Archive for December 2014

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Drive Safely!

Drive Safely!








‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the streets
Every creature was stirring, wreaking havoc on peeps
The parking lots abound with shoppers dismay
That they left their gift buying to the very last day
So watch out you drivers for they will not yield
If you hesitate one second your fate will be sealed
And don’t pick a fight cause you know without fail
You’ll end up spending a full night in jail
Stay home with your loved ones and pray like an evangelist
That traffic will someday improve in Los Angeles!

Wishing you a very happy and safe holiday!



Goldilocks and the 3 Mechanics

Once upon a time a there was a little girl (for purposes of this post) named Goldilocks. She lived in an urban metropolis and was completely dependent upon her car for getting places. One day (today) her car broke down on her way to work and her plans for the day got royally screwed up! She’s had challenges in the past finding a mechanic that was just right. One was too expensive. Another was completely incompetent and a third was priced right, but just not quite good enough. Here’s the tale of her day so that she could carry on and get to the proverbial grandma’s house. Oh wait, that’s a different fairy tale.

This morning, I got in the car ready to head to the office and all of a sudden my car started convulsing. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to a mechanic, let alone drive all the way to the Valley.

I typically don’t go into the office Fridays, but today was one of those days where it was necessary. It’s a very busy time at work and I had multiple appointments scheduled. So, I went back home to make calls and develop work contingency plans in the event I can’t get this problem fixed quickly. I also needed to find a good mechanic.

Basically, I had 3 options.

Option #1: I could call AAA and get my car towed to the dealer. At least at the dealer I can get a loaner car. The last time I did this though, it took hours to get the tow truck. I didn’t have hours to spare if I was going to make it to work. I also don’t like going to the dealer since my service warranty ended. It’s as though they’re trying to make up for lost time since they weren’t collecting money from me for 4 years. To say they overcharge is a gross understatement and more often than not I have to bring the car back because they forgot to reset something. Frankly, I’m not so sure what they do is always needed either.

Option #2: I found an independent mechanic in the Valley whom I trust. He seems pretty knowledgeable and his prices are fair. He is certainly honest, which puts him way ahead of the pack. BUT … he’s not BMW certified, so I worry a little bit that I might be shortchanging my car at the expense of keeping the cost down. Driving to the Valley with this problem was clearly not an option today anyway.

Option #3: Find a new (good and honest) mechanic. Not an easy task. I did an Internet search for the area and found a shop fairly close. I checked out the YELP reviews and it sounded pretty good. So, I got back in the car, bobbing along as though I was driving on an unpaved back road somewhere in the desert. I was hoping my car wouldn’t explode or die along the way. I made it and was pretty pleased with what I encountered. It seemed that this mechanic was just right.

The owner of the shop was initially impressed with my knowledge of cars. That’s because when I got out of the car, I said, “I suspect I need a new engine coil.” Now, I don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about the inner workings of cars. In truth, I’m pretty ignorant about this stuff and I’m completely fine with that. When I listen to someone talk about cars, it’s as though it’s the teacher from the Peanuts series saying, “Wah wah wah wah wah.” As it turns out, I’ve encountered this problem before, hence my knowledge. He suspected I was right and would go ahead and order the part before he even examined the car to minimize my wait time. I was grateful and pleased.

As it turned out, I got my car back too late to make it to my last appointment of the day. But, all in all, despite missing work, I managed to make a little bit of lemonade out of a lemony kind of day. It’s not every day you find a good mechanic. And, this mechanic charged me half the price of what the dealer charged me for the exact same service.

…And we all lived happily ever after.

Marci aka Goldilocks



Being Present, Mindful Awareness in the Car

Which way now?

Which way now?

Feeling Philosophical in the Car

Driving along this morning to work I was thinking about how there’s so much in life that we just dial in. It’s true on the road too. We drive on autopilot, not really consciously knowing where we are at any given moment. It frightens me a little sometimes when I arrive at my destination and I can’t recall even a moment of the drive. I wonder, “How the heck did I make it there!” I’m so programmed to drive in the same direction every day, I don’t even think about it. I often miss everything around me along the way. Even though we get where we need to be (albeit not always where we WANT to be), in the process of “getting there,” we miss the journey, life happening all around us — the beauty and of course sometimes things that aren’t quite so beautiful.

Time spent in my car is truly a metaphor for life. As I said in my first post for mybLAuto (see my Welcome post if you haven’t read it yet), the road is a main character in my life and sometimes a reflection of who I am and where I’m going. Most of the time, we think driving is about the destination, but really it should be about the journey. That’s where the mystique of Route 66 comes into play and why we take Highway 1 instead of Interstate 5 when heading North. After all, wouldn’t you rather smell the salt air along the coast than the stench of cows along I-5?

Perhaps if we considered the journey, we wouldn’t get nearly as frustrated on the ride or frazzled by the time we reached our destination. Then, maybe just maybe we could better appreciate where we are. Two hours of my life every day in the car is a lot of time to spend not being fully conscious and simply reacting to everything around me. I can better use this time to be an active participant or even a casual observer.

We hear a lot these days about mindful awareness. It’s about being present, appreciating the now, the moments that lead us to where we’re going. So, I decided to test myself this morning, challenge myself to be a little more present in the car as I’m driving. Sure, I was still listening to the news, running down my To Do list in my head, but here were a few of my observations when I stayed “present.”

I could see the Getty Museum on the hill, the Hollywood sign, the downtown skyline and the snow capped mountains in the distance as I was driving on the freeway. The mountains were spectacular. I could feel the coolness of the air outside radiating on the windows, showing me winter is here (Southern California’s version of winter anyway). I knew that the air was crisp and clean outside. The smog was still washed away from the last rain, making the sky a brilliant blue. I could see forever it seemed.

I observed that traffic was somewhat light, uncharacteristically light, if you were heading south on the 405. It’s the holiday traffic upshot for most commuters. Now, I did get stuck in traffic. Seemed there was an accident, one lane blocked. I did what I do … called KNX 1070 Traffic and reported what I observed. The station is after all in my Contacts listed as “Traffic.” I had a great conversation with the traffic reporter. We talked about holiday traffic, this time of the year, how lucky some people are to have this time off work and of course what I saw off to the side of the road. It was a pleasant conversation followed by an on air report recounting our discussion and even mentioning my name as the tipster.

My car hit the peak of the Sepulveda Pass and was greeted with spectacular views of the Valley. Then, the gas tank light came on warning me that my tank is getting low. I headed down the hill into the Valley and arrived at work. Another warning light told me it’s time to service my car again. As my moments of being present slipped away and these warning lights brought me back to my default state thinking about everything but the moment, I parked my car. I stepped out of the car, took a deep breath, filled up my tank with the fresh air so to speak for just one more moment. It was time to take on the day, perhaps with a little more awareness.

Care to give this a try? Let me know if you do and what you observe.

Marci, Your Mindful Awareness Guru in Training


Channeling Joe Bfstplk

Watch out for the Dark Cloud Above

Watch out for the Dark Cloud Above

Anyone ever hear of Joe Bfstplk? He’s a cartoon character from Lil Abner who had a perpetual dark cloud over his head. That was my morning in a literal sense, not in a misfortune sense.

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and was happy to see a reprieve from the rain. I took my dog out for a morning walk. I wore my raincoat just in case. As we walked along, the clouds were clearing; the sun was shining. There was perhaps a scant amount of drizzle coming down. No big deal. The air was crisp and clean. I thought, “It’s going to be a beautiful day.”

So, I ventured out in my car a little later to do some morning errands, raincoat in tote.  The raincoat was my insurance. I brought it along, but had no expectation that I would need to use it this time. The only water falling on my car came from the SUV in front of me kicking it up from the street. I looked around for rainbows because I was sure it was raining somewhere in LA, just not near me. Saw a faint one in the distance.

I stopped for my first errand and decided one more time to put on my coat. I walked into the building, When it was time to leave, there was still no rain. Got back in my car and off I went. Great! My next errand was the bank. Seeing absolutely no need for it, this time I left my coat in the backseat of the car. I took care of business and was ready to leave, but then stopped right before walking out the glass door. I looked up and there was a sudden torrential downpour!  Yes, I was in the bank with no coat and no umbrella and I was not parked anywhere near the door. I know I’m not the wicked witch, so I’m not going to melt, but I didn’t want to get drenched. There I stood by the door with about 6 others marveling in the phenomenon of rain, assessing the potential length of time this downpour would last. I decided to hunker down for a few minutes to see if the rain would subside. I sipped on the bank’s coffee and had a good laugh with the other people. The rain continued. I decided it was time to leave and get on my with day, brave the rain. I walked out and made a b-line for my car. By the time I got to the car, I was completely soaked.

Naturally, the moment I got in the car, the rain stopped.

My advice to you today is bring the coat along even though you might not need it. Watch out for crazy drivers, fallen trees and branches. It’s a mess out there! TGIF!

Marci Bfstplk


Driving Oxymorons


I had my car serviced today. It occurred to me that all too often “honest mechanic” is an oxymoron.  Do you know, there are a lot of driving related oxymorons? So, as I … think out loud … here’s my list of oxymorons for your contemplation and reading pleasure.

Backseat driver

Light traffic

Close distance

Easy Rider

Driving pleasure

Deliberate speed


Inexpensive car

Rolling stop

Incomplete stop

Sharp curve

Traffic flow

Legally drunk

Getting nowhere fast

Road to nowhere

Sports sedan

Driving on autopilot – you ever drive somewhere and you’re just going on autopilot. Before you know it, you’re there but you really have no idea how you got there. Scary!

Unlicensed driver

Uninsured motorist

Driving in the concrete jungle

Near miss

Rush hour

Slow speed

Speed bump

Speed limit

Front end

Bad karma (when it comes to parking)

I would be terribly pleased if you would add to this list. If you don’t, your comments will be conspicuously absent and I will almost certainly be forced to continue.


Where toys meet cars

I really haven’t crossed that line yet between my blog and work, but this weekend the two will be intersecting, to use a driving/road analogy. On Sunday, I’ll be attending a car show in the Valley. It’s a charity event for Motor4Toys. They bring the community together along with the car community once a year to gather toys for children for the holidays. The organization I work for is going to be one the beneficiaries of their effort. So, I’m going there to pick up toys and while I’m there, I hope to see some great collectible cars. I’ll report back on how it goes.

Have a great weekend!

How to Save Endangered Los Angelenos

I realize I’m a day late in posting. Chock it up to a tryptophan haze. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving holiday. I did and it was in part because traffic was surprisingly light over the holiday weekend. I could get places in a fraction of the time it usually takes me. Surface streets on the Westside were uncharacteristically light. What a pleasure. It seems a lot of people went out of town. But alas, they’re all back now.

This leads me to a campaign that I’ll be launching. I’d like to know what you think. You see, traffic was light because all of the Los Angeles transplants went home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Los Angeles has grown to impossible proportions over the last couple of decades due to these transplants. They have invaded our city and surrounding areas and we are feeling it on the roads.

I often say that native Los Angelenos are endangered. It seems many of the natives have fled our overcrowded city. I know it’s true in my family. Between my siblings and first cousins alone, I’m the only one who remained in Los Angeles. Our fair city has become a melting pot of transplants. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not an ethnic, racial or cultural statement for that matter. I love living in a diverse city with many of the world’s nations represented here. It makes for an endlessly rich and interesting life in the big city. That said, I could, however, do without the seemingly endless supply of people who have turned L.A. into an adjective — they’re so “L.A.” They want to get discovered, become famous and live the Hollywood-LA life. BUT … I digress. My point is, I believe in the same way that Alaskans have fought for indigenous rights, so should native Los Angelenos.

Since the traffic nightmare we live with every day of our lives is really not of our making, I therefore submit to you that we should start a campaign to grant native born Los Angelenos full access to the carpool (HOV) lanes regardless of whether they have any passengers in their cars! Granted, there are issues to resolve before taking on the campaign. For example, should we perhaps grant native status to those who have lived here at least 30 years or more? Should all native Californians be afforded this right or is this something we should reserve for just Los Angeles as we put up with the lion’s share of traffic? I’m not saying that other parts of California are without bad traffic. I am saying that I believe the worst congestion is in Los Angeles. In fact, I read just last week that the 110 Freeway has the worst gridlock in the country.

Let me know what you think.

Marci, your native activist