Archive for Marci

The President’s Back in Town

President Obama is going to be on Jimmy Kimmel today and then he’s attend a Democratic fundraiser. So far, all I know is there will be street closures in Hollywood, Burbank and near LAX. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear what roads to avoid due to the presidential motorcade!

Marci

Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning!

Bugler

Bugler

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to stay home the past 3 days, unable to drive or leave home for that matter. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went 3 days without driving somewhere, even if just to the market down the road. Even when I take a vacation, I’m often driving for some of the time or at minimum someone transports me so I never fully escape being in a car. Three days may not sound like a lot to you, but for me, it’s an eternity when you “live” in your car like I do. So, what happened? Did I go through withdrawal? Was I longing to get behind the steering wheel and head anywhere? Would I be more relaxed and passive in the car come Monday when it was time to resume my routine?

In truth, I’ve been dreading today — Monday. It’s the Monday after we go on daylight savings time. We spring forward, but let me tell you, I don’t really spring when the alarm clock sounds. You know that song, “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” where the guy bemoans the military Bugler’s morning wake up song “Reveille?” There’s a verse in the song that goes:

One day I’m going to strangle the Bugler.
One day they are going to find him dead.
I’ll amputate his reveille
And step upon it heavily
And spend the rest of my life in bed

Irving Berlin and I share that in common. That’s how I feel when my alarm sounds. If I kept an anvil next to my night stand, I’d have to create a line item in my budget for alarm clocks. It’s really that bad. I’m not a morning person despite living a morning person’s schedule, never have been, never will be. So, for me, while I love that it’s not dark when I go home from work after we go on daylight savings time, I abhor waking up an hour earlier! It takes me weeks to adjust. Truly. If not for coffee, I’d be doomed. And it really doesn’t matter if I go to bed early. It’s just the morning. I don’t like sunrises unless I’ve been up all night for the right reasons :=). I’m more of a sunset person. Anyway, I think I’ve made the point.

So, back to Monday. I got in the car to head to work and it seemed at first as though traffic was fairly light. I was pleased. I suspected people were like me, having a hard time adjusting to that loss of an hour. But it seems that was short lived; we all fell into our usual patterns. 1.) A car in front of me was creeping along sloooowly, approaching a busy intersection with a 5 minute light. I hate 5 minute lights. If the light turns red, you have to wait a full 5 minutes until the next green signal. I managed to get past him so I wouldn’t get stuck. I was pleased. He was left behind of course. 2.) Then, a car turning right onto the street I’m driving down cut right in front of me, causing me to brake. Not so pleased. Then, strike three – you’re out! A white car (an Altima not a Prius) just sat at another signal despite the light turning green. He was fiddling with his phone. Normally I would give a gentle tap of the horn to wake him up, but I sounded the horn fully, not excessively. The Bugler would have approved. I saw him jump and look up. He looked back at me annoyed in the rear view mirror and then accelerated. Finally, I made it to the freeway. I did get stuck for a bit behind a cluster of cars on the freeway. It wasn’t a cluster fu** by my driving term definition. There was no patrol car to be found. It took a bit of maneuvering to get out of the cluster so I could go the full speed limit. I was once again pleased. In the end it wasn’t a particularly bad commute, but it wasn’t good either.

So, in answer to the above questions – I’m afraid the answer is a resounding NO on all counts. On my three day hiatus, I didn’t go through driving withdrawal. I wasn’t longing to go somewhere or anywhere. And, clearly I was not more relaxed and passive as a result of the time off the road. It was a nice thought though. On reflection, it was just another day in the life of a commuter driving in Los Angeles.

Hope your Daylight Savings Monday goes well.

Marci

Thanks for Checking Out My Blog!

fireworksWoo hoo! We did it! In the month of February (a short month I might add), I passed the 500 unique visitors number. 521 Visitors and 1,560 visits!

Thank you for checking out my blog and emailing me your comments. I love hearing from you and hope you continue to contact me.

Now, help me double that number in March. There are some fun posts coming — quizzes, surveys, the Red Light Shuffle Rap, video (soon) and as always my observations about driving in Los Angeles.

Drive safely and please don’t text and drive!

Marci

Another Gross Generalization

OMG! I can’t believe I forgot to mention this one…

Minivans – any minivan fits into this gross generalization. They’re easily distracted and lousy drivers. Maybe to their credit that’s why they drive so slow. Or maybe it’s the screaming children in the back. Either way, they’re nothing more than a big blind spot slowing you down. The one minivan consolation is that they go so slow I can almost always cut in front of one if I need to change into a lane where this is one. They leave painfully large gaps between them and the car in front of them. Seeing a “baby on board” sticker increases the above issues exponentially. Steer clear!

I’ll back soon with a new topic. Keep checking back.

Marci

Gross Generalizations about Drivers of CERTAIN cars

I’m bound to piss off someone with this this post, but so be it. I spend a lot of time in my car and on the road and if I didn’t see a pattern in behaviors, I would have little to blog about. So, that said, here are my gross generalizations about drivers of certain cars. I’m sorry if I offend you.

Porsche (excluding most Panameras) – Long ago, this was truly the cool car to drive. Think Risky Business. Then, it became the middle aged man’s mid-life crisis car.  But now it’s the older man’s car, that is the older man who thinks he’s still middle aged. This is so prevalent it seems it’s become a cliché. Perhaps it’s one’s last bastion of virility? Maybe you should trade it in for a Tesla (soon to be the next cliché.)

Rolls Royce – No matter which model you drive and how you justify owning one, this is simply an ostentatious car. Anyone who drives it is wearing his wealth and not only knows it, but thrives on showing off how rich he or she is, but mostly he.

Hummer – I’ve written a lot about my dislike of this vehicle because I believe it really should have no place in an urban metropolis. Men who drive this car (I have yet to see a woman behind the steering wheel of one) must feel the need to prove their power. Perhaps he’s compensating for a smaller part of his anatomy. Arnold (our former Governator) – that’s what happens when you take steroids.

Cadillac Escalade (and other gargantuan SUVs such as the Suburban, Yukon, Tahoe, Expedition) – While the Escalade seems to stand out from the pack of other monstrous SUVs, they all fit into this description. I have yet to encounter one of these where the driver wasn’t dangerously aggressive. Men and women drive these monsters and they drive it as though they’re in a little Fiat zipping in and out of lanes! I also have yet to see an Escalade in any color other than black. (Please refer to my post on the color of your car and what it means about you.)

Dodge Charger – Same as above. I have never encountered one of these cars going with the flow of traffic. The drivers always seems to be dangerously aggressive. It doesn’t matter the color of the car. They are all aggressive drivers!

Light colored Priuses and PT Cruisers – I’m sorry to pick on Priuses all of the time, but there are now so many on the road that when I’m approaching one (there’s never one that passes me), invariably my guard goes up because I know I’m going to have to navigate around it. Simply put, these drivers are responsible for slowing down the overall flow of traffic! I get that you want to maximize your MPG, but for the sake of being a team player on the road, get one or two less MPG and move your ass! Now the PT Cruiser has the same problem, but I don’t fault them in the same way. These cars just don’t GO fast. I’ve had one as a rental before and it was terrifying how little get up and go it had.

BMWs – Alright, so I hear again and again that BMW drivers are rude, always cutting people off, thinking they’re somehow better than others. I do agree, but as with all generalizations, there are always exceptions. 🙂

Humbly,

Marci

Traffic – A Contraindication for My Health and Well Being!

In medicine, contraindication refers to a condition that serves as the reason a treatment or procedure is inadvisable. In driving, traffic is a contraindication for many things, particularly when you’re on a quest to do something or go somewhere that goes awry because of the traffic. Ultimately, it defeats the purpose of going in the first place. The reaction can leave us apoplectic! I encountered this on Saturday and it reminded me of another similar situation. Oddly and ironically, both incidents occurred when I was on my way to do yoga.

Someone once gave me a one month membership to a yoga studio in Santa Monica. It was a really bad idea for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was that it was terribly inconvenient. The studio was just about 4 miles from my home, but because of traffic it would take 40 minutes, sometimes more to get there, plus time to park and walk to the studio. By the time I would arrive to a class, I would be in serious need of relaxation! It would take the entire class to de-stress me and by then it was time to get back in car and drive home. So not worth it!

This past weekend, I encountered a similar problem. This time, I signed up for a yoga/meditation class at a place about 3 miles from my home in another direction. The problem this time wasn’t traffic as much as finding parking. There was no parking to be found anywhere near the studio, not even a parking lot where I could pay. I drove around the neighborhood for 10-15 minutes to no avail. I could have walked nearly half way there in that amount of time! As I felt my blood pressure rising, I decided that it was not advisable to continue this exercise of futility. I’d like to say that’s the last time I’ll need to drive somewhere for the benefit of improving my health and well being, but I’m sure it’s not.

How many times has driving or traffic gotten in the way of your well being?

Marci

My “Red” Cross to Bear!

 

The 405 and 101 Freeways - I'd pray but what's the point?

The 405 and 101 Freeways – I’d pray but what’s the point?

This image, courtesy of Sigalert, is the bane of my existence, my red cross to bear! I spend an inordinate amount of time on this stretch of freeway. If only divine intervention could save us all from this sin of the modern world — road congestion!

I’ve written a lot about how I have to plan activities around traffic patterns in Los Angeles. Plans often get waylayed because of traffic snafus in this city. Heck, it can even become a tool to seek revenge if you’re in a position of power — aka Governor Chris Christy’s Bridgegate Scandal! I also remember one of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductees a couple of years ago (I forget who though) almost missed the event because he was stuck in traffic in Los Angeles. No one is immune and it often feels as though we’re all just pawns in this urban game of life.

I’ve certainly had my share of plans that went down the tubes because of getting caught in traffic. It’s conceivable that some day not being able to get where we need to go might become a matter of life and death. I suppose at that point you would call 911 and get a police escort or ambulance to get through the gridlock. Today, I had a situation that fortunately was far from life and death, but it was pretty darned unpleasant anyway.

The day started off great. I was pretty psyched this Monday morning, heading into work a few minutes early (New Year’s Resolution). I got plenty of sleep last night so I’d be ready to take on a busy work week. I glided along in lighter than normal traffic for a Monday morning on my so called “reverse” commute. I attributed my light traffic to masses of people hung over from drinking too much and eating too much crap on Super Bowl Sunday. Thankfully, I wasn’t one of them.

I arrived at work a few minutes early and was settling into what promised to be a productive day. Then, about an hour into the day, my stomach would put the kibosh on my productivity. No, I didn’t indulge in any unhealthy Super Bowl foods or alcohol as I was already feeling a little off yesterday. It seems I had some sort of bug. But, what was I to do? There it was 8:30 a.m. and I was trapped — miserable, sick and trapped. It seems the Super Bowl indulgers who travel South down the 405 were running late and would leave the 405 clogged for hours to come. I felt like the entire team of Seattle Seahawks put together on the 1 yard line with no ability to get to the end zone. Torturous.

It would have taken me 2 hours to get back home and let’s just say there was no way I would have made it without severe consequences! I was forced to stick it out at work. I got through my day somehow and finally made it home later that afternoon. Thanks to my “reverse” commute, it only took me 50 minutes to get home during the off peak time.

This incident will force to me in the future to re-think when I should just stay home. If I’m not feeling well when I wake up, it might not be worth taking a chance to see if I get better. I wouldn’t want to get stuck again because of traffic in Los Angeles.

I think my next post will be 10 Costs of Traffic Congestion!!

Stay tuned!

Marci

11 Ways I Would Change the Rules of the Road if I Could…

“Yes I would, if I could, I surely would!”  Simon & Garfunkel

This past weekend, I found myself wishing I had stayed home because it took me FOREVER to get anywhere I needed to go. Saturday night, I was heading out to dinner in West LA near Santa Monica Blvd. and the 405. I had to travel about 6-7 miles and it should have taken about 20 minutes, maybe 30. The problem is it took 30 minutes to get from the beach to Lincoln Blvd., a distance of about 2 miles. There was no accident causing the traffic jam. It wasn’t rush hour. It’s a problem of overpopulation and overdevelopment in a small concentrated area. No one is immune to this anymore driving in Los Angeles. It’s not just on the Westside or Downtown. It’s in the Valley and all over. And sadly, there are no truly effective shortcuts remaining to bypass the gridlock.

Despite these problems all over Los Angeles, the development continues with little regard for the consequences — noise, traffic, lack of parking, etc. Environmental impact studies are often based on outdated data, but I won’t get started on the political side of this, at least not today!

It got me thinking though if I had the power to change the rules of the road in some way, what would I change. Here are some of my ideas. Yes, this is a fantasy, but hey, it’s good to have some fantasies!

  1. No road construction is allowed during rush hour or on Fridays EVER.
  2. The three strikes law now applies to people who don’t use their turn signal.
  3. All natives have access to Carpool lanes. :=)
  4. Bicycles (and bike lanes) are not allowed on streets where it reduces the number of lanes of traffic. (Seriously, it amazes and annoys me how many already extremely busy roads now have just one lane each way to drive so that they can accommodate bicycles. So now, if you want to adhere to the 3′ law when passing bikes, you have to drive into opposing traffic to pass them. Not so safe. Not so smart.
  5. Employers are required to offer employees telecommuting at least 1 day a week, preferably 2. Heck, I’ll even throw in a tax credit.
  6. Motorcycles would not be allowed to rev their engines in residential areas. In fact, the three strikes law should apply here too.
  7. Restaurants and businesses are not allowed to poach street parking spaces for valet service.
  8. Real estate developers when applying for permits (and the politicians who approve the projects) will be required to direct traffic on busy intersections during rush hour. That’ll put a stop to the overdevelopment!
  9. No more speed bumps are allowed on residential streets to appease neighborhood councils.
  10. Shuttle bus services in neighborhoods will be provided to help cut down on the number of cars on the road. It’s a great way to promote staying local and supporting local businesses too.
  11. There would be a moratorium of any further development in any densely populated areas until a complete and effective public transportation system is in place.

Do you have any rules of the road you’d like to add to this list?

I wish you a good work week. Drive safely out there.

Marci

2015 Running Tab of Expenses Due to Poor Road Conditions

 

Driving in Los Angeles, we are forced to pay more than our fair share of car related expenses. We pay more than most states for car insurance and vehicle registration. We drive cars disproportionate to our income levels (granted, a problem of our own making) and of course we pay more in maintenance because we tend to drive more. We need our cars to get around more than most other major metropolitan areas because of limited public transportation options. But, what seems most unfair is that despite our gas taxes and numerous voting measures that have passed to improve our roads, we still have among the worst roads in the nation. These poor roads translate directly to dollars out of our pocket. I thought it would be interesting to keep a running tab for 2015 on just how much money comes out of my pocket due to poor road conditions. My first expense for 2015 has surfaced and I thought I’d share it with you.

But first, last year, because of endless construction in both my neighborhood, at work and on the freeway of course, I had to replace 2 tires because of nails in the road. I hit many potholes, which lead to the need for an alignment more than once.

Back to 2015 … I have to pay the deductible on a new windshield. You’ve probably seen the beautiful “Sunset In Venice” Starry Night photo that I posted on my blog page Photos Captured on the Road. If not, check it out along with other photos I’ve taken. The stars that appear in this photo are actually pit marks on my windshield appearing as stars in the sky. I give credit to the 405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project for this artful masterpiece. Without the endless construction debris blowing onto my car, we would have missed out on this new brand of urban art. It also made for an interesting driving experience when driving at sunrise or sunset with the sun straight ahead, rivaling a Harold and Kumar tripping moment.

Just a couple of weeks ago, when heading North on the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, a sizable rock hit my windshield, making it necessary for me to finally replace the windshield. While I was hugely relieved it wasn’t a bullet, the mark it left would say otherwise. So, I called my insurance company and they’ll replace it, less my deductible. So far for 2015, I’m up to $250 in expenses due to poor roads in Los Angeles.

It’ll be a little sad to say goodbye to the blinding beauty the pitmarks created on my windshield, but alas, the year is young and the construction continues.

By the way …

Thanks to those of you who expressed concern because I didn’t post last week. I’m back and all is well … I won’t let it happen again! Thanks for your continued interest. Have a wonderful week!

Marci

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Drivers

What are your resolutions?

What are your resolutions?

It’s that time of the year again. We get a clean slate, or so we think, when we can start anew with the best of intentions. All bad habits are so last year. This year will be different, right?

Well, as the first new workweek of the year begins, I’d like to share what I see as the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions drivers should adopt. I won’t state the obvious like use your seatbelt or don’t drink and drive. The law covers those pretty well. So, without further ado, here goes.

Use your turn signal – Repeat after me. It is not a sign of weakness to use your turn signal. This isn’t poker and you’re not giving up your hand by trusting another driver to let you in. Same applies if you let drivers into your lane when they signal. Just look at it as good karma. Today you let someone in; tomorrow you get a good parking space. You also can’t expect everyone in LA to have psychic powers and anticipate your next move.

Don’t accelerate when someone uses their turn signal and tries to come into your lane. More people will signal when this behavior stops.

Don’t drive on an empty tank of gas. Come on, you know that happens. You get in your car and the warning light comes on. BUT, you still have 1 bar showing you have gas. You instantly become a religious person. You pray to the driving Gods to let you get away with it this once and you promise you’ll never do it again. Ha! There’s your first lie of the new year.

Be more patient in the car. *see footnote below. Let me share with you a story that might help here. I was pulling up to a red light on a street and I was in the right turn lane. There was a gargantuan SUV in the lane to the left of me waiting for the light to turn green. I inched forward so I could see past him as he didn’t obey the law to stay behind the crosswalk. He kept inching forward making it impossible for me to see. It took me a moment before I realized he was fu*#ing with me. I looked at him and mouthed something that seemed to displease him. Let’s just say, he was clearly not a balanced person and I feared that he was about to get out of the car and come over to me and show me just how unbalanced he really was. So, here’s my point. It serves no purpose to engage an asshole in any way, particularly in a vehicle. Sometimes people get caught up in the heat of the moment and sometimes they really didn’t intend to do what they did to piss you off. In other instances they’re just complete assholes like this guy and the best thing you can do is get away from the person as quickly as possible. That’s what I did in this instance.

Don’t text and drive. It’s just not worth it. Despite what our egos tell us, our brains are not wired for multitasking. That’s why people these days just sit at an intersection, even after the light turns green. *see footnote below

Leave for work 5 minutes earlier than usual. You’ll be surprised how much less stressed and more patient you’ll be when you’re not running late and have time to spare. (I’m pretty sure this is the resolution I’m least likely to stick to, but I’m going to try. Every minute in the morning is precious especially when you’re not a morning person.)

Keep air in your tires. It’s kind of like having good posture. Everything feels and seems to work better when you’re sitting up straight. Same is true when the tire pressure is right.

Smile at a random driver at least once a day. I’m pretty sure it’ll catch the person by surprise. I’m also pretty sure that the person you smiled at will tell someone about it later. In fact, let me know how they react after you smile. If they change lanes to get away, take a look at your smile in the mirror. You just want to offer an easy, friendly smile not appear as a stalker or lech.

Practice isometrics in the car. Squeeze those buns! Odds are you made a resolution to lose weight or get more fit this year. Why not use that time sitting in traffic wisely. I don’t consider this multitasking. I also don’t recommend smiling at someone while you’re doing the isometrics.

Learn something new. Los Angeles has a decent selection of radio stations with some interesting programming. Catch up on current events, listen to books on CD or podcasts. Who knows, you never know where that next source of inspiration may come.

And the number one resolution for 2015 … Tell someone about this blog! I have a fun year planned for the blog, so please be sure to check back regularly to see what’s going on. Sign up for mybLAuto’s email list and then you won’t miss anything! I will never sell your email address.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Marci

*You have every right to honk if someone in front of you is not paying attention because they’re texting.

© 2015 mybLAuto