By , May 26, 2008 18:53

CheeseToday was the first full day of vacation down here on the Outer Banks.  Sunshine and heat …

While I love diving, there is something about diving wrecks that beats out reefs and coral.  As the Outer Banks are known as the "graveyard of the Atlantic", I was dying to dive one of the three German U-Boats that are five miles offshore.  It turned out that today was the only day I could get on a boat, and none of them were heading for the U-Boats.  Oh well, better some good wreck diving in warmer water, than none at all.  (I dove last week out of Gloucester, MA and the water temperature was 37 F.)

After the 90 minute ride out, we tied off on the mooring line, surrounded to the horizon by the deep blue.  The divemaster briefing on the wreck was really brief.  Essentially, we were told we were tied off on the boiler and were should probably dive the bow on the first dive and the stern on the second.  It was a big wreck, sitting around 100 feet, and it was going to take a while to cover the whole thing.  I was using my own gear, so I was number three of the twenty divers to splash topside.  I wanted to beat the crowd.  I was also diving solo (better diving solo than depending on a "vacation diver" – ask me some other time).  I dropped down to the bottom and was amazed at the size of the grouper, jacks and barracuda.  The jacks and grouper had to weigh in the 30 – 40 pound range and were LARGE.  There wasn’t the color of the Caribbean or the Red Sea, but the shear quantity of the fish far surpassed anything I’ve ever dove – including Thailand.  Heading up to the stern down on the sand, I rounded the stern … and came face-to-face (within four feet) of a six foot tiger shark.  WOO HOO!  I always wondered what my reaction would be "in the wild".  Just excitement.  He didn’t seem too interested in me, and I was only disappointed that I didn’t have my camera at the ready for the encounter as he swam off.  I covered about three quarters of the wreck on the dive and saw about half dozen more tigers no less than six feet in length, but not really closer than twenty feet.  The problem is when you’re 100 feet down, is that you need to be within 6 feet to get any kind of photo.  You can’t use zoom under water because the particles blur absolutely everything, and the water is DEEP blue.  I did about 45 minutes to deco, and then surfaced.

There were three mates aboard beside the captain and when they heard about the sharks, they jumped in to take a look and to do a little spearfishing.  Not only did they come back with some good size groupers, but one of the mates fought and landed a 32 lb jack during the surface interval.  I was surprised to see that they cleaned and gutted the fish right there – tossing the chum overboard.  One of the mates said that not only did he see the largest shark he had ever seen (somewhere around 9 feet), but that the bow section was full of them.

One thought crossed my mind: be the first one in on the second dive to get some pictures before the others scare them off.  After a 90 minute surface interval, I was the first one to splash and I headed to the bow.  They were right.  There were well over a dozen of them – all more than six feet and some that were absolute monsters. 

About one minute later, I suddenly realized that three of the silent gray sharks were slowly circling me as I was hovering over the bow section.  Yikes.  Did I say I wasn’t paranoid on the first dive?  I was freaked this time. Here I am … alone … following fish chum in the water.  Are they still thinking, "Food!"  Don’t turn your back on them.  Don’t let them get behind you.  I picked the largest of them and slowly turned with him, while dropping below their 10 foot circle and slowly finning for the mooring.  I was able to keep about two feet below them while they followed in widening circles.  Can you say "RELIEF" when I picked out the second diver (also going solo) heading my way about 40 feet away?  I don’t know if it was him or not, but the sharks left to join the others back in the bow.  Paranoia?  I don’t know.  But I will admit to being very freaked out.

This time I headed up with the other diver and spent the next 30 minutes or so taking pictures.  At one point, I counted as many as 18 tiger sharks swimming in and out of the bow section.  Thoughts of exploring the wreck were gone.  This was probably the most amazing dive of my life.  You need to dive it to believe it.  Smile.  🙂

Construction Time

By , May 15, 2008 17:01

Construction TimeHeidi and I have been wanting a playset for the boys for more than a year.  The trouble was, that everytime I looked at the options and catalogues, I balked at the absolutely ridiculous prices and procrastinated.

The solution?  Design and build your own.

Things started well.  I headed to Home Depot with a plan in my head.  Did you know that you can fit anything up to a 4×8 sheet of plywood into a Honda Odyssey (I didn’t actually use plywood on this project – that was another time), as well as any lumber up to 10 feet in length?  Who needs a truck.  I was rolling …

Then things began to slide downhill.  You see, my plans changed.  They didn’t just change once, they changed a half a dozen times – usually in the middle of the night.  That’s the trouble with plans in the head.  I’m pretty sure I tore the entire thing down to nothing and re-built from the ground up twice, plus I did a 50% re-build at least twice more.  I have this thing with over-engineering.  The good news is that I didn’t use any additional lumber and I was thankful that I started from the beginning with screws.  There are no nails in the entire thing.  The three halfpipes in our backyard taught me that.  Well guess what?  I should now be able to sleep through the night tonight.  Who needs someone else to provide the plans and some hardware?

The best part of all?  It cost less than one third what I would have paid at the store.  Smile.  🙂

The Scale of Big

By , May 14, 2008 18:18

IBMI have to say that I’ve never worked on the scale of what IBM brings to the table.  In the past month and in the coming three weeks, I will have attended four IBM hosted conferences – two in Las Vegas and two in Orlando.

Let’s just talk about finances first.  With no less than 6000 people per conference paying a minimum of $2000 per person, the math works out that the revenue coming in for these events is in excess of $12 million dollars.  These are marketing blintzes on a scale that I have never seen.

The picture you see here was from IMPACT 2008.  The specifics?  The first day the theme is red-hot SOA – the entire staff is dressed in red and the banners and collateral are all red.  The next day?  The theme is going green and everything matches from people’s shirts to the marketing banners.  Someone did some incredible planning.  The third day – it’s on to blue.  Speaking of big budget, the keynote talks and main theater was emceed by Drew Carey and the cast of "Whose Line is it Anyway".  It kicks off with no less than a 40 person marching band, Harley Davidsons roaring into the auditorium, a 30 minute show of Cirque du Soleil … The "special event" on Wednesday night was the B-52s rock band live, with Cirque du Soleil performances before and after, fireworks, and more special performers than you have ever seen.  And that was just one of the the "technical" shows …

I have to say that the "IBM scale of big" outdid itself last week at the Rio.  For some reason, I was upgraded to the Masquerade Suite – a "hotel room" of 1800 square feet.  It had a 180 degree view of the city, dining room with a wet bar, and one and a half baths.  In fact, one of the bathrooms was larger than my living room.   Actually, on a comparative scale, our house has a smaller square footage than this.

Regardless, let me be home with my family building 24 sq. ft. playsets in the backyard.  It’s much more enjoyable.  Smile.  🙂

The Trouble with Ticks

By , May 13, 2008 15:39

The trouble with ticks?  Last year, we had the very wonderful job of pulling two ticks out of Jake over the course of the year: one from his arm and one from his scalp.  This year however, we’re under siege.

Whether or not it is the unseasonably warm weather or not, we’ve had the very exciting opportunity to pull out six deer ticks so far this year – three so far this week.  Have you ever tried to pull those nasty little critters out?  It makes for very unhappy and squirming children, and an Olympic event of pulling them out smoothly enough to get the whole thing.  It’s critical that you get in close to the head so you don’t miss anything.  If you pull them while causing trauma to the insect, they can cause any blood they have taken to spit back out – potentially causing Lyme disease.  Neither do you want to tear them in two and leave any part of the body in …

So far, I’ve been able to get them all except for one in Isaac.  The little critter had chomped into his back and was not letting go.  It was the first time I didn’t get the entire little bug.  I’m afraid now that our littlest boy is not entirely happy.

This Tuesday tale is to tell you that tiny tick terrorism traumatizes tykes against tweezers.  🙂

Update Week

By , May 12, 2008 10:18

Zurich, SwitzerlandDo you know what this week is?  Update week!  That means that every day between now and Friday will find an update on this site.  Cool eh?  You probably weren’t even aware of this Deptonia based holiday.  It is the one claim to fame of the Deptonian people.

Today will merely bring us back to the incredible travels of the past few weeks.  I’ve been across the pond and back twice so far this month visiting the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Israel.  I have to say that every time I fly into Ben Gurion airport, I feel like I’m coming home.  There’s something about that country that feels like home to me.  Coming in over Tel Jaffa and seeing the lights below made me wish that we were back there.  Although it was 3:00am local time, my first call was to Heidi to ask if she wasn’t sure about not moving there.  She assured me that while she loved being there … it was a little far from home.  And here I thought we lived in a connected world.

Solemnity and gaiety!

The first morning I was there, I was giving a three hour presentation from 9am to 12pm.  I didn’t realize that May 1st happens to be the Holocaust Memorial day for the nation of Israel.  At 10am, in the middle of my presentation, the air raid sirens went off over the entire country.  For one minute, everyone, and I mean everyone, stops and stands for one minute of silence.  And here I thought I remember the "minute of silence" for Remembrance Day in Canada being somber.

Thankfully I had some prior warning.  At 3:30am in the morning, between myself and the taxi driver on the way to the hotel, we went back and forth over the various Israeli wars, the last war in Lebanon and the "solutions" to the conflict.  Of course, there can’t be, nor will there ever be resolutions to the problems in the Middle East.  Peace in our time?  Anyway, through the course of this, he told me to be prepared to stop everything at 10am so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  (You might think our conversation strange, but everyone from the taxi drivers to the store keepers, want to talk about religion, politics and war.  There is no such thing as a PC society.)

The gaiety was derived from the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel only one week later – May 8th.  The Star of David was draped everywhere.  You think you see a lot of Senators flags in Ottawa over playoff season?  Every vehicle and most houses were flying the national flag.  It was blue and white everywhere you looked.  I would have loved to have been there.  Still, there was a sense of impending … something … Not that numbers equate to anything, but something about 6 x 10 made me wonder if I wouldn’t hear a shout that week.

Now that would be reason to smile.  🙂