Archive for November, 2011
I’ve been spending a good deal amount of time in Toronto’s Koreatown lately and have gone kind of overboard on bulgogi, kim chi and all sorts of Korean delicacies. I am a well-known eater of spicy foods and makers of Korean cuisine are not shy when it comes to cranking up the capsaicin so it’s right up my alley and down the hatch.
The other day on the way home from the office I got the craving again but wanted to save a little money and cook at home so I stopped by the Korean grocer to pick up some essentials to make the meal below. I warn you now that I have almost no idea how to cook Korean properly and created this extremely simple recipe below based on flavours that I’ve been able to discern when eating in Koreatown. The recipe below is not really a traditional Korean fare but it’s easy to make and damned delicious so try it if you want an excuse to break out your wok.
“Korean style” Stirfry
(addtional photos available on Flickr here)
1/2 a pack of thinly sliced beef (bulgogi) – available at Korean grocer
1 Pack of udon noodles, boiled
1.5 bell peppers sliced thinly (I half each of a green, yellow, and red pepper for colour and flavour)
2 carrots, peeled and julliened
2 sticks of celery, julliened
1 head of broccoli
1/2 a red onion, quartered with layers separated
3-4 baby bok choy, leaves separated from core
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of fresh ginger, minced
Thai sweet chili or Stir Fry sauce (optional)
Kim Chi, to serve
Slice the peppers, toss into a bowl.
Separate the broccoli head into smaller florets and cut the very large ones in half to keep the size more or less uniform.
Add cut onion and bok choy to bowl.
Peel ginger and garlic, mince and make sure you plan out two portions of each because you will be cooking twice with those flavours as a base.
Heat up wok to medium with 1 tbsp of oil, add 1st portion of ginger and garlic, add meat and cook till just brown with a few dashes of fish sauce. Remove meat and set aside.
Replenish oil, add 2nd portion of ginger and garlic, sauté for 2 minutes to release aroma. Add all vegetables and stir constantly.
Flavour vegetables with fish sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, and stir fry sauce to taste.
Reintroduce cooked meat into vegetable mixture, stir and combine.
When everything is not and delicious serve on top of noodles with a side of delicious kim chi.
Suggested drink: Soju.
The Method animated!
Another year and another crazy fun Mogasm. I didn’t think I could top last year’s fundraiser but I was wrong. Thanks to the help of my good friend and excellent event planner, Jocelyn Butler, Mogasm Toronto’s sophomore year set the bar even higher for Movember parties.
This year, Movember’s theme it “country gentleman” and that gave us some interesting ideas that we had no idea would work or not. MogasmTO this year had a nail hammering competition and an arm wrestling tournament. I didn’t honestly think people would go for the arm wrestling on tony old Toronto but I was proven wrong soon enough. Surprisingly, the tournament card was filled up by ladies before any man would venture to sign up for it. Goes to show that Mo Sistas can throw down with the Mo Bros and even show them up! Eventually some gents nutted up and an arm wrestling bonanza ensued. My arm is still sore from my bouts but it’s all for a great cause.
I’m not sure what my favourite part of the night was. Photojunkie‘s great photobooth (the pic above is courtesy of none other than the man himself), the red hot DJ set by Speedboats and Big Explosions, the feats of strength and manliness, the great people who showed, the appearance from the folks at Movember Canada – so much fun was had and it made for a great addition to the Tweetgasm “franchise.”
We’re very proud of all of you who came out int he bitter cold and showed your support for changing the face of men’s health. Canada is making a big difference and has already raised over $23 million to lead the world in Movember support and breaking last year’s record!
Thanks to our sponsors!
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Lately I’ve been pretty busy with Epilogger and some SEO consulting. Although I have yet to advertise it as a service on this blog I do some great Search Engine Optimization work for great clients. For the past few months I’ve also been giving classes at the ING Direct Network Orange space about the basics of organic SEO and Google Analytics. It’s good to see that people are taking a greater interest in getting their sites to rank high across the “big 3″ search engines and I am only too happy to help brands get started on their way.
The one question I keep getting asked, even after a seminar, is “how can I set up my site to rank first in google automatically?” In other words there still seems to be the lingering belief that SEO is just a piece of code that one sticks into their HTML that tells the search engines that their site exists. A lot of people dabbling in trying to do their own SEO and save the cost of hiring an actual SEO expert will usually just try to think of a set of keywords and plug them into their meta tags hoping that is the extent of the SEO game. Well, it’s not.
If you think of a major search engine, like Google, and how it used to look, say 10 years ago, you would quickly realize that it has changed drastically from its roots as just another search engine competing against some of the old contenders like “AskJeeves,” “HotBot,” and the bigger ones like Yahoo, which used to be the king of the castle in delivering relevant search results. Google is so much more now and has changed as a company and updated their algorithm more times than I can count so it’s safe to say that the old practice of keywords is just about passé since Google, Yahoo and Bing all have different algorithms that look for different factors in ranking your site.
With social media being the way of the web nowadays you would think that would be a factor too and you would be correct if you did. Links from social networks do factor in to your ranking significantly these days so the duties of a good SEO consultant have changed accordingly. In the past SEOs would do the keywords, set up landing pages, 404 redirects, submit xml sitemaps and try to get more inbound links from high ranking sites than they gave out. Indeed some older SEO management software would have entire systems built into it that would help the SEO manage their partnerships with other sites. In effect it would be like doing business development for pretty much a link exchange. All in all, however, most SEO happened on the site being optimized and would only leave the site when reaching out. However with the advent of social networks like Twitter and Facebook (and if you’re a Google only searcher, Google+ and +1′s), SEOs worth their salt need to know a thing or two about social media as SEO – social media management and even community management is very important in the game. If your SEO is not a particularly exciting online personality then at least make sure they work closely with your community manager to advise on a few strategies to mix the outreach part with hitting the right ranking factors. What’s more is that it has become crucial to have good content that doesn’t just use the desired keywords but weaves them into well-written and engaging text.
Because of the above I am noticing more writers and journalists throwing their pressman’s hats into the SEO ring because, well, they can write. Google Mayday made it pretty clear and permanent that content is king again.
So how do I answer the question posed above? I say “here’s my card, call me when you want to get serious about this.” SEO is not automatic, it takes effort, savvy, some marketing know-how and, yes, even some secret tricks of the trade that can do wonders for your ranking when . The really good SEOs who can write, code a bit, market, and get the social media space are moving on to take their titles as some of the best Digital Strategists in the business and are worth every penny of their hourly rate or salary.
I don’t know about you, but I love Halloween. Hardly anyone knows the history of Halloween and I doubt if many people care about how Samhain became known as Halloween (I do, but that’s just me), but nonetheless All Hallow’s Eve is celebrated widely. It seems most people see Halloween as a day to cut loose and partake in a little bit of theatricality. I have mounds of respect for anyone that puts a good deal of thought and work into their costume. The way I see it you have 364 days a year to be “normal” and one day to be anything you want, so why not prepare a bit? That’s the real beauty of Halloween. You get to roam the streets looking hilarious or just plain terrifying and don’t have to worry about the nice men in white coats taking you away to a padded room. What I can’t stand are half-baked costumes.
Sure, there are people who just use October 31st as another excuse to get loaded just like any other night, except in costume. I used to look at them in disgust but I figure that on Halloween there should be little to hold someone accountable since you have that one night to be as nuts as you really are. Considering that the Gaels used to sacrifice animals and humans in fire on Samhain, having one too many drinks ain’t so bad. Just give the car keys to your friend and all that. But please, if you’re going to do all that partying, at least make a good costume and maybe use a mask to hide your shame!
Toronto loves Halloween and it really shows. I could almost swear that there are more people who put up Halloween decorations in October than those who go through the trouble of Christmas lights in December. Everywhere you look there’s cobwebs, a bloody something or other, ghosts and black and orange everything. Each year I see more Halloween pop-up shops appear around the GTA and they keep getting better and better. Of course the Zombie Walk is great fun and I’m always impress by how many undead show up for the shuffle. The only city I’ve been to that tops Toronto in terms of enthusiasm for this holiday is New York. There is a year-round costume shop where you can literally get every little piece you need for a fantastic costume. That includes makeup, hats, boots (not those extremely annoying boot tops seen on so many crappy costumes), prosthetic teeth, contact lenses, smoke machines — you name it, they got it. One of my personal favourite costumes (undead skeleton pirate) that I put together was made possible by that shop when I lived in NYC. Don’t think badly of me but I loved that my costume actually scared quite a few people when I hit up the New York Halloween Parade because it was so “lifelike” and I acted the part perfectly.
Toronto is fast catching up to NYC though. This year there is the Queen West Halloween Parade and I’m interested to see how it goes down. My sources at the West Queen West BIA tell me that they plan to make it a yearly tradition, just like the Village Halloween Parade in New York. It’s unfortunate when Halloween falls on a work night, as it does this year. The upshot, however, is that you actually get to celebrate more than once since people take advantage of the weekend before Halloween to get some mileage out of their outfits. This past weekend I had a great time at Silver Snail Comics’ annual Halloween bash and I was delighted to see that every single person in the room, except two, had great costumes.
I just can’t stand half-assed costumes. The two people at the Silver Snail party that made me want to hit them with my bloody prop axe were the guys in the “Clark Kent” and “Kip” from Napoleon dynamite costumes. Every year there seems to be a significant number of what I call “cop out costumes” and it drives me bananas when I see them next to all the people who spent the time to give Halloween the respect it deserves. Last year the most popular cop-outs where “Don Draper” and “Joan Holloway” of Mad Men…LAAAAAMMMME! How many Clark Kents and leggy women with devil horn hairbands, tiny tridents and even tinier skirts can one take!?
Although I may sound like a costume nazi, I also get some flack for my costumes some years. Sometimes people treat me as if I am actually the character I am costumed as. That’s the trade off – if you make your costume too good people will somehow unconsciously believe that you are capable of performing whatever feat that made the reference character notable. In my case the feat would have been serial axe murders. I pulled off a very convincing Patrick Bateman (from American Psycho complete) with a clear plastic raincoat, lots of fresh looking blood (courtesy of Casie Stewart), earphones playing Huey Lewis and the News, and Patrick Bateman business cards printed up by the good folks at Guerilla Printing. They’ve done a few jobs for me in the past and I’m always satisfied. Make sure to check them out for all your printing needs.
On the way to the party people would pull over and tell me that “I’m creeping everyone out,” to which I would reply, “exactly!” Needless to say I didn’t score any digits because I’m pretty sure I repulsed a good percentage of the crowd,
Here are the pics from the Silver Snail Halloween Bash 2011