Monthly Archives: April 2020

A Guide on Safe Scuba Practices

Scuba diving can be one of the most enjoyable recreational sports you will ever do. However, before you get excited about scuba, you must be very aware that scuba diving does have its own risks.

Diving related accidents resulting in death or serious injuries are not all that rare. You may hear every now and again of such unfortunate incidents in which a diver looses his life. It makes you want to stop and think.

However, this should not stop you from a giving it a try. With proper care and caution, scuba diving can be a very relaxing sport. There are kids and elderly alike that enjoy this pastime without loosing their lives.

Let me put this into context. Scuba is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle. In fact I dare to say that today, it is more dangerous riding a motorcycle in a quiet street. But that does not stop bikers from getting on the road and enjoying their machine.

Firstly let us take a look as to why most scuba diving accidents occur. Well, according to statistics, most scuba diving deaths occur to divers who are not properly trained. Either due to not knowing how to operate their scuba equipment or because of a lack of understanding on the effects of diving in deep water. 

The first step you should need to do even before buying your own equipment is to get certified with a reputable certifying agency. Do not opt to get trained by a friend or a relative who is not a a certified scuba instructor. Instructors are highly qualified in specialized training and skill and will provide you with the necessary scuba skills which you will not get through an unqualified person.

Physical health is another important factor. Scuba is a very strenuous sport. Scuba fatalities from heart or circulatory problems account for about a quarter of all scuba diving deaths. Although you do not need to be a world class athlete, You should be healthy enough to take on the physical stresses associated to scuba diving. If you are in doubt of your physical capabilities, it would be wise to undertake a physical exam before a dive.

One of the most crucial scuba diving safety rules is – never dive on your own. No matter what level of expertise you have, you should always dive with a buddy. Help given underwater even in the simplest form can make all the different between life or death. Besides it is more enjoyable to have someone to share your diving experience with rather than diving on your own.

Always go down with someone who has far more experience than you. This is especially the case if you are a beginner to scuba diving. Two or more beginner scuba divers going on their own is an ingredient for disaster. Get the necessary skills by learning from other who are more proficient. Notice the way they fin underwater, how far more relaxed and delicate their movements seem to be. Become an active diver. If you were to dive frequently, you will maintain your proficiency and will gradually build up your experiences and capabilities.

Many divers risk their lives by overlooking certain risks. Over-confident divers may stray away from their dive plan to explore an underwater cave. This risk can easily be avoided if the dive plan is maintained. Never stray away from the dive plan. 

Remember that you are a guest in the underwater environment which is alien to the world you are normally accustomed to… There are many factors that can lead to dangerous situations. Therefore you have to always be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to react when caught up in a dangerous situation.

A key in scuba diving safety is to continue your diving eduction. A good diver will never stop learning. There are so many things to learn about which will give you the necessary confidence in scuba diving. It is therefore essential that you maintain your scuba skills by diving frequently.

The most important factor when it comes to scuba diving safety is that you take proper care of the equipment which is taking care of you when you are underwater. Service your scuba equipment at least annually and maintain your gear in good condition. If you own scuba tanks then it is best to pressure tested them every 5 years. 


Learning Scuba Diving

We are always told that we must learn to exercise when we are young, when our bodies are more resistant to bruises and bumps that can afflict us when we learn new sports. This applies to some extent.

Take for example, my experience studying windsurfing. I learned sports when I was 26 years old. If I learn this sport now at the age of 42, chances are I won’t go far and might give up after 1 or 2 tries. Learning windsurfing is like fighting with all forces at the same time! We are talking about trying to balance on the choppy waves on a slippery wet board, at the same time maneuvering a screen that is heavier than you in the right direction you want to do. In the process, I donated blood and flesh from wounds to barnacles and bruises from hitting surf boards more than once before falling into the water.

But there is a huge difference with scuba diving. YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN SCUBA DIVING. I can never say this enough. I learnt scuba diving when I was 38. Now I’m not saying that 38 is a ripe old age but still, the body does feel somewhat less strong and less resilient. Added to that, as we get older, we also seem to have more fears. Perhaps we feel we have more to lose if something should happen to us.

I say middle age and beyond should never be a factor in learning scuba diving BUT you do need to have these:

1) an intense love for the sea

2) a willingness to learn from someone younger than you

3) relatively good health and lastly but very important

4) time and money

Now I’m assuming that you are thinking of learning scuba diving because you want to make this a sport that you can enjoy every other weekend if time and money permits and not just learning for education’s sake.

An Intense Love for the Sea
To enjoy a scuba diving trip, you will have to love the sea and I mean really really love it with all its wonderful creatures large and small. You will know what I mean on your first ever scuba diving trip after you have cleared your Open Water tests.

It is unlikely that your scuba diving buddies on your first dive trip will be the same classmates in your scuba diving course. Because of time and money constraints, you will find that you may be the only one keen enough to join a scuba diving trip soon after your certification.

More often than not, your dive buddies will be a dive-crazy bunch who will do at least 4 dives a day plus another at night. This means that on a scuba diving trip, most times you will not do anything but dive, talk about the sea creatures and encounters of each dive, before suiting up for the next dive. For someone who only wants to do one dive a day and then go shopping, he/she may be disappointed as many great scuba diving spots have few of these shopping and entertainment facilities.

In case you are already getting stressed just thinking about this, don’t be. Every scuba diving newbie goes through this. Just have an attitude of a newbie, be humble and you will find that the seasoned divers are more than willing to share tips and may even help you to gear up before a dive.

A Willingness to Learn from Someone Younger than You
Your scuba diving instructor is likely to be someone much younger than you. Some dive instructors have an attitude and are cocky so you may have to live with it for at least 3 weekends before you become certified – 1st weekend for classroom and theory, 2nd weekend for pool sessions and a 3rd weekend for the actual open water tests. Put aside your ego and just bear with it, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Having said that, that’s not to say that there are no good and kind scuba diving instructors around. I was fortunate to receive dive instruction from PC, a very kind and patient man, without whom my dive learning experience would not be as smooth and enjoyable.

Relatively Good Health
It’s not necessary to be in peak fitness before you can take up scuba diving. However, you would need some strength to be able to walk with full scuba diving gear strapped on you. Once you enter the waters with all your gear, you are almost weightless. But it’s the few steps you have to make to get into the boat or to cross the beach into the water that may be a challenge for a person who is not used to carrying heavy loads on them.

Having said that, some scuba diving resorts have fantastic dive staff who can help to overcome this by carrying the tanks and gear to the boat for you to suit up inside the boat. And of course if you are on a live-a-board (live, eat, dive, sleep, on board a boat throughout the dive trip), then this may not be relevant.

Time and Money
This is probably the 2 most deciding factors of whether someone continues to enjoy scuba diving after passing the Open Water tests. Getting certified through a scuba diving course is very fast, just 3 weekends basically. And not too expensive, probably about $300 to $400, including an out-of-the country dive trip for the open water tests. But unless you live near a scuba diving area, you are most likely going to have to travel a distance or even out of the country to do a good dive.

Now just think how much each trip is going to cost you and multiply that by how many times you would love to do scuba diving in a year. When you do the sums, it can be staggering. So you cut down the number of dives you want to do in a year, and then calculate and cut down some more.

In our scuba diving class, my husband and I were the only ones who continued to dive after the class was over. Even then, we did not manage to do the number of dives we would really have loved to do in a year. That’s how it finally ends up that we are doing an average of 1 dive a year. This more or less ensures that we will always be diving as a “scuba diving newbie” (hence the blog’s name). A scuba diver gets “rusty” when the interval is too long between each dive trip. Ideally, we should dive at least once each quarter.

The Sad Life of Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday Biography is about probably the most well known female jazz artist… The lady had the blues folks! She was some lady to deal with all the stress in her life.

Today it is easy to get mental help for depression, but in Billie’s time, it was not so easy… today Xanax or Prozac is easily available! For Billie it was alcohol and heroin… what a shame!

Billie “Lady Day” Holiday was born in Baltimore in 1915. She had a hard childhood — her musician father left the family early, and her mother wasn’t able to keep her consistently which resulted in Billie often being put in care or relatives who abused her.

She was raped at age 11 and grew up in poverty. She says it best in the first line of her famous autobiography Lady Sings the Blues, “Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three.”

In 1929, she moved to New York, where she worked as a maid and then as a teenage prostitute. According to legend, in 1930 (at the age of 15), to keep her mother from being evicted, she sang Body and Soul and reduced the audience to tears. The lady sure could sing folks… even as a kid she was a grown woman.

Billie Holiday began singing in bars and restaurants. Four years later, she made her first record with Benny Goodman. In 1935, she got her big breakthrough when she recorded four sides, which featured What a Little Moonlight Can Do, and Miss Brown to You.

She landed her own recording contract, and while the songs given to her were run-of-the-mill (versus the ones saved for the top white singers), she made the songs classics because of her singing ability. The girl had away of “owning” any song she sang… she put her “stamp” on it! LIKE A TRUE “JAZZ-CAT”!

Her voice-quality wasn’t outstanding and her vocal range was limited, but she had an uncanny ability to breathe life into a song, using things like pauses and slurs — which made the song become a story or an experience, rather than just a group of notes sang with a voice.

She poured her heart and soul into every song and her ability to interpret a song and make you feel it was unheard of. While it is more commonplace today, Billie Holiday pioneered the style, and this is how she took ordinary 2nd-rate songs and made them extraordinary.

In 1936, she recorded with pianist Teddy Wilson, where she first worked with Lester Young. These two were made for each other. When he played his phrases with hers, he breathed as she breathed. They perfectly complimented each other stylistically. He nicknamed her “Lady Day” and she nicknamed him “Prez.” They sounded like 2 voices from the same person.

Her recording career is divided into 3 periods. The first is the period in the 1930s, recorded with Columbia, marked by her time with Wilson, Goodman, and Young. Her music was made for jukeboxes, but she turned them into jazz classics. Her popularity never matched her artistic success, but she was widely played on Armed Forces Radio during World War II.

From this period came the anti-racism song Strange Fruit, in which she paints a terrifying picture of lynched black bodies hanging from trees. The lyrics of the song were adapted from a poem by Louis Allen.

The next period is her Decca (record company) years in the Fourties, marked by recordings with string orchestra accompaniment. While the records from this period are impressive, they’re not as “jazzy.” This period featured Loverman as well as her self-written classics Don’t Explain, and God Bless the Child. In late 1947, she was arrested on drug charges and spent 18 months in a federal reformatory.

But the lady made terrible choices when it came to men! She fell in love with men who stole money from her, abused her, and introduced her to heroin. When she got out of prison, she went back to heroin. To be honest folks; I guess a good for nothing man can drive any woman to drink or drugs!

By the Fifties, the third period, her voice was going her voice was more croaky, and she sometimes missed notes, but her ability to interpret songs was enhanced. Some consider this work, with Verve records, to be some of her finest.

Her classic recording of Lady in Satin was described by Ron David as though it “sounded like her voice had died and come back to haunt us from the grave.”

It isn’t known if misery, drugs, or drink (or all three) killed her, but in a sad irony, she was arrested on narcotics charges while on her death bed in 1959. Isn’t that a shame? Enough to give me the blues and cry in my beer!

With all the sadness surrounding the lady, it’s a wonder she could create the wonderful music that she did! Thank god for her strength to bring us a true original sound… a true DIVA is Billie Holiday!

Child Custody Schedules – Ideas for a Holiday and Summer Custody Schedule

Child custody schedules often take into consideration non-school days such as 3-day weekends, thanksgiving recess, spring break, winter break, special holidays and summer recess. It is common for divorced parents to split the minor child’s non-school days even in situations where the parents do not have joint physical custody and do not share custody on an equal basis during the school year. In cases where there is clearly a custodial and noncustodial parent, sharing the holidays and breaks or non-school days allows both parents to have a meaningful relationship with frequent and continuous contact with their children even though the parents are divorced and may no longer live close to one another other.

There are many different holiday and summer child custody schedules that can be implemented that allows the minor child to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Each situation is unique so the best holiday and summer parenting plan for one family may not be the best for another family. The holiday and summer custody schedule should reflect what’s best for the children and will typically take into consideration many factors including but not limited to the age of the children, relationship minor child has with each parent, work schedules, distance between parent’s homes and more. This article provides example holiday and summer child custody schedules which can be modified according to your situation and what would be in the best for your children.

50/50 Summer Break Schedule

It’s common for parents to share time with their children over the summer break. The summer holiday is usually the longest break during a school year. School breaks are often 5-8 weeks or 2-3 months between May and September. During the summer break parents can alternate weeks, alternate every two weeks, or continue with the regular schedule and add larger blocks of time for a vacation period with each parent.

50/50 Holiday Schedule

It’s also common for parents to share time with their children on holidays. A common holiday schedule is where one parent has the child in even-numbered years and the other parent has the child in odd-numbered years for a particular holiday. Some holidays such as Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break or Christmas Break, Spring Break may be split in half each year or alternate years between parents. This depends on the family and what works best for the children and family dynamic.

Other Special Days

While courts often provide parenting guidelines which outline common days or holidays observed, there really is no set standard as each family may celebrate different holidays or have special days they observe. Parents can be creative and include any day they mutually agree on such as the parent’s birthday, child’s birthday, Halloween, 4th of July, etc.

With a little thought and creativity one can come up with a child custody schedule that evenly divides holidays, special days, summer and non-school days between parents so the minor child can spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Each family is unique so the type of parenting plan chosen and how the child spends time with each parent may vary between homes but should ultimately reflect what’s best for the children and support and encourage a healthy and loving relationship with both parents.

2010 Child Custody Coach. All rights reserved.

Rethinking Holiday Stress Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

One way to understand why the holidays are so stressful is to take an ACT-based approach to rethinking holiday stress. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a values-based approach to dealing with mental distress, is the perfect framework for understanding holiday stress because stress often occurs when two or more strongly held values conflict with each other. Nowhere is this more evident than during the holiday season that stretches from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. The holidays seem to bring out the best and worst in others and ourselves because they are fraught with values conflicts.

People who celebrate the holidays with family and friends generally do so because they value these relationships and want to spend time with loved ones. One way to characterize this is to look at relationships with family and friends as core values. Other values associated with the holidays are related to things such as sharing meals and exchanging gifts. These values could be characterized as secondary or satellite values. They are important, but less important than actually spending time with loved ones.

The media portrays the holiday season as a blissful time when families and friends gather around a large table in a spacious dining room in an opulent colonial home with a roaring fireplace. On the table sits a massive roast turkey and everyone is all dressed up and smiling as the man of the house (dad or grandpa) carves the turkey with precision. Afterwards everyone gathers around the perfectly decorated Christmas tree and exchanges gifts and pleasantries.

Nice image unless of course you are a vegetarian, live in an apartment with dining space for 6 at best, had an abusive father or grandfather, are afraid of roaring fires, don’t like to get dressed up and would prefer to go to a local restaurant for a holiday dinner that someone else prepares. Because of conflicts like this, coming together with family and friends at the holidays conjures up all sorts of troubling thoughts and painful emotions related to gifting, food, personal appearance, budgets, travel, living arrangements, family dynamics, and a host of other issues

Three key elements of taking an ACT-based approach to rethinking holiday stress are defining your values, practicing acceptance, and being willing to take action despite your troubling thoughts and painful emotions. By clarifying your holiday values you can use this information to develop values-based goals for the season. This will serve as a roadmap for navigating the season without being overly stressed. Practicing acceptance involves understanding that spending time with family and friends over the holidays will involve values conflicts that will trigger troubling thoughts and painful emotions. Practicing willingness means that you are willing and able to co-exist with your painful emotions and troubling thoughts and still take action (spend time with family and friends) that is consistent with your core values. Here are five tips to help you take ACT-based approach to rethinking your holiday stress.

1. Clarify what you value about the holidays before making any plans. To do this, finish the following sentence stem with as many endings as possible: “The things I value about the holidays are… ” When you are done, rank your holiday values from most to least important.

2. Set reasonable goals for your top three your values. It is better to break goals down into smaller objectives that answer the question; “Who will do how much of what by when?” This will make it easier to meet your values-based holiday goals. For example: Top (core) value: “Family.” Goal: “Visiting my family over the holidays.” Objective: ” I will visit my mom and dad, aunt Millie and her family and my uncle Bob between Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend after New Year’s Day.

3. Accept the pain and suffering that accompanies the joy associated with the holidays. Seeing your family will more than likely dredge up some old painful thoughts, feelings and mental images. ACT has found that the worst thing you can do when these painful thoughts and feelings arise is try to control, avoid, or eliminate them. This only makes them worse. The best way to deal with them is to accept them. Tell yourself: ” I am willing to co-exist with these painful thoughts and feelings in the service of spending time with my family (core value).”

4. Work in some daily physical activity or exercise. The holiday stress response mobilizes energy and creates muscle tension. If you don’t dissipate this through physical activity it has nowhere to go and will cause irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle pain.

5. Take a few good breaths several times a day. Every day take a few moments to calm yourself by becoming more mindful of the present moment through diaphragmatic breathing. Sit comfortably on a chair with a straight back and close your eyes. Put your hands on your belly and slowly exhale completely through your nose. As you inhale slowly through your nose notice the feeling of the air travel in through your nose, down your windpipe, and all the way down to the bottom portion of your lungs closest to where your hands are resting. As you slowly fill your lungs from the bottom up feel your belly rise and push on your hands. When your lungs are completely full pause for a moment and notice how this feels. Slowly empty your lungs and notice the feelings in your chest as the air exits your body. Continue to notice the sensations in your nose, windpipe, lungs and belly as you breathe in and out for a few breaths. Repeat this a few times a day as often as you can during the holidays.