Tag Archives: driving

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (and listen to my book)

Let me be the umpteenth person to tell you that I’m so over this winter already.

I mean, I am done. 

Pittsburgh’s daily dose of snow-slush-slop atop Arctic Circle temperatures colder than my freezer has made for some interesting – and somewhat frustrating drives to work lately. One can only listen to the same litany of traffic delays and weather cancellations so many times.

What is a ‘Burgh commuter to do?

Put the pedal to the metal and press play on the audio books, baby.

Before we moved to Pittsburgh, I had a job where I drove two hours – each way! – to work.  Public transportation, sadly, wasn’t an option and nobody else was crazy enough to live nearly 80 miles away from the office, as I did.

So, do the math: four hours behind the wheel every day, multiplied by five days, buys you 20 hours of quality audio book time every week.

I did this for three years.  

That’s a lot of audio books.

Fortunately, here in Pittsburgh my commute is much shorter (and my weekly gas and coffee bills much less expensive), but my love for the audio book is just as strong. I find that listening to an audio book is calming and a nice bridge between work and home. There’s a sense of productivity, too; when I’ve read a chapter or two while languishing in yet another daily backup at Camp Horne Road on 79 or on the Vet’s Bridge, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

If you’re new to audio books or if it has been awhile since you’ve given them a try, these suggestions might be helpful:

This week I’m listening to Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, by Melanie Warner, which – holy cow! – is this generation’s version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

Here are a few others that I recently listened to and can recommend:

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted - CLP

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show A Classic, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (read by Amy Landon, 11.5 hours). Fans of MTM and those who hold a certain nostalgia for television’s Golden Age of Comedy may enjoy this retrospective, which gives equal time – if not more – to the female writers and the cultural shifts that shaped “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

I'm Looking Through You - CLP

I’m Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted: A Memoir, by Jennifer Finney Boylan (read by the author, 9 hours, 30 minutes). A poignant memoir about identity and becoming one’s true self. The symbolism of growing up in a haunted house on Philadelphia’s Main Line is interwoven with Jennifer’s quest for acceptance of her personal ghosts and discovering herself.

Next to Love - CLP

Next to Love, by Ellen Feldman (read by Abby Craden, 11 hours, 23 minutes). A sweeping historical fiction World War II novel that follows three couples and their families through multiple changes, both in their personal lives and in society.

Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson (read by Scott Brick, 14 hours, 30 minutes).  Set in the midst of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, this is a gripping tale of mystery and intrigue about a little-known part of America’s history.

Want more? On the CLP website, we’ve compiled lists of audio books.

So, while the winter weather may be putting a damper on our abilities to get from here to there, why not make the trip  more pleasant by bringing a book along for the ride?

Beep-beep, beep-beep, yeah!

~ Melissa F.

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Being green is not for everyone; or why I love my car.

I have a confession to make. Well, it’s not really a confession per se, as it’s not a secret and I don’t feel guilty about it – but still, here goes:

My name is Amy, and I drive a car to work. Alone. Five days a week or more.

“Oh the horror!” you exclaim. “Surely in these days of global warming, economic crisis, and high gas prices, there must be something you can do!”

Well yes, I am doing a few things. My tires are properly inflated, I have taken all of the useless weight out of my car, and I tend to drive at the speed limit now (which is boring, but it does save gas). But all of those other enviromentally-trendy things? Here’s why they don’t work for me.

Hybrids: Sure, hybrids are neato. But I’ve finally paid off my non-gas-guzzling compact, and I really don’t want to be saddled with another car payment, not to mention the potential increase in my insurance. As long as my monthly gas bill is less than a new car payment, I’m not switching.

Walking: I live 15 miles away from this here library, so walking is right out. Though we do have more than one librarian here who walks to work most every day – and good for them, I say! Maybe offering them a ride now and then can be my way of atoning for my continued car ownership. Any takers?

Bicycling: Ah, the smug bicycle-riding public. Now don’t get me wrong, many of them are quite nice and I certainly don’t wish them any harm. But again, I must point out that “I live 15 miles away” thing – and that’s 15 miles straight and true on the parkway. There’s no way I’d survive bicycle + parkway, even if it were permitted. And I’m sure that the library would like me to reach work 1. alive, 2. presentable, and 3. vaguely on time. That’s not going to happen with a bicycle.

(Another thing that annoys me about bicycles – those who park in the same garage as I do sometimes complain about the bicycle facilities, and they don’t even pay for parking! Meanwhile, I lose a chunk of every paycheck for the privilege of parking where I work. So shove it, bicycle peeps.)

Carpools: Sharing a ride and saving money sounds like a great idea, but where am I going to find a carpool that will stick around until 6 or 8 PM to wait for me? The library has some odd hours, you know. And I doubt that I can find three other people willing to listen to my preferred books on CD.

Public transportation: Ah, the bus. Again, great if you live in the city, but not so great for those of us on the outer limits. In the city you can choose from any number of routes and stops, but out where I live, there is only. one. bus. that would take me anywhere useful – and I’d still have to drive ten minutes to the nearest bus stop.

(I used to take the bus now and then when I was an undergrad, until the fateful day when someone puked in the back. Imagine spending a 45-minute trip watching particolored chunks of vomit and soppy bile rolling up and down the grimy rubber floor mats of the bus as it climbs and descends the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania – all the while keeping your feet up on your seat and hoping that the driver doesn’t make any sudden turns or abrupt stops. Nearly poetic, eh? If that doesn’t put you off riding the bus, I’m not sure what will.)

Moving closer to work: Well, there’s the higher rent, the higher taxes, the higher cost of living, the higher insurance, and who knows what else. Heck, even gas is more expensive in the city, sometimes by as much as an extra ten cents per gallon! So sure, I could move closer, but I doubt I could afford it unless I defaulted on my student loans. I like my credit rating the way it is, thank you kindly.

And there you have it – why green transportation is not for me. So the next time you’re sitting in a bus sneering at the people in the cars beside you, stop and think – maybe this is the best they can do. As for me, I’ll turn up my stereo and relax, and I promise to look out for your bicycle.

-Amy

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