Scuba Obsessed – Episode 1 is edited and up

Episode 01 – The big introduction – Beta January

It seemed like we have been working on this forever. I am pleased how it came out. I know we can improve, but I have to say I am happy with the results.

Check it out here.

http://www.scubaobsessed.com/archives/620

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New Netcast / Podcast and website and forums and….

It has been a busy month but the date is finally here. Jim and I our launching our new Netcast tomorrow at 9:00pm. We are looking forward to it. January will be our beta month so we will learn a lot about this as we go.

The website is setup at http://scubaobsessed.com – We will post links to the netcast – podcast after it is completed and edited. You can also listen and participate in the netcast by heading over to the show page at http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/73759

I will write more after I have caught up on some sleep.

Missing Divers!

Missing Divers

Missing Divers

Even though I have only been a scuba diver for three years I have been a lover of the underwater world my whole life. I had always wanted to learn to dive, but with living a busy life it never seemed to fit in. There were other priorities that seemed to justifiably get in the way.  It was a tropical vacation to Mexico that rekindled the desire to learn to dive.  A gift of scuba lessons after returning is what finally got me my C-card.

Then like many scuba noobies I got my certification and promptly didn’t dive again for over another year.  Why? Why no diving? Honestly my dive buddy and I didn’t know where to dive.

We had a great open water dive in a stone quarry in Ohio. This location is just far enough away that it takes up most of a weekend to visit. Not someplace we could dive on a whim.  Other options were tropical vacations. They are awesome when you can scrape up the money to take them but they are not something that was going to happen very often either.  The last option (at least as I thought) was a weekly dive the local dive shop had. The problem with that was the weekly dives were done in the late afternoon the same day every week. The times were in conflict to those of us gainfully employed.

So over 16 months of no diving for me. No gear purchases, gear rentals or air refills. No stories I could share with the yet to be initiated about the undersea world. No planning for my next dive…

Take two happened earlier this year. My dive buddy and I decided that if we didn’t find a way to get in the water locally we wouldn’t get back into diving. To brush up our skills we signed up for an advanced open water certification. It was a good way to renew our skills and hopefully find a way to dive more than once every two years. We trekked back to the Midwest quarry and finished our series of dives to get our updated certification.

Lake Clean Up

Lake Clean Up

What next? We hunted for dives. There was a local eco dive a week later on a Saturday. It was something we could fit in. It was a beach dive at a youth camp. It was great! We did two tanks worth of diving and still had the rest of the day to spend with our families. Now this was the way it should be.

Still there was a problem.  No other dives… The local dive shop wasn’t doing regular local dives this year. Sure we could charter something a state or so away.  That put us back to taking up most of a weekend to go diving. There had to be a better way…. and there was. Dive local with a dive club!

Finding the local dive club was a challenge. Searching for dive clubs on the internet brought up 3 year old web sites with no updates. It makes you wonder if the club is active. Other clubs only had old posts on a message board with little information other than a contact email address. We finally found one that was meeting very close by. So close that their meetings were only 5 minutes from each of our homes. After an email we arrange to go to the next club meeting. This was the best thing we have done for our diving.

MUD Club Patch

MUD Club Patch

The club became an incredible resource. There are at least a dozen members that have been actively diving over 30 years each. Many of these club members dive at least 3 days a week.  Even when the weather turns rough it is rare for a week to go by without a club member doing a dive. They are eager to share their knowledge and fresh members just gave them a good excuse to dive all the old spots as if they were new again.   This was great! Since joining the club there hasn’t been a month that we haven’t dove.  All it takes is an open block of 4 hours and a phone call and we have a club dive going. The club also plans different events and at least once a month there is an official organized club dive. The best thing the club did for us is open our eyes to all the local diving possibilities. Every body of water in the area is now open to us thanks to the sage advice of our experienced club members.

So here is my next question. Why don’t local dive shops actively promote these ambassadors to diving? Are they afraid that I won’t buy their dive vacations if I dive local? Do they think these experts are going to bad mouth their business? Or is it that they believe with an independent source of diving knowledge we will buy all our gear online?  To me these are ring as conspiracy theories. I am willing to naively believe that they just don’t see the point in promoting the dive clubs.

I am convinced there is a vast underutilized pool of certified divers in the area that could be providing revenue to local dive shops and bring more divers into the sport. What percentage of divers here received their certification or worse yet just their book work here and only dive once every four years on a tropical vacation? I believe there has to be 9 missing divers for every 1 active local diver. I would love to see some real numbers.

As I help the dive club to promote I will be searching for these missing divers and trying to bring new participants into diving local.

MUD Club Website – http://mudclub.wordpress.com/ 

MUD Club Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=160373818789&ref=share

Don’t Pee on Your Sister!

Exhibit A - The barn
Exhibit A – The barn

There are many things we say as a parent that we never expect to say. You can’t plan for them nor do you really want to say them, but nerveless they happen.  These words I uttered this last Wednesday were among them. “Don’t pee on your sister!”

It started Wednesday evening.  When I got off of work I met Missy at a local store so she could take advantage of a pre-Christmas ladies’ night sale. The kids went with me and she got to shop. She deserved the alone time. After a quick swing through McDonald’s (a suitable Dad meal) we headed for home so the kids could do chores. They had bunnies and horses that needed fed. 

When we arrived at home I hauled the 25lbs bag of bunny food to the barn for them. AJ started to get it out of the car, but it was just a little too much for him. Feeding animals for the kids is more about playing then getting the chores done. Yes they whine about it, but for wanting to get it over with they find creative ways of dragging it out. I have showed them how to get chores done in a few minutes, but they choose to do things the long way.  Their preferred method of speeding up chores is to get me to do their chores for them. I explained that they were the ones that wanted the bunnies so they needed to take care of them. I headed back to the car to gather some items I needed to bring to the house.

As I was standing by the open passenger side door I heard a blood curdling scream.  Sometimes it is hard to tell who was screaming, but this time I knew it was definitely Lilly. She doesn’t have any worse scream than this one. I had heard it before. This is the scream of “something is dead” or “someone is hurt”. Never good to hear! This time she is repeating it over and over and over as she runs from the barn to the house.

I run over to where she is half expecting to see blood spiriting from an open artery or a dead bunny in her hands. I am shouting “Lilly” trying to get her attention.  She ignores my attempts to gain her attention and finally stops when I cross her path. “What’s wrong” I ask her.

She responds through hysterical tears “AJ peed on me!!!!”.  I feel slightly guilty to admit that I was relieved. Of all the bad things going through my mind a little urine didn’t seem that bad. You have to understand my kids are farm kids. I would put them against anyone else’s kids for toughness. They have nerves of steal compared to me at their age. They have no problem walking 100’ from the house to the barn in pitch black of the dead of night with the coyotes howling. It just doesn’t bother them. I at their ages didn’t like to go into the basement at night with all the lights on.

Exhibit B - The location of the victim

Exhibit B - The location of the victim

“Is that it? The bunny’s pee on your all the time and that doesn’t bother you,” I comment.

“Dad!!! AJ peed on me!”

I spent the next couple of minutes trying to calm her down. I tried to explain that it wasn’t anything to get that worked up over. I also told her that she needs to keep things in perspective. I know this is a deep conversation for a pre-teen girl, but this is a matter of safety. If you scream like this for everything no one will respond when you really need it. I can remember “The boy who cried wolf” story that my grandmother taught me. This was as good of a time as any to get a good life lesson for both of them.

Still something didn’t seem right. AJ is a sweet boy. As far as brothes and sisters go they get along very well. Not like me and my sister. We would fight like cats and dogs. My kids just bicker like an old married couple not the normal sibling squabbling that I think is normal.  AJ is not the type of brother to pee on his sister. AJ had said he was sorry so I didn’t doubt that he did indeed pee on her, but there had to be more to it.

Lilly and I headed back to the barn so she could finish her chores. Pee or no pee there are still chores that needed to be done. At this point I was asking AJ what had happen. He was sheepishly explaining that it was an accident. That was what I was assuming, but still how did he pee on her? One of the great things about being male on a farm is every stall is your bathroom and when away from the visibility of the road or neighbors everywhere on the property is fare game. With this knowledge I knew he had to be using one of the horse stalls.

“How do you pee on your sister from a horse stall? Did you not aim right?” I ask him. He may be in need of some skills training. You can’t let things like this pass. He could be in a situation later in life where this could be important. Like writing you name in the snow for example.

“Kind of….” he replies.

Now I know something is up. There is more to this story. That fatherly BS instinct has kicked in.

Exhibit C - The scene of the crime

Exhibit C - The scene of the crime

I walked over to the stall that he must have used.  I could see the forensic evidence written on the stall wall.  As you would expect for an 8 year old boy of his height you can see where he started down fairly low. Hmmmmm If it was an accident it wouldn’t have started low.

This is where I must explain to women about male urination. I am sure if you are with a significant male other you have noticed the occasional splatter, splashing or complete missing of said bathroom object by a male. While an occasional alcohol induced night can contribute to the likelihood of miss aiming, there are times when things don’t go as planned. It seems that when factoring in pressure and an anatomy that may have sealed up there is room for surprise directional error. However as a lifelong male the writing on the stall was not of an accident.  There was clearly a starting point low on the wall at 18” and a steady splash track that went over the stall wall at over both their heights at nearly 5’. This was no accident. The jig was up.

“This wasn’t an accident… was it?”

“I didn’t think I would hit her was his reply” Okay we are getting closer to the real story I thought. Still something was still missing.

“So you were aiming her direction then,” I state.

“She said I couldn’t hit her”. Bingo!! Now we are getting somewhere. It was the dare. I knew he wouldn’t have even tried if he thought he could do it, but with a dare he would have tried. I now have a clear picture of what went on.

After I left the barn and walked to the car AJ told his sister that he was going to take a leak and then take care of his bunnies. I can visualize it now Lilly and AJ giggling as AJ is going with Lilly on the other side chiding him that he can’t hit her. Neither of them was thinking it could happen yet AJ gave it an attempt anyway.  I can imagine the surprise on AJ’s face when the stream makes the 3” gap between the top stall board and the hay loft. I can also imagine the surprise on Lilly’s face when the sprinkles first hit her.  This is the point when she started her screaming dash from the barn.

Next I utter the words “Don’t pee on your sister! I shouldn’t have to tell you that! Even if you didn’t think you could hit her.” I was having a hard time keeping a straight face still relieved no one was physically hurt.

 I then say the even more ridiculous phase “And don’t ask your brother to pee on you!” I really have no idea what crazy collection of Dad words I will have to say next.

Tweaking My DIY Dive Flag

Added Lead Weight

Added Lead Weight

I have another dive coming up tomorrow so I wanted to tweet my DYI dive flag rig. My original setup needed extra ballast on the bottom to keep the flag pointed skyward. I had use an old steel hook for its weight and as I though the darn thing on a beach entry or exit would snag on something. I dug up a 2lbs lead belt weight and with a pipe clamp attached it to the bottom of the fiber glass pole. I still like the idea of a safety snap on the rope incase I want to hang something from the flag so for now I have snapped it above the weight on the shaft.

Tomorrow air temperature will be in the mid 20’s. Some of the ponds in the area skimmed over with ice today.  I will let you know how it goes.

– – Here is the post on making the dive flag —  https://darrinjillson.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/diy-dive-flag-and-float/

DIY Dive Flag and Float

DIY Dive Flag Rig

DIY Dive Flag Rig

After my river dive of a few weeks ago I realized I really needed to have my own dive flag. Sure I dove with my buddy Jim and he had a dive flag, but what made me want to get one was how great it was for reconnecting if we got separated. A quick pop to the surface and I knew exactly where he was. Yes, I am sure it is much better to not get separated, but with strong current and less than 6’ of visibility it is going to happen.

After looking at the commercial rigs other divers had I thought I could make one just as well myself. I like building and creating things. I get a great understanding of how they work and I can modify them to meet my specific needs. I expect before I am done I will have made several dive flag rigs. I wanted a small rig for river dives. It will mostly be use for marking my location and I want it to be a light tow. Now along with liking to have something that fits my specific needs I also like to be cheap. Any money I save just means I have more to buy air fills. 

I searched around to see what parts I had. I had a fiber glass electric fence post, some 1” blue Styrofoam insulation panels, bicycle inner tubes, hose clamps, a Christmas tree light storage reel and a variety of connecting hardware. I also had some white fabric for the flag.

Dive Flag
Dive Flag

The post looked a little short but was still taller than some of the other dive flags I have seen, so I was sure I could make that work. I didn’t have any suitable cord or rope so I would need to buy that. After a discussion with my wife we decided that the cost of red fabric would probably cost more than a flag from the dive store. This gave me the perfect excuse to make a run down there.

The dive shop had a variety of dive flags and rigs. I briefly considered just buying a complete setup from them, but by the time I added everything up it would be about $60. I knew I could do better. They had a nice dive flag with a wire reinformcement for under $10. They also had a spool and a reel for about $13. Since I already had a reel I decided I could get rope cheaper at another store.

OK I breafly tought about going to Wal-Mart and getting the rope, but this day was “Black Friday” and a 90 minute wait in checkout lines to save $2 on rope wasn’t that appealing to me. Yes I am cheap, but not a masochist. I decided the farm store between the dive shop and the big box retailer was my best bet for a quick visit.

5 1/2' fiberglass rod

5 1/2' fiberglass rod

I found 100’ of rope for about $8. As I walked the isles I found a 6’ orange fiberglass rod used to marking the ends of driveways. I liked this much better than the electric fence post I had so that was another $6 onto the project. I looked around for something heavy to use as a weight for the rig, but my cheapness got the better of me and I left with my two goodies. I headed for home to assemble my parts before my dives the next day.

Empty Pastic Spool with Foam

Empty Pastic Spool with Foam

The flag and the rod went together very easily. It was as if they were designed for each other. I put the reflect end down since if I slid it into the flag it would be hidden anyway. Next was the floatation part. I had originally thought I could use foam pool noodles, but I couldn’t find any. I think the dogs and decided they made good chew toys or maybe it was the cats for scratching post, but either way there wasn’t any to be found. The blue Styrofoam sheet would float but they needed to be stacked or combined. I had thought about just gluing them together and strapping that to the pole, but it just seemed sloppy. I would also be relying on glue to hold everything together or a mess of strapping. I had an empty plastic wire spool. It was just a little wider than 3 sheets of foam. I figured I could use that as a protective form. My only concerns were holding it together and would it have enough buoyancy with the plastic spool attached.

Rope

Rope

I traced the outline of the spool onto the foam panels. I measured the center point and drove a nail trough it to my bench to use as a pivot point. I had a rotary cutting tool I held in place and spun the foam on the nail. In no time I had three good circles. I then cut out the centers so they would fit around the center of the spools. I then cut the foam “donuts” in half. I used some tile adhesive I had laying around and glue the foam around the spool and to each other. Then I read the instructions on the adhesive bottle “allow drying 48 hours before getting wet”. Well that wasn’t going to work for tomorrows dive. To keep everything together I used existing holds on each side of the spools to zip tie the foam in place. I drilled a hold off center on the newly foamed spool to run the rod through. The existing hold in the center of the spool was too large to easily run and secure the rod to. I pipe clam on each side of the spool on the rod would be perfect for attaching it. I held off on securing it until I finished by plan with the rope.

Completed Pre-test Setup

Completed Pre-test Setup

I had 100’ of rope. I think that is really more than I needed but it is easy enough to shorten it later on. I cut a short 4’ section of rope to attach to a quick release snap on one end and tied off the other to the spool. The rest I wrapped on the spool with about 8’ to run through the float. I fed the ends through the pipe clamps around the rod and back through the pipe clamp. I had an extra pipe clam at the bottom of the rod I ran the end of the rope through. I then put a double snap on this end of the rope to attach a weight too. I had a variety of heavy objects that I would add until I had the right mix.

First hot tub test

First hot tub test


Second hot tub test

Second hot tub test

Next it was time for a test. The hot tub seemed the perfect location to test it out. As I expected without any weight it just flopped over. Even with a couple of extra snaps attached it still wasn’t heavy enough to stand upright. I had to add a steal hook with 4 links of heavy chain to get it upright. The good news was foam was enough to float the rig. The bad news is I didn’t really like how far the hook was hanging down. This would be ok for a lake dive but for a dive starting from shore or in shallow parts of a river I was having my doubts. I didn’t like the idea that the hook would be dangling and dragging, but I figure a real life test was the only way to know for sure.

12 hours later the flag got its first test. We dove in a fast move river. I never got deeper than 10’ and most of the dive was around 5’. The flag looked fine, but was close to 45 degrees most of the dive. The hook as I expected did get caught on anything it could snag along the bottom. The second dive of the day was must deeper and the current was slower. I unfortunately for most of the dive didn’t have enough line out and wondered why it was such a drag to pull behind me. With less than 5’ of vis I didn’t realize I needed to let out a little more line. An extra 5’ did the trick. Like before coming in and out of the water the hook would snag.

Completed Dive Flag

Completed Dive Flag

So what was my verdict? I think it was a success. I am going to replace the oversize steel hook with some sort of lead weight attached to the end of the flag. I will still keep a double end snap handing below. I like the idea I can attach something to it if I need to. I plan to get a truck inner tube with a basket in the middle that I could attach the flag to when I do ecology dives. That will give me a spot to store some finds. Overall I think this was $20 well spent.

Darrin’s Scuba Diving List – Tweeters (Twitter Lists) – December 2009

Twitter Lists

Happy Holiday season everyone! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy Kwanzaa! I hope these days bring you some awesome and safe dives. It is time for my updated twitter lists. I am working refining them a bit. I wanted the list to be more meaningful so I am creating more lists. You can be on more than one list.

In addition to my normal twitter lists….

Scuba Divers (47) – http://twitter.com/darrinjillson/scubadivers – You must be a person (i.e. not a bot and you speak in first person) and you must actually scuba dive.

Scuba Businesses (78) – http://twitter.com/darrinjillson/scubabusinesses – If you make money or a living from something scuba related this is this list you could be on.

Scuba Organizations (26) – http://twitter.com/darrinjillson/scubaorgs – This is a list of groups, organizations and people whose intent is to make diving better through conservation, education or research. Profit is not their first motive… at least I hope not.

I have added two new twitter lists….

Scuba Favorites (0)- http://twitter.com/darrinjillson/scubafavorites – NEW LIST- This is a list of my favorite scuba tweeters. No one is on this list yet, but there will be some soon! You never know who is going to make this list but know one thing. They will be fun tweeters about scuba.

Scuba Instructors (1)- http://twitter.com/darrinjillson/scubainstructors – NEW LIST- As you can guess this is a list of Scuba Instructors or business that offer scuba diving instruction. I don’t verify they are instructors. If they talk about their experience with training others in scuba they can make this list. Make sure you know your instructors are qualified by a respectable agency before choosing.

Starting in 2010 I will features some tweeters from my Scuba Favorites list. Merry tweeting!!