May 22, 2011

Station Stop: Alexandria, VA

Ok, enough of this train stuff. The sun's about to set and from hereon in, it's just standard northeast corridor stuff. I'm gonna watch a movie.

Things I learned: eat the veggie burger instead of the chicken sandwich on Amtrak (less scary unpronounceable ingredients), and always ride business class. Oh, South Carolina is incredibly lush and gorgeous, North Carolina looks more austere, and Virginia is stunning -- manicured to perfection.

I think this summer I'm going to try to take that 36 hour train up or down the Pacific coast.

11 hours on the train and counting... See you back in New York.

Station Stop: Richmond, VA

There are two guys sitting behind me. One recommended Jim Collins' book "Good to Great." The other guy can't figure out how to find it on Kindle or Amazon. The drama of ineptitude.

Station Stop: Petersburg, VA

I'm finally awake-ish and reading today's NY Times, wherein there's a story about Chelsea Handler being quite rude to Cathy Horyn.

Train stopped: Stony Creek, VA

We're stopped behind a freight train that's having brake problems. Dramatic, no? Who knows how long this situation will take to resolve itself. Right now we're stopped in Stony Creek, VA, pop. 202. 202!

I'm eating my raw cut vegetables. The Verizon reception out here is fantastic.

Station Stop: Rocky Mount, NC

So I've been on this train about six and a half hours now. It doesn't feel so bad, I guess because it's still daylight and there's lots of interesting new stuff to see out the window. The snoring guy is still snoring. It's really annoying, but what are you gonna do about it, you know?

Station Stop: Wilson, NC

I have no concept of the ethnic and minority makeup of North Carolina, but suffice it to say I'm a little surprised to find a rather large Spanish-language Pentecostal church right here in town.

Station Stop: Selma, NC

I fell asleep for a bit and now we're in Selma. There's a guy two rows back who is a violent snorer. Like, sleep apnea bad. He's very loud.

I didn't eat the chicken sandwich for a while and then when I woke up, I was so hungry I snarfed it. Ah well. Win some, lose some. Some days you eat organic vegetables, some days you eat thiamine hydrochloride.

Station Stop: Fayetteville, SC

Onwards to North Carolina!

Station Stop: Dillon, SC

We've arrived in Dillon, though, to be honest, I have no idea where the train station is. It looks like we've just stopped in the middle of the street and are just letting passengers on and off at the crosswalk.

Lunchtime second thoughts

Check out the scary-long list of ingredients list on Amtrak's "Oven's Pride" chicken sandwich. It makes me really not want to eat it.

Station Stop: Florence, SC

GPS was not interested in identifying this stop for me so I had to wait for the conductor's announcement. Florence, SC, pop. 32,000. Next stop, Dillon.


So obviously I caved into to the call of the cafe car and got some lunch. Lots of sandwiches and snacks on offer -- the sandwich selection on the Palmetto definitely beats the Vermonter, a train I took all the time in college. Today I got a barbecue chicken sandwich because that's what the cafe car guy says he usually eats. I'm going to eat my pineapple first, though. Ooh we just stopped somewhere... Trying to figure out where we are.

Riding through St. Stephen, SC, pop. 1,776

This is mostly what I'm seeing out the window

Lots of trees, grass, and the occasional small home.

Station Stop: Charleston, SC

Lots of people getting on the train here in Charleston, lots of brightly patterned and printed clothing, and lots of confusion about where to sit if you're traveling solo. There's a woman in a teal straw hat shouting down her cell phone to someone about raspberries. There are people on the train who aren't actually traveling. It's mayhem, mayhem!

Mostly trees, sometimes buildings

No terribly exciting things to report yet. The cafe car opened half an hour after we pulled out of Savannah. I moved seats to get away from the humming-coughing-throat-clearing woman.

Palmetto business class: pretty empty

The business class car of the Amtrak Palmetto service from SAV to NYC is situated in the front of the train, just ahead of the cafe car. It's set up in a 2-2 seating formation. It's pretty empty today (but of course the woman with the annoying cough-slash-chronic-throat-clearing-humming habit has parked herself directly behind me), and the crew has earmarked the first half of the car for couples and people traveling together who get on at later stops, which is a nice touch.

Liveblogging the Amtrak Palmetto: SAV to NYC

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who, when told them I was taking a 15 hour train ride starting in Savannah, Georgia, and ending at New York's Penn Station, told me I was crazy, and people who thought it sounded like fun. Oh, and then there's my mother, whose first question was: "Do they have seat belts on Amtrak trains?"

So I'm off. We'll be pulling out of Savannah in about two minutes. I've decided to splurge (ok, not really, it only cost $57 more) for business class because, well, let's face it, I'm not doing a 15 hour train ride in coach (I'm not that hardcore), and I'll be liveblogging the whole way. Or until I (1) fall asleep or (2) get bored -- probably after Washington, DC-ish. In the meantime, I've got my iPad, tons of movies, a fully loaded Kindle, and lots of scenic outdoors to look at.

Aaaaaand we're off!

May 20, 2011

May 17, 2011

May 09, 2011

"The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade has calculated that an Asian applicant must, in practice, score 140 points higher on the SAT than a comparable white applicant to have the same chance of admission."
"Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage “diversity” or any nebulous concept of “well-­roundedness” or “character.” Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian-­Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school. This year, 569 Asian-Americans scored high enough to earn a slot at Stuyvesant, along with 179 whites, 13 Hispanics, and 12 blacks." — NY Mag

May 08, 2011

It's finally happened. All my friends either live outside of New York, have moved away, or have coupled off and/or gotten married and/or had children.

Bear Party

May 05, 2011

Nice work.

Riding on the back of a snowmobile was one of the scariest things I ever did

After watching this guy fall off one, I'm pretty sure I'm never going to willingly try it again.