Since, 2007, when I became the heartless bastard that I am, I haven’t had a Valentine on Valentine’s Day. It’s almost like clockwork; life happens to me just before everyone’s favourite Hallmark holiday and I am single as ever. Nothing has really changed since last year, I suppose.
Well, to be exact, there are still people I send valentine’s wishes to but there usually isn’t a significant other that gets all that usual pampering and attention and whatnot. Since I have not had a long-term girlfriend that made it to Valentine’s Day for so long, I have since had a yearly tradition of buying one more rose than I need above and beyond the friendly roses I send flowers to. Some years it’s a new friend, some years it’s an ex-girlfriend and some years I give a rose to a completely random stranger who looks lonely.
It never hurts to be nice to someone you don’t know as it’s always easy to be cold in February.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Toronto, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You showed the world that you care during Movember 2011 and you showed needy people across our great nation that you still care last night at HOHOTO 2011 at the Mod Club.
My first experience with HOHOTO was last year and I was delighted to see so many of the new friends I had made in 2010 in one place enjoying a big bash together in support of charity. This year was just as great if not even more so and although I arrived quite late to the party, it was a beautiful thing to be greeted so warmly by so many people with smiles on their faces. The thing I will remember most about this year’s HOHOTO is reconnecting with friends who I’ve not seen in months due to how busy we’ve all been this year – the year of the startup.
It was such a good time last year that I got involved in the organizing committee this year and though my role was a small one, it was a part of the greater sum of the hard work put in by a cadre of angels who wanted to party with a purpose: charity. Thanks to Alexa Clark, April Dunford and Michael O’Connor Clarke, our wonderful sponsors and, of course YOU, HOHOTO 2011 was the best one yet and we raised over $67,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank.
By the way, if you want to know where on earth all the pictures are from last night I suggest you check right here. <3
Also here is Photojunkie’s HOHOTO 2011 photobooth, posted lightning fast, and Motionblur‘s set here. See if you’re in there! I’m also looking forward to Michael Penney‘s video coming down the pipeline soon!
It goes to show that Toronto is a city with heart and because of your generosity, a lot of hungry people will eat well this holiday season! Didn’t that feel good?!
If you are strapped for cash or just need to give more then I encourage you to visit this site to pledge to a random act of kindness and GiveGet will donate $5 to a charity of your choice, including Daily Bread Food Bank.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season. 2012 is going to be a big year and I look forward to seeing you all shoot for the stars.
I wasn’t going to write about Steve Jobs because I knew there would be more than enough coverage on his untimely passing. But one particular post by John Gruber that I read this morning really put things in perspective. Read the short post here before reading on.
I found about it last night just after speaking on a panel about Facebook for Business and the announcement must have come sometime near the end of the panel as Twitter started going crazy. While everyone was schmoozing in the room I seemed to be the only person to check his twitter feed and became the bearer of bad news. Kerry actually hollered “NOOOOOO!” and Daniel Patricio told me that he would always remember the day Steve Jobs died because I was the one who told him.
The same way Daniel will remember Steve’s passing in this way I am reminded of a similarly shocking event: Michael Jackson’s passing in 2009. I’ll never forget it. I was sitting in my mom’s kitchen and my grandmother was visiting from over seas. Growing up I was a huge Michael Jackson fan and my grandma took many photos of me wearing the red leather jacket and rhinestone glove. She too was appreciative of Michael’s impact on music, on racial unity, and world pop culture, so I thought I would tell her that I heard MJ had died and her reply took me by surprise. She said “SO WHAT?! YOUR GRANDFATHER DIED TOO!!” Man, did I ever get messed up by her but her outburst was so profound too. She didn’t have to explain it further, I understood. She had loved her husband for longer than most of us have been alive and then some. She never gave up on him even though Alzheimers had taken hold of him and he began to forget everything and everyone as his case got more and more severe. The patriarch of our family and her life partner had passed on and in comparison Michael Jackson’s passing was, well, unimportant. Her words were humbling and they were words of great wisdom and experience.
There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was an inspiration to many people around the world. My respect for him is immense, as I’m sure yours is too. He had great ideas and changed the way we live. That’s nothing to sneeze at. However, he will be missed by his family and close friends in ways that none of the millions of mourners do now. Steve was a visionary, a leader, a game-changer, even a genius but I’ve never met him. I never broke bread with him, laughed with him, cried with him and if he had lived and I had died, he would never have shed a tear nor would he have known. The only interaction, many times removed, that I’ve ever had with Steve is that I have used his products and read lots about him. My heroes are almost all dead too – Pierre Trudeau, Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, to name a few – and though I paid my respects to the first two (Lester died when I was 2 years old, so I didn’t know of him till much later), I never knew them. But I still weep for the heroes I knew, like my grandfather and my dad.
It is far better to celebrate the life and achievements of Steve as a symbol because what he did did have an impact on our world by way of his consumer goods and, for some, by way of the celebration and admiration of his passion and his support of innovation in the face of stagnation. If you read Apple’s old “Here’s to the crazy ones” manifesto you know what I’m talking about. I posted it above. But keep in mind that the ones who will really mourn him are the ones who knew him, the real him. He could have been the nicest person in the world or he could have been an egomaniac, but we’ll never know for sure. Steve Jobs spent his final moments with his family and friends who really knew him and that’s what’s important above all. When our time comes we can only hope that our final moments will be with those who love us.
With respect, Rest in peace, Mr. Steve Jobs.
UPDATE: The Tornado watch has been lifted. This post is being left up for posterity.
Hey everyone. There’s a tornado watch in Toronto. The pictures on twitter allegedly show the twister in the city of Toronto and the lightning is fierce right now. I’m not sure of their authenticity at the moment but it never hurts to be prepared just in case. I am typing this up to give you some quick tips on what to do in a tornado and syndicating it to all my social feeds.
Getprepared.ca has some general tips but I thought I would flesh them out a bit for apartment/condo dwellers. It’s a scary time right now and I just want to help where I can with planned redundancy in information. If you get the info you need from this site, great. If from somewhere else, also great. Just stay safe!
Read the tips below but stay glued to 680news radio for updates. If you still have television keep your eye on the news. If your area goes from “Tornado watch” to “Tornado warning” SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
If you are in a house
- Go to the basement or take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a bathroom, closet or hallway.
- If you have no basement, protect yourself by taking shelter under a heavy table or desk.
- In all cases, stay away from windows, outside walls and doors.
If you are in an office or apartment building
- Take shelter in an inner hallway or room, ideally in the basement or on the ground floor.
- Do not use the elevator.
- Stay away from windows.
If you are driving
- If you spot a tornado in the distance go to the nearest solid shelter.
- If the tornado is close, get out of your car and take cover in a low-lying area, such as a ditch.
In all cases
- Get as close to the ground as possible, protect your head and watch for flying debris.
- Do not chase tornadoes – they are unpredictable and can change course abruptly.
- A tornado is deceptive. It may appear to be standing still but is, in fact, moving toward you.
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.
Summertime is by far my favourite time of year and I suspect yours as well. The world comes alive in the summer and all the pretense of winter melts away as the air gets warmer.
It’s also the busiest time of year for people in my field of PR, SEO and strategy so it’s easy to get buried under mountains of work and opportunity. That said, I must apologize for not posting for the last few days as I have fallen victim to another busy summer.
Summer last year was nothing short of epic. I made a lot of new friends, learned tons, and enjoyed the company of a host of great people. Another thing that happened last summer was this blog being born. I am nearing the 1st anniversary of Michael Nus: The Holy Trinity of Happiness and I want to thank all of you who have joined me for the ride. To say that my readership has grown exponentially would be an understatement and I am still blown away by how quickly it has done so. From it’s beginnings as just another personal blog to its evolution into a blog that’s really about you it’s been just amazing to watch it mature. I kind of feel like a father would feel seeing his son grow up.
This weekend I took a nice long ride around Toronto and the entirety of the Toronto islands to clear my head and it did wonders. There is something about the innocence of summer that can completely remove all the plaque that a long, cold winter can create on your heart. Winter definitely has its great times too but never does it match the warm summer breeze or the blossoming of new love and opportunity that the sun brings. Although it wasn’t part of the original planned route, I took a detour to Centreville and it was a good decision. Before long I was smiling, teasing my companion, petting animals at the petting zoo and eating those delicious Rocket pops that you get from the ice cream guy on the pier.
This weekend promises to be another nice one so I highly suggest you follow suit and, yes, have a rocket pop. There’s just nothing better on a hot day.
So now that I’ve come up to breathe it’s back to the blog and there is TONS to report. One major thing to stay tuned for is the redesign and relaunch of MichaelNus.com. I’d like to put some of the suggestions to you about what you would like to see more of on the blog. So far the most popular posts have been ones with SEO or Digital strategy advice so I will continue doing those. However, if you would like to see more of Nusgourmet, Holy Trinity of Happiness or more music/lyrics/reviews let me know and I will take it into consideration!
So full transparency here, sometime near the end of June – the proper anniversary of the blog – you will find something new here and I’m excited that you will be a part of it!
I’ve waited a bit on making this post mostly because I was deciding what to say about the earthquake crisis in Japan. So many people have shown their support for that great nation in their time of need that I guess a post about it here without its own angle would be redundant and exploitative for some cheap hits to my blog.
Today however, while surfing twitter a friend of mine sent me the picture on the right and I was just appalled by what I saw. I’ve been in the social media game for a while now and usually I attribute positive sentiments toward the possibilities of spreading a message clear across the world. You only have to remember how powerful a weapon social media was in the liberation of Egypt as an example and count yourself among the proud millions of people who displayed such unity. But when I saw this picture of a collection of such ignorant tweets I got sick to my stomach.
Racism, ironically and no pun intended, is not a black and white issue. There are many dark shades of it that are all rooted in hatred, fear, and even misplaced pride. There are always extremes on either end of a spectrum and it’s useful to know what they are. I think there is a difference between playful ribbing between friends about customs that seem funny between them and making fun of another culture tinged with irrational hate. It gets a bit crazy on both sides of the racism debate. On one end you have the bigots in white masks who want nothing but the worst for those different than themselves and on the other you have the ultra politically correct folks who basically take away the right to free speech. Where is the happy medium? It’s out there but no one talks about it outside their close circle of friends for fear of either being labelled a racist or an annoying neo conservative. Nobody wins.
I’m an advocate of the adage of not taking life too seriously in all respects. It is our differences that make us beautiful and we should be able to laugh at them in good spirit because laughter is beautiful too. For example Kiwis and Australians are always ribbing each other but there is no actual hatred there. It’s just a long running gag between neighbours. The Irish and Scottish also do it playfully yet still break bread and wine together. It’s no different than any sports rivalry like the Leafs and Habs no matter how intense outsiders may think it is. When I attended the Vancouver 2010 Olympics I met people from all over the world whose home countries were competing on the world stage with their national pride on the line and yet there were smiles and camaraderie all around, usually over a pint of beer. You would think that direct competition would be a breeding ground for racism but in this day and age it’s not the case.
The world is uniting and while some traditionally racist terms still linger, the context has changed and the hatred behind those words has all but faded with our generation. Those words are now just ironic non sequitur as cultures have melded and we are seeing people of all colour and origin adopting aspects of the cultures of other nations.
Japan is one of those nations. It’s a well known and fashionable practice in Japan to do “American” things. I’ve never acually been to Japan but I have always been fascinated with their rich culture and history. I even took an elective in university that was a course entirely dedicated to that subject alongside my courses in basic Japanese language.
If you’ve ever heard of or been to, say, Harajuku station you know of the youths who express their admiration for western culture with their own Japanese twist on things. It’s said that mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery and I think this holds true for the Japanese. It’s not just limited to Harajuku but it permeates the culture and intermixes with it to the point where the media and is also obsessed with western aesthetics. You see it all over the country in print ads, fashion, food, music and even in the popular drawn and animated art forms of manga and anime. The number 1 anime in Japan currently is one called Naruto. Take a close look at the inset of the eponymous character and you will notice that he’s got blonde hair and blue eyes despite the fact that the anime is completely in Japanese and takes place in a thematically Japanese setting. The same goes for the works of internationally acclaimed animator and director, Hayao Miyazaki, whose works have captured the imaginations of watchers for about 5 decades! Did you know that many of the most popular TV commercials in Japan feature many of your favourite celebrities? If you watched Lost In Translation then you already know what I mean as the entire movie is pretty much about that sentiment. Have a look at this website and you will be shocked to see A-listers in utterly bizarre commercials advertising one product or another. Here’s a sample starring none other than Oscar Award Winning Actor, Nicholas Cage. For all its bizarreness (not to mention its satire) it’s really a show of acceptance of another culture with heaps of respect.
They have a beautiful cultural heritage and mix of religion all their own that is all about nature, beauty and spiritualism which has been around for centuries and yet they are so open to this foreign culture that they have made it part of their own. Heck, in some cases they even have tried to meld their own ancient history with newer concepts like hip hop (see video to the right). So what if they bombed Pearl Harbor? It cannot be undone just as the honoured dead one both sides of WWII can’t be brought back. The war has been over for many years and the world is a new place. Germany too is not the same Germany it was in 1945 just like Italy is not the same Italy. War is war and this war that all these people are referencing when they talk about “payback” didn’t even occur in their lifetimes. No one is innocent and many fell on both sides but its time to move on. If the Japanese have negative sentiments toward the western world after being herded like cattle into detention centers in the wake of Pearl Harbour by Americans they sure have a funny way of showing it. They’ve moved on, buried their dead and have focused on being progressive instead of stuck in the past harboring old hatreds. We should do the same.
George Santayana once wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” but I don’t think he meant it in a way that continues to punish people over the course of history. It is our responsibility to remember the past no matter how beautiful or ugly to make sure we learn from it; keeping the beauty while ensuring we don’t make the same mistakes twice as humanity did during the WWII holocaust. The devastation of the earthquake and tsunami will no doubt become a major part of the ongoing history of Japan, so let’s be remembered this time for the good we did rather than the evil.
Donate to the relief effort if you can – every little bit helps. If you can’t donate blog about it or share this post with your friends. Maybe with a little pespective we can put a stop to the ignorance and racism and focus on helping our brothers and sisters in the Asian Pacific.
Helpful Donation links:
In Canada: Canadian Red Cross official donation site
My friends at Dentyne asked got at me last week and asked me how I felt about public displays of affection (PDA). Remember when PDA meant a Palm Pilot or Sony Clié – Whoa! that’s old school! Anyway the acronym “PDA” is now back to its rightful representation for making out in public and since Dentyne is a brand interested in fresh breath, an essential when kissing in public or private, they wanted to know how I felt about it.
Unfortunately if you read my last post about Valentine’s Day Blues you may think I’m a grumpy old curmudgeon… and you’d probably be right. I joke (maybe). In all seriousness I guess I have a bit of a pet peeve with PDA simply because I tend to notice those that do it always seem to love doing it in the most densely populated areas. I also don’t understand why those who make out in public places tend to kiss like they are in an adult film most of the time. You’ve seen them while waiting for the subway, in the middle of Times Square or just about any place where they are bound to be seen by hundreds of people. I get that the couple may be intensely in love or lust but it’s not like they will have any place to get to second base (unless they are part of the bathroom stall crowd) as things get more heated.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for the loving peck or kiss here and there as a show of affection when the moment is right but when Romeo has his hand down Juliet’s pants I start to get all Tybalt on those fools. Yeah it makes me feel like a chaperon at the chastity ball but if you look at the picture to the right you will probably want to get the jaws of life to separate those two – and then bleach your eyeballs.
Ok, so clearly getting freaky in public doesn’t turn me on but I still know some couples who are very much in love and while they do kiss in public they know to keep it PG. One such couple are my good friends Erin Bury and Kevin Oulds. These two are pretty much the Barbie and Ken of the social media scene and they’ve got this public love thing down to a science. Dentyne wanted me to ask them a few questions after their Canada AM appearance but I pretty much knew their stance on the issue: they do it and no one bugs them about it, me included. So I came up with some questions that I thought would be fun anyway. Here’s what Erin had to say:
Nus: Where do you think are the most inappropriate places for PDA?
Erin Bury: Anywhere where there might be children around. While I hate seeing a couple making out on the dance floor at a bar, at least everyone there is 19+. If you’re at the mall, on the subway, or on the street and you grab a quick peck, I think that’s totally fine. But if you’re full-on making out and there are children around that’s just wrong
Nus: I once saw a couple I knew standing in opposite bus stops, talking on the phone to each other after just parting ways. Do you think that’s silly or sweet?
EB: I think that’s sweet, but mostly because I am addicted to my phone. I think Kev and I talk about 7 times per day on the phone because every time I’m walking somewhere or I have a break I call him to say hi.
EB: The appearance of the tongue is where it crosses the line for me. Also if there’s any sort of nudity involved you should probably rethink your actions.
Nus: If you and your significant other were making out in public and a passing stranger with really fresh breath spontaneously kissed you both on the cheeks would you feel like you’ve shared the love or would you be freaked out?
EB: Freaked out. Definitely freaked out – fresh breath or not
Nus: Have you ever done the “Spider-Man” kiss? (i.e. the movie: where Spiderman is hanging upside down on a web and kiss Mary-Jane)
EB: I can’t say we have, and I can’t say I’d even know how to make that happen logistically! But I just saw a countdown of the most romantic movie kisses & that scene was #2 – so apparently they know what they’re doing.
Dentyne would like to know what you think of PDA in the “Great Kissing Debate” so comment at me here and weigh in on it. You can also head on over to the Dentyne Facebook page and join the contest!
Ladies and gentlemen I’d like to go on record and say that when it comes to love, I’m in need of advice.
Maestro, some blog reading music for my readers, please:
Typically as my my luck would have it I have an uncanny record for passing the festivities of Valentine’s day without a significant other year over year. Granted over the past couple years being particularly itinerant with stints in Seattle, New York and elsewhere I guess it’s no wonder. However prior to that I’ve still somehow managed to not have a girlfriend on Valentine’s day with some consistency. Hell, there was even one time when my relationship ended a few days before Valentines day!
This year is no exception and once again I am an unrestricted free agent on the day for lovers. Now it’s not like I’ve never had a girlfriend on Valentine’s day, mind you, and those few times when I have been in a steady relationship I was always an old-school romantic. It’s always been funny that the older I get the more different the way I love gets.
Remember when you were somewhere between 13-17 or so and love was this wonderful mystery? We had no idea about what love really is other than some strange primal feeling of longing for another person to be all yours. As far as how to love all we had was what we mimicked from TV, movies, maybe parents? No wonder adolescence is so filled with heartbreak and bad poetry/songs (and dear sweet lord I have quite the anthology of heart-wrenchers in my collection from that era) – we just had no idea what we were doing.
Later in life it’s different..or is it? Now we put up fronts a lot of the time and bury ourselves in work (or at least pretend to be too busy) so love can be a little harder to find. The scary part is that being 100% honest about how you feel about someone can actually screw the pooch! It’s sick I tell you! As adults we’re so messed up from past heartbreaks that for many of us it’s hard to trust anyone so falling in love becomes less about those old wonderful, primal feelings and more about taking a big risk in putting your trust in someone else’s hands. It can even be looked at as transactional in that two people get together because they each want something specific from the other, for example marriage, sex, security etc.
The traditional western idea of marriage has always boggled my mind since, as western socialized people, we pretty much spend our entire lives acting married to begin with! We date and practice monogamy and even get mad at our others if their eye wanders. The ironic thing is that usually marriage isn’t even a glimmer of an idea to either party at that point, so it seems a little bit crazy to expect total devotion at such a young age.
I have heaps of respect for any couple that has enjoyed a stable and mature relationship and even more for those who have parted ways amicably and tied up any loose ends. Jealousy may be an almost reptilian reflex for most but I think as humans we have the ability to reason it away either through trust or maturity.
To me Valentine’s Day has always been a bit of an oddity only because of the expectations folded into it that usually fall squarely on the shoulders of the male in a heterosexual relationship. It’s almost like “woman appreciation day” and while that may actually be a great thing I always wonder where the male equivalent is? Don’t we gentleman deserve one day a year to be un-stoic and accept the compliments of our female companions? It think there’s a conversation to be had there and you should really stay tuned to this humble blog for more on that very soon.
In the mean time I hope you remembered all the women who are special to you this Valentine’s Day and brought them flowers. If you forgot to get a rose for your mom too, then stop reading this post and get to the florist fast!
As I wait to go to the family dinner I think of all of you from all walks of life, different circumstances, and varying degrees of observance of the holiday and I would like to you wish you all a merry NusMas.
Why Nusmas and not Christmas? Well, simply, it’s because not all of you necessarily will be celebrating Christmas this year. Whether it’s because you don’t belong to any sect of Christianity or because for one reason or the other you don’t celebrate Christmas eve, think of me saying “Merry Nusmas” as personal well wishes of a festive nature.
Let’s face it, if you venture outside your house you will invariably run into some festive decorations or revellers, so instead of being all grouchy about it why not be festive too? It doesn’t mean you have to celebrate Jesus as your Lord and saviour nor does it mean you have to sit in church. All I’m saying is that there is nothing wrong with being happy too and spreading good will. Who needs Xmas as excuse? We should be doing this all year.
So to everyone, whether you’re with family tonight or having a quiet night at home, Merry Nusmas! Much love to you all.
p.s. If you’re like me and do not have a fireplace at home here’s something to brighten up your room.