+1 on rehydrating dry yeast, been having great results with dry yeast, I use the following procedure to rehydrate/proof the yeast:
1. Boil a few ounces of water
2. Cover with sanitized saran wrap
3. Cool water to 90F - 100F
4. Pour in yeast, don't stir initially, let it sit for about 10 minutes
5. After 10 minutes stir the yeast to reduce clumping, let sit for 20-25 minutes
6. When wort is at proper temp, pitch
I usually start boiling the water for proofing about midway through my wort boil, it is usually cooled to 90-100 by the time my boil finishes up. When I start up my IC I do step 4 & 5. Wort is usually at temp and transferred to my bucket by the end of step 5 and I am ready to pitch.