Friday, May 28, 2010

We've moved!

Hey there, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately we aren't here anymore. Don't worry, it's not you, it's me. The good news is that we are at an even cooler place (Wordpress) with snappy new features and all your favourite archived content.

I've streamlined some of the content to filter out all that annoying "work-related" nonsense to focus on the real nonsense. If you liked the work stuff, well, there's a new home for that and more as well.

Check out the new site and let me know what you think. Please update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc. accordingly as all future updates will only be at the new blog location.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ferris Bueller 2010

Have you ever wondered how Ferris' day off might look in 2010? Well, wonder no more thanks to the creative geniuses behind the Ferris Bueller Twitter account.

Read about it at TechCrunch and check out the Twitter account here (excerpt is below).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Write the Future - Nike World Cup ad (full version)

I'm not sure what I liked more, Rooney with the crazy beard or looking like James Bond while handling Federer at ping pong?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today's something or other #62

Why did Fanta* go away in the 80s? The Minute Maid replacement just didn't pack the same je ne sais quoi?

Why did Fanta return?

What is with the new, whacked out flavours?

Fanta and booze, you ask? Well, check this out: Vino Tinto con Fanta Limon. This unlikely combination forms a refreshing Cooler, perfect for kicking back with on a summer day. It's a modern variation on a classic that's popular in Andalucia, where Red Wine is combined with the Spanish mixer, Cacera [ed's note: I love Tinto de Verano!]. Make sure the glass is filled with ice before adding the ingredients, and if possible chill the Fanta prior to mixing. 

* Brand Overview: A favorite in Europe since the 1940s, Fanta was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company in 1960. Fanta Orange is the core flavor, representing about 70% of sales, but other citrus and fruit flavors have their own solid fan base. Fanta sells best in Brazil, Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and Argentina. Fanta is still a Coca-Cola product, and today it comes in seventy different flavors (though some are only available within the country of manufacture, one of 188 countries it is sold in).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Tunes (Victoria Day long weekend edition)

It is Victoria Day this Monday so this weekend is a long weekend here in Canada. Victoria Day is a uniquely Canadian holiday and is the unofficial start of the summer (although the weather is often cold and wet). For tonight's beverage there was really only one choice: Caesar.
Affectionately known as "May Two-four", Victoria Day is a federal Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on 24 May, in honour of both Queen Victoria's birthday and the current reigning Canadian sovereign's official birthday, and is also considered an informal mark of the beginning of the summer season. It has been observed since before Canada was formed, originally falling on the sovereign's actual birthday, and continues to be celebrated in various fashions across the country on the fixed date of the first Monday on or before 24 May. (Wikipedia)
Given the Canadian-ness of this holiday weekend I feel a Canadian tune should be the Friday tune of the day. That said, the holiday recognizes our British origins so, perhaps, some Britpop should be the order of the day (Ed's note: Not that different than every other Friday Music posting).

Perhaps a little of each....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

iTrust because she doesn't

Perhaps Tiger needed an iPhone instead of a Blackberry?

From the Culture article in the January 2010 edition of Men’s Fashion magazine (article is on cheating, snooping and social media... and unsurprisingly references Mr. Woods):
Providing another layer of privacy, there’s an iPhone application called iTrust, which lets owners know if prying eyes have tried to gain access to their phone. The app’s maker cites a survey claiming that 67% of women regularly check their boyfriends’ phone.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Your Monday Quote

“Time's fun when you're having flies.”
- Kermit the Frog

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today's Something or Other

From the Harvard Business Review's The Daily Stat:

Swimming Pool? What Swimming Pool?

Just 324 residents of Athens's wealthy northern suburbs reported in their recent tax returns that they owned swimming pools. That's less than 2% of the 16,974 pools found when tax investigators examined satellite photos, according to a New York Times report on the pervasiveness of tax dodging in Greece and its impact on the country's debt crisis.
Source: The New York Times

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Music

There's a record body count this year. There's a record. body. count. this year! Suitably accompanied by a next glass of Highland Park scotch.

Why stop at just one?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Morning drinking during the World Cup?

There might be decisions to be made between lager and ale with your bagel and cream cheese this June if Deputy Mayor and mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone has his way.

Pantalone may earn a few extra votes in the fall election if he gets his wish and persuades the province to bend liquor laws during the FIFA World Cup in June. By law, bars are allowed to start serving booze at 11 a.m., but with the time difference (South Africa is six hours ahead), games will be starting at 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. Toronto time. It would be good for bar business and for eager patrons' cheer to be able to have a morning brewskie when the midday games kick off.

Might be time to check out some German breakfast beer.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Music

I'd forgotten the New Pornographers covered this "classic" by Toronto. I think I'll accompany it with an Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Things Found

Notes from a dinner party, "... his thirst for knowledge is surpassed only by his thirst for alcohol."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

5 songs in heavy rotation on my iPod

Crystalised - The XX
Fall Silent - Groove Armada 
Pop Art Blue - Zero 7
Empire Ants - Gorillaz
Light the Way - Athlete
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga

Friday, April 30, 2010

Put de lime in de coconut, and drink 'em all up

Bolivia Slips Coke Back Into "Coca-Colla" 

Any self-respecting Coke addict knows that the sugary soft drink once contained trace amounts of cocaine. Now Bolivia is putting coca leaves in a suspiciously similar-sounding fizzy drink: Coca-Colla. That's not a typo, the drink is named after the Colla people of Bolivia's highlands. A batch of half-liter 12,000 bottles was recently sold for $1.50 a pop in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba, according to the UK Guardian.

In the past, Bolivia has tried to banish the coca leaf--a mild stimulant--from production. But now that coca grower Evo Morales is president, the government has changed its stance. Morales' administration backs the coca leaf for legitimate uses, including teas, liqueurs, toothpaste, and now Coca-Colla. At the same time, the government has booted drug enforcement officials out of the country.

Regardless of whether or not it's fair to crack down on Bolivian coca use, Coca-Cola probably isn't too happy about the potential copyright infringement here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

They advertise differently in Asia

Here’s a Taiwanese Yahoo! ad. It sort of speaks for itself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Today's something or other #61

Great stuff from The Borowitz Report. Hat tip to JK for the find.
NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (The Borowitz Report) – Eleven indicted Somali pirates dropped a bombshell in a U.S. court today, revealing that their entire piracy operation is a subsidiary of banking giant Goldman Sachs.

There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the leader of the pirates announced, “We are doing God’s work.  We work for Lloyd Blankfein.”

The pirate, who said he earned a bonus of $48 million in dubloons last year, elaborated on the nature of the Somalis’ work for Goldman, explaining that the pirates forcibly attacked ships that Goldman had already shorted.

“We were functioning as investment bankers, only every day was casual Friday,” the pirate said.

The pirate acknowledged that they merged their operations with Goldman in late 2008 to take advantage of the more relaxed regulations governing bankers as opposed to pirates, “plus to get our share of the bailout money.”

In the aftermath of the shocking revelations, government prosecutors were scrambling to see if they still had a case against the Somali pirates, who would now be treated as bankers in the eyes of the law.

“There are lots of laws that could bring these guys down if they were, in fact, pirates,” one government source said.  “But if they’re bankers, our hands are tied.”  More here.
The Los Angeles Times says Andy Borowitz has “one of the funniest Twitter feeds around.”  Follow Andy on Twitter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Music

Feels like a Guinness night... or perhaps Olde English 800....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today's something or other #60

How come we don't have Calippo's in Canada? Calippo's, a fond part of all my European vacations over the years.

Well, there's 30 seconds you're not getting back. Make it better with a Calippo. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Monday Quote

Smell that Ralph? That's the smell of justice. It smells like hot dogs.

- Chief Wiggum, The Simpsons

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Music

After work, on the streetcar southbound, headphones on, iPod set to shuffle, listening to 'Mykonos' by the Fleet Foxes with the sun setting across the valley. Today's moment of zen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Greater Pugwash Open (GPO) Google Search Story

Google recently released functionality that allows you to make your own version of the now famous, Parisian Love commercial. It is surprisingly easy. Here's a GPO Story (note: the GPO is an annual golf event).

Also, the comedic genius known as Down Goes Brown has created his own Leafs version.

I'm not crying, it's just raining on my face.

Today's something or other #59

Surely there are easier ways to get a free case of beer than agreeing to help your buddy move? 

Source: What Would Dad Say? blog

Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Monday Quote (Performance Management edition)

“You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it takes people to make your dream a reality.”
- Walt Disney

“Your people make all the difference. The only thing your competitors can’t copy is your culture and your people.”
- Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics

Lesson:  Performance management can create competitive advantage. It's your people, stupid.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An unbelievable Saturday at Augusta!

After a day or Masters’ highs (nice write-up here, complete with photo of a goofy looking Mickelson), I thought it would be a good time to revisit Jim Nantz’ personal low point:  “Did you hear that…? The locusts are coming.” How did they ever get him to agree to reading those promos back in 2005?

Today's something or other #58

Kids today....

Teen Sues Mom for Hacking Facebook Account

Suing your parents isn't just for celebrities anymore--a 16-year-old Arkansas boy is suing his mother for hacking into his Facebook account and allegedly posting slanderous remarks.
According to the boy, his mother hacked into his Facebook and email accounts, then changed both passwords. She also allegedly posted remarks that involved slander and information about his personal life.
New admits to changing the passwords, but denies hacking--she claims he left his account logged in on her computer. She also admits to making "maybe three, maybe four actual postings," but says the rest of it was a "conversation" between her, her son, and his friends.
New reportedly "hacked" her son's Facebook account because she was disturbed with the things he was posting--including a post that suggested he had driven home one night at 95 mph because he had been upset with a girl.
New plans on fighting the charges, as she believes she was fully within her legal rights as a parent to monitor her son's online behavior.
Click here to read the rest of the story. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Use Tagxedo to create cool word clouds

Here's my new word cloud for SWATE courtesy of Tagxedo:

Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?

Carlsberg staff strike over lunchtime beer rules

From People Management:  Brewery workers defend right to drink during working day
Over one thousand Carlsberg workers have gone on strike after their access to limitless beer was cut off at the Danish brewery this week.

Warehouse and production staff at the firm’s Copenhagen headquarters are now only permitted to drink beer in the canteen at lunchtimes, after the company removed work-site coolers from which employees could help themselves to a Carlsberg throughout the day.

Eight hundred workers walked out in protest at the move on Wednesday, and a further 250 downed tools on Thursday. Truck drivers at the Danish-owned brewer have also joined the strike in sympathy – although they are still allowed to take three beers from the canteen at lunchtime to drink on the road.

Carlsberg shipments from Copenhagen were cancelled on Thursday, and the company warned that the rest of the country would face beer delivery delays as transportation was disrupted.

Carlsberg spokesman Jens Bekke said the firm had been considering the new alcohol policy for some time, but pointed out that it had always been forbidden for workers to be drunk on the job despite the unlimited beer available. He added that delivery trucks had alcohol ignition locks preventing employees from driving when over the limit.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Music

Sipping some Balvenie Doublewood scotch and enjoying the new Gorillaz album. In keeping with the Damon Albarn theme... from The Guardian:
Damon Albarn has confirmed that Blur will record new material for the first time in seven years. However, the Britpop legends only plan to record one song, which will be released on limited-edition vinyl.
There are no details about the new track, other than it will be recorded imminently for Record Store Day on 17 April. The song will be sold through participating independent stores.
Albarn told the Sun: "We want independent record stores to continue. They're an important part of our musical culture. Music is a simple way for Blur to show our support and we hope people like it."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Performance Management demystified

Sometimes it is helpful to see things visually. This chart should help.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A class well worth attending - why universities are teaching 'The Wire'

From Slate (via the National Post):
Not content to write about it and discuss it among themselves, academics are starting to teach The Wire, as well. Professors at Harvard, U.C. Berkeley, Duke and Middlebury are now offering courses on the show.
Interestingly, the classes aren't just in film studies or media studies departments; they're turning up in social science disciplines as well, places where the preferred method of inquiry is the field study or the survey, not the HBO series, even one that is routinely called the best television show ever. Some sociologists and social anthropologists, it turns out, believe The Wire has something to teach their students about poverty, class, bureaucracy and the social ramifications of economic change.
Two of the first courses on The Wire were offered last spring. One was taught by Jason Mittell, a media scholar at Middlebury, the other by Linda Williams, a film studies scholar in Berkeley's rhetoric department. What interests Mittell and Williams is the fact that The Wire works despite its subject matter.
To read the full article click here.

A problem of our times: Oversharing at the office

This has probably happened at least once to anyone who's ever worked in an office. Whether it is talking about weekend exploits (or lack thereof), their love life (or lack thereof) or some unknown hobby that should have remained unspoken, people get comfortable around their co-workers and sometimes share more than those co-workers would like to know (e.g. I once had a co-worker who we learned over lunch one day, was into illegal, night-time drag racing. True story. I guess he liked to live his life a quarter-mile at a time.). Not everyone can keep their personal business as secret as Don Draper.

Say it with me one time, too much information.

The Wall Street Journal weights in on this topic: 'Oversharing' Invades the Office
Patti Sweeney and a dozen of her coworkers recently went out to lunch to celebrate the completion of a project. Over burgers and salads, they chitchatted about their work, their families and their hobbies.
One colleague mentioned that he was training for a 20-mile bike race, adding that he had just purchased a new helmet and Lycra shorts. To the group's mortification, Ms. Sweeney says, he then described shaving his entire body to reduce aerodynamic drag.
"Why, why, why do we need to go there?" says Ms. Sweeney, a 36-year-old financial analyst for a communications company who lives in Bartlett, Ill. "This is information about a coworker, not someone I really consider a friend, and now it's forever burned in my brain."
It's official: The TMI phenomenon—as in "too much information"—has invaded the workplace. You can thank reality TV and social-networking Web sites for creating a culture where people are encouraged to share every sordid—or boring—detail of their lives. They have desensitized us to the idea that some things are meant to be private.
But we have to take responsibility, too, for mistaking our coworkers for friends. It's understandable, as the line between office and home has blurred in recent years. We work more now, so we spend more time with our colleagues and clients, sometimes more than we spend with our families or friends, and we socialize with them outside of work. 
Click here to read the rest of the article. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Some more reasons why we do performance management

  • Effective performance management increases goal visibility and boosts shared accountability
  • Setting relevant and achievable goals is the cornerstone of both individual and company success
  • Research has proven that if managers connect with their employees and offer them clarity of direction and feedback, employees remain engaged and more fulfilled in their work.
  • Employee satisfaction and retention – people want to know how they are doing and what they can do to improve
  • Develop and keep your talent
  • To prepare / justify future changes or promotions – supports Succession Planning
  • To increase productivity by properly prioritizing work – ensures employees are working on the right things
  • Ensures performance conversations happen (not just project status updates!)
  • Effective performance management is a hallmark of successful companies. You want the company to be successful, right?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Your Monday Quote

If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That's easy. Pez. Cherry flavor Pez. There's no doubt about it.

- Vern Tessio, Stand by Me

Friday, April 2, 2010

Things Found

Written in my pocket notepad from April 2009:
Often it is the small measures that help to convey scope.
Subtly profound... or not.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why we do performance management

1. What is performance management?

It may be easier to think of the program as part of a three-phase cycle:  Planning, Performing, and Reviewing.
  • Planning:  Determining strategies and setting expectations through goal setting
  • Performing:  Doing the work that needs to be done
  • Reviewing:  Feedback and coaching on the “what” is being done and “how” it is being achieved
2. Why we do performance management

In the current business climate your organization is likely facing some tough challenges but also has some tremendous opportunities. Your Company must be sure that it chooses its strategies carefully and ensures that all processes and people are aligned and focused on achieving results. To do this, it needs all employees pulling together - to do that requires effective performance management. However, even the best performance management system will fail if managers focus only on the mechanics of performance management. It is not about the mechanics – it’s about on-going and honest dialogue.

Effective performance management increases goal visibility and boosts shared accountability. Setting relevant and achievable goals is the cornerstone of both individual and company success. Research has proven that if managers connect with their employees and offer them clarity of direction and feedback, employees remain engaged and more fulfilled in their work.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Facebook’s Amusingly Cruel CAPTCHA

This would be a tough way to start the day... You log into Facebook to see what's what and you get presented with this CAPTCHA.

Big Rock Brewery is running a make your own commercial contest. I hope this entry wins.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Performance Management

Firstly, we need to come up with a new name for Performance Management. It has such negative connotations. All you have to say is "performance management" and people start grumbling and complaining about process and not having enough time. I think if you even said "we're abolishing performance management practices at our company" people would still grumble at first simply because of the 'P' and 'M' words. That said, the last thing we need around performance management is more talking about semantics - just get down to it I say!

We're in the midst of goal setting at work right now. As always there's plenty of resistance. I get why no one likes reviews, but why hate goal setting? Essentially, Goal Setting is about (a) What are you going to do? (what is the outcome?) and (b) When will you do it? It shouldn’t be scary.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

God and Yoda appear to be in conflict

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try. 
- Mother Teresa

Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'
- Yoda 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Music

At the end of the week it is always nice to relax with some good tunes and a tasty beverage. The music you listen to at the end of a work week can take different forms:
It can be to chill out after a tough week or it can be something with energy to get you going before a night out. Mellow music as you head home from work... something with a beat as you walk from the subway station... something for the streetcar ride as the sun sets across the valley... something on the way to the pub.

With that in mind, I thought I'd add a new, regular (bi-weekly?) Friday feature of drinks and music. This musical number is being accompanied by a Mill Street Stock Ale (sadly, the last one in the fridge). Here's Shout Out Out Out Out with Remind Me In Dark Times.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

British Teenager Fired From Job Via Facebook, After Cookie-Related Ineptitude

I posted this link the other day on Twitter but thought it was worth sharing in more detail here as well. From Fast Company:

fired on facebook

Things you need to know before we get started: in England, cookies are called biscuits. Also in England, the word "cookies" does not also mean cookies, because this story revolves around a cafe called Cookies that does not sell cookies. This may all sound like a fun bit of wordplay leading up to a punchline, but it's not--that's just how they roll in England. It's a mysterious island nation, I know.

As the Daily Mail reports, Chelsea Taylor, a 16-year-old clerk at the Cookies Cafe in Leigh, was sent, improbably enough, on an errand to retrieve cookies for the staff of Cookies. She was given a "tenner" (in proper American English, God's own language, that's a "Hamilton") for the purchase of said sweets, only to lose it sometime during the journey. She returned to the Cookies Cafe both cookie-less and penniless.

Young Chelsea Taylor's boss at the Cookies Cafe was not pleased with this turn of events. How, she wondered, did she manage to open and run a cafe named after a snack she could not manage to procure? Heads would roll for this one! And it was our poor heroine who got the axe--and not in a very pleasant way.

Yes, Chelsea was fired via Facebook. The message is conciliatory, apologetic, and polite, yet its mere medium suggests a lack of personal involvement and a distancing that borders on the insulting. The shortened words, the text-message abbreviations ("u" for "you"), and the aversion to tell Chelsea in person all combine to form an epic brush-off--and Chelsea is not pleased.

"Even if she had sent me a text message or something it would have been better than on Facebook. She didn't have the guts to tell me face-to-face," said Taylor. Her mother called the action "appalling," "heartless," and "dreadful," and (rightfully) identified the typos and abbreviations as "disrespectful."

Is it okay to fire someone via Facebook? Would it actually have been more appropriate to use proper grammatical conventions? Those norms are still being formed. All we know is, don't go to the Cookies Cafe expecting cookies. They don't have any.

Today's something or other #57

Perhaps the researchers conducting this study had a little too much to drink the night before they performed their experiments? If not... whoa! It turns out we were on to something back in university. Who knew?!

From The Daily Free Press - Study: Late-night drinking no problem for test-takers
Thirsty Thursdays have never looked better, according to a new Boston University School of Public Health study released Tuesday that says binge drinking the night before a test does not affect a student’s performance.
Conducted in partnership with Brown University and set to be featured in the April 2010 edition of the journal Addiction, the study found that participants who consumed beer the night before being given an academic test scored the same as subjects who consumed non-alcoholic beer.
Over a four-day period, the 193 student participants were given either an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. The students who received alcoholic beverages drank until they had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. The next day, participants took practice versions of the Graduate Record Exam and a mock quiz on a lecture they received the previous afternoon.
Whether they were sober or inebriated the previous night, all of the students received similarly high scores on both exams.
However, BU professor and coordinator of the study Jonathan Howland said the study only examined alcohol’s effect on test-taking ability, not academic ability as a whole.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jedward - So awful it is good

Jedward - rockin' the mic like a vandal. Or vandals, I guess, since there are two of them.

To cleanse the pallet a little bit I'll leave you with this....

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'
Pray tomorrow - gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets
Day day de mm hm
Da da da ba ba

Monday, March 22, 2010

Inspiration from the Red Rooster coffee shop

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
- Mother Teresa

A story about motivation

When we consider whether to do something, we subconsciously ask ourselves a simple question: "Am I the kind of person who...?" And money changes the question. When the lawyers were offered $30 an hour their question was "Am I the kind of person who works for $30 an hour?" The answer was clearly no. But when they were asked to do it as a favor? Their new question was "Am I the kind of person who helps people in need?" And then their answer was yes.

People tend to think of themselves as stories. When you interact with someone, you're playing a role in her story. And whatever you do, or whatever she does, or whatever you want her to do, needs to fit into that story in some satisfying way. 

When you want something from someone, ask yourself what story that person is trying to tell about himself, and then make sure that your role and actions are enhancing that story in the right way.
Read the full article here, it is well worth your time. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yoga & Wine: Together at last. Wait, what?!

“Which asana goes best with Pinot Grigio? And when drinking a cab franc, should one invert or just go with the hatha flow?” asks Vital Juice Daily. “These are the quandaries that plague the nationwide trend of blurring yoga and wine—with workshops popping up like corks in yoga studios, wineries and on retreats worldwide. [ed's note: This is actually a nation-wide trend? Really?]

Experimenting with different wine pairings is fun, but who knew it could be really beneficial for your health too? No, I’m not talking about antioxidants; I’m referring to Vino-yasa! This innovative approach to pairing supplements your favourite reds and white with yoga stretches. It could just be the next big thing in health, taking exercise to a whole new level of bliss.
Read the full article here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

She & Him - In The Sun

I'm really digging this new song by She & Him, and the video is pretty cool too. Zooey Deschanel is a legit double threat (and, let's face it, a total cutie. Trillian forever!)

Some love for Toronto's coffee culture

This week the NY Times hailed London, England, as the next city for the coffee craze. Although the major corporations, like Starbucks, are pervasive in this international city, there seems to be a movement towards the smaller, independent shops that see coffee as an art.

The NYT listed 4 or 5 places where you can buy haute-espresso in London, but I would like to give some Toronto recommendations. I am going to stay away from where to buy beans as most of these espresso bars have the option of purchasing high-grade, ethically-sound, freshly-roasted buds of deliciousness. 
Click here for The Expeditioner's list of Toronto's best, indie coffee houses ("shop" doesn't feel right).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today's something or other #56

If people were randomly assigned batting averages would that help me remember their names?

I think the Nestle Social Media Manager was having a bad day

And it undoubtedly got much, much worse after a lapse in judgment about how to deal with customers.

Here's a suggestion:  Going to war with your customers is never sound business practice and insulting them in this manner just seems petty and vindictive. What was there to gain? When you start in with social media - like Nestle did with their Facebook page - you lose some control over the conversation and you need to be prepared how to deal with that. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Innovation that Matters

I found this article on the evolving nature of innovation by Nicholas M. Donofrio quite interesting. Here are some key highlights.... 

The very nature of innovation is changing. Today, the innovation that matters is not the latest result of Moore's Law, or doubling RAM, or tripling pixels. Those things still matter, but they matter much, much less.

The innovation that matters now—the innovation that we're all waiting for, even if we don't know it—is the one that unlocks the hidden value that exists at the intersection of deep knowledge of a problem and intimate knowledge of a market, combined with your knowledge, your technology, and your capability … whoever you are, whatever you can do, whatever you bring to the table.

Yet too many people still think of innovation solely in terms of a wholly new product or technological breakthrough. But this is limiting, and it is false. Innovations can arise from fresh thinking in any number of areas: from product to service to process to business model. Michael Dell built a Fortune 500 company by changing the way computers are built and sold—but not changing anything about the device itself.

The good news for innovators and potential innovators is that, given the incredible complexity and diversity of the world today, opportunities for innovation abound. As confused as you think the world is, it's great for innovators. There are so many problems—some known and some yet to come to light—that opportunities for innovation will never run out. But we have to take a new approach: start from the problem, not the solution. That is, we can no longer say to ourselves "The end product is 5 GHz" (or whatever). Rather, we must ask ourselves "What needs to change?" and then—and only then—start thinking about how to change it. The question of what specific invention or product or innovation to pursue comes after that.
To read the full article click here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Running on fumes. Coffee fumes.

This is wrong on so many levels.... Le Whif, makers of inhalable chocolate, have now launched a coffee inhaler. David Edwards, a Harvard professor of biomedical engineering, and Parisian chef Thierry Marx developed the breathable coffee and chocolate. From the NY Post:
The coffee hits consist of powder inside lipstick-like containers that are pulled open, inserted in the mouth and inhaled.
The sticks are sold individually for $3 or in boxes of three for $8 -- and each stick delivers 100 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of a cup of espresso.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to change when change is hard

There's a bit of "be the ball, Danny" to this piece, but it does contain some useful nuggets about how to effect change instead of just talking / theorizing about it.

From Fast Company - an exclusive book excerpt by the best-selling authors of Made to Stick.
Switch:  How to change things when change is hard

Find a bright spot and clone it.

That's the first step to fixing everything from addiction to corporate malaise to malnutrition. A problem may look hopelessly complex. But there's a game plan that can yield movement on even the toughest issues. And it starts with locating a bright spot -- a ray of hope.
 Click here to read the article.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Books you don't need in a place you can't find

Today's lesson: Play to your strengths. 
David points us to the Montague Bookmill. This is the bookstore of the future, because it's not a business trying to maximize growth and ROI. No, it's a place, an attitude, an approach to an afternoon. They don't sell every book, they don't even pretend to.
Just as vinyl records persist, an object of joy for some listeners and a profitable cottage business for some sellers, bookstores are going to become like gift stores. The goal isn't a commodity transaction with maximum selection at minimum price, the goal is an experience worth seeking out and paying for.
We're going to see more and more of these newly archaic industries turn into lifestyle businesses, which is what they used to be before Wall Street showed up.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Indie Baristas on the coffee war between Tim Horton's and McDonald's

BNN speaks to Matthew Taylor, co-owner, Mercury Expresso Bar and Sam James, owner, Sam James Coffee Bar. They talk coffee and perform a blind taste test to determine which of the battling fast food giants has better coffee. Will you be surprised by the results? View the video here.

Not exactly Tupac vs. Biggie

East vs. West in the Big Smoke for ultimate downtown bragging rights? NOW Magazine says let's get ready to rumble.... Anyway, a decent read, and Toronto Life gets a chance to make fun of NOW for the feature. And, apparently, EYE is weighing in at the same time with a North vs. South cage match? [note:  East vs. West I get, but North vs. South in Toronto... not so much?].

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Things Found

A new feature here at SWATE inspired by a notepad I (re)discovered in one of my bags. It has notes in it relating to work, the blog, songs to download, groceries, story ideas, things to remember and other sundry items. On one of the first pages I discovered the following notes:
  • 2nd office
  • green table
  • "enclose"
  • office-wide wi-fi?
I'm not sure what I was getting at. Perhaps it is some sort of clever code?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Give the gift of green energy

Looking for that hard to find gift for that special person… or client, friend, whatever? Here’s something you might want to take a look at:
Platypus, a Canadian non-profit organization, is a new and easy way to help the planet. Buy 100% renewable energy as a gift for the homes of friends, family, clients or yourself, and notify them with a personalized, animated e-card. In addition to greening their power, the money goes to local green energy projects like wind farms and hydro plants, and also helps bring new renewable energy projects online. You can give the gift of green energy for as little as $10 for one month.
If you’re interested, go to to learn more about how it all works.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Today's something or other #55

Spidey on his way to the gym?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's something or other #54

It is important to remember to take time out to have some fun. Smell the roses, chew some bubblegum or run through the sprinkler.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't want to close my eyes, I don't want to fall asleep....

More indie rock gold available from these guys on their YouTube channel.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A choice quote from the Vancouver Games

I read this quote this morning in the National Post. This could be the quote of the year and we're still only in February.
"My name is Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset, I skied the second lap, and I f*cked-up today," he said. "I think I have seen too much porn in the last 14 days. I have the room next to Petter [Northug] and every day there is noise in there. So I think that is the reason I f*cked-up. By the way, Tiger Woods is a really good man."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Opening Ceremonies for Vancouver 2010 has a collection of fantastic photos of the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies.

The Ceremonies, while dragging a bit in the middle, were really quite amazing. k.d. lang was great, the right people got to play prominent roles and in the end, it was a very Canadian selection on who got to light the torch. Well played VANOC. Well played.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Today's something or other #53

Weekend mornings are perfect for drinking coffee. You often have a little more time to enjoy the taste of the coffee instead of focusing on the caffeine injection that is often of primary importance on workdays. If you're feeling adventurous maybe you could add a little something something to your weekend up of joe? Or, perhaps, it is better to just live vicariously through the blog Putting Weird Things in Coffee.

Monday, February 1, 2010

10 lines from movies to work into everyday conversation

Ten lines from movies you should try to work into everyday conversation (or better yet, meetings). Standard bonus points apply for each initial usage with escalating points for repeated use. 
  1. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill. - Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now!
  2. The Iron League, huh? - Reggie Dunlop, Slap Shot
  3. Oh no, my young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken, about a great many things. - The Emperor, Return of the Jedi
  4. Dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick. - Mr. Brown, Reservoir Dogs
  5. I'm a Dapper Dan man! - Ulysses Everett McGill, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  6. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man. - The Dude, The Big Lebowski
  7. Pop quiz, hotshot. - Howard Payne, Speed
  8. Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye and he says, "Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it." - Jack Burton, Big Trouble In Little China
  9. Little hand says it's time to rock and roll. - Bodhi, Point Break
  10. So I got that going for me, which is nice. - Carl Spacker, Caddyshack

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's something or other #52

Is it really #52? Ah, who knows, who's counting and who cares? 

This was a Blogger Blog of NoteRunning From Camera. So simple. So effective. So genius.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today's something or other #51

If I ever form a French techno-pop band I think I'll call it Microfiche.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grandiose Decay in Detroit (or, more than slightly worn around the edges)

Detroit is four hours from Toronto and four hours from Chicago. Based on all the news coming out of there and seeing multiple photo essays like this one, it might as well be on the other side of the world. Detroit's decay isn't new, but it is hard to believe this has happened to a once proud city in a rich country.

Nearly a third of Detroit's homes are vacant, and along with the residences, the city's stately hotels and cultural centers have been abandoned as well, falling into dramatic disrepair, their grand ruins still showing the promises of a once-booming city.

Ruins of Detroit [Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre Photography via Twitter]

United Artists Theater

Michigan Central Station

Farwell Building

Broderick Tower

Whitney Building

Bank Vault

Ballroom, Fort Wayne Hotel

East Methodist Church


Fisher Body 21 Plant

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel

Source:  io9

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Extra Value my ass! Or, its not 1994 anymore

Big Mac

That clown wouldn't be smiling if he were backpacking through Europe right now. The Big Mac is more than a dollar more over there than in America, the Economist reports. Their findings are based on an annual 'burgernomics' survey that uses the comparative price of a quick meal as a metaphor for our financial strength. The conclusion: We're all paying A LOT more these days than we suspected. Oh yeah, unless you are in China, where using yuan looks like a more yummy proposition.

But a quick look closer at the magazines archives give better food for thought about which currencies are actually more stable: Since 2005 the Chinese prices for that home nuked meal have been not only cheap, but dependable. Russia's fast food costs have also seemed ever-so-slightly more stable amid world economic hiccups as well.

burger chart
Unlikely places for backpacking, sure, but at least you'll be able to estimate the budget for that global pit stop in 2010.
[Via ChartPorn]

Added value (because I care):  Attention backpackers of 2010 - If you're dining in France, the "tĂȘte de veau" is exactly what it translates too. Be forewarned

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why do we have a backyard but a front lawn?

I Googled this but couldn't find an anwer, just lots of information about landscaping. Please help.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today's something or other #50

A recent "Blog of Note", Sleep Talkin' Man is pure belly-laughin' good times. A mischievous and fun-loving wife records, and more importantly shares, what her husband says as he talks in his sleep. Hilarity ensures.

A sample:  "Lentils are evil. Pure fucking oozing evil. Take them away from me."

Good thing her husband seems to have a sense of humour about it. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Knave Abides

What if William Shakespeare wrote The Big Lebowski? Well, you might get Two Gentlemen of Lebowski.

A sample:
WALTER: In sooth, then, faithful friend, this was a rug of value? Thou wouldst call it not a rug among ordinary rugs, but a rug of purpose? A star in a firmament, in step with the fashion alike to the Whitsun morris-dance? A worthy rug, a rug of consequence, sir?

THE KNAVE: It was of consequence, I should think; verily, it tied the room together, gather’d its qualities as the sweet lovers’ spring grass doth the morning dew or the rough scythe the first of autumn harvests. It sat between the four sides of the room, making substance of a square, respecting each wall in equal harmony, in geometer’s cap; a great reckoning in a little room. Verily, it transform’d the room from the space between four walls presented, to the harbour of a man’s monarchy.

WALTER: Indeed, a rug of value; an estimable rug, an honour’d rug; O unhappy rug, that should live to cover such days!

DONALD: Of what dost thou speak, that tied the room together, Knave? Take pains, for I would well hear of that which tied the room together.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

An even catchier catchphrase?

Another new 2010 catchphrase [being started be me and inspired by Pat Burns’ (!?) comments to the media about the Tiger Woods situation*] to be used when something catches you unawares, blindsides you, floors you, or any time you think of it is, “that hit me like a 9-iron to the face.” Use it in meetings to impress your co-workers with your witty knowledge of current pop culture events or at parties to charm the ladies. You're welcome.

* Note:  If you didn’t read the full Burns thing in The Star…. Burns, a former cop, is friends with one of the police officers who responded to the initial 911 call. What a tangled web blah, blah, blah.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Forever the King

Elvis was born on this day in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. This either makes him 75 years old today or would have made him 75 depending on your particular bent.

To properly celebrate the King's birthday this weekend I highly recommend you rent / buy / borrow / steal the movie Bubba Ho-tep. Bubba Ho-tep is a classic 'B' movie that was a big hit at TIFF's Midnight Madness earlier this century.

For some classic Elvis music videos click here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010's first catchphrase?

Could "bad judgment" be the first catchphrase of the new year?

Washington Wizard's guard Gilbert Arenas apologized for exercising "bad judgment" in a dispute with a teammate where they allegedly pulled guns on each other (supposedly in the locker room, if some reports are to be believed). Arenas disputes the claims but won't say what happened. Here's his statement as reported on

Gilbert Arenas continued to dispute media accounts of his recent locker-room confrontation with teammate Javaris Crittenton but conceded Saturday night that he used "bad judgment" just by having three firearms on Washington Wizards property.

Speaking to a group of reporters after the Wizards' 97-86 loss to San Antonio, Arenas also revealed that he is scheduled to discuss the case Monday with authorities. Yet Arenas described himself as "not nervous at all" about the fact that the circumstances of his gun possession and his Dec. 21 encounter with Crittenton at the Verizon Center are at the center of a local and federation investigation. reported Friday that a dispute that began on the team plane and resumed more than 24 hours later in the team's locker room between Arenas and Crittenton was at the crux of an investigation by local and federal authorities.

Multiple sources told that an argument commenced during a card game on the team's overnight flight back to Washington from Phoenix on Dec. 19 and escalated into a heated exchange between Arenas and Crittenton. The Wizards had Dec. 20 off, but sources say hostilities between the two Wizards guards resumed Dec. 21 in the locker room on a practice day.

Sources say that Arenas, in response to what was said on the flight, placed the three guns on a chair near Crittenton's locker stall and invited him to pick one before practice on Dec. 21. Sources said that Crittenton subsequently let Arenas know that he had his own gun.

Remember "Gotcha!"?

If you are a male of a certain age - say mid-30s to mid-40s - you probably remember the Anthony Edwards movie Gotcha! from 1985. You probably also played a version of this game with your friends in high school using spit balls and a Bic pen. Well, Gotcha! enters the modern age with a new, augmented reality game for the iPhone called Gunman.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Today's something or other #49

From the New York Times
Man With 5-Inch Knife Stuck in Chest Orders Coffee

Published: December 22, 2009
Filed at 9:28 p.m. ET

WARREN, Mich. (AP) -- A 52-year-old man complained only about the cold weather before walking into a diner with a five-inch knife sticking out of his chest. The unnamed man called a Warren 911 operator on Sunday night to ask that an ambulance be sent to Bray's, an eatery in neighboring Hazel Park. He said he had been stabbed during a robbery attempt half a mile away, then walked to the restaurant and called 911 from a pay phone.

On a recording of the call, the man gives a vague description of his attacker before saying, ''I'm gonna sit down at Bray's 'cause they got a chair and it's cold out here.''

Restaurant employee George Mirdita told The Detroit News the man calmly ordered coffee.

Police said Tuesday that the man is recovering.


Information from: The Detroit News,