Morning Star

Yesterday my mother, sisters and I went to Charlotte, NC, to visit my cousin Margaret. On the way down mom asked if we could sing “Morning Star” for Margaret, a song which is traditionally sung to conclude Christmas Eve services in the Moravian Church. I think this is the first time we’ve all sung together. Mom started us off with the first verse, followed by Elizabeth, Rachel and myself. I think we really nailed the “terrified child voice” that you often get in the traditional service, as the lead parts are normally sung by young children!

Ok, it was pretty rough, but we hadn’t rehearsed at all.

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This is a picture of Margaret and me. We love her so much!

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Here is Margaret with her husband, Max.

Uber Education

I’ve been an Uber driver for a few months now. My initial excitement faded after putting 5000 miles on my new-used car in the first month, so I’ve slowed down quite a bit, only “Ubering” when I can add it onto my daily routine or when it’s very busy. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Uber, the company, is much more interested in making money for themselves than for enriching their drivers. With their 25% cut and “safe driver fee” their take is 53% of the minimum fair and on average takes a 35% chunk of the fare.

People almost never tip. This may be because Uber pushes the myth that tips are included and refuses to add a tipping feature to the app. Even business travelers generally do not tip,. I don’t think I’ve ever had a trip that involved someone being picked up or taken to the airport.

People are generally pretty nice. You do meet some nice and interesting people. It really helps you see that people are all pretty much the same no matter what race, sex, orientation, age, etc. We all have a lot more in common then we have differences.

Uber needs to start paying you to drive TO the pickup location. In my area it’s very common for a pickup to be 10 minutes or more away. You are not being paid for this time, but you are still paying for gas and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. One of the worst trips I ever took was when I drop way out into the country to pick up a woman in a very fancy house. She kept me waiting for about 5 minutes before coming out and then only went about a a mile and a half, so I probably made $2 for this 30-minute waste of my time. A tip would’ve gone a long way towards making me feel better about this.

Keeping the Uber driver waiting is one of the worst infractions, and there’s no excuse. The app lets passengers know when the car is getting close and when it arrives. I’ve never left before a passenger arrived, but I’ve come close.

Uber frequently sends the driver a less than accurate pickup location. The app will happily estimate your location but the addresses can leave you miles away from the pickup location. This is a worst case scenario, but it’s common to be a hundred yards or more away, or to be routed on a road that provides no access to where the customer actually is! I’ve been burned more than once and now I usually send a text to the passenger asking where I’m picking them up, which has saved a lot of frustration, aggravation, and wasted time.

Colleges and bar patrons are your bread and butter. The fares may not be huge, but being in the right location at the right time can keep you busy!

Uber plays some strange games with “Surge Pricing” Surge pricing is when Uber adds a multiplier to the regular fee because drivers are currently in short supply in that area, meaning the ride costs more for the passenger and pays better for the drivers. Surge pricing shows up on the maps of the Uber apps. I can’t count the number of times when the app showed that I was right in the middle of an area with surge pricing but did not get a call for a ride. I suspect Uber is trying to trick drivers to more towards an area, but have no proof of this.

People orderrides and then cancel. A lot. It is normal to get 1-2 cancellations per day. Sometimes people cancel immediately but it seems that it’s often after you’ve adjusted your course, turned around and gotten on the highway, etc. The worst is when you’re almost at the destination and then they cancel. Argh!

My worst fear is that someone will throw up in my car, which (knock on wood) hasn’t happened. I’m also worried about someone spilling something or stinking up my car. Most people actually smell pretty good. The exception tends to be mechanics, several of whom I’ve picked up, that can have a pretty strong oil/gas smell on them.

No calls? You can use the Uber app to see how many other cars are in your area. Maybe you just need to move.

Not getting calls for pickups? Head home, that always seems to end the dry spell!

Backup Strategy-2015

My main computer is my laptop running Windows 10. I have this divided into two partitions, Drive C:, which has the OS and programs on it, and drive D: which has my Dropbox folder and “expendable” and temporary data, which can easily be replaced (television shows, etc. Most of my critical data is saved in Dropbox, so it is immediately backed up. I also use FreeFileSync to back up some of the D: data to an external hard drive, and I use Macrium Reflect to back up my Windows partition. I’m planning to replace my hard drive with an SSD soon, so hopefully I will be able to move my entire system (Windows & installed programs) in one fell swoop, and also copy my D: data from the external drive. As a worst case, I will do a fresh install of Windows from an ISO that I downloaded and re-install my software.