Celebrate Michigan’s Feathered Friends On Go Birding Day

April 27, 2017 by  
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If you love birds, this is the feature for you! Go Birding Day helps encourage avian education, conservation, and interaction. It is annually celebrated on the last  Saturday in April. This year, it takes place on April 29, 2017. The Great Lakes region is home to hundreds of species of birds. There’s no better place than Michigan […]

The post Celebrate Michigan’s Feathered Friends On Go Birding Day appeared first on Awesome Mitten.

The Day Jim Harbaugh Met The Pope

April 26, 2017 by  
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Jim Harbaugh gave the Pope a custom Michigan helmet and pair of Jordan’s. Never thought I’d write that sentence.

The Day Jim Harbaugh Met The Pope

The Rome trip has been another move by Jim Harbaugh that many have followed closely and have their own opinions about. Some see it simply as a recruiting tactic and another way he’s pushing the envelope in college football, while others see it for what it is, a trip of a lifetime. Now that’s just my opinion, of course; but I feel those making a big deal about it are simply jealous.

The last several days have included team activities and sight seeing to soak up what that area of the world is all about. For some, this was the first time out of the United States to a place many will never have the opportunity to visit. Many will look back and talk about this trip for a very long time.

One of the most memorable moments with certainly be the day they were up close with the Pope in Vatican City. Some of the media that is following the team had a different view high up top, but took in the amazing scenery that is Vatican City.

Coach Jim Harbaugh saw the Pope up close and had the opportunity to hand him a Michigan winged helmet and pair of Jordan’s.

Jim Harbaugh spoke with the media shortly adter to sum up what it meant to him. He started off by saying, “Top three priorities in my life; faith, family and football.” He was asked about about what it means to see his son get baptized and his daughter receive her first communion there. “If I accomplished nothing more in my life, if I were to go right now, I’ll be going out a blessed man. This is as good as it gets, this has been the experience of a lifetime.”

Here is another from the moment he handed the Pope his gifts.

Jim’s wife, Sarah, also commented about this amazing moment.

The players also shared their view of the Pope.

What an amazing day and opportunity for the team, especially for Jim Harbaugh.

The team starts their first of three practices tomorrow then leave on Sunday.

First rehabbed Building Detroit Futures home sold to teacher

April 26, 2017 by  
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Because of her sentimental history with the Bagley neighborhood in northwest Detroit, Lina Cammon felt a strong pull to leave her suburban senior living residence and return to the area. She is 75 years old, but life is a story always looking to be written, she feels. And she has ambitious plans for this new chapter.

Lina was also interested in owning a home that had been abandoned and was now restored. This, too, expresses her life philosophy. She deeply believes in the power of caring intervention to change things for the better. That’s why she became a teacher more than 40 years ago and why she continues to work full time to help students struggling with math and English at Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School.

Lina Cammon at her new home rehabbed by Building Detroit Futures in the Bagley neighborhood

Lina Cammon at her new home rehabbed by Building Detroit Futures in the Bagley neighborhood

Lina is the first person to purchase and move into one of the rehabbed houses available through a unique partnership between Southwest Solutions, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, and the City of Detroit. The partnership is called Building Detroit Futures.

Phase One of this effort involves 17 houses, mostly in the Bagley neighborhood. Building Detroit Futures acquired the houses from the Detroit Land Bank. The Housing Investment Trust provides the funds for acquisition and rehab. Southwest Solutions serves as project manager, works with realtors to market the homes, assists homebuyers with their mortgage needs through Southwest Lending Solutions, and offers other support services, including homebuyer education workshops, which Lina completed to be better prepared for the entire process.

“I’ve owned houses before, but this is the first one I really feel is my home because I bought it completely on my own,” Lina says. “The moment I entered the home when it was for sale, it felt right to me and I envisioned myself living here.”

Lina’s home on Ohio Street underwent a complete rehab inside and out.

Lina’s home on Ohio Street underwent a complete rehab inside and out.

Lina bought the four-bedroom home on Ohio Street for $87,000. She has family and friends in the neighborhood, where she had lived 50 years ago after getting married. She continued to raise her son there after her marriage ended. Then once her son left home, she sold the house and moved away.

“I never stopped loving this neighborhood and I’m thrilled to be back,” Lina says. “I feel in my element and safe here. I’m getting to know my immediate neighbors and I feel we have much in common and are committed to the community.”

The Bagley neighborhood is just north of the Fitzgerald neighborhood, which is the focus of an intensive and unprecedented revitalization experiment that has important implications for other Detroit neighborhoods. Earlier this month, Mayor Mike Duggan announced that the City and its partners will invest more than $4M in Fitzgerald to renovate 115 vacant houses, remove blighted structures, beautify 192 vacant lots, and build a new park and greenway.

Marygrove College is at the northern edge of Fitzgerald. Within a 14-block area south of the campus, more than 70 abandoned houses were cataloged three years ago. Since then, Southwest Solutions in partnership with Chemical Bank (formerly Talmer Bank) has been engaged in rehabbing and selling 20 of these houses. This effort has helped stabilize the neighborhood, raise property values, and spur development momentum. The Building Detroit Futures initiative in the Bagley neighborhood, which will certainly benefit from the Fitzgerald investment and momentum, is intended to make a similar impact.

“I’m optimistic about the resurgence of our neighborhood,” Lina says. “And I want to a part of it.”

Lina-dance11a

Lina will be retiring from Detroit Public Schools in the near future. It will actually be the third time she will have retired from DPS. However, she has no intention of giving up teaching. She plans to start a home economics school where students can learn about household management, cooking, sewing and other skills. Lina wants to locate this business in or near her neighborhood and hopes it will contribute to the revitalization of the area.

Lina also intends to continue teaching young girls about dance. She currently runs an after-school workshop two days a week for young girls at Mackenzie.

“It’s very important for children to have opportunities to develop all their potential, including artistic expression,” Lina says. “They must also understand that learning is a lifelong experience and this is the key to a fulfilling life. Moreover, we must all understand that developing our children is the real key to revitalizing our city and our neighborhoods.”

To learn more about Building Detroit Futures, visit its website.

– Steve Palackdharry  is director of communications at Southwest Solutions

Maize n Brew Recruiting Podcast Talks Quarterbacks

April 26, 2017 by  
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Stingray Steve joins the show to provide some excellent content.

The Maize n Brew Recruiting Podcast is back and boy, it is an electric show. Tanner and Eli break down the 2018 quarterback board after Dorian Thompson-Robinson committed to UCLA on Sunday, but don’t you worry. Joe Milton, now likely looking to be the quarterback of this class, has absolutely insane film and the guys break that down a little bit. Steven ‘Stingray’ Steve, of Pardon My Take and The Pete Finebaum Show fame, joins the show to talk Big Ten vs. SEC, his thoughts on Urban Meyer and The Game, and gives a hilarious play by play of the end of Michigan’s thrilling Spring Game.

Listen below:

Michigan to take part in basketball doubleheader at Little Caesars Arena

April 26, 2017 by  
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Michigan will face Detroit Mercy and Michigan State will face Oakland in a doubleheader early in the 2017-18 season.

Early in the 2017-18 basketball season, Michigan will take part in a doubleheader at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Michigan will face off against Detroit Mercy and Michigan State will face Oakland.

Michigan coach John Beilein, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Oakland coach Greg Kampe, and Detroit Mercy coach Bacari Alexander will hope to bring their teams to victory at Little Caesars Arena.

The Wolverines has won 14 straight against the Titans, with a 24-4 all-time record in the series. The last time Michigan played Detroit Mercy was in November 2014, with Michigan earning a 71-62 win at Crisler Center. The duo last played on a neutral court in 1980. Michigan won, 85-72.

Michigan State has matched up with Oakland 15 times since the 1998 season. The Spartans are 15-0. The last matchup on a neutral court for Michigan State and Oakland was at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2015. The game featured an overtime thriller that was won by No. 1 ranked Michigan State, 99-93.

Little Caesars Arena is also scheduled to host the 2020 Frozen Four, games in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and the 2022 Division 1 wrestling championships. The arena is the home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons.

5 Places You Must Go Stargazing In Michigan

April 26, 2017 by  
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Michigan is the best place to stargaze in the Eastern United States. Much of this is due to the vast openness of the Great Lakes and sparse populations in the north. Expanding metropolitan areas create light pollution. This blocks a majority of stars around populated areas. However, Northern Lower-Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are relatively unpopulated. Additionally, […]

The post 5 Places You Must Go Stargazing In Michigan appeared first on Awesome Mitten.

NFL Draft Profile: WR Jehu Chesson

April 26, 2017 by  
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After a step back back in 2016, what will scouts make of the dynamic receiver?

If it hadn’t been for a knee injury in the Citrus Bowl at the end of his 2015 season, we might be talking about whether Jehu Chesson is a first or second-round pick. But a backslide in his final season has NFL teams wondering if the wideout offers enough return on investment.

Chesson wasn’t just a good player in 2015, he was Michigan’s best player. He earned team MVP honors on 50 catches for 764 yards, along with a total of 10 TDs in the air and on the ground. Some of his 2015 performances were outright monstrous (e.g. 207 yards and 4 TDs against Indiana).

But the knee injury, a change in quarterbacks, and the emergence of Amara Darboh pushed Chesson out of the spotlight in 2016. While still productive – 500 yards and 3 touchdowns – it was clear he’d lost some of that explosiveness that defines an elite receiver.

The NFL combine, however, established Chesson as a risk worth taking. At 6-3 and 205 lbs., he has the size of a pro. And while his ability to gain separation in the secondary is in question, his 4.47 40-time proves he can run with the NFL pack.

Most impressive is Chesson’s catch radius. Though not the strongest receiver, he can get in the air (35.5-inch vertical) to twist and battle his way to a catch. The guy simply has a gift for bringing down balls thrown into a crowd. And for NFL scouts, there’s no replacement for a sure-handed receiver willing to sacrifice his body for the ball.

Chesson also blocks with a doggedness that coaches eat up. As it’s unlikely he’ll be the No. 1 target when he’s on the field, his ability to downfield block can only help his stock on draft day.

That toughness, unfortunately, doesn’t translate to contact coming off the line. Stronger college defensive backs were successful in jamming Chesson, an issue the NFL will only magnify. In fact, outside of his knee injury and its impact on his quickness, Chesson’s lack of strength (10 reps on the 220-lb. bench) is probably the biggest concern among NFL teams.

He’s also taken some hits from NFL scouts for questionable after-the-catch and route running. When coming off a knee injury, those are areas a receiver needs to shore up.

So, where does Chesson fall? Barring a surprise, he’ll be the third Wolverine pass catcher taken in the draft behind Jake Butt and Darboh. But that’s hardly insulting in such a Michigan-rich draft.

Chesson has solid size and speed and elite pass-catching ability, and he lacks off-field drama that cause NFL front offices to cringe. That’s an attractive combination for a team seeking depth in its receiver corps. Expect to hear Chesson’s name on draft day as early as the fourth round, and, more importantly, on Sundays in the fall.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Can Chesson convince NFL scouts his knee injury in the 2016 Citrus Bowl won’t prevent him from contributing at the next level?

Seven Percent of Nothing Equals Nothing

April 25, 2017 by  
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Participants in Apple’s affiliate advertising program got an email yesterday announcing that the commission for apps and in-app purchases is being cut from 7% to 2.5%, effective next week. As usual, Michael Tsai’s blog has the most convenient roundup of reporting and reaction. There’s quite a bit of head-scratching, along with some hope the move presages a change in Apple’s 30% cut of App Store revenues (given the relative sizes of the affil program and the App Store as a whole, I suspect that’s wishful thinking).

I’m in the affiliate program myself. The iBooks link in the right nav on this blog is from the affil program. And over on Invalidstream, the show notes for every episode are rife with iTunes links to videos referenced in the preshow, games from the App Store that I demo, and there’s even an iTunes banner in the sidebar with music from the pre-show waiting room (which I’m attempting to reproduce here, wish me luck, and reload if it doesn’t work:)

I’m not going to play Devil’s Advocate or mindlessly defend Apple, but I think if you wargame this from Apple’s POV, this move actually makes some sense. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and play this out.

Quick reminder of how affiliate programs work: as an affiliate, I can create a link to Apple’s online stores (iTunes, App Store, etc.) with metadata identifying me as the referrer. If you follow that link and then buy anything for a given period of time (24 hours for Apple’s program), I get a 7% cut. So, if I can convince you to buy Final Cut Pro — please do, by the way — then I get 7% of the $300 purchase price, or $21.

So what’s changed, what’s the problem, and what justifies slashing the affiliate’s percentage?

Let me suggest it’s this: paid apps are dead. Therefore, sending traffic to the App Store isn’t generating purchases because there is no purchase.

If I link to a free-to-play game and you download it, no money has changed hands, and I’ve done nothing to earn my keep in Apple’s program. Worse, if you happen to buy some iTunes music or a season pass to a TV show within the next 24 hours, I’ll get a 7% cut of that, even though it’s highly unlikely I had anything to do with that purchase.

As for in-app purchases, keep in mind that the affil program doesn’t let affiliates create links to in-app purchases (it’s not clear how that would work on the web anyways, since by definition the purchase is made in an app). So if you make an in-app purchase, like buying “energy” in some exploitative F2P game or turning off ads in Overcast (see what I did there?), it’s highly unlikely my link had anything to do with your purchase. Even if I link you to a given app and you make a purchase in that app, chances are you’re buying your smurfberries or gold coins long after my link’s 24-hour window has closed, so associating subsequent I-APs with any given affiliate is likely bogus.

So, to me at least, this seems like a reasonable change — it’s very hard to make the case that affiliate ads are driving purchases of apps (since almost all of them are now free) or in-app purchases (since those purchases are seldom if ever the result of following an affil link). Apple is reducing the commission on these kinds of purchases because they think the affils are contributing little value to the app ecosystem.

And, much as we might not like it, that’s probably true.

Michigan offers 2018 4-star SG/SF Ignas Brazdeikis

April 25, 2017 by  
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The athlete from Mono (ON) Orangeville Prep has offers to 15 Division 1 schools, including the Wolverines.

Class of 2018 four-star shooting guard and small forward Ignas Brazdeikis has picked up an offer to play for Michigan.

“Coach [John] Beilein called me today and told me the news,” Brazdeikis told TheWolverine.com.

Brazdeikis has offers to play for Baylor, Canisius, Cincinnati, Denver, Memphis, Michigan, Niagara, Oregon, SMU, Southern Utah, St. Bonaventure, Tennessee, UNLV, USC, and Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-7, 210-pound athlete is thinking about reclassifying to the 2017 class, but that decision will not be made until the summer.

“I am just working on getting better but the big thing for me this year will be the EYBL; just showing everyone that I am a good player,” he said.

From Eric Bossi of Rivals: “Ignas is a stretch, combo forward type who is a pure scorer. He's a strong kid who has very good range on his jump shot and he's very tough as well. He's not the most athletic kid in the world but has post game, passes well and is very competitive. Because we don't rank players outside of the states in the Rivals150 he's listed as an unranked four-star prospect, but he's comparable to a top 50 type player.”

From Corey Evans of Rivals: “In an era where everyone loves multi-dimensional ballplayers, Brazdeikis fits that mold perfectly. The 6-foot-7 junior, who is capable of scoring from all three levels on the floor, should see his stock soar this summer. However, it does seem that Vanderbilt and Pitt sit in the best spot for him and a possible late reclassification into 2017 would bolster their chances heading into next year’s college basketball season.”

Check out Brazdeikis’ highlights from the Hampton EYBL:

Grant Newsome Was Minutes Away From Having His Right Leg Amputated

April 25, 2017 by  
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Grant explains how close he was from getting his leg amputated. Luckily, he is on the road to recovery.

Grant Newsome suffered a horrible leg injury last season against Wisconsin, which required six surgeries since then and is expected to miss the entire 2017 season. What many didn’t know is how close he was to losing his leg, and it was shockingly close. He was grateful the doctors recognized the severity of the situation to get him into surgery that night.

Angelique Chengelis with the Detroit News posted a video with Grant talking about his injury and recovery while following the team on their Italy trip.

He has not been able to particiapte in all the events during the Italy trip, but posted his view from today while the team got in some paintball.

This scary injury and situation could have been much worse, but glad he’s on the road to recovery.

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