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June 20th, 2009

For a fairly high value of R.

Randy Waterhouse had a fairly interesting interpretation of the Philippines' geography in Cryptonomicon, one we've adopted to describe the rest of the world alternatives to Europe's obsession with safety.

The higher the R factor, the more common sense you need when visiting a place. Most UK sites have a relatively low R factor, with plenty of railings and other safety equipment. Lanzarote's R factor is much higher, with some railings, but seemingly designed to pitch you over cliffs with their knee-high bars. The same is true of New Zealand, where the higher the value of R, the more fun Kiwis have. Much of the US has a low value of R, but the average is pushed up by places like Arizona's Horseshoe Bend and, well, most of Big Island.

There's nothing to really stop you walking into the maw of an erupting volcano - just a few signs, and your common sense. After all, lava is hot, and it can be quite damaging to one's footwear...

Somewhere under the lava flow behind this sign is the village of Kalapana.

Stick Figure in (Geological) Peril

Kalapana, Hawaii
June 2009

A dart flung at the ocean

It was dusk when we got to the end of the Volcanoes National Park's Crater Road. In the distance we could see the steam rising from lava flows, and below us the waves crashed on the new cliffs that mark the end of the island.

We stood there for a while, in some of the freshest air on the planet.

Suddenly there was a flicker of wings, and a small flock of dark grey birds flew out of the south, arrowing out of the sky.

They were Black Noddies, a Pacific ocean tern.

Black Noddy

Black Noddy

Kilauea, Hawaii
June 2009