Sure enough, this is the 200th post of The 6 Billionth Voice. It is quite amazing to me that I have only had this blog for a little over a year and I have already posted 200 times. Admittedly, many of those initial posts consist of single pictures (I have a much cleaner method these days), but it is still quite a feat, I think.
Anyway, I am in Hawaii right now. I don't know if I will be able to come back to Hawaii for a while once I start my job in Japan (still no news, by the way), so I figure that I need to really fill up on Hawaii before I go. However, there is a problem: I hate to travel alone these days. Since, in the end, only Drake decided to come and visit me in Hawaii (tickets are actually not too expensive right now and I'll be here till July 11th, if anybody changes their minds), until he comes on the 27th I am mostly sitting around the house doing one of four things: lifting weights (so that it will take longer to get out of shape once I get to Japan) visiting with Grandma Mary and Grandpa Clay, scanning family pictures (self-imposed torture, but I'm up to 2,000), or trying to learn more Japanese.
In order to learn more Japanese, I have been especially active on Mixi (Japanese equivalent of Facebook or MySpace) lately. I have also begun to listen to the JapanesePod101 podcasts (which are fantastic!) while I scan pictures. But it isn't enough. I want to speak. I want to converse with real people. To this end, last Wednesday I went to The King Shops at Waikoloa and went trolling for Japanese people. The King Shops are a group of fancy, brand name stores very close to the Hilton (the hotel with the most Japanese visitors on this side of the island). As a result, I have never been to The King Shops and not seen Japanese visitors. So sometimes I go there and look for men who are shopping with their wives and, clearly, would rather be golfing. These are my usual targets for conversation, since they are glad to do anything but shop with their wife. Well, on the day I went to The King Shops, there were no bored husbands. In fact, there were no Japanese visitors at all! I wondered where they could be...
So I walked to the Hilton Hotel. Aside from 4 honeymooners (who I don't talk to because it just feels uncomfortable for everyone involved), I saw no Japanese visitors. Finally, an hour later, I took the hotel bus back to the King Shops so that I could get in my car and go home. On my way through the mall, I saw 2 women puzzling over a menu. I could not see their faces, but I summoned my courage and decided to give it a shot anyway. I asked them if they needed help. Sure enough, the menu had them totally perplexed. What followed was perhaps my best Japanese conversation ever. 15 minutes with few major mistakes. A great confidence booster, to be sure. Total accident, I'm sure.
Well, on Thursday Dad asked me if I wanted to go diving. Prepare yourself for a story. Here comes the turquoise. I learned to dive at the age of 13. It was cool. I got to hang out with my dad and my friend Dan, which was nice. Knowing how to dive was nice, too. Very big ego boost for a 13 year old who wasn't really good at, well, activities. However, I never really got into SCUBA diving. I wore glasses, so basically, even though I was wearing a mask it was like I wasn't. Basically, I sat at 60 feet, my sinuses in pain because of the pressure, but I saw none of the beauty of the ocean. What is more, I almost accidentally killed my father about 8 times.
Well, I finally got contacts this year, so I tried diving again. After 10 years of not diving I was a little rusty, so rather than almost killing my dad for the 9th time, I decided to do a refresher course in this pool.
It's like riding a bike.
That evening Vincenzo and Vincent came over for dinner. Vincenzo and I accidentally disturbed a wasp nest and both got stung. Then we went to hang out with the turtle that sleeps on our beach at sunset.
The next day dad and I got up and got ready for diving. Here was my power breakfast. Soymilk with Instant Breakfast, a Bannana, Orange Juice, Kim Chee, Granola and non-fat yoghurt. An infant could bend steel after this breakfast!
We boarded the boat around 8 o'clock, just in time to see my High School math teacher, Howard Hall, come around the corner in an outrigger and totally biff it. I didn't realize it was him at first. The guy sails around the Pacific in his spare time, you don't expect him to eat it in an outrigger in a harbor on the calmest day of the year! It was good to see him again.
We passed a huge school of baby tuna that were jumping out of the water. I have never seen tuna jump before. Could have been another fish, but they looked an awful lot like tuna. Oh, and as you can see, it was very calm.
The dive was good. Saw nothing special, but saw everything I had never seen before. Very cool.
Afterwards I was done diving and had taken my gear off I tried to free dive down to the decompressing divers. Almost made it. Next time.
I don't know how this guy could blow air rings.
So as I was swimming around in the open ocean, somebody on the boat saw a jellyfish. Since I was in the water, with a camera, I swam up and took a picture. Jellyfish are actually kind of uncommon in Hawaiian waters, so this was a special treat. I especially liked the part where this kind was not dangerous, since I was about 3 feet away.
So, the conclusion: yeah, diving is fun. I hope to do it more often in the future. I found out today that Drake is a certified rescue diver, so maybe we'll go.
Hmm, actually, a rescue diver sounds really, really useful. He might help us avoid near miss number 9.