Yoga Toes

Posted in Humor on April 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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PLEASE READ THIS FIRST: This post has absolutely nothing to do with the practice of yoga.  I’ve been practicing yoga since I was a child. I possibly know more about it than you do. If you do not read the post or if you misunderstand it, then please don’t leave a comment extolling the virtues of yoga, since this post is not  about yoga. It is about a stupid product that people buy because they are fooled  into thinking is has something to do with yoga. If you’re one of those people, then I’m sad for you. I won’t bother to allow any more comments that have nothing to do with the real content of this post. (Have a look at the comments to see what I mean. Very comical!)

I’m forever on the lookout for stupid stuff that people buy. Not that I want any of it. It is only for purposes of intense amusement. This one made me shake my head in wonder:

Yoga Toes
Okay, I can understand that some people might want to have their toes played with (we will call it massage, but we all know that it’s something else). Personally, I’m very skittish about who touches my feet, as I made clear in Instructions to My Masseuse * in my post Mad Dog Gets a Lube. (Please note the red asterisk and read the footnote BEFORE opening Instructions to My Masseuse. )

Have a look at those contraptions. Do they seem a mite risky? I would not trust my lower phalanges to any device, let alone something that strongly resembles an automated guillotine.  What if something goes wrong? Will your toes be scattered across the floor?  (Cat got your toes?) Can you walk around with these gizmos attached to your feet or must you sit back and take it? In precisely what manner does YogaToes “Improve and prevent foot problems”?

I’m keenly suspicious. However, if you are still teetering on the edge of desire for “Great VIBES for you toes”, the visit the YogaToes web site.

While we’re on the ticklish subject of toes, I’m compelled to present to you a Public Service Announcement concerning BAD SHOES. On my recent bush walk I gave my shoes away to one of my porters after only six hours of trudging up and down the mountains and slopping through the streams. My big toes were killing me. Once I was rid of the shoes I was fine. I’ve had nearly three decades of going barefoot most of the time to toughen up my tootsies. Here’s what Cruel Shoes can do to your precious piggies:

Oh!  My toes!Sorry to have to put you through that.

Let me make it up to you by showing you my cheery chilli bush the way it looked this morning in the Chablis coloured morning light:

My chilli bush in the morning sunlight

The last time I got this excited about chillies was way back in March 2008 with Shiny Happy Chilies Holding Hands.

* Contains suggestive language that may or may not offend according to your sensibilities. If in doubt, don’t read it. It’s intended to be funny, but your mileage may vary.

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Lightbox is Killed After One Day

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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I got a comment on yesterday’s post about Lightbox – the gizmo that pops up an image on a darkened background instead of opening a new browser window.

Milly, an “avid reader” (her words) said that she often wants to do something with my images other than just looking at them. She makes screen savers of them and uses them in other ways. You can read her comment at the end of An Experiment With Lightbox.

Another disadvantage of Lightbox was that I had to make my images smaller. I went down from 1200 as a maximum pixel dimension to 800 for landsacpe shots and 600 for portrait. This reduces drastically the quality of the full-size image that you might want to print or use as a screensaver.

So, as I promised Milly, I’m killing lightbox after only one day. I’m going to continue to check it out and look for alternatives that might allow both the quick and pretty pop-up images while allowing access to a full-sized high resolution image.

Starting with tomorrow’s post, we will be back with full-sized images that will pop up in a new browser window or tab.

Thanks, Milly

Just because I hate to post without an image, here’s how Faded Glory appeared to me this morning:

Faded Glory basks in the morning sun
Sorry, Lightbox. You may yet get another chance if you behave.

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An Experiment With Lightbox

Posted in Photography Tricks on April 22nd, 2009 by MadDog
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UPDATE: I’ve killed Lightbox for the time being. I can’t figure out a way to do both the nice pop-ups for images AND allow the reader access to full-resolution images for printing, screen savers, or use in their own projects. If I figure out a way to provide both, Lightbox may come back.

I’ve never been very happy with the way my images display when you click to enlarge. Today, I’ll use you as guinea pigs to test a different way to do it. I’m trying a WordPress plugin called Lightbox2. Instead of opening a clicked image in a new browser window, it dims the background and shows the image in the same window. Try it on this image of waves breaking on the rocks at Pig Island to see how it works:
Waves breaking on the rocks at Pig Island

You can use your left and right arrows on your keyboard to move back and forth between the images of a post. At least it works for me.

Here is a shot of bright red coral (Lobophyllia hemprichii) at Planet Rock:

Coral (Lobophyllia hemprichii)
And here is an image of Little Pig Island:

Little Pig Island

And now, some pretty clouds over the North end of Kranket Island:

North end of Kranket IslandIt works for me. The only problem is that I have to make my uploaded images a bit smaller. I have been using 1200 pixels as my maximum dimension. That doesn’t work very well with Lightbox, because they are too big on the screen (try clicking images in previous posts to see what I mean.) I’m going to try 800 pixels maximum dimension for a while to see how well it works.

I haven’t decided whether to keep it turned on or not. I like posting the larger images because they have more detail and readers can print them out in larger formats if they like. But, the problem with the image being too big with in Lightbox doesn’t seem to have a solution. Is anybody out there an expert on Lightbox?

I’ll give it a few days to see if anybody comments.

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Start Each Day With a Sunrise

Posted in Humor, Photography Tricks on April 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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I feel in good humour today, possibly even humorous. That remains to be seen. It will only be about ten or eleven days, depending on the vagaries of international air travel, until I’ll be with my woman again in Canada. It’s good to be with your woman. It’s good to be in Canada (but even better with my woman). Eunie will be heading north from Illinois in a couple of days.

One thing that I’m not looking froward to is being cold. I hate being cold. I suppose that is one reason why Madang is so agreeable to me. I hardly ever catch a cold here. Catching a cold can be a very unpleasant experience; just ask William Henry Harrison, my favourite president. The only time I shiver is when I’m coming down with a dose of malaria. That’s no fun, but it doesn’t happen often. The other pleasantries of life in a tropical paradise compensate for the occasional possibly fatal disease. One learns to live with it. Disease, pestilence, crime, volcanoes, earthquakes . . . these are but the pesky flies buzzing around our eternal picnic here in Madang, the heart of Paradise.

Anyway, when I got up this morning, the sunrise was ho-hum. I took its picture regardless. Here’s what it looked like at our house this morning at 06:00:

My front yard panorama for today. You can click on it to get a bigger view. The shot covers about 180° and is made up of eleven frames. The JPG file is 25 megabytes! You are looking at a scaled-down version. If you had the full-sized version and looked very closely you could see this:

Flying foxes over Madang at sunriseClick on the image to enlarge it and look to the right of the coconut tree. About a kilometre from my house, across the harbour you can see some flying foxes milling about in the sky before setting down to rest in the trees of town for the day. Stay out all night and party. Sleep all day. Those flying foxes have got it down to a science.

On the way to work I stopped on Coronation Drive to shoot the Finisterre Mountains:

A panorama of the Finisterre Mountains with the height doubled

When I began playing with this image, ten frames combined into one panorama, I was simply not satisfied to leave it alone. Hmmm. . . I wonder how big they would look if they were twice as high? A few mouse clicks later and we how have what could easily be taken for the home of King Kong:

King Kong - 1933
By the way, did you know that you can get a full-colour paper model of the Empire State Building for just a few bucks. Just the thing for your model King Kong to play with. I couldn’t find any paper models of Fay Wray.

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A Good Buddy Gets Hitched

Posted in Book Reports, Mixed Nuts on April 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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Frequent readers will know our buddy Mike Wolfe. Mike works for World Vision, a faith-based NGO. He’s a water and sanitation technical adviser in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Mike is one of those strangely deranged people that, for no explicable reason, wander around the world doing things that seem to need to be done. He doesn’t get paid much for it and sometimes the conditions are less than the Paradise that he experienced while living in Madang. For an example of what Mike is all about, have a read of Jesus Wants You to Build a Toilet.

Mike maintains an absolutely stunning blog called Wanderlust. The photography is impeccable (and moving in a way that makes me green with envy) and the prose is emotionally charged without being overly sentimental. If you haven’t been there, take the trip — and I do mean it’s a trip, man.  UPDATE:  Whoops!  That blog belongs to Tristan, another dive buddy. I always get Tris and Mike mixed up. Call it creeping senility. Sorry, Tris, for giving your blog away to Mike. See the comment below by Tris. I think that he was very restrained.

Well, young Mike has up and got himself hitched. And, from what I gather, his bride, Lisa McKay is quite a catch.  Here’s her LinkedIn summary:

Australian forensic psychologist specialising in stress and trauma issues related to humanitarian relief and development work. Directs the Headington Institute‘s training and education program which involves national and international travel to deliver training workshops and consultation services, as well as writing training and education materials for humanitarian workers and mental health professionals.

Hmmm . . . a very busy young lady, I’d say.  Here’s the flower-strewn path shot from their wedding:

Rose petals and all
And a little smooch:
A smooch with the bride
Plus the obligatory walk on the beach:
The obligatory beach scene
A classy couple.

Lisa has other talents. She is an author. Her first book was published in 2007  —My Hands Came Away Red:

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay
Mike gave me an autographed copy of Lisa’s book recently. My excuse for not reading it yet is lame. I have three magazine articles to finish before I leave in a little over a week and I’m feeling slothful, always a bad omen. I’m going to take it with me to keep me amused as I work my way half way around the world to Canada.

I’m not usually a reader of “Christian Literature.”  I know that there are excellent authors out there, but most of what I have read gives me the creepy feeling that the writer is desperately trying to sell me something that I’ve already bought. Either that or I’m being constantly reassured that what I believe is okay to believe. Hey, I choose to believe it. I’m not forced to believe it. I don’t need to be reassured that it’s okay or that I’m not some kind of weirdo for being a believer.

I’m anxious to see if Lisa can give me a good buzz without putting me off. From the reviews that I’ve read, I think that she’ll get the job done.

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Nearly Deleted

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on April 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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Some of greatest enjoyment that I get from working with images comes from the minutes that I work on an image that I was just about to delete. As my finger hovers over the DELETE key, I make a final judgement. I’m a merciful kind of guy, possibly too much so. Today I’ll show you some recent images that I nearly deleted. Each had a tragic flaw that I had to somehow overcome. Some attempts were more successful than others.

I’ll start with the worst failure. I simply could not delete this image taken from the top of Nob Nob Mountain. It faintly shows the Finisterre Mountains at the right and an Air Niugini jet taking off from Madang on the left. But the colours were impossible. So, I pretend that it’s grey and rainy in the distance. It doesn’t work for me:

Madang Town, Astrolabe Bay, and the Finisterre Range

Points = zero.

This one, taken from a different position is a bit better. You can see Madang, the rugged mountains in the foreground, and the Finisterre Range again on the right:

Astrolabe Bay and the Finisterre Range as seen from Nob Nob Mountain

A few points, maybe. At least it doesn’t look too fake.

This one is looking North-east from the top of Nob Nob Mountain. This image pleases me more. It looks natural and the sun is playing beautifully with the water way out on Astrolabe Bay:

Looking up the North Coast from Nob Nob Mountain

The next one nearly got the chop because I didn’t think that the house would be visible enough to tell the story. It was taken at max zoom on my Canon G-9, which it nothing to talk about. It’s a little wimpy. The house was about three kilometres away. Still (if you click to enlarge) the image does tell the story of rural life in Papua New Guinea. A surprising percentage of the population lives in just such relatively isolated places:

A typical rural house in Papua New Guinea

I didn’t like the strong shadows in the next one, though the image was too endearing to delete. A few minutes of adjusting brightness and saturation in selected areas of the image pulls the eye away from the dark blob of the woman’s shirt and allows the mind’s focus to shift to the child, the bright clothing and the chuckling stream:

Wash Day at a village at Nob NobThe image above makes good use of the Rule of Thirds. As it turns out, it’s my favourite of the bunch.

The last image seemed hopeless. The area around the house was nearly blacked out. I pulled it up with the Photoshop Shadows/Highlight filter, but that usually gives the image a strange flat look if you overdo it. So, I decided to turn it into art instead of a photo:

A village house at Nob Nob

Judicious application of the Stroked Edges filter allowed for the salvation of this image. It will never hang in a museum, but it’s art, nevertheless.

At least, according to the MadDog definition.

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Bachelor’s Dinner – PNG Style

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on April 18th, 2009 by MadDog
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As a public service to all PNG men who are suffering, as I am, without a woman (temporarily, at least, for me), I’m going to give you a recipe for a delicious and nutritious dinner that you can prepare in fifteen minutes, not counting the time for the bush walk to collect ingredients.

Here is what you need:

Ingredients:  Magi noodles, aibika and tulip (the spider is optional)

From left to right we have Magi Chicken Flavoured Noodles, a spider (optional), and a package containing aibika and tulip.  The spider crawled out of the package during the night while it was in the fridge. I assumed he was dead.

First we need to prepare the tulip  leaves. The name tulip does not refer to the tulip flower. It simply means that there are “two leaves” at the end of each twig. Here are the distinctive leaves of the tulip  tree:

The distinctive leaves of the Tulip tree
The ones above are rather too large for my taste. I prefer the younger leaves. The flavour is more delicate. I like to cut out the tough vein in the middle:

Preparing the tulip

Next we prepare the aibika.  Don’t worry that it’s full of holes. The bugs love it. I’ve never seen an aibika  leaf that wasn’t holey. Cut out the tough vein in the middle:

Preparing the aibika

I like to crunch up my noodles so I don’t have to deal with them hanging from my mouth while I slurp them in. It seems somehow undignified. Put your noodles in a suitable bowl along with the aibika  and tulip.  Don’t forget to add the little packet of flavouring that comes with the noodles or it’s going to taste awful. Add salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like. At this point, I had not yet decided whether to add the spider. Finally, I declined. Put in some water and:

Noodles, aibika, tulip, salt, pepper - all you need (add water, of course)

Nuke it for ten minutes in the microwave oven. If you don’t have a microwave handy, a fire will do, but I would recommend a metal pot instead of a plastic bowl:

Nuke it in the microwave for ten minutes

At this point, I would recommend that you have one last look in the bowl to make sure that you did not forget to add the water. It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of that small detail. I set my microwave oven on fire once when I neglected to follow the check-list.

And here we have it:  Magi Noodles Aibika & Tulip Supreme  —  a meal fit for a tired old man;


Ah, but what about the spider? As I was preparing my dinner, I noticed that the spider seemed to be shivering as it lay there on its back. Optical Illusion,  I thought to myself. But NO!, The spider came back to life! If you doubt me, here he is:

The spider came back to life

I would have let him wander around the house to see if he could find a tasty cochroach, but he was acting so nasty towards me that I put him outside so that he could find something else to eat (other than me) after his long cold nap in the fridge.

Bon appétit.

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