What a fantastic Summer 2018

This year Leah and I took the kids to Australia for a wedding. My cousin Ellie got married to a fine chap named Eric, and they had an intimate wedding 2 hours south of Sydney in the bush (Australian forest areas). It was great to see so many Duggans after so many years.

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Prior to the wedding, we decided as a family to go to Northern Queensland for diving, spearfishing, snorkeling, and sailing. I have previously been as far north as Noosa, but this time we were able to go into the heart of the GBR (Great Barrier Reef)!

Here are some pics and vids of the trip. Colin speared his first fish eva’, which was fantastic. And the corals in the outer reef of the GBR were awe-inspiring. Sure, there were some spots that had been devastated by either coral bleaching (warming waters) or by typhoon, but there were also many spots that were wall to wall corals as far as the eye could see.

Aidan and Colin diving

Diving near Lizard Island – this is where Captain Cook climbed the hill on Lizard Island to see the reef passage points so that he would avoid another wreckage on the reef during his return sail to Europe, after discovering and mapping the East coast of Australia (New Holland).

Spearfishing, one of my most favorite activities… we were diving 30-40 feet at a time and had to get the fish out of the water quickly due to the white tip and black tip reef sharks!

Diving in the outer reef (the corals are not bleached, they are browns and yellows that don’t appear well in the GoPro footage, all here is amazing and thriving)

Playing with this Potato Cod

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Leah had her birthday on the trip. I owe her big time for humoring me for going on all these adventurous trips! She knows what makes me happy and I love her for it.

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During a break in between dives, we threw the fishing lines into the water. I picked up this large dog tooth tuna and spent a few minutes fighting it, when the line went limp. Kept reeling and suddenly saw a large shark eating my tuna… by the time we pulled it into the boat, this was all that was left!

Fiji Diving for Xmas

For Christmas this year, we decided as a family to go to Fiji. I am an avid diver/snorkeler/freediver, but had never been there before. The family decided to get PADI certified before the trip so we could all go diving together!

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Leah and the kids did their coursework in California along with their pool dives. PADI provides a “referral certification” where you do your remaining four ocean dives at your diving destination. Here is the family on one of their first Fijian dives finishing their certification process.

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We stayed on the island of Savusavu. A bulk of the island has protected waters and about an hour boat ride away is the coveted Namena Island with its marine reserve status and protections. Above are some pics of the dives we did; many, many different types of stony corals (Acropora genus mostly), soft corals, fans, and more. The fish life was abundant as well; anthias, chromis, and lots of critters everywhere.

In addition to diving and snorkeling, one of my hobbies is reefkeeping. I’ve had reef aquariums off and on for the last twenty years. One of my old websites (not maintained anymore but still running) is www.berlinmethod.com which details a few of the tanks I’ve had. No longer running is a website I started in the early 2000’s which was called frags.org and enabled reef enthusiasts to share propagated coral fragments with each other, to avoid taking new pieces from the reefs. Anyway, the point of all that is that I love stony corals, and can identify most of them to the species level when diving! And I’ve kept quite a lot of the different types of fish and critters in my tanks over the years that you see when diving.

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So much life! Lots of orange anthias swimming in this black Tubastrea sp. (sun coral). Interesting fact- sun coral is non-photosynthetic and that is why you see the all the little mouths open there in the pic, they are feeding on particles and plankton floating by…

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If you go diving, I strongly suggest a flashlight and gloves. LED with 800-1000 lumens can be purchased on Amazon for $35 or so, and allow you to see all the vivid colors at depth. Gloves enhance diving as you can grab onto pieces of rock without worry of cuts.

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Here’s our dive guide, Bait, or as he spells it in Fijian Beato. He was an awesome guide and knew all the spots… see below for some amazing shots!
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Swimming with about 15 grey sharks at Namena Island.
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A massive, 10 foot wide, Manta Ray at Namena Island. There was one other smaller one in the group as well.
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Me and JMC himself

I also had the honor to meet Jean Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques. Jean Michel has a resort in Savasavu that caters to divers particularly in the tradition of his family. Jean Michel continues to do his father’s work by leading a variety of environmental programs globally to help drive better reef and ocean sustainability. You can read more at Ocean’s Future Society and Cop 23 Global Warming UN Conference.

Here are two short videos I made while diving with the family out there…

We will certainly be returning to Fiji to dive more and spend more time with the fantastic people there. See you in the water!

Car Accident and Illness

I started the year with an illness related to a car accident from 2016.

About six months earlier, we took a family road trip with a two car caravan to Oregon for the July 4th weekend. My wife drove her car with Colin, and I took Aidan in my car. This arrangement allowed me to drive my two-seater Porsche 1990 964 Carrera 2 which had recently been rebuilt/redone.

Close to the California/Oregon border, a CHP officer rear-ended my son and me in our car when we stopped at a cross-walk to let a couple pass. The officer stated that she was looking for people on their phones and became distracted, causing her to drive into us at about 20 mph.

The illness that followed six months later was a fluid leak in my spinal column, which caused the Cerebral Spinal Fluid in my brain to get low, causing my brain to sag in its skull.

The symptoms were a daily debilitating headache and intracranial bleeding. It took three surgeries and three months to solve.

The daily headache pain ranged from 3 out of 10 to 8 out of 10 depending on the day, and when it was on the higher end, I sometimes was vomiting from the pain it was so bad. Because of my blood thinners, the doctors were really worried about the impact of the brain sagging for too long.

I was very fortunate as my family and I found one of the best doctors in the nation to handle this case, Dr. Ian Carroll. He was just down the road at Stanford.

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I worked at BetterWorks through this entire experience, except for the three periods immediately following the three surgeries where I had to lay flat for 72 hours. Yeah, that was fun…

It turns out that Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, has the same CSF leak condition. I believe he has had similar surgeries to help solve the problem.

Going through this process was quite a difficult one. I ended up turning off social media, playing a lot of backgammon with Leah and the kids, and really just trying to make the best of it. I was depressed at times, and was really worried about ever getting cured. Knowing how dark some of those days were gives me an appreciation for staying the course, and just knowing that things can and will get better. I am really thankful to my immediate family and my parents and sister as well for the amount of support every one of them gave during this period of my life.

Hello world.

So here we go. My attempt at blogging. Last time I blogged was when I was with Socialtext, the first commercial wiki company. That was a long time ago 😉

Let’s start with a quick post on my family.

Leah and I have been married for 17 years. She is the love of my life. We have been through thick and thin together. She provides an amazing amount of support and love every single day we are together. We have traveled the earth together over the years and are a true unit. She also plays a mean backgammon.

Colin, our 15 year old, goes to Paly and plays baseball. He is into cars (Porsches specifically) and just got his driver’s permit which is very exciting. Colin also likes to play and watch basketball. It is amazing how many facts and figures he can remember related to baseball and basketball… so much so that he can even tell me stats from the 90’s Bulls teams!

Aidan, our 13 year old, goes to Jordan and also plays baseball. He is into fashion, video games, and right now push-ups. He is doing 200 per day for the month of December. He is quite an independent thinker and very self motivated, kind of like me. He dislikes mushrooms with a passion.

And we can’t forget Lucky, the family dog. Lucky is 7 years old now and is a Standard Poodle. That is the larger sized poodle. Leah grew up with them and now we’ve had 3 together. Having a poodle is like having a unicorn when you take them for a walk, nobody ever says “look at that dog”, they say “look it’s a poodle!”