Offbeat

Cold enough for ya?

Blindfold 2XA friend & Michigan expatriate sent me the Michigan Temperature Conversion Chart. I thought it might be nice to pair with some photos, and also that you might enjoy COLD, as performed by the Absolute Michigan Pool.

I’m told that sculptor Jim Gavril of East Lansing deserves the credit for the chart! Click the photos to view them bigger!

28/365/1489 (July 9, 2012) - Squirrel Pancake at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)@ +70 degrees

Texans turn on the heat and unpack the thermal underwear.
People in Michigan go swimming in the rivers.

Future Garden@ +60 degrees

North Carolinians try to turn on the heat.
People in Michigan plant gardens.

Dwarfed by the giant crane@ +50 degrees

Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Michigan sunbathe.

Fly By@ +40 degrees

Italian & English cars won’t start.
People in Michigan drive with the windows down.

Fozen Odyssey ... Lake Michigan January 2007 color version@ +32 degrees

Distilled water freezes.
Lake Michigan water gets thicker.

Brothers in Arms@ +20 degrees

Floridians put on coats, thermal underwear, gloves and woolly hats.
People in Michigan throw on a flannel shirt.

Not Gonna Grill No More@ +15 degrees

Philadelphia landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Michigan have the last cookout before it gets cold.

N. State St.@ +10 degrees

People in Miami all die.
People in Michigan lick the flagpole.

winter morning ritual@ 0 degrees

Californians fly away to Mexico.
People in Michigan get out their winter coats.

Zero degree windchill@ -10 degrees

Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Michigan are selling cookies door to door.

Walk in the Woods@ -25 degrees

Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic.
Michigan Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival” classes until it gets cold enough.

No Better Artist than Mother Nature@ -30 degrees

Mount St. Helen’s freezes.
People in Michigan rent some videos.

Drunken Fools@ -40 degrees

Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Spartans get frustrated because they can’t thaw the keg.

Curious cows@ -45 degrees

Microbial life no longer survives on dairy products.
Cows in Michigan complain about farmers with cold hands.

Winter Surfing!@ -60 degrees

ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero in the Kelvin scale).
People in Michigan start saying, “Cold ’nuff for ya?”

Hell Froze Over!!!@ -100 degrees

Hell freezes over.
The Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl!

Photo Links…

La Marche du Nain Rouge

2011 March Du Nain Rouge, Detroit, MI by vanessamiller
2011 March Du Nain Rouge, Detroit, MI by vanessamiller

On Sunday, March 25th of 2012 along the Cass Corridor the citizenry will once again gather for the annual La Marche du Nain Rouge. Their historical background page begins:

La Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual Detroit tradition that purportedly dates back to shortly after the city’s founding by the French in 1701. Annually held on the Sunday closest to the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, it is parade and street theater similar in sensibility to Mardi Gras and other Carnival celebrations. However the impetus for La Marche is different.

La Marche drives Le Nain Rouge (The Red Dwarf) out of Detroit, preventing its evil spirit from plaguing the people of the city for the rest of the year. By forcing Le Nain Rouge from the city (and into the spirit plane), Le Nain is banished, transforming Detroiters’ fears and doubts into the hopes of new life and the coming Spring season.

The march by vanessamiller
The march by vanessamiller

Tradition holds that a citizen of Detroit dresses up as Le Nain Rouge, temporarily embodying its spirit, wearing a mask to conceal identity. As Le Nain Rouge, this person accepts responsibility for leading people through the streets of Detroit to La Marche’s final destination.

Le Nain Rouge is followed by a contingent of twelve Detroiters, known as La Bande du Nains. La Bande du Nains is made up of a man, a woman and a child who claim heritage in each of the world’s historic continents – Africa, America, Asia, and Europe. La Bande du Nains carry sticks, canes, pots and pans, dress in 18th Century garb and represent the original Detroiters who took the initiative to drive Le Nain out of Detroit.

You can read more at the link above and also check out Detroit Moxie’s feature on the Nain Rouge and our Absolute Michigan Weird Wednesday feature on the Nain Rouge.

For more check out Vanessa Miller’s 2011 March du nain rouge slideshow from and also this gallery of photos. The sound is a little sharp in this video but it gives you a great overall look at The March of the Nain Rouge!

Carnival Weekend at Boyne

Mardi Gras meets Boyne Mountain this weekend (March 16-18) for their annual Carnival Weekend. The weekend is a Boyne tradition that allows you to kick off spring fever in costume with an on-hill cookout and party featuring live music and crazy races.

A highlight is the Slush Cup, which pits skiers and snowboarders against a big pool of water. (hint: the water usually wins).

You can get more at the link above or on the Boyne Facebook. If you want to see some recent action from Boyne’s Slush Cup & Mardi Gras weekend check this video out. We have to go with this classic feature on Boyne from the king of ski movies, Warren Miller.

Riding out a hard winter in Michigan with snow bikes!

The snow bike ... by Dr. Farnsworth
The snow bike … by Dr. Farnsworth

In Crain’s Detroit Business, Howard Lovy writes that although overall hotel occupancy rates across Michigan were up slightly for December and January, in northern Michigan where the wintertime color of money is white, the winter of 2011-12 has been a big bust. But as Businesses that need snow find ways to ride out a winter that’s more in the red than the white explains, if there’s one thing Michigan businesses have developed in recent years, it’s perseverance:

Just ask Tim Brick, owner of Brick Wheels, a Traverse City ski and bike shop. In winter, December is the make-or-break month. The lack of snowfall meant business was down 40 percent that month. In January, it was down 20 percent.

It was so bad that Brick had considered laying off some of his 15 employees.

Then a funny thing happened as the customers trickled in. Many were intrigued by a display of “snow bikes” — machines with big tires that can be used when the there’s not enough snow for skis but too much for ordinary mountain bikes. Snow bikes seemed to satisfy a longing for hard-core sports enthusiasts in northern Michigan — where they take their skiing and bicycling very seriously.

Let it Snow! by Rudy Malmquist
Let it Snow! by Rudy Malmquist

Read on for more about snow biking and what other businesses including ski resorts are doing to offset a disappointing winter.

Speaking of snow bikes, the one to the right is made here in Michigan by 616 Fabrication. 616 is the area code for West Michigan, the birth place of two bicycle companies who enjoyed a cult following: Slingshot Bicycle Co. and Nukeproof Mountain Bikes. In July of last year, the former owners of these two companies joined forces to use the best resources, people, and talent that West Michigan has to offer to manufacture some of the most progressive and detailed custom bicycles available anywhere.

You can also check out snow biking at Michigan Tech and Bike the Keweenaw for some trail & riding information from the UP. The Great Bear Ski Race (March 10, 2012) will include 10 and 25k snow bike races on Sunday the 11th. They’ve declared the 25k race the Midwest Snow Bike Championships. Ski on Saturday, bike on Sunday!

If you’re in the market for a snow bike, head over to our Michigan Hiking & Biking page for a stable-full of Michigan bike shops, trails and biking links! Now here’s a little snow biking action courtesy Marquette’s Quick Stop Bike Shop

Get ready for the UP 200 Sled Dog Races!

The annual U.P. 200 sled dog race along with two other races, the Midnight Run and the Jackpine 30 take place February 16-20, 2012. These three UP sled dog races draw 15,000 fans to the Upper Peninsula and provide a variety of challenges for mushers.

Jackpine 30, photo by Paul R. Nelson

The UP 200 is a qualifying race for the Iditarod and draws mushers from around the United States and Canada for one of America’s premier 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races. The first UP200 was run in February, 1990, and the race covers approximately 240 miles from Marquette to Grand Marais, with a return to Marquette along the same trail. The terrain includes stretches of near-wilderness, creek crossings, hills and valleys, and heavily forested land. Mushers say this is one of their favorite races, not only because of the challenging race, but because of the cheering crowds and warm welcome they receive in the Upper Peninsula.

Coinciding with the UP200 is the eight-dog Midnight Run, a race from Marquette to Munising with a checkpoint in Chatham. This year the Midnight Run has a new, improved trail and will start in downtown Marquette approximately 30 minutes after the last UP200 musher has left the starting gate on Friday.

The JackPine 30 rounds out the weekend’s fun with a six-dog, 30-mile sprint from Gwinn, Michigan to Marquette. The JP30 will start on Saturday morning, February 18, 2012 in Gwinn. From there, it’s a race to the finish with teams expected in Marquette late morning or early afternoon on Saturday.

While the dogs and mushers are front and center, the races couldn’t happen without a dedicated group of over 500 volunteers from the U.P. and the midwest region who come together to stage this great event each year. Check out the great video below from our friends at Under the Radar Michigan and also a more in-depth video about volunteers and the race, and see a whole ton of photos from all three races in the UP 200 photo galleries!

Fly High at the Pine Mountain Ski Jumping Tournament

pine-mountain-ski-jumpEvery year the Kiwanis Ski Club in Iron Mountain holds the Pine Mountain Continental Cup Ski Jumping Competition, one of the best tournaments in the United world. The first competition was held in 1939, making 2012 is the 73rd annual. The event takes place the weekend of February 11-12, 2012 and will draw top US & international jumpers from a dozen countries along with over 20,000 spectators .

The Pine Mountain ski slide was at one time was the highest artificial ski jump in the world and is still known throughout the world as one of the best jumping hills. At the first Pine Mountain Tournament, Bob Roecker, riding for the Duluth Ski Club, shattered the American jumping record with a leap of 257 feet.

For questions regarding tickets, please contact the Kiwanis Ski Club (906) 779-1110 or (800) 236-2447.  This video from Pine Mountain 2008 is a little bright, but it gives you a good sense of this exciting event. Here’s another video with lots more jumps from the Continental Cup, but we have to give you this great newsreel from the 1950s voiced by Mel Allen. It was shot in Iron Mountain, and features several local jumpers including then 9-year-old Willie Erickson, a two-time Olympian and FIS World Championship competitor. Also don’t miss the jumping videos from the Kiwanis club!

February Michigan Event Calendar

Iron Works #2 - Cranbrook by MikeRyu
Iron Works #2 – Cranbrook by MikeRyu

Our Michigan February Event Calendar shows that the more the weather tries to keep us holed up, the more ways we find to get out and have fun!! Of course, there’s still many, many more and we invite you to fill us in on other February events in the comments.

February Fast FactsWikipedia

  • Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. 2012 is a Leap Year!
  • It has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar)
  • It is the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks.
  • Its birth flower is the Viola (plant) and the Primrose.
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst.

Northern Lights a strong possibility in Michigan!

NASA’s Space Weather site is the place to go for Aurora Borealis forecasting as they help make sense of the data the space agency receives about solar flares and their impact on earth’s atmosphere. Yesterday they gave Northern Lights watchers a lot of hope with this news:

This morning, Jan. 23rd around 0359 UT, big sunspot 1402 erupted, producing a long-duration M9-class solar flare. The explosion’s M9-ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-flare, the most powerful kind. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare’s extreme ultraviolet flash (shown right or in short movie right here)

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft detected a CME rapidly emerging from the blast site: movie. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth on Jan. 24 at 14:18UT (+/- 7 hours).

That means it’s hitting the Earth 11 AM – 6 PM EST, but this level of intensity makes the Northern Lights a real possibility for the next couple of days so definitely LOOK UP tonight and tomorrow if there’s any break in the clouds! If the northern lights hit, our Northern Lights Log will light up with reports. You can also learn a lot more about the Northern Lights at Michigan in Pictures.

One person who will be looking up is Shawn Malone of Lake Superior Photo. She takes some of the most amazing northern lights photos. See them at her website and definitely favorite her Facebook page as there’s lots of great photos and discussion about the Aurora and other UP topics. Shawn has put together a very cool time-lapse of the aurora borealis peaking out through the fog moving in as the full moon illuminates the Superior shore that ends with a fogbow – enjoy!

11/11/11: MSU Spartans vs North Carolina on US Navy aircraft carrier

“I can’t think of a better way to start my senior season”
~MSU Center Draymond Green

Michigan State vs. Hillsdale

Do you suppose that Tom Izzo uses lines like “I can’t offer you beaches and palm trees, but chances are you’ll be playing on aircraft carriers and on national television in March.”??

This Friday, November 11th at 7 PM on ESPN the Michigan State University Spartans men’s basketball team will face the North Carolina Tar Heels aboard the USS Carl Vinson (Wikipedia/Facebook) in what is being dubbed the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic Friday is also Veterans Day, and former Lakers MSU great Magic Johnson and James Worthy of UNC, both former Lakers will be on hand as honorary captains.  They’ll also have at least one VIP in the stands, President Barack Obama.

Home Post has a slideshow of the process of turning the deck of the USS Carl Vinson into a basketball court and ESPN has a pretty cool look at the science behind the challenges the players will face in an outside game on a ship. At the bottom of the post there’s a video with a look at the special uniforms the Spartans will be wearing that also provides a nice chance to meet a team that is largely unheralded and facing the pre-season #1 team in the nation. A great primer by David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press begins:

The night before Michigan State’s basketball season ended in March, athletic director Mark Hollis sat in a Tampa hotel, proudly disclosing plans for how this season would begin.

On his tablet, he swiped through artists’ renderings of how the USS Carl Vinson will look Friday night in San Diego Bay, with a temporary basketball arena on its flight deck, where the Spartans play top-ranked North Carolina in their Veterans Day opener, with President Barack Obama and thousands of military personnel dominating the invitation-only crowd.

Read on at the GR Press.

Photo credits

USS Carl Vinson PACIFIC OCEAN (June 3, 2011) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is underway in the Pacific Ocean. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez/Released) 110603-N-GZ277-247

Michigan State vs. Hillsdale Freshman guard Branden Dawson stretches out for an uncontested dunk early in the game against Hillsdale Friday night at Breslin Center. Dawson netted 10 points for the Spartans in the 80-58 victory. Matt Hallowell/The State News

Weird Wednesday: Michigan Sea Monsters

The last Wednesday of every month is a “Weird Wednesday” on Absolute Michigan. Usually we get a feature from Linda S. Godfrey, the author that fascinating tome of Michigan mysteries: Weird Michigan. Linda is hard at work on her latest book so we’ve gone down to the vault and pulled out some watery weirdness! Stay up-to-date with the uncanny at weirdmichigan.com and on Linda’s twitter.

at Mackinac
at Mackinac
:: a composite from -3 and -43 by Emery Co Photo

Sea Monster of the Straits

The authorities tried hard to convince the public what they saw were only giant catfish, but even the oldest, orneriest cats would be hard-pressed to attain a length of forty-five feet! The owner of a resort along the Cheboygan lakefront reported seeing something of just that size, and two of them, frolicking in the Mackinac Straits on Lake Huron in front of his property, about 600 feet from shore, according to an article in the June 25, 1976 Grand Rapids Press. The day after the resort owner called authorities about it, Cheboygan County Sheriff Stanley McKervey stopped by to have a look for himself. To his surprise, he also was able to observe one of the creatures. “I went down to the beach, and sure enough, I’m looking at something 20, maybe 30 feet long, swimming just below the surface,” he said in the article. “I was amazed. I didn’t know what it was, but it sure wasn’t a publicity stunt.”

The sheriff continued watching the creature through binoculars. It only rose about an inch above water level, he said, but any disturbance on shore would cause it to dive deeper again. And that’s exactly what happened when the sheriff ordered a couple of deputies to surveil the thing in a canoe. It was gone long before the pair got there. Unfortunately, rough water conditions set in the next few days and no one could go out for another look. It wasn’t observed again, and other experts theorized that perhaps it was a giant eel or carp. But neither of those sound like what the sheriff and the resort owner saw!

Lake Leelanau Monster

The story of an early 20th Century sea monster sighting was sent to The Shadowlands Web site by a reader whose great-grandfather was the witness. The boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800′s to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.

On that particular day, the young great-grandfather, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.

That’s when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, “Bloop” into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature’s head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. Uncanny RadioThe writer noted that Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.

The writer added that his great-grandfather came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster?