Two Beneath the Sea surprises

I've been updating Wetpixel with [coverage](http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/beneath-the-sea-2010-day-1-coverage/) [of](http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/beneath-the-sea-2010-day-2-coverage/) Beneath the Sea 2010 here in New Jersey. I had two big surprises today.

The first was meeting [Carl Roessler](http://www.divexprt.com), who came up and introduced himself during tonight's BTS Caymans party. Yes, this is the Carl that [Carl's Ultimate](/journal/2009/12/04/carls-ultimate-dive-site-eastern-fields-papua-new-guinea/) is named after; while spending 6 days on Carl's Ultimate out in the Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea, my esteem for Carl went up and up with every dive -- what a man he must be to have such an incredible thing named after him! Meeting him in person did not disappoint.


Meeting Carl Roessler at BTS 2010 (photo: Abi Smigel)

And speaking of diving pioneers, [Bret Gilliam](http://www.undercurrent.org/blog/author/bret/) went on stage at tonight's film festival to announce his generous donation of 1250 copies of [Diving Pioneers and Innovators](http://wetpixel.com/i.php/full/review-of-bret-gilliams-diving-pioneers-and-innovators/) to Beneath the Sea attendees. But he started by asking a select group of diving pioneers to come up on stage. He ended the list with... me! I was shocked, and ambled up to the stage in my cargo pants and fleece jacket, looking positively silly next to incredibly distinguished folks, who all were in formal attire: Bret, [Stan Waterman](http://www.stanwaterman.com/), [Mike deGruy](http://www.marinetech.org/nine_degrees/who.php), [Zale Perry](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zale_Parry), [Dr. Phil Nuytten](http://www.nuytco.com/about/phil.shtml), and others. We proceeded to stand up there for 15-20 minutes as Bret continued his donation speech.

After the film festival, Eli, Abi and I went over to the Caymans afterparty to have a drink. As I went to photograph Bret signing copies of this book, he proceeded to tell everyone that *I* should also sign the book. Since I'm not actually in the book, this caused some confusion:

> "Hi, Eric! Will you sign my book?" (confused look)

> "Eric... Cheng? I've never seen any of your work, but someone told me that you were going to be... or are... famous..?"

Hah!

I wrote, "Have a nice summer!" in one woman's book, but then crossed it out and wrote a real message.


Bret Gilliam signs copies of *Diving Pioneers and Innovators*

Thank you, Bret -- I do indeed owe you. ;)