Sep 30, 2008

Business Plan

I am definitely not the "how can I make money off of this?" kind of person, so don't get me wrong here. This idea has come out of a sincere desire for a service that I and those like me would utilize daily. If I make tons of money off it, so be it. But this is for the people. And my yacht.

Here it is: A toll-free Wikipedia/any other resource website-on-demand hotline. Have you ever been in the car without internet access and thought to yourself "How old was Marie Antoinette when she died?" Did you resolve to look it up when you get home, but forget until it randomly crosses your mind in the grocery store (where you are also without internet access) a week later? Did the Unknown Factoid build into a major stress in your life that you can never quite pinpoint, reach the point where you bring a gun to work, shoot the place up, and end up on death row?

Our hotline can help. With [company name to be determined], you will never have to wonder about anything that can be found on the internet again! Here's how it works: you call in, listen to a brief advertisement and then a customer service representative with internet access will look up whatever you need to know. Want to know how many seasons Smallville has been on the air? No problem! Want to know what the average bra size for an American woman is? We've got it for you! Want to know what the ideal growing conditions for Easter Lilies is? We're here for you!

When I told Trevor about this great idea of mine, his response was something like, "You would be their number one customer. People aren't obsessed with every random thing they can think of like you are." Now, as a reader of my blog, I am assuming you are a dear friend of mine and therefore probably a bit of a trivia whore yourself, as these are the kind of people I gravitate toward. However, it's not just you and I that can find a use for this. Regardless of who you are, everyone has those moments walking out of the theater wondering, "What other film have I seen that guy in?", for just one example. No matter what a person's interests are, everyone uses the internet, so everyone would have a purpose for a hotline like this. It could be "Who won the Phillies/Brewers game this evening?" for the guy coming out of the business meeting, "What's the difference between chuck steak and flat iron steak?" for the housewife in the grocery store, "What are the requirements to get on Survivor?" for the I'm-going-to-be-famous-one-day 20 year-olds hanging out in the park, "Which UC schools have the highest and lowest tuitions?" for the worried high school student, "What was the name of that one lady who shot Andy Warhol and why did she do it?" for the crew at the coffee shop, or "Which film got better reviews: Sixteen Candles or Can't Buy Me Love?" for the indecisive couple in at Hollywood Video (on her night to pick, obviously).

Probably there would have to be some sort of stipulation on what kind of questions could be asked. I can see this being abused in a lot of ways (people who want to be read directions to a place they're traveling, want answers to something that would require an essay to answer, want an answer to something with an objective answer, etc.). The best way I can think of to address this would be to set a time limit. Tell the customer we'll give them as much information as we can find on whatever they want, but when time is up, that's it. If the customer calls in with "Tell me everything there is to know about Bangladesh", the customer service rep will give him or her a two minute rundown (perhaps after a pertinent question to help narrow it down a bit "Are you looking for history? Or perhaps you're wondering about tourist attractions? Contemporary culture?") and that'll have to be enough. If it's something that proves difficult to research ("What happens if a presidential candidate dies?") or to explain ("How does a sewing machine work?") the rep will give it the two minutes and if they can't find an answer, apologize and move on.

The company would be centered in a college town and offer very flexible scheduling and slightly-above-average hourly wages. This would hopefully attract intelligent, internet-savvy, college-aged employees. Turnover is high in all call center environments, but the job would be more interesting than the average marketing or customer service call center job, since you're learning things along with your customer, so I think it would be manageable. Especially since there isn't much training required.

The hotline would become archaic eventually, as more and more people are gaining mobile internet access, but there are definitely several years of potential in this.

I don't see how this could fail to make me filthy rich. Investors, please?

Sep 24, 2008

Okay, so I was horribly wrong about Sarah Palin

When Gov. Palin was nominated as the Republican VP candidate, I was positive that it was the last nail in the coffin of the McCain campaign. They were doomed. Nobody had heard of her and it seemed like the most uninformed, last-ditch-effort, purely-politically-motivated "hail mary pass" of all time. I could understand the reasons they did it (women voters, get some attention, Washington outsider, etc.), but I knew it would fall flat on its face. Women aren't going to love her just because she's a woman, you morons, women get excited over Democrats (who talk about education and health care and heart-wrenching stories about poor people struggling to make ends meet -- things women care about more than winning in Iraq or whatever). Just because you nominate a no-name woman doesn't mean the media is going to fall all over you like they did in your glory days, John McCain. And I couldn't help thinking it seemed like a very George-W.-Bush-nominating-whoever-that-random-lady-was-to-the-Supreme-Court-a-while-back-and-everyone-was-like-"huh?"-and-Congress-was-like-"nope" kind of thing to do. The sort of thing that someone who listens to just a few advisors and isn't in touch with the American people does. (That's not change. That's more of the same.)

Man, was I wrong. I still don't agree with the choice, necessarily, but as a political move, it was brilliant. I guess the McCain campaign analyst people know more than I do about what gets people on your side. And what gets them attention. Suddenly Palin's on the cover of every magazine where it used to be Obama (McCain isn't attractive enough to ever be the magazine cover guy). And we've all seen the jump in the polls. Especially among white women. I haven't been alive that long, and didn't follow politics for a good chunk of my not-long life, so this statment means virtually nothing, but I've never known of a VP candidate that has had such an effect on a campaign.

Much has been said about how you'd think the ticket was Palin-McCain, rather than McCain-Palin and how Palin draws far larger crowds than McCain at rallies, and I still keep telling myself it's because she's new blood and people want to get to know her and it's still the bump from the RNC, but then I realize: most Americans know more about Sarah Palin than they do about John McCain already (because she gets talked about in the news) and the RNC and her nomination were almost a month ago (longer than the average American's political attention span, let's be honest). Oh my goodness, it's practically October already. The actual election is going to be any second now. She will be a major factor. There's no getting around that.

The most interesting part to me is the Sarah Palin as an Agent of Change Factor. Apparently the Republicans finally got the memo that people are not happy with the status quo and went "Oh, we need to start talking like Obama is talking." I was amazed when I watched her RNC speech at how "change-y" her rhetoric was. If it wasn't for the sarcasim and a few minor policy bits, I'd think she was speaking at the DNC. I know McCain has always talked about "shaking up Washington" and such, but not as strongly, and definitely not as believably.

And after all of my initial doubt, I realize: she's got my attention, as well. I watched nearly every night of the DNC, because it interested me, but wasn't planning on watching more than McCain's speech at the RNC (and that only out of duty to Political Fairness, and not because I anticipated anything interesting). Once his VP selection was out, though, I couldn't wait to watch her speak. I was caught up wondering with the rest of our country, and came out impressed. People are, of course, more impressive when you go into it expecting a poor performance, but still, she was on the money. When John McCain came out at the end and asked the cheering crowd "Do you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States?", if the CNN cameras had panned to a certain lone viewer on my couch in American Fork, UT, they would find me, with a puzzled look on my face, slowly nodding my head up and down, thinking, "Maybe they are on to something."

Side note: If it's acceptable to write/say "VP" for vice-president, I think it should be acceptable to write/say "P" for president. Wouldn't that be awesome? "John McCain for P!" "Primary votes are in, and it looks like Obama will likely be the Dem's P candidate." In my middle-class-white-person mind, I think "P candidate" sounds kind of gangster. Which is always a good thing.

Sep 22, 2008

Letter from Thomas to Jared and Nathan

Here's another one of those exploiting-of-younger-siblings-for-cute-posts-that-I-don't-really-have-to-do-any-work-for-but-are-generally-crowd-pleasers posts.

An email my little brother Thomas wrote to Jared and Nathan (who are both out on missions now), along with the interpretations from my mother:

judxdfsz (Thomas says this says "I love Jared. I love Jared because he can run.")
hvfxexsed( I love Jared also because he can walk because he has no owee now.)
xcgfhjut ( I love Jared because he can jog.)
xgdthjtew( I love Jared because he is a missionary now.)
ffdxrxafr(I love Jared because he can also pretend like he is a chicken.)
bhvtfgsw(also I love that Jared can catch people.)
hfvc(also I love nathan because he can kiss people on lips thats actually OK because you do that when you marry people).
vbryry4bfggbggghfbfbng5bgygt45ggggghybbvt5ttvtvdexedaezzadx(I also love Jared because he can kiss people the right way like this)
bfvytvhvgrycgyhvvtvbygtbvtvvvvvvvvvvvrgbuttttgybtvg (i also love nathan because he can jog and love people)
xzxsfsrdfrfgrfghgbn (I love Nathan because he can cluck like a chicken)
njhbfcdxde ( I love Nathan because he can walk in halls because we are supposed to walk in halls)
vgcdxftwge ( i love Nathan because he can eat food and grow up.)
bhgdg (I love Nathan cuz he write his name like cursive)
ngvhfbv fdhcfrf (I like Nathan because he can write a letter in his name like "Y")
thats it!