Saturday, September 22, 2007

The better way?

I just wanted to pass on this experience...

While exiting St. Clair subway station on the north side yesterday at around 8:00 p.m., I was greeted by this image. Perhaps such a sight would have gone unnoticed most days, but images and news of the TTC have littered my brain lately. From the upcoming fair hike, recent subway delays during peak morning rush hour, to the decrease of pleasant street car drivers - I can only swallow so much. What boggles me is that this wasn't the only set of garbage bins in the area, but it was by far the worst of the lot.

The TTC touts that it's "the better way" for commuters to travel within the City. Yet like many commuters, I am more and more frustrated by a service I cannot improve. Sure, I can call and make complaints, but many unpleasant experiences happen while I'm en route to work or even just traveling from point one place to another. By the time I reach my destination, I'm often too busy to give a complaint, or I'm feeling too jaded and cynical to believe someone will hear my voice.

In a past ad campaign, the TTC urged riders to clean up after themselves on the subway (showing images of a man looking like a pig after leaving a mess)... yet can the TTC not clean up after its own mess? Surely they can find "a better way" to address this problem.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I must first apologize for the long silence that has occurred in this space. I will simply say that a lot of things have happened... "life" itself has been flying past me and I believe I've caught up (or I'm at least nipping at its heels!).

I have many things to discuss and hope to do so in time.

One significant change: my name! On July 7 (or well known as 07-07-07) I married Matthew and now I am Virginia Middleton. The name change has required some adjusting and I still slip when introducing myself sometimes. But these things come in time.

Hopefully if you're reading this, you'll return and you will soon see something new to read and/or view.

Until then...

Virginia Middleton

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Technology besmirched

Last Sunday, my fiancé Matt and I went to The Bay to update our bridal registry. Now before you leave me for another website, or start thinking, "why do I care?" there is a point to this entry: technology cannot replace good communication.

During a fall bridal show in Toronto, we initially set up our registry with The Bay. It was explained that we should add a few things to our list at the show and could come in to a Bay store and update it regularly. Simple enough, yes? On Sunday we arrived for our appointment, met with an associate and she discussed the full details of the bridal registry. It all sounded fine and we were happy with now smoothly things were moving. The associate provided us with a scanner and we felt like official inventory jockeys as we were set free in the store to scan our hearts out.

Here's where things get tricky...
A copy of our list (from the bridal show) was printed off and we decided to recheck all of the items since so much time had passed. After going through over two pages of items, we decided to cross off everything except for one glass bowel. After an hour and a half of our scanning adventure, we were ready to turn in our machine and go home. A different associate received our information and we tried to explain that our old list (from the bridal show) was no longer valid (only wanting one item from it) and that everything ON THAT LIST should be deleted. We made reference to our new list that was on the scanner as items we wanted to keep. With these explanations, we felt the appointment went well.

Yesterday, I went online to check on the registry. Because it would take a day or so for the list to update and go online, I thought I'd take a peek. Guess what? As it stands, for our wedding on July 7, 2007 our 150-200 attendees can fight over who is giving us 1 DIAMOND FIRE PLATTER 14" by MIKASA. Remember that ONE item we kept from the old list...

After speaking with a manager to find out why our list was so bare, I soon discovered that communication and information sharing is very important when technology is involved. The scanner that we used is actually a virtual device that scans in real-time and instantly adds items into the main database where our registry is stored. Therefore, when we told the associate we wanted to delete "everything from our old list expect this one item," we deleted much more than what we intended. As of yesterday, all items on the scanner were lost and deleted along with everything previously scanned last fall.

Perhaps both Matt and I assumed too much. Having both worked in retail while in post-secondary schools, a lot of price file and inventory verification devices we used were not in real-time and required you to download your information or at least "sync" it up with a computer so that numbers were crunched and inventory details created.

Yesterday afternoon, I was very distressed by the situation. We had wasted two hours of our busy weekend AND we found ourselves trying to figure out how quickly we could go and rescan everything ASAP. Matt's aunt is having an engagement party for us next month, and she suggested we try to finalize our list at The Bay so that any family or friends attending the festivities could possibly purchase something on the list. This makes a lot of sense and hence our sense of urgency to update our registry with items we do wish to receive (I'd rather not have people guess and then we end up with a couple dozen corning ware dishes!).

I did appreciate the customer service I received from the manager in gift registry. After following up with her own investigation, she discovered that the associate who accepted our updated list was suppose to ensure a printed copy was made before deletions and other updates went through. This clearly did not happen. If that had happened, our desired items could have been entered manually to the registry and avoid us coming in again to rescan items. She also apologized for the omitted details about the scanner and how the registry exists in a real-time realm. She then offered me a gift card to compensate our lost time and offered to have us come in either before or after regular hours if either would suit our schedules. For one guilty moment, I enjoyed the thought of going in after hours so that someone would have to work late... but why make someone suffer for a fluke situation? I'd rather just move on and maintain good relations.

I'm not a Bridezilla, I'm just a twenty-something young woman who's used to technology working in her favour and making her life easier. How naïve.

"Some go to where the buildings reach to meet the clouds"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An inevitable situation

May 4, 2001 2:02 a.m.
That was my first debut into the blogging world.

Since then, many things have happened. My first blog emerged while I was finishing off a second year in university. My heart had been broken early in the fall semester and I was still feeling the sting of naive young "love" (or so I thought).

Some friends had mentioned that they had online diaries in which they wrote and others read; an equilibrium relationship. I thought it was odd, but one day noticed the link for a friend's diary in her ICQ (remember that old chat program?) profile. I didn't know what to think at first. It seemed interesting because I actually knew the person. But soon I discovered friends of that author (people I had never met) who also had their one place on the Internet. Eventually, through reading, I began to feel as though I was getting to know these people on a personal, but anonymous level.

I'm not surprised that my first online entry occurred on a Thursday night at 2:02 a.m. I was probably working on an assignment... that was due the next day. It being late and I getting distracted, decided on a whim to take the plunge and start a blog (we all called our blogs "diaries" since the hosting site was called at the time). After signing up and creating my layout, no doubt I had to publish something!

Yes, through my first online journal, I made numerous friends and eventually lost touch with many as well. My main readership consisted of people I saw on almost a daily basis. Odd I know, but sometimes it's just easier for people to open up to their closest friends if you can avoid communicating in person and if you have the option to ignore a comment.

I have continued to blog since that faithful day in May. I'm not someone who posts everyday, and I've been known to take an unannounced break now and then; life does get busy you know! I have another blog that is used to communicate with friends from all over the world: friends within my close circle from out east, new friends I've made through various happenings, and friends I have online that only know me through blogging and online communication. I have some special friends whom I've never met in person, but we communicate regularly.

This is not a "flog blog", it is simply me claiming my piece of territory in this huge community we call the global online community, the World Wide Web, or simply- The Internet.

Why am I here? Well why not? There is an obvious presence of the "me" generation online. Why are we all here; posting for all to see. Does each of us have something important and profound to share with the world? Are we all frustrated with the world around us and hoping to make a difference on some small scale? Or do we just like to hear our own voices and thoughts... just through a different medium instead of verbal communication.

My answer? Perhaps I'll just suggest a forth choice: all of thee above (in some form or fashion).

I have a plan for this blog and who I want it to develop and grow. In time, there will be a rhythm that regular readers will recognize. Some of you may return regularly; some will possibly wander back once in a while; some of you may stumble upon me while perusing various blogs. Either way, all are welcome.

As a new player in the PR world, I am familiar with social media and the unique dialogue that occurs between the various populations online. Perhaps we'll explore some of these qualities through discussion here.

I'll post more information later. I plan to explain the meaning behind the blog's name, provide my personal disclosure and post some person requests I have for readers. But for now, I'll let you roam free. Please play nice.

"Some go to where the buildings reach to meet the clouds"