In late August, I got into scuba diving by getting PADI open water certified just before my first visit to Hawaii (Maui). Last Friday night after work I went to Underwater Sports in Bellevue in a class with 3 others from 6pm-9pm for my advanced certification as well as special nitrox certification (higher mix of oxygen, like 32% or 36% rather than normal 21% allowing more time under water with no decompression needed). I did a 2 dives Saturday morning starting at 7:30pm, one deep dive to 100 feet, then another dive in the early afternoon on navigation using a compass underwater. Later that day I spoke at Seattle Code Camp in Federal Way (40 miles south) from 4:45pm-6:00pm on XML and XSLT tools new in Visual Studio 2005. Turns out that 4 of the people in my session were into scuba diving and I had to press on after lots of early chatter saying "maybe we can have a Scuba Diving session for coders at the next Code Camp". :) I left at 6:05pm after my session and went directly to Alki Beach for my first night dive. That was amazing, only seeing what the light shines on. What you see is far better color, since there is no blue/green sunlight underwater and only what the bright handheld light shows. We were swimming along and then had to stop as we approached a sunken boat maybe 20+ feet, it was all rusty and was only a 10 feet away when I first saw it, had to concentrate not to be nervous and scared. Diving at night is very cool, lots to see, calm waters, nice colors when you shine the light on stuff. It is a bit nerve racking not knowing what is around you unless you are shinning the light on it.
 
I was at the Bellevue Underwater Sports store again at 10:00am on Sunday to swap tanks for filled ones, then went 40 miles south to a beach dive near the Tacoma Narrows bridge by 11:00am to do a drift dive. That was cool, moving underwater without swimming, lots of sea life there and stuff to swim around (like a sunken VW bug car with star fish and such on it). Then after lunch we met another beach dive spot for a search and recovery dive, we tied a bag to a small 12 foot sunken boat in the middle then filled the bag with air using our regulators (using our backup for breathing while doing it) and lifted the boat off the ground a few feet (to show how to bring something up from the surface). So now I have certification on dry suit, nitrox air use, advanced level, and I may go diving once or twice this weekend (we have wed-fri off this week at work). I have 16 dives now, and all these certifications after only 8 weeks since I started scuba. I need 50 dives total plus 3 more specialties plus rescue+CPR and I will be at master level, something I should be able to do by early next year (within 6 months). Code Camp is a nice free event, but it is not like an annual conference with lots of people who know each other and not near as much networking (often the best part of any conference event). I don't think a Code Camp replaces a good formal conference, but they add well to the mix of options out there for learning about new products and technologies.

For a intersting blog post from a few months ago by Michael Rys (program manager for XQuery, Relational Database, SQL/XML, SQL), see
Scuba diving in the South of France - Plongee a la Cote d'Azur.