Distractions From the Gospel

St. Augustine

What is the main purpose of a Christian’s life? What is the main job of the church? If you said anything other than “to share the Gospel” you might want to re-read your Bible.

I have noticed a disturbing lack of focus in the church and in the lives of the average American Christian. I have been guilty of this lack of focus as well, so don’t think I am claiming some moral high ground or virtue signalling.

What are we focusing on instead of the Gospel? Well, politics for one. Much of the American church bows at the altar of the State. It gets worked up about the “liberal agenda” or the “problem” of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. If kneeling for the anthem triggers you more than someone speaking the Lord’s name in vain, you might want to consider your idols. Does the State swell your heart with joy more than Christ Himself? Many churches preach Romans 13 as a command to support the State no matter what evils it commits. Instead of preaching the Gospel of Christ, the church often preaches the gospel of the State.

If kneeling for the anthem triggers you more than someone speaking the Lord’s name in vain, you might want to consider your idols.

Another way the church is neglecting the true Gospel is by preaching the false gospel of prosperity. Charismatic preachers like Joel Osteen and Stephen Furtick are telling the lie that everything in this life is wonderful. All we have to do is think positively and grab hold of what God “has planned for us” in order to be saved from our misery. Sin is hardly ever mentioned as the real source of the world’s misery.

Individuals like Rachel Held Evans reduce the gospel to a touchy feely “let’s make the world a better place through political and socio-economic change” message. Blogs are written, books are published, seminars are held. Few of these dare to discuss making the world a better place by speaking the simple truth that Christ died and rose again to save sinners.

I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to being a complete hypocrite about this topic. Unfortunately the Gospel is not often forefront in my mind. Life gets complicated and I forget what’s truly important. Money becomes more important to me than the daily study and meditation on the Word. I am always making excuses for not doing the secular things of life, how much more do I make excuses for neglecting the Sacred?

How are you living and sharing the Gospel? What are you doing to make sure your focus doesn’t drift?

Making Money the Millennial Way: Why Not Both?

So…. Uber…. or Lyft?

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This is the best discovery I made yet. Both apps can be run at the same time and with a bit of savvy you can easily make good money with both of them.

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Two apps, one screen.

How to:

Turn on your Lyft Driver Shortcut in your Lyft settings menu. Then open Uber. Go online with Uber, then drag the Lyft Driver Shortcut to the center of the screen to go online with Lyft. Then go back to the Uber map.

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This is what you’ll see, and both apps will be looking for passengers.

When you accept a ping for Uber, make sure you swipe that steering wheel to the center to go offline for Lyft.

It’s not as easy when getting a ping from Lyft. Accept the ping and then navigate back to the Uber app to go offline. This takes a bit of getting used to, but so far I have not had a ping from both at once, so the extra few seconds haven’t been much of an issue.

Drop off your passenger and turn back on whichever app you went off line with. It’s really that simple.

By doing this, I was able to increase my earnings by about 15%, which isn’t a lot, but every bit counts. My phone died last week and I had to borrow a phone and use only Uber this past Friday. A night that would usually net me $50 after gas ended up being a very slow night for less than $30. Running both apps keeps slow nights moving.

There are apps that automate the whole process, but from what I have read in reviews they are too buggy to be worth the price you pay for them. Plus you are already running several apps at once and of your phone is as finicky as mine it may end up costing you a few rides with screen freezes and other delays. So why risk it? It’s simple enough to do it manually and once you get the hang of it probably quicker than automation anyway.

Next up: Old fashioned pizza delivery.

Music And Art Monday, November 27th, 2017: Expressionists

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner - Female Rider [1931-32]
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Female Rider [1931-32]
I used to think of myself as a big big fan of the Impressionists. Van Gogh was one of my earliest experiences with real art. I love Monet, and I have yet to find a Degas that doesn’t draw and keep my attention.

But as I expanded my art appreciation I came to find myself much more attracted to the opposite of the Impressionists, I find more and more that I love the Expressionists.

Is it my personality? The Expressionists were far more concerned with emotional experience than the display of objective reality. As an ENFJ I find my mind concentrates far more on the deeper underlying feelings behind actions and less on the actions themselves.

While I appreciate the work that goes into realism in art, I much more appreciate the art of someone who can evoke feelings, good and bad.

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Edvard Munch – The Scream

Here are a few of my favorites of this genre:

 

Making Money The Millennial Way: Lyft

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As I discussed previously, I’ve been doing Uber now for about 9 weeks. I’m super familiar with the app and its pros and cons, and I’ve had moderate success with making money with it.

What about its closest competitor, Lyft?

I was going to write a diatribe against it, because my first night with it was horrible, but after a few more nights I’ve moderated my view.

What it is:

Lyft is just like Uber, it’s a rideshare app that allows you to pick up and drop off passengers and make money doing it.

Getting Started:

Like Uber, Lyft has a long list of requirements for vehicle age and such, and these vary from place to place.

You will need a smart phone, obviously, and the app downloaded to said smartphone.

You will also need pictures of proof of insurance, registration, and your driver’s license. Lyft will conduct a background check, which can take 24 hours to a few days, and will let you know when you can start driving.

General Experience:

First impression: eek. The app feels like a knockoff brand of Uber, not quite generic, but different enough that it makes you uneasy. Like Tab. Lyft is the Tab of ridesharing.

The process for signup is a bit more tedious than Uber, but still not difficult. What made me cringe at first was the clunkiness of the app. There’s no other way to describe it, the app is just more clunky feeling than Uber. Everything is a tap, not a swipe, which can be tricky for accident prone folks like me.

Picking up passengers is an especially clunky process compared to Uber. Instead of automatically alerting the passenger that you have arrived and starting a timer like Uber does, you have to manually tell them you have arrived (two taps, one to say you’ve arrived, another to confirm it, like you messed up the first time). This is a bit of a distraction, especially if the area was crowded with people or cars.

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Tap to arrive, then tap again to confirm you’ve really arrived.

 

Unlike Uber’s two minutes, Lyft gives passengers five minutes to get to you. According to the countdown timer you do get paid for the wait. I have not found out if it cancels after the five minutes. Five minutes is an eternity when picking people up, especially in busy areas.

After picking up the passenger the app works exactly the same as Uber. Person gets in, you confirm the start of the trip, navigate to location, drop off person, end trip, rate passenger, get paid, everyone’s happy. This I liked. They will even find you the next passenger before you drop off your current one and add them to your navigation, just like Uber does, but unlike Uber, you don’t have to accept them, it’s all automatic.

One of the biggest things I noticed about Lyft: they love to send you text messages. When I first turned on the app, it sent me a text message telling me I was online, like I needed that. When someone canceled (more on that in a bit) Lyft would send you a text message. When you sign into Destination Mode, Lyft would send you a text message. It seemed like every few minutes I was getting another distracting text message telling me something the app could have easily told me itself.

How Much Money Are We Talking Here?

The Lyft rates can be a bit confusing. There is no breakdown in the app of per mile or per minute rates. Passengers can see how much they pay here, but I can’t personally find how this translates to drivers. I know for a fact I am not getting $4.25 as my minimum fare.

Lyft Rates

The only night I exclusively did Lyft was so filled with cancellations that it is impossible to tell you a good night from a bad. From what I can tell though, when the app runs smoothly the amount you make is comparable to Uber.

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And I got a text message for every one of those….

The rates are not spelled out as clearly on the trip pages. You just get a breakdown of “Ride Payments” and “Lyft Fees” and while it does spell out time and distance, who wants to do the algebra required to figure out exactly what each mile and minute pay?

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5.92X+18.4166Y=6.82 is too much math!

General Tips:

These are all pretty much the same as the Uber tips. Don’t drive around, watch your gas, and chat up your passengers.

I do think it may be good to chase “Power Zones” in Lyft. From what I can tell, they aren’t calculated the same way as Uber’s “surges” and don’t go away just because more drivers go into them.

Be prepared to turn around a lot. It seems Lyft likes to pair you up with a passenger, then pair you up with a different passenger once it determines someone else is closer to the original passenger. This may mean turning around at the next exit or making a quick u-turn on a residential street.

Be prepared to go the long haul. Uber on average sends me 4 miles to a passenger. Lyft has sent me 20 miles once, and 8-10 quite frequently. Sometimes these people are only going 2 miles down the road and for 10 miles of driving I only make $3.19. This may seem like a lot, but with my gas guzzler I end up only keeping 1.48 of that after gas. Depending on lights that trip could take 20 minutes total, giving me only $4.44/hr.

Bottom Line:

I hate to make this a comparison blog, but I honestly like Uber better. The only way to make Lyft better is to do both at the same time, which is what I will talk about in my next installment.

But. Still. Go get the app, go through the process, and start driving it as a filler when Uber is slow.

And again, hit me up for a referral code @ driptorchstudio@gmail.com or on my FB Page.

 

Making Money the Millennial Way: Uber

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Sorry for the week delay. Life is crazy, as usual. And I’m horribly undisciplined to boot.

Today’s money making scheme is Uber. I have been doing Uber the longest out of all of the schemes I wish to discuss. I’ve been doing Uber now for about 9 weeks, with weeks (and months) off here and there.

What it is:

Uber is a ridesharing app that allows you to play taxi driver with your own personal vehicle.

Getting started:

In order to drive for Uber you first must have a vehicle which meets basic specifications. These specifications vary from city to city, but the basic requirement is that it have four doors. The model year requirement varies dramatically, here in Jacksonville we qualified with a 2004, in Washington DC the year had to be 2007 or newer. When you sign up you will find a list for your local area.

You will also need proof of insurance, registration, and a picture of your license. Uber does the necessary background checks (mine took less than 24 hours) and then you can get on the road.

Oh yeah, and a smart phone. But you’re a Millennial, you don’t know of any other kind of phone.

General experience:

For an extrovert who loves to drive, Uber is a great experience. I don’t recommend that you apply if you don’t like people or get panicky while driving. You’re going to meet a lot of people in a lot of parts of town, some bad, some good.

The app itself is fairly smooth to run, just start it up and swipe “online” to start getting ride requests. When you do, you will hear a little jingle sound and the request will pop up on your screen. You’ve got 15 seconds to accept so think fast. The app will shown you where the person is after a second or two so you can make a more informed decision.

Once you accept the ride, click the “Navigate” button and your choice of navigation app will pop up with directions already programmed in. A bit of advice here: get Waze. Waze gives better directions (though you ought to be aware of long U-turns) than Google and will tell you where roadwork, police, and crashes are.

Navigate to your rider. Once you arrive the app tells them you are there and starts a two minute timer. This is one of the best features Uber has added this summer. After two minutes of waiting, you will start getting paid for your time. Your riders have an incentive to get out to you quickly which saves you time and gas. Keep in mind this clock only starts when you are close enough to the destination that Uber starts the timer. I’ve had people enter in an address just far enough away that it didn’t trip and then make me wait. Not sure if it is on purpose or not, but keep it in mind.

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What you see when you’re ready to start your trip.

When the rider gets in, greet them. This should seem obvious but I have heard horror stories of not-so-nice Uber drivers (they don’t last long). Swipe “Start trip” and again your navigation will pop up and tell you where to drop them off. Of course this is not foolproof, sometimes they want to go somewhere near what they put in, or what they put in was just a stop and they want to keep going. If the latter is true, make sure you turn off requests so that Uber doesn’t ping you for a new ride before you’ve dropped off your current one. The app will continue to charge until you hit the “End trip” button.

Navigate to your destination, the app will automatically pop up when you arrive with a “End trip” button. Drop the rider off and swipe the button, it’s pretty easy.

How Much Money Are We Talking Here?

In Jacksonville the current pay rates for drivers is $0.60 per mile and $0.08 per minute, so if you’re driving at 60 MPH you’re making $0.68 per min. From what I’ve read each city has a different pay schedule. There is a minimum guarantee of $3.19 per ride, so don’t worry about short rides, unless they are too short (I had a delivery across a parking lot that only spit out $2.68, after I drove six miles out of my way to pick it up).

On a good night I can make over $100 before subtracting gas. On bad nights it’s usually in the $35-50 range before taking out gas. Mind you that’s only about 4-6 hours of driving, so after gas my pay is usually $8-15 per hour. If I wasn’t driving a gas guzzler (Ford Expedition) this would be more.

The best nights are busy nights when there are a load of events going on in town, like football games, concerts, or three day weekends.

I have driven mornings as well, and typically the tips are better, but the trips are fewer and the traffic is worse. This is why I stick to nights, drunk people LOVE Uber.

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During the Florida/Georgia Game Weekend

General Tips:

You’ll see a lot of these elsewhere on pages about working for Uber but I’ll reinforce the ones I’ve found particularly true:

Don’t chase the surges, unless they are particularly close they generally will disappear before you get there. It’s Uber’s way of making sure they have enough drivers distributed around town, so the map is usually a minute or two behind to ensure that enough drivers are in the area.

Park, don’t drive around. I typically start my night by getting gas, turning on the app, driving about a block to the nearest shopping center, parking, and turning off the truck. On an average night I won’t have to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a ping. When you drop someone off, park nearby and wait, unless the app has already found you someone else. I only move if I’ve sat more than 20 minutes. You will learn the best parts of town for rides and the worst. Thankfully those can only be a mile or two apart.

Keep an eye on your gas. I heard a horror story from one of my passengers about a driver that ran out of gas and had the nerve to ask him to push her car off the busy road while she got a gallon of gas. She then had the nerve to tell him she was going to stop for more gas before taking him on to his destination. Don’t be that driver.

Chat it up! Always greet people when they get in, always let them talk if they want to, or not talk at all if they want to, and always wish them a good night. Good customer service goes a long way towards a good tip or a five star rating. I’ve even had good conversations gloss over the fact I missed a turn or hit my brakes a little hard. People are forgiving if you make them feel important to you.

Don’t do delivery if you don’t have to. Sign up for it, and keep it as a possibility (you can turn it off in the app) for slow nights or when you want a stretch break, but don’t do it if you are getting passengers. A typical delivery takes 20-45 minutes from the time you accept it to the time you are able to drop it off. In this time I usually can pick up a passenger or two and make almost twice as much money (and they tip, unlike delivery people). I’m hoping Uber works out the bugs but until then delivery is just staying in back-up status.

Take the shortest time route. Even if you can save a passenger $2 by driving 4 fewer miles, they don’t notice a shorter distance as much as the longer time. Time is money to most people, even if they are technically paying more.

If someone mentions tipping, don’t expect a tip. I don’t know what it is about psychology, but I’ve noticed the only people that consistently don’t tip are the ones who mention that they will.

Bottom Line:

I love Uber. I could write so much more about the experience and about tips and tricks, but that would probably cause you all to drop off my site forever.

If you have the vehicle, and you love people, go, get the app, go through the process, and start driving as soon as possible!

Oh, and before you do, message me for a referral code @ driptorchstudio@gmail.com or through my Facebook page. I’m pretty sure there is some sort of reward for the both of us if you do.

Music and Art Monday: November 20th, 2017: Native American Heritage Month

I have been horribly lax with MAAM’s lately. Working and taking care of five little hooligans doesn’t leave much time for music or art appreciation. But Spotify reminded me that it’s Native American Heritage Month.

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Thanks Spotify

I was excited to see these playlists, as I got used to listening to KIYE while in Idaho this summer. This is probably the only station in the world to play pow-wow music, Marty Robbin’s “El Paso“, and an entire album of T-Pain, all in the same hour.

Sadly, when I clicked on the main playlist I was greeted with new aged flute music. While I understand this is certainly a genre produced by many Natives, it certainly didn’t satisfy my desire to hear the good stuff from KIYE. Some of the playlists were slightly better, but here is my version of a Native American Spotify Playlist:

Fawn Wood and Dallas Waskahat: One More Chance

This has some of that new agey flute in it, but I don’t care, I love the harmony.

Robbie Romero & Red Thunder: Ya Na Neh Yo

This is a bit of a rock song, in fact the whole album is pretty good.

Alex E Smith: Just For Old Time’s Sake

This is somewhat more “traditional” and what most people think of as Native music. Great harmonies.

Edmund Bull: Follow Your Dreams

Edmund Bull does a great blend of western country and chant that makes for a smooth and easy listen if you’re not used to some of the drums and dance circle music.

Northern Cree: She Was Gone

Pretty much anything by them. My favorite thing about them is their ability to place totally modern situations into round dance chants, like in “Facebook Drama”.

My eastern very white upbringing comes out on this one, I actually chuckled a little at the juxtaposition. Growing up on the politically correct East coast, we were taught to be anti-stereotypes to the point of being anti-culture. It was a jarring experience to come out West and see roadside stands selling beads and artworks and run by actual Natives, and even more jarring to hear them actually singing similarly to the “stereotypes” I had been taught to shun in school. Wasn’t this exploitive? Not that this describes all Natives, but the simple fact is that it is deeply intertwined into the culture.

On my very first trip to Northern Idaho in 2013 I actually had a crew boss tell us to turn off KIYE because he thought it might be considered “offensive” by some of the Native firefighter crews. Having worked with several Natives I can assure that crew boss that no, they are not offended.

If you are not stupid (i.e. disrespectful) about it, appreciating a culture for what it puts out on the public airwaves is not offensive at all. As long as you understand that there are in fact differences between tribes of different regions (for instance, teepees were a plains thing, not a SW thing) and don’t make stupid assumptions based on TV or movies you’re not generally going to make anyone mad.

Enough of that political sidetrack. Back to music. There is actually a pretty decent Playlist here of just powwow music. Look around Spotify or just tune in to KIYE or other similar stations online for some more great Native music.

I Virtue Signal, You Virtue Signal, Everybody Virtue Signals

That’s right, I admit it. I’m super guilty. I do it. I Virtue Signal.

What’s virtue signalling?

In short: preaching to the choir.

Basically when someone expresses a moral opinion just to get pats on the back from all the people who agree with them.

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I just want to virtue signal against the spelling error in this meme…

I do it all the time, because it’s virtually impossible not to in blogging. That post about rap? Yep. Totally virtue signalling. As was this, and this, and definitely this.

Social media was invented just for virtue signalling.

But you know what? I’m sure everyone at one point or another does it. We all like to say “Hey, look at me, I’m not a racist!” Like anyone suspected otherwise.

nobody cares

But still, everyone just pats them on the back and says “Good for you! You’re so awesome!”

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So I’ll probably continue with my virtue signalling, because as I’ve said before, I’m a bit of a narcissist (and dang does that post virtue signal!). It’s hard to kill those habits.

If you see me do it again, don’t pat me on the back, just shame me until I take it down.