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January 26, 2009

Globe Aware Welcome Packet

This one in a series of articles about taking a service vacation to Peru, coordinated by Globe Aware.

Last week Heidi called and got us signed up for the service vacation we'd been considering. We've got our spot to spend a week working in San Pedro de Casta, an village in the Andean mountains.

We've gotten some information via email, but today came our welcome packet. It contains more information, but is mostly a collection of Globe Aware swag (bag tags, pens, post-its, cards, etc). We don't get much into swag, but the kids will really like it and maybe some of it will come in handy for our travels (e.g. lip balm).

Update: I got an email from Globe Aware, apologizing and saying there was a mix-up in our packet. We were supposed to just get t-shirts and the welcome information. We've now shipped back the other items.

Posted by mike at 10:09 PM

January 13, 2009

Six Years of Blogging, Who's the Audience?

Today it's been 6 years that I've been writing on this blog. There have been more prolific years, and some more lean, but it's still the same old me at the same old domain.

I've been asked recently who is my audience, and I think I've finally answered that. It's people who are looking for something on the web and can't find any information about it. More specifically, people who are looking for information that I once was looking for, and now have filled in that space on the web. This kind of blogging isn't terribly timely, it's more like putting a stake down so as time moves forward there's a destination for searchers.

Here are a few examples:

Experience with NewPro windows

When we were looking to put new windows in and NewPro came by there wasn't a single stitch of information on the web about those windows, buying, and the quality. Over the past 3+ years a single entry on this blog has been a top ranked page for people searching for "NewPro windows"

iPod Dock Hacks

I've had a bunch of these, which came out of a need to solve a problem with my iPod/iPhone setup. Thousands of folks looking for information on modding their Apple music device mount have found one of a handful of pages.

Technical Conference Session Notes

I've been fortunate enough through work and associates to be able to speak at and attend various technical conferences around the country. Not everyone is so fortunate. As I've attended and written notes about the interesting points of different sessions I'm delighted at how many people come upon them and refer to them for their work. These posts have been mentioned to me in job interviews, by strangers I've never met, by long time work associates who didn't realize I had a blog, the list goes on.

Just a few examples. I'm nothing special, but when I can't find something online I like to post about it so those that come after me will have better luck.

Here's to another 6 years...

Posted by mike at 10:35 PM

January 10, 2009

Volunteer Vacation to Peru with Globe Aware

This one in a series of articles about taking a service vacation to Peru, coordinated by Globe Aware.

Over the past few weeks our plan to celebrate 15 years of marriage in Paris has transformed into taking a volunteer vacation. The idea of going to Ireland in April and to Paris in June seemed incredibly excessive.

It happened one night when we got to talking about Paris and decided to look to poke around a bit for a one-week trip where we could travel together and spend our time engaged in service at the same time we were experiencing the culture and geography of somewhere new. Turns out there are many groups who coordinate short-term, international service trips (or "volunteer vacations").

After researching and talking to a few folks, the organization that seems to fit us is Globe Aware. Peru, and the description of the Andean Village Trip, have us all excited so we're setting our sights on that.

What has been surprising is the lack of independent reviews for these trips. Google turns up several newspaper articles, and YouTube has a nice selection of videos, but they all seem derived from materials generated by Globe Aware. Globe Aware has an alumni section on their site, with volunteer-submitted writings, that are closer to what I'm looking for:

We were introduced to Senora Ydelicia, the mayor of San Pedro - a young woman, casually dressed and wearing the typical straw hat the ladies wear. She reminded us of our first task at hand - painting some of the houses in order to make the village more attractive to the many visitors that they are anticipating for an upcoming festival.

While a few of the "castenos" mixed the powder and water primer in the street, all of us, alongside the mayor, and a few locals, divided into groups and painted. More members of the community, including children, joined in as the day went on, and by sunset, we had primed about ten houses. I think we all felt fulfilled by what we had accomplished.

Perhaps the currently available information is enough, but it would help a lot if there were just one or two independent sources that would corroborate.

Have you been on one of these trips, or know someone that has?

Update: The trip was awesome. It was well coordinated, and more than we could have imagined. See our post-trip entry for more details.

Posted by mike at 1:53 PM

January 6, 2009

Ireland Bound: Using Google Maps for Vacation Planning

This spring we're taking a family trip to Ireland. We're spending a week in Dublin, and then two days in Belfast.

After we got our travel arranged I kind of got overwhelmed with the idea of trying to figure out what to do and where to stay, until a few nights ago the lightbulb in my head went on. The idea, create a Google map to plot out destinations and use that as a workspace for planning housing, local transportation, and daily agendas.

The map is still in it's infancy, but has been invigorating to put together. We're all much more excited about this trip now that we can see it coming together.

View Larger Map

Posted by mike at 12:02 PM