Thursday, March 02, 2006

Diving in Thailand

My sister has been living in Bangkok for the past few years, so I decided to go visit here and her husband with my brother. If you SCUBA dive, you can't go to Thailand and not get some diving in.

Before leaving on the trip, I spent some time researching Thailand diving on the Web. I was of course familiar with Phuket, but I wasn't sure if it was the best dive site or if it was just the most over-developed. Who likes to dive with 20 other divers in the water?

In the process of my search I learned that there are a number of interesting dive sites around Krabi, the city on the coast of Southern Thailand that is closest to Phuket. One of the favorite places to launch dives from is Koh Lanta, an Island just off the coast.

There are two dive sites, Hin Mouang and Hin Daeng, which are considered to be among the best dive sites in Thailand, which are a fair distance out in the Andaman Sea, but are apparently worth the dive.

Hin Mouang

Hin Mouang, which derives its name from a dense covering of Purple soft corals, is a submerged rock, in the Andaman Sea south west of Ko Lanta in southern Thailand. Hin Mouang, and Hin Daeng which is nearby, are considered two of the best SCUBA dive sites in Thailand. The rock itself is approximately 200m by 20m and is shaped like an immense loaf of bread. Hin Mouang and Hin Daeng have an incredible amount of marine life and are feeding grounds for pelagic fish. Divers can see large underwater pinnacles, huge shoals of fish, manta rays, beautiful anemone carpets, soft corals and gorgonia, and the unusual bryazoan - clumps of white, straw-like growths. Hin Mouang is one of the few places in the world where divers may encounter whale sharks.

Hin Mouang is located at: GPS Coordinate: Lat. 07 09 129 N. Long. 098 49 242 E.

Hin Daeng

Hin Daeng is a huge underwater rock protruding three metres above the surface, in the Andaman Sea southeast of the island of Lanta in south Thailand. Hin Daeng and Hin Daeng are considered to be among the best SCUBA diving sites in Thailand. The southern side of Hin Daeng descends to over 60m and on the eastern side where the slope is gentler, two long ridges descend out into the blueness. Hin Daeng's Red Soft Coral is lush and tall. Divers may see leopard sharks, grey reef sharks, morays, barracuda, octopus, crayfish, shrimps. Nurse sharks are sometimes found in the south west cave (around 10 m) and whale sharks and manta rays also visit.

Hin Daeng is located at: GPS Coordinates: Lat. 07 09 126 N. Long. 098 49 297 E.

I'm looking forward to diving these sites. When I get back, I'll update the blog and say how it was. Maybe even some photos.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Future of Energy

The combination of events that led to this year's dramatic increase in the cost of fuel seemed like the perfect storm - no pun intended - continued trouble in the Middle East, Hurricane Katrina which knocked out 30% of the US refining capacity, what's been projected to be a particularly cold winter, and a significant increase in demand for petroleum in China and India.

In reality it has merely brought to a head a problem that's been brewing for a long time - one of our own making. The problem is related to US dependence on Middle Eastern oil, pricing of fuel, willingness to build power plants and refineries, vehicle design and preference, exploration, habitat preservation, global warming, and invention, and - of course - politics.

Some say that we have passed the half way mark - that point in time when we are using petroleum faster than we are extracting it. However when the market price goes up, more sources are worth tapping, such as the Canadian tar sands, and technology contines to allow us to reach deeper and more difficult to access deposits. The trick is not just to find more sources of petroleum. The trick is to create a stable energy ecosystem, one that doesn't release more unbound carbon into the atmosphere than is bound each year.

Carbon is bound through endothermic reactions such as photosynthesis and unbound during combustion. In the case of biodiesel, carbon comes out of the atmosphere as plants grow, and goes back into the atmosphere when the biodiesel is burned. So it is argued that biodiesel is a more sustainable energy source.

But that's not the end of the story, either. CO2 sequestering is the process of putting excess CO2 into a form where it cannot re-enter the atmosphere. Some experiments have successfully sequestered large amounts of CO2 in Basalt formations. It is both used to pressurize the oil in those formations, increasing the yield and then the CO2 reacts with the rock to form chalk.

So technology will continue to develop. We should respect the earth and do everything we can to protect it, and to avoid global warming, but we shouldn't demonize one approach or another, because we never know the end of the story. One thing that is clear, is that we should let oil prices float to market prices, because only at those prices will there be incentive to develop alternative technologies. It would be better to provide fuel credits or tax credits for seniors or those who need help than to keep the price of oil artificially low for everyone. Cheap oil has contributed to a 20 year lag in the development of cost effective alternatives.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Google Buys 5% of AOL

This is a blog test to see how wide a blog page is. So Google is buying 5% of AOL for $1 B. Some people are rushing off to figure out if this was a good price to pay by looking at AOL's value, etc. That's missing the point. The purchase of part of AOL was part of the overall partnership to secure AOL as a search customer. Microsoft was battling fiercly for the AOL search business. 10% of the search business rested on who won AOL's business. That's the real story. $1 B is reasonable to pay to maintain this share of the search market. By the way, Google's

Wink Tag Widget

To the right is a list of my tags on a cool social search site called Wink.

I can insert the widget into any blog, and I can make it specific to any tag collection that I have on Wink. For example, this one's about my collection named "User Generated Services".