The 2004 Tsunami: Our Story

Since the tsunami struck Japan on March 11th, people have been asking me about what it was like back in the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004. Sonja and I wrote about the experience a few days after it happened. Here it is again:


We arrived in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka on December 22. It had been an epic journey from Kandy to Boticaloa and then south along the coast of Ampara. Sam (from Toronto) and Liz (from Utah) were already there and had found an idyllic spot not far from the lagoon, near the center of the bay. Our Swedish friends, Erik and Jonas, showed up at our 2 bungalows on the beach a day later. Sonja and I had been travelling for 2 months through Thailand and Sri Lanka and we were looking forward to a rest and some time in the surf.

December 26, 2004

The day started like any other. The morning was already hot and sticky but a strong wind from the ocean kept us cool. Unfortunately it also rustled the palm leaves so much we heard nothing from the beach. The group of us, except for Jonas who was packing his stuff next door, were sitting inside the bungalow, chatting about what we should do for the next part of our journey.

If we had been paying attention we might have noticed the water rushing out from the beach dragging everything with it but a few stranded fish; we might have heard the yells of the fishermen as they ran for higher ground; we might have seen the wall of water coming toward us, a boiling white line that crashed over the receding water as it charged for the shore. But we heard only the wind.

Continue reading The 2004 Tsunami: Our Story

Snorkelling in the Molokini volcanic crater

Sonja and I caught a boat ride this morning to Molokini Island for a few hours of snorkelling. We didn’t see anything big but we were serenaded by humpback whales the whole time — If you listen carefully you can hear them in the video. They sounded so close Sonja wanted to swim out and find them.

The Molokini Crater is a partially sunken volcanic coldera off the coast of Maui. It’s also a marine reserve and, apparently, one of the best dive sites in the world.

The end times are near

It was only a matter of time before someone saw the recent mass deaths of cows, birds and fish as a sign of … neuro-toxic pollution? Severe weather shifts bringing unsurvivable cold or heat? The new media’s hyper-connectivity giving rise to the cognitive linking of similar but otherwise unrelated phenomena? Nope: something much more simple and obvious: the end of the world. “Are you serious? Could this be real? Are you serious? Yes!”

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Heads up: Does the Death of 200 Cows in Wisconsin Confirm Biblical Prophecy?

7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

Most web and software designers think about designing to people’s expectations — make the software easy to use: put a menu where it will be easy to find, make a button’s function clear and obvious. But really good software, the software that just seems fun to use, is designed to reward the user.

Video game developers have become so good at rewarding their users they have made their games literally addictive. For many people, this bodes ill for our species — video games are just another drug enslaving the human mind, lowering economic productivity, and diminishing the human spirit.

I disagree. Sort of. I think the first step in overcoming the addiction is admitting we are addicted and most gamers will readily fess up to their obsession. After that, we might use the understanding about what makes video games addictive to create reward systems for projects that actually benefit humanity and the planet.

Tom Chatfield does a great job explaining how video games reward our brains and how we can apply reward systems to business, environmental conservation and more.

200,000 Pageviews and Growing

It’s 10pm on October 30 and Warren Fischer is probably hosting one of the best Halloween parties of the year. Sonja has put on a dress and brewed some chai and I’ve found my favourite sweater. We’re staying home to celebrate a new milestone: 200,000 page views and counting.

I want to thank all the bloggers and commenters for bringing this community to life and for every member and visitor who decided to join in. I also want to thank all of you for being patient while we upgrade our servers to handle the flood of new traffic. Happy Halloween everybody!