Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So, That NoVA Traffic...

It's not really worse than Boston traffic. It's not better, either. Those that are friends with me on Facebook saw that I posted yesterday about the new commute. I'm staying with friends (MBtGE, actually) near where we're looking to buy a house, so this is representative of my daily commute. I'd heard that it was pretty craptastic, and yesterday more or less bore that out. An hour to go 20 miles in the morning, and a shade under that in the return trip in the afternoon.

My commute to my previous job was about the same distance, but on an average day would take ~ 35-40 minutes as a rule. There's one significant difference between the two, though (aside from one being in Mordor and one being in America). The previous commute, while shorter, was through back roads and through the center of several towns, meaning lots of stops and starts and lights and related crap.

The new commute is about 5 minutes to the highway, 50 minutes sitting in highway traffic, and another 5 minutes getting off the highway. Both ways. It's 20 miles one-way, and ~3 miles to the highway/2 miles to the office off the highway on the way in. Traffic is congested, certainly, and there's a lot of stop and go, but it's all straight, on the same road. Not to mention that it's highway, so it's in better shape than what passed for backroads back home.


I'm thinking about picking up some audiobooks for the ride in - if I'm going to sit in my car and stare straight ahead, I might as well make the most of the time, right? I have a CD player in the truck as well as an iPhone that I could download audiobooks to as well. I'm thinking I might start off with a Monster Hunter or two; see how I like the audiobook experience first with something I'm familiar with.

Any other thoughts on how to pass an hour's time?

That is all.

25 comments:

Weer'd Beard said...

Podcasts! Man there are officially more podcasts that I love than I can listen to.

Fran said...

I second podcasts -- audio books are good too, but podcasts are a nice way to stay current on a subject, and since there you can find them on every subject, you know you'll find something you love to listen to.

Tirno said...

Well, since I can't listen to it live at work, I end up listening to the day's Cam and Company podcast. I get about 2/3rds of it on the way home picking up kids from various schools, and I polish off the last 1/3rd on the morning commute, fast forwarding through the 'commercial' breaks.

Dave H said...

If you ever wanted to learn another language, now's the time. Then you'll have a little more variety when you curse at the traffic.

Podcasts are a great idea if you can find some you like. There are several I'd like to listen to but the 'casters spend too much time bantering and laughing at their own jokes. I'm too selfish with my time to take that. (If you ever thought about writing fiction, Writing Excuses is excellent. Their motto is "Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart." The info density is quite high.)

You could always do like the UPS long haul drivers and read novels while you drive. A guy I worked with drove for UPS while he was in college, and he said all the long distance guys would drive with a paperback open on the steering wheel.

jetfxr69 said...

I have it on good authority that a coordinated person can eat LoMein with chopsticks on the Beltway during "rush hour".

Anonymous said...

+1 on learning a language. Pimsleur has 30 minute lessons and they're the best I've tried.

PhilaBOR said...

Podcasts:
The Gun Dudes
Tom Gresham's GunTalk
Down Range Radio - Michael Bane
Armed American Radio
Black Man With A Gun
The Road Gunner

Stretch said...

Audio books are popular with friends who commute.
To blend in with the NoVA drivers you could:
1. Talk on the phone while taking notes.
2. Apply eye make up. (Mrs. G may take umbrage)
3. Update spreadsheets by balancing laptop on steering wheel.
4. Practice your trumpet. (SRSLY! I saw this on 495)

Geodkyt said...

Be honest, when I had to do the DC commute from King George, I had XM Radio, and LOVED it.

lordjim said...

If you go the audio book way, get them from your local public library for free, either through their Overdrive subscription and putting them on your iDevice, or just by grabbing the CDs themselves. If you go languages, your public library my be a part of the Mango languages network. Learning languages via their app is pretty interesting. Once again, you can do this for free.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

If you google "old time radio shows" you'll find a lot of the old classics are available for free. I know for a fact that "Dragnet", "The Shadow", and "Yours truly, Johnny Dollar" are some of my favorites.

Erin Palette said...

Welcome to NoVA, where the DC Beltway becomes a rolling parking lot during rush hour.

KevinC said...

Podcasts are a great idea, as are TuneIn Radio or iHeartRadio apps so you can listen to whatever station you want.

Audiobooks are great as well. I caught up with all of David McCoullogh's histories a few months ago via audiobooks and my commute.

BenC said...

I agree with Weerd on the podcast but if you go audiobooks go Audible. If you look around or listen to a few podcast you can find a code for audible that will let you get one or two books free when you sign up.Also recommend the platinum plan as you get two credits for $24 which is less than if you bought books individually.

John Anderson said...

See if the new boss will allow you to offset your in-office hours, e.g., if you are in by 7-8, you can leave by 3-4. Maybe that will allow you to miss the rush hour parking lot.

Borepatch said...

Voice activated blogging? You could liveblog the road rage.

Oh, but stay OFF the road when it snows. Srlsy. Longest commute I ever had was 6 hours (vs. regular 50 minutes) in a snowstorm (1987). People down there are idiots in the white stuff.

Anonymous said...

Try experimenting with AM start times. NOVA "rush hour" starts real early, so unless you want to get to work at 0430, you'll be fighting traffic. Unless you can flex your schedule to get in early. PM rush, well it starts early, too, and runs late.

Sometimes, though, you can find a window of lighter traffic if you leave a little earlier or later than your usual start time.

Other than that, aCD player or iPod port is your friend.

Anonymous said...

Jay, there's this really nifty podcast you can download called Vicious Circle; they stopped doing it a couple years ago, but the main hosts "continued" it in a call-in podcast called Squirrel Report. Although I heard one of the hosts just recently bailed due to some lame excuse or other...

Anyway, I think these ought to be right up your alley!

instinct said...

Naw, Squirrel Report is all about guns and stuff. Jay is more into flower arraignments and knitting.

Comrade Misfit said...

If you go the language route and get the Pimsleur courses, buy the used one from Amazon. They can be as little as a third the price.

Heath J said...

Audible FTW.

Find a code for a free download when you sign up. Dan Carlin has one at the end of every show.

Speaking of which, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is awesome. And free. ( though he does as for a buck per show if you enjoy them, but it's not obligatory). Almost as good is his "Common Sense" show, on current events. He's a bit moderate for my tastes, but that's coming from a Randian/Heinleinian Libertarian. YMMV.

Unsure if I can share audiobooks via Audible the same way one can share kindle stuff. I'll check and let ya know, as I have a most complete collection of Larry Correia stuff ;)

Formynder said...

If you want to give Audio books a try, and you have an Amazon Prime account, you get one free book each month on Audibles' website.

Ken Fritz said...

Jay, I feel your pain - I drive about 2 hours, each way, every day - a little north of you in Maryland. Anyway, audiobooks do help pass the time. I'm currently listening to Grossman's "On Combat" which is excellent, and probably right up your alley.

Happy commuting!

Daniel in Brookline said...

Audio books (I almost said "books on tape")) are awesome. I used to commute to New Hampshire from the Boston area, over an hour each way, and I took the chance to pick up some books I'd always meant to read but never got around to. "Classic (noun) -- a book everyone wants to HAVE READ, but no one wants to read." -- Mark Twain

I love the language idea! You could surprise the Mrs. by working on it in the car every day, not telling her, and then one day take her to a fancy French restaurant and show off. Or something like that.

And yeah, seeing what your local public library has for free is a great idea!

Ross said...

Jay,

I'd tried audiobooks and hadn't found a way to make them work until recently. I moved to VT and still work in MA (for now, anyway), so I've got about a 3.5 hour drive twice a week. NOW I find I can pay attention to a book and not zone out watching the road. Not sure what the difference is, but it works for me now.

Oh, and I also found a "Learn Klingon" CD that I'm going to start playing once I've finished Michael Crichton's "Prey".