Life as an independent contractor during a pandemic

Since then, gas prices have plummeted, restaurant delivery has skyrocketed…

By Wayne Boyd

After working for 17 years at a state prison in Amarillo, Texas, even as a pandemic was beginning to spread across the nation, I decided to retire. After all, I was 67 years old and eligible for a) social security, b) a lifetime pension from TDCJ, and c) health insurance for life for my wife and myself. Not too shabby.

Furthermore, for the last 2 years I had been picking up Uber and Lyft passengers in my spare time, and more recently started restaurant deliveries with companies like GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. Why not continue that after retirement?

My wife and I discussed my options and decided that retirement would be okay if I could earn about $50 a day driving doing deliveries. Then we upped the figure to $70 because we wanted to account for wear and tear on the vehicle and gas prices. In other words, I’d be making a profit of $50 a day after gas, or $1,500 a month added to my social security and pension income. It would be more than comfortable.

Since then, gas prices have plummeted, restaurant delivery has skyrocketed, and working only a few hours a day I’m averaging $170 a day. I’m pulling in about $160/day profit, or $4,800/month, $3,300 more than projected to live comfortably.

I stopped picking up passengers with Uber and Lyft and just do the delivery now. I’m safer and there’s been no drop in income. Lyft sent me an email informing me how vital it was to have drivers and how desperately needed drivers were to move people around. I ignored the message.

As a side note, I’ve been a vegetarian since before I was old enough to vote. I wish I could get the world to stop eating meat, but that’s obviously not going to happen. So I decided okay, I can deliver food to these people and make a bunch of money. I won’t eat what they eat, but I was already delivering inmates food trays, why not drop off bags of food at people’s homes?

So for me, life is good now. In fact, it’s much better financially than before, even as many millions of Americans are losing their jobs in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

I just hope the State of Texas continues to afford my monthly pension check and the federal government continues to send me social security money.

The horror is just beginning

Even as people are still joking about the temporary pause in day-to-day activities because of the coronavirus, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and industries have been affected in ways that we cannot even imagine.

Just take a peek under the blanket of normalcy and see what’s really happening around the world. It’s bad enough that hundreds of thousands of people could die from this virus, but in the long term it’s the economic downturn that will be remembered. We are headed for another Great Depression, not a recession like in 2009.

Never before in modern history have so many industries closed. Never before in modern history have so many people been put out of work so quickly and abruptly. The economic effect of all of this can be nothing other than total catastrophe and financial ruination. It will affect not just some mom and pop restaurants in town, but it will affect every single person in the world. We are all about to get really poor.

Everybody knows that public gatherings are discouraged or even outlawed right now. Public dining, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, casinos, sporting events – all have been canceled or put on indefinite hold.

This is not going to end in two weeks time. This is going to last for a long time.

To see what effect this is going to have, let’s take a look at sporting events. Here in Amarillo, Texas, the city invested millions of dollars to construct a minor league baseball park downtown. Last year, the local team, known as the Sod Poodles, won the Texas division championship. Thousands upon thousands of people flocked to the stadium, purchased tickets, ate food, drank beer, and provided the baseball players themselves with an opportunity to get drafted into the major leagues. Now all that money has stopped. Who do you think is going to be affected by the sudden lack of cash flow? A lot of people, including the city of Amarillo itself.

Now look beyond our little baseball park in Amarillo to huge sporting events like the NFL or Major league baseball. The NFL is going on like the football season is going to continue. We don’t know that at all. Even if it does continue we don’t know if anyone will even show up for the games because of fear of the virus. Who do you think pays the baseball players or the football players? It’s the revenue generated from the ticket sales and advertisements. All of that is in suspended animation. All of that is lost. Along with all of that lost revenue is thousands of support businesses.

Earlier I mentioned casinos being closed. Well of course casinos are a place where a lot of people gather in tight spaces and play slot machines and gamble in other ways, right? Casinos on Native American reservations are closed. Now think about Las Vegas. The whole city is closed. How many people are unemployed, how many businesses have bills to pay but no revenue coming in to pay those bills? How many hotels are empty?

So now we’ve got all kinds of people on reservations sick with CORVID-19 and no employment because of the casinos NOT BRINGING IN ANY INCOME FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. Even the Grand Canyon is closed because you have to drive through the Navajo Nation to get to it and hundreds of people in the Navajo Nation are sick with the coronavirus. National Park workers at the Grand Canyon have fallen ill with the virus. So now we have no Grand Canyon to visit.

It’s not one sector of society that’s being affected, nor is it one country. This is the whole world, every nation on every continent being affected by CORVID-19. In some countries, like India, people are already starving. People will become homeless, hungry, hopeless, not just in third world countries but right here in America.

Think about religious institutions. Think about Krishna and Hindu temples that depend on the weekly donations from congregational members. Many churches, temples and synagogues also depend on weeklysupport and donations. Some of them will not survive.

The horror is just beginning. As we hide in place from this virus, the even more insidious financial collapse is taking place all around us. Get ready for what’s to come.

Retirement: Day 14

It’s been 14 days today since retiring. My life has changed a lot. I like the fact that I don’t have to get up at 3:30 in the morning to go to a prison that will likely soon be ravaged by CORVID-19.

I still have some hurdles that I have to overcome to finish the process officially, but I’m beginning to see the rest of my life in different terms than before.

I have more money than before, as I calculated. I haven’t even had a full month to realize how much better off I am financially, but already the figures are very encouraging indeed.

I’m still working for myself. I’m an independent contractor with my own hours. My wife comes along with me sometimes when I work. I can do what I want, when I want, and how I want to do it.

Time Portal

Even as Gene stood with his back toward the chalkboard, sweat beading on his forehead, the blue disc hovered silently if not defiantly.

It was baffling. Nothing was reappearing on the other side.

Where did everything go? They’d tossed in a pencil, alarm clock (with the alarm sounding), a handball, a basketball… All had vanished.

The calculations seemed simple enough. A 60-second time portal. Things were disappearing when you threw them in but weren’t emerging from the other side a minute later as they should. Calculations were recalculated and double checked. Everything was as it should be. What was happening here?

So now Gene rested his hand on a powerful transmitter sitting on a cart with wheels. He planned to push the cart through the portal and have them search for the signal that emitted from it 60 seconds in the future.

So the cart was wheeled forward and pushed into the portal where upon it abruptly vanished from sight.

The technicians placed on their headsets and adjusted the dials on their radios while a 60-second timer was initiated. Find the signal 60 seconds from now and they would know where things were going and why things weren’t reappearing on the other side.

What they discovered was truly astonishing, but in retrospect completely logical.

Yes, the signal was detected. Very faint and very distant but completely detectable. So where did the transmitter go?

The transmitter was in space, apparently orbiting the sun, thousands of miles away from Earth.

In the sixty seconds that the transmitter traveled into the future, Earth itself had moved away by thousands of miles.

At the equator, the rotation of Earth is about 1,037 mph (1,670 km/h), or over 17 miles a minute. Meanwhile, Earth has an orbital speed around the sun of about 67,000 mph (107,000 km/h), or about 1,100 miles per minute. The sun and the solar system orbit the center of the Milky Way Galaxy at approximately 448,000 mph (720,000 km/h) or 7,466 miles per minute.

So when the transmitter was pushed into the time portal and jumped 60 seconds into the future, the Earth spun around it’s axis 17 miles at the equator, 1,100 miles around the sun and 7,466 miles around the galactic center. Simply put, the transmitter came out sixty seconds later exactly where it went in, but Earth itself was no longer in that location.

Therefore the pencil, the ringing alarm clock, the handball, basketball and the transmitter all emerged into space, orbiting the sun over 8,000 miles behind Earth’s orbit.

It turns out the time portal was the easiest and most efficient way to send things into space.

Hole in the Fence

My dogs, the picket fence, the cold weather and the flu. That’s what I’m dealing with today.

My picket fence is rotting and needs to be replaced but I don’t have the funds to do that right at this instant. So my dogs tore a hole through some of the pickets and escaped. One of them is still missing and the other one came back.

I don’t know if I have the flu or just a real bad chest cold but my chest is really tight and my throat is very sore and the weather is kind of cold. Meanwhile, I’m running all around town buying pieces of wood and screws – components to repair part of the fence without replacing the whole thing.

The little dog, Skipper. He grabs any trash or anything at all that he can find and drags it out into the backyard through the doggie door. He’s trashed the back yard. He is an affectionate dog and likes to cuddle but otherwise a total nuisance. Now, Skipper and Brandi, our big dog, ran out through the hole of the fence yesterday. Brandi always comes back when she gets out but Skipper is attractive to kids and gets caught by neighbors.

So this time he got out without a collar on. I’m sure he’s in somebody’s house. We’ll miss him but I’m not sure we’re going to actively look for him. If he winds up in the pound then he has a chip and they’ll contact us. But if he doesn’t wind up in the pound all the best for us and whoever finds him! Brandi the big dog will miss him. So really will we.

In the meantime, we have a cold, there’s cold weather and a hole in the fence. I’ll be busy repairing the hole in the fence.

Later – now the fence is repaired. I’m pretty sure it’s animal proof. Skipper is still missing, however.

Later Still – In the end Skipper was found. It was the chip that did him in. We got a phone call from a local animal rescue place. I went to pick him up and there was a very nice mother and 10 year old daughter. The daughter was crying. She was so sad to see Skipper go. I should have given him to them, but that would seem weird, so I didn’t. Now we have the little monster back home.

Turn Signal

The turn signal or the blinker is just a good idea. I don’t know why people don’t use them. It’s for your own safety and the safety of other drivers. Using your turn signal can just be considerate sometimes.

Consider this scenario. You’re sitting at an intersection wanting to turn left, but there’s an oncoming car from the left heading towards you. If you knew that car was going to make a right turn then you could go ahead and move forward and make your left turn. However, if the other car doesn’t put on their turn signal then all you can do is wait and wait and wait until they make their turn. Then you can mutter some obscenities and go on.

I recommend to get in the habit of using your turn signal even if no one is around. Sometimes people are around but you don’t even realize it.

What’s the harm of putting on your turn signal every time you plan to make a turn?

Unless however, you ran out of blinker fluid. This video explains much more.

What will be the main economic gains of colonies on Mars, or the Moon?

You don’t want me to answer this question. You are looking for a great, positive answer that will make the future look bright not only for colonies on these places, but an economic base for those colonies.

Meanwhile, I’m going to say I don’t think there’s much justification even for people walking on Mars when our robots can do it more safely and less expensively and achieve the same or better results…. what to speak of “colonies.” I think it’s almost laughable and mostly just science fiction dreaming.

People may or may not one day walk on Mars at great risk, and some will probably die in the attempt. There is little reason to go there from a scientific point of view other than to say we did, just like we walked on the moon and then went away.

In the meantime, a safer, cheaper way is send our machines to go.

You see, what this is all about is finding life. What scientists want to do is prove that life can evolve elsewhere than Earth – a so far unproven theory. We want there to be life elsewhere because we want to prove that life was not “created” on Earth alone, but life naturally develops from matter when conditions are ideal.

We don’t need “colonies” or economic bases in space to prove that. We just need to find some germs under some rocks or on some moon around some planet in our solar system. For that we just need space vehicles and robots like the Mars Rovers.

Whether we find life or not is anyone’s guess, but it is still science fiction thinking we will colonize anything off planet.

GoDaddy vs WordPress.com: Pros and Cons

For two years I hosted this site on WordPress.com even though I had a GoDaddy hosting plan. Previously, all my sites on GoDaddy were designed by me from the ground up and were mostly static websites. So when my wife decided to create her own site on WordPress.com, she talked me into starting my own: RationalThinking101.com.

I liked having a WordPress site on WordPress. The pros were many. I could see Stats, how many visitors I was getting and from which parts of the world. I would get likes and comments left by other wordpress.com users. It was great.

However, when it came around to renew the whole package this year, it seemed expensive. Why pay all that when I can host it myself on GoDaddy for free (since I already owned a hosting plan there).

Having made up my mind, I began the arduous procedure of how to move the site from one hosting plan to the other, how to install a free SSL certificate, how to get all the files transfered and so on. It was a hassle, and in the end not perfect. The site has been transferred but some of the media files are missing and some of the links don’t work.

Not only that, no one from wordpress.com “likes” or visits my site anymore, and I don’t have stats telling me how many countries my visitors are coming from.

It is cheaper.

So the pros of moving are: It’s cheaper.

The cons of moving are:

  1. It was a hassle and some files were lost.
  2. Some links don’t work anymore.
  3. I don’t have the stats I used to have.
  4. I don’t get “likes” from my wordpress.com followers.
  5. In fact, I have no idea at the moment what kind of traffic this site generates at all.

I’d say the cons outweigh the pros and it’s better to have a site hosted on wordpress.com or wordpress.org unless price is your number one bottom line.