Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dear Google Street View, THANK YOU!

Google Street View has been invaluable to me many times, but it's always irked me that the image was so outdated. Now, obviously there isn't really a big reason that it would need to be updated, but my house is come a long way in the years that I have owned it and that's the image I want to show the world.

Previously the Street view image showed my house in it's old crumbling stucco state, boring and white. The picture was also taken on a grey spring day with garbage still strewn everywhere. Overall, my whole street and neighbourhood looked like hell. I had a great idea for a post where I was going to screen capture all of the houses and then post the photos of what they look like now - there has been a lot of positive changes especially on my block. Well, apparently I missed my chance - the new Google Street View images are up!!

I'm so excited! I often sell things on kijiji and now people will probably be less afraid to come and pick things up from me in "the hood" because darned if it doesn't look purdy! Leaves on the trees, green grass and (almost) no litter.

What I do get a kick out of though, is the 3 distinctly different days/times that make up my little corner (all images captured from Google Street View) First we have just the yellow car out front, notice the turquoise house:

 Next we see the yellow car and the kick ass vintage VW Rabbit:

 Lastly, we can now see that the Wolseley project 2.0 has been planted, and the turquoise house is now yellow!

So darned if I'm not pleased as punch with this sunnier happier view of the North End! If you look close in the bottom photo you can see the big ol' pile o' dirt that no one came to help me shovel even after my pleas on twitter*

*Please read that statement in the as-yet-to-be-developed "guilt" font

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I predict a few others will blog about this too

So, it appears as though all of my random rants and rambles hard work has finally paid off. I got one of the coveted media invites to the pre-grand-opening shindig at the new IKEA; which, for the record my iphone still doesn't recognize as a "real" word. Apple, IKEA - you two should talk.

Now, being a Winnipegger and loving pretty much all things free and the invite specifically specified cocktails (one of my favourite free things ever) I was in. I also didn't know if I was going to make it to IKEA otherwise; I don't enjoy battling crowds and waiting in lines to be able to spend my dollars - this is also why I have never been a big fan of "the bar". To be fair, I also don't need anything really, if I was in the market for some furniture I would probably lean towards IKEA over any other retailer in terms of new furniture. The earth tones that dominate the furniture at the other big box stores kind of make me a little nauseous.

IKEA, unless you somehow have missed their general concept, offers mass produced furniture, often in quirky colours, frequently with sleek lines, that will supposedly hold up better than your average put-it-together-yourself type furniture. I even downloaded their free tool for designing your own kitchen a while back as I figured I was more of a high gloss cabinet sort of girl then shades of brown, beige and marble that you typically find at the big box places.

I have been to IKEA before, like many Manitobans I have been to the stores in Calgary, Edmonton and Minneapolis (and like probably few Manitobans, the one in Reykjavik, Iceland). Wandering the maze, and it is a maze (on purpose) of idyllic rooms I mostly just end up dreaming of highly organized spaces. Those Scandinavians have turned maximizing space into an artform.

Here are my thoughts on Winnipeg's IKEA store after last night (some are specific to Winnipeg, some just to the brand)
  • First and foremost: WARNING!! Unless you are in the restaurant don't expect to be able to use your mobile phone. Most of the building is a dead zone. I see this as problem in every way except IKEA needing to worry their staff are texting all day at work. How are you supposed to snap a pic and send it to someone asking if you should buy it or not?
  • A COCKTAIL reception should have COCKTAILS. I mean, thanks for the beer and wine, but I have the drink tastes of a 14 year old - where was the funky blue drink with pineapple (yellow) garnish?? But seriously, thanks for the invite, I had fun.
  • IKEA needs to sell the cord hiding strip that they use to hide their own cords on their displays. Dangling cords are unattractive and that cord hiding stuff is hard to find (Home Depot/Rona sells some but it's not as nice as the stuff they had at IKEA).
  • There needs to be more "all-in" pricing. The beauty of their products is also one of the drawbacks. There are seemingly endless combinations of products and it is common to see for example, two medicine cabinets set up next to each other (effectively looking like one) and then with add on lights and perhaps other bits and bobs. By the time you add it all up the $300 cabinet is actually $800. It's like car commercials that tell me that their car is only $13,995 - by the time you actually have a model that anyone wants it's more like twenty grand.

Perfectly organized now, but what is it going to look like on a Saturday?

I think it will be interesting to see how clean they are able to keep the store - all those slushy boots tracking through the store will be hard to keep up with. Also, making sure that things stay well stocked and organized down on the main floor will be really important; assuming the chaos that will surely ensue for the next few months they don't want to feel like a tacky Walmart with empty shelves like there was some sort of doorcrasher special.

A discount section before the store officially opens? Classic Winnipeg!

An interesting topic filled the local twitterverse last night regarding the potential conflict of interest in offering media types a preview that involved a swag bag and 15% discount. I think it seemed a little far reaching - no one was forcing the paid media types to purchase anything and they certainly could have turned down the goodie bag at the end if they felt that it might be misconstrued.  I don't recall hearing the same comments when media attended the VIP Cinemas on McGillivray last month, enjoying free food and drink. There was also no requirement attached to the invitation requiring anyone to mention the store one way or the other.

I'm really glad I got to go last night, I don't imagine I will go for quite some time now as seeing the crush of people desperate to buy buy buy will probably just stand to make me question and regret my own place in the heaving cycle of consumerism and I have enough guilt associated with my love of driving (factor in that I would have no choice but to drive to IKEA and I don't think I could keep my meatballs down!)

A Winnipeg exclusive - the Penis Bridge picture!

Oops... someone forgot to take the tag off of a prop!

For future reference, should anyone like to invite me to an event, ply me with food and drinks and give me a goodie bag at the end, I have no moral issues with that, but no promises about sunshine and roses if I blog about it. As for IKEA, don't worry Winnipeg, you'll like it, but don't forget to shop local too - in fact, Winnipeg has a number of furniture manufacturers that produce their stuff right here.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A quick note about...

...Office etiquette.

Don't worry, I shall return to bitching about garbage again soon.

For many many MANY years, I worked solely in restaurants, which have their own set of "office politics". I now do both office and restaurant work (because I am a glutton for punishment apparently).

Being a team player: The office I work in has about 15-20 staff members, organized over two floors. We have a receptionist who is often away from the front desk and it then becomes a battle of wills to see who will answer the bell at the front desk. I basically always lose this game. There are two reasons for this, firstly, I receive slightly more visitors than other employees and therefore feel a tinge of guilt that it might be for me; secondly, with as many years in the service industry as I have I can't be that rude. Clearly none of my coworkers care about our visitors.

Slacking: If you work in an office there is a good chance that you have access to the internet. There is also a chance you access the internet for non-work related things (like, y'know writing a blog post). Keep it to yourself people! None of us want to know what great video you just saw on youtube, what your friends are doing on facebook or have you read out "silly laws that are still on the books". We are all pretending to be working over at our desks. When you verbalize your misdeeds it is likely to eventually draw the attention of others, resulting in over-reaching silly policies being implemented. Don't be the one who ruins it for everyone.

Coffee: If you take the last cup, or even the almost-to-last cup of coffee, brew more. As a side note to this, after all those years working in a restaurant where many times I had discovered that a coworker had taken the last of the java without brewing more, thus screwing my service to my table over, I take great joy in NEVER brewing coffee at the office - I'm a tea drinker, so you know I didn't take the last cup!
Oh, and...
Wash out your damn coffee cup!

Bathroom use: If you take the last of the toilet paper, freaking change it. Leaving one square is the equivalent of leaving a sip of coffee in the pot. If you need to do some, uh, secondary business, while you're in there, that's okay, Everybody Poops. Please do not then spray half a can of air freshener in the bathroom and then close the door and leave the light on. We will all keep presuming that someone is in there, and man, I gotta pee!

Of course there are many other things that could go into an office etiquette guide, I quickly checked the Oatmeal but didn't find one to go with this post, but I'm sure something awesome exists somewhere.

*For the record, this was written on my lunch break. Mostly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A few things...

A round up of some random things in my head:

1. Why is there no way to find out what the official rules are for The Amazing Race? I know this is a departure from my usual topics, but seriously, why? As an avid traveller I watch the show and spend a lot of time thinking that I could kick all of their butts if it weren't for the whole being physically fit and having no gag reflex thing. For example, at the start of a leg of the race they will open up their little envelope and say "oh wow, we have $xxx for this leg of the race". What the hell does that money go towards? I mean, we see them pay for cabs and such, but in countries where you have to negotiate the cab fare we never seem to see them do that, they just seem to throw money at the driver at the end of the ride (although I did see a terse exchange one time at the end of a ride). If they are only given $xxx for the leg, how does that affect them when they get a cabbie that takes them to the wrong place first? With the limited funds they wouldn't have enough to get to their final destination. What about food and water, is that provided? When are they allowed to ask strangers for help and when can't they? Obviously they ask people for help on the street for directions, but when they are doing a task for example the other day when they were trying to look things up in the library card catalog why couldn't they ask for help? So many questions! I have not been able to find this information online and it drives me a little crazy.

2. Why are we even talking about raising the speed limit on certain streets? As in, why is it even up for discussion? Two lanes in either direction separated by a boulevard should be 60km/hr, no brainer. Regarding the section of Pembina (figures 6.2 & 6.3) anyone who has ever driven it, and especially those who have gotten a ticket can tell you that it's bizarre that it's so slow. It's a total of 4 lanes, with fields on either side and a big old boulevard in the middle. If you have chosen to live on a major thoroughfare then you should expect that traffic will flow accordingly.

3. Gas prices in Churchill, MB - Yes, it sucks that gas is so expensive there. However as such a remote community it can't be entirely unexpected. In Churchill you can also get a special Remote Area registration, which I do believe costs substantially less (I couldn't seem to find actual costs on the MPI website) for residents of Churchill who will only be driving their vehicle in and around Churchill. If a resident doesn't have that type of plate, it would likely be because they take their vehicle on the train down to Thompson or wherever else it is that they need to go, and I imagine that just as those of us from "down south" do when we cross the border to the USA they fill their tank before they head back home.

4. LITE annual Wild Blueberry Pancake Breakfast. I love this event for so many reasons. Besides the chance to see people I might not see as often as I might like AND have a delicious breakfast, it is (or at least has been the past 3 years) an environmentally responsible event. There is a huge focus on recycling and composting, and all of the cups/plates/utensils are compostable. It is an excellent demonstration of leading by example. There is also an opportunity to purchase some great locally made crafts and foodstuffs. Hope to see you there! 45 Robinson St., Indian and Metis Family Centre (corner of Dufferin and Robinson, in between Main and Salter).