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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