Run baby run

I’m going to keep this short and simple: every Wednesday the Nike Run Club meets in front of the Nike Store on Newbury street to go for a run. Running is great, but sometimes you just need that extra push of motivation (at least I do). This event is great because you run with a group, and at your own pace. You can choose to run 3, 5 or 7 miles. So, tie up your running shoes, and head to Newbury St. at 6:30 p.m. I mean, in this weather, who wouldn’t want to go for a run?

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Matt Carroll visits NU

A few days ago, Boston Globe reporter Matt Carroll stopped by my Reinventing the News class to talk about using data as a tool for journalism.

Carroll is an investigative journalist and has used numbers and data for big stories including one on the deadly hazards in the Big Dig tunnels. The Boston Globe and Boston.com rely heavily on Carroll’s knowledge of configuring numbers and statistics. Knowing how to play with the data is something all journalists should know, Carroll said. He said that even people who are not good with numbers can learn this stuff. If there’s one thing I can say for certain about myself is that I am definitely not good with numbers. Math was never my thing. Ever.

Even so, I understand where Carroll is coming from in terms of how important what he does is. Knowing how to use statistics to make a graph or sort things can really enhance a news story. Carroll did a short presentation on how to use statistics in Excel. I believe that something like this just needs practice. Excel is a complex program, so one definitely needs to use it often to perfect it and limit the number of mistakes.

A few years back when I was on co-op at City Weekly at the Boston Globe,  I sat right across from Carroll for six months. During my time there, Carroll taught me Excel, or at least the basics of it. I must say, there are many layers to Excel but it’s a very important tool to know. Everything I know about Excel I owe to Matt Carroll; and if I can learn to work with numbers, trust me, anyone can.

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Music from the past

So I recently came across a super cool website.

This Day in Music finds what song was No. 1 on the day you were born .

A cool tool, or another form of distraction? Je ne sais pas.

The song that was in the top spot in the US charts on my birthday, 6/18/1987, was Head to Toe by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam.

So, go ahead friends, find what song was big the day you came to life. Feel free to post the results in the comments section!

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Let’s start the week off right

It’s good to recognize our flaws so I’ll admit, I am pretty easily amused. It’s easy to capture my attention and impress me. With that said, I must say I’m a total sucker for anything related to kids and for anything related to the Beatles. Combine the two and it’s a match made in heaven for yours truly. Enjoy these two videos that no matter how many times I watch them, they make me happy. Have a wonderful week, friends!

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A strike for Kings

As much as I love exploring new parts of the city, sometimes convenience is at the top of my priority list. One of my favorite spots around Northeastern is Kings. I think it’s the perfect place when you’re looking for a more low key kind of night.

Now, I think it’s safe to say that most people enjoy bowling. To be honest, I don’t believe you if you say you don’t. Kings offers 16 ten pin bowling lanes and all the needed accessories. Shoes are available in all sizes from kids 9 to adult 17.  If you’re like me and lack upper body strength, worry not, bowling balls are provided in different weights. On Tuesdays, it is free for college students with a college ID. To add to the Tuesday night fun, STUMP! hosts a trivia night at the restaurant section starting at 8 p.m. After a long day of classes, what better way to unwind than with some bowling and trivia? Kings also offers bowling leagues. You can contact Meghan at mharrell@lyonsgroup.com for details and availability.

Bowling isn’t the only activity offered at Kings. Besides the billiards room and the restaurant section (which offers a late-night menu until 1:45 a.m.), King’s also offers open mic nights on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., karaoke on Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. 9:30 p.m. respectively, and live music on Fridays starting at 9 p.m. So, Kings is pretty much your one-stop shop for all things fun.

Here are the details: Kings is located at 50 Dalton St., right next to the Hilton hotel. You can call with any questions at (617) 266-2695 (BOWL) or email them at info@backbaykings.com. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday and from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Mondays. If a holiday happens to fall on a Monday, King’s opens its doors at 11 a.m. The facility turns 21+ after 6 p.m.

So, strap on your bowling shoes, and let’s score some strikes.

(Be sure to check out the wall of fame, which pretty much includes a hand full of  Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots players)

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Garden Party

so, so pretty

With spring just around the corner (fingers crossed) it’s time to revamp your gardens. I never really got into flowers or gardening until I moved to Boston and lived in a concrete city. In the past five years I have found a newfound appreciation for flowers and plants. When the trees start to blossom I feel like the stars have aligned.

Anyway, this weekend is the last two days of the Boston Flower & Garden Show. I’ve never been to one of these so I can’t give you first-hand experience of what to expect, but after some research I can tell you there will be: 30 landscaped gardens, demonstrations, garden teas, competitions, lectures, and retail vendors. This year’s theme is “A Feast for the Senses.” On Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. Patti Moreno of Gardengirltv.com will host a lecture on Urban Sustainable Living.

The show is hosted at the Seaport World Trade Center and tickets cost $20. The weather tomorrow is suppose to be in the high 30s, so we might as well pretend it’s spring somewhere, right?

Photo (cc) by forestgladesiwander and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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Map this

I keep a blog, so obviously I’m interested in new media and the future of journalism. To spice up online content, a lot of news sources have turned to using maps. Simply using photographs is not enough in the 21st century of journalism so news outlets are enhancing the way consumers get their news.

Take for example the following map put reflecting the 2008 presidential elections:

A map like this gives readers an illustrated version of what they are reading about. It’s nice to see statistics broken down visually. In the case of the presidential elections, which was the story of the year, I believe maps are necessary tools for news sites.

Ultimately, I think maps are useful when combining statistics. Take a look at this map which tracks the amount of money in US total for federal contracts, grants and loans as reported in the Recovery Act. When dealing with numbers, and especially money, maps can be an easy way to present the information in a user-friendly manner. The map used by Dismal Scientist to track the business cycle across US states and metropolitan areas for me is a little unnecessary. While it’s nice to have all the information compiled together, there are different ways of presenting it.

Therefore, I do not think that all stories require a map. Even a restaurant review, or a profile of a coffee shop or live music venue shouldn’t have a map. As long as an address is included in story, I think it’s safe to say that most people would know how to plug that in to Google maps or MapQuest.

So while maps can definitely enhance a story, I do not think they are an absolutely necessary tools for journalism. Personally, I find using MapMyRun.com, to track the distance and route of my runs, and MapQuest for directions much more useful in everyday life.

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