Brisbane at Night

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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Is anybody but me not seeing my header?  I don’t know what happened to it, and I’m not going to have time to fix it for a week or so. Clicking in the empty space at the top of the page will take you to home.

I just arrived in Brisbane last evening. It’s COLD!

Here is what I saw from the window of my Air Niugini flight as we approached Port Moresby:

Coming into Port Moresby

We went out in the evening in Brisbane to take some photos. Before we left the flat, I got this shot from the balcony. It’s a fifteen second exposure:

From the balcony in Brisbane

In the full resolution image you can see Orion’s Belt. You may be able to make out some stars if you click to enlarge.

They have these cute little ferry boats that scoot around on the river. We took rides on a couple of them. Here is the Story Bridge across the Brisbane River:

The Story Bridge in Brisbane

I don’t know why it’s called the Story Bridge. Somebody help me out here.

We could see this giant Ferris wheel from a long way off. I was pretty tired after travelling since 04:00 in the morning, but it was worth the effort:

The Ferris Wheel by the river in Brisbane

I just got the ticket out of my pocket to see what it’s called – “The Wheel of Brisbane”.  Not a very immaginative name, but it is a spectacular ride.

I have to keep this short, because we have a big day planned. I’m getting some great images of Brisbane and I’m keen to share them with you.

Stay tuned

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Mountains on Mountains

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you’re seeing this it may be because I’m On The Road. I’ve prepared a few posts to be automatically published unless I intercept them and substitute a travel post.

When I leave my house each morning, I pass through a gate at the edge of our compound and this is what I see:

Rock mountains over wood chip mountainsThere is a large wood-chipping factory just outside the gate. The reddish stuff is tens of thousands of plantation-grown eucalyptus trees all chopped up into little chips about the size of a playing card. Once every few months a giant ship comes in and hauls them away. The blue mountains in the distance are the Finisterre Mountains. Here is another shot that I grabbed just outside of our gate:
The Finisterre Mountains in the distance behind wood chips at JANTOn the way into town, I happened past just as this pretty scene was unfolding:

A ship in the morning sun on Astrolabe Bay
It is a ship way out on Astrolabe Bay. The big Casuarina tree in the foreground makes a nice contrast. I have some other amusing shots of the mountains and the bay here.

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Hitting the Road Again

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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Up until about a month ago, I had no idea that I’d be heading back to North America this year. I was not scheduled to leave Papua New Guinea again until 2012. Anyway, Eunie got a free ride this time because she’s going to represent the PNG branch of our organisation at our international office for a board meeting in Dallas. So, since Qantas had a ridiculously cheap return fare offered at A$1,000 to New York, I decided to spring for it and avoid six additional weeks of loneliness and weight loss. (I’ve lost a half-kilo a week since she’s been gone. What does that say about me? One thing that comes to mind is that I’m too lazy to eat when left on my own. That could eventually be fatal.)

So, on Wednesday morning, I’ll be off at 06:00 to here:

Port Moresby, Papua New GuineaThat’s Port Moresby, in case you didn’t notice.  It’s the capital of Papua New Guinea and it costs almost as much to get from Madang to Port Moresby as it does to travel from Brisbane to New York. This is one of the great shames of our wonderful nation. You can hardly go anywhere in PNG without travelling by air. Air Niugini has a strangle-hold on traffic within the country. I’ll have more to say about that someday, but now I’m just to antsy to concentrate.

The next stop will be here:

Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaThat’s Brisbane in Queensland, Australia.  I’ll be spending three days and two nights there. A friend is coming up to Brisbane to meet me. We’re both camera freaks, so we’ll spend most of our time hustling around grabbing images. I hope to have a couple of interesting posts from Brisbane.

The next stop will be San Francisco, but only to change planes. I’d like to visit there for a few days some time. Then it’s on to New York City where I’ll spend two nights.

Two nights in New York City – big deal, eh? Well, not exactly. Eunie books my travel because she likes doing it, and she’s very good at it. She hands me an itinerary, tickets, passport, visas, etc, and off I go.  I asked her to book me ‘some place interesting’ in New York City. She did. She booked me into a bed and breakfast in Harlem. Now, if you don’t know about Harlem, then Google it. Let’s just say that I’m looking forward with mild anxiety to an interesting two days and nights. I’m sure that I’ll have some tasty posts from there.

Then, it’s off to Buffalo, NY where I’ll meet Eunie for the drive to Hamilton, Ontario.

I may drop off the calendar for a day or two, but I’LL BE BACK. I’m The Travelator.

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Have Some More Fish

Posted in Under the Sea on April 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’ll show you a couple of more fish from our dive on Saturday. These are not fish. This is Tom and Rob:
Tom and Rob
These, however, are  fish. Specifically, they are Blueheaded Tilefish (Hoplolatilus starcki):

Bluehead Tilefish (Hoplolatilus starcki)

You almost always see them in pairs. The never venture far from the burrow in which they hide from predators. It’s a little difficult to get close enough to get a good shot of them. This is the best that I’ve managed so far.

These little jewels are Butterflyfish. The one on the left is a Redfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus), and the other one is a Laticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon_rafflesi):

Redfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus), Laticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi)

Butterflyfish are surprisingly difficult to photograph. The have an uncanny ability to stay just out of range and duck behind a bit of coral just as you’re pressing the shutter release. I saw these two at a distance picking away at tidbits, a mid-morning snack. I slipped down behind a coral head, held my breath, and then slowly came up for the shot.

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Back Into the Briny Deep

Posted in Under the Sea on April 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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It has been a few weeks since I’ve been out diving. The weather has been miserable and nobody is motivated to go out in the rain. Yesterday, however, I did get lucky and had two divers and a snorkeler on the boat. We went to the south end of Leper Island.

I thought that I had my camera fixed, but it still locks up when I go deeper than about five metres. I think that I know how to fix it now, but I can’t be bothered to work on it because I’ll be winging off to Port Moresby and Brisbane on Wednesday (yikes, only two days away!). I’m going to try to post every day, but it may not be possible. If I go missing for a day or two, I’m not dead (probably), I’m just on the road.

I’ll show you a few shots that I did manage to get on Saturday, even though all I could do with my camera was press the shutter release. Here is a small school of Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres):

Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres)It’s not a particularly good shot, but the pattern of their bright yellow tails scattered across the image is amusing. I have another image of this fish in A Nasty Customer and Fancy Pants.

These Bblackspot Snappers (Lutjanus ehrenbergii) swam past in a constant stream for two or three minutes. There must have been thousands of them:

Blackspot Snapper (Lutjanus ehrenbergii)The water on the surface was quite cold, at least by our standards. It was raining a little and the wind was picking up. It was a delicious experience to dive down under the cold fresh river water on top into the wonderfully warm water below. Our average water temperature down as far as you dare to go is between 28 and 29° C (82-84°F).

I’ll finish up today with a nice little shot of a small mob of female Purple Antheas (Psudanthias tuka):

Female Purple Anthea (Psudanthias tuka)The Antheas are among my favourites in the category of small fish. There are a multitude of varieties here. They float like clouds of jewels over the coral.

I will probably have one or two more posts before I’ll be reporting from Brisbane.

G’day, mate.

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Insect Authority

Posted in Humor, Opinions on April 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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No, I am not referring to someone who knows all about bugs. I am referring to an amusing metaphor coined by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Insect Authority, in this context, refers to the perplexing and exceedingly annoying propensity of  individuals (and institutions) to exert extreme effort to make a small amount of authority feel much bigger. It is an ego soothing mechanism. I wrote about this before in On the Road – America – Some Observations on Culture.

One can think of thousands of examples of Insect Authority:  the waitress who will not allow you to get your onions on the side instead of on your burger, the petty bureaucrat who insists that you have filled out the form incorrectly . . .  I won’t waste your time with more.

This brings us, somewhat circuitously, to the image below:

Insect Authority Road

The Madang Town Council, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, probably decided, as they usually do, to pave over a perfectly good road instead of fixing the many roads that are rapidly becoming dirt trails. There is nothing unusual about this. It is the modus operandi of the MTC when it comes to roads. It’s much easier to fix perfectly good roads than it is to fix roads that are bagarap. (Literrally means in Tok Pisin “Buggard up.”  Please excuse the minor vulgarity.)

Okay, that’s business as usual. The reasonably good roads get better, and the bad roads — well, they aren’t really roads any more are they, so who cares?

But wait, what about Insect Authority?

Well the Water Board, another Machiavellian entity which works in mysterious ways, dug a ditch (at least I’m blaming them for it) over a year ago and never fixed it. Never mind if I’m wrong about who did it or why. Someone will correct me. This also is not uncommon, I mean about the ditches, not the corrections. We have big unfixed ditches across the roads all over the place. They are probably the source of more foul language than any other single cause.

So, why the gap in the road? I stopped and asked someone who looked as if he might be in charge. He wore a bright orange safety jacket – another common accoutrement of wielders of Insect Authority. He said that his company would not  pave over the spot where the Water Board dug the ditch until the Water Board fixed it. There’s wicked logic at work there.

Well, let me tell you when that is going to happen. It will happen when Hell freezes over.  That’s when it will happen! (Whoops, another minor profanity.)

Apparently, the Water Board, the Town Council, and the contractors all are having a grand old time luxuriating in the rush of endorphins released by the exercise of their massive and awesome Insect Authority. I would find it funny if I didn’t have to drive over that ditch twice a day. It is making it very difficult to stay faithful to my New Year’s Resolution.

Okay, I feel better now.

Here are a couple of images of the airport road as I see it each morning on the way to work. This one with angry clouds:

Airport Road with major clouds
And this one with benign clouds;

Airport Road with minor clouds

And, just to show that I’ve recovered from my pique, here are some pretty flowers:

Mystery flower

I’ve shown these before and I still don’t know what they are. Maybe some kind reader will tell me. All stages of flowering are shown in this one photo. I’ve been waiting a while for this one.

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The Mystery of the Little Bear is Solved

Posted in Humor on April 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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In my post On the Road – Honolulu – Cute to Bizarre I showed you an image of a cute animal that I thought was a bear. As reader Stacey Johle pointed out in a comment, this is not the case.

First, let me note that the comment arrived on the old temporary site that I had set up to save Madang – Ples Bilong Mi after I was hacked and could no longer upload images. That site was www.mymadang.wordpress.com.  The site is now set as Private so that search engines can’t find it and people can’t land there. To my horror, I was still getting an average of 100 hits a day on that site. It is dead now, at least to anybody but me. I’ll leave it there, but nobody should be able to access it. I just hope that Google gets its act together and realizes soon that it should direct people here instead.

Okay, back to the mysterious animal. First, here is the image from my previous post:  (click the link in the first paragraph if you want to read the post)

Cute little animal statue in from of a Honolulu Japanese Steak House
Cute, eh? But to anyone who is not Japanese, probably mysterious. Stacey sent me this link to a blog post that explains all. NOTE: There are some anatomical references that some readers might find offensive. By the way the blog, called Tofugu, is an interesting place to visit if you are amused by Japanese culture (Alison, are you reading this?). After reading the blog post, I understood why it’s presence outside a Japanese Steak House might be considered amusing.  Here is an image that I ripped from the post:

This is a Tanuki.

The animal is a Tanuki. Sorry, I don’t know what they are saying to each other. They look a bit like raccoons, but even cuter. Thanks, Stacey, for solving this puzzle.

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