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I need to redecorate this place, refurbish it. It's in danger of getting boring. I'm getting tired of theme posts and the same ol' same ol'. We need more variety and humour, like in the old days. A breath of fresh air will be . . . uh, . . . refreshing. I haven't yet thought about how I might get some variety back into Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. I'll have to cogitate on that for a while.
Still, I do know what triggered my thinking about change. It's not what you might suspect. It has to do with moving my wallet from my back pocket to my front pocket.
Yesterday, at the town market, I was the victim of an attempted robbery. It's not as dramatic as is sounds. It is, however, becoming a far too common event in Madang. No matter how much we love the place, we have to accept that even Paradise is not immune to any and every kind of decay. The decay of security, feeling safe in one's living space, has been shocking.
As I was leaving the gate of the market, I felt a disturbance in my personal aura space. Then I experienced an abrupt violation of my very personal physical space as clumsy fingers attempted to sneak into the back pocket of my ancient Levi Strauss 501 cut-offs. Fortunately, there were plenty of people around (not that that helps much). So, when the first try failed, there was no violent second go at the wallet. That's when things get nasty. The clumsy thief beat a hasty retreat back into the market followed by my nasty comments regarding his personal hygiene.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I returned to my car and sat there for a minute of quiet gratitude that I did not have to replace my various driver's licenses, identification and credit cards. As I sat there I decided it was time, disregarding comfort, to move my wallet permanently from my back pocket to the front.
Reading back over that, I realise two things. First, I realise how little sense it makes. Then, I realise how difficult it is to connect an attempted mugging to my sudden need to spice up MPBM. As you may have gathered, I'm making this up as I go.
Now that I have wasted this much of your time, you may as well stick around a little longer for the main course of blather.
As I was looking for some amusing images from about forty that I have lined up for posts, I was struggling to find some that fit together in any interesting way - some way that I haven't already worked to death. A few stuck out like sore thumbs. Some greens, reds and magenta hues began shouting in unison, me, me, me, me. Well, how can you ignore that? So, mixing them up a little (shaken, not stirred), I begin with Green Coral Imperfection:
There is some interesting detail in this shot. You might want to click to enlarge it. I particularly like the one structure which sticks up above all of the rest. It becomes that place which the eyes simply can't stay away from. The rest becomes a negative space which all the more directs the eyes back to that single difference, that imperfection.
I confess to a childish fascination with fire. Given some spare time and an opportunity, I can sit by a fire much the same as a ten-year-old boy, poking sticks and throwing objects into the flames just to see what happens. These visceral reactions to fire seem primordial. As a natural phenomenon, I imagine that fire is at once the most useful and the most dangerous of the processes that humans have been able to harness. Possibly that is why it holds such sway over our emotions. Fire is possibly the most comforting and the most terrifying force of nature.
It looks to me like a huge green flower.
It's a delicious combination.
I wish that I knew what causes this colour. I've not been able to find a reference for it. Behind it and in front are three other species of coral. The white and green blobs to the left and below are a species of sea squirt.
The muse seems strangely mute this night. I have promised myself that I am going to try to avoid laying down on the bed this evening until I'm ready to go to sleep. I've been reading about bad sleep habits lately, in hopes of finding something which will help me. Lounging in the evening in the bed in which you sleep is reckoned to be a very bad habit. That's a tough one for me to fix. I'll have to think about moving some things around. I hate that. I like for things to stay the way they are. I'm going to have to get used to change.
So, it seems that what I ended up with here is yet another theme post.
I'm greatly relieved that Madang - Ples Bilong Mi now seems to be alive and kicking again. A recent double-whammy of weird interactions between plugins and some possible security problems conspired to knock me of of my own site and caused many readers to receive weird offers to download a mysterious "wordpress.gz" file, dump them to a 404 "Not Found" page, or behave normally, as the fortunes of fate dictated at the moment. I'm sad that this happened, because the last thing which I want to generate in my readers is frustration. My game is amusement, not apoplexy. If you do encounter any problems with the site, please inform me by email or leave a comment, if possible. I can't fix anything which I do not know about. I'll praise once again my Wordpress guru, Michael VanDeMar, who, for a modest sum, plucked my precious baby from the tar pit and washed her clean. If you are a Wordpress user, you will probably need Michael someday. Put him in your contacts now before you forget.
If you're a long-time "local" in or around Madang, you will remember Doctors Michael "Mick" and Margaret Horwood who were the local sawbones in town for years. We lived in a small flat above their office. They are wonderful, caring doctors and excellent friends. Mick still comes up to Madang on occasion and dives with us. His son, Will, visited us with some of his fellow medical students some time ago. Will was visiting Sam Young, a friend in New York City and got this phenomenal shot of the skyline with an iPhone!
Not too shabby for something with an Apple logo on it. I confess to not being an Apple fan. Please don't hate me. However, one of our co-workers has just arrived with a new iPad. In a couple of days I will deliver to you the definitive review of this absolutely fascinating, but seemingly useless product. I admit that I was mesmerised the first time that I squeezed my fingers together and watched the images shrink and then grew again when I moved my fingers apart. Mind blowing!
Here is something that I'd bet that you have never seen. It is the underside of a New Guinea Cushion Star (Culcita novaeguineae):
It clearly shows that it is really a starfish with the stubbiest possible legs. Yeah, yeah, I know that most people call them arms. But, we don't walk on arms, do we? If somebody asks you how many arms a starfish has, answer, "Zero, dummkopf."
And, here is yet another thingie which only the most bizarre of you may have ever seen:
It is an extremely juvenile Bulb Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor). When I first saw this from a couple of metres away, I bubbled into my regulator, "What the . . ." It is very small, only about 20mm across. I honestly couldn't say what it was until I got the shot on my computer and enlarged it. Seeing it big made it clear from the shape of the little bulbs with the . . . er . . . nipples on them (hey, what would you call them) that is is definitely an itsy-bitsy Bulb Anemone.
At the Madang Lodge Hotel and Restaurant there are several carving similar to this one of two old men and a dog in a canoe:
There is a guy in Madang who carves these. I think he may have a patent on the design. I have coveted these for years. Maybe if my new jobs work out, I may commission one. I don't know where I'll put it. Our house is so full of artifacts that we're running out of wall space.
I saved this one for last because it makes me giggle. Click to enlarge this image of a Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus):
I've uploaded it to my server lager than usual so that you can see the raw hatred and anger on the face of this fish. If this fish had been a tiger, I'm certain that I wouldn't be sitting here boring you into a catatonic state. Fish don't usually react to me this way. Maybe it got out of bed on the wrong side.
While in Madang for the last six weeks I finished up thirty years of residency. Though everything went smoothly and I had some happy surprises, there were some very sad moments. I posted here only once while I was gone. I was scrambling to get everything done that I needed to do to make a more or less graceful exit, so it was difficult to think of anything interesting to write about. I also sold my Canon G10 and G11 cameras, so I had nothing with which to make images. I don't seem to be able to write without them, even if they have little to do with the text.
Today's menagerie of images has a peculiar genesis. Last night I gave myself five minutes to scan about three thousand images from Madang - Ples Bilong Mi (yes, a title change is coming soon). My choices have little to do with quality and more to do with knee jerk reactions. Since they are seemingly random choices, the text is likely to be disjointed. In some ways I'm still orienting myself in this new life. Everything is in transition. I'm also still wasted from the trip back to Sedona. I had nearly forty hours in the air from the 13th to the 15th and I don't know how many sitting in a daze in airport lounges. I was amazed when I left Singapore to learn that we were heading for Houston via Moscow! I boarded in Singapore, sat there for eleven hours and thirty minutes, got off the plane in Moscow, went through security again and got back on the same plane in the same seat and rubbed my aching knees for another eleven hours and forty minutes while watching the path of the plan heading for Greenland on the great circle route to Houston.
According to Great Circle Mapper that's 17,609 miles. The only break I got was a short overnight stay in Brisbane. My sleep schedule is even more disturbed than normal, even after five nights at home.
I'll start with one of my favorite underwater images, Buddy, an Amphiprion clarkii anemonefish:
I've gotten a lot of mileage out of this one. It has appeared in several publications and now adorns many web sites, probably many more than I know about.
We'll come back to some more UW images after I digress to illustrate a few of the things I've sadly left behind. Forget about the house. Though I called it home, after the walls were stripped and the mementos were packed it was just a shell. Home was where Eunie was. It might seem harsh to say that what I may miss most is Sheba, my beautiful, smart and affectionate dog:
I say I'll miss her most because she doesn't understand why I'm not going to be there to love her. Maybe dogs don't think that much about those things. Possibly it is just our anthropomorphization of them which makes us believe that they mourn for such a loss. I do have confidence that she will be well cared for. It is a blessing that she will not be relocated and the people who will be living in my house want her and will see that she lives a happy life.
In another more lingering way I will miss my friends, represented here by Trevor Hattersley and Tony Collins:
Many people come and go in Madang. It's that kind of place. Tony has already gone. I've now left. Trevor will soon follow suit. Some of the dearest will remain. Some I will see again; some never.
Maybe it's because it is so inclusive of thoughts of Madang, the sea, the people, the exotic nature of the place. It's appropriate that this image departs from photography in the direction of w watercolor painting. It needs to fade from reality into the landscape of dreams.
The sea, the sea . . . How it captured my body and my mind. Here a Blue-Spotted Stingray flees in a panic as I approach:
I reckon that I spent roughly 2,500 hours under water during my twenty five years of diving in Madang. Though I was generally a very careful diver I still had several brushes with the Grim Reaper. Except for the occasional sky-dive, I expect that life will be a mite safer here in the high desert.
Living with the ocean at my front doorstep provided constant opportunities for image making:
This shot of a ship in the early morning light now graces the cover of a catalog for a German marine equipment supply company.
And, in the end, diving was more about friends than anything else. This is one of my very favorites. Karen and her little blue friends.
The world of nature was my playground. I showed a local fellow how to press the button on the camera mounted on a tripod for this shot:
The image appeared in Paradise Magazine, the Airlines PNG in-flight publication as one of the images in Bush Tucker - PNG Style, an article about edibles which can be found in the rainforest. I lost both nails from my big toes within a few days after completing this trek. The "Land of Surprises" they call it. I was certainly surprised.
On any given day, in my garden, I could find gifts of beauty to photograph:
Here the evening rain drips from the underside of a banana leaf. I had about twenty banana trees in my garden. They remain the best tasting bananas I have ever eaten.
My life was blessed with travel around the world, thirteen times at my latest count. Here is the wonderful "Tunnel of Light" at Chicago's O'Hare airport:
And I will never forget the severe vertigo I felt as I mounted the top of this astoundingly long escalator in Budapest:
Domestic travels were less wearisome. Here I enjoy a ride on Honey near Boise, Idaho, captured in this image by my friend Carol Beth:
Honey was the same age as I, in horse years. We got along well. We were polite with each other. I seem to have a natural ability with horses and dogs. Maybe it's because I'm sympathetic to their lowly place in life. It must take a lot of humility to be a good riding horse or a fine, well mannered dog. Humility is a good thing. It can take you places where pride is met by a burly bouncer.
Peculiar, unique images always catch my eye and I strive to create them. This is one that I really enjoy, partly because of the experience which led to its creation:
Special permission was required from the scary, suspicious guys in the gun shop to enter with a camera. I'm sure I was one of the stranger characters to visit that day. They didn't know what to make of me as I set up my shot on a large piece of white paper on the counter top. It was a bit of an adventure for all of us.
I'll wrap this up with what is, sadly, probably the only image I have of Eunie and Grace together:
I shot this during the only visit to Sedona which Eunie and I enjoyed together. How little I could imagine how much my life was to change in the course of a very few years.
This post will serve as a sort of whimpy farewell to Madang. I don't want to dwell on it. It is but a passage in life - one of many.
Today's interesting development concerns the Facebook/email hack that I mentioned a few days ago in The Birds! It seems that my Facebook friend had been hacked and the emails urgently asking for money to escape London were sent to her Facebook friends were from the hacker. I noticed that the same person returned to Facebook, so I sent her a message asking of she had, perchance, recently been to London. She related the hacking incident to me. It is a sad tale. It reminds me to keep my own security up. I was happy to find that I had not been suckered into an elaborate fake Facebook friend scheme. She is real, and a nice person at that. I'm slightly less cynical than I was a couple of days ago. That's always a good way to start the week.
Today we're doing mostly Blennys. I've had quite a few of these cute little fish here before. You can find them by putting blenny in the search box. You've seen the Three-Lined Blenny (Ecsenius trilineatus) before on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi: The details of the eyes are interesting, if you care to examine them by clicking to enlarge the image. Blennys are usually small fish, some species are among the smallest fish on the planet. Some Gobys are even smaller.
And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a fish that you've never seen before on MPBM. If fact, you'll have to look closely to see it at all: It's a Tripplespot Blenny (Crossosalarias macrospilus) and this is the first one that I've managed to digitize:
Here's another shot of the same specimen. It was moving around nervously from place to place. Where is landed here on this leather coral its camouflage doesn't work very well: The common name makes no sense to me. I see only one big spot.
You've seen the Latticed Sandperch (Parapercis clathrata) several times here, mostly females. I admit a bias towards photographing females: Males of this species have a big, black spot just above the pectoral fins behind the eyes. You can see in this young specimen that it is just developing. You can see an adult male specimen in this post.
I'll toss a little colour onto this page with one of the reddest fish that I know, the Scarlet Soldierfish (Myripisits pralinia): They tend to hang around in these little caves in the reef. You can see another one in this post.
It's time now to go out to check for the sunrise quality level. I know, I know, it's a dirty job. Such is the life of a beach bum.
Well, it's Christmas Day here. Most of the world will not catch up with us for a few hours. In the spirit of the season, I've prepared a modest, hastily constructed Christmas present for you. I honestly had something much more elaborate planned, but we all know how plans go this time of year. Just ask all of the people who are lined up for a plane or train. I'm quite happy to be "Home for Christmas" without moving a muscle.
So, to my readers, who have given me so much joy since I started Madang - Ples Bilong Mi only a little more than two years ago, here is my humble gift to you:
Here is a cute little "puppy dog" Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus) being desperately persued by a Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) looking for some fast food: The little cleaner wrasse is in its juvenile phase. It will be much less dramatic as an adult. They swim with a curious curling motion to advertise their services. It always reminds me of a fish dancing to Chubby Checkers singing "Come on Baby. Let's Do the Twist."
This Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus) is a very handsome fish, indeed. They are easily spooked, so you have to sneak up on them while holding your breath: After a minute or so, just as you are dying for good, deep breath, you might get a chance for a shot. I only managed one exposure of this fish. Fortunately, everything worked perfectly. It's a good specimen shot.
Being right in the middle of nudibranch heaven, it's not surprising that I run across cute little eye candies such as this on a regular basis. It has the less-than-endearing name of Phyllidiella pustulosa. Just play with that one for a while. You'll find it just as revolting as I do.
I am so easily amused. It comes of having a simple mind.
I'm fairly frantically trying to balance my work between herding a bunch of ornery computers, writing an article for Niugini Blue, and doing my daily posts on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. There's just no help for it. I've got to combine some tasks to serve dual purposes or sink into the dreaded black hole of "missed deadline" which means embarrassment and lost of precious moolah. So, I'm killing two of the three birds with one bullet (which is my not so clever way of slipping into the subject matter) by giving you a preview of the images that I'm submitting and a taste of the text. This literary snake-oil will be delivered to you in two or three parts.
My Gradpa taught me to hunt. Marksmanship was first on the list of essential skills, so, back when ammo was dirt cheap, I fired thousands of rounds at teeny-weeny targets until I was up to Granddad's standards, which were pretty high. All this practice served me well when I went for Army training, as I qualified Expert on every weapon with which I was trained (and a few that I wasn't supposed to be using).
Grandpa also schooled me in the psychology of the hunt, with which I became obsessed. Unfortunately, this involved a lot of blood loss, mostly to the critters at which I was shooting. I never thought much about it at the time. It was just hunting - everybody did it. Eunie and I survived a whole summer in Montana on the huge jackrabbits that I shot (she bagged a few - she is also an excellent marksman).
Anyway, not to get carried away, I had a few bad experiences with beautiful creatures whose designated bullets had not landed precisely. They tell tales about animals screaming when horribly wounded. I'm here to tell you that it can happen. It's something that you don't want to hear. So, I left the killing behind, cold turkey, as it were, but the other, less bloody psychological elements of the hunt have never left me.
What to do? Shoot them with a camera, of course! I didn't dream this up. I remember when I was a kid seeing newsreels of big game hunters who had sickened of the killing and were mounting expensive cameras with huge telephoto lenses on rifle stocks. They were making a pretty drastic statement at a time when most people were fairly blasé about the whole matter of hunting. I admired these people.
No, I'm not going to unload the whole article on you here. It will run upwards of 1,600 words and I don't expect anybody to read a post that long. So, let me get to my most recent 'kills'. It's illegal in most civilised places now to kill a hawk, but it's there's no problem with bagging a Dwarf Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) with your camera:
This is by far the best shot that I've done of this species. You've seen many Hawkfish here before (use the search box), but this is the one, of this species, that will define my best work, at least until I get better gear.
Moving from the sublime to the clownish, this little fellow (or lady - who knows) is a Spotted Sand Diver (Trichonotus setiger):
They are fiendishly difficult to photograph, because they do exactly what the name implies. One second it's there on your screen, the next instant it's dived head-first into the sand, leaving only a puff of pale powder drifting along in the current. I was trying very hard to get a black background in this shot, but I could not get low enough. If I had, you could better see the long, slender filaments extending from its dorsal fin.
Somebody out there is thinking, "Enough with the Spinecheeks, already!", but I'm not giving up until I've done it perfectly. So here's yet another Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus):
I'm getting close to what I want. If you click to enlarge you can probably make out some scales and you should definitely be able to see the lateral line.
Here's one that you have seen here only once before. This is a much better shot of the Redfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus):
I'm not much of a sportsman when hunting with my camera. Sitting ducks are also on the list of endangered beasties. Nudibranchs are ridiculously easy to shoot. The don't move very fast, maybe a metre a day. All you have to do is find them. That's the crunch. It's a treat to find such a nice specimen of a fairly common nudi, (Phyllidia coelestis):
Today is my day to try to catch up. I'm behind in some paying work as well as still behind here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. Today is the first day in a week on which I'll be posting the same day as the post date. Not that it makes much difference to anyone but me. I hate getting behind in my work, because I am fundamentally extremely lazy. It's all too easy for me to start thinking that I just don't have enough time, so there are some things to which I'll never attend. Then I have to be honest with myself and think of how many hours a week I spend staring at TV. I've come to think of this as a complete waste of time. Frankly, if I really want down time, I'd rather read. TV is the lazy person's amusement. It requires absolutely no effort and little imagination. I simply don't want to spend my life that way any more.
So, with the sermon out of the way, let's have a look at this morning's sunrise: Not bad, but not great, either. Maybe I'm getting a little to demanding. After you've seen a few thousand here, it's easy to get picky.
As the title suggests, we're having aerial shots today courtesy of Sir Peter Barter with whom I hurled through the atmosphere for almost three hours on Tuesday. His Robertson R-11 is a beautiful little machine. I can only imagine what a dream it is to fly. Here is a lovely shot of my home town, Madang: As you can see, the bulk of the town is on a peninsula. To the left (east) is Astrolabe Bay and to the right is Madang Harbour.
This a very nice angle from which to view the entire Madang Coast: Madang is on the left. The large island is Kranket, followed by Leper Island, Little Pig Island and Pig Island. These are all local contemporary names, except for Kranket Island, which is traditional. The others have different names on the nautical charts.
I got some very nice shots of some of our favourite dive sites. This is Magic Passage in the centre and the southern tip of Leper Island on the right: Kranket Island is on the left. This is easily the best aerial view that I've seen of Magic Passage.
This shot shows an easy month's worth of daily dives. At the far left is Little Pig Island with The Eel Garden to its right. The large mass is Pig Island with superb diving all around the ocean side. At the bottom is Barracuda Point: Up the right side clear to the edge of the image is all wonderful diving. the gap in the barrier reef near the top is Rasch Passage, an excellent dive.
That's my back yard from the air.
Once again I'll avail myself of the opportunity to journal the autumn of my life in my "one-page-at-a-time" autobiography. I can't imagine how some of these things could be of much interest to anyone but me, but some (possibly very bored) people out there keep reading this stuff, so I'll keep cranking it out. Backing off the pace to once every other day or so has allowed me more time to think about what I am writing. I don't expect it improves the quality much or makes it any more interesting, but it lets me feel as if I'm giving more consideration to what I pour into it.
I sometimes wonder if I'll ever go back and read any of it. I rather doubt that I will. After all, this is not a permanent record. None of us knows if we'll be around for another year and when one reaches a certain age and has lived through certain life experiences, the question of "how long do I have" seems less important than "is this still fun?" I can imagine that I might, given the right frame of mind, go back and read certain posts from certain periods so that I can remember more clearly what was going on in my head then. It might someday be helpful to make comparisons.
What I do have to keep in mind is that I'm not making a permanent record here. Someday the server fees will not get paid for one reason or another and Madang - Ples Bilong Mi will tumble into the giant bit bucket never to be seen again or remembered leaving behind scarcely a ripple in the big pond of the web . So be it. In the meantime, I'll try to have some fun with it. It is, after all, a toy for the hopelessly narcissistic.
Saying goodbye to things is becoming somewhat tedious. Fortunately, I don't have much left to say goodbye to. It's just as well. If you've followed recently, you'll know that I recently had the blessing of putting Eunie's beloved 1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500 into the loving hands of my cousin. She and her husband have promised the little beauty a good home. This makes me happy and solves what could have been a very troublesome problem, as I also sold the house where the car was garaged. The Spit, like me, no longer had a home.
Never mind. It is, as we heard Forrest Gump proclaim, "One less thing." Laura was very patient throughout the prickly process of transferring ownership of a car from half-way around the world. The shenanigans required would have been very funny if viewed within the confines of a Hollywood farce. Getting the paperwork doctored to suit the authorities was an exercise in strained patience and perseverance in the face of unmovable obstacles. Finally, the obstacles allowed themselves to be budged. This alone is astonishing, given that we were dealing with inordinately stubborn boulders such as postal authorities and automobile license offices.
What follows is a series of images provided to me by Laura as a chronicle of the voyage of Sweet Thing from her abandonment to her new home.
Here we see her emerging from more than five years of cold storage into the frosty sunshine illuminating the now defunct and useless garage at 8080 East Road 300 North in Brownsburg, Indiana:
The house, and probably the three car garage, which seem perfectly serviceable to me, will soon be demolished or burnt. There seems to be some confusion as to the eventual fate of the structures. Truthfully, it matters not a whit to me. My nostalgia is confined to the good times. There were good times in abundance.
Here is a rather gloomy shot of Sweet Thing being conveyed to her new home in Elletsville, Indiana:
She is a little beauty, eh? By far the prettiest of the Spitfires.
Down she goes. Sadly, the engine refused to start when the time arrived. This was later traced to a cracked distributor cap. This surprised me, since I had recently replaced the distributor with a new one:
I suppose "recently" is not accurate. The car has been in storage for quite a while. Still, how does a distributor cap crack all on its own with no apparent stress?
Let's raise the bonnet and have a look:
Nobody makes cars like this any more. Possibly it's just as well. It's shocking.
The engine has more new parts than old. There is a new crankshaft and bearings, new high-compression pistons, a new "street-grind" camshaft, new lifters springs and valves and the list goes on and on.
An expert on the mark might note that the radiator is radically larger that the stock model. We made this improvement after our last long road trip to Florida to see a launch of the Space Shuttle. It was a miserable voyage in a scorching summer. The engine overheated several times.
She's a fine machine, but requires the usual devotion from fans of British sports cars. Than means a well fed tool box in the boot.
Since we needed to travel to North America every couple of years, we decided to keep the Spitfire and rebuild her to usable condition instead of renting vehicles on each sojourn. I reckon that over the years we saved money by doing this. At least that was our goal. So, in the end, it did pay off. There is one more fine example of beautiful coachwork and the single minded purpose of building a car that is simply fun to drive which will not be rusting away in some barnyard, neglected and unloved.
Sometimes a plan has an unexpected outcome.
Regular readers will note that I have been off the air since Sunday. I was working on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi when suddenly I found myself locked out. I could not even get the login page to load. I got this strange message:
The requested URL /wordpress/wp-login.php was not found on this server.
You are receiving this error because there was reason to believe you may have violated the system's security protocols. If you think this was an error, please submit details about your activity through the form below and you may be unblocked. Providing your email address will speed up this process.
Thoroughly disgusted and believing that I had been hacked, I gave up for the day and laid around feeling sorry for myself. On Monday I got in contact with a Wordpress Specialist, Michael VanDeMar, who began to examine my server for any evidence of foul play. By mid-Tuesday he had me back up and running. If you ever get in a jam with your blog, he's your man. I give him ten out of ten.
As it turned out (GEEKSPEAK ALERT! - Geeky stuff in this paragraph.), it was not a hack, or at least it wasn't the direct result of a hack. I was using a product called SecurePress to shield me against hackers. It seemed to do a pretty good job and notified me each time a hack occurred (several times a day, usually). I am also using a Wordpress plugin called WP Super Cache which makes my pages load much faster on your computer. As a result of a previous attack which was interpreted as coming from my own IP address WP Super Cache began directing users to the message above which is doled out to suspected hackers. I should have picke up on this, but I did not make the connection. That's what experts are for. So, if you are using SecurePress, pay attention to the part in the instructions which cautions you that you could get locked out of your own site.
But, now I have this big hole in my calendar. It irks me, but it would be obsessive to go back and fill it up. I'll just have to live with it.
Okay, with all that mess now disposed, let's have a nice, cheery sunrise:
That is the brightest red one that I've seen since the last dry season.
Here is another sky shot which shows an interesting effect which you will probably not want:
I saw the beautiful towering cumulus over the mainland and wanted to get a shot of it. However, my camera was still in its underwater case. I wiped the face-plate as well as I could with my towel, but it left some streaks. The diffraction that you see in the top of the image is caused by the bright sunlight being scattered by the nearly invisible streaks on the faceplate of the housing only an inch or so in front of the lens of the camera. It's an interesting effect and could be useful. Back in the old days we used to smear a very thin layer of Vaseline on a clear filter and screw it on in front of a lens. Different patterns of smear created different diffusion effects. It was especially nice for that soft-focus look when photographing the ladies.
Since I've been off the air for a few days, I have a craving for fish.
The water was not very nice that day. The visibility was only about eight or ten metres.
I did manage this reasonably nice shot of some Midnight Snappers (Macolor macularis): You can see some sub-adults in the shot. They are the ones which still have traces of the juvenile black with white spots pattern. The golden coloured one in the middle is an adult, as are the darker ones to the left. The one on the right with the faint white spots is a sub-adult.
I've put this one up on the server at extra high resolution - 4,000 pixels. It's worth a click and a wait to see it close up.
The Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be back to regular daily posting from now until the next hiccup.
Christmas Day started off with a beautiful sunrise. No, I lie. It was a cloudy day that didn't promise much and didn't deliver either. The weather threatened to dump on us all day, but managed to hold its water. The morning sky didn't look anything like this: Arriving at the beach house, we were greeted by the establishment's cheery welcome sign unceremoniously nailed to a roof beam. There is a thatched roof over the lower deck. As you can see, it is made of palm leaves. In this case, they are the leaves of the Sago palm. The material, after it is 'sewn' into long mats, is called morota: The mats are then laid down across the rafters starting at the outer edge of the roof and moving toward the centre. Each mat is laid over the one below it. The result is that rain flows down the leaves and off the edge. Inside, it stays nice and dry.
Before we get into the images of Christmas Day at Blueblood, I'll show you what's been happening with Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. I don't dig around too much in the statistics, but at the end of the second full year it seems appropriate to have a look. First, who is reading?
Here are numbers from December 1 - 26 of 2009:
I listed only the first ten countries. Papua New Guinea is 39th on the list. There are a few surprises. What is Netherlands doing way up there? I know far more people in Austria than the Netherlands, but Austria is 56th on the list. I know nobody in Russia or China, but there they are. The only way that I can explain this is by looking at the content of the journal. Though I try to appeal the broadest audience possible, I do have a lot of specialised content here and that makes for a lot of search engine hits. In fact, about 30% of the traffic comes just from Google, much of that from Google Images.
You tenacious readers out there are giving us some healthy numbers:
Number of visits
That's not bad numbers for less than one month for a puny little site such as this. It's getting up around 1,500 unique visitors per day. I can remember a year ago when I was doing cartwheels if we hit 200.
I was rather pensive on Christmas Day, not my best time of year. Therefore, I didn't take many pictures. Here is a cheery one of nearly the whole gang out swimming around the floatie thing: And here are two little angels in a rubber duckie: I like this one of Mike Cassell, as fine a mate as a bloke could have, and his grandson, Josh: As the day progressed and a little wine began to take the edges off my melancholy, I did sally forth with camera in hand to snatch the soul of this perfect hibiscus blossom: That's me. The soul snatcher.
I didn't get a chance to post this one while I was still in Indianapolis. So as not to be wasteful I'll get in my WayBack Machine and send it out into the void now. It's still my moldy observations, wacky thoughts and strange images. However, like Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, it has come un-stuck in time.
By the way, this is post number 1,000 for Madang - Ples Bilong Mi.
In my American Adventure mere hours remain of this brief pause in Hoosier territory. I grew up in Indiana, downtown Indianapolis being my formative place. As I sit here, only a few minutes from my birthplace and the haunts of my childhood, I am transfixed by the wonders of circumstance which carried me on the kind of wild ride through life with which few are blessed.
Each pause in my adventure brings its own blessing. In Australia I benefited from sojourns to Gympie, Teewah and Toogoolawah. In these places I was cared for and entertained by people who love me not for what I do, but for who I am. In the USA my first refuge was Honolulu. There I enjoyed a stay with an old friend willing to share the nest. Also in Hawaii were long-time friends and co-workers who have, for over three decades, concerned themselves in many ways with my work. Now, here in the Midwest I have added family to the list of loved ones with whom I am renewing links.
Now I am possibly half-way through this journey. In many ways it is the most important in this season of my life. The shape of my future is being determined in a very compressed period of time as I stumble through the minefield.
That's quite enough self-pity and introspection for the moment. Let me tell you about the bear attack.
Steve, my host in Brownsburg, and I were on our way to the Indianapolis Zoo via the Rocky Mountains. We took the scenic route. We paused for refreshment in some national park or other - I don't remember which. As I scanned the horizon for likely camera fodder I saw this bear:
All was well until the bear noticed that I was taking its picture. This bear has a paparazzi issue. It became enraged and attacked me. I was forced to beat it senseless with my trusty Canon G11 camera. Ordinarily I take a picture of whatever creature I have knocked unconscious with my camera, but in this case Steve and I decided to beat a hasty retreat in case we might have been observed violating the right of the bear to consume annoying humans.
Of course all of the above balderdash is pure Walter Mitty daydreaming. There was a bear, but it was in a rather large cage at the zoo. It paced back and forth in a very desultory manner until I got tired of watching it. I felt its boredom. It did seem to look in my direction after a while and suddenly charged down the slope directly at me. As it approached and I felt an incipient flinch coming on it suddenly changed directions and dived into a hole in the fake rocks. Steve reckoned that it had heard its keeper opening the feeding door and was going for another kind of lunch. Along the way it was expending a little energy to give me a cheap thrill. You get your money's worth when you go to the zoo.
This wart hog is not dead. At least I don't think it was. I think it was sleeping, but I'm not sure. Can wart hogs hold their breath while sleeping? For how long? I tossed a couple of small pebbles at it, but it seemed not to notice:
Possibly it was waiting for popcorn, the most popular of foods which nobody is supposed to feed the animals, but everyone does.
I have several other shots of different angles of this rhino:
I'm using this one, because it's really the most interesting. I don't recall seeing a rhino's posterior so clearly.
Ordinarily I would not give the time of day to a meerkat. I include them in the general classification of animals which I call "Way Too Cute". This one, however, appeals to me. It's a little snarly looking. That canine tooth sticking out seems to say, "I could give you such a bite, if I wanted to."
I throw in this gratuitous orchid image only because they caught my eye in the White River Garden thingie which is next to the zoo:
I think it's a hybrid. They had maybe a hundred different orchids in bloom in there. I can't recall seeing that many in one place.
That's another tall tale. I most certainly did not mow Steve's lawn or any other lawn since I was in Australia. The lawn mower gizmo was not even running as I sat for this shot. I just wanted to see myself as a typical American suburban home owner. Fantasy time . . .
It's a shame that Steve was not quick enough to catch me falling out of the hammock.
I'll wrap this up by telling you about my wild spending spree. I went to Goodwill Industries Store for Poor People to buy some clothes. I'm not really that poor, but I like to pretend that I am. Besides, if I'm cheap about some things it gives me more to blow on things that I genuinely want. I'm not much into fancy clothes, as any fool can see, but I have to put something on, especially in this climate:
I bought three perfectly good, if slightly too long pants and a nice pair of shorts for a little over nine dollars.
That's what I call shopping!
I'm finding it difficult to post daily here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. Not much is happening in our lives that is not of a very personal nature. It occurred to me today that now is not the time to slack off. Aside from casual readers and those who enjoy our pretty pictures, many friends and family members visit here to find out what we are up to.
Well, if you've been reading lately, you know that life is pretty much on hold until we find out and take care of Eunie's health problem. We have been as healthy as horses for decades, with only the occasional bout of malaria or an infection here or there. Very few of us are lucky enough to live a long and healthy life and suddenly drop dead.
It is worse, of course, for the ill one. Few people enjoy suffering and Eunie has been through a lot of pain for the last couple of months. The uncertainty inherent in living in a place with limited medical facilities doesn't help. Illness is also rough on loved ones and friends. Being a natural-born worrier, it has been particularly taxing on me. The truth is, I would happily trade places with Eunie. Sadly, that's not possible.
So, Eunie takes care of herself, I take care of her, she takes care of me and we both take care of the strains of illness that affect us as a partnership.
What I did not realize until a comple of days ago was that I was showing a few cracks in my composure. I needed to take care of myself. I needed some down time. I'm no good to Eunie if I fall to pieces.
For me, this is usually a simple exercise. All that is required is a quiet place in pleasant surroundings, a beer, a cheap cigar and an engaging book sufficiently exciting enough to shut out the worries for a couple of hours. Above you see me with my "not too bad for a sixty-six year old dude" legs propped up on the table getting some down time.
Notice the very classy apartment. Well, you can't see much of it, but I will tell you that it is quite nice. It is a gift from dear friends in Madang. We also have the use of a car from other friends. Someday, I am going to acknowledge all of the wonderful friends and co-workers who have made it possible to get Eunie to Cairns and settle us in for whatever is in store. Right now, the list is still growing and I don't want to leave anyone out. I do not know what my frame of mind would be right now if I had to think about housing and transportation expenses in addition to all of the other costs of relocating for an unplanned and enforced "vacation".
Eunie wasn't quite up to it, but Lorraine knew what she was doing when she urged me to come.
I feel a strange smugness when I look at expensive gear which I'll never be able to afford. I think about how much money people blow on this kind of gear and I tell myself that my images are just as good as theirs. These "sour grapes" ploys help get us through life, eh? How much money have I saved by not buying the biggest and best? I don't know, because I've already spent it on other things:
When I see someone driving a big, expensive car that guzzles petrol like it will last forever, all I can think is, "What a dope!" It makes me feel better.
Don't ask me why I showed it to you. I collect tickets. I have tickets from Vienna subways, Rolling Stones concerts, and oh, so many more esoteric venues. I even have the little bracelet from the hospital when I had my appendix removed in 1990.
Well, I'm running out of steam.
Here is my darling Eunie getting some down time. I am so happy that she is painless for the first time in more than two months. They are giving her some really good dope that makes her a little loopy for a couple of hours after she takes it.
Then she has a nice nap when she comes down.
God bless her. My woman.
At the end of my last post, I talked about my current inability to derive joy from activities which have previously provided me with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction which we all crave. This disablement has resulted in a strangely lifeless life. I'm sure that for many readers this will be preaching to the choir. As I've said before, this is my first experience with dire personal tragedy. I'm a late comer just catching up with most people my age.
My friend suggested that, as I engage in these experiences, say a Saturday out with friends on the boat SCUBA diving, that I pretend to enjoy it. I took this to mean that I should try very hard to not let my mind wander to subjects best left alone for the moment and that I engage with others as if nothing had happened and laugh when it seems appropriate and so on. You can make up your own list of fakery. The theory is, I suppose, that if one does this consistently it will become real. This makes some kind of wacky sense to me.
A day or so later I got a Facebook message from Ush Antia who has departed Madang, but is fondly remembered by her friends. Having read my remark about pretending, she sent to me a very interesting link. A guy named Dan Gilbert presented a twenty-one minute lecture titled Why Are We Happy? I'm not going to go into detail about the content, because you can watch it for yourself. I'll just say that our prefrontal cortex gives us some remarkable abilities that we may not ordinarily recognise. Here's a little blurb about the lecture:
Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.
Really, if you are less than ebullient concerning life in general, you might want to view it.
In order to investigate and reorient myself to what my current standards of happiness are, I decided to conduct a little experiment. All of the images which have speared in Madang - Ples Bilong Mi are in one folder on my computer. I set out to scan through these several thousand images as quickly as possible, getting as far as I could in five minutes and pick out eight pictures which instantaneously, as in a word association test, elicited the response, "happy". This is not as easy as it sounds.
Some of the images seem logical responses while others are puzzling. I'll comment briefly on each one, if I can think of anything to say.
This one is so obvious that it requires no analysis. It is a composition of many tiny images from MPBM in a mosaic which simulates a picture of Eunie and I at our anniversary party.
Who would not respond with "happy" to this?
I think that I responded with "happy" here because, though the surface message of the image is decidedly not happy, the experience of expressing these feelings in an artistic manner was happy. I derived considerable pleasure from the process of capturing a precise mood in an image.
While it is sad that Carol is no longer here in Madang, true friendships never leave the heart.
It is one of the few underwater images in which I have deliberately fiddled with the colours. This is not the natural colouration of this anemone. However, I wanted to accentuate the surreal beauty and alien quality of the creature. So I did. That's the beauty of digital photography. You can do anything you like.
This one is not to difficult to figure out either. It immediately brought to mind all of the wonderful times I spent with Eunie in far away places. I don't remember anything about this lovely statue which we found in Berlin of a young woman releasing a bird. I do remember that we both were captured by its beauty and significance. It belonged in that place.
Eunie and I were very fortunate to have been able to travel considerably during the last thirty years. The necessity of moving back and forth between Papua New Guinea and North America gave us the advantage of seeing many places without spending much extra money.
As I looked back over my choices and pondered my response to each, this one gave me slight pause. It is of a lady selling her produce at the Madang town market.
I did enjoy working with the image. It required quite a bit of effort to get it just the way I wanted it. However, I don't think that is why it struck the 'happy" chord. Maybe it represents home to me. That's a bit of a stretch, but it is close enough.
This baby balancing shot taken up at Blueblood is a no-brainer. Kids, friends, tropical warmth and water, a party . . . who would not think "happy"?
I'm beginning to see a pattern here.
The last shot also is obvious - family. I got this image of Tamara, Pippa and Audrey on the train returning from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It is one of my favourite images of Hans' little family.
Though there is the sadness of so seldom seeing them, happiness is the feeling I enjoy whenever I think of them.
What can I take away from this little exercise? I'm not sure that I know. All that I can do is make an observation.
Of all of the ideas, things and people in the images above, only one is physically missing. While it is a very crucial point that my wife is no longer on the scene, everything else remains, at least for the time being.
So, the question is, can I take what remains, do a lot of pretending and take the lessons of Dan Gilbert's lecture to heart, trusting my brain to rewire itself in its own self interest as a function of its natural immunity against adversity and despair? Will my prefrontal cortex kick in and create a new standard of happiness?
I trust that it will. And when it does, it will feel real to me. Right now, I don't see how it can happen. That it will happen requires trust in something much bigger than my brain. God will have to handle that one.
I trust that God will do that for me.
Yesterday, Trevor Hattersley came around to my office with a flash drive containing some pictures which he and Karen got at The Henley Festival at Henley on Thames in jolly old England. Trev wanted to see if I could fix some exposure problems and generally doll the images up. As usual, I said no worries, as long as I could use the for fish relief on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi.
The glow of the ship's lights on the right is a nice balance to the fiery cloud tops on the left in the Southern sky.
Apparently one can't get into The Henley Festival without a coat and tie. I still do own one tie, though I haven't worn it for at least a decade. It's one of those skinny ones from the mid '60s. The colour is a dark, reddish maroon. I could probably still tie a Windsor knot, with a little practice, but where am I going to wear it? I'm saving it for when I die. I want to lie in state in my Lt. Dangle short jeans, a black Harley Davidson t-shirt and my skinny tie around my neck tied with a bit, fat Windsor knot. Anyway, here are Karen and Trevor looking like a fashion model who has brought her sheep dog along to the party:
Trevor will give me some lip over that remark, because my hair is possibly even longer than his. I never thought that Trev really looked like the person that he is until he let his hair grow out and let it go a little wild.
Also at the party was Claire Hodgkinson, who was bridesmaid at Karen and Trevor's wedding. Trevor told me that the pebble encrusted pony in this shot was going for £200,000 (or maybe it was £20,000, I'm not sure). That's a lot of bread for something that's going to end up in the attic gathering dust after a couple of decades:
The festival include an incredible variety of entertainments. There are bands and famous solo artists of all sorts, artworks scattered about, fashion contests and fireworks, to mention just a few distractions.
The problem is that she takes up too much space. Unless you had a house the size of Bill Gates', where would you put her? It's not like you can hang her on the wall. I suppose that you could create a conversation nook where friends could sit around with you and make witty, unkind remarks about her as if she weren't there. One thing that you would definitely want to do is to keep her well clear of electrical outlets.
Fortunately, Trev had had the presence of mind to shake his head violently and roar. The horse mistook him for a lion in disguise and fled the scene. I'd love to go to The Henley Festival some day to soak up some culture. But I'd have to borrow some clothes.
To knock this one off and get to work, I'll finish up with this ultra-funky image conglomerated by our Guest Shot artist Lindsay Smith:
It's a bizarre amalgamation of a bit of my own Dubious Art (a headlamp of our Nissan Navara) with a sketch of me in my Cherokee braids, Space Cowboys sunglasses and black fedora hat.
I don't know what to make of it. It's a little scary.
This post is way out of the usual for Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. I'm afraid that it's not going to be of much interest to most readers. I won't apologise, since I have to do it. I'll be back later with something more interesting. I didn't have much fun writing this, so I need to entertain myself also.
Since I seem to have fallen on hard times lately, I'm forced to think and do things which were formerly unthinkable and un-doable. One of those unthinkable things is to sell, as quickly as possible, an object (just at thing, I keep reminding myself) with which I never imagined parting. That thing is Eunie's car.
I've always thought of it as Eunie's car, because I've never personally known a woman who was as eager to spend so much time working on a car. I did a lot of the mechanical stuff, but Eunie's passion was the cockpit - "Hey, this is where I sit. It's got to be nice!", she'd say. There is a bumper sticker still hanging on the wall in her former office that says, "I ♥ My Spitfire."
So, my good friend Steve Hassfurder, with the help of friends, has gotten the Spit out of the garage of the house which I must sell before it drags me into the bottomless pit. He got it started and tells me that it runs fine, as I expected it would.
I've been fretting (my hobby) concerning how I can get the news out that the car is for sale. It dawned on me only today that my largest audience is right here on MPBM. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, with no further self-pity, here is the text and photos which I prepared to send to Steve:
1973 Triumph Spitfire 1500
We purchased this car in 1986. I drove it back and forth to work while we were stuck in the USA for twenty months. When we moved back to Papua New Guinea we decided to keep it stored in the garage of a house we owned in Brownsburg, Indiana. Beginning with our first extended stay back here in the USA, we decided to start to restore the car. During periods when the car was not in the workshop we used it as our daily vehicle. The car is very beautiful and in excellent condition. There is no rust. The body has been completely restored from the metal out. The engine, drive train and suspension are all completely restored with many new parts. There is no play in the steering and the car is a joy to drive.
A Partial List of Restorations and Improvements (the ones I can remember)
GM “Torch Red” with matching wheels
Restored from metal out with no rust anywhere
New floor pans
New lower front panel (lower doghouse)
Ugly rear fender join seams removed
Interior and trim
New carpeting throughout the cockpit
New upholstery and cushions on seats
Brazilian Rosewood dashboard
Dashboard upper and glove tray have new covering
New folding convertible top
New fuse box
All electricals restored – everything works!
New Mallory distributor
Larger radiator with dual thermostatically controlled cooling fans
New Holly two barrel carburettor and new alloy intake manifold
New tubular steel header pipes for exhaust
New “street performance” camshaft, new valves and springs
New high compression pistons (stock Triumph parts), rings, wrist pins, connecting rods and bearings
New crankshaft and bearings
Transmission completely rebuilt (no sync problems on 2nd gear)
New front brakes and new rotors – rear brakes completely rebuilt
New half-shafts and bearings for the independent rear suspension
New rear shock absorbers and new rear leaf spring (no “Spitfire squat”)
New front wheel bearings
Front suspension, steering and shock absorbers all new or rebuilt with new parts – no steering play!
New exhaust system with stock Spitfire muffler
New tires when last serviced
It is very hard to find an earlier Spitfire, one made before the appearance of the car was ruined by regulations, in this condition. For beauty, ’73 was the finest year for “Spits”. One could easily justify a price of $10,000 for this car, considering the cost of putting one in this condition. I am asking $6,000. I will consider other offers. Please contact me. Leave a comment or if you prefer email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am now officially so far behind that I will never catch up. Yesterday had a three hour chunk removed from my plans when I went out on Sir Peter Barter's Robertson R-44 helicopter and spent a literally hair raising period of time hanging out of the door. I've always had a sort of fetish about sitting in the open door of a helicopter with my feet hanging over the side. It's so close to the edge, right where I like to walk. I spent many hours sitting in the open door of a Hotel model Huey when I wasn't piloting.
At one point I let the wind get under my headphones. That was a mistake. In a flash they were clunking against the rear window on the end of the cord. I reeled them in and mumbled, "That's not good." into the microphone. Honestly, I couldn't think of anything else to say. Though the trip put me further behind in my work schedule, I got 480 images for the grist mill of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi.
Those will dribble in as they fit with the plans of my wandering Muse. Today I'll show you this pretty shot of the far north end of Madang with Kranket, Leper, Little Pig and Pig Islands stretching up the coast: I have a few rather sensitive images also - things that some folks hereabout, I'll let you guess who, might not want you to see. I'll just have to see if my waning testosterone level allows me to display them.
In the meantime, let's go to the fish market: This should be starting to look familiar by now, since I've shown it many times. It's the wonderful fluorescent Magnificent Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor) hosting Spinecheek Anemonefish (Amphiprion biaculatus) at Planet Rock. Put "spinecheek" in the search box to see plenty of these wonderful fish.
Since I'm feeling a little frayed around the edges - up until 01:30 last night and had just one too many glasses of red, I'll tickle myself back out of my temporary coma with some brightly coloured feathers: That one was a Comanthina schlegeli. I can't find species names for most of them. It has a lot to do with counting legs and arms. Since the creatures are so incredibly delicate and stick to you like super glue, I don't care to destroy them just to figure out what the Latin name is. Let the guys in the white lab coats take care of that.
This is the feather star equivalent of The Mall: Everybody wants to go to "The Mall", especially in small towns. "Oh, let's go to the city to The Mall!" The kiddies shriek, "The Mall, The Mall. Oh, yes! Take us to The Mall!" Personally, I don't get it. I avoid the places like the plague unless I need something which I can't purhase somewhere else. The main problem is that I nearly always get lost and end up wandering from door to door looking out into the parking lot to see if I can remember if it's the one where I left my car. I once took a cab to a mall, just to avoid that trauma. I experience a mild form of panic when this happens. I worry that I may have had a mini-stroke. It's hard to know what to do. Go to the security goofs and admit that I can't find my car? I'd nearly rather slit my wrists in the central fountain and go out with a bang. They could decide that I might be a danger to myself or some unspecified "others" and bang me up in the slammer while The Suits figure out what to do with me.
Oh, sorry, I'm running on again. The brakes went completely out on our truck today. The timing was unfortunate, as I was blasting up Modilon Road at about 80 kliks per with my hair on fire. It's such a weird feeling when you shove that pedal and it just glides all the way to the floor with as much resistance as I could offer to Raquel Welch. With some fancy clutching and shifting I managed to get it creeping back to the office. They towed it away an hour ago. I had just put the "For Sale" signs out yesterday. If figures.
Okay, I'm finished now. You can go back to work.
A few days ago Alison Raynor sent to me some long-promised skydiving shots. Toogoolawah up in Queensland in Australia is an action centre for skydiving. Ali is a great source of beautiful photographs and amusing subjects. She has had some very nice Guest Shots on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. I'm happy to bring you this great story of skydiving in words and images. My thanks to Ali once again for giving me a break from navel diving.
I'll let Ali tell it:
I took these photos at a Ramblers Display team jump at a Bribie Island community event. Doug Stewart is jumping the Aussie flag and has been doing this as part of the team for about 20 odd years. I think of him as "Fearless Fly." The huge flag with all its lead-shot weight is packed very carefully into a big bag and clipped to his harness which hangs off his tummy. He lugs it all into the plane along with his parachute rig on his back and after his parachute is open and is flying safely he deploys the flag and weights. Nine out of ten times he lands it on the target in some really "tight spots." This is one of those tight spots. It's a postage stamp sized beach with a huge jetty on one side, the Bribie Passage (deep water channel complete with a large flotilla of small ships) on the other and a rock wall with about 500+ people looking onto the beach. There are also giant pine trees. Did I mention the raging SE wind blowing in off the sea? Anyway, these blokes are seasoned old skydiving pro's with not one dare devil amongst them. These are calculated events. After weighing up all situations and risks the answer is usually . . . "Geronimo!"
The little bit of yellow in the left bottom corner is the edge of the target (not bad accuracy,considering the conditions). The lead shot bag is about to hit the sand and Doug will hit the ground almost simultaneously- note the distance to the ground - it's all maths for Doug from here really. The bag and harness on the front of Doug is the "flag bag". He deploys the flag after his parachute is open:
Sarge is also running to help Doug hand when he lands. It is called "catching" and is also done when tandem jumps are landing in stronger winds. The aim is to grab a steering toggle and pull it out to full length, so as to collapse the canopy and prevent it re-inflating in the strong wind and dragging the pilot, but guess what . . .
Egon fights his way out of the flag and comes to the rescue as Doug digs his knees in to fight being dragged. Meanwhile Sarge is still lost under the flag and Dave is looking and laughing at the circus.
I may have gotten some of the images attached to the wrong captions. I wasn't quite sure about it. I think that I have the sequence right, but I know little about skydiving. Ali will let me know if I got them mixed up.
Ever since I did my first skydive in Cairns I have wanted to do it again. Since I am going back to Australia again next year, I plan to visit Toogoolawah with my friend Val Jerram who also wants to do some jumps. She has been hang gliding, something which I have not yet done. I was jealous. Now I am even with her. She's done the hang glide and I've jumped out of an airplane. I'm sure that she wants to get ahead of me again in this crazy race.
It's gonna be fun!
Well, it's Friday afternoon and I'm feeling downright sassy. I got me another new job this week selling Internet satellite equipment for a huge company. That's three jobs I am currently holding. Between the two of us taking on extra work while still putting in full time at our current employer, we have nearly replaced all of the money which has disappeared when churches suddenly decided that we are no longer the flavour of the month or we are getting too old. Hah! We're just getting rolling. Eunie was elected Director (that's as high as you can get) of our organisation here in PNG. Does that sound like someone who is ready to "come hone" and sit around waiting to die?
Only one small issue remains - sleep.
However, that's not what I'm here to talk about. And neither is this: That was sunrise at my house this morning. Sorry if it is a bit in your face. I am hoping to get the cover of Our Way for that one.
What I am here to talk about is a situation that is so fraught with absurdity, irony, comedy and perfidy that it should be in some kind of record book for Things Which Ought Not To Happen In A Reasonably Governed Nation.
Let me illustrate: I'll attempt to explain as best I can. I am not conversant with the facts in this case. I am only presenting the logical conclusions of a reasonably disinterested observer. If I get it wrong, somebody can scream and shout an jump up and down about it. The fact is that somebody owed the people an explanation. I'm prepared to listen to it. Let's dispense with the facts for the moment and simply deal with the appearance.
The pole belongs to PNG Power, a government owned monopoly. The big satellite dish in the background is owned by TELIKOM, the government owned communications momopoly (well, it was a monopoly - read on). Got that so far? It's all government owned stuff here. Okay, sometime ago Digicel, a cell phone peddler, came in somehow, nobody is quite sure how, and kicked the snot out of TELIKOM (remember, the big satellite dish) for the mobile communications business. At first everybody whooped and hollered, "Competition! We're saved!", but it soon developed that nefarious powers colluded and prices for mobile communications did not come down anywhere near world standards. The two competitors simply met somewhere in the middle. We're now paying only ten times the world market price for everything that communicates instead of one hundred. I suppose we should be grateful.
Stay with me, now. I'll get to the point, if you haven't already figured it out. If you have, you are already laughing.
So, My Question IS: What is a Digicel advertisement doing on a PNG Power pole outside the TELIKOM main exchange? Hey, if it were just one, I'd say that it's a very clever joke and immediately purchase the jester a beer at the Madang Club, if I were a member. But it's all over town!
At first the poles were simply painted red and everybody was scratching their heads and complaining that it ruins the look of Madang. Now Digicel has turned our entire town into one giant advertisement. That's really crappy and I don't like it one bit! Digicel, you don't own Madang! SHAME ON DIGICEL!
What's more is the big question of how does Digicel get the rights to place their ads on government owned property. Remember, that's the same government (I think. Nobody is really sure right now.) which owns TELIKOM, Digicel's only competitor. Exactly how did this occur? Whose money was exchanged for what rights and how was it approved? Certainly nobody consulted the citizens of Madang. How does it benefit anybody in Madang. How does it even benefit Digicel? I'm ready to throw my Digicel handset into the rubbish tip. Would any other residents like to join me? We could make a big pile of them and burn them in protest.
I haven't talked to anybody who's happy about this. I just heard a comment about what Digicel is doing along Coronation Drive, the place where many of the beautiful photos in Madang - Ples Bilong Mi originate. Look at this monstrosity: Disgusting!
If Airlines PNG (a private company) is really smart they will now get Air Niugini (a government near-monopoly) to allow them to paint, "Fly Airlines PNG" on the sides of the Bird of Paradise fleet of Air Niugini.
Have a gander at this splendid crab: It's dead, I'm afraid. When I first started taking its picture I thought it was alive. Alas, not so. I placed it on this leather coral to see if I could fake a live crab. It reminds me of the Dead Parrot shtick from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue... What's, uh... What's wrong with it?
Mr. Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, me lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, 'e's uh, ... he's resting.
Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
Owner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, aidn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!
Mr. Praline: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
Owner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
I swear: the above crab is resting. Permanently.
Yesterday we went up to Wonagat Island to dive a spot on the barrier reef we call The Chimney. I don't think that we have dived there since I began Madang - Ples Bilong Mi in September 2007. This is a little odd, since it is an interesting site and easy to get to. The conditions there vary wildly. Saturday wasn't great, but I did get some amusing shots. We'll get to that later.
First, have a look at Sunday morning's sunrise. I deliverately made it darker than it really was. I wanted to bring out the very faint crepuscular rays. I could barely make them out visually. Some tender massaging with Photoshop brought them to life:
Trying to lighten up the rest of the image simply makes it look fake, which is not necessarily a bad thing, if you're going for an artistic interpretation. The most interesting bit of this image is the dense black smoke erupting from the stack of the large ship as the left. Click to enlarge, so you can see it.
Thank goodness that this amount of smoke is not normal. I only see it when the ships are starting up their main propulsion engines. It usually lasts only a minute or two. I would love to get into the engine room of one of these big ships. Maybe somebody out there will arrange this for me. I'm amazed at the things I ask for here which magically appear. Having a journal with thousands upon thousands of readers can come in very handy. Thank you , gentle readers.
If I project the numbers out to the end of June, it seems that I will have had 275,000 visitors in the first half of 2010. This simply stuns me. I sometimes find it difficult to get my fingers going in the morning, because it is absolutely scary how many people are going to read what I write while still waking up, sitting there in my nightwear (I'll let you guess.) drinking a Fanta Orange soda. Hey, think about it! It's a frightful responsibility. But, it's still very small potatoes.
Well, enough of puffing my head up like a toy balloon, let us have a look at the mysterious dive site which we call The chimney for a very obvious reason. I carefully positioned Faded Glory for the dive, because if you get the anchorage wrong, you will never find the hole. The trick is to anchor in a known position slightly to the North of The Chimney so that you know which way to go when you get down on the reef. Here is what it looks like if you get things right:
In my dive briefing I said the we would descend, go to the edge of the reef, descend again to 28 metres, turn right and look for the hole. And maybe we might find it. I have miscalculated the anchor point several times and failed to find it. This time, after the dive, I marked in on the GPS.
I should have mentioned beforehand that one shouldn't use fins to swim up through it. It's best if you just let a slow ascent take you up through the narrow passage. If you do it right, no sediment is kicked up to spoil the trip for the next diver.
It's nice to know that you have friends you can count on for a laugh.
They are cute, but not very bright. They remind me of me, except for the cute part.
I'm still experimenting with the deep focus technique, but it takes a lot of light. this shot of Reticulated Dascyllus (Dascyllusreticulatus) bobbing up and down into their coral hide-out is not yet what I'm looking for:
It seems a little flat to me. I'm looking for more depth.
I may have to send you a pair of 3D glasses.
I get the strangest things in my inbox. Among the current Internet jokes and "funny pictures" I find the occasional gem. I don't want to discourage anyone, so keep it coming, but I can tell you that something like this will find a place in Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. The latest bit of esoterica comes from reader Ray Putney of London. That's the London in the UK, in case you were wondering.
Here was Ray's message to me:
Hi Jan, Good to read you got to Fiji ok. The only flying I seem to do now is the virtual variety with Microsoft's FSX Flight Simulator. I'm looking forward to a trip to Brisbane Australia later this year to visit my son and grandkids. Attached are some shots of Madang, the one over the airport is pretty close to your shot.
Well, I was amazed at, first, Ray's patience in getting these screen shots and second, the amazing fidelity, if a little chunky, of Microsoft's imaging of Madang Airport. Here is a typical island scene:
The perspective looks as if you are looking out toward Kranket, Leper and Pig Islands.
Pretty realistic, eh?
Compare it to this shot which I got from Sir Peter Barter's helicopter:
The resemblance is amazing.
If I were the pilot in a fix-wing aircraft, I'd be thinking about a go-around. Some passengers might object at the maneuver I would have to make at this point to put it on the numbers.
Again, the fidelity is stunning.
Ray, thanks for sending this along to us. It is a nice break from the usual drone of fish and complaints.
I encourage other readers to send me whatever you think might interest the MPBM audience. If you've been around here for a while, you know that the interest is eclectic and leans toward the eccentric.
Let's keep it that way. I bore easily. You can take that either way you like.
From Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (along with the astonishingly stupid "1 Tip of Flat Belly" ad which is one reason why I will try as long as possible to aviod Google Ads on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi.
Etymology: Middle English heremite, eremite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin eremita, from Late Greek erēmitēs, from Greek, adjective, living in the desert, from erēmia desert, from erēmos desolate
Date: 12th century
1 a : one that retires from society and lives in solitude especially for religious reasons : recluse b obsolete : beadsman
2 : a spiced molasses cookie
— her·mit·ism \ˈhər-mə-ˌti-zəm\ noun
There's nothing there that would lead one to believe that Hermit Crabs might be party animals. Nevertheless, have a look at this: Now, I don't know what that looks like to you, but to me is seems that three Hermit Crabs (Calcinus minutus) are getting down to business. However, we mustn't overlook the possibility that they are "just friends".
I'm not even going to mention the molasses cookies. I try to keep this a family-friendly site.
This is another Hermit Crab (Dardanus sp.) who seems to be minding his own business: This little hermit has a pronounced sense of style. Its taste in architecture is impeccable. It's house looks as if it could have been inspired by Frank Loyd Wright. I would not be surprised to find it as the subject of an Ukiyo-e woodblock print. This ties in nicely to Wright, since he was, aside from being my favourite architect of all time, a dealer in Japanese art.
That's right, I'm lost in my own head again. Wait until I get my Zippo fired up so I can find my way out of here.
Okay, I'm back now. It's odd that I don't remember seeing these beautiful Orange Starfish (Echinaster luzonicus) before a few days ago: On Saturday, at the Eel Garden, I saw four of them, including this more rare six-legged individual who seems to have misplaced, or offered up for dinner, two of its legs.
This commoner five legged star person has managed to hold on to all but one leg: Never mind, They will grow back. In fact, if the leg is spat out by the hungry fish which decides it doesn't like the taste, a whole new starfish will grow from the severed leg.
Well, let us leave the invertebrates to their own devices.
Many anemonefish have the display the disconcerting habit of staring you right in the eyes. Isn't this supposed to me the universal sign of challenge or aggression. Here this Orange Finned Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus) seems to be asking the age-old questions, "Hey! Who you lookin' at? You lookin' at me? You want some trouble, mate? I got yer trouble!" Then again, maybe it's simply curious.
As some prefer to be outwardly agressive, other, wiser critters such as this Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula) spurn the macho tactics and find cover from which to taunt: Above, Nemo, the fish every little kid wants to grow up to be, sasses me from the relative safety of his anemone. "Nyaa na na na na naaaa . . . this is deadly poison . . . you can't touch me." Little does Nemo know that this species of anemone will simply feel ilke silk on my fingers and I'll feel nothing but a slightly creepy chill up my spine.
Never mind. I wouldn't think of hurting Nemo.
I'd rather take on Chuck Norris with one hand tied behind my back. HUUURRRAAAAA!
Last Saturday, with my buddy Rich Jones spotting for me, we had a nudibranch-fest at Planet Rock. Because of the river water covering the top of the sea mount, there wasn’t enough light to avoid using the flash on my Canon G11. However, this worked to my advantage when shooting nudibranchs.
There are so many kinds of nudibranchs that I sometimes have difficulty identifying them. I have a book on marine invertebrates, but it includes only about a hundred nudibranch species. There are far more than that within twenty minutes of my house. Sometimes it’s difficult to get it down to even the genus level, because species within that a given genus can appear wildly different.
Ah, I can hear some yawning out there, so let’s get down to the pretty pictures.
This one is pretty easy. I can tell that it’s a Pteraeolidia of some kind, probably P. ianthina: I have a very difficult time finding these. They are usually only about 1.5 to 2 cm long. Richard is a master at spotting them, being a total freak about nudibranchs. We spotted two in a row. This is the second one: I know that it’s very illogical, but I sometimes wonder how something like this can even be alive. It is so utterly alien to anything that we are used to seeing. If you think about it, they are no less bizarre than the deep-sea monstrosities that we sometimes see in the news. It’s often said that we know more about the surface of Mars and our Moon than we know about the abyssal habitats of the oceans. I don’t know if that is true, but I can take it in.
The next ones that I have to show you are among my favourite nudis, the Electric Swallowtails.
This Electric Swallowtail (Chelidonura electra) is relatively common around here. You can see it elsewhere in Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. Just put swallowtail in the search box and you’ll see all of the posts which contain images.
Here is another individual of the same species. As you can see they are amazingly plastic. I’m reminded of Rubber Man from my comic book days. For example, have a look at this one moving from one bit of coral to another: I estimate that between the two shots above the critter increased its body length by a factor of four. I measure about 164cm (that’s 5’ 4” and a half for metric-challenged Americans) in my bare feet, not exactly a giant. If I could stretch out that far, I’d be 6.5 metres tall. I’d have to bend over to look in 1st floor windows (that’s second floor windows for Americans).
Perhaps I should explain, briefly. In America numbering of floors, in common parlance, begins with the floor that is more or less even with the ground, in other words, it is just above what would be the first basement floor. This, in America, is called the first floor. The floor above it is the second and so forth. In much of the rest of the world, the said floor even with the ground is called . . . well, it’s called the ground floor. Hard to argue with, eh? Then, of course, you have to call the next floor the first floor and so forth. Forget mezzanines and such which just add additional confusion. I’ll not get into which is correct or more logical. I’m just explaining the way it is.
Oh, my, I’ve drifted off point again. That’s happening more and more lately. Let’s get back to the nudibranchs.
This is an entirely different nudibranch which is soometimes referred to as the Black Electric Swallowtail, the Chelidonura inornata: As you can see, there are physical similarities, but the pigmentation is radically different.
We say quite a few of these. In one small area, less than a quarter metre square, there were five enjoying an impromptu love-fest. Here are a couple of frolicking nudis for you: Richard spotted some eggs and attempted to point them out to me. I was busy snapping, so I missed them. I could see him gesturing and attempting to say, “Eggs” through his regulator, It came out something like, “Eblublublelbgshblubelbule”. I couldn’t translate, so I never did see the eggs. I didn’t know about them until I was back on Faded Glory. I’d never have found the spot on my own and Rich is limited to one dive because of his insurance limitations.
I wonder what they were smoking.
I get a lot of enjoyment from writing daily, though it is sometimes very difficult to find the time. However, I do sometimes question myself as to why I do it. Getting away from the TV is a good enough excuse. Also, since it looks as if writing, editing and photography are going to be a major part of my work from now on, I need the discipline of writing every day, whether I really feel like doing it or not. So, I've got plenty of good reasons to do it.
Then, I ask myself why I have so many readers - ten times the highest number that I ever hoped for and growing month-by-month. What do I provide that people seek? What is is about the content of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi that draws an audience that dwarfs my wildest aspirations?
Well, I can think of some things that it is probably not. It's not great literature. It's certainly not deep thinking. In fact, frivolity, sarcasm and whimsy are my favourite seasonings. The photography is so-so, but there is much more spectacular stuff available at the click of a link. The subject matter is pretty tightly focused, being mostly about me, me, me, so, unless you're stalking me, that's not it. Hmmm . . . subject matter - content . . . maybe that has something to do with it.
Truthfully, I think that what I may provide is distraction. No matter who or where you are, what you are doing or what your current state of mind may be, whatever you find here each day is likely to distract you, maybe rattle your cage a little. I know that I have to rattle my cage pretty hard just to get my fingers moving to write it. My hope is not to make you think or impress you with great ideas or even make you gaga over the pretty pictures. It is simply to provide you with a little break. Whatever you see here is almost bound to be a different kettle of fish than whatever presently occupies your mind.
So, with that in mind, I'll present you with a small assemblage of images which signify nothing. I found them handy on my camera card from the last week or so. Make of it what you will.
When I see our boat, Faded Glory in my dreams, this is how she looks: Not that I dream of her often. I have many more amusing subjects. I dream much more often now than I did a few years ago. And the colour has returned!
I bet that you have never seen a nudibranch playground: I can see seven nudibranchs here of two different species. There is one potential courtship and a possible mixed-species ménage à trois, if you care to examine the scene closely. I'll make no moral judgements. They quite literally don't know what they are doing.
Okay, if you're settled down from that, maybe you're ready for this: This is our guru IT advisor and general "get me out of this mess" guy, Mark Bleyerveld. He is up a pole, as you can see. What is not obvious is that it is a very tall and springy pole. I took this shot at 5x telephoto. The leaves are the top of a rather tall coconut tree. If you've seen big coconut trees, you get the idea. Mark is not only smart, he's brave. No, make that crazy.
Mark is installing the final links in our Free From TELIKOM crusade. By this evening I expect to be cruising the web at 54MBS in my home without having passed through a single wire belonging to TELIKOM. Hurrah!
While I was over at the coconut oil refinery where pole-climbing Mark was sweating away in the sun, I snapped this shot of the giant machines that grind out the skin-softening ingredient that many of the ladies adore: Let me tell you that it is very loud in there and it stinks! The smell is like a million burnt coconut macaroons stuffed up your nose and pounded in solidly with a jackhammer. Even with my severely retarded olfactory capability (sinus infection still with me), I had to hold my breath.
Stay with me. I'm about to wrap it up with a little colour. You've seen the Nudibranch Pteraeolidia ianthina here before, but not this particular one whose name is Fred, or maybe Frederica: We know where a bunch of them hang out, so I'm working on getting the perfect shot.
Tomorrow is dive day. I still have the pesky sinus infection, but tomorrow morning I'm supposed to get a definitive diagnosis and a prescription. That's always an iffy thing here.
We'll see how it goes.
You may note that I have once again been absent from Madang - Ples Bilong Mi for a week. This is not my fault. It is the fault of the Great Australian Outback, where a web connection is a rare thing. I was, of course, nowhere near the real outback, which is way out west from Toogoolawah, where the Skydiving Ramblers Drop Zone is located. I was the well-treated guest of Dave McEvoy and Ali Raynor, two friends I met in Madang when they visited there. Dave carried the Ramblers torch and founded Ramblers Parachute Centre in 1974.
I really had expected to hang loose at the drop zone for a few days as an observer and general all-round pest. I ended up doing a tandem jump and getting two rides in the drop plane in the bargain. This was an unexpected pleasure.
This is the amazing Cessna Caravan. It is not only beautiful, but it is an absolute pleasure to ride in: I have never been up front in a plane with a "glass cockpit". There were only a handful of conventional instruments visible. There were two large management displays such as this one (one for the pilot, one for the co-pilot) with a huge GPS navigation display between them. Flying this plane is pretty much a push-button operation: I was flabbergasted to hear how much this plane cost.
One of the more interesting aspects of my two flights (this one with pilot Carl, in the image) was that I had to strap on a parachute: Some of you will know that I'm an old pilot, mostly helicopters. Everybody knows that helicopter pilots don't wear parachutes. How would you use it, exactly? However, I've done a fair amount of fixed-wing flying, also. It amused me that this is the first time I have ever worn a parachute. It amused me further that the Caravan is possibly the safest aircraft I have ever had the pleasure to fly in, discounting commercial airliners, of course (how safe are they?).
Here is Roger, my first pilot. I include his image only so that I can mention that I was suddenly caught up by the idea that I'd never flown with anyone names Roger and I could not get my mind off of the novelty of saying, "Roger, Roger." every time he spoke to me. I think it got a bit annoying after a while, so I stopped doing it: Roger's a forgiving bloke.
There were many other amusements at the drop zone. The bird life and kangaroos were great fun. These lorikeets were always about, making more noise than one would think possible: I found myself strangely incapable of getting a single kangaroo picture. I simply could not get close enough for a shot. However, I did get some great koala shots, which I will show as soon as I can get them off my Olympus camera. I forgot my cable and the card adapter, so I have no way to transfer the images to my computer.
Here is a self-shot image of me sitting in the co-pilot's seat of the Caravan: I' beginning to look like Gabby Hayes. It's time to trim the beard.
I'll finish with another Toogoolawah sunset: This one shows a crepuscular ray just to the left of centre. Well, we've all seen them before, even if we didn't know what to call them. Only the hopelessly geeky know those kinds of things (did I say that?). Anyway we see these rays all the time. This one struck me as a little out of the ordinary because it is shining like a big orange searchlight on the bottom of a cloud above the horizon. If you click it to enlarge the image you'll see it better. You'll also see five birds which happened along just as I was taking the shot.
I'll be back tomorrow with shots of my tandem jump. Geronimo!
Friends from Belgium, Anita and Wouter and Anita's father, Jos are visiting this week with us here in Madang and I am enjoying half-days off from work to take them diving and sightseeing. Today I'll show you some images from our dive on The Henry Leith, which you have seen featured many times here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi.
Here is a nice shot of Anita and Wouter hovering over the wreck in unusually clear water, something that is a rarity in the area where the wreck has rested for decades:
As usual, the hulk was teeming with fascinating life. Here is a lovely young Spotfin Lionfish (Pterois antennata) lurking in a corner in wait for an unsuspecting fish to pass by: You can use the search box for SPOTFIN and find other images of this beautiful fish.
This is a close-up image of the polyps of a sea fan: I have uploaded this image in a higher resolution that I normall use so that you can see the delicate structure of the individual colonial organisms. It's worth clicking it to enlarge the image.
This is a Periclimenes shrimp. I can't determine the species. Many of them are so similar that it takes a very close examination to figure out which is which:
They are also difficult to photograph, as the tentacles of the anemone are constantly waving about and the shrimp itself is restless and does not like the camera lens hovering a few centimetres above it.
This is a very beautiful nudibranch that Wolter found hiding in a difficult to reach spot. I should be able to find this species in my invertabrates book, but it also eludes me:
I need to invest someday in a dedicated nudibranch book. As helpful as the web is for finding things, I still prefer a real paper book in which to find species photos and descriptions. Wading through the web to find a particular species is simply too time consuming for me to work it into my hectic life.
Along with the critters inhabiting the deck we found three juvenile Circular Spadefish [or Batfish] (Platax orbicularis) wandering around near the bottom at the stern:
It was dark there, so flash was necessary, but this youngster was remarkably cooperative, allowing me to approach within an arm's reach. Fish rarely pose for the photographer, but this one showed some interest. The only problem was the extreme contrast between the white, highly reflective bars and the darker portions. Still, this is one of the best shots of this species that I've managed so far.
We have many more dives to report and a nice collection of images coming up later this week.
All of my friends here in Madang know that I am a Christian believer and they know that I make my living, or some of it anyway, working in a Christian mission that translates the Bible into the local languages. And, they all know that I don't shove that in their faces. Most of them are simply not interested. I discuss matters of belief only when someone raises the topic. Therefore, "in your face" evangelism and pushy tactics make me uncomfortable. I don't think that it's nice and I don't think that it's effective.
So, I was disconcerted when my good friends Trevor Hattersley and Karen Simmons, whom I recently joined in wedlock, passed to me these images which they snapped on the highway during a pleasant visit to Oz. This is something that you don't see every day: When I first saw JesusRacing, I rolled my eyes.
And then I remembered back to the days of my youth when I spent many Sunday mornings with my Austin-Healey Sprite at the local abandoned air strip with the Sports Car Club of America crowd enjoying the smell of burning rubber and castor oil (yes we put castor oil in the crankcases - weird, eh?). There was a guy there who was a very active and successful racer who held interdenominational church services every week on the circuit for those who cared to come. Many people attended who were obviously not part of the churchy crowd, but simply enjoyed the company of fellow racers and didn't mind the religious falderal.
I asked him once if it bothered him that he never went to church on Sundays. He said something like, "I like racing the way Jesus liked parties." Puzzled, I asked him to elucidate. He said, "Well, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning the water into wine at a wedding party." The conversation went on and I soon had a rather different view than I previously held. The web site is interesting, primarily because there's an honesty there which you often don't see in "promotional" evangelism. For instance, Andrew "Fishtail" Fisher explains the difficulties of financing the expensive sport of motor racing while excluding commercial sponsorship. "Confusion of the message" is the problem, as he puts it.
I'm odly ambiguous about this. On one hand, it makes me squirm a little. Maybe a little too flash, eh? On the other hand if you can plaster ads for laundry detergent all over a top NASCAR bullet to sell your soap to women, why not write Jesus in bright red letters on your car if that is your message? Some will laugh and scoff. But, isn't that slightly hypocritical? Which is the more profound message, soap or Jesus? Even if you think that they are both equally inane, my question is the same, "Then what's your problem?"
As soon as I get over this sinus infection and I'm off the "antibiotic of last resort" I'm going to hoist a brew to the folks at JesusRacing. Or maybe a glass of red would be more appropriate.
Thanks, Trevor and Karen.
What would Madang - Ples Bilong Mi be without something that smells like fish? I shall now deliver.
Here's another something that you don't see every day. It's Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa): And yes, it does look exactly like bubbles. Under the bubbles are ridges that are as sharp as razors. I won't say that I popped a bubble once to see how tough it was and got cut. No, I won't say that. It would make me seem even more stupid than I am. The yellowish fingery looking stuff in the image above is a Lobed Leather Coral, a species of Lobophytum.
This coral is a nasty customer. I'm talking about the gooey looking mass of macaroni like blobs in the centre. The things on the left are sponges. The coral is (Euphyllia glabrescens): The operative word here is "ouch". I once made the tragic mistake of raking my arm across a mass of this stuff while lining up for a shot. I had no wetsuit on that day. I will not do that again.
I call this stuff "underwater napalm". It is very sticky and wherever it touches your skin it feel as if you've been sprayed with molten steel: It even looks evil. It reminds me of a heap of tiny ears.
Okay, I'm out of words now. I'll be here tomorrow again to say [HELLO-IN-ALL-LANGUAGES] to you and spout the same old gibberish.
It’s Easter Sunday morning. In Papua New Guinea, it’s an official holiday, so I have no excuse for going into the office. Miraculously, my TELIKOM copper line has dried out sufficiently so that I can get on line, albeit with glacial speed. I sincerely hope to get my wireless connection to the office going tomorrow. It’s disappointing that we’ve put so much money and effort into it and it doesn’t work. I’m certain that the fix is simple. It just involved getting up on the supermarket roof again.
I have a small collection of miscellanea for you today. I am simply too lazy on this last day of a long weekend to go through the 160 exposures that I took on my two dives on Saturday. There are only two here. You will simply have to wait a bit longer for your fish. I hope you’re not too hungry.
This morning I went outside to check out the photographic possibilities. Beside the front door, where I installed my last link in the wireless hop to my office, there was a katydid perched on the Cat 5e cable. I can only assume that it was trying to heal the link: Unfortunately, it’s efforts were unsuccessful.
Since this is an entirely random accumulation of images, I’ll jump to this one of Swami Monty wielding his new Canon G11 at some unsuspecting underwater critter. This was Monty’s first outing with the new rig, which is identical to mine: Richard Jones also has the same gear. I think that we’re going to have to start a G11 club here in Madang.
Today’s spider is a spindly looking critter. I’m not sure what the purpose of all the webbing is. Maybe it simply provides a firm scaffolding on which to hang: There is a fair amount of detail in this shot. It’s worth clicking to enlarge.
On one of the dives on Saturday I found this poor starfish which has had a leg chomped off by some predator: I can’t imagine that a starfish leg would taste very good, but then I’m not a fish. The most likely predators of starfish are sharks, rays and larger bony fish (as opposed to sharks and rays, the skeletons of which are cartelage and not true bones).
I’m still slaving away to learn cartooning techniques. I’m not at all happy with the commercial software for creating cartoons from photographs. Most of the results look horrible and require a huge amount of reworking. If I’m going to go to that effort, I may as well develop my own workflow to get the results that I want. It’s really one of the most interesting and enjoyable Photoshop tricks that I’ve tried: You saw the image above with Ush and Andrew and Jade Marshall’s Blue Heeler pup yesterday. I cleaned up the clutter in the background and cartoonised it.
I have in mind to someday write some cartoon strips based on photographs for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.
I need to broaden the horizon. It’s getting smelly in here.
The weekend got off to a perfect start this morning when I crossed the terminal wires on my boat battery and blew the voltage regulator on my engine. I had to cancel the day for five divers standing on the dock waiting for me. I hope the remainder of their weekend went better than mine. Fortunately, Richard Jones is in town, so I went out on his boat, Sanguma along with Jenn, Jo and Ush.
I have lots of other news about the weekend, some good, some not so. I'm sitting at the office on Sunday afternoon writing this because the power to the security camera pole where my wireless connection has been out all weekend and, of course, my wonderful TELIKOM phone lines won't carry data today because there were a few drops of rain last night.
I could keep on complaining for hours, but I don't have the time. Too bad. It's my favourite hobby.
One of the bright spots of the weekend is in this image: If you're not a diver, you might not think that it's such a big deal. Believe me, it is. The shot above was taken by available light at about eighteen metres at The Eel Garden at Pig Island.
What you're looking at is two giant Notodoris minor nudibranchs engaged in a super slow motion mating act. The reason I'm showing you three nearly identical images of the same scene are partly technical and partly because I'm so dumbfounded by my luck that I can't stop inserting the images in this post. It's one thing to see a Notodoris minor. I've found a spot at The Eel Garden where I can usually find one if I take the time to look. It's another thing to find two of them together. However, I have never before, and very likely never will again catch two of them in the act of laying and fertilising eggs. The shot above was lit by the flash on my camera.
Needless to say, I grabbed many, many exposures of the pair. I did not want to risk something going wrong. I tried several different camera setting. I made up this image in Photoshop which, though it seems faded compared to the others, shows the fine structures in high detail and really gives a more accurate idea of the shape of the things: The image above is over twice the pixel dimensions that I usually put in the journal. I normally limit resolution to 1600 pixels. This makes them load faster if you want to click to enlarge. It also protects me a little from those who steal images from the web and foist them off as their own. Yes, it has happened to me. My copyright (see the bottom of the page) allows free non-commercial use of any of my images without seeking permission as long as you simply attach my name to the image or (preferably) include a link to Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. That's fairly small payment for the work that I put into presenting my best work on this site. I've found plenty of my images on other web sites with no attribution. I'm not sure why someone would do that, but it doesn't make me particularly happy. Anyway, if you want to see some amazing details of the egg-laying nudis, click on the image above and be ready to download about a half of a megabyte.
I also thought that you might be interested to see the old wrecked catamaran river barge which is right beside the place where I find the Notodoris minor: That image is a stitch-up of seven separate frames. It covers about 160°.
Since we're doing a lot of yellow today, I'll throw in this snap-shot of a Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi): I'd rather that the other one had gotten out of the way a little sooner. This image was the result of a ten minute chase. Butterflyfish are very frustrating.
I'll have more weekend adventures later. They include a very nice party, a car theft by a drunk, a house invasion and possible rape (we don't know yet) and probably some other things that I've already suppressed deep in my memory vault.
I'll also have some nice shots of my peeps.*
* I'm destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it. -Naz
It would be a hideous betrayal of honour to my dear Eunie if I allowed my despair to envelop me and the many joyous and exciting things in life which we shared. One small thing in our shared experience of life which enriched us both has been, over the last three years, Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. She was and remains my most faithful reader.
Don't get me wrong. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth yet to come. I'm starting a processes which is not unlike being run over by a freight train. Just when you think you've felt the last of it, along comes another set of wheels. I hope that I'll feel better in a year. Asking more than that seems unreasonable.
Dying is a complicated game. Eunie's passage was blessed by little pain and great dignity. To the end, her faith preserved her from fear. Oh, that we all could go with such style. When I tell the story to her mates, they will say, in the Australian manner, "Good on ya, Eunie!" - Job Well Done! However, it has left me behind with a huge mess. Stacks of unthinkable paperwork, often smudged by tears from me and my friends helping me grind through it.
For those of you who have gone through this before, you will understand my gruesome fascination with it. It seems simultaneously impossible to do and impossible to ignore. Life for the survivors depends on taking care of the mountainous cascade of insufferable minutia. If I did not have my friends to help me, I would fall down in a heap.
Which brings me to the title of this post. Some might think it a little early for frivolity and this is true. This is not frivolous. It's serious business. I've always said to anyone who was in the least amused by what I say that life is like the most fantastic play that has ever been performed and you are the scriptwriter and star. That's not to say that everything you write will be performed as written. The Director has something to say about that. However, by and large, we are expected to compose the script carefully while producing as much enjoyment in the audience as possible.
So, with this blank page before me, how to I begin the script for Act II, Scene I? Well let's start with Labradoodles, some good mates and a fascinating new experience.
We have a dear friend in Brisbane who once graced Madang with her presence. She is a nurse and she was with Eunie in the last few days making sure that everything was tended to in the most careful manner.Tracey Lee raises Labradoodles. One of these gorgeous little critters is going to Laos and the other to The Philippines. I suppose that they must be in great demand: Aside from the fact that they are ludicrously cute, they are also covered with the softest fur I have ever felt. Minks, eat your hearts out.
Here is another much missed vanished resident of Madang who took time from her own busy life to lighten my load, Amanda Watson:
While in Madang, Amanda was a keen diver and much fun out on Faded Glory.
I seldom like the photos that I see of me, but this one works just fine. I'm your basic old dude who's been through the grinder a few times and had the most of the rough edges worn off. My dear Eunie provided most of the labour to spin the wheel, sparks flying everywhere. In my mature years I have some to see that a good, smart woman finds some raw ingredients and bakes the man that she wants. The recipe varies from time to time, but women are infinitely patient in getting what they need.
There was a long time in my life when I felt fairly worthless and most people agreed with me. You would not have wanted me as a friend. Eunie baked me into the man I am today. Not such a bad guy. I'll hold that in my heart, along with many other precious things until I draw my last breath.
Now, some may want to drop out at this point, because I'm going to show you a little tableau of tolerance. Eunie had the kind of love which we Christians call "Christlike" (duh). It's not rocket science. It's easy. You simply love everybody, regardless of their condition. The rationale is likewise easy to understand. It is only through love that we truly win hearts. Everybody knows that.
Here with Peter, Tracey's partner, Amanda Watson, Carol Dover, Tracey and Richard Jones is Michelle Rose, A. K. A. Michael Charles Turnbull:
Michelle, as he prefers, saw us sitting at the open front of a little pub and stopped for a chat. As one might suspect, there has likely been no small portion of heartbreak in this life. Eunie would have sat down for a little while and talked with Michelle about that life. He would have felt loved.
So, what is the first line in Act II, Scene I of the rest of my life?
Well, it's pretty much the same ol' same ol'.
All you need is love.
No, I have not taken up writing children's fantasy stories. A couple of days ago Anita, Wouter and I went diving at Wongat Island on The Green Dragon B-25 Mitchell bomber and the coastal freighter wreck, The Henry Leith. It was an amazing day of diving, as the water in that area was as clear as I have seen it in over twenty years. Both wrecks could be clearly seen from the surface. Anita's father, Jos, stayed on the boat most of the time. We all took some time while we waited for a safe period between dives to take a walk on the beautiful beach.
We stated our day at The Green Dragon. Here is an amusing shot of Wouter peering through one of the waist gun ports. There is an identical port on the opposite side of the fuselage. I stuck my camera through it and snapped Wouter as he shined his dive light around examining the ammunition feed chutes and other equipment scattered inside: Under the port wing of the bomber there is always a mob of these fish. I should know the name of them, but it escapes me at the moment and my big fish book is at the office: I'm luxuriating in the glory of a 31.2KBS connection at my house. It took me only two years to get my phone line repaired by TELIKOM. We learn patience here in Madang - or we leave. We're suffering another mass exodus of expatriates recently. Economic woes, lost contracts, fears of violence and a general dismay concerning the rapid deterioration of the cival infrastructure has caused many to abandon Paradise. It makes me sad to lose so many friends.
If you are a regular reader of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi you will be familiar with this scene. It is a Blue Spotted Stingray (Dasyatis kuhlii) fleeing in terror: Or, maybe not. If there were any sense to this situation, it should be the other way around. These creatures are remarkably tolerant to a close approach, as long as you do it slowly and don't surprise it. If you put STINGRAY in the search box, you'll find many other posts with images of this fascinating critter. We nearly always see one or two at The Henry Leith.
On the deck we found this juvenile Papuan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis): They are very easy to photograph, as they seldom move unless you actually poke them, but they are difficult to find. They normally lay in wait for a meal on a coral rubble background where they are extremely difficult to see.
Also on the deck, at the stern, we found this lovely juvenile Common Lionfish (Pterois volitans): The common name refers to its numbers not its appearance. They are commonly seen, since there are plenty of the. There is, however, nothing common about their form. They are beautiful beyond description.
At the end of the dive, while hanging near the anchor line waiting for my blood nitrogen to bubble out like a fizzy drink, I took this image of my air bubbles racing to meet the sun: If life gets to be any more enjoyable, I'm going to have to hire someone to take part of the load. I'm pretty well maxed out on pleasure.
Maybe it's just a mood swing.
Our dear friends Trevor Hattersly and Karen Simmons came yesterday to stay with us for the weekend. What a pleasure it is to have them here. I'll talk more about why at the end of the post.
While I'm at it, I'll explain my tactic for keeping Madang - Ples Bilong Mi a pleasant place to visit while still giving information concerning Eunie's medical condition. I'll present my usual weirdness in the beginning of each post. Casual readers can, as usual, like it or not, according to their tastes. At the end each post I will give any news concerning Eunie. This seems to be the best way to keep the character of the journal as it has been in the past, while still giving out information which is of concern to some readers.
So, if you're here for the distraction or frivolity, read as far as you like and then go your happy way. If you're here for the news, try to wade through my craziness and continue to read to the end.
My assignment yesterday evening was to deliver some terribly technical photographic instruction to Karen, who wanted to be able to use her Olympus SP590UZ camera more creatively. Since I'm not a "press that button and don't ask questions" kind of guy, it required a nighttime field trip to demonstrate the techniques.
Our first stop was in the hotel lobby to talk about low light, slow shutter speeds and white balance:
I can't believe how funky my shoes look. Those shoes are not me! Karen's pose seems to imply intense concentration. Today, I'll present the images which I took. Tomorrow, Karen will be our Guest Shooter with the images from her camera.
Our first street expedience was to talk about camera bracing and the use of slow shutter speeds to get interesting motion blur effects. Here I braced my Canon G11 on top of the rear view mirror of a car and waited for Karen to tell me when vehicles were coming so that I could get some blurred tail lights:
The blurring of the cars changes what would be a pretty ordinary image into something a little more dynamic. This was a one second exposure.
Still on the subject of motion blur and slow shutter speeds, we moved over to the ocean side of the Esplinade along the sea wall to catch some Phantom Walkers, also shot at a slow shutter speed with the camera sitting on a sign post:
People who were sitting relatively still are sharply defined. Those who were moving are blurred. It's not rocket science.
All modern digital cameras have a variety of "Scene" settings. Some of these are very useful, because you can't easily set the camera up manually to create the same effect. On this one we used the "Night Snapshot" setting on the G11 to get Karen sitting primly by the swimming pool with the fountain in the background:
For this setting the camera needs to be braced or on a tripod to keep the background from blurring. The total exposure time was probably a half second or more, so the camera must be held absolutely still for that period of time. At the end of the exposure, the flash goes off, hopefully properly exposing the foreground. One can get some very interesting shots with this setting.
They were accompanied by weird "wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa" noises that faded away into the warm tropical night leaving behind an ominous silence. We waited in intense anxiety for a second or two and then went upstairs. "I don't think they noticed us." was my cautious comment.
All in all, a very pleasant experience. Karen seemed quite pleased to see what she could do with her camera. There will be more lessons later.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Tonight, at the unusual hour of 21:00 we will be seeing a top-notch oncologist at the office of our surgeon. The oncologist operates out of Brisbane at a hospital which specialises in these disorders. Our hope is that he will tell us that Brisbane is our best logistical option. We have excellent support near Brisbane. Trevor and Karen's presence here this weekend is a genuine blessing. Karen spent the afternoon yesterday investigating on the web information that Eunie needs, but I simply cannot deal with at the moment.
Sometimes being one of the few serious photographers in town can be beneficial in unusual ways. Let's back up a few days before we came to Cairns to take care of Eunie's health problem. I got a call from Heli Niugini management and my friend Monty Armstrong asking if I could go out for a ride to take some promotional shots for them. I didn't even have to think about it. It's a no-brainer. A free helicopter ride over Paradise? What kind of an idiot would turn that down?
While I was waiting for them to prepare the two Bell Jet Rangers which would be required for the mission, I caught some of the technical guys installing a new transmission in a Huey. Nothing gets off the ground without these fellows' careful scrutiny:
You're looking right down the business end of the engine where that big round pipe is.
You can barely see the Coastwatchers Monumtent at the distant end of the golf course just where Dallman Passage starts.
To the left is the Coastwatcher Hotel, known by locals as "Coasties", of course.
I was happy with a free ride for taking the photos, but the particular view needed - The Money Shot - was of a Heli Niugini machine placed just so in the frame with a nice tropical paradise scene in the background. This proved to be the one:
It's going on a two metre long billboard along with promotional text and the company logo.
I was happy to provide this service in exchange for the rare opportunity to get some great shots of my own, which I will be showing over the next week or so.
Naturally, the uncertainty concerning the cause underlying Eunie's illness has us in a delicate psychological condition. Personally, if given free reign and no responsibility, I'd hide under the covers and sleep. This is not going to do any good for either of us.
So, for the first time since I started Madang - Ples Bilong Mi, it is therapy for me. I hope it doesn't get too weird.
Today it's all about flowers, none of which I know the names of, unless you accept "lily" in a generic sense. I know that two of these species have been identified in comments by readers. This is exasperating. I can't remember the species names so I can't enter them in the search box to find them. There are now 875 posts here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi, so it's impossible to search through them to find the one which had the comment which identified the flower. I'm going to have to figure out a system to go back and tag these reader identifications so that I can find them. This is getting complicated!
I'll start off Flowermania with this "Crazy White Star Plant". I'm sure that there is a word for "flower lovers" - something which ends in "philia", but I can't find that either. Did I take my stupid pills twice this morning? I can't remember. Anyway, this is a cool image to click on to see the interesting little bee with his pollen holsters filled with the tasty orange stuff:
You can see an image of the whole plant in Crazy White Star Plant.
Some flower petals are so intensely pigmented that the dynamic range of the camera sensors gets saturated with that certain colour before anything else gets a good dose of light. At least that's what I think is happening. In an image of such a flower you will see no detail in these oversaturated areas unless you are very careful with your initial exposure and you pay close attention to what you are doing in Photoshop. Getting any detail at all in the red petals of this flower had me trying every trick I know.
They grow in clusters, as you can see here.
You can see the stamens arrayed out in a six-point star and the pistil sticking out to the right as if it doesn't know where it's supposed to go. I suspect that this is an insect pollinated flower.
If you click to enlarge, you can barely see the developing ovary at the bottom end of the downcurving stem, just behind stamen which is extending down to the right of the flower stem.
As I was wandering around in the garden I found this one leaning up against the trunk of one of our banana trees. It struck me as a very nice composition. Since it cost me nothing, I take it with gratitude.
It came up beautifully using the Poster Edges filter in Photoshop on the full sized image.
I'm not going to do anything as satisfying as that for the rest of the day, I'm sure. So, since today is a holiday and I'm off work and it's noon (okay, 11:00), I'm going for a beer.
Have an enjoyable Remembrance Day!
Among the hundreds of thousands who have visited Madang - Ples Bilong Mi since its creation in September of 2007 there are a few who have visited regularly and know the history. I won't recap that here, as it is revealed by the more than 1,000 posts, over 5,000 images and about a million words. Only the terminally bored will pursue this past.
I have a new wife, a new life, a new home, new interests, and regained happiness. I'm reborn. My new home is in The Village of Oak Creek, a few miles from Sedona, Arizona. It's about as far as one can get from the tropical paradise of Madang. I've traded one paradise for another. My new wife is an old friend of myself and my late wife, Eunice Messersmith. Grace Preval was Eunie's friend from the age of four. Despite considering carefully, we could find no reason not to marry. I have made a few very excellent choices in my life. The decision to court Grace was on the very short list.
At sixty-nine I can truthfully say that I have few regrets and unbounded gratitude for a truly splendid life. Recovery from tragedy is a mighty rough road. I sincerely hope I will not have to travel it again.
This little web site has meant much to me. It has provided an outlet for my modest talents while allowing me to amuse myself and, hopefully, a few others who appreciate my whimsical style. However, it's time to give it a rest. This will be my last post here. I invite the curious to visit High Desert Journal, my new site which will reflect the blessings of my new life and the "Splendor of Northern Arizona".
To all my past visitors I convey my gratitude for the encouragement, comments and superb Google ratings. These images are all over the web and I get new comments daily. Thanks for reading, my friends. I'll see you at the High Desert Journal.
For some time I have been thinking about collecting all of the magazine articles which I have written and making them available here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. Today, I got myself in gear to start the process. The work is slightly complicated and time consuming. First I have to scan the magazine pages into a compact PDF file. Then I have to get the first spread into an image file. Then I have to go through a process in Wordpress that is ridiculously complicated. I want both the link and the thumbnail image to point to the same PDF file on my server in the USA. You would think that Wordpress would make this easy. Maybe I took too many Stupid Pills last night when I started working on it.
The first article that I tried was Heart of the Hunter. from Niugini Blue magazine. You should be able to click on the link or the thumbnail image below to get a new window or tab. It may take a while for it to load, but if you have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can then read the article. The file is about a megabyte, so be patient.
Since that one seemed to work after two hours of fiddling, I decided to add a couple of more while I was on a roll.
This is about diving at Planet Rock. a location about which you have seen many posts if you are a regular reader.
Though it is one of our favourite locations, it is a little farther out and if the sea is rough it can be an unpleasant experience.
The last one for today is The Green Dragon. This is the B-25 Mitchell bomber near Wongat Island.
I hope to find a neater way of doing this. I plan to have a section in the sidebar for Articles, but I haven't figured out how to get the PDF files over there. It should be child's play.
Unfortunately, I'm no longer a child.
Of course, I don't mean that literally. The sun did come up this morning. The resulting light show was very subdues, but it had a power of its own, so it seemed worth capturing. Ordinarily, this gloomy display would urge me into a similar mood. I seem strangely unaffected by it today, though I know that Eunie will complain that it reminds her of winter"
After yesterday's Marathon of babel, my word machine is in recovery mode. Today will be Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Lite. I ran through a few images from the last week and came up with these. As I was driving past the location of the Arcade fire some time ago I snapped this shot:
The remains of the building are gradually disappearing. If left long enough there will be no expense for removing it. Gradually, bit by bit, every scrap of it will be carried off.
If you look just to the right of the remains of the Arcade in the image above, you will see a vacant lot. That is the former location of the Chemcare pharmacy. After the fire, over a period of months, the lot was picked clean. Here is a shot of our old friend Greg O'Keefe looking a bit glum as his workplace goes up in smoke:
We'll see how long it takes to have two vacant lots in a row.
On Sunday morning I went over to the beautiful grounds of The Madang Lodge and Restaurant to shoot some family portraits for our friends Jimm and Heidi. They have been absent from Madang for a while, so I'm including this shot so that their friends can see the the family is well and enjoying a visit to Madang: Getting Keyen to pose is not unlike herding cats. In principle it should work, but in practice . . .
While at The Lodge, I got this nice shot of the Finisterre Mountains across Astrolabe Bay with the swimming pool in the foreground:
The Lodge is one of my favourite spots to get images of friends. The garden is immaculate and a riot of colours.
I was very happy this week to get a couple of gorgeous images from our friend Ron Barrons. Ron lives in Hamilton, Ontario where our son and his family also reside. We've had many happy times in Hamilton with family and visiting Ron and his wife, Brenda. Ron has been a guest on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi here.
This one gives me goose-bumps. I could bore you to tears with my analysis of this image. It's got it all. The composition is perfect, using just about every rule to perfection. Note at the right side on the horizon that you can see the bridge connecting Hamilton to Toronto. Click to enlarge (I wish I had a higher resolution image for you) and you'll see it better:
Here's another fine composition by Ron. Though I hate being cold, I do envy the photographers who live in temperate regions with beautiful deciduous forests that glow with surreal colours in the autumn. Ron beautifully captured the serenity of this scene. I don't know where the image was shot, but I'd like to go there and sit for a while, in a warm coat with a cold Chardonnay and a cigar: Nice job, Ron. Please, keep them coming!
Well, I feel a little inadequate this morning to compete with that. Hey, it's not a competition anyway. It's a sharing. So, A couple of mornings ago, I got this mid-telephoto of the sun rising above Madang Town across the harbour from our house: The shot shows the limitations of the sensors in point-and-shoot cameras such as my Canon G9, my carry-about camera. No matter what I did, I could not bring up any decent detail and colour in the shadowed town. The dynamic range of brightness in the scene was just too much for the sensor to capture.
The main advantage of a big, full 35mm frame sensor in an expensive digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera is that each 'bucket' (pixel) that collects photons of light is bigger. This means that the number of photons counted from adjoining buckets will be more accurate because the random fluctuations caused by several factors will be smaller. In other words, there will be less noise in the image. Noise shows up as little speckles that shouldn't be there. The bigger buckets also collect more photons, so the calculations in the computer in the camera can more accurately deliver a wider range of brightness levels (dynamic range).
Here's how I think of that. Imagine marking off an area in your yard ten metres square. First, put out 1,000 little buckets filling the area as best you can and wait for a big rain. Now measure the water in each bucket. You'll find a comparatively large difference between buckets, when you would have expected them to be all the same. This is noise. Now remove the 1,000 buckets and replace them with 100 buckets filling the area (they will have to be bigger buckets). Now wait for a rain which drops about the same amount of water. This time, when you measure the water in the buckets you will find that there is much less difference between them. You have reduced the noise. That's one important reason why bigger sensors are better. You don't want more pixels, that can make the noise worse, because each pixel must be smaller. What you want is bigger pixels.
There are other reasons that bigger sensors are better, but those are even more boring.
I went a little crazy with the panorama concept in this one: If you click to enlarge, you can see quite a bit of detail in Madang Town, including a blurry band around the tall coconut tree to the left of centre where Photoshop failed to blend properly the adjacent frames when it was building the merged image.
We're having fish tomorrow! Somebody bring the tartar sauce.
I'm still wrapping my mind around the idea of getting back to the roots of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. We are up to nearly one thousand posts. That seems impossible to me. If the average post runs 1,000 words* then, if that guess is close to reality, that works out to be about 1,000,000 words of pure drivel which I have produced in a little over three years. The average length of a novel is 60,000 - 100,000 words. In sheer volume, I've produced roughly 12.5 novels during that period of time. Just think what I could have accomplished if I had put my mind to it.
I would have joined the sweaty masses who have written "The Next Great Novel" which absolutely nobody wants read, much less publish. In fact, I would have produced a dozen of them. How fortunate it is that I did not waste my time pursuing such a ridiculous dream. I would love to write fiction. The problem with writing is that a great many people do it rather well.
It is the same with acting. All of my life I have had dreams of being an actor. I've been in many amateur productions. A few scatterbrains even said that I might posses a smidgeon of talent. And therein lies the rub. A gozillion people can act or write reasonably well, well enough that one can stand to watch them play roles or read with some amusement what they write. However, even those with prodigious talents find success elusive. It requires intricate and complicated connections, fortuitous circumstances, and great magnificent piles of good luck to get a break.
Faithful reader ZydecoDoug commented yesterday that my Green Coral Imperfection shot "belongs on a magazine cover". Well, I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is how to attract the attention of those holding the purse strings.
Hey, I'm beginning to bore myself. Let's get on with Miscellanea.
A rather strange definition might be in order. I ripped this from some site at Princeton University:
S: (adj) assorted, miscellaneous, mixed, motley, sundry (consisting of a haphazard assortment of different kinds) "an arrangement of assorted spring flowers"; "assorted sizes"; "miscellaneous accessories"; "a mixed program of baroque and contemporary music"; "a motley crew"; "sundry sciences commonly known as social"- I.A.Richards
S: (adj) many-sided, multifaceted, miscellaneous, multifarious (having many aspects) "a many-sided subject"; "a multifaceted undertaking"; "multifarious interests"; "the multifarious noise of a great city"; "a miscellaneous crowd"
So, now that we know what it means . . .
I have gotten more and more interested in shooting faces recently. I'm found here and there attempting to get candid shots. It's very annoying. I caught George up at Blueblood a couple of weeks ago:
I was really going for the lighting here. George has a rather dramatic face. The light here seemed about right to me. When you can't control anything, you take what you can get and make the best of it. I'd like to do more shooting under controlled conditions, but then you lose the spontaneity and you're into poses. The little bit of carved post at the far right is a nice touch. I now wish that I'd left more of it in the shot. After a few days you can always pick out the things which you did wrong with an image. It never fails.
I tried flash in this shot and it ruined it. The light was very dim, but kind to me, nevertheless. The image has a soft, pleasant appeal. Though I wasn't intentionally composing (that's difficult when dealing with nature), I ended up with a couple of very important rules being satisfied. One is The Rule of Thirds and the other is Angled Lines. Also, the regularity of the radiating lines in the coral contrasts nicely with the more or less randomness of the patterns in the Hermit Crab.
There's not much to say about it otherwise. It's just a pretty picture of a swarm of Anthea and a couple of Feather Stars.
Sponges generally take in water at the bottom, from which they extract food and oxygen, and "exhale" it through the top from an opening called an osculum. Here you can see two of those openings.
Here you can see the intricate, uh, . . . sponginess of the inside of the beastie. Well, it is a sponge. What else might we expect.
I'll finish up with another face. This mug belongs to my good friend Trevor Hattersley. It's a familiar expression for Trev. I call it, Who, me?
Trev looks a lot different these days, compared to a couple of years ago. He let his hair and beard grow. I've known him for a long time. I gotta say that this is the first time since I met him that I think that his appearance matches his demeanour.
He's a natural-born pirate.
* I note now that this post runs 883 words, so my guess may be a little high.
This will probably be the shortest post you will ever see on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi until someone writes my obit for me.
I'm so proud of my woman that I am now going to retire to my room and just think about it for a while. I picked up a bottle of nice Glenmorangie aged in French sherry casks.
I'm certain that will claarify my thoughts wonderfully.
I am happy again.
I have been feeling as if I have been concentrating here a great deal on current events concerning Eunie's passing and neglecting to feed myself and my readers with enough variety of ideas and images to keep us all distracted. After all, aside from being a personal journal, Madang - Ples Bilong Mi is intended to be a minor but useful distraction from the vagaries and vicissitudes of the daily grind. However, as I look back over the last couple of weeks, I see that there is still some variety there and I may not have strayed as far into my navel as I had thought. Pardon the existentialist humour.
So, as I have not completely disappeared into that dark, furry place (though it was a close call), I'll tell you what happened on Saturday.
As those who have been reading MPBM and holding my hand on this journey will already know, this is the second Memorial Service for Eunie. The first was held in Gympie, Australia. Having survived that one, I felt reasonably confident that I would make it through once again. It is so strange just how much one can exaggerate, as such an event approaches, the magnitude of the suffering which will be on offer. I imagined having a stroke and falling down dead, an idea which leaves me thinking, "Eh! What would be so bad about that?", aside from the horrible mess it would leave behind for my friends. And then I think, "Remember what a Drama Queen you are, stupid!"
The sad part of this is that I get so caught up in self-pity (not for the first time in my life) that I completely miss the point of what's going on. Well, that wasn't the case on Saturday or at least I think it wasn't. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's lighten this up a little. I need to let the sad face rest for a bit.
It my entire long and mysterious life, I do not recall ever having anything at all to do with a mayor. This seems a little odd. One would think that it would require active avoidance to have escaped the attention of or never have had the need to interact with a mayor. But not me. I take the road less travelled. Until now:
What you are looking at is a Sympathy card from the Mayor of Gympie, Australia and his good wife. This arrived in my mailbox one day and caused me to scratch my head. Does the funeral director notify the mayor's office when someone is processed through on the way to the final destination? Does someone in the mayorial chain of command read the death notices? Or, as I suspect, did my friend Val Jerram have something to do with this? Hmmm . . . Busy, busy, busy.
I believe that, by any standard, this could be called an incomplete address. The town name is implied, providing you know the geography of Papua New Guinea, as is, of course, the country. However there is no street address or P. O. Box. Di Cassell is well known, but not that well known. When Di gave it to me, we both engaged in a little head scratching. We agreed that it was worthy of a slot in a post on MPBM. I'd say that someone at Australia Post was really on his toes that day. [Please excuse the use of the masculine pronoun to cover all of those Postmen and Postettes. English sadly lacks multi-gender pronouns. His/her, just doesn't cut it.]
On Saturday, the crowd was not as large as we thought it might be. That was neither a disappointment nor a source of concern. Every person who needed to be there was there. It's just the way it played out. I don't estimate very well, so I won't bother saying how many. Here's a shot that includes most of the group which came to, as the expression goes, pay their respects:
Early in the service a group of ladies from our office and from the Country Women's Association sang Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, one of Eunie's favourites. For the first time since I returned from Australia, I dissolved in a flood of tears. I had been waiting for that. It was good:
The group included our haus meri, Juli, who has been managing our household for twenty-seven years, freeing Eunie to concentrate on her work. I also invited Sisilia, our next-door neighbour, to sing with the ladies.
When William Butler, one of the senior members of our organisation and a friend who knew Eunie far better than most rose to speak about Eunie's work, I fell apart again as he began to read John 3:16 in Waran, the language in which he has been working for over thirty years. I can not imagine a more fitting way to represent the focus of all of Eunie's efforts, bringing the message of the Gospel to the people of Papua New Guinea in their heart languages.
William was his usual eloquent self. Through my sobs I heard him speak with admirable skill and the great passion of a true friend. When he was finished I was exhausted for the moment and feeling very grateful to him for such a beautiful tribute to my wife.
I wish that I had an image of Mike Cassell delivering the eulogy which he wrote for Eunie. A great number of the Madang "family" were present on Saturday. I know that all who were there appreciated Mike's honest and loving portrayal of Eunie's life and her many contributions to the welfare and happiness of the community. Again, I was overcome.
Paradoxically, some good things are made more powerful and meaningful because they are hard to endure. Saturday was a hard day for me, and for my friends. It freshened the wound of our loss and brought back anew the sadness we feel when denial is subdued and we realise once again that we will never again see the radiant smile and hear the joyous laughter of our Eunie. And yet, there was benefit for all of us. We had our opportunity to collectively remember and celebrate a life well lived. We could pool our grief and leave some of it in that place, ready to proceed with our lives while carrying Eunie home in our memories.
It was a good day.
I'm three days behind posting to Madang - Ples Bilong Mi. I don't know how it happened. It's certainly not because I've been lazy during the last week. I was so knackered yesterday (actually not yesterday, but never mind) after coming home from two dives that I slept fourteen hours last night, possibly a personal record. Maybe my body is whispering something to me.
So, here I sit on Sunday morning, hoping dearly to go to the beach and needing to write three posts - this one if for Friday. It's getting grim. Therefore, I check marked the little box under Categories titled Humor to give myself a challenge. Right! Excuse for a moment while I retrieve a beer from the bar fridge to fortify myself. We'll see if I can stand up to my own challenge. The clown's gauntlet has been thrown down. Do I have The Right Stuff to pick it up? We shall see.
I had some cockamamie idea of comparing water drops to bubbles. My half-baked theory was that water drops are bubbles turned inside out. While this appeals strongly to my sense of whimsy, alas, upon careful examination, this reduces to ignorance of the nature of both. Let's examine this example:
Now, clearly there are many similarities between bubbles and water drops. The both are formed by the surface tension of a . . . er . . . surface at the interface between two substances which may or may not be identical. Confused yet? If you are not, then please hurry to catch up with me. Surface tension most efficiently reduces the energy required to containerise whatever is being contained. We learn this simple fact in Physics 101. I aspired to be a physicist, but refused to do the maths homework. So much for physics. Anyway, surface tension tugs everything together and packs it neatly in a near-sphere. That's why the little kid can blow perfectly round bubbles every time from the bubble toy. Skill doesn't enter into it. Physics does all the hard work.
The crucial difference is, of course, that a bubble is a film (Hah, you thought film was dead, eh? - AAAAAAANNNHHHH! WRONG!) which separates two gasses (Or two liquids, I suppose, as in the case of a Lava Lamp, and, yes, I do have one.) while a drop is liquid contained by surface tension into a more or less round shape and surrounded by a gas.
A couple of other differences are illustrated by the stunning image above. Drops are saggy, according to their size. Little drops sag little and big drops sag more. Ladies, this explains a lot. It's a battle between the astoundingly strong power of surface tension and the puny little tug of gravity. Think about it. We can walk around, jump up and down an whoop and holler and even fly, more or less, while being pulled down relentlessly by an entire planet! Gravity is pathetic. Gravity is the 97 pound weakling of the physical forces.
The other difference is that, while bubbles can make pretty reflections, they can't act as lenses, at least as long as the gas inside has the same index of refraction at the gas outside. I told you this is humour. Now, wasn't that funny? Come on, work with me. No, usually bubbles don't work well as lenses, but drops can. Click to enlarge the image above and examining the beautiful lensing in the drop. You can clearly see the upside-down flowers and stems behind it. *
Both drops and bubbles can be very pretty. I see them nearly every morning in my garden. I love to stroll in my garden in the morning. It makes me feel very manly. Yes, its a manly garden. Never mind that the gardener is our haus meri Juli, who will not tolerate me so much as pulling a weed: This is just as well, since I wouldn't know which are weeds until I'm told. Early on, I once pulled out a huge patch of aibika which seemed to me to be a useless, bug eaten, scraggly nuisance. She was enraged and scolded me most severely. "Hey, stupid! We EATaibika. that. It's good stuff!" Thereafter I allowed myself to be satisfied by supervising in a Country Gentleman manner. Actually, I've come to like The bug holes make it dissolve into a slimy green mess much more quickly.
As I said, drops can be quite pleasant to view as long as they are not falling on your forehead one-by-one for house during a Chinese water Torture. Here's a close-up of the ones above: See, they look bigger now. This is what close-ups do. Notice how each drop focuses the sun's rays into a tiny dot. I might be possible to use these as miniature magnifying glasses to fry tiny ants. I'll have to try that sometime. I'm not sure that I have any tweezers small enough.
Excuse the lily-porn. If you look at the top petal you can see, through the thin material, the outline of drops on the back side. This is the first time that I've noticed this. Obviously, I need to pay more attention to wet, naked flowers.
Now, I could, at this point, allow this to degrade into a low-brow essay containing poetic allusions about the opening of petals and the moistness of . . . No, wait, I'm not going there. This is a family-friendly site . . . so far.
Well, I told you. It's a Manly Garden.
* This is the sad lot of the photographer. We brave perilous gardens full of mosquitoes and great hairy spiders to take photographs of itsy-bitsy things and then slave for hours over a hot computer to create images that will be viewed once for two seconds.and evoke a mild "Hmmm . . ." at best. It's a pathetic and narcissistic pursuit. The most it has ever paid me keeps beer in the fridge. However, it does allow me to fancy myself an artíst.
Regular readers will have noted my absence on occasion for the last few days and suspected the reason for it. It's very hard for me to know what to write at this time which will keep the spirit and character of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi alive and providing the same kind of distraction from the vagaries of life which it has provided for me and many readers. However, I can't stray far from what it has grown to be. The tag line probably says it best. A Daily Journal of a Permanent Resident of Paradise. If I abandon the true concept of a journal and simply keep it light and full of lots of pretty pictures, the occasional minor complaint about life in general, a healthy dose of outrageous opinion and some hopefully funny stories, I could probably enjoy a continuation of the growing readership and nothing much would change.
There are a couple of problems with that. First, it would be a sham. Second, I couldn't pull it off.
Unfortunately, there is no real paradise here on earth, no matter how much we may wish it. Life can transport us along the sweet path for decades and then take a sudden turn. Only fools believe otherwise. I chose my title and images carefully today, though the reason may not be obvious until you've read the rest of this.
Less than two weeks ago, I was out taking shots in a Heli Niugini helicopter, enjoying the scenery and the free ride. I knew that Eunie was sick and we would likely have to go to Cairns to have her checked out, but our hopes were high that it would involve some minor surgery of some sort, probably removal of the gall bladder, at most, and that would be that:
Now, as I sit in front of the hospital alone, gathering my thoughts and watching a medevac helicopter spooling up for a run for someone probably far less fortunate than us, the irony does not excape me. Life can change in the blink of an eye. The situation today is very much different and the hopes have changed radically. There is a high likelihood that there is something very wrong inside my beloved woman. We have no biopsy reports yet, so there is no certainty either way. However, we've been told to plan for chemotherapy, probably combined with radiotherapy:
Until we know, there is always hope that what seems very nasty may not be as bad as it looks. Even so, because of the nature of the "mass" it is going to change life for us.
So, what of Madang - Ples Bilong Mi? Well, I am hoping that I can find the strength and wisdom to let it continue to be what is has been for nearly three years now. For me it has been a creative outlet which has given me a new kind of discipline and provided me with a sort of confessional booth in which I can let my thoughts, opinions and feelings drift through the curtain and come back to me filtered through the minds and hearts of others through comments, Facebook and emails. For my readers, most of whom I have never met, but have nevertheless come to cherish as friends - even confidants of a sort - it has provided amusements and distractions which come from off the beaten path. I want to continue that relationship with my readers and enjoy the pleasure that it has given me. I have no intention of leaving those treasures behind as we follow this new path which is being laid out, brick by brick, before us.
I have no idea what the future will be. All I know is that it is going to be very much different from that which I envisioned a month ago. However, our situation - that of life-changing swirls in the current which carrys us along - is not different from that potentially facing anyone reading my words at this moment nor, in fact, anyone on the planet.
Eunie and I have been friends, partners, lovers and soul mates for nearly half a century. This gives us the strength of lions.
This is the hand which we have been dealt. We will play it together.
Sometime I like amuse myself by going back through my accumulation of thousands of underwater images to find the ones which I first rejected as real. Usually this rejection has to do with some technical fault such as bad focus (usually an image-killer), impossibly filthy water (sometimes fixable by laboriously removing the spots) or motion blur. Of the faults, motion blur is the easiest to turn into an artistic image. It sometimes generates a very interesting image. Here is a Many-Spotted Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides) which I tried to capture with a shap shot at Magic Passage:
The attempt, as you can see, failed miserably. Both the fish and the background are blurred. Nevertheless, a tiny, nagging tickle in the back of my skull kept mumbling, "Play with it, idiot." I always pay attention to these messages from my id. As you can see, with a little work, the wasted pixels redeem themselves. A mistake becomes art. I don't know if I'd want to hang it on the wall, but it provided me with a few minutes of not thinking about computer networks. That's a blessing.
Here is another one that I saved from the bit dumpster. The Silver Sweetlips (Diagramma pictum), one of my favourites, hangs out in mobs at Magic Passage. You can find many more images of them here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi by putting "pictum" in the search box. Is is a very beautiful fish: You can see in the shot above that the background is relatively unblurred (relatively, as I say) but the fish was moving quite smartly. This transforms the beautiful yellow spots of the sub-adult into concentric yellow arcs which give the image the impression of some kind of weird fingerprint. Fingerprint? Okay, let me reboot . . . nope, still reminds me of a fingerprint. What can I say?
At any rate, a strange piece of chintzy art is better than wasted pixels. I might actually hang this one. No, wait. I'm far too lazy.
Here's a shot of the Silver Sweetlips sub-adults hanging in the current. These are very chilled-out fish:
They gang up like sulky teenagers on the corner by the liquor store, waiting for some sucker to buy them a bottle. I'm sure that if there were an equivalent of Mary Jane for fish, this mob would be toking up.
I did mention something about Barrel Sponges.
Here are two Barrel Sponges (Xestospongia testudinaria) at Magic Passage, right in the area of the highest currents:
When Barrel Sponges get really big, they are very heavy and present a huge surface area upon which a strong current can push. It's not surprising that they occasionally get knocked over. Here you can see one that is hanging on and one that has been toppled. Not to worry, the severely tilded sponge can continue to grow. When knocked down like this, the sponge continues to try to grow up towards the light, so some of the ones which have been over on their side for a long time have very peculiar shapes.
I'll wrap up with the anemone with one little anemonefish guarding it:
Since I'm enjoying a temporary cease-fire which was prompted by an all-night connection to the web which updated my computer for the first time since last September, I'll dispense with dispatches from the FEBA (that's Forward Edge of the Battle area for the militarily-challenged) until or when the aforementioned connection evaporates once again. One can't stay cranky all the time. Well, one can, and some do, but it's simply not good for the soul.
To display my return to joviality and whimsy let me show you a delightful, if somewhat dangerous, juxtaposition of objects that I discovered only yesterday in a technical facility which I shall, out of pity, not name: Using all of my vast training in covert operations, I boldly snapped this shot while nobody was looking. If fact, as near as I could ascertain, nobody was doing anything at all. Notice that it was nearly quitting time anyway.
What I propose here is a Caption Contest. The rules are simple: (1) The caption must begin with, "In case of fire", (2) You must leave your entry as a comment here on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi, (you can also leave a comment on my status post on Facebook, but the official entry must be here), (3) There will be no losers. Everybody who enters will automatically get first place, (3) You may not use any of the seven words that George Carlin made famous, no matter how funny they are (sorry, but this make it much more challenging anyway), (4) I can make up more rules whenever I want. I may choose, if I feel like it, to ignore rule number 1, but it better be very funny!
If you want to argue any of the rules meet me on Facebook. My handle is CrazyByChoice. I'll take on all challengers with one lobe of my brain tied behind my back. Also, feel free to break any of the rules, as rules are, as any fool knows, made to be broken.
Now I can hear the mumbling out there, "Hey, man. What about the Reef Scene, man? I wanna make the scene, man." Quit your whining, I'm coming to it.
Well, here's a reef scene In Your Face, man! These Orange Finned Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus) are doing the boogaloo for you: Oh, to be so carefree! The only thing that you have to worry about is something coming along out-of-the-blue, so to speak, and eating you.
While skulking about the reef surreptitiously snapping images of innocent critters frolicking I caught this sneaky little Dwarf Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco) attempting to hide from me: Fat chance, dwarf!
And now, I shall attempt the unattemptable. I shall attempt to show you what can not be shown. These juvenile Three-Spot Dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus) are unphotographable: (Much like My Funny Valentine) If you're puzzled, welcome to the meeting. They are the little black ones with two white spots. If you're wondering why they are called "Three-Spot", welcome again. What's funnier yet is the adults are dismal grey fish with no spots at all. Nevertheless, the point is that I've never been able to get a shot of them because they are so very, very black. My new Canon G11 (blah, blah, blah) has made it nearly possible. Hurrah for Canon. What's next? World Peace?
Well, we've time for a couple of more fillers. Here's another A. chrysopterus looking a little lost. He was just about to ask me, "Blubbla bulubluba bla?" when he noticed that I was not a fish: Hence the look of befuddlement. Things were getting a little swishy there on top of the reef. I had only about a metre of water above my head.
Is it just me or is there something terribly wrong with that saying? I mean, does it make any kind of sense at all? If you can never say never then how can you ever say never say never?
Must be the drugs. Sudafed and Cipro make me dizzy.
Life is so laughably strange. Three years ago I was going nuts trying to figure out why my life seemed to be going down the toilet. I pretty much hated my job, because everything was just a mess and nothing worked the way that I wanted it to. Our finances were sliding into the abyss with no real hope of reversing the trend. I felt useless, incompetent and emasculated. What to do? I hadn't a clue.
My wife, Eunie, was a constant, faithful encourager. She encouraged me to get my lazy butt moving and do something instead of simply whining. Do something - anything! I had plenty of wild notions which quickly took wing to the wild blue yonder. However, getting my work under control and facing the fact that it was going to take me a couple years to do that was something that did help. Taking baby steps toward the goal of reclaiming my dominance in the IT Dungeon gave me confidence to try other things.
I had always wanted to write. I have written tens of thousands of words none of which anyone has ever read. I was still editing short stories which I wrote thirty-five years ago. It's a strange hobby. Nothing is ever finished. The process becomes the product. What a waste! I laughed at my funny stories and cried over the pathos. It was a narcissistic amusement, nothing more.
When a new magazine came out which matched my interests, Niugini Blue, a water sports magazine, Eunie strongly encouraged me to submit an article. It was promptly accepted. I wrote several more which were likewise accepted as written. When the same publisher, Pacific Islands Publishing, started an new magazine titled Our Way, I began submitting articles for it. All were accepted. Having written many articles now, I must be among the few free-lance writers with no rejection slips. Do I have any real talent. I simply don't think much about that. All that I know is that I now have an audience. That's enough for me.
So, why am I pouring out all of this self-congratulatory clap-trap to you, gentle reader? I've been asking myself that question since I started tapping this out twenty minutes ago. I think that it's my way of passing the torch, so to speak. I know that many suffer from identity issues, self doubt, loss of confidence and the emptiness that accompanies evaporated dreams. My life is nowhere near in order yet, but the encouragement of my wife and friends to take action, any action, saved me from the miasma of inaction.
There's nothing here in the way of advice. It's only an anecdote.
However, I'm going ot prove my mettle by daring to write a post about nothing by our dog, Sheba. She has appeared here in Madang - Ples bilong Mi many times before. This morning I took a couple of shots of her on the veranda. Here she is not so patiently waiting for her breakfast:
This evening, after devouring her afternoon bone and going outside for a swim, she lay on the sofa and whined for attention. She knows that I will not pet her until I finish my beer and cigar, but she whines anyway:
It doesn't take much energy to whine and it just might get me to cave in and let her sit with her head on my knee while I try to juggle a beer, a cigar and a book while I scratch behind her ears.
I know, however, that this is a ruse. She knows who takes care of her.
I'm getting sleepy now, so I have to wrap this up. I can't leave, however without showing, once again, Sheba's incredible tongue. If you could lick your nose like this you could have a successful career in the circus: Sheba's magnificent tongue has featured here before, attached to some famous faces.
There. I did it. I wrote a post about my dog. I've sunk to the bottom of the blogging barrel.
Bun na as bilong bung: mumu-ia!!
dispela ples o dau'bilo lo spotfild--mi no save. Nau mi smelim mumu na mi gat driman lo' brukim graun gut wantaim ol
You have read of many dives here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi of dives near Pig Island at a spot we call The Eel Garden near Pig Island. It is probably our most popular dive for several reasons. It is close, only a few minutes from Madang. It is also usually sheltered from waves, so that it is comfortable for those staying on the boat. It is an easy dive and has a variety of habitats from sandy bottom to outer reef. Last, but not least, it has a wreck . . . of sorts.
After you cross over a huge wall of coral from the sandy bottom of The Eel Garden, you come upon a curious wreck which appears to be an old barge made of two slender hulls, making it, boatwise, a catamaran:
This is how they appear as you approach them from the bow end.
In this area is a wild menagerie of life. It would be easy to spend an hour between the hulls cataloguing the crazy tangle of coexisting critters.
As you can see, the shot above was “spoiled”. As the fish darted past me, I spun around and grabbed a snap shot. I expected it to be motion-blurred. What I did not expect is that, after minimal massaging with Photoshop, it turned out to be an interesting bit of art. It certainly conveys the sense of motion.
You can see a diver’s bubbles behind the lattice.
This shot is from farther toward the stern. You can see that I was moving toward the back end of the hulls. As the sunlight angle changes and the distance decreases, the coral at the left of the shot above changes to a deeper, warmer tone, since there is less sea water between it and the camera:
If click to enlarge and look at the extreme left of the image, you can barely make out the image of a diver’s fins as he moves off to the left. You can also make out his bubbles trailing above and behind him.
Most of these shots were taken with the iris stopped down to ƒ/8 to increase the depth of field. Yes, some more “Deep Focus” shots. I’ve found a whole new way to bore you.
My next project is a gigantic model train layout with tiny towns and miniscule pine trees. I will explain every detail of this to you when it’s finished.
I have some very amusing images from two dear friends who are guest shooters today and a couple of shots of my own. I very much enjoy featuring images from friends. I hope that I've given enough encouragement to readers to send me images which have spoken to them. If not, I'm issuing the invitation once again. I started this as a source of eclectic amusement and information. There is much here about Madang and our lives and interests. However, our many readers have much to contribute also. The more participation that we have, the more interesting Madang - Ples Bilong Mi will become.
Our first shot today comes from our Hamilton, Ontario friend, Ron Barrons. Ron said that his wife treated him to a visit to Niagara Falls recently. One can only speculate what prompted that generosity. Anyway, Ron captured this stunning image of the falls through the window of their hotel room: Now, I don't want to take anything away from the beauty of this picture. Great job, Ron. Makes me drool. However, I'm picturing Brenda's face as Ron fiddles with his tripod and his f-stops and his shutter speed while she re-thinks the whole idea. Ron, I can only pray that you did not ask her to carry your tripod. Women hate that! There's an old photographers' joke that goes like this: A life-long English amateur photographer dies. At his funeral his wife is overheard to say, "Ah, well, it's a pity he's gone, but at least I don't have to carry his bloody tripod any more."
Here's a lovely shot from the lovely Tracey Lee. It's a waterspout shot at Honiara in 2006: There's some pretty furious action there at the base. We had another waterspout from Trevor Hattersley just the other day. Nice one, Tracey!
And, now that we've disposed of the title of this post, we'll move on to this crisp shot of Old Fort Niagara again by Ron Barrons: Fort Niagara is the oldest surviving building in the Great Lakes area, having been erected in 1726. It is also the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. This looks like a long telephoto shot to me. I got images of parts of the fort area from the same spot with my Olympus SP-590UZ the last time I was up there. I nearly froze my bum off.
This morning the southern sky was wonderfully back lighting Kar Kar Island. I had to get up on the top of the roof of my truck to get this shot. It would have been better from the top of my house, but I was to wobbly at that time of the morning for ladders: Whenever there is a lot of news about volcanoes, such as the current fracas in Iceland, we all cast wary eyes toward Kar Kar Island. It's listed as one of the most potentially dangerous volcanoes in the world and it by no means dormant. It rumbles and smoked regularly. There was a recent report that it has erupted, but that turned out to be a false alarm.
Last for today, but my no means least, are the Two Eunice Messersmiths: The larger model on the left is my gorgeous wife. The little one in the middle is also Eunice Messersmith. Her mom, Maureen, was raised in our house by her mom, Juli who has been our haus meri and general manager of the house for over twenty years. Juli is sort of like a daughter to us, so Little Eunice Messersmith is like a great-granddaughter. Juli came into the office to show us Little Eunice's birth certificate, a document which few Papua New Guineans even possess. It says right there that her name is Eunice Messersmith. Go figure!
I like her very stylish pink shades. She's gonna be trouble!
Not much is happening here in Madang. That's just as well, since the mood here this year is distinctly sour. Town is crowded with people moving from place to place and the tension in the air is electric. There is a liquor ban in place until at least after New Year, some say until March. It won't do a lot of good, since there is plenty of bootleg beer and weed available. Like the Chinese say, the next month or so will be "interesting times".
Anyway, to prepare your palate for the holidays, I'll show you some items that I am nearly certain will not be showing up on your menu.
This is a familiar character on Madang - Ples Bilong Mi, Mr. Lizardfish. Its given name is Reef - that's Reef Lizardfish. Does that sound like a good name for a Hollywood actor? It's a stage name, anyway. Who would buy tickets to see someone named Synodus variegatus in a movie?
Never mind. I took an extra silly pill this morning.
This adorable little thing has the equally adorable common name of the Papuan Toby (Canthigaster papua): It's a flash-lit shot that I got at the B-25 bomber The Green Dragon. The colours are slightly oversaturated by the flash, but it's so pretty that I'm not going to complain. Sometimes I prefer to forget my fussiness about getting things accurate and go for the gorgeous. This little sweetie persuaded me to let it shine.
Nudibranchs are becoming strangely scarce around Madang. I am very suspicious about the pollution level in Astrolabe Bay. First the sharks disappear and now the Nudibranchs. What's going on?
I shot it on the top of the reef at Magic Passage last Saturday. The light was very good. In this shot I deliberately oversaturaded the colours of the fish. It's a trick that I use to remind myself of the colours that I saw. Fortunately I have an excellent visual memory. Unfortunately, I can barely remember my name, or anybody else's. I can remember a face for a decade. Five minutes after coming aboard Faded Glory and introducing themselves, I have to ask new divers to remind me of their names.
I don't know how that is going to play out. I'm running out good images in my accumulation. I'll have to get a lot of shots on Saturday.
These are tiny, nearly transparent commensal shrimp that live in a fungiform coral (Heliofungia actiniformis). The species here is the problem - identifying it. It could be Periclimenes holthuisi or possibly P. venustus, though there are specific markings on each of those species that are missing or distorted in these specimens.
The interesting thing here is that it is possible that you are looking at an undescribed species. It happens all the time here. Every year species formerly undescribed are discovered near Madang. This could be one.
Anybody out there want to check this one out?