Tag Archives: Ottawa

The Highlands and Lowlands of Macallan Scotch Tasting

Solo Scotch
7:43 Arrive at Macallan scotch tasting at 99 Sudbury. Free parking is nice, though a central location and not having to drive to an event celebrating alcohol would have been even nicer.

7:44 Handed a silver Macallan coin, told to exchange it for a drink. Instead reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3.

7:45 Exchange coin for drink. Apparently tonight, a drink is defined as “a tall, thin glass containing just enough scotch to wonder whether or not there’s actually any scotch in there.”

7:46 Move to charcuterie buffet. Surprisingly well-stocked with four types of cheese, several cured meats, and a selection of bread and olives.

Charcuterie Buffet

7:48 Note to self: cheese with fancy names distracts crowd from lack of alcohol… Must increase cheese budget for next party.

7:50 The line at the buffet is now 30-people deep, compared to the three surrounding it minutes earlier. I’ve still only had one drink.

7:51 Getting frustrated at lack of alcohol at this scotch tasting

Scotch Set

7:52 Noticing a lot of attendees do not look like they are influential bloggers. This suspicion is confirmed after talking with staff… “They wanted to cram in as many people as they could fit…”

7:53 Random cute server surreptitiously offers me another drink, despite my lack of a silver coin. I wholeheartedly accept.

7:54 Starting to feel like a scotch cattle call

7:59 The event is scheduled to start at 8PM, but organizers show no sign of moving people into next room

8:05 Handed a second silver coin from a friend just as drink service stops. I have somehow angered the scotch Gods.

8:08 Ushered into second room; stage and screens in front, as well as Macallan bottles on display; tables and seating all around.

Ice maker

8:10 Sitting with three others. Nothing on the table except bottles of water and a glass full of nuts.

8:14 If walnuts and cheese were scotch, I’d be enjoying this tasting a lot more right now.

8:19 The Macallan rep tells us we were served 10-year old scotch to start, and will be getting into older scotches now. Sounds promising!

8:21 While Macallan rep goes into history of brand, I can’t help notice a lack of scotch on my table and the tables of others

8:24 The first audience question is asked, and the audience member receives a full bottle of scotch as a prize. Dozens of hands shoot up immediately.


8:28 Jealously eyeing plate of cheese the guy across from me brought from the other room. Even more jealously eyeing bottles of scotch in front of room.

8:31 Servers (finally!) appear with trays of 12-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1998 (including clips from Titanic and A Bug’s Life) set to a Wallflowers tune. Really, Macallan?

8:37 Macallan rep describes making of 15-year old scotch while audience members tweet frantically.

8:41 Servers appear with trays of 15-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1995. Really, Macallan? Really?

8:46 Servers appear with trays of Macallan Sherry Oak Cask Strength and individual Lindt chocolates. I am momentarily appeased.

8:47 Drink finished. Appeasement over.

8:48 Realize that Macallan encourages, facilitates, and condones tweeting under the influence of alcohol.

8:49 Note to self: On drive home tonight after scotch tasting, tweet @MADDOnline to alert them of dangerous drinking/typing epidemic sweeping our youth.

8:50 Looking around the room, I’m reminded of the lyrics to Kanye West’s Runaway:
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags,
Let’s have a toast for the assholes,
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags…

8:51 Macallan rep breaks out the patented (or maybe not) Steel Macallan Ice Ball Maker 2500 SCT (note, I made that name up).

Scotch Ice Ball

8:53 While Macallan rep discusses the merits of Ice Balls vs. Ice Cubes (cubes have larger surface area, therefore melt faster), I prefer to discuss merits of Ice Cube vs. Ice-T vs. Vanilla Ice (Ice Cube wins this round, with an honourable mention going out to Iceberg Slim).

8:54 Servers appear with trays of 18-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1992. Seriously?! To be fair, crowd cheers for 1992 Toronto Blue Jays team photo, boos vociferously at following still of Ottawa Senators logo.

8:56 Macallan rep informs us that 18-year old scotch is best drank neat, and that ice is best made with bottled water, not tap. Who has time to make ice with bottled water, you ask? Being a Toronto Elitist… I have the time.

8:57 Crowd is thanked, event over. I search in vain for taxi chits, giftbags or takeaways, to no avail.

8:59 I steal a block of cheese.


Thanks Macallan, Matchstick and Praxis PR for a good time, and a special shout-out to Macallan for your goddamn fine scotch.


The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part ii)


Stage 6: The Honeymoon

I arrive at Google’s offices, on the corner of the busiest intersection in the heart of Toronto. Butterflies in my stomach, I enter and am instantly drawn to the company even more than before. I feel so at home in their bright, roomy offices, and the more I learn about their corporate culture, the more I’m convinced I can’t work anywhere else. Everyone is so friendly and everything is so colourful. First, I meet with the Toronto manager again. Then with another member of the Toronto team. After that, I’m linked up to a video conference, interviewing with three more members of Google’s team: two in New York and one in Ottawa. Overall, I fly through five interviews in under three hours. I’ve answered questions brilliantly and made people laugh. I know I’ve made a great impression, and I know they liked me. I’m on top of the world. I leave with the confidence of a man who knows he’s got the job, and wait to hear about next steps.

There you are with your date. Butterflies in your stomach, you remain drawn to her, perhaps even more so now that you feel validated in your attraction to her. You embark on the evening feeling confident despite your nerves. This girl makes you feel so at home, you can be yourself without fear of being judged. You feel right when you hold her hand, and she touches your leg. You imagine yourself doing this the rest of your life, and it makes sense. Your world seems brighter, people seem friendlier. You see her again. And again after that. You fly through several dates and you’re on top of the world. You answer her questions and make her laugh. You know you’re making a great impression and you know she likes you. One night after you’ve dropped her off, you drive home with the confidence of a man who knows he’s got a great girl in his life.

Stage 7: Washing Hair On A Friday Night

Two weeks pass with no word. Nerves wracked, I cannot understand what’s going on. Everything went so well, everyone said such nice things, but no one’s calling. What’s going on? Google said they’d call, regardless of whether I get the job. But where are they? Do I call them? Is that being too pushy? Exactly two weeks after my series of interviews, I decide to get in touch with Google to see what’s happening. They call me back the same day to ask whether I can forward my University transcripts, and whether they can contact my references. I’m ecstatic. I tell them it’s OK, and I go about securing the transcripts and giving my references a heads-up. Google contacts my references asking when it’s best to discuss my professional history. A week passes, and Google does not follow-up with anyone. I send them my transcript and hear nothing back. Nearly ten days after their last contact with me, I’m told they’ll be in touch with me Monday to discuss my application. Monday and Tuesday come and go, with no word from Google. I don’t know what to think.

A few weeks pass by and you’re a nervous wreck. You really like this girl, but she hasn’t called in a while. You’re worried about calling her because you don’t want to come off as desperate or pushy. But you really like her. You know she liked you, but can’t understand why she’s not calling. Finally, you grow a pair and give her a shout. She says she’s happy to hear from you as she’s been very busy lately, but can’t wait to see you again. You’re ecstatic. She sets aside a day to hang out with you, and that day comes and goes without any word. She calls the next day and apologizes, asking to reschedule. You’re more than happy to do so. Shortly afterward, you receive a message from her. “We need to talk…”

Stage 8: The Breakup

After three days of waiting, Google calls. It’s another HR recruiter calling from California. She tells me I made a very positive impression on everyone with whom I interviewed, and I was certainly qualified for the position. However, they decided to move ahead with other, “stronger” candidates, which I took to mean they might prefer someone with a professional history in the industry. Fair enough. And yet… my heart sank. In fact, I was heartbroken. I always knew that it may not work out, but I had been so confident and everything had gone so well… I convinced myself that no one could be better for this job. This job was going to be the jump-off for my future, and my life would grow around this spectacular opportunity. And just like that, with one phone call, it was stolen away from me. I felt like I lost it all. The job of my dreams… gone.

After a few days of waiting (and mental anguish), she calls you. She says you’re funny, you’re sweet, you’re a great guy and she really likes you. However, she just doesn’t see herself with you, and she’s decided that you should just be friends. Fair enough. And yet… your heart sinks. You’re heartbroken, in fact. You always knew it may not work out, but you thought maybe, just maybe, she was the one. You convinced yourself there’s no one out there better for you than her. She was going to be the jump-off for your future, and your lives would grow together, evolve into something meaningful and long-lasting. And just like that, with one phone call, it’s stolen away from you. You feel like you’ve lost it all. The girl of your dreams… gone.

Stage 9: The 5 Stages

Denial: “Whatever… it’s just another job. How good could it really have been? Besides, maybe I’d have hated working there…
“It’s not fair… I was perfect for that job! I had all the qualifications. I impressed them all… Why wouldn’t they hire me?!”
“I’d do anything to work at Google, even take a pay cut. I just really want this job, please…”
“All that hard work for nothing. All I learned about Google, for nothing. Why even bother looking for something else, nothing will ever be as good as Google could have been…”
“Whatever. It’s their loss. It just wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll find something bigger and better for myself.”

“Whatever… it’s just another girl. How amazing could she really have been? Besides, maybe I’d just end up hating her…”
“It’s not fair! She was perfect for me and I was perfect for her! She said I was funny, I was cute, I was sweet… Why wouldn’t she want to date me?!”
Bargaining: “I’d do anything to be with her, whatever she wanted. I just want to be with her, please…”
“She was perfect for me and now I have nothing. Why even bother looking for someone else, no one could ever top her…”
“Whatever. It’s her loss. It just wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll find a better girl in no time…”

What say you? Have you ever been unceremoniously dumped by a potential job? Would you go so far as to compare it with losing a girlfriend or boyfriend? Share your thoughts below!

On Idle Cars and Lost Productivity

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an “international organization helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy,” released some startling facts about Toronto this week.

Apparently, traffic congestion in the region costs the entire country of Canada $3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. This comes as a result of several factors:

  • Urban sprawl
  • A disjointed public transit system
  • Decades of underinvestment in public transit by Ottawa

We sit in traffic, unproductive and idle. Meanwhile, our idling cars emit noxious gases into the atmosphere, decaying the ozone layer and lining lungs everywhere with air pollution. And that’s just in Toronto.


If we’re to be more productive in our cars, Ontario erred in passing a law restricting the usage of cell phones in automobiles. That is also notwithstanding the fact that if the provincial government were serious about its efforts to keep drivers’ “eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” it would have completely banned cell phone usage while driving. After all, according to the Ministry of Transport, “driver distraction is a factor in 20 per cent of all road accidents.” But I digress.

I’m not even quite sure what kind of productivity we are expected to produce while driving, but whatever it is must surely be easier done with a phone in hand.

The fact is, if we are to be more productive in our cars, Ontario erred in passing the law restricting the usage of cell phones in automobiles. If the aim is to increase productivity while driving (which also defeats the purpose of attempting to eliminate driver distraction), let us use cell phones.

Better still, offer us a reasonable alternative to driving.

Realistically, the TTC is not a reasonable alternative to driving. Nor is any public transit system in Toronto, as the OECD notes that “transit service in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area has not kept pace with population growth.”

Don’t tell us to use the TTC. Instead, make it more attractive to potential riders. Transit City is on the right track, though light years behind, and – given the bureaucracy inherent in Toronto and the TTC – indefinitely ongoing. Hell, I’d sit through 10 years of traffic congestion, construction, and closed roads if it meant my kids would grow up with a transit system on par with those in New York, Hong Kong or London.

We don’t want to be told to use the TTC, we want to want to use the TTC.