Ode to Spring … and Michigan Spring Wallpaper!

Ode to Spring, photo by Sue Fraser

Suddenly there’s no more snowing,
Balmy breezes blithely blowing,
Lilacs bloom, the lawn needs mowing–
Oh, what glee!
-Robert G. Shubinski (full poem)

Spring isn’t quite this far advanced, but if you want to add to the amount of spring in your life,take a walk through the spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures – lots of great pics in here!

You can see this photo background bigtacular and see lots more in Sue’s Fantastic Flowers slideshow.

Rare “Pure Award” for the Headlands Dark Sky Park

Milky Way, photo by Joseph Snowaert

I’ve been an astronomy nut since I was a little kid, and I’m always happy when the importance of the night sky gets the recognition it deserves. That’s certainly the case as the Headlands Dark Sky Park has won Michigan’s most exclusive tourism award. Absolute Michigan explains:

Emmet County’s International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands won the distinguished recognition of the state’s premier Pure Michigan campaign at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism Tuesday when they won the Pure Award for 2017. The Pure Award, which has only been awarded twice in the 10 years of the Pure Michigan campaign, recognizes best practices in stewarding and preserving Michigan’s natural, cultural, and heritage-based resources.

“This award helps us further realize our goal of safeguarding the community’s natural and direct encounter with Northern Michigan’s unique and exceptional environment, both by day and by night,” said Headlands Program Director Mary Stewart Adams.

…The Headlands International Dark Sky Park is a 600-acre park on the Straits of Mackinac, two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City, at 15675 Headlands Road. The park is free and open to the public every day. While no camping is allowed, visitors are welcome to stay overnight to observe the dark sky overhead. The Headlands became the 6th International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. and the 9th in the world in May 2011, as designated by the International Dark Sky Association (www.darksky.org), and each month free programs are held for the public.

Read on for more.

Joseph took this photo back in May of 2014. View it background big and see more in his Writing Center slideshow.

#TBT Jungle Love in Prehistoric Michigan

Jungle Love, photo by Matt Stangis

The Rapidian has a feature on prehistoric Michigan’s tropical seas, jungles and inhabitants that’s a great read and the ultimate Throwback Thursday! Here’s a small slice:

After about 60 million years, warm, shallow seas came down again from the Arctic and covered Michigan during the Silurian period. At this time the land would have been in a subtropical climate that gave rise to large coral reefs across the state. Fossil findings show that the largest and oldest reef extends through the center of the Upper Peninsula. A species of coral that lived during this time period would eventually become fossilized and become what we refer to as Petoskey Stones.

The seas retreated over time, leaving a desert scattered with fossilized remains that eventually formed the limestone that is located over one hundred and twenty feet below us today. The sections of this exposed limestone is what created the Grand Rapid’s famous rapids. Much of the salt deposits that were left from retreating seas of this period are still mined in Detroit.

The Devonian period around 400 million years ago saw the rise of vertebrates in Michigan. North America was covered with up to 40 percent of water. There were a great number of fish swarming the salt and fresh water seas. The Ganoid species were in a crude state of evolution. Many of them had armor plating with two of their relatives, the Gar Pike and the Sturgeon, still existing in Great Lakes today. Primitive plants, such as the seed fern, developed from marine algae. On land the Tiktaalik, the link between finned fish and early amphibians, started to use its muscular fins to drag itself around land.

…At the end of the Carboniferous Period, known as the Pennsylvanian subperiod, Michigan was a semi-tropical jungle featuring primitive vegetation. Ferns without bark, some of which bloomed scentless unattractive flowers, grew to almost 100 feet. Millions of generations of trees grew and died in the jungle. The trees that fell in the swampy parts of the jungle were covered up by water and soil that became rock over time. The forces of time and pressure on these trees would eventually see this prehistoric jungle become the coal basin that sits underneath a large area of the U.S. including the upper northeast part of Kent county.

In the sky above one foot long dragon flies swarmed in droves on the ground and cockroaches the size of a man’s palm crawled around. Reptiles started to appear, evolving from amphibians, not dependent on water to lay their amniotic eggs. Towards the end of this period the rain forests gave way to deserts which decreased the amphibian populations and caused an evolutionary shift in reptiles.

Definitely click through for more – there are some cool links as well!

I’m pretty sure Matt took this photo at ArtPrize in 2013. View it background bigilicious and see more in his slideshow.

May you find your pot of gold on St Patrick’s Day

Rainbow and fog bank over the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, photo by Ann Fisher

May you have all the happiness
And luck that life can hold
And at the end of your rainbows
May you find a pot of gold.
~ Old Irish Blessing

A very happy St. Patrick’s Day and health & good fortune to you all!

View Ann’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her 2016 UP slideshow.

Lots more St. Patrick’s Day on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan Tough: Daffodil Edition

Hopefully the daffodils are tougher than I am, photo by Bill Dolak

Bill took this shot yesterday at Celery Flats Park in Portage where it got down into the teens the night before.

View the photo background bigilicious and see more in his Portage, Michigan slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

$1 Million Asian Carp Challenge

Fish On, photo by Terry Murphy

ABC News reports that the State of Michigan is turning to the public for new ideas and plans to offer a prize to whoever comes up with a way to stop the voracious Asian carp:

Michigan’s global search challenge comes after the U.S. government and others have spent hundreds of millions searching for a solution to stop the carp from entering the world’s largest freshwater system. If they aren’t stopped, officials fear the aggressive fish will crowd out prize native fish and hamper recreational boating in large sections of the lakes, which stretch from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the west to New York and Pennsylvania in the east and from Ontario, Canada, in the north to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in the south.

“I think in the fight against Asian carp, there aren’t really any bad ideas,” said Molly Flanagan, vice president of policy for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “We have to try a bunch of different things.”

Michigan alone has a $38 billion tourism industry, much of it focused on the outdoors, and the Great Lakes region has a $7 billion fishing industry. Asian carp have been spotted 45 miles from Lake Michigan. If the fish make it into that lake, they could make their way into the other Great Lakes.

Details on how much prize money will be offered are still being worked out. Officials also haven’t determined how many winners might be chosen.

The Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder allocated $1 million to develop the challenge. Most of the money will go toward a prize for an idea or ideas that are deemed feasible, Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Joanne Foreman said. The rest will be used to create the challenge, which includes working with InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing company that will host the event online. The campaign is expected to go live this summer.

If you have an idea, now’s the time to start working!

View Terry’s photo background big and see more in his Terry Murphy Portfolio Selects slideshow.

Even Wally Pipp didn’t get Wally Pipped!

via “Everything You Know About Wally Pipp Is Wrong” on Absolute Michigan…

wally-pipps-final-resting-spot

Wally Pipp’s Final Resting Spot, photo by PPWWIII

True confession: My father was a veritable baseball encyclopedia good enough for a scholarship at Yale whose love of the game kept him around baseball and me steeped in it. That said, though I learned the story of Wally Pipp at a young age, it was all wrong.

The name of Wally Pipp conjures visions of shirkers, slackers and layabouts and the stars who get a chance to shine when they take the inevitable day off. Most sports fans know the story of how on June 2, 1925 New York Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp was given the day off for a headache, and Lou Gherig played 1st for the next 2,130 consecutive games until “The Iron Horse” retired due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tom Brady “pipped” Drew Bledsoe years ago, and Dak Prescott did the same to Tony Romo last season.

I read a whole lot about this confusing tale, but the article Wally Pipp’s Career-Ending ‘Headache’ by Snopes founder David Mikkelson is quite simple a tour de force of the twists and turns in one of our biggest American sports legends that has been told and retold in print and screen. There’s a ton to read including the newspaper clippings and I recommend you do so, but let’s skip to Mikkelson’s conclusion:

After winning three straight American League pennants between 1921-23, the Yankees finished a couple of games off the pace in 1924 as the Washington Senators captured their first flag ever. New York expected to regain the top spot in 1925, but that was the year Babe Ruth’s excesses finally caught up with him.

…With Ruth either missing or too weak to play effectively, and some key players slumping … New York tumbled to a dismal seventh-place finish (in an eight-team league) in 1925. With his team already near the bottom of the standings and eleven games under the .500 mark at the beginning of June, manager Miller Huggins decided to shake up his line-up and replace some of his slumping veterans with younger players. Contemporaneous news accounts leave no doubt that Wally Pipp did not sit out the game on 2 June 1925 with a headache; he was deliberately benched by a manager who had charge of a team that was playing poorly and who opted to sit down some of his older players to give others a try.

In the case of Wally Pipp there was no inopportune headache, no “delightful and romantic story” — just a case of a slumping player who lost his job to an up-and-comer and never got it back. But his replacement was the stuff of legend (the indestructible ballplayer finally felled by a fatal disease), and so he became part of a legend that mixed fact and fiction and grew so large even some of the participants came to believe in its fictional aspects.

Via Mental FlossBleacher Report, and Wikipedia, I can report that Pipp was raised in Grand Rapids, was hit in the head with a hockey puck as a child that he attributed his headaches to, and played his first pro baseball for (seriously) the Kalamazoo Celery Champs. Pipp was one of the best first basemen of his era, hitting .281 with 90 HRs, 997 RBI and 1,941 hits. After retiring in 1928, Pipp played the market, wrote some radio scripts and books including as Babe Ruth’s ghostwriter, and did a pregame baseball show for the Detroit Tigers. He worked in a Michigan plant that made B-24 bombers during WWII and worked as a sales exec for the Rockford Screw Products Corporation. Mental floss concludes: Pipp went from playing first for the Yankees to peddling screws and bolts—and he loved it. Armed with the gift of gab and endless baseball stories, Pipp spent the rest of his life selling wares to Detroit’s auto hotshots. He passed away in 1965. (at the age of 71)

View the photo from Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids background big and see more in PPWWIII’s slideshow.