The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for September 2008

Gas shortage threatening my way of life

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Here in the Atlanta area, there is no gas.

No, this is not an image recycled from the 70's.

No, this is not an image recycled from the 70's.

Okay, that’s not really true. There is gas if you’re lucky enough to come across one of the few stations that have working pumps and have the fortitude to wait in lines up to a mile/two hours long, literally. Even then, it’s still 50/50 that they won’t run out before you get there. This is ridiculous. Isn’t this exactly why the Bush administration invades not-so unsuspecting Middle Eastern countries? So we could enjoy easy access to fossil fuels?

People have started stalking tanker trucks as they make their way through town. Unfortunately, some of these are filled with milk, artificial raspberry flavoring or other liquids that won’t agree very well with the modern combustion engine. Some are actually headed for a gas station and if you can hit one during the three-ish hours before their pumps run dry, you’re one happy driver.

Now you’d think that might make a hermit happy. After all, it’s all the more reason to stay at home. But I’m a very spoiled hermit. If I want wasabi-covered almonds, I like to be able to hop in my car and buy some. If I want to stop on my way home from work for a beer, sandwich, flowers for my wife (if I’m in trouble, otherwise admittedly, that’s a stretch) or dog treats (much more likely), I don’t want to worry that it’s too far out of the way. I’m now terrified of burning gas for anything unnecessary. (If I’m in enough trouble though, those flowers would definitely be a necessity so I’d walk if that’s what it came to.)

The times that I’ve been lucky enough to get gas have been perfect examples of why I prefer the hermit lifestyle and are, to a certain degree, undermining my faith in the human condition. People are yelling, screaming, threatening and cutting into perfectly orderly lines because they obviously believe themselves to be more important than those who understand the basic concept of how lines work. (Lines start from the back, people. Not from the middle or any other point closer to the front.)

The way things are, I may be forced to re-enter the penultimate of general public interaction (gasp): public transportation. I’ve been a car commuter for so long I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it. It’s just so comforting being the absolute master of your transportation destiny. I’ve heard rumor that in some of the shadier parts of town, there is plenty of gas so the next time my needle flirts with the ‘E’ then I’m heading for the ghetto. In a previous life, I probably would have tried to score some weed too. You know, multitask. But that’s a story for another post.

Written by the bee dub

September 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm

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NFL Week 4 Menu: Beer & BBQ Chicken

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Last week I went over to my friend Moe’s place for a homemade Italian feast and NFL Sunday ticket in hi-def. It was great but so is going back to the warm embrace of my usual Sunday ritual at home. I was psyched to make some BBQ chicken. I’m now hooked on this recipe. It starts with a marinade Moe’s wife gave me that comes from some restaurant up in North Carolina, though I don’t know the name of it. I put the following in a container that seals so I can shake it vigorously.

Start with 1 beaten egg. Add 1 cup of cider vinegar, 2 cups of vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons salt, 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Shake for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a container or bag and then marinate the chicken overnight. I bought one package of three breasts, one with five legs/drumsticks and one with six thighs. Packed it all into a Ziploc freezer bag that looked like it would have burst if an ant farted on it. Though I’ve done the same thing twice now and the bag has held firm both times.

You couldn't fit a wafer-thin mint into this bag.

A wafer-thin mint wouldn't fit into this bag.

Then I use a technique I found here on the internet, that slow cooks the chicken which is key for me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned chicken on the outside and had it raw on the inside when cooking it on a grill. So I really recommend this technique which basically boils down to preheating your grill to 230-250 degrees and then placing the chicken away from the heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You don’t have to do anything but wait. The skin is crispy and the meat falls off the bone for the most part.

This (along with some potato salad and asparagus) is going to taste even better because my fantasy team seems to be off to a good start after the early games. Another highly enjoyable Sunday at home for me, though my dog, as always, remains unimpressed by it all.

Written by the bee dub

September 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm

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RIP Paul Newman

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Here’s to one of the coolest actors ever to grace this planet. Paul Newman (interestingly, also the coolest person ever to matriculate through the tiny college I attended) was one of my favorite actors because he was one of the most recognizable people in the world but he almost always disappeared into character.

If you’re into rebellion, and who isn’t in their younger days, then how can you not appreciate Cool Hand Luke? This is probably my favorite of his movies and just makes you want to go ‘kick the Man in the shins’ as my friend Dan used to say. The eating of all the hard boiled eggs is something I can watch over and over. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is another one that’s right near the top. Watching Newman’s Butch Cassidy laugh his ass off when Sundance (Robert Redford) admits he doesn’t know how to swim is a classic movie moment. Though his role is small, he pretty much makes Road to Perdition. Without him, that movie would have been mediocre at best in my opinion. And who can forget Reggie Dunlop, the broken down player/manager from Slapshot, heckling an opponent, “Hammerhan, your wife eats pussy!”

Of course, he made a lot of movies and there’s no point in listing a bunch just to list them so I’ll leave it at that, with one more exception. The Verdict was a movie that I ignored for well over a decade. It always sat on my list of things to see but I never seemed able to motivate. When I finally did I was blown away.

Basically, he’s the kind of actor no hermit can live without. Watching one of his movies at home was always time well spent.

Written by the bee dub

September 27, 2008 at 7:15 pm

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Hermit Cinema: The Wire

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Unfortunately, I do not have HBO. But if you have hermit-like tendencies then it’s much better to engage things like this on DVD. If you get sucked in, you can just keep pumping another DVD into your player and become more and more obsessed as you watch each hour-ish episode. You don’t miss any details and are much more attuned to subtle twists of plot and character. Plus you have a great excuse to veg out at home.

In my opinion The Wire is, hands down, the best drama series ever created. It ran for five seasons and was one of the most ambitious things to ever grace a TV screen. A big part of its genius is that each season focuses on a different theme. Season One was the street drug trade. Season Two was all about dock workers. Season Three took on politics. Season Four was the public school system. Season Five, the finale, focused on modern journalism. Each season blends seamlessly into each other and still interweaves the drug trade and the police’s attempts to stop it into each season.

The series has a totally authentic, realistic feel throughout. The casting is superb. Some of the actors are recognizable from other things but they all disappear into character. There are little, or none, of the usual clichés that you expect from a dramatic series. There are people you could label good guys and bad guys, but beyond that, little is what you would expect. In fact, I found it as close to unpredictable as is possible.

The closest thing I would have to a complaint wouldn’t really be a criticism. As in, it’s so realistic it can be sort of depressing. There are no easy answers for any of society’s problems. You could argue that the series’ position is that there are no answers at all.

A few people I worked with told me over and over how great The Wire was, to the point that I started tuning them out. When I finally started watching it, it wasn’t like I immediately would have said that this was the most amazing thing I ever saw. But the more you watch, the more you want to know what happens next.

Here’s a rundown on some, but not all, of my favorite characters.

McNulty and 'Bunk' Moreland

McNulty and 'Bunk' Moreland

McNulty – The closest thing the series has to a main character, McNulty is a cop who wants to get the bad guys but not necessarily for the right reasons. He’s self-desctructive in every way. He’ll screw any one and any one over to get what he wants, yet you root for him all the same.

Bunk – At times, he’s McNulty’s partner and is a good counterweight to his partner’s moral ambiguity. His best line of the series: “The bigger the lie, the more they believe.”

Omar

Omar

Omar – A gay stickup man who only robs drug dealers and those who, “Play the game,” as he would put it. Somehow, he is the series’ most memorable character and you can’t help but have a visceral reaction when you see what fate has in store for Omar. He’s so feared around the neighborhood he can rob without even trying.

Carcetti – A politician whose ambition knows no bounds, he doesn’t make an appearance until a few seasons in. He might be the most cliché of all characters as he seems to have good intentions initially, but by the end, would sell his mother to get ahead in a public opinion poll. Nonetheless, it’s all totally believable and engrossing.

‘Bunny’ Colvin – A police major who comes up with a plan so unconventional, that it costs him more than he ever expected. Never mind that his plan actually works. Again, he doesn’t enter the picture for a couple of seasons but man, does he have some presence.

Daniels – A detective with a past whose star seems to be constantly rising and falling. He might be the closest thing of all to a bonafide good guy.

‘Proposition’ Joe – A high-level dealer who I probably like so much simply because ‘Proposition’ Joe is just a great fucking name for a character.

Chris and ‘Snoop’ – Entering onto the scene in the third season, these two musclemen for the drug trade seem to embody menace without trying. Actually, ‘Snoop’ is a woman but it took me a while to be sure of that. Again, I’m slow but tell me if you picked up on that right away.

Gus – An editor at the Baltimore Sun, he only appears in the last season. Besides Daniel, he’s as clean and as well intentioned as anyone in the series.

Frank Sobotka – He only appears in the second season as the head of the stevedores’ union. He also comes very close to an actual good guy. He made a lasting impression on me, perhaps because if I had to pick, the second season just might be my favorite.

‘Bubbles’ – A drug user who ends up on a quest for redemption. Again, try and come up with a better name for a character.

Now I know it seemed like I listed a ton of characters but I actually wrote a few more down and realized that this was just far too many. I’d list them all if I could.

If you haven’t yet seen this series, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the few I can think of that maintained its high level of excellence from beginning to end. Which is something I wish I could say about Lost, but that’s a story for another time.

I’m now one of those people

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Right or wrong, those rare times when I’m out in a public place and I’d see someone staring or typing into their Blackberry or iPhone, I’d immediately form an unflattering opinion of that person. Then I’d go back to doing whatever I was doing.

The beauty of this situation passed me by, which isn’t all that surprising because I’m pretty slow to pick up on things. So let me describe the situation in a different way. Those few times I’m out in a public place and I’d see someone using their Blackberry or iPhone, I’d leave them alone and go about my own business. Never would I or anyone else bother one of these people with a question or try to initiate some pointless chit chat with them. So I’ve switched teams with extreme enthusiasm. I’m now a proud user of my iPhone in public places. It’s like it creates a force field that keeps strangers away. Yet it’s a force field that does magically allow in necessary personnel.

Allow me to explain. If I’m sitting in a bar, surfing the web with my iPhone will keep strangers away but seemingly has no effect on a waitress who wants to ask if I’m fully stocked on beer. They don’t seem to find it rude either, the same way they would if I was talking on the phone and they wanted to ask me the same question. Because that is the one function of my device that gets the least amount of use, without question. It’s social camouflage. Pull out your iPhone, check some e-mails and you’ve suddenly disappeared into your surroundings, just like the monster from the movie Predator.

Now there is one dangerous vulnerability to this method. One thing people will do is come up and ask, “Hey, is that an iPhone?” Which is about as awkward as, “Hey, you guys playing cards,” from Animal House, because clearly they already know the answer. But outside of that, if you see someone sitting quietly besides you somewhere, typing into his iPhone, trying not to be noticed, it could be me. I might even be putting up a new entry here, using the WordPress app. Then again, it could be some weirdo just dying to tell you about his hamster, overbearing stepmother and ongoing battle with bunions. So be careful out there people.

Written by the bee dub

September 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

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Try getting me out of the house on an NFL Sunday

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A football game just makes any chopped pork sandwich taste better

A football game makes any chopped pork sandwich taste better

The NFL is something of a ritual for me. Every Sunday I like to try and get everything I need done finished by 11 or 11:30 am at the latest, not an easy task. Then I’ll hunker down on the couch, make some final adjustments to my fantasy football roster and soak in as much pre-game coverage as I can. Though I love the people on the Fox pregame show, I’m partial to ESPN Sunday Countdown. Plus, they start an hour earlier. If I can catch a NY Giants game getting a national broadcast, all the better.

This is something my wife tolerates and unknowingly encouraged when she confided that she liked that her husband was into sports as it fit nicely into her idea of manhood. I take that as a green light to watch as much football as I want.

Over the years, I’ve perfected what I’d like to think of as in-game, at-home tailgating. Sometime late in the day’s first game or early in the second, I’ll usually get some dinner going. My usual suspects during the fall include (but aren’t limited to) Italian Sunday Gravy, Thirty Dollar Chili, Meatball Subs, Turkey Meatloaf, Ranchero Beef Stew, Sweet & Sour Brisket, and my newest favorite dish, BBQ Boston Butt that I then use for chopped pork sandwiches. The only rub with the BBQ is it takes all day, up to 9 or 10 hours on the grill at low heat. It’s a serious time investment but well worth it. Recently, I tried out a new chicken marinade from my friend Moe’s wife – more on Moe and his wife Beth, later – and it was probably the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had so that’s bound to make it into the rotation.

Then I’ll kick back and let the aromas of dinner waft around me while I swill several cold beers, usually Newcastle. Sometime before dinner’s ready, I’ll try to get some sort of vegetable prepared so as to create a false sense of nutritional balance about my food intake.

By the time everything’s ready, I’ve usually got a real nice buzz going and a nice, hot dinner which is a good antidote to any annoyance my wife may be feeling about my slightly polluted bloodstream. It’s a nice system, perfected over many football seasons and years of happy marriage.

There are exceptions to this ritual. Week one occurred on my mom’s birthday, for which I had committed to traveling for well before I realized it would coincide with the season’s kickoff. And tomorrow, for week three’s games, I’ll be heading over to my friend Moe’s place. This usually happens a couple times during the season. For one thing, he’s got Direct TV Sunday Ticket. (Recently he upgraded to a big, honkin’ HD flatscreen.) For another, his wife usually cooks up a feast of some sort.

What’s unusual about this is that she’s vegan, but she loves cooking food people enjoy so she’ll cook stuff for us that she, herself, would never eat. And she’s great at it. (Let me tell you that the chicken marinade recipe she game me is amazing. So good that when I used it I snuck down in the middle of the night for a cold drumstick, which was even better than I hoped.) The last time I went over there for games, she made us homemade chicken fingers tossed in homemade, from-scratch buffalo sauce. Tomorrow she’s making brasciole, for which she’s starting the sauce today and letting that cook overnight, before adding the brasciole to simmer all day tomorrow.

Now, I’m as committed to the hermit lifestyle as anyone I know. But it takes a stronger man than me to resist homemade brasciole with coverage of every single NFL game in High Definition. So tomorrow will be the rare day during the NFL season where I won’t be found on my couch. But in case anyone misses me, don’t worry, you can catch me there for week 4.

Written by the bee dub

September 20, 2008 at 3:31 pm

The Familiarity Hump

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If you’re like me – and let’s face it, you’re probably far more well adjusted, happy and better looking – then you probably tend to frequent a few favorite businesses quite often. As a result, there can develop a level of recognition and then beyond that, familiarity. This is always an awkward transition for me.

We’ve started getting takeout salads and sandwiches from this new place in our neighborhood, a lot of them. We go there two times a week, sometimes more. One girl who works there and I recently began our journey over the familiarity hump. You know, that moment where someone you see regularly, usually through the prism of a low-level business transaction, lets you know that you have lost your anonymity.

But back to sandwich girl. She’s obviously a people person. She knows I am obviously not. First, when I’d try to call in an order, she would tell me they don’t do takeout anymore. Other times when I’d arrive, she’d recite my order and would obviously pretend like she got the order completely wrong. I think she enjoyed that I was never quite sure how to react.

But I came to learn that messing with me was just her way of adding some entertainment to her day. I have to give her kudos, because we’ve now reached an ideal level of ‘regular customer’ interaction. She still tries to mess with me but balances this by getting me in and out of there in the most streamlined fashion. I can immediately tell whether she’s just messing around or actually letting me know that they are in fact, out of tomato-basil bisque that day. She knows our regular orders so I lot of times she just asks me if I want anything different. I’ve come to think of her as part of our neighborhood experience.

Sometimes, getting over the familiarity hump goes horribly wrong. In fact, I have a feeling most of the experiences recounted in this blog will be more along those lines. I am, after all, one bitter, unfriendly bastard. This was one of those rare occasions where it worked out fine. Which is key, because if it didn’t I’d have to avoid the place and it would be hard to live without their chicken, avocado and roasted tomato vinagrette sandwiches.

Written by the bee dub

September 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Hermit Essentials: The iPhone 3G

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Everything I need (no comments about my wife's tablecloth please...)

My life now fits into my pocket (no comments about my wife's tablecloth please...)

After alluding to the iPhone’s usefulness in previous posts and with the release of the latest software update (2.1), I figured it was a good time for me to give it an in-depth writeup.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a huge fan of the telephone in general. It was years before I got a cellphone and would never keep it on my person. Instead, I’d stash it in my messenger bag or in my car and set it on vibrate which I’d never hear. Because of this my coworkers would grumble that I was never reachable when not in the office. The iPhone has made such a big impact on me that I now actually keep it on me at all times, though I don’t necessarily answer it that much. My wife jokes that it’s a very fancy device for me to not take calls with.

What I love most about it is that it’s very much like having a pocket-sized version of my computer. No longer do I fire up my computer just to check e-mail, Google something, see the weather forecast or add a movie to my Netflix queue. This is a huge convenience but to be honest, it was exactly what I expected before buying.

Here’s a few things I didn’t expect:

Just follow the glowing blue dot.

Find the glowing blue dot and you're never lost.

-The maps and GPS are incredibly handy. It gives you live tracking of your location and though it doesn’t give you verbal instructions, you can definitely follow your path along any route. Recently I spent the night at a friend’s place on the Jersey shore. I’m not at all familiar with the area and needed to get on the freeway at 4:30 am. I just fired up the maps, plotted my route and then made sure the glowing blue dot followed along. It couldn’t be easier.

-I am now a texter. I did on occasion before the iPhone but now, I realize how easy it can be. Bottom line, it’s a lot easier and quicker to read a text than to listen to a voicemail. Now I’m not saying it’s going to replace voicemail. But each has their purpose and I’m now fully on board with both. It also shows you texts with a person in chat/IM form so you can follow everything communicated more like an actual conversation.

-The App Store is incredibly addictive. I saw all the hype about it and didn’t think I’d be all that into it. Boy, was I wrong. Mind you, I’ve only dug into the free apps at this point but I’m sure I’m bound to pay for some in the future. My favorites so far…Shazam. You start it and hold it up to anything playing a song and in a few seconds it tells you what the song is, who sings it and what album it’s on. If it’s available on iTunes you can link to the song and buy it. Now, this is more for cool/play factor more than anything but I can’t stop showing it to people. Pandora is a great way to listen to music for those of you who haven’t tried it yet. Basically it lets you create your own ‘stations’ that play music it likes based on your feedback/input. I also prefer WeatherBug to the included weather app. The Flashlight app has been used to illuminate dark areas a few times already. And VoiceNotes lets me record things on the fly. So far I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of all the apps.

-For some reason the sound from this iPhone blows away the sound of all my previous iPods. I don’t know if it’s the (included) headphones or if it’s something else, but the sound is far better than I expected.

-Watching movies and videos has been great. The picture’s better than I anticipated and when on planes, that’s been great. Again, it’s much easier watching it that way than it is to pull out my laptop.

-Notes has been incredibly useful. No longer do I ever forget what I need at the grocery store, thus saving me unnecessary potential interactions with the dreaded general public.

Of course, nothing is perfect and there’s a few things I’m not so crazy about. Here they are in no particular order:

-You can’t send MMS texts. In other words, it’s text only and you can’t send pictures. When friends have tried to text me a picture, I get nothing, not even an indication that someone tried to send me a message.

-You can’t record video, only still images.

The dreaded Flash error screen...

The dreaded Flash error screen...

-As useful as Safari and the mobile web is, you can’t see anything that utilizes Flash (though my understanding is YouTube utilizes Flash and that does work so go figure). That’s probably the biggest drawback for me as it doesn’t quite live up to the web experience they seem to promise. Flash is everywhere on the web.

-My 3G coverage has been less than desired and when on the 3G network I’ve dropped a lot of calls. The new update is supposed to fix that and if so, all the better. So far, I’ve definitely noticed an improvement.

Bottom line, I’m pretty picky and I’m happy as can be. I will tell you that I came across an acquaintance lately who got one and told me he was utterly unimpressed. When prompted for more info, it became clear he had no idea what its capabilities were and he simply expected to buy one and be blown away. That’s plain silly and uninformed to me. Just like any purchase, it’s wise to do some research first. He doesn’t use it for anything but the phone so I don’t understand how it would be any different from his previous phone (besides the visual voicemail, anyway).

It’s always nice when things are consolidated and now when I leave the house, all I need is my wallet, keys and iPhone. Anything that helps me travel light is always a good thing for me.

If you have any other thoughts, input, complaints or anything else for that matter, please don’t hesitate to share them. I’d love to hear other people’s take on this.

Written by the bee dub

September 14, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Some quick roadtrip stats

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1,890 miles driven – I went about 60 miles out of the way to spend the night at some friends’ new house on the Jersey shore. Proof that the ‘functional’ in ‘functional hermit’ is appropriate as I do actually have some friends. Covered 860 miles yesterday. Left at 4:30 am and got back home at 7 pm.

$259.67 on gas – My tank was just under half full when I pulled into my driveway.

2 Cracker Barrel breakfasts – In my opinion, just the flat out best road breakfast money can buy. Other meals there are good but don’t quite match up to their breakfast for me. They’ve got some of the best pancakes around.

0 speeding tickets – A lot of people I know swear by the radar detector but if you’re not in the middle of the city, I’ve found that if you just keep it under 80 then you don’t have to worry. I passed four different police cruisers watching for speeders and none of them came after me.

5 spun out cars – Yesterday I saw two accidents, one of them looked pretty bad. I also drove through some really bad rainstorms, even worse than the hurricane I drove through on my drive up north. At different times in the rain, I saw five different cars spun out into the median. Strangely I never saw a single car spun off the road during the hurricane.

1 fantasy football victory – I didn’t get to watch the games which was a huge bummer for me but the iPhone came up huge in this regard. Tracked stuff online while celebrating my mom’s birthday that day so at least I got to play the part of the good son. For you football fans out there, I was lucky enough to gamble on Michael Turner. Also dropped Marc Bulger as my backup for Damon Huard.

1 90-minute deep tissue massage – Well earned after spending time with my highly dysfunctional family and sitting in a car for fourteen and a half hours yesterday.

Written by the bee dub

September 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

My Road Trip vs. Hurricane Hanna Part II

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A roadtripper's and a hermit's best friend.

A roadtripper's (and a hermit's) best friend.

Well I made it. I pulled into my destination around 1:30 pm. Last night, my plan was to get up as soon as I woke up and start powering my way north, hopefully ahead of the storm. My eyes first opened at 3:15 am and what do you know, there was no way I was getting out of bed that early. Truth be told, those Dead Guy Ales I enjoyed last night sure didn’t help. I definitely wasn’t still drunk or anything, but I could still feel the effects. Not necessarily hungover, more like knowing I was not fully there. At least not at 3:15 am.

I did manage to get up, shower and head to the front desk to check out by 4:55 am. (On a side note, I learned an important lesson. Where I was looking to spend the night is in proximity to Virginia Tech and there must have been a football game because a lot of rooms were booked and those that weren’t were jacked with an insanely high rate. Somehow, the Holiday Inn I found seemed just beyond the price gouging zone.) I was actually feeling pretty proud of myself. Saw that some rain fell but it wasn’t raining when I put my stuff in my car. Then I checked the weather radar using my trusty iPhone and wished I had motivated earlier. (For those of you interested, I use the free WeatherBug app from the iTunes app store. It doesn’t provide moving radar images but the still gives you enough to know what’s happening.) One of the northernmost outer bands of the rotating storm was almost directly on top of me. I hopped on it.

About ten minutes after heading north on I-81, the rain starting falling…heavily. I wouldn’t mind it so much except in the dark, I could hardly see the lines in the road. I went a little over an hour and then stopped at a Cracker Barrel (my official restaurant of the road). I needed coffee and country ham and that was just the ticket. Anytime I stop at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast I get a waitress that seems like she could whip up some awesome fried chicken or fix a carbeurator, depending on the situation. When I emerged the band had rotated back south but I knew it would be heading around again. Thus began the pattern of the drive.

I managed to stay just ahead of the main body of the storm for all 525 miles of today’s drive. It was close. That outer band snagged me three different times. Each resulted in driving through a 40-minute deluge. The kind where you can barely see and everyone on the highway slows down to about 40 to 45 mph. Then it rotated to the south and west only to come back around in counter-clockwise fashion. But I knew the main body and power of the storm was right behind me. I could ‘feel’ it, though I don’t know how.

Anytime I stopped at a rest stop or a gas station, I literally ran in, took care of any business and then ran back to the car to maintain my slight lead on the storm. My drive took me north and east, pretty much matching the path of the storm. It worked out perfectly in that the last 120 miles were in dry weather. That really made it as you really have to concentrate more in the rain which can be a huge mental drain when you’re driving that far.

What amazed me was seeing how many cars were heading the other way – straight into the heart of the storm. I wonder where they could be going? Was it something urgently important or did they just refuse to alter their lives around the storm?

My iPhone and new Kenwood stereo with the usb port were just as awesome as I was hoping. Well almost. For my iPhone I downloaded the Pandora and AOL Radio app. Theoretically speaking, I was hoping those programs would be a satellite-radio like substitute. Both apps worked perfectly whenever I was in an area with a strong 3G signal. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of those in the Shenandoah Valley, or the stretch of Pennsylvania where I drove through. They worked great around NYC but that was no surprise for me I guess. I sort of expect that. Anyway, I really need to do an extended write-up on the iPhone. It’s really a nice addition for anyone with hermit-like tendencies, but there are a few things I’d want someone to know before they got one. When trying to dance so closely to a storm like this, being able to check updated weather radar was a huge bonus. With much shame, I’ll also admit to checking my e-mail a few times.

In the end, total stats: Eight and a half hours on the road. One huge breakfast. Three and a half cups of coffee. Four albums and one huge playlist set on random for the last couple hundred miles. The only huge bummer was that I was really looking forward to the weather in the Northeast. They’ve been enjoying highs in the 70s with very dry air. With the storm, they’ve got 100% humidity and they’re in the 80s. I drove 925 miles and have the same weather at the end of the trip that I had at the beginning, only there’s no air conditioning up here. I might have to sleep in my car with the a/c and engine running to be comfortable. It’s supposed to cool right back down on Wednesday, right around when I have to think about heading back. Just my luck.

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