Friday, May 30, 2008

Breathe or die: Good policy even out of the water

Scuba class started last Sunday.
I am taking it through a local dive shop called Sea D Sea.

So, what did we do the first day?

Well, it started with arriving at the pool at Akai Swim School at 7:30 a.m.

For anyone who knows me, you know it is a minor miracle for me to be up at that hour, not to mention out of the house and alert enough to be thinking about diving and listening to what the instructors had to say.

Since the class starts before the shop is even open, I had to go over there Saturday to pick up a tank, BC and regulator.

I packed all that and my mask, snorkel, fins, boots and gloves over to the pool.

The instructor, a guy named Ron Fredette, got us started by showing us how get the gear set up and ready to go. It was all pretty easy. He even has another guy helping him, Carlos (I did not catch his last name).

I had done the Discover Scuba Diving thing a few years ago in St. Thomas, but they equipment was all ready for us there.

Then minus the gear, we jumped in the water so they could make sure we can all swim. There are seven of us total in the class. We swam back and forth several times.

Then we had to tread water or float for a while.

Then we got out of the water to gear up, with the help of a buddy.

Then back in the pool.

We went over stuff that I learned in the Discover program. How to clear water from your mask, how to recover the regulator if it comes out of your mouth, how to adjust your buoyancy underwater, how to breath without the mask on (not pleasant), how to descend and clear the air pressure from your ears.

One other thing they covered was the whole breathing thing. You want to make sure you do that.

After a couple hours in the pool, we had to head over to the shop for some classroom lessons.

So I changed, stopped to grab a sandwich and headed to Redondo Beach.

They showed us how to clean the gear then we sat in a stuff little room until 2:30 p.m.

It was all pretty interesting, but it makes for a long day.

So, this week we are back in the pool first thing.

I have a couple chapters in the book to review. There are quizzes.

I think I did pretty well. Like A- level scores on the first two we took.

But I am competitive. So I need to step up my game.

I will try to post more on the next class Sunday afternoon.

I was thinking it would be fun to have pictures, but really, it is not pretty. NO one looks good in those masks.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The gas bubble

A couple years ago everyone was talking about the housing bubble and when it would burst.

Well, we all know it burst.

Sales slowed down and prices started to ease a bit.

So, will there be a gas bubble?

I sure as hell hope so. I filled up yesterday
and the best price I found was at Costco.

They had the "cheap" stuff for $3.95 a gallon.
The higher octane was something like $4.09, I think.

I vaguely remember the gas lines of the 1970s.

I remember my mom pulling up to the station
and having me or my sister get out of the car to check
the license plate to see if it ended in an odd or even number,
which would determine if we could get gas that day.

There was no one checking the plates yesterday,
but the lines did remind me of those lines in the '70s.

I heard on the radio that more people are using the
Metrolink train system here in the L.A. area.
I wish I could use that.
With my odd hours, it would take me half the day to get to work.
So I drive.
The hours also make it impossible to find a carpool buddy.
With stories about how gas prices will keep rising,
I really start to wonder:
When will Los Angeles and Orange counties get things right?
When will they realize that we need to solve the traffic problem?
When will they do more than talk and actually fix this?
Then I think that even if they do come up with
some great plan, they still need to pay for it.
And then there are all those years that it will take to build.
So I drive.
And once a week I fill the tank, seeing the total go up week after week.
So, about that bubble...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day and memories

I was fortunate enough to grow up with all my grandparents being a big part of my life.

I know many people who didn't know any of their grandparents, much less all of them.

I had opportunities to spend time with all of them: fishing with grandfathers, shopping and cooking with grandmothers.

They were around on all the holidays and birthdays.

Like I said, I was fortunate.

My maternal grandmother is still alive and living nearby with my aunt.

I see her at least a couple times a month.

But the others have all passed.

All were veterans and all are buried in the same cemetery.

The first of my grandparents to die was one of my grandfathers.

It hit me really hard. I was in my early teens and it was the first time I lost someone so close.

My other grandfather died in 1996 and my grandmother 10 years later and was buried in the same plot with him.

And while the cemetery is not that far from home, I had never been there.

When my grandfathers died, I went to the services, but did not attend the burials.

When my grandmother died, my uncle (we shall call him waste of skin) never told us when the burial was.

Now I am not sure why, but for some reason as I was thinking about the Memorial Day weekend, I thought I should go out there to the cemetery.

I was not sure what to do or what to expect.

But I wanted to go.

I talked to my sister about it and she said she wanted to go, too.

So Monday morning we made the drive, about 45 minutes, with her toddler son in tow.

We stopped and got flowers.

I had looked up the grave numbers before we left, so all we needed to do was get a map and find them.

The place was huge.

One grave is in section 12, one in section 56. It is huge.

And there were Harleys everywhere.

I never realized bikers were so into the whole Memorial Day thing.

But I guess it makes sense. Why wouldn't they be?

So we found the graves.

First the plot with my grandfather and grandmother.

We cleared the stray pieces of grass from the marker.

The cones that are provided to hold flowers were gone. So we left them on the grass.

We did not really know what to do.

We talked a bit about our grandparents. We told the boy a bit about his great grandparents.

A grandmother who took us shopping every year at Pennys and Pic n Save to buy presents for our parents with money she gave us.

A pretty and good grandfather who was a jokester.

Then we headed to the other side of the grounds to find the other marker.

Once there, we did the same thing.

The boy was happy to sit on the marker while we told him about a grandfather who took us fishing.

Then we left.

It was not a sad day. It was just a day to remember.

And I think it is something I want to do more often. But maybe not on Memorial Day.

The Harleys were a little loud.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Busy weekend... let's start with food

Why not, right? It was an enjoyable part of the weekend and the easiest thing to blog about quickly.

Plus I already have the posts up over at All That and She Cooks, Too.

It was a busy weekend. I will try to post separately on the scuba lesson and the other stuff I did.

But for now, here is the food.

Last night I started dinner with a lovely salad: romaine with blue cheese vinaigrette.

Then I made a pizza on the barbecue: mushroom, onion and pepperoni. Yum!

There are lots of pictures with the pizza entry.

As usual, just click on the name of the dish to get the recipe.