There's been a lot of talk the last 10 years about how much easier and more efficient technology is making our lives. Although I no longer get photos developed and rarely buy stamps anymore, I have often found that the time needed to learn and adapt to the new technologies has pretty much cancelled out the so-called "efficiency gains". Over the past few years it has been great not having to drive down to a travel agent to see what the best deal was to fly to Toronto, but it took hours to figure out where to look on-line and how to actually book things. Then of course there was the fear that, in the absence of actual contact with a real human being, somehow, something would go wrong. Perhaps my ticket wouldn't be processed properly....or my credit card stolen..or.....
I am not saying none of these fears or possibilities still exist. However, I do think that in the last year, at least for me personally, the tipping point has shifted pretty dramatically in favour of on-line commerce. Certainly having a home in the US, where I don't have to worry about customs, is a big factor for me. Equally important though, is that I feel comfortable with shopping on-line, fairly safe from fraud, and know that I can complete a purchase, along with a decent amount of research about the service or product, in far less time and effort than it takes to head out to the store. Instead of letting a slick selling salesman provide me with all the product information (how the heck are we supposed to evaluate their claims about Superior quality, resolution, connectivity, bits per second, etc?), I can now get thousands of customer reviews from users just like me. More and more I am finding these reviews playing an important part in my shopping decisions.
My Dad and I had to make a quick trip to Toronto last week. We got great deals on our hotel, rental car and flight (hotwire.com is working well for me right now) without having to talk to any people. Because I checked into the flight from home the night before and we only brought carry-on bags, we were able to arrive at the airport 40 minutes before our flight and still have plenty of time to spare. Our experience with the hotel and car went equally smoothly.
Our time in Toronto was pretty limited....but with windchill bringing the temperature down to 17 below, I wasn't too disappointed. It was nice to get the time with my Dad and to hear some stories of what life was like for him immigrating to Toronto as a young man coming from Northern England. We figured that it was the first time we had been on a plane together since I was an toddler. We finished the business we needed to, had some good conversations and good meals together...so I'd say it was a pretty successful trip. I also got to see Ken Morris for an evening at a Toronto Raptors-Phoenix Suns game. With Ken being a good friend who I haven't seen much of in the last 10 years, and those being my favorite two teams to watch, I had a great night out.
Before leaving for Toronto we celebrated Lucas' birthday with a pancake breakfast in the morning and Swiss Chalet in the evening. I even managed to squeeze in time to play in the Men's League finals (we won by about 15) before catching the red-eye flight.