Let Down by my Ears

Those who have met me in person know that I am partly deaf. I was born that way, and when you don’t know what you’re missing, you get along OK. I seemed to cope with it, getting through life more or less fine. I never really felt left out, or overly frustrated by it – although those around me probably did. Getting hearing aids at the age of 20 made a massive difference – I didn’t absolutely have to be looking at someone when they spoke to me, although it still helped.

This year I’ve done some diving – 10 dives now – and people will of course think hey diving’s perfect if you’re deaf – you can’t talk underwater anyway! There is of course some truth in that. And of course you know about issues with equalisation when descend/ascend, and clearing your ears.

But what you don’t always know about is the aftereffects of the combination of water and pressure on your ears, and consequently your hearing. That water getting forced in there doesn’t really do it any favours, and so after diving you leave your hearing aids out, to let them dry out a bit. Not having your aids in, and having water in there makes you rather deaf – lucky it was good friends on the boat with me. It’s easier with voices that you’re familiar with. It does make you wary of joining conversations though, as you’re not sure if you’re missing things, or misinterpreting them.

We did a lot of diving that weekend at the Poor Knights, and it seemed to be too much, too deep, too soon for me. My ears were sore for a couple of days, and I felt a little more deaf than usual. Ronelle put me onto Vosol – a couple of drops in each ear in the evening. That helped a bit, but it’s not a cool look sitting around with toilet paper in your ears…Things weren’t quite right by the weekend though, so rather than exacerbate the problem, my advisor said I was better to give it a rest. So I’m going to have to wait until this weekend to try again – not too deep this time though.

On a completely different note – There is No Depression in New Zealand. I went out to Sale St Bar last night to catch up with some old university friends. The place was pretty busy, for a Wednesday night. It’s a big place, so that means quite a few people there. That place must be absolutely heaving on a Friday night, all the people who want to be seen out for a good time.

Getting cold and wet…and loving it

My friend Ronelle is back in the country for a very limited time, in transit from South Africa to South America. She is now a qualified dive instructor, and encouraged me to complete the PADI Advanced Open Water course, on a liveaboard trip to the Poor Knights. I had completed the first Open Water course in Thailand earlier this year, but had not been out diving since. This was a good excuse to do some more diving, complete the course, see the highly rated Poor Knights, and most importantly, catch up with Ronelle and Tara.

We drove up on Friday night, slept on the boat in the marina, then headed out on Saturday morning. Hanging around being monkeys seemed to be part of the pre-dive warmup:

Hanging on the back of the Pacific Hideaway

A busy weekend followed, with four dives on Saturday, and two more on Sunday. I was only diving in a 5mm wetsuit, and with water temperatures around 15°, I was getting pretty cold and tired, so I sat out the third and last dive on the Sunday. We had some good dives though, doing things like navigation, going deep (26m), night diving (perhaps not my cup of tea), and probably my favourite, the naturalist. Basically for that you just went and looked at the fish, plants and animals. That’s more like what diving should be. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t suitable for doing a wreck dive on the way home, and indeed the trip back was a bit more interesting, but it was still good on the sheltered side of the islands.

I didn’t get home until 11pm on Sunday night, and was pretty well stuffed at work on Monday. No worries though, it was a really good weekend. Special mention to my Dive Master Tara, for looking after me, and getting me home safely. I’m not sure that drinking with your students the night before a deep dive is recommended practice though…

I don’t know how much more diving I’ll be able to fit in, as I’ve got lots of other things to do with my weekends, and I don’t know where I’d store the gear around my apartment, but I will be going out again this weekend, a bit closer to home, at Goat Island. Hopefully get a feed of scallops too.

And finally, here’s something you don’t do every day: get your ex girlfriend to help you write an ad for an Internet dating site. Hopefully I don’t come across as many odd sorts as she did. We’ll see how it works out. With a bit of luck, I’ll at least make a few new friends.

Vote Early, Vote Often

I don’t think I’ve ever managed to be in my home electorate for polling day. I’m always overseas, or in a different part of the country, or something. This year is no exception, although it was a bit easier to cast a special vote this time, by going in to the main electoral office. It was just like voting on polling day really, but without the crowds. Perhaps that’s why one third of Americans vote early. I didn’t even need to make up an excuse, I just ticked the box on the form. Easy. And now I can go and vote a few more times if the last leaders’ debate changes my mind, right?

Other happenings: You may have heard of the “Dangerous Book for Boys” – well my parents have got me a dangerous book of sorts. The “Insight Deluxe World Atlas” – that’s right, an atlas weighing 5kg. 1:4.5M maps of the world, along with details on the great touring routes of the world. Dangerous indeed. I have to restrict my reading of it though, I might get too many ideas for spending the next decade on the road.

I think I do need to go overseas again too, just so that I can get my bike services. When I was in Iran, and my bike needed some work, I found a place that sorted it out right there, while I waited. In China, going into a bike shop got me invited to a Christmas party. In Alice Springs, the helpful staff went out of their way to help me out, reshuffling other jobs around, to ensure I could get back on the road in a reasonable timeframe. So surely it can’t be that hard to get my mountain bike serviced here in NZ, given that there are 4 bike shops within one kilometre of my house, with another due to open next week. Alas.

My preferred shop, that I walk past every day, had just had their mechanic leave, and so couldn’t do any major work required. OK, it happens. So I find another place, and get told that it will be a minimum of two weeks before they can look at it. Hmmm. Oh well, let’s book it in then. So I go through a list of what I want done, and they write it down on the job card, and tell me to bring the bike back in a fortnight. Righto. Just under two weeks later I turn up to drop the bike off. Wait, we don’t seem to have any record of your booking. Ah finally we find the job card, but we don’t seem to have actually scheduled your bike in. The schedule’s pretty well chocka, but it looks like we can squeeze it across a few slots. Well that’s fine, as long as I get it back before the weekend. Of course sir, we’ll call you on Thursday to confirm it.

There was quite a bit of work to be done, so I was expecting a confirmation call if it was going to be an expensive job. No phone call on Thursday, so on Friday I rung them up to confirm it was ready. Yes, we tried contacting you, and left messages. Er, no, no you didn’t, as I don’t have any missed calls or voicemail messages. Well, the bike is ready anyway.

So I turn up early on Saturday morning, planning on picking up the bike early, so I could go out for a club ride in the afternoon. Wait a second, my bike looks exactly the same…they hadn’t even started the job. No note, nothing. Just hadn’t done it, even though it was clearly marked as being on the day schedule. WTF?

Not happy. Not happy at all. Especially since there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll tell me it’s going to cost more than $500, and I’ll be better off getting a new bike anyway…