This is a response to volume 4, Holly Card Number 23 ("Don't Laugh")...
You really can't swing a dead cat in Santa Clara County without hitting a certification class in scuba diving. Most high school adult ed. programs and community colleges offer certification courses. Of course, any reputable dive shop, like "Any Water Sports" will offer certification.
Diane and I got our certification from a guy named Dave Faught through the Fremont High School Adult Education program. Dave also teaches courses on occasion at San Jose City College. I wholeheartedly recommend Dave as an instructor. He's a real character, but from what I've learned from conversations with other divers, he offers one of the most thorough certification courses in the area.
His classes are generally 8 weeks in length one night a week for 3-4 hours each night. About half of each session is lecture/discussion and the other half is pool work. Following classes, there are 8 ocean dives in Monterrey. You can usually find Dave listed in the Fremont High School Adult Ed. course catalog, or you can reach him at his dive shop, Classic Scuba, in Los Gatos.