Thursday, April 24, 2008


I started flying this week!!!
The days just flew by! I can't believe I only have one week left before I leave Fort William!

Flying rovs is SO MUCH FUN!!!... being paid to do it sounds almost like a joke. The first half hour was very stressful, but strangely easy. Once you can control your buoyancy and deal with the current, the rest is just pure play. Maybe it's because I'm a diver and I'm used to dealing with all of this... but I'm the best in my class :P
Like Tom said (with some resentment cause he's having a hard time) "I make it look easy".

First day we did some exercise with the tanks that are sank near the pier... land on the turret, hover in front of the canon, read the sonar to find out you've drifted 200m west and are now under the diving barge :P

On my second turn as pilot I spotted a dive knife on the seabed. Rob said to go for it, so I did. Landed behind it, opened the manipulator, moved forward, digging in the sand, stirring up shit like mad, closed the manip, brought it back to the rov cage and it's now wrapped on my desk!
I will varnish and frame it as my first found treasure! :D

Today I was flying Falcon 1215, who doesn't have a sonar. Makes it harder for orientation but still doable, now that I know the site better. It doesn't have a manipulator either, only a curvy piece of metal sticking from it that you can use as a hook.
We practice retrieving loops of cables from the seabed and placing them on a hook (attached to a rope hanging from the pier).
Find a loop, try to pass it through 1215's hook, lift off, don't let it slide off, fly slowly, find the hanging hook, reach it, look down at your hook (chances are the loop has fell off, so go find it again), go above hanging hook, go forward and down so the loop slides on it, try again, try again, swear loudly, try again, drop the loop, swear and start over...

Here I can brag... In 30 minutes, my classmates managed 1 loop each... I got 3 :P hehehe I could have gotten more, but Paul (our teacher today) started humming the "Mission Impossible" theme and I lost focus... and the loop I was carrying... and I ran out of time.

For our second turns we went to the close bell to observe divers... who all start dancing as soon as they see us... got some recorded footage of that. As soon as I burn a cd, I'll put it here so you can see the macarena underwater. :P

For my last turn I went down to 30m... vis is shit, so we switch to the b&w camera. Got footage of the ugliest lobster ever! It looks like a giant tarantula! yarch!!!

Tomorrow I'm in class again, got an exam in the morning and then we're gonna splice our own loops of cables, to be thrown out of the pier... so we can practice search patterns on Monday to retrieve them (and verify that our joint was waterproof).

update on Saturday night..
not only did the guys throw a tv out, they nearly uprooted a tree, punched a two feet wide hole in the bedroom wall and broke the toilet in that room. The guy who's room it was wont get his certs until he pays the bill for the repairs (he's also one of the 4 who ended up in jail that week) and the others might have to wait a while before getting theirs. Commercial diving is a small world... words will be pass on to companies as well regarding their behavior.

and I haven't heard anymore from the weirdo :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

turning a new leaf

I went to Mallaig yesterday. The town itself is very small and mostly a fishermen community... There is no castle :( so either my book was complete fiction or the castle has been destroyed in the past centuries.
The train ride there is the one they used for Harry Potter (I've mentioned this before) and the scenery is just wild!!! I saw the bridge (see my new album for visuals), but couldn't make out where the rest of the shots were filmed.

I took a ferry to the isle of Skye, where there is a distillery and a castle :P
Sadly, without a car it's really hard to get around once there. There are very few buses and a taxi to the Talisker distillery would have cost 80 pounds back n forth... :(

So I stayed at the Clan Donald castle for the day. There was plenty to do there anyway, nature trail, museum on the MacDonald clan history, the ruins, the gardens... I saw a million different bird species, including birds of prey, wild ducks, geese and herons, deers, seals, otters (during the ferry ride), and the usual sheep and bunnies (who outnumber humans by 100 to 1 I'm sure!). Wildlife is thriving here! The landscape is so harsh, it makes it harder for humans to mess it all up...

I had my first haggis at the castle restaurant.. believe it or not it's really good!!! Very tasty, lots of spices (not hot, just flavorful)... goes very well with whisky :P

I came back to Fort William after tea (that's dinner to the rest of the world), to find that the sat divers were still here. They went snowboarding during the day and managed to keep their room at the Center until Sunday. I thought it best not to go out that night... didn't want to come face to face with the freak while drunk. It turned out to be a very good move.
I don't know what they ingested (I'm suspecting alcohol by itself wouldn't have yielded such results) but some of them (not just the sat, other guys as well) went completely insane... fighting, walking on a car and bashing it, coming back to the Center screaming, and banging on walls... two of them (in turns) tried to get into Lindy's room (while I was there with her) with crazy look in their eyes... one was pulled back to his room by Jimmy, the other was told to fuck off by Lindy. The screaming and bashing eventually died down but not before a tv was thrown out of a window... mad...

All of them left very early this morning... I wonder why :S
(just to specify, "some of them" does not include Max and Wayne, who are crazy yes, but really great guys, and Jimmy who is a bit of a joke but still a decent bloke...)
All in all, 4 different guys ended up spending a night in jail this week... not the sat guys last night but there might be consequences to their behavior later on. Too many courses finished at the same time.. it had a very bad build up effect...

So that's the end of this chapter... new guys are coming in today; Lindy and me are thinking of sitting in the restaurant with notepads to rate them as they come in... just to be on the safe side ;)
Ho yeah, a new girl arrived to the center last week. Katrina, from Portugal, she is on a 3 weeks course for rov piloting, but not the same as mine. That makes 3 girls at the same time.. an all time record for the place!

I have my first flying session tomorrow FINALLY!!!!!!!!!! *happy happy dance*
Think of me Monday, around 7am (North America time)... I'll be in the saddle, flying the Falcon!!! *more happy happy dance!*

Friday, April 18, 2008


Ok, this has officially been the most fucked up week of my life (and that's saying something cause I've had some pretty weird ones before).

Vero, j'aimerais mieux que les parents ne lisent pas ce qui suit, mom va s'inquiéter et p'pa va acheter un gun...

Last weekend was heavy enough, starting with an argument with Jimmy (terminating that bit of the story) and culminating with the death of Mike. The whole week felt like a daze. Luckily my new ROV teacher, Rob, is funny as hell and a great story teller so during class my mind was occupied enough.

Yesterday was the last night of the SAT class (some are staying the weekend, but they finished all their exams Thursday afternoon). We went to Crofter to celebrate and even though we were about the only people in the place, it was still fun.

Here I need to add some background infos... Denzo, one of the divers, has had an eye on me from the start. He's the one who took all the pictures of me and Jimmy (there is a truckload more than the ones I put in the album :S) and I had to shut my bedroom door to his face more than once (including when I wasn't alone going in!). He txt me a lot, and him and Jimmy even called me from the bell, talking like two chipmunks because of the helium (in saturation diving the O2 is cut with helium).
He was a bit persistent (to say the least) but I made it very clear I wasn't interested. After a while he got frustrated and started calling me ROV instead of saying my name. He was becoming borderline rude, but still inviting me to dinner, tagging along everywhere I went... and never letting me buy my own drinks (or anything else for that matter... I haven't opened my wallet for a week and a half cause he was always in my freakin shadow!)... go figure.
He kept txting me so he'd come pick me up at my room to walk me to the pub, and insisted on walking me back too... for those of you who know me well you can guess that this didn't fly well with me.. I don't need a fuckin bodyguard and I'll go to the fuckin pub by myself when I decide to!

So that's how things were yesterday, I was getting really annoyed with him, but kept it civil knowing he'd be gone in 2 days (and sneaking to the bar behind his back to buy my pints!).
He kept asking me when I wanted to leave, saying he'd walk back with me, and I kept answering "I don't know when I'll leave". I managed to shake him off and talked with Max for a while, and with some of my classmates.
Then, he came out of nowhere, grabbed me and tried to kiss me. I never saw him coming, all I knew was that his face was pressing against mine and I couldn't move. I was pinned against the bar and when I told him stop and tried to push him away he didn't stop. I pushed him again and again, tried to turn my face away from his, but he was holding my head so I couldn't turn it. I was really starting to panic cause I realized he was too strong for me and I couldn't stop him. I managed to slide my fingers between my lips and his and poked my nails in his face. Suddenly he let go and ran away, leaving the pub.

I stayed rooted on the spot for about 2 minutes trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. The place was almost empty by then so no one saw it, except two guys who were now staring at me, looking as stunned as I felt. Guillaume arrived, then Max and Wayne, and I told them about it. We talked for a while and I walked back to the Center with Wayne... I saw Jimmy there and told him what happened. I ended up really pissed because all of them, except Max, tried to minimize Denzo's actions by saying "well you know he likes you and he was drunk and all.. it's not so bad.. it's hard for guys here you know..."
I got the same reaction from my classmates the next day... until I turned it over and asked them "ok, imagine he tried kissing you instead... pinning you to the bar so you can't move and kept on going even though you were fighting tooth and nail to get away... how would you feel?" Strangely they all changed attitude after that (fuckin men!!!)

Thing is, it didn't end there. When I was walking back with Wayne, Denzo started sending txt message. I didn't want to read it so I closed my phone. Back in my room, I couldn't sleep so I opened it again.. I had 2 voicemail and 10 txt. The first txts were mostly I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry... but then they turned angry "why aren't you answering, talk to me, don't be so hard" and the last two "if you don't answer me I'm gonna jump out the window" and "talk to me if you don't want someone else to die like Mike". ... ... ... ...
I thought of pushing him myself out of that fuckin window... but just closed my phone again instead.

How dare he used Mike's death as a threat?!!!! How fuckin pathetic is that?!!!! I just can't believe it!!!

Needless to say I didn't sleep much that night and felt like shit all day today. The worst was having all the guys dismissing it like it was nothing. He assaulted me for fuck sake!!! They reacted more to the fact that he threatened to kill himself and used Mike's death to get to me... Max (and Rob, as you'll see) was the only one to get it right away, all the others only got it when I told them to imagine themselves in my place.

By noon I couldn't fake normal behavior anymore and Rob asked me what was going on. I told him what happened and he was so angry! He said I should have told him right away cause then he could have gotten hold of him before he left. But just the fact that he called it assault without me mentioning it made me feel better. There are still some guys who have a brain in working order in this place. He's been around divers for a long time and he described them in very direct terms... Everything that happened in the last 2 weeks suddenly made a lot more sense.
He really is a great guy Rob... actually he's like an older, male version, of me :P He hates people in general, and says openly we should be allowed to shoot idiots. He looks like a biker, is a vegetarian, and he'll say whatever he wants or thinks, no matter how shocking it is. I like that :)

Denzo kept txting all day today and eventually I txtd back "F-U-C-K O-F-F". He replied that it was ok for me to say things like that but he wanted me to forgiving him... I didn't reply (duh!) and he eventually stopped with the txts.
He showed up at dinner tonight with the other guys, I only saw him from the corner of my eye, before they hushed him away.

Anyway, I'm not going out tonight and I'll go visit Mallaig tomorrow so I wont have to see him again before he leaves. But when I go home I'm definitely signing up for self-defense and martial arts classes... not being able to stop him was the scariest thing I've ever faced in my life. It will never happen again believe me!
It was in a public place and didn't go too far... but the thought of him wanting to walk me back to my room that night will keep me awake for a long time.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Exactly a year ago, I woke up from a too short night and got on a plane to leave Utila, bringing back with me a newfound passion and a sense of belonging I had been looking for my whole life.
This year, I'm in Scotland, following through on that dream, trying to make a life for myself near the ocean.

In between, so much has happened... new friends became good friends, lost friends were found again, new challenges, important decisions, doubts, endless nights, intense joys and wounds that will never fully heal...

I stand here in Fort William with many hopes and one regret

Sunday, April 13, 2008

He's gone

I just got an email telling me that my friend Mike died Friday night... I just don't know what to say...

I met him and his wife Cindy in Vegas 2 years ago and kept in touch ever since. Cindy died in May last year and he's been struggling ever since to keep his head afloat. I thought he was finally starting to get a bit better in the last few months, he seemed more hopeful and looking forward instead of back.
I talked to him just last week and all seemed, if not great, at least ok.

But he just couldn't cope with her loss... I hope they are together now and that he finally found peace, but I can't help to cry at this tremendous waste... great love makes great tragedy but it's not so romantic to witness in real life. I lost two friends, two great persons, for nothing...

Friday, April 11, 2008

I wish I was Vulcan

Sunset behind the mountains... another lucky shot by the wannabe photographer (that would be me in case there was any doupt :P)

This week we kept on going with circuits and logic gates. We had to make a truth table based on a circuit in our book (a bunch of 1001010010101. Depending which gate is on/off and what type it is, you get a 1 or 0 answer). I finished mine (no mistakes in it) in 5 minutes... the rest of the class, including the electronic pros, took 30 minutes or more to complete theirs. When I said to my slightly flabbergasted teacher, “well it's EASY.. it's pure logic...”, his answer was "You wouldn't be Vulcan by any chance?" :P

I wish I was.. a world seen only through pure logic, with no place for emotions would be so much easier to live in!... I wouldn't be fussing about today's date anyway... Though it probably would get very frustrating at some point, since most humans have no logic whatsoever and act on emotions only... I'm screwed no matter how I look at life... damn...

But i think being Vulcan would still beat my actual sine wave of a brain... from afar it looks all level and steady, but if you look closely at that full horizontal band you see it is made of a million ups and downs like a roller coaster... add spikes for unexpected events (or unstable power supply) and you have the pattern on which I ride... (and no I'm not drunk I came up with that with my brain's functions at full capacity... scary...) anyway....

I'm so glad to have Paul back to teach! Vince was fun, but he is a lot more thorough and since he is an ROV pilot, he can relay what we learn to the machine we'll have to fix... like logic gates are found on circuits controlling the camera of the ROV... the boys are a bit pissed cause we finish at 5:30pm instead of 4pm and they don't have time to play football before dinner anymore... but considering the price of this course.. I don't know... I'd rather be learning ;)

The new mascot of our class is Schmitt! It's a type of chip that will clean the electric signal, making the sine wave on the oscilloscope all nice and clear. We had been trying to clean up our signal for an hour and just by changing the chip for a Schmitt it got all nice. So everyone fell in love with Schmitt and now he's the man! If you don't have Schmitt you're fucked... so don't be surprise if I come back saying holy Schmitt! (maybe I should have one implanted in my head...)

Wednesday morning I woke up to real Scottish weather... a wall of fog! Vis was about 4 meters! Could barely see the shore, and the lake not at all!!! Sadly it had all cleared up by break time so I don't have pictures for my “the weather in Scotland changes every 10 minutes” theme.

Forgot to mention.. last Saturday there was a big wedding in Fort William.. tons of men in kilts!!!! complete with tuxedo shirts, wool socks, Sgian Dubh and sporran!!!! I was a happy woman! ;)

update : I couldn't post this last night cause the int. conn. crashed... now it's Friday afternoon and I'm officially done with electronics (that makes me an electronics technician.. my certificate is on its way! :P) So boring theory is over!!!! Next Monday I start working with real rovs!!!!! woohoohoohoo!!!!!!! :D

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Comply or Die!

So I'll cash my checks and place my bets
And hope I'll always win
Even if I don't I'm fucked because
I live a life of sin
But it's alright
I don't give a damn
I don't play your rules I make my own
I'll do what I want
Cuz I can

Ha shit it's getting late and I have more study to do for my exam tomorrow, but this was one hell of a weekend!!!!

Short version and I"ll see when I can add more to it

Friday night started with a roar at Crofter... a bunch of commercial divers finished their 13 weeks course so they were ready to party. Met Carla, one of the diver's girlfriend.. learned that guys are worst gossip than girls... she knew everything about me even if I had never seen her before! Her boyfriend told her a lot of stuff... and I had never talked to him before that night.... go figure...
I got to talk with some of the SAT divers too. It's a bit funny, cause every time they saw Jim talking to me this week at school they were making funny faces behind his back or trying to distract him.. like in high school :P
But now I'm kinda part of the gang, or actually "rov girl"... good enough... they're a rowdy, funny bunch! It's great to hangout with overgrown 8 years old ;)

Saturday was the Grand National, a crazy horse race that everybody bet on... so I did. Tom gave me a newspaper with all the horses' names and I picked Comply or Die... cause it sounded like 7 of 9 in Star Trek :P.. Put 5 quid on him to win... he won!!! I made 40 pound! woohoo!!! easiest money I ever made (and first time I ever placed a bet in my life hehe)

I hung out a lot with my roommate's classmate (the new air divers). They are a lot of fun and she is really nice, wont be a problem sharing a room for a while.. and she goes home on the weekends, so I still have the room to myself for a couple of nights a week.

Saturday night was Crofter again.. the SAT divers met us there a bit later... and.. well you have the pictures in the new album :P

Woke up Sunday morning to SNOW!!! aaaarg!!! The whole of Britain is covered in snow.. it's the apocalypse :S


Friday, April 4, 2008

Week 3 finally over!!!

Because you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Fockin' hell I thought this week would never end!!!!
Time seemed to be stuck at snail rate and mostly wasted in the classroom :(

I have a strange feeling that all we've learned in 5 days could have been compressed in one day.. with all the bloody tea breaks, the time spent learning was minute (pun sooo intended!).

The whole class seemed to have given up on it by Wednesday... we got a record of jokes and stupid comments and lots of laugh... but shyte, I'd like to be competent when I get outta here!

Anyway it's over, we get Paul back next week... we won't be ending the day at 4pm anymore, but at least we'll know something at the end of it!

Slawec gave me a bunch of stupid games for my laptop (like Lemmings... and Cath, I think I even have Dark Castle! :P) so that's something to do on rainy days or when the gym seems too far to bother with it.

Funny how money is relative to each person... yesterday Simone was complaining that when you start as an ROV pilot you only make 200 Pound a day... that's 400$!!! errr I don't think you'll hear me complain about it. But he was a commercial diver until he got shot in Nigeria and lost his right thumb, so I guess it's a set back for him... true also that he complains about everything... his favorite words being "fack" and "wankers". He's short and Italian... bad combination ;)

I have enough new pics to post another album. I'll do it at some point during the weekend (probably when we get our mandatory 30 minutes of daily rain shower).

Now I'm going swimming... I'll find more anecdotes to tell later (new roommate, new diver friends, pub crawl...)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day of a thousand rainbows

The weather in Scotland is a bit of a joke...

A typical day would look like this :
Morning : pouring rain
1st tea break : full sunshine
2nd tea break : cover of clouds
lunch break : hurricane wind
afternoon break : snow storm falling sideways because of wind
end of class : full sunshine, not a gust of wind, not a cloud in sight, but raining on the other side of the lake

take all these options, mix them at will.. and voila.

But today, mother nature had her own April fool's joke set for us, and it broke every record of weirdness... All day we had pouring rain and bright sunshine AT THE SAME TIME!!! Don't ask me how it's possible it just was... the result of it was a thousand rainbows everywhere, all day! Over the lake, over the mountains, over the Center, over the town... everywhere I looked there was a rainbow (or 2 or 3 on top of each other!). Some were so close I was tempted to jump in the lake to find the pot of gold... but since leprechaun gold vanishes, I figured it wasn't worth getting wet for....

I forgot to mention too... Scotland has switch to British summer time, so there's a +5 hours difference with North America now :(

At the pub last weekend I was introduced to my new love... a pint of Guinness with a shot of TiaMaria in it.... love at first taste! :)

I'm getting a bit bored with the electronic stuff... we're playing with oscilloscopes and it's fun to make the waves all distorted... but enough of the theory I wanna flyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!
At least we're starting logic gate soon (0110100101)..... so I'll officially be a geek, but I'll be allowed to wear the t-shirt "there's only 10 type of people.. those who understand binary and those who don't" :P (hey I find fun where I can.. humor me please...)

I received my Bodum in the mail today!!!! All in one piece, with coffee, and bits of Montreal's newspaper to read as a bonus ;)
THANX MOM!!!! You're the best!!!! *big hug*