Accordion, Instrument of the Gods It Happened to Me Music Slice of Life

Slice of Life: “Big Balls” at the Mesh Conference

At the Mesh Conference held earlier this year, I was asked at the last minute to play an opening number for the big panel discussion on using social media for marketing. I decided to get cheeky and played AC/DC’s Big Balls, since having them is a quality that you need to really use social media and social networking to advantage. As I played, Kaz Ehara shot these photos:

mesh_accordion_1 mesh_accordion_2 mesh_accordion_3 mesh_accordion_4
Photos by Kaz Ehara.
Click the photos to see them on their Flickr pages.

For those of you unfamiliar with the song, here it is, synced to clips from Spongebob Squarepants:

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Slice of Life: Conference Call

Here’s the view from a conference call I participated in on a recent sunny day:


It Happened to Me Slice of Life Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Slice of Life: Deep-Fried Oreos at the CNE

cnePhoto of the Canadian National Exhibition courtesy of Wikipedia.

Yesterday, the Ginger Ninja and I went to the Canadian National Exhibition (a.k.a. “The CNE” and “The Ex”, Accordion City’s annual fair featuring shows, rides, shopping and amusements. According to Wikipedia, it’s the largest fair in Canada and the fourth largest in North America.

Part of the fun of going to the Ex is the junk food, and they’ve got that stuff in spades. There are few foods that can’t be made better by deep-frying. Even Oreos, which are pretty good as they are, benefit from being covered in batter and then dunked into a vat of hot oil. We ordered some deep-fried Oreos; here’s what they looked like:


The batter becomes a crispy shell, while the heat of deep-frying turns the Oreo into a gooey, tasty mess of chocolate and cream.


Wendy liked them more than she expected she would, and more than the deep-fried Twix bars I ordered later.

I’m hitting the gym later today.

It Happened to Me Slice of Life

Slice of Life: Garde Manger’s Snow Crab Bloody Caesar

Now this is what I call a Caesar:

A bloody caesar at Garde Manger

For you non-Canadian drinkers, a Caesar (a.k.a. Bloody Caesar) is a variant of the Bloody Mary in which Clamato — a mix of tomato juice and clam broth – is used instead of plain ol’ tomato juice. It’s a great way to start a hearty dinner. This was a particularly well-dressed Caesar, going beyond the standard celery stalk and featuring a couple of giant snow crab legs.

chuck_hughes_facebook_profile Chef Chuck Hughes’ Facebook profile photo.

The Caesar shown is the large snow crab Caesar served at Garde Manger, a bistro in Old Montreal whose kitchen is run by chef Chuck Hughes, who hosts a great show on Food Network Canada called Chuck’s Day Off. Chuck has kindly shared the recipe on his show’s site.

Here’s a recent photo of the menu at Garde Manger. Foodies and francophones shouldn’t have any trouble reading it, but if you have any questions, let me know in the comments:

garde_manger_menu_board Photo courtesy of Eat Well Montreal.

While many restaurants in Old Montreal are content to simply look like Parisian bistros and let their quaint settings rather than their pretentious food dazzle their visitors, Garde Manger takes the opposite tack. They serve comfort food done very, very well in a setting where you could just as easily show up in jeans and t-shirt as a suit (for the record, I wore a fancy-pants dress shirt with French cuffs and cufflinks that I bought for my wedding and black jeans). Some of the crowd in attendance were fancy, but the place isn’t stuff – the DJ at the bar was spinning tunes that could’ve come straight from my MP3 collection: Bob Marley’s Jammin’, Faith No More’s We Care a Lot and one of those mash-up numbers by Girl Talk.


I took the Ginger Ninja there a couple of weekends ago. I had the lobster poutine as an appetizer, magret de canard, foie gras et sauce a l’orange and the deep-fried Mars bar with ice cream for dessert. She had the salmon tartare, beef short ribs and brownie with ice cream (it was a large brownie and I had to help). Because we were there for the end of service, the staff invited us to join them in celebrating it by sharing shots that were equal parts espresso and Galliano.

If you’re in Montreal and you love good food, make sure you pay a visit to Garde Manger. It’s at 408 Rue St François Xavier in a building with no markings save for this metal panel on the exterior wall:


Geek It Happened to Me Slice of Life

Slice of Life: Whuffie-oke with Tara Hunt

Tara Hunt and her book, "The Whuffie Factor"

Last week, I caught up with an old karaoke buddy: Tara Hunt, honest-to-goodness social media marketer (unlike the gazillions on Twitter who merely claim to be one), popularizer of BarCamp unconferences and coworking spaces and author of The Whuffie Factor. She just completed a move from San Francisco to Montreal by van, a move during which she stopped at various cities’ karaoke bars and thus named Whuffaoke or Bust. She didn’t pass through Accordion City during the move, but dropped by last Monday to bring the Whuffaoke or Bust tour to her old home.

Her Toronto Whuffaoke drew a crowd:


The folks at the venue, Tequila Sunrise, were able to personalize the event on their displays:


She brought along some copies of The Whuffie Factor and naturally, I bought a copy. I got her to autograph it for me, and she wrote the nicest things:


“Thanks for being my inspiration to blog years ago. I would be here without you!”

A Brief Personal History of Whuffie

My first encounter with the concept of whuffie was in late 1999. Cory Doctorow was trying to get me to join his company-within-a-company to build software that would help you find things you didn’t even know you were looking for. The idea behind the software was to harness the content and searches of people whose interests were similar to yours – chances are that they’d have content and search results that would be relevant but unknown to you.

In that software, which would eventually become OpenCola, whuffie was a personalized measure of similarity. If someone had many interests similar to yours, s/he would have a lot of whuffie in your eyes. However, that same person and I might have very different interests, and s/he would have very little whuffie as far as I was concerned.

Cory would later use the concept of Whuffie in his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In the novel, the “Bitchun Society” – a variant of The Technological Singularity — had been achieved. The world had entered an age of plenitude, where scarcity has been eliminated, death is obsolete and people can do or become whatever they like. In the Bitchun Society, whuffie – a score calculated based on your personal reputation, actions and contributions to society – had replaced currency.

Whuffie has a symbol similar to a dollar sign. It’s a W with two horizontal lines:

The whuffie sign: a W with two vertical lines

In my autographed copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory signed it with “Who put the [whuffie symbol] in Whuffie?”

Whuffie has since been used as a term for the concept of social capital, and that’s how it’s used in Tara’s book. Here’s how she defines it:

Whuffie is the residual outcome – the currency – of your reputation. You lose of gain it based on positive or negative actions, your contributions to the community, and what people think of you. The measurement of your whuffie is weighted according to your interactions with communities and individuals. So for example, in my own neighborhood, where I have built a strong reputation for being helpful, my whuffie is higher than when I travel to another neighborhood where nobody knows me. There, members of that community “ping” my whuffie to find out whether I can be trusted. But for me to be fully welcomed, I can’t simply use my whuffie account; I need to be helpful there as well. And I can do that, as Cory Doctorow points out in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in three ways: be nice, be networked or be notable.