Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ubers and Taxis

**NOTE: None of the stories are super recent, they're just being shown as examples of things that have happened and could happen.

It's an interesting concept, Uber is: a form of "carpooling", as I call it, as opposed to a bus or a "normal" taxi. Simple enough.
As interesting as it is, I just feel like there's a lot that could happen to people who use this service. I mean, obviously there's requirements involved for someone to become an uber driver:
"In some markets, where leasing arrangements for vehicles are available, the only requirement for driving for Uber, other than appropriate age, health, and ability to drive, is passing a background check. Both a smartphone, called a "device" by Uber, and a vehicle may be leased.
Legislation in some cities (such as San Francisco) requires individuals who drive for Uber to also own a business license in the city in which they drive. As stated above, Uber is a mobile app company and therefore does not employ drivers. As a result, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors and in need of a valid business license. Some analysts predict that the trend is likely to expand across the United States.
There are companies that specialize in business license compliance specifically for Uber drivers." -Source
But that's it, and to be honest, that doesn't necessarily stop dangerous or creepy people from becoming uber drivers, which is, tbh, my only issue with the company, or with the service.
It's an issue in that, especially if it's a person using Uber all by themselves, if the driver is a creep or someone who is potentially very dangerous, bad things could happen, people could get hurt or sexually assaulted, maybe even go missing. (Obviously the majority of drivers involved in this company are not bad or dangerous people, I'm just uncomfortable with the idea that, should I ever use an Uber, it's basically the same thing as getting into a strangers car and having them drive you someplace: it could be anyone and anything could happen. It just makes me anxious. I feel basically the same about taxis.)
"In February 2016, Uber's vetting procedures came under scrutiny once more following a shooting spree purportedly committed by Jason Dalton, an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dalton is believed to have been driving for Uber at the time while allegedly conducting a shooting spree that left six people dead and two others wounded. This led to a seven-hour manhunt for the suspect, during which it is believed that Dalton continued to drive and accept fares. Uber was aware of the issues with Dalton, having received multiple complaints."
Some crazy times with Uber:

"A couple of days ago myself and a couple of friends went to a large city for a concert. We booked a hotel just a few minutes from where the concert was supposed to take place, but 2 days before the trip, it was moved to another venue across town and there was no time to change our hotel. It was now about a 20 minute drive across town to get there in a city we were unfamiliar with. We decided it would be easier to use the Uber app for the first time and get a ride with someone who most likely knew where they were going so we wouldn't have to worry about it. I was a little hesitant about it. The idea of riding with a random stranger who just downloaded an app and decided to be an amateur taxi didn't sit well with me, but it was a lot cheaper than a taxi and none of us had much cash on us, so it was really our only option.
Things started out well enough, we booked the ride, the guy showed up within minutes and we all piled in. He was nice enough and we made some small talk for a bit. Then we get to a residential neighborhood and he tells us we're here. There was nothing even remotely close to a concert venue in sight. He tells us that we must have entered the address wrong and we looked it up ourselves and showed him that we most definitely did not and we are on the completely wrong side of town. He gets pissed, reprograms his gps to the correct location and tears off. No longer driving cautiously and no longer friendly and talkative.
About half an hour later we are finally nearing our correct destination (we were following along on our own phones gps now) and he misses the exit on the freeway. Instead of doing what a normal person would and continuing on, taking the next exit or letting the gps recalculate, he STOPS...ON THE HIGHWAY and looks at his phone to try and figure out what to do. He then turns on his flashers and THROWS THE CAR INTO REVERSE ON THE INTERSTATE like he's going to back up and take the exit. Needless to say a car comes screeching to a stop behind us, barely missing us. Unfortunately the car behind them did not. I will never forget the sound of the people behind us screaming as the back end of their car came up off the ground they were hit so hard. Then the guy tells us he doesn't want any trouble and drives off.
At this point we were just telling him to take an exit and let us out. When he does so, we realize we're on the correct street and about a mile away from the concert, so we go ahead and have him take us the rest of the way. We couldn't get out of the car fast enough. We all stood there dumbfounded and eventually decide we need to talk to the cops. Luckily there was one working at the concert, so we gave him what information we could, but it wasn't much. He basically told us since the guy wasn't physically involved in the accident even though he caused it, that he wouldn't be in trouble for leaving the scene.
My friend who ordered the ride was looking at his app to see what options he had to report the guy to Uber and noticed he had charged us double for all the extra driving that was entirely his fault. Pretty much ruined our evening and our Uber experience. We were terrified to take another on the way back but didn't have much choice. Luckily the ride home was great, the driver was friendly and professional and had us back at the hotel in 15 minutes instead of the 45 minutes of hell we had endured on the original trip.
" -  //

Afraid for her life: A Los Angeles woman was taken on a 2-hour long, terrifying ride across the city recently when an Uber driver refused to take her home
Her provided screenshot
"An Uber customer says her driver all but abducted her recently when he took her on a terrifying two-hour ride across Los Angeles.
 The unnamed rider didn't seem to know what the driver wanted to do to her, but he succeeded in turning her pleasant evening out into a nightmare as he drove her some 20 miles from her San Fernando Valley home into a dark, empty parking lot. She told Valleywag that, were it not for her screams and the commotion she made when he locked her in the car, she may never have made it home. Making the saga all the more terrifying, the woman says Uber doesn't seem too concerned about her experience. Despite having entered her address into the popular app when she first ordered a car, the driver--according to screen shots she provided to Valleywag--drove her miles away from home. She told the company that the ride continued in the opposite direction from her home despite her repeated protests. In response to her complaint, the company sent her an automated notice that she'd be refunded half the fare because of the 'inefficient route.' The following day, the company refunded the other half, but the passenger wasn't placated. She's now dealing with the LAPD and an attorney. The rider's experience is unfortunately not unique. Daveea Whitmire, a one-time Uber driver San Francisco, was charged in June with misdemeanor battery of a transit passenger. The 28-year-old Whitmire was accused of verbally and physically assaulting a passenger he picked up in the city's Castro District on Nov. 24. Patrick Karajah, 26, picked up three people from a bar around 2 a.m. Tuesday and, while driving the passengers to their destination, he got into an argument with one of the passengers who questioned the route he was taking, according to court documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. The documents said that Karajah, who was driving for the basic UberX service, forced the passengers out of his car in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Once the victim was out of the car, Karajah allegedly struck him on the side of his head with a hammer and drove away. The victim suffered facial fracture and trauma to the head, and was taken to the hospital." - Source

It's no better with Taxi's, though, because, again, anyone could wind up somehow being a taxi driver and causing someone harm in some way.
"I'm studying abroad, as well as my flatmates here so we're fairly unfamiliar with the city we're in. This happened a couple of weeks ago on Halloween night.
We'd gone out to some parties that night, and had been drinking pretty consistently throughout. At about 4AM, we finally decided to make our way back home. We're three just-turned-20 girls in short dresses, and while my two flatmates were still fairly drunk, I'd sobered up enough.
Halloween is always a pretty sociable night and we'd ended up meeting and joining various parties throughout, so at this point we found ourselves about a 50 minute walk away from our flat in an area we barely knew. Fittingly, it was very quiet out and foggy as hell. I remember commenting to my friend how it felt like that shot in The Exorcist.
We walked through empty back streets for a few minutes, eventually reaching a main road. Being the most sober of the lot, I was basically herding the others, despite being equally as exhausted, thus not at the top of my game.
After a few minutes of barely any cars passing - and what taxis we did see, they were occupied - my friend finally flagged one. UK taxis tend to be Black Cabs so they're easy to distinguish. This was some random car, but it had the signature luminescent bar on the top with TAXI written on it so I brushed it off.
The driver put down the window and gruffly asked us where we were going. We replied with our address. He then asked us how much we were willing to pay, equally as gruffly. Even to my drunk friends, this was weird. But being one of those exceedingly friendly Americans, one kept talking to him. We were all tired after all, and wanted to get home. I was still uneasy though, as we're staying in a very friendly place and any other taxi driver we've had has been really friendly, and always ready to wax poetic to foreigners about the city.
She was just about to get in when I happened to look up at the glowing TAXI sign, and noticed how distorted it was. Looking closer, I realised he'd just spelled TAXI in black tape across it! From afar it looked legit. Plus, if you're driving around at night time on weekends, you don't expect your clientele to pay too much attention to this sort of thing.
I quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her away, telling her to look at his sign. At first my friends didn't notice, but when they did they freaked out. Realising this, he drove off real quick.
An ACTUAL Black Cab passed not long after this, so we got home safely, but we were pretty shaken. Due to the money question, he was probably just a dude trying to extort more cash out of drunk people with a fake taxi (which is still illegal), but it could have been more sinister. We're young women after all, and you learn to be wary of almost any guy if you're alone late at night. I'm just so relieved I happened to look closer, though I have no idea why I did." - Source

It's really creepy that it's even possible to imitate a taxi driver in the first place. 
There's many instances where a person has gotten into a cab, believing it to be a legit cab, only for it to turn out to be some creep impersonating a taxi driver. (More often than not, I feel like any threatening cabs people might come into contact with are those of which being used by taxi driver impersonators and not legit taxi drivers)

"One morning me and my sister had just started our walk when a taxi driver pulled up to us and stopped (which isn't too weird since people in our area tend to travel a lot and use taxi to get to and from the airport, so we see them quite often). He rolled down his passenger window and asked us if we knew a certain address, which was just down the street so I pointed him in the right direction. He drive off towards the house, but then when he got close to that house he turned around completely and came back in our direction and turned around beside us again.
I was quite confused as to what he was doing at this point as he pulled up beside us again. He again rolled down his window, but this time he said something along the lines of "you kids look really tired, you should get in and I'll drive you to school" in a really persistent tone, but I told him we were good as we just went to school just down the road (there are a few schools down this street, and I wasn't specific as to which one we went to) after that he parked his car to go on his phone.
At this point I kind of got the creeps, as he was just sitting there talking on his phone staring at me and my sister as we kept walking. After we made it about another 30 feet the cab driver started up and drove up to us, keeping a slow pace and staring at us with his window down but didn't say aything. My sister started to freakout really bad at this point and I was trying my best to handle her and the situation by telling her to ignore him and keep walking.
He kept his pace and stare nearly the whole rest of the way as we walked to school, even after my sister started to cry. When we were about a minute away from school he drove away fast as hell and in this time I caught his cab number and company, but missed the license plate. I went straight to the office and told them what happened and gave them the information of the cab.
After school one of the education assistants was assigned to walk us home, as they were worried of a "repeated incidence" and was all we were told at that point. My mother later told us what really happened.
After I reported the incident to the school, the school informed my mother who called the cab company, filing a complaint against them and that driver. The scariest part is that the number we gave them wasn't a registered number in their system, and that they had been getting complaints around that time of similar incidences with that number.
They never caught the guy (from what I understand), but he did have a pretty convincing fake taxi and who knows what he was doing to the people that got into it. Me and my sister weren't allowed to walk to or from school alone for a while after that, we had to walk in groups with other neighbourhood kids or get a ride from our parents.
" - Source
Just stay safe. Be aware, pay attention to the driver and how they're acting. If you feel like something is wrong, don't get in the car.
Also, I mean, something bad is less likely to happen if there's more people. (obviously that doesn't mean something definitely won't happen, but it's less likely as creeps are more likely to go for people who are alone)

More Taxi Stories

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


(I wanted to write a blog post for 4/20, but this turned out looking more like some weird school report because it's mostly just random information in regards to weed. It's also all over the place and poorly organized... )
As far as drugs go, Cannabis is, IMO, probably the least harmful. Like, if I had a teenager who wanted to smoke it, tbh, I doubt I'd oppose it. Obviously, don't go overboard, because too much of anything can be bad for you, but I don't see an issue with weed, so long as you're smart about your involvement with it.

There is evidence, albeit limited, that suggests marijuana can be used to: reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, or to improve the appetite in those of which have HIV/AIDS, and even treat chronic pain, mental illness, and/or muscle spasms.

I mean, it does have some side effects, as does any kind of medication, tbh. Common side-effects can include dizziness, feeling tired, vomiting or even hallucinations. There have been concerns about memory/cognition problems, risk of addiction, exposure of the drug to children, and even schizophrenia in younger individuals, also.

There are 3 types of Cannabis: Indica, Sativa, and the Ruderalis. (The ruderalis is the least common of the 3). As well as a variety of hybrids that are made from them.

Click to enlarge.
Sativa seeds are mainly used for, or to make, hempseed oil, which can be used for cooking, lamps, lacquers, or even paints. They can also be used for bird seed (caged), and provide a decent source of nutrients for a majority of birds. 

Ruderalis is used, traditionally, in Russian/Mongolian folk medicine, especially for treating depression. It's not usually recommended that you use it for recreational use as it has a lower THC content that than the others. 
In modern uses, it's crossed with Bedrocan strains for production of Bediol (standard content of 7% THC, and 9% CBD) for medical purposes. It's often used for new patients as it's more easily tolerated. 

Marijuana can be "ingested" (don't really ingest marijuana) using hand-rolled cigarettes or "joints", pipes (or bowls), bongs, and blunts (emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana)
Source 1 / Source 2
You can even mix pot into food, like brownies, or cookies, Apparently, you can even brew it as a tea.

Speaking of bongs/pipes/bowls, if you're interested in making your own...
You'll need:
  • Your favorite smoking product
  • Empty plastic bottle or can
  • A tube
  • Something that can be used as a bowl
  • Something to be used as sealant
  • Water
  • Lighter/matches
You can take any kind of a bottle, water or otherwise (a 2L/16oz bottle works fine), or a can.
Punch or heat up a paper clip with a lighter and cut out a 1/8 inch (3mm) to 1/4 inch (6mm) hole about 2 inches (5cm) from the bottom. This is the hole where the smoke will enter the bong from the bowl and stem. The tighter the hole around the stem, the less tape or sealant you need. Place a tube in the hole (could be a metal pipe, a pen tube, or a stem bought online or at a store) Make sure it's at a positive angle so your herbs don't get wet.
Make sure it's air tight. (if you need to fix it you can use gum, tape, or even a rubber grommet) To test it out, put your hand close to the seal and blow into the mouthpiece. If air comes out and you can feel it, you need to make it tighter.
Now you need to either buy a bowl, or you can make one. If you have a local smoke shop, you can go there to get one. You could also roll a cigarette with rolling papers and attach it to the end of the tube. You could also use aluminum foil... (You probably don’t want to use aluminum foil, because it oxidizes and burns holes in your lungsMake sure the materials you use in this process are safe for inhalation. It's recommended to use a glass or metal bowl.
Fill your bong with water until the tube is completely submerged by at least 1 inch. I mean, you can fill it with more, but the more there is, the less smoke there will be in the chamber when you smoke. If you put too much water, it will drown your herb.
Put a carb half-way down the bottle or lower, but not too low so that you aren't spilling when you smoke.

Added info:
  • You don't have to put water at the bottom, you can try assorted fruit drinks and such for added flavor.
  • If you melt any of the plastic and inhale that, not only is it extremely bad for you, it tastes awful and you will most likely cough your guts up
  • Don't use PVC, copper, aluminum, or plastic in parts that will be exposed to heat. As previously stated, don't smoke using tin foil (It's pretty dangerous if you hold a flame for too long. The vapors from burning foil are pretty harmful, and could go down the stem of the bong as you're inhaling. It can damage your lungs, throat, and worst case scenario, your brain.) or put hot glue near the bowl. 

If you are concerned about what weed can do to your health, I recommend reading:
As I have stated, I'm not against the use of weed, because for many it can be very helpful to them what with mental illness and such, but as with anything, too much of anything, even a good thing, can wind up being detrimental, and if you're going to use it, it would probably be in your best interest to learn as much as possible, right?

It's not all a health risk (obviously, considering what I wrote above) (not to mention that what effects someone's health negatively doesn't always effect someone else's health the same way. Everyone's body is different, and what works for you, or harms you, might not be the same as someone else.) however, as apparently there's sources (as stated by: saying that Cannabis can help you lose weight, regulate and prevent diabetes, fight cancer, fight depression, treat Autism, regulate seizures, and apparently a plethora of others. 

Not to mention if it weren't illegal the economy would suffer less and prisons would be less crowded as there would be less illegal drug trades of marijuana or even just people being arrested for having the shit. 

#legalize, amirite?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stalking YouTubers? (And Celebrities)

***Information on how you can deal with stalking or help someone you know who might be being stalked is at the bottom of this post.

There are many YouTubers who have had to make videos or tweets stating that there have been people who have found out where they lived, or just shown up to their house, or left things at their house, or just hung around. (Kind of like paparazzi.) There's even been people who have found hotels that a Youtuber is staying at for a convention or something, found out their room number and went to their room (uninvited) to meet them. (One YouTuber had that happen on their honeymoon)
That is crazy, and such an invasion of privacy. And quite frankly, it's kind of creepy.
I mean, they had to actually make videos or tweets to tell people not to do that. I'm pretty sure it should just be common sense, right?
Stalking is a serious issue. It's life threatening, and it can be crippling and terrifying. Whether you are someone who is just an innocent fan who really wants to meet the person that you look up to, or you are someone who is literally obsessed, it's wrong.

There are lines and boundaries. Youtubers, or even just celebrities in general are, regardless of their public image or what-have-you, still people who have private lives, personal boundaries and emotions. They're still people.
I can understand wanting to meet them, but you cannot just show up at their house or hotel room.
It just baffles me that people would go out of their way to stalk people like that. They have public meet ups at conventions or other places for a reason: so that if you want to meet them, you can. It's one thing to consider them a friend, especially if watching their videos has helped you get through some tough times, but that doesn't make them your actual friend. They're not going to give you special treatment or give you special attention. They might respond to your tweets sometimes (also, I mean, they probably get lots of tweets, especially if they have a shit ton of fans, so it's unfair to harass them or start hating them or whatever just because you feel that they "ignored" you. Even if they saw what you said, they are not obligated to send you a response), maybe thank you for the support and wish you well with whatever you may be going through, but they don't actually know you, so their boundaries still stand, and when you try to cross those boundaries, it gets weird and if you keep going, it gets creepy and maybe even scary. Hell, there's even YouTubers who add fans on facebook, but that still doesn't make you actual friends. Tons of people add strangers on facebook every day that they never even talk to, or have ever talked to before.
You have to remember that no matter how much you pay attention to them and their lives, to them you're still a stranger. They're not going to be any less cautious or private with you just because you're someone who is a fan of what they do or who they are, or you're someone who thinks you are "in love" with them or whatever the case may be.
Sure, they appreciate you being their fan and offerring your support of what they do, maybe they'll even reply to your tweets or what-have-you, but they still don't know you.

I mean, some of the people who wind up stalking a YouTuber or a Celebrity, or showing up at their house, aren't even fans and don't even like the person they're stalking. Sometimes it's a case where it's the paparazzi and they just don't know when to stop or they intentionally keep going, or even decide to provoke the celebrity they're after. I mean, they could all be less invasive in general, but most paparazzi are creeps.

And sometimes it's a case where someone who is interested or obsessed in/with a famous individual, or an individual who is well-known, will go after that person's significant other out of jealousy and hatred and the delusion that that person belongs to them and not the person they're actually with. They'll send death-threats, or just plain harass that individual because in their mind, that will make the other person that they hate or are jealous of go away and then the celebrity they're obsessed with will somehow be theirs? I don't know. It's crazy, it's creepy, and I don't understand why people do this stuff.

You wouldn't do that stuff to normal everyday people, right? So why do it to these people? It's just inappropriate.

(Here are some crazy)
Celebrity Stalker Stories: (as an example of the kind of stuff that is NOT okay.)
  • Alec Baldwin: A Canadian actress, Genevieve Sabourin, was arrested on charges of stalking and aggravated harassment after sending Alec Baldwin emails for several weeks and disturbing notes professing her love for him. Sabourin showed up at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where Baldwin was hosting a screening of "Last Tango in Paris," and she had to be removed by security. She also turned up unannounced at his home on Long Island and went to his address in lower Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood while he wasn't there. 
Information provided by:
If you need immediate assistance, the Victim Connect Helpline provides information and referrals for victims of all crime and can be reached at 855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846). 

Things you can do:

Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Trust your instincts. Don't downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
  • Contact a crisis hotline, victim services agency, or a domestic violence or rape crisis program. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, weigh options such as seeking a protection order, and refer you to other services.
  • Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you. Click here to learn more about safety plans.
  • Don't communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
  • Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep emails, text messages, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Click here to download a stalking incident and behavior log.
  • Contact the police. Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
  • Consider getting a court order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support.
  • Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.

If someone you know is being stalked:

  • Listen.
  • Show support.
  • Don't blame the victim for the crime.
  • Remember that every situation is different, and allow the person being stalked to make choices about how to handle it.
  • Find someone you can talk to about the situation.
  • Take steps to ensure your own safety