- Never let it be said that webcomics can't teach you important American history. I'm just young enough that I had never heard of the incident in question until XKCD pointed it out. (I grew up in the Reagan years.)
- For that matter, never let it be said that sci-fi can't teach you world history. I stumbled across a page of Babylon 5 cultural trivia while looking up the origin of the phrase "a voice in the wilderness." Star Trek fans should find the story behind security chief Michael Garibaldi's name to be especially hilarious.
- I don't remember where I picked up the link to this introduction to Mrs. Miller; probably my friends list. But elsewhere on LJ, I found a way to sum up that link in less than 10 words:
- While meandering around the Internet, I also learned that Scott Williamson finished his second yo-yo of the Pacific Crest Trail about a month ago.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about with this "yo-yo" thing, here's a good summary. If you're in the mood for a much longer, more metaphysical and more dramatic story, Backpacker magazine's pretentiously titled article has a fascinating glimpse into the friends Scott made and lost along the way, and his getting shot in the face in 1996.
Anyway, Scott's accomplishment is especially noteworthy to me because I actually met the man while attempting my own PCT hike.
I ran into Scott and Joe Kisner, who at the time were hiking together in an attempt to do a joint yo-yo, on June 1. Or perhaps I should say they ran into me. We were about 370 miles into the trail, in the San Gabriel mountains outside Los Angeles. Scott and Joe (whose name I just spent two hours googling, and finally confirmed it here; how quickly the also-rans are forgotten!) blew past me in the parking lot at the base of Mt. Baden-Powell, stopping long enough to exchange some pleasantries and for me to recognize Scott from the kickoff party. I wished them luck and eventually limped after them. (This was in the period where early symptoms of giardia were making me feel like utter crap.)
Less than 24 hours later, I subsequently learned, Joe gave up on the trail. There was a road detour just west of B-P to preserve red-legged frog habitat; the official detour took an unfamiliar side trail from the road back to the PCT. Apparently Scott and Joe got separated during that side-trail walk -- for distance hikers, it's very common to walk at your own pace and then sync up occasionally throughout the day. Scott hit the PCT and made the turn. From what I heard, Joe hit the intersection and kept walking, ultimately getting lost some 10 miles north of the trail. Unable to navigate back to the PCT, he cross-country hiked down to a road and caught a ride in to civilization. If he had returned to the trail where he left it, he would be a day or two behind the yo-yo's unforgiving schedule and unable to catch up with Scott. So he quit.
That encounter really drove home for me how even a tiny slip can doom a yo-yo attempt. (Scott himself failed at seven of them before he finally made headlines in 2004.) So it's great news to hear that Scott managed to finish again this year. I walked 916 miles, and that's no small thing, but my accomplishment absolutely pales besides his.
If you're the podcasting sort, there's interviews with him and many other trail characters over at trailcast.org. Otherwise, forgive my rambling.