Archive for July, 2011
It’s been some time since I’ve done a NusGourmet. It’s not like I haven’t been cooking – this summer I have been concocting all kinds of yummies when I invite friends over. The only problem is when you have a lot of guests coming over and the clock is ticking, it takes too long to document all your cooking and the last thing you want is to still be preparing when your guests arrive.
Today I’d like to show you a quick and easy recipe for guacamole. I have found that strangely enough that for all the people who love guac, many don’t seem to know what goes into a good one other than avocados. Most people are perfectly content to eat prepared guacamole out of a container or at a restaurant but for those of you who want to make your own fresh guacamole at home so you can brag about how good yours is to your friends (and trust me, I’ve rarely met a maker of guacamole who has not bragged about their homemade green mush), NusGourmet has a simple and delicious recipe for the perfect summer condiment. Aside from using it as a dip for nachos, you can put it on your ostrich or kangaroo burgers (yes, last weekend we ate ostrich and kangaroo. Delicious) or give some to Emma Brooks who will just eat the stuff out of a cup because she’s awesome like that. Thanks to Emma for providing the pictures of Nuscabana and the mojito preparation.
Since it’s summer, mojitos are in so I will also show you a simple mojito recipe that uses fresh pineapple as an ingredient. As usual, these are easy peasy to do and take little time so you can get on with your life!
Guacamole (serves 2-3)
2 ripe avocados – you know they are ripe when the skin is mostly black and they are soft – but not too soft.
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1-2 fresh limes
half a red onion, diced fine
1 small tomato, diced (optional)
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
The great thing about simple recipes like this is that if you have more guests coming than the recipe portion allows for, all you gotta do is double up.
Slice the avocados in half lengthwise. The trick is to just sink the knife in one side until it hits the hard seed in the middle and then just turn the avocado carefully around the stationary blade. That should halve your avocados in the blink of an eye.
To remove the seed just gently tap the seed with the sharp edge of the knife. It will embed itself into the surface of the seed. From here just twist the knife clockwise or counter clockwise and the seed will come out, stuck to the blade. Carefully remove the seed from the knife (if you’re prone to cutting yourself because you have your hands growing out of your ass, use a kitchen towel to grab the seed and pull it off).
Using a spoon, scoop out all the avocado meat and fling it into a bowl. Grab a fork and mush it all up into paste.
drop in the diced onion, chopped cilantro, optional tomato, chili powder and combine.
slice off the stem of the jalopeno and then cut the jalopeno in half lengthwise. If you don’t like your guac spicy because you’re a huge wuss then grab the spoon and scoop out all the seeds before dicing up the jalopeno and tossing it into the bowl. You can add the second jalopeno if you’re a champ.
Roll the limes back and forth on the table a few times with the palm of your hand to get the juices flowing. Squeeze all the juice from one lime into the mixture and then TASTE YOUR GUACAMOLE. The secret to good guac is to taste it to get the right flavor. You want it to be limey and delicious but not overly so. Finding the right balance is delicate work so depending on any number of variables, including personal taste, you may use just one or both of the limes. You also want to strike the right balance of saltiness so add salt and pepper slowly. As soon as it tastes good STOP! DO NOT ADD ANYTHING MORE even if you have some leftover ingredients. Make some limeade or something with the extra lime or better yet…make a mojito! here’s how.
A bunch of mint
Some limes, wedged
White rum (I use Bacardi white)
In a pitcher drop all the above solid ingredients and muddle them with a muddler, a masher, or just a plain old wooden spoon. The sugar will provide the grit to really get all the juices out.
Add the rum and club soda with some ice and stir till sugar dissolves. A good measure is usually 2 parts soda to 1 part rum but feel free to reverse that order if it’s your birthday.
Good on ya.
I think it’s safe to say that the smart phone wars are on. When the iPhone hit the market I originally thought that Apple had played their hand to put all other mobile phone manufacturers soundly out of business but I was wrong. RIM and their Blackberry stepped up their game and then Android hit the market in full force with their own brand of touch screen phones. The only real casualty has been Symbian in all the hurly burly…so far.
From the UK INQ staked their claim and entered last year with the INQ Chat 3G and I attended the Toronto launch party. I got to demo the phone and to be quite frank I thought the INQ Chat 3G was too little too late especially with the competition being as stiff as it was. Fast forward to this year and INQ was all to happy to send me their new phone, The INQ Cloud Touch, to review. Before I start the review, let me put things in perspective: I have been a prisoner of Blackberry for a year now. The interface and all the glitches (i.e. replacing my painstakingly collected friend pics with doubles of another contact’s face) and general datedness of my Blackberry has plagued me for some time. I’ve missed just about every opportunity to get a Blackberry Torch or similar device so I’ve been stuck with a Bold 9700 for ages. So when I got to try the new Android-based INQ Cloud Touch it was a breath of beautiful, fresh air. On to the review.
I did an unboxing for you and the contents of the little INQ box are pretty straightforward. In the box is the phone, a saucy manual with people kissing on the cover, warranty, earbuds and charging apparatus. On closer inspection though I was delighted to note that the earbuds have a silicone sleeve where your ears make contact and they are SUPER comfortable. You can wear them all day and not get that ache you get from regular iPhone earbuds. In fact I’m wearing them right now as I write this post and everything is peachy. The sound is great too and they double as a hands free headset. Slick. Also in the box is the AC adapter with a detachable cable that can plug into your computer for data transfer or USB charging. I really like that feature as having just one cable means less clutter around my workstation.
You may have heard the INQ Cloud Touch being referred to as the “Facebook phone” and that would not be too far from accurate. The phone is optimized for Facebook because the popular social network is baked right into the DNA of the Cloud Touch to make it a truly “social phone”. Most of the Facebook integration happens right at the home screen with 4 simple buttons and a home feed. The “People” button shows what your top 5 facebook friends are doing in dedicated feeds. It’s a great function that let’s you stay abreast of your closest pals’ activities. Although the INQ Cloud Touch chooses those friends for you based on the frequency of interaction, you’re not locked into the automatic choices and can specify your own list of friends to get the scoop on. Simple and elegant. The Calendar button is a fantastic thing for the downtrodden blackberry user like me. It seamlessly integrates your Facebook and Google Calendar so you’ll never miss an appointment of birthday again! It’s been really handy for me these past two weeks and I’ve found myself on top of all my tasks and not buried under them. The Notifications button is pretty self-explanatory and will connect you directly to your facebook notifications feed to see what’s happening in the world. Finally the “Places” button lets you use Facebook Places to check in at the touch of a button. Although I am a Foursquare user, I found that having Places so easily accessible made me more likely to use it since it was right on the front of my phone. The home feed, which takes up the majority of the home screen, shares content from your Facebook friends that have the most media attached to it. So links, videos, pics etc will find their way to the home screen and you can click on them to see what’s up. Of course there’s Facebook chat which works just like the web version so you’re never too far to be reached.
I was big into the soft key on the left side of the phone which brings up a dashboard that EASILY lets you control the Time and date, alarms, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, modes etc. it also give you a good estimate about how much battery time you have left and how much of your battery is used by what applications. This is something that seems unique to the INQ Cloud Touch and was one of the single most useful things on the phone. I was also a big fan of the INQ Type function that does a global search for any term you type in. It will search the phone, SD card, the app store and the internet for whatever it is you’re looking for. So if you’re ever in doubt just swipe from the bottom up and you get INQ Type. The 5 megapixel camera is also accessible from the front screen for when you need to get an opportune snap quickly. However there is no flash which could be an issue in darker environments. What’s also notable about this phone is that it’s pretty speedy with it running Android 2.2 so I rarely had any problems with loading stuff up. That’s great because you can run all kinds of apps while listening to music on the DoubleTwist app that loads up when you press the softkey on the bottom right.
All said and done the INQ Cloud Touch is a fully featured Android phone and a HUGE improvement from the INQ Chat 3G. It’s also comes at a very affordable price compared to most smartphones. On a 3-year term it’s only $29.99 or $229.95 with no contract – that’s cheap! I think the price point alone for an affordable Android phone with all those features will make it a real contender for market share in the smart phone wars. Have a look at the specs and prices on Telus‘ site or on Koodo and let me know what you think of the phone down below!
Can I keep it? Huh huh?
Like many kids growing up I was told many stories by my parents and teachers. Hans Christian Andersen was a staple among the authors who would put me to bed at night or capture my imagination in class. One of the stories that stuck with me in particular was “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It was a simple cautionary tale that pretty much told of the evils of pretense.
An Emperor who cares for nothing but his appearance and attire hires two tailors who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.
Living in a social media world I find that pretense always has the potential to run rampant among some of those who live in it. You may have observed said pretense in the scores of so-called experts that Twitter has spawned or the droves of “visionary” speakers who are making a killing on nothing but pretty words. It seems people are just salivating to become the experts on the next new big thing by becoming the early adopters (the “I was there!” pretense) of the newest technologies. So we’re on to the subject of Google+.
Ever since Facebook left the academic world and became mega popular people have been wondering what the “Facebook killer” will be. Enter Google Plus and many have been touting it to be that very killer but I’m not so sure just yet. Granted it’s still in its early stages and the Google+ dev team is reportedly adding new features, I still don’t see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been using it pretty much since the beginning myself but have not gotten that much out of it. From a social sharing perspective the idea is solid where people seem to be mostly sharing links to existing content and A LOT of “How Tos” for how to make sense of the Google Plus system but I’m still not seeing the real capital S Social part just yet.
The thing about social media is that the most effective applications of it have been where the activity mimics offline social life to a suitable degree. Facebook really is the granddaddy of social networks because you can invite people to events (compare: inviting friends over to your house for a little party), you can tell your friends happy birthday due to the reminders (tying a string around your finger), and you can see what other friends are planning if they make that information public (hearing something through the grapevine). The list goes on of course with Notes, Social Graph, Places, Chat, Groups, Albums etc. and they can all be compared to things you would do in a hypothetical world where the internet doesn’t exist.
Google Plus does some of social things adequately too, in particular the Video Hangout and the Circles functions. Just as in real life you would definitely hang out with people you know to shoot the breeze about this and that, and you would also maybe have different circles of friends from university or the office and so on who may not necessarily mix. So for Google+ that’s a big win for sure, especially with those on facebook worried about their privacy in terms of who sees what – it’s easier than Facebook to control that in G+. It’s also nice to be free of that damned Farmville app! But as I look at the main G+ feed stream I see that people are just spewing out shares of content pretty much the same way they would on any other social network. Aside from the +1s and comments there’s not much more “social” interaction happening there on that stream. This became particularly clear to me when I celebrated my birthday on the 19th. I was getting lots of birthday wishes from Facebook and Twitter and even on the phone and in person but not a single one came from Google+. Granted, many of those people on G+ were friends of mine who regularly talk to me on twitter and facebook and many of them wished me well on both platforms, so why not Google+ too? Well because so far it doesn’t tell you when someone’s birthday is on! At least not right on the front page of your feed. It also doesn’t have a sophisticated event function yet that’s different than their own Google Calendar.
And that’s when it hit me. I think that currently people just really want to like Google+ because they see that everyone else really wants to as well. It’s the new “in crowd.” Definitely a real social phenomenon but it has little to do with how good the platform itself actually is. It’s popularity and buzz could also very well be largely attributed to hype of the initial limited beta invite stage where people where asking each other (on Twitter, might I add) if they had gotten their invite yet and doing the virtual happydance to the envy of their followers who had not yet gotten into G+.
Therefore I liken the current wild popularity of Google+ to the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes because it seems everyone wants to be the smart person who uses it and is admired by their peers, but so far it really doesn’t replace any platform we already use – there’s nothing there really. The current social media landscape is that Facebook is king of the castle but shares that crown with some great apps out there that focus on doing one particular function particularly well or even better than Facebook can. For example Twitter took the status updates and made that their specialty, while Foursquare and Flickr made check-ins and photo albums their own, respectively.
I’ve been giving Google+ the benefit of the doubt and I admittedly kinda dig the Android app for what it is in the microcosm of the mobile world, but the core web app still leaves something to be desired and really isn’t all that amazing. Perhaps I’m missing something and the best is yet to come, but I’ve been noticing a lot of people on Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ who are still scratching their heads as to what to do with this thing. I encourage you to weigh in with your comments below….Oh and share this on Google Plus, will ya?
Well it`s my birthday.
Another year goes by and it’s been an exciting one. When I first got back to Toronto, this city was alive with new prospects and opportunities…and it still is. It’s funny how where you end up has a lot to do with where you come from. Toronto is my city and I will always love it no matter where life takes me. I’ve met so many amazing people in the past year and a half since I’ve been back and each person is fascinating to me.
When I realized that, this blog took a new direction and became about the reader and less about me per se. With each birthday a person gets older and wiser and makes a change. No one is exactly the same as they were the year before and people grow constantly. Part of growing does unfortunately involve pain and loss but I always think of the example of a volcanic eruption when dealing with those things as part of the process. Although lava from a volcano seems to destroy and burn all that it touches it’s heartening to note that after the destruction new life springs up stronger than before. Most of our world – our mountains, landscapes, plantlife – was actually shaped by volcanic eruptions. In fact the nutrients found in volcanic eruptions make soil highly arable and capable of sustaining rich plant life. No wonder people live their whole lives in the shadow of a volcano.
I guess the impromptu geology lesson is something of an allegory for the past year for me. At the beginning it was spectacular, in the middle there was a little destruction, and as we near the end and mark the 1 year anniversary of this blog chronicle, there seems to be new life forming everywhere and it’s beautiful.
So what’s up you say? Well one awesome thing to start off with is Epilogger. I only met Chris Brooker when I moved back to Toronto but we have become close friends and I trust him 100%, Because of this we formed the company around my idea and I am lucky to have him as a business partner. We are building something awesome for all of you that will make all your memories immortal even if you forget! I encourage you to sign up for our private beta if you want to be a pioneer in helping make something better. The only caveat is that if you get in, you gotta be active and give us feedback! Click here to get on the Epilogger beta list. Also we’ve launched a blog for Epilogger that will keep you updated about all the goings on at Epilogger HQ with posts from me, Chris Brooker and our wonderful Creative Director, Rebecca Cohen-Palacios so be sure to read and share.
The other thing is that just as people change and reinvent themselves as they get older, so too must one’s work. It’s time to reinvent MichaelNus.com and over the next few weeks I will be working on a new direction once again that incorporates some of the old favourites like Stay Classy and Social Media and SEO tips with a new section called “The Day I Met…” The Holy Trinity of Happiness will stay but will be consolidated into one section rather than three. I also plan to put up my portfolio and CV.
The cool thing about `The Day I Met“ is that it will be powered by the Epilogger engine so that means some of the content will be pulled from the archives to really present the post as a time capsule.
I’m always fascinated by how much fun beer companies get to have as they advertise their product. All the funniest commercials and most epic live events always have a beer company attached who just want you to have a great time. It’s been said for years that Budweiser is the King of Beers but if you think about it, Budweiser is also the king of parties. You can go as far back as the “Wasaaaaap” commercials and then then recall things like Bud Camp, Bud Plane to Superbowl, Bills in Toronto, 2010 FIFA World Cup, Calgary Stampede, EdgeFest and of the list goes on and on. 2 weeks ago Bud sent me to a Jays game with a handful of you guys just to show me their new Bottoms Up beer tap!
The Honda Indy was just owned by Bud this year and they did it up huge. If you were lucky enough to get a VIP pass to the Budweiser Winners Circle you know that they pretty much pulled out all the stops in making it a weekend of high octane fun. As soon as you walk through the entrance tent near turns 9 and 10 of the Honda Indy you are greeted to the fanfare of a gauntlet of ladies clad in Bud gear who will make your arrival known with megaphones and high fives. Then a shap shot at the photobooth with another Bud girl before entering the huge Winner’s circle area complete with live music all day, a hockey net, basketball court, two grandstands, a very fancy and realistic indy car full motion simulator rig and, of course, tons of suds served to you by more bud girls than you can count. Pretty hard to be unhappy when the King of Beers hooks you up with all of the above and food too. I wonder if next year they will set up a cool down zone that sprays fine mists of cold water on patrons to help them keep cool in the blistering heat caused by the combination of sun and race cars. I think they’re called “inflatable misting tents” and I think they would be a big hit next year. While this is not the first time a beer sponsor has been at the Honda Indy but all the gratuitous branding aside, could you really imagine an Indy race without that presence? No doubt about it, Bud brought the fun and I’m sure the winner, Dario Franchitti, didn’t mind being handed the trophy by Miss. Budweiser Ashley (who we met as you will see in the video) either.
The video above says it all. It was definitely a guys’ day out when Chris and I went for the final IZOD Formula One race and we had a swell time even if we got a bit of sun stroke from all the outdoors awesomeness. Those of you who went on the Saturday got to judge the Miss Budweiser pageant and crown the lady (her name was Ashley and we met on Sunday) who would get to present the trophy to the winner of the big Sunday race. You can get in on future action over at the Budweiser Facebook pages. Click here for the Budweiser Canada page, and, for my American readers, click here for the Budweiser US page.
Here are some more Honda Indy pics courtesy of Chris Brooker:
No matter where I am, year after year when the Toronto Pride Parade takes over downtown I beam with pride myself. Although I myself am not gay and do not fit into the LGBT designations I have a great appreciation for the community. Growing up I was surrounded by the mixed feelings of others about homosexuality. I think any and all of us who have lived through the 80s and 90s have at one or more points run into careless comments of prejudice and misunderstanding about LGBT people and even some of us may have said something that can be construed as offensive to gay people. But when I see huge crowds at the Toronto Pride Parade celebrating sexual diversity I am always staggered by the times we now live in where prejudice, racism, hatred, and fear are no longer the norm but the outcast exception.
True, there are still pockets of the above hatreds (i.e. the ugly anti-Israeli “Apartheid” movement that wanted to crash the parade) but I’m happy that they are no longer accepted as normal public discourse they way they were, say, 30 or 50 years ago. The issue of sexual diversity, to me, was always a peculiar one as I grew up because although I went to schools that I suppose would not condone homosexuality, when I came home I still had two gay uncles and a close cousin who came out when I was 12. In my mind I figured that my uncles (one related and one not) were in love, lived together and were happy – so, awesome. There didn’t seem to be anything “wrong” with them, despite what the teachers said. They were two perfectly normal men with jobs, hobbies, cars and all that – they just happened to be in love with each other. As for their hobbies – they happened to enjoy decorating their apartment so it was way classy, preferred food and wine of top quality, and loved to travel. If anything I was in awe of their sense of good taste and none of it seemed weird at all. Even now I love going over and hanging out as it means I get to marvel at their baby grand piano, eat beautifully prepared food, peruse through their travel scrapbooks and secretly borrow selections from their classical music collection. They’re thrilled that I live with a roommate who’s gay and are noticeably more open about their experience together, which is great.
I wasn’t living in Toronto when same-sex marriage was ratified nationwide in 2005 but I was so proud to be a Canadian that day on July 20 (a day after my birthday) and I knew that my uncles were proud to be part of it. II made it a point to make it out to the Toronto Pride Parade this year and I got some really great pictures. As you look at them, think about what a great time it is to be alive and appreciate it. I certainly do.
Event planning is a lot of work but the rewards can be well worth it. I took a moment to reflect on the past year and noticed that I keep finding myself at the epicenter of some pretty large scale events. The funny thing is that I never really stopped to think about them and was surprised at how much I got myself into.
I guess it all started with the founding of Tweetgasm (along with Rannie and Casie) before jumping headfirst into Movember when I just got so stoked about the cause that I went all out on making things happen for the Toronto front. It wasn’t too long after that I got involved in Social Media Week, Star Wars Day Toronto and now Mashable Social Media Day. I guess I just love the Toronto community and I like to do things that get people connecting. Getting all the sponsors on board, grabbing the venue, arranging music, speakers, name tags, swag, AV, posters and more are definitely all hands-on tasks and the greatest challenge in organizing any event of this scale is, well, staying organized!
Dan (my co-organizer) and I have been really passionate about making this happen so we both put in the time and effort to make Social Media Day Toronto a great event and we are just beaming with pride about the showing you all made in your attendance. You all made Social Media Day Toronto one of the top 5 most successful Mashable meetups in the WORLD! We even got Mayor Rob Ford to officially recognize Social Media Toronto. You networked, learned, and reveled in the power of community and we salute you. It was great to see some faces I have not seen in a long time. It just goes to show that no matter how big our city gets we all know where to find each other. It was great to hang out with my dear friend Casie after a long while. She and I have been very busy but as we all orbit the sun eventually we gotta cross paths at some point! Make sure you comment below and say hi to those you’ve met too! If you click the tweet button before you send your comment and tag it with #smdayTO you may just find that missed connection you found at the live event!
There were some really great moments that night and I’ll never forget:
Rob Kozinets‘ netnography lecture – really, really first rate material. Make sure to get at him on twitter with any questions!
Michael O’Connor Clarke‘s lecture on “The Worst F***ing Idea I’ve Ever Heard!” Remember, social media is like soylent green. It’s made of people!
Casie Stewart‘s journey through the blog biz and her crown as “Lady Blogga.”
Those sweet USB bracelets Toyota Canada was handing out to those who ventured to their booth (you smart cookies you!)
Rogers hooking up a lucky, engaged winner with a brand new Galaxy Tab! Lucky bastard! Rogers has this Social Media thing nailed!
Although Dan has done a commendable job of posting all our thank yous in his blog post I will thank the following people once again anyway!
The twitter community for getting excited about Social Media Toronto and showing up in force! We had easily over 350 people at Tattoo Rock Parlour and it was electric!
To DJ Jeff Button for laying down sick beats while you all networked, chatted and danced!
To our AMAZING speakers, Robert Kozinets, Michael O’Connor Clarke and Casie Stewart for providing great content and education. Anyone who listened to your talks most likely became at least 20% smarter by virtue of your pearls of wisdom!
We hope to see you all again next year and look forward to seeing you all around town and on top of the world, together!