18 November 2005

divemaster: one who likes to carry heavy things

Well, here it is, another exciting Friday night in Orange County.

After seeing the new Harry Potter movie, The Crow and I made a dinner of tortilla chips and beer at the nearby Mexican restaurant (don't worry Mom, we'll eat more later) and lamented that three of the four previews were for re-makes. By 9 PM we were back home.


The good news is, we'll be in Portland in about a month. We arrive the evening of December 23rd and I'll be ready to take in as much pierced, tofu, critical mass, movie snob, zine-reading, biodegradable, blue state, woodsy goodness as I can squeeze in during my two week stay. Barry even got me some heated socks so I'll be somewhat pleasant to be around despite the truly deplorable weather you guys have (seriously, can't you pass a law or something?)

So what the hell have I been doing to pass the time? Well, since June of this year, The Crow and I have been trying to finish up our divemaster certification.

What is a divemaster? Isn't one of you already a divemaster?
Barry is actually a Master Scuba Diver - a consumer rating which we call "the black belt of scuba diving." A divemaster, on the other hand, is the first step in becoming a certified scuba instructor. A rough comparison would be going from a student to a student-teacher: the grasshopper to the sensei.

To become a PADI Divemaster, we spent dozens of hours working with students, and many more hours learning and demonstrating a variety of skills. One of the skills was something called "gear exchange while buddy breathing."

What on earth is "gear exchange while buddy breathing?" Well, it's a very special torture devised by the certification agency to test the divemaster candidates' problem-solving ability. It has no practical application other than to give the people watching a good laugh.

Basically, you and a partner drop down to deep end of the pool and swap masks, fins, snorkels, tanks, buoyancy vests, weights, and all the rest of your gear. The extra-tricky part? You can only use one scuba unit the entire time - that means passing one air source back and forth between two people. This is more-or-less the equivalent of driving down Powell Blvd in a stick shift and having the passenger and the driver switch places.

We completed the gear exchange on the first try, and about a week and a half ago passed our six final exams (physics, physiology, dive tables, equipment, etc) and voila, now we are divemasters.

Can we actually teach anyone to dive?
Well, no. But, after the next course (which we start in 2006) we'll be certified scuba instructors - qualified to work for piddly wages and free tshirts in any country of the world! I'm not planning to quit my day job, but, it's a nice skill to have.

See you in about a month!


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