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User Journal

Journal: It's been a while

Journal by Col. Panic

I just reread this journal and it makes me want to go diving :) I have only gone once since the last entry and it was the (wait for it) best ... diving ... ever!

70' wreck dive with great vis (saw a baby shark!) and a 35' reef drift which was just plain incredible. That was in late November, I think.

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Journal: Early Christmas!

Journal by Col. Panic

I have cleaned up. Not in the "sorting things" way, but in the good way: getting stuff. My company - a large bank - has closed a site (sort of) and disposed of many, many computers. I managed to wrangle a 21" monitor for my friend, a 17" monitor (still in the box) for his dad, complete PC's with 17" viewsonic monitors for both my neices (2) and my nephews (again 2) ...

and for me:

an hp laserjet 4100 and a 19" switch rack - no more messy computer room (living room, actually)

today i got a belkin kvm switch (no power supply included - wtf?) and will soon have all my machines racked and neatly humming along at once :) now i can get back to running my own firewall 24/7 with snort to capture whatever nasties happen to come my way.

it looks a little strange to have a full 7' rack in the living room, but the wife didn't complain (in fact she liked it) - i guess it is an aesthetic improvement from before. it is most certainly a functional improvement.

yes, i was inspired by the "how looks your geekroom" story - and if i had a digital camera i would finally be able to contribute

User Journal

Journal: 2 More Dives

Journal by Col. Panic

Went ... you guessed it, Diving last Sunday and I guess I should put it down since this is becoming a good record (better than my log). I went without the group this time, so I had to pick up a buddy on the boat. My buddy was Nick, a retired electrician from MD who has definitely been diving for awhile. He said his last tanks didn't pass visual inspection and he had to get new ones after ten years so that is a good indication of how experienced this guy is.

We went to two reefs and I carried the flag, which meant I controlled the dive. We weren't worried about air consumption so we dove deeper than the others on the boat (about 80 feet) and still stayed under for almost an hour total.

Nick tried out a new mask with a pinkish tint that was supposed to enhance colors at depth. He said it worked great! Gotta look into those sometime because I was impressed without the enhancement.

We saw some lobsters and a couple of eels. One was purple with spots and kept opening and closing its mouth like it was trying to scare us off. Looked very cool.

I finally got seasick on this trip. I had nothing to eat all day and drank the diet soda they keep onboard and just felt terrible for part of the boatride. They say it gets easier but this was the first time I felt so bad. Next time I think I will make sure to have some food a few hours before the boat leaves and see if it helps.

Awesome trip though. Great form of recovery after a weekend which included 40 hours of overtime. Sheesh.

User Journal

Journal: Advanced Open Water Course

Journal by Col. Panic

Well, I finished the course and it was amazing. Saturday we did underwater navigation in under 10 ft. visibility, which was good because we actually *had* to rely on our compasses.

Sunday was awesome. We did a deep dive (to a wreck), although not as deep as we were planning, and then navigated underwater to another wreck. Then we did a drift dive along a reef.

I learned something I will never forget: don't forget your weights. You can get a weight-integrated bcd, but I have a 16 lb. weight belt and for the first dive I left it on the boat. Doh!

I kept trying to submerge and after I would get about 5 feet down I floated right back to the surface. Finally a divemaster dragged me under to about 7 feet and I was able to invert and kick down to the bottom at 78 feet. Then the instructor put 5 lbs. in the pocket of my bcd and I managed to stay under. What a workout! I had to point head downward and kick most of the time so I didn't float away.

But the dive was incredible. The visibility was near 100 ft. and the water was almost perfectly still. The wrecks were great. We swam through a small part at the top of the first one. As we approached the second, there were two jewfish that had to be 200 lbs. each - they were bigger than us! It was like being in a huge aquarium and getting to touch the fish. We also saw a big green moray eel and a 3 ft. wide ray. Just incredible.

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Journal: Night and Wreck Dives

Journal by Col. Panic

So I decided to enroll in the Advanced Open Water Diver course. Tonight we did a wreck dive in 70 feet of water followed by a night dive at 40 feet. Diving just keeps getting better.

Visibility was good, but the current was pretty strong and the surface was rough. The coolest thing was swimming *through* the wreck. This took pretty good buoyancy control to avoid hitting anything and remain almost motionless in a confined space. There was a large school of small fish in the body of the vessel and colorful coral hanging on the sides. I expect that wreck diving is going to become a favorite pasttime.

The night dive was really cool - it was like being inside a giant aquarium (with currents). The fish were very colorful and they didn't try to swim away. We saw a couple of baby rays too. This was a fantastic learning experience because it was very different not being able to see without a light. The only problem I had was when ascending the second dive. It is important to release air from the bcd as you rise because at shallower depth the air expands and you rise FASTER. This can be bad if you require a decompression stop. I was concentrating on the pain in my sinuses and forgot to release air from the bcd. All of a sudden I realised I was rising too fast and my depth guage showed 7 feet. The plan called for a stop at 15 feet for 5 minutes. From now on I will make sure to release the air and stay neutral.

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Journal: EU VAT

Journal by Col. Panic

OK I discovered something cool about being in the USA. Apparently people in the EU are getting stuck with a 20% tax (VAT) that we Americans don't have to pay! I recently bought a Suunto Stinger dive watch from a website (tgidiving.com) in Italy. This thing is made in Finland and since TGI Diving was shipping outside the EU they deducted 20% which came to $86! Also, shipping via UPS Worldwide (?) took only three days. Woot!

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Journal: Boat Dives

Journal by Col. Panic

This was the real thing. Sunday we went about a mile off the Lighthouse Point coast and dove a couple of reefs at 40-60 feet. The depth was a little intimidating at first - just swimming downward for so long was ... different. When we got to the bottom there were some really cool coral and some brightly colored purple and yellow fish. Someone saw a shark but I missed it.

I cannot wait to get back out there. The only problem is the safety margin we followed didn't leave us a lot of bottom time. I want to get certified for Nitrox so I can stay down longer. Also night and wreck diving sounds like a lot of fun, when I get the chance :)

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Journal: Beach Dives

Journal by Col. Panic

Today was the day we were waiting for - open water diving. Unfortunately, visibility was 10-15 feet and there was a pretty strong current, but we got plenty of exercise and the weather was perfect.

Although my main reason for taking this course was recreation and everything has been fun, I should point out that this is a serious class. You have to read a 200 page book and fill out 5 chapter tests, attend 2 classroom sessions with quizes, and take a final exam. Also, most of the time in the water (pool or ocean) is spent demonstrating the skills you have learned in class. The fun should peak tomorrow morning on the boat dives - no trudging across a beach carrying gear, just load it on the boat and the rest should be mostly recreation.

Cool stuff: saw a skate buried under the sand, saw some red fire coral (DONT TOUCH!), and some kind of crablike thingy the instructor called a "cleaning station". Fish will swim up to this thing and it will clean the parasites from their gills, etc. Pretty neat.

One thing I have been slow to learn is to *look around* and make only slow, gentle movements. Also I have to learn to keep less air in my lungs because even with 16 lbs of weight and a deflated BCD I am having some trouble staying just off the ocean floor. The wetsuit and salt water make you pretty bouyant so breathing control is key.

More diving tomorrow!-

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Journal: Last confined water dive

Journal by Col. Panic

Tonight was the last pool dive - had to remove our gear and put it back on while on the surface and underwater. Practiced towing and being towed. Tomorrow I take the exam and Saturday are the beach dives. Sunday we do boat dives. I can't wait!

I even more strongly recommend this if you haven't done it. A friend of mine said he has wanted to for years but probably never will do it. I encourage you to "just do it". I think it might rival snow skiing as my favorite sport.

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Journal: Diving in Sunny S. Florida

Journal by Col. Panic

Rather than spending a few days in Orlando or the keys to relax I have opted for recovery in an Open Water Scuba Diver certification course. So far I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn to dive to go for it. Our group had lots of fun just suiting up and learning the basics in a pool. Next weekend we make four ocean dives. I will post details.

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Journal: Subject

Journal by Col. Panic

It has been a long week. 28 hours OT and they are shutting down our site. Time to update that resume again ;)

Sentient plasmoids are a gas.

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