Friday, November 12, 2010

Convene Reads: The Wave

* This photo, of Tahiti's Teahupoo wave, is courtesy of Duncan Rawlinson

I've been meaning to write a new post for a while now, as I've been reading (and am now nearly finished with) this great book called The Wave: In the Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey, the editor in chief of O, The Oprah Magazine.

I'm a bit nuts about the sea — so it was cool to read about a gathering of others who share the same obsession (albeit in a much more science-y way). Casey writes about the Tenth International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting and Coastal Hazard Symposium, which she attended at Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort in 2007:
Every two years the world's most eminent wave scientists gather somewhere to exchange information, present papers, compare notes, and above all, to argue.
It's a great chapter, providing the reader with some basic wave science — including the fact that, "paradoxically, [a wave] is both an object and a motion" — as well as a lively picture of a conference in action, complete with "a continental breakfast buffet and a traditional Hawaiian blessing to kick things off"; a tiki torch-lit conference luau; and lots of stimulating information and talk — the kind that only face-to-face interaction between individuals who feel passionately about what they do can provide.

At any rate, Casey seems to have more than a bit of a crush on surfers, including the almost-household-name Laird Hamilton; and you can tell, as she's attending the conference with the scientists, that part of her wishes she could get back outside with the handsome, daring dudes. She writes (and here I've lifted bits from several pages):
The conference room was large, sunny, and triangular, with walls of windows looking out at the ocean. It was an idyllic place to discuss waves, like sitting in the prow of a glass-hulled boat.

The presentations continued in a blur of wave theory while outside the real waves grew. Surfers streaked past, filling the windows.

So the sessions continued, and people leaned over their laptops and tried not to notice through the windows that playing in the waves looked like a whole lot more fun than writing equations about them.
I'm sure we've all had that experience at one point — especially when you're in a conference room with windows that look out onto the beautiful out-of-doors!

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