My Experience with Uber and why it rocks!

I know this post isn’t directly related to Jeeping, or even veganism for that matter (I did have a vegan driver once).  But it is an issue that has been in the Portland-area circles, as the city decides how to “handle” ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The first time I used Uber was during a business trip to San Diego.  I took a cab ride from the airport to the hotel, for a whopping $37 (it was like 4 miles).  What is even worse, was the driver’s attitude about accepting my corporate AMEX card (“you don’t have any cash?” he pestered).  As he was grumbling about swiping my card, he didn’t even help me with my bags from the trunk.  As he sped away, I just about swore off taxis.

On the other end of the spectrum, on my return trip to the same airport from the same hotel, the cost was just over $11.  And the courteous driver offered me complimentary water, set the music to whatever I wanted, and was incredibly polite and conversational.

My ride from the hotel to the airport in San Diego.
My ride from the hotel to the airport in San Diego.

This is the very reason I feel Portland City Council is threatened by Uber – their service blows the traditional city-managed taxi services out of the water, and at a fraction of the cost.

But, furthermore I think there is a hesitation to let the common person earn money in an open marketplace with their own property.  Portland City Council defends their ban on Uber (until the recently passed 120 day trial period) with the typical excuses around safety and disability access.  They know, very well that Uber is a disruptor in the market, and that the relatively unchanged century old taxi model just won’t adapt.

For those that have not yet used Uber (I have never used Lyft) it is a fantastic service.  Essentially, if your vehicle and personal background meet certain criteria, you can become a driver.

The mobile app allows riders to pinpoint their location for pickup, and accepts their destination.  The driver can message or call you as he/she approaches to make sure you meet up.  Once in the vehicle, the driver receives your destination, and you set off.

The app is linked with your credit card, so no cash ever exchanges hands.  Gratuities are automatic.  This means you reach your destination and literally just walk away.  It bills you automatically.

The real genius of the system in my opinion is that driver rate riders on a scale of 1-5 stars.  Act like a jerk?  Puke in a car?  Not show up?  These things will downrank you and future drivers can elect to not pick you up.  At the same time, riders can rank drivers.  If a driver’s rank falls below a certain point, Uber will place them on a probationary period, and eventually will terminate their account.

Each and every driver I have had was a very positive experience.  Just today in San Francisco, I chatted about religion and politics with a driver that used to work for the World Bank.  Before, while looking to refinance my house, one of my drivers was a part time mortgage broker, and he gave me some great advice.

All my rides show up in a great interface.
All my rides show up in a great interface.

As a rider, all expenses are saved which means no more lost receipts. It also means a very fast pickup and great service.  As a corporate rider, I know this is a better value for my employer.

I absolutely love Uber and think it is an incredibly powerful way for the marketplace to get a shakeup.  It is just too bad that traditional companies that refuse to adapt must rely on city governments to limit competition in the name of “safety” and “access.”

Recipe: Amazing Vegan French Toast

Even though hints of Spring are here, mornings are a little frosty here in the Pacific Northwest mountains.  And there is nothing like a hearty, vegan french toast to start those lazy Sunday mornings.

I adapted a recipe found here.  There were some great points, like drying the bread in the oven at 350 for 10 mins – this made a HUGE difference!

Ingredients (my adaptations are in parens):

  • 6+ slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup light coconut milk (I used 1/2 cup soy creamer and 1/2 cup soy milk)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (I did not use this)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons flour 
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (I did not use this)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • A few drops of vegetable oil for cooking
  • Maple syrup and/or fruit for serving (I used blueberries)

1: Dry the bread.  Recipe says 200 degrees, I tossed them on a baking sheet at 350 for 10 minutes and it worked great.

2: Mix the batter ingredients – milk, vanilla, flour, cinnamon and flax.  I added a little more flour as I blended the ingredients, to thicken it to taste.

Mix the batter ingredients.

3: Add blueberries to a small pot, fill with water just above the fruit.  Set on high.

4: Toss the dried bread slices into the mix.  I used a flat bottom 9×9 glass casserole dish.

5: In a warm skillet, add the oil and pan cook the french toast, flipping when ready.

6. Cool the blueberry reduction (I also added a packet of Stevia to sweeten it up).

7. Sprinkle some cinnamon on your plate and serve it up!



Should You Buy an Extended Warranty for your Jeep?

I have purchased my fair share of new and used vehicles over the course of my 20 years on the road, and I have been asked by a few people about warranties. So, I figured on this damp Oregon morning, I’d make some espresso and share some thoughts.

1. Consider Your Plans.

If you are buying a commuter car, and you plan on keeping it stock (or mostly stock), a warranty can be a good deal.  This obviously protects you from unplanned breakage on the vehicle, but also as a daily driver, it can save you time and headaches if the dealer can provide a loaner vehicle. It also keeps you from relying on possible other vehicles you own (and perhaps more expensive, like a Jeep) as a daily driver until repairs can be made.

Continue reading Should You Buy an Extended Warranty for your Jeep?

Store Review: Viva La Vegan Grocery [Rancho Cucamonga]

When it comes to vegan grocery stores, Food Fight in Portland is considered my own personal “high water mark.”  They just don’t get any better than that.

So I was really stunned to find a vegan grocery store in California that blew Food Fight out of the proverbial coconut water.

Viva La Vegan is a huge grocery store in an old railroad building nestled among the community of Rancho Cucamonga.  With a ton of open space and great lighting, the store is bright and airy, and very well laid out.

Continue reading Store Review: Viva La Vegan Grocery [Rancho Cucamonga]

Product Install: Bully Dog GT Platinum Tuner

Now that my build is pretty established, with the long arm kit, coil overs, and new 37s I figured it was time to start thinking about ways to save money and improve some trail functionality.

One of the areas I have been interested in was the tuner market.  On a recent visit to 4 Wheel Parts in Portland, I decided to pick up a Bully Dog GT Platinum tuner.  I will write an actual review of this unit after I spend some time with it.

The install had some gotchas, so I thought I’d write a more detailed install, to help others save time.

In the box: the tuner, USB cable (tied in with the HDMI cable), HDMI cable, OBDII adapter, windshield mount, power cable, electronic connectors, and two badges.

Continue reading Product Install: Bully Dog GT Platinum Tuner

Alaska Offroad Warriors – Pick Us!

Hello Original Productions!

You are here because you most likely received my email, asking to be  a part of the next Alaska Offroad Warriors.

Chad navigating the Rubicon.
Chad navigating the Rubicon.

So why us?

  1. There is finally a Jeep that can kick Super Jeeps‘ ass.
  2. I am a pesky vegan, and Chad (my copilot) is a ravenous meat eater.  We banter like none other.
  3. I am an ex-Alaskan, and know the state, and unique hazards of the terrain.
  4. We have a lot of offroad experience – from the Rubicon (twice), Moab (twice), Manastash Ridge in Washington, Jim Creek in Alaska, and many, many other expeditions.
Frank will take on Super Jeep.  Any day of the week.
Frank will take on Super Jeep. Any day of the week.

Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

One of the biggest concerns I have had with the JK platform was under hood heat.  The engine bays (in both the 3.8 and 3.6 variants) are super cramped, and we push our Jeeps when offroading, especially in hot and dusty places like Moab or the Rubicon.

I was really excited when Rugged Ridge sent me one of their performance vented hoods to try.  This would be the perfect chance to see just what kind of a difference would be seen with a vented hood.

We push our Jeeps in some pretty hot and arid places such as Moab.

Before the Rugged Ridge hood, I considered a bunch of options. Starting with the cheaper end, I looked at hood louvers from companies like Gen Right and Poison Spider.  The biggest benefit to these, is that you do not need to paint your hood.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge Heat Reduction Hood

Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

I have had quite a few wheels on my Jeeps over the years.  My TJ had factory, my first JK had American Racing, and my 2012 Rubicon had MTBs.  All of these rims had one fatal flaw in my opinion – although they looked good, they were scratch and damage magnets when on the trail.

My old TJ, wheelin in Colorado with stock Jeep wheels.

I started looking at beadlocks, because I really wanted a replaceable rock ring (and of course other benefits).  The biggest downside to beadlocks for me was price and legality (many beadlocks are not approved for on road use).

So when I first saw Rugged Ridge’s XHD wheels at Jeep Beach, I was really excited.  These wheels feature an optional, replaceable rock ring that does an awesome job protecting the rim.  And the price is a lot cheaper than beadlocks.

Continue reading Product Review: Rugged Ridge XHD Wheels

The US Doesn’t Need New Gun Policy

NOTE: In a recent poll where I asked my readers what type of content they would like to see on this blog, a handful asked for more personal opinion pieces.  This is my first in this series.

Sometimes I like Bill Maher.  Emphasis on sometimes.  He tends to have anger at a time when I need some sort of angry consolation prize.  But on a recent show, he and his guests were discussing how America needs to completely redo gun policy and implement tough new controls.  But Bill Maher has never really been a fan of gun rights.

It made me realize how far off the liberal, anti-gun agenda is (and I consider myself pretty liberal so this is not a jab).

Continue reading The US Doesn’t Need New Gun Policy


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