🦸🏻‍♂️It’s a leap of faith. That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.🦸🏻‍♀️

Look, I know how much you want this, kid. But you don’t have it yet. I’m sorry.

Peter B. Parker (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

When will I know I’m ready?

Miles Morales (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

You won’t. It’s a leap of faith. That’s all it is, Miles. A leap of faith.

Peter B. Parker (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)

When you look inside yourself and see you have the goods, then it is time to take a leap.

Its a leap only you can take. You will be alone at the start of the fall. It is terrifying. Your on the fast track now, playing the real game. Hurdles will rush towards you; you will experience mistakes and failures.

But, with your quality and new found conviction, you will carve your own path out of the chaos. Your missteps cannot stop you anymore, they only teach you. You laid it on the line to become yourself. Nothing is more satisfying.

Others will marvel at you. Most of all, you will marvel at yourself.

Aphorisms Articles

🚘 Trip to LA! Can Uber be used to make money during road trips? 🌆

Having worked as an Uber driver for sometime, I have considered creative ways to use the Uber driver app.

One juicy idea: can a driver take a road trip to cities across the USA using Uber?

On the week of 8/26/2019, I decided to test this question with a trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles.


8/25/19


There was little information online about such a trip, so I knew I would be experimenting. Any first experiment should play it safe.

You can read about my research and findings at the end of the article. First, I’ll tell you the story.

I worked up $1000 of spare cash and decided to stay with my cousins, Adam and Mark, during my stay.

The first preparation I made was to get some knowledge on my target region. I looked up articles on “best areas for Uber work in LA” and “best times to work uber in LA.” Then I called Uber 24/7 to learn about the airport rules. Turns out LA’s airports required a quiz; which I passed before riding out. I would need to collect the LAX placard in LA.


8/26/19


I decided to drive Uber normally in SF Bay Area for four hours. Just in case the drive to LA was dry. This turned out to be a wise precaution.

Uber allows the use of destinations, you can chose an address and receive trips heading in that direction. A destination to Bakersfield was set; a four hour ride. While I was allowed to do this, the destination acted buggy.

Taking I-5 put me through miles of open road with sparse Uber fares. I learned that Uber destinations require extra consideration when set to long distances.

I only had one ride on my way to Bakersfield. However, it wasn’t a bad drive. Listening to my audio-book; Creativity Inc, and stopping to take photos on the landscapes got my vacation rolling!

This is art made from photos along Highway 152.

These are art pieces, made from photos I took along I-5 and Pyramid Lake.

When I finished my first destination, I set a second two hour destination from Bakersfield to Pasadena. This destination was much more successful! I started getting rides at Santa Clarita and had four customers on the way to my cousin’s home.

One passenger had a useful story to share with me about another driver like myself. This man was from Seattle, moving to LA. He drove down and worked Uber while he was checking out houses. Apparently, an Uber driver can survive while driving in a new region!

After arriving in Pasadena, I caught up with my cousin, Adam. Then geared up for Uber work in LA.


8/27/19


On my 1st day in LA, I began Uber work at 7 AM. Very late for the morning rush, I know. There was a reason: I was scared of getting an airport ride before I could collect my airport placard at 9 AM.

LA seemed to be a wonderful city to drive Uber; apart from the traffic. I got plenty of work between 7 AM and 9 AM. There were three 40 minute+ rides I could have taken, had I not been concerned about airport rides.

At 9 AM, I visited a Uber Greenlight hub to collect my LAX placard. They gave me bad news and good news.

The bad news was that I was ineligible to do airport pickups unless I changed my home region to LA. My time taking the quiz and driving to the hub was a waste.

The good news was, because I was ineligible, I didn’t have to worry about getting airport rides.

The three 40 minute+ rides I passed up were safe to take after all; damn! Annoying findings but I accept the scientific process. We do our best until we learn how things work.

At this point, I knew I could work in LA without worries.

In the middle of the day, during the quiet hours for Uber, I went on vacation.

If your down in LA, be sure to check out the Griffith Observatory. Beautiful, relaxing, a great location to build photographic art.

When looking out at the city, I don’t know if it is heat or smog that causes this, the cars of the city will reflect the sun like rippling light.

I started up Uber work at 1 PM and was pleasantly surprised. Uber work was plentiful. In the Bay Area, I wouldn’t find consistent rides until 4 PM.

Driving Uber in LA proved to be a feasible way to make money as a traveler. Better yet, driving there showed me parts of the city I would not have seen otherwise!

Uber rides took me from Griffith Observatory through Hollywood and ending in Santa Monica.

My return to Pasadena showcased LA traffic. Even the streets get red traffic. I was worried I would miss dinner with Adam. When in a new city, be mindful of how traffic will affect your schedule.

Shout out to the Dog Haus in Pasadena, I cannot recommend their food enough! The perfect dinner to prepare me for my next day.


8/28/19


On Wednesday, I got the early Uber start I wanted. Woke up at 6 AM and work in Pasadena until 10 AM.

This was enough time to confirm a suspicion. LA Uber pays less than SF Uber. I’ll explain more at the bottom of the article.

After getting a feel for Uber in LA; I took the rest of the day off! First, enjoying the parks of Pasadena.

Then making new friends, Victoria, Maudie, Ted, and Steve, at Slater’s 50/50 Burgers by Design.

Visited the Huntington. It’s amazing how much fun can be had for free when I take photos that can be made into art.

The evening concluded in the form of an awesome dinner with my cousins, Mark and Adam!

Having completed my experiment, and needing to address affairs at home, I prepared to leave LA in the morning.


8/29/19


At 10 AM, I began driving back to San Francisco from Pasadena. Not wanting to get caught in LA, I waited on setting an Uber destination until I reached Santa Clarita.

The most direct route to home would be taking I-5, but I had already learned this route lacks business opportunities.

Highway 99 would add twenty minutes to my trip but runs through Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, and other cities. Wanting to see if Uber could help pay for road trips, I went this route. Setting a destination from Santa Clarita to Fresno, then from Fresno to Fremont.

This decision had a big payoff! I drove 7 passengers on my way home, earning $80. All my gas and meals on the trip were paid for. Best of all, my passengers alleviated the boredom of a long drive.

Another route to try when driving from SF Bay Area to LA is Highway 101. This highway is has great coastal views and many towns to find passengers. I will try this route on my next visit!

I returned home at 7 PM. Ready to write this article!


Experiment Findings


Payment differences

  • In SF Bay Area, Uber tends to pay between $15 and $30 an hour; $20 is average. The Bay Area has times and areas that don’t provide enough rides to consistently drive; this results in a $15 hour.
  • In LA, Uber pays $15 an hour. Rides here are much cheaper than in the Bay Area. 40 minute rides that would secure high pay in SF made no difference to the hourly pay out. LA does provide a near constant stream of work in the busier towns; ensuring a $15 payout per hour.
  • Before anyone swears off LA Uber, you need to know that LA is cheaper than SF Bay Area. Food, parking, and hostels are all cheaper in LA. Gas is unfortunately has the same price range in both regions.
  • For better or worse, LA offers a percentage surge while SF Bay Area offers a flat dollar surge.

Driving Advice

  • Once you do arrive in a city and start work, be an extra careful driver for the first few days. You will not be used to the roads or drivers, and Uber work tests your driving skills. I achieve caution by making all actions 15% slower or by imagining rainy weather.
  • Also, mind the traffic conditions. Any plans you make can be seriously thrown off by unfamiliar bad traffic.
  • Aim for cheap gasoline during travels. Waze is a great app for finding cheap gasoline. There are many other apps for this too. LA had a range of gas prices that was equal to SF Bay Area; unfortunately. In a city with less payout, saving money on gas is critical.
  • I suggest doing some research before visiting a new region. Even a little can make all the difference in preserving your enjoyment, safety, and passenger’s safety while driving.

Using long Uber destinations

  • When setting an Uber destination, make sure the drive takes no more than three hours. A four hour trip gets buggy, a six hour trip will be outright refused.
  • To make your destinations profitable, aim them along highways that have many towns. I-5 ran through quieter areas; I had one ride here. Highway 99 ran through Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, and other smaller cities; I had seven rides here.

Can an Uber driver support themselves in a different region?

My conclusion is that I can survive in LA and have a fun road trip! Here are tips and a few things I would do on my next trip.

  • Ideally, stay in a city for more than a few days. Especially if you want a prolonged road trip. This will give you time to acclimate to the driving conditions, save up some money, and enjoy the region more fully than most travelers do.
  • You can save money by planning trips to cities where friends or family live and stay with them. If this is not available, hostels are the next best thing. Cheap lodging filled with travelers and often providers of social events. LA has hostels for as cheap as $26. Easy lodging in a city that pays $120 for eight hours of work.
  • Look up free or inexpensive attractions in your new region. You can have plenty of fun in a new place with low expenditures. Remember that you are in a new town, surviving away from your home. Unless you have a surplus of cash in your bank, live light.
  • Turn off your Uber app and smell the roses! This is supposed to be a vacation. Uber takes us to so many cool places, take advantage of that. If you finish dropping off your passenger by a nice club or beach, turn off the app and enjoy!
  • Driving in LA did pay for my vacation, but it didn’t help with my Bay-Area priced rent. Similar trips in other states will likely result in fluctuating pay from city to city. I would do another trip like this after saving up a surplus of money.

I encourage LA Uber drivers to visit SF Bay Area. The pay fluctuation works in your favor. If you avoid spending money, you stand to make a decent profit and take it home.


Can I do a road trip across state borders?

After contacting Uber 24/7, I learned that Uber will not give any rides to a driver that crosses state borders. To really transition to another state, you would need to call Uber and relocate to a region in that state. A process that takes seven to fifteen days, requiring documentation.

However, I have heard of cross state trips that clients requested. Also, there was the story I heard of the driver in Seattle who was working in LA; did he already set up a transfer? I don’t know. There is some grey area that could be researched further.

For now, I suggest Uber drivers stick to road trips within your own state.


Want to drive for Uber? Use this referral code: WESTOND21


Enjoy your trips, make the most of your Uber!


Articles Travel

🦁 While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give. 👑

Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.

~~~Mufasa (The Lion King, 2019)~~~

Mufasa protected and managed the pride lands. Hunting only enough food to survive. Scar over hunted and took and took, that is why his reign was a failure.

This is something important to remember, for all of us. I will think of this quote as I develop my career. To remind me to only take enough so that I can give my most back to you.


And now for a controversial opinion…

The new Lion King is better than the original, it is the definitive version of the story! The film follows most of the same notes as the original while adding little touches that enhance the experience. This aphorism is one of those improvements!

These little touches made most characters even more likable. Simba, Nala, Zazu and Scar being standouts. I especially like that they gave Nala some more moments to showcase that the Pridelands had a strong queen, as well as a strong king. Timon and Pumbaa were great, they had to be of course! Not every character is perfect. I wanted more Rafiki, and could swing either way on which version of Mufasa was better.

I’ve noticed that other people had the opposite opinion of the movie. So go see it and form an opinion for yourself!


These two versions of the same story carry a lot of personal significance to me…

A big theme of the story is that Simba is strong but he had to grow up before he could truly be a king. I saw the animated film when I was a boy, Full of promise and wanting to be a man but still a cub like Simba was.

Now I am seeing the story again decades later, as a man. Like Simba, I have been hurt by the world, grown up, and have learned to overcome my hardships. I am have become the man I always wanted to be. I am ready to be king of my life and take my place in this world.

The timing of seeing this film could not be better!

I made some art after seeing the show!

Aphorisms Articles

📖 “To him, who has often told the tales of others, many tales will be told.” 🖋

“It is an extremely common mistake. People think the writer’s imagination is always at work, that he’s constantly inventing an endless supply of incidents and episodes; that he simply dreams up his stories out of thin air. In point of fact, the opposite is true. Once the public knows you’re a writer, they bring the characters and events to you. And as long as you maintain your ability to look, and to carefully listen, these stories will continue to seek you out over your lifetime. To him, who has often told the tales of others, many tales will be told.”

~~~ The Author (The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014) ~~~

What you put into the world will often reflect back on you.

For example, I designed cocktails and hosted cocktail parties. Now when I meet new members of my community, they already know me for my cocktails. Four of my friends have talked to me about their business ideas involving bartending.

I think of this quote as I add my short stories category. This post is timed to my 1st one! My First Ad and the Four Days Following. Now I will tell tales of others, and I expect that many will share their tales with me.

This will be a welcome change!

For an interesting man is only as fascinating as the interesting people he draws into his life.

Aphorisms Articles

💵 My First Ad and the Four Days Following 📰

On 7/13/2019, I launched my 1st paid ad!

For $30, facebook will run a 10 day ad. A post that can be seen by over 300 people a day! It was an exciting moment, one of those uncomfortable ones I know will bring growth.

As some of my current readers know…

I survived, and had the flexibility to make this website, by Uber driving. What surprised me about my work with Uber was that I was very good at it. I was a highly rated driver from the start. Quickly, I discovered many quality-of-life habits that made me a more effective driver.

This website was made with a few paid programs in mind, so I felt a course on Uber might be a good service I could give and make some money.

This month, I have been reading The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. A piece of advice he gave is to market your potential products a little before you have a product. Why spend good money and time on a product only to learn the market doesn’t want it?

With that in mind, I realized something about my Uber course. I would gladly pay thirty dollars, learn that there is a market, or find out I shouldn’t make over thirty videos.


After running the ad by a few close friends I posted this final draft:


The most important teachable lesson I have learned over the four days since then…

Good results will come from quality work but expect a lot of harsh, if not pointlessly negative, feedback from your 1st Facebook ad.

As a new unknown with no previously established credibility, you can expect a lot of distrust from some people. It is only after we walk through that gauntlet for a while before we gain a reputation that promotes good feedback. So walk that gauntlet!

I am so grateful to the experiences and mentors who gave me the power to meet that feedback with professionalism and grace. Now, I feel enjoyment with how I handled my 1st three commentators! It is owed to what I have learned.


Here is the exchange between me and my 1st commentator, Ismael:

I saw this post shortly after I posted the ad. My blood started pumping.
Already I was working to extract any useful feedback from Ismael’s post.
I was tempted to ask Ismael to look at this situation from my perspective and charge customers $7 one-time after spending three days making videos. My better instincts prevailed.
Apologies for the long post…I loved writing this though! I had been given a chance to sell my product more, on the fly, on a comment thread everyone can see.
By reading his courses, Dean Graziosi taught me that we want to attract our ideal customer and repeal other customers. I wasn’t super keen on having Ismael’s business from the moment I saw his comment. Do not seek customers who will cause you undue frustration or have many complaints. I felt that Ismael could learn a lot from me, but he was not ready to learn.
Not only was I able to tell Ismael what was on my mind, I found a way to do it with grace. Very thankful to Dale Carnegie’s teachings that made this response possible.
I was pleasantly surprised that Ismael became supportive after our back and forth!
I was fully happy as I wrote this response. Honest too about the “advice”. Ismael had given me a lot of useful feedback. Some intentional and supportive, some unintentional and critical, all useful. Next ad I run, I will be sure to give more background to not elicit such initial mistrust.

My second commentator was Hermes:

Hermes also opened up critical, but not critical of my product. I enjoyed this little exchange. It was another opportunity to show another side of what I offered in my product. An easier conversation than with Ismael too!

My third commentor may have been named Matt but his name is of no consquence…

Because all he had to say on my ad was “motherfuckers.”

I swiftly deleted this comment without a single thought of responding. I suggest to you, my dear readers, that you will be happier by never engaging with criticism that has no value at all. Nor should such criticism be left for others to see. Delete and forget, like I did.


So how has the ad done so far?

My ad has reached 1904 people and had 69 engagements. I’ve gotten 15 likes, the likes stand out. In my ad I asked to “like or comment” if you wanted to get this product. Lets assume 60% of people who liked actually bought. That would be 9 people and $270 earned. After I put in the hard work to get the videos ready, that is money earned without me looking at it.

An encouraging start!

What really matters though is where my time spent nets the most value. For the next month, I will be working on developing a job and/or gigs that pay more than Uber. Now that my website is getting its footing, I have a lot to show for my work and can use it to negotiate exciting work opportunities.

I still may make the Uber course in the fall. The ad showed some potential ROI and a market that would benefit from my experience!

Short Stories
“Casa di Martin”

🏡 Casa di Martin 🌳

“Casa di Martin”

When speaking about our travels, we should also speak of the places that we called “home.”

~~~Ricky West~~~

The major home of my childhood was “Casa di Martin…”

Casa di Martin is a two story mansion, settled in the verdant hills of Orinda, California.


This is the man who designed, built, and lived in Casa di Martin.

My father, Martin. I have named Casa di Martin in his honor.

Martin graduated in Architecture from the University of Oregon. He then went on to remodel or build nearly forty houses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dad did it all, He would draw the designs and then have a hand in every aspect of the building. Carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, landscaping and terra-forming are all parts of Martin’s legacy.

Being Martin’s son, I have been around tools, design, and vision building for my whole life. When I was 12, I started working with my dad and spent many of my summers helping build Casa di Martin.

For Dad, Casa di Martin was his dream home. It was that type of project that all artists have: the big expression of talent that artists seek to make reality. Dad’s design of Casa di Martin was inspired by the architecture of Tuscany. Hence, I gave the home’s nickname an Italian feel too.


Growing up at Casa di Martin…

I lived in Casa di Martin even before it was fully constructed. To give you readers context, my family moved into this house for tax reasons and had to made do using an outhouse and showering at a friend’s home or at the gym for five months. Made me appreciate a good bathroom, I’ll tell you.

Living at Casa di Martin was luxurious in ways. I had a beautiful home, a full acre of space to explore, dance, and do what I wanted. However, my family’s experience was unique. Most people who live in homes like this have loads of money and can afford to employ cooks, gardeners and maids. Since my my family was a middle class one that built its way into living in a mansion, we had to do all the work ourselves. Living in a mansion is not all sunshine and rainbows when you have to maintain the grounds personally.

When the great recession hit the USA, I was in college. Partly due to the recession, I returned from college to help my family survive the recession’s effects. For years my family worked to improve the grounds of our home to keep its sale value up. We would work long hours, then clean the whole house every day. Finally we would have a pain pill and glass of wine to end the day.

We sold Casa di Martin to another family in 2014. We lost a lot of value to the recession but the sale gave my father a comfortable retirement, my mother a decent sum, and allowed me to pay off all my student debt from college. To this day, I have nearly no debt and I am very grateful.

Moving to smaller homes was a reprieve for my family. My father and mother separated soon after the sale and we three went our separate ways. All of us enjoyed having simple homes that were not so exhausting to live in.

It has been five years since then. A lot has happened but I still feel the peace of not having student debt. I remember my childhood home. Gratitude for the experience is what I say about Casa di Martin.


A gallery of our old home:

Travel

💵 ‘Hey, what can I get for $275 and uh… a Yogurt lands reward card?’ 🍦

‘Hey, what can I get for $275 and uh… a Yogurt lands reward card?’          

“Baby, about 48 minutes of whatever the fuck you want. And a low-fat dessert.”

~~~ Wade Wilson / Deadpool & Vanessa Carlysle (Deadpool, 2016) ~~~

Treat the people you deal with like people. Sharing a bit of humor and charm can turn a simple transaction into a beautiful relationship!

(FYI: I don’t shy away from the occasional bit of raunchiness, profanity, and adult topics.)

Aphorisms Articles
"Looking at blue skies"

🇦🇺 Two years after Melbourne 🦘

"What are you looking at?"

Two years ago today, on 7/7/2017, I left Melbourne after living there for six months…


Do you want to read the cliff-notes of my visit?


Two years and six months ago, I flew there on an exchange semester. At that time, I was a student of San Francisco State University (SFSU). A member of the 1st group to study at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Not only were we students, we were ambassadors. Our behavior would be the foundation for a new relationship between the two universities.


I lived in the city of Melbourne, province of Victoria, country of Australia.

This city is one of my favorite cities in the world! The people are social and easy to meet. Public transportation puts Californian transportation to shame; I did not drive. The innovative city design, Yarra River, surrounding cities and Great Ocean Road were all so wonderful to behold!


Getting more micro: I lived in Brunswick, a suburb 30 bus-ride minutes north of the city.

I lived in a quint home with 5 housemates. I was the only US American in the house. My housemates were from Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. We got along so well! Often we would have drinks together in the back yard and talk. Occasionally, we held BBQ’s!


During my stay I was elected as a Social Ambassador for RMIT!

I got a week’s worth of rent money and the opportunity to seek out experiences in Australia and tag RMIT (#RMITglobal). Thank you RMIT, I am so grateful for those experiences…

What I did as a social ambassador:

Found beautiful graffiti in the city, watched an AFL game at the Cricket Ground, spotted unique stores, and visited the museums! ArtVo, the Melbourne Museum, and the Immigration Museum were amazing!


My sweet mother, Pamela, gave me a great gift that year: a vacation with Extreme Adventures ~ one fish two fish!

A trip in Queensland that began in Brisbane and ended in Cairns.

We spring-break students traveled north on a ten day trip, sleeping in hostels each night. We traveled through the Australia Zoo, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach, the Tully River, and the Great Barrier Reef.


What a thrill! I bungee jumped at Hackett Cairns!! The most moving part of the trip was Raging Thunder – Xtreme Tully at the Tully River.

There was light rain dripping on the river as we rafted through a tropical forest. Being there evoked childhood memories of watching Disney’s the Jungle Book, dreaming I was Mowgli living in the wild. It felt like adventure…

So much fun!!! I felt as though I crammed a year into my six month AU visit…


A part of Australia stays with me, do you want to know what it is?


The feelings of family I have for the friends I made in Australia. Many of us were fellow travelers, experience and marveling at Australia together. This is my Australia family! The people who made me feel at home so far from my land of birth…


To my friends:


Thank you! Two years ago was a formative time in my life. I look forward to seeing you again as we travel through the world and life. Long live the super mega fun team!

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