I was out this morning for breakfast with Casie and after 2 cups of coffee, which I don’t drink often, I noticed that I have been running on all cylinders for some time now. Working, job hunting, organizing and more, fit that in with rock climbing and…yeah. Sleep is for suckas.
Things have been exploding all around me. Not like A-Team or Die Hard exploding – as cool and terrifying that would be – but in the sense that there’s a ton going on in my life. I’ve been so busy these past few weeks that I’ve been passing out on my couch just about every night. You know, you finish a day and are pooped and just want to sit for a minute? Yeah with my my minute becomes the next morning. PhotoJunkie has been amused by this and alleges that he’s begun a collection of photos of my passed out on the couch in different funny positions. Kinda creepy but kinda funny too.
So what’s tuckering me out? Well first of all there’s Movember! I’m running around trying to get donations and also setting up some pretty awesome events.
Next Sunday me and some social media sh*t disturbers will spontaneously appear at Yonge and Dundas Square and offer Mustache Rides to the public for a buck! Try to get your head around what that entails without getting us all thrown in jail, or show up and hang with us! Great laughs guaranteed!
Then on Monday Nov, 15 I’ve organized a special Movember Edition of TweetGasmTO at the Gladstone Hotel at 7pm! Click here to RSVP and make sure you tweet and share!! I think this will be the funnest Tweetgasm yet as we have some pretty freaking great things in store. DJ David Akermanis and his outfit called “Speedboats and Big Explosions” will be spinning and we will be auctioning and giving away some cool stuff! On top of all that Mads_Kassinger will be providing MoCupcakes! Who’s the manliest cupcake of them all? Find out at Tweetgasm.
You can imagine how organizing multiple events and fundraising can really tire a man out. The other thing is that I have a new gig at a great firm and I’m getting ready for that to begin. You will all know soon which firm it is but let’s just say it felt right and I’m excited!
I want to see you all at Tweetgasm and I hope some of you can Donate to my Mo Drive as I grow a glorious flavour saver on my face this month! You’ll be glad you did!
Donate by clicking here!
Warning! Awesome movie contest below!!
My good friend Lauren O’Nizzle sent me and my compadre Sean Ward to check out a special live taping of eTalk with Ben Mulroney, the cast of Big Bang Theory and Barenaked Ladies. Sean’s also holding a contest for Nowhere Boy so check out this video, watch our exploits then head over to seanward.net to get a chance at a pass for that movie! It’s like TIFF all over again!
Big crowd, lots of screaming Sheldon fans but at least we got free hot dogs and cotton candy that looked a lot like Carly! We stayed for a spell to watch a sneak preview of an upcoming episode of Big Bang Theory, harass some unsuspecting folks, and when we got tired of standing around, we decided to swing by the Silver Snail for a much needed nerd-out. George, the guy behind the guy at the Snail greeted us warmly and after some catching up handed over a free pass to see the upcoming DC comics movie RED starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and freaking John Malkovich before it comes out next Friday!
Wednesday October 13th
55 Bloor Street West
Here’s the rub. I will be otherwise indisposed on that day and time. Even though I REALLY want to see this movie I can’t be selfish and I though I would show you wonderful folks some love with a sneak preview on me! I’ve got a double pass to the pre-screening of RED and all you gotta do is comment on this here blog and share your comment to twitter or facebook with a link back over here. The easy way to do this is to toggle the little twitter or facebook icon at the bottom of the comment box!
Winner will be announced Monday!
Check out the trailer!
Perhaps it was providence or tempting the fates but I guess since I’ve been doing a few food blogs up in this house it was only a matter of time until I went to a food related event.
I got invited by Mansfield to the press conference and pre-opening of the new Longo’s in Maple Leaf Square and boy did they pull out the stops with this new location. They have the biggest cheese store in Toronto and pretty much cut and smoke and prepare everything in store. Everything is gourmet and you can spend an entire day in there with all the little distractions and things to eat.
When I was a kid you would go to the grocery store to get milk and eggs and get home to mama before she hit you with a wooden spoon for taking too long. I’m sure little Italian kids with grocery lists will be getting their lumps when they lose themselves in what can’t even be called a grocery store any more. Instead Longo’s has made what I can only describe as a family-owned amusement park of food.
When my dad and I used to go shopping in leaner times we would pride ourselves in knowing how to select good fruit and vegetables because at most supermarkets you would have to kind of dig around and pick out the good pieces amidst a lot of produce that is either not ripe yet or past its prime. I was originally going to have Sean film me in the produce section of the store as I did a tutorial on how to choose produce but as you will see from the picture above, Longo’s has taken care to make sure that everything is perfect. Apparently they go every morning at 6am to the Ontario Food Terminal and get first pick! So not fair! I can’t brag anymore!
Seriously though, I think it’s charming how despite Longo’s being a big market nowadays, they’re still owned by a nice Italian family who hand select their employees as carefully as they do their produce. I say this in earnest because I got to meet Anthony Longo and his kin at the event and he’s a really humble guy who cares about his business.
I had never met him before so I had no idea that the guy serving me coffee was the President and CEO of Longo’s till later! During our tour of the store I noticed an older gentleman in an expensive Italian suit helping the workers clear cardboard and clean up around the store. It happened to be Anthony’s uncle, Gus Longo. That’s how a family runs a multi-million dollar business.
Go to a Longo’s and just try to find tobacco, tabloids, fried items or ethically questionable food (i.e. shark steaks) and you simply will not. The decision to omit these items was a decision made by the Longo family with social and health consciousness.
I still got my wooden spoon lumps when I took too long with the groceries. Also a long-standing Italian family value.
Going to share a recipe that I made up with a few things I picked up from the store in the next couple days. Stay tuned.
Special thanks to Rob Koss and Jerry Buligan for their tour of the store.
I’ve said it before: The social media community in Toronto is a really great tight-knit group of folks who, all business aside, just like to hang out when the opportunity presents itself.
You can, however, mix business and pleasure and what usually results is a great event that surpasses just another tweetup.
My friends at the newly formed company, The House of Bamboo thought it would be a nice treat for the readers of their XavierPop website to get a chance to win tickets to a prescreening of the new Facebook movie, The Social Network – which hits theaters everywhere today. The movie was excellent and the only two criticisms I have with the overall experience is (1) The theater insists that you check your cell phone before the show – with no liability!! and (2) you leave the theater after the movie thinking, “and what have I done with my life?!”
If you use Facebook or any other social network you’ll want to see this movie for sure. I think it’s also a fairly justified portrayal about the speed at which business runs in our generation Y world. Suits are almost a thing of the past – Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Zuckerberg would attest to that in the comfort of his house slippers – and it’s go big or get left behind now; there’s no room for skeptics and risk aversion – as Eduardo Saverin seemed to have learned. Oh and don’t get caught doing coke.
Speaking of TEDx I gotta say that it was a very well executed event. I didn’t attend the day event in person but I was one of the many people watching the live stream, produced by the talented video team at TheBizMedia. For an event that hasn’t been around in Toronto for long, this thing went very smoothly with few technical problems. The stream was clear and high quality (at least for me, but I have a 20 Megabit connection and an Intel i7) and the speakers were really special. Trey Anthony was particularly inspiring!
The afterparty, put on by Julian and NotableTV was also well executed and was a good place to meet new people and make new connections – and boy did I get to connect with a whole lot of people. One of note was Chris Aimone from Interaxon, a company that deals in thought-controlled computing! Fear the future! I got put into a chair and fitted with a brain wave-reading headset and raced against Sean to fill a virtual martini glass using only the power of my mind! The perk of winning? A drink ticket for anything at the bar! See the video below for a quick explanation of how it works and check out Sean Ward’s vlog for some footage of our race.
It was also great to meet some of my readers face to face. I think the best thing about blogging is when someone comes up to me, shakes my hand and tells me that a post inspired them or made them smile. I could do this for the rest of my life whenever I hear that from folks. It’s not the praise for me that moves me, it’s the fact that someone really took something away from my blog that made them happy. My blog is about you, not me. I got that same feeling when my music touched people and I am happy that my words are still being heard.
I didn’t make it to the last one so it was due time to see what all the hubub was about with following 9 steps to pouring a beer. It’s quite the ritual and if you’re good enough at it (i.e. a perfectionist) you can enter the competition next year and win yourself some serious bragging rights, some cash and oh, a freakin’ Rolls Royce!
All that for pouring a beer??!? Sign me up! Almost as if by divine providence the Stella crew had a little mini bar set up where one can learn how to pour a Stella by following the 9-step ritual. Check out the video and you will see my first step on the road to becoming the next Draughtmaster! It’s gonna be hard as I will have to beat the flare of Steve (the guy in the bowler hat and Guy Fawkes mask) and Marc, the 2010 Champion who was crowned last night at the event!
I must say there is nothing quite like pouring your own beer from a tap. It just tastes better when you put the work into it. Excuse me while I crack open my home pouring kit – an identical one to those that were given out at the party to attendees – and get practicing.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog. I will be getting back to my roots with a new song for y’all!
Last night me and some of the usual suspects were invited by Mosaic and Stella Artois for some fun and a movie. I brought along my good friend Randeep (#broforceEast) and we all met up at Hank’s and were treated to Diet Coke cocktails, a live DJ, and a whole lotta munchies. I particularly liked the Ratatouille-smothered take on poutine. The pre-screening reception felt like one of those really fun birthdays you went to as a kid. We were treated to an amazing flare bartender who literally set the bar on fire, an illusionist, cotton candy, a photo booth, and yes, loot bags! They even invited hair stylists from Toni & Guy to style the hair of those of us who were interested. My hair has gotten long so I figured I would give it a shot. An interesting experience to say the least as it was my first time allowing a stylist to touch my locks. Lots of fun was had and the food was great with plenty of little distractions to keep us all busy until it was time to head over to the movie.
As the reception neared its end, a large limousine arrived to shuttle us over in style to the Elgin Theatre for a special screening of Route Irish directed by Ken Loach. I wondered why we were being taken to a film with very heavy subject matter after all the tomfoolery of the party, but perhaps it’s just that the showtime worked well with the timing of the reception?
The film had lots of potential as it was meant as an exposé on mercenaries in the Iraq war, however I felt that the scope of the issue was too extensive to fit within the confines of what was essentially a revenge film. Perhaps balancing character development and political awareness within the relatively short frame of the movie’s length weakened it slightly. It did have its moments however, and I think I can safely say that this movie had the best car bomb scene I’ve ever seen in film. I wonder if Loach is aware of the unintended pun inherent in having a car bomb in an Irish movie. I find that people at the TIFF tend to be overly eager to gush their reviews because of the personal touch meeting the director or cast brings with a premiere of a film. For me, however, I guess I still try to judge the movie based on its own merits and despite being being in a theatre full of people who could not wait to tell Loach that this movie was “incredible” I would like to exercise my right to be different from the crowd. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch, mind you, it’s just that outside of the main character and perhaps his “girlfriend” there is little character development so it’s hard to feel for the deceased mercenary friend of the main character, whom he is avenging. It would have been fine if Route Irish was the kind of movie 127 Hours was, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Overall, despite feeling somewhat incomplete, Loach’s film was effective in shedding light on a troubling issue and I still give Kudos to Loach for his gutsy attempt at tackling the grim situation that few – outside of readers of the Economist and Poli Sci majors like me – have read or heard about.
Jon thought is would be funny to ruin my picture in front of the branded backdrop. I forgave him because he bought me a glass of Drambuie. Confidentially, it was hilarious but you had to be there. This shot was taken by Deanna aka @shopsterium.
It’s time for the Toronto International Film Festival and Stella Artois was gracious enough to help me explore my love of film and beer by sending me on a mission to the parties and screenings that make up TIFF. Last night, I attended the Stella Artois kickoff party at the legendary Drake Hotel and had the pleasure of meeting some of the directors responsible for the movies you will be seeing at TIFF. The party was very fun and featured a meet and greet with the directors, a screening of the classic Maltese Falcon and random trivia pot shots from the girls in white dresses working the party. Of course the Stella Artois was flowing and was the perfect accompaniment to a classy afternoon with some of TIFF’s best and brightest.
Since Stella Artois loves film, they thought it would be great if I could be a filmmaker during my coverage of the festivities, so they gave me a nice little HD pocket cam so I can document some of the goings-on and spectacles that inevitably come along with the TIFF being in town. It’s going to be very exciting rubbing elbows with stars and filmmakers over the next little while and I’ll be bringing my experiences to you so you won’t miss the action!
Have a look at some of the pics from last night!
Yesterday I posted a factual but admittedly scathing post about my experience with Telus customer support; in particular their loyalty and retentions department.
I was very polite for 98% of the conversation until all communications broke down with the particular rep I was dealing with. This was two days ago and I just did not want to think about this till today. It just left a really bad taste in my mouth after being on the phone for over an hour hammering home the same point.
Casie DMed me today and got me thinking, so this morning I called Telus back to follow up on my previous call with them and I was shocked at the difference one person can make in a company. I spoke to a very polite lady named Shawna and she calmly and professionally explained the benefits of sticking with Telus at the end of my year and signing up. With regards to the mandatory new phone issue, she was attentive and empathetic while still upholding the company’s policies. I could not help but be receptive and listen attentively due to her pleasant and sincere manner. This person really cares about her customers and the real kicker is that she’s not even in the retentions and loyalty department! As far as I know, she’s a front line rep!
It goes to show two things:
1. I am reasonable and not above conceding a “defeat” when shown the indisputable error of an opinion I may have or the blunt edge of an axe that I may have been grinding.
2. Anyone can make a big difference at any level of an organization if they stay professional, courteous and sincere.
Shawna’s customer service was so great that by the end of the call I was more than ready to sign up with Telus, and come Christmas season you can be sure that I will be speaking to Telus again, pen in hand. She really listened to me and did not interrupt me. It was really relieving to not have to go to battle and the call was not long at all. Shawna stayed on the high road of professional conduct and used her ears and mouth in the proportion that she was given them: two to one.
I understand that maybe the rep from Loyalty whom I initially had contact with the other day may have just been having a bad day. In fact, during the “honeymoon” part of our long conversation, I even told her that I am sympathetic about the fact that she probably has to deal with hundreds of irate customers as I could already sense a distinct lack of patience from the get go. However professionalism still is paramount and I don’t want to fault Telus as a whole just because of one isolated incident where only negative variables and factors lined up to make a bad experience – it was the end of the work day, she could have had a particularly bad day, she may have just finished a call with someone way worse than me and had no break.– it’s no excuse for that rep and I don’t know what it was that may have put her in that mood before even talking to me, but I’m willing to forgive and forget in light of today’s very different experience.
Thank you Shawna for making my experience with Telus 100% better and thank you Telus for having the good sense to employ fantastic CSRs like Shawna. Keep it up and your competitors will follow your example.
My humble apologies.
UPDATE: I just spoke to a front line CSR at Telus and she was really great! See my next post where I take a new perspective on Telus.
On a side note, before I begin, I wanna say that WordPress for BlackBerry kinda sucks. I had this post all written up yesterday, saved it to drafts and it’s nowhere to be found!
Well it’s official, the Canadian cell phone carrier market is a real crapshow. Did you know that Canadians have the most expensive cell phone carrier plans in the world? This is not an exaggeration! Here are the stats to prove it! I think they problem is caused by the “Big three” carriers who have up till this point had a complete monopoly on cell service. Although this year we finally got some competition in the market from Wind, Mobilicity and Public, I’m not really seeing prices go down on service and what’s more, based on personal experience, it doesn’t seem that the big three, particularly Telus, are hungry to beat the competition!
Why? Because although the new cell phone startups are indeed pretty good, the big three knows that unless you’re in a major city center like Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver, you’re pretty much S.O.L. and stuck with choosing either Rogers, Telus or Bell (and maybe Fido). Maybe in the future, IF the new guys can build enough cell towers and coverage to compete we may see some real movement but until then the big three are still running the show.
I had a run-in yesterday with Telus retentions and I’ve gotta say that their retentions department was a nightmare. Here’s the skinny: I signed up almost a year ago with Telus with an unlocked phone and got a whole lot of features without a contract. They must have been so worried about Wind that they were willing to go the extra mile. Up till now I thought Telus was great and after being a mistreated Bell customer for years, I was happy that Telus was so accommodating. But this lady from retentions tells me that unless I sign a contract, the features I enjoyed for the past year will be charged to me AND that I must buy a new phone in order to enter said contract. Why the hell would I have to buy a new phone to sign a contract!? They said that “it’s the only way to enter a contract.” Ridiculous. To read a censored transcript of our conversation, click here. I tried to keep it as accurate as possible, at least from memory. I censored out the parts where she got all personal and went into semantic when I was trying to stick to business. Those of you who I’ve done business with know well that when I am in business mode I am very stuck to the facts.
You need only take one look at an iPhone or BlackBerry forum and look around a bit and you will see people foaming at the mouth about bad service. You would think that with the new kids in town on the scene (Wind, Mobilicity etc) that the big three would be a little more professional in being competitive.
So here’s the deal Telus. I’m not buying a new phone from you unless I need one. I don’t want to go on a contract but if you just can’t live without it, I will sign one for a year and then you can grandfather my features when it’s over.
Generally, I try to treat my computers pretty well. After all whenever I put words into the computer, money generally tends to come my way so you can imagine how frustrating it was when my Dell laptop started getting boot errors and bad sectors on the hard drive. It could have just been from age. The Dell was top of the line back in its day (2005) and to be perfectly honest, I bought it so I could play World of Warcraft in the summer before school got back under way. It was my second Dell laptop because the first one was supposed to be a power beast but ended up being a franken-PC with a pentium 4 that was not able to handle anything at all! I was so jonesing for “WoW” that I called up Dell and told them that my computer was broken and that the culprit was the video card. They even sent a guy over to my place to replace it with the same one and I just called again and told them that the video card was malfunctioning. True enough I guess – the little Nvidia card couldn’t handle WoW and I needed to get my druid on dammit!
Eventually they just hooked me up with the i9300 so I would leave them the hell alone. Score, can you say “innervate me”? Alas, the i9300 has seen its last sunrise and today I picked up a new NusComp. I now have a way sexy Intel i7 (quad core) with half a TB HDD, 6 gigs of DDR3 RAM, a dedicated video card with 1 GB of VRAM and Dolby Home theater Virtual Surround Sound. I was very tempted to pick up a Mac but considering I got this baby for only $999, where a similarly equipped mac would have cost close to $3000 at least (note that there is no Intel Core i7 macbook pro) I think I got a good deal. I still may get a mac to use as my small computer as I generally use two computers simultaneously when I’m working and social media-ing at the same time. Currently my portable is a crapola little Toshiba Satellite, so what I may do with the two old ones is donate the small one that still works and, as for the Dell, destroy it in a comical fashion. I am going to the gun range next weekend and I hope they will let me use it as a target.
Why so passionate about destroying a piece of tech? Because not having a good computer kept me away from blogging as I tried to catch up on work, so for you and as an apology for not posting in almost a week (!) I will obliterate at least one of the two laptops in the near future.
In other news, I checked out my first GenYTO meetup the other night and it was swell. Met a lot of new folks and I must say I’m grateful to @davecoleman, @erinbury, @casiestewart. @danielpatricio and @renee3 for putting together the soiree at the London Tap House. It’s always great to see how the Toronto community is growing and it just makes me love this city even more. Come to the next one – if you missed this one, you won’t be disappointed by the next one. It’s gonna be just as awesome.
I was also able to wrangle up the elusive Bretton Maclean and much hugging ensued. He and his business partner, Mark Pavlidis are genius software engineers and are the brains behind Tweetagora and chilling with one or both is always a treat. If you have an iPhone and use Twitter, seriously use Tweetagora and you won’t need another twitter client ever.
Just a few shots of the happenings at the party below. Speaking of parties, I just attended Fan Expo 2010 with none other than @seanward so keep your eyes open on here and over at Seanward.net for our blog and vlog coverage of the craziness.