Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The road to Atlanta: Day 1.1

Braselton, GA --

Gas pumps everywhere with bags on the nozzles. People searching for gas and running the tank dry. Long lines leading to a dismal supply being tapped out in a few hours. People sleeping in their cars at gas pumps in order to be "the first" to get some petrol. This is the Southeast of America in the Fall of 2008. You'd think it was a page from the original script from "Mad Max."

Having heard from a friend in Georgia that there was a severe gas shortage following hurricanes Gustav and Ike (both of which were piddly thunderstorms when compared with Katrina in 2005), I set out from my home near DC with a pair of 5-gallon gas cans, loaded at $3.47 per gallon.

I'm glad I did.

Traveling down I-85 into North Carolina, prices visible from the highway start to creep upwards towards the $4/gallon mark and beyond, then... nothing. Most gas stations are open for snacks and coffee, but don't bother stopping if you need gasoline. It's the same in South Carolina and Georgia; there's just too little fuel to go around.

I found a Wilco station with regular unleaded for $3.63/gallon as soon as I crossed the border into SC, so I stopped to fuel up. I don't want to touch the 10 gallons I have in reserve unless I have to. Still, I've been averaging from 38-41 MPG in my backup car during the trip, which beats the pants off of most of the things we Americans still drive. Nice lady at the Wilco station refused to charge me for the 1L thermos and 16 oz cup of coffee I filled, too.

I'm still trying to understand the wisdom behind the idea of driving around on an empty gas tank and running out of fuel, during the process of aimlessly searching for a good supply in what is otherwise a vast desert of "NO GAS."

So, having managed the fuel situation well enough for the start of it, I headed South. As I often do on my way to Atlanta, I stopped in NC to visit with my dad. He was overjoyed that I'd brought along a new hard drive for his laptop -- the old Win2k image on the Dell I gave him a few years ago, just lost the registry, and became a big doorstop. The new drive is imaged up with XP, and his "old" hard drive is now in a USB enclosure to be used as external storage.

I arrived at the track this morning at 0330. Amazingly, there was a live person at the registration trailer who was able to get me credentialed-up and into the infield. I parked by the office, got cleaned up, enjoyed some coffee and watched the sunrise.

It's a damn good thing there are racecars all around me, because there's no internet here. No, wait, there is for some of the people here, but not me. Neither by iBook (which I'm writing this on) nor my trusty XP laptop will obtain an IP from the network here. Reason? Apparently neither of them supports WPA/AES cryp. Uhh... AES? WTF??? Yes, AES is stronger than TKIP. And no, it isn't workable under either of the wireless cards used by my laptops.

The meatball who's been put in charge of the network here, told me "uhh, see, I had read a website where it said that AES is faster than TKIP..." He apparently didn't read the rest of the article. I should be able to walk into this office with a 386 running Win95 and be able to connect to the network. It's a fucking media office at a race track, not the Pentagon! Too bad nobody else seems to realize this.

So, now that the racecars are done with their testing and practice sessions for the day, and since I don't have a hotel room to go to yet, I'm sitting in the office... offline.

[update: At 17:12 EDT, the meatball finally got himself out here, and switched the cryp on the router from WPA to WEP. Yes, the same WEP that Munchkin could break in 5 minutes if she wanted to, but I finally have signal!]

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