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2005/08/24 Santa Catalina Island and Diving
π 2005-08-24 08:38 by Merlin in Diving, Trips

I used the first two days to do 5 dives, 2 on monday (got there a bit too late for a boat trip that had already left) and 3 on tuesday (two on a boat trip, and one later at shore).
The interesting thing is that I forgot about how far the no flying after diving rule extended. According to the recommended rules, you have to wait 24H for flying after multiple dives. In real life, it's more complicated, as it depends what altitude the plane is pressurized for (usually 8000ft for commercial planes, 2/3rd of the pressure at ground level for standard temperatures), and it also depends how deep you went diving for how long, which means how much nitrogen you ended up with, in your blood. It was however recommended that I don't try diving this morning, even if I had 12H after the dive (in theory enough for a single dive, and ok if you stay at shallower depths), so I'm going to visit the Island and go Mountain Biking.

I did however take a lot of pictures, and am very happy with the underwater housing I bought for my camera. It is so much better to be able to see your pictures underwater while you are taking them, not be shy about how many you are taking, and be able to get them right afterwards. I can't believe I ever dealt with the crappy underwater film cameras.

In addition to some of the pictures below, I also got some short films, like:



Pictures of Santa Catalina and Diving are here





would you like a few more pillows? :)




those two fish were fighting, you could see them in action here




you can't see me


why don't you stick your finger in here?


Those giant sea bass can be more than 50 years old






Underwater commemorative plate

2005/08/21 Tiësto in Concert, LA
π 2005-08-21 23:39 by Merlin in Clubbing

A new entry on my clubbing report page

To make up for not going to Ibiza this year, and when I found out that Tijs would do a tour in the US, under the name of his world famous concerts in Holland, which I regretted not having attended, I knew I had to go. It was also a good opportunity to go visit my friend Jennifer who lives there.
Since it wasn't quite clear how the seating and viewing would work out, I ended up getting a couple of VIP tickets, which while somewhat overpriced for what was being offered in return, were a good way to just know that we could go anywhere and choose the best vantage point.

The arena got reasonably full half way through the concert, but strangely enough half the people weren't there when it started. What a waste...
Anyway, while after looking at the size of the stage, I was a little bit dubious of how much this would resemble his historic concert in Holland last year, I was still pleasantly surprised, especially when a couple of well known trance voices: Kirsty Hawkshaw of "Just Be", and Jes Brieden of Motorcycle, as the Rush Comes, and Waterfall came on stage and sung live to their track (and on key, no less).
All in all, it was a good evening: good lighting, nice stage appearances (although inferior to TIC1 and very inferior to TIC2), but 4H for such a concert was just too short compared to the 8-9H he did in Holland. Yet, for those of us who can't just randomly fly to Holland for a concert, it was well worth it.

The pictures and videos are here













2005/08/11 Linux Penguin Bowl at Linuxworld, Geeks vs Nerds (Linux vs Microsoft)
π 2005-08-11 22:53 by Merlin in Linux

Linuxworld isn't exactly an exciting show anymore, just a sad, shrinking, commercial show (nothing to do with what it used to be in its first seasons like summer 1999, winter 1999, summer 2000, and summer 2001)

Anyway, the main reason I went was that I was invited by my friends Jeremy and Chris to the Golden Penguin Bowl, I really wanted a glass penguin, and it was on my way back from the French consulate in San Francisco where I went to get my passport renewed :) (it also didn't hurt to run into a lot of former coworkers and fellow linux geeks)

We were playing against the microsoft linux team, and while I came with the appropriate geek attire (I was on the geeks team), they came disguised as storm troopers with Darth Vader, it was quite funny. They actually did pretty well; we won a few questions on microsoft, and they won a few questions on linux. In the end, we were slightly ahead, and we ended up winning hands down on the last question which was listing as many Unix and Posix operating systems as we knew. The judges compared it against a list of official answers, and we were about 5 ahead of the other team. I was amazed that they actually accepted my AUX entry, an ancient and obsolete Unix for Apple servers that no one knows about :)

Anyway, that was good time spent. The rest of the pictures are here . Jeremy gets kudos for his great two sides of the force costume :)








The Geeks won by being able to list the most Unix/Posix systems


I've been needing one of those glass penguins for a while :)
2005/08/05 First night flight
π 2005-08-05 23:58 by Merlin in Flying

Friday night, I did my first night flight. That was definitely interesting, and a very different perspective, trying to recognize things at night, with just about 0 lighting from the moon.
I found my way to the livermore airport but I couldn't see it because I thought the runway lights would be visible from any angle. Turns out they are only visible from the direction of landing.
I then proceeded to do 7 landings, with the landing lights or inside dashboard lights on or off. An all light off landing was "interesting": you aim between the runway lights but because of perspective you have no idea how far you are from the ground...
Got back to Palo Alto around 23:30 (which I couldn't really see either when crossing the bay), and got home a bit wiser... (the only scary thing is that if the engine quits, you are supposed to aim away from lights, and hope for the best. In real life, you have a good chance to be screwed compared to the day where you can pick a suitable landing site from the sky, aim for it, and safely land there)
2005/08/01 Spinning...
π 2005-08-01 08:37 by Merlin in Flying

No, no, not the aerobic kind on a bike :)
I didn't have any flying classes on sunday, so I scheduled a free instructor, we took a Cessna 152, and went to practise induced spins and recovery. Spinning is basically the spiral dive that happens after the plane stalls sideways, causing the plane to fall in a spiral fashion.
Recovering from it was actually pretty easy, but it was good practise.
The funny thing is that after 5 times or so, the instructor was feeling a bit sick, and wanted to go home :)
I'll have to go back though, and do fully developed spins, the instructor I was with was a little too squeemish for that ;)

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