Archive for Driving in Los Angeles


Have you ever been somewhere in your car waiting for another vehicle to move so that you can move? Well, good luck. You have just entered the OBLIVION zone!

It feels like I’ve woken up in a post apocalyptic time when no one seems to be paying attention to anything more than an arm’s length in front of them — and that may be a generous distance. Maybe it’s a zombie thing, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Stepford Wives. Maybe the cause is environmental, too many vaccines growing up or hormones and pesticides in food? All I know is it’s epidemic and annoying as hell!

This past weekend, I was driving in Santa Monica, looking for street parking on Main Street. There was a chick in a Mini Cooper with her reverse gear lights on, meaning presumably she’s backing out of a parking space and her departure is imminent. Well, I sat in my car for a minute or 3, waiting for her to leave, but she didn’t move. After a few minutes, I inched forward so that I was by her side, trying to get her attention to find out if in fact she was leaving. She was looking down at her cell phone, texting. Okay, so I applaud her for not driving while she’s texting, but she wouldn’t look up. I could not break her concentration. I don’t believe she was ignoring me. She was simply oblivious to the fact that someone wanted her parking space. Even if she was hearing impaired, surely I was in her line of peripheral vision.

I gave a gentle tap to the horn to get her attention. She didn’t flinch. I did it again. No response. She just kept texting. I gave a full honk of the horn, still nothing. I unrolled the passenger window and called to her. NOTHING! Flailing arms couldn’t get her attention. No acknowledgment that I was even there. I’m pretty sure even the police in their parked car a few cars up from her could see me.

Okay, so perhaps by now, you would have given up and left. I couldn’t. I had to see how long it would take her to realize that someone was waiting for the parking space. I mean, it’s not as though she was parked. The engine was running; she had already shifted into reverse. Who knew she could text with such complete concentration all while keeping her foot on the brakes!

It took a few more minutes and finally she looked up, not because of anything I did but because I guess this compelling text marathon had at long last come to an end. Out of the parking space she zipped with little acknowledgement of me waiting for her.

How can people be so clueless? I see this everywhere now. How many times have you waited for someone to pull out of a parking space when you know they see you waiting there? I’ve seen people brush their hair, play with the radio, put makeup on, fidget around before they leave. In these instances they know someone is waiting because that car pulls up while they’re just getting in their car. It’s as though it’s deliberate!

I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well, so be sure to comment on this post.

And so now begins a new workweek with more travails. Stayed tuned. Here’s a topic of discussion and perhaps a future post. Talk amongst yourselves… Clueless People Putting their lives and others in peril!

Have a great day.



More Driving Quotes

By popular demand, here are some of my favorite driving quotes…

Just because you’re sober, don’t think you’re a good driver, Cookie.
– John Irving, Last Night in Twisted River

Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.
Mac McCleary

It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.
– Author Unknown

The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
– Dudley Moore

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
– Dave Barry

Making a left turn in L.A. is one of the harder things you’re going to learn in life.
– Lawrence Kasdan

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.
– Comedian Jason Love

Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.
– Dan Rather

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
– Albert Einstein

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
– Robin Williams

And on that note, Happy Monday! Be safe out there.


Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning!



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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


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



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

Holiday Traffic — A Guide to Surviving – Holiday Driving Tips

We’re entering the holiday season and with that comes one of the many joys seldom discussed – holiday traffic. It’s a mixed Santa’s bag. For commuters going with the general direction of most commuting traffic, i.e. 405 South through the Sepulveda Pass, the good news is traffic actually improves with your commute. That is about all the good news there is however with holiday traffic. For those of us who have a “reverse” commute (if you can even call it that anymore) traffic actually gets worse at the end of the day during commuting hours. Why is that you ask? It’s because many people are off work and schools go on break. In preparation for the holidays, everyone is out bargain shopping, driving all over town, making traffic much worse. I submit to you, the better the economic climate, the worse the traffic. Hurray for our economic recovery. Bah humbug! What compounds the problem is the erratic driving that goes on during this time. People are distracted, stressed, and always it seems in a rush. I’m sure I’ll be reporting on that in the coming weeks and appropriately shaming people along the way.

So, with all that said, I offer you a traffic survival guide for the holidays, holiday driving tips. Heed my advice and you’ll hopefully avoid an accident and get through the holidays with less stress.

Be careful driving in a parking lot – this may be the worst place to be during the holidays. People seem to have the misconception that parking lots are racetracks — the dog tracks to be precise. It’s a dog eat dog world in a parking lot during the holidays. People believe the faster they go, the better the odds are that they’ll get premium parking. I prefer to park towards the back of the parking lot. It’s easier to get in and out and walking is good for you. When you pull out of a space, go slow and look carefully. People don’t typically stop to let you out on a good day, so don’t expect it on a holiday. Same applies to shopping carts! Just think of the lady who pushed me in Costco with her shopping cart … and it wasn’t even officially the holiday season yet! Do you part to take just one parking space. If you do see people who took 2 or more, take a picture and send it to me. I will properly shame them!

Rearrange your driving schedule – Okay, so I know this isn’t always possible, but try to rearrange your schedule to avoid peak times. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is perhaps one of the worst traffic days of the year. Leave work early if you can (although it seems everyone is doing that), take the day off work whenever possible, or stick around wherever you are for the evening to wait for the masses to get wherever they’re going. I’m a big fan of Happy Hour after work, but don’t overdo it. The last thing you need is to get a DUI. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Prepare for the worst – If you are stuck in traffic, be prepared. Bring plenty of music, a good book on tape, practice breathing and isometrics. Hey the latter will help you burn those Thanksgiving calories!

Be vigilant – Note — I said vigilant not a vigilante! You have to be both an offensive and defensive driver during these times. Everyone else is distracted so you can’t be. So, when the asshole cuts you off, let it roll off of you. At least you saw him coming. I saw a license plate frame the other day on a yellow sportscar. It read something like, “Okay so I cut you off. Relax, it’s just a lane change.” I couldn’t get the camera out quickly enough because he was driving too fast. (Be sure to take a look at my post on what the color of your car says about you.) Don’t flip the bird. Don’t start a fight. Don’t pull out a gun. Try not to even mouth what you’re thinking — people are accustomed to reading lips at least when it comes to curse words. I know this from experience. Exercise kindness this holiday season and who knows, maybe the Karma Santa will be extra good to you.

Let someone else do the driving – Nah, I take that back. Bad idea. Unless you’re a lousy driver, only you can control the outcome of driving in chaos. Well, actually you can only control it to a point.

Consult with Sigalert – This is my bible. I always consult with it before heading out anywhere. It helps me know whether or not to avoid certain routes or if there’s no way to avoid a situation, at least I’ll be prepared.

Be safe out there!

Zen Master Marci