Watch how you Lyft

If you live in St. Louis or Kansas City, you have probably heard about the ride-sharing service Lyft. It has a lot of fans…and a lot of enemies. Me? Well, I guess I’m in the middle.

The basic premise of Lyft is this: I want a ride somewhere. I have the Lyft app and have already created a profile. I request a ride on the app, and someone with a nice car with a pink fuzzy mustache adorned to the front picks me up. I’ve already paid for the ride through the app. The driver and I fistbump and enjoy our ride together. And then I am dropped off and we go our separate ways.

Some of you will probably say, “That sounds like a taxi, without the taxi,” and I would agree with you to a point. Umar Lee is a St. Louis cabdriver that lays out a very detailed response to his thoughts on the service. I think he goes overboard, but I understand his frustration.

I was supposed to be a “founding driver” for Lyft here in Kansas City, and supported Lyft for the following reasons:

1. I am a legitimate businessman with a legitimate business license. This will be a part-time job for me for now…my 3rd job/client. But maybe it will grow to be something great.

2. I have been fingerprinted, background checked, bonded, yadda yadda yadda more times than I care to count. I’d be happy to go through it again for a regulatory commission. Of course, they could easily pull my MVR and background…and they’d find that it is spotless.

3. The taxicab industry in this country is a hot mess, IMO. The drivers are at the low-end of the totem pole. I understand why they are concerned and frustrated…but I think they need to focus their frustration in a different direction.

4. How often do you hear people say, “Oh, I love taking taxis.”? There seems to be a general dislike of them…the condition, the drivers, the pricing, etc.

5. I hate the 1099’ing of our country…but it is the current direction we are headed. If you want to get ahead, you have to fight for yourself. I’m simply trying to find new and legitimate ways to make money. Obsolescence is a bitch…but you have to adapt or die.

6. I go into the worst parts of Kansas City every day and did the same when I worked in St. Louis doing delivery and courier work. I’ll go wherever someone wants to go.

But Lyft isn’t helping its case…and this is why I cannot drive for them:

1. For Lyft to say that they are not a transportation provider at all is dubious. Do I think they should be held to the same setup as taxi services? No. But before you make inroads into a city with a bunch of drivers with pink mustaches on their cars, you should probably touch base with city officials.

2. There is currently a restraining order in St. Louis against Lyft, and their type of service is expressly forbidden by law in Kansas City. Yet they are still doing business in both cities. Look…I’m all about fighting the system, but I am a legitimate business owner. The last thing I need is a citation from the police for operating illegally.

I think Lyft’s concept is cool and I wish them luck and success…but they need to rethink how they operate behind the scenes. Did I mention that I have a Masters degree in Business Management? *hint, hint*

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Wiping the Multitude

My family and I were on our way home from St. Louis on a Saturday night. It was sleeting the entire way home and we were supposed to get bad snow back in Kansas City. But we legitimately needed toilet paper…we were down to one or two rolls at home and didn’t know if we’d be stuck inside Sunday and Monday. So we bought a cheapie 4-roll pack at a Flying J truck stop near Warrenton.

We didn’t have to buy more toilet paper until the following Friday…I’d like to think of that 4-pack as wiping the multitude.

(C) 2014 Terry L Blastenbrei Jr

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The Eternal Tree

The gold and brown flies past me at 75 miles per hour, but a lonely tree sits in a field near Alma. It’s the only tree around so it sticks out in the landscape. One would think it’s dead, and it probably is. But as you get closer to it, that may not be the case…at least in a spiritual sense: two large branches spring forth from the trunk, as if it is raising its arms to Heaven to receive The Lord. It has died, but will never die…its physical remains like a memorial to be visited and respected by the future.

(c) 2014 Terry L Blastenbrei Jr

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Hiking another comeback trail

You ever feel like you’ve gone uphill so many times that you’re like, “Whatever…bring it!”?

After going through a roller coaster health-wise in 2004, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart) in early 2005. Without going into boring detail, my heart function was about 64% of normal. So I went on a variety of medications, entered a cardiac rehab program, went on disability for 3 months and dropped about 30 pounds. My heart was functioning normally again within a year and I dropped the last of my meds related to the condition about a year ago.

I got the results of my latest echocardiogram on February 14th…they were not totally awful, but were not so good either. My heart function is about 80% of what it should be. Obviously, I was not pleased with these results; however, these results were due to poor lifestyle choices I made. I have no one to blame but myself, and I take full responsibility for what has happened. I knew that something was off because I was always so tired…like I was when I was first diagnosed in ’05. I was getting 10 or more hours of sleep a night and was still tired every morning.

I had already planned a trip to Springfield, MO and Memphis for that weekend, so I decided that I would splurge and get right that Monday, the 17th of February. I REALLY overdid it that weekend…I ate so much food…most of it probably unhealthy. And I paid for it on Sunday with a killer migraine that was probably due to not being properly hydrated. I don’t know how I made it back to KC hurting that bad.

(NOTE: This was NOT alcohol-related…I drank absolutely no alcohol that weekend.)

Starting out Monday was surprisingly easy. I didn’t really miss the soda and I ate pretty well. Living most of your day on the road can destroy your body…but I try to eat reasonably, eating lots of fruit and drinking lots of water.

Throughout the millions of attempts I’ve made to live a healthier lifestyle, the 2nd day of the attempt is almost always the hardest. This time was no different, but I was prepared. Lots of fruits and water again…and I felt like I had gotten over a hump by the end of the day.

And so here we are at day 7…I’ve let loose a little this weekend, but nothing too crazy. I’ve had no soda for a week now, which is a HUGE accomplishment for me. With today’s weigh-in, I’m down 1.6 pounds since I last weighed myself, which was on February 12th. I really should have weighed myself last Monday, because I’m pretty sure I added some pounds with my weekend down South. I’ve also reduced my caffeine consumption…probably by about 75%. Too much caffeine is not good for my heart, and I’m so horribly sensitive to it as it is…it was time to bring it down.

More to come…

 

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The new van

So here she is:

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Our unnamed new van is a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SE. This is the 2nd new vehicle I have owned, and the first time I’ve owned a new vehicle in a current model year.

Why a minivan? Well, the work I am doing was simply outgrowing the Impala…there were days when all my deliveries simply wouldn’t fit. 65 boxes in a full-sized car that doesn’t have fold-down rear seats…it was like playing Tetris. We owned a full-size van for 5 months, but with our business diversifying, we needed a vehicle that could haul people too. The liability insurance on the 21-year-old cargo van was also more expensive than full coverage insurance on the Impala (and the Grand Caravan).

2013-12-21 09.15.19 HDR

I wasn’t really concerned about any stigmas attached to owning a minivan, though I did look at a variety of vehicles. In the end, the Grand Caravan simply offered the most bang for the buck. It has power, gets good gas mileage, the price was right and it has the space I need for people and cargo:

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The Stow ‘n Go seats may have been what fully convinced me. If you don’t need them, you fold them into their bins for a flat load space. If you use the seats, you then have deep storage spaces. The things people come up with…

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I also chose one with a hands-free package that includes a year of SiriusXM. Those will be very nice additions given how much time I spend in the car.

2014 is shaping up to be another big year business-wise…bring it on!!!

EDIT: I failed to mention how awesome the folks at Schram Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Manhattan are. I hate new car dealerships, but these guys were straightforward with me from day one. Their website is not a hot mess, the prices listed are straight MSRP and they list the incentives available for each vehicle without trying to slip them into the actual price. The whole process was laid back…it was merely a matter of Michelle and I pulling the trigger. Ryan, Brady and Josh were great…highly recommended.

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Goodbye, Bella

3 years, 2 months…the longest amount of time I have ever owned a car…

277,000 miles…9 states…many towns visited…4 places of residence…billions and billions of dead bugs and animals…

The purchase of my 2009 Impala was not overly researched or planned out. My Cobalt was “repossessed” at midnight on a Sunday/Monday, and I had the Impala by 11am that Monday morning. When your life is driving and you don’t have a car, well…you have to hustle. The last generation of Impalas have a horrible resale value due to their extensive numbers in fleets, so you can get a year-old one for about half its original price. And it’s a good car…a damn good car…the best car I have ever owned. It was roomy and fast and got good gas mileage…qualities that do not always go together in a delivery vehicle. I named her Isabella, and called her Bella for short…this had nothing to do with freaking Twilight.

As business has grown and diversified this year, I have literally outgrown the car. I’m glad I was good at Tetris as a kid, because trying to put 50-65 boxes in the car could be a real challenge. And some days, it simply didn’t happen. The Mrs. and I owned a cargo van for several months, but we needed a cargo shuttle that could also haul people and get better gas mileage. After a couple months of false attempts and debate, we pulled the trigger and traded the Impala in today for a new minivan (photos soon).

I don’t know what will become of Bella…she’ll be sold to an auction house probably. Hopefully they will be amazed at her good shape for being a 5-year-old car with 320,000 miles. And hopefully she will drive 320,000 more miles.

Perhaps I shouldn’t get emotional over a car…but I don’t give a shit. I love that car and will miss it dearly. But it is time to move forward.

2013-12-20 13.25.59 2013-12-20 13.26.17

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Reboot

Hey gang!

So after many years, I decided to part ways with my former hosting company. Unfortunately, for reasons of which I’m not totally sure, I was unable to import the old blog over to the new server. HOWEVER…thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive, almost all the old posts have been preserved and I will begin importing them over here soon.

More to come…

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Thank you

Wow…where to start here…

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes…

Thank you for all the wonderful gifts and money…

Thank you to Bonnie, Gary and Vickie for handling the financial end of things…

Thank you to all that attended…we sincerely apologize for not being able to have more of you join us.

Thank you to Erin, Kelly, Brian and Tim for being part of our special day…

And thank you to Michelle for making me the happiest man alive.

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Freeman Bosley, Sr.: Genius

Freeman Bosley, Sr. is a long-time St. Louis Alderman, and was recently re-elected to another 4-year term. He ran for Mayor in the mid 80s, and his son (Freeman Bosley, Jr.) was the first African-American Mayor of St. Louis, elected in 1993. I have never cared much for either of them, but the elder Bosley did something this week that both disgusted and inspired me.

I’ll let the Nick Pistor from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lay this out (story):

Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. says he “dug as deep as he could” to pay for his daughter’s college education.

So the longtime city politician sent an unusual letter to friends and supporters, asking them to provide $14,274 he says is the outstanding balance of his daughter’s upcoming bill at St. Xavier University in Chicago.

“Although the help from scholarships and grants has paid for nearly twenty-five thousand dollars, the remaining balance is still a challenge,” Bosley wrote in the undated letter obtained this week by the Post-Dispatch.

Bosley asked for the checks to be made out to St. Xavier University and mailed to an address in the 3200 block of University Street.

Bosley, a Democrat, appeared indignant when first asked about the letter on Wednesday morning. He told a reporter that he didn’t use any city resources and was just asking for money from friends. The letter wasn’t sent on city stationery or campaign letterhead.

You can also view the actual letter sent out when you read the full story.

After this letter made news…national news…Alderman Bosley decided against this latest campaign (story):

Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. says he will return any donations received in response to a fundraising letter he sent to solicit help paying for his daughter’s college tuition.

“I won’t even open the damn envelope, if that’s what it is,” Bosley said Thursday. “I’ll just send it back.”

Bosley came under fire Wednesday after the Post-Dispatch reported he had written a letter seeking donations from “friends and supporters” to pay the $14,274 he says is the outstanding balance of his daughter’s upcoming bill at St. Xavier University in Chicago.

“Since you made such a stink out of it, I’ll return any money,” Bosley told a reporter, adding that he had not yet received a donation. “You really have blown that thing well out of proportion. I did nothing wrong.”

Let me tell you how I interpreted the initial letter:

“I decided to send my daughter to an expensive high school, and now she’s going to a private university. Rather than live within my means or teach her a lesson in finances, I’d like my friends to pay for it.”

Is he or his daughter aware of student loans? Or all the websites and guides out there that point out the ridiculous amounts of scholarships and grants available? Or did they consider one of the great public universities in this country? Or even a great private school close to home like SLU or Wash U? One where she could live at home?

He may have done nothing wrong politically, but…wow…and this guy was just re-elected in March…

But the good Alderman has inspired me…he has inspired me to shoot for the stars…and I will do so right now.

We want to send Kiddo to a private school…because he deserves it. But we simply can’t afford it right now. Would you be willing to sponsor and support our darling boy? Please contact me for a mailing address.

;-)

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June 21, 2013

Sometimes you’re moving along in life, and things seem to be going well…then you run into a brick wall. You’re shaken up, your life is totally changed and you’re badly hurt. But then you begin to recover…and your life becomes better than it was before…much better.

As many of you know, I moved permanently to Kansas City in December 2010, having been here on business off and on since July. A few months after I moved here, I met Michelle…at a really obnoxious bar in the Power & Light District. I wasn’t even looking at her in “that way” until my friend Troy broached the subject. We went on a date 2 days later and have been together ever since.

These years in Kansas City have been the greatest of my life thus far, with a lot of that due to Michelle in my life. She is the greatest woman in the world, and I am very lucked and blessed to have her. And I am now something that I never wanted to be or thought I would be–a parent. Alex is a great kid, and I love him as if I helped create him myself. And I love being a parent.

If I could, I would give Michelle the wedding of her dreams…but we are realistic people that don’t want to spend a fortune and/or take on debt. So we’ve talked about having a simple wedding for some time now…and now the time has come.

I am pleased to announce that Michelle and I will be getting married on Friday June 21st. It will be a small simple ceremony with just a few family members and friends. However, my hope is to have gatherings in both Kansas City and St. Louis to celebrate this ridiculously awesome union in the coming months. I hope to see you there!

I love you Michelle…and I can’t wait to make you my blushing bride. :-*

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