Extreme Waves

Joseph Henry Press

Waves are hypnotic and beautiful. They can also be great fun. But Hurricanes Katrina and Rita taught us that they can be powerful and deadly while the 2004 tsunami proved that some waves are absolutely devastating. Science is the best tool for understanding and predicting the most extreme waves. Where do waves come from? Why are some big and some small? From winter to summer, the nature of the beach changes, sculpted by the tireless energy of waves. Most waves are simply rhythmic expressions of Earth_s movement through space and the changes they bring to our shorelines are gradual. But given the right weather conditions and combination of natural forces, waves can wreak havoc. These are extreme waves, waves that can stretch 100-feet high_posing an imminent threat to large sea vessels and coastal structures. There are even waves that have stripped trees from mountains as they surged to an estimated 1,700 feet high. But even smaller waves are dangerous to ships and coastlines. Indeed, the lessons of the 2004 Bay of Bengal tsunami and the damage wrought by recent tidal surges in New Orleans underscore the need for better tracking and prediction of extreme waves. Extreme Waves is a fascinating history of waves. Covering both the headline stories as well as incidents that are less well-known but equally startling Craig Smith, author and amateur sailor, will have you riveted from the first chapter to the last.
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Joseph Henry Press
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Published on
Sep 25, 2006
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Science / General
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Every morning, in cities
across America, people arise to the dawn of a new day, sometimes to the ringing
of an alarm clock, sometimes awakening to some other stimulus. In Martin’s case
it was shouting he heard outside his hotel window. How was that possible? His
hotel room was on the 11th floor. To the couple necking in a car on Mulholland Drive,
it was pink glow of dawn that reminded them that the night was over. For
Shirley, music from her clock radio meant time for coffee before work, although
the thought of going to the office depressed her. For an immigrant Vietnamese
boat woman, morning labor pains meant her son was going to be born an American
citizen. Chris, waking at 5:00 P.M. knew it soon would be time to hit the
streets again, avoiding the police while trying to find a customer for the
evening. On a remote mountain hillside, a bobcat hunting quail perked its ears
at the sound of a pickup truck carrying a man and a boy as it drove on a dirt
road in the valley below. Elsewhere, Mr. Kobayashi reflected on his good
fortune in meeting Thomas Ellesmere. Eight people, living vastly different
lives, each longing for a better day—what if their paths should cross?

Fantasy Boutique:

Shirley broke the mold and
left her dead-end job, went back to college, earned a degree against the odds,
and fell in love. On the verge of a new life, a vacation was warranted and she
flew to a Caribbean island to relax and
contemplate the future. Wandering along pristine beaches and in small shops in
the village, she found a shop called Fantasy Boutique. The proprietress shocked
Shirley with a prophesy that she might realize her dream—an unspoken
fantasy—while on the island. A boat sailed into the harbor with a stranger on
board, but then sailed out again. Then a ferry arrived with Martin on board.

The Night is Far Spent:

Thomas Ellesmere grew up in
Honolulu, attended Stanford University,
and then joined the Army. At Schofield Barracks in Hawaii
in the summer of 1941, he married his childhood sweetheart before shipping out
to the Philippines.
Six years later, after combat in the Philippines,
a stint as a POW, and several years with the occupation forces in Japan, Thomas
returned and entered MIT as a graduate student. Thomas was recruited to work
for a computer science company in California,
saw a different future in the explosive growth potential of small computers,
and decided to start his own company. He called Elsa in New
York and asked her to fly out to California for a few days. “Why?” she asked.
“So we can shop for a wedding dress,” he replied. Under Thomas’s guidance and
with his partner David’s technical skills, the company grew and soon was in key
partnerships with former enemies in Japan
and Germany.
Thomas recruited Akira Kobayashi as Chief Financial Officer and made other strategic
hires. Elsa succumbed to cancer, leaving Thomas wondering how many more blows
he could sustain. When David decided to move on, Thomas created a new
operations manager position. The woman he hired for that position ultimately
transformed the company and gave Thomas back his life and dreams.

Malaika’s Miracle: Steve
Adamson left two important things behind in Brazil: the pressed wood factory
he’d started and the woman he loved. Malaika was pregnant; possibly with a
rapist’s child, or possibly with Steve’s child. There had been enough killing, so
she was determined to have the baby. Then paternity would be clear. None of
that mattered to Steve; he’d asked her to marry him. Uncertain concerning her
feelings and his motivation, she refused his offer.

Two years passed with Steve in California and unable to
forget Malaika. He’d lost contact with her, even asking a friend in Rio de Janeiro to try to
locate her, but with no success. Then came electrifying news—his friend had
seen a woman resembling her, accompanied by a young girl, at a church in the neighboring
state of Minas Gerais. At the same time, Steve’s former boss asked him to
return to the factory they’d started in Northeast Brazil.
The business was thriving and they needed his leadership for continued growth.

When Steve, or Esteves as he was known
in Brazil, stepped off the
plane in Rio’s airport, he knew he was home.
Somewhere between the beaches of Rio, the dry
deserts of the Northeast, and the tropical rain forests of Amazonas, he would
find Malaika and convince her of his love. Together they would become part of Brazil’s
economic miracle.

Miracle is the continuation of the story of Esteves and Malaika, which
began in House of Miracles. In the
sequel, Malaika’s mother Glória is on the run from a local politician who
raided her bordello when he saw her as a threat to his reelection. He wants
Glória dead, and the entire family is threatened. Sampaio, a Rio
cop and Glória’s ex-husband, decides to intervene, with surprising results.

Vargas and Sergio, two elderly
Brazilians who are friends of Esteves, help bring the couple together, while
meanwhile experiencing the ups and downs of their own (mostly Vargas) love
affairs. When Esteves’ boss decides to run for the state assembly, Malaika
becomes his campaign manager, and when he retires, runs for his old seat in the
assembly. She becomes the first black woman elected to the state assembly.

Esteves’ and Malaika’s daughter,
Gabriela, is destined for greatness, according to Malaika’s gods. But, as
everyone knows, the gods in Brazil
are fickle and unpredictable, the economy takes wild swings, and the Brazilian
Northeast is still a raw frontier with corrupt politicians, vengeful cops who
take the law into their own hands, and periodic droughts that ravage the land.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s government arrests any citizen suspected of dissent,
imprisons, tortures, and sometimes kills them—all in secrecy. All Malaika can
hope for is that the goddess Iemanjá will watch over and protect her family.

Miracle continues the tale that began in House of Miracles, embellishing the story with the rich traditions
of Brazil,
its superstitious peasants, folk legends, lusty women, colorful history, and
the richness of its diverse culture of European settlers intermingled with the
indigenous Indians and African slaves.

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