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LKN704

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  1. Interesting. I haven't eaten beef in 10 years (and even when I did eat it I always hated burgers and steak), but I recall the burgers at Whataburger being quite good...my friends in Austin rave about it. Far and away better than the burgers at the infamous SoCal chain that shall not be named...
  2. Limani is ok...nothing special. Aesthetics definitely take precedent over the food imo. I've been to their location in NYC...it was filled with wannabe influencers taking pictures of their food and the space...very annoying to the point I probably wouldn't go there again just because it that. The table next to me was filled with a group of people who all had the following attached to their phone to take better pictures with:
  3. Obviously YMMV but I'm rarely greeted by name in F on AA...even as someone with status. It isn't a dealbreaker for me as I actually would prefer if FAs did not greet me by name...especially in DC where people are so obsessed with finding out who's who and what people do. I was on a flight once from DCA to DFW where the person next to me was literally looking up a fellow passenger on LinkedIn after the FA went around taking drink orders using the manifest. No thanks...I'd prefer to stay anonymous. I'm under the impression that Delta (and United) treat their elites better than AA does, but again, YMMV. I almost never fly Delta. I flew Delta on two trips last year...PHX-DTW-DCA and LAX-MSP-DCA, simply because they had good last minute award redemptions. Those flights were the first trips I took with them since 2018. On the LAX-MSP segment, the lead FA came up to me mid-flight with his tablet, discretely knelt down next to me, and greeted me by name and thanked me for my business. I was so confused...I'm a nobody to them. I have an old Delta Amex that for some reason I keep open, but that's the extent of my business with them. I asked why he approached me and told him I was an AA Elite member (I even happened to be writing with an AA pen onboard) and I lived in DC so I didn't fly Delta all to frequently. He wasn't sure and walked away. Around thirty minutes later, he came back with his tablet, and said he was going to give me some miles to try to sway my business towards them. He said he was going to write up my TV screen as inoperable (even though it worked fine) as a way for me to get the miles. After we landed, he thanked me again by name, and I got the miles into my account the next day. Their customer service department is pretty good, too...very responsive and accommodating. In 2018, I flew RDU-SEA on Delta. At the time, Delta was serving complimentary meals on that route in Economy. I pre-ordered a Vegan meal, but for some reason catering forgot to load in onboard. The crew on board were super apologetic, and put together a makeshift vegan meal from leftovers in First class with rolls and jelly, a banana, and a fruit cup, and they gave me a couple mini bottles of wine as an apology. It more than made up for the lack of the meal, but the crew insisted I write in and complain anyways. Two days later, I got 15,000 miles in my account for the ordeal...more than worth it if you ask me. I honestly can't imagine AA would have done the same in that scenario. Back to your post, AA should have a Priority bag drop and check-in desk in most airports. At CLT it is located by the D Checkpoint. I'm not sure where it is located in the new LGA but I would be shocked if they didn't have that type of facility there. FWIW, AA has always been pretty bad at baggage delivery, especially at its hubs, where transfer bags likely take priority over terminating bags. I believe Delta (like Alaska) has some sort of baggage guarantee where if your bag doesn't arrive at the carousel in X minutes, they reward you with Y amount of miles.
  4. CLT has done a pretty good job as of late attempting to incorporate more local places into the terminal expansion...Rhino Market, NoDa Brewing both come to mind. It would be great if they could partner with more restaurants (rather than breweries), however. I always thought Cabo Fish Taco, Luna's Living Kitchen, and Honey Tupelo would be good fits imo. Obviously there's a lot of work on the restaurant's part to make such partnerships happen (often by working with a food-service company like HMS Host), but still. Unrelated, but AA has officially announced their new international premium products. Flagship First will be discontinued starting in 2024 (along with the A321T fleet) in favor of an enhanced Business seat with doors. The configuration will debut on new 787-9 and A321XLR deliveries. It's unclear if/when other aircraft will be reconfigured with the new seats. Here are some shots of the A321XLR cabin: New 787 cabin: It looks like Economy will be getting new seats (or at least a new seat cover design). The whole look of the cabin and the color scheme actually looks quite nice and airy...quite a difference from the drab dark navy and gray accents in the current AA cabin.
  5. Contactless meaning contactless smart cards...not contactless as in no-touch. The CATS app is great, but what if you don't own a smartphone? What if your phone dies? Having a smartcard-based system that works in conjunction with the mobile app mitigates all of that... Unrelated, but I downloaded the CATS app to see what the interface is like, and the cost of a monthly pass is $88? That seems outrageously high for a system the size of CATS.
  6. I wouldn't give CATS that much credit when it comes to anything related to tech. CATS can't even successfully roll out a contactless payment system that other cities (both large and small) have had in place for 20+ years now. I even emailed someone at CATS several years ago and asked what the timeline of that system was, and they said something akin to "7-12 months"...maybe he meant years.
  7. Yes, the bus system in Charlotte and other medium-sized cities is a de facto transit system of last resort. I don’t think you should be attacked for having those sentiments against the bus system in Charlotte, and you certainly aren’t alone in having those feelings. The very few times I took the bus when I was at UNCC I had a horrible experience, both on the bus and in terms of reliability (the bus frequently just never showed up) that I never gave it another go after a few tries. I just don’t get how other cities have moved beyond the bus stigma to get everyone from all walks of life onboard. Obviously, frequency and the quality of service plays a major factor, but if you immediately improved headways overnight in Charlotte (let’s say to make every bus run every 10-15 minutes) I doubt you would see a dramatic increase in ridership. Other large cities have similar (if not worse) problems in terms of mental illness and homelessness, so I don’t see how that is a major factor. Is it because larger cities have more extensive social services? Are people in larger cities just more immune to social/societal ills? I’ve seen so many “interesting” things riding on the bus in DC, especially at night…from a baby being made (I thought it was just two people arguing over a seat at first) to a person screaming that there was a rabid dog on the bus (there was no dog onboard) to some creep next to me who was passionately sucking on a lollipop and shoving it in my face asking if I wanted a lick, and I have friends that have seen way worse. I’ve never felt unsafe however, and the buses are (generally) clean and tidy, and most stops have lighted shelters with passenger information displays. Maybe other cities have a historic commuting/public transit culture that never existed in Charlotte?
  8. Went and got coffee yesterday with an old friend who just moved to DC to work for DDOT after working for Metro in Portland. He’s from Ballantyne and went to NC State but left immediately after graduating and hasn’t really been back except to see family. His background isn’t specifically in the public transit space (he’s a civil engineer and works more so in land use planning) but he is pretty familiar with transit as it comes with the territory, and he was pretty knowledgeable about both Charlotte and CATS’ transit plans. We didn’t talk about the Red Line or the Streetcar, but he thinks essentially everything about the Silver Line in its current planned form is a joke, from the low-density stations past the airport to the Silver Line alignment in Uptown. Given the estimated low ridership of the line west of Uptown (I think only 10K?) he questioned whether Charlotte warrants a fixed guideway system to the airport, and wonders if a true BRT system would be more sufficient. Full disclaimer, he is a big proponent of buses…he absolutely loves them and hates taking the train. He lives in a neighborhood in DC called Glover Park, which sits about a mile north of Georgetown. It’s a cute, preppy neighborhood, filled with rowhouses on side streets, and a main street/small town-like business district along Wisconsin Ave…it essentially feels like if you collided an longer strip of Downtown Davidson with the South End, removed both the low density and newer buildings (especially the new apartments and high rises) of the South End, and placed the entire neighborhood on steep hill. Anyways, the neighborhood isn’t served by the rail network. What it does have, however, is a series of busses (the 30 series) that when combined, arrive every 5-10 minutes between 6am and 9pm, and then every 15 minutes between 9pm and midnight, then every 30 minutes between midnight and 2am, and between 4am and 6am, for service that runs 22 hours a day. They run essentially from a Metro station near the MD border, past another Metro station near American University, then through Glover Park and Georgetown to Downtown, hitting several other Metro stops along the way, so it’s easy to transfer to rail if you need to. In any case, he essentially believes that revitalizing the bus network is the best way for Charlotte transit going forward. I should have written down everything he said but basically he believes the following should be done in favor of a grandiose rail plan: 1) Revitalize the bus network while also decentralizing the need for the CTC in Uptown while emphasizing crosstown service. 2) Create bus transit corridors in denser parts of the city (like Park Rd, Providence/Sharon/South Park, Central, The Plaza, Eastway, Albermarle, and Harris) that feature service with headways no greater than every 20 minutes, along with features that make the bus more attractive to riders, like floating bus islands with lighted shelters with CCTV and seating at every stop, all door boarding, and dedicated bus lanes with signal priority when needed…so essentially not true BRT but enhanced bus service. 3) In areas where enhanced bus service as above isn’t feasible or warranted, at least improve the bus experience by working to implement more lighted shelters at stops to give the appearance of a safer, more comfortable system. 4) Work to remove the stigma that buses have in Charlotte. I hate saying this, but frankly I am inclined to agree with him in a way. Personally, I am not sure what can be done regarding the bus stigma in Charlotte. Apparently said stigma is worse than I had thought, because a few articles I just quickly found all point to Charlotte as an example where the stigma is particularly bad. I think the Silver Line could be successful if it had a better alignment through Uptown (possibly by tunneling) and was truncated to end at the Airport District (with a connection to a CLT people mover) and the Bojangles Coliseum but was built in a way to enable a future extension if conditions warranted. While a stop directly at the airport terminal would be preferred, I don’t think that would be possible unless we didn’t plan on any future westward expansions. There’s too much development in terms of garages and such in the way that the only way you would be able to build an airport station directly at the terminal as an intermediate stop would be to tunnel and tunneling on airport property comes with all sorts of red tape in terms of FAA/DHS that the cost simply wouldn’t be worth it in terms of ridership. My ideal version of the Silver Line leaves the existing stops at the Coliseum and Independence/Morningside, then leaves the Independence alignment with a stop at Central/Pecan and McDowell and 10th Street, stopping at CTC/Arena and Gateway, then stopping at Cedar St near the Stadium and 3rd Ward, and then continuing with the existing proposed alignment with a stop at Suttle, Remount, Old Steele Creek, Morris Field, Billy Graham, and the Airport District: The total length of this line would be less than 10 miles. Until making this map, I had no idea what a total low-density wasteland Wilkinson was...filled with strip clubs, gun stores, and gas stations. I assume the goal of the city via the Silver Line is to force gentrification on this area?
  9. I really wouldn't consider Club Monaco's men collection to be "preppy", although I do agree it does have a French/European style. Their women's collection is much more preppy and on par with J Crew and Banana imo, hence why I originally thought it would do well here. Here's an image from their current men's collection. In a city where there are huge swaths of men wearing stuff like Vineyard Vines and/or skinny jeans and boat shoes out on the town, a switch to an outfit like this is a pretty big change that I can't see folks making.
  10. Thank you both for the suggestions! It looks like Tabor carries two of my favorite designers...Norse Projects (Denmark) and Universal Works (UK)...both are extremely hard to find in stores in the US. It can be kind of expensive to order stuff directly from them, so I usually stick to shopping for used pieces from Grailed, unless I find pieces that are on sale. I no longer live in CLT, but I look forward to checking out Tabor next time I'm in town!
  11. I don't mean for this post to be offensive in anyway, and I totally get that fashion is relative...if it fits well and you think you look good, you should wear it, regardless of what others think. That said, I genuinely don't get the fashion sense in Charlotte. It's strange, because Charlotte is a relatively large metro area, filled with a good number of people who have higher than average incomes. But walking around in Charlotte, the fashion sense reminds me of a small Midwestern town stuck in 2012 than say one of the fastest growing cities in the country. For example, I went out in NoDa last Saturday and went to dinner and then out in the Southend on Monday...both times I was taken back by the fashion of people around me. Tons of men were wearing V-Neck t shirts, skinny jeans, and boat shoes. Boat shoes take me back to high school, V-Necks have been dead since at least 2016, and the memorial services for skinny jeans were held years ago. Women's outfits weren't as bad, although I did get pre-Christian Girl Autumn vibes, and I saw a couple Lily Pulitzer dresses...I didn't know that was still a thing. Frankly, I wonder if Charlotte fashion sense is tied to the finance industry. My friends that live in NYC are always making fun of finance bros with their Patagonia vests and 2010-themed Preppy fashion, so I wonder if finance bro fashion is universal outside of NYC. MCM coming to Charlotte is odd to me. I always saw MCM as a gaudy brand, and easily duped. Walk around a couple neighborhoods in DC and you'll find plenty of people on the street selling fake MCM bags. I'm not into designer clothes personally, but I am into fashion and follow fashion regularly, and to me the fake MCM bags look identical to the real ones. My style is essentially minimal Scandi-Chic...essentially everything loose fitting and relaxed, and I don't know where I would shop in Charlotte to find clothes like this within my budget: I was at the H&M in Southpark on Tuesday, and they really only had skinny and slim pants in men...nothing relaxed. Most of the men's clothes at their SP location were either graphic tees that had like "MIAMI" written all over them in block print, or were business clothes...dress shirts and pants, that sort of thing. To be fair, I don't have that much success here in DC either (I go to Uniqlo or COS) but they have a better selection of minimal clothing for men, and I can almost always find relaxed fitting trousers and shirts. One store that I am shocked Charlotte doesn't have is Club Monaco. Their stuff is expensive for what it is imo, but sometimes I find nice trousers and shirts there, and they often have sales. For comparison, my hometown of Albany has a better selection of on-trend stores than Charlotte does imo. While Albany lacks designer stores like LV, they've had a H&M store (Crossgates) for 22+ years now (the store opened in 2000) and the store is gigantic...larger than any of their locations in the Charlotte area. Albany also has a second H&M at their more mid-market mall, and for many years there was a third store in the region just north of Saratoga Springs in a podunk wall (Wilton Mall)) that recently closed. One of the Macys in Albany is huge (three stories) and carries a pretty large selection of designer goods...I would put it on par with the Southpark Nordstrom. Albany also has a Zara and is getting a Primark, and friends tell me that an Uniqlo is eventually coming to the region as well.
  12. I feel like I constantly flip-flop on my outlook of Concourse E in terms of the overall passenger experience...from a distance, I’m usually like “Oh it isn’t that bad” but then when I fly through it…it’s a steaming pile of you know what. I landed on Saturday at one of the gates that didn’t have a jetway, and instead of using the portable ramps, we used the CRJ’s integrated stairs…which is fine for me personally. It’s always fun to walk down after you’ve had a few rounds on the plane...those four steps might as well be the Grand Canyon. Anyways, the forward FA instructed an elderly woman in row 1 not to disembark but to wait until everyone else had left and then she would make sure she got assistance down the stairs…this woman would not have it, and decided to disembark by herself, which took almost 5 minutes just for her to make it to the ground. Not complaining about the woman per se, but it wouldn’t have happened if all E gates had jetbridges. I’m assuming that the Piedmont staff at E are short staffed because it looked like there was only one person unloading the valet tagged bags, and they hadn’t even started to unload when I deplaned. Instead of putting them on a cart, he took them all off the aircraft, lined them up against the fuselage, and then wheeled them over to the walkway one by one…my bag was one of the first to be unloaded and the process still took forever. I get that this is the experience when flying on a CRJ, but the tarmac of Concourse E provides a welcome kiss of the Carolina humidity while waiting for your bag. The heat/humidity must have made me delirious, because I came up with a song while waiting (to the tune of Piano Man): It's 7PM on a Saturday, the vacation crowd shuffles down underneath the confines of Concourse E, They're tryin' to get outta this town They say, "miss can you give our trip a voice”, as the regional jet rumbles by, "Cause were hot and were fraught, and we haven't a shot to make it on the standby line" Oh, la, la-la, di-di-da La-la di-di-da da-dum Of course, the physical concourse building is equally as steamy thanks to all the physical gate doors that open directly to the outside. Then, you have to fight upstream from all the people wearing Aloha/Southern Tide/Bahama attire going to Kalamazoo and/or Peoria who are blocking most of the concourse and sitting on the floor because the gate spaces are so small. Once you combine that with the NC State Fair-standard bathrooms (in terms of cleanliness), and it’s a more thrilling experience than the actual flight! Kind of a shame, because I find the PSA CRJ-900s to be comfortable in both cabins, outside of having to valet check your bags. PSA crew themselves are usually consistently excellent as well IMO. Leaving CLT today, I got to walk through the new ticketing lobby. I thought it was a bit confusing in terms of directional signage. The UA/AC/F9 ticket counters were behind the retaining wall in the image below of the lobby, and you accessed the counters through a stanchioned-walkway next to the B Checkpoint. Even crewmembers seemed to be getting confused because they couldn’t find the KCM access area and had to ask for help. The TSA queue was larger for both standard and Precheck (not in terms of number of people waiting but rather the length of the physical queue line), because it had to snake its way from the new ticketing lobby, past the UA/AC ticket counter, until it finally reached the physical checkpoint. CLT should totally be avant-garde and just permanently leave the statue up like this with the dust cloth on. I can’t remember if this was recently done and if I talked about its removal before, but they finally replaced that ugly marron ribbon that ran the length of the atrium windows with a metallic-y blue ribbon that looks 100% better and literally brightens up the space and makes the atrium appear more modern. Finally, someone at Amex must have taken my advice to heart because the Centurion Lounge was no longer serving southern food! For hot food today, they had these really good chicken thighs, cavatappi pasta with pesto sauce with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, stuffed shells with ricotta, along with the usual selection of cold options, soups, and salads. They also have full-size dinner plates now, as opposed to the little salad plates they were using before.
  13. Back to what I talked about a couple of weeks ago in regard to banning books, this video makes my head spin and gives me so many questions. Imagine being so angry and radicalized at the very thought of a library having a children's book about Frederick Douglass that you have to march around town armed... 1) How do these people have the time to march around town and show up at the library with guns? Aren't they the same people who screamed that folks marching for racial justice should get a job? 2) How are these people accusing the "left/liberal media" of silencing them, if they refuse to be interviewed or refuse to show up to public meetings when they know there will be police +media presence...are they not silencing themselves? 3) NAL or a legal scholar, but doesn't showing up to a library and/or public meeting openly carrying weapons while at the same time demanding XYZ be done constitute a threat with a deadly weapon? Threats can be both verbal and nonverbal, and bringing weapons to a public meaning regarding book bans implies to me that you are threatening to cause harm unless your demands are met.
  14. Was service suspended for some reason last night? Went to dinner with some family and friends at Indaco in Atherton Mill last night. Our table had a direct view of the Blue Line, and I didn't see it go by once. Granted, I got up to go to the bathroom twice whilst there, so I suppose it could have gone by while I stepped away, but still. Even a member of my party (who has no knowledge of transit whatsoever) mentioned that they thought it was strange they didn't see the train pass. We were there for almost 2 hours.
  15. Some cities have a plexiglass barrier that separates the driver's seats from the rest of the bus. WMATA installed them a few years ago after repeated high-profile incidents of drivers getting assaulted on the job. Their installation was coupled with a massive PR campaign asking riders to treat drivers with respect. Granted, I doubt the PR campaign did anything, but I do think the plexiglass barriers have helped. I don't hear as many reports about drivers getting assaulted as I used to. I have posted this before on here, but it really pays off to be friendly to the bus driver. Unless I am on an articulated bus, I always yell "Thank You" to the driver when exiting the rear door. Roughly ~60% of my fellow riders do the same. It's a lonely, isolated, thankless job, and I can tell they appreciate it because I usually get a hearty "You're Welcome!" back. Drivers I have gotten to know have picked me up in the rain on parts of the street that weren't my stop, and have dropped me off at areas that weren't stops but were simply closer to my destination.
  16. Inter-terminal APMs that in the sterile, secure area (aka behind security) are typically owned and operated by the local airport, at least in the US. They aren't public transit...they are essentially no different than airport shuttle buses except for their mode of transport. The only secure/sterile APM system I can think of that has some sort of partnership with the local transit authority is the one in Hong Kong, which I believe is operated by the MTR Corporation. Public APM systems before security, like ones that go from the terminal to distant garages, rental car centers, or to transit stations (like the one you brought up from Tampa) are sometimes owned and operated by both the airport and the local transit agency. I'm not sure who operates the Skyconnect system in Tampa, but the new LAX People Mover connecting the terminals to the new Metro line is going to be operated as a joint-venture between LAX, Metro, and a few private sector entities.
  17. I'm sure it won't be. The problem with ATL is that it was designed in the 1970s where there was little thought to design and natural light. That, plus the need to be cost efficient, led to narrow dimly lit corridors: Compare that to the new(er) people mover system at Washington Dulles:
  18. No one is advocating for forgoing a backpack, just don't wear it on your back in a crowded train car. I regularly have a tote bag or backpack with me on the train/bus...I just make sure it's away from others and near the floor so I'm not inconsiderate and block others around me. Clearly people think is a problem if most major transit agencies in the world are running campaigns asking people to be mindful of their backpacks:
  19. The satellite concourses (denoted as D and E in my last figure) would be connected to the Main Terminal building by an automated people mover (APM). The airport will be constructing the 4000 foot long tunnel (called the midfield access tunnel in the master plan) for the APM system in the next couple of years (as part of the current master plan) to minimize future airfield congestion/pavement removal.
  20. God I cannot stand people who wear backpacks on crowded public transit...a sin of city life imo. It's basically akin to man-spreading across a pair of seats. Please put your backpack between your legs and above your feet. I'm surprised mask usage is that low IMO. Mask usage on the DC Metro during the work week is still at roughly 70% per my observation, although it drops considerably on the weekends when tourists come into town.
  21. The difference between DC and Charlotte is that DC has a robust bus system that features several lines (including crosstown service) that run near 24/7 service with 5-10 minute headways throughout the day, making it easier to not have to rely on rail as much. Charlotte doesn't have that...you are luck if your bus comes every 30 minutes, and you may just have to take a detour through Uptown.
  22. For hub airports that do a 100% terminal redesign/rebuild (as in SLC), really the most logical design is the parallel satellite terminal complex (see DEN, ATL, IAD, CVG) simply because of its efficiency, as CLT> said. That said, I don't think efficiency was the driving force for SLC's redesign...but rather the need to have a seismically resistant terminal. IIRC, models indicated that the old terminal would't be able to withstand a 7.0+ magnitude quake, which I believe the SLC region is due for in the next 50 years. Forgive me, as I have very poor/non-existent graphic design skills, but this is how I envision the terminal progression of CLT: Current terminal layout: + A North Phase II: +Stinger Extensions onto B and C: +New Hammerhead/Satellite Concourse to replace E: +Final extension that links the 2 B/C extensions together to form a single satellite concourse, while eliminating the original sections of B and C. The old A concourse is renamed Concourse B, while the old D concourse is renamed Concourse C. The "new" B/C could be repurposed to serve AA flights that have a heavy O/D traffic focus (as opposed to connecting traffic), like say flights to NYC, DC, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, etc. All in all, you end up with an extremely efficient connecting complex:
  23. Not necessarily CLT related but somewhat CLT adjacent, well-known (and usually correct) AA informant on Twitter JonNYC is reporting that AA is likely to rip out First class from their 77Ws. I'm not sure when (and he hasn't said), but I do know the fleet is going through heavy maintenance this winter. Although it's been rumored for some time, if true, it's quite sad, as it's an end of an era, both for US aviation (as they are the last US carrier with an International First Class product) and the airline itself. After they ripped out TV monitors from the domestic fleet, the 77W First class product is the last remaining vestige of CEO Tom Horton's failed-plan (pre US Airways merger) to create a "premium" US airline. The reality unfortunately is that the First product (outside of a soup course and a choice of appetizers, and pajamas) is no different than their Business offering, and there is essentially no incentive to book First over Business these days, especially considering that corporate travel policies no longer allow employees (except maybe C-Suite execs, but even that is rare these days) to book International First. The crowd that booked into International First 20 years ago is likely either flying private or booking into Business today. I suppose it makes sense, given that today's Business class seats are better than the International First seats on the market 20 years ago, and today's Premium Economy seats are essentially the same Business class seats on the market 20 years ago. There are really only 15-ish markets (I would say NYC, London, Dubai, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Johannesburg, São Paulo, Tokyo, LA, Frankfurt, Zurich, Washington, Miami, and Shanghai) that can consistently support a First class cabin across more than one carrier. Anyways, back to CLT, if this is all true, I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the London frequencies move to a 77W once the retrofit is complete as it's an easy way to add capacity without having to sacrifice (or buy) an additional Heathrow slot. They have actually used the plane into Charlotte before on occasion as a sub, although with it's longer wingspan and length, I think they are limited to certain gates. Here's a photo of the plane at CLT last year. The engines are so large, that their width 152.4 inches) is wider than the fuselage of a 737 (148 inches).
  24. I had a long, hard think today about book bans and other methods to whitewash science/history education and found it to be extremely frustrating. Professionally educated, certified librarians, often with master’s degrees in library science (required in some jurisdictions to be a school librarian) in addition various teaching licensures are trained in the selection of age-appropriate materials for their schools. It is up to them to curate what is in the library. There are a number of reasons that parents and politicians don't hold this job. Banning books is not in the interest of a democracy. If a group of parents and/or politicians would like to remove/negatively alter the material found in school libraries and in ELA/science/history curricula, I would like them to go back to school and receive the proper credentials before even beginning to address the issue. The very act of banning a book will inspire people to read it. They can ban it from the school library, but not from bookstores or the internet. I believe earlier this year after the book “Maus” was banned from various school libraries it had a “Streisand effect” if you will…sales of the book skyrocketed in bookstores and the book hit record sales on Amazon. One thing that really irks my nerves from the political right about health/history/science education in schools is that adolescents are a great deal smarter and mature than some adults would believe. If adults act maturely and don't make a big fuss when discussing sensitive topics, then kids won't either. For example, one week in Lab class in 9th grade we had to watch "The Miracle of Life". It's quite graphic, and shows an actual childbirth live on screen, including the third stage of labor. No permission slips were sent out, no warning. No announcement from the teacher beforehand to "be mature" or anything. It was just shown. Because the teacher was calm and mature, we were calm and mature. No laughing or snickering involved. To answer your question, in general, yes, core subjects all had Regents exams. The Regents exam schedule went something like this when I was in school: 9th Grade: Living Environment (Biology), Integrated Algebra 10th Grade: Physical Setting (Earth Science), Geometry, World Language , Global History/Geography 11th Grade: Chemistry, Algebra II-Trigonometry , US History, Comprehensive English (was a whopping six-hour exam over two days that required us to write a mock presentation, a persuasive essay, and another type of essay that I can't remember) I moved away from NY after 11th Grade so I am not sure of the testing schedule for 12th grade…maybe Physics. I think they made some changes since I was in school...I don't think the English exam is 6 hours long anymore. They were all pretty rigorous and intense...even the history exams. IIRC each individual history exam required us to write two essays each (one thematic and one document-based) in addition to a lengthy multiple choice portion. It might have changed, but now that I think about it my school in NY was relatively liberal and lax when it came to monitoring student movements, so I didn’t really mind the testing or anything. It was a small price to pay for relative freedom. You didn’t have to check out with anyone if you left early for like a doctor's appointment...you just walked out the door. It wasn't specifically allowed, but you could technically leave for lunch and come back. Many people did. Juniors and Seniors didn't have Study Halls but "Prep Periods" where they were permitted to wander aimlessly around the school and the inner courtyards. The cafeteria stayed open throughout the day and you could also hang out there during the Prep Period. Freshman and Sophomore students with good grades could "upgrade" their Study Hall period to a Prep Period. During lunch, you could either eat in the cafeteria, the library, or one of the courtyards...or just wander the halls. Every day between 3rd and 4th period we had a break for 15 minutes where you could quickly go to the library, catch up with friends, get a snack or coffee in the cafeteria, etc. After school, there were late buses that ran and you were free to take them if you wanted to go to the library, meet with a teacher, or just catch up with friends. The whole school-day was quite social IMO. This contrasts with the high school I went to in NC which was like a prison…the school had a large fence around it with a guard gate, we were locked in the lunch rooms by security guards, and there was no hanging around after school. The whole experience was quite dystopian and filled with rules. I totally get that there are greater security concerns today than when I was in high school 15 years ago, but IMO I think giving students more freedom, and treating them as future adults, rather than simply controlling every aspect of the school day like students are prisoners ultimately leads to better academic results and better behavior, which ultimately leads to more responsible citizens.
  25. On the one hand, I really wish we could implement some sort of national education policy that was completely unbiased and rooted in science/history, but on the other hand, it would just become politicized depending on who was in power. Book banning and the war on public education is such a national embarrassment. I'm not a parent (and frankly have no desire to be) but IMO a great deal of parents are clueless. Several have no idea how much they do not know about the world their kids live in day in and day out. That's easily one of the best things about public schooling…it helps you learn how to question orthodoxy, to think critically for yourself, and not just ignorantly parrot your parents, but I guess that's why education is so threatening to close-minded individuals. I am so thankful to have grown up and been educated in a liberal state (NY) for most of my childhood life (I really only attended NC high school for a year), but even then there are disparities amongst liberal states. I mentioned to a friend from Seattle a couple weeks ago that I had to learn about HIV/AIDS in 2nd/3rd grade, and had to take sex ed classes in 5th and 6th grade (called "Growth and Development" class) that introduced contraceptive methods and didn't necessarily emphasize abstinence. Boys and Girls were taught separately for the classes, but boys received education on the female body and vice-versa. IIRC parents could opt their kids out of the portions that talked about intercourse and bodily anatomy, but couldn't opt out of the HIV/AIDs or contraceptive portions. I don't remember anyone opting out. My friend remarked that he didn't learn about HIV/AIDS until middle school. Now granted, we only learned very basic things about HIV/AIDs in 2nd/3rd grade (like it attacks your immune system, make sure you wear gloves when handling blood/administering first aid) and nothing was discussed about sexual behavior...I don't see what the issue is with the material we received. I was never good at science, but I enjoyed taking science classes because I thought they were interesting, and one thing I loved about NY is that the state required a certain number of lab hours in order to graduate. I'm not sure if this was the case in most schools in NY, but we had a separate lab class...mine always seemed to be on "B" days. They were strict on the hour requirement, too. The lab teacher would lock the door as soon as the bell rang and if you were late you had to make up the lab hours after school. I never took science class in NC, but I asked my younger brothers if they had a separate lab class and they said they didn't. I also remember being somewhat shocked what my brother was learning in Biology in our school district in NC...nothing about the human body or global warming was discussed (stuff that we discussed at length in NY). It wasn't called Biology in NY (it was called Living Environment) but at a curiosity I looked at the state standards for education, and looked up the released Living Environment State Regents Exam I had to take in 9th grade to pass, and I came across the question in the exam that I had forgotten about until now: I blocked out the image (not because I think it is vulgar or anything), but rather I am not sure of the UP's specific policy. In any case, I can only imagine what would go down if Mr. Robinson found out that we were learning about genitalia in science class. The same goes for English class/literature. There are a number of books I remember were taught in English class in NY that I wonder are allowed elsewhere. I remember in 9th Grade we read a book titled "Speak" who's plot revolved around sexual assault. It's apparently one of the top-5 banned books in the country (though I didn't know it at the time) because it apparently "promotes" a male bias and misandry. I never got that vibe from the book (or the English class) and that was never even remotely discussed. Oftentimes, I wonder if those who are so quick to ban books have ever even read the material inside. I remember in 8th Grade in Junior High there was a LGBT table with LGBT themed books. I can't remember the specific reason (it wasn't Pride month) but as a young gay teen who felt alone and had no one to talk to about what I was going through, but the fact that I could take home a book that was filled with characters/stories of people just like me was inherently comforting, and I cannot fathom how much more miserable I would have been if I didn't have that resource.
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