Evening – Morning

Posted in Photography Tricks on January 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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When I wake up early on Saturday morning, I enjoy sitting down to write. From six to nine I usually have time to myself and, hopefully, nothing pressing to do.

When we came home from the office yesterday evening, the sky across the harbour was looking unreasonably angry. The clouds were swirling dervish-like and a small rain squall was clearly visible against the background of the sunset-lit clouds:

Evening Panorama

What’s interesting above is that we’re looking to the East. We often get dramatic effects in the East when the sun goes down. We can’t actually see sunsets from our house because of the mountains to the West. In the dry season (roughly May through August) we sometimes go out on Faded Glory to the coastal islands to watch the sun go down. A bottle of red, a little cheese – it’s so very pleasant.

Here is the same scene this morning:

Morning Panorama

I usually try to get the sky in the morning before the sun gets high enough for its light to be so strong that it blacks out the rest of the scene. This morning I was a little late. The sun was so bright that other areas of the scene had to be carefully managed in Photoshop to bring them out. It didn’t turn out so bad, though; it was worth the effort. I love shooting panoramas. Most all new digital cameras have a setting for panoramas. With a little practice, one can learn to shoot good ones without a tripod. Some cameras will even stitch the frames together for you instead of having to do it on a computer.

I’m feeling amused by life this morning. My dive gear is getting rather tattered. It’s about eight years old and has probably done about five hundred dives. I have to admit that I don’t take very good care of it. A friend who has had some health problems that prevent diving gave me a virtually brand-new regulator set and buoyancy compensator (the gizmos that divers wear on their backs and breathe from). I’d been feeling a bit funky because I don’t have the bread to buy new gear. Now my friend’s misfortune has become my windfall.

Life is funny that way.

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The Brassy Sea

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on January 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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On the way to work this morning the sky was doing weird things. As I turned onto Coronation Drive, Eunie and I stopped for a minute to admire the bright glow of the morning sun on the sea. There’s an old hymn that says something about gathering around the “glassy sea” (Holy, Holy, Holy – that’s a lot of Holies).

Brassy Sea

I was Googling “glassy sea” and came across this amazing photo by Luca Picciau. Give it a click.  My mind started playing tricks with the phrase as I watched the water and it came to me – The Brassy Sea – probably not very original, but appropriate for this image.

When I got to the office, Lori Witham, our Administrator of Publishing Technology, noticed that I was working on the image above. She said, in her funny little voice, “I took a picture of the sky this morning!” So, I said, “Give it to me and I’ll throw it into my blog.”

And here it is:

Lori Witham's sky photo

It’s been strange today.

Even stranger than usual.

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Back to What Passes for Normal

Posted in Humor on January 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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It looks as if most all the problems of moving Madang – Ples Bilong Mi are in the past. I still have a few issues with old images not showing up and there’s something wrong with the gallery plugin, but I can get back to regular posting now.

The image below is from yesterday in our front yard. It’s not the QE2, but it’s a big cruise ship. We didn’t see it when we left the house. Sometimes, we don’t notice what’s right in front of us. When we drove into town we could see it sticking up at the end of Modilon Road, and we wondered how we’d missed seeing it at home:

Presumably rich folk are aboard

This reminds me of the time that an Air Niugini jet ran off the end of the runway right in front of our house and we didn’t notice it in the morning: (this image has appeared here previously)

Air Niugini's Jet Boat Service

Yesterday evening I was sitting in my “reading chair” with a beer and a cigar and I heard very loud Italian opera music coming from outside. This is not something that is normal in Madang. In fact, since 1981, it has never happened. I don’t know about before that, since I wasn’t here.

Anyway, it was that one that goes, “Da-da-daaaaaa. Da-da-daaaaaa. Da-da-da-da-da-daaaaaaaa.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Philistine. I don’t mind opera. I just don’t understand Italian and I can never remember the names of them.

Anyway, I got up to look out the door. Just then, the cruise ship tooted very loudly three times (the standard signal for “leaving port”) and pulled away from the dock.

If the above doesn’t amuse you, let me try this.

TELIKOM turned off all of our phones (probably about twenty) because they messed up again in their billing department. Never mind; it happens now only occasionally. It used to happen every month. Of course, they want you then to pay a reconnection fee, but we learned long ago to thumb our noses at that nonsense.

So, to get my weekly jab in at TELIKOM, I’ll show you this beautiful (and typical) “work in progress” shot of our connection box in front of our office:

TELIKOM work in progress

Messy, eh?

Fortunately, it wasn’t raining yesterday.

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Pictures Again!

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on January 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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Just to prove to myself that it works:

jan@messersmith.name

Happy FAD people!

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Expatriate Assistance or Expatriate Rule?

Posted in Opinions on January 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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With apologies to those in far places to whom much of this will make little sense, I’d like to take advantage of my inability to upload images at the moment to present this item of intense local interest.

The following appeared in yesterday’s The National (27 January 2009). Please hold your judgment about my reasons for presenting it here until you’ve read it. I’ll have comments at the end.

WE HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THE LAW

Papua New Guineans have no respect for their fellow countrymen and women, and the law.

Otherwise, people like Sir George Constantinou, pilot Timothy Houji and many others would still be alive today.

Police Commissioner Gari Baki recently refuted claims of Port Moresby being listed among the top five murder capitals.

Mr Baki’s response was weak when the statistics are there for everyone to see.

Lae, Mt. Hagen, Goroka and the two oil palm towns of Popondetta and Kimbe also have their fair share of killings, which I am sure our overall nationwide murder statistics must be very frightening.

Apart from murders, armed robberies are also getting more sophisticated and on the rise, making our policemen look outdated and slow.

As a former police detective myself, I have dealt with some of these violent crimes being conspired and committed in collaboration with professionals in different fields.

Whilst such violent crimes continued unabated, corruption and white-collar crimes committed by high office holders and even our hypocritical politicians are also on the rise.

Investigations or commissions of inquiries into high profile scandals, corruption or embezzlement of millions of Kina were never ever completed.

Even if the current Commission of Inquiry into Finance is completed, PNG will live up to its traditional norm that those implicated will never be prosecuted.

Even if such cases were prosecuted, they would soon be swept under the carpet and forgotten.

Who can ever forget the Julian Moti CoI? What has happened to it?

Just an hour prior to me writing this letter, a young boy from Lufa district was caught stealing a can of Ox & Palm corned beef and a Wopa biscuit.

The boy was beaten up by security guards before being handed over to police.

The poor boy could be convicted and sentenced to serve a jail term because he belongs to the “unfortunate system class”, unlike our politicians.

I will not be surprised if the Taiwanese scandal will be swept under the carpet.

What PNG needs is to take a drastic and radical approach to rid itself of this sickening moral decay.

One possible option for PNG to fully adapt and embrace the ideology of former Goroka MP Hire Kimisopa to bring back the Australians so that they fill all the key Government positions.

Apart from Australia, we can also bring in expatriates from UK, New Zealand, Canada and the US to head our Government institutions and agencies.

Not only should expatriates head these institutions, they will have to be placed in key positions where they are able to thwart any potential corruption practices.

I’m sure the expatriates can instill confidence, discipline and eradicate the current negative trend.

John Supa
Goroka

Mister Supa, I’m right with you on everything that you say about our problems. Where I begin to think more critically is where you write, “One possible option . . .” I agree that it would be a possible option, if we lived in a more tolerant universe. However, in the real world of 21st century PNG, I can’t see how it could possibly be culturally acceptable.

I’ve been here since 1981. I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve heard sentiments such as, “Everything would be better if Australia would come back and run things.” Frankly, this makes me very sad. I am not a Citizen of PNG; I’m a Permanent Resident. If it were practical for me to become a Citizen, I would. Unfortunately, it appears that it would take more years to become a Citizen than I likely have left to live.

Regardless of the issue of citizenship, this is my adopted homeland. I love PNG and I will live here the rest of my life. Therefore, I refuse to believe that we are unable to solve our own problems – WITH HELP. We are a strong and resourceful people. We have a will to make a better life. However, we need help because we do not have a civil servant class with complete training, integrity of character, and a sense of purpose. I’m guessing, from observation of the way things work these days (or don’t work), that most people would agree with that statement.

As expatriate officers and managers drifted off to greener, quieter pastures, many of the citizens left behind were ill prepared to take the reins of power. I place no blame on them for that unfortunate circumstance, but the previous colonial administration has a lot to answer for concerning the issue.

I fully agree that we need expatriate help. I believe that we need competent, dedicated, honest advisors in all government institutions. I would call them Advisors With Teeth. I can’t help feeling that installing expatriates as “bosses” in high positions would not be the right move. It feels to me like a return to colonialism – a step backwards.

However, if advisors were well chosen and have an above-reproach power to report to when bad outcomes result from advice ignored, then I believe that we could profit greatly. The world is full of highly talented and respected retired professionals who are sometimes willing to work free or for nominal fees. We could tap into that talent and give them the power to report poor results to an ultimate authority, which could then make the appropriate corrections. I suppose that it’s fair to ask exactly what that ultimate authority might be, considering that trust is a rare commodity these days – and rightfully so!

I sympathize with your frustrations and anxiety over the state of our society, Mr. Supa. I feel these same emotions daily. I differ with you only in degree on the issue of expatriate assistance. I think that if we are clever enough, we could reap the benefits of expatriate assistance to help us to solve extremely difficult social issues without resorting to what some would see, with some justification, as “foreign interference”.

Let’s see how clever we are.

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Here We Are Again – Right Back Where We Started

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts, Opinions on January 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you’re considering blogging and you are not a ‘scripting geek’ who probably thinks Microsoft is the mark of the beast and goes to bed at four in the morning with a copy of The LINUX Bible under your pillow, then DON’T, for pity’s sake, set up a WordPress blog on an independent host! (Get a “free’ one as I describe below.)

Why? (one might ask)

Because, when an independently hosted WordPress site works right, it’s as sweet as honey – you can do all kinds of cool things. But, when it goes sour on you, you will very likely not be able to fix it yourself. You won’t even get mead. You’ll get vinegar.

Case in Point:  Sometime in November, having a ‘self-hosted’ WordPress site on Global Technologies’ server in Madang, I got hacked. Don’t ask me how. Though I’ve worked on computers for over thirty years, much of what’s going on here is a total mystery to me. The result was that I COULD NOT UPLOAD IMAGES.

So, since nobody could give me any better advice than “you got hacked” (somebody got around the security measures and put something on my site that caused it to stop working), I moved the entire site to a ‘free’ WordPress blog at WordPress.Com.  (You can sign up for a free WordPress blog at www.wordpress.com. Just press the “Sign Up Now” button. Ten minutes later you’ll be blogging with no hassles and very little risk.)

I soon discovered limitations that I did not like. There are some cool things that you can’t do on the ‘free’ version of WordPress.

So, I attemped to move the site to a server in the USA and botched the job completely. Finding no help that I didn’t have to pay for, I hired a consultant to move it for me. He did. Some things still did not work. He suggested a move to another host. I said, yes, if that’s the one you like, then move it.

So, three moves after the initial incident, and US$525 out of my pocket (and I just sent another US$300), I have a shiny new site that looks just as good, does all the nifty things I wanted it to do, and has the same internet address, but today I discovered, with much weeping and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, that I COULD NOT UPLOAD IMAGES.

Right back where I started!

(In fairness, part of the money has gone to setting up a new, very professionally tricked-out WordPress blog for Eunie at www.messersmith.name/news. Don’t expect much yet; it’s a work in progress.)

Just so we’re clear, I don’t regret paying for the work. I don’t regret all the hassle and fretting. The consultant underestimated the complexity of the job and it took more time and it’s not finished yet. That happens all the time – no blame game here!

What I do slightly regret is that I didn’t get a ‘free’ WordPress.com blog in the first place and learn to live with its limitations. I do not have the skills that are required to get me out of a problem if something goes wrong. And good help doesn’t come cheap.

I got many offers from places that I shall not name to “move you blog for $50”. I can’t even imagine how disastrous that could have been. I returned the emails politely, saying that I had already found another consultant.

Now that I’ve bored you into a comfortable numbness, I’ll leave you with my hard won wisdom.

If you want to blog, keep it simple. Your blog should attract readers because of what you say, how you say it, and the images that you present.  The rest is just razzle-dazzle and can cause you a lot of grief.

If I would only learn to listen to my own advice.

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Strange Goings On

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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As you can probably see, there are some strange things happening with Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. We’re getting some host and WordPress bugs worked out. I hope to be posting again later today.

Hang in there!