Even from the coast of southeastern North Carolina, where I am holed up for a few days, the menace of Hurricane Sandy is almost academic, despite the restless winds and sculpted clouds and rains that have run across the area all day.  

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The passage of a tropical cyclone, even a relatively distant one well offshore, has a science fiction feel about it, almost as if a spiral galaxy was twirling down from the heavens to collide.  The atmosphere always telegraphs amazing and puzzling messages about passing storms. But the sea is direct and unambiguous. It is the pulse of the monster, raging on a distant sea.