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Coming to a Pool Near You May 4, 2016

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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Everyone likes quadcopters, except when there in the path of the flight you’re on, perhaps, or peering through your bathroom window. Recently though, the “Loon-copter” has been making news from its ability to swim as well as fly. So what’s better than a quadcopter? One that dives as well as floats and flies. Watch the video on YouTube or the web site – very cool, if you can stand the cheesy music. I was hoping with a name like Loon it would be Canadian, but it comes from the Oakland University and it won the United Arab Emirates “Drones for Good” competition. Deservedly so. I wonder what its maximum depth rating is.

Buoyancy and Bowling Balls January 17, 2015

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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My favourite on-line comic strip is becoming quite famous, not in the least because of the “What-If” series of far-out questions and answers. This one, I thought, would be of interest to readers of this blog, as it deals with buoyancy, especially negative buoyancy. Of interest is the rate at which a negatively buoyant object descends. Using the example of a bowling ball, which, being a much simpler shape than, say, a diver, is easier to predict, it relates descent rate to density. The relationship is non-linear, as doubling the density doesn’t double the descent rate.

At any rate some of you might find it interesting or at least discover an interesting new web comic.

Diving in the News, October 13, 2012 November 12, 2012

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Unfortunately the weather has turned cold and I have to content myself with writing about other people’s diving for now…

A UK Diver received a bravery award at Buckingham Palace for rescuing another diver in trouble. No doubt that he saved his fellow diver’s life. The people that I dive with wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing, and every one of us has done some “minor” rescue of a fellow diver, rendering assistance before they got themselves into real trouble. I’m glad I dive with people like that.

Also in the near miss category is another diver drifting away in Florida. This one was rescued by a fisherman. The diver had a safety sausage with him. That’s a good idea when diving in the ocean. A little further South from Juno Beach we dove in some fierce currents on the offshore wrecks. If you’ve got a decompression obligation you could end up surfacing several miles from where you started if you had nothing like the wreck or a line to hold on to.

My first glimpse of this story revealed the name “Amigos Del Mar” and I immediately thought of the dive operation in Cabo San Lucas with  the same “Friends of the Sea” name. It’s probably a pretty common name for dive shops in the Spanish speaking world, and this one is in Belize. An employee of the shop was killed by an exploding scuba tank while filling it. While these incidents are rare, they are mostly preventable with good maintenance. The article speculates about faulty gauges and faulty compressors putting too much pressure in the tank, but I doubt it. If a gauge consistently read low, people would start to notice when they attached their regulators to tanks that had been filled at that station. A one time sticking gauge might have been the problem, but more likely it was a fault in the tank caused by daily use in a salt-water environment with insufficient attention to inspection and maintenance. Tanks also have burst discs that blow when they are overfilled, which is supposed to be below the pressure used in their hydrostatic tests.

Diving in the News, Oct 27, 2012 October 27, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Emergencies, Fitness and Nutrition, Miscellany, Training.
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A La Jolla, California diver died in hospital after losing consciousness on a boat dive. It seems that everything that could have been done was done to save him. The cause appeared to be a medical problem, and the diver appeared to be over 40. From the news at least it seems that the most common cause of death among divers is medical problems with older divers. Fitness would clearly be a good thing, but so might better training and skills. Diving should be relaxing, not physically stressful. I’ve reported on fatalities in La Jolla before. A solo diver died there in September, and a man died on his first solo dive at 155′ a few years back.

Diving in the News, October 20th, 2012 October 20, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany, Shipwrecks.
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The Hindustani Times ran a first person article about panic while learning to dive. I felt compelled to correct the reference to an “Oxygen Tank”.

Instructors and Dive Shops should take note of this report on a dive shop which failed to provide a medical questionnaire before training. Even though the former student had died on a holiday, they were found responsible, fined, and expelled from PADI.

After the Costa Concordia disaster I thought it might end up as diving destination. It already has, with looters stealing what they can from the wreck. Sometimes, often actually, I’m truly embarrassed for our species. Meanwhile there are plans to refloat it, so the thieves will be the only ones besides police and search and recovery divers who get to dive it. In the “it’s a small world” department, the woman who cuts my hair was once a hairdresser on the ship.

The world record for longest cold & salt water SCUBA dive has been broken in Ireland. Kudos to the diver and support team for raising money to support families of children with cancer, in memory of his two year old nephew. If any of my dive buddies who are reading this want to give it a try, I’ll happily be your support diver, but as I don’t have a pee valve in my dry suit I’m not about to do it myself. As I reported earlier the definition of cold in this case is below 15 degrees Celsius (59F).

A 68 year-old diver died in the Great Barrier Reef (hardly a week goes by without at least one diver death). I’m not counting, but it seems like a lot of fatalities are older divers. Of course, this proves nothing unless you also adjust the stats for a some variables, like the number of divers in each age group, etc.

Let’s be careful down there.

Diving in the News, Sept 29, 2012 September 29, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Emergencies, Miscellany.
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OK I get it I think. The son of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, also called Eugene, is a diver. His project cleaned up trash from the L.A. River and made art about it. Good publicity and awareness I think but not my thing. Not that I’m not for cleaning up the bottom of our inland waterways, and not that getting public awareness is bad, and the sculpture they created is actually pretty good. So OK, I like it…. I guess.

Paris Hilton scuba dives. Lately in Maui according to Twitter. Perhaps I’ll run into her on a dive boat some time.

You can now go scuba diving in the virtual world with Google who have mapped the coral reefs in Google Earth, but c’mon now, get up off the couch and do something real, for Pete’s sake.

Speaking of Los Angeles, there were some more older diver deaths this week. A 59 year-old woman died near Anacapa Island, which is about 150km North West of Santa Catalina Island where I dove several years ago. Also reported was a 55 year-old ex-Mountie who died in Alberta. The accident may have begun with an equipment failure. A 45 year-old diver in La Jolla, California died. It seems he was diving alone. Another 45 year-old diver from Wichita Falls died diving in the Roi-Namur, in the Marshall Islands Kwajalein Atoll.

A 35 year-old Oregon woman drowned after surfacing from a dive, only 50 feet from shore. She was out of air, but on the surface. We all have two options that don’t require air. One is to drop the weight belt, and the other is to orally inflate the buoyancy compensator. Maybe more training is needed on these skills. OK if you’re a tech diver you generally can’t drop a weight belt, but then again you shouldn’t run out of air, either.

I was somewhat shocked that a couple had to close their diving business in the Ozarks because of the planned dumping of mining waste containing lead in the pristine lake they used for dive training. What a shame. It says here that this was done under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the Atlantic in Cornwall, England, a diver found a camera underwater and discovered that the chip holding the photos was intact. The (non-waterproof) camera had 800 family photos and once the story got out, it was reunited with the owners. That story reminds me of how I was involved in connecting the underwater memorial for Maureen Matous with the family who’d lost it in Cozumel several years ago.

Justin Timberlake is afraid of sharks, but Jessica Biel helped him overcome his fear. She probably have that effect on me as well.’

That’s all for this week. Let’s be careful out there and don’t dive beyond your experience and training unless you’re with a qualified instructor.

Diving in the News, Week Ending September 22, 2012 September 22, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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I’ve been thinking that I’d like to dive some of the wrecks off the South Carolina coast some time. I’ll try to remember not to use Coastal Scuba, though, based on the articles I’ve read about a recent fatality. If it wasn’t so tragic some of this would be funny, especially the report of an employee throwing the only non-empty Oxygen bottle overboard because he thought it might blow up. While the reports of the company’s actions on board the boat allege they were frozen in inaction, they have been quick to send their clients threatening letters from their lawyers, according to one report. A pair of registered nurses who tried to revive the woman apparently had to “bark” at the boat captain to get him to call the Coast Guard.

A diver died in Cape Breton last Sunday, which was also reported by the CBC. Cape Breton is part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. He was part of a group of 10 and 56 years old, and was determined to be missing when they left the water. I wonder who his buddy was. It seems, although I don’t have stats, that deaths amount divers 50 years and older (like me) are due to medical problems.

Diving in the News – week ending September 15th, 2012 September 15, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Ecology, Miscellany.
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There are about 100,000 divers in China. Not that many considering the population. I enjoyed this WSJ article about diving a sunken part of the Great Wall of China. The water is green and visibility only 3′. Sounds like places I’ve been in Canada. One thing I noticed was that Pauli Husa needs a shorter inflator hose. It sticks out too much and will probably catch on something. From his LinkedIn profile I see he’s also a ham radio operator like me.

The US and Canada have agreed on measures to protect the Great Lakes, which has been praised by environmental groups. My father was an environmental engineer, although he dealt mostly with air pollution. He had a very pragmatic approach to his profession, and pragmatism is needed in environmental matters because there are so many variables and interests to balance.

Here’s some praise for the GoPro camera. Unfortunately, for most of the diving that I do the ambient light is much less than your average dive in Cozumel, and the low-light performance of the GoPro is terrible. I hope some day there’s a low-light version because I really like them otherwise.

I’ve only been back at the blog for about 10 days but have encountered the first report of a diver fatality.  The diver was 66 years old. No matter what shape we’re in, as we get older there’s a certain risk of having a medical issue under water. A medical issue anywhere is more likely, I suppose, but under water the chance of rescue and resuscitation are considerably less. Concentration of skills can help that by reducing the effort of diving, but sometimes you’ve got to go all out under water to rescue someone else. I suppose that means as you get older you should make sure you dive with people who know how to keep themselves out of trouble. That’s easier said than done.

The ice is melting in the Arctic and David Suzuki has spoken up about it recently. An interesting tidbit in the article is how the Republicans ignore warning about global warming except to mock the scientists who bring it up. Politics, a profession dominated by lawyers, is rife with advocacy over truth. Each side will argue what it believes will serve the usually short-term vested interests of its constituency to the point of outright lying, as many recent articles about U.S. vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan have revealed (whose response of course is to attack the reporters, which may well be justified in some cases). My grade 11 chemistry teacher, Mr. Newman, was fond of saying that in science, 1/2 of what you believe to be true will be invalid in 10 years. That doesn’t make science wrong, it is in fact its greatest strength in the search for truth. So when politicians mock scientists because some were worried about a new ice age in the 70’s, I believe they know full well that they’re in fact making a mockery of the truth. At least I live well above sea level. Later, another article talks about being able to sail the Northwest Passage due to the lack of sea ice.

A few years ago I addressed an audience in Vancouver about “green” technology companies, in which I appeared right after the president of the David Suzuki foundation. Someone in the audience asked me what my company was doing about it, and I told them we were encouraging telecommuting and shrinking our office space, and that our downtown location encouraged people to use public transit. Someone else asked me if I thought the world would actually address the global warming issue. My reply was along the lines of “no, we are going to dig up all the oil and burn it, then we are going to start burning our crops as well to supply our energy needs”.

There’s not really much I can add to this article and video about a frisky male dolphin making advances on diver. Warning there’s explicit scenes in this video, at least if your a dolphin .

Some diver deaths in the news this week. A 66 year-old Palm Beach man died while on a routine dive. An off-duty policeman Cayman Islands policeman also died while diving.

Beatles vs. Rolling Stones August 28, 2012

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Please excuse the interlude from the theme of my blog. The only connection is with the “older” part of the title. I’m old enough to remember this stuff and also my mind rambles.

When I was young the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were emerging. The Beatles had the hair but otherwise clean-cut fun-loving image, while the Stones were the bad boys. One sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” while Mick sang “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. Fans and historians might remember when Mick had to sing “Let’s Spend Some Time Together” to meet the requirements of network TV in the sixties.

There’s was also a big “who do you like better” thing going on and loyal fans willing to argue both sides. I must say that I was a bit more a Beatles fan early on but grew into the Stones in my teenage years. I even saw them live once but it wasn’t that great a concert (the “Voodoo Lounge” tour in an uncovered stadium (CNE) in the rain, where we were a long way from the stage).

Now, much later, I have XM Satellite radio in the car and like to listen to “Little Steven’s Underground Garage”. Besides Steven Van Zandt, sax player for Springsteen in the E Street Band and sidekick to Tony Soprano, Andrew Loog Oldham, former producer for the Stones is one of the disk jockeys. He likes to play obscure Stones songs and it struck me that I haven’t heard/don’t recognise a lot of them. Now the Stones cut more albums but there’s probably not a Beatles song that was released that I don’t know the title, tune and at least some of the lyrics. I wonder why? Is it the number of songs or are Beatles songs just more memorable, or does it go back to my younger more impressionable days where my memories are clearer?

I’m going diving in the St. Lawrence this weekend. Looking to do some deep diving where it’s too dark to take pictures with my minimal gear, although I’ll see what I can do, and report back here.

Hot Asphalt August 2, 2011

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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Here’s a very small diving tip:

The scenario: Having just exited the boat with doubles on my back and my wetsuit still on, I walk to the car and unload the tanks. Then I sit on the lip of trunk (boot, for those of you in Commonwealth countries other than Canada) and remove my wet suit. It’s a sunny day and the parking lot is paved with asphalt and is hot hot hot.

So when I remove my booties, which still have some accumulated water in them, I empty them on the pavement right in front of me. This cools the asphalt down to the point where it no longer induces searing pain on the soles of my feet whilst I wriggle out of my wet suit.