Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Wild Turkeys of the Eastown

The Wild Turkeys of the Eastown. Once upon a time we had a flock of turkeys that roamed the city streets around here, and I happened to cross paths with one on my way home from the store one day back in 2004. Part of the reason I always lug my camera around with me - you never know what you will see!

Hope this holiday finds you happy and safe. Some recent news to be grateful for on this day:

  • U of M's index of consumer sentiment hit a five-month high of 71.6 in November, indicating that retail sales should be strong this holiday season. The Michigan Retailers Association is predicting a 6% increase in sales this year in the state, with strong holiday hiring already taking place. Spending rose 0.4% nationwide in October and grew at a 2.8% pace in the July - Sept. quarter, the highest bump in nearly four years. All good news; consumer spending accounts for 70% of our economy.

  • Want to support home team this holiday shopping season? Check out the Made in Michigan Movement website, featuring their second annual holiday gift giving guide, now available for download. Lots of food, beverages, soaps, and other Michigan made items are listed for your consideration. Another great site for gift ideas is the Pure Michigan Store featuring all kinds of merchandise with the Pure Michigan logo. All items are made in the USA, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards funding the advertising campaign - since the Legislature won't fund it, looks like we have to do the job ourselves.

  • Motor Trend's Todd Lassa absolutely destroys Rush Limbaugh for dissin' the Chevy Volt. It's a must read. Here's a taste:

    All the shouting from you or from electric car purists on the left can’t distort the fact that the Chevy Volt is, indeed, a technological breakthrough. And it’s more. It’s a technological breakthrough that many American families can use for gas-free daily commutes and well-planned vacation drives. It’s expensive for a Chevy, but many of those families will find the gasoline saved worth it. If you can stop shilling for your favorite political party long enough to go for a drive, you might really enjoy the Chevy Volt. I’m sure GM would be happy to lend you one for the weekend. Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

    Oh snap. Dude, ever consider running for office? We could use a few like you.

  • Other Volt news: The EPA has rated the car at 93 m.p.g. in battery mode, and has certified that the battery pack can reach 379 miles before recharging. Question: Will we see the "miles per gallon" designation disappear in the future?

  • More electric car charging stations coming: ChargePoint will be installing 350 across Michigan, including 50 in the West Michigan area. A federal grant is helping to set-up these stations in high-traffic areas, and they will work on any model of plug-in vehicle. Individual users must set-up a ChargePoint account to activate the charger, and the price will be anywhere from free to for-profit, depending on the determination of the owner of the station.

  • Zeeland automotive supplier Gentex announced that they will be adding 240 more jobs in a new expansion, buying up the old the Invensys Controls plant. This will allow the company to increase capacity 20% in the coming year. Gentex will be holding a job fair at Holland's Doubletree Hotel on December 8th - check the link for details.

  • The state's first video game tax break was awarded to Pixofactor Entertainment, who will build a golf game for Nintendo's Wii system. "Ben Hogan Golf" will be available in time for the 2011 holiday season, and the company will be hiring 20-30 Michigan artists, animators and programmers to create the game. Video game development deals are a part of Michigan's film incentives.

  • Turns out the metro Detroit area is the new hot-spot for smart phone app-makers. Low cost office space has drawn start-ups to WSU's Tech Town, with new companies expected to reach 25 to 30 next year. Ann Arbor is also seeing demand for students with knowledge in the industry. The field might not create a large number of jobs, but helps with our brain-drain problem.

  • Consumers Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County is moving forward, recently signing major contracts for construction and supply, and has presented them to the Michigan Public Service Commission for approval. Under the contract with White Construction, "the majority of construction jobs and material purchases will be sourced from within Michigan". Good deal. 150 jobs is typical on this type of construction site. The park should be up and running by 2012.

  • This always make me smile: Congressman Hansen Clarke. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a great public servant for his district and our state. Go read the story to see why.

  • How about a little Asian carp ice cream to top off dinner today. Sound good? The West Michigan Environmental Action Council and San Chez Bistro restaurant in GR will be hosting the "Fight ’Em & Fillet ’Em" dinner event this coming Tuesday to draw awareness to Great Lakes invasive species. A $40 donation gets you all the carp creations you might ever want to try - and maybe even a few you don't.

  • Speaking of donations, on this day of feast remember that hunger is a growing problem in our state and country. The Food Bank Council of Michigan reminds us that 12% of households are struggling to put food on the table, and nearly 1 in 6 children is at risk of hunger. Their goal for 2010 is to provide 4.2 million meals for hungry families and children in Michigan. You can help them reach that goal at

    That's it - I'm off to hide under the blankets on the couch and watch lots and lots of football, hope you have a great weekend!