Old Blog, New Tricks

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My Google Map is pretty and VERY zoomable
As you've no doubt noticed, I've spent a bit of time lately adding some cool new features and ideas to this little blog of mine. First of all, the one I'm most proud of: I now add a little location tag (or in some cases several) to my blog posts and thanks to the magic of Google Maps API and some coding on my part, a little marker appears on a map on the sidebar (look to the left). The green marker shows the location of the most recent post or more generally, where I am now. If you hover the mouse over any of the markers, it will show you the most recent blog post made from that location. And if you should dare to click, well, it'll open that post up. Amazing! Plus, don't be afraid to zoom right in, you can sometimes seem some neat locations, especially when you have the photo gallery open at the same time. As well, I've gone back through all my old posts and added locations to them, so you can go back to, say, July 2005 (see the archives in the sidebar), and check out all the places I was that particular month. Which, you'll see, was mostly in Scandinavia on a Contiki tour.

All the places I blogged from in Europe
Of course, if you want to see all my Contiki posts, or Scandinavia, or Greece, or what have you, it's really quite easy to do so. Because now my posts are all tagged, you can click on one of the tags at the bottom of a post and every post that is tagged with that will be displayed. So say, for example, you want to see every post I made that has "travel" in it. Well, you just click on 'travel' at the bottom of a post tagged with that, and every post about travel will come up.

Taken on the tour I'm about to embark upon.
And speaking of travel, you may be wondering what on earth I'm doing updating a blog with new features when I can scarcely find the time to add a post every week much less once every month or two. The answer, as you may have guessed, lies in the question: I'm travelling once again. The observant among you may have noticed that I have Jan. 15 marked off on my calendar below. I leave on Jan. 15 for New Zealand and Australia! I'm going first on a six week adventure called Pacific Challenge, which takes us through the wild and untamed wilderness of New Zealand, hiking through rainforests, walking through volcanic playgrounds (in the shadow of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings), kayaking through rivers and along coasts, a three day trek through the alps, and then to Australia, a motorbike tour through Sydney, learning to surf in Byron Bay, diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and more. Which, to be honest, gets me really excited even writing about it. Check out the full itinerary here.

That's a good thing, because writing about it is exactly what I'll be doing in the coming months. After I finish that, I have a working holiday visa for Australia and hope to make my way around the continent, seeing the sites, working in different places, and digging in to life down under. I'm thinking that, since I wrap up my tour at the beginning of the grape harvesting season, I'll head south and try to get a job in a vineyard first. Maybe learn something about wine making and if not, well, get my feet dirty. I'm definitely wanting to spend some time in Melbourne, which has the second largest population of Greeks in the world after Athens. In other words, there are more Greeks in Melbourne than in Thessaloniki. Definitely some time on the west coast and hopefully some more time in the sunshine/gold coast too, and, if I last long enough, New Year's Eve in Sydney. And I would be remiss to not mention the outback and Ooularou (AKA Ayers' Rock).

Fun with iSight
I still have a lot to do in the short time before I leave, but those in town and wanting to have a drink or two before I depart are welcome to join me at Specklebelly's/Athena on Saturday, Jan. 13 at around 9:00 PM. As far as what I have to do, in addition to buying clothes and trekking/camping/caving gear, packing, getting my international drivers' license, travel insurance (I hear they have some nasty critters down there), selling my car (maybe), I have my fairly new MacBook Pro to prepare. Yes, I finally bought a laptop, and as I've been saying for the last, oh... five or six year, my next laptop is going to be a Mac. Here we are, and I'm really loving it. Check out some of the photos I took with the built in camera (iSight) by clicking the image to the right. And anyone out there with a Mac, be sure to add me to your iChat, I can't wait to try out the video phone functions. Guess I should bring my headset along.

As far as what's been going on around here since my last "What Dean is up to" post, which was somewhere in late August. Well, I did some gocarting with my cousins and friends at the new Wilson's track. Supposedly the fastest carts in Canada, though they are definitely scaled down if that's the case, but still damn fast and fun. Click on the image to the left for more carting shots. I had my 26th birthday and must've had a good time, because I don't remember what we did, if anything. The podcast ate up quite a bit of my fall, as we were running interviews, planning for my New York-based cohost to visit and do a live 20th episode, and we were trying to record an extra two episodes for December. Incidentally, we were featured on the front page of iTunes for a while, and though we didn't win any awards this year, we did have over 120,000 downloads, which is pretty amazing!

Christmas was over before it started this year, just a whirlwind of activity much of which is squarely the fault of my imminent departure. Santa did all his shopping at Lululemon this year, which is great if you're female or into 'trendy' clothing, but being dressed in a skirt as an infant was enough cross-dressing for me. I did keep a jacket from there which should be very nice and waterproof, and a few assorted garments, and then used the rest to buy some new glasses. Which, the day after I purchased, became unnecessary as I found my old glasses. Oh well. A sign from above to keep my eyes open, I guess. Continuing on this tangent, I'm trying out contacts for the first time too, apparently I have very sensitive eyes because they caused me quite a bit of discomfort. I tried a disposable and depleted 60-70% of my body's water stores in the blink of an eye - mine, to be precise. I have some two-week ones right now that are much better though, supposedly the most 'comfortable' ones out there.

Cool hats were in vogue for New Year's Eve once again.
Anyway, back to Christmas, there were a lot of boardgames played, and that's always a good thing. For some reason that didn't become obvious until later, I got The Simpsons' Clue for Christmas, and it got a lot of use. Larissa is unbeatable at games of elimination. Try and have a Sudoku race with her. If only she could use that talent for good (a job) instead of evil (beating me at a board game). Risk came out a few times, that particular game was fairly evenly won by all except Keegan (sorry!) and we played some Balderdash and other games, too. Oh, and who could forget some Wii Sports? Good times! And speaking of good, we had a nice lamb dinner with figs, greens, dill potatoes, and the works. All very delicious, as always, though unfortunately I can take no credit for any of it. New Year's Eve was at Specklebelly's as always and was lots of fun thanks to a bunch of friends showing up. You can check out pictures of that by clicking the image on the left. And now I'm hoping to see you all on Saturday for a drink or two and some good times again. Well, those of you in the country, anyways. Elaine, hope you're having a great time in Greece. I expect some photos and say hi to my cousins! The rest of you, I'll see you Saturday or else in Auckland. Hope you had a good 2006, and in any case, a much better 2007.

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