Above and Below the Surface

On my recent trip to the Maldives, one of the most unique things is the water bungalow. Sitting on the deck and gazing out over miles of water, small worries dissolve into the vast clear ocean. It is a very tranquil scene above the water – sunny skies over a flat endless sea. Waves crash on the beach in the distance with only a hint of sound reaching my ears. Clouds recede to the horizon to avoid disturbing me.

There is not much happening above the sea. It is indeed a quiet and peaceful world.

But when I go snorkeling what I see beneath the surface is a totally different world. All around me the ocean teems with life. Fish of all sizes, colors and shapes swim, dance, fly, party and celebrate. Yet, the silence is deafening. The reef is their stage; each fish is a performer; each fish is the audience for the others. I am the intruder – an uninvited visitor from the human race.

As I swim past the edge of the reef, the cold current suddenly grips me. It is a silent world below but I hear my heart pounding in my ears. The reef drops away and the seabed is now far below. I feel like I’m stepping off the top of a skyscraper, saved from plunging into the abyss only by my life jacket. I laugh at being afraid to fall while being totally unsinkable. I’m glad only the fish are here to know my thoughts.

A large school of black fish, about 200 of them, swim by me. They are cruising along the edge of reef at high speed. Without asking for permission, I join them. At times, I lose myself. I am one of them. Swimming below me, they change into birds with their fins opening and closing in the blue sky of water.

I enjoy this underwater world more than the above-water world. Below there are many things going on; the life is obvious beneath the surface. Above the surface, it seems as if nothing changes and that there is nothing of interest.

Unfortunately, most people only see the surface of the world around them. I am curious about the hidden things of this world, the things below the surface.

Our new salesman, Jerry Murphy (jmurphy@pvicom.com) spent two years on an aircraft carrier, living below the surface of the water. I want to ask him many questions about life below deck. How did the ship operate? What about the people who lived there? What did they do day to day? Did they get lost on such a big ship? Was the food really as bad as the tales make it sound?

Just as I have more questions about what is below than above, our software users may only see the surface of our finished products, while the inside of the program is teeming with life.

Our newest product, CEMLab, a cementing lab data management program, looks very plain on the surface – nothing but a CD or a web-link – but inside the program lives hundreds of tiny mathematicians, engineers, graphic artists and data entry people to do all your work for you.

Just kidding! The labor laws wouldn’t allow us do that so we used tens of thousands of lines of code, logic series, database structures, pre-loaded data, what-if statements, engineering calculations, tables and graphs to make the unseen come to the surface just when you need it.

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