Tonight I came out to the best Boston Pizza in all of Canada, the one at Yonge & Sheppard in North York, Toronto for a celebration of the one and only Meg Button at an event called, fittingly, #MegTO.
This was the second time I was at a tweetup when I didn’t know the vast majority of people who were there, the first time was the #KloutUp in June of last year (that was also my first tweetup).
#MegTO was basically a random North York tweetup that once again ended up being mostly people not from North York. The people who attended tonight were Meg’s team from work, me, and Calvin aka @cdot_in_tdot. Nonetheless, I still had an awesometastic time meeting some new people. The people were all really nice…maybe because Boss Lady Meg was around? Naaah! I think they were all genuinely really nice and were being natural. I guess I will never really know because now they know I’m their boss’ friend.
Either way I had a great time tonight and our server tonight, Aleksandra, was spectacular.
In the past number of months I have planned – or been a member of a planning team for – a number of tweetups, meetups, and events. Much as I would like to say that every event I have been a part of has been a massive success that simply isn’t true. A lot of these events were huge successes but some of them were less so. In the past couple of months I have also attended a large number of tweetups, meetups, and events in Toronto purely as a guest. What follows will be the things I have learned in planning and attending these events so you can better plan your own events.
Before I begin, let me make one thing clear, this post is meant solely to share the wisdom and experience I have gained in event planning and is not meant to reflect badly on one event or another. As such, no specific names will be mentioned. If you figure out what event I am referring to (and many of the things I will mention are not specific to one event) please DO NOT name any names in the comments be it organizers or venues or the actual event itself.
- Make sure there is good cell reception with as many different service providers as you can: I was at an event recently (no specifics will be mentioned) and it was a superb event. However, as it was very much a tech oriented event I was surprised and disappointed to find that the place this event was held in had absolutely terrible reception on my cellular provider’s network. In fact, I kept losing reception both on EDGE and on HSPA (aka 3G). This was an event with a Twitter wall that was constantly updating and yet many of the people at the party couldn’t post a tweet due to the horrible reception in the venue! At another event I attended, and granted I am still unsure if this was the intent of the planners because the event was 1960’s themed, there was absolutely ZERO reception in the event due to the fact that it was held in an underground venue. The party and the venue were extremely cool but pretty much everyone at the event was invited because they had a membership in this group through Twitter. The vast majority of us WANTED to tweet about this spectacular venue and party we were attending with pictures, words, and videos but we couldn’t because getting reception meant a far walk upstairs simply to get any signal. At the very least, the event should have installed some Wi-Fi hotspots and let attendees know the password.
- Internet test: Wired and/or Wi-Fi: Don’t just take the venue’s word for it that everything will work, go check it for yourself. If you are going to allow guest to use Wi-Fi and you need an Internet connection for yourself as well, make sure you have a hard line. I was quite embarrassed when I once had to ask guests to get off the Wi-Fi so we could stream video of the event and everyone using Wi-Fi was leaving us without enough bandwidth.
- WiFi Password prominently displayed: Assuming you are allowing everyone on the Wi-Fi don’t just post the password on the event website. People won’t necessarily see it no matter how prominently you have it posted. Post it on big signs on the walls (or on screens if you have them). People will still almost definitely ask you for the password anyway. Read more…
On Wednesday last week a bunch of us from the North York area and as far north as Thornhill got together to grab a drink at Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard (@BostonPizzaYS). Little did we know the nomtastic experience we were about to embark upon as Calvin @cdot_in_tdot decided to use us as guinea pigs for some new Boston Pizza menu items which will start appearing as being featured as of April 4th.
It all began so randomly it took us a while to remember how it began – Persian New Year (Norooz) celebrations at Mel Lastman Square March 15. I was sitting at home, actually writing a blog post, and Warren (@WaterProofWeb) tweeted at me to ask me, as a fellow North Yorker if I had heard the loud banging & popping noises outside. I hadn’t but I went outside to listen and still didn’t hear anything. That prompted Meg (@MegButton) and Jesse (@JesseHernick) to chime in that they had heard the pops too and didn’t know what they were either. We all wondered if they had been gun shots or fireworks until Warren found an announcement online about the celebrations and all became clear. But one more question remained for me – since when did Meg live in North York? For some reason I am unsure why I had decided with no prompting from her that she lived out west in Mississauga or Etobicoke but she is a North Yorker like me, so we all decided it would be a great idea to grab drinks and have our own little North York Twitter meetup. Then at some point in the next week the whole thing grew a bit.
Over the course of the week we somehow added Corey H (@cellguru), Cory S (@corysilver), Miranda (@running_cloud), Jorge R (@rosalesj), Vanessa V (@sesssa), and Vanessa’s friend Kate (who has Twitter but says she is barely on it so I never got her handle).
On to the night, unfortunately Jesse was unable to make it due to last minute stuff that just came up but the night grew quite a bit from just being me, Jesse, Warren, Meg, and Calvin.When I got to Boston Pizza, Warren was already there and I was the second one to arrive (I don’t count Calvin’s arrival because he works there). There was already a bottle of Effen Vodka – insert swear word jokes here – on the table chilling on ice so I knew we were in for a treat!
As everyone started arriving – this took time because March 23 was the day of that snowstorm which turned Toronto driving into hell – and getting settled in drinking some vodka we asked Calvin if we could see some menus and he told us not to worry the food was already ordered. Food was already ordered? Whaaa? I already knew Calvin was awesome and the bottle of vodka was quite enough already but he ordered food? OK…this night just turned from awesome to awesomazing.
The first to arrive at the table once we were somewhat lubricated with Effen Vodka was a sweet large vegetarian pizza which looked absolutely delectable. It was so delectable, in fact, that I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture of it before there were a couple pieces already missing – ok, you caught me, I’m the one who did the serving of the slices, must be my experiences from my Jewish mother had an effect on me…they all looked so hungry! Like skin & bones I tell you!
The pizza was really good – and one would hope so from a place with Pizza in its name even though that isn’t the only thing they serve – it was good enough that I began to fear the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were going to come up from Manhattan and steal it off the table but I figured Calvin and Boston Pizza had probably put security in their sewers so there was really nothing to worry about. I did keep looking outside looking for the orange flash of Michaelangelo’s bandanna in the drainage grates on Yonge St though. But this pizza, as far as I know, wasn’t anything new for Boston Pizza and you’re probably thinking, “Get to the guinea pigging out already, Dan!” so here we go.
Boston Pizza had been finding that their baked wings, while the obviously healthier choice, just wasn’t as delectable as their fried wings so Calvin and the test kitchen folks set out to improve on that problem. As well, they found a supplier who supplied much bigger wings so they look better and have more meat on them and the picture below is the result. We tried 3 new types of wings although I only got a picture of two of them: Caribbean Jerk Wings, Asian 5 Spice and Sweet Thai Chili Oven Roasted Wings and they will all be featured as of April 4th.
In the picture above, the wings on the right are the Caribbean Jerk Wings and they were my favorite of the bunch. I am not going to lie to you, I really, really cannot for the life of me remember if I took the other picture of the Asian 5 Spice or the Sweet Thai Chili but I think those are the Sweet Thai Chili. The other two I would say are a tie for deliciousness and more than a match for any other of your standard fried wings. They are both definitely great choices but I implore you to scarf down some of the Caribbean Jerk Wings. The thought of them is making my mouth water as I write this and I may have to head over to Boston Pizza tonight and try to convince Calvin to have the kitchen whip me up another special batch – ya, they’re that good.
The other complete treat which we ate and which now cause me to anxiously await April 4th are the Los Grande Nachos. As you can see they are nachos which are baked with some amazing goodness right onto them including bell peppers, meat, cheese and jalapeños. There’s a very good reason they are served with a spatula…they are so top heavy that the chip might otherwise break if you try to pick one of them up without proper support. These things I loved and I think I would have been happy to munch down the entire two plates Calvin had brought of them to myself. Therefore, I warn you that once they are on the menu if you order them tell your friends you are going to the bathroom and have them brought to you at the bar so you can quickly shove them into your mouth and then sprint back to the table. Boston Pizza is going to have to beef up security once they introduce this appetizer April 4th as I envision them causing numerous fights breaking out. Instead of guys proposing to their girlfriends they may end up breaking up with them when their girl tries to reach across the table to sample some.
So all of the things we ‘sampled’ at Boston Pizza that night were damn good as I think I have made clear. However, my two top choices of the night remain the Los Grande Nachos and the Caribbean Jerk Wings. I encourage you to go to Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard (
I assume they are going to be offered at other locations but don’t know if that’s how it works, I will update this when I find out UPDATE: I asked Calvin about this and he said most of the locations in Toronto should have them but not every location will) and try all 4 of these new treats once April 4th rolls around. The wings are a definite huge win in my books especially with the Final Four happening soon, the start of the MLB season, and the soon to start NBA Playoffs we will all be eating a lot of wings and why not try to be as healthy as you can about it if you can still have all the taste and more. (Damnit, now I sound like one of those diet soda commercials but I swear I’m not lying!)
Get out there and try them and let me know if you agree with my choices! There may also be more stuff coming to Boston Pizza’s menu on April 4th but only time will tell!
- Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard’s address:
4841 Yonge Street, North York, Ontario, M2N 5X2 (Google Map) Right on top of Sheppard-Yonge Subway Station
- Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard’s website http://www.bostonpizza.com/en/locations/yonge_and_sheppard0463
- Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BostonPizzaYS/
- Boston Pizza Yonge & Sheppard’s Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/BostonPizzaYS/
Another Lesson I Learned Which Had Nothing To Do With Sewing From @TheSewingStudio At #TSSparty In Toronto Sunday
This past Sunday I was at a tweetup where we learned a little bit about how to sew and even made a pair of boxers at a really cool spot called The Sewing Studio in Toronto. Although the teacher there, Denise, was fantastic if you asked me if I could sew another pair of boxers for you there’s about a 20% chance I would be able to remember all the steps we did in making them and I definitely wouldn’t know how to set the machines up. However, I learned something much more important from Denise and my experience at The Sewing Studio than simple sewing and that is what this post is going to be about. If you want to read about our exploits sewing boxers see that post here: “How To Learn Sewing & Have Fun Doing It: #TSSParty by @TheSewingStudio & @ClickFlickCA.”
“What did Dan learn?”, you’re probably asking yourself at this point. Oh, and if you were asking yourself “Why is there a picture of a laptop, a cell phone, and a sewing machine?”, don’t worry – we’ll get to that. To answer the first question, I learned a lot from Denise about patience. To quote myself directly from the post linked above:
“I…actually somewhat lost faith in the whole process midway through. Were it not for Denise’s bubbly positivity and personality and encouragement I very well might have given up and walked out the door.”
Denise at The Sewing Studio obviously chose her profession as a teacher (of sewing) for a reason. Partly, I am going to guess, because she loves to sew and the other part, again I am guessing, because she loves to teach people and impart wisdom. I have always joked how I would never, ever be a teacher because I was decidedly not a model student in my youth and the karma would catch up to me but I have since realized that we are continually teaching others things throughout our lives and learning things too. For me, because I have loved computers and cell phones and tech gadget in general since I was a teenager, I find I am often in the role of teaching people how to use their devices better or fix their mistakes when they make them on their devices.
When my mother buys a new piece of technology she usually makes a call to me before, during and after the buying. Before – to advise her what to buy. During – to make sure she’s buying the right thing. After – to teach her how to use this new piece of technology. Oftentimes in the last stage she will ask what seem to me to be the most ridiculously silly questions when I am trying to teach her how to use a device. Or, she won’t get something that I see as a simple concept.
Like when she finally decided to get a BlackBerry I had to sit there and wait for her to find a letter or the Enter key on the BlackBerry’s QWERTY keypad when I told her to type something. My mom protested she wasn’t familiar with the layout – my mother has been typing on QWERTY keyboards since they taught her in elementary school – and I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand what the difference was between the BlackBerry keyboard and any typewriter or computer keyboard my mother had ever used.
After being at The Sewing Studio I better understand the need for patience in such things. I have never considered myself to be the most manually oriented person. Sure, I love to take apart and put back together electronics with my full set of screwdrivers and guitar pick which can take apart pretty much every piece of electronics ever – no, I don’t play guitar, I bought a few single guitar picks for the sole purpose of taking apart cell phones. But I don’t know a lot about the more manual labors like sewing. I have a whole mental block telling me that this is just one of those things I am not good at. Therefore, when I approach something like sewing although I logically and rationally really want to give it a try there is an emotional ingrained block in my head telling me this is not something I do and am not going to be good at it so why bother trying to learn. That part of my brain says to me that I would much rather just have someone like Denise, an expert at sewing, make me some ‘handmade clothing’ or else just go buy a much better made garment at a store where they come churned out in perfection from a factory.
Now that I have had this experience at The Sewing Studio I am going to endeavor to be more patient with people when they ask me for help with their gadgets. I have been to ‘the other side’ and I can now better understand where those people are coming from. It often isn’t about the simplicity or difficulty of a task that makes us not able to do it. It is, instead, our own preconceived notions about the task or the activity or the subject which stops us from even trying our best or giving it our all.
I hope that the top picture makes sense to you now but just in case it doesn’t I was comparing my own mental block on sewing (the sewing machine) to some people’s mental blocks on electronics and gadgets (the laptop and the BlackBerry). I think this is a lesson we all can learn about being patient with other people when they aren’t understanding something we are trying to communicate to them that we view as simple or second nature.
What do you think? Does this ever happen to you? If yes, which side are you on – the frustrated or the uncomprehending? Have you also been on both like me? I would love to hear about your experiences!
On a sunny long weekend Sunday morning in February I dragged myself out of bed to learn something a lot of people learn in Home Ec.* – sewing. This was definitely one of the more “out there” tweetups I had ever been to but in the words of a tweet by JoAllore (@ClickFlickCa) “Trying something diff is rewarding”. As well, my readers already know my “Yes Man” outlook on life so I was off to The Sewing Studio for 10am – ya, there’s a 10am on Sunday mornings…I also though they had cancelled mornings on Sunday until this weekend.
The reason for my outing there, as mentioned above, was a tweetup organized by @ClickFlickCa and @TheSewingStudio‘s owner, Denise Wild, where we sewed our own underwear!
When I got to The Sewing Studio and parked I found I still had time to go get myself a coffee as only @ClickFlickCa & @CorySilver were there. So I walked up to the coffee shop a couple blocks north to get myself a coffee and ran into @LorettaLouise who also was there for a morning “caffeination”. When we got back to The Sewing Studio Denise had everything laid out for us and everyone else quickly arrived and checked in on Foursquare. The rest of the #TSSParty Toronto crew included @JonGauthier and @JennaKellner.
One of the first things we had to do was pick our fabric and then figure out what size we wanted our boxers to be – even though the option was there to make panties or boxers we decided as a group to all do boxers. The first bit of fabric I cut away from the form looked like a perfect sweatband and I knew that this work was going to be intense so I tied it on my forehead. As you can see I went with the camo fabric.
I really had no faith in myself as a seamstress (there doesn’t seem to be a difference between the male and female version of the word) and actually somewhat lost faith in the whole process midway through. Were it not for Denise’s bubbly positivity and personality and encouragement I very well might have given up and walked out the door. But in the end it was well worth it as I got an awesome new pair of boxers to replace my old favorite pair of camouflage boxers which recently gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service.
Our only casualties of the day were me and Cory Silver. Cory pinned himself with a needle within the first 20 minutes of us beginning the boxer creation process – serves him right for getting the awesometastic cougar print fabric I wanted for my own boxers, haha. I stubbed my finger when I was trying to take a pin out of my fabric as it was feeding through the sewing machine and I forgot to take my foot off the pedal…the needle and its holder came down again and stubbed my finger and THEN I decided it was a good time to take my foot off the pedal. Oops.
I was amazed at how little it mattered all the mistakes I made while sewing and cutting and serging. Of course, any practiced and educated seamstress will know exactly where to look to see if I did a good job on my boxers. However, to the untrained eye they look pretty darn good. People don’t even believe me when I tell them I made these boxers from scratch. It is something I am now quite proud of but I honestly gotta ask myself if I can ever actually do it again (to be honest, probably not). I assume at the ‘real’ classes The Sewing Studio holds they actually show you how to thread a needle and set up a sewing machine and whatnot. Out ‘class’ was too quick and dirty for all that stuff – we actually almost ran out of time, especially me. I am, what Denise called, ‘meticulous’, so it took me a while to do everything everyone else did quicker, I guess.
All I know is I had tons of fun and encourage you to check out the folks at The Sewing Studio today. I can see this being a great thing to do as a couple (Note To Self: Find girlfriend) especially if you each have the same amount of sewing experience, or lack thereof.
Maybe I will wear my glorious new boxers next year at the 2012 Toronto No Pants Subway Ride.
Here are the details of The Sewing Studio:
- Toronto Phone Number: (416) 901-0758
- Toronto Address: 1225 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4T 1W4 (Link to Google Maps Place Page for this location)
- New York Phone Number: (646) 961-4747
- New York Address: 134 West 29th Street, Suite 804, New York, NY 10001 (Link to Google Maps Place Page for this location)
* I never took Home Ec. as I went to a private, boys only, Jewish Day School and they didn’t see the need for Home Ec. at Eitz Chaim.