Archive for From the Web Desk
One of the great things about life in the modern age is that it’s interactive. Media used to be a one-way street. Now you can read a story online and immediately rattle off your opinion about the topic of the story, the typo in the third paragraph, the writer’s predilection for unnecessary adverbs or a TV anchor’s hair style or suit.
For the humble web content producer, this means that on any given story, there may be a long string of anonymous comments which, in some unfortunate circumstances, may be used in court battles as evidence that a jury was unduly influenced by them. Generally speaking, this is not considered a good thing. Why should readers be able to leave anonymous comments? Shouldn’t they stand by their opinion? Internet advocates argue that your site should be accessible and interactive, without too many barriers – like making people log in to leave comments.
These are questions that are being seriously debated in the world of journalism. What is a news outlet’s responsibility when it comes to allowing such comments on stories? What if a comment is blatantly racist or sexist? What if it’s on the line of what’s acceptable, and who draws that line? Is that censorship?
In answer to the last question, you bet it is. I don’t think hate speech has any place anywhere, and if I see that a comment has crossed the line of what I feel comfortable with on the site, I will delete it. On WTHR.com, we also have a system whereby other users can flag a comment as inappropriate. If three people flag it, it comes back to the moderator for another look.
It’s all about balance. We want to give readers the opportunity to react to stories and to share their opinions or experiences. But more often than not, they also share their prejudices too. For me, if those opinions become too hateful, or if they appear to be libelous (e.g. “that woman is a liar!”), I don’t allow them. But it’s a very tough call, because it’s subjective. Some sites allow everything and let their readers do the policing. WTHR.com uses a moderator who looks at all incoming comments.
One thing to consider is your workplace’s anti-harassment policy. It will probably state that there will be no discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, religion or disability, among other things. When you post a comment on a story, think about whether your statement is a criticism based on those points. If everyone would just give a little more thought to their gut reactions, we’d probably all have a better chance at dialogue and discussion.
After a fantastic-as-usual opening ceremony (national anthem audio issues notwithstanding), engines roared and the field took off.
For the second year in a row, we had a crash before the honorary starter could shake hands, put the flag away and find some shade. Davey Hamilton spun and found the wall inside turn 2. So Jack Nicholson dropped the green again and we’re back at it.
It took a moment to get my bearings, as the ABC broadcast appears to be about a half lap behind the race outside my window here in the media center. As cars whizzed down the front stretch, they were approaching turn 3. Explains how I could watch the caution flag come out for the Hamilton crash.
Now, it’s Bruno Junqueira’s turn, also in Turn2. The speed demon of the second day of qualifying (and the sexy darkhorse pick because of that) is also out of the race. What a couple of years it’s been for Bruno at Indy.
So we’re down to 31 cars before my seat gets warm. I really hope this isn’t a trend, for the sake of the race.
We’re through Lap 20 (though the average speed of the race is under 140 MPH, if that tells you about how many of those were actually under green) and lookie here… Tony Kanaan, who qualified with about 45 minutes left in Bump Day, then moved back to 33rd when he switched cars, is up to 16th. Now THAT would be a story.
First pit stops hit around Lap 37. All the leaders, then just about everyone else pitted, then the course went yellow. Scary moment in the pits for Will Power as he took off with the fuel hose still attached.
Dario leads Graham Rahal, Power, Danica Patrick and Alex Lloyd under yellow at Lap 41, though I believe at least Rahal and Patrick still have to pit. (I was right. Danica pits and drops to 20th, Rahal only falls to sixth and Power had to come back into the pits and falls to eighth.)
Back to green. Lap 51 now and it’s an interesting mix in the top half of the pylon. Dario and Helio are still 1-2, but Rafa Matos is in third, with solid, no-frills, as expected Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell are fifth and seventh, respectively.
Go back a bit and Tony Kanaan is still climbing and now has help. He’s 12th, immediately behind teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, with another teammate John Andretti two spots behind. A good spot to be for Andretti Autosport to make some ground.
Will Power made a third trip through the pits moments ago and has fallen to 25th from his front row starting position and Bertrand Baguette and Hideki Mutoh have also lost several laps with issues.
Jinx! John Andretti is black flagged for a block of Dan Wheldon on the front stretch. He’ll drop to 25th, just ahead of Vitor Meira and Sebastian Saavedra.
Lap 69, chaos in the pits! Rafa Matos lost a left rear tire (the only one he has, in fact) and turned it into the pit wall. Everyone appears to be okay and Matos is back out on track. Scott Dixon braked hard to avoid Matos and appeared to kill the engine. He got pushed back to his pit box, re-fired and got back out, but not after a huge drop in position.
More significantly for Tony Kanaan fans, could this incident have shown Lady Luck is getting ready to reward TK for his patience? Matos (and his tire) were headed across pit row toward Kanaan’s car, but made hard left turns and the No. 11 car got through free and easy and into fourth place. Any other time in the last four years, I’m betting that tire gets TK. Is karma being funny for the funny Brazilian?
Back green on Lap 72.
Back to yellow on Lap 73.
Rafael Matos hit Turn 1 hard and backwards. Out of the car and appears to be walking fine.
Vitor Meira became the latest crash victim around Lap 105, getting high in Turn 2 and smacking the wall. A sad end for Vitor, but remarkable that he was back in the field this year. An excellent recovery for Meira after crashing hard in last year’s 500.
Tomas Scheckter took over the lead during the caution, having pitted right before Meira’s crash, but Franchitti took it back on the first lap back green. Tony Kanaan has climbed to second.
More pit stops coing. Wilson, Scheckter and Kanaan are among the first in, out with no apparent issues. Marco Andretti takes over second behind Franchitti for the time being.
Team Penske had a horrible stretch around the Lap 146 mark. Starting with Helio Castroneves stalling his car in the pits, en route to a 20+ second stop, followed by a 13 or so second stop by Will Power, then topped off by Ryan Briscoe crashing hard and sliding down the front stretch.
Dario Franchitti has resumed the race lead, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell round out the top 5 at Lap 152.
Rookie Sebastian Saavedra crashed on Lap 162. Saavedra, who also ran the Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Friday, made the field while waiting for an MRI at Methodist Hospital last Sunday following a practice crash on Bump Day. He got in when Jay Howard and Paul Tracy discarded their times in an effort to qualify faster, but failed.
Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Castroneves and Graham Rahal chose not to pit during the caution period and have taken over the top 4 spots.
One by one, those four peeled off for fuel, leaving Franchitti back in the lead, ahead of Kanaan and Wheldon, when Kanaan needed to pit, a spectacular final lap crash by Conway allowed Franchitti to cruise to victory.
Conway touched wheels with Ryan Hunter-Reay coming out of Turn 4, sending his No. 24 car flipping in the air and into the catch fence on the outside of the track. Hunter-Reay also hit the wall in the incident and finished 18th.
Franchitti became the 17th driver in Indy 500 history to win multiple races.
There’s a lot of chatter going on about whether the new qualifying format is a good thing for the Indy 500 or not. (In fact, I’ll wait to type more until you go cast your vote on the matter on the WTHR homepage. Go ahead, I’ll be here.) The new “Fast 9″ format was kind of growing on me until Helio threw up a 227.OMG! on his first run. Game over. That’s like a baseball team scoring 10 in the top half of an extra inning game. Sure, someone *could* knock him off, but as the day’s best kept trying (including an impressive afternoon by Alex Tagliani), it was obvious that #3 was going to be on the pole again.
But aside from that, what about the rest of the day? Admittedly, I only watched the first dozen or so qualifying runs before my wife yanked me off on a quest for hostas and hanging baskets (which was actually not a bad time, but it wasn’t hanging out in the sun at 16th & Georgetown by any stretch of the imagination), but I couldn’t help but reflect on the “what-ifs” of the rest of Saturday.
How different would this year be if it were last year?
Immediately, most will point to Tony Kanaan’s crash as the head of the “cons” list regarding the new qualifying. But as much as I hope beyond hope that TK wins one, if not several, 500s before his time in a car is up, maybe his situation is overshadowed by a couple feel good stories that the new qualifying created.
At the top of that list, I think, is rookie Bertrand Baguette. While he could easily be bumped from his 24th spot in Sunday’s qualifying, what a fantastic situation for a rookie to be in – and one who many thought may be kept outside the bubble by his lack of oval experience, at that – now only having to worry about getting back in the car if nine drivers top his qualifying time. There are some big names left to hit the track and find some speed, sure, but Baguette has to be sleeping a little easier tonight.
Speaking of rookies, who would have thought *both* Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro would qualify in front of Danica Patrick? Even with Danica’s troubles the first week and a half of practice, you had to think she would, along with the rest of Andretti Autosport, get it together enough to put in a solid qualifying spot, if not get into the Fast 9 mix. Instead, Saturday turned into a rocketship of nerves that culminated in a very public, very emotional moment for Patrick.
I don’t think it’s fair to decide on whether or not this year’s schedule tweaks are good or bad, based on one year. In the end, whether they qualified two or 32 cars on Saturday, Sunday is Bump Day at Indy and when the sun starts to sink below Georgetown Road, the fun will begin and we’ll have our 33 drivers ready to go next Sunday.
And I can’t wait.
It’s Bike to Work Day. That may mean nothing to you, or, for the teeny tiny minority of central Indiana residents who ride their bike to work, that may mean a small sense of validation for a lifestyle decision for which we are marginalized and ridiculed by the SUV-driving cycnical masses.
CityBeat reporter Mary Milz and WTHR.com web content manager Sara Galer put together a “point counterpoint” list of reasons why we bike to work. Or not, as the case may be.
Why I don’t bike to work.
I work out regularly. I run, swim and during the summer months, I bike, but I don’t bike to work. I feel mildly guilty about that but I have a litany of excuses that I rattle off to my colleague Sara Galer, who rides religiously. Here are my reasons why I DON’T bike to work.
1) I have to go to bed and wake up early to accommodate the extra 25 minutes it would take to get to work. I treasure my zzzzzz’s
2) I can’t fit everything I need for the day in a backpack – make-up, hair dryer, shoes, clothes, towel, toiletries, etc (that’s not to mention getting a suit to work without crumpling it up in a ball of wrinkles.)
3) That means pre-planning – bringing everything to work a day or two before. Heck, I can’t even get my lunch packed the night before!
4) The shower thing – we have one at work, which is great but it’s like a shower you’d find on a small sailboat… Plus I’d have to wait in line for Sara and other colleagues who occassionally ride in.
5) I carry extra gear in my car – hats, gloves, boots, jeans, etc. Just in case I’m sent to cover, say flooding.
6) What if I need to meet someone for lunch – no wheels. Do I show up in biking clothes?
7) I like the Monon but riding downtown can get a little crazy, especially at rush hour.
8) What if the weather changes? It’s fine on the way in, but what if it starts to pour or storm when I’m ready to leave?
9) And, what if my plans change? I suddenly need to be somewhere after work? What if it’s across town? What if it’s after dark? You’re not supposed to ride the Monon after dusk (and before dawn.)
10) I’m sometimes tired after a long day and still have to get home and get a run or swim in – which brings me back to zzzzzzzz’s.
I admire you Sara – you are my hero, but I just don’t think I have the pedal power in me to ride to work on a regular basis.
Okay, let’s just get a few things straight here. I don’t do anything religiously, unless it involves eating some sort of decadent chocolate dessert. However when the weather permits, I do enjoy riding my bike to work as often as possible. I would also like to differentiate my bike riding habits from my husband’s, which verge on the fanatical. He rides in the winter, sometimes in snow, occasionally on ice, which results in elbow injuries that take a long time to heal, and relies on me to drive the car so I can pick him up if the weather is really bad. So I might be crazy, but not THAT crazy.
1) It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drive, or about 40 minutes to cycle. If the wind is with me, it can be as short as 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer if I have to stand on the pedals! Although it does probably add a good 40 minutes to my commute, I don’t mind the prep time because being outside and getting exercise at both ends of my day makes it worth it.
2) Since I’m behind the scenes here at WTHR, I don’t have to make myself beautiful like the reporters do. I carry a set of clean clothes, shoes and a towel. My office casual look usually survives the bike ride. Unless I forget to bring pants.
3) I usually pack my bike bag the night before and then make a game-day decision after checking the weather forecast.
4) It’s true we have a shower room at WTHR. It’s also true that it’s a little scary. I use it for those 90+degree days. Otherwise I just air dry, wash my face, apply deodorant and hope for the best. I also sit a good distance away from my colleagues in the mornings, something they’re probably grateful for.
5) Again, not being a roving reporter, I know that most of my day will be in the office. Which makes my time on the bike all the more appreciated.
6) If I have to meet a friend for lunch, I either hop on my bike or make them pick me up at work!
7) I get off the Monon at 14th, then make my way through the old North Side to WTHR at 10th and Meridian. It’s not too treacherous. Come on, Mary, that’s a feeble excuse!
8) I won’t disagree with you here. I’ve occasionally asked colleagues for a ride home due to unpredictable weather. Rain is unpleasant, but thunderstorms are scary. We report the news. We don’t want to BE the news. Like that guy in Goshen who went outside to roll up the windows on his truck, then was struck by lightning. Now he can’t even count to ten.
9) It’s true that taking your bike to work limits what you can do with regards to making plans later in the evening. Fortunately, there are many bars and restaurants not far from the Monon that are within reach, if you are desperate for that post-work beer. It also takes planning to make sure you are not cycling in the dark.
10) If I refrained from exercise every time I felt tired, I would probably never get off the couch! I like the challenge of biking to work. Some days are a good workout, other days I’m just slodging through and cursing the wind, dodging stray dogs and chain-wielding teenagers (it’s a bit like Grand Theft Auto in that respect). But I get to observe things I would never see in a car (a red-winged blackbird on a fence, Lilly volunteers painting a mural on community day, KIBI folks watering the little trees along the side of the Monon), and it’s a fantastic stress reducer. And once I’m home, I’ve already put in about 14 miles for the day!
What Mary didn’t say is that she runs marathons and triathlons….something that I would never have the self-discipline for! So Mary, I think you’re the real athlete. I’m just a wanna-be! (I should also mention that I supplement the bike riding with Crossfit, a GREAT way to get in shape!)
In 2004, my then-future (now current) father-in-law decided he had to go to the Kentucky Derby once in his life. That was six years and five trips ago. For me, Saturday was the third time and you know what they say about third times and charms.
First off, the Derby definitely is something everyone (and definitely every sports fan) needs to do once. The thrill of picking a winner, even if it’s just $2 at a time, is one thing. Doing it with thousands of your suddenly-closest friends is quite another.
Not into betting?
The people watching alone is worth the $40 general admission fee. Toss in an overnight monsoon and every patch of mud in sight becomes an instant slip-and-slide, be it intentional or not. Curiously enough, even the “forgettable” actions of a few are easily covered over by the atmosphere.
And while TV will show shot after shot of men in perfectly-tailored suits and women in crisp, clean, vibrant dresses (with matching hats, naturally), the true experience is in the infield. Maybe it’s just because that’s the only Derby experience I know, but I can’t imagine the prim and proper protocol of the grandstand can be much more enjoyable. Sure, you can see all/some/more of the race “live” than you can in the infield, but for the most part, we’re all still watching it on TV screens – and I can do it while not worrying about getting a little mud on my shoes.
Now I don’t make a trip to the Derby to get quit-my-job rich and, in fact, it feels a little silly to celebrate a $2.60 win on a $2 win bet, but hey, it’s winning. And it’s 60 cents more than I had 2 minutes earlier. So I take a modest sum into the weekend (Friday, Kentucky Oaks Day, provides similar thrills with a moderately more “family” atmosphere, even in the infield), chalk it all up as a donation to Churchill Downs, and see how much I can win back.
In my first visit, that wasn’t much. I forget the numbers, but I remember coming back with some half-empty (and soaking wet) pockets, figuring I had at least enjoyed the experience. Last year, I paid a little more attention, picked up a few tips on betting smarter and better (trifectas are only worth it if you box them, usually, and even then, only rarely). So I nickel and dimed (almost literally) my way to winning back about half of what I spent. Several $2 place bets were the winner there, along with an uncanny run by No. 7 horses that seemed to finish in the money in every race on Oaks Day.
This year, there was a new goal. I watched the fabulous-but-now-canceled Animal Planet show “Jockeys” to learn a little bit more of which jocks to look for and paid a bit more attention to the races on the “Derby Trail.” In one of those early races, I watched a horse named “Ice Box” come from out of nowhere to win the Florida Derby. He was going to be my breadwinner at Churchill Downs.
Friday was a toasty day with just enough wind to make you not quite miserable, at least until you realize the sunburn your lack of sunscreen planning is going to make your week itchy and flaky and – yuck. I started off the day on fire, hitting the first three races “across the board” and up about $10. Unfortunately, just as quickly, the running total in my race day program turned into a series of frowny faces. By the time Kent Desormeaux rode his horse past defending Horse of the Year (and winless in 2010) Rachel Alexandra, I was headed to the ATM, ready to up my daily limit.
I dipped a toe back in the black in the next couple races, by which I mean I won about $2 for every $10 spent, but got hammered just enough by Desormeaux to take him out of my plan for the day’s big race, The Kentucky Oaks.
With Blind Luck a 5-6 favorite at post time, I didn’t see any sense betting her straight up with my hard-earned, yet measly, George Washingtons, so I paired her with four horses in an exacta wheel. Then I took Desormeaux’s horse out, because of the aforementioned hammering, and he promptly finished second by a whisker. (Do horses have whiskers? Certainly they’ve got some kind of nose hair, right?) Two more dollars would have won me about $60 on that race.
As an unhappy camper as I could be, I kept my money in my pocket for the day’s final race, but blurted out “8-1-10 trifecta” as the horses loaded into the gate. And wouldn’t you know, that $6 boxed trifecta would have brought home another $60. Instead, I was headed to the hotel with some serious wounds to lick.
Derby Day brought rain. Tons of rain. As I’m sure you all noticed, it was a bit muddy. We skipped the first five races because of all that, opting to stay as dry as we could as long as we could (which wasn’t long) and save a little money for the big race.
After some very minor “earnings” in the first five races I bet, it was Derby time. I usually go big with a couple horses, including a $20 win on my boy Ice Box and a total of $30 on Super Saver, mostly because of the amicable, mud-loving, rail-riding jockey, Calvin Borel. Watching him win the 2009 Derby aboard Mine That Bird in the mud and muck at Churchill, and hearing good things about his horse’s prep for the race, it seemed like a good bet.
Boy was I right.
That $30 bet turned into $160+. Then I remembered I had him in the “Oaks/Derby Double,” picking the winner of both of the weekend’s big races for another $56.60.
Then the big one came. With the rainy mess and no clear cut favorite, half my Derby betting turned into blurting out numbers in trifecta and superfecta fashion, trying to turn a buck or two into a house payment. As I sat there knowing I hit two “big” bets, I flipped through my betting tickets like a 9-year-old looks through baseball cards. As if I had found a card of my favorite player, I saw it. Somehow in the flurry of randomness, I had bet $2 on a Super Saver-Ice Box exacta, bringing my total for the race over $350. The trip, including dinner for four on the drive home, was paid for.
Yet despite all that, there was still room for regret. Had Ice Box completed his magnificent dash from near-last to second, my take would have about doubled and covered next year’s “I have to do it once” trip.
Amazing images from NASA – satellite photos of the Iceland volcano that’s giving everyone a headache this week.
I don’t know how or why we went from snow shoveling season almost immediately into lawn mowing season, but I’m not really complaining.
Or at least I wasn’t complaining, until the dandelions took over. Which got me thinking: How do others in central Indiana take on the weeds in your yard? Our house (a very, very, very fine house, I might add) has done a pretty solid, wife-driven job of becoming more “green,” recycling everything from cardboard to glass, reusing milk jugs at the local seed store and, this season, even taking a stab at composting. (It’s not pretty, but I hope it’s working.)
Yet I still reach for the weed killer and fertilizer when the dandelions creep in, then start to move in. Seriously, I think one of them had a suitcase.
For the last two years, I’ve limited the spraying and spreading to the front yard, staying away from where the dogs roam in the back, but this year, I had enough. The sea of yellow took over the matted down brown parts of the lawn, per usual, but when they started to march into soft, thick, fluffy green grass and flower beds, it was time to throw out the rulebook.
But not without some research. I found tons of references to using boiling water, vinegar and other kitchen-type items to attack weeds, but are they really effective? And especially over a solid two-thirds of the yard?
So I gave in and am waiting to see how good of a job the chemical stuff did, but I’m curious – how do you kill the weeds in your yard? Or are you a dandelion fan?
Once I got the dandelion problem (hopefully) under control, I realized there are tons of other things around the house I could probably use input on. And I bet I’m not alone. I hope I can get some of my questions answered here, but also let others get their own questions answered.
I’ll try to make this a semi-regular thing. With any luck, I can get it to grow…like a weed.
Doesn’t it seem like a month ago that Butler finally put away Kansas State and cut down the nets in Salt Lake City? (Technically, it WAS last month, smartypants, but you know what I’m saying.) My less-than-normal work schedule gives me a Wednesday-Thursday weekend, so it really feels like forever ago that our BU alum-filled sports department was going nuts over the Bulldogs’ trip to the Sweet 16. Actually, it was a Ball State grad that was most vocally in disbelief, but if Butler really is carrying the flag for the “mid-majors,” he gets a pass.
So a week has passed since an improbable, but apparently not impossible, three-day stretch of basketball where Syracuse, Kansas State and the hoops world learned all about “The Butler Way.” Count me as a believer now, too.
Not saying I didn’t think they had a good, possibly great, team at Hinkle Fieldhouse, as that much has been evident for the better part of a decade now. But while several co-workers were touting their pick of “Butler to the Final Four,” I brushed it off as home cooking and moved on. But to me, the Bulldogs proved in roughly 48 hours in Salt Lake City that they not only deserve to be in the Final Four, but that they can probably win it all.
In a pair of very similar games, the Bulldogs built a lead with solid shooting, held on with tough defense, then used both to put a couple top 10 caliber teams away. So now, with a week off and a trip home the Bulldogs are rested and have had time to plot the Attack of the Butler Way on a hobbled Michigan State team. And just like the two games before (or heck, why not the first rounder against UTEP that several “experts” gave them no shot to win?), Butler has a chance to play their game and, I think, beat the Spartans – and after that, who knows?
Win or lose, I’ve enjoyed the excitement of the past week-plus. Who knew when I headed south to Roberts Stadium in Evansville in late November to watch the Bulldogs nip the UE Purple Aces, I could have been watching a national champion?
Oh, and for those doubters that think this Butler team is a one-trick pony? You might not want to look at the “Class” column of their roster.