Monday, May 28, 2007

The P Word

Things I did this weekend:

1) Went to a comedy show. (Friday night)
2) Finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (Saturday)
3) Watched the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie. (Saturday)
4) Slept in til 10 or later. (Saturday & Sunday)
5) Played Morrowind on the Xbox. (Saturday & Sunday)
6) Ate a double-double (animal style) from In-N-Out for lunch. (Sunday)
7) Got the oil changed in the car. (Sunday)
8) Did laundry. (Sunday)

Things I should have done this weekend:

1) Worked on my thesis.
2) Worked on my thesis.
3) Worked on my thesis.
4) Worked on my thesis.
5) Worked on my thesis.
6) Worked on my thesis.
7) Worked on my thesis.
8) Worked on my thesis.

Three guesses what I'll be up to on my day off tomorrow...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Twenty-Six Miles

All right. Catalina weekend. Here we go.

We took the 8pm ferry from Long Beach last Friday, arriving at the island a little after nine. After dropping our stuff at the hotel, we struck out in search of dinner. Got some fantastic bbq chicken pizza at Antonio's. Antonio's is one of those places where, in lieu of bread or chips or something, they dump a cup of peanuts on the table for your pre-meal snacking enjoyment; when you have extracted the nuts from the shells, you toss the shells on the floor. It was this last detail that made my poor, borderline-OCD husband a little twitchy - shells belong in the garbage! - but I don't think it prevented him from enjoying the pizza. I hope.

Back at the room, we found that there was a Ninja Warrior marathon on TV. That show is nearly unparalleled in its awesomeness.

The next morning, we headed over to Casino Point and the dive park. Some of our diving cohort had arrived on the early ferry and were getting geared up and ready to hit the water. We quickly got our stuff together and joined Shay and her students on a deep dive, just shy of ninety feet. It was our twentieth dive to date, but it feels like we've been doing this for a lot longer. Sure, you could hardly call us experts, but we've both become pretty comfortable with being underwater, maneuvering safely and fairly efficiently. It's great!

Anyway, we hung out at depth for about ten minutes before winding our way back toward the shore. When Shay was ready to take her students up to the surface, Tom & I still had at least 1/3 tank of air each, so she sent us off to dive around some more on our own. We swam around for about another twenty minutes, then went up.

On the next dive, we decided to go in search of the glass bottom boat. This guy has a pretty good map and little history of the cluster of wrecks on the northern edge of the park. The glass bottom boat and a sailboat named the Kismet are sunk almost on top of one another. Shay said to get there, you swim out to the border buoy almost straight out from the stairs, descend, and look around about twenty or thirty feet west of there. However, once we swam out and went down, we found a small wreck immediately at the bottom of the buoy chain, not ten feet away from it.


Buoy chain, wreck, Tom

We had a grand old time looking all around this little boat. At one point, I noticed that there were bubbles escaping from one corner of the stern. This was a little perplexing at first, but then I realized that, duh, we'd stuck our heads in under the side of the hull, breathing all the while, and it was our bubbles that were escaping.


Tom "standing" on the back of the wreck. See the bubbles coming out from the corner of the stern?

After recognizing that the bottom of the boat was neither flat nor made of glass, I figured we were at the wrong wreck, but I wasn't able to convey that to Tom (stupid cheap, crappy, broken slate pencil), so we headed back toward shore. On our way there, Tom spotted a big ol' bat ray. It took me a few seconds to see it too, but I eventually did. Man, those things are pretty, and so graceful. Unfortunately, it was too far away for me to photograph. Ah well. Here's a picture someone else took of one.


On our way back to the shore, I got what I consider to be some pretty good pictures from my cheap-o 35mm underwater camera. Tom made them even better by tweaking the color balance in Photoshop.




Back on land, it was time for lunch. Conveniently, there is a cafe right at the Point that will happily let divers tromp over in their wet gear and sell them overpriced burgers and (at the end of the dive day) something from their nice selection of beers. We filled our bellies and got ready for our third and final dive of the day.

We decided to go in search of the glass bottom boat again. We swam back out to the same boundary buoy as before, descended, and headed north for a little ways, and then west. We saw a big ol' crab and found some debris, but no wrecks. We took a serpentine path back to the stairs, winding to and fro. We saw an octopus hiding in a hole, and a fairly sizeable bass, but that was about it. It was starting to get cold, so we headed in and packed up our gear. We hauled everything back to the hotel, got cleaned up, watched some more Ninja Warrior, and met up with the other folks for dinner at Mi Casita.

Incidentally, I believe Mi Casita, Antonio's, El Galleon, and perhaps one other restaurant are all owned by the same family. What a life, huh? Run a bunch of restaurants on an island and just rake in the money from all the tourists? Not bad. Anyway, Shay cajoled me into trying a cazuela with my meal, which is basically a bowl of wine with fruit and ice floating in it. It was pretty intimidating, but tasty!

Day two we slept in until 9:30 or so. Everyone else was doing a day of boat diving off the King Neptune, but Tom & I had decided to chill out around the island instead. We made our way over to the Point by mid-morning, got our stuff together and got in the water. We swam to the corner buoy where we'd gone for our first deep dive with Shay the day before, planning on staying at depth a bit longer this time. Basically, we would swim slowly along the northern edge of the park until (a) our dive computers told us it was time to make for shallower water or (b) we reached a pre-determined air quantity in our tanks. We saw another bat ray during our surface swim, and an additional two shortly after we descended (those suckers were everywhere!).

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but plants - namely kelp - grow much larger in deep, cold water. Every time we've gone below 70 feet or so, I've felt like I'm in Giant World from Super Mario 3...


Anyway, we cruised westward along the bottom, which slowly sloped up from 95 feet to about 70. Eventually we found ourselves back at the wreck from the day before, and were once again determined to find the glass bottom boat. I took the lead, going toward the debris we'd found, when Tom suddenly caught my attention and pointed to a big hulking mass just to our left. How in the heck we'd missed it on two previous occasions, I have no idea. But there it was at last. The double wreck of the glass bottom boat and the Kismet. It was great! We had it all to ourselves for a while, but then a scuba class arrived and silted the place out pretty thoroughly, so we took off. But we were quite pleased with ourselves for finally finding it and, after slowly winding back to shore, were pretty sure we wouldn't be able to top that dive. Indeed, when we hit the water for the last time about an hour and a half later, I got some nice pictures, and we saw some pretty scenery, but the day's first dive was definitely the highlight of the weekend.




Apparently, our friends had quite the fantastic day of diving, themselves. I still haven't heard the whole story, but there were sea lion pups involved, one of which spent most of the day aboard the boat with them! Pretty amazing.

Back home we went, where our bathroom was infested with drying dive gear for a couple of days, as per usual after an outing. All in all though, not a bad way to celebrate an anniversary. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This just in!

We had a great time on Catalina this past weekend. I got the underwater photos developed yesterday, and for the most part they came out pretty good! Tom's been tweaking them in Photoshop to optimize the colors and stuff, and I should be able to upload them tomorrow for your viewing enjoyment.

In other news, I am getting a haircut tomorrow. It is needful, as my hair is quite shaggy right now.

More in a day or two. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Packing

Almost finished packing for our weekend trip. We're leaving tomorrow evening for Catalina (which is, I believe, no longer on fire) so we can (surprise!) do some diving. Also, we might have ourselves a nice dinner or something, since Sunday is our first anniversary. Yep, it was a whole year ago that we were getting ready for the wedding. Where does the time go?!

Anyway, off to pack the last of the stuff and hit the hay. Pictures and stuff next week, as per usual. ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Crusty

I haven't got much to say, so here's a picture of Leo looking disgruntled. He really needs to wash his eyes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kakki


Kakki joined our family when I was eight and she was somewhere between fifteen and twenty. The story was what she'd been born in Hawaii and shipped over to California sometime in her youth. She spent many years thereafter as a 4-H pony, probably ridden hard by kids of varied skill levels, and then spent a while living in semi-retirement in a field; by the time she came to us, she was lame on three legs and out of shape, but chock-full of spirit.

Kakki could do it all. English, Western, jumping, trail riding, drill team, gymkhana...always with a little bit of a wild streak in her. If she didn't want to do something, she let you know. But more often than not she was patient enough to put up with us. My sister and I competed in horse shows and county fairs with her, using the show name "Isn't She Lovely." Because she was.


She moved with us to Oregon, staying in the family even after my sister and I had both outgrown her. When I was in middle school, I started teaching riding lessons after school and on the weekends, and Kakki once again had regular work as a schoolmaster. She garnered a whole new group of fans, young'uns learning to love horseback riding because Kakki made it fun.

When I left for college, she spent a couple of years in full retirement. I came home one weekend and was struck by how old and tired she looked. She had been an older pony when we got her, but she never really seemed it until then. When my friend's pony, Napoleon, died suddenly, she asked if she could adopt Kakki. My friend had two young children who were quite distraught about the loss of Napoleon - the whole family was, really - and they were all fond of Kakki, so I knew she would be loved and well taken care of. I was just worried that she was too old to be a kid's pony again.

I was wrong.

The first time I went to visit Kakki in her new home, I would have sworn she'd grown younger. She was spry and full of energy and just looked so much happier than she had living out in a field all day. Having kids around who loved her and rode her every day made a world of difference. Before long, she was back to being a lesson pony, carting kids through the woods and going for swims in the creek. I even took her swimming once or twice, while home for summer vacation, and she always nickered at me when I came to visit. She had a "pet" miniature donkey named Benjamin. She got to babysit the young horses after they were weaned from their mothers. She was loved, and she was happy.


Kakki died yesterday morning, at the ripe old age of...well, somewhere around 30 40 years old. Even at that, the argument could be made that she was taken before her time; she developed a tumor in her jaw that grew too quickly to be removed, and even to the last, she fought for every day, always looking for another carrot, another hug, another belly rub. She was a wonderful old gal, and I will miss her tremendously.


Rest peacefully, sweet pony. You were so very much loved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Data Mining

I have spent part of yesterday and most of today mining data. By this I mean I've been digging through lab results for every batch of product X manufactured in the last six months - 80 batches all told - and transferring those results to Excel, which I can then use to make pretty charts for my boss and for my boss's boss. It's simple enough, but time consuming and tedious, and I am not convinced that this data will actually be useful for solving the problem at hand.

Anyway, I just needed to step away from it for a few minutes and let my eyes uncross, so I figured I'd toss a little something up on the poor, neglected blog. Now I'll strap my headlamp back on, grab my pickaxe, and re-descend into the data mines.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Chamber Eve

Below are just a few of the photos I took this past week at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where I was attending Chamber Eve. You can see the rest of them over at Flickr.






Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hmph

Well, I got my wish about the weather (it's due to be in the low to mid seventies for the remainder of the week), but Rhinovirus et al have attacked poor Tom. This is highly uncool.

We've got tickets to go to Chamber Eve tomorrow night. We'll have a tasty dinner of some sort and then get to tour around the Long Beach Aquarium. If we're lucky, we'll win an awesome raffle prize, but in any case, I think we'll have a pretty excellent time. (Hopefully my poor, sickly husband will be feeling better.) I'll of course be bringing the digital camera along, so there will no doubt be fun, fishtastic photographs to share by the weekend.

And now it's nearly time for a brand new episode of The Unit. I really didn't care for the show the first couple of times I saw it, but I wouldn't miss it now. It's intense sometimes, but generally enjoyable.