It’s interesting to think that this time 18 months ago I was still wearing a suit to work. Ok, so I was wearing a (sometimes pressed) shirt to work and suit trousers with my jungle boots. Since then I have plowed through the jungles of the Kelabit highlands. I arrived at Liquid Dumaguete on the Dauin coast in the Philippines a year ago on October 5th 2011, since then life has continued on a sporadic but always UPWARD spiral. Interestingly, having never really snorkeled before, almost a year to the day that I put on my first set of SCUBA gear, I passed my PADI IDC- Instructor Development Course – and IE – Instructor Exam – a moment I am not ashamed to say bought a tear to my eye. Shhhhh… I don’t think anyone noticed.
The IDC is a two week intensive course designed to help your transition from a DiveMaster to an Open Water Scuba Instructor – OWSI – using the knowledge and experience of the Staff Instructors: Tim (Liquid Dumaguete), Windy, Ulrika and Rae (Atmosphere Resorts) under the careful guidance of our Course Director Gabi. I cannot begin to explain how brilliantly helpful and fun these guys were during the course and nor could I even come close to explaining how well Gabi was able to nurture the best from all the candidates. I learned A LOT and not just about the diving side of things.
I am entrenched at Liquid Dumaguete whether they like it or not so I was fortunate that we run our IDCs in conjunction with Atmosphere Resorts so I had a pleasant transition period while studying. Any of you who know me well enough will know that head-down ‘book learning’ is not a strong point of mine so in the lead up to the IDC I was lucky enough to be surrounded by able and eager people to quiz whenever I was unsure of ANYTHING. In a beautifully paradoxical twist, dive theory has become one of my favorite parts of diving and was something I found extremely useful to have prepared in advance as well as the ever present PADI skill circuit.
Day 1 bought back that first day of school feeling in my stomach and, in order to quell my nerves, I thought I would have a double espresso for breakfast just before we sat the practice exams. Turns out being jittery and starting to jibber jabber was not the perfect exam prep. Good espresso though!! I aced my exams and my nerves settled. I was going to be going through the process with two other candidates. There was Paul from Hawaii who worked for the secret service and modeled an extremely tidy ‘high and tight’, a great guy with a wicked arid sense of humor Then there was Brenda, a super sweet Filippina DiveMaster who never stopped smiling. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be a part of.
As the days went by, we PADIfied our classroom presentations, refined our skills demonstrations, improved our management of open water situations and actually tried to teach each other varying parts of the many PADI courses. As time passed we grew closer as a team, we grew more confident in our abilities and HOPEFULLY started to fit the mold of a PADI OWSI. The wonderful thing for me/us was how much attention, how many different points of view and how many resources were made available to us. Not only did we have EVERYONE at Atmosphere I had the team at Liquid Dumaguete, admittedly, this was very useful to ME in particular.
After skills circuits, exams, tears, giggles and a general roller coaster of emotions our IDC finished, we were molded into Emergency First Responder instructors and then the ‘dreaded’ Instructor Exams. This is a two day extravaganza of tests and appraisals. Our examiner – George – is a bit of a local PADI celebrity having overseen thousands of exams, certified many instructors whilst still being a remarkably nice, kind and most importantly for me, APPROACHABLE man. He was firm but fair where it counted and a bastion of knowledge whenever we needed clarifications. The best was… we ALL PASSED. I am not going lie to you, there was a horrible moment when it looked like one of us MIGHT have been in trouble but it was all ok in the end. I don’t think I realized how much I cared about the outcome until those wonderful words were said. “Congratulations Adam…” (the rest is a blur. I would love to take the manly stance on this but I definitely shed a (single) tear of happiness/relief/pride/excitement.
It is at this point that I have to direct a few nods of recognition to those who deserve it. Naturally Ma and Pa and brosef are at the top of the list – you guys have helped me become someone whom I am proud of for the first prolonged period of my life. To my new found friends and ‘family’ here on the Dauin coast - a period in my life which has been titled the time of the Jims – Jungle and ‘Our Old Friend’. Thanks boys, I feel very lucky to be able to call you both CLOSE friends. My mentors (a word I hate and use rarely) and bosses – Tim and Zoe – without whom I would probably still be sat in a jungle somewhere drinking through my cleanest pair of socks. To all of you. Thanks a bajillion.
I have said enough. We’ll speak soon ok? In the mean time, find something you love and do it more.
Diving terminology is sometimes difficult. Is it a mask or goggles? Should we say fins or flippers? Dived or dove? And then we throw in words like “viz” and downtime. But the one that is always contested is that thing we strap to our back. Whether you call it a tank, bottle or a cylinder there is still the matter of what it is made out of. If you use steel than there is no problem, but if you use that other material than you really have to watch what you say.
As a PADI diving instructor when teaching open water courses to divemaster trainees I have to talk about tanks a lot. There is always a moment where I look at my students and assess exactly what to say to them. Should I tell my open water student about the tensile strength of their tank or just that it is filled with compressed air that they will allow them to breath freely underwater. As for my eager divemaster trainee it would be wise for me to tell him everything I know about tanks, after all one day he will become a PADI instructor and will pass the wealth of information I give him to his future divemasters! If you say Aluminum to a Brit you will have them politely correcting you almost instantly. Say Aluminium to an American and you get a strange look. So what is the “correct” term? It’s actually a bit of an interesting story.
First a little bit about the substance itself. It is amazing that we can’t decide what to call this stuff; after all it is the third most abundant element found on the planet, and happens to be the most abundant part of the Earth’s crust. Only Oxygen and Silicon are found more often. But don’t expect to wander around and find some lying in the dirt. It bonds well with oxygen, silicone and other minerals and tends to stick to them like hair on bubble gum. For that reason it is not found naturally, it is always combined with something else. Even though it was “discovered” in 1807 it had been an integral part of some cultures for centuries. Egyptians and Babylonians used a compound to dye cloths and produce some makeups. In Persia it was the secret behind their high quality clay pots, Teflon would come later (much later). But it wasn’t until 1825 that someone could actually manage to hold up a small clump of the stuff and get a picture to put up on the periodic table. That man was Hans Christian Oerstad from Denmark. Two years later Friedrich Wohler managed to isolate it in an even more pure form. Despite both of these men being in contention for “discovering” the element, neither got the opportunity to name it.
Sir Humphrey Davy a British chemist from Cornwall had the honor of giving the element a name back in 1807. Considering how quickly everyone from the United Kingdom jumps on my back (being a Canadian) for saying “Aluminum” it’s interesting to find out what Sir Humphrey decided. As with most science type words it of course originates from the Latin word for alum or alumen to be precise. As it turns out none of us use the original name that Davy proposed. Alumium was his first choice. But Davy wasn’t done yet. He then decided that perhaps it should be changed to Aluminum. His scientific friends were not happy with him however. It seems that Aluminum just doesn’t chime well with Sodium or Potassium or Magnesium (all of which Davy named). So in 1812 he changed his mind again and went with Aluminium. All of this fickle mindedness is the root cause of why we can’t seem to agree on what to call the stuff. But what do you expect from a guy like Davy. This is a man that once locked himself in a box and filled it with Nitrous Oxide in order to “produce excitement equal in duration and superior in intensity to that occasioned by high intoxication from opium or alcohol.” He then named that particular gas, “laughing gas.” Ahh science.
Fortunately no one was calling it much of anything as it was very hard to produce. It was actually considered a precious medal (like Gollum’s ring) for a while. Then around 1895 it started to drop in price and was able to be manufactured. All of a sudden people needed to actually use the name. In the states everyone looked to the Webster’s Dictionary for the correct spelling. For whatever reason that book still had the Aluminum version. And that’s the version that was picked up. Brits used the melodic Aluminium instead. In 1990 the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) settled on Aluminium but thought it best to include the Americans, so brought in Aluminum as an acceptable variation three years later.
So who is correct? Both I guess. The American version was in use before the British, although it was coined by Davy (a Brit). Doesn’t really clear things up does it? Guess you’ll just have to say it however you want and dig your heels in. The way you say it is fine.
But fins go on your feet and Flipper is a dolphin.