Scuba diving pre-ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Monterey, 21-June-2009

I’m very pleased to report that I will be able to meet up with ODTUG Kaleidoscope attendees at both the ODTUG Community Service Day (2nd Annual!) and my own scuba dive outing as well. If you can, I’d love for you to attend both events. If you’re not a certified scuba diver, then you can at least participate in the Community Service Day festivities and help out the local area while enjoying some California weather too!

For those certified scuba divers that will (or can) be in the Monterey Bay area on 21-June, I invite you to come diving with me. I’ve arranged some reserved spots on the Beachhopper II dive charter that I’ve dove with before. Brian and Mary Jo (the captain, crew, and bottle washers) are top notch and we had a great time last fall at the first annual pre-OpenWorld scuba event (look for more details on the 2nd annual event later this summer). The boat isn’t huge, but 10 divers is enough for a lot of fun.

The pre-Kaleidoscope dive day is Sunday, 21-June (Father’s Day). The boat will depart the K dock at Monterey Bay harbor at 8am, so load-up is 7:30am. We’ll have a nice morning, drain 2 tanks at some of the best sites you’ll see in northern California (specific sites will be determined that morning by the captain and diver requests), and then motor back to the harbor probably shortly after noon or 1pm. Mary Jo said that she’d also entertain the option of an afternoon 2-tank trip as well, if there is interest (I know I’m interested). Oh, I almost forgot to mention that snacks are provided and they are amazing–made by Mary Jo herself!

The boat costs break down like this:

  • $70 for the boat trip (weights are not included)
  • plus $20 for two tanks of air ($90 total)
  • or $30 for 2 tanks of Nitrox ($100 total)

The charter doesn’t offer gear rental, so we’ll have to pick that up separately. I previously rented from Glenn’s Aquarius 2 which is located pretty close to the harbor and opens at 7am for morning pickup. Their pricing for rental are:

  • Weights only: $8
  • Wetsuit, hood, gloves: $21
  • Full gear (BCD, reg, exposure suit, etc.): $65

We’re less than 1 month away (I just found out I was going to be able to attend last week), so let me know ASAP if you’re interested in diving with us. Once you contact me, I’ll send you the signup instructions. I’m releasing the remaining open seats on 29-May, but there may still be open spots after that, so contact me (comment below, or email) if you’re interested.

As a special treat, Stanley will be joining us for his first scuba dive as well!

Diving in Iceland, June 2009

It seems to everyone that I travel a lot. I guess I do compared to most people, but I enjoy traveling, seeing new places, new people, and old friends about as much as I enjoy anything. It’s usually part of my job anyway. So, with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit a place I’ve never been and may not have much reason or opportunity to visit again plus do some scuba diving, I couldn’t pass it up.

That’s right, in June 2009, I will visit Iceland and willfully plunge into the +2 C water that is the clearest body of water in the world. The reasons it is so clear have something to do with the fact that the water is the runoff from melting glaciers, filtered by volcanic rocks, and is very, very cold. It supports no wildlife (another reason it’s so clear/clean). Rumor has it that visibility is over 300 feet–that is something I really do have to see to believe.

The trip is being arranged by my friend Mogens Nørgaard who may very well be completely crazy. If you ever get a chance to meet and engage in conversation with him (a.k.a. “Moans Nogood”), do it. You won’t regret it, guaranteed.

The trip is highlighted on DIVE.is, Iceland’s (probably only) dive shop website. Oh, I forgot to mention that the lake bottom is where two tectonic plates (the North American and Eurasian plates, to be precise) meet up (!), so you’re essentially diving on or in one of the continental divides.

Of course, I’m very excited about this trip and hope that Ice, land can continue to function as their economic issues seem to be a little worse than everyone else’s. In the small world department, I have made contact with an Iceland native that I worked with back at Tandem (acquired by Compaq -> HP) in the late 90s. Hopefully, I can meet up with Leifur while I’m in the country. There are only about 300,000 people in the whole country, so he shouldn’t be *that* hard to find. On the other hand, it is possible that Leifur is like “John” is in the US. We’ll see.

Oracle Open World 08 Plans, no UKOUG for me this year

A few years ago, I started getting too many events on my schedule for conferences, so I began using a spreadsheet to track all the sessions I wanted to attend, presentations I was scheduled to give, meetings with customers, times I had to be on booth duty, and, of course, social events I had to attend. This year’s OOW spreadsheet has 61 lines in it, so I’ll spare you the deep details. Here’s a recap of some of the most important events on my schedule over the next week (a few additions since my last posting of the same):

PADI Rescue Diver, check

This past weekend, I was diving again at Haigh Quarry in the 50-57 degree (F) water to complete the dives for the PADI Rescue Diver certification. The dives were great and I continue to learn a lot from some good teachers and buddies too. I completed the dives and demonstrated the skills successfully, so I’m officially a Rescue Diver now. If you’re not familiar with PADI‘s certifications, the Rescue Diver certification is intended to teach you the skills necessary to assist another diver that’s having trouble or has stopped breathing. As part of the certification, we practice:

  • Searching for and bringing an unresponsive diver to the surface if they’re found on the bottom (you can’t safely just hit the “up button” and have them rocket to the surface)
  • Safely assisting a panicked diver (newer divers are especially prone to freaking out the first time they lose their regulator underwater or see a big animal)
  • Assisting an unresponsive diver on the surface, including providing rescue breaths for a diver that isn’t breathing

There are safe techniques for all these scenarios and safety of all parties is stressed in the course at every step of the way. Continue reading “PADI Rescue Diver, check”

Who wants to SCUBA pre-OOW08?

I’m thinking of organizing a 2-tank (or more) scuba dive down in Monterrey, California, a little ways south of SF for the weekend prior to OOW 08. You can’t really scuba in San Francisco Bay–not much there, murky, ships, etc. In Monterrey, it’s a whole different story and there are many dive operators and charters servicing the area. I’m proposing that we dive on Saturday, September 20 (my birthday!)–2 or maybe 3 tanks. For those like me that live in landlocked areas, getting to dive with the sea lions and wildlife of northern California is a rare opportunity.

If there’s enough interest, I’ll coordinate a group and find a charter that will take us out and a shop that will rent all the gear (if you don’t want to lug your own). If there are enough of us, I’ll even figure out a way to transport us from the SF area down to Monterrey and back. At this point, I haven’t made plans, just seeing how much interest there might be. I’ll figure out costs once I figure out how big the group may be.

If you’re interested, comment on this posting and/or email me directly (dannorris@dannorris.com) and I’ll keep a little list of who’s interested. If you’re not attending OOW, but can make it to Monterrey for a dive, you’re welcome too–I just need a dive buddy and I don’t particularly care if they know anything about Oracle :). See you underwater (hopefully)!

I’m an Advanced Diver

I think I caught the scuba diving bug because after I got the initial certification, I’ve been working to figure out how I can get more certifications and more diving into my schedule! I cautiously signed up to do my PADI Advanced Open Water certification dives on October 6-7 fearing that it may be very cold by then. However, as those in Chicagoland can attest, the temperatures hit 85+ degrees each of the two days. The water wasn’t as cold as I thought–about 70 degrees at the surface.

For Advanced Open Water certification, you have to do five dives. The first three are mandatory for everyone: Underwater Navigation, Deep, and Night. Then, you pick two more from a list of 5-7 (can’t remember exactly) others. My two electives were: Peak Performance Buoyancy and Wreck Diving. Of the five dives, my favorite was the Deep Dive. It was in a place in Haigh Quarry referred to as “the hole”. It’s a relatively small place in the back of the quarry (read: long surface swim) that goes down to a platform at 80 feet. As expected, the water got quite cold at depth and the usual cloudiness in the water made it pretty dim down there as well. Those carrying computers reported that the water temperature at 80 feet was 49 degrees. We stayed there for a few minutes and did a few games to test ourselves for nitrogen narcosis, a common condition at deeper depths. I wasn’t experiencing any signs during my test–not sure about the others.

I managed to convince my wife to let me go on a dive trip with a dive buddy (that I’ve known since grade school). We go to Cozumel on December 14th–less than 2 months away!

Congratulations to all my dive buddies in the Advanced OW class–we all passed. Thanks also to Eunice Z (our esteemed dive mistress and instructor) as well as Divemaster Ted who was great at getting us all down to the cold depths.

I’m a diver

In a departure from the usual technical grind, I spent this past weekend scuba diving in a local quarry (Haigh Quarry, to be precise) and obtained my PADI Open Water certification! It was a great weekend to be in the water (though the water was murky…about 5-10 ft vis in most places). My classmates were great too and we had fun playing catch with the bowling balls scattered around the bottom. Eunice is an awesome instructor–be sure to request her when you sign up at Below H2O.

I logged 6 dives (two as a full-fledged OW diver) and did the first of my 5 required dives for PADI Advanced Open Water certification. I’m hoping to finish the others either next month or next spring if next month gets too cold.

So, since I’m the only diver in my family, if anyone in Chicagoland is looking for a dive buddy, let me know as I’ll be looking on a regular basis.