Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Yesterday evening the Grand Rapids area was hammered with severe storms just after rush hour. 2-4 Inches of rain were widespread in just an hours time, along with some heavy winds and minor damages. Today see's some new storm and rain development, although the risk for severe development is on the East side of the mitten today.
Photos below taken at noon in Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photo Of The Day: Summer

This being the first official day of the summer and longest day of the year, I wanted to post something that would put us all in the summer mood. Warm air, a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, and cystal blue tropical waters.

Note this is not my photo**

Monday, June 20, 2011

B-93 Birthday Bash #19 - June 18, 2011 -Our Official Review-

For the past two decades here in West Michigan the premiere country music radio station has held a large (which has grown into huge) outdoor country music festival. The event began as a one day show, and then several years back morphed into a two day event. This year's was #19, and the second year in a row it was to be held at the 131 MotorSports Park in Martin, MI. Attendance for the day we went was over 60,000!

^All credit for this pano to B-93^
I can give you a run-down of the event. We ended up going on day one, Saturday June 18th. The lineup for that day went as follows:
-Brian Lorente and Usual Suspects (local band)
-LoCash Cowboys
-Corey Smith
-Jane Dear Girls
-Ty Stone
-Aaron Lewis (from rock band Staind)
-Frankie Ballard
-Thompson Square
-Eric Church

The schedule for the day was evenly laid out. They were going to begin letting cars into the parking lot at 8am, open the venue gates for people to go claim their seats at 10am, and music was to start at noon. This is the second year they were at this venue, and my review stands as an independent run-down of how things operated. Also, I had not been to 131 MotorSports Park for any event previously, so this is a clean-slate observation.

The girlfriend and I decided to leave for Martin about 7am, and we quickly arrived about twenty minutes later at our exit South of Grand Rapids. Immediatly when we got off the highway we realized there was already a back-up of cars lining up to get in. So, we waited in that line with them, the line already being a mile-long from the gates at 7:30. There is only one-way in and out of the facility, down a small, two-lane country road. We were promptly let in 25 minutes later, at a cost of $20 per vehicle. Parking was simple and hastle free. It being about 8am, we had a good two hours to wait in line for the gates to open. A friend had saved a spot for us near the front, so we calmly strolled over to our saved piece of realestate for the next 120 minutes. As we waited, the crowds grew bigger and continued to push forward cramming everyone together. Then it began to get rather warm in line, even before 10am. With the crowds growing and getting very pushy, it would not have hurt the staff organizers to open the gates 20-30 minutes early to allow the congestion to ease. However, they waited until exactly 10am to open the "bottle cap", and the sprint for the best lawn space was on.

When it comes to concessions, you aren't allowed to bring any food or drink of your own in. You may however bring your own empty water bottle(s) as they have the National Guard bring in water trucks for people to help themselves to for free. Food and alcohol are a done on a "ticket" system, where you line up to buy tickets and then use those tickets to purchase food/drinks. Prices are moderate, but not economical either. They had half the hard-stand restrooms at the facility open to the public inside the gates. However they made all of those restrooms female only facilities. Very gentlemanly of them. We males had to use the porta-johns.

We enjoyed the music, ate a little food, and got lots of sun. With virtually no breeze, and temps near 90, we began to bake. Thank goodness for sunblock!

Here's where my rating system comes into play. It's a simple pass/okay/fail of bulletpoints.

*Price - PASS. Tickets are free, so for the number of bands you see, $20 parking is not unreasonable.
*Location/Venue - PASS. 131 MotorSports Park has a huge plot of land, and it's the largest plot of land the event has ever been held on. Inside the complex there is lots of room to roam, and there are concrete pathways as you can see in the photo above that allow for easier movement than had been experienced at the event's previous two locations (Ionia Fair Grounds and Allegan Fair Ground).
*Parking - FAIL. Despite there being lots and lots of parking immediatly off US-131, there is just that one entrance/exit. The bottleneck is so severe that my girlfriend and I left early at the end of the night (missing the last act, Eric Church) to avoid the crowds. We're happy we did, as friends of ours who left shortly after 8pm were still stuck in the parking lot at 10:30 that night, two hours after they got to their cars. Not only that, but the small entrance forced cars to be backed up all down US-131 for a long time on Saturday, creating a logistics nightmare for traffic.
*Concessions - OKAY. Prices aren't too bad, and are a lot better than a concert at Van Andel Arena or a Tigers game. However the ticket system is a complete failure. It creates a logistical nightmare with a crowd that size and people begin to get impatient. If you are going to have a "ticket" system at concessions, you need to also have more ticket counters for people to purchase them than were available that day. Apparently they did a nice ammendment to the system, on Sunday they were allowing people to buy tickets when they got in line before the gates opened, thus hopefully easing the stress.
*Water - OKAY. The "water buffalos" from the National Guard are a wonderful touch. However there are only TWO of them for a crowd of 60,000 during a 10 hour span of time. That creates long lines. There is no reason with all the room they have they could not have at least four or five more tanks in circulation.
*Restrooms - OKAY. Lines for restrooms weren't that obscene, even for the women. They could have used a couple dozen more porta-johns however, they have the space.
*Music/Lineup - PASS. Yes, there have been better lineups for acts at Birthday Bash, but I was satisfied overall with the set we had. Besides, the talent on stage is totally up to personal taste.

Overall I would give the event a solid letter-grade of B. In other words I definitly plan to attend again in the future!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Some Cool Notes

Just passing this along, I thought some folks would be interested as I was. Since the Green Bay Packers are the only publicly owned franchise in any of the major four sports in North America, they have teamed up with a company by the name of Jostens to create a championship ring for their fans to purchase for their SuperBowl win back in February.

If you happened to go to high school (secondary) in the United States, you just may have head about Jostens if you were considering buying a class ring ;).

Also, Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids is undergoing their second expansion in as many years. This one is slightly smaller than the addition finished last summer, but it's still 4,000 sq. feet worth of more space.

Until later - J

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Seven-Game Sweep

We've all seen the instances where the most talented team did not win a series, or a game, or a championship. We saw it again last night in Vancouver as the Canucks were attempting to win game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals on their home ice. Vancouver had been to the finals once before, in 1994, and lost to the Rangers in seven games. After close 3-2 and 1-0 wins at home in the first two games, one might have assumed that Canada would win their first Cup since Montreal in 1993. The stage was set, the faster, most talented and highest scoring team in the league had a huge hold on the series. Game three was in a sense do or die for Boston. To go down 3-0 to Vancouver would have been a death sentence. Instead, Boston responded in a huge way. The Bruins absolutly pummeled the Canucks 8-1.

Most people say that was undoubtedly the turning point in the series. Aaron Rome's hit on Boston's Nathan Horton seemed to inspire the B's. After a scoreless first period Boston erupted for four goals in the second and four more in the third. A message had been sent by Boston, and in the process I think it got in Vancouver's head. I think being beaten 8-1 did something to them. Boston, despite being down 2-1 still, seemed to have all the momentum in the series. They would not relinquish it. In game 4 an inspired Tim Thomas and company blanked the Canucks 4-0. Uh oh Vancouver.

The British Canadian response was weak, but they managed to eek out an extremely tough and tense game 5 by a 1-0 score to take a 3-2 series lead. Now they would have two chances to finish off the Bruins. Neither time would they get close. Game 6 back in beantown saw a 5-2 Boston route. It became clear that even though Vancouver had pulled ahead 3-2 in the series, that they had won the Presidents Trophy as the best team in the league in the regular season, THEY themselves were really the underdogs and had lost any and all control over the series. They were now going back home tied 3-3 with what turned out to be unbearable pressure to win...for a whole country.

The first goal was imperitive for Vancouver, they needed all the momentum they could get. All hope for that ended when Patrice Bergeron snapped a shot past Luongo from the slot at 14:37 of the 1st period. Uh oh multiplied by a million. One could now feel the tense nervousness and frustration throughout the whole Rogers arena in Vancouver. This wasn't happening, not again. Not on their own ice...but it was. A slow, agonizingly ground-out demise. Brad Marchant scored at 12:13 of the 2nd period to deepen the whole, and two minutes later Bergeron netted his second goal of the night, a shorthanded fluke goal that was a nail in the coffin. An empty net goal late in the third was mearly a formality. The Bruins skated the cup on Canadian ice.

Grit and tenacity had beaten the piss out of skill and finesse. If there was ever the time to declare a seven-game series a seven-game sweep, this is it. Look at the box-scores if you want to dismiss me. The Canucks quite literally dissapeared after game 2, and never came back. They couldn't skate, couldn't get a single bounce and couldn't hit the side of a barn. Boston had imposed their will onto Vancouver, and in the process they mentally dismantled the Canucks so badly they crumbled.

One final note I want to make. I was very impressed with the city of Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympic games. It's a gorgous city and the people seemed amazingly welcoming. What I saw last night after the game was very different. Just as they had done after losing in 1994, Vancouver fans rioted and tore apart their city on world-wide television. Fires were set, people hurt and buildings damaged. Congratulations Vancouver, way to represent yourself. Just over a year over from the closing of the Olympic games, your fan-base and populace does this:

Keep your hooligans locked down on nights like that Vancouver. Even Detroit and LA think that's kind of whack.

Until next time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fighting Back Against the NBA Marketing Plan

What is the NBA's marketing strategy? It's simple; superstar personalities. That's it. Yup....that simple, that straight, that clear-cut. David Stern and his posse don't much favor the hard-working, play-as-a-team aspect. Ever seen the NBA market the Spurs? How about the Pistons of the mid-2000's? That's what I thought. They want flashy, brash, in-your-face cocky individualism. Me first! I need to get my touches, yo! With that said, who do you think the NBA's league marketing department and the four-letter network were pulling for to win the finals? Exactly, you can answer that one without saying anything.

Okay, I'll get back to that issue in a moment but let me spin this off really quick. Before last summer I never really had any bad blood for LeBron, I really couldn't come up with much that was too spiteful. He was just another big-name, self-crowned drama-queen NBA superstar. Then came the decision. It may have been the worst self-PR decision a professional athelete ever made, or maybe the best, depending on how much Queen James really likes being the villain. James enraged not just a whole city, not even JUST a whole state. He decided to royally destroy any and all credibility he had to pretty much anyone and everyone North of South Beach. Oh he got his attention and face-time for sure. Any PR is good PR right LeBron?? ESPN also took full control over the whole circus that was the decision and the move to Miami, making themselves the TMZ of the whole NBA (which they have a stake in having a TV contract). I was a new-found hater, along with tens of millions of other sports fans.

Back to the topic at hand, the season started awfully for Queen and his associates after their little rock-concert self-pep-rally at the American Airlines Arena that summer. Cleveland, now left with one of the worst teams in the league, was feeling vindicated. Miami however got their act together and roared into the playoffs. After beating Chicago, they entered the finals as the clear favorite. Dallas was there, and everyone seemed to ignore the fact that they had bumped off the defending two-time champs in LA. David Stern's plan was now in place, and he and all of Bristol CT. were waiting with baited breath. The Mav's were supposed to lay down to the new dynasty, the new Chicago Bulls were here. Get out of the way for the Queen and his court.

Dallas was up against more than just a superstar team. Miami were the media darlings. What only a few people realized was that Mark Cuban and his team were up against a professional sports ideology. A selfish, glamour-wrapped, marketed and pre-packeged way to play the game in the flashiest way possible. Forget fundamental basketball, forget a deep bench, forget a team-game. This was about style, attitude and sportsmanship. As the finals unrolled before us, we were quickly made aware of the maturity level, professionalism and attitude of both teams. We all know how that panned out. LeBron and Wade mocking Nowitzki's injuries was just one issue. The six-game series showed us what happens when the good guys fight back. When the plan doesn't go according to plan, when the spoiled brat doesn't get what he wants without having to work for it, he throws a fit (as he DID after losing the series). LeBron lashed out at the American public, those who pay to come to the games, buy his jersey, etc., in the lowest way possible. "Haha, you're poor!", "Haha! You have cancer!", "Haha! You're struggling!". Is this what David Stern wants his league portrayed as!? The fact that he, nor a single one of his league staff were not behind a mic opposing James' words the second they came out is shocking. Yet at the same time it's not all that shocking. LeBron, Miami and the Association are in bed together. They allow it to go on, they think it is a soap opera and they run it as such. Hence, James will get his ring(s?) one day, just not this year. David Stern will see to it, just as Gary Bettman saw to it that Crosby got his cup.

The NBA is the lowest form of all the major sports in this country. Sad, but true.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Next Generation of Grand Valley

Over the last year there has been a lot of talk about Grand Valley State University. There should be, this year my alma mater is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. For more than a decade they have been the fastest growing university in the state, and are now in the top three schools in the state for enrollment standards. However the university has struggled for years with a severe and obscene lack of funds to operate with when compared with other public universities of similar size. They have also had the door slammed in their face over and over again when asking for a "raise" that helps them better serve their growing community. Furthermore GVSU is still struggling with a lack of popular support from the West Michigan community. I say popular support because the West Michigan business community has been fully behind them for years. The university is seen as a nuisance by many, while they support private institutions such as Calvin and Hope (political undertones are the likely reason). Many people in West Michigan still complain about the university despite the fact that GVSU's financial impact on the region is nearing $1 billion annually and virtually exceeds the economic impact of Meijer.

Slowly, opinions and popular support is growing as more people become aware of the impact and necessity of the fine institution in their backyard. Slowly, there have been facility and funding upgrades as well. Over the past four years GVSU has set out on a private fundraising mission to raise $50 million for university needs. At a donor enrichment dinner celebration last night it was revealed that four years and 17,000 donors later GVSU had infact raised $95.3 million, nearly doubling the original goal. This immense feat was not possible without intense support from the West Michigan business community and generous alumni. You can learn more about the project from today's Grand Rapids Press article:

Projects include the new Mary Idema Pew Library on the Allendale campus:

New Seidman College of Business on the downtown Grand Rapids campus:

As well as a new $9 million track and field and lacrosse complex on the Allendale campus, $4 million for improvements and expansions for Lubbers Stadium, the home of the GVSU football team.

The funding is sorely needed for the university, and was done with a majority of private financial sources after being denied public aid from the state level for the projects for a decade. The new library will be one of the most advanced and environmentally sustainable in the country and will push GVSU even farther to the front of the pack.

The additions to Lubbers stadium will take place over the course of two years, with the goal of being completed for the 2012 fall sports season. Step one in 2011 is taking out the old student section, and beginning to build a new one which wraps around the endzone better. The student section will be set back slightly from where the old student section was, but this is only for this year to prep for the final product in 2012. Also being completed in year one is a large hard-stand restroom and concessions facility on the South end of the stadium replacing the current porta-john and concession trailer maze. Phase two will be the total removal of the track inside the stadium (hence why the new outdoor track facility is going in when ard where it is). The field will then be lowered by about 7 feet. This will allow them to add a ring of four rows of seats all around the field bringing fans closer to the action. This will eliminate the need for a lot of grass seating, as well as raise the capacity from the current 8,500 to about 10,700. No design renderings of the stadium or track/field/lacrosse complex have been released yet.

Stay tuned, I hope to get out to Allendale with my camera to get some construction shots sometime in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beer Review: ESB Amber - Saugatuck Brewing Co.

Hello There Kiddos!

Time for more beer reviews. I picked up a random sixer at Siciliano's a few days ago and haven't touched it yet! That tradgedy was soon reversed as I cracked into it tonight after a late night of work/volunteering.

This one comes from a single 12 oz. bottle. Now, I hadn't tried SBC even after staying 2 miles down the road from it over a whole week on spring break! THAT my friends was a true tradgedy.

Anyway, here it goes.

A- This beer pours a relatively translucent rusty amber hue. A slightly off-white creamy head quickly rises to an full inch. Not much lacing, not a whole lot of haze. The beer seems very filtered.

S- The funny thing with this listed as an ESB/Amber is the amount of citrus I'm getting on the nose. There are hops present in this one! However, yes, there is a truck load of malty goodness coming through too. Lots of bready character, is that clove?

T- Here's the kicker. Now remember how this beer was relatively translucent? Some people like to associate that with a beer's watery flavor, even I have been known to say such things. This one is a surprise. It has a full flavor profile. The malts and cracker-like breadiness hit you up front, then those hops you smelled come in mid-pallet and continue lightly on the finish. I really like the added hop presence on this beer!

M- Mouthfeel is very....juicy! It's bold and rolls out across your pallet. It's not weak at any one point, and it has interesting characteristics at all points.

D- Very drinkable. I could do this one at a bonfire in the summer or at dinner in the winter! Very pairable with meat dishes!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer is Here!

Today's temperature is reaching into the 90's, with very elevated and highly irritating humidity as well. It's Tuesday, June 7th. Until the last two weeks the spring/early summer had been a relatively cool and wet one. Many days not getting out of the low 60's with dreariness and rain. That pattern stopped on Memorial day when the temperature soared into the upper 80's with abundant sunshine. It's looked somewhat like this ever since:

Today and tommorow are going to be very uncomfortable to say the least! It get's more tolerable later on in the week and for the weekend.

So since it's June 7th, you know what that means; the end of the school year. Tommorow may very well be my last day of work. What are my summer plans?? Job searching and looking into going back to school. To my surprise, my old retail job wasn't offered back to me after having to reapply. So I am currently unemployed for the summer come next week and going to be living off savings. I really want and need to find a good job, so if anyone has any tips throw them my way please!

Off for now, enjoy the heat!!