Diving 101

May 30th, 2006

I’m taking Open Water Dive classes that will certify me to dive up to depths of 60ft. These classes were originally bought last year as gifts to Lee & Sachi in preparation for their trip around the world. Right before they were about to take the classes, they decided to not do it. Well… the classes were paid for, so I am taking the classes in their place. So far, the classes are really fun, but we haven’t left the confines of the swimming pool yet. The classes have gone over breathing, ascending/descending, clearing your mask and all the exercises around air depletion and shared air with your dive buddy. Diving is quite safe and with all the precautionary checks and backup systems in place, it’s no longer the risky adventure sport it once was. The equipment is probably the only thing that will shock you…. between fins, gloves, mask, snorkel, boots and misc gear, it can easily run upwards of $500, and that doesn’t include the more expensive items (that luckily we can rent) like the inflatable BCD (vest), air regulator and the tank of air. My co-worker Quinn (who last appeared on this blog in Oyster fest 2005 ) is using the other Dive class voucher that Lee/Sachi didn’t use. This looks to be a once-in-a-while type of activity, since it take preparation and a group of folks to dive with… so it’s not something you can just meet up and decide to do on a whim. I equate it to golf, where you need to block of 5 hours and find 3 friends to go with… but I think I still like golf better. But who knows, we’ll see how the Puget Sound dives go.

Phone no more

May 23rd, 2006

My SX66 PDA Phone has been a good gadget to have. Between the email, calendar, and Internet browsing capabilities, I have found it to be essential in many tough situations. Recently, some parts inside the phone have been rattling around. I know it’s not supposed to do that, but the thing still worked, so I didn’t complain. I then had problems keeping the phone on. It would randomly shut down, which should have been a hint that it was on its last leg…. well last night it finally took the bullet. The screen was unreadable and it was impossible to make/receive calls. What does this mean? It means time for a new gadget. I was all set on just getting a phone-phone, not another crazy all-in-one pda/phone. When I was at the store, I took a look at a couple phones and realized that I DID need to check my email on my phone, so I would be able to respond to emails without having to be on my laptop. That brought the number of possible phones down to a small handful, most of them being PDA/Phone combos. I settled on the Cingular 8125, a PDA/Phone that has almost all the same tools my previous phone had, but this also has a 1.3 Megapixel camera…. not bad. I’m test driving this gadget for the next 30 days, so we’ll see if it holds up to the hype.

It’s done… no more grass

May 23rd, 2006

well, no more tall grass, that is. I finally got around to cutting the grass on Sunday, with pictures included (on the flickr links to the right). After getting comments from the neighbors, family and sad looks from Amos (for not being able to walk around in his own yard), the yard has finally been tamed. The lawn mower is back in the toolshed, with its next appearance scheduled for sometime in August I think.

The front yard is in my sights

May 5th, 2006

I can’t believe the neighborhood is letting me get away with not cutting the front grass. Granted, it’s a small patch, but still, I feel a little guilty everytime I walk up the front stairs. But this week will be the last hoorah for the long weeds. Tomorrow, I plan on cutting the grass. Not that it matters greatly to you, but I’ll post before and after pictures tomorrow so you can truly see the neglect I’ve put the front yard through.

And as a follow-up to the recent gas post, oil is now back down to $70, so start filling those tanks before it shoots up again. Nothing like a good retreat in oil to make everyone’s gas bill a little smaller. Happy Cinco De Mayo to everyone. Just like how everyone claims to be a little Irish during St.Patty’s Day, the 5th of May always brings out a little more margaritas, nachos and sombreros. If you can’t find your way to a mexican bar to celebrate (especially if you find yourself in a soba shop in Shibuya), don’t worry, I’ll toast a little Patron Silver just for you. Adios!

Raise gas prices to $5/gallon

May 3rd, 2006

Gas is $3 a gallon, oil is $74 per barrel….. and still people buy gas without batting an eye. Granted, they grumble the whole way, like people who say both political candidates are bad, but still vote for one of them. But simple supply and demand economics don’t really affect the average gasoline consumer. There’s no replacement to gasoline that will get me to work everyday…. and don’t say “what about the bus?” or “how about biking to work?”. That’s a bunch of malarky that is limited to people who live near Express bus routes and those that don’t mind biking to work in the rain. I personally really enjoy driving to work. It’s a chance to relax, listen to some tunes, and not have to be on a computer (although I do have my PDA on email during my commute). Given my 30 mile roundtrip commute, it costs me roughly $5 in gas per day. In the grand scheme of things, I think that’s cheap. Whether it costs me $5 or $8, I’ll still drive. Heck, I’d even drive if the costs were up to $12-$15, since then the roads would definitely have less traffic. Point being, gas is still cheap. If you factor inflation, gas is still cheaper now than it was back in the late 1970’s.

If you have been listening to the talking heads on Sunday morning news shows, you’ve probably heard the many so-called “solutions” to the high gas prices. Some say to charge oil companies a windfall profit tax… others say to give everyone $100… still others want to temporarily repeal the Federal Gas Tax for 60 days. All of those ideas are absolutely the dumbest things Congress could possibly do. It’s almost like they’ve never been in a Econ 101 class, on day 1, where they say, low supply OR high demand causes high prices. Here’s my recommendation. It’s not a popular one, but it’s the right thing to do. First of all, let gas prices go up. That is the only way to get more refineries built and to incentive oil companies to increase the supply to the system. It will also bring down demand of gas. People won’t take those driving trips to the Grand Canyon and instead will go to their neighborhood park for outdoorsy fun. Next, the Gov’t needs to drill for oil in Anwar and increase gas mileage on new cars. I think gas should hit $4 and possibly maybe $5 per gallon. Then and only then will people adjust their lives to reduce their consumption of gasoline. Then, when gas prices retreat to a reasonable $2.60 per gallon, people will know how to live without as much gas (by carpooling, telecommuting, etc) and from then on, the elasticity of gas consumption won’t fluctuate the price so dramatically anymore. And as a bonus…. less traffic. Who could really ask for more??? Granted there is a downside of more expensive transportation of goods and higher airline costs, but once there is greater refinery capacity and less consumption, things should reach a natural equilibrium. And that’s the whole goal of the supply-demand economics. … equilibrium.