Monday, May 22, 2017

The guy on the train...

It's been 11 months since I moved to L.A. and started using public transportation for my commute. My previous commute was - get out of bed, turn on the coffee maker, grab the laptop and find some place to sit.  But, my employer made it clear that wasn't going to be the permanent working arrangement - I think they wanted me to show up in person more often than the few days a month when they'd fly me down and put me up in a hotel.

Why track this?

Partially curiosity, partially an attempt to refine it and squeeze out every second that I could to make the commute as short as possible.  This isn't meant to be an exhaustive examination of the system, just my tiny slice of daily travel on a much larger, complicated and busy system.

My commute:
  1. Walk to bus stop
  2. Drive Take bus to North Hollywood Red Line Station
  3. Red Line to 7MC
  4. Expo to Santa Monica
  5. Breeze Bikeshare to work
From Burbank to Santa Monica
  • average: 1h, 39m
  • best: 1h, 25m (12/19 - dwells under 2 minutes)
  • worst: 1h, 57m (not counting my "bus" phase - tie: 5/11 - Expo had to wait to go around broken train; 9/21 - 18 minute wait between Red and Expo) 
  • best days: Monday and Friday
  • worst day: Wednesday
From Santa Monica to Burbank
  • average: 1h, 45m
  • best: 1h, 28m (7/14 - super fast bike ride and no wait for Expo, feels like a fluke or bad reporting)
  • worst: 2h, 40m (9/14 - includes a 104m Expo leg. I think this is when the train died and I jumped off and took a Lyft to 7MC)
  • worst days: Tuesday and Wednesday
  • best day: Monday
Red - NoHo to 7MC, AM (usually depart at 6:28)
  • 170 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 20.27
  • Slowest: 33.82
  • Median: 23.58
  • Average: 23.78
Red - 7MC to NoHo, PM (varies)
  • 166 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 19.58
  • Slowest: 60.07
  • Median: 23.80
  • Average: 24.32
Expo - 7MC to 26th/Bergamot, AM (varies)
  • 170 runs tracked
  • Fastest: 35.63
  • Slowest: 67.05
  • Median: 42.58
  • Average: 43.10
Expo - 26th/Bergamot to 7MC, PM (varies)
  • 166 runs
  • Fastest: 40.13
  • Slowest: 104.95 (may have been the one where we jumped from the stalled train on the embankment near Palms and walked down to the street and called Lyfts and Ubers.) 
  • Median: 47.57
  • Average: 49.10
So, what have I learned after almost a year of commuting?

June 2016 to May 2017 (with much of January missing for some reason)
from left to right:
Burbank to Santa Monica,
Santa Monica to Burbank,
morning averages (reds were the bus era),
evening averages (we're pretty close to the best it's been yet),
overall averages (doing pretty good),
day of week rankings.

Morning and Evening averages (oldest on left)

1. The bus is so not worth it
As much as I liked the exercise, it added too much to walk to the nearest bus stop and then wait for the bus. I could never figure out how to predict its arrival time and finally decided it was easier to drive and I could stop buying the monthly pass and instead rely on loaded fare.

2. I can beat the train in the morning, but I can't beat it in the afternoon.  
I can get to the office in under an hour, driving, and I've done it a few times and it's been somewhat magical to experience different parts of L.A.  But in the afternoons, driving in L.A. is horrid.  If I could stay in the office every night until 9, then the drive only takes 20-25 minutes.  If I had a self-driving car, I'd have it drive me to the office and then send it home and take the train home.

3. The Breeze Bikeshare is crucial
If they decide to stop offering this, I'll probably have to find a new job.

4. Things got better after the Expo got more frequent
Lots of time was lost waiting at 7MC.  Now it's usually less than a 3 minute dwell from when I exit the Red.

5. It's hard tracking all this stuff.
It got easier once I started using Toggl.  Before that, it was difficult keeping track of when I departed. I missed a lot of January for some reason. Google Sheets is awesome for aggregating, summarizing and color-coding. I suspect the older numbers are a little less reliable, as I add more it'll even out. Of course, I'll be the first to recognize that the trains are running every 5 or 6 minutes so these stats are but a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny slice of what goes on.

6. The dwells are key.
I know when to leave in the morning, but I'm still trying to figure out what time to leave in the afternoon. But, the bike leg is less predictable so not sure if I'll ever be able to get that down to a science. But when I zoom out far enough, it's the dwell columns (red headings) that have the widest red/green variance.

7. Some things are predictable
The Red Line takes 23 minutes. It's brilliant. Maybe someone holds a door, but the precision is amazing.  The morning Expo is pretty predictable.

8. Some things aren't so predictable
I seem to often arrive at the Santa Monica station just as a train is pulling up, but I still have to return the bike, go up the platform, TAP in, so I usually miss the train there.  DTLA is unpredictable. Sometimes my Expo rides are in the low 40s, but other times there's so many stop lights and it can be 10, 15 or 20 minutes longer.

9. Things have gotten better
Last summer, lots of Expo train failures and quite a few Red failures. It's possible some of this will come back in the hotter summer months.

10. On average, DTLA isn't as bad
The key word there is "average" - on average, it's only 6 minutes slower in the evening for me than it is in the morning. It can be speedy in the evenings, but it can also drag on and on.  Thank goodness for Netflix allowing you to download shows.

11. It's worth it
Parking plus the train each way plus the annual membership for Breeze Bike Share costs less than the amount my company pays me for not parking in the business park parking lot. Plus, instead of sitting in traffic, I can watch movies, read email, write blogs, and when the Expo is really quiet, pull out my laptop and get some work done.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jamey Kay Peterson (Aug. 19, 1997 - May 5, 2017)

Jamey and I found ourselves in a KFC one night and despite both being cat lovers for some reason we decided that their new product Popcorn Chicken was actually made from cat instead of chicken. Every time I'd put a piece in my mouth I'd meow. Jamey was almost hysterical with laughter. We must have been so annoying to the other customers.

Jamey passed away last week. I picture her in heaven, reclining against her sister Josey while Josey runs her fingers through Jamey's hair.

not actually Josey and Jamey

Friday, May 05, 2017

irregardless definition


1. intentional disregard to the present situation in an extreme manner; despite the prevailing circumstances. (without + without + regard) = without² regard
2. paying attention to the present situation (without + without) + regard = with regard

Common usage: "Shut up, shut up, shut up! Irregardless is not a word!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

📶 4/5, 6:30 am

I continue to make the mistake of going to bed 6-6.5 hours before I need to get up, never remembering that the stupid cat(s) will probably wake me up before my alarm. Milo thinks it's his God-given right to be in a bedroom by 5:45 and he starts becoming a major pain (Major Pain! Salute!) if he is denied. It's pretty irritating.

You know what else is irritating? When someone sits next to me when there are other empty seats on the train. Then I have to balance this bag on my lap while I type.

A third thing that's annoying is how dreadful the text-prediction is when you're swipe-typing on a Kindle. Maybe I should just do a full post where I don't correct the errors.

Composed Tuesday, April 4, 6:30 am on some device or in some location where I didn't have a signal.

Monday, April 17, 2017

📶 4/4, 6:30 am

I have mixed feelings about "sensory issues" - a catch-all term our family uses when a texture, noise or light source causes us problems of some sorts. I realized this morning that when Rachel tries to avoid touching dirty dishes in the sink without wearing gloves that I am resistant. But when when I have to flee the house because someone is coughing and it's making me furious (it manifests as undetected fury, bubbling up until something happens - usually I can put on headphones or earplugs, or if possible, flee the area entirely), yeah, when noise is impacting me to that degree, it's a lot more real to me.  Memo to self to apologize to Rachel, she's not simply trying to shirk helping with the dishes. 

Our train is being held - they're checking some open door in the tunnel that shouldn't be open. And we're in motion again. Nice and quick. 

But, yeah, sensory issues - plenty of people would declare them things you just need to get over.  Bright sunlight hurts your eyes? Wear a hat. Or sunglasses. It's not that bad. For me, there are times where if I'm driving and I've forgotten sunglasses, I have to pull over and stop and take a break. It is that bad. For Ben, he has trouble with wearing hats of glasses, so it can be even worse. (Though we try to put his hat on him when we can, hopefully he can grow to tolerate the hat as a way to combat the brightness.)

So, anyway, why am I thinking about this? Our family is suffering with colds right now. The coughing makes me so angry - the particular sound just affects me. I'm not angry at the person who's coughing, but I just get to angry. I have nowhere to direct the anger and it makes it difficult for me to show how bad I actually feel for the cougher. But if I weren't aware of sensory issues, would I be angry with the person coughing? Would my desire to flee the situation be worse, or negatively impact my contributions or desires to remain with my family? I think it would. So I'm grateful to have had a chance to learn about sensory issues - not only does it give me a new kind of empathy for what my children are experiencing (and appreciate that it is real) but it also impresses on me that there is a need to consider my verbal and nonverbal responses. I suspect that without an understanding of sensory issues my responses would be far different and probably detrimental to my family or my part in it. 

And thinking about that makes me sad all over again about my parents who we don't really have any contact with. The final straw may have been politics but out decision to move here (away from them) wasn't held up in any way by feeling a need to remain geographically close to them since they had stopped making any active efforts to be close to us or to connect with their grandchildren, declaring our children's issues to be parenting issues - if it's not a broken leg, it's not real. If it's not bleeding then it's a behavior issue.

I've rambled enough. Good news is I know why I react the way I do and why I must carefully consider my responses when an outside stimulus causes me harm or reactionary emotions that are best not shared.  

Composed Tuesday, April 4, 6:30 am on some device or in some location where I didn't have a signal. If there's typos, I blame the Kindle Fire. Worst autocorrect ever.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

📶 3/24, 5:15 pm

Reading a book at work about influence. One of the first things it talks about is identifying behaviors. That you can usually influence change by simply getting people to change one or two behaviors. So if I want to lose weight, I need to identify one or two key behaviors vital to success. Essentially that's easy - stop eating unhealthy crap. Boom, done. I need to study the book more because if this is really the case, maybe I don't want to lose weight. To be sure, the book is about influencing change in others, but if I can't do it in myself, why should I even try to change other people's behavior? When they talk about addictions, they say to change your environment, stop hanging around with people who are still caught in the lifestyle you're trying to get out of. Sadly, our house and office are filled with the very stuff I love to eat which is coincidentally the precise things I need to avoid if I want to lose weight. All hope is not lost but the struggle is real.

Composed Friday, March 24, 5:15 pm on some device or in some location where I didn't have a signal. If it was the Kindle Fire, that explains all the typos.