Everyone Has a Twin.

Saturday, December 6, 2008 by Amy

Notice anything funny about this picture?

Yeah, that's not me.

It freaked me out too, but apparently I have a twin running around out there, wearing Aunt Maude glasses (that I kind of want-- Jon doesn't approve). I will admit that there is a part of me that wants to figure out who she is and meet her, if only to settle once and for all the irrational claim I made as a thirteen year-old that I had to be adopted (now looking more and more rational).

Twin, if you're reading, maybe we could get together and switch places for a week, kind of Parent Trap style. I could take over your indie craft fair responsibilities and you could figure out what I'm doing with my life. I think it's a pretty fair deal. Just let me know if you're interested.

P.S.- Also, does your indie craft friend happen to have a sister named Judy? They just look kind of similar, mostly in the forehead region.

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A Great Effort. A Simple Idea.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 by Amy

I just got back from watching all of the election coverage down at the Democratic headquarters at the Radisson and I have to say:

I'm inspired.

I am so proud of our country. I am so proud of Barack Obama and his family. I am so proud of my brother, who worked so hard to help as many people as possible be a part of this process. I am so proud of all of my friends and family who made it a priority to go out and vote today.

And I am humbled by how much work we now have to do.

In the end, it was actually somewhat odd that I found myself watching his speech at a Democratic-sponsored event. To be honest, I don't think of myself as a Democrat. Or a Republican. Some might say I am being wishy-washy, that I need to pick a side and get realistic. But I think that's really where the power of Obama's campaign rests: that you can look inside and ask yourself if you are being the best you can be-- no matter who you voted for. If you stopped listening because McCain didn't win, if you stopped listening because you think it's all just words, if you didn't think that any of it applied to you because you might have a different opinion on some issues-- then you missed the point. And you missed a great opportunity to join with the rest of the country in glimpsing for a moment what we can become if we can overcome that exact state of mind.

I'm excited to have a president who will be smart, who will listen, who won't think it's beneath himself to care about more opinions than his own, who will represent our country to the rest of the world as the honorable example we should be, who will inspire and help a whole new group of people to realize that, ultimately, the potential and responsibility of our country belongs to each of us.

I don't think it will be easy. But there's nothing more amazing to me right now than having the hope to believe it's possible.

Today's Love/Hate

Monday, October 27, 2008 by Amy

Something I love:

Jon's mad pumpkin carving skills.

So, I was in Phoenix for work all last week. But it was all worth it when I came home and saw this. Jon had cleaned the whole house AND carved me this masterpiece. (One disclaimer: the only thing he had to carve it with was a butter knife. And love.)

Something I hate:

George Lucas

My seven-year old self would hate me for saying it, but it's true. George Lucas has now managed to destroy everything that I cared about in my childhood. I finally saw the new Indiana Jones movie this last weekend. It was almost painful. What, George? It wasn't enough to emasculate Darth Vader, now you have to make Indiana Jones a trite package of visual catchphrases relying heavily on face-melting aliens? Not cool. Somewhere back in 1989, a tear is rolling down my chubby little geek kid face as I play with my exact-to-scale Millenium Falcon.

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Quick follow-up to last post

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 by Amy

So, my last post had a link in it to join Speek that may not have worked for people using Internet Explorer 7. I'm really sorry to anyone who tried to use the link and had it not work. Mostly because you really should get a Mac and forget about Internet Explorer anything. But also for your wasted time.

It's fixed now.

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I Promise It's Not Tahitian Noni.

Saturday, September 27, 2008 by Amy

The last couple months of my life have been pretty crazy. Some more sane people may be less generous and call it a total mess. I have been so busy that poor Jon has been forced to fend for himself for food even more than he already had to. I've turned into one of those "once a month" bloggers. And I've only barely kept up with Project Runway. Clearly, it's been a little nuts.

But I think it's been for a good cause.

Three months ago, I was just minding my business, working at the TSG, when my dear friend Jenna approached me and asked me if I'd do some freelance web writing for this start-up company she was working with. I said yes, expecting a few hours of easy work. As I started working on it, though, I started seeing something truly unique and, honestly, genius. I felt like Heidi Montag when she realized she could make her own music videos: this thing was just full of possibilities. I immediately called Jenna and told her that, with the right brand, this idea could be something really huge.

Thus, Speek was born.

Speek is based around the idea that advertising should be a conversation. Scott (the guy behind the great idea) one day had just had enough with all of the wasteful junk mail, lame TV spots and obnoxious banner ads that were always surrounding him. He started thinking that advertising should be something more: something that not only actually made sense for the people viewing it but that also gave something back to them and the communities that they live in.

Rather than just complaining about it (my usual stance), he then actually came up with a beautifully simple idea that solved several of the biggest challenges facing advertising. And Kristin, Jenna and I (along with several other really great people) have been working like crazy since then to help Scott make this awesome idea a reality.

So, how does Speek work?

1. People come to speekback.com and sign up for a free account. In this account, they create a profile about their interests.

2. They then get access to an online viewer where they receive advertising for things that are actually interesting to them (so, for example, I might get an ad for a discount on a new "So You Think You Can Dance"sheet set-- stuff like that).

3. For every ad the member views, they get $.05 and a partnering non-profit organization of their choice gets $.05 too. So, not only are you getting information that you actually might find useful, you're also getting some of the benefit for your time and helping to support the causes or groups you believe in at the same time.

4. As people share Speek with their family and friends, they also get money for each ad that anyone that they invite views. Even if you just invite a few people and view a few ads, it all adds up pretty quickly to cover your gas money or, in my case, your Bugles money (come on-- you know that crunchy salty amazingness is pretty much impossible to resist).

5. Advertisers then have a way to interact with people that would be interested in their products without filling our mailboxes and landfills with wasteful junk that doesn't work for anyone involved. So, the whole process is better for everyone involved.

Anyway, I think this idea has the potential to change the way that people see advertising. And I've been spending blood, sweat and tears (my fingers are cramping even now) getting this to the point that we can now share it with you.

So, it'd mean a lot to me if you would check it out and let me know what you think.

First, you can check out the site here: www.speekback.com.

Then, come back here and click here to sign up (right now, people can only join by invitation, so you have to use this link). It's totally free and it only takes a few minutes.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to support me. You guys are the best.

(One caveat: realize that all of you amazing people will be among the first to really experience Speek. So, there may be some things that are still a work in progress. But aren't we all?)

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Back from the dead. Kind of.

Friday, September 12, 2008 by Amy

Right about now, I can't decide which I feel worse about: the state of my house or the state of my blog. But where fixing one of those things involves cleaning supplies and actual work, I think I'll start with the blog.

Nothing like posting pictures from a trip you got back from almost a month ago. But I'm okay with that. Almost like I'm okay with my face in this picture.

Remind me never to try to look cool in pictures again.

So, let's get on to some of the better ones.

Our trip was so much fun. There's nothing like travel to remind you that there's nothing better than hanging out with your husband every day with no responsibilities. You can tell from Jon's increasingly awesome hair that we really took that "no responsibilities" thing seriously.

And yes, he does love Haribo. We take our gummy candies as seriously as we take our responsibilities.

Our trip consisted of stops in Budapest, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia (with an afternoon in a lovably dirty little coal town called Lodz thrown in for good measure). We had so much fun everywhere we went that it is kind of hard to say which was our favorite. But here are some of the things we discovered.

Never-nudes and stretched pennies are phenomenons that cross both borders and cultures.

You can stay in one of the nicest hotels ever one night (yes, there were TWO shower heads for each person-- wrap your mind around that)....

And stay across from an internment camp the next night. Thanks for nothing, Priceline Europe.

Thousand Island dressing is one thing. But Europeans have harnessed the power of Seven Thousand Island. No wonder the euro is kicking our trash.

The place to look for a Communism museum is sandwiched between the biggest McDonald's I've ever seen and a casino. Karma's a real b****.

Eastern Europeans try to be politically aware when arranging their touristy folk art.

There's nothing better than embroidered dog pictures. Unless it's embroidered dog pictures dressed in colonial military garb on pillows. Then you've really got me.

There is something about Eastern European dudes and their chess.

This guy had to be my favorite, though. He's just chilling. But his customer service never falters.

But, anyway, here are some of the pictures we took when we weren't acting like total idiots.

Okay, so I make a promise to be better with my blog. Check back in the next few days for my rundown on this season's most interesting music releases, reasons why my life is insane and my real thoughts on Sarah Palin. I'll try to keep it interesting.

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How to Waste 3.5 Hours in the Copenhagen Airport

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 by Amy

So, we're back. And we had so much fun. And I am jet-lagged out of my mind.

So, while I get my head straight enough to sort through our approximately 4.5 billion pictures and make a proper blog post, here's a little nugget from how we spent our day yesterday. Let me just say that, if you have to be stuck in an airport, Copenhagen is the one to be stuck in. It's pretty fancy (Who doesn't need access to a Gucci store, Burberry store, Hermes store and a Ferrari dealership on the way to their connecting gate?) It's also pretty funny.

Yes, this is a real store. But isn't it also a state of mind? I like to think that I'm always... Soaked in Luxury.

But you know you've been a little too Soaked in Luxury when it comes to starving children and all you can come up with is "Who Cares?"

My favorite marketing message from the Danes, though, had to be this one for Sterling Airlines that we found on the baggage carts. I love people with a little self confidence.

I'll be back soon with more wild and zany moments from Eastern Europe (I promise I won't make you look at all the pictures. I'm saving up that kind of torture for when we have a kid). As much fun as it was, though, we missed you all and we're glad to be back.

I Love Flying

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 by Amy

So, this weekend I was in Phoenix for business. On Sunday night, I was sitting on a delayed plane, trying to get home. Because we'd been sitting there for a while, they'd turned off all the lights except for people's reading lights, no doubt hoping to trick all of us into falling asleep rather than being annoyed that we were late. Well, this one four year-old was having none of it. The plane is totally quiet and he starts yelling, as only a four year-old can:

"I like big BUTTS and I cannot lie! You other brothers can't deny!"

Yes. He started singing "Baby Got Back." And he did not stop. His lyrical memory was impressive. I had to kind of respect his parents: Sir Mix-a-Lot should be a part of every young child's life.

On a similar note, Jon and I will be gone for the next couple of weeks, hopefully encountering many other such children in our travels. If I get a chance, I'll post some pictures as we go. See you all soon!

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Totally Josh

by Amy

I just got my new camera and have been having a ton of fun learning how to use it better. This is one of the shots I've really liked so far. This is my little brother Josh to a tee. Innocent. Goofy. Slightly west-side. He's got it all going for him.

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American Voters: A Bunch of Morons

Friday, July 25, 2008 by Amy

No, this has nothing to do with Obama's visit to Afghanistan or John McCain calling the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia three times. This is about important stuff.

Will got voted off SYTYCD. And I am officially pissed.

Are you kidding me? He is so insanely talented that it makes me sick. And now the finale is not going to be as good because he's not in it. Plus, Mark has to feel like an absolute tool because what do you say to that? "Yeah, your dancing is about ten million times better than mine but I did get the whole state of Hawaii to vote for me, so, about that..."? Everyone knew that Will was the best dancer on the show. Plus, as evidenced by the video, he is the only guy in America who can dance that stunningly while wearing a pair of never-nudes (Tobias is turning green with envy).

Unbelievable. Come on people.

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Yes, I'm a Bookworm

Thursday, July 17, 2008 by Amy

So, the other day, I was in Smith's Marketplace and I saw a kid trailing behind his mom's cart, walking unsteadily down the cereal aisle. Why? Because he had his nose about two inches away from the pages of the book he was trying to read as he walked. I waited to see his mom turn to go down another aisle. He stopped in a daze, not even attempting to keep up with her. Two seconds later, she doubled back and impatiently pulled him along. I had to laugh. It really took me back.

I was that kid.

Let's be honest. I was a geek. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, regardless of my comprehension level or age appropriateness of the material (which may have explained why my mom found me reading "Gone With The Wind" in second grade and then had to explain to me what the Civil War was). Every night, I would sneak books into bed with a flashlight. I remember loving to see the sun rise as I finished the last page of whatever it was I was reading that day. My whole childhood was shaped by the books I read, from "Babysitters Club" to "Brave New World." I was that same kid, driving my mom nuts because I wouldn't put the book down for long enough to keep up with her.

Which is why I'm loving the adult reincarnation of my love for books: The Kellie Bacon Book Club (it's called that because we all know each other through Kellie... get it? Kevin Bacon, Kellie Bacon... I thought it would be funny). Anyway, I can't say enough about how much I love my book club. All of the girls in it are smart, funny, successful, insightful, insane. I used to think joining a book club was a boring mom thing to do. Now that I see all of the crazy stuff that women actually talk about at book club, I realize that this is the hip place to be.

I'm also adding this Shelfari thing to my blog to show the books I'm reading or have read, both for book club and outside of book club. I always love recommendations from the people I like. And I'm going on a trip soon, which means that I want to take at least my full body weight in books (Jon told me I have to carry the backpack with the books-- I think it's his attempt at regulation). So, comment away and tell me about all the stuff I should be reading.

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Major Commitment

Monday, July 7, 2008 by Amy

It's been two years since I got married and, as of several days ago, I had yet to change all of my legal documentation from "Spittler" to "Shaffer." I don't know entirely why. Maybe it was a combination of fierce loyalty to the Spittler name that was infused with years of elementary school suffering (just mix anything closely resembling the word spit with any child between the ages of 5-9 and imagine all the possibilities). Maybe it was the sense of identity that came from being one of only two "Amy Spittler's" in the whole world (okay, yes, I googled myself. You may say it's narcissistic but I found out that the only other person in the whole world with my name is a collegiate swimmer in Alaska. Sounds like the beginning to the next Wes Anderson movie, right? We should become friends and go on a Yukon train trip and see all the wacky ways that we... never mind.) Or maybe it's because I'm just lazy and didn't want to hassle with all that annoying paperwork.

Whatever it was, it was working pretty well for me. I pretty much had everything under control, remembering that I was Amy Shaffer at church and the gym and Amy Spittler at the pharmacy and the bank, Amy Spittler on my work email and Amy Shaffer on my gmail. I was actually rather proud of my mental juggling.

Until last Wednesday.

That's the day that I realized that I had booked my plane ticket for our upcoming trip in my married name and that my passport was still in my maiden name. At first, I told myself not to be too worried. But then I called the airline and they said there was no possible way I would be allowed on the plane if my ticket name and passport name didn't match. So, the last few days have been a blur of Social Security office lines and expedited passport forms. And $135 later, I am now officially Amy Elizabeth Shaffer. And I'll have a brand spanking new passport with none of the cool stamps I had accumulated over the last several years (yes, I was the annoying person who still asked for the stamps even though they don't really do that anymore).

No more hedging my bets, Jon. I'm in this for life now.

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Today's Love/Hate

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by Amy

Something I love: Dwight as Xena

I don't know if it's the hairy legs or the saucepan bra set-up, but this is freaking funny stuff, man. The fact that he kind of pulls it off is both disturbing and awesome. Check out the Entertainment Weekly piece that this came from, where he also impersonates McGyver, Paulie Walnuts from the Sopranos and Captain Picard. Genius.

Something I hate: Indecision

I am not ashamed to say that I have some obsessive tendencies, especially when it comes to making decisions. So, when I tell you that 85% of the conversations I've had with my husband this week have revolved around the roughly 92 million internet reviews I've read about this camera that I want, you shouldn't be surprised. I think I'm driving him absolutely nuts (while eating dinner: "On dpreview.com, though, they said that it didn't perform as well in high ISO situations"... getting in bed: "But then I can't use the prime lens series because the focusing computer isn't in-camera." ETC.) I've been really wanting a DSLR for a while and am getting a little more serious about it in light of our upcoming trip. With my price range and ultimate intentions for the camera, I've narrowed it down to two: the Nikon D60 and the Nikon D80.

But now I am an absolutely crazy person (we're talking crack addict, Gary Busey crazy) trying to make a final decision. I just keep getting sucked in to read yet another review.

Help me?

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