Well, it's officially holiday season here in the Bay Area. And, "What makes it official?" you ask. Well I'll tell you. Traffic patterns.
I have a daily 60-mile round-trip commute. I'm fortunate that my boss allows me to work a 10-to-6 day rather than a regular 9-to-5 so that I can skip the peak freeway commute hours. It's still a 45 minute one-way trip, but during peak hours that stretches to 90 minutes—on a good day.
Aside from actual holidays, there are really only two times a year that traffic patterns change drastically around here; back-to-school time and holiday shopping time. At back-to-school time there's about a two-week block of time where parents readjust their schedules for getting the kids to school, which usually means they're running late and driving like maniacs trying to get to work. So for those couple weeks in September I'll see much more traffic during my morning commute, more back-ups and gridlock, and way more accidents.
The other time traffic changes around here is during the holiday shopping season. This usually lasts throughout December and impacts the evening commute and weekend driving. The first full December we lived in this area I quickly learned where all of the malls around us are; not because I love to shop, but because traffic will come to a complete stand still in the two right freeway lanes for up to two miles before the exit to a mall. The better the shopping options—the longer the back-up and the more likely you'll encounter some road rage. It gets worse the closer we get to Christmas. Throw in a basketball game at the Oakland Coliseum and I'll be lucky to make it home by 8 o'clock.
I ran across this article a few days ago that reveals some statistics regarding driving traits. Apparently, the way you drive could be determined by the stars. For the record, I fall in the Sagittarius group of drivers.
As long as we're talking about the stars, did you happen to notice the moon last night? The moon was at perigee (closest to the Earth) in it's orbit last night and it was a full moon. It was huge!