Category Archives: Driving

A Weird Transmission on the 105 to 110 Transition

If you are coming from the Eastbound 105 to the Northbound 110, you go on a really high interchange. It’s really nice to be high up there, if only for a few moments.

But I wanted to see if anyone else gets about half a second of very strong radio interference about halfway through the transition. It just comes and then it goes, and it affects all frequencies it seems.

My hypothesis is that this interchange is right on the level with some radio transmitter or cell tower. Anyone know about this? I did check this map of cell phone tower locations, and there are a couple nearby.

Here is the spot on Google Maps.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 10th, 2007 at 4:58 pm and is filed under Driving, Los Angeles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Books To Keep In Your Car This Summer

I am always looking for something new to do around Southern California, and while there are a great number of blogs chock full of ideas, I often find myself needing a solid set of reference. Not just for ideas – but how to get there, and what to expect once you have arrived. Or where to go if the original plan falls through.

So, I will begin a list of books that I always keep in the van – all related to Southern California – which are invaluable when looking for things to do.

  • Lonely Planet California – I admit that I felt like a tourist when I bought this. But that’s OK. It’s a useful book that give a nice, broad view of California as a whole. I always default to Lonely Planet when traveling, so I trust them on my home turf as well.
  • DeLorme Atlas Southern and Central California – This has become my de facto road map. It is an easy to read map that shows all major roads, dirt roads, trails, wells, elevations, landmarks, dry lake-beds and other terrain features. Also, camp sites, and boating sites. It’s fun to be able to name everything you are passing on road trips.
  • California Coastal Commission Coastal Access Guide – I mentioned it already, but here it is again because it is so good. It is a guide to all of the beaches on the California coast. Shows what services and amenities are available at each location along with a brief description. It also includes unnamed beaches – usually listed as “Stairs to Beach” or something like that – if you are looking to go more off the beaten track.
  • Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles County – OK, so it is a little too hot for most hikes in this book, but if the weather cools a little bit, you might want to pick it up. Everything from short hikes in Griffith Park to grueling 22 mile jaunts in the San Gabriel Mountains. Indispensable.

I am sure there are plenty more books like these, but with this set in the car I can usually hit the road and start reading(not at the same time) and find somewhere good to end up. I have not been going out to the desert this summer(unlike some people, much hardier than myself) so I did not really put any desert books – although the Lonely Planet guide does have some general info on the desert.

Anyone else have more suggestions?

Meet The Van

It’s a 1989 Dodge Ram Van – an El Kapitan conversion with carpeted interiors, captains chairs, folding backseat, built in cooler, TV/VCR(we removed that), and a CB radio. The V8 engine they threw in for kicks.

Fisheye In VanSince we bought it in May, we have added all new brakes and knobbier tires. Next, we need to get some roof and bike racks.

The thing has revolutionized the way we travel. Taking it to the desert or on road trips is like bringing a room from our house with us. It is the first car that I had that I can sleep in comfortably. I mean a real sleep, not a “car sleep”.

Overall, it feels more like a private plane on land, rather than a car.

Now though, I am looking for some conversion places that can sell me parts that I want to replace(stuff like compasses, drink holders, tables, etc…minor things that need fixing). If anyone knows, comment here. Unfortunately, El Kapitan’s site is busted – but I will Google and see what else is out there. Still, recommendations would be cool.

Some People Do Need to Drive In Los Angeles

This is the text of a really long, drawn out and rambling comment that I posted to Metrorider LA. It’s my reaction to transit advocates’ hostility to those who drive in LA.


While I appreciate your message, I do not think that insulting drivers is the way to convince them to use public transportation.

Everyone has different threshold of frustration for different things, and their own reasons for doing what they do. Perhaps the things that you value, they do not and vice versa.

I know that the above sounds simplistic, but my point is that perhaps for them the implicit and explicit costs of driving are outweighed by those of taking public transportation.

I know that is true for me. I have ridden the bus and rail system in Los Angeles for years, and at this point the cost in time it takes to get from point A to point B makes using public transportation in LA prohibitively expensive.

Maybe when I was 18, it was not such a big deal, but now to do so would cost me hundreds of dollars a week in lost hours, and I would have to sacrifice activities that I love because the places that I need to go for them are not well served by public transportation, and if they are I could not get there fast enough to fit them into my schedule.

I commend people who use public transportation and bikes to get around LA. It takes smarts and it takes commitment. But it also takes a lifestyle and job that can accommodate that. Not everyone has that – I know I don’t.

I guess my comments here address the broader issue of an attitude that I have seen among transit advocates of late: that people are stuck in their cars for irrational reasons, whether it be “ingrained car culture”, desire for status, stupidity or a whole host of others.

The solution has always been to expand public transit, and encourage its use. In Los Angeles, because of its geography, that is a tough tough tough sell. This is not New York, this is not London. The solutions that work there, will not work here. Despite its flaws, what works here is the freeway system.

Those who have lived and driven in LA generally know how to avoid traffic by staggering work hours or staying off the 405, for instance. It takes me 20-30 minutes to go from El Segundo to Echo Park and two hours by public transit. The cost is more in gas/insurance/depreciation of vehicle/maintenance(let’s say it costs $5 each way), but the time saved equals more hours that I am able to bill.

Nobody in LA is against public transit, per se. It’s just not a logical choice for them. If, in the future, I decide that I no longer want to drive I will move to New York or some other transit friendly city, but I know that I am not going to be able to change LA.

Anyways, my whole point in this artless ramble is that public transit advocacy need not be opposed to driving, and need not be disrespectful to those who, for their own reasons, choose to drive.


update: I have written about this before…

Google Maps Adds Traffic Data

Well, that’s cool. Google Maps has traffic data. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I could stop using Sigalert, which for some reason does not give the traffic data for downtown Los Angeles, which is the most hellish part of my daily commute. Brilliant. Sigalert has been good to me, but that glaring omission always bothered me.

Anyways, LAist reports that Yahoo! Maps has had traffic data for years. Well, I went and checked it out. Unusable. I spent a minute on there and could get no useful data. Sure there are some colored dots scattered on the page, and I am sure they correspond to real world events, but I could not get an overall picture of what my commute would look like.

Now if we could get rid of all of the idiot lane-switchers and tailgaters and overly aggressive drivers, maybe we would not need traffic maps.

The Traffic Gap Thing Does Work To A Certain Extent

Last week I wrote on about a cool technique for helping to dissipate traffic. The basic concept is that you leaving a large gap in front of you while driving in traffic(while maintaining a similar speed to those drivers around you of course). This way you don’t have to brake as much, and the idea is that that will stop the “transmission” of traffic.

Anyways, yesterday I was driving back from the valley on the 101 and decided to give it a shot. For the most part the results were good, and I actually had fun doing it. A fun game that if nothing else made the drive home more fun. Less starting and stopping, which is surely better for the car and I was more relaxed the whole way. It was also interesting to watch the response of people around me. Some people would hop out from behind me into an adjacent lane, and then get slowed down, or get in front of me, only to be caught behind the guy who is in front of me. Not going any faster, but maybe it is good for their psyche or something.

I want to try it a few more times, but overall I did get a sense that I was to a small degree clearing the traffic around me.

The Worst Intersections in LA

If you hate shitty intersections, then you will love the list of Shittiest Intersections in LA.

In the disclaimer, it is noted that these are not the busiest, but the shittiest. Intersections that are poorly designed or so hard to use for some reason, that they have made themselves shitty.

I am glad that the The Beverly/Temple/Virgil/Silverlake mind**** is featured, as well as any Trader Joe’s parking lot. Too true.