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Friday, April 14, 2006

it's a good friday

according to the christian calendar, today is good friday.

i was raised catholic, and i remember my grandmother telling me when i was little: "on good friday, between noon and three in the afternoon, you're supposed to stay home and pray because that's when jesus was suffering on the cross for you." so on the holy weeks when i visited my grandparents, that's what we did. my cousins and i had to sit quietly in front of the tv and listen to the pope (or some other religious figure) talk about christ's last words and his subsequent death.

cut to today. many years have passed, and i am now a lapsed catholic. but after taking a yoga class this morning, i found myself sitting quietly at home, staring at a screen. this time, though, it wasn't a tv screen, it was my computer monitor. and i wasn't meditating on the life of christ; i was logging the places where i'd spent time meditating to better understand my own life.

actually, i had a number of errands planned for today. i was going to drop by REI and pick up something i ordered, then stop by the drugstore to buy some necessities, and if i had time, maybe even squeeze in a movie. but it rained today, and being the weather wimp that many of us southern californians are, i decided to stay indoors and stay dry. and blog.

while trying to come up with today's topic, i had remembered hearing a piece on NPR about people using google earth to generate maps of all kinds -- maps of hiking trails, maps of pizza parlors, maps where people had vacationed, and so on. i'd always had a fascination with maps, as evidenced by my map-on-a-postcard collection. so when google earth was introduced, i was in heaven! who wouldn't want to know what their home looks like from space? or the last national park they visited? or a foreign country they're saving up to visit? i know i do!

so given the relative abundance of yoga studios in the los angeles area, i'd always wondered where they were located in relation to each other. are they only concentrated in the more affluent areas? or are they scattered all about? given any random point in the city, how far would i have to drive to feed my yoga habit? since i had nothing better to do this afternoon, i decided to create a map that would answer my questions.

i found this NPR piece online:

Digital Culture
Personal Maps Emerge as Visual Mix Tapes
by Elizabeth Blair
All Things Considered, April 7, 2006 - For some people, hearing a particular song immediately conjures up thoughts of an old boyfriend or girlfriend. For others, it's a place -- a park, a street corner or a restaurant. So instead of making mix tapes, they're making personal maps, using the friendly technology that Google uses for its mapping feature.
At platial.com, a new Web site founded by "psychogeography hobbyists," the result is something like Wikipedia crossed with Rand McNally. Hundreds of "platial explorers" are contributing maps that trace everything from their first heartbreak to good birding spots. Venture capitalists like it, too.

after spending a couple of hours with the beta version of platial.com (which is, unfortunately, still quite buggy), the resulting interactive map can now be seen in the sidebar to your right. if you want to find out which studios are close to you, click on the map (or until i figure out how to get rid of the text box underneath the map, click on the link in the phrase "click here for entire listing" to get a larger map) and zoom in, move around, and position your cursor over any of the markers to get the yoga studio's name. if you then click on the marker itself, you will get the studio's address, phone number, and a link to its website. you also get its latitude and longitude, if you somehow want to use your GPS device to direct you there.

i'm still playing with it, so expect more stuff in the near future.

it's all good... enjoy!