Thursday, September 25, 2014

Curbs, CUPS, and RouTEAM. AKA: Stuff I Tried in DC and NY.

The East Coast is a very happenin' place. Technology may pay a big part in the world overall, but as far as the US is concerned, I think the East Coast is more up to date on the trendiness of apps, phones, and all the ways we can make technology work for us and make our lives easier. So of course, while in Rome, do as the Romans, and try all their fun apps and websites.I imagine that soon these apps and websites will be coming over to the West Coast, and when that happens, I would like you to be prepared and know (in my opinion) what works and what doesn't.

So let's start by talking about RouTEAM. RouTEAM is a company based in Washington, DC that aims to help people live healthier lifestyles. Their website or "online marketplace" helps their customers set health goals and book classes for mental and physical health in the DC area. While this service isn't yet available outside of DC, it is one that could be come hugely successful nationwide as yoga and other healthy activities become more popular in the US. 

So....What About It?

RouTEAM's website is simple to use and clearly organized so that anyone can figure it out. While I had the upper-hand of having my good friend and employee of RouTEAM, Nadia Chilmonik,  helping me register for the website, I'm sure I could have figured it out easily on my own. The minimalistic design makes searching for yoga classes and reading instructor profiles an enjoyable experience, and one that doesn't take overly long. There are a variety of courses offered, and because we were on E Street, many were within walking distance of Nadia's apartment, which was a plus. So, after creating a profile and registering for a 6:30 am yoga class through the website, I was ready to go. Until, after not seeing my best friend for a year, I stayed up until 2:30 am talking with her and we decided maybe sunrise yoga wasn't the best idea for us. So on the plus side, cancelling a class is just as easy as booking it! When you book your class, it shows up on your profile. If you want to cancel, all you do is click the handy dandy "cancel class" link listed directly below the class title and time.

RouTEAM, please go public soon and come over to Washington State. This website is so handy, and for health and fitness buffs, a priceless resource. Instead of having to Google all the different places there might be class, all the locations are listed conveniently in one place, just a short walk or taxi ride away.

However, if you're going to take a taxi, do yourself a favor and do NOT use Curb (previously taxi magic).

Curb is an app available for download on iPhone and Android that allows you to book and pay for your taxi all from your smartphone. In theory, this is a very good idea and along the lines of Uber and Lyft. However, many users are saying when the app was Taxi Magic, it was just tops. Now, everyone hates it.

So....What About It?

Nadia, her friend Pooja, and I downloaded this app after seeing an ad for it in a taxi on the way home from the bus station, and realized with download we got a free taxi ride.

The only problem is, the whole point of curb is to put taxis back in competition with apps like Uber and Lyft (both of which work amazingly, by the way. However, a Lyft driver I had who works for both Uber and Lyft said the Lyft drivers and customers are friendlier. You heard it here first, kids).  However, what Lyft and Uber have is exactly what Curb is missing. With Lyft and Uber once you request a ride, someone is on the way immediately. With Curb, if no one is available who is registered with Curb, which is very possible since it was recently revamped, you are put on a wait list, which you aren't actually told about. The only reason I know this is because after waiting 20 minutes for a car, we called customer service and THEY told us that. We were also never told our ride was on the way, until they called and said they were out front of the apartment.

Then, once we finally got to where we were trying to go, the driver of the cab hadn't been instructed on how the app works, so they didn't know that we could pay from our phones. Which made things really awkward, and even more irritating. My suggestion? Give this app a few months or even a year to work all the kinks out and maybe try again.

Over in New York, we tried out CUPS, a coffee app that has just recently (as in about two years ago) come over to America (exclusively NY). The app allows users to find close-by independent coffee shops and get discounts on drinks with prepaid coffee plans. This app is beneficial to shop owners and customers, since the customers save money and the shop owners gain a larger customer base.

So.... What About It? 

The CUPS app works relatively well and even directs you to the nearest coffee shop that is registered with the app. Once you get to the coffee shop you enter a code and place your order. If you are wanting to call in, you can pre-order your drink, or order it in the store. We had just downloaded the app, so our first cup of coffee was free, but when we got to the shop in Spanish Harlem (about three blocks from our hostel) the barista tried to charge us for our drink and was not really sure how the procedure was supposed to go at all. From my experience, this app is brilliant and really great for local businesses, employers just need to make sure their employees are better informed. coffee!

Welp, that just about takes up all the time we have today at "Unwritten". Check back later for more posts!

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something living in Okanogan County and blogging from her basement bedroom. She aims to educate and inspire people with her blog, but is patiently waiting for her moment in the spotlight. If you would like her to review your product, please email her.

Author, Author!

I have always felt that writing a book about yourself is very conceited. I mean, it is easy to sit down and write about all the ways I want the world to think I'm amazing. To quote the great George Watsky "every time I write/I get to choose the angle that you view me and select the nicest light*". And to those gifted with innate writing skills, we can do a pretty good job making ourselves sound awesome. It just takes a few drafts to get us there. Anyways. I have felt for a long time that I didn't want to tell my story to the world, because I didn't want the world to think I was writing solely to gain attention. I mean, lets face it, the most notable thing that's happened in my life lately was I got fired from an overpriced burger joint (fear not! I got hired at a cute little restaurant across town). However, I do have a story, and I feel that story should be told.

Why? Because I think others can relate to it. Growing up in an abusive home makes you feel like you're on your own. Like you don't have anyone who truly understands you, because mom doesn't hit them when they forget to close the cupboard. No one but an abuse victim knows the terror that comes from seeing their abuser get upset at literally anything, and only those who have gotten out of the situation know how to help others escape from the nightmare that is their life. I escaped. I want others to know that there is a brighter day. And that's why, ladies and gents, I have decided to write a book. About myself.

Now, normally people don't tell people they're writing a book. I know that these things are kept hush hush until forced upon family and friends. But my book which will probably be titled something like "The Life and Times of a Nobody" is going to double as my NaNoWriMo project, and I am going to be spending a lot of time in the month of November not blogging here, and working on my book. Unless I magically figure out how to do both. You never know. I could be the master writer and write all the things. In one month.

Over the month of October I will be drafting the skeleton of my book, and working out how to start it. But come November 1st, off it goes, and hopefully by November 30th, we'll have a book on our hands. With all the focus on domestic violence and child abuse, and gender inequality that is happening right now, I feel like now, now is the moment to release my story into the world. NOW it will be heard and not ignored. My message of hope, survival, and sassiness will work its way around the globe and guide people through the dangerous situations they may be in and then, after I've made maximum impact, I'll curl up back in my hole, happy, and ready to hibernate.

So stay tuned, folks. "The Life and Times of a Nobody" is coming soon....ish.

*From "Tiny Glowing Screens Part 2"

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something born and raised in Okanogan County who aspires to do as much as she can in the short span of time she is on this Earth. You can check back here as often as you like to see what she has been up to, or what has pissed her off, because if Alexis is angry, there is a blog rant/opinion coming. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Evergreen Project and the Fight To End Domestic Violence

The Evergreen Project Logo. Design by T. Lewis,
Copyright T. Lewis/The Evergreen Project 2014
I have talked about Chandler on this blog before. Mostly about how wonderful of a boyfriend he is. But I never mentioned that he has gone out and added something to this world that makes it a little bit better and has made me the proudest friend ever.

In Chandler's sophomore year at the University of Washington, he and ten others created The Evergreen Project, "with the intent of raising awareness about domestic violence both in our community and our society". With a goal to raise awareness, educate and help victims and their families, The Evergreen Project has quickly become my favorite organization.

Speaking as a survivor of child abuse and a first hand witness to domestic violence, this is a resource that is sorely needed by victims. Because as bad as it sounds, many victims don't actually know that they are involved in something dangerous, or if they do know, justify the abuse in some way. When a relationship starts out rough and continues to be rough, it is hard to distinguish abuse from normalcy, especially since not a lot of domestic abuse educational systems are in place. What the Evergreen Project provides is readily available information and help for those in crisis.

"Hopefully by making the topics accessible and on the level of those we seek to educate we can help to reduce this epidemic that effects 1/3 of all teen relationships" Lewis says. "I hope to educate people about relationship violence by bringing the conversation to them about how to recognize warning signs and what you can do to help maintain healthy relationships". In this day and age, a lesson on recognizing abusive relationships is sadly, a necessity.
Founder Chandler Lewis appeared in
"The UW Daily" to promote The Evergreen Project.
Photo courtesy of Chandler Lewis/Instagram

In the wake of the Ray Rice incident, domestic violence and the consequences of it have suddenly captured America's attention in a way unseen until now. The conversation about abuse has been started, and helped along by organizations such as The Evergreen Project and loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline. Trending topics on Twitter like #WhyIStayed are showing the world that even though victims sometimes KNOW that they are being abused, they believe that they somehow deserve it, or no one else will love them, or their religion prohibits leaving their partner. Educating people early could save them from becoming another victim, another statistic, another Janay Palmer.

So thank you, Chandler, for tackling a very important issue and making the world a better, safer place.

For more information on the Evergreen Project, check out their Facebook or visit their website.

Alexis Olmstead is a 21! year old diva who hopes to create a blog so profound, popular, and relevant, that she eventually gets famous for being eloquent and opinionated.