Monday, October 24, 2005

iRant: Traffic, Travelling, and Technology

I've lived in big cities for a good part of my life, but my recent trip to Toronto really made me appreciate living in Halifax. I find that I have most of the things I like about big cities here - good restaurants, stores for eveything, lots of nightlife - but it's on a scale that's more conducive to keeping human interaction a liitle more personal and civilized (not always the case in not-so-friendly Toronto ;-) ). For instance, I like to be out amongst the masses sometimes, for sure, but I also like the opportunity to get away from the crowds too. However, the thing that really drove me crazy was the number of times that it took 30 or 40 minutes to drive from point A to point B within the city without ever leaving the car.

Now comes the real catch-22: because housing prices are so expensive in Toronto (and most big cities), people are moving further and further into the burbs. Well this just makes the whole driving thing worse for everyone. In a hustle and bustle world, it's so unfortunate that, on top of working longer work weeks, people are put in the position where they spend an extra couple of hours a day just driving to and from work because of housing prices. I'd be interested in seeing some easy way to calculate just how much you would save in car upkeep, gas, parking, etc. (and sanity!) by spending more on a home closer to the heart of things.

At least as technology advances, it gets easier and easier to work remotely - heck, I shoot commandN segments for our Toronto-based show in Halifax, I do conference calls for web evaluation and other projects through Skype (and have recently had Skype calls to as distant a place as Sri Lanka), etc. With a computer, microphone headset, web cam, and some other tools, it's amazing how connected you can get with people thousands of miles away, even when you are on the road. Yet, there's still something about having physical, face-to-face meetings - I mean, it's why I was in Toronto in the first place (well, that and hosting our newly-branded episode 19 of commandN which will be out later tonight).

I sure got a lot of use out of my laptop on this trip - including on the plane and in those long car rides, which is great (aside from the awkwardness of having an unexpected nude scene flashing across my laptop in the midst of an otherwise quite tame movie I was watching :-) ). Of course, you're not online in those situations, but hopefully that'll change. But it's getting ridiculous the amount of equipment I take with me when I travel. I mean, you have to have your iPod, cell phone, camera, laptop, wires/plugs for everything, etc. - I'm just glad they let you carry a second bag on the plane for those quick trips (still pretty annoying not to be able to take a razor with me when I'm travelling with just carry-on, though).

Anyway, I had a great trip (and lots more coming in the future), but I am glad to be back home in Halifax. My multibutton mouse, my desktop and scanner, a nice big monitor, and a cozy place to work in comfort - oh, and my wife and dog too :-) . I guess there will come a time when travel will become pretty seamlessly practical for work, but a few things need to happen - wireless internet everywhere, no more cables and not as many plugs, and, oh yeah - teleporters - those long drives just eat into too much of my personal time ;-) .
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10/24/2005 11:13:00 p.m.  


Anonymous John said...

My buddy who lives in Tee-Dot said he spends an hour each way commuting every day to and from work. That's 2 hours in the car every day on average. And every time I am down there I too, am amazed at just how long it takes to make even the simplest trips. I love that city but I could never live there me thinks.

I am a 8 minute drive to work, meaning I can go home every day at lunch. And getting home at the end of the day is usually about 4:40pm… usually when my buddy is trying to figure out which route is going to be the least time consuming…

I think if employment ever did take me to cabbage town I'd park the, save it for weekends, and become a hardcore subway/ipodder. :)

October 25, 2005 7:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Ness said...

The key for a good commute is location. IMHO you want to live closer to the "big city" centre than your place of work.

This way you're travelling against the grain and you can watch the standing traffic across the median. When everyone is trying to get into the heart of the city you are heading to the outskirts.

If your job is downtown, take the subway, Go Train or other mass transit method. Especally as the cost of fuel continues to rise you'll see savings and there isn't the frustration of being stuck in traffic.

I like grass, rivers and trees though so it's a hard decision to make to live in the country, burbs (which used to be country) or in the city.

October 25, 2005 9:55 a.m.  
Blogger B. McKechnie said...

My daily commute to Toronto from the Waterloo Region is almost like "Planes, Trains and Automobiles".

First I have a 40KM drive to Milton which on average takes 20 - 25 minutes - unless there is an accident, rain or snow - then it can take over an hour.

After arriving in Milton I take the GO Train to Union Station (the GO Train does not go any further West then Milton). This takes just over an hour but I can nap, read, edit commandN, watch TV shows from the night before, etc.

Once at Union Station I take the subway a few stops North which takes about 20 minutes. Then I have a 10 minute walk ahead of me.

Almost 2 hours one way! And on the days I film commandN and I have to drive it takes over three hours.

This is all so we can live in a beautiful afforadable house in a safe relaxing area!

October 26, 2005 9:25 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff MacArthur said...

Hey BRIAN, if you want to live in a beautiful, affordable house in a safe area, just move to Halifax with the rest of us civilized people ;-) .

November 05, 2005 12:03 p.m.  

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