Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scuba Training

Apparently, last night’s debate was an unmitigated disaster for ABC. But really, did you expect anything different from Charles Gibson? The man is a serial distorter of facts (see his view that $200,000 is a solid middle class annual income in America), exhibit 1A in everything that is wrong with American television “journalism”, and should have been fired long ago. Sometimes it’s good to not get the necessary television channel.

Anyway, rather than rehash second hand information about how craptacular last night’s debate was, I thought I’d talk about Scuba Diving today. We’ve been taking the PADI Open Water Diver course this month. It’s 5 classroom sessions and 3 pool dives, followed by qualification dives in Cartagena. The classroom work gives you a basic understanding of what’s happening (scientifically) during a dive, proper safety procedures, equipment handling, underwater communication, etc. It’s all very interesting and relevant. And it’s not at all difficult to learn or understand (even in Spanish).

The pool dives, though, are where you get your first taste of what scuba diving really means. And you do a lot of practice type activities including: taking your mask off and putting it back on under water, under water flotation, how to handle emergency situations, how to swim underwater, etc. It’s very cool and I can’t wait to actually get in the ocean and have my first, “Krikey! Did you see that!” Steve Irwin moment.

What I would say, however, is that pool diving is a fairly disgusting thing. Swimming pools are, without a doubt, extremely dirty, germ infested, habitats. We just don’t see it. But when you get in the pool, with the mask, you see the dirty truth. And, to make things worse, wearing the mask, things look bigger than they actually are. So when you see that collection of pubic hair floating ever so gently, your first reaction is, “Holy Sh*t! Someone’s pubes got ripped out!” This does not make for pleasant dinner time conversation.

At any rate, diving takes some getting used to and the pool is a necessary evil. And we’ve finished that part of the course, so I don’t have to get back in that pool ever again. In fact, we just have to take our “final exam” and then do our qualification dives at the end of the month. So I’m quite hyped up by that.

As to diving in general, I definitely recommend it to those who want to have a totally awesome nature experience that doesn’t involve climbing great heights or traipsing about steamy tropical jungles. The marketing materials suggest that on one dive you will see more natural species than you would in anywhere else in the world, doing anything else. Plus, when you’re down there, you can get ideas about what to have for lunch.

I should also add that diving isn’t a particularly taxing activity physically (if you do it right). Obviously you have to have some level of physical stamina or ability, but with weight belts and big ass fins and inflatable vests and whatnot, you don’t actually have to do much to move about and see the good stuff. At this point, I highly recommend the activity. A full report will follow our qualification dives, of course.



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