Posts Tagged cruise

Just Breathe

Our second stop on the Magic Cruise was the island of Grand Cayman – not only was it spectacularly beautiful, but there was an exciting excursion on the docket for me: beginner’s scuba diving, a significant upgrade from snorkeling last year.

The experience was composed of three parts: the lecture, the training and the dive.  Each part took about a half-hour, with a bit of break in between for putting on / taking off gear.  Our dive instructor Moke told us we would be limited to no deeper than 40 feet (this sounded shallow when I heard it, but not once I was actually in the water!) and gave us a detailed lecture on why humans and water don’t mix.  When you have to keep track of EVERYTHING you do – including breathing and internal pressure – in the water, it gets pretty draining and pretty nerve-wracking very fast!

After the lecture, I thought I had a good idea of what I needed to do in the water to have a successful scuba dive.  After all, Moke claimed that via careful application of grey matter we would be able to think our way through the problems of being underwater.  What I failed to realize until I had the gear on, at the bottom of the pool, watching Moke demonstrate our emergency skills, was that the animal brain inside is very very powerful and can seize control from the more rational grey matter lightning fast.

The skills we had to demonstrate seemed easy enough: if anything happens in the water, like you lose your breathing regulator (“reg”) or you get water in your facemask, you need to be able to cope.  So Moke looks at me there at the bottom of the pool, and making slow and deliberate movements, removes his reg, pushes it over his shoulder, and carefully touches his way to the dangling hoses and retrieves it.

Then he points at me.  Now you, his motions indicate.

I remove my reg and as I go to push it behind me, the animal mind takes over.  YOU ARE DROWNING, it screams, YOU IDIOT!  Unable to keep a steady stream of bubbles going, I forcefully exhale (bad) and try to inhale (much worse), and then motion to Moke that I need to surface.  He’s concerned (rightfully so) and tells me to relax.  Yes, yes, I know I need to relax.  Here on the surface, everything sounds so simple!

This goes on about three more times before he motions for me to surface again.

“You need to relax,” he states again, and I keep nodding.  He looks at me thoughtfully, and then makes a recommendation.  “Try humming.”

Humming is the trick that does it.  Not only is it relaxing to hum slightly (and gives my subconscious a much better estimate of when I will “run out of air” while I retrieve my reg), but I can keep a steady stream of bubbles to maintain my air properly.

After that, the dive itself was super easy.  Moke refused to give me my camera for the first few minutes, but once I gave him my fifth okay sign, he relented.  I saw some amazing angelfish and a school of squid, along with quite a bit of beautiful coral.  I’m not sure I want to go scuba again, but despite the pool’s near-drowning, overall the experience was pretty spectacular.

Watch Facebook for my developed pictures (need to get them developed the old fashioned way, since I used waterproof disposables) later this week or next!

Tags: , , , , ,

Influence and Trust

This is sort of a secret combined cruise-and-philosophy/psychology blog (mwa ha ha)… or maybe now not so secret.  Anyway!  On the cruise, I often found myself sitting with a group of people where I knew one of them from the previous Magic Cruise (or through previously established Seattle friendships) and was able to bootstrap my way to new friends via introductions through that person.   I’m sure everyone has experience with this phenomenon in multi-group situations: when one group meets another, there is nearly always bridging going on through mutual connections.

Thanks to Lindsey, Steve, Peter, Dwayne, Patrick and Roberto, I met a ton of awesome new folks and with their (often merely implicit) support, quickly developed friendships through them.  The development of these relationships is an interesting study for me, since if you observe carefully, you can tell that at some point you + new friend have a stronger connection than you + old friend.  On rare occasions (I can think of only a few times over the years this has happened to me), you + new friend can develop a stronger bond than old friend + new friend.

I want a word to describe the strength of the connection between the pairs in you-old-new; the unsatisfactory word I have used in the past is Influence, because generally speaking the stronger the connection, the more likely you are to ask and receive something (a favor, a thought) from that friend.  But really that just describes the effect; the cause is closer to comfort and trust.  When you are out far past your normal bedtime (which before the cruise was like, 9-10pm?) drinking and socializing with new friends until roughly 3am, and you do it many nights in a row (despite the pounding headaches in the morning!), that is definitely indicative of comfort.

But what about trust?  My stab at the source of trust is something like: as you interact with a person, you are subconsciously testing them for reasonable responses.  Reasonable, in this case, is what you consider reasonable (highly subjective).  Each time you get a reasonable response, or are “pleasantly surprised” in some way (I think because any positive emotion gets mapped at least a little into the trust-o-meter, at least in my case), your trust toward the other person ticks up a notch.

I have a thought experiment I’ll discuss another time that helps me consider the usefulness of an Influence metric.

Tags: , , , , ,

Magic Cruise

I’m planning on spending a good portion of this week talking about the cruise from whence I just returned.  There’s a ton to talk about, but not so much that I can keep my account to friends in person, my article for the Wizards website, and these blogs all separate… so I apologize in advance if I keep repeating myself.  It was totally awesome, so it’s not like I feel *that* bad about covering the same ground more than once.

Big thanks to Mick for coming along as my non-Magic roommate (although he did appear to have a good time reading cards and asking questions about our Magic-related “DI La” discussions) and to Bill for posting to guskintelligence while I was gone!

One interesting point that came up – I think from Dwayne, or Peter, or both – during the cruise was how well constructed Carnival (and assumedly other cruise lines) has made the boat space.  There aren’t a huge number of places where people can be to hang out, and that means not only are you running into the same people over and over, but you definitely feel like you have choice when in reality Carnival is exerting indirect control on where you spend your time.

In our particular case, all of the sitdown bars were clustered on deck 5 (Promenade) near the dance club and the casino.  Food and pools/hot tubs were mostly on deck 9 (Lido).  There were certainly exceptions to this layout, but for the most part it got people to the same place without ordering them there, which was nice.

One reason I love, and will continue to return to, the Magic Cruise is that not only is the backdrop a cruise with amazing tropical destinations (I’ll be talking about those in future posts), but you also get essentially for free a group of social, friendly gamers along with you for the ride.  Magic is being played by someone during most of the sea-time, so if you want to (and there were certainly times I needed my fix), you can join in for multiplayer or draft.  But also, there’s just a good core group of people who are up for hanging out and doing cruise-y stuff without the added pressure of leaving one’s normal comfort zone.

Of course, leaving one’s comfort zone is a key piece to any adventurous experience and I did that too – more about that later!

Tags: , , ,