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MCC President Jim Jacobs

MCC President Jim Jacobs

Economist and Macomb Community College President Jim Jacobs delivered his 28th annual economic forecast for Macomb County on Thursday.
His bottom line: “There are, I think, enormous reasons for optimism.”
Could it be? People in southeast Michigan may actually find jobs this year?
Nobody, of course, is screaming happy days are here again. And all good economic news comes with an asterisk. But after living under the dark cloud of a “jobless recovery” for a few years (exactly when did all this begin?) we’ll welcome any silver lining.

Even if you did just land in Macomb County from Mars, you’d likely realize that our financial well-being is connected to the health of the auto industry. It’s this time of the year that we celebrate our four-wheeled friends and put them, literally, on pedestals.

Gawkers delay at the auto show for a Camaro.

Gawkers delay at the auto show for a Camaro.

Jacobs stresses that the rebound of the auto industry is significant, but only part of the picture. Other reasons for the county’s renewal range from Nautical Miles, to defense corridors, to hospital complexes.

Many, many churches have responded to the joblessness crisis, setting up support groups, networking, training, workshops and more to help the unemployed. People in charge of these groups tell me that fewer and fewer people are attending the sessions, and they attribute it to job seekers getting back into the workforce.

Three Rochester-area Catholic parishes — St. Andrew, St. Irenaeus and St. Mary’s of the Hills — used to each meet regularly. Now, attendance has waned so much, the groups will hold combined meetings, and there will only be one meeting a month.

This is from an email group members received:

“Thank you for all of the amazing career support you have provided me over  the past couple of years. Your events have helped me to reinvent myself,  discover my worth, and strengthen my sense of security as I transitioned my career,” stated Bonnie T., a regular attendee.

It can be scary being tossed out of the working world. (duh) How’s this for a daunting job description?

Responsibilities:

    • Work within a team environment to create new and maintain existing applications
    • Interact with solution creation team to refine business and user requirements
    • Participate in all phases of development cycle including: detailed design, coding, unit test, debugging, and deployment
    • Assist in physical and logical database design
    • Support quality assurance testing and production installations
    • Provide advice to Technical Architects on proposals, estimates and the creation of detailed specifications required for technical design
    • Ensure that standards and guidelines including coding standards and best practices are followed and maintained
    • Stay current with and learn new technologies as necessary

Skill and Experience Requirements:

    • 5+ years of applications development/software development or relative IT experience
    • 5+ years of experience with ASP.NET, C#, JavaScript, AJAX, CSS, and Web Services
    • Experience developing large-scale, distributed, and enterprise-wide applications
    • Broad experience with web technologies, servers, platforms and browsers
    • Strong problem solving skills and creativity
    • Excellent written and oral communication skills
    • Must be able to work under routinely tight deadlines
    • Must be able to pick up new technologies quickly
    • Degree in Computer Science / Engineering preferred
    • U.S. or a Canadian citizen is required for biweekly meetings

At least I’ve got that last criteria met! I must have slept through those other courses at college.

How strong is this jobs recovery? How long will it last? What will happen to those left behind without any skills? Like I said earlier, nobody is dancing in the streets. Let us just be thankful for the good news we have.

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Chrysler is bringing back the Dodge Dart for 2013, a car it is rolling out at the North American International Auto Show.

The Dodge Dart is meant to appeal to the younger crowd as well as those in their 50s and 60s. It’s got a fancy, high-tech interior, sleek styling, blah, blah, blah.

Hey wait a minute. There’s something wrong with this picture.

Not ours exactly, but kinda like it.

Ah, that’s more like it.

A significant chunk of my world view was developed looking through the windows of an early 1970s Dodge Dart. In my formative years, me and my kin were carted about Alpena County in a shiny army green Dart. Its predecessor was a blue Dart with a white hardtop. My parents must have been passionate about Darts and their V-8 engines and roomy interiors. More likely, it’s all they could afford. Now I suppose this new fancy Dart is supposed to be exciting with all its aerodynamics and high-tech gadgets.

Kids, let me tell you about excitement!

Every day was an adventure in our Dart. The first challenge was, will it start? You see, back then, cars didn’t have none of that “fuel injection” stuff. You had to be blessed with exceptional gas pedal pumping skills. You had to learn the right combination of cranking the key while pumping the pedal. Too much, and you get flooded. Not enough, and you wear out the battery. I should tell you it helps immensely if you talk nice to your car, which is not a machine, after all, but a sensitive creature usually named Nellie. I always knew that when the car was temperamental, Mom could start it with her magic words, “C’mon, Nellie!” Worked every time!

In Mom’s mind, if that car was good enough to get us out of our snow-covered driveway, it was good enough to go anywhere. Like 3,000 miles to California! Our family’s idea of vacation was get in the car and drive wherever you felt like driving that day. So we saw America in our Dodge Dart.

My most everlasting memory was driving through the Mojave Desert. After leaving Long Beach, Calif., we decided to take a ride in the Dart through the desert. Why? Because it’s beautiful, of course. And waiting for Dad at the other end was beautiful Las Vegas. Funny, that was the calmest and most focused I’ve ever seen pop on a car ride.

As we entered the desert, we were warned that it was 300 miles with hardly any place to stop, that temperatures were near 120 degrees. Guess Mom was unfazed. This is, after all, the same woman who smeared bacon grease outside our Yellowstone campsite, hoping to attract cute bears. So off we went, with a half glass of water each. Fortunately, we had air conditioning. ARE YOU KIDDING? This was a Dart. Air conditioning meant stick your head out the window, whiny baby. About midway through the trip, we finally came upon  a tourist trap. I mean a restaurant! We were either dying of thirst by this point, or I had imagined we were dying of thirst. But they wanted to charge us for water! And Mom would have none of that. That’s just common sense. I mean, can you imagine paying money for water in a bottle? “Highway robbery!” yelled Dad. My sisters and I decided to explore the desert countryside near the restaurant. That was fun for a few seconds until we noticed the sign that said beware of rattlesnakes.

We scampered back into the car, more thirsty than ever. I was near death, I think. And that was just from the beatings inflicted upon me by my sisters. The Dart, fortunately, was small enough that Dad could easily reach back and smack us when we got mouthy. (That was acceptable back then. We usually deserved it, especially Heidi.) Later, someone decided to invent seat belts so you could strap your kids in the back seat and better control them. A positive side effect was the belts also made you safer.

My cries for water eventually were ignored, so I gave up. Besides, we were coming upon Joshua trees, which were just cool.

That rock formation in the background looks like Abe Lincoln.

You may have guessed I survived our 300 mile trip through the desert despite no water nor air conditioning, being chased by killer rattlesnakes, and mental and physical torture applied by my sisters. Dad’s favorite part of the desert was Circus Circus. Mom was so inspired by our bravado, I think she took us to the mountains the next day.

And our Dodge Dart was a true champion! Thanks, Nellie!

Little kids are punching and kicking each other tonight in Romeo. Adults rushed to the scene, and they started punching and kicking each other.

Hold on. I guess this is OK.

After all, it is D-Lux Karate. And Friday is fight night!

Adam is debriefing his charges about next Saturday’s D-Lux Challenge at Romeo High School.

It was, as usual, a fun night at Adam’s martial arts institute. I’ll have some more information about the tourney and the school later.

Everyone in the Macomb Daily newsroom had something to say about the mild winter thus far in southeast Michigan. We missed a snowstorm that hammered the west side of the state on New Year’s Day. Heading into the weekend, it looks like temperatures are climbing back into the 40s and 50s.

What a difference a year makes. Here are headlines from last year.

“Macomb pelted with 9 inches of snow in areas
“105,000 blacked out after storm sweeps through Michigan expected to remain out for at least 2 more days
“Macomb County has spent 90 percent of winter road maintenance budget

No wonder this year’s tame winter has brought thumbs up from most.

Me, I’ll miss the man and his snow blower photos.

There, I knew I could find one.

I was gifted by my in-laws last winter with Godzilla the snow blower. I was so geeked, I wanted to remove the snow from my neighbors’ sidewalks and driveways. Unfortunately, they arose about four hours earlier and it was usually the other way around.

Well, my manly machine was fun while it lasted. I spent most of my time trying to repair it. In my case, that usually means I cause even more damage. When I finally got it started for one last go round, it caught fire, and instead of flinging the snow, mostly melted everything withing a 12-foot radius. I tried dousing it with snow, but i guess it was good-for-nothing snow! Me and flames have a long, inglorious history, and this time, I decided to be smart and not try to do too much harm. I put my tax dollars to work and called the fire department. By the time they got there — they were quick — the fire was out and anything valuable on the machine was now polluting the atmosphere. The neighbors enjoyed the show, and the firefighters got a chance to laugh at someone for a change.

This year, bucks were tight, so I bought a giant shovel instead of a new machine. This is one big shovel, mind you. In fact, I was hoping for at least a little snow so I could give it a try.

snow shovel

That's the one.

Seriously, as much as I grumble about snow, it makes me feel better when it’s cold and snowy in Michigan during the winter. And even if I’m no fan, I can’t help but feel bad for all the ice fishermen, snowboarders, skaters, etc. and all the businesses that rely on cold and snow. A winter like this can sink a lot of local business activity.

Already, the much-anticipated Nautical Mile Pond Hockey Winter Classic in St. Clair Shores tourney has been postponed. Sixty-one teams were hoping to  compete, but the inaugural event may not happen at all this year.

And I’ll bet most of you who have kids know how much they love snow. I know I sure didn’t complain about snowstorms when I was young.

Love it or hate it, winters are part of what make Michigan so great. We get the best of all four seasons here. And winters definitely make me appreciates summers that much more.

Let it snow, I say!

I’m shovel-ready.

Ah! What a nice summer break I had!
Yes, it’s true, I haven’t blogged in a long time.
I lost my groove when my responsibilities shifted, and I ran out of steam.
I guess “multitasking” has its limits.
In fact, I found this article by Ilya Pozin that said multitasking actually makes you dumber.

“Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously— stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).”

Like I need that! So I guess that means if I must do 15 things a night, do them one at a time?

I’ve debated whether to return to the blogosphere, but why not?
OK, so the title of this blog used to be the Christian Connection, and now it’s called the Macomb Connection.
Fear not, I still plan to cover all the great news about churches and events in the area. At the same time, I wanted a little broader scope to cover.
So for those who are angry that I neglected my duties for so long (all 8 of you) hopefully I can make amends.