Islands in the distance
Google bought another web/software outfit - Keyhole. Once again the Google folks have made a very smart acquisition. Keyhole is an amazingly well done application that works exactly the way I had always hoped a geographic/map application would.
Contrast Delorme's map application, while it may have more topographic information (though less accurate in the areas I checked), the user interface is awkward, and the implementation is pretty obviously far from optimal.
Hiking in the hills up on clear days there are three major islands I can see out on the ocean. Keyhole made it easy to measure the distances - Santa Catalina (45-55 miles), San Clemente (70-72 miles), and Santa Cruz (110-130 miles). Depending on the time of year, can see Catalina fairly often - a few to several times a month. Days when you could see Santa Cruz are rare - only a few times a year.
There are 10 million or so people (likely more by now) in the greater Los Angeles basin who spend all their time nearer sea level, amid buildings, trees, and people. Despite the nearness of this mass of people, you can hike a few miles into the hills and be suddenly alone. Very few venture out and up. So few know when looking at the haze above the horizon whether they are looking through a couple miles or a couple hundred miles of air.
Might be there are fewer people on my regular hike, after the cougar ate the mountain biker...