Posts Tagged ‘life’

Cert Dive Day 1

December 8, 2008

Mid-Florida weather – Mostly cloudy, 72 degrees Fahrenheit, with 100% humidity under the water.

The certification dives are done and I am an officially official scuba diver.  Well, okay, i’m not a card carrying scuba diver yet, but that will come.  But still wanted to share the events over a couple of posts…

The first day of open water certification dives was at a spring called the Blue Grotto about smack dab in the middle of the state.  Before the dives, I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn’t be diving the coral reefs of the Florida Keys or one of the coasts.  I was ready for adventure and sparkly colored fish!  The dive instructors said it was fresh, clear water (and, they added, actually used as a source for bottled water) with some basic brown fish and a turtle or two. 

yep it is blue

yep it is blue

Up to now, my training had been done in an enclosed building with a warm pool where our equipment could be put on right next to where we would have class…

Uhhh… utterly major slight difference here at the spring.

At the Blue Grotto, we had to gear up at some picnic tables some 30 yards/metres away from the water.  Okay, not so bad.  With my 18 pound weight belt, 30-some pound scuba tank, and 25-some pounds of various other equipment, that’d be like carrying a couple big bags of kitty litter into the house from the van.  Oo…wait… I can’t don’t carry two bags at one time.  Maybe this will be a tad more difficult.  So I told myself, “Buck up, little camper, this is an adventure you want!  You can do this.”

Off I go and… Ummm… who put the two-and-a-half flights of stairs in my way?  And the second flight are made of stone and irregularly spaced.  Ow.  This is getting more difficult.

Carefully choosing my steps to avoid falling and breaking something important (on me, heck with the equipment!), I finally made it to the dock.  Admittedly, I was sucking wind already, but this was gonna be fun (you do remember me saying that a few times before, yes?).

Into the water…DAMN, that’s cold!  I thought this was Florida, Land of Bath Water Warm Springs.  Glad I have a wet suit on, but that first dip of the head under water was a bit bracing. 

I was assigned a dive buddy I’d not met before.  He recently left the Marines and was very gung ho and fearless about the certification dives.  When it was time to descend, we were supposed to “…gently lower yourself by releasing buoyant air so that you land softly on a dive platform 15 feet down…”.  My buddy?  A second and a half and he’d already abandoned me, waiting impatiently on the platform as I struggled with that “gently” and “softly” part.  No graceful merman was i.  it was all flailing arms and legs trying to make sure I got there where…

I couldn’t stay there… I kept floating up off the platform.  Come to find out that having a wet suit (which we didn’t train in and can be quite buoyant) and, as Silverstar so eloquently pointed out, my natural avoirdupois, I didn’t have enough weight in my weight belt.  Already exhausted from climbing down stairs and flailing my way to the bottom, I resurfaced to put yet another 6 pounds of weights on.  Still not quite enough, I nonetheless declared victory.

This dive (and the two following) were massive repetitions of the basic scuba survival skills – – clearing your mask of water, retrieving lost breathing regulators, stealing your buddies regulator, turning off the instructors air, and the like.  But the one skill they neglected to train us for… when each dive was done, we had to re-climb those two-and-a-half flights of stairs with all our gear.  Bastards!  I’m still waiting for the weightless joy of diving with colorful fish, but find myself schlepping 75 pounds of gear up the steps…

But, did it again two more times… 

Things learned on the dives?

           If you get cold, pee can warm you up quite nicely in the wet suit.  I didn’t do it at first, thinking it gross, but when the instructors started recommending it…

          The pool is no substitute for diving in a real site.  There is a stress of being in an unknown and potentially dangerous (if mistreated) new location.

          Although I never thought I was claustrophobic, this dive revealed a bit of that to me.  Part of the spring is a cave-like environment.  I found that as soon as I lost sight of the sky and could only see darkness above me, I freaked a bit.  Yeah, I was able to make myself calm, but it surprised me nonetheless.

from the edge of the cave

from the edge of the cave

          I need a buddy who goes the same speed as me.  I don’t want to hold anyone back… nor feel held back.  When my raging lunatic Marine buddy went charging off a couple times, it was a lonely feeling.

And the biggest thing learned?  Three cert dives hauling scuba gear up and down stairs is exhausting.  Got back to the motel around 6 pm (1800) and, beer and chips in hand, became comatose until declaring victory and falling asleep less than 3 hours later.  And slept like a rock for the next 9 hours, waking only in time to get ready for the next day’s cert dives which will be the next post (and, yeah, more pictures later)…

Still?  Yeah… great fun!  But – – –

I’d sort of recommend not drinking any water bottled in Florida for a few weeks…

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Last Scuba Class

December 2, 2008

Finished the coursework for scuba this weekend.  Yep, those of you who certified are likely raising eyebrows at how quickly it went.  This was one of the advantages to only having only two students.  If they had the typical class size (10-15), I would not yet be done.  The instructor is required to get through a specific list of skills.  Each skill must be verbalized by the instructor, demonstrated by the instructor, then observed as each student individually shows they can actually accomplish the skill.  Do overs are often required.  Doing so twice instead of ten times is just quicker.

Classes are just the coursework, part book study (more on this in a bit) and part the water skills (sounds kinky).  To actually be certified and get your scuba card, you have to dive in ‘open water’, not the pool.  Open water has a definition I’m not clear on, but diving in a quarry counts.  And, as was so accurately pointed out by my readers, Ohio tends to be a tad chilly in December.  But, being the always-looking-out-for-a-buck astute business people they are at the dive school, excursions are offered in the winter to warmer climes to finish the actual certification.  Such an opportunity was available this coming weekend. 

Even at my decrepit tender age of mumblety-one, I continue to learn stuff about myself.  As I did with getting my commercial pilot’s license, I am confirming here—When I start a training task, I like to get it finished quickly.  Sort of antithesis to my professional ability to procrastinate, but still.  I’m not sure if that’s to hurry getting the certificate so I can use it… or to hurry to get the damn training (and attendant stress of ‘passing’) behind me.  So I asked the instructors if they could finish up the coursework in time for me to go on the certification trip… “Sure, if you’re willing to stay an extra hour…”.  Done deal. 

The book study part was first in this last day of training.  And <foreboding music swells> the FINAL EXAM.  Now, as mentioned before, I stress myself out a bit with tests.  The instructors tried to calm any fears by saying the final test would be questions directly from the books homework test questions.  This is a good thing.  Well, I say ‘good thing’, though I had trouble with some of those questions because they were obtuse… for example, “<blank> and <blank> are essential to safe diving” – – Cheese and Crackers?  Bathing Suits and Water?  Gin and Tonic?  Then, I checked with Dear Friend* who had taken the test a few years back.  She told me that she studied, but not obsessively, and got an 88%.  This worried me (being the worrier) because Dear Friend is one smart cookie**.  So, if she studied and got an 88, I felt I needed to REALLY study to match that. 

So I studied, though not as “REALLY” as I would have liked (there’s that old procrastinator again).

…and got a 94%!!  Easily resisted the urge to text Dear Friend to do the annoying text dance of victory.  Easily, because it was much more fun to do it in person (yeah, I can be a twit)!

Then, into the pool.  We had to squeeze three training sessions into the next couple hours.  Water skills were repetitively and redundantly duplicated over and over to ensure we learned them.  Problems?  A few… 

           One skill was replacing a removed weight belt.  You’re supposed to go horizontal in the water with the weight belt at your right hip, then do a roll to wrap it around yourself.  Sounds simple.  Me?  Not so simple.  First, I had trouble staying horizontal.  Not sure if there’s lead in my feet or what, but they tended to sink me to the vertical quickly.  And I had to do the skill like they wanted (task masters!), so repeated until I could stay horizontal.  Next, I had directional challenges and death rolled the wrong direction, leaving the belt on me backwards and continuing to roll like a spastic alligator in a death roll.  Had to repeat that skill quite a few times, leaving me sucking air.

          Another skill is the “buddy breathing”… simulate being out of air and have to share the regulator mouthpiece with your buddy.  With equipment nowadays, there’s a backup regulator to breathe from, so you’re not swapping it back and forth.  But, for simplicity, they teach you to share your primary with your buddy.  I had to actively resist the urge to playfully flee when my buddy reached for my mouthpiece.  Figured the instructors would look unkindly at me deserting my buddy.  Then, started thinking about the fact that I have no clue where this kid’s mouth has been, what disease he might be harboring, or what other foul stuff may go on.  Yeah, this is all about survival, but in training mode my mind wandered… not a pleasant journey.

Problems conquered, the instructors cleared me through the training and signed off my form!  Now it’s off on the certification trip (so, dear reader(s?), I will be out of touch for the weekend).  Things there, I’m sure, will go well and then I’ll be certified and ready to really SCUBA… more to come on this weekend’s adventure, but for now I’ll repeat what is becoming more of a reality for me – –

This is gonna be FUN!

 =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

*Dear Friend may deny it, but she stresses over tests as well, so I felt she’d be a good indicator of how I should approach my studying.

 **…or has many people, me included, totally  fooled on this.

 

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…

Home, Toto, Home

October 29, 2008

No, we’re not in Kansas… that’s where them damn westerners live, unlike the decent, civilized folks here in The Wilds of Ohio.

i’ve not lived alone since university… and can you really call that living “alone” when i was in a dormitory the entire time with friends living mere feet away and all meals provided by a full time staff.  Okay, yeah, there was a short period after school and before getting married to The Spouse… but that was almost like an extension of living at college.

… and here i am, days away from living alone. 

Yep, an offer I made on a condo was accepted.  Accepted with provisos, but accepted nonetheless.  If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I will be closing on Friday.  And will be moving in next week.

When I went to the house inspection to make sure the place was habitable, the place was already vacated by the owner.  Without all of the furniture there, the blemishes and dings not seen on previous walkthroughs were glaringly obvious.  But, luckily, no issues which would prevent the contract from going forward.  One of the biggies found was that the installed microwave was on its last legs, with the top of the inside noticeably melted and blackened.  Hmmm…. hold that thought, dear reader.

While leaving at end of the inspection, I noticed a couple of my new neighbors and went over to introduce myself.  Friendly folks who seemed very pleased that I was moving in. She continued – – –

Lady Neighbor:  “We’re so glad you’re moving in.  This is a quiet neighborhood with great neighbors.  And it will be nice to have you here.  The lady who owned the home before you was… ummm… unique.”

GnuKid (feeling a bit nervous as he has been accused of being ‘unique’ as well):  “Unique?  How so?”

Lady Neighbor (a bit sheepishly):  “Well, you’ll forgive me.  I was a school teacher and they always taught us to use non-confrontational words… like unique… to describe people who…. okay, okay… we called her ‘Crazy Mary’!”

Ah-ha!  The microwave explained!

I demurred from asking further, probing questions because, though I may be unique, I don’t consider myself ‘crazy’. 

Right, gentle readers?  Right?  Ummm… Hello?  I said I wasn’t ‘Crazy’… that was your cue to nod vigorously and agree with me.  Hello?

Anyway, I’m about to enter this venture with little experience in interior decorating… and not too much common sense in that area either.  Color coordination and I don’t get along well.  Neither do I get along well with choosing and matching furniture styles (though with the expected budget i’ll have, “Nouveau Lawn Chair” may be a recurring theme throughout).  I’ve always considered myself “Eclectic”, so this will be an adventure in Eclecticism. 

So, wish me luck and here are some pictures I took of the empty place during the house inspection…

The Great Room

The Great Room

Yeah, I'm gonna have to paint that over...

Yeah, I will need to repaint

The Study (Col Mustard w/ the lead pipe)

The Study (Col Mustard w/ the lead pipe)

Second Bedroom (for kidlet visits, hopefully)

Second Bedroom (for kidlet visits...or you?)

My Bedroom

My Bedroom

Yet More Masquerage

October 28, 2008
Had some requests for more pictures from last weekend’s Masquerage.  These are some of the better ones from other folks’ cameras – – –
pretty tucked

pretty tucked

hanging pretty

hanging pretty

party time

party time

boys will play

boys will play

last song

last songDK and me

Black and White

October 25, 2008

As promised, i’ve pictures of my costume and face paint from Masquerage 2008.  I’ve also included another couple pictures just for fun.  My very fun date, DK, is also included.  As the evening wore on, the makeup wore off.  But, with enough libation, we didn’t give a rat’s ass.

he/she was taller than me

i look like a demented Joker

      

random people, random colors

          

l.e.d.s in the hair

l.e.d.s in the hair

 

a studded banana hammock?

a studded banana hammock?

 

big bird on drugs?

big bird on drugs?

More?

Nonagenarian

October 10, 2008

… is the Word of the Week*.

As an adjective, it refers to being 90 years old (or, a bit confusingly to me, the dictionary says “90 to 99”). Like, maybe, “Say, I’ll try some of that nonagenarian Scotch!”

As a noun, it is a particular person who happens to be that age.  For example, “The nonagenarian in Ward 2 knocked up that redheaded nurse.”

I was gone all weekend to visit my aunt who was celebrating her 90th birthday… that’s Nine-Zero years.  Not as spry as I’d like to have seen her, she was nonetheless in fairly good health and feisty.  Had a great visit with cousins and cousin-lettes as well.  Seeing my aunt at 90 (with her two remaining siblings not too many years behind her), made me examine how much time is… or could be… left in my life.

I’ve sometimes joked that I’ll be living to at least 125. The key, of course, is actually “living” while I get to 125.  I don’t want to be that caricature of an old person who sits in a chair at the retirement home, quietly drooling while waiting impatiently for the end to come.

Nope… I want to be the George Burns type, living aggressively and out front right until the day the Grim Reaper comes for me.  I want to be one of those old folks you see in the commercials wearing their Depends while climbing the Matterhorn or diving the Marianna Trench or jeep riding the Outback.  I’ll be the crotchety, but lovable old codger who is accused of knocking up the cute nurse.  I’ll be the sneaky old bastard who organizes the rest of the retirement home residents to raid the kitchen at 3 am in the morning to eat all the ice cream and cookies.  I want to get outside every day to run, walk, bike (pedal power), bike (Harley Hog), and more. Yeah, great plans… but you have to have goals.

Here’s hoping all of you can one day proudly and happily bear the title of nonagenarian.

…and that’s your Word of the Week…

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*Yeah, i know i’ve been slacking off on doing my Word of the Week.  Once things settle [long laughter ending in breathless gasping], i’m going to try and get back to that.