Dave Sizemore–Advice for Spelunkers

I’d like to welcome Dave Sizemore to “Advice for Everyone.” Thanks for being with us–can you tell about your work history?
Originally from West Virginia, our family escaped around twenty years ago and ended up one tank of gas south in the Charlotte area. We still have valid West Virginia Passports. I worked in banking, managed a petroleum distributor/convenience store company for ten years. Owned and ran a convenience store/car wash business, sold it to a large chain. Worked as an executive and pilot for a Venture Capital Company for ten years. Went to work in the IT industry and have worked for major banks and currently work as a Senior Analyst for a large provider of financial software for banks and financial institutions for the last fifteen years.

Where do you live?
Lincolnton, North Carolina

How old are you?
I’m transaged. Some days I’m an adolescent. Some days I’m an old guy. Some days I’m your worst nightmare, an old adolescent. My actual age is 67.

How did you get into piloting?
I had wanted to fly as long as I can remember. I read everything I could find about aviation and flight. I decided to learn to fly while I was working for an oil company that serviced an airport with fuel. That was something that was just in my blood. I got my pilot’s license and was able to buy a small single engine airplane and pay for it by flying trips for the company I worked for. When I worked with a retired astronaut we had a corporate twin engine airplane that we shared the flying duties on. As part of that business we provided management services to a Fixed Base Operation in Charleston, WV. The company owned a charter service, flight school and maintenance facility and I was able to fly several types of aircraft while there.

Great, and thanks. To move to banking, just about everything is accessible online these days and we hear horror stories of unscrupulous hackers and superviruses. Tell us, how much is the banking industry at risk from these things?
The banking and finance industry are really working hard and implementing security updates regularly to combat the criminals that are trying to hack or breach system security. The criminals are getting smarter and better at what they do every day and the tools they develop are impressive. Just remember to do your part and use complex passwords (yes, they are a pain for the hackers). “1234” is not a good password, and using “password” for your passwords is just too easy. Pick a phrase that you know or like (maybe a scripture verse). Use the first letter of each word and end it with the numeric chapter and verse plus a special character somewhere in the password (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” would equal FGsltwthghoS#316). Don’t write your pin down on the back of your debit card or credit card; even if you reverse the numbers it’s no help. Remember that you do not have an Uncle from Rumania that has just died with 20 million dollars that needs to be transferred to your checking account and all you have to do is send your account info and $1000 to cover the expenses. Do not click on links or web pages that you do not know. Never open an email attachment from someone that you don’t know and even be skeptical then. Always use a good antivirus application. Always use common sense–if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s not true. And if you get a call saying that you have just won Publishers Clearing House, or a free vacation to Hawaii, if you provide the funds or information they ask for, no matter how true it sounds, then you will end up paying someone else for your hard work.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
NASA facilities at Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and NASA Langley Research Center.

What was a highlight or two of the NASA visits?
A good friend of mine was an astronaut at the time and he had invited me to stop by if I was ever in the Houston area. I was in Houston for some training with my job at the time and stayed with him while I was there. On my down time, I went in to work with him and got to tour all of the off limits areas and meet a lot of the other active duty astronauts and even got to fly the Space Shuttle Simulator.

Several years later my friend and I were working together in a company we started when he retired from NASA and the Navy. We went to NASA Langley to fly a simulator for a type of space system that was being considered at the time for a replacement of the Space Shuttle.

My wife and I were invited to Cape Kennedy to the Space Shuttle Launch of STS-34 by Capt. Mike McCauley NASA/USN (Ret.)

Thanks! Tell us your favorite meal?
Grilled Grouper Picata

Pet peeve?
Negative people. Every day you wake up is a gift, get over it.

Favorite movie or book?
Movie: 12 O’clock High, Waking Ned Devine, Casablanca, A Christmas Story
Book: Anything by Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Stephen Coonts, Stephen Hunter, Joseph Heller, Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum, Lee Child…

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
A cure for cancer

Are you married or have you been? Any kids or pets?
Married to the love of my life for 42 years. We have one son, Tucker, and a Plott Hound named Grady and another mixed breed hound named Ginger, both rescue dogs.

Something many people don’t know you can do?
Speak Hillbilly, Ham Radio Operator. Also, I used to be a spelunker.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Spend it with family and see new places and finally do some writing.

Can I ask you to offer some advice to spelunkers?
Be sure to look up the definition of spelunking before you decide to get involved in it as a hobby.

Determine that you like to be underground, in dirty, small and muddy spaces that can be very beautiful (not all caves are small or muddy, but most will include that element as a bonus.)

Do you like to climb, both up and down…in the dark…while underground? If you have to rappel into a cave, always tie a knot in the end of the rope so if you feel the knot before you have gotten to the bottom, you’ll know not to go further without a plan “B”. (Never rappel into a cave that you don’t know the depth of the rappel and have sufficient rope.) Always include ascenders to use to help you climb back up the rope and know how to rig them for the climb back up.

Bats live in caves. So if you’re not claustrophobic, don’t mind climbing in the dark, don’t mind being cold and muddy, are not afraid of strange noises or being punked by your caving buddies, then the bats shouldn’t be a problem. Take lots of pictures as evidence you were there. Always use your flash or all of your pictures will look the same. If your caving buddies want to take a short break and have everyone turn their lights out so you can experience total darkness (it is very interesting the tricks your eyes will play on you in total darkness) they are plotting something that usually involves a discussion of how the brain suckers live in caves, in total darkness, then a loud noise and a flash of some kind, followed by hysterical laughter and pointing.

Always explore caves with friends. Never go into a cave alone. Never go caving with anyone that has left you in strange places before. I always made it a practice to be the last one while going into a cave and the first one when coming out. That way I was always between everyone else and the cave entrance so the group had to get me out before they could get out.

I enjoyed the sense of adventure of exploring caves and caverns. The challenges were both physical and mental, but the reward of seeing the amazing natural beauty in caves was well worth it. Many wondrous sights are there.

When exploring caves remember that the beauty you see took millions of years to create so be careful. Our philosophy was to “Take only pictures and leave only footprints”.

Dave, thanks for sharing some of your experiences and adventures with us. Take care and God bless.