Sunday, December 23, 2018

Job opening with the Friends of Rouge Park

Stock illustration from Pixabay
Two important non-profits in the Warrendale area of Detroit are hiring a part-time project manager on a temporary basis. The Friends of Rouge Park, which strives to protect and enhance the largest park in Detroit, and Detroit Outdoors, which strives to connect the youth of this city to the natural world and who operates what used to be known as Scout Hollow in the park, are the two groups that are hiring for shared position.

Under the direction of the Friends of Rouge Park Board of Directors and the Detroit Outdoors Program Director, this Project Manager will assist both organizations in implementing their missions by planning and leading park events and volunteer activities, fundraising, marketing, community outreach and developing the partnerships needed to implement the FORP Master Plan.

Additional details about this position as well as information on how to apply can be found online here. The deadline to apply for this position is January 7, 2019.

Spotting the International Space Station from Detroit

International Space Station in orbit - Photo courtesy of NASA
The International Space Station will pass over the Detroit area several times in the coming days. The next chance to see it will happen at 7:05 tomorrow morning when the space station will be visible in the skies of the Motor City for six minutes.

When it begins to appear, the International Space Station will in the southwestern portion of the sky and will disappear to the northeast.


This information is valid for any location that is within a 50-mile radius for the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, which is pretty much the entire Detroit metropolitan area. For anyone who isn't lucky enough to live in the hometown of Sonny Bono, Kristen Bell, and Dax Sheppard you can find out when and where the International Space Station will be visible to you by visiting Spot The Station on NASA's website.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christmas decoration in Warrendale


The South Warrendale Radio Patrol will be out getting pictures of the Christmas decorations this weekend for a contest that intend to run. If you live south of W. Warren Ave., which is where the South Warrendale Radio Patrol operates, then please remember to turn your holiday lights on as soon as it gets dark.

They will post the finalists on Monday on their Facebook page. Voting will be from Monday to Friday and the trophies will be gifted next Saturday. The most likes for a picture wins a trophy.

Thanks to all who decorated and brightened up Warrendale.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bridging the Del Ray and Warrendale neighborhoods


As plans were being finalized for the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario were being finalized, it became increasingly clear that life was going to become complicated for residents of the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit. Many of them were going to lose homes that had been in their family for generations to eminent domain. Still more residents would soon find their neighborhood congested with even more traffic and noise.

Rather than risk losing thousands of residents, Mayor Mike Duggan and his team stepped in with an innovative offer. Residents affected by the Gordie Howe International Bridge would be offered an opportunity to trade their home in Delray for another home in Warrendale or one of the other more stable neighborhoods in Detroit. This initiative became known as the Bridging Neighborhoods program.

I had a chance to sit down with Rico Razo, deputy director of the Bridging Neighborhoods program, to talk this initiative and how it fits into Mayor Duggan's overall plans to revitalize Detroit and her neighborhoods.

This home swap initiative has five key benefits for Detroit and her neighborhoods.
  1. Bridging Neighborhoods enables the city to retain long-time residents in her existing neighborhoods.
  2. Former Delray residents coming into Warrendale and other neighborhoods means as many as 600 currently vacant and blighted homes in Detroit's neighborhoods will be renovated and occupied by families who own their home and have a vested interest in the long-term health of their new neighborhood.
  3. Besides enabling Delray residents to escape the noise and pollution that will be inherent with the Gordie Howe International Bridge, these residents receive a fully renovated home that is up to code and energy efficient.
  4. Businesses in Warrendale and other neighborhoods gain thousands of new potential customers, which would enable them to expand and to hire new employees for the community. The addition of these new residents will also make it easier for new businesses to open and thrive in Detroit's neighborhoods.
  5. It will increase the population density in Detroit's neighborhoods, which will, in turn, enable the City of Detroit to deliver services more efficiently.
I would add that addressing the five issues above will better enable Detroiters to solve many of the other problems that still plague our community. All of this fits into Mayor Duggan's long-term plan to revitalize neighborhoods and to fulfill his campaign promise that every neighborhood has a future.

The City of Detroit produced the short video that is embedded above. As an aside, one can see Rico Razo welcoming a family to their new home at the 50-second mark on this video.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Worse than rape - apparently

Michael Cohen - Creative Commons photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I know this has little to do with either the Warrendale neighborhood or Detroit, but I still feel a need to comment. And since I run this blog, I'm going to do just that.

President Donald J. Trump's former long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison earlier today. It's worth noting that he will spend more time in jail than:


All of whom were convicted of rape. Most of them raped either a child or an unconscious woman.

In spite of this, Michael Cohen - a man who illegally paid off women to keep quiet about their consensual sexual affairs with President Trump - will apparently spend more time in jail than all seven of these rapists did combined.

I'm not saying that Michael Cohen deserved a lighter sentence. All that I'm saying is that this is one seriously messed up situation.

Well done, America. Well done.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Recreational marijuana comes to Detroit

Marijuana plant - Photo from Pixabay
Voters across Michigan approved a ballot initiative last month that decriminalizes, regulates, and taxes the recreational use of marijuana in our state. This legislation took effect last week. Regardless of this movement at the state level, there are still a multitude of federal statutes, regulations, and ordinances that impact how, when, and where an adult can use marijuana with minimal risk of criminal prosecution.

This is because there is still much about the law that remains unclear; not the least of which are the various laws that are passed down from the federal government. I believe it is, therefore, important for anyone with an interest in marijuana to know these details.

Luckily, the Detroit Police Department and the Board of Police Commissioners will have an information meeting this coming Thursday, December 13 at the McGregor Conference Center on the campus of Wayne State University. This meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Free parking will be available in the Law School Parking Lot (475 W. Palmer), which is just north of the McGregor Conference Center. The Wayne State campus is also accessible from the Warrendale neighborhood via the Warren Avenue bus. More information is available on bus routes and schedules here.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Warrendale wonders about vampires


I've been thinking about vampire stories a lot lately, for some reason. One of the things that amazes me about them is how universal the concept is.

The mythos about vampires seems to have originated in ancient Greece where precursors to them were seen in legends such as the stories of the shape-shifting women known as Empusa as well as the Lamia, which were ancient women who became monsters that ate children.  These legends were later adopted by the ancient Romans who, in turn, spread their stories throughout Eupore.

The legend of the vampire eventually spread to the Americas. The mythos took hold in stories throughout the Caribean about the Soucouyant, reclusive elderly women who took to the skies at night in search of victims who blood she could drink. Similar legends were told from Chile to Connecticut and on into Canda.

Vampires, by the way, were not unique to the Western world either. There were similar stories about shape-shifting, blood-sucking (usually female) monsters throughout Asia. These legends existed in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines well before any known contact with Europeans or Americans.

In fact, about the only place where vampire-like legends were not common was in Africa in particular and sub-Saharan Africa in particular. There has been much speculation in scholarly circles about why nothing like vampires among the people of sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the more interesting theories has to do with the fact that vampires in all of their forms are often killed with Holy Water...

And they bless the rains down in Africa.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Shooting at appliance store in Warrendale


There was a shooting at Sammy's Appliances (20101 W. Warren Ave) in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. This is a used appliance store at the western edge of the neighborhood.

The shooting reportedly started after a customer was involved in a dispute with two employees who worked at the store. The unidentified man then returned to the store and opened fire, wounding two employees.

Both of the employees are in stable condition at a local hospital. They are expected to make a full recovery.

WXYZ-TV has more on this story in the video above.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Prohibition ends. Detroiters lose lucrative income


It's worth noting that 85 years ago today, a whole bunch of Detroiters lost their rather lucrative careers.

This, of course, was because Prohibition was officially repealed 85 years ago today. With that action, it became legal to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcohol in the United States

While the end of Prohibition was great news for most Americans, I feel one should at least acknowledge that a lot of Detroiters lost their lucrative careers smuggling liquor from Windsor, Ontario, Canada into the United States by simply crossing the Detroit River in one manner or another.

There are several write-ups on Detroit's history with prohibition. I won't repeat all of them here. I will simply say that what I believe to the best overview of this moment in history can be found here. There is also a multitude of photos from the Prohibition era in Detroit over on Pinterest.

Happy Repeal Day, America! 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Celebrating Christmas - Downton Abey style

Highclere Castle in England (shooting location for Downton Abbey) - Stock photo from Pixabay
I was surfing the internet earlier this afternoon, wondering what I should write about for my third installment of Blogmas. One news item soon captured my attention like no other even though it had absolutely no connection to either the Warrendale neighborhood in particular nor Detroit in general.

There will be a Christmas ball on December 15 at Highclere Castle in England, which is where the television series Downton Abbey was filmed. Plus, the public is invited to it.

Tickets to this Christmas ball at Highclere Castle/Downtown Abbey are currently on sale and they're only the equivalent of $624 per person with airfare and other accommodations not included. An absolute bargain, if only I could afford it.

I love English history. I loved the Downtown Abbey television series. The Christmas ball that they intend to hold there next week looks like it will be amazing. It is, unfortunately, just a tad bit more than what the average blogger could afford to spend on an evening regardless of how amazing that evening would be.

For half a second, I thought about trying to raise the funds to go. I could sell some stuff on eBay, launch a Kickstarter campaign, and accumulate an obscene amount of credit card debt in order to go. With a bit of time, though, my fantasy soon gave way to the cold, hard reality.

I'm confident that I will visit Highclere Castle to see where Downtown Abbey was filmed. There's even a chance that I may one day attend a Christmas ball there. However, it simply isn't in the cards for it to happen next week.

Oh, well.

I'll live. Moreover, I will continue to do so happily, even though I will have to settle for seeing photos and videos of the Christmas ball at Highclere Castle on social media.

If anyone is so interested, one can read more about the Christmas ball at Downton Abbey here. One can also learn more about the history of Highclere Castle and its 5,000-acre estate over here.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

When the space station zooms over Detroit

The International Space Station - Public domain image by NASA
I am a space nerd. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this Blogmas, it's my pleasure to weave the International Space Station into this challenge.

The International Space Station is the third brightest object in the Earth's sky after the Sun and Moon. Since the station is continuously in orbit around our planet, it can frequently be seen by the naked eye from the ground.

In fact, the International Space Station can be seen zooming through the skies over Warrendale and the rest of Detroit as often as 15 times each day. It's easiest to see at night but the space station even been seen during the daytime as well since it is - as I mentioned above - the third brightest object in our sky.

There are only two things that would ever interfere with those of us on the ground in Detroit from seeing it regularity: clouds and not knowing when and where to look. Unfortunately, as of this writing, I do not have any control over the first barrier.

However, it's relatively easy to know when and where the International Space Station will be in the sky overhead. NASA has created a website called Spot the Station to help everyone see it. They even have a short tutorial that teaches you how to spot the station when it is overhead.

Happy Blogmas, everyone! Enjoy spotting the International Space Station in the skies over Detroit - or wherever you might be reading this from.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Merry Blogmas

Christmas lights in Warrendale - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I have decided to take the Blogmas challenge, which begins today.

Every day - from now until Christmas - I pledge to post to this blog at least once each day.

I haven't been posting as regularly as I should. I blame it on my work schedule. In reality, I've just started getting a little lazy. I think this challenge is the sort of thing that I need to beat that laziness to a pulp.

I invite everyone to follow along and see how good of a job I do (or don't do) at keeping this Blogmas challenge pledge.

Oak Street Health helps to save the lives of seniors

Stock photo from Pixabay
According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths in recent years among Americans that result from influenza have ranged from a low of 12,000 during the 2011-2012 flu season to a high of 46,000 during the 2012-2013 season. The saddest part of all is that the elderly can be particularly vulnerable and most of their deaths could be prevented with a vaccination.

When 12,000 Americans dying from a preventable illness is at the low-end of the spectrum, we as a community clearly have a problem.

Quite frankly, I don't care what Jenny McCarthy or Jim Carrey has to say about the matter, vaccinations are safe and effective - especially when it comes to the flu. This is why I've gotten my flu shot every year for the past several years in a row.

I was thrilled to hear, therefore, that Oak Street Health is launching a special program near the Warrendale neighborhood to encourage and enable more senior citizens to get their annual flu shot. This is a thing that really can save lives.

The medical staff at Oak Street Health will give a free flu shot to any senior citizen who is on Medicare. The closest Oak Street Health location to the Warrendale neighborhood is located at 27155 Cherry Hill in Inkster. If anyone has any questions, they can call the center at (313) 749-1178.

Oh, and when you go get your flu shot, please be sure to tell them that Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey sent you.

It won't make a difference in terms of your flu shot itself. However, it would probably annoy Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey to hear that people are mentioning their names when getting vaccinated.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

UFOs come to Detroit

Alien fantasy - Photo from Pixabay
My closest friends, family, and work colleague already know about this. However, I figure it's time for the entire world to know: I have written a science-fiction novel entitled The Roswell Chronicles and it has been published in both Kindle and paperback formats.

The Roswell Chronicles series tells the story of Samantha Haut and her cousins as they find themselves caught between a group of greedy Wall Street bankers and some pissed off aliens from outer space.

Ever since the Roswell crash in 1947, the Haut family has secretly held onto a series of journals that contain details of advanced alien technology. Whenever the family has needed money, they quietly sold one of the inventions in those pages.

This is fine until an investment banking executive learns about these journals, steals them, and begins selling the technology much faster to generate more profits.

The problem here is that the Haut family was never supposed to have those journals. They were supposed to be returned to the aliens more than a half-century ago under the terms of the secret Roswell Treaty between the aliens and the United States government. If and when the aliens learn that those journals are still in existence - which becomes much more likely once a whole bunch of their technology hits the market - they will undoubtedly be back.

And they won't be happy.

Cover of the Kindle edition of
The Roswell Chronicles
The Roswell Chronicles is currently available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats. Readers can actually see the first chapter of my novel for FREE on Amazon.com by simply clicking where it says "look inside", which is right above the image of my book.

I want to thank everyone in advance for taking a look at my science-fiction novel The Roswell Chronicles, which is available here. The first few reviews of my book have been glowing. I'm actually a little surprised by all of the unsolicited 5-star reviews that readers have given it so far.

I may be a little biased - or maybe even more than a little - but I believe that The Roswell Chronicles would make for an excellent Christmas gift for anyone on your list who loves to read.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: A national example

As communities across the United States continue to struggle to balance the demands between fighting crime and holding police officers accountable for inappropriate conduct - that is "policing the police" - one of the more frequently cited examples of it being done right is Detroit with its Board of Police Commissioners.

In fact, the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth recently did a story which examined precisely how the Detroit model is successful.

After all of these years of Detroit being scorned in the national news media, I have to admit that it feels good to see coverage like this.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Friends of Rouge Park to meet

Save Rouge Park sign - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next general meeting on Tuesday, November 20. This gathering will happen from 6 - 7 p.m. in the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.).

Items on the agenda for this meeting include updates on upcoming plans and goals for 2019 as well as an update on the Sorensen signage project. There will also be elections for the board of this organization.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Michigan named the best place for fall foliage

Fall foliage in Michigan - Photo by Madison Shealy
Those of us who live in Michigan know how spectacular the leaves around these parts get every autumn. Now, however, it looks like the rest of the country has discovered this portion of what makes Michigan magical.

For the third year in a row, Michigan has been named the best place in the United States to see fall foliage in Nikon's fall foliage competition. While the Great Lakes State came in first place again, New York came in second place while Colorado placed third. There were also some impressive entries from California, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Utah in this contest.

“Now in its fourth year, this campaign continues to provide a platform for people to show their state pride through photography that displays the natural beauty of our country, while also highlighting the uniqueness of autumn in each individual state,” explained Lisa Baxt, Associate General Manager of Communications, Nikon Inc. in a prepared statement.

I could fill this blog with words about how spectacular the fall colors are in Michigan. However, I think it's best to let the pictures speak for themselves. They, after all, are why Michigan has been named the best place for fall foliage three years in a row.

Fall in Michigan - Photo by Thomas Bos
I love this photo by Thomas Bos. It perfectly captures the beautiful colors that are found across Michigan every season. Adding a dog into the photo really gives a sense of scale to this scene.

Michigan road in autumn - Photo by Shannon Hart
This photo of a Michigan road in the fall by Shannon Hart is spectacular. In my opinion, there's something about a long stretch of empty road that invites one's imagination to ponder what is just over that hill or around the next bend.

I believe this is one of the reasons why we as humans are natural explorers of our environment. The fact that the road is enveloped by the wonderful colors of fall foliage in Michigan simply takes her photograph to the next level.

More than anything, this photo inspires one to take a long road trip through Michigan.

Michigan river in the fall - Photo by Izzy Cagalawan
I love the fact that Izzy Cagalawan incorporated a gently flowing river in this landscape of fall foliage. I feel that it adds a dimension to this photo that is missing from most other landscape photographs of Michigan.

Michigan is, lest one forget, a state that is defined by water in many ways. There are more than 11,000 lakes throughout the state, according to the Michigan Historical Center. In fact, no matter where one is this state, a person is never more than six miles from a body of water and never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.

All of this makes me look forward to 2019 when Michigan will presumably win the Nikon fall foliage competition for the fourth time.

Friday, November 09, 2018

First snowfall of the year



One of the first things that I saw this morning, before I even looked outside, was a cheerful message on Facebook from an old friend of mine from high school who happens to run a snowplow business.

Even if you're not excited about the first snowfall of the season in Detroit, I hope all of my readers are able to confront the day with the same level of enthusiasm as my friend Wayne has about it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Record voter turnout in Warrendale

I voted - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Today is the day.

Today is the midterm election; where we will choose a new governor for Michigan, a new Member of Congress to replace the retired John Conyers, as well as a new state representative and state senator. All of this is in addition to deciding who will be our United States Senator and a host of other elected offices at the state and local levels.

Precinct 337 in Detroit, which is a portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is south of W. Warren Ave. and closer to the Southfield Freeway, is reporting record voter turnout today. The number of people showing up is eclipsing not only a normal midterm election but is better than normal for when there is a presidential race.

The other precincts in Warrendale - as well as the rest of the Detroit area - seem to have rather large voter turnouts.

Polls will still be open for another couple of hours. Let's keep it going, Detroit.

If you haven't already voted, please get out and do so.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Gas prices in Michigan hit 7 month low

Gas pump - Stock photo from Pixabay
Drivers across Detroit and the rest of Michigan are finding the lowest prices at the pump since April. According to a survey conducted by AAA of Michigan, the state average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.72, which is 39 cents less than this year's high and the same as this time last year.

The AAA of Michigan survey also showed that gas prices continued their downward trek last week, declining another 9 cents.  The state average declined for the 10th consecutive day on Sunday, for a total discount of 12 cents.

The most expensive gas price averages were found in Marquette at $2.89, Ann Arbor at $2.81, and Metro Detroit at $2.76. In contrast, the least expensive gas price averages were in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland area at $2.65, Benton Harbor at $2.66, and Jackson at $2.66.

"Michiganders are saving 40 cents per gallon, compared to when gas prices peaked during Memorial Day weekend," explained Nancy Cain, spokesperson, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Gasoline is becoming less expensive to produce-and-sell thanks to lower crude prices and cheaper-to-produce winter blend fuel. Retail prices have not quite caught up with declines on the wholesale side, so motorists should see another round of discounts this week. However, fuel prices definitely have the potential to reverse course based on any fluctuations in the stock market due to Election Day and the activation of U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude. Regardless, AAA believes the highest prices of the year are behind us."

Why are Crude Prices Falling? 
Crude oil prices are hovering near 7-month lows. On Friday, WTI settled at $63.14 per barrel - nearly $4.50/b less than the week before, and the lowest daily settlement since April 6, 2018. The weekly average price for U.S. crude has declined the past four consecutive weeks. Before then, crude prices faced upward pressure amid growing concerns that U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude would cause a global supply shortage. However, those concerns are being quelled by increased production by countries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Crude production in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia all remain strong. U.S. oil inventories rose for the sixth consecutive week, according to weekly data from the Energy Information Administration. Domestic supplies rose 3.2 million barrels from the week before. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories dropped by 3.2 million barrels. Meanwhile, OPEC production levels for October reportedly reached the highest output levels since 2016 as some members boosted production in preparation of the Iran sanctions.

More on U.S. Sanctions Against Iran
Friday, the Trump Administration announced the U.S. would re-impose sanctions on Iran that were lifted in 2015 under the Obama Administration. The sanctions, which will go into effect on November 5, 2018, target the Iranian energy sector and impede Iran’s ability to sell oil.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Iran ranks as the world’s fourth-largest reserve holder of oil. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers, producing almost 4.7 million b/d of petroleum and other liquids in 2017. While Iran is an oil powerhouse, Saudi Arabia (9%) and Iraq (6%) are the top two OPEC countries exporting to the U.S. and two of the top five countries overall that sell oil to the U.S.

In May, when the decision to re-impose oil-related sanctions was announced, the market reacted quickly with crude oil prices peaking at $77 per barrel this summer. As the crude market saw big upward price swings due to concerns about restricted global supply, Iran started to feel the impact on oil exports. According to the Trump Administration, Iran went from exporting 2.5 million barrels per day in May to 1.5 million barrels per day in October and over twenty countries have reduced their imports of Iranian oil to zero. Exports are expected to drop further, but not immediately.

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. has granted temporary waivers to eight countries - including Japan, India and South Korea - allowing them to continue to import Iranian oil. Those receiving the waiver are expected to continue cutting imports.

Detroit start-ups to compete for funding

Women business owners - Photo from Pixabay
This Wednesday, November 7, 10 woman-owned businesses will go head-to-head in a pitch competition. This event will start at 5:30 p.m. at NextEnergy, which is located at 461 Burroughs in the Midtown neighborhood.  This is a public event that is presented by Michigan Women Forward with support from the Consumers Energy Foundation.

The participating companies are divided into lifestyle and growth companies. The 10 finalists have been narrowed from an initial field of more than 140 applicants.

The five woman-owned businesses to make it to the finals in the lifestyle category are:
  • Birch Bride from Whitmore Lake;
  • GreenHouse Soups & Chilli from Allen Park;
  • Jo’s Gallery 2 from Detroit;
  • Buttons 2 Button from Northville; and
  • Team Fit from St. Clair.
The five woman-owned businesses to become finalists in the growth category are:
  • Dough from Ann Arbor;
  • PocketNest also from Ann Arbor;
  • FrontWest Customs Brokerage & Services from Romulus;
  • SignOn from Grosse Pointe Farms; and
  • Dearborn Career Academy from Dearborn Heights.
Each of the ten finalists will receive support services and technical assistance. Winners in each category at each location will get cash prizes ranging from $10,000 to $1,000

Similar competitions are scheduled in Grand Rapids on November 8 as well as in Jackson on November 14.

“We at Consumers Energy are committed to creating opportunities for everyone in our state, particularly female entrepreneurs who can bring new ideas to the table,” explained Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, the Vice President of Customer Experience for Consumers Energy. “The Woman Up Pitch Competitions illustrate the diversity that exists in Michigan’s workforce. When these businesses can thrive, we all win.”

“We are proud to bring this opportunity in Detroit, Jackson and Grand Rapids in 2018,” added Carolyn Cassin, president of Michigan Women Forward. “This influx of capital can make a big difference to our winning companies as they start or grow their businesses.”

Since 2014, MWF has loaned $2,391,200 to 93 businesses, in addition to 74 pitch competition prizes and investments totaling $468,400. The Consumers Energy Foundation has contributed $200,000 to Michigan Women Forward this year toward its Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative.

The session is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.  For information, visit www.miwf.org.

There's help to buy a home in Detroit

Homes in Warrendale during the winder - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Anyone who is looking to buy a home in the Warrendale neighborhood - or many of the other outlying neighborhoods in Detroit - can get some great incentives thanks to the Step Forward Program from the Michigan State Housing Authority. For starters, MSHDA is offering $15,000 to eligible homebuyers to cover their downpayment, closing costs, and other prepaid expenses.

While $15,000 to put towards the purchase of a new home in Detroit is great in and of itself, MSHDA and their Step Forward Program are offering even more for qualified homebuyers. They are also working with a coalition of more than 45 lenders to offer a 0% interest rate as well as no monthly payments for eligible homebuyers.

The Michigan State Housing Authority will even forgive 20% of the home loan per year. This means that 100% of the loan amount will be forgiven within five years. Eligible homebuyers essentially get a free house in the Warrendale neighborhood or elsewhere in Detroit, with no monthly payments along the way, provided that they live in their home for at least five years.

There are, of course, several conditions are requirements for homebuyers to gain access to this program. For starters, there is a maximum income limit that ranges from $85,080 to $99,260 depending upon the size of one's household as well as an asset limit of $10,000 excluding retirement savings. Anyone who makes more than that amount or who has assets worth more than $10,000 is not eligible for this program.

The purchase price of the home may not exceed $224,500, which means that any home in the Warrendale neighborhood easily qualifies. Homebuyers will also be required to complete a homebuyer education workshop.

The home that one buys must be in the Warrendale neighborhood or one of the other qualifying neighborhoods in Detroit. (Although, let's face it - buying in Warrendale really is the smartest bet.) The Michigan State Housing Development Authority also requires that homebuyers use an MSDA MI Home Loan for this purchase.

Finally, in order to qualify, homebuyers must have a minimum credit score of 640 (or 660, if buying a manufactured home). If anyone is uncertain about their credit score then I recommend checking out Credit Karma or WalletHub. Consumers can use those sites to get their score for free and do so without a credit card. They also offer a variety of tips on how to improve one's credit score.

There will be a housing and resource fair this Wednesday, November 7 from 4 - 7 pm at the Northwest Campus of Wayne County Community College (8200 W. Outer Dr.) in Detroit. Additional details can be found on this flyer from the Michigan State House Authority.

$15,000 to purchase a home in Detroit, as well as all of the other benefits of the Step Forward Program, are your Tip of the Week for November 5.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Also, be sure to follow the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great information.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Three bits of good news

Artists depiction of the Core of Cygnus A - Public domain image from NASA
I feel like bad news, division, and drama have been dominating our news cycles forever. Therefore, I want to share three bits of good news with everyone this morning.

First, a new astronomical survey was recently published, which confirmed that the planet Jupiter has 10 newly discovered moons. This brings the number of confirmed moons in orbit around Jupiter up to 69. (Insert your own filthy joke about 69 moons here.)

Second, speaking of moons, Robert Zubrin, a rocket scientist and president of The Mars Society, has unveiled plans for low-cost colonies on our Moon. His proposal can be found in the summer/fall issue of The New Atlantis.

Finally, on the subject of cool sciency stuff, my science-fiction novel The Roswell Chronicles is currently available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback formats.

Oh, wait - did I just bury the lede?

Yes, I wrote a science-fiction novel and it has been published.

My novel is called The Roswell Chronicles and it's the first book in a planned series that is also entitled The Roswell Chronicles.

The Roswell Chronicles series tells the story of Samantha Haut and her cousins as they find themselves caught between a group of greedy Wall Street bankers and some pissed off aliens from outer space.

Ever since the Roswell crash in 1947, the Haut family has secretly held onto a series of journals that contain details of advanced alien technology. Whenever the family has needed money, they quietly sold one of the inventions in those pages.

This is fine until an investment banking executive learns about these journals, steals them, and begins selling the technology much faster to generate more profits.

The problem here is that the Haut family was never supposed to have those journals. They were supposed to be returned to the aliens more than a half-century ago under the terms of the secret Roswell Treaty between the aliens and the United States government. If and when the aliens learn that those journals are still in existence - which becomes much more likely once a whole bunch of their technology hits the market - they will undoubtedly be back.

And they won't be happy.

The Roswell Chronicles is currently available on Amazon.com.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween


I want to take a moment to wish everyone in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond a safe and happy Halloween. There are spectacular spooky things happening at all of the area bars and even more happening throughout Detroit.

Today has all of the makings of a great Halloween - even we don't have the best weather at the moment. (The weather forecast claims that the skies will clear in time for trick or treaters. I'm not sure if I believe it, though.)

Anyway...

Enough about the weather in Detroit. Back to my original point.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Statistics and Sweetest Day


I knew that today is World Statistics Day. That was no surprise to me at all.

I even posted on Twitter about today being World Statistics Day. This, after all, is a day that was created by the United Nations and is recognized in more than 130 countries. This is a day to highlight the idea that better day means better decisions.

I knew all about World Statistics Day.

However, until several of my friends and family members posted on Facebook about romantic getaways and Sweetest Day in general I had completely forgotten that today is also that "holiday" that candy makers in Cleveland invented 96 years ago.

This fact that I remembered World Statistics Day but forgot about Sweetest Day probably says more about me than I really want to admit.

Happy Sweetest and World Statistics Days, everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

9 year-old receives citation for saving her grandmother


A 9-year-old resident Jada Anderson, who is a third-grade student at the Warrendale Charter Academy, received a citation for saving her grandmother's life. She was at home with her grandmother on August 13 of this year when she collapsed.

Jada Anderson could have panicked like most 9-year-old would have done in such a situation. However, she remained calm, called 9-1-1, and administered CPR on her grandmother.

WXYZ-TV has more on this story in the video embeded above.

Monday, October 15, 2018

John James puts Nazi swastika in new campaign ad


Republican candidate for the United States Senate John James released a new campaign ad this week that is entitled "Ready to Serve." The ad has appeared on television in the Detroit media market and presumably elsewhere in the state. It's also available on YouTube here.

The thing that is profounding troubling is that there is a Nazi swastika hidden in this campaign ad. The Nazi symbol appears 11 seconds into this 30-second video on the bulletin board that appears on the screen.

I have to ask: why in the world would someone like John James - a Republican candidate for the United States Senate - put a Nazi swastika in his campaign ad?

Members of my family served in the 13th and 101st Airborn Divisions of the U.S. Army during World War II. My family fought the Nazis in Europe. They parachuted into Normandy, France on D-Day; survived the Battle of the Bulge and a Nazi prisoner of war camp.

When they defeated Adolf Hitler and Nazis in Europe, they came home to Detroit to raise a family and live the American dream. They never expected to see Nazis show up in Michigan.

They certainly never expected to see a Nazi swastika show up in a campaign ad for a Republican who wants to serve in the United States Senate.

All of this begs the question: why in the world John James and his campaign for the U.S. Senate chose to include a swastika in their commercial?

I reached out to the John James campaign for a comment earlier today. As of posting this, I have not received a response from them.

If and when John James or his campaign reply with an explanation for the Nazi swastika, I will provide it on this blog in a follow-up.

Update @ 7:26 p.m.
I want to acknowledge that Chris Savage of Electablog published a similar story to mine one hour and 56 minutes before I did. I did not see his story before publishing my version of it. However, I believe it's worth noting that he did independently notice the swastika in that commercial for John James before I did.

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow


The Friends of Rouge Park, a nonprofit advocacy group that works for the betterment of the largest park in Detroit, will have a general membership meeting tomorrow evening. The group will meet at 6 pm at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.), which is near West Chicago and Outer Drive. Their meeting is expected to last approximately one hour.

The agenda for this meeting includes board elections for the group as well as:

  • Opening of the Sorensen Interpretive Trail;
  • Goals for 2019; and
  • General updates on Rouge Park.
Anyone who is interested in the preserving and protected Rouge Park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Travel tip: Use a resort pass to take a vacation on the cheap

Tropical vacation - Stock photo from Pixabay
Looking to get away at a resort this winter but not break the bank?

Consider using a resort pass for a day from DayCation.  What is a resort pass? It’s a pass that gives you access to a resort or hotel’s amenities for a single day without having to book a stay at full price. This way you can lounge at the pool or go to the spa as if you were a regular guest.

Daycationapp.com offers great deals on resort passes in popular locations such as Miami, New York, and even Nassau, Jamaica.

A resort pass (also known as a day pass) is basically the best way to enjoy a daycation without spending a fortune. For instance, you can stay at a lower tiered hotel but access the facilities of a nearby luxury resort of your choosing. This allows you to save money for other aspects of your trip or vacation. Or, if you live in the local area, a resort pass is a great way for you to take a quick staycation, but still feel like you are getting away from the daily grind.

How does a day pass work? First, you locate the hotel/resort that has the amenities you want and book your ticket.  Second, you check in at the front desk as you would as if you were a normal guest. You will need to bring your ID and show a confirmation e-mail. Third, enjoy the amenities for the rest of the day! It’s that easy.

A resort pass is the most affordable option for travelers on any budget, whether you want to check out a cabana in Miami or go to a spa in a luxurious New York hotel. With a resort pass, you can relax and enjoy a hotel for a day. 

Enjoying a DayCation is your tip of the week for the week of October 15.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Gabe Leland indicted on bribery charges

Gabe Leland at a Warrendale Community Organization meeting
Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to a published report in The Detroit News, Gabe Leland has been indicted on bribery charges by a federal grand jury. Leland has represented the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhood as a state legislator and city councilman for more than a decade.

Leland allegedly received more than $15,000 in cash and services in exchange for his help with a real estate deal, according to this indictment. The full story is available here.

On a personal note, I have known, trusted, and supported Gabe Leland since the beginning of his political career. I've always found him to be a hard-working public servant who has done much to help the Warrendale neighborhood. I'm both shocked and disappointed by this news.

I will have more on this story as it continues to develop.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

District 7 fall meeting announced

Meeting - Stock Photo courtesy of Pixavy
The fall meet and greet for the District 7 area, which includes the Warrendale neighborhood, has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 3. This meeting will happen in the Adams-Butzel Recreation Center (10500 Lyndon) at 6 p.m.

This meeting will consist largely of general updates from the District 7 staff.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by phone or email to the District 7 manager Ray Solomon at (313) 236-3516 / solomonr [at] detroitmi [dot] gov or the deputy manager Mona Ali at (313) 236-3540 / alim [at] detroitmi [dot] gov.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tomorrow

Rouge Park on a foggy day - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The non-profit advocacy and service group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next meeting tomorrow evening. They will meet at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Brammel St.) from 6 - 7 pm on Tuesday, September 18.

Anyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

FBI warns about cyber risk to students

Cyber-threats - Stock image by Pete Linforth/Pixabay

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement recently encouraging public awareness of cyber threat concerns related to K-12 students. The US school systems’ rapid growth of education technologies, which is also known as EdTech. This technology has led to the widespread collection of student data could have privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited.

EdTech can provide services for adaptive, personalized learning experiences, and unique opportunities for student collaboration. Additionally, administrative platforms for tracking academics, disciplinary issues, student information systems, and classroom management programs, are commonly served through EdTech services.

The types of data that are collected can include personally identifiable information as well as:
  • biometric data;
  • academic progress;
  • behavioral, disciplinary, and medical information;
  • Web browsing history;
  • students’ geolocation;
  • IP addresses used by students; and
  • classroom activities.
Malicious use of this sensitive data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children. Therefore, the FBI is providing awareness to schools and parents of the important role cybersecurity plays in the securing of student information and devices.

Sensitive Student Data
The widespread collection of sensitive information by EdTech could present unique exploitation opportunities for criminals. For example, in late 2017, cyber-actors exploited school information technology systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States. They accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information. The actors sent text messages to parents and local law enforcement, publicized students’ private information, posted student PII on social media, and stated how the release of such information could help child predators identify new targets. In response to the incidents, the U.S. Department of Education released a Cyber Advisory alert in October 2017 stating cybercriminals were targeting school districts with weak data security or well-known vulnerabilities to access sensitive data from student records to shame, bully, and threaten children.

Cybersecurity issues were discovered in 2017 for two large EdTech companies, resulting in public access to millions of students’ data. According to security researchers, one company exposed internal data by storing it on a public-facing server. The other company suffered a breach and student data was posted for sale on the Dark Web.

Inter-connected Networks and Devices
EdTech connected to networked devices or directly to the Internet could increase opportunities for cyber actors to access devices collecting data and monitoring children within educational or home environments. Improperly secured take-home devices (e.g. tablets, laptops) or monitoring devices (e.g. in-school surveillance cameras or microphones), particularly those with remote-access capabilities, could be exploitable through cyber intrusions or other unauthorized means and present vulnerabilities for students.

Recommendations
The increased use of connected digital tools in the learning environment and widespread data collection introduces cybersecurity risks of which parents should be aware.

The FBI recognizes there are districts across the United States who are working hard to address cybersecurity matters in their schools to protect students and their data. For districts seeking assistance, there are numerous online resources, consortiums, and organizations available that can provide support on data protection matters and cybersecurity best practices.

The FBI encourages parents and families to research existing student and child privacy protections of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and state laws as they apply to EdTech services.
Discuss with their local districts about what and how EdTech technologies and programs are used in their schools.

Families should also research parent coalition and information-sharing organizations that are available online for those looking for support and additional resources as well as school-related cyber breaches which can further inform families of student data vulnerabilities. The FBI also recommends that families consider credit or identity theft monitoring to check for any fraudulent use of their children’s identity. Parents should also regularly search the Internet for their children’s information to help identify the exposure and stop it from spreading.

If you have evidence your child’s data may have been compromised, or if you have experienced any of the Internet crimes described in this PSA, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Protecting your children from the latest EdTech cyber-risks is your Tip of the Week for the week of September 17.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Miss Michigan is my new hero

Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2019 - Photo by Yachin Parham/Miss America Foundation
Nia Franklin of New York was crowned Miss America at the pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, it was Miss Michigan Emily Sioma whose introduction caused the most stir and excitement.

At the beginning of the Miss America pageant, each of the 51 contestants took center stage to introduce herself briefly to the audience. "From the state with 89% of the U.S. freshwater but none for its residents to drink," she began, "I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma."

To say that the internet exploded with comments regarding Emily Sioma and her comments at the Miss America pageant is an understatement. Everyone seemed to understand that she was referring to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Unfortunately, though, her comments could also apply to Detroit public school students and others around the Great Lakes State who lack a reliable source of clean drinking water.

I am incredibly proud of Emily Sioma for using her platform at the Miss America pageant to keep the problems of clean drinking water in Michigan in the public consciousness. There are a lot of people in this state, particularly in Lansing, who would like the issues associated with our water to go away so they can go back to cutting taxes and regulations. However, when people like her keep water at the forefront of everyone's mind, it makes it hard to impossible for this issue to die a quiet death without someone finally fixing the problem.

I feel like I should mention a few other things about Emily Sioma to put her life thus far into perspective. She was born and raised in Grass Lake, Michigan, which is along the I-94 corridor between Ann Arbor and Jackson, but closer to Jackson. She is also a graduate of the University of Michigan where she received a degree in women's studies.

Emily Sioma is a survivor of a sexual assault. She used her personal experiences and her education to further the "I Believe You" initiative as part of her reign as Miss Michigan. Its mission is to support those who also survived a sexual assault.

It is for all of these reasons that Emily Sioma, Miss Michigan 2019, is my hero.

One of the things that I normally do on this blog is to publish a Tip of the Week feature; something to make someone's life a little easier or better. This Monday, my tip of the week is simple: be more like Emily Sioma.

I want to be more like her. I want everyone in Michigan to be more like Emily Sioma. That's why it gives me great pleasure to make "be more like Emily Sioma" this blog's Tip of the Week for September 10, 2018.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.

Monday, September 03, 2018

How to take out of this world selfies

Visiting the Christmas Tree Cluster - Photo by Frank Nemecek (with help from NASA)
In an era that is truly dominated by social media, there's no getting over the fact that selfies are a ubiquitous part of Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, and Twitter. This creates a certain amount of pressure for people to take a truly spectacular selfie.

A selfie that is, to put it either figurately or in this case literally, out of this world.

To help with such a selfie, my dear readers, I would like to introduce you to the NASA Selfies app. This free app, which is available from either the App Store or the Play Store, takes a selfie like the one that I featured above.

My friends may have posted selfies from the beach or some music festival. I, however, got to post a selfie from the Christmas Tree Cluster - a group of new stars in the Monoceros constellation this is located approximately 2,600 light years from Earth. I don't think anyone can top an out of this world selfie like this.

The NASA Selfie app is incredibly easy to use. Besides the Christmas Tree Cluster, one can also take a photo of one's self at the Triangulum Galaxy as well as:

  • Andromeda Galaxy;
  • Antennae Galaxies;
  • Arp 142 Galaxies;
  • Cassiopeia A;
  • Cigar Galaxy;
  • Crab Nebula;
  • Eta Caninae Star Forming Region;
  • Galactic Center;
  • Helix Nebula;
  • IDCS J1426 Galaxy Cluster;
  • Large Magellanic Cloud;
  • Meisser 78;
  • Meisser 81;
  • Milky Way;
  • Mountains of Creation;
  • North America Nebula;
  • Orion Nebula;
  • Perseus Nebula;
  • Pleiades Star Cluster;
  • RCW Star Forming Region;
  • Rho Ophiuchi;
  • Serpens Cloud Core;
  • Sombrero Galaxy;
  • Spider Nebula;
  • Spitzer Space Telescope;
  • Trifid Nebula;
  • W33 Star Forming Region; and
  • W5 Star Forming Region.
All of this makes the NASA Selfies app a really cool thing to have on one's smartphone.

The NASA Selfies app, therefore, is your Tip of the Week for the week of September 3, 2018. Please check back next week for another tip on making your life just a little bit better.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale (Detroit) Blog as part of our semi-regular Tip of the Week feature. Please check back every Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the author, Frank Nemecek, on Twitter and Instagram for more great content as @fnemecek.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Warrendale bakery coming to the Food Network


The Food Network will premiere a new series on Monday, September 3 that focuses on bakers, bakeries, and the art of baking. The show is called Baked and one of the first bakeries that they will feature is the Chene Modern Bakery (17041 W. Warren Ave.) for the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit.

The Warrendale neighborhood is home to some of the best bakeries in the Detroit area, in my humble opinion. I'm glad that the national media is paying attention to this treasure.

Baked will premiere on the Food Network channel at 10 p.m. on Monday, September 3.

My Aretha Franklin story

Aretha Franklin - Photo by Joe Ortuzar/Flickr
The funeral service for the Queen of Soul herself Aretha Franklin was on the television when I went to lunch today. There was an elderly gentleman in the diner who spent his time complaining about how Aretha Franklin wasn't that great of a person.

The worst example that this man could think of as he struggled to make his argument had to do with a property tax dispute Aretha Franklin was involved with back in 2015. That was it. A property tax dispute.

I mention this because if - at the end of a long life - the worst thing your harshest critic can think to say about you is a property tax dispute then - as far as I'm concerned - you are a wonderful person who lived an amazing life. I hope and pray that Aretha Franklin was able to hear his rant from Heaven and was laughing her butt off.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Warrendale Community Organization to meet on Tuesday


The next meeting of the Warrendale Community Organization will be this coming Tuesday, September 4. The neighborhood group will meet from 7 - 8 p.m. in the Activities Building of Ss. Peter and Paul Church (7685 Grandville).

Everyone who lives, works, or plays in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit is welcome to attend.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

John McCain dies at the age of 81

U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona - Photo by Dave Davison/Pixabay
The distinguished Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain passed away earlier this evening. He was 81 years of age at the time of his death. While I disagreed with McCain on a multitude of issues, I respected him a lot.

I pray this evening, therefore, that all of angels and saints in Heaven join in welcoming him home. I also pray that his family and friends come to know comfort and peace in the days to come until they are reunited with him.

Good night, Senator McCain.