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November 21, 2006

Apologia pro whiny sua
Posted by Patrick at 11:37 PM *

We’re away for the Thanksgiving break, off on the Adirondack out of the Anglosphere altogether.

We’ll be connected to the intarwebs when we actually arrive at our destination, but we’re already grossly behind on email, and the seductions of where we’re going may prove more compelling than the idea of catching up. Very bad of us! Dang.

Comments on Apologia pro whiny sua:
#1 ::: lohengrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 12:05 AM:

You're coming here? Cooool! ^___^

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 12:25 AM:

Laissez les bons temps...?

#3 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 12:40 AM:

Bon app├ętit!

#4 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:20 AM:

Laissez les bons temps...?


#5 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:24 AM:

Envy. Pure and simple restaurant envy.

But I get to go to Madrid in two weeks - anyone have any good restaurant recommendations there?

#6 ::: lohengrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:58 AM:

Piffle and whatnot. We're only a few degrees colder than NYC, this week. :P

#7 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 02:34 AM:

Oh, what the hell. Go have a good time, why don't you?

#8 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 03:13 AM:

I'm hoping the NHL fixes the current horrid scheduling they have (it can be 2-3 years between visits by some East Coast teams) so that the Sharks play Montreal more often. I'd love to do a weekend trip, and wear the teal and black to the Bell Centre. Hockey and good food: there's a combo.

#9 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 03:33 AM:

It takes *how* long to go 381 miles? With *how* many stops? This is a shorter journey than London-Edinburgh, just over 4 hours on GNER.

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 05:28 AM:

Yes, well, train infrastructure is one of the many ways in which the US lives up to its billing as a third world country with nuclear weapons.

That said, the Adirondack is a tourist train; indeed, north of Albany, its operating deficit is subsidized by the state of New York, as a way of encouraging tourism to a picturesque-but-underpopulated part of the state. Efficiency isn't the point.

#11 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 09:17 AM:

Some Amtrak trains are significantly speedier; the Acela express between Washington and Boston does the 450-plus miles in 6h35m.

#12 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 09:39 AM:

For perspective, even in crap Britain, we introduced 125mph (i.e. Acela-speed) diesel trains, the HSTs, in 1976 and 140mph electrics, the Class 91s, on what became GNER (the London-Peterborough-Doncaster-Leeds/York-Darlington-Edinburgh route) in 1991.

It's just a pity they're still in service. Of course, for serious business, you have to talk to the French.

As far as long, slow train trips go, there's always the Deerstalker, the overnight sleeper service from London to Fort William. I took it last year - well, the London-Glasgow section overnight and then the connection to the Fort, as berths straight through are like hen's teeth. (The West Highland line is load-restricted west of whereever and they can only get two sleeper cars, a seated car and the dining car onto it) Great fun.

#13 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 09:49 AM:

#11: DaveL the Acela express between Washington and Boston does the 450-plus miles in 6h35m.

I really want Amtrak to get the funding that it needs to do things right. While I'm at it, I want the US public to see the appeal of train travel. Oh yeah, and I also want a pony.

I've ridden Acela twice. Both times, it ran into mechanical problems which caused delayed the trip by hours, more than negating its speed advantage. I hope that either I was spectacularly unlucky or that Amtrak has fixed Acela's reliability problems.

#14 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 10:14 AM:

Just remember the song Grouch referenced: "I'm a dreamer, Montreal?"

Have a good trip.

#15 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 10:14 AM:

Dang. Clearly I need more coffee. That's GROUCHO.

#16 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 10:36 AM:

wave to my hometown when you pass through Hudson Falls (just north of the Fort Edward station)

#17 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 10:59 AM:

I've taken that train two or three times (round-trip), and more often than not have faced three-or-four-hour delays.

I don't mind trains as inefficient touristy vehicles, but if they're going to be that, they should do well in that area, and stock some food that isn't bags of chips, or overpriced cold slimy ham between two slices of cold slimy bread; thirteen hours is that much longer when they run out of food.

That said, Montreal is So. So. Worth. It. Even at this time of year, and even when you couldn't possibly scrounge up the money for Au Pied De Cochon.

#18 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 11:25 AM:

Fois gras poutine?


#19 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 11:35 AM:

#18: Fois gras poutine?

Wow, indeed. That just screams French-Canadian to me. I'd love to try that. Looking at the web site, I see that Julia is not joking. So, someday, I may.
(I've never been to Montreal, but friends who have love the city.)

The restaurant looks terrific. I hope Patrick and Teresa have a great time on their trip.

#20 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 12:12 PM:

There's a minor typo in the hardback first printing of _Dzur_. See p. 228, line 13.

I thought this would be faster than the Tor queries e-mail.

#21 ::: Mike Hoye ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 12:30 PM:

It is vitally important to the safety of the nation that you pay a visit to Schwartz's while you're there. You might have heard of "Montreal-style smoked meat"; what that actually means is "as close to Schwartz's as we could figure out how to make it".

When you get in there, you'll look around and wonder why I've told you this, or indeed why civilized-looking people are lined up down the road at all hours of the day just for ten dollars worth of take-out from what has all the outward appearance of a crappy dive of a diner; I tell you now, they are doing this because it is bar-none the best smoked meat in the world, and is not to be missed.

#22 ::: John From Uconn ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:09 PM:

This summer I took the train from Spokane, WA to Springfield, MA. Leaving at 1:15 am on Tuesday, arriving early Thursday morning, or at least that is what the ticket said. We finally left Spokane, at 3:00 am, and I arrived in New London, CT at 6 am on Saturday, after an unplanned overnight in Chicago, and a detour through Washington, DC.

Fortunately for me, before I left, I made a raid on a bunch of used bookstores, and packed my own food. After almost a week of beer, mead and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I was ready for a change for a change of pace.

#23 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Although, as far as I know, the band has nothing to do with Montreal, this is a prefect excuse to listen to Of Montreal.

Check out their music video: "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and other games)" [MTV music video link] or Kangaroo Alliance [Guys who did the video link].

I saw them live at Lollapalooza last year. I danced like a fool and didn't care who was watching.

(How sad it is that this song has become a jingle for Outback Steakhouse.)

#24 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:20 PM:

When General Motors, Standard Oil, and Goodyear were busily dismantling the train transportation system to sell more cars, gasoline, and tires, they and their fellow passenger train and trolley infrastructure wreckers removed the tracks and instituted structure and organization etc. which made trying to reconstitute the rails systems exceedingly difficult, expensive, fraught with opprobrium, time-consuming, full of roadblocks, etc.

The rail companies wanted to terminate their passenger service. By the time Amtrak started picking up pieces, much of what was left involved having to run passenger trains over rails owned by freight companies which gave the priority to their freight trains, sidelining passenger trains for sometimes hours to let the freight trains have priority...

The Accela trains are not the same things as the trains of those speeds in Europe--the ones here had to be specially built to deal with narrower turning radius turns, on track going on windy paths though high population density areas and no room for dekinking the paths except by extremely expensive land-taking and demolition which of course there wasn't any funding available for... they were stuck using the existing rights of way with all the kinks. The trains tilt... The Accela trains are also electrified--converting the Northeast Corridor from Connecticut up to Boston took a lot of time and money.

And in Boston, contrary to Charlie's book, Amtrak trains from New York, terminate their trips at South Station in Boston. The trains that go north from Boston (or several of the westbound commuter rail lines owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for that matter-which are clearly not the same as Amtrak trains because they continue using diesel locomotive on non-electrified, privately owned by freight company rails) go out of North Station, and there is not rail link between the two... going between those two stations involved one of more of:

a. Walk

b. Take the Red line subway from South station, change at Park Street (of "A Subway Named Moebius" infamy) to the Green Line waiting for a trolley going to North Station or Lechmere was opposed to Government Center (the North Station and Lechmere trolleys stop at Government Center, the Government Center trolleys turn around and head back to Park Street...) and get off at North Station, and descend down to the commuter rail station in the basement of the whatever-the-hell-the-name-is-this-week Center/Garden/whatever

c. Take a bus

The rail link doesn't exist, and won't until/unless e.g. some billionaire donates a few hundred million toward tunneling through...

#25 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:21 PM:

Oops. That second link should be Kangaroo Alliance.

#26 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:32 PM:

..."prefect"? Maybe "perfect" instead. (Sorry for all the errors. I need to get sleep. I've been staying up late playing with my new Nintendo Wii.)

#27 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Keen! Welcome to Montreal!

#28 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 07:31 PM:

Paula@24 --- there actually is a slightly better way to transfer to the Downeaster (the Maine Amtrak train) from the ones coming up from New York, or vice versa. Don't get off at South Station. Instead, get off at Back Bay station (the previous stop, also in downtown Boston), and take the Orange Line subway six stops to North Station. It still involves way too much going up and down stairs, but it's better than buses.

(If at South Station, there's a somewhat more awkward arrangement which involves a subway transfer. The closest thing there's ever been to a direct link is the Atlantic Avenue elevated line that used to have stops at both North and South stations --- but that ceased service, IIRC, before World War II, when it was torn down for scrap metal).

#29 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 08:43 PM:

#24, #29: and, AFAIK, there is no direct bus link between South and North Station.

If you dare take the MBTA, remember their motto: "We apologize for the inconvenience". I suppose the North-South link wasn't built because it wasn't topologically possible, or maybe because it would let the shoggoths loose.

#30 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 10:46 PM:

Well, the tunnels for the new, underground Central Artery (the highway that cuts right through the city center) were supposedly dug a little deeper to leave room for a North-South rail link if it ever got funded.

But, as everyone in Boston knows, the portions of the tunnel that were purportedly finished have since suffered leaks, fatal ceiling collapses, and other such infelicities. One hopes the unfinished portions are in somewhat better shape...

Do stop by Boston sometime. Comparing Durgin Park to Au Pied de Cochon, I can assure you that the former makes up in poor service whatever it lacks in quality of food. (Or, for something that might merit slightly less joking comparisons with au pied... there's Bob the Chef's in the South End, or the East Coast Grill in Inman Square...).

#31 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2006, 11:12 PM:

"Charles": not according to what I read. The tunnels climb and dive strangely to avoid running through electric/gas/steam/data/transit/... lines, but (to various people's dismay) there was AFAIK no allowance for the rail link. The other part of the problem is that trains can't deal with much of a grade; a connection would be mostly uncovered unless it started well outside the stations, which would make it much less useful.

#32 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2006, 12:15 AM:

One of the things I love about Montreal is the secret underground city. I'd found out about Toronto's paths when I was a kid, and so had a general appreciation for having hidden ways of moving about. But Montreal- those are underground walkways done right. It's what lunar cities might feel like, when one has to stay out of harsh surface conditions.

Writing of which, my first visit to Montreal was during a cold February: the temperature felt like minus 40 with the wind chill. I worried that the cold was going to take the sparkle off the visit, chilling the joys of walking about. Instead, one could choose- underground or surface. And not a smelly wet tunnel (like subway entrances), or a sterile dry tunnel (like Edmontons'), but very comfortable tunnels, with smoked meats, and many little restaurants, and shops on both sides...

#33 ::: L M B MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2006, 02:07 AM:

Apologia indeed! Enjoy your pornographic culinary meanderings to the utmost, even though you're venturing to a place where the holiday is six weeks past.

Here in Texas, it's going to be nearly 80 F, and we're cooking out. And no, no armadillo remoulade today. Brisket, cooked 24 hours.

#34 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2006, 09:00 AM:

@31, well here's what I read, indicating that prep work was done in the area of the existing artery (but nothing else). Incidentally, the plans call for platforms for through service to be located about 100 feet underneath the existing North and South Stations, to mitigate the grade; this would allow, e.g., the South portal to be located pretty near Back Bay. (No work at all has been done on these segments, of course).

#35 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2006, 10:30 AM:

I'd love to do a weekend trip, and wear the teal and black to the Bell Centre

Bill, you'd book a precautionary dentist appointment for immediately after your return, right?

#36 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2006, 11:37 AM:

#32: There was a children's SF book about this: Suzanne Martel's "City Under Ground". Montreal's (French) population moves under the surface post-apocalypse. The English stay behind and turn into psychic mutants or something.

#37 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2006, 12:29 PM:

I really don't think it's that much of a hassle to take the red or orange lines to North Station, but then again I have an hourlong commute to work every day and I use that to read (read: work on my fiction).

If you are going to Montreal I hear there is some kind of Arboretum which is wonderful; apparently a giant tent filled with tropical flowers, birds, and butterflies.

I grew up in upstate NY and have gone there back and forth from Boston several times. I greatly enjoy the scenery from the train, the ability to sit and write uncramped, the fact that I probably won't catch a hideous flu from the recycled air.

However, the fact that it's now about on a par with airfare in terms of expense negates all these qualities...why would I pay $200 for a five-hour ride in comfort when I can pay the same price for a two-hour, slightly less comfortable ride and get home when it's still light outside?

It's a beautiful area, though. Enjoy the Adirondacks in the early winter; look for deer in the early evening while the sun is orange and low. The gradiations in subtle shades of grey and brown still astonish me.

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