Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Advertising Update: WBXTR 880

Notes From a Miniature Submarine was recently featured on San Diego's public access channel WBXTR (channel 880), in a segment titled, "Stuff you never knew existed in San Diego, Part IV."

An excerpt from the interview:

WBXTR 880: You've been involved in deep sea exploration since you were a child. How did you get started at such a young age?

Electric_Eel: You must have read my resume. Well, I might have exaggerated a little. I actually got into it right after college, when my step-sister married a scientist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. I was able to talk my way onto a couple of ALVIN expeditions, and become a pilot myself.

WBXTR 880: You've been called one of the world's leading experts on the migrating patterns of blue whales. Tell us about that.

Electric_Eel: While I have encountered a lot of blue whales out there, and photographed some of them, it's not clear to me where you got that idea from.

WBXTR 880: It was on your website.

Electric_Eel: Oh.

WBXTR 880: Before we continue, I wanted to thank you again for appearing on tonight's edition of Stuff you never knew existed in San Diego. Your blog, Notes from a Miniature Submarine, has captivated millions of readers since its inception in 2006. What motivated you to start this blog?

Electric_Eel: Well, a couple of things. First, I'm always looking for ways to publicize my research so that I can obtain bigger contracts and bigger grants. I've had a few close calls with the Discovery Channel, but for now I am stuck with government grants. And for the past couple of years, this has amounted to, "Am I going to stand by the beach with a tin can and beg for donations for our next expedition, or dip into my own savings?" So, yeah, it's been rough.

Secondly, I wanted to capture the experience of being the captain of a miniature submarine in a way that hadn't previously been done. Sure, some large budget television stations have filmed documentaries, and Disneyland used to have that abysmal Submarine Voyage, but no one had yet blogged about their experiences as the pilot of a miniature submersible. So, as you can see, it has generated a lot of interest.

WBXTR 880: You mentioned the need for bigger grants for your research. Has interest in your blog generated any potential leads?

Electric_Eel: Most of the feedback I have gotten so far has been from young people and other scientists. The National Geographic channel has written, but only to demand that I stop using their name on my website.

WBXTR 880: So there has been controversy.

Electric_Eel: Yes, most definitely. Sad to say, but I am having to burn up stacks of hate mail all the time. The deep-sea research establishment has not been too keen on all their precious secrets getting out to the public.

WBXTR 880: That said, what are your hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow?

Electric_Eel: Access to Notes for schoolchildren around the globe.

Read the complete interview here:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beware the MILF

"In early 2003, Philippines forces had discovered some documentation from the MILF camp, which suggested that the MILF was considering purchasing underwater scooters from Scandinavia. "

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A day in the life

As a veteran submarine pilot, I find myself drifting asleep behind the joystick all the time. People have often said to me, "You are so lucky to have your job, it's the best in the world!" but the truth is, it's boring. The longer I spend down with the blue whales, pirate ships and manta rays, the more I wish I had become an insurance claims adjuster instead.

A summary of a recent dive to the Juan de Fuca Ridge:

0400 hrs

Descent begins . . .

BRRRRRRRRRRRRR (sound of engine humming)

I start to punch dive coordinates into the on-board computer.

0830 hrs


The ship is now safely on auto-pilot.

1200 hrs


I can't see anything through the ship's porthole. It is pitch black down here without the spotlights on.

I start to thumb through an old copy of SCUBA magazine.

1400 hrs


I think I saw something like a piece of seaweed or a fish scale pass in front of the porthole, but it was probably just my imagination.

1800 hrs


I arrive at the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Photograph volcanic vents spewing black smoke from the ocean floor.

Toodle around the ocean floor for a while, until the batteries for the spotlights run out.

1845 hrs


Ascent begins....

And that's pretty much how it goes 95% of the time. The other 2.5% is pure pleasure, and the other 2.5% the boat doesn't start to begin with.