Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Piano

An Attempt at a new dive site at White Star Quarry

At a family gathering my sister-in-law tells me that she has an awesome idea. Sink her Piano in the quarry. She had been trying to sell it/give it away/get rid of it for over a year and no one wanted it. It was an antique, a little out of tune but not old enough to have ivory keys. An old player piano with the player removed. It was something rarely even looked at let alone played.

Needless to say I jumped at the chance. A Piano sunk in a quarry would be an awesome conversation piece and a really cool dive site. My wife and I grabbed the pickup and drove over to pick it up that evening.

Saturday morning at White Star Quarry we arrived with a Piano on the back of my pickup truck. Needless to say it drew a lot of attention and a number of people were eager to help move it into the quarry. Many of my staff were there so help was plentiful. Getting a 300lb (ish) piano into the quarry would be kind of difficult but not impossible. I was planning on attaching floats to it so we could move it easily but not sure how negatively buoyant it would be proved a difficult thought so we decided to just dump it in and then figure out how to lift it and move it. Dropped off the wall into the quarry taught me and the other people a valuable lesson none of us would have otherwise learned.

As heavy as they are and nearly impossible to move, Pianos Float!

It took about another three hours to rig up a weight to sink it to the bottom... The plan was to weight it down, Let it water log and then move it to its final resting place. It took nearly 100lbs to get it to the bottom... there, suspended from the weight and floating upright it made for a spectacular photo opportunity. I was excited about the new addition to the quarry and the chance to take pictures of something rarely seen underwater. Heading home that evening I was looking forward to the dive on Wednesday to check it out.

Wednesday morning my dive buddy, Kevin showed up and we were getting ready to dive when the Operations Manager of the Park showed up and asked if I knew anything about a piano that had been put in the quarry. My first thought was "how did he know?" We hadn't told anyone about it yet. That's when I learned the second lesson about piano sinking.

Old pianos are almost entirely assembled with water-soluble glue.

As it turns out, most of the piano floated up in its component parts and had to be retrieved from the surface of the quarry. It had disassembled itself over the three days underwater and we didn't have much left other than the sound board and part of the base which had metal components. Still cool to look at but not much resembling the piano it once was.

Lots of lessons learned. You can find the remnants of this cool idea lying on the bottom near throne mountain in the center of White Star. Should be something to see for the years to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Couple of Hours at the Newport Aquarium

While we were at Scuba Fest this past spring, my wife Jill got to talking to the WAVE Foundation people about becoming a volunteer Diver at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. Being that it was almost a four hour drive I wasnt sure what she was thinking. It seems that as a volunteer your minimum commitment is one eight hour day per Month.... now thats doable. You get to feed fish, dive in and clean tanks, interract with people through the glass and become part of the displays.

Today was my initial interview. It was my first time back to the aquarium in almost 10 years. It had seriously changed... transforming from a simple aquarium with a parking lot to a tourist mall with a bunch of attractions. I was early for my interview so I grabbed my camera and bought an admission ticket to check out the changes.

The new attractions were awesome and made me want to be part of it more. There were petting tanks for sharks, a fantastic amphibian "Frog Bog" and some awesome reef systems. The huge shark tank was still there and active, and the Bayou. As always I was fascinated by the Rivers (and the thought of diving in the Amazon Exhibit) and their new Jellyfish exhibit was amazing with many different species including the upsidedown jellyfish I saw on Bonaire in the Mangrove swamps.

The interview went well (I think.) I was qualified and could move on to the next step. A buoyancy and skills evaluation at a future date. I am sure I will post more then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bring Your Twins to Work Day at Divers Incorporated

Since their Mom had a family obligation that all of our normal baby sitters were also attending i decided to have the first ever Bring Your Twins to Work Day at Divers Incorporated. I am not only surprised how well the girls did but I was happy that they had fun for the whole 8 hour shift and that after getting up at 6:45 am to go to their swim lessons. They even lasted until we got home even though I put them in their pajamas in the hopes they would crash before Ice Cream. Whoda thunk it?

They started with grabbing their name tags and setting up a sticker and marker table in the work room at the shop. "Uncle" Will and their Grandfather (PapPap) were working with me today so they were both going to get lots attention. They moved from the work room to the classroom where we changed out the PADI video for "The Little Mermaid 2" and I sat in the back of the class watching them make a big mess and lots of projects and did (or tried to do) some work.

After that they rearranged the store a few times, worked with PapPap on some stuff, worked on regulators with Will made puzzles watched a fishy movie and then put on their pajamas for a trip home... having been so good they wanted ice cream (Frosty's) but the vanilla frosty machine was broken... Natalie got her chocolate frosty and we had to go to McDonalds for a Vanilla ice cream (half sundae no toppings)
Fun day with some good distractions... makes me happy to see they like the dive center.. .I hope it is as much a part of their life as it is mine.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

White Star this weekend!

This weekend at White Star was fantastic! It started on Friday for me with two of my friends coming up from Georgia to complete their open water certification dives at White Star. I also had the opportunity to meet a new friend, Matt for some dives along with us.

The weather was amazing! Truly turning out to be the beginning of summer down there.. it only rained a little on Saturday as we were all finishing up. The water was warmer than expected... getting close to 70 degrees above the thermocline and an amazing 40- 50 ft visibility... even with students in the water. Lots of fish activity and lots of people enjoying the dives. My girls came down to visit and to see the divers in the water with Daddy!

The weather on Sunday was coopertive as well. Staying warm and Sunny for the PADI IE and the courses we were offering from Divers Incorporated. It was fantastic to see so many old friends out diving! Dave, Dave, Sam, Patrix, Gary, Jamie, Kevin, Ron, Brad, Jimmy, Will, John, Michelle, Morgan, Jennifer, Trent and Kelly... just to name a bunch! I am looking forward to catching up with friends again soon!