Saturday, October 31, 2015

Uh. Okay. So that then. I guess we're moving.

Today one of the landlords of our studio stopped by and asked that we keep the door closed when we have a client. The Mad Duke has been editing a feature for the last couple months, so maybe someone wasn't happy with the sound? We'd asked around to make sure our neighbors were okay with what relatively little sound we do make. But who knows? Yet later, seemingly out of the blue, I get this email from the landlord:


Andrew Bellware
356 Broadway, LL10
New York, NY 10013


Dear Andrew,

This letter is notice to you that your month-to-month lease for Unit LL10 at 356 Broadway, New York, NY 10013 will expire on November 30, 2015 and will not be renewed.
We are no longer allowing offices to be shared.

We are offering to issue you a new lease on unit LL10 but only on the conditions that it is for you alone (with the occasional collaborator) and that you keep the door shut.

Henry is welcome to rent a separate office if he wishes, also on the conditions that it is for his own use only and that he keeps the door closed.  Furthermore, he would have to agree to use headphones for editing video even when he is working with a collaborator.

Please let us know ASAP your intention regarding initiating a new lease or surrendering the premises.

You are required to surrender the premises to the Landlord upon expiration. Please return the premises to the same condition as you found it upon moving in. You are required to return all keys when vacating the premises.

Jody Susler
356 Spaces, LLC

Friday, October 23, 2015

Data Management Friday

If you have an SSD drive, like I do, it's likely to be small. So you're going to be wanting to get your "user" files off of it. That's relatively easy to do, you just have to right-click on each folder inside your username and then find the "location" tab and put the directory on another drive. Windows will ask you if you want to create the new directory and move all the files to it. You say yes and violins! It's done.

But moving the "app data" directory is basically a no-go. Which is a pain in the tuchus when programs are going crazy putting junk in app data.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Eternal Prison

So I'm re-reading the Avery Cates series. I never re-read things. But the Avery Cates series is totally worth it.
I'm at The Eternal Prison. Man, for hard-boiled sci-fi noir, it sure gets into Absalom Absalom territory. There is a brilliant narrative change in the story which even when I knew was coming still blew me away.
Apparently what I think and what the tastemakers' think are polar opposites. But this series would make a great, dark, noir, TV-show. Each novel would be a 13-episode season.
Avery Cates is a great character because he's really far from being a superman. He's a journeyman hitman. But he's got a lot of rules he lives by and although he admittedly gets lucky he, as a character, has a great deal of what the kids nowadays call "agency". His decisions are the turning-points in the story.
Yeah, I'm gushing. And yes, I've made feature films stealing or borrowing ideas from these books (I even named a character after the author, Jeff Somers). But there really is that much there, that much depth, and that much excitement on each page coupled with a graceful literateness which makes the noir all that much better.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Oh, just stuff.

ScubaPro SeaWing Nova Gorilla fins. They're about two hundred bucks. The non-Gorilla versions are just a tad cheaper.

I'm selling my Mac Pro.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rescue Diving Further Thoughts

You know, I ended up with a bruised rib from being hoisted on people's backs doing water exits. Oof. But it doesn't affect my breathing and the treatment is basically taking Ibuprofen. So I'm having an Ibuprofen party. All week.

Old timers will say that the PADI Rescue Diver course is too short -- it's two evenings of classroom (at about 2.5 hours each) which includes a video and a 50-question test that I missed two on (if you have more than a 10-minute swim to get a non-responsive diver out of the water then give 'im two rescue breaths and start towing immediately, don't bother with rescue breaths. Also, I confused two kinds of releases.) Then two days from about 9am to 3pm of drills and such in and around open water.
I'd agreed initially that it was too short. But from a rescue and lifelong learning and pedagogical standpoint I'm starting to change my mind.

Two pieces of data crossed my brain. And not in this order.

  • Just 50 feet away from us on Sunday were some EMT/firefighter types in red-and-orange drysuits doing drills and... they were doing exactly the same thing we were doing.
  • Further reading about courses for professionals and members of police/firefighter/emergency teams indicates that indeed, we have learned all the skills we pretty much need to know.
This indicates that the class itself was probably the right length.
Our instructor drilled into our heads that we need to practice these skills. I had the feeling he thought he was talking to brick walruses over it.
But it seems the whole dang point of the thing is that we're not going to learn much more. No, we need practice and we need that over a long period of time. 

If we use three criteria to consider what should be taught, they'd likely be:
  1. What keeps people from getting killed?
  2. What is hard to learn?
  3. What needs to be done immediately?

And 1 and 3 are basically to make contact with the panicked diver.
2 is probably rescue breathing while towing a non-responsive diver in the water.

1 and 3 are fairly easy to teach. Number 2 takes a lot of practice. But the thing is that practicing a day or two more in the rescue diving class isn't that likely to really help you do it in the long run. You have to practice it regularly. This is why it doesn't make any different to do a longer course. You have to come back and do the exercises regularly anyway. So you may as well make the class just four days.

Why bother to do two days open water? You can really only practice one kind of getting an unresponsive diver out of the water no matter where you go (at Dutch it was a shore rescue). At a pool you'd have to do a lifeguard exit. If you were doing the class on a boat you'd have to figure out something else.
The reason is that search and recovery need to be open water because you have to be able to have a body 30 feet down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Scuba Scuff

My instructor, Don, who also did my check-out dives, sent us rescue divers a list of reading material and software recommendations.
Once you graduate rescue, the instructors are a lot more free with talking about diving accidents with you. I guess they figure that they're not going to scare you away from scuba diving so it's cool. From a safety standpoint, reading up on how accidents happen is really important. My dad used to read a magazine that I would call "Airplane Crash Magazine" (honestly I don't remember the name of the magazine). Learning from mistakes of others, always a good idea.

I realize my biggest problems as a dive buddy is that I take a long time to equalize, and I drink too much air.
Wearing those fancy SCUBA ear plugs helps. These are special plugs that have a hole in them to allow you to equalize. But I should probably add a special ear-covering mask. I actually have a Pro-Ear mask. I just haven't used it yet.
As far as air use goes, I don't know of any method other than aerobic exercise. Which I have to do anyway.
I also have to figure out a way to deal with heat. I hate heavy wetsuits. I'm sorta interested in this Thermulation heated shirt. I don't know. I do have a dry suit certification. Dry suits are counter-intuitively light in weight. I dunno.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Rescue Diver

So. I qualified by graduating PADI's "Rescue Diver" course.

My thoughts about the two days in the water. I ache all over. The first day is physically very difficult. And I made some mistakes. Here are some things I learned.

On the first day we were mostly at the surface doing various drills and exercises. But there were some underwater things -- included pushing a panicked diver away from you, helping a passively panicked diver up to the surface (gently and, ahem, slowly, not the way I did it by blowing up his BCD and rocketing up -- okay okay, we were only about 5 feet so we were okay but that's not what you're supposed to do.) Ahem.
At the surface mostly what we dealt with was responding to another non-responsive diver on the surface. This is where the real workout happens. You splash at the diver (your dive buddy, playing dead). Put your regulator in. You get near them but far enough away they can't panic and crawl on top of you. Splashing and calling out to them all the while. Pass your hands in front of their eyes, always prepared to get away from them and go under water.
Cross your arms to grab theirs. Flip them over... 
Inflate their BCD, your BCD.
Remove their weights, your weights, their regulator, your regulator, their mask, your mask. (You have a 3rd buddy to just deal with that. On both days we had the dive master as our buddy which was very very smart of us.)
Get your ear near their mouth. Look down their body. Count for 10 seconds to see if they're breathing. If not:
Yell to someone to activate EMS and get O2.
Begin rescue breaths starting with two, and then one every 5 seconds while towing the diver to shore and removing their BCD and your own BCD. Then you get to exit the water with their inert body. Which is surprisingly easier than you'd think. (I got used for the "Even someone as big as Andrew can be carried out of the water by someone much smaller" example which was not an ego boost.)
Set the victim down. Begin CPR while someone is on phone with emergency services and someone else readies the O2.
Stayin' Alive for 30 pulses and then 2 breaths. Repeat until EMS gets there. Get a mask on them with O2 free flowing until they can breathe.

You have to drill that a number of times, with a pocket mask and doing mouth-to-mouth (By the time we got to playing with different lines and ways to throw assists into the water I was beat up. Heck, I hurt today and that was two days ago.)

So it's a lot of stuff to push into your brain. My right hand cramped up so I tried to pound water into my system. I was the smart one who wore a hat in the water just to keep the sun off my neck and ears. I didn't adequately put sun screen on the backs of my hands, so they got burned. But that's not all...


Even in the relatively cold water of Dutch Springs, a so-called "Farmer John" 7mm wetsuit is too warm for me. It's too warm for me at the surface, and it's even too warm below the thermocline. If I'm doing any kind of exercise regularly, I start to run very hot -- meaning that even when I'm not working out at the moment I am physically warm. This seems to be true of my older brother and he's a triathlete type.
So during the rescue course I managed to be too hot, too cold, overweighted, and underweighted; all in just two days.
In the full Farmer John I had two 10-lb weights in my pockets and another pair of 4-lb weights in the back pockets of my BCD. That was not enough weight. Exactly, 28 pounds had me under weighted so it was very difficult to get down.
Oh wait, that doesn't even include my ankle weights which are another 3.9 lbs.
When you're overweighted (which happened after I dumped the Farmer John and went to just a dive skin and a 3mm Lavacore suit) you can't get up high enough to do rescue breaths. So ugh. That was a mistake.
I have to sort out my weight situation.
I got myself hurt twice. Both times it was while being the victim. The first time I was underweighted (in the Farmer John with 32 lbs) and supposed to play a "passively panicked diver at the bottom". So I was upside-down and starting to float up and I reached out and grabbed a rock with my fingertips. Big mistake. The barnacles or whatever put two very neat 1cm slices in the tip of my middle finger on my left hand. And it would not stop bleeding. Not very big cuts, but they hurt and were really annoying. But my dive buddy did rescue my non-moving body.

The second time I got hurt I was being carried up on someone's back and something stabbed me in the gut. I think it was just his pelvic bone. But it hit me in a tender place in my middle. Oof. That, uh, is still sensitive and probably will still hurt for a couple days.
On the second day we were going to do another scenario. Our instructor chose one of our group and the dude said "No! I don't wanna do it." So the instructor said "Okay, so who should it be?" And dude totally Julia'd me -- "Him! Make him do it." So the instructor said "Okay, Andrew is the Most Senior Diver in this scenario. He's the one in charge."
All I could think was, oh no. I'm just about to have my ass kicked.
So the scenario is the 8 of us divers are snorkeling around on the surface about 40 feet from the shore. And a diver pops up (played by the instructor) saying that he lost his buddy (the dive master). We asked where they were going and he said the end of one dock to the other dock. They saw a shark or something and his buddy disappeared. He was distraught and didn't know what to do.

Now we'd done exactly this scenario the day before, (yeah, right) and in that case we'd just had to run a search pattern to find a mannequin head the instructor hid on the bottom.
So, as the "senior diver" (which is a joke because I've never dived without an instructor, I've only done the courses up through rescue) I told two people to be "spotters" (oh, oof, I just now realized that one of those spotters was a spotter the day before, I hadn't taken that into consideration, not that I should, but yeah.) I told another two to start a search pattern starting from the one dock and another pair to start searching from the other dock. I told my dive buddy to stick by me and told someone else to activate EMS.
My spotter saw bubbles. (I'm such an idiot I didn't even notice them and they were like 10 feet from me). So I re-assigned the second group of divers to go investigate the bubbles rather than start their search pattern.
I believe I asked someone to escort the instructor to shore and to get the O2 kit. That didn't happen because of simulation reasons -- the instructor was going to stay up there with us. And maybe I didn't do it.
What also did I not do? I did not set up a way to recall divers. That turned out all right for three reasons.
  • There is no practical way to recall divers at Dutch Springs. 
  • And it's largely irrelevant that they can't be recalled -- unlike how it is on a dive boat where you have to get back asap because the boat has to go.
  • My first dive team did not have enough weight to get down, so they never went under the surface, so there was no need to recall them. Ahem.
So my second team could escort the breathing and responsive diver to the shore where he "received" O2 and awaited pretend EMT's.
Yay. Diver(s) rescued. 
The number one thing I should have done was to assign someone (my dive buddy) to think about things we should be doing and tell me what they were. Also I could have been somewhat slower in assigning tasks. And I should have been more careful with the diver on the surface played by the instructor -- made sure he had enough air in his BCD and such, made sure he had an escort.
The big takeaways I have from the course is that the buried lede in all of "rescue diving" is that the number one thing you can do for a panicked diver is to make contact with them. Eye contact. Reassure them. In SCUBA that's most of what you'll ever run into -- upset people who need to know that everyone is cool and it's all good. Also, this is really an important life lesson. If someone's upset, show them that things are fine, or help them make things fine.

The other thing, which everyone agrees with, is that the course is too short. And it totally is. You should probably spend weeks doing the skills you learn. Two days in the water is not enough. But in reality that's not really the issue so much as not doing a couple days like that every 6 months. Or at the beginning of "dive season" or whatever. This is why the military continually practices skills they learn, it's the only way to stay current.
Ha! Dive joke. Stay "current".

So yeah. This is the course everyone says is hard but satisfying. And it totally is. But now I have a clue about just how much I don't know. So it's sort of the setup of a lifetime of practice. Also, I'm getting my own decent first aid kit.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Things You Need to Know (with additional bunny and moon)

It is indeed possible to buy some canvas reproductions of Seignac paintings. They do kind of rock you for the frames so you can get them without frames.

Camtasia seems to be the go-to screencasting software.

How to move "My Documents".

Have I mentioned Free File Sync lately?

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Rescue Diver Notes

My notes for the PADI Rescue Diver class. These are the things I will never remember unless I write them down (a whole lot). 
  • Air Embolism is air in the tissues that block circulation
  • Subcutaneous Emphysema is air under the skin at the base of the neck.
  • Mediastinal Emphysema is are in the center of the chest
  • Pneumothorax is air in the chest cavity that collapses the lung.

I totally got upsold on a Henderson dive skin because of the logic that it makes getting in and out of a wetsuit easier.
I could get a compass. I could get the Scubapro FS compass. But it's a hundred bucks. And I have a liquid-filled Suunto for now. I'll get another pair of shears and a sheath though.

Here's a good set of questions to ask a patient:
  1. Were you scuba diving today or breathing compressed air?
  2. Did you make a forced or rapid ascent?
  3. How deep did you go?
  4. What was your bottom time?
  5. Do you feel excessively tired?
  6. Where do you hurt?
  7. Do you feel dizzy?
  8. Does any part of you feel numb or tingle?
  9. Are you having trouble breathing?

Saturday, October 03, 2015

This is some good writing

Good grief but Jeff Somers is a good writer. I think I've read all of his novels, even his non-sci-fi ones. But his best for me are the Avery Cates books.

And Jeff has started writing even more Avery Cates stories which take place after the last book ended. It got me so hopped up that I went back and started re-reading The Electric Church.
Good grief he can write. The world he builds is so flipping grim yet compelling. And the 1st-person narrator is only slightly unreliable. At least he's self-consciously unreliable.
But to me the biggest deal is that the world in the Cates series is completely tangible while being wildly post-cyber-whatever. As a noir (of the tough guy genre) the technology and the politics in the universe feel very real and very matter-of-fact.
And not only do I have a soft spot in my heart for sci-fi noir, I also love how Somers doesn't mind going dark, dark, dark. Dark. Like, the world does not go to a good place.