Sunshine at Last

By , July 6, 2009 20:38

On His OwnSo the sunshine has finally broken here in Hudson after 26 straight days of rain.  Obviously, this requires us to be outside for all waking hours as we renew our levels of Vitamin D.  I know that there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow and the next day, but I can live with that as long as there is sunshine too.

Saturday found us down in Wakefield, MA where we were able to relax for the 8th largest Fourth of July parade in the United States.  My only complaint?  While there were lots of marching bands, clowns and fire engines, it was completely lacking in bagpipes.  There was not one bagpipe in the entire 2 hour parade.  It just wasn’t a real parade in my books … Apparently, they replace bagpipe bands with American muscle cars.  Oh yes, I have a second complaint – candy.  No one was throwing out candy.  Give me a parade on Foord street anytime.  Regardless, the boys had lots of fun and Jake happily blew his one note trumpet with all the bands as they went by. Smile! 🙂

A Month of Rain

By , June 28, 2009 16:44

Picnic BreakConsidering that it has been raining for a month straight here in Hudson, I decided that I would spend some time redesigning the site.  It seems like I go through this every two years or so.  In fact, if you go back to the very first post I still have from 2000, you will see that I was … doing a redesign.  Speaking of going back to 2000, you should note that I was blogging long before this.  I just happened to edit the front page each week, and didn’t keep my past content.  (It would have been static HTML pages.) I’ve thought about asking Carleton if they have a data backup of my first site in 1996, but I doubt they still would after 13 years.

As redesigns go, this one was pretty simple.  I decided to go the easy route and only slightly customized a nice simple WordPress PHP application.  This marks the first shift for me away from ASP and Microsoft technologies.

Enough about that.  Does anyone really care?

So it’s been raining here in Hudson for a month straight and everyone is going a little crazy.  Even Ellie, who was doing so well after our trip to the Outer Banks, has reverted to her less cheerful ways.  The last few nights have been pretty rough on both Heidi and I – probably more so on Heidi.  Can someone please send us some sunshine?  It will cause us to smile.  🙂

Vacation Days

By , June 15, 2009 17:12

Outer BanksAnother year and the crazy travel months of March, April and May are behind us.  This year witnessed a reduction in travel because of little Ellie, but I still managed to make it to London, San Francisco and Las Vegas twice in a four week period.  Thankfully, that is all behind us.

We’ve just finished up a week long vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina where we were able to unwind, wiggle our toes in the sand, and visit with family.  The boys had an absolute blast playing with cousins and swimming in the pool, while Daddy enjoyed his yearly swim with the sharks.  Mommy was able to sit by the pool and soak up the sun … hopefully recovering from the three longs months of little Ellie crying from noon through night. ‘Twas wonderful …

Elizabeth Marie

By , March 5, 2009 09:45

EllieLittle Ellie joined Mommy, Daddy, Jakey and Isaac on 3/4/09 at 8:21pm.  Beating both her brothers for weight and quick delivery time, she came out wide-eyed and happy.

Both Mommy and little baby are both doing well …

While Jake and Isaac were thrilled to have a little sister, we were told emphatically that it was not a surprise because they knew it was a girl.  They already had a brother.  Why would they need another one!!  🙂  This morning was a continuous chorus of, "Can I hold her?  Can I hold her?"

Now … anyone know how to protect a little girl from two older terrorist brothers?  Suggestions?  Merri?

Cave Diving Mexico

By , January 26, 2009 08:43

Cave DivingSo it’s done – I’m now fully cave certified.  In the last week, I racked up some pretty high numbers: 17 dives, spending slightly more than 20 hours under water, and swimming in the neighborhood of 19 to 20 miles.  Nothing like a lot of bottom time to build muscle memory.

I had two purposes for the course: improving diving discipline (especially bouyancy) and reel skills.  I have to say I was a bit nervous in starting out because I fully admit to being claustrophobic, and I once saw an IMAX on cave diving that just made me shake my head.  Of course I knew the scenery would be cool, but that was just an added bonus of the course.

My instructor sat me down on the first day and asked me to describe a mountain.  I used words like “majestic”, “inspiring”, “challenging”, “rewarding” and “breath-taking”.  When he asked me to describe caves, I used three words – dark, restrictive and wet.  He explained that this was the problem.  Most people have seen mountains and have an appreciation for their grandeur.  Almost no one refers to a mountain as “scary”.  The opposite is true of caves.  Less than 1% of people have spent any kind of time in caves, and their perception of the environment was entirely negative.  When people ask him what he sees in caves, he always responds, “A lot of water, and a lot or rock.”  When they ask him why he has been diving them for 35+ years and over 7000+ dives, his response is that, “You won’t know, unless you go.”  He was right.

While I did feel like I learned more in one week than I have in the five years I have been diving, the caves were beyond description.  I think they were more beautiful than almost anything else I’ve ever seen.  This might be because one grows used to mountains and oceans and sunsets and canyons over the years, but the caves were unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  Fashioned by a Master Designer …  I wasn’t there to take pictures so I couldn’t take my own camera on any of the dives, but I asked my instructor and he took his on the last day for some photos.  Unfortunately, the cave system on the last day is the oldest in the area and didn’t even come close to some of the dives during the week.  Still, I’m glad to have some kind of snapshot …

First of all, let me describe some of the places I dove including Dos Ojos, Chac Mool, Dos Palmos, Vaca Ha, Tortugas, Caracol, Calimba, Bosh Chen, Pet Cemetary, the Blue Abyss, Dark Side of the Moon, and the Car Wash.  Some of these places, like Vaca Ha and Tortuga, were nothing more than a puddle in the Mayan jungle.  I’m not kidding.  You drive out a dirt road into the middle of no where and come to a puddle about six feet around.  Take Tortugas for example.  Jumping into a puddle no more than 10 feet in diameter (it used to just be a well), you would drop down a steep embankment underground to about 60 feet and … BAM … you were in a room that was 60-70 feet high, 100-200 feet wide and more than 1000 feet long.  You couldn’t even hope to see from end to end.  Massive pillars stretched from floor to ceiling.  Stalactites 30 feet high would hang from the ceiling and stalagmites 40 feet high would reach from the floor.  Unbelievable!  Other places like Chan Hol (Small Hole) started with a small 5 foot puddle about 2-3 feet deep, and you would swim under a rock ledge (on your belly) into the most gorgeous cave system.  In this cave, and in others, were human remains which (supposedly) are dated at 1000s of years old before the cave systems were flooded.

The best of all dives was the Blue Abyss and the Dark Side of the Moon (you can find them on this map).  The Blue Abyss was about 40 minutes in – through one giant cavern area, beautifully decorated tunnels and rooms and two pretty tight restrictions.  Then you hit it.  A giant abyss!  One minute you’re swimming through a beautiful (and small) cave passage at a depth of only 20-30 feet, and then suddenly you swim out over a massive … nothing … a perfectly circular underground room more than 100 feet across and that has perfectly vertical walls to a depth of 240 feet.  You hang suspended, in the middle, with water so clear you think it’s air.  Surrounding you on every side are the most incredible formations you can imagine.  It cannot be described.  The next dive that same day took us to the Dark Side of the Moon.  Running several jump reels, we hit the end of the line in an area of the most incredible decorations I saw over the course of the week.  Untouched!  I still had my safety reel (sometimes you carry as many as 5 or 6 reels) and I actually laid 150ft of new line past that point to a place where no one has ever been before.  Those formations were the most incredible of anyplace I’ve ever seen.  The song, “How Great Thou Art” echoed through my head the entire dive.