Friday, July 17, 2020

Scuba Diving

I am planning on going diving tomorrow at a local lake and took some time to browse around the shop regarding training and dive equipment.

Diving at the local lake is cheap and fun.  For $12.50 lake user fee, $15 for a tank and $6 for weights it is a nice way to blow bubbles and keep my skills up for future saltwater excursions.

Coral Key offers two programs through SSI.  A four specialty program for $550 and a four specialty program plus Stress & Rescue for $799.  This seems like a steep price point until you figure each specialty with dives can cost between $100 and $150.  Obviously all dives cannot be completed locally.  Deep Dive would be a trip to the Blue Hole in New Mexico when it opens again.  Waves, Tides & Currents would require an ocean.  I like the idea of the $799 course and would take:
  • Deep Dive - Blue Hole, NM (3 open water dives)
  • Enriched Air Nitrox - local (dives optional) - 
  • Night & Limited Visibility - local (2 night dives)
  • Science of Diving? - local (no dives required)
  • Search & Recovery? - local (1 pool dive, 2 open water dives)
  • Stress & Rescue - local (2 pool dives, 3 open water dives)
In terms of equipment I looked at weights, dive log pages and wrist computers.  I was planning on buying weights as they will be more comfortable with my BCD, require no maintenance and will result in less equipment to rent in the future.  I opted for (2) 3# sea pearls which will be perfect for diving locally in a 3 mm wet suit.   I would need an additional 10# in a 7 mm wet suit.

The dive log pages were as expected.  $9.95 for loose pages plus $23.95 for a low profile log binder.  Both would match the hole pattern of my existing PADI Diver's Log which has 41 of 49 dive pages filled.  It may seem silly to keep paper logs, but for my level of diving it works.  It also seems ridiculous to pay $24 for a glorified Ziploc bag, but maybe I will come up with a cheap/free solution over the next 8 dives.  I could also just order another PADI book from Amazon for $23 and that would likely keep me going for the next 10 years.

Finally, I looked at wrist computers.  Coral Key recommends Shearwater products for good reason.  The Shearwater Teric felt great on my wrist, had a full color display and optional wireless air integration.  It also had a hefty $1095 price tag.  At the other end of the scale, Areece suggested the Oceanic Geo.  This was $395 which was comfortable, but had a standard display (with back light) and did not offer wireless air integration.  For comparison, the Mares Puck Pro is the cheapest on the market at $180.  Cressi, TUSA and Aqua Lung all sell wrist computers in this price range while, Suunto enters the market at $300 with the Zoop Novo.  I was looking for a computer primarily for dive trips if I chose to rent instead of bringing my regulator.  I would have to do a lot more diving to justify this expense.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Cobra Speedzone 14.5° Fairway Wood

I had a chance to get over to Golf Galaxy to have my new purchases from Play It Again Sports re-gripped.

While I was there, I tested the Titleist TS2 15° and Cobra Speedzone 14.5° fairway woods with regular shafts.


Taking my best 2 swings (out of 4) after getting warmed up, it appears the Titleist TS2 is most forgiving left/right offline.  The 980F is longest.  The Cobra had the best efficiency and launch conditions.

At the shop, I had all but decided to get the Cobra Speedzone.  It felt great in hand, the ball sounded good coming off and my mis-hits were fewer and less severe.  It was being offered for $279 and I had a coupon for $50 off of any $250 purchase which brought the cost down to $229.  It also had a great head cover. In retrospect, I am glad I waited.  My used club find had equal performance.

Just goes to show, for my game, the equipment is not a difference maker yet.  If I find it on sale in the future or used, I would love to have a Cobra Speedzone in my bag.

I also looked at wedges.  The Vokey in jet black are hard to read, I prefer the brushed steel or tour chrome.

I looked at shoes and the nothing really grabbed my attention.  I did not try any on for fit.

I looked at Golf Bags and again, nothing appeared compelling.  I might just wait to get one from Costco.

Finally, I had my Titleist 980F and SM5 re-gripped and they are officially added to my bag.

°°°

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Play It Again Sports

I got over to Play It Again Sports out of curiosity and to fill out my bag.  They had a great selection of fairway woods and wedges from as low as $15 for off brand or beat up clubs to $20-30 to middle of the clubs that I was looking at.  I glanced at a practically new Callaway Jaws 5 that was $75.

Among the wedges, I selected Titleist SM5 Vokey Design (SN 1720960) 54 degree loft and 14 degrees of bounce (F Grind).  The grip is a little worn, but the grooves are grippy despite a little rust.  It was $30 at Play It Again Sports.  Per specs 35.25" length, 64 degree lie.  It was launched in 2014.

At the other end of the bag, I selected a Titleist 980F 15 degree Fairway Wood (SN 1152065).  This was introduced in 2003 and the MSRP was $290.  It was $20 at Play It Again Sports.  It appears to have an the original Golf Pride tour velvet grip, but I would prefer a medium CP2 grip.

On a whim, I grabbed a Nike Ignite 5 Wood T60 (SN FA01061103).  It came with a stiff Fujikura shaft and has a 19 degree loft (the same as my hybrid 3).  Length per Ebay is 42".  The Ignite series was launched in 2006.  It was $20 at Play It Again Sports.

Getting them out on the driving range, they were easy to hit and a substantial improvement over my original Triumph 3 Wood that I threw into the bag.  Even with a good hit with my Triumph, I was not getting a desirable launch angle.  I really liked the launch angle of both the Titleist and the Nike fairway woods.

The wedge was equally pleasing to hit.  For my swing, I was hitting both my PW and AW about 75 yards.  The new Titleist and my Spalding Utility wedge was going about 50 yards on a full swing.  I did some short pitch shots with the Titleist as well.  I was not generation much spin, but I was getting very consistent strikes.

Golf Pride midsize grips are $8.99.  If I wanted to replace with BV Wings Tour Velvet Black Grip .580 those would be $10 if purchased from Vokey.com.

I will likely keep all 3 in my bag, but if pressed, I would dump the 5 wood.

Shout out to Play It Again Sports for offering a 15% military discount!

Saturday, July 04, 2020

What's in the Bag?

I have been watching more golf videos.  Between that, practice and tips, my swing is starting to improve and be a little more consistent.  Caleb mentioned yesterday that he noticed I was not finishing my swing.  I will have to take more time to consider end position.  Shifting my weight forward helped a ton and I did not top a ball the entire round.

As I am still a gear junkie, I am constantly thinking about what is in the bag.

(1) Putter - Ping Sigma G Anser Platinum (35")
(2) 58° - Spalding Utility Wedge (?)
(3) 49° - Callaway Rogue AW (35")
(4) 44° - Callaway Rogue PW (35.75")
(5) 39° - Callaway Rogue 9 (36")
(6) 34.5° - Callaway Rogue 8 (36.625")
(7) 30° - Callaway Rogue 7 (37.25")
(8) 26° - Callaway Rogue 6 (37.625")
(9) 23° - Callaway Rogue 5 (38.25")
(10) 20.5° - Callaway Rogue 4 (38.875")
(11) 19° - Callaway Rogue Hybrid 3 (40.5")
(12) 10.5° - Titleist TS2 Driver (45.5")

I had been actively on the lookout for some new wedges and I may follow through on that.  If I got serious, I would go into Golf Galaxy or PGA Superstore for a wedge fitting.  On the complete opposite end of the scale, I would grab a few from Play It Again Sports to smack the ball around with.  I would like to fill the gap between my 49° and my 58° wedges.

On the other end of my bag, I would like to incorporate a fairway wood.  I really enjoy my hybrid and I am making some progress with the driver.  The gap between 10.5° and 19°  I would likely fill with:

TS2 - 3 Wood 15° 43" - $299
Ping 410 - 3 Wood 14.5° (Adjustable +/- 1.5°) 43" - $259
***Cobra  Speedzone - 3 Wood (Adjustable 13° to 16°) - 43.25" - $279
Callaway Rogue - 3 Wood 13.5° (43") - $199

At this end of the bag, I would definitely need to spend some time in the simulator to see what club feels the best.  In the meantime, I might just throw my old Triumph 3 wood in the bag to see how often I swing it during a round.

I can do whatever I want, but the rules of golf state that a player can only carry 14 clubs.  Players all have a putter, driver, 2-3 (hybrid/fairway/long irons)  6 irons (4-9), 3-4 wedges.  The obvious trade off is whether to carry 4 wedges or 3 clubs between the driver and the 4 iron.  Down the road, it will be a fun little problem to consider.

I will get a pair of golf shoes and a new bag at some point as well.

Aeris 300XT

Because I dive infrequently, it feels like I have to relearn how to assemble my scuba gear and use my computer every time.  

Assembly

Assembling my gear is relatively easy and I usually just watch a youtube video as a refresher.  The thing that gets me every time is which way the yoke faces.  The knob is on my right side and O-ring faces the diver.  Attaching my regulator leaves my gauge and primary regulator on my right side and my BCD hose on my left side.


Aeris 300XT

The Aeris 300XT has lots of bells and whistles, but my primary usage is turning it on and monitoring my dive time, max depth and water temperature.

Screens:

SURF MAIN - Surface Interval or time since activation, dive number, operating mode (normal or technical)

ALT 1 - Max Depth, elapsed dive time

ALT 2 - Time of Day, temperature, altitude level

ALT 3 - Only if Nitrox

FLY/DESAT - Fly Time / Desat Time

PLAN - Complicated

LOG - Last 24 Dives

SET - Set Operating Mode, Gas, Alarm, Utilities, Time

HIST - History

History 1:  56 hours, 27 dives
History 2:  88 feet max depth, 9:59 longest dive time?
History 3:  61 degrees F lowest temperature at Altitude L2

ID - SN Identification 

R1B (Firmware Level)
01139 (Serial Number)

Enters Power Saver Mode after 10 minutes of no button clicks

Buddy Check

B - BCD / Buoyancy -straps straight, inflator/deflator functions

W - Weight - do you have enough, where

R - Releases - tank strap, BC shoulder and chest strap

A - Air - Turned on, full tank, breath primary and secondary

F - Head to Toe check

Dive Plan

I like to dive clockwise around the lake.  I usually do not hit PADI depth, but cruise around 11-12 feet just above thermocline.  If I am leading, keep on my right hand side.  If you are leading, I would prefer to be behind you.  I brought a buddy cord if visibility is poor.  Hand signals - down, up, OK, somethings wrong, swim, direction.  If we get separated, look around for a little bit and then surface.  Let me know if you hit half tank with "T" hand signal.  I prefer a slow but steady pace and plan on it taking around 45-50 minutes.

New Equipment

I have considered getting a wrist computer for traveling.  Then I could leave my regulator at home and just travel with my mask, snorkel, fins and computer.  Currently I travel with only mask and regulator, but since switching to a Safe Second Inflator, I would have to bring my BCD along to have a secondary air supply

Coral Key 4th of July SCUBA Bash


I had a fun dive with Coral Key and won an Akona Commuter Backpack


This is not just a color upgrade! This new laptop bag is a standout among the sea of laptop bags. The new Akona Commuter is unlike any other laptop bag with features only seen in the most expensive laptop bags on the market. And now with the dive flag to represent! The Akona Commuter Backpack is the perfect everyday pack for the person who needs everything with them at-all-times. Bag is designed for the ultimate organization with a front pocket with vertical file organizer that closes with a nylon coil zipper and dual #5 sliders and pulls. Large center storage area that closes with a heavy-duty nylon coil zipper pulled together with dual #10 sliders and pulls and an airline ticket sleeve for convenient travel.

If that's not enough Akona just got started! Backpack also has a power cord and mouse storage, four (Count them) large exterior pockets, fleece lined top audio compartment with headphone exit port which features a reversed weatherproof nylon coil zipper. side and bottom compartments and a back mount zippered compartment for your laptop. The interior is lined with 210-nylon with single polyurethane (PU) coating for added protection.

Handling this backpack is easy-and-comfortable with the padded neoprene top grab handle that is designed as a part of the shoulder strap system providing convenience-and-superior strength a vertical sliding sternum strap provides extra-support and will fit any size torso. The Commuter Backpack measures 19" x 15" x 10" (48.3cm x 38cm x 25.4cm) with a volume of 2,850 cubic inches (46.7 liters) and weighs about 32 oz. (907g) when empty.

$62.95 at Leisure Pro; $80 at Coral Key Scuba and Travel


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Durango

After all of our summer plans were scuttled in an effort to support community health, we did a staycation to Durango.

Thursday - Drive to Salida, check into the Amigo Motor Lodge (great little accommodations), dinner at Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub, walked along creek

Friday - Went for a run in Salida, checked out the Salida Gun Shop which had new Colt Pythons available for $1500, breakfast from McDonald's, drive towards Durango (stopped at several job sites), stopped in Pagosa Springs and had lunch at Ramone's (Mexican), checked into Residence Inn, walked to Dinner at the Dandelion Cafe

Saturday - Went for a run in Durango, drove through Mesa Verde National Park, drove to Purgatory, "panned for gems", stopped at Honeyville for samples, stopped at Subway for lunch, walked through train museum in town, picked up dinner from Siam Sizzler

Sunday - Went for a run in Durango, went on veterans raft float putting in at 9th street and getting out at Santa Rita park, lunch at Grassburger, looked into ziplining, played disc golf at Fort Lewis College, picked up Indian food for dinner

Monday - Went for a walk in Durango, drove to Joyful Journey Hot Springs (north of Saguache), lunch at Simple Eatery in Buena Vista, drove home

Rafting and the Mesa Verde were certainly the highlights of the trip.  We did play basketball and tennis, but did not go fishing.  The accommodations were nice and it was fun to travel with another family.  The girls enjoyed going to the pool and I only had to get in once.  I tried to swim a few laps, but it is tough on an 11 yard pool.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Titleist TS2

I ended up making good on my decision to pick up a new driver.  We were out running errands and while the family was at Barnes and Noble, I stopped by Golf Galaxy to find my desired driver on sale.  I talked briefly with the sales person to make sure I had the more forgiving driver, with a standard flex shaft and 10.5 degrees of loft.  I elected to have it re-gripped with the CP2 Pro Midsize Grip.  It came with a head cover as well.

Swinging it today reinforced my decision.  Aside from one hit when I got underneath the ball, it felt as good as I remembered.  I do not have a long drive, but it felt good in the hand and was remarkably consistent.  I brought my old driver out with me just for grins and the distance was comparable, but the feel was much better.


Three generations of drivers pictured.  My original purchased used in 1994.  My upgrade purchased around 2001-2002 and my new driver.  I knew the head was bigger.  I did not realize how much bigger until I placed them side to side.

My gold accoutrements are nearly complete.  I would like to get some golf shoes.  If I work on my short game more, I will likely get a set of wedges.  I think I will forego getting a new bag.

In terms of wedges I am currently playing
Callaway Rogue PW 44 deg
Callaway Rogue AW 49 deg
Spalding Pro Series Utility Wedge 58 deg

As a tester, I might just grab a sand wedge to fill out my existing wedges.  Leaning towards a Titleist Vokey Design SM8 Wedge 54 deg, F grind with 14 deg of bounce ($159).  Alternatively Callaway Jaws MD5 54 deg, W grind with 12 deg of bounce and a steel shaft ($159).

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Relaxing of Social Distancing Day 81

My local community has started to open up without a reported uptick in illness.  Of course the news cycle is now dominated by the tragic killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.  I am hesitant to use the term murder as that is a legal judgement.  It is unfortunately easy for me to ignore the ills of society from the confines of privilege.  

The transition to summer has my kids moving from remote learning to remote summer programs.  They are learning Adobe Illustrator and my older one still takes Zoom voice lessons.  Relaxing of social distancing also means the kids are playing with the neighbors again as well as small group play dates with families we know well.  

Without live all day camps, the kids are getting more creative.  We have acquired a badminton net and an inflatable pool over the last few weeks.  Both have been a big hit.  We even set up a table tennis net on our dining room table.  That has been surprisingly fun.  The old standbys still include Youtube surfing and Roblox.

My wife and I are still employed and working remotely.  I have been really busy, but that is the ebb and flow of my project cycles.  My wife's work has been steadier and she has bore more of the burden of feeding the kids and running the household.

We have been carrying out more frequently from the restaurants that survived the economic trials of the past few months.  We have picked up as well as taken advantage of meal delivery services like Uber Eats and Grub Hub.  I understand that live seating is available, but I have not missed the live dining out experience.

We still have not done any live non-grocery shopping and Home Depot.  I have been calling Bicycle Shack weekly to get my daughter a new bicycle for her birthday, but their inventory trickles in slow and disappears fast.

It is amazing how few products are still made in the United States.  Our supply lines have become efficient to the point that they are no longer resilient to minor bumps, much less major disruptions.  The dependence on overseas manufacturing have led to a tremendous increase in US quality of living.  Mobile devices are commonplace.  Clothing is so cheap, it can be discarded several times a season.

Livestock and agriculture are a weird anomaly.  The consolidation in the industry has led to driving down wages and working conditions.  The result is jobs that are only attractive to immigrants (legal and illegal).  Those same individuals are working without health care or paid time off resulting in a petri dish of disease.  The distribution of meats and vegetables are even more odd.  I see reports of farmers spoiling crops, dumping milk and not being able to send their livestock to slaughter houses.

As social distancing relaxes, I expect people to drive more and raise gasoline prices.  People will start flying again.  The environment may suffer as fossil fuel consumption rises, but oilfield jobs should come back as it becomes economically viable to extract oil from United States soil.