I overhear this conversation at Tim Horton’s recently between a couple of millennials, which caught my attention because it started with one turning to the other and declaring, “OMG! Do you know what is the WORST!”
So I had to listen.
Now you get the details of the “worst”… You might want to sit down for this!
“OMG you know what is the WORST!”
“When you order a Coke and they bring you a Pepsi…”
“…Without telling you.”
“I know, eh?”
“I mean, it’s so NOT okay for that to happen. They’re two completely different products and you should be warned.”
“Totally… Like when you order coffee with sugar but they forget to put in the sugar…”
“No… Not like that at all.”
Now, I had always imagined the “worst” being something far more catastrophic, like losing a child, or a spouse, or war, famine, natural disasters, but hey… Getting a Pepsi when you order a coke could be pretty bad… Like not being able to download that song for free right away, or not having WiFi available…
Amazing what you miss when you are tucked away in a hospital delivery room with your wife as she enters her 27th hour of labour…
I picked up a newspaper the following day only to find out that we completely missed something big… Make that something VERY big.
We missed the massive earthquake that occurred in the Indian Ocean on December 26th at 12:58am. The resulting tsunami – referred to as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, or the boxing day Tsunami was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunami along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing nearly 230,000 people in eleven countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history!
And we completely missed it.
Turns out Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand were hit the hardest. The actual earthquake carried a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.
So I did some research:
Since 1900 the only earthquakes on record with a greater magnitude than this one were the 1960 Great Chilean Earthquake with a magnitude of 9.5 and the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Prince William Sound, magnitude 9.2. The only other recorded earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater was near Kamchatka in Russia (see the board game RISK), on November 4, 1952 with a magnitude of 9.0. Each of these earthquakes spawned tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean, but the death toll from these was significantly lower. The worst of these caused only a few thousand deaths, primarily because of the lower population density along the coasts near affected areas and the much greater distances to more populated coasts.
All this occurred while we were having a baby… Cool.