roatan, honduras


I’m getting better. It has only taken me one month to sort through my photos and get them posted on the site. Pictures from my diving trip to Roatan are now available for viewing. In addition, I shot some underwater video on my camera, which I’m including here. The first part is just your general diving experience, getting to sound like darth vader. The remainder is from the dolphin dive that I had the opportunity to do. which was pretty awesome.

[Update 2015] In an effort to reduce the number of holdover pages on the blog, I am slowly (very slowly) integrating these albums into the appropriate historical posts on the blog itself. As such, photos from this trip are now below.

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Photoshop is a time sucker


Two weeks later, and my photos are finally going online. I downloaded the trial version of Photoshop, which lets you try it out for 30 days, and went a little nuts cleaning up the pictures. In any event, they’re here. I’ll post later to point out some of my favorites, but they’ve got some descriptive headings if you want to take a look right now. Needless to say, as cool as these pictures are, they don’t begin to compare to what the actual beauty of the place is.

[Update 2015] In an effort to reduce the number of holdover pages on the blog, I am slowly (very slowly) integrating these albums into the appropriate historical posts on the blog itself. As such, photos now appear directly below.

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home sweet home…


I’m home (as if you couldn’t tell from the random flurry of new blog posts that are not actually from today). I had an excellent time (other than the part where I had to fly for 26 hours in each direction), and I’m completely exhausted. I’m going to be working on cleaning up the photos from my trip for a bit (which may involve purchasing some sort of photoshop product), but in the meantime, I thought I’d share one of the coolest things ever.

There is this lake in Palau that many many years ago got cut off from the ocean, isolating a population of jellyfish from any of there natural predators. Over time, these jellyfish, not having any predators, lost their ability to sting, and live in a symbiotic relationship with the algae inside of them. They basically survive through photosynthesis, even though they’re animals. Which is just really really cool.

Even cooler? you can go swimming with them. Upwards of 16 million of them live in this lake (they were all but wiped out from the temperature changes from El Nino a few years back, but the nodules or eggs that they laid in the walls of the lake managed to survive and repopulate the lake).

Hit play to check it out for yourself.

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I so needed this…


Got to Palau Monday night (Palau time), to find my brother waiting for me at the airport, which was a nice surprise (he told me he was going to send a taxi for me). At 8 the next morning, we were already waiting for the boat to take us diving. Did two dives on Tuesday (Blue Corner and Turtle Cove), which were pretty amazing, and two more on Wednesday (Blue Holes and New Dropoff). These were really stellar – I think every single iconic scuba image has been photographed here. Oh, and on Tuesday we also went to Jellyfish lake, which was totally amazing and surreal. There are millions of these jellyfish that have been cut off from the ocean (and natural predators) for so long that they’ve lost their ability to sting. They evolved to survive via photosynthesis with the algae that lives inside of them. Pretty awesome.

Today’s a day off (and my brother had to go to work), and I’m just going to relax and nurse my sunburn, which only exists on the back of my neck and the backs of my arms from my elbow to my shoulder. So not only does it hurt, it’s incredibly silly looking.

As far as pictures, I’ve taken a bunch, but I may wait to upload them until I get home. They have wifi in the lobby of the hotel, but I swear it’s a wifi router hooked up to a dial-up connection – very very slow. According to my brother, the lowest level of DSL service you can get on the island, which has a speed of about 36.6 kbps (yes, slower than most dial-up these days) costs about $700 a month. Something about the scarcity of satellites over the region and whatnot make it incredibly expensive, and incredibly difficult to hook up. Needless to say, I’ve got better things to do than sit for several hours watching my photos upload.

Anyway, having a great time, wish you were here, blah blah blah…

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As if I wasn’t excited enough…


How’s this for a vacation destination review…

From 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

Palau: One of many island constellations in the Pacific galaxy that is Micronesia, Palau’s 343 islands are surrounded by spellbinding waters that many cognoscenti say offer the best diving in the world. The meeting place of three major ocean currents, these waters support more than 1,500 species of fish and four times the number of coral species found in the Caribbean, and are known for their extraordinary drop-offs and wall diving: the Negemelis Drop-off is widely considered the world’s best, a technicolor reef that begins at 2 feet and plummets vertically to more than 1,000 feet. The legendary Blue Corner is one of the planet’s most exciting sites for the sheer abundance, variety, and size of its fish life – and those schooling gray reef sharks! More than fifty WWII shipwrecks – the remnants of an aircraft carrier attack – rare and exotic marine species, and visibility that can exceed 200 feet add to divers’ wonderment.

And that’s just the beginning. The book recommends two places to stay, and they happen to be the same two places that my brother booked me at. Because he’s awesome (he did spend some time working in the hotel industry before he became a do-gooder, but I sometimes forget that he has this skill).

I’ve already ordered a big-ass strobe light (that better arrive at the shop before I leave) so that I can better capture the color underwater (my photos from Curacao were quite…blue). and I’ve started the list (a necessary obsessive-compulsive tendency that occurs in the weeks leading up to any big trip. I’ve been known to have to turn around halfway to the airport because the tickets were still sitting on my desk. The lists are a must!).

Now I just have to find time to buy some completely unnecessary additional beach clothes and a good, large carry-on bag, and I’ll be set. I think…

I’ve already blocked out the part about having to fly coach for 25 hours in each direction. Really. I’m not thinking about that part at all.

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Biting the bullet.


It’s been about a year and a half since my last real vacation (diving in curacao). Sure, I took a few days off last February/March and stopped off to visit my brother in Vail, and I took a week of last July to move, which was technically vacation time (although certainly more stressful than actually being at work), but I haven’t taken a real, honest to goodness, sit on my ass, do a little scuba diving, no cellphone reception vacation in quite some time. Plus, the crazy work related travel that I had to do all last fall completely bit into my normal vacation scheduling (I usually go away in October). Needless to say, I’ve been feeling a bit…not relaxed.

So anyway, even though I’ve got a million different things going on at work, I decided about a week and a half ago to put in for vacation time. I actually had no idea what I was going to do yet, but with more school vacations coming up, plus spring rapidly approaching, I thought it would be good to just reserve some time and come up with a plan later. I’m taking the last week of march and the first week of april off, and after much consideration, and even more e-mails back and forth, I’m actually going to fly 25 hours in each direction to go visit my brother in Palau. Which is about as far away from here as you can actually get without taking a spaceship.

And I’m stuck in coach (nevermind that I have a gazillion miles – Continental has a stranglehold on the micronesia routes, and apparently you can’t upgrade if your life depends on it). This should be fun.

Actually, I’m really looking forward to everything but the flight. I’ve been to Europe a bunch of times (both for fun and for work), but I’ve never been anywhere in Asia or the South Pacific. I’ve already started reorganizing my dive equipment, making lists, and generally hopping around in a giddy mood. I have a giant world map hanging on my office wall, and I spent a good 40 minutes staring at it on Monday – granted one of my bosses was in my office with me, and we were actually having a conversation about the trip, so it wasn’t that weird, but still.

I’m excited. And the tickets are nonrefundable.

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I’m such a trendsetter!


The Times profiles that place where I learned to scuba dive a year and a half ago. And it’s apparently still awesome. They’re really focused on Ranguana Caye, which is owned by the Inn at Robert’s Grove, and which we used as a launching point for our dives one day.

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Starting back up.


I’m slowly working my way back through pop culture this weekend, in between running errands and going to work for a few more hours today. One thing that will help me catch up more quickly? My cable went out some time over the middle weekend that I was gone – so TiVO recorded dead air for my second week of vacation. Sure it sucks, but it also means one less week of shows to try and catch up on.

First, I totally forgot one of my other favorite pictures – oooh, barracuda! Earlier in the week, we actually saw one that was enormous – 4 or 5 feet long, but it was too far away to get a good shot (ah, photography, the new venue for "one that got away" stories).

I finished a few books on the trip, including Smartest Guys in the Room, the Know-It-All, and The Family (Kitty Kelley’s book – I know, it should be beneath me, but first, I always like reading fairly mindless stuff when I fly, and second, it was a loaner – I wouldn’t actually pay for the thing). I may be compelled to write something longer about them later, but I’m lazy right now.

I actually tried to avoid much news while I was away, giving my brain a vacation as well. Once in a while politics would come up on the boat, but I tried to avoid taking part. Actually, it was largely because this one woman, who was actually a lefty, was driving me absolutely up a friggin’ wall with the never shutting up and the passing judgment on everyone else. I have strongly held political beliefs, but part of the reason that I keep this blog is that it enables me to vent – to be as shrill as I want without driving even the friends of mine who agree with me absolutely nuts (I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in conversations with both friends and family where we would get so heated about a topic that, even when we all agreed, it would turn into something resembling an argument). Call me crazy, but I generally think it’s a good idea to not completely alienate the NRA member from North Carolina who may be my only lifeline if something happens to my O2 supply 70 feet below the surface. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not going to change his mind with my brilliant rhetoric, and at that point we’d both clearly rather talk about the giant puffer fish that seemed to know exactly how to avoid being photographed.

Actually, crazy lady was just annoying and loud and nosy about everything. I have a LiveStrong bracelet, and after asking me what it was (which was fine), by grabbing my wrist (which was not), I explained (along with the other folks on the boat who knew what it was) that it was part of a charity. Her next statement? "And clearly you wear it so that people will ask you about it" (in a tone that was pretty much "and clearly you just want attention"). Well no, given that not only are they the trendiest thing in NY right now and four other people on the boat helped explain exactly what it was (not to mention the fact that the nike advertising juggernaut helps to market it, they’ve sold millions of the things, and even her favored Presidential candidate has been wearing one for months) I’m pretty comfortable with the fact that most people who I don’t know won’t grab my wrist in an accusing fashion to ask me about my "jewelry". Ugh. She was just annoying. And then she sat behind me on the plane ride home (She was that person who kept laughing uproariously at the in-flight movie – the only one. y’all have been on a plane with that person, right? The one that everyone else keeps shooting dirty looks at because she doesn’t understand that headphones don’t muffle her voice?).

See? venting.

The only "news" channel we got down there was a bad feed of CNN Headline News, which frankly, makes Sesame Street look like trenchant political analysis. They didn’t show the debate, and the mindless airheads that they have speaking the headlines kept annoying me with their incessant grammatical mistakes (Hint: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania? the "e" in Barre isn’t silent – I’m sure one of the thousands of locals who showed up to this Philadelphia suburb to see a presidential candidate speak could have clued y’all in. Instead of actually listening to the news the only thing I could think was "thank god Kerry’s not in Bala Cynwyd"). I basically checked in for a few minutes a day to make sure there wasn’t any earth-shattering election news.

Anyway, I’m currently suffering from a nasty head cold, as is everyone else in my office – of course, since I caught mine several thousand miles away, we all spent yesterday trying to have conversations from 15 feet apart and using tissues to hand things to each so that we don’t cross-contaminate. I imagine this will last for about three more hours before we all resign ourselves to just being incessantly sick for the next month.

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I’m back!


Two week vacations are definitely the way to go. I had a great time, did lots of diving, and met some really nice people. Oh, and took a ridiculous number of pictures underwater. Pictures are organized by day, but only for the days that I took pictures. If you don’t feel like looking at 200 pictures of coral and fish and just want my favorites, here they are:

My sometimes dive buddy Ron playing with a really big turtle;
A few pictures of another really big turtle;

And it’s kind of hard to make out, but the yellow object in the middle here was a tiny little seahorse that our divemaster managed to find.

All in all a blast. Now I’m off to work.

[Update 2015] In an effort to reduce the number of holdover pages on the blog, I am slowly (very slowly) integrating photo albums into the appropriate historical posts on the blog itself. As a result, the full Curacao album is now below.

day 1:

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day 2:

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day 3:

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day 4:

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day 5:

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day 6:

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day 7:

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Time for a vacation.


So I just booked my fall vacation, and I’m going to spend two weeks in October scuba diving in Curacao. I’m hoping that I miss the hurricane season (and Curacao claims to be "below" the hurricane zone). Since I was taking two weeks off, I did look in some more *exotic* places, like the south pacific, but given a choice between spending more on accomodations vs. airfare, I’m going to pick accomodations every time. I’m going here.

My ultimate island dream vacation is the Maldives, but even taking two weeks off, I’m just not prepared to spend that much time on a plane right now. Maybe next year.

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