Diving diatribes
Welcome to the Diving Op Ed page. Please peruse, then click the highlighted text to:
Declare war on bad times March
March's name is derived from Martius, the Roman god of war. It seems the arrival of spring was an ideal time to launch military campaigns
in ancient times and it still is today. Backrooms of dive shops and travel agencies are the new war rooms, where small business owners
gather their troops to formulate battle plans to keep their operations afloat while the economy goes diving.

What can be done to thrive in the biggest downturn since the 1930s? Plenty.

Savvy shop owners have already learned from confronting the on-line shopping threat that they have three things customers can't get over
the Internet – air fills, true face-to-face camaraderie and service. Shops that value their customers solely in cash register rings will be in
trouble.

Those that really value their customers, that are glad to listen to their concerns and cater to their needs might even grow during these slow
times. Travel is the luxury many will cut, so make sure to organize jaunts to the rivers, lakes and seashores nearby. Budget-friendly trips
can make your store the diving social club, where customers bond with each other to develop true friendships unlike the kiss-n-goodbye
encounters at resorts. Keep rental rates reasonable for those who've been only travel divers. They might even notice that a full set gear for
northern diving costs less than a one-week resort holiday. Offer good advice and rates on repairing and servicing gear that may've been
neglected for a few local seasons by experienced divers. And when new or prospective divers drop by, give them a friendly smile and copy
of "Northeast" or "Midwest Dive News" with your business card stapled to the cover.

We're looking forward to meeting divers throughout the Northeast and Midwest as we set up our booth at an unprecedented number of dive
shows this month. Make sure to drop by to say "hi," share your stories and hang out to meet your neighbors who though this magazine are
members of the area's biggest dive club.
Bob, BKrooss photo
EVERY MONTHBob
rants about some
aspect of diving and
has for years as
editorial director for
Northeast Dive News
and
Midwest Dive
News
, and before
then as
editor/publisher of
Immersed magazine.
If they're unsettling,
GREAT! They're
supposed to make
you think.
Season for change January

"The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties
and possibilities of the coming twelve months!"
 

– Edward Payson Powell

Sure the dive boats are on dollies, wrapped in plastic at marinas. Ice over inland dive sites is as solid as the ground beneath our booted feet.
The TVs and papers keep reminding us that the economy has chilled. Yet there's something about the arrival of January that instills a sense
that better times are ahead. Maybe it’s that the lengthening days begin to be noticeable 10 days after the winter solstice.

More sunlight stirs thoughts of diving. Nothing beats shrugging off the coldest of months like a trip to a tropical paradise, but between job
fears and the arrival of the spirit of Christmas past in the charge card bill that might not be possible for many. Hardy souls simply don
thicker duds under their drysuits to dive through a hole in a lake. The rest of us can scratch the dive itch by improving our skills topside.
Sign up for a certification class to learn new skills and talk diving with fellow students or pick up some books and videos on safety or
destinations.

A change being brought in at Northeast and Midwest Dive News this month is the addition of Rick Misbach to oversee national sales that
are possible now with our sister publication, Northwest Dive News, extending our combined audience from coast to coast. This should help
the forum of the region's largest dive club grow during the coming twelve months.
Suitable time for a dive ritual February
Hardy divers love February for it is the month most likely to allow for ice diving in the Northeast and Midwest. The rest of us are glad the
coldest month is also the shortest, and we can hole up like groundhogs with our valentines and share boxes of chocolate. But before we get
too cozy, we might want to give thought to the origin of the month and how it can apply to diving.

Before there was a February the Romans observed a purification ritual called
februa at this time of year. What's this have to do with diving?
Sniff out the answer in your gear bag. Go ahead. Take a big whiff of that protection suit that's been festering away since your last local
dive in October? September? A sweaty hot day in August? Phew! If it's nasty on the nose, it's not doing the material any good either. Fill up
the tub and soak the Neoprene in Sink The Stink. Treat your drysuit under duds to a dive in the washing machine. You'll be glad for your
observance of
februa in a month or two when days grow longer and temperatures rise in the air and in the waters covering your favorite
dive sites.

Your magazine grew a few pages larger this month thanks to growing support from the diving community. We are looking forward to
meeting as many of you, our readers, as possible during the winter round of dive shows. Please make it a point to drop by our booth to pick
up copies of our Writers and Photographers Guide, so you can learn how to share your dive stories with us and all the members of the
region's biggest dive club.
The pool's open April
Few months are filled with so much promise as April. Its Latin root is aperire or to open, which pretty much describes the blossoming
sense of the season.

Closed signs are being switched to Open at quarries and lakes across the Northeast and Midwest. Tarps are coming off of charter boats as
they're put back into the water for the season at marinas that are springing to life. Our Canadian buddies may still have ice left on inland
lakes, but for the most part, the pool is open especially for drysuit divers.

Those who haven't tried diving dry might want to consider dropping in on one of the demo days that suit makers have scheduled starting
this month at dive sites throughout northern states. They offer a chance to tune up your gear and watermanship skills while experiencing
the comfort of a protection suit that can extend your diving season to virtually year-round with no jets to Jamaica needed. In fact, for the
price of one week at a warm-water resort a drysuit can keep you toasty on local dives week in and week out for years. There is an
enormous amount of history, and unique flora and fauna in waters in our own back yards for those who are open to diving locally.

We're always open to hearing your dive stories, so please take lots of good notes and photos while you're having adventures. Let us know
how that new suit opened up your world of diving, and we'll share your tales with all your buddies in the region's biggest dive club.
Celebrate Mothers Year May
While nearly everyone in the world honors their mother on the second Sunday of this month, divers have good reason to celebrate Mothers
Day year-round. Popular thought holds that life was born in the sea, so we're just going back home for a visit when we dive beneath the
waves.

Our cetacean cousins liked returning to the sea so much that they chucked living off the land eons ago for a life of freediving. It's easy to
see why. Given a choice between working and going diving, who would ever stay on the job for a minute. Why not embrace a life of
exploring the depths and living off the wellspring of Mother Earth's bounty. The waters of the world surely would be cleaner if humans
weren't working so diligently topside to pollute them so mindlessly. Most humans still see the medium that covers three-fourths of this
planet as a bottomless garbage dump.

Developing blowholes and thick enough hides to spend lives in the water isn't going to happen in our lifetimes, obviously. But we can do our
part every day to prepare the depths for generations of humans to come. Tell friends and coworkers about the wonders of the underwater
world. This is especially important in northern climes, where most locals dismiss the water as a cold lifeless void. Get active in marine
conservation organizations with political lobbying clout. And be proactive by removing fishing line and other rubbish from sites as you dive
throughout the year. Your earth mother wants you to clean up your room.

We're glad that so many of you are clearing out dive shops of "Northeast Dive News" and "Midwest Dive News" that you're ordering home
delivery to not miss an issue. In the spirit of recycling, please pass your copies on to others after you read them. Doing so will help the
region's biggest dive club grow bigger and better.
Graduate to diving June
Millions of people walk across stages this month to be handed diplomas and given handshakes as they graduate from schools and begin the
adventure of finding jobs and earning livings. For many, the ceremonies mark the end of formal education as they apply their specialized
skill to newfound jobs.

Summer is prime time for dive training in North America, when many people are bursting with enthusiasm to take up an outdoor adventure
sport after long cold months of being indoors. A month of lessons later they graduate by earning certification cards. Unlike graduates of
academic programs, though, these newly minted divers are only beginning to learn the arts and sciences of diving. The constant quest to
learn more, see more and experience more is what keeps this sport so fresh, year after year.

Advanced certifications allow sport divers now to achieve levels of exploration that would have been unfathomable a generation ago.
Training can extend the concept of recreation to finding new passages in caves, finding and identifying lost shipwrecks and going to great
depths by using carefully calculated gas mixes and rebreathers that are as technologically sophisticated as astronauts' breathing systems.
Not all training is complex or expensive. It can be as simple and cheap as test diving a drysuit at a local quarry or swapping gear tips and
fish IDs over beer at the dive club. Those without a thirst to expand their knowledge will lose interest in this sport. There is no such thing
as knowing it all in diving.

We learn about diving every month from you, our readers. So as your summer fills with diving adventures, please continue to take notes
and send in your stories to share with all the members of the region's biggest dive club.
March toward summer March
March brims with anticipation for the local diving season that is just around the corner. Spirits of even the hardiest of year-round Northern
divers pick up as blustery winds blast away the last remnants of winter. Like birds gathering for seasonal migration, divers are flocking to
dive shows from the Meadowlands of New Jersey to Milwaukee to meet buddies old and new, and to begin planning summer dives.

Planning is an important step now, and digging into the gear locker can soothe the itch to get wet. Check the hydrostatic testing dates
stamped on tanks. Getting any that are out-of-date retested will take the longest time of maintenance tasks. What about your regulators.
Looking good on the outside and functioning up to spec are two different things. This piece of critical life support equipment is supposed to
be serviced annually for a reason, and you don’t want to find out why while penetrating a wreck. Look over suits for holes or other wear.
Squeeze into wetsuits to start stretching them back into shape.

Beyond gear maintenance there’s skill maintenance. Being comfortable and safe in the water takes time and energy. Are there courses that
could help you get more out of diving? This may be the time to get that certification in nitrox, mixed gasses or intro to cave. If it’s been
awhile since your last rescue diver course, sign up for a refresher. Some classes have pool sessions, which get you wet before captains put
their boats back into the water. The more you anticipate the season’s what ifs the more you’ll grow as a diver.

At Northeast and Midwest Dive News we appreciate your support that is enabling us to grow as a forum for local diving and beyond. When
we launched at Beneath The Sea we were met with a show floor filled with quizzical skeptical faces. Five years later, we’re catching up
with friends at the show booth. Now make sure to drop by to tell us the stories and show us the pictures that you want to share through
these pages with all your buddies in the region's biggest dive club.
Happy Holidive December
For people of all backgrounds, t’is the season to celebrate, and there’s probably a good reason for that especially in northern climes.
Shamans from ancient times from the Druids to the Incans with miscellaneous American, European and Middle Eastern tribes in between
became savvy at predicting the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, which occurs on Dec. 21. Organizing social and religious rites
around this day such as sharing food, and offering personal and communal sacrifices ensured that material needs of their people were met
during the colder months. And the shaman’s power was reinforced when the all-important sun god started to return as days lengthened
over the course of the observance.

Animal sacrifices still are part of today's rituals, and the unlucky goose is part of the overindulgence of food and beverages at holiday
repasts with friends and family. Sharing gifts is part of the spirit of the season too, and we still look to meet the needs of all people by
reaching out to strangers at this time of year. What could be a better time than now for us to reach out to people outside of our diving
communities and share with them our love for our favorite sport.

Make bringing an item for Toys For Tots a part of the admission fee for your dive club’s annual holiday party. A mask and snorkel set,
Dive-O-Poly game or Scuba Barbie just might inspire some underprivileged youngster to go where no one in his family has ever gone –
diving. Instructors and shops can draw new people to the sport with holiday-themed events too. Why bother bobbing for apples when you
can get non-divers bobbing in your pool with an Intro To Scuba party. And as you make the seasonal social rounds, pack good photos and
stories of diving fun to share with non-diving friends and co-workers. The power to draw more people to diving rests not so much with an
industry marketing association or a few glossy national magazines, as it does with us; clubs, shops and individual divers.

While you're sharing your tales and photos at parties, jot some notes about them, and send them to Dive News to share with all of your
buddies who are united through these pages into the region's biggest dive club.
2009
Thanks Diving November
November is an awkward month for Northeast divers. Waters can still be reasonably warm, but captains tend to use the last gasp of Indian
Summer to haul their boats out of the water and put them into winter storage. So except for shore diving, the next chance to visit local
waters is in the dead of winter when ice is thick enough to support teams of divers and sleds of gear pulled by snowmobiles.

Intrepid divers find alternatives to backyard waterholes. The most popular is to plot a trip to a warm water resort. There’s no point in
actually going there until snow squeaks beneath the mukluks. It’s still a month or two before the dazzling sunshine and bathtub-warm, clear
waters of Pookie-Pookie Villa become a pleasant contrast to scraping ice off windshields, but it’s fun to plan now. Another option is to toss
the gear into the four-wheel dive bag and head south. Waters stay temperate and boats stay in the water from the Carolinas on down, which
makes a doable long weekend road trip for many, with the added advantage of not needing to stay topside for 24 hours before flying out.

The big shift of the season for divers and topsiders alike is the arrival of the holidays, starting with the big potlatch of Thanksgiving and
continuing like a whirlwind into the New Year. Whether each drink really does equal the narcotic effect of an additional atmosphere of
pressure is a hypothesis field tested at many parties. Open up your club or store holiday parties to non-divers, and invite your friends and
coworkers who’d like to learn more about the sport. If they start lessons now, they’ll be ready to join your deep-winter resort trip where
they can take their open water test and indulge in a week of skill-building fun. The more people we draw into diving, the more good times
we'll be able to share with fellow members of the region's biggest dive club.
Trick Or Treat October
Maybe it’s that little extra kick from the nitrogen that adds a glow to our mental dive log over time. Yet any long-time Northern diver knows
that for all of the dives that brighten the glow, there are a few that make our scariest Halloween seem like the fun holiday it should be.

Smart divers keep a mental roster of “what ifs” over time. A boatload of divers penetrating a popular Northeast wreck recently added one to
their logs. Some divers lacking training to go inside decided to stay outside and be ecologically nice by cleaning up all of those unsightly
lines from wreck reels. Fortunately, none of their boat mates’ lines was severed. The new divers loudly learned a lesson from their
seasoned mates that day, but they have a lesson for us too.

There are tons of junk down there ready to snare divers and sea life alike. Boaters and fishermen toss garbage overboard with abandon, and
that's only a fraction of what washes in from the land. Until it is removed, snarls of bottom tackle, plastic bags and other junk can keep
killing sea life for decades.

Even if you don’t believe in taking dinner or artifacts, take a goodie bag on your dives. Fill it with trash that could snag wildlife or maybe
you. Although the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization wants to preserve all effects of man underwater, it’d be
nice to think that UNESCO would make an exception for this season’s beer bottles, tampon launchers and wads fishing line. So this month
do the denizens of the deep a favor. Go trick or treating on your favorite sites. And if you find something really special, let us know so you
can share it with all your buddies in the region's biggest dive club.
Fall for local diving September
No month compares with September for Northern diving. It kicks off with the long Labor Day weekend providing an extra day to play. And
after that, many landlubbers put away their summer toys and nervously flip between baseball and football on TV, just waiting for enough
snow to fall to go skiing. That leaves beaches and dive boat marinas relatively empty, and the roads between them and your home fairly free
of traffic.

Fall officially begins with the equinox late in the month, but waters are at their peak warmth. Now is the time to buddy up with travel divers
in your club who’ve wanted to test local waters because many sites, especially shallow ones, can be visited in Caribbean-weight wetsuits.
Tourism divers will feel right at home too at sites along the Eastern Seaboard as brightly colored juvenile tropical fish wash up on one-way
rides on the Gulf Stream. Forget portholes and flounder, the smart money is on bagging these doomed little critters and selling them to local
pet shops with saltwater fish tanks. Just be careful handling those lionfish kittens from Carolina.

September also holds International Cleanup Day. This is evolving into just about the only time when the “take only pictures” zealots endorse
doing what divers have done for generations – removing junk from the bottom. Pay particular attention to snarls of fishing line, cigarette
butts and plastic items that can be deadly to aquatic life for centuries. Empty bottles and old tires may be unsightly, but they can provide
habitat to local denizens. Participating in an underwater cleanup is a great way to draw together your club’s local and travel divers, and to
polish the public image of sport diving in your community.

Our community of Northeast and Midwest divers continues to grow stronger with each issue as more shops and charter operators join in
supporting us, and put out plenty of issues for the reading enjoyment of their customers. We, in turn, get to hear of more adventures as you
share your stories with fellow members of the region's biggest dive club.
Dog Day Diving August
If ever there’s a sport for the dog days of summer it’s got to be local diving. Let the landlubbers melt into lawn chairs on the patio or flop
into recliners in front of the air conditioners while slugging down frosties and watching baseball on the tube. And Northerners who worry
about whether a hurricane will spoil their once-a-year-or-two dive experience in the Caribbean are truly missing the best part of the sport.

Local divers know that relief from August heat and all the daily stresses of life can be found just a few feet below the surface of any body
of water. So what if it’s 98 F in the shade and there isn’t any topside. Slip down a thermocline or two and suddenly you’re back to the 60s,
just chilling while floating weightlessly in the water world we all love.

Late summer is the best time for travel divers who’ve wanted to test local water to take the plunge. Many waters that would have required
drysuits to visit last month can be comfortably explored now through September in a wetsuit. Granted visibility tends to be less during
warmer months, but shouldn’t year-round local divers have some reward for braving winter’s worst. Even if you can’t see past your
faceplate, it’s a cool retreat from hazy, hot, humid days, and chances are you’ll get back to work with a tale that will top those the armchair
coach will have about the big game.

This is the season for brightly colored tropical fish to be washed up the Eastern Seaboard by the Gulf Stream. They’re great to collect for
saltwater aquariums because they won’t survive the ensuing winter otherwise. Freshwater lakes are as warm as they get above the first
thermocline where virtually all the flora and much of the fauna live. And below that are temperatures that rival sitting in front of an air
conditioner in the den, and experiences that aren’t just out of the house but seemingly out of this world.

So if you haven’t done so already this summer, get out our gear, go to the nearest body of water and get down! And make sure to e-mail us
stories about your dive so you can share them with your buddies who are united through these pages into the region's biggest local dive
club.
Dive Into Independence July
July is a great month to celebrate local diving. After all, the month kicks off with Independence Day and local diving allows us to kick our
dependence on long jet rides to pricy resorts just to pursue our favorite sport. There will be plenty of time during those cold winter months
to keep our skills fresh by visiting warm-water destinations. But now Northeast and Midwest waters are warm enough to melt away our
excuses for not diving close to home. How we explore these waters pretty much reflects our personalities.

Social, interdependent types are more likely to want to buddy up closely, often with a good friend with whom they can share memories
season after season. They also enjoy the comfort of knowing throughout each dive that help is at hand should something go awry. Having a
buddy triples the chances that something will go wrong, in the minds of strongly independent types, who are likely to dive solo. Buddy
divers may chortle that solo divers simply have an idiot for a buddy, yet solo divers do have a certain point. While more than 60 percent of
fatalities involved diving solo, according to a Divers Alert Network study, more than two-thirds of those solo diving fatalities occurred after
the victim became separated from his buddy. Therefore, rather than being an indictment against solo diving, these data actually reflect a
breakdown in the buddy system.

Regardless of personal preference in solo vs. buddy diving, the important elements for all divers are to have the skills and the mindset to be
capable of independent diving. Even in the tightest of teams, each member must be totally self-sufficient to be of any use to a buddy in
need. The best way to avoid being in need of help is to think ahead and plan each dive. Before diving a new site, talk with denizens who
frequent it. Thinking through the “what ifs” before you jump in the water is an exercise that can be helped by bouncing the questions
among diving friends. Not only does it help prepare for the dive, but it also adds a social element to a sport that stifles conversation while it’
s being pursued.

When you get back ashore, do more than update your log book. Jot down notes of your dive to share the experience with your fellow
readers who are united through these pages into the region's biggest dive club.