George invited me to join him on a Lick Observatory event through Google. I hadn’t been there before and was excited when we got there to learn that they are working on two of the most interesting problems in astronomy; exoplanets and supernovas. The exoplanet work they are doing is amazing, as they are focusing on the spectral shift method. They survey large amounts of the sky looking at stars and galaxies for long time series. We got to look through two of the telescopes. One looked at a binary star while another looked at a globular cluster. I appreciate George taking me on such an interesting adventure.
Steph and I headed to Mexico for a week of cavern diving training. We got to use Steph status from her work trips for probably the last time, but use of the lounge and an upgrade was very nice.
We got to the airport in Cancun and pretty quickly got to the transfer we had booked. We got to the dive shop and Rory was willing to drive us to the grocery store that evening. We got a good amount of food and headed back to the room to crash. The next morning we started the training with a checkout dive in about 7 feet of water. It went decently well as we went through all the drills. We got out of the water and redid a good bit of the gear before debriefing. We were pretty tired so we went straight to the room and relaxed for a bit before calling it a night.
For the first trip with videos click here.
The next day we did a lot of navigation theory, and did dive plans for the Taj Mahal cavern. The dives didn’t go exactly as planned as we were going slower than expected, and I called out the first reference point in my dive incorrectly. We still got through most of the skills with minor hitches. I lost buoyancy pretty badly on the turn of my dive and hit the ceiling. That evening we again just relaxed, and I got some good cuddles from one of the cats that frequents the area, the aptly named Mustacio! He jumped into my lap and started purring, kneading, and drooling.
The next day we went to Cenote Chiken Hal. These dives didn’t go as well, and we had to repeat the first dive, focusing on the command chain: breathing, buoyancy, trip, position. These were really hard for me, and the better I was doing the more uncomfortable I was getting. The correct position had my neck, shoulders, and back hurting.
I decided that I was done with the training at that point.
I did go on a guided dive through a cavern called Dream Gate after that, which was gorgeous, but otherwise I sat at the room/shop. There wasn’t much else to do in that area, and there were limited transportation options.
Steph completed the course and is now certified in Cavern Diving and Intro to Cave Diving.
We then went to Cancun, and had some amazing food. We especially enjoyed the Benazuza restaurant, which is a course based meal. They had some great mixology to start out the dinner and amazing food throughout. It was better than some of the best dining we’ve had in the bay area and I can see why it was ranked in the top 5 in the world on trip advisor.
We went to Chichen Itza and saw most of the city. It was pretty amazing. Tikal was only slightly more impressive.
Stephanie and I decided to take a class in seaweed harvesting. We had to get up to Jenner by 6am, so we instead decided to get there the night before and stayed at a cute inn. We were only there for sleeping, but I would go back.
The harvesting was interesting and there were three types of seaweed that the guide pointed out as good for harvesting. We got one bag of kombu and three bags of nori. I am trying some in a smoothie tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes.
We were at Shell Beach and it was quite nice. We got there at 6am because that was the low tide time. We got a good bit of time out in the tidal zone. It was very slippery and I hit my shin pretty badly, but didn’t bleed that much.
After the harvesting we went to wine country and had tastings at two wineries. They were both gorgeous locations, and the wines were pretty good.
We then went to Berkeley to get pizza at the Cheeseboard. It was delicious, and I’m glad I can now say I’ve been. We then went to the cat cafe Cat Town. I got to play with two of the cats there, but most of them were napping while we were there. We headed out a little early, and got home. I was tired from all the travel. It had been less that 24 hours since I’d gotten home from visiting parents that we left on this trip.
Stephanie and I went to a Survival Class this past weekend, and were joined by Andrew and Debby. I was a little surprised that Andrew came, since the day star is not his thing, but he seemed to like it. He was able to get a fire going. I was able to carve and wood burn a spoon, that I actually used to eat some tom yom. It isn’t a very good spoon, but I might work on it a touch more.
That evening we went over to Debby and Andrew’s place and watched some naked and afraid. It was good and we felt like we knew some of the mistakes people on the show were making.
I had a really good time at the convention, learning a good number of new games. There was one card game that was very simple, but very deep in strategy. I really enjoyed playing it. The game Java that was very similar to Tikal was way too complex. I enjoyed listening to James’ lectures, and they had a lot of information I didn’t already know. The one on probabilities I already knew most of, but that was to be expected. I’m really looking forward to his lectures on Kickastarter and randomness.
Last night I gave Steph her birthday present of a Paint Nite at Willow Street Pizza in Saratoga. I was doing it as a surprise, and she was guessing what it would be until she saw the canvases in the window of the restaurant. She really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure she liked the surprise aspect. The food and drink was good, and we both decided not to just paint the basic painting. The painting that was taught was more or less what you see below, but the trees in the background weren’t given the red leaves. I also added in a bit of a sun ray coming into what I made to be a clearing. Steph and I were doing really well compared to most of the rest of the class. I also noticed that there were 3 men and 27 women at the paint nite. The painting on the left is mine and the painting on the right is Steph’s.
Today we had a lot more interesting maneuvers for the motorcycling. It wasn’t nearly as tiring and not nearly as hot it seemed. I had a good time and was taking corners a little too quickly in some situations. We all did rather well on everything except the U-turn box. Adam had the hardest time with the U-turn box, but he managed to pull it out in the end. I think that situation is the one we have to worry about the least, as you can always just roll the bike instead of riding it in tight quarters. I didn’t do great on the test, but was far from the worst score. Jeremy did the best with a score of 1.
We had our first course on the motorcycles yesterday. It was hot out and we were all dying in the log sleeves. Some people even had the leather jackets that you might normally need for riding at full speed. With the speeds we were going at (max at about 15mph) there was little or no respite from the heat with any kind of wind. The class went at a good pace, but some of the other riders weren’t particularly learning quickly. Everyone in our group did really well. Steph got a difficult bike and couldn’t easily shift. She also dropped the bike twice, which I thought was a little funny. By the end of the day I was feeling rather comfortable on the bike, and I’d be willing to take a motorcycle out on the road (not yet highway). I probably was on the nicest of the bikes there, and it was really easy to handle and shift with.