Need a Lyft?

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Clever title eh? Okay, probably not, haha. However, yesterday I gave Lyft another shot, but not as a rider, as a driver. Back in February, I signed up to be a driver for the ride share company. The process was pretty painless, though the inspection mistaken a warning light in my car as a problem, I’m guessing it was regarding the parking brake. My car runs fine, so it was probably just someone not familiar with the Nissan LEAF.

The first time I started driving, it was a good experience. I had a friendly passenger who say in the front seat. The next two didn’t go quite as well. My second rider wasn’t terribly happy when I missed a turn, totally my bad, but wasn’t upset. My third ride was really short and went okay, but I forgot to unlock the doors!

Still, my little mistakes weren’t too bad, obviously. With Lyft and Uber, drivers use the app to get their rides and to see where to take them. Lyft doesn’t allow you to use their app for navigation, instead opting for a third-party app. Right when I got started with Lyft, they dropped Apple Maps support, which was disappointing, but I still had the choice between Waze and Google Maps. I’ve tried both, but I feel more comfortable with Google.

After my third ride, I let my anxiety get the best of me and gave up on Lyft. I’ve been out of work for several years (excluding my freelance writing job I had last year) and so the idea of having a regular job is kind of scary. However, I’ve still been looking at my options, applying to several jobs over the past few weeks.

Why go back to Lyft? When I make a mistake, I take it hard, so sometimes I need some distance from it. I think that was the case with Lyft. I also am working on handling my mistakes rationally, which doesn’t always work. I think it’s worth testing my fears of messing up and at least yesterday I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I did forget to unlock the doors with my first ride and I joked that I didn’t want him to leave! We had quite the rapport and represents the friendliness that I think a lot of Lyft riders have.

I don’t know if Lyft will become a steady job for me, but I do think I can do more with it than I originally thought in my electric car. For now, this is just going to be a way to deal with social anxiety and make a little spending money. I’m still going to look for a part-time job.

A new exciting feature coming for drivers is the ability to pick rides. Soon, drivers may get a list of rides that are scheduled in advance. I could then see what routes are available and what distance I would be traveling. Yesterday I gave two rides one after the other, and they were both local. I was happy that I didn’t have to drive far to get my riders.

 

Nissan Owner Appreciation Event

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Boy there’s nothing like driving an electric car! I’m never going back to gas again! I’m so grateful that Nissan took a risk on creating the Nissan LEAF! It’s worked out great. When I got my original Nissan Leaf back in 2011, not only was it their first model, it was also my first Nissan. I wasn’t sure I could convince my mom to go for it, but I’m glad she did!

For the last few years, Nissan has had a special event every year in an effort to keep their customers happy. One year there was a sweepstakes. This year it was a free multi-point inspection. For anyone who has a Nissan model sitting in their garage, they can drive down to their local dealership and have their car examined for free. It’s really just like getting a checkup for your car.

It was quite a nice thing for me since I bought my current LEAF used. I was confident the car was in good condition mechanically, but why not have Nissan look it over anyway? It passed with flying colors and since I was there, I had them replace the battery in my key fob for $8.

It may seem like a marketing gimmic, but I didn’t leave the dealership with a new car. I was only there for about an hour, watching Dr. Phil, haha. And while I plan on keeping my car for a long, long time, it’s nice to feel appreciated. It also makes me want to stick with Nissan too, so customer loyalty is probably important to the automaker. You have till June 30th to get your free checkup.

 

Coal Jobs Are NOT Coming Back

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I’m going to talk about coal today. This is a post I meant to make on Earth Day. I often talk about environmental issues on my blog, but I am also a human being and while I’m not a fan of coal as a fuel source, I do have empathy for the coal miners who are losing their jobs.

Coal miners got a lot of attention during the last presidential election. One big promise was the increase in coal jobs. The sad truth for coal miners is that their jobs are not coming back, despite what some would have you believe.

So what’s going on with coal? The industry as a whole is in decline. Why? Renewable energy is on the rise, but it’s not the main driver for the decline fo coal. It’s natural gas exploration that is hurting the coal industry. Many tout natural gas as the stepping stone to cleaner energy and while I do think it is a step in the right direction, I’d much rather see the growth of renewable energy. And to be fair, natural gas has its issues too, fracking anyone? I recommend watching the documentary “Gasland” as it really delves into the issues people have had with fracking, specifically their water supply being contaminated.

At any rate, natural gas is cheaper to refine and sell versus coal. There’s also government incentives for natural gas, making it seem like a natural replacement for coal. It’s less dangerous and easier to extract from the ground. Pipelines can move natural gas from the well to a refinery and then transferred to transport trucks. Even the auto industry has spent a decade or so developing cars that run on natural gas.

Coal is dirty while natural gas is cleaner (emphasis on cleaner). Even technologies that try to make coal better for the environment, affectionately referred to as “clean coal,” the truth is the process doesn’t make the pollution byproduct of coal suddenly disappear. They still have to do something with that stuff, which usually means sticking it in the ground. That’s really just a temporary solution. Also, “clean coal” processes do nothing to make it safer to extract coal nor does it make it more efficient to process.

The cost effectiveness of natural gas makes coal less attractive in the free market. Natural gas is better than coal in some ways, but it’s not perfect. I’ve already covered briefly the problems with natural gas and I’m not advocating it. I’m just making the case why coal is being replaced. To be fair, we’ve been using coal for a very long time.

There’s nothing wrong with replacing coal with something better. Old technology becomes obsolete at some point. The same could be said about energy sources. After all, electricity replaced the candle for every day use. Even so, I understand the fear of losing coal jobs. It’s been a part of American life for a long time and no one likes losing their job.

To be blunt,  coal jobs aren’t coming back, period. And for some people, that really sucks. Especially when that means losing your job. So let’s have some compassion for the men and women who work in the coal industry. Promising to bring coal jobs back is disingenuous, instead, we should work on helping coal miners transition to a new industry, or get new jobs.