I'm sure that many people here know that yeast starters can be used for more than just increasing the cell count, but I just want to get my story out there for any n00b's who doubt the need for yeast starters.
I ordered a california steam kit from Northern Homebrewer (my first all grain!!! ) and I ordered the Wyeast smack pack for the yeast. Well with it being hotter than a marathon runners crotch outside here in North Carolina, the ice pack did not hold up to the heat during shipping one bit. Upon removal from the pack both the yeast and ice pack were pretty warm. I immediately placed the yeast in the fridge.
I decided to make a starter to make sure that the yest was still safe to use. Well after 18 hours still no signs of any visible sign of fermentation. I know that it is a little warm for room temperature so that my be the problem, but my LHBS says that at temp I should see it bubbling away by now.
So if there is any doubt about your yest, just make up a quick 1 quart starter.
Most of all wish me luck on my first all grain attempt tomorrow.