Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Sprint

Dear Sprint-

It's a shame it's come down to this, because at the core I do like you. Your plan prices are reasonable, you have unlimited data (if my phone could actually utilize all that w/o shutting off... it can't), and your store employees are generally nice. HOWEVER, let's chat math, shall we?

I bought my HTC Hero in June of 2010 from you. It cost me around $100 on sale when I signed up. However, it quickly lost all real value when the Evo came out. So... I think you got a fair shake getting rid of it. In fact, I'm sure that's why the salesman tried to sell me on it in the first place. I've used it happily for all these months, but now, in order to get my email to sync I have to hard reset it every 3 weeks. It's NOT manageable, nor reasonable.

Monthly, I pay $8 for insurance. Plus, if I file an insurance claim that's $100 deductible. SO, to replace my phone with a refurbished replica, which would still be so outdated people laugh at me when I bring it in for service... that will cost me 8*16 months = $128 + 100 = $228.

If I'd like to trade the exact same phone in to your buyback program... you'll give me $25. A $223 difference in value depending on who is holding the phone?

In addition, if I do trade in my phone for $25, I need a new phone, right? Well... I have 140 days until I'm 'eligible' for that. SO, a comparable phone that utilizes my data plan etc. will cost me ~$450-800. Twice what I paid for my original phone, and I'm sure 1000 times what they pay in the 'buyback' program for the same phone.

Well... faced with those options, I could just cancel my contract for my prorated rate of $120. And resign up (or go with another carrier... probably Verizon)... get the same damn plan, and an iPhone for $99. Because you are willing to subsidize those phones by about $450 PER NEW CUSTOMER in order to draw away a small % of those on AT&T and Verizon instead of retaining those who already realized you offer a good value.

I'm in business school. I'm focusing in strategy. I'm also in policy school. I'm focusing in evaluation. I've done some evaluating, and from both sides, this disrespect and disdain for your current customers is bad business strategy, and bad policy. Additionally, after talking to 6... yes 6... customer service reps today on the phone AND in a store, I've realized that even they acknowledge that this phone is a piece of crap and outdated, and that your policies are pretty resoundingly unfriendly to customers. More than one person tried to help me, as a customer, get around your poor policies when it's a reasonable request.

I'm not a consumer advocate. I'm just a very busy dual masters degree student who also works part time and runs a consulting group... you know... for fun. I have shit to do, and need a phone that does it. You are now not just an irritation but in my way of getting things done... and that's a stupid place to put yourself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dear Food Network et al

Dear Food Network et al,

Oh all you recipe writers, both great (aka on TV) and small (aka those who post on their own blogs that no one reads)... you have a piece of my heart. You create and then share how to create with the world, in a cycle rarely replicated in other arts. I mean, it's not often you see a sculptor create something and then give explicit directions on how to do it. I respect the level of creative sharing that exists in the food world in many respects. But we really have to talk about what counts as a 'recipe.' Three ingredients, and only one is unprocessed? NOT a recipe. That's a back of a Betty Crocker brownie mix. Any recipe that involves 'Cream of ______ Soup"? Not a recipe. Maybe that's the way your mom did it, but she really should have taught you how to make a creamy stock like your grandma did. Seriously. It's not rocket science, and that would make it a recipe.

I'm not trying to be elitist, I just prefer that if I'm going to cook something that it actually lists all the ingredients. When we use things like Bisquick or Cheesy Taco seasoning mix (which are all well and good in a pinch for quick meals, but not literally cooking) I can't tell what's in my finished meal. MSG? Probably. Xantham gum? Yup. Partially hydrogenated soybean oil? Perhaps. The list could go on. When I follow a recipe I would like all ingredients to be things I buy at the store that I can eat: whole non-dehydrated vegetables, spices sans fillers, close to whole grains. This helps me be able to feed those with dietary needs without worry and makes me feel like I'm eating real food. From now on I'm calling your instructions Processed Meal Plans, not recipes. Please label them accordingly from now on so that when I google for recipes they do not come up in my results.

Much appreciated!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dear Scientology... or Dear Hulu... or both

From time to time I like to catch up on the Daily Show on Hulu during my lunch break. Living in DC for the summer has only heightened my desire to both know more about and mock the political system, so it's calming really. Certainly better than spending lunch sending frustrated tweets at Congressional leaders (ok, mostly Boehner and Pelosi honestly) from my phone.

So, I'm getting ready to watch some Jon Stewart and some snark about heat waves and gay marriage in NY and debt talks and I have an advertisement before the show starts. Pretty normal for Hulu, who usually at least has decent placement for the demographics (though really, no one watching this much Comedy Central can afford a new car. Honestly. Most of us are unemployed and living at our parents' house). ANYWAY, if given the choice, I generally take the normal commercial breaks but I was struck by the advertiser of choice. The Church of Scientology. So I watched the full run... and you can too!

Does this ad tell us anything ABOUT the religion? Nope. Does it ask us to join? Well... not really, though it slyly tells us that doing so will make us nicer, more wealthy, more moral and overall just better. Does it look more like a Sprint smartphone than a church ad? Absolutely (though what IS a church ad anyway?). Perhaps they were inspired by the recent "I'm a Mormon" radio ads which only taught me I can be a red headed firefighter who does jujitsu and still be Mormon. Neat. But more importantly than the feel good, American as apple pie sentiments is the placement.

The Daily Show? Hulu? Who are you trying to convince? Young, college educated, mostly nonreligious pot smokers (not me... but let's go with the stereotype here). Is this who you want to convince of your educational volunteering and anti-drug benevolence? Shouldn't you be advertising on NBA nightly news to the old, white, powerful VPs and CEOs across the nation so they can give you more money to be enlightened? Or convincing those much more likely to lynch you, like right wing Christian extremists with access to explosive material thanks to their cousin's meth lab, a la Fox News?

Honestly, I'm just confused now. If you want to reach the youth, keep flaunting your famous members. If you want to get the hippies, stick with the fliers for 'Free Personality Tests!' you used to hand out in front of urban Trader Joe's locations. If you want to reach 20 & 30 something liberals unoffiliated with religion... please just logically explain to me why and I will notify them. I do go to policy school, so I know most of them.

If you would like to explain yourself... please do. I will be reading my comments frequently. Or feel free to tweet me @Lia_Bia if you only need 140 characters to render my confusion null.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dear Summer Government Interns

Dear Summer Government Interns,
Hooray! Your dad made some calls and you got a job sitting at the front desk answering a Congressman's crazy constituent calls and sorting mail. Congrats! Your labor will be mind numbing, but it'll look good on the resume. You are part of an elite group of Hill staff. Great. However, I think we should talk about how to not just get a job like an adult, but also look like one.
Now, we all know I'm not a big fan of business attire. I'm much happier in flip flops and a cotton sun dress. Maybe a cardigan for that chilly A/C. But you can only wear that at small nonprofits. Even I have submitted to wearing button ups, and Ann Taylor skirts, and having a suit jacket on hand. So, if I can do it, you can too. So I've created a few rules of thumb to help you!
Things you can wear to work: heels of a reasonable height that you can walk in, dress pants, professional skirts, and flowy blouses. I'd also suggest solid colors, or at least non-animal prints.
Things you cannot wear to work: stretchy skirts you wear to go clubbing, anything that shows your bra straps, anything you couldn't wear to my public high school (aka, your skirts must reach your fingertips, and your top straps can't be thinner than 2 fingers), anything from Bebe or Forever 21, because this is what they list under 'career.'

Seriously? Only appropriate if your career is selling weed from the back of your boyfriend's van all summer. Ridiculous.

In any case, it's a near miracle more of you don't end up sleeping with Senators or getting lewd texts from Congressional leadership, as from my experience, half the Hill work population and staff is dressed in Saturday night sorostitute attire 8-5pm Monday - Friday. *sigh* These are the future politicians of America people. And we wonder why no one likes politicians.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

GOP Debate Wordle

I'm getting really into infographics as of lately, and trying to learn any free software I can get my hands on to make them. However, wordle is BY far the easiest, especially with text. I will be trying to post wordles of speeches and debates when I can, because I think it's interesting.

So... 6.13.2011 CNN GOP debate wordle
(names, titles, common english words like as and the etc. have been removed for obvious reasons)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dear MNer's running for GOP Candidate

Dear MNer's running for GOP Candidate,

Dear Bachmann - Without the EPA, all of your foster children would have defects/diseases from polluted water and cancer from asbestos in their schools. I'm proud to live in a country that spends resources preserving our natural environment that WE LIVE IN. Also, when you said 'if I was commander in chief' I felt very nauseous. I'm also very puzzled how Obama could have LED the initiative in Libya at the same exact time he should have not chosen to go INTO Libya. I'm pretty sure you can't lead bombings in a country you're not bombing... huh?

Dear Pawlenty - Thanks for totally pulling a passive aggressive Minnesotan when confronted with 'Obamney Care' comment. We all know that the healthcare bill was modeled after the Massachussetts state healthcare mandate (with state option! *gasp*). If you don't like it, or Romney for signing it, though it was good for those in the state, MAN UP and say it to his face! You looked like a scrawny kid who was trying to be a bully but ended up running away crying. I can see why Bachmann dislikes you so much... she has bigger balls... ovaries?... whatever.

Minnesota - You're better than this.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Pop Culture Fiends

Dear Pop Culture Fiends,

Perhaps I'm just getting old and curmudgeony, or I just spend far too much time doing work for grad school... but ENOUGH. Unless it's Halloween, there is no need to mimic Lady Gaga's (or god forbid Snookie's, or even Arrested Development never-nude jorts) wardrobe out on the weekends
and post a facebook album dedicated to the adventure, nor must you now use 'tiger blood' and 'winning' in every sentence and laugh because you're clearly not as crazy as Charlie Sheen (though potentially still less funny... which is scary). I mean, I like to check in on the good old from time to time, but I don't structure my evenings around my shows (or Netflix/Hulu queue), nor do my personal emails have more to do with the lives of celebrities I'll never meet (this includes 16 and pregnant stars who are now on magazine covers) than my own. Call me self centered, but I think those I talk with would like to know more about me than about which Showtime stars eloped and then got divorced last week. Additionally, unless you're on SNL, there's no need to mimic the language and idiosyncrasies of those you see on TV (except Bieber hair.. that's fair game)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is be like Sarah Palin and read EVERYTHING that comes across your desk, not just the US Weekly. Please... I'm begging you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Apocalypse,

I have been waiting for the end of the world ever since Sunday school in the early 80's. I've read Revelations, Nostradamus, and many of the 2012 prophesies.

Are you coming or what?

I've Wikipedia'd Ragnarok and the Big Crunch. I even experienced KRXX's transformation to KXXR in 1994, when they played R.E.M.'s "End of the World" for two days straight.

For at least 2.5 decades, I was on my best behavior, fearing the end would come "like a thief in the night." I finished five sacraments (including Reconciliation, which is a fucking bitch), attended countless Masses, and even refrained from sex (really, I did), all in the name of being part of the Rapture.

But, Apocalypse never came.

As I grow older and wait for the End of the World, my patience is in short supply. My ability to live in fear is diminishing. I have text messaging; I have better things to do than wait.

Even recently, when birds were dropping from the sky in Kentucky and fish dying in mass in Louisiana, my reaction time was slow. I continued on my deviant path as though end times were just crying wolf.

As for 2012, it's really come down to a game of Chicken. Don't get too excited, Goody.

While I'm not opposed to falling to my knees and repenting, I am going to need to see some real proof that this IS IT.

If a meteor doesn't hit the Earth and California doesn't fall into the ocean, I'm just going to keep on living as though I'm the center of the universe and put Jesus on my nightstand until further notice.

Unrest in Cairo or an uproar in Tunsia just isn't going to cut it for this girl to get ready for salvation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear State of the Union Address and Rebuttal

Dear State of the Union Address and Rebuttal:

I have some commentary for you, k? K.


- Use of the word fierce in the first 30 seconds. Damn right Obama. We are fierce, and we’ll whoop yo ass you slut… wait… not Maury? Oh… ok, refocused.

- “Job” count: 31. Perhaps a bit overkill, but respectable.

- Extended religiosity of the rebuttal: Wow. Way to alienate more than half the country. Guess they’re not really your demographic anyway though, so they don’t matter, right?

- DREAM act support: Absolutely the right thing to do to allow undocumented immigrants who have been educated and have excelled here in the US to stay and become citizens. Difficult to structure though really… but I’m impressed by the shout out.

- High speed rail: After my pleasant Amtrak experience, I’d much prefer to be on a high speed rail line than on a plane. And the energy and emissions expended per passenger would be much lower. Hooray! MPLS would be much more appealing if Chicago wasn’t 7 hours in a car or 100+ dollars and still 2 ½ hours in the airport/plane.

- Admitting we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world – ballsy Obama, ballsy. Good luck on those loop holes though. Those loop holes pay for a lot of dinners on the hill.

- John Boehner looking like he’s about to poop his pants right up until the point when he cried. Wonderful.

- Making all the secretly racist white dudes who are afraid of A-rabs stand up to support American Muslims.

- Proper pronunciation of Pakistan. Fancy Harvard.

- Joe Biden fist pump. Hells ya. I’d ride the Amtrak with you any day Joe.


- Awkward clapping as the mixed seating doesn’t allow for one ideological side to unify around if they will clap or not clap.

- Call to respect teachers… but no funding to actually do so.

- Michelle Bachman’s blush… Cover Girl apparently sent her too many free samples of “Pretty in Pink”

- John McCain smirking and clapping that ear marks are bad.

- Length – this is 2011, can you send me this in a text? Tweet? FB post? If not… it’s too f-ing long. Cut to the chase POTUS.

-Blatant American exceptionalism rhetoric: 61 minutes

- Awkward half clap as some of the audience googled a map of Sudan on their blackberries

- “Small business” or entrepreneur pandering: 6. At what point do small businesses go from being the end all be all to the evil giants who take advantage of us all? 500 employees? Is it based on departments? Maybe market cap? Where is this imaginary line of good and evil?

- Though the shout out to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal is good… the preceding comments that refer to all major faiths but not atheist is awkward. You can be a man who loves a man, but you better also love some monotheistic god or else.

-Paul Ryan’s plain awkward and creepy 400 Club delivery style. Is he trying to get me to send my gold in the mail? I think he just told us the rapture is here. I don’t know. I can’t even hear him. Though I think he just told us that free enterprise itself solves poverty which I’m pretty sure isn’t true… no matter what you think of unions now, there’s a reason they developed historically.