating the induction of Alice Cooper to the rock and roll hall of fame.  As such, he is featured twice in this week’s Michigan Music rundown.

Alice Cooper – School’s Out - Purchase on Amazon

Della Reese – Touched by an Angel - Purchase on Amazon

Debarge – Rhythm Of The Night - Purchase on Amazon

John Lee Hooker – This Land is Nobody’s Land - Purchase on Amazon

Jeff Daniels - Purchase on Amazon

Madonna – Hollywood - Purchase on Amazon

Janet Jackson – Got Til Its Gone - Purchase on Amazon

Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy - Purchase on Amazon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Michigan (part of it) is growing?

By Mr. Sig

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Now isn't this something?  Michigan is actually growing.

The Detroit News reports that, well, why don't I just flat out copy them directly,

Grand Traverse County led the population surge in the northwest, increasing 12 percent from 2000-10 to 86,986 people. Emmet County grew 4 percent to 32,694 people, and Leelanau County 2.8 rose percent to 21,708 people.
This reiterates what I've been thinking for a while.  Hidden gems don't stay hidden for too long.  People are starting to figure out that at least in the warmer months, Northern Michigan is one of the greatest places to be in North America.

Of course, it is also that the folks from Detroit that are moving up north.  It is no secret to those who already live in Michigan know that "up north" is pretty darn awesome.  Maybe it's the older retired folks who realized the game is over in SE Michigan and have finally called a spade a spade and took off for greener pastures.

Who knows what will become of this in the next decade, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on and could be the location where Michigan starts to make its move back to prominence.

It's a thought.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Inaugural National Vernors Day, 3/13

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had already planned to highlight and write about one unique Michigan delicacy this week, since yesterday I received a shipment of pasties from Pasty Central Express, in Kearsarge, Michigan, just north of Calumet through I will have to follow up on the pasties in the near future because I want to highlight a new movement amongst Michigan Expats that was brought to our attention from one of our readers to share with.

Thanks to Tim Glass for forwarding along this article from Hanna Raskin of the Dallas Observer, who not only vigorously defends the tasty beverage from Detroit but calls for a National Vernors Day on March 13 or 3/13 for Detroit's area code.

The article is dated yesterday, March 2, at 5:02PM and already you can RSVP for National Vernors Day on Facebook and follow the movement on Tumblr.

I trust that most of our readers, being true Michiganders, are well aware of Vernors, the ginger ale created by Detroit pharmacist, James Vernor, during the Civil War. Nearly a 150 years later it remains a favorite amongst Michiganders and Michigan Expats who remain fiercely loyal to the Detroit ginger ale.

It's another opportunity to highlight the creative and delicious entrepreneurial tradition of the state of Michigan, from Vernors, to Faygo, and now the booming Michigan craft beer industry. I encourage you to help spread the 3/13 National Vernors Day movement, RSVP to the Facebook event, get your Michigan Awesome 313 t-shirt, and take on Hanna Raskins call to "lift a glass of Vernors to muscle and music and a community that so appreciates honest labor that the most popular Detroit Lion of the last decade was a kicker."

Mr. Sig and I are going to do our best to track down some Vernors, and we plan on drinking the delicious ginger ale live during our podcast on Sunday, March 13. Please share with us your fond memories of Vernors and why Michiganders are so fond of the pop here on the website or our Facebook page, so we can share them live on the podcast.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Michigan Expats Podcast–Episode 25–Motown


By Mr. Sig

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Mr Sig teams up with the doctor to counter and “one-up” President Obama’s Motown tribute concert.

Of course, we succeeded.  Our production was far superior to the white house performance.

As always – if you want to be on the show – call in when we are recording or share your dropbox with us.

The Temptations – Cloud Nine

Barrett Strong – Money (That’s What I Want)

The Temptations – The Way You Do the Things You Do

Kim Weston & Marvin Gaye – It Takes Two

Stevie Wonder – For Once in My Life

Michael Jackson – Rockin’ Robin

The Commodores – Brick House

The Supremes – Nathan Jones

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Nowhere to Run

The Jackson 5 – ABC

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cut! Michigan Film Industry on the Budget Room Floor

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

Reactions are still emerging from the release of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal last week. I commented on my first impressions late last week and am now following up on a more detail look into some of the more controversial aspects of the budget.

From my morning overview of Michigan news sources, it appears that much of the budget discussion today focused on the state's film industry incentives program. Mitch Albom writes that Snyder's proposal to scale back the nation's most generous film tax incentives felt like getting "punched in the stomach."

I understand the allure of the film industry and the magic of movies. I wrote about it on the blog last fall (parts IIIIII, & IV). The film incentive program is very popular and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that shows that it has been successful. Still, the overall evidence on the success of the program is mixed. A recent Earnst & Young study states that every $1 spent on the program generates $6 in state economic activity which contradicts the 2010 Senate Fiscal Agency report from last fall that found that the program will never "pay for itself."

The problem with Albom's criticism is that it is written like kid in a tantrum who's had a new toy taken away:  "Snyder acts as if the world consists of one type of business -- a type that only wants low state taxes. He's wrong."

"No, Walter, you're not wrong. You're just an asshole." - The Dude

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Michigan Expats Podcast Episode 24 – Fun Stuff


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By  Mr. Sig

Mr. Sig and the Doctor pair up for another excellent episode featuring an embarrassing repeat of a song from last week.  Otherwise, it was an excellent episode.

Remember that if you want to share a song with us, just share a dropbox folder with us.  As always, if you want to be on the show, you can call us on gchat or skype.  We send out facebook and twitter messages before we start so you know.

Electric Six – Synthesizer – Purchase on Amazon

Eminem – Beautiful – Purchase on Amazon

Jackie Wilson – Higher and Higher – Purchase on Amazon

Marshall Crenshaw – Cruel to be Kind – Purchase on Amazon

The Spinners – Rubberband Man – Purchase on Amazon

The Contours – Do you Love me? – Purchase on Amazon

Was (not Was) – Spy in the House of Love – Purchase on Amazon

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight Tonight – Purchase on Amazon

Frontier Ruckus – June is our Mother’s Name – Purchase on Amazon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Governor Snyder's Proposed Budget and Michigan's Future

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

Over the last 10 days, it's been fun to watch, read, and react to stories on the "Imported from Detroit" commercial featuring Eminem that aired during the Super Bowl and the viral internet movement that emerged to fund a RoboCop statue in Detroit.

But neither of those stories address the heart of the problems facing Michigan. Chrysler, Ford, and GM can produce all the inspirational commercials they want, but ultimately it won't matter if they don't deliver a profitable product. Likewise, people can organize and raise money from around the world using Facebook, Twitter, Kickstarter, and, but they won't positively influence social change if they don't offer practical solutions to real problems.

The true test of whether Michigan is willing and able to turn the corner in the twenty-first century will be how it reacts to substantial changes to meat and potatoes issues addressed in Governor Rick Snyder's first proposed state budget released Thursday.

I had been skeptical of Gov. Snyder due to a lack of familiarity and questions regarding whether he was willing to step up and lead the state to make many of the necessary changes Michigan needs to turn things around and get on a path to resurgence.

A sure signal that Snyder has the leadership and boldness required to bring institutional changes to Michigan is evident in the reactions of entrenched special interests to his budget. Angry special interest groups, whether it is businesses, unions, teachers, or seniors are often a good sign that real change is coming, for it's a good sign that those special interest groups will be getting less of your tax dollars.

I read a lot of the reactions of special interest on Michigan news sites today and the actual budget proposal document. I intended and began to elaborate on some of the most controversial parts of the budget (e.g. pensions, business tax cuts, eliminating tax credits, education funding cuts), but it's getting late, so you can look forward to more on  each of those in the next few days.

The short summary is that the business tax reforms should create a much more favorable environment for business creation and growth which is essential; taxing all pension income as income will upset many but is an equitable and reasonable mean to expand the tax base and increase revenue; and many of the other initiatives are necessary steps to reign in state spending so that Michigan is not running continual deficits.

It's a very positive step. Much more so than a Super Commercial or a RoboCop statue. I've already begun further analysis and commentary on these issues, so please come back and check those out. In the mean time, please share your comments, thoughts, and questions on Governor Snyder's budget proposals.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Michigan Expats Podcast – Episode 23 – Love Songs


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Mr. Sig and the Doctor find some valentines day-type songs mixed in with some excellent tracks from other Michigan artists.

We hope you enjoy.

The White Stripes – Fell in Love with a Girl – Purchase on Amazon

Madonna – Die Another Day – Purchase on Amazon

Molly – Girlfriend – Purchase on Amazon

John Lee Hooker – The Waterfront – Purchase on Amazon

Marshall Crenshaw – Cruel to be Kind – Purchase on Amazon

Frontier Ruckus – Nerves of the Nightmind – Purchase on Amazon

Mustard Plug – Beer Song – Purchase on Amazon

Brian VanderArk – Someone Like You – Purchase on Amazon

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thoughts on Michigan, Detroit, and its Cars


Michiganexpats – Commentary – See All Commentary

By Mr. Sig

After seeing the Chrysler super bowl commercial a couple times and hearing some of the follow up, I have a few thoughts regarding Detroit and the car industry.

First – fancy, eye catching commercials are not going to do the trick.  What bothered me about the Chrysler commercial was that it focused not on the vehicle, but on “Detroit Pride.”  The highlight of the commercial was Eminem and nostalgic feelings that people felt for Detroit – that of being a hard-nosed, blue collar get ‘em done attitude type place.  Perhaps that’s true.  However, the commercial did not tell me anything about why the Chrysler vehicle was one that should be purchased.  I don’t even remember what car was on the commercial.  It looked like all the cars Chrysler has made for the past 20 years.  Nothing compelling.

Granted – this was a well-produced commercial, but I don’t see it resonating with people who are actually considering buying a car.

So what’s next?

I strongly believe that Detroit should give up on the car industry.  Let it hang around for a while, but to be honest, there are serious pitfalls to hanging on too long to the past.  Detroit needs to be reinvented.  It has a great location – near the water, an international border with Canada, a close drive to Ann Arbor. Detroit should be sucking all the young, budding smart grad students from UM and MSU to do all sorts of great work.  None of these people want to work for the car industry – so Detroit needs to offer something else.

Bloggers don’t offer solutions – they just blather on about issues.  This particular post is no different, but I truly believe that if Detroit washes its hands of the past, new opportunities and industries will evolve.  It requires a change of heart for the many people that live there, but ultimately one has to trust in the ingenuity of humans and their unstoppable desire to create new things.  Detroit certainly has not forgotten how to do that.

Eminem’s last line in that commercial maybe should have been.  This is Detroit – this is what we did.

And I’d raise a glass to that and thank Detroit for making the US the greatest carmaker in the world for a great time.

And then I’d go on to the next good party.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Imported From Detroit

Michigan Expats - Culture - See All Culture

The Lombardi Trophy is headed back to Green Bay as the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25 in Super Bowl XVL.

Still most of the talk Monday mornings on the talk shows and in the offices will center on the commercials that ran during Super Bowl XVL.

A brief glimpse of my Facebook newsfeed and confirmed my impression that arguably one of the best ads of the night was from Chrysler, featuring Eminem, and highlighting and embracing Detroit. If you missed it, here it is below and please share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Snowhogs Day w/ New Not So Pure Michigan video

Michigan Expats - News - See All News

Spring is near! The seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators, Punxsutawney Phil awoke this morning at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and did not see his shadow foretelling the coming of an early spring.

It'll feel like an early spring is due here in Arlington today where the forecast calls for temperatures reaching the 50's, but it certainly doesn't look or feel like spring is near back home in Michigan and most of the midwest who are still experiencing or digging out from the "SnowprahWinfrey: 'YOU get a blizzard and YOU get a blizzard and YOU get a blizzard! EVERYBODY GETS A BLIZZAAAAAAAAARD!'" (Well, everybody in the midwest anyways). Credit for most of the puns goes to @aebusch and the Pure Michigan Living blizzard naming contest from their Twitter feed, @PureMichigan, earlier this week.

With snowfall from 10" to 15" in the Grand Rapids area including snow drifts up to 5', this blizzard actually lived up to the hype. Of course many Michigan schools and universities are closed today including classes canceled at Michigan State University. At least it lived up to the hype in West Michigan, the Detroit area was a different story as Jeff T. Wattrick humorously puts in perspective.

Indeed the all-to-familiar experience of the eager anticipation of a snow day due to local media over-hype only to awaken to the disheartening disappointment of having to get up and go to school or work is one most Michiganders can relate to and it has inspired the latest video from John Kerfoot at Enjoy...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michigan Exports Go Quickly in Nation's Capital

Michigan Expats - Culture - See All Culture

"I've never seen such devotion in a droid before."

I was excited today when I came across a tweet stating that a Bell's Hopslam firkin keg would be available at a bar in DC today. More importantly, it was the only such keg in the our nation's capital. This excited me as both a Michigan Expat and as a beer connoisseur.

The bar opened at 4PM. Since I usually get off work at the same time, I figured I would be in good shape to arrive at the bar in time and enjoy a couple of pints of the fine Michigan brew. Although I was held up at work a little longer than usual, I still decided to take public transit (DC Metro), even though it would extend my travel time, because I am a responsible Michigan beer connoisseur.

I arrived at the bar at 5:45PM, less than 2 hours after it had opened and ordered without looking at the beer list - I knew what I wanted, I had made a special trip into the District from Northern Virginia, including a rare trip on the Metro - only to hear the dreadful reply, "sorry, dude, we're all out." 

All out? WTF ("Win the future")! I had made a special trip for this one beer and they'd already killed the keg? It had been less than two hours. I was devastated, and frustrated that I had made the trip in. Still, I should have known, Hopslam has been flying off shelves around the region all month.

Nonetheless, I'd gone this far, might as well have a beer. Fortunately, Churchkey has an excellent beer selection. I ordered a delicious cask Cappuccino Stout from Lagunitas Brewing Co. and followed it up with a Michigan brew, Founders' Double Trouble.

The pint of a solid, hoppy IPA, from my hometown quickly helped turn the evening around. Talking to the bartenders and listening to the customers, I quickly observed that I wasn't the only patron who had come specifically for the Hopslam. Customer after customer came forward to the bar ordering the Bell's beer, receiving the same reply: "we're out, it flew out of the cask."

Granted this was a well informed beer consumer crowd. Still, the mere mention of the Bell's firkin had drawn numerous beer fans, such as my self, to this single bar, for the common objective of enjoying the special brew from Kalamazoo.

I soon learned that not only had I missed the final pour by less than 10-15 minutes, but that the entire bar had shared a moment of silence when the Hopslam had gone dry. Slowly, disappointment from missing out on a pint of the Hopslam, grew into pride and respect for the reputation of the Bell's brewery and the Michigan beer industry.

Not many breweries carry such clout and reputation. It is a great reflection on the quality of the Bell's brand that it can clear out a keg prior to the heart of happy hour on a few hours notice in a town over 600 miles away. 

It's fantastic to see a Michigan product command such popularity and demand. The Michigan craft beer industry is evidence that business can continue to innovate, expand, and thrive in a national market based out of Michigan and represents hope in the state's entrepreneurial spirit.

Now if only I could get more of the Michigan brews in my local market. There's still areas from these businesses to expand. In the mean time, would somebody please pick up a six-pack of the Hopslam for me?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MichiganExpats Podcast Episode #22–What is it good for?


MichiganExpats – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Another great lineup of songs coupled with professional quality production featuring the microphone from a Logitech webcam and some trial and freeware software.  It amazes me how easy it is to put on a quality production these days.  Technology truly makes once difficult tasks very easy.

Be sure to purchase any of this week’s lineup if you really like the song(s).

As always – keep a lookout for the tweets.  You can call in and be on the show live. 

Be a part of the show!  Share some Michigan music that you own via Dropbox.  Just share one of your dropbox folders with

Glenn Frey – The Heat is On – Purchase on Amazon

Elzhi – That’s the One – Purchase on Amazon

Funkadelic – I’ll Stay – Purchase on Amazon

Suzi Quatro – 48 Crash – Purchase on Amazon

The Electric Six – Gay Bar – Purchase on Amazon

The Von Bondies – Pale Bride – Purchase on Amazon

Jack Scott – Oh, Little One – Purchase on Amazon

Edwin Starr - War – Purchase on Amazon

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, Michigan!

Michigan Expats - News - See All News

On January 26, 1837, President Andrew Jackson, signed the legislation that officially admitted Michigan as the 26th state in the Union, so we here at call upon our fellow Michigan Expats to raise a glass and toast to our home state wherever you find yourself on her 174th birthday of statehood. 

It is customary to take the opportunity on birthdays to fondly reflect on past memories and experiences together. Of course, this is part of the mission of the website and I encourage you do go through archives and read about some of our stories and memories of our home state. 

I'll also take the opportunity to invite fellow Michigan expats to share your stories with us. Please feel free to send us an email ( if you have something you'd like us to post or explore. You can also call in and be apart of the Michigan Expats podcast. Mr. Sig usually records the podcast on Sunday afternoons or evenings and you can check our Facebook or Twitter feeds for when he begins and email, chat, or skype in and be apart of the program.

OK, enough shameless website self-promotion. Time for some shameless narcissism (recently explored at the Calvin College January Series). What am I doing to celebrate Michigan's birthday?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Michigan Expats Episode 21–Mr Sig Returns – Culture – See All Culture

By Mr. Sig

Mr. Sig makes a triumphant return… or sorts, and spins some excellent music.  Remember to support the artists as you see fit by purchasing tracks that you enjoy.

Keep in mind – you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or in any RSS aggregator.  Just go to the iTunes store and search for “Michigan Expats.”  If you subscribe via an RSS aggregator, just copy the xml link at the top right and paste it right in.

This weeks songs are…..

Dennis Coffey – Getting it On – Purchase on Amazon

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

MC5 – I want you Right Now – Purchase on Amazon

Ralston Bowles – James Dean – Purchase on Amazon

Aretha Franklin – RESPECT – Purchase on Amazon

Stjepan Hauser and Luka Culic – Smooth Criminal – See Video

Mary Wells – You Beat Me to the Punch – Purchase on Amazon

The Knack – Let Me Out – Purchase on Amazon

Geno Washington – Hold On To My Love – Purchase on Amazon