Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day One of the PADI CDTC in Punta Cana, DR

Day one is complete and I have a new empathy towards new instructors and even those divers who are learning a new skill or taking a new class.  I have been diving with sharks, places no one has ever been before, under ice, and a myriad of other challenging locations.  Never in my life have I been so apprehensive as yesterday when I stood up and introduced myself to 50 of the most talented diving instructors in the world today.   I was literally shaking when it was all over.  I will get through this but I guess the enormity of it all hit me at that moment.

Today was about orientation in the morning,  standards testing and in the afternoon we had a rescue diver workshop and a confined water evaluation workshop.   As much as I thought I knew I learned a ton and I am happy to say I passed all the evaluation points that were needed on this first day.   The course directors who are running the course are top shelf, approachable and ready to help. They are there to take us from wherever we happen to be and make us better.  I have no self-doubt about my abilities after yesterday, I just worry I will miss something.   The level of empathy that I have learned and the people I have met just this first day have made the trip worth it.  From a standpoint of the connections I have made with people who I may never have met otherwise makes this a goal worth attaining.

Today we have more classroom programs in the morning then in the afternoon we are doing our first confined water presentation/evaluation.   We play the role of students, Course Directors and Evaluators today and we get to do it in the ocean which is really exciting.  

Mentally this first day was exhausting but the support we get from the people that are here helps a lot and the fellow candidates bring to the program a level of energy that is unmatched in my recent experience.

I am looking forward to today even though I am still a bit nervous, my confidence is growing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

PADI Course Director - Becoming a PADI Instructor Trainer #PADICDTC

This is an edit/repost from the Divers Incorporated Blog with an added dimension.  I wanted to let you know some of the details of my preparation and for people who follow me it will be interesting, for people who just follow diving, not so much.   You can read the other blog at blogspot.diversinc.com

For the past three months I have been working on getting accepted to attend and then working on getting all my ducks in a row to become a PADI Course Director.  In non diving terms it is a position that will allow me to train scuba instructors and basically become an instructor trainer.   Its kind of a big deal with a lott of work involved.  I have to do a business plan, take tests, participate in workshops, take more tests,do some online training and basically prove to the powers that be at PADI that I am worthy of their confidence in me.  World wide only 50 people get the opportunity out of hundreds of applicants.  I am one of those people here to make it happen.

Long story short,  I didn't want to get this far and then mess it a up so I have been actually training for it.  I participated in programs to better myself and 27 days ago I began again the whole30 program.   I am going to keep on it for the duration of the program or until I really need a beer, whichever comes first. :)

I am in the best shape of my life. I even bought some new dive gear to be sure everything works as expected.  Today I feel fantastic and now that I am actually here and have gotten to walk around and relax I am ready.

So here is what I know.  The program that I embarking on is going to be an intense couple of weeks where they take you from wherever you are now and make you better.  They have a vested interest in you (me) becoming the best course director that PADI has ever seen. So myself and fifty or so other people from 20 countries who speak 5 different languages are going to spend the next couple of weeks working towards that goal.   I will know more after tomorrow but in case it really is that intense and I am unable to keep up with this blog like I want to the other basic understanding is that they are going to break the group up into smaller groups and that smaller group will consist of 7 - 8 Course Director Candidates who's soul purpose in life over the next few days  is to make the other 6 or 7 people in their groups outstanding course directors.  Piece of cake right?

In any case I am here, whole.  I have my stuff.  I am more relaxed than I was this morning.  Diet, habits, practice, paper writing, studying...   all have been my goal over the past two months.   I am ready for whatever they throw at us.

On another note this resort where we are at is beautiful.   The PUNTA CANA Westin Resort. It is a little too much in the way of a "timeshare" for me to be comfortable with it as a dive resort, but it has palm trees, warm water, sand and a bar.   All the necessities for what I will have to assume is the most challenging of the PADI courses.  I just do not want to mess this up so I prepped hard for it.  I am in great shape and a new path is opened before me.

Today was a long day of travelling and tomorrow starts early.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Making the most of my time - Delving into the complexities of the World Wide Web

I will admit it.   When it comes to all things related to the world wide web, its complexities are lost on me most of the time.   I have a rudimentary understanding and some fantastic support people, but the world of the web scares me while at the same time fascinates me.   I want to support my business best, myself at times and if you know how to work it, the WWW promises both.  You can obtain information about everything from the grotesque to the beautiful, from the benign to the malignant, from the sane to the psychopathic.  For something that is just coding and numbers it is pretty downright amazing.

Rich is up working late
All I wanted to do was link a blog to a website. After about 8 hours and a whole mess of heading down the wrong paths I did it.  I have built it, but will they come.

This one is an experiment to see if I can make something work on a website that, if I have to shut it off, would not affect my business in any way.  Do this to diversinc.com or Whitestarquarry.com and it could have everlasting effects on the way things work for me. Lets just say that while I know what I know, I am painfully aware of what I don't know. The amazing part is the community of friends that I have who would be willing to help me out should I completely put myself on the beach so to speak.

While I have been doing the whole scuba business thing for about 30 years it is not as simple as it once was.  As far as the diving industry is concerned I am way ahead of the curve.  As far as the potential something like this has, the stress of making a blog with real content is as daunting as my first podcast.

We shall see how it goes.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Migration of Posts - Adding some of the older stuff to this blog.

It seems that I have a lot more to talk about than just scuba diving.   I do have a bunch of really cool posts in my divers incorporated blog and a few appear in both.  This blog is primarily for my own benefit since I do, from time to time want to have a conversation with my future self.  What you will see if you are keeping score is a couple of  "new" posts that were from a few years ago.  Bear with me and I will get back on track.   The reason for the migration, in case you are curious, is that I recently went to the PADI Business Academy and there it was suggested that we incorporated a blog into our web pages, since I will be doing that shortly I figured I should sort out the diving from the personal.

Thanks for reading, its great to have you along for the ride.

Low Maintenance Daughters Cool Birthday Wish

Originally Published on November 12, 2014 on the Divers Incorporated Blog - moved here for your amusement. 

This isn't so much about diving as it is about a cool outing from my past.   You see, for their 9th birthday my twins wanted something cool. In trade for a birthday party they wanted to get their passports and then take a trip to Canada.   This wasn't at all unreasonable and it would cost the same so Jill and I decided to go for it.  As it turns out the problem would be finding a free day to take them.

Today was that day.

We got up early and headed out with a plan A and a plan B.  The first goal was for the girls to see the USA from the Canadian side.  The second goal was to see Fort Malden.  The British Fort that launched the Battle of Lake Erie.   I had a goal to take the girls to see a relic of my childhood, I was just not sure if it could be done without a boat.   I was happy to say that it was both easier and better than expected.

 The main goal for me was to see Boblo Island. An amusement park that my parents took us when I was little.   I vaguely remember the first time that I was there but I really remember the year that I was finally 48 inches tall.  That was the magical height where you could ride both the little kids rides and most of the adult rides.   The girls were both about that age and height.

Our adventure started when we crossed the Ambassador Bridge over to Canada.  The Jill, the girls and I all answered all the questions of the customs officer on the Canadian side and he was able to actually stamp their passports!  We got over to Canada and to my dismay google maps didn't work over there (I had set it up so I thought that it would) so I had to use "the Force" to find my way around.  Good thing that there were excellent signs to Amherstburg, Canada our ultimate destination for this go-around.  We stopped briefly in La Salle, Ontario, Canada so the girls could get their first glimpse of Grosse Ile, the island that I grew up on and that they had visted often, as recently as yesterday.  We were able to see some recognizable landmarks including the chapel that Jill and I got married in.   They had fun in a park nearby playing on a "Canadian" Play set.  The gravel underneath was the most noticeable contrast to the American, over-pasteurized play sets.

Traveling down the road a bit more we came to Amherstburg.  This little town was pretty cool... there was a park overlooking the "hole-in-the-wall" and the entrance to Crystal Bay. All Relics from my childhood and adolescence.  In Amherstburg we hit the first bump.  I was hoping that the rumors of the closing of a favorite restaurant from the past were untrue since there were billboards advertising it on the way in. It was unfortunately all closed up.  BUT!  The ferry to Boblo was just past it and it was a whole lot easier than I expected it to be.   We drove up just as the ferry was making its landing.   I got out of the car and went and talked to the Captain as he was stepping off the Ferry.  It seems that for $20 you can take your car across the river and drive through the neighborhood once.  Then you could park the car and walk around the remnants of the amusement park at your leisure.  There were some rules to follow and the weather was cooperative  so it turned out to be an amazingly awesome experience. The only thing that I wish I would have done was to research it a little more ahead of time.  There was a lot more there than I had anticipated.   I relied on a 40 year old set of memories of a time that was long past.  But the girls were thrilled and this was all about them after all. If you are one of the thousands of people who have visited Boblo in your childhood I highly recommend the visit.  I think that next time I am going to do things differently.  It seems that if you want to do a major photoshoot there you just have to pay a licensing fee of $100 and you can use your big camera. Since I didn't want to push it too much, not knowing what was there, I just walked around and shot pictures with my phone.













After an amazing couple of hours, and leaving some things for next time, we went for lunch in Amherstburg.   This little town had a couple of taverns and restaurants and are right in the open and at the same time difficult to find.  There isn't much in the way of parking so we parked and walked and found a delightful place called the Artesian Grill.  Great food and the first change that Natalie and Oliva noticed in food. Sometimes Shirley temples are made differently and they were totally happy with the choice.   They had been shown some of the differences, washrooms instead of restrooms, neighbours and other words spelled differently, the money differences and the KM/H on the speed limit signs but this one directly affected them.  The best fries and amazing food.  With Full bellies we headed for Forth Malden.  Only to find that it was closed for the winter.  Bummer.  We headed out on a different mission.  After filling the trunk of Jills car with Canadian Beer and Cider we zig-zagged through Windsor looking for a playground.  The girls wanted one more run around a playset.   No luck finding one though. Jill suggested Belle Isle and the day got a lot better.


We crossed back to the USA through  the tunnel clearing customs was fun with lots of questions for the girls after I told the customs officer that this was their birthday present.   He didn't have his stamp for their passports but he let us through without problems.

Off to Belle Isle.

This was pretty cool since the girls had never been there.  They saw the fountain and a good view of the Ren Cen then they had to use the bathroom so we went to the Casino to take care of that.   Then to the Aquarium to find IT WAS OPEN!!! YAAYYYY!!!

I had not been in the Aquarium in some time.  The Belle Isle Aquarium is one of the oldest Aquariums still in operation in the USA. When it closed in 2009 the aquarium was the longest continuously open aquarium at 104 years.   It is almost the same as it was during my childhood.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done but this is a pretty amazing time capsule.  This was super fun.  Afterwards we did a tour of the nearby conservatory  and got our dose of warm tropical air.  Te twins ran in the garden afterwards and then we headed home.   On the way was the hands, down most amazing outdoor playset that I have ever seen.  The girls got their final birthday wish.

Amazing day for a set of amazing kids.  Cannot wait to do it again!!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Skinny Clothes - Life story beyond the Whole 30

So Jill and I have been so busy lately that today I ran out of jeans to wear. Since this whole 30 diet thing started, I haven't given much thought to how loose my clothes have been on me. For those of you who know me best, you know that I am not a slave to fashion. This morning, having a little bit of time to kill before I left for a morning meeting I climbed into one of my storage areas and grabbed some clothes from a few years ago. I was thinking that I may have something not horribly small that I might fit into.


The first shirt and pair of jeans I grabbed fit. And they fit well. Goldilocks well. Chalk another project that I have to do on the board, now its time to pull out my skinny clothes and see what fits. There goes a day. Good thing my fashion hasn't changed in two decades.


I have not been on the diet formally for about two weeks but I am still eating as if I was. For those times that I have strayed there have been some interesting results. It seems beer tastes way better and if it is top shelf, microbrew stuff there seems to be no repercussions. McDonald's is another story. Wow is that poison. I had to eat it due to convenience for a couple of days in a row and I got some sensitive skin under my wedding ring and on my legs. After a couple of days of lots of water and eating back on the plan, it is clearing up. Gonna need to make sure I pack lunch more often.


My summer is starting and diving will become more of a weekly thing so I may not have to start formall exercise just yet. I have been keeping track of the stuff I eat (something you are not supposed to do on the plan) to see if there are changes like the one above that I can avoid. I have been delving into those foods that I put away on the diet the first time to see if there are things I wouldn't be sensitive to. Some things are fine. Others, not so much. Its funny that Beer is ok but bread is not. Cheese is really bad. I am scared to try chili again. Other stuff I wake up the next day like coming off of a three day, tropical island, where-all-I drink-is-rum kind of bender. Those mornings aren't all that much fun.


I am a coffee connoisseur now, or at least I am becoming one. Hard to believe since I only drink it black. whodathunkit?


I have created a couple of recipes that have moderate success and I love some of the spices that I am working with.


I am going to be going through my pantry again soon with a different motivation. Time to donate the stuff (poisons) that I know I won't ever eat again.


I am now down three pant sizes, and one shirt size since this whole thing started. I have more energy that I thought possible. (the coffee probably helps) I have a fantastic outlook on life.


If you are not satisfied with how you feel you should really try doing this program. Its free and I am not a paid spokesman, just someone who tried it.


I have talked with a lot of friends about the program, they ask about it, I tell them about it and it usually ends with "oh I don't think I could ever give up (fill in the blank here)" Or "I couldn't live without (fill in the blank here)" Personally, I thought the very same thing. Knowing what I know now and how I feel now, I wish I could go back and prevent all the damage I may have caused myself with the borderline high blood pressure, insecurities and pessimism.


Its only 30 days. One month. If you have made it through reading this blog I know you could give up anything for 30 days.


If you need motivation I am here for you.

And I will have a beer with you on Day 31.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Whole 30: This will probably be the way I eat for the rest of my life

I am pretty sure that this will be, more or less, the way that I eat for the rest of my life.  I feel fantastic and without following the strict letter of the law on this one I still lost another 8lbs.   The weight loss has been fantastic, but the overall feeling of health and well being has been even better.  

This past 30 days I went off diet Six times,  two slices of pizza that would have been wasted, once for an amazing Creme Brule, once for an ice cream  (it was small), an unbelievable tres leche cake, and a couple glasses of wine (they are grapes Right?) and the loaded cheeze bread in Port Jefferson New York was totally "NOT FAIR."   I also didn't concern myself as much as I did before with the oils that food was cooked in, butter as a cooking agent, bacon, and the oil for salads.   As things worked out during this whole 30 I ate out a lot, for at least 12 of the 30 days so I was really surprised at the weight loss.

All in all I think what started out as an experiment will end up being more permanent.   I am going to see what happens over the next two weeks to see what comes of it. I had pizza this evening (sure to regret it) and I want CAKE! but  other than the occasional social events I am going to do my best to keep on the program.  I can't think of a downside other than it takes a little more "thinking" to figure out what I am going to eat.

The next two weeks or so will be telling.  If my weight bumps up even a little,  I will go back to being strict about it,  if the stress returns to my shoulders, I will go back on it,  if I find that I am angry at stupid things I will go back on it. Right now I want CAKE!  But I had pizza instead.  It wasn't that good.  Over the next few weeks I am going to use up some of the stuff that is borderline (like chili and some of my soups)  and not replace them.   I am going to continue to call candy bars and pop "poison."

All things in moderation but I know that I will never have high fructose corn syrup ever again if I can help it. Corn will never be back in my diet no matter what, popcorn is also a goner.  I think I am also done with pop except for a rare exception.  I am done with Ketchup and BBQ sauce and done with coffee creamers.  When I can find alternatives I will take them but so far its been fun cooking "healthy" and it has been an amazing ride watching myself get skinnier.  Would like to see if I can drop 13 more lbs to get where I was when I finished my first year of college (I was 145lbs when I finished High School so I am not going to try that.)   Diet has been all that I have done so far,  if I hit a plateau I will go back to being super careful, watch the calories and maybe (he types with a shudder) exercise.

If you want to challenge yourself I highly recommend the whole 30 program.  I know you love beer,  I know you love CAKE!  I know that you can't live without your double frappa-mocha-creamsicle-whipcream-dairy-delight Starbucks, I LOVE RUM!  But give yourself 30 days, a real 30 days where you do not cheat.   Follow the program as outlined at www.whole30.com  and stick to it.   I would not have believed it.   It's free. No calorie counting, you can eat potatoes and meat and other carbs.  I am not a spokesperson for the company, just someone who was happy to have found it.

I know you once told yourself "I would do anything to lose weight and feel better (except eat right and exercise)"  The "eat right" in this program is easy, eat what they tell you, as much as you want.  And I lost 26 lbs without any added exercise.    I will let you know how the journey goes from here.