How to Get Your Passport (for US citizens)

US Passport
US Passport

Note: I wrote this back in 2010. I think the fees might have increased, and I’m not sure if the links are all working now. Get the book, not the card. The card is useless. Oh yeah, now you have the option to get the 26-page or the 52-page version. I don’t think there’s a price difference, so just get the 52-page version. Trust me on this one.

I’ve been accused of writing too much before {by James}. If this page is too long, skip to the good stuff.

Ever wished you could just pack up and take a nice week or two in Europe, the Caribbean or even somewhere more exotic, like say… Tahiti? The good news is you can, because you live in a “free” country, in a modern society, and although you may not describe yourself this way, you truly are wealthy compared to most of the rest of the world. All you have to do is schedule your vacation, book a flight and you’re off!

Oh, no, wait, you can’t. You can’t leave the borders of this wonderful country because you’re too damn lazy to take a few extra steps and get a small document which allows access to virtually any place on earth.

Get your passport.

How to get a US passport for US citizens living in the US. Originally written for my friends in Northwest Arkansas.

Here’s the official web page that has all the details. I have meticulously combed through the details & pulled out the important stuff.
http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html

  • 2 passport photos
  • 1 copy, front & back, of Arkansas Driver’s license on standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper
  • Form DS-11, printed & filled out but DO NOT SIGN IT
  • certified birth certificate {with raised seal}

You can go to Walgreen’s to get your passport photos. Just walk in, say you need passport photos, and they will know what you’re talking about. They cost like 5 bucks or something.

You can get your driver’s license copied at Office Depot. There’s one by the Atlanta Bread in Rogers.
{You will also need to bring your driver’s license to the post office later.}

Oh yeah, print & fill out form DS-11 but DO NOT SIGN IT. you must sign it in front of the person at the post office that accepts your form. This is very important.

Oh, BTW, when filling out this form DO NOT SIGN IT YET. Just wanted to state that another time to make sure it got through.

How much will it cost?

There will be 2 fees:

  1. The first fee is the “application fee”, and is for your passport itself, and any check/money order should be made payable to “U.S. Department of State”.
  2. The second is the “execution fee”, it is for the acceptance facility, e.g. the post office.

Application Fee for adults: $110
Execution Fee: $25

These must be paid with 2 separate forms of payment. They don’t allow you to write one check for both fees.

I believe a money order will work as payment for both of these, you can go to the bank & purchase a money order for $110 and a separate one for $25.

It really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon or 2 to get all this stuff together & get to the post office. The hardest part would be getting the official birth certificate (with raised seal) if you don’t have one at home somewhere.

The Easy, Step-by-Step Version

  1. Find an official certified copy of your birth certificate with raised seal. Ask your parents if you don’t have one or don’t know.
  2. Go to Walgreen’s and get 2 passport photos.
  3. Go to Office Depot and get a front and back copy made of your Arkansas driver’s license {important that it is Arkansas}.
  4. Print and fill out this form, but DO NOT SIGN IT
  5. Purchase two money orders from your local bank. One should be for $110, and the other should be for $25.
  6. Take all these documents along with your Arkansas drivers license and money orders to the Bentonville post office. Rogers is just ghetto. Talk to the person at the front, tell them you want to apply for a passport, show them all your documents.

That’s it. You’re awesome.


Photo by bryansblog

Finally, some solid goals.

Sunset on a Highway in Alabama
Sunset on a Highway in Alabama

Feel like I’ve had a breakthrough tonight. Maybe it’s a combination of being alone for a few hours (INTJ – I charge up on being alone), or maybe it’s the slight lift that I got from the cup o’ tea that I had a little bit ago, but it’s starting to click.

For years, I’ve wanted to “travel the world” and be mobile, yet make an income at the same time. But it was so hard to envision without getting a time-consuming and draining customer support job.

Re-reading that last paragraph, makes it look like I haven’t traveled much. I’ve been to Europe 3 times, Asia twice, New Zealand twice, Canada 3x (spent a month in Quebec), Central/South America for 3 months… I’ve traveled a bit. But my bank account always goes down, and I’m not able to spend the time I want traveling, for as long as I’d like.

Since my eyestrain has gotten progressively worse over the past year, I’ve wanted less and less to spend any time in the computer, much less try my hand at getting a remote software development job. And reading over those job postings makes me want to vomit. Every time.

“Consulting” was the holy grail… the one thing I could do while traveling the world, keeping my eyesight and staying free. (Freedom is my highest value.)

I always wondered how they do it — I have a mentor who’s been traveling the world and consulting for near 10 years now — he can easily make $5-$10k in a month, no problem. Much more these days I’m sure.

Tonight I was reading over some of his old writing today, some articles from 5-6 years ago… then it clicked.

He talked about wanting to have a 10x return for his work… e.g. if he charged $75 per hour, then within a year, he wants that client to receive $750 worth of value for every hour they’ve paid him.

That’s it. That’s the secret to consulting — leaving people better off than if they’d never hired you to begin with. In his case, much better off. Another thing he mentioned — as he was calculating what he needed to meet his goals.

First, he calculated that he wanted to bring in $6000 per month. So he did some brief calculations:

$20 / hr for 300 hours. 75 hours per week. Too many hours.
$40 / hr for 150 hours. 37.5 hours per week. Still a lot of hours, esp. for consulting
$75 / hr for 80 hours… that’s 20 hours per week. That was plenty of time for him to work on other projects as well as meet his income goals.

That’s when it hit me – I don’t have to try and throw myself into building a business 100% of the time every single day. That’s why I’ve been burning out for a year. That’s also why I haven’t been able to stick with a goal. Jumping around, different goals, choosing what seems easiest at the time vs doing what I’m passionate about.

Building a business (which means I can leave and still get income) vs starting a service which requires me to work for continual income (consulting, coaching).

I can do both.

Finally, feel like I’m developing some solid goals… steps for reaching exactly what I want. Discovering that I can achieve what I want, because I’m finally starting to realize what that is.

At this point in my life, I want to be spending about 20 hours / week consulting, coaching, for income. Improving the lives of others and making sure that all my clients get at least a 2-4x return for their investment, if not much more. I’m shooting low now, as far as return goes. I will be satisfied if my current clients are getting 4x return, even a 2x. Because I know that as I improve, so will those results. A 10x return within a few months’ time isn’t out of the question — as long as I stay on a tight feedback loop with lots of iterations. And getting $150 in value for $75 is still a bargain.

I also want to be able to put another 10 – 15 hours per week into building a business, systems which run even without me there, or initially with minimal input from myself. I realize that it will take 100% input at first and that number will gradually decrease as the business improves.

I also want to invest time per week (another 10-15 hours) into developing myself. Learning languages, reading about history, business, negotiations, building skills.

This seems like a lot of time, but 2 hours a day is 14 hours per week. Between reading, learning language and cultural interaction, that would be a minimum number for me, for self-development.

So, official 1-year goals, to have achieved within 12 months from today:

* ~20 hours per week consulting
* 10-15 hours per week building a business
* 10-15 hours per week in self-development (includes language, skills, etc)
* $50k in the bank
* mobility (freedom to go wherever)
* started my business and have all business banking/credit set up

Nice-to-haves:

* Credit score above 780
* Semi-fluent in another language (which depends on where I’m at)
* Lamborghini parked in front of my mansion (well it would be nice to have)

Official Last Request(s)

A few days ago I was driving home from my usual after-midnight grocery shopping. (Side note: I wrote this 5 years ago.) After the stock CD player in my auto went out, I was forced to resort to my iPod and one of those tape-deck converters. I usually play my iPod on shuffle just to mix things up. Anyway, one of the awesomest songs ever came on, and as I was singing along at the top of my lungs, I realized I wanted this song to be played at my funeral. The song? Tarzan Boy by Baltimora.

And why not? Why do funerals have to be all sad & stuff, always playing those songs which make people cry as they remember the person’s life & how they’re in heaven or whatever. Screw that. Not at my funeral. My funeral had better be as crazy-go-nuts as my life. When people remember me, I want them to chuckle, shake their heads slightly and think “man, that was one crazy hardcore awesome motherfucker”. (Or something like that.)

It’s really just a cultural thing anyway. Some cultures really do have parties when people die. Real celebrations, not funerals where people say “we’re celebrating this person’s life”, but you know that’s kind of a lie, because if it really were a celebration everyone wouldn’t be wearing black and acting all sad & shit. Oh, which leads me to another rule: no black at my funeral. I’m serious.

I don’t know why an official-looking piece of paper with some signatures makes something more official than, say, a blog post. So this is my official request for songs to be played at my funeral. Here’s the list:

  1. Tarzan Boy by Baltimora
  2. Dragostea Din Tea by O-Zone
  3. Gummi Bears Theme Song – the one from the TV show “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears”
  4. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey – please not the Glee version (Steve Perry and/or Arnel Pineda will be fine)
  5. Deep Folk Song – Deep Forest
  6. Noonday Sun – Deep Forest
  7. Deep Blue Sea – Deep Forest
  8. Enya’s “A Day Without Rain” album – the whole album

As for song #1, please play the extended edition. It’s 6 minutes 8 seconds long and can be found on my Macbook (whichever Macbook I’m currently using at time of death). Yes, it will be a Macbook.

Given that I’ve spent most of my life in the United States, I will understand if the funeral is held there, but I consider it a slap in the face if it’s held in Oklahoma or Idaho. Also, if you regularly drink Budweiser of any type, have truck balls or a Browning buck sticker, or fancy the confederate flag, then you’re not invited.