Category Archives: 2011

Toronto Bakes for Japan: People Helping People

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

On Sunday April 10, 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the “Toronto Bakes For Japan” Bake Sale that took place at 5 locations in Toronto. When I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed by the amount of baking that was available; and I was only at the Liberty Noodle location in Liberty Village!

Overwhelming contributions from you!

Sushi anyone!?!

My friend, Niya Bajaj, an event planner and social extrovert had taken this idea to heights that I had not anticipated. Her team of volunteers and her fellow organizer, Heena Punwani, had motivated, inspired and encouraged Toronto into putting together a massive spread of baking to help the people of Japan, following the earthquake that happened there on March 11, 2011.

There was also an auction of art, specialty baked goods and gift certificates for restaurants, spas and other locations in the city. One of the most impressive items up for auction was a cake that looked like sushi on a wooden stand! I can tell you that when I saw it, I thought it was sushi! I understand that @allcondohotels bought the sushi cake! I hope they enjoyed it! It was a very impressive item!

I also had the opportunity to visit the crew that was working at Cafe Diplomatico all day on Sunday and they had some interesting stories of their time on the patio! Their day had started in the rain, but thankfully the weather had warmed up and the sun had come out! They had provided people with snacks to enjoy while doing laundry nearby or to enjoy with their coffee on the patio. These folks had given up their day to sit outdoors and help raise money for the people in Japan. Their efforts should not go without a huge “Thank You”.

The same thanks should go to the other locations that hosted the volunteers and were generous with their support and time for the volunteers to sell their product. I had the opportunity to meet Sang Kim, and learn about his Toronto to Japan effort that helps raise spirits via sending short videos to people in Japan. Liberty Noodle played a large role in this effort and hosted a sushi making event on April 2, 2011 in conjunction with Sang. Please check out their website and visit them for dinner or one of their special events. It is now on my calendar to do so!

I really liked that all of the items were stylishly packaged. The level of care and concern that everyone had committed to their products was evident just from looking over the tables. There was a large selection to choose from and almost every item was labeled with the ingredients that went into the product. Every detail was taken care of especially for those with food allergies!

OMG! Was this ever good!

I didn

I even caught Jo shopping for some baked goods! Imagine that!

@clickflickca selecting his baked goods!

I know that I left Liberty Noodle with an armload of baked goods (that were all delicious), a good feeling in my heart! Thanks should also go to The Rivoli, Amaranto Cafe, Evergreen Brick Works Farmers Market and Yoshi’s Sweets that also hosted volunteers over the weekend.

As of writing this, the efforts of this team of volunteers was approaching $30,000 raised for the Red Cross in Japan and they are still working. If you would like to help them, please visit their website and contact them for how you can help donate. They and the people in Japan will appreciate it.

BlackBerry…why should I stay?

I have to start by saying that I used to love my BlackBerry.

I like that it is made by a Canadian company. I like that it has a “real” keyboard. That said, I have had multiple reasons lately to question my loyalty to the company that got me past the cell phone time of my life to where I am now.

I started with a BlackBerry Pearl, because I didn’t want my smartphone to look like a “device”. I wanted to try a BlackBerry but maintain the size and style of a regular cell phone.  It worked…until it died suddenly, after only 2 years of service. I upgraded to my current Bold 9700 in February of 2010 and as it turns out, I liked the full keyboard, the operating system and the web browser a lot more. That was until recently.

The truth of the matter is that I am tired of seeing apps that exist for iPhone and Android, but not for BlackBerry. I love using my Boingo service and they recently launched a new app. Not for BlackBerry. Companies have more apps for iPhone and Android than Blackberry, based on what I have seen when visiting company websites and reviewing magazine advertising. Why is this? As a supporter and fan of things that are mobile, access and availability are key issues for me. When I have less of either on the device I am using, I have to question if I have made the right choice.

The reason I would like to test an Android is to see, in real-time, how the device would function in my hands; the way that I use my phone. The reason I say this is that it would have been great if I could have taken OS 6 for the BlackBerry for a “test drive” before I installed it. I did that recently and I basically have been rebuilding my phone for a week. All the usual “stock” sounds are now gone, so I have been resetting all my profiles on the phone. I have been tackling a reduced battery life for some unexplainable reason. I lost almost half of the free memory on my phone just by completing the upgrade. I am really questioning why I should continue to punish myself like this!? I guess this is why changing devices makes me nervous. Is the grass really greener? Should I continue to dance with the devil I know?

I am excited for the launch of BBM at the end of April for the iPhone and Android. That may be the straw that sees me move to a new device. A bigger screen, better integration with my computer at home and more apps. What have I got to lose?  If the launch does happen and the functionality is there then I may be off to the races with an alternate handset as soon as the shackles of my current contract are released.

What makes a sandwich…Bread or Filling?

I recently posed this question on Twitter and the response was just about equal. Some said that stale/soggy bread ruins the sandwich. Some said that the “filling” could save bad bread. Some said both parts were equally important. I don’t know which is right, but I am going to give you my thoughts on all three!!

When you get the right combination of bread and filling it is MAGIC!!  The combination of firmer bread and some fillings, just works.  Other times, an uber-fresh roll works with some deli meat and fresh cheese.  One of my favs is a slice of meatloaf (homemade or store-bought), a dab of spicy pasta sauce or spicy salsa and a slice of swiss cheese.  Toast that sucker open-faced in the toaster oven until the sauce and meatloaf are warm and the cheese is just starting to melt.  Put it together and that is the perfect combination of crunchy bread on the outside and fresh roll on the inside.  The combination of spicy sauce and the bite of the cheese works well with the meatloaf.  Try it and tell my what you think!

As for sandwich bread, there are so many choices.  Rolls, loaves of bread, wraps.  Some of the best sandwiches require the perfect bread.  Corned Beef on Rye.  You need a good rye bread and there are plenty of opinions on what rye bread is best. Marble, Light Rye or Dark Rye, they are all good and all serve their purpose.  Ciabatta buns, Foccacia bread, Flatbreads, Pitas and Wraps are all viable options too.  I have spread peanut butter and jam on the inside of a wrap and you know what, it works.  The wrap suits that sort of filling.

As for the fillings themselves, this is where creativity comes in! They are as unique as the individual themselves.  You can be creative and risqué or standard and predictable.  Sometimes a good ol’ fashioned grilled cheese or BLT just works.  The standbys of PB & J work too, especially if you are a kid (or a kid a heart).  Personally one of my favourite sandwiches is something I call a Stag & Doe Sandwich (aka The Dagwood Sandwich).  This monstrosity basically involves walking up to the meat platter at the buffet table and placing one slice of EVERY deli meat on the tray onto your roll.  This means you can have roast beef, turkey, ham, salami and any other number of deli slices on there! Then add some olives, pickles, tomatoes, mustard and mayo (again, whatever is there).  Close the sucker up and prepare to “tackle” it!  If you have ever seen, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, you likely know about the “Philadelphia Hunch”.  This is a method of eating a HUGE sandwich and keeping it all together.  You might need to perfect this to tackle this sucker!

In conclusion, I guess it doesn’t matter what you find the best part of a sandwich.  It is that you take some creativity and try it out.  Do you have to eat a few “duds” along the way…sure.  The payoff is that winning combination that just “works”! If you have found one of those combinations, leave it in the comments below.  I would love to try some of your creations!

Your Vote is Your Say and It Counts – May 2, 2011

Why is Canada a great place to live? We are all about to find out on May 2, 2011; Federal Election Day.

Love it or hate it we get one day every few years to decide who is going to be our Prime Minister, our government and our public face to the world for the next 4-5 years (we hope).  If we don’t elect a majority government, then the perch of a minority government is a little more precarious and we get to do this a little more often; as we just found out.  This is not uncommon in our history and I encourage you to read up on the history of governments in Canada, here and the history of elections and majority/minority governments, here.

I have long felt and believe that voting is one of the most important things you get to do as an adult.  As a rule we like to complain about things in Canada.  The price of gas, the number of winning “cups” we get from Tim Hortons, the weather, winter cold, summer heat and the government.  The truth is we have very little control over most of those things.  We do get some control over the government.  We control who is elected and why.

In order to complain about what is happening and the rules and laws that are being written by the government, you have to take a stand.  You don’t have to share who you vote for but on Election Day; you only have to get out, mark a ballot properly and care about the decision you are making.   The more effort you put into your decision and encouraging those around you to do the same, the better the results will be.  It is no different from anything else in society and daily life.

I have always voted based on the platform laid out by the party leaders.  No matter who is running locally, the platform on the national level is what matters, in my opinion.  That is what will impact me and my livelihood the most. An old friend of mine used to say, “Vote for the party, not the individual”. They ran for office, so I have to believe they knew what they were talking about.

Any elected official will try to help you on the local level once they are in power. They will be expected by the party leader to “tow the party line” as well. They are as tied to that platform as anyone. That’s why voting for the ideology, ideas and roadmap that best suits you and your livelihood is important.  Our job in an election is to put the right person into leadership and in this case it is on the national level. That’s why voting for party, platform and leader is critical, in my view. Sure, the parties have historically made bad decisions once in power by turning their backs on the platform they laid out.  This only works once.  In order to preserve their interest in governing they learn that turning their backs on those that got them there is not a wise idea.

I personally hope and believe that government is on the road to better things.  The last municipal elections seemed to show a real interest in change, better leadership and better government right through Southern Ontario.  I am hopeful that this will happen on the Federal level on May 2, 2011.

It is true that everyone only gets ONE vote.  It is also true that every vote counts.  There are parts of the world where people go to war for the right to vote.  We get to do so freely on May 2.  Please don’t take the right to vote lightly or for granted.

Your vote is your say and it counts!

Talking or Texting…Which do you prefer?

I borrowed this topic from the #PostAWeek2011 blog, (The Daily Post).  This topic is a relatively interesting one as we move further into the SmartPhone and cell phone era.  Almost everyone has a phone, knows about texting and how to send texts.  The question becomes, what is normal and acceptable when you are making the decision to call, text, IM or BBM (yes, I believe we should add that topic to the mix too).  I guess that it all depends on the nature of the relationship that you share with the person.

Personally, it’s my belief that business relationships are still based on a phone call.  I work in a business that requires me to call my contacts and discuss issues that are impacting our customers.  Talking about these issues on the phone is far easier than trying to squeeze all of the necessary information into an email or text. There is also the opportunity to ensure that there are no misunderstandings when we talk on the phone. Don’t get me wrong, we do use email for business related information.  Paperwork that used to be sent via fax, requiring paper on both ends, is sent electronically.  Routine correspondence to confirm or update customer orders is also sent via email. This helps reduce the environmental impact that we are having in our daily operations, for sure.

I know that with family members, texting and BBM closes the distance when someone lives out-of-town or is on vacation. I do think that BBM poses a different issue than texting or email. All of these types of communications come directly to my phone. The difference is that I view BBM as a “conversation”, something that is interactive on both ends. I approach BBM conversations the same way I approach face-to-face conversations. I give them my attention, the trouble is that it is easy to get distracted.

When it comes to text or email, I look at these communication methods as less interactive and more convenient. The ability for me to respond to them from my phone is great. I don’t give them the same priority level as a BBM. I like the option of being able to leave a text or email for someone and know that they will get it at their convenience. That their response will arrive, “when they have time”. If I text or email someone I am not looking for that “engagement” that I am with a BBM.

When it comes to personal relationships and even dating, another entire level gets added to the mix, in my opinion. I am generally very private and guarded with my PIN and my phone number. Gauging whether to offer a phone number, email or PIN is always tough. Given that I see BBM as a more instant form of communication in my world, I generally like to reserve that for friends that I see routinely and make plans with often. That said, my PIN is on my personal card, so the potential is there for a professional or new contact to add me to BBM.

This question has been of interest to me for some time. I have raised it on Twitter in the past, asking about this BBM commercial, which suggests that people are relatively forthcoming with their PIN to allow BBM communication.  The response I received on Twitter does not necessarily reflect the commercial. Most people say that they are relatively guarded with their PIN and prefer to reserve it for people that they know.  I would think that from a dating perspective, the initial stages of dating are far better suited to the telephone and the two-way conversation. Failing that then IM (Windows Live Messenger, etc) works too. Once that connection is established then moving to texting and BBM is certainly a viable option, in my opinion.

What do you think? What are your thoughts? Do you generally call, text or BBM?  Please leave a comment below, find me on Twitter or email me and let me know what you think.  I look forward to your comments.