Archive for From the Web Desk
For my first experiment during a week without wheels, I hop aboard an IndyGo bus. Read the pros and cons here!
Whenever gas prices spike, I start to do the math. “If I average 20 mpg and commute 10 miles a day, I’m spending how much more getting to and from work?”
Maybe it’s time to think about alternate modes of transportation.
I could take the bus, carpool, bike to work or even on ambitious days, run.
I’m lucky. According to the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the average commute in Central Indiana is eight miles. Mine is five. The MPO also says the average commuter spends 22 minutes in the car. I spend maybe 15? So, why’s it so hard to consider a new way of getting to work?
I asked a few people that same question Monday.
Anthony Steward, who lives in Noblesville said, “Proximity. It’s not for me. I live 20 miles north.”
I caught up with Sarah Murray and Katie Toy as they walked the Monon Trail. They’re both nursing students at Marian University.
Sarah said she’d thought about biking, but “I don’t live near trails where it’s safe to get to work on.”
Katie added, “Our schedules are busy. We have 12-hour days, so that’s hard too.”
When I asked what might make taking the bus more attractive, Sarah said, “Being cheap and easy. I know that sounds lame but when I was in college, the bus practically came to the door and you could ride it for free.”
Let’s face it. Indianapolis isn’t exactly known for embracing alternate modes of transportation. We get in our cars and stay in them. Yes, we have congestion, but it’s nothing compared to say, Chicago.
Sara Anderson of Indianapolis told me, “I have no choice but to drive. I’ll carpool, but the bus? If I have to I guess, but I’ve never taken it before.”
Throughout my life I’ve traveled to school and work in a variety of ways. In high school, I carpooled. When my mom drove it was five girls and a guitar in her VW Beetle. That was before things like mandatory seat belts and bike helmets, so no, I would not recommend doing that today (and nor would she, if she were still alive.)
I often walked to my job at Happy Foods, a small neighborhood grocery a little less than a mile away and I rode my bike to a job in downtown Evanston while on summer break from college. I also took the El and the Chicago and North Western commuter train to my first full-time job after college, which was in downtown Chicago.
I never minded those alternate modes, except when Cathy O’Grady actually tried to play her guitar in my mom’s Volkswagen. Okay, not really, but I liked being able to read on the el and loved the exercise I got riding my bike to work.
But truth be known, I haven’t commuted much since then. Okay, not at all, unless you count the Bike to Work stories I do each year.
Why? The extra time, too much planning, walking to the bus stop, riding or running in rain, sleet and snow, my love for hitting the snooze button…I’ve got the excuses covered.
Having said that I’m ready to look at things anew and explore my options.
Tuesday, I plan to take the bus. I will also carpool, bike and walk or run to work this week. I realize it’s not a commitment, not the same as carpooling every day, but I hope to get a feel for the pros and cons. And just maybe I’ll say, why didn’t I do this earlier? I’ll only know by trying.
- Mary Milz
My dogs wanted out in the backyard, but the back door wouldn’t budge. It was iced in. I tried pushing to no avail. I went to the front door and same thing. Stuck. Not good.
How about the garage? A neighbor advised me to leave it open a couple of inches to prevent freezing… thank goodness I listened. It opened and was able to get outside…but the dogs wanted out back.
I grabbed a hoe and clumsily climbed a back fence, nearly falling flat on my face. After 15 minutes of chopping, I had cleared enough to let my two lab mixes squeeze through the back door (without even a doggy kiss of thanks.)
I left for work thinking… wow, could have been a much longer morning. I wondered how many other people faced the same thing? It didn’t take long to find out. We quickly found one man who couldn’t get out the front door, but managed to get out the back. And soon we found Stacy – who found both of her doors iced shut. Stacy had moved to Indianapolis from Florida last summer, a chilly welcome. She said preparing for the storm was like preparing for a hurricane except she went out of her way to find firewood. Luckily, she still had power and several days worth of food. When asked if we could do anything, she said she’d be fine. She had no plans to go anywhere the rest of the day and her computer was on… she was connected to the outside world.
We found another woman who had just finished digging out. She said she had to remove the storm door window and salt the front, hacking away at the ice with a shovel until the door moved. It made shovelling six inches of snow look like scooping up cotton balls.
Everyone we encountered was good-natured. Misery loves company and yes, it could have been worse. It could always be worse. But this was winter, and like every other winter, this one would soon melt into spring…but I don’t think too many people would mind if the big thaw got an early start.
- Mary Milz
One of the fun things about managing WTHR’s Facebook wall is checking out all the creative stuff our viewers like to post.
Sue Huffman posted this pic today:
The picture itself was amusing, but Chuck Lofton’s response was even better:
So the mid-year resolution of writing here once a week or more isn’t doing all that hot. But I bet I can do better.
For the first time in 23 years, I’m sitting on the eve of the World Series, with an actual rooting interest in the outcome. Sure, I was a “new” Braves fan when they went worst-to-first and lost the 1991 Series to Minnesota, but it hasn’t been since those same Twins in 1987 (same, but different, that roster turned over big time in four years) that I cared who won the Fall Classic. And the only real reason I cheered for the Twins is I “knew” many of the players from their minor league days. Before that, it was the 1979 Pirates in a Series, but I was five and still just rooting in my father’s shadow.
But this year is different.
On December 8, 1988, I woke up a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan. By the end of the afternoon, my favorite player, Julio Franco had been traded to Texas and, for whatever reason, I became a Rangers fan.
Almost 22 years later, I’m still here, and “my” Rangers are four wins from a championship. It’s unbelievable.
A lot of bad has been said about the Rangers this year, and maybe I’m a little (okay, a lot) biased, but I think it’s a good story. Manager Ron Washington (who played in the minors with a number of those ’87 Twins) admitted to trying cocaine last year, but kept his job. He now gets tested regularly by MLB officials and has been clean since. Stud outfielder Josh Hamilton has fought much more serious demons, has gotten a second, if not third, chance and is also living clean and being a role model to youth groups to not take the same path.
Even the entire franchise is taking advantage of a second chance. After years of mismanaged finances, the team went into bankruptcy, but has emerged with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as part of the ownership group. It’s new life for the team and it seems to show.
I’ve been a baseball fan pretty much since birth, but in recent years, it’s lost some of the fun. This year’s Rangers have made it fun again. I just hope they can finish the job.
After the usual eternity that is the summer TV season, new shows are starting to pop back up in primetime. While it’s good to see the old standbys return, this year, I’m focusing most of my attention on Wednesday night’s premier of “Law & Order: Los Angeles.”
I was late to the original L&O party, picking up the show in cable reruns more than 11 seasons into its historic run, but it was quickly added to the watch list. The spin-offs never much appealed to me, aside from one episode of “Criminal Intent” that featured a bit part by a friend of a friend.
So as a new run of NBC’s standby gets ready to begin, I’m intrigued, excited and terrified about the new endeavor. My biggest hope is that it’s the same show with a new cast and a new city. Maybe that will be enough to breathe new life into the show, although maybe it will be the same show with a horrific new cast and all that will be moot. Likewise, my biggest fear is that the producers will abandon the formula that made them successful for 20 years and chase the “crime drama” format that’s been done to death all across the 9pm-11pm time slot.
I guess we’ll find out Wednesday night at 10 pm. Chung-chung.
If I’m good at one thing around the office, it has to be scheduling my vacations right before holidays and other miscellaneous days off. It seems, without fail, that my vacations always end up in a “2 on, 2 off, 1 on, 8 off, 2 on, 2 off” type schedules. So, to honor the “MondayFriday-ness” of today’s one-day work week, let’s get caught up.
First and foremost, if you’re a music fan, or if you’re not a music fan but have a little bit of room in your soul for an “OMG! Breathtaking!” moment or two, you have to see a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver. Years ago, my wife said that was one place she always wanted to see a show and was slowly starting to move her plans from seeing “a band she liked”, to “a band she could tolerate”, to “a band she had heard of.”
Then something happened this spring.
Not only was her absolute, top-of-the-list favorite, David Gray, going to play at Red Rocks, but he was splitting the bill with Ray Lamontagne, a solid member of the top five “others” on the list. In fact, the only thing that kept her from likely labeling them one-two is Lamontagne’s less-than-stellar history in live performances. Two out of the three times she’s seen him live, he seemed like he’d rather be elsewhere.
Not last week.
An amazing venue, amazing weather and an outstanding show by two great talents. I’ll go see a David Gray show every time, but it was great to see Ray rock it out and restore my faith in his live abilities.
As for the trip to Denver, I don’t know what it is about my wife and I, but we always seem to come back from a trip with a “no way, really?” type moment (or three). For example, our trip to Japan in June featured an appearance on the Jumbotron at a Yakult Swallows baseball game and a 6 a.m. World Cup soccer celebration in the streets of Tokyo.
In Denver, it might have gotten even a little more out there.
First off, we hit a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field. Beautiful ballpark, with (once the sun went behind the roof) great weather and an exciting game. It would have been enough of an obscurity to see a game that featured three triples, a 2-for-3 performance at the plate by the starting pitcher and Manny Ramirez getting booed, taking a strike and being ejected in about a 30-second window, but toss in a foul ball snagged by yours truly and it was quite a trip just seven hours into the day.
Two days later, we hustled a tour of the Colorado Statehouse into our departure plans. My father-in-law had heard some stories and thought it seemed interesting. Always a bit of a history buff, I learned that the dome is plated in 250 ounces of gold leaf, they used every last ounce on earth of a native stone (a type of red granite, I think?) to fancy up the interior hallways and then there were the west steps.
In 1909, local college students measured the height above sea level and engraved the “one mile high” mark on a granite step on the west side of the statehouse. Sixty years later, they realized they measured it wrong, and placed a plaque two steps higher. Thirty or so years later, Congress decided to “officially” designate sea level and the mark was wrong again. So a final (?) plaque was placed several feet lower on the stairs.
So as excited as you could be to see historical markers, we were geeked. Until we came across the abortion rally blocking two of the three monuments. And it wasn’t just a “hey, hey, ho, ho” type picketing, it was a full-on podium and presentation. With a 2:45 flight and an undetermined drive to the airport, we stretched it out about as long as we could, then as the organizers of the rally finally broke things down (20 minutes after we needed to leave) and we got our picture, in between a throng of locals who didn’t even realize the plaques existed.
So to wrap it up, Denver was awesome. A clean, developing city with generally nice folks (though a few too many exercise nuts for me!) and I’d gladly go back again, especially if I was promised such an awesome concert (and 4th row seats, too!)
A strange comment came up on WTHR’s Facebook page the other day. A guy took a swipe at IMPD with regards to Officer David Bisard’s alleged drunk driving crash, but he did so in a thread about a tragic story about Peter Lenz, the 13-year-old killed while motorcycle racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.
Other commenters quickly called him out on it, saying it wasn’t the place for his comment. His response? He complained that they were violating his “freedom of speech.”
Does freedom of speech mean freedom from criticism? Because it seems to me when you put your opinion out there for everyone to see, you should be prepared to defend yourself. The original commenter was expressing his opinion, but so were the people who responded to him. He might have said, “Hey, sorry if I offended people by bringing that up, but it’s really been on my mind lately.”
The thing about having a free and open society is that everyone is allowed to express themselves – without fear of being jailed by their government after publishing a story about government corruption, for example. When it comes to casual interactions, the lines are blurrier. Someone says “you can’t say that!” and somebody else says “Yes I can! You’re violating my freedom of speech by telling me I can’t say that!”
The cool thing about Facebook et al is that it allows people to engage with each other and share ideas and opinions in real time…in a public forum. That means we need to be prepared to take a little pushback sometimes. If you don’t like it, you can always start your own blog…and disable comments!