Friday, April 23

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

School's done and the itinerary is set! I can't wait for the up-and-coming Chitown adventures with the ad and PR majors on Monday, May 3rd to Sunday May 9th.

I'm particularly excited about Tuesday's itinerary, May 4th. According to Kenton Larsen's Infotainment blog, we are having a "Chicago welcome" pizza party in the hotel from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - Free!

My only concern is if the pizza party is in fact a deep dish pizza party. I am on a quest to find Chicago's best deep dish pizza party. Nothing will stop me on my quest to find the most delicious, most tasty, and most deep Chi-keh-go pizza. OK, maybe I will stay in the constraints of the hotel vicinity as this little expedition could get out of hand!

So I've been researching online, trying to find the best deep dish hot spot and this is what I found.

Internet recommendations: (based on Google searching "best place to go for deep dish pizza chicago")

1) Lou Malnati's Pizzeria - 439 N Wells St. = estimated travel time 3 mins., 0.84 miles
2) Giordano's Pizza - 730 N Rush St. = est. travel time 1 min., 0.35 miles
3) The Original Gino's East of Chicago - 162 E Superior St. = est. travel time 1 min., 0.34 miles
4) Pizzeria Due - 619 N Wabash Ave. = est. travel time 57 secs, 0.26 miles
5) Pizzeria Uno - 29 E Ohio St. = est. travel time 1 min., 0.43 miles

Fairfield Inn, 216 E Ohio St. recommendations: (based on the person who answered the phone)

1) Giordano's Pizza
2) The Original Gino's East of Chicago
3) Pizzeria Uno

"You hit one of these places, you're a happy man," says Sul from the front desk of the Fairfield Inn. I think I'll take his advice.

And finally, a recommendation from a Chicago native:

"Oh man, you need to go to Gino's East. They have the best deep dish pepperoni pizza - it doesn't get more Chicago than that," says Jackie Te, 26-yr. old. registered nurse.

The Pizza Plan:

Logistics - after getting a hold of a Chicago map, I will be mapping out the five different locations for ease of locating them later when we're on foot. I will also bring a GPS device and go on a little pizza geocaching adventure. My team and I (and yes, I will need a pizza team for this one) will consume pizzas from all five locations. A deep dish pizza can serve up to four people or one hungry Neil Babaluk. Our team will be traveling on foot.

$$$ - will they take my 'par' Canadian dollars? I don't think so. So I will be allocating up to US$100 for my expedition, whatever it takes to eat pizzas from five different locations. As for everything else, there's always Mastercard.

Health considerations - none.

Fun factor - high.

And until I actually have pictures holding one of these babies, I'll leave you with an image that would make you wish you were going on this trip with us...

Friday, April 16

Ivana trust Macs...

Some say Mac computers are great because there is little or no virus that can affect its operating system. Recently, I found something on my USB stick that would test that statement...

At first I thought the unidentified folder on my USB stick was mine, but then again I don't remember copying any folders called "Ivana" nor would I re-title a folder with that name. Once I collapsed the folder, I instantly knew what it was - a virus!

So instantly, when I saw a virus, I immediately thought it was caused by my PCs at home running on the Windows platform. I'm sure everyone has been affected or have known someone who's computer has crashed recently because of an unknown computer virus. And also, many would agree that it was very easy to catch a virus on a computer running in a Windows environment.

Nevertheless, I continue with my CreComm life by backing up the contents of my USB stick. As long as you don't run the program contained in the "Ivana" folder then you're actually fine. The virus in this case was an executable file ending with the file extension '.exe' so for it to work, you would have to double-click on the file. Collapsing the folder container would allow you to see the contents of the folder without touching the programs or files in it.

Knowing that my CreComm movements were logged and monitored at school, I was careful not to bring the virus to the school's Mac computers, which were what we primarily use because of Adobe InDesign and Final Cut Pro. So after formatting my USB stick, I transferred all my files back. I ended up doing this procedure about three times...finding an unknown folder, formatting my USB stick then transferring my files again.

Eventually, I got frustrated. I even ran my virus check on both my desktop PC and laptop, twice and yet no viruses were found. This puzzled me. Until yesterday...

I printed out a promotion campaign for The Fyxx for my advertising class. I brought my 'clean' USB stick to the print centre in the William building. As "Lorne The Print Guy" looked for my pdf file, he paused and picked up the phone. As he talked to the person on the phone, Lorne looked at the screen in front of him. I couldn't help but ask "Is there something wrong Lorne?" He hung up the phone and replied "There's a virus here..." still looking at the screen.

I immediately thought I didn't properly format my USB stick and that the folder was not actually "Ivana" secret was out! And worse, it might have infected Lorne's computer! I must say I was a bit terrified and thought I was going to get expelled from RRC for crashing the network with virus on my USB stick.

Little did I know that the virus Lorne was looking at on his screen was a different virus altogether. Which meant that the virus came from his computer! Which meant that the entire time I was getting infected was because the virus was on select Mac computers at school! This also meant that my computers at home were NOT the ones that were infecting my USB stick.

Lorne handed me back my ISB stick and didn't say much. All he said was "The virus is contained, we quarantined it." As soon as I plugged it into a Mac at school, I saw a new folder added to my flash drive. This one was labelled "Sevebomba" but the contents had been emptied by Lorne.

For those Mac users who think Macs are impermeable to viruses, think again. This was proof that viruses exist on Macs and can attach themselves on to your flash drive or USB stick so always run a virus check on your platform at home and scan your USB stick too!

Saturday, April 3

A view from Neil's beard. - Neil's review of a wing place!

"A let down," says Neil Babaluk, a full-time student at Red River College's Creative Communications program.

Babaluk visited Big Guy's Ranch and Saloon in the St. Vital area with three of his buds to hang out and have some wings and a couple of bevies.

"It was good, but not Tony Roma's good," says Babaluk. He and some classmates from CreComm went to Tony Roma's on Pembina Hwy. the night before to take a break from studying.

"The wings were more meaty and the sauces were better in general at Tony's," says Babaluk.

"The wings were big and there were a lot of them," says Babaluk about his experience at Tony Roma's.

Neil Babaluk's rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5 for Big Guy's Ranch and Saloon.

Big Guy's in St. Vital has their wing deal on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Wings are 49 cents per chicken wing with a minimum 5-win order. They have most of the regular flavours like honey garlic, hot, buffalo, sweet chili, lemon pepper, salt & pepper, and their popular flavour choices being cajun and teriyaki. I am intrigued by their pineapple curry and I'm interested how it would hold up to Movado's same offering.

Just for the record, Neil very much enjoyed his night at Tony Roma's when he was with me and a couple of other friends. He says that the best part of every wing night was the company.

Wednesday, March 24

The Truth About Chuck - Charlie Magazine

It is done. We couldn't be happier.

After 2 weeks of sacrificing sleep, family time, and some good home-cooked meals, the creation of Charlie magazine definitely put up a fight - a good fight.

I guess this was the nature of group work though; late nights, endless group meetings, relying on each other to finish the work, and of course, lots of arguing. I must admit, the group atmosphere got really heavy at times and there was at least one definite time when I wanted to leave the room. Then, I wiped my tears (figuratively), took a deep breath and said "Charlie has poisoned your mind but you're still my friend" and continued working. Everyone had good intentions to finish the magazine strong, but because we were a bunch of CreComm superstars put into one stellar magazine group, our creative ideas didn't really work well with each other's. In the end, we just had to communicate as a group and work with all the ideas we've pitched. I really hoped that what we have in our hands was something everyone in the group would be proud of for the rest of their CreComm careers.

If you were wondering what our cover looks like, you're just going to have to wait until the magazine trade show/fair on April 1st. Unlike the other magazine groups, the creators of Charlie magazine chose to unveil their cover page at the trade show. It will definitely be worth the wait. We had to find a photographer, make-up artist, props, and one beautiful model to create a photo that was cover-worthy for a magazine that was visually stunning. Charlie's content was also fun, informative, and best of all, a good read!

The creators really poured their heart and soul (and money!) into the magazine and that would show through the overall layout and content of our product. Creating a magazine from start to finish was truly an amazing experience. I still couldn't believe that we wrote all the articles, advertisements, took photos, layed it out, then had it printed at a professional print shop. Magazine business is hard business - that I can attest to!

Being in a magazine group has many key learnings. Here were some of the things I took away from the entire experience:

1) Working in a group of four was tough! Three would have been better because there wouldn't have been too many ideas flying around and less people to butt heads with :)

I thought the hardest part of being in a group was making sure that everyone in the group was heard. Sometimes it was easy to listen and empathize with a member in the group and just let them talk about how they feel. But when another member in your group confided in you, it made it difficult to continue knowing that members weren't communicating through out the group.

So key to working in a group (and in any relationship) was open communication! With open communication, there wouldn't be misunderstandings and every group member would be on the same page. If one member didn't like an idea then he/she should say so before it was too late.

2) Knowing your role/having a role/taking a role in a group was also key. Sometimes in a group you have way too many people wanting to do all the work and that was great! But when you have talented people who want to put their mark on everything, you need to decide where to stand: Do you push your idea instead or do you find other avenues to help out? Once you thought about it, the answer was pretty clear. Again, this was a group project so you need to do what was necessary to achieve group harmony.

3) At the end of the day, it was just a project! Some people might think that getting top marks on this magazine project would determine the success of their project but when everything was said and done the important thing to take away from the CreComm group project were the things that couldn't be marked with a letter grade. Things like:

What did I learn about myself when working in a group?
How did I react when someone didn't like my idea?
Did I accommodate everyone's ideas or did I fight to stick with mine?
Did I listen more than I did talking?
What did I learn about using InDesign? Photoshop? Using a camera?
What I did learn as a journalist?
What did I learn about managing my time? My group's time?
How did I react when things didn't go my way?

I'm sure you could have added a lot of other things to this list. No matter, how you thought you're magazine turned out, the best thing you could have taken away from the magazine project was the fact that you learned how to work in a group of A-type students in an environment under a high-level of stress and survived to tell the tale. That alone was commendable. So congratulations to all the magazine groups for a job well done!

Here are some behind-the-scene pics of my interview with Constance Popp, a profile interview featured in the upcoming Charlie magazine available April 1 in the Red River College Princess Campus Atrium :)

This necklace was provided by Chocolatier Constance Popp. The necklace was dipped in artisan chocolate then dusted to give it an "Amazon" feel.

These chocolate cigars are neat! - Available at Chocolatier Constance Popp (1853 Portage Ave. Winnipeg, MB. Ph. 204-897-0689)

Dog's love chocolate! A special visitor was at the shop when I interviewed Constance

These and more pics will be available at the Magazine Fair on April 1, 2010 RRC Princess Campus South Atrium where Charlie Magazine's booth will be located.

See you there!

Sunday, March 7

Winter or summer, you gotta get yourself to The Nub!

Also known as the chimney of the contiguous United States, Northwest Angle and Islands is both beautiful and relaxing, and awesome. I know that's more than two but it really is awesome!

Getting there is definitely part of the experience. I don't think there are other places in Manitoba you'd encounter a remote area border crossing. All you need is your Canadian passport and a finger to press the button to call the border services agent on the U.S. side. There's nothing to it!

The boys and I had such a good time I think I'm going back in the summer sometime for a fishing trip.

Here are just some pictures of the ice road - which was the obvious highlight of the trip - that we took when we were down there last Friday. I also threw together a 2min video (not worthy to call a montage) on YouTube for you guys to see what it was like in a car with four guys on the road.

Eman and Neil.

Steve and Sean.

The Angler putting his mark on the Angle.

The Angler failing.

Our GPS as we approached the unmanned U.S. border.

This is how you report. You open the box and say hello.

It starts getting interesting...

The road's running out!

Seriously Neil, turn this car around!

Ahhh! We're on water shows the GPS.

Here it is - the ice road phenomenon.

Looks like the ice is melting but no slush will stop us from getting to the Angle.

In its full glory, we are right in the middle of the lake. DRIVING around the islands to get to our destination.

This is the wildest thing we saw on our trip. I didn't realize how big a moose's head is until I saw this mounted on top of the fireplace at Flag Island Resort. Definitely going there in the summer. Their lodge is amazing!

The most hospitable NWA resident we met. Don't know her name but she was all over the car when we stopped to get air in one of our tires. We'll miss you the most!

Now for a live-action account of the ice road. Forgive me if the video is a little short, just threw together a couple of short videos and a bg track. It was a 10-minute effort ;)

Friday, February 26

Pseudo wings & PR

During our afternoon break, our PR instructor Kenton Larsen (that's him in the yellow shirt) bought the class (whatta nice guy!) a bag of Ruffles chips, "Hot Wings" flavoured. He bought it because he knew this blog existed, lol.

Well, needless to say, the chips somehow tasted like real hot chicken wings. Everyone was able to taste the chips and looked like everyone enjoyed them. I mean, who'd really say no to free chips? If you asked me, I think it was Kenton's way of making us work harder in class.

Sean Garrity's Zooey & Adam proposal was well underway and the class is almost done. I, myself, still have a couple of sections to do: executive summary, letter of transmittal, and tweak the evaluation section of my proposal. The proposal was such a neat project because in the end, we all get to put this proposal in our portfolios so it made it more important to complete a PR proposal that we would be proud to show to future employers.

As for the chips, I'd give them 3 1/3 stars out of 5 for tasting close to the real thing. haha.

Friday, February 12

PR Event in the Olympics: Death of Georgian Luger

Tragedy strikes today at the Whistler Sliding Centre where a 21-year old Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili died when his sled crashed, throwing him off and hitting a metal support beam. You can get the details of the accident and a link to watch the video here:

Now when something totally unplanned (possibly the worst thing that can happen in an event) actually happen, how do the organizers and event planners prepare for the media and the questions regarding the incident?

This is truly a PR test and I'm not sure if the CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games John Furlong has prepared himself for and, in fact, says exactly that he wasn't during an interview at the pre-show for the opening ceremonies Friday night.

The biggest question: To what extent does an Olumpic organizer plan for accidental deaths of athletes? Interesting.

Another thing to pay attention to are the advertisements during the opening ceremonies. It feels like the Super Bowl all over again when it comes to these ads; each one has a specific tone but was created for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Rona - this one follows a measuring tape as it retracts across Canada's diverse landscape. "It takes a great country to build great games."

Bell - a guy sends a message from his Bell mobile device while watching an Olympic hockey game that reads "Canada scored! What a goal!" and his message is carried across the country on a snowflake that travels from the venue to the remotest part of Canada.

Molson Canada - if you think their other commercials are patriotic, this one's that x3. It's pretty good.

Tim Hortons - a man prepares to pick up his wife and kids emigrating to Canada and brings a pile of jackets, toques, and mitts for the cold weather outside. He welcomes his wife with her first Tim Hortons cup of coffee. It is a touching story of the many immigrant families that makes up our country.

Hey did everybody see the opening video that lead to the start of the ceremonies? was it just me or was that just as exciting as the first Transformers movie? The announcer in the video got me super pumped when he described Canada's biggest competitors and ended the segment with "They are all here..." - how powerful is that?! Go Team Canada Go!