Monday, March 21, 2011

Go Metro, Go Home (Maybe)

Metro Los Angeles has a new phone number that replaced its former number back in December last year. This isn't breaking news, but is still good to know, especially if you have called the number before:

Due to state budget constraints and the recent emergence of the 511 phone number, which provides similar access, Caltrans opted to discontinue the 1.800.COMMUTE number. The cost of operating 1.800.COMMUTE is approximately $800,000 annually. Metro's cost for maintaining the 323.GO.METRO number is estimated at $12,000 annually.

This is also probably why the operating hours of the number (new or old) is and has been and will continue to be from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday for the foreseeable future. Due to state budget constraints, providing salary for someone to provide timetable information during the actual hours of operation is not a workable option at this time.

All right, so I'm being a little snarky. The phone line is definitely a benefit, and it makes complete sense to have its hours of operation coincide with Metro's peak hours of service. But, truth be told, there are more instances than not when a WI-FI hotspot, or even a smart phone/mobile device or whatever else isn't available with which to access for inquiries and trip planning, much less a paper timetable. It would just be cool, and yes, convenient to have a means of information when you've missed a bus or experience some other unanticipated situation.

But Metro isn't always about convenience. (Now I'm not being snarky, I swear. I'm straight-faced.) On a related note,, its signs and flyers notifying of the number change don't even mention hours of service. I think it's important to know such things.

Just imagine how frustrating it would be to call on a Sunday at 4:32 pm only to find out you've missed operating hours by two minutes, and essentially go find a book or if you're lucky an LA Weekly because you'll be waiting for the bus with no indication of when the next one will be arriving, let alone if it'll take you in the right direction - sorry, but not really; tough noogies; you're SOL, my fellow Angeleno; better luck next time. Why don't you just get a car?

But perhaps that's just me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Speed and Strength

On a bicycle, happiness is measured in a number of ways. For me, it's measured in speed and strength, and often the two come hand in hand.

I ride my bicycle at least four days a week as a form of prostration to the timeclock gods. It used to take thirty minutes and change to get where I need to go in the morning, but lately (sometimes due to enjoying my bed or hot shower for "five more minutes"), I've been rushing. Which is bad. However, I've made lemonade out of said lemon and have managed to train my body to cut out ten minutes of commute time. Which is actually pretty awesome.

During the process, I've found that my lower body is in a lot more good pain than normal; good muscle pain vs. bad muscle strain. Who needs a gym when you've got a bicycle, a commute, and the propensity to sleep in? I can't stress how important the benefit of a strong core and back is when it comes to riding long distances, or any distance in general, and I swear I will make a more concerted effort to leave the house earlier from here on in. But even still? No gym necessary - not for me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creative Muscle

Poetry. No new formalism views here, no emphasis on rhyme scheme or the like. Just writing. I used to think that poetry wasn't really my thing. Poetry, like narrative writing, isn't easy to write. Both require the extension and flexing of a fine portion of the creative muscle. Like most anything else, practice makes perfect, and in an effort to do so, I figured I'd pick up where I left off - with an open mind and ready to be critiqued my peers and the like.

So this concerns a poem I wrote most recently on assignment, which in my opinion is still in much need of revising. However, the general idea of the poem happens to be about the public transportation system in Los Angeles. Me, I'm just wondering if you can pick up on any references.


your arteries took a while to form
and you were born without bones
but your brain came before you

your heart had been on ice for a century
but the procedure went well. it’s beating
without the aid of machines

your nerve endings reach then recoil
due to bruised pockets of heat
with nowhere yet to go.
that will correct itself on its own

as for the skeleton, there’s a waiting list
another ten years at best

your arteries, metamorphosed into intestine
are pushing out the waste
but you’re sure to get new ones soon

- Lindsey D.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Google Maps Doesn't Like Metro Orange Line Balboa Station

Or so it seems.

The Metro Orange Line Balboa Station is the station I frequent when heading pretty much anywhere over the hill to Hollywood, Culver City, Westwood and beyond. For planning purposes I've utilized Google Maps over Metro's trip planner because in the past it has provided walking and bicycling directions as well as multiple (and I mean multiple) trip options via bus and rail to make it pretty much wherever. Also, I particularly enjoying using my home address and destination as points of reference instead of cross-streets, but that might just be me.

However, the last few trips I've planned via Google Maps in such a manner have seemed to neglect Metro Orange Line Balboa station, instead opting for the station one stop over at Woodley Station, and I'm not exactly sure why. This has made planning more of a cut-and-paste operation than the seamless procedure as it used to be. To be honest, it's not the end of the world. I'm just sitting here wondering why, though.

So my new method of operation is to find out when my connections - if any - are set to arrive so that I can plan my initial bus/train's departure in order to make it without a hitch. Again, it's so not the end of the world, but it's just an extra step that I wasn't used to making... one that I really shouldn't, to be honest.

There's really no more to it than that. Maybe I've been spoiled. Maybe something's up with Google's programming. Maybe I'm just obscenely over-aware, a curse and blessing at best. In either case I was just curious and will work around it. Any kink in the machinery is worth at least a second of reflection - yea, nay?

I really feel like Louis CK should be scolding me for not being happy, though.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Updates to Adventures of a Carless Valley Girl in Los Angeles

So I've been writing here for a while, and I plan to continue writing for a long time. I really want to thank everyone who's been reading and providing feedback - you've been so inspirational and as a result I'm seriously contemplating a major goal shift (at the very least, a side-by-side concerted effort) along the lines of taking more active steps to get the word out about transportation planning in Los Angeles.

On that note, I've been thinking of some changes to make to this blog, which will largely include the addition of photo galleries. One, this will give me more reason to take my camera with me everywhere, and two, I've grown to love Los Angeles so much in the last year. I swear I didn't love it five years ago, but now? There's so much to do, to see, to eat, to experience here. There are so many people and so many stories - I friggin' I love LA. Also, there must be some kind of adventure bug that bites you at some point in life if not merely in your twenties, and I decided I wasn't going to let not having a car get in the way of it. How easily it can be to forget how much room there is to explore. Thankfully, interested parties frequently correct my thinking.

The Metro Red Line goes through LA from North Hollywood to Union Station and back many times a day, and one of its highlights is its stations. What makes them stand out one from the other is their individual artwork and construction. Also, I have a thing for station entrances and exits, their overall construction. In the rare instance that I'm not bounding down the steps to catch the last train, I've been able to stop and admire the artwork, and in many cases I'm surprised that I haven't noticed it before. (Well, not really. Catching the last train is more often than not the highest priority.)

Also, a friend and I were walking around downtown a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon some artwork on Grand Ave that I swear to some deity took us both by surprise. I demanded he photograph it because, per the rule of 2011 it seems, I forgot my camera at home. If I can locate the photo I will, partly because I'm leaping and making a silly face but that's somewhat besides the point...

...the point being that very soon I will color up the joint with what Los Angeles has to offer in a visual sense, on bicycle, via transit. With this, perhaps the thought that expanding our reaches or at least working towards it with more wide-reaching public transportation (hello, high speed rail proposals and, of course, the Chatsworth Orange Line and Westside subway extenstions), better bikeways and better roads will follow even more.