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The Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee

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During spring break at MIT in 1966, Peter R. Samson saw this quote on the back of a New York City subway map:

"A Flushing youth, who wanted his money's worth, rode all lines of the subway on a single token. With doubling back as needed, the trip totaled over 400 miles - more than the train journey from New York to Pittsburgh. It took him 25 hours and 36 minutes."

This set in motion Samson's extensive efforts to duplicate the feat. Enlisting other students and some serious MIT hardware (including a PDP-6, the use of which was authorized by Marvin Minsky himself), Samson dedicated himself to the task of mapping the subway system and determining ideal routes through it. Using artificial intelligence (after manual calculation failed to produce a satisfactorily fast outcome), the team of MIT hackers engaged in a realtime subway race assisted by computers back at home base, relaying information via payphone.

Along the way, the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee was formed. Samson organized the group in order to decide upon rules and definitions, in order to help regulate the nascent "sport" of subway racing. Here's a selection of the official rules from Samson's personal history, The Rise and Fall of the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee:

Regulations Regarding Amateur New York Subway Riding

Definitions

  1. This document sets forth the rules of the competition
    with the name “Amateur New York Subway
    Riding.”
  2. There are three Classes of Competition:
    1. Class A: Covering all Lines
    2. Class B: Touching all Stations
    3. Class C: Passing all Stations
  3. In general, the object of the competition is to set a
    record minimum time for a given Class of Competition by
    1. planning a route through the New York City Transit
      System subject to the qualifications of that Class; and
    2. making a timed run over that route.
  4. These rules, and all records of the competition, are
    maintained by the Amateur New York Subway Riding Committee,
    referred to herein as the Committee.
  5. Each person who intentionally participates in the run,
    or who attempts specifically to expedite the run by his actions
    during the run, or who participates in the selection of lines and
    stations to be followed during the run, is considered a contestant
    with regard to that run.
  6. ...

The rules go on for quite a while. Read Samson's article for the whole story, including information about the artificial intelligence program used in the stunt (ahem, "hack"), schematics of the subway system, original logs, and other documents. See also: Wikipedia entry on Samson.

(Via Anarchaia.)

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Air travel involves plenty of waiting, from standing in long security lines to preparing for takeoff. And even after you land, your trip is stalled until you locate your luggage on the carousel. Luckily for impatient fliers, there are several ways to game the system and ensure a speedy suitcase delivery once you step off the plane, according to Travel + Leisure.

To score true VIP luggage treatment, ask the representative behind the check-in counter if they can attach a “fragile” sticker to your bag. Suitcases with these kinds of labels are often loaded last and unloaded first. (Plus, they receive the type of kid-glove treatment that ultimately helps them last longer.)

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[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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You're never going to get a true steal on holiday plane tickets, but if you want to avoid spending your whole salary flying to visit your relatives over Thanksgiving, the time is nigh to start picking seats. That's according to the experts at Condé Nast Traveler, who cite data from Expedia and Skyscanner.

The latter found that it was cheapest to secure Thanksgiving tickets 11 weeks before the holiday. That means that you should have bought your ticket around September 4, but it's not too late; you can still save if you book now. Expedia's data shows that the cheapest time to buy is 61 to 90 days before you leave, so you still have until September 23 to snag a seat on a major airline without paying an obscene premium. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

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Once you secure those Turkey Day tickets, you've got a new project: Your Christmas flights. By Hopper's estimates, those flights rise in price by $1.50 every day between the end of October and December 15 (after which they get even more expensive). However, playing the waiting game can be beneficial, too. Expedia found that the cheapest time to book Christmas flights was just 14 to 20 days out.

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[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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