Right on red light traffic violation

I was booked by the LAPD on 2nd of June for not coming to a complete stop when making right turn at a red light. This of course would have never happened if I was in the UK, since you can’t go on a “red” light. I could argue that I did come to a complete stop if only for a fraction of a second, but in the law’s eyes, you need to be stationary for at least a second so it’s obvious. This happened to be my first ever traffic offence in my 18 years of driving.

I’ve seen far worse out here though, for example, on my way back from San Diego, a driver was reversing on the freeway because they’d accidentally taken the toll road. That kind of driving is asking for at least 6 points of driving

There are drivers who break the speed limit each day on my way to work, drivers who drink and drive, gangs with guns, and the LAPD decides to ticket me, and I drive a 22 year old Lexus.

My driving violation is so minor that it’s like saying I washed the dishes, but didn’t put them away.

I can now see why they probably ticketed me. This type of driving offence is going to cost me $544. It also takes up to 21 days before your citation can be found on their systems before you can take action and there isn’t a lot of time before your due court date. My citation took 18 long days before it could be searched and I’m opting for driving school course.

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The drive to work

So far, the car has been running well, no mechanical or electrical issues.

The drive to work isn’t far enough to really enjoy the ride though. By the time the car has warmed up, it’s time to park it since my trip is less than 10 minutes on average. I can however be thankful there’s little traffic to deal with on my route.

I did drive to Malibu for lunch on Saturday to give it a good test on the PCH. It coped well, but the air con wasn’t that effective in hot weather. It’s cold, but not ice cold.

I haven’t had anyone cut me up yet, but inevitably, that will happen, just a matter of when. I have however had to deal with motorists that aren’t paying attention, and most likely texting on their mobile. This happens at least once daily especially waiting at lights. Lights go green, and the person in the car in front is faffing about with their phone.

A couple of honks on the horn did the trick, but it’s ridiculous that the sheer number of motorists are texting in their cars every day.

New set of wheels

At long last, I’m liberated. By that I mean, I have a car. How did I manage without one for over one year in LA. Shopping will be more convenient for heavy and bulky items, and no more waiting for buses. Yay!

After looking for a used sedan / small nippy hatchback for over four weeks and having zero luck, I finally settled on a car to buy. I’ve mainly been trying private owners, so I’d thought I’d change my strategy and try out a few local dealerships located on Santa Monica Blvd. Normally I’d never touch dealerships unless I was purchasing a new car, but I was getting desperate for a set of wheels.

The question was, could I find anything within my low $4000 budget. I did, although it was the second car I looked at on the day after test driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Eclipse turned out to be an ex-rental car, so that put me off straight away.

I present to you…

The 1990 Lexus LS 400. It’s a large luxury rear wheel drive 4 door sedan with a 4.0L V8 engine and 250hp. Its equipped with plenty of premium options, such as leather seats, electric windows and mirrors. Electric seat adjustments for both front seats, digital temperature control, moon roof, and even seat warmers.

The car was in good condition overall. No accidents according to its history report and surprisingly only one owner which is a rare find considering this car is 22 years old. There are a few minor dings and scrapes on the body work, but that was to be expected.  The leather interior was somewhat worn in a lot of places, especially on the steering wheel. The electrics all worked which shows this car was maintained to a high level.

Engine runs really smooth compared to other cars I test drove recently and it’s almost silent when driving compared to other 4.0L cars. It handles well for such a large vehicle, but I had to get used to taking corners a little bit wider due to the length.

Since I prefer driving cars with manual transmission, I did find the the Lexus a little slow to shift to a lower gear when I put my foot down, but when it does kick in, it’ll accelerate leaving the car behind you in your rear view mirror looking like a spec of dust.

That wasn’t all though, it also had a 6 CD changer in the boot, and even a phone between the driver and passenger seat.

I bet 10 year old models of the Honda Civic didn’t even have half as many options available.

Fuel economy turns out to be 16 mpg, and it has a 22.5 gallon tank. A full tank would cost me around $80 to $90, and that would get me around 350 miles. Since my commute to work is so near, I probably have to fill up once every 2.5 months.

Looking to buy my first car

Those of you who have previously bought used cars will know how stressful this process can be. There’s just so many unknowns about a used car. To add to this, you need to get insurance on it and eventually get it registered too.

I’ve been looking to buy a used Honda Civic for my starter car for many reasons. Great reliability, there are lots of them for sale, and fuel economy is good.

A week went by and I’ve contacted about 15 to 20 private owners and none of them have responded, so I have a feeling that they sell almost instantly as soon as they are put up for sale. I wasn’t prepared to try used car dealers yet, since it’s more expensive to buy from them.

I wasn’t giving up, so I came across a 2005 Kia Rio for sale. Mileage was good, and within my budget, so I went over to take a look at it with a friend.

It came with some minor defects, paint was stripping in some places, but no rust. Front windscreen has a big crack which the owner was willing to get replaced for free. One rear tire was not road legal too. The engine sounded good though, and handling would probably take some getting used to since steering was so light, but not that responsive.

I did get a car history report, and since this car was ex-rental, I decided to give it a miss.

I reign

Welcome all to the Year of the Dragon. It is considered to be the luckiest year of the Chinese zodiac.

Did you know there are 5 elemental signs of the dragons, fire, water, earth, metal, and wood. Each year of the dragon, they cycle around.

Like Bruce Lee, John Lennon, and Martin Sheen, I too was born on the year of the dragon.

So, wish you all a Happy Lunar New Year. 恭喜發財, 新年快樂.

US TV

I have a cable service with Time Warner Cable. There are hundreds of channels to choose from just like Sky TV back in the UK. Obviously I’ve only got the basic package excluding premium channels like sports, and movies.

There’s only about 20 channels I really watch but most of the time the TV is on as background noise while I browse the internet on my laptop.

There are some decent shows, most of them my kind of show. Some dedicated movie channels I have are fine, but they like to repeat the same movie back to back at different time slots, so people can watch them at different times.

US sports such as NFL and NHL are free to watch here as far as I can see, but I don’t really follow them. I’m into good old fashioned football from the English Premier League, and they have most games broadcasted live for free here. Downside is, I’d have to wake up early to catch them.

The most annoying thing about watching TV here, are the commercial breaks, which are frequent and last around 5 minutes.

Windy

I know, it’s been a while… I’m back.

It’s been uneventful for me since my last update, just been playing Skyrim, so nothing to blog about, I mean, what am I really going to write about Skyrim, “I slaughtered 10 skeevers etc?”

All I have to say about that game is it’s so addictive, and the best single player RPG I’ve ever played even though I’m a big big Final Fantasy fan boy.

Winds up to 40mph hit my area last night, and I tell you what, it was enough to blow me about. Buses were delayed big time and traffic signals were out all over the place so I decided to brave a walk home. That was a big mistake.

I was constantly peppered by strong gusts of winds blowing dust and bits of leaves into my face. I even had to stop to wipe stuff out of my eyes every now and then.

Trees were blown over all over the place blocking roads and paths forcing me to walk on roads.

It’s still windy this morning, but not as bad as it was last night. It is expected to hit 90mph is some areas later this afternoon though. Ouch!