Archive for November, 2008

First Scuba

November 28, 2008

Had my second scuba class.  And my first actual dive with actual (not pretend!) scuba gear. 

The classroom homework?  Nailed it… sort of… [blush].  In true GnuKid fashion, I hit my “procrastination mode” and put off doing the homework until the afternoon just before class.  A mistake, to be sure.  With a few interruptions for phone calls and my ever popular past time of “Just Wandering About”, I found myself scurrying to finish before I had to pack up my gear and leave for the class. 

But done I was.  Yes…*

After reviewing the homework questions in class (where our instructor had the wonderful habit of answering future questions as he explained the current one…), we headed out to the pool to use scuba gear for the first time.

Seeing as how my life will depend on this stuff, I paid rapt attention to the long list of stuff to do to get the equipment ready and oper… ooo, look, a penny!  Now what was he saying?

Was tickled to see Dear Friend stop by to watch the lesson.  But, given we’ll be dive buddies, with me partly responsible for her safety, I’m sure she was there to make sure I paid atten… hey, look at the size of that hairball in the water!

Finally in the water, I had to learn the necessary hand signals for communicating under water.**  Then we went through some of the basic survival techniques—like clearing your goggles, finding a lost breathing regulator***, and ordering a mai tai from underwater.

I had three basic scuba equipment problems

First, my goggles kept fogging up.  Yep, I did use some de-fog stuff.  Something about being lots of water about while diving that makes this one problematic.  The instructor said to just keep applying the de-fog and it’ll resolve itself.

Second, the mouthpiece (and we’re not even going to, yet, discuss the fact that I was using a communal mouthpiece) didn’t fit well and was cutting into my gums a bit.  This one can be fixed by finding and buying one of several alternatives out there.

And the third and biggie… the damn weight belt kept slipping and pulling my bathing suit down with it!  I’d yank the belt up higher and tighten it only to have it slip down further and take my suit even lower!  Shared that with the instructor, who said to be patient and I’d figure out the best fit to counter that.  Then I looked into the seats next to the pool to see Dear Friend giggling herself silly at my predicament.  Well, hell, she’s the one who’ll have to look at the result, so I’m not too worried.****

At the end of the lesson, having survived the multiple attempts by the instructor to find a way to leave me sputtering water out of my lungs at pool side, they let us…just…scuba…

Now, there’s not really a thing to look at in a pool, but I could already feel the joy and peacefulness of scuba diving.  And think in anticipation of actually diving somewhere where there IS something to look at…

reef2559

I’ve said it before and will say it more…

This is going to be fun!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

*when did I start writing like Yoda talks?

**after the lesson, Dear Friend was commiserating with the instructor and trying to figure out what the international hand signal was for ‘nagging’, as she’d likely be using that quite a bit with me when I stop keeping trac… wow, did you see the size of that paint chip that fell in the pool?

***and did I bother to ask just how a breathing regulator would get lost in the first place?  [sigh]

****remember what I said last post —  Paybacks, Dear Friend, paybacks…

Snorkel

November 23, 2008

Showing up at the first day of scuba class and not knowing what the heck is going on*, I walked into class expecting to swim.  Before going, I questioned Dear Friend who had gone through the class two years prior…”No problem, just show up and be ready to scuba!  You’ll have great fun!”

I walk in to find out that, not only do we not swim yet, but the first hour-plus a classroom lesson, I had homework due! 

Crap.  Not a good way to start.

Next thing I noticed was that there were only two students…myself and a 15-year-old who I automatically hated because he’d already done the homework…little bastard.  Having only two students can be a good thing or a bad thing…

Good thing is that you get a lot of personalized attention from the instructor in helping you learn the fine art of scuba diving.

Bad thing is that you get a lot of personalized attention from the instructor in pointing out all the mistakes—including not doing your homework—in the fine art of scuba diving.

Oh well…

To make things more fun, there are two… count ‘em… two instructors in the class for the two students.  Actually, the other instructor is getting his qualification to instruct on his own and has to teach classes while observed by a certificated instructor.  Again, lots of personalized attention. 

After going through two chapters of lessons, the instructor says, “Let’s swim!” 

Now we’re talking!

We head on out to the pool where the instructor announces… “Okay, first we do 200 yards of laps and tread water for 10 minutes.”  Huh?**  My visions of floating peacefully underwater with scuba gear drift away like the random band aids and hair chunks left in the pool by the last group. 

Now, I do like the water, but I’m not a strong swimmer.  Carefully eyeing the wall to find the nearest defibrillator unit, I ask the instructor and the 15-year-old if they’ve brought books, because this will take awhile. 

But, I finished the laps (“Pick an apple, put it in your pocket, pick an apple, put it in your pocket…”) without my heart or lungs exploding*** and, after noisily sucking air for a few minutes, went to the deep end of the pool to tread water.  This went amazingly well since I could basically float most of the time. 

Now, expecting to get my first scuba experience, I was a bit disappointed that we spent the remainder of the time learning how to snorkel… breathing through a tube sticking out of the water.  But, a necessary prerequisite skill to scuba, so we made some fun out of it.

We ended up with a quick lesson on how to exit the water.  The instructor taught us the “Beach the Whale” method… work up some speed and head to the side of the pool.  Have enough speed that you can basically propel yourself, stomach first, onto the pool side.  Yep, it did make us look a bit like Shamu at SeaWorld.

shamu 

Although I had a slightly depressing day otherwise, I found myself quite exhilarated by the experience.  I could see new adventures poised in front of me for the taking.  I could see new and exotic places to visit.  I could see my pocketbook dwindling.  But…

This is going to be fun!

`\`\`\`\`\`\`

*actually, of late, a too common definition of my mental state

 **confronting Dear Friend on this oversight of sharing knowledge on what to expect, I merely got a wicked chuckle from her and a “Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that…”.  Paybacks, Dear Friend, paybacks…

 ***and, amazingly, only a half lap behind the 15-year-old… I rock! (as in “…sink like a…”)

Sanity Questioned

November 20, 2008

So, here I am, just recovering from an extremely stressful 10 days a few weeks ago. As a friend pointed out: “I believe you experienced all of life’s major traumas in a single week: death, divorce, moving, change of job and illness…”

Well, as both my drunken devoted readers…okay, okay, the three of you…have likely noticed, I’m not posting as much of late. A big part of that is that I’m still recovering in shell shock from all the stuff at the beginning of the month. I’m still a bit stressed by those things and some other stuff in life (but, then, aren’t we all battling our own stress demons?).

So…what does a guy with stress and a constrained budget need in his life? Well, hell yeah… a brand new hobby full of danger and costing lots of money! I started SCUBA lessons…

Can I afford it now? Not really. I’m already starting to juggle my ‘new, not-so-improved bachelor’ budget with the foreknowledge that alimony—and lots of it—is likely a given in my future. But that’s what ‘credit’ is for, yes?

Is there some stress involved? Well, yeah, submitting yourself to rely on breathing technology you don’t fully understand, maintained by people you’ve never met, while immersed in a non-breathable environment is one stressor. Having to learn lots of new stuff is also a stressor… like how to wrestle the breathing regulator from your dive buddy’s mouth when your equipment fails at 60 feet depth so you can breath… or how to ignore said dive buddy clamoring to regain control of that breathing regulator while they slowly lose consciousness… these are difficult things to learn and master!

Why SCUBA? Well, it’s been something that’s long been on my list of things to do (ooo, there’s a post idea there), ever since watching Lloyd Bridges in “Sea Hunt”. That interest was re-sparked a couple years ago when my Dear Friend took lessons and incessantly repeated regaled me with stories of peaceful reverence she felt as she was taking her SCUBA lessons. Dear Friend also keeps reminding me she needs a dive buddy—not only to share diving adventures in exotic places, but someone that she has a pretty even chance of winning the wrestling match over that breathing regulator. I’m just her guy! And now just seemed to be a good time…for no real good reason…to, along with a new life, new condo, and new credit rating, start on my list of things to do before I slip this mortal coil…

More soon (given my track record of late, I refuse to say “More tomorrow…”) on the SCUBA adventures on a depleted checkbook!

Geneva Convention Crimes

November 13, 2008

On my way to Oklahoma last week with Daughter Person, we found ourselves flying in one of our remaining airlines (Motto:  “Yeah, we’re going out of business, but we still don’t care enough to treat you well”). 

As those of you who travel know, when you fly, you are an instant family member of some 20 – 100 previously total strangers with whom you now must share breathing air and limited leg room.  There are stories galore out there of such travel, some very first hand and some urban legend passed down from traveler to traveler.

On this particular flight, Girl Child and I were lucky enough to be sitting next to each other, so didn’t have to rub shoulders with total strangers, or have them yak at you incessantly, or drool as they slept on your shoulder.

Then it happened…

Hurtling at near Mach speeds 4 to 8 miles above the earth in a pressurized tube of aluminum, there is limited escape for certain… ummm… odors… we were assailed by the most wretched, sulfuric, acrid smell I’ve had to endure in recent memory.

Daughter Person automatically blamed me… “Dad!!!”  Claiming, rightfully so, my innocence, we were nonetheless still under olfactory assault. 

Now, I don’t know what the guy in front of us ate (as I’m assuming he was the most likely suspect), but it clearly did not agree with his digestive system and led to that attack of poisonous gas.  Covering noses with shirts pulled up and cranking up the overhead air vent, we waited out the pitiful circulation system’s feeble attempt to dissipate the offending odors.

Courtesy… and being unsure it really WAS the guy in front of us… kept me from noisily wretching and loudly announcing the pubescent boy’s challenge of “Whoa!! What crawled up your ass and died?”

And, yes, I did check the Geneva Convention to check if it was illegal to use gaseous warfare… and, yes, the United States is a signatory to that agreement to ban the use of poisonous gases… but then I noticed there was a footnote next to the ol’ US of A’s line.  Checking the footnote, it says “With reservation(s)”…

…i’m guessing the ‘reservation was made by the guy in front of me…

Veteran’s Day

November 12, 2008

War is an extension of politics by non-peaceful means.  But it is still politics.  Irrespective, whether you believe in a political cause or not, it is a necessity of the nature of humanity that an armed force is sometimes required to be employed to protect, defend, and preserve.

As some famous very old and very dead guy once said (Thomas Paine):  “Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  (and i’m including women in this as i know many who are doing so).

While those who serve in uniform do not always have the benefit of a capable government, the need for them is… extremely arguably… a mandate in the world of yesterday, today, and, unfortunately, tomorrow.

Some who served had the honor and privilege of fighting a truly just cause.  Others did not.  Still more served so that the arms available to goverments in a fearful plenty, were not actually required to be employed. 

Dad - Special Ops Pilot - WW II

Dad - Special Ops Pilot - WW II

I am very proud of those in my family who have served…and some still serving…this country under all circumstances just listed.

The politics…and inane insanity…of war aside – – A grateful thanks to all those who served, who are serving, and to those who enable that service.  And an especial remembrance to those who sacrificed their lives for their countries.  Thank you—

The Battle Done

November 8, 2008
GnuKid Brother

GnuKid Brother

S, age 60, went to join his God on 10/27/2008.  He was born to JG and LV in Pennsylvania.  He is survived by his loves and joys, wife, M, daughters, K and J, and extra special grandson/son, R, sister E, and brother, GnuKid of Ohio, and many other loving family members and friends.  S served his country on active duty in the U.S. Air Force from 1970-1990, earning three Meritorious Service Medals and two Air Force Commendation Medals.  He was also a Vietnam Veteran.  After retirement, he worked with a civilian contractor continuing his previous Air Force work training crew members.  S enjoyed good times spent with military comarades, civilian co-workers, and friends.  He enjoyed playing music with Oklahoma City Traditional Music Association friends and others who enjoyed music as much as he did.  He cherished his Scottish heritage and enjoyed attending any Scottish functions, including the Highland Games.  His favorite pastimes were 1/32 scale toys, reading books of every subject matter, and listening to a wide array of music (especially classical and gospel music).  A memorial will be held to clebrate his life at 1:00 pm, Mon., Nov 3rd.  In lieu of flowers, if desired, donations may be made to Hospice Care.