Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Spirit

   
     I do not remember the exact moment that Christmas became more to me than greedily foraging through presents under the tree to see which ones were mine, and being upset that the biggest one wasn't for me...but I am very glad that it has.  I cannot say enough about how awesome in every way Christmas is.  So I won't try.  Unfortunately I know that not everyone shares this sentiment.  For some Christmas is a lonely, cold, stressful time of year.  Hopefully those of us who are blessed with favorable circumstances can make our best efforts to share our blessings of heat, food, and loving family and friends with others.  This is one reason Christmas is so great.  The Christmas Spirit.  I fully believe that the Christmas Spirit and the Spirit of Christ are one in the same.  After all, we really are celebrating the birth of the one and only man who has given absolutely everything he had, to absolutely every one of us. It can be said that each one of us should have that spirit with us throughout the whole year.  And I like to believe that most of us do, but it cannot be denied that this time of year the feelings of joy and giving are amplified to hopefully reach each and every one of us. 
     Sometimes I wonder if we have over commercialized Christmas, I see children just get loaded on with plastic toys that are broken by the end of the day.  They get presents in the morning, then go to one set of grandparents and get some more, then off to the other grandparents house and collect again.  It's a lot of presents, though I understand fully that it is a wonderful feeling for parents to cause such joy for their children, that most of this gift giving is for the sake of the givers more so than the children just getting new toys.  And I will probably always carry on the tradition, I too have found that it is very enjoyable to give to those you love, or those in need.  In fact, I wish I could teach myself to spend so freely on myself as I can do for others.  (I'd eat a lot better)  But...I wish I knew for sure that the meaning of Christmas is still penetrating the hearts and minds of young and old alike.  I know though, that parents do such a good job teaching children about Christ in my family.  It started with my parents.  Though at the time I was more naive about Christmas and excited about presents than most, there was planted in me a deep respect and admiration for my Savior Jesus Christ and the true meaning behind the holiday that celebrates His birth.  All of the children in my family would dress up as Joseph and Mary, the Wiseman, the Shephard, and all the characters from the nativity (a cabbage patch doll played the roll of baby Jesus when I got too big) and as one of the adults read the story from Luke, we would re-enact the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.  To this date these are some of my most fond memories of Christmas and I credit those little nativity skits as a foundation upon which I have built my testimony of the Man that is my Savior.  I try to spend Christmas time, and all of my life remembering who He is and what He has done for me. 
     Of course, I am not perfect, I get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the wordly conundrum that is this life.  Recently, my poor niece was robbed when her car was broken into while in Salt Lake City.  A few days later I got a message from her on my phone.  Apparently a homeless man had found her purse, and in the purse was a receipt.  This man called the establishment from whence the receipt came, they in turn called her to tell her the purse had been found.  The message she left on my phone was to ask if I could go get the purse from this man.  My first reaction when I listened to the message was, "Oh great, he is probably going to want me to give him money for finding the purse, he is probably the one that took it!".  I was so put out that this mean, dirty man would stump so low.  It immediately hit me then.  How does Jesus feel towards those who are poor and needy, despite how they got there?  "...I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them." (Isaiah 41:17).  I immediately felt ashamed.  Is that really the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the situation?  I am not proud.  Thankfully, my mind soon began to wander in a more positive direction.  I quickly filled my car with all the extra gloves, jackets, blankets, and food I could find in order to pay this generous man who had gone out of his way to return a little purse to my niece.  I hoped to meet him, give him all I could and take him out to a nice meal somewhere.  Ready to go in my car I called my niece back to learn where I could find the man.  Unfortunately, she was still not able to contact him.  If we never find him, I still hope to give away the excess items in my car. 
     There have been years that instead of giving each other gifts, my family has picked other families or children from the angel tree.  For the same reasons I spoke about earlier, it felt good to get some great gifts for "boy, age 7", I am sure he was thrilled with the clothes and bicycle, but even more so, I can imagine the joy his parents felt when they were able to give their son a Christmas.  But sometimes Christmas can have an unfortunate dark side, two words...Black Friday.  Seriously?  Is saving 5 dollars worth dehumanizing each other and getting maced?  To date, the most cherished gifts I have received on Christmas, are things like the handmade blanket I'm currently wrapped up in, the framed photo of my family, and all of our home videos my parents put onto DVDs and gave to us.  None of which required standing in line at 2am and fist fighting to acquire. 
      During my recent flight back to Utah there were some major delays.  Delays caused by weather (did you know airports are completely useless without internet?  I didn't either, but apparently it's true...how did they do it before?) Anyway, there was nothing any of the poor airline employees could do, but of course everyone around was grumbling, complaining, and arguing their cases to the poor airport employees.  It made me a little sad.  The Spirit of Christmas was definitely not in that terminal.  I don't think I changed anything, but I decided to try.  I started playing Silent Night on my ukulele.  I wish I could say that within minutes we were all singing along with our hands around each other in a big Kumbaya type circle, sharing photos of loved ones, and laughing merrily from the stories we all told...but we didn't.  In fact nothing happened at all.  The kid with the mohawk across from me did look up from his video game for a second though.  But for me, it was the first time this Christmas season, that I really stopped to think about what it is that we are celebrating.  The rest of my trip, because I knew it's what Jesus would do, I told every employee thank you very much and with the bestest, friendliest grin I have, wished them each a very Merry Christmas.  It was the first time I saw any of them smile.
     I just got home from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square annual Christmas concert (thanks Traci!).  It was spectacular!  It is so wonderful to hear Christmas music performed so powerfully.  Thanks to a trait I inherited from my mother, I was all teary eyed almost the entire concert.  But there in that huge concert hall, across the street from the gloriously lit Temple Square, it hit me again how amazing it is that God gave us His son to come and reconcile us from our sins and to orchestrate the plan that will allow us to live eternally with those we whom we love.  I know without a doubt in my heart or in my mind that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He is my savior and redeemer, and that it is through Him, because of Him that I have reason for hope, happiness, and love in this life and a chance to continue that through to a life eternal.  How glorious a man was He to come here to this earth to bleed, suffer and die for you and me.  Such love I will never know from another, and hope to repay everyday through my thoughts, actions, and obedience.  My Savior and Lord is Jesus the Christ!
     There really is no other season as magical and glorious as this one.  I love Christmas.  The lights, the music, the time with family, the traditions, the parties, the food, the candy, and yes...even the presents!  But of course the best part of all, is the spirit I feel, the spirit given to us all by the great, loving Jehovah. 
     Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's official.

  • I'm miserably sick.
  • I get winded on stairs.
  • I'm wearing shoes (and socks, pants, and 9 layers of other stuff too).
  • There are 17 blankets on my bed.
  • I have yet to see the sun.
  • There is carpet on the floors.
  • There are more than two lanes and everyone is driving WAY too fast for safety.
  • My lips are dried up like prunes.
  • I ski everyday.
I guess it's official then...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shark Pit!


Hey Honu!
After scraping our chests on the reef, it suddenly drops of to 35'.
That's Ricky Bobby!

Hard to tell, but this guy was at least as big as me!
 
So just in my backyard, well two
blocks away from my backyard, is one of my favorite surf spots on Maui. It's called Shark Pit. Yeah, that's pretty self explanatory. But the last few days there has been ZERO surf on the west side, so Idecided to take advantageand finally find out what I've been floating over all those times. So I grabbed a buddy and a tank and went for a scuba dive!  After driving away to other distant locations on Maui to find great dive spots, who knew  just had to walk down to the beach two blocks away! No picture, but we saw a turtle the size of a small car.  Most of the turtles here were huge, way bigger than the ones we see at the cleaning stations on our snorkel trips.  Awesome!
 
 

Ricky Bobby found a tiger cowry!
HUGE puffer,  Still can't get one to puff though...

 Maui is great this time of year because it is always raining, but it's also always sunny.  So there is always a rainbow!
Popped up to see this!
 
It wouldn't be called Shark Pit if there weren't sharks everywhere!  This first guy was just chillaxin.  White tips are one of the only kine shark that can pump water through their gills to breather without moving.  This other guy came right at me so close I couldn't get a full picture!  Sharks are wimps.  It was a great dive in my backyard!
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Harold!"

 So the other night on the cocktail cruise there was a really old couple.  I'm talking walkers with tennis balls, dentures, and shrunken to child size.  And they .  . were  .  .  awesome!  I'll just tell one story.  Little wife was in the head and little husband was patiently waiting just outside for her.  Then with a childish smile so big his teeth fell out, and a devious cackle, he reached up and latched the door closed from the outside.  After a minute or two, we started to hear little wife rattling the door, then..."Harold!  I can't get out!"  Then Harold starts laughing harder.  "Harold!  What did you do? Let me out!"  At this point Harold is practically in a laughing fit as he points at the door and makes sure everyone knows about the trick he is pulling!  "Harold!  I'm warning you, you better let me out this instant!".   "What's wrong honey, do you need some help in there?".  "HAROLD!"  Hahahaha!  Finally Harold let her out and bless her heart she is busting up laughing too!  "Oh that Harold, always the trickster, he's been doing this to me his whole life!"  Oh man, seeing those two cute little old people was the highlight of the last several weeks for me!  Silly old people.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

There are certain situations in life that you always wonder how you will perform in, but also really hope that you will never have to.  At my job, and in several other of life's circumstances I have some serious fears.  As the first mate on a snorkel tour boat, you can imagine what my concerns and fears are.  Since I was 16 years old I have been training and practicing for aquatic emergencies and CPR. With unbelievable gratefulness and luck, I have never had to use it.  Until now.  My absolute worst fear in life came to fruition on Thursday.  For the first time in my life I was forced to use those lifesaving and CPR skills. 

I want to thank my co-workers for all doing an outstanding job, I was very proud of all of you for performing so well in such an emergency.  I know she won't ever read this, but I want to express my deepest regret and condolenscenses to Mrs. Miner.  I am so sorry that I was unable to save your husband.  Though I had just barely met you and Jerry, he was very nice and polite to me.  I hope that you can take some solace knowing that Jerry was in such a beautiful place doing something he was so excited to do when he left you and all of us on earth.  I hope I can express to you that I absolutely believe and even know that you will see and be with your husband again, that families really can be together for eternity.  It is always sad and horrible when we loose a loved one, but I know the time apart is only temporary.

I've been going over the whole event in my mind over and over again.  I've had friends and family die from unexpected accidents and natural causes, and those experiences have had profound affects on me.  But this is the first time I've lost someone for whom I've been responsible.  I don't mean that I'm responsible for Mr. Miner's death, the circumstances make evident that Mr. Miner died of a heart event, I just mean he was under my supervision while snorkeling at Molokini island, and the experience has flooded me with mixed emotion.  Mr. Miner was 77 years old, so I hope that he lived a full life.  I am inspired to do the same.  He was enjoying life's experiences when he died, I hope I can do that every moment I'm alive.  He was a father...  Dad and Mom, I love you so much and am so grateful for all the sacrifices you've made for me in your lives, please take care of yourselves and stick around for a whole lot longer!  He had other family too, and the older I get the more I realize how awesome my family is and how much I love you all.  You really are the greatest part of my life.  Thanks for everything!  My faith...I can't imagine living this life and dealing with death without the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It has guided me through my life and given me hope, happiness, comfort, and direction in a tough world. 

I'm writing about this because writing about things helps me even though this is usually the type of thing I keep personal...Like I said, I have been reviewing the whole thing in my mind over and over again, and despite the natural feeling of guilt, I honestly don't think I could have done anything different to have a better chance of saving Jerry.  He looked just like he was still snorkeling and even had his snorkel in his mouth when I got to him.  From the time he was last seen normal until I got to him was only one minute.  My other lifeguards and crew all did exactly what they should have during the emergency.  As soon as I realized there was a problem I was acting in trained robot mode.  When I got to him he was already in full cardiac arrest with no vital signs, I got him to the boat and as soon as we had him on board I was given the CPR mask and had assistance from two others as we began our CPR rotations.  It took 35 minutes for the coast guard to get to us and we performed CPR that whole time.  I don't think I will ever stop hearing his wife's frantic cries, or seeing his face, but I know that this was not an at-fault situation.  Due to the short time period from when he was last seen acting fine to when he was noticed unconscious leads us to believe he had an aneurysm or stroke.  Meaning that he did not drown.  I don't know if being out of the water would have increased his chances or not.  This was an unexpected medical event and I don't think I could have done anything more than what was done.  It wasn't until the coast guard had taken him that the emotions hit me.  But, I still had 85 people on a boat that I was responsible for, so I'm letting it out now.  I am just fine though, so no one needs to call or write to check up on me.  I am just glad my fear of these things has kept me vigilant in training and practicing for these emergencies, and feel good knowing that I was capable of performing my duties during an emergency.  And though death is a part of life, I hope that we won't ever take life for granted. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dry Dock


Diamond Head at dusk.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my job isn't all snorkeling with dolphins and handing out cookies to hotties.  Sometimes, like last week...it's tough hard work.
Waikiki coastline.
Every two years we are required by the coast guard to haul each boat out of the water for hull inspections.  And last week was Kaulana's time to travel to the dry dock on Oahu.  So, being first mate on Kaulana, it was off to Oahu for me!  We left Maui at 11pm on Friday night.  There were three of us on the boat and we took turns driving the boat in two hour shifts.  I was up first.  That night there was no moon and the stars out on the open sea
Flying boat!
were just beautiful.  I had 4 methods for navigation.  The old school compass built into the boats dashboard, the new school gps, the few navigation lights visible on the surrounding islands, and my favorite...the stars.  I got sick of keeping the right compass reading lined up on the little line so I picked out a few stars and
Hauling out.
kept the boat going in the right direction by keeping the bow between the stars.  It was pretty cool.  Luckily we had a relatively calm night.  The passing was completely uneventful.  In the morning we cleared all the flying fish that had landed on our decks off, and waited for light so we could maneuver into the harbor and haul the boat out of the water by 8 am.  Drive a boat from Maui to Oahu...check.





The first day there I got off on account of having not slept, but instead of sleeping I went to meet my friend Traci!  She happened to be staying on the North shore the same time I was there.  So we went to the beach house she was staying at.  That beach was gorgeous!  Then we went to the Haunted Lagoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center which was really good, I dare say the best haunted anything I have ever
With Traci at the PCC.
been too!  It was really fun.  The next night after work I met Traci again.  This time we met at the UH football game.  I arrived at the stadium at half time and as I was walking around the building to buy a ticket, a heard an angry voice start yelling from behind.  I turned around to see a large drunk white guy wearing a certain type of shirt that implies violence towards ones spouse...  I ignored his drunken, vulgar threats and kept walking.  Before I knew what was happening
At the UH game.  Notice I'm NOT wearing a hat...
though this drunken idiot had grabbed me from behind and started throwing punches at my face!  I managed to get my hands up in time to block his blows and I quickly slipped away and ran.  I turned around after getting behind a car to get ready for another attack but the moron was stumbling away already.  Yeah, I totally got jumped in the parking lot.  I was fine, he never really hit me, but the jerk somehow managed to steal my hat!  I loved that hat, and ask me how I feel about my reaction of hiding behind a car, because I feel just fine about it.  More fun drunk stories to come too.  After that mayhem I got into the game.  Hawaii won, yay!  Seeing Traci made all the other lousiness completely worth it...

Yeah, that's a tank full of poop.
So working at dry dock isn't easy.  First of all, the boat is sectioned off into several different compartments and it's a catamaran so there are five compartments on each side.  Which means the Coast Guard has to inspect all the hulls in each of these rooms.  Which means we
LOTS of tools...
have to slither and climb into all these tiny tight spaces and scrub and scrape and suck all sorts of disgusting, oily, poopy, sludge!  We start by sucking all the liquid out with wet vacs.  Then wiping and scraping by hand, then grinding and sanding, and then in some cases...painting.  Not with a sprayer...but by hand.  Don't forget these things are tiny cramped little boiling hot rooms, at one point I was lying under a several ton engine with Jesse holding my legs upside down so I could reach the bottom
How many times did I fall off that scaffolding?
and not get stuck.  After all these bilges are cleaned we have to turn our attention to the outside of the hull.  The whole thing has to get sanded, wiped, primed, sanded, wiped, painted, and painted again.  Most of which is all overhead.  My arms are still sore from holding those sanders above my head and pushing as
Bottom paint done.  Taping for top coats.
hard as I could.  I went through a respirator a day, and even with the goggles, I'm pretty sure I got more paint dust in my eye than the surgeon general recommends.  Then of course, there is all the mechanical stuff that has to be done too.  Anyways...it's a lot of hard work.
To cap it off, I shared a hotel room with an interesting guy, one of the company's maintenance staff.  One  night,  at  4:30 a.m.,  he  came
At least the sunsets were good!
stumbling into my room, looked around then went back out, so I got up to see what was going on, just to see him draining his bladder all over the kitchen floor.  Hooray for drunk people!  Ugh, gross...
Staying in Honolulu is always a big change.  I got completely lost trying to find my hotel after being on the North Shore with Traci.  The
Building a wave breaker.
traffic, the hookers, the homeless people everywhere, the lack of street signs, the annoying one way roads everywhere, the huge buildings everywhere...I am not a fan.  I'm very glad to be back home on my chill, low key, relaxed little island of Maui!  There is one great thing about Honolulu and dry dock though, all the FOOD!  The boss takes us out to breakfast and lunch everyday and it's always delicious.  We have to take care of ourselves for dinner but luckily there is a tiny little delicious Korean Shrimp joint with the best kimchi EVER just across the street!  Mmmmm, Korean shrimp, nothing beats popping heads off little creatures then eating them!

Things I learned: I don't like drunk people, I don't like Honolulu, except the restaurants, I don't like painting poop tank voids, but I do like Traci, and collecting sea glass, and kids as actors in haunted lagoons!  And you've got to get the epoxy/hardener ratio mix just right or it doesn't work well...  Goooo dry dock!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Work Day.

On a normal day in the work life of Dallon, I will wake up here. This is my bedroom where I sleep, and where I'm sitting now, my kitchen where I eat my cinnamon toast crunch, my house. It's a cozy little abode that I enjoy. Lived here last year too.

After my yummy breakfast I hop on one of these. These are my three modes of transport. I just repainted the bike. It's white and black now and pretty pimpin. The skateboard is good on days when there's no surf. And I only payed $67 for the car and I've had it over a year, so that's awesome.


No matter which ride I take, this is where I go. It's Lahaina Harbor and it's where I work. One of the boats I work on stays parked right here in the harbor. The other boats are on moorings out on the roadstead. We have to drive this little dinghy out to the other boats. This is the harbor during the day, behind me in dinghy, and at dawn when I first get there.

These are the boats that I work on. The first one is the Maui Princess. This is the dinner cruise boat that goes out every night. I avoid stepping foot on this boat unless it's to get some leftovers. But when I do have to work on the Maui Princess I pretty much only tend the bar. The second boat is the Kaulana (it's in the foreground, the background is just some random cruise ship) it's my favorite. Every Mon. Wed. Fri. we do a snorkel trip to the island of Lanai and to Mala pier on Maui, then at night time we do a cocktail cruise. The last one is the Island Princess. On this boat we go to Molokini and Olowalu Bay every Tues. Thurs. Sat.  In this photo we picked up our passengers right off their cruise ship.

So on Mon. Wed. Fri. we go here. Lanai is one of the best places in Maui County to snorkel. There is never anyone else there and the water and coral are beautiful. After Lanai we head back to Maui and cook some lunch. The second spot is Mala pier. This pier collapsed in a hurricane in 1992. Lots of turtles there. It's pretty awesome too. Kaulana has a pretty wicked slide that everyone loves...even Reed! Here's the trip!

When we have dropped everyone off at the loading dock, and cleaned the boat. I usually get about an hour off until I have to come back and get ready for the cocktail cruise. It's only a two hour trip. There are some light snacks but pretty much it's just a booze cruise. We got a funky entertainer on board and this is where most of my crazy stories come from.  Useless life accomplishments: In the state of Hawaii I am now a licensed bar manager.  Mormon bartender, it still makes me laugh too.

On the other days we go to Molokini.  Molokini is an ancient volcanic crater that over time has sunk and been eroded down by wind and waves so that it now looks like a half moon.  The island itself is a a marine bird sanctuary and the water is a marine reserve.  So we have to have special permits to go there.  It's famous for is calm and very clear water.  When we get there we have to secure a bow line and a stern line to keep the ship from swinging.  It's a pretty intense process of free diving, line tying, and swim sprinting.  It's a pretty exhausting process that not everyone can do.  After Molokini we go to a place called Olowalu Bay.  This is where all the turtles are!  There is a turtle cleaning station where the fish and turtles get together so the fish can have a meal and the turtles get their shells cleaned!  The Island Princess has the water trampoline that is always a big hit!  So during the trips I have to cook and serve and clean, give swim and snorkel lessons, lifeguard, dump heads, clean puke, etc.  And I'm the first mate on both boats so if anything goes wrong it's my fault...yay.
Molokini



On some days though...I have to do some non fun stuff.  Boat maintenance is a bummer.  How you ever sucked sludge out of a bilge tank, or painted a holding tank?  I have, it isn't fun.  It's so not fun, I don't really have any pictures of it, except these from when we were at dry dock.  Sometimes I just put the paint on me, and roll around the boat.  Somedays I get to do other random things like scuba dive the moorings to replace shackles, or build new cabinets.  Next week for example, I get to drive Kaulana from Maui to Oahu.  Yes, drive.  Hope I can stay on the road!  Oh wait....

So that's what I do for work!  I pretty much love it.