amyscoop.com

AUGUST 2002

Saturday, August 31, 2002
Man, it feels like I'm on vacation. Except...umm...I'm not. Just a mandatory four-day Labor Day holiday in the state of Michigan.

That new Gateway commerial is really annoying. Have you seen it? It's an ad for their new computer, which looks like the ugly kid brother of the new iMac, and in the commercial, the Gateway computer is jumping over the iMac and sticking its tongue/CD drive out at it, and the voice over boasts that it's cheaper than an iMac. Sure, but as I said to a friend of mine, in the fashion world, that's called a knock off. Knock offs are cheaper than the better items they are designed to be like. And if Gateway thinks its product is so superior to an iMac, why the hell'd they design it to look like an iMac?

Speaking of Apple products (seems to be a theme this month), the iPod is great. I've been using it mostly in the car, since my Civic has only a cassette deck. My new favorite song to drive to? Harder Better Faster Stronger by Daft Punk.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Played around wtih iChat last night. It's Apple's instant messaging program, it comes free with OS X 10.2, and as far as I know, it's the first one that's compatible with AOL's Instant Messenger. For a long time, AOL fought off other companies that wanted to make messaging software that was compatible with Instant Messenger, so it's good to see them finally working together (kind of like Apple giving up the rights to the name "Firewire"). Anyway, I only used iChat for about 30 minutes, and while it's cool and everything, I did find the chat bubbles kind of hard to get used to. AIM is just lines of text, whereas iChat features little cartoon talk bubbles. It makes for a nicer-looking interface, I think, but it will take some getting used to. And the name just screams bad jingle (iChat, you chat...). Not that Apple would use a bad jingle to sell their products.

My new addiction? Bridge mix. (I know. You don't have to tell me.) My roommate calls it a box of chocolate for those of us with less money. She has a good point.

Monday, August 26, 2002
Okay, I have finally gotten used to the idea that I own an iBook, and I have detached it from it's three-day position tucked under my left arm. It's fun to carry around a new toy, but after a while, people start to look at you funny. Besides, I have a new iPod now too! Anyway, I think that OS X 10.2 is considerably faster than the earlier versions, and even though there's a lot of criticism about it being just a point upgrade and not a full new OS, there are some good improvements. Read a fun review of Jaguar here.

In other news, I had a brief moment of excitement this morning when I opened up a new container of Philadelphia cream cheese, peeled off the instant win gamepiece on the lid, and saw that I was a first prize winner. First prize! That must be -- what? -- at least a grand in prize money. Yeah! It was an exciting moment for me and my Lender's bagel. Then I read the small print on the gamepiece and found that all I had won was a tub of cream cheese. Apparently, the grand prize is $100,000, but the next rung down is a tub of cream cheese. Thanks for nothing. The free cream cheese is probably plain, too, and not veggie or chive or anything like that. Bastards.

Thursday, August 22, 2002
Amy was here. Beep! Hey, it's Amy. Thanks for stopping by. I might be out for the next few days. See, I got my new iBook, and I'm all excited! It has OS X 10.2 on it (before it's officially released -- I know!), and it's got all kinds of cool features that I've been playing with. I haven't explored around OS X much, so this is all kind of new and exciting. Plus, the portability of the laptop will let me do all sorts of important things in the comfort of my own bed, like check email and watch DVDs. So I'll be back in a few days. Thanks again for checking in. Beep!

Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Tomorrow is our Back to School Breakfast. It's always nice to have free breakfast, but I'd forgo it if I didn't have to go back to school.

In other bad news, we found a second bat yesterday. It was sleeping in a box in the basement. My very brave neighbor brought it outside and tried to dump it out of the box, but some CDs fell on it and broke its wing, so it just kind of flopped around the patio until another neighbor with a BB gun came by to put the furry bastard out of its misery. I sincerely hope this is the last one.

In other very good news, my shiny new laptop and iPod are on their way to my door!

Tuesday, August 20, 2002
So I got up at 4 am last night to pee, opened my door slowly, and got down the hall to the bathroom. We've been leaving the light in the bathroom on because of the whole bat scare; a dark house is kind of creepy when something might be flapping around. Anyway, I turned to go in the bathroom, and there it was, napping on the window frame. I quickly shut the door.

I ran downstairs to take care of business in the smaller bathroom, then went back up. I opened the porch door, grabbed a broom, tried to stop myself from shaking, and went in the bathroom, closing the door behind me. The bat hadn't moved, and I didn't know what else to do, so I put my hands on the end of the broom to get a lot of leverage and just gave it a good whack. And it didn't move. So I hit it a few more times, and then it fell and kind of twitched. It was stuck to the broom, so holding it out flat, I walked out the porch door and slammed the broom on the rail. I saw the bat fall off and could hear it hit the bricks on the patio. Ick.

When I woke up this morning, I didn't see it outside. A stray can probably made breakfast out of it. I feel kind of bad about killing it like that, but it was in my house, and trying to shoo it out humanely just hadn't been working. It took me a long time to go back to sleep, though, and I'm still shaking. But at least I took care of our bat problem...for now.

Sunday, August 18, 2002
I've never been one for working with my hands. Once I built a bookcase, but it was never really level, and I didn't dust it off before I put polyurethane on it, so it dried really rough and kind of hurt when you touched it. So now I buy bookcases. I can paint walls and do a few basic things that involve simple tools and household solutions, but when it comes to power tools, toxic chemicals, or building anything, I've never been any good and never had any desire to improve my limited ability.

Over the fourth of July, though, I bought two tables at Ikea. You know how they package stuff -- everything's in cardboard boxes and you have to put it together. When I opened up the boxes at home, I was pissed when I realized that they were made of unfinished pine. So much for cheap tables. That's why they were so cheap. There would be work involved.

So, in an effort to make them look like furniture and not like the ten dollar pieces of wood that they actually are, I resolved to stain and seal them. I've never done anything like this, so I went over to my neighbor's garage. She is my age but can do all kinds of stuff like this, and I frequently see her drag an old piece of furniture into her garage on a Saturday morning and drag the same piece of furniture completely refinished back into her house Sunday evening. So she gave me a shopping list for Lowes (I of course bought something wrong, but she had what I needed) and talked me through the staining process, which is more complicated than I thought. There's a lot of wiping with a stain-soaked rag, and you get a lot of stain on your hands, and you have to do multiple coats. No wonder furniture's so expensive.

Anyway, now I have two rosewood-stained unassembled end tables that actually look good. I probably have more stain on my hands and feet (handy tip: don't stain furniture barefoot), but the stain's water-soluble and will hopefully wash off sooner than later. When the tables dry completely, I can seal them and put them together. So now I'm all proud of myself for doing something with these tables and am thinking that I can now be one of those people who buys armoirs and china hutches at Salvation Army for eight bucks and strips them and refinishes them to look like priceless heirlooms. See what happens when I learn something new?

Friday, August 16, 2002
How you can tell that Hotmail's spam filter doesn't work: An unsolicited email from a company reaches your inbox, you respond with questions, and the solicited answer is sorted into your junk mail folder.

Update: Bats aren't fooled by flypaper.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Recipe for a really addictive sandwich, provided you like green olives a whole lot:

Ingredients
2 slices wheat bread
Tub of cream cheese (regular preferred, lite if you must)
Green olives with pimentoes, presliced if available

Assembly
Spread each slice of bread with as much cream cheese as you're comfortable with. Put a layer of sliced or chopped olives and pimentoes on top of the cream cheese on one slice. Cover with the other slice so the cream cheese sides are facing. Eat. Repeat as necesasry.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002
On the enthusiastic recommendation of my new roommate, I bought this Japanese soda that uses a marble to break the vacuum seal. I found it in the international aisle of the local all-in-one megamart for $1.89, which seemed pricey, but I was told it was really good. The bottle looked like Big Brother.

I've had Peter Bruntnell's Normal For Bridgwater for about six months, but it hadn't sunk in until now. Just really nice acoustic rock -- kind of a British alt-country disc, and one you want to listen to over and over and over.

Thursday, August 8, 2002
Great with casserole. I bought a squeezy bottle of red Heinz ketchup last week, only to learn that it's no longer just ketchup but is now (see photo at right) my fish stick improvement system. So it's a system that will somehow improve my fish sticks. A system. Yes. Let's see. I haven't had a fish stick since I was about twelve. I never thought they needed a whole lot of improvement -- how much thought do you really give to fish sticks? -- and I never liked ketchup on them. Tartar sauce, sure, but ketchup? Ick. But apparently, ketchup is now an all-in-one system (system) that will improve my fish sticks, and improve them so well that Heinz felt that this fact should be proclaimed on the front of the bottle. It's a fish stick improvement system. Yes.

Or, it's just a game Heinz is playing with ketchup fans. Looks like a good ploy by the PR people at Heinz to get other people to do their jobs for them. "Yeah, Sally, I can't think of anything else to put on that bottle besides the words 'Tomato Ketchup.' Let's see if we can get someone else to pick up the slack while we just collect a paycheck." "Great idea, Bob!"

The back of the bottle gave some other examples of what might go on a Heinz ketchup label, like, "Meatloaf's only hope," "Mustard looks up to it," and "Quiet please. Tomatoes meeting inside." (I think the latter is actually kind of funny.) Heinz is accepting submissions for their Say Something Ketchuppy contest at their website. And I'm sure they'll get lots of them. Some people are just really into ketchup. Have you ever known someone who ate it on everything? Yeah -- those people are weird. I like ketchup on tater tots, onion rings, fries, and that's it. People who put it on everything from steak to eggs to goddamned mangoes really need a methodone-like clinic to get themselves off the ketchup.

So don't have an ideas for a submission as of yet, but if Kleenex decided to run a similar contest, my submission would be, "Tissue? I hardly know you." Yes, it's an old joke, but I swear, anytime someone asks me if I have a tissue, I say this and they laugh. Well...they laugh sometimes. Maybe it's once in a while. Okay, someone laughed at that once. It might have been me, but there was definitely laughter. Definitely.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002
The cover story on Building the Post Britney in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine exposes a lot of what's wrong with the music industry. Amanda Latona, the "upcoming" young singer profiled in the article, seems nice enough, and apparently she's got a decent voice, but she doesn't write her own songs, plays no instruments, and has almost zero knowledge of American popular music (she had no idea that Aretha Franklin sang "Natural Woman," even though Latona sang it regularly before the record company came calling). You get the distinct impression that all J Records cares about is her image. Should she have a girl next door look? Should she be a girl rocker? What clothes should she wear on her album cover?

The unfortunate thing is that Latona doesn't quite seem bright enough to understand what's going on. But she's only 23 and has probably been treated like a child by record company types her whole life, so you almost feel sorry for her. She even makes some comment to the author of the article that she really wants her first album to be a classic, so it's important that the photos on the cover and on the inside look right. J's got her so geeked about her potential image that she doesn't even get that it's about (duh!) the music.

I'm sure she'll be in a "Behind the Music" or "True Hollywood Story" in a few years talking about how J Records totally screwed her over.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002
Last year, a friend of mine had a painting party/event/show, and she asked a few of us to help her out. You know -- keep an eye on things, keep everything neat, that kind of thing. She half-jokingly printed up t-shirts for us that had "EVENT STAFF" written in big letters on the back. So now I have this t-shirt, and I wear it from time to time.

Today is primary election day in Michigan. So I got up early and got dressed, and I happened to put this t-shirt on. I went to the polling place, which for me is the local senior services office. They're a little slow over there, but on the whole they're nice people. They also don't get a high turnout, especially on primary day, so they're happy to see anyone walk in. I went in at around 8:15 this morning, and I was the only person there aside from the senior volunteers. And I learned that if you wear anything that looks even half official and half authoritative, seniors are extremely impressed and immediately want to know more about it. They all asked me what event it was for, and where I got the t-shirt, and if it was a good job, etc. etc. etc. I spent one minute voting and about five trying to explain that I wasn't a cop or a security guard or anything like that.

Monday, August 5, 2002
Dammit! Everything's happening at once! I've got bats in my house again, the dishwasher's overflowing, and my new roommate broke a shelf in the refrigerator!

In other news, I had a really good guacamole sandwich for lunch today. Have you ever had a guacamole sandwich? I wouldn't have thought to put guacamole on a sandwich with just a little mozerella cheese and nothing else, but I like guacamole, and I like sandwiches, so I guess it makes sense. And I have to say, this was especially good guacamole from this place in town that I go to for lunch now and then. Yeah. Nothing like good guacamole. Except -- duh! -- a good guacamole sandwich. Mmm.

But yeah, so anyway...the bats! And the dishwasher! And the shelf in the fridge! Damn.

Sunday, August 4, 2002
The other night I went to a meeting of the semi-local chapter of 2600. It was a bunch of computer-geek guys and my friend and me. Kind of a nerdy thing to do, but the conversation was interesting and I actually liked it. Am considering going to their monthly meetings on a semi-regular basis.

Thursday, August 1, 2002
Yeah, baby -- saw the new Austin Powers movie the other night. All in all, it was a good -- smart, even. Some intelligent poking fun at pop culture, some physical comedy, and some run-of-the-mill fart jokes (maybe a few too many of those). Definitely worth checking out on video, if not in the theatre. The opening sequence was hysterical and included some stuff that was (I think) successfully kept under wraps.

The title of this month's page (I title each month -- have you noticed? Please say you've noticed?) comes from the title of a song on Josh Rouse's Home album. Here at amyscoop.com, we like the elegant songwriting, soothing voice, and pop melodies of Signor Rouse. Highly recommended.


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