About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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Is It That Hard to Keep Your Email Straight?

I signed on to Gmail fairly early, but since another Amanda Marsh claimed the name, I went with my first and middle names. Now I’m being plagued by a million people with the same combination who can’t seem to get their email addresses correct! This past week, I’ve rented a hotel room in Williamsport, Penn. (from an Amanda in Pennsylvania) and signed up for a Facebook account (from an Amanda in Tennessee). Each days, I get reminders from WISN (Milwaukee) and have access to paid UltraViolet (Michigan) and Pandora One accounts. A few months ago, I received an appointment reminder for a blowout (Chicago), a phone number from my non-existent cousin Jonathan, a few Snopes-worthy forwards from an Italian named Victoria, an offer to telecommute from a professor at Notre Dame, and notification that a Realtor would be showing my apartment this Sunday (again, Chicago).

Is it that hard to check your email address before hitting “Submit”?

Old Navy’s Horrible Pricing Policy

Today, I took a trip to Old Navy to buy a beautiful scarf I found online—it was a pink and paisley, and I thought it would be fun to wear on Easter Sunday. I found it immediately, and also found three other scarves I liked. Right before I check out, I discovered each scarf was $14.94, not $12.94 as indicated online (which was not marked as a web-only price)—that’s an $8 total difference. When I got up the register, I asked the sales associate if she could please match the Internet price, and she said she was unable to do so. I then put the scarves back on the shelf, and left without buying anything.

That means I could have saved myself a trip to the store, bought the scarves online for $8 cheaper, and gotten them shipped for free (with a promo going on right now).

Old Navy is the first retailer I’ve encountered that will not match an Internet price. I was thoroughly disappointed because I spent time and money to get to the store, yet the above situation would have been much cheaper. In the end, I didn’t buy the scarves out of principle.

I sent Old Navy a letter expressing disappointment over its price-matching policy, and noted that I’d hope it would reconsider. I mentioned that I thought it would not only be a positive for customers, but for the company as well, since it wouldn’t have to use extra resources, like packaging, to ship out an online order.

We’ll see what sort of reply I get.

(UPDATE: An Old Navy representative reached out to me by phone and said that the associate was in error—the store does match Internet prices and he apologized for my experience. For my troubles, he’s sending me a gift card to spend in the store. Thank you, Old Navy, for your response.)

The Cheapest Concert I’ve Been To?

Today, I bought my best Groupon to date—$15 tickets to see Heart in concert at Jones Beach Amphitheater on July 27.

Besides shows I’ve seen for free (like Gregg Rolie and Steve Augeri), I don’t ever think I’ve purchased concert tickets this cheaply for a well-known act!

In my opinion, it’s what concert tickets should cost. I’ve been to many concerts since 1998 (when I started going to shows with my friends), and tickets are astronomical to the point where half of the concert venue is empty. It’s sort of depressing to see the upper tier of Jones Beach empty when there’s such a great show.

In 2001, when I attended my first Journey show (whom I’ve seen 17 more times since), tickets were $40—and I got third-row tickets at Jones Beach to boot. As Journey surged in popularity again, tickets for those type of seats have swelled to VIP packages costing hundreds to get the same experience.

That’s not what music is about, and it’s discouraging that artists don’t speak up more about this. The high cost of tickets and merchandise—with service fees and sometimes even parking thrown in—have made me think twice about going to other shows.

But $15 is amazing. I’ve never seen Heart live and it’s a band I’ve always wanted to see. I have no clue where my seats are yet—and I presume they’ll be nosebleed, which are normally selling for $25—but this price is a start. I hope more artists jump on this cheap-ticket bandwagon and fill venues once more.

Three Really Annoying Things That Happened To Me This Weekend

It was a fairly good weekend, but three really annoying things happened to me over the course of two days.

The Bastard Squirrel

It’s nearly springtime, and that means one of my favorite flowers has made its appearance—the crocus. It’s also the start of flower photo season, and I love taking photos of Mom’s garden.

Alex and I were sitting in the car yesterday when I noticed a particularly pretty crocus arrangement: a purple and yellow crocus side by side. So I told Alex, “I’m going to go inside and get my camera so I can take a picture of the crocuses.” As if on cue, this squirrel with half a tail appears out of nowhere, and eats the purple crocus. I yelled, “You bastard!” and in response, he grabbed the yellow one and looked straight at me as he munched down.

Now I know why he has half a tail. That bastard.

Skittles Removes My Favorite Flavor

Alex and I later went to see Welcome To Lawn Guyland, and I bought myself a pack of Skittles (my favorite candy) pre-show. I’m a little OCD when it comes to eating Skittles—I shake out a bunch in my hand, and eat it in the following order: lemon, orange, strawberry, grape, lime. It was a little dark in the theater, but I was able to make out the colors and saved the best for last.  Lime is the reason I love Skittles so much, as you don’t find the flavor in many candies anymore.

There were three limes in this shake—or so I thought. As I popped them in my mouth, the familiar citrus flavor didn’t hit my taste buds. Instead, I was hit with the disgusting taste of green apple. I turned over the package, and sure enough, it said, “Now with Green Apple!”

I was irate. In 2001, Skittles tried pulling this green apple trick, but had a massive PR campaign and voting system to see which flavor customers liked better. I spammed every message board I posted on to ask people to vote for lime. Eventually, it won, and the green apple—which only appeared for a short time—disappeared into the candy black hole. Or, so I thought. Turned out it only disappeared into the Skittles archive.

I’m not the only one unhappy with the switcheroo. There are plenty of people voicing their displeasure of Skittles’ Facebook page. There’s only small consolation that a lime flavor made it into Skittles’ new Darkside mix (pomegranate, blood orange, forbidden fruit, dark berry, and midnight lime). Although I like the new mix, new Skittles products seem to have a difficult time surviving—remember 2007’s weird Chocolate Mix or 2010’s Fizzl’d Fruits?

I hope they listen to the fan base because green apple Skittles are awful. As one person in the blogosphere pointed out, the original fruit flavored all mixed well together, but green apple doesn’t mix well with anything. What an assault to my mouth.

When You Think Something’s Going To Tip Over, It Will

Mom loves houseplants. They’re everywhere—including the bathroom. There’s one in there that sort of looks like a mini palm tree, which she rescued from the doctor’s office where she used to work. Apparently, no one in the doctor’s office took care of the plant, so she kidnapped it and said, “Would you want to go to a doctor with dead plants in his office?” So the doctor let her take it home and nurse it back to health, and it’s been in the bathroom ever since.

It’s gotten quite big since then. Big enough that it was starting to flop over. Mom said to herself this morning, “Maybe I should tie it up using a cup hook and string”—sort of how we keep our Christmas tree upright. But she had to go to work and decided she’d take care of it this evening.

Tonight, we invited my cousin Annette over for pasta con le sarde, a Sicilian dish traditionally served on St. Joseph’s Day. (Both St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day were celebrated early in my house this year, with corned beef and cabbage on Saturday.) As you can see from the recipe, it’s a fairly intensive dish to cook. And just as I was about to add the chopped sardines to the pot, I hear CRASH! and Alex yell, “I didn’t do it!”

So I ran to the crash side, and indeed, it was something Alex couldn’t have accomplished (unless he has some ESP powers I didn’t know about). There was the plant on the floor of the bathroom, and dirt had flown everywhere. You know how it’s impossible to get glitter up off the floor after you spill it? Well, this is what the potting soil did. It was in every crevice of the bathroom, from the top of the toilet to the inside the bathtub, from the radiator vents to the gap under the door threshold.

I looked at the clock: Annette was due in half an hour and I still hadn’t finished the cooking or set the table. On top of it, Mom had cleaned the bathroom that morning. I grabbed every cleaning tool I could find and got right to work, shouting cooking directions at Alex as I scooped up as much of the dirt as I could and put it back in the pot. I couldn’t seem to get the plant upright, so I shoved it behind the shower curtain as a temporary hiding location (kind of like how I used to shove all my toys under the bed. Insta-clean!)

I took out Mom’s super-duper new wind tunnel vacuum and sucked up as much of the leftover dirt as I could, but it was everywhere. It took about 15 minutes to get almost every crevice clean. Finally, all that was left was the rug. Apparently, the vacuum is too powerful for the bathroom rug and wound up sucking it up into the brush. After playing tug-of-war with the vacuum, I decided to fold up the rug and throw it outside. In the process, whatever loose dirt was on the rug came loose and covered the entire bathroom again. Back to square one.

I finally finished, and I heard the doorbell ring. Thanks to the darn plant, my plans of having a nice chat and hors d’oeuvres by the fire before dinner went out the dinner, because it still wasn’t done by the time Annette arrived. I was able to make myself look somewhat unflustered (besides being a little to overzealous with the amount of sardines in the pasta) and the rest of the evening went off without a hitch.

Respecting The Reporter’s Inbox

After spending yet another maddening evening cleaning up my e-mail, I realized that many of the messages clogging my inbox stemmed from oversize attachments, press releases completely unrelated to my beat, and back-and-forth banter that could have been avoided with one phone call. As a journalist, I find that at least 75 percent of my e-mails are related to public relations.

Below are seven simple steps to streamline our communication, respect my inbox, and make both of our jobs easier. Read the rest of the article I wrote at Ragan.com »