Happy Birthday, Karen – Waiting for the Tsunami

Posted in Dangerous, Mixed Nuts on February 28th, 2010 by MadDog
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Birthdays are terrific excuses for a party up at Blueblood. In fact, we need no excuse at all. Since there are now facilities for sleeping over, Eunie and I went up on Saturday afternoon for a small party to celebrate Karen Simmons birthday. Since I am still sick as a dog and didn’t feel much like partying hard, I fooled around with my Canon G11 camera to see how far I could stretch it. It proved to be fairly flexible.

For instance, here’s a passable shot taken of the party makers around the picnic table by candle light only:

I think that I shot this at ISO 1600 and it took a 1/4 second exposure. I had to give the “hold still” warning, but the shot did turn out nicely. I should mention that I had the camera mounted on a tripod, as with all of the rest of these shots. I like the shot. It has just the right mood and the lighting is very realistic. Not bad for a camera that sells for a little over US$400.

This shot might fool you, at first. It looks like a poor-quality image from a cell phone. However, if you consider that it was exposed only by the light of a full moon shining through clouds, it takes on a whole new aspect:

I shot it from the balcony overhanging the first floor (second floor for Yanks – the ground floor is called the ground floor by Australians – the next one up is the first floor). Believe it or not, this image was taken at ISO 80 for fifteen seconds. Therefore, it had practically no noise and was more or less perfect as it came from the camera. The long exposure accounts for the glassy water.

Here’s another one take from the beach level: You can clearly see Kar Kar Island  in the distance:

Since the giant earthquake in Chile was on everybody’s mind and we had no idea when or if a giant tsunami would engulf us, the party had a bit of a fatalistic flavour to it. “Wonder when it will get here?” “How big do you reckon it might be?” were popular topics of conversation.

Here is a similar shot taken after we lit the bonfire. You can see the firelight illuminating the sterns of Lying Dog  and Sanguma,  which were, here at about midnight, already beached by the low tide:

I noted a crazy thing which I had never even considered as I was shooting these long exposures. The night sky is not  black as it appears to our eyes. It is just as blue as it is in the day time, but it is very, very dark, so our eyes can’t see it. Below a certain light level, everything is just shades of grey to our eyes, even though colour still remains in the scene. It’s because our colour light receptors drop out of the data stream once the light level is low enough. They just don’t respond.

This shot is amusing, but I reckoned that I could do better:

Though the sparks are interesting (I had Rich Jones poking the fire to make more), the flames were badly overexposed and I lost all the detail.

This one turned out much better:

Moving away from the fire improved the shot. It’s a long exposure, so the flames are blurry, but the image is much more pleasing;

I couldn’t end this without showing you this lovely shot of Jenn Miller taken only by moonlight and the flames of the dwindling bonfire:

It’s not perfect, because it’s very difficult to hold perfectly still for four seconds, but it clicks for me. I’m very happy with it.

The tsunami never arrived. This is just as well, as we had no plans to go anywhere.

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The Essentials of Modern Living

Posted in Humor on February 27th, 2010 by MadDog
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Along with all the fun which I derive from providing you with the finest daily entertainment on the planet comes a Public Responsibility. This is my burden. One might call it “The Funnyman’s Burden.” This gigantic ironwood cross which I bear daily as I trudge to the office to pound out yet another jewel of jibber-jabber is the burden of responsibility to inform  as well as to entertain. After all, entertainment void of information is as empty as Britney Spears’ head. (Oh, I’ll get comments on that one! ).

Which causes me to momentarily digress to inform you that the two posts, out of 736 so far, which have drawn the most comments were one in which I showed an image of Britney Spears with my dog, Sheba’s, tongue hanging from her mouth and another in which I featured an astonishingly stupid product called “Yoga Toes” which had absolutely nothing  to do with yoga. (Justin Friend, do not  comment on this!). At the risk of offending you, gentle reader, this fact does not reflect well on the sophistication of my audience.

My first informational item, as have all the others, comes from the astoundingly classy The Atlantic Monthly  magazine, a rag which I study with religious fervor. This amazing offer allows one to acquire an entire stamp collection (1 collection per order, please) at no cost whatsoever:

You should probably note that the stamps shown, while not exactly pricey, are still a teesny bit on the collectible side and therefore are probably not  the ones you will receive. They also fail to mention that any decent hobby stamp store will have bins of thousands of 50+ year old stamps which you can purchase by the wheelbarrow load for one cent each. Nevertheless, if you know absolutely nothing about stamps and want to get the worst possible start collecting them, why pass up the offer. They’re free,  for pity’s sake! And, you’ll have hours of fun pouring over the “sucker” catalog of over-priced stamps which you will suddenly crave to “complete” your collection.

This one is, really, so funny that I’m nearly at a loss for words.

My understanding is that Crusty the Clown is the founder of the Bow Tie Club, but my recollection may be erroneous. I have, on occasion, worn a dead-black bow tie, but only with a black dinner jacket, cumber-bun, diamond studs and a Walther P-38 tucked snugly under my belt in the small of my back, just where the ladies can feel it when I tango them into a swoon.

Speaking of swooning ladies, lay one of these on your main squeeze and see what happens:

You can honestly tell her that it is a genuine Diamondmumble.  It’s very important to mumble the Aura  part, unless, of course you simply want to lie about it. I’d be a little cautious about that, however, in case she ever decides she needs some quick cash and takes it to her favourite pawn broker. Most hock-shops also sell pistols – the nice little nickel-plated jobs that fit neatly into a purse or a dainty hand.

By the way, you can click on any of these to read the fine print. It’s intensely amusing.

And now for The Smartest Stupidest Watch on the Planet:

Really, come on! US$945?

You know, I never wear a watch unless I’m in the USA where you can be shot for not doing so. Upon arrival in America, I march as fast as my short little legs can carry me to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy the biggest, flashiest watch that I can find for less than $10. I tell people that it’s a Rolex while conveniently scratching my head so that they can’t really see it. Nobody ever asks, “A Rolex, eh? Let me have a look.” I usually end up paying about $6.99. That seems to be the price point. When I’m on the way to the gate to board a plane leaving the U. S. of A., I get rid of the watch. I used to try to give them away, but people started looking for the nearest security guard. Now I just toss it into a trash bin. Perhaps I should mention that, in Papua New Guinea, a watch is one of the least essential bits of personal paraphernalia.

Oh, how I love it when companies in the business of making us money on our precious retirement funds tell us how wonderful they are:

I call this one The Train to Nowhere.  If I need to explain, then you obviously have been dead broke for the last five years, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping in cardboard boxes under railroad trestles and have therefore been mercifully spared the agony of seeing your life’s savings dwindle to “Dinner at McDonald’s” proportions. Lucky you.

Okay, I’m the last guy who should be making fun of old folks. But, the stuff they buy! I mean, look at this thing. Does it look safe to you? Thank heaven it’s battery operated. I wouldn’t want to sit in the bath in something that looks like this which was plugged into a power socket:

Does it eject you from the bath? If so, with what force? You know, I was water boarded three times in my former career about which I can say nothing (whoops, I may have just done so). The guys used a device which looked very similar to this, although somewhat more crude. It wasn’t  battery operated. They were remarkably humorful about the whole thing. I haven’t heard such uproarious laughter since the time I shot myself in the leg with a .38 Special. Now that  was funny!

There’s something else vaguely discalming to me about this ad. How old were you when adults stopped giving you a bath? I seem to remember locking the bathroom door by the time I was five.

I have to admit that this is my sentimental favourite. This poor bumpkin has been holding this box of Italian lessons and scratching his head for at least two years. Not to be cruel – he is a hardworking farm boy  and in the Great American Dream he richly deserves  to be intimately associated with all manner of supermodels,  especially with those who speak only Italian. If only he could speak Italian, he could have his big chance. It’s a terrible thing to waste a massive libido:

The folks at RosettaStone will, in  a matter of days, have him Skyping her and whispering sweet nothings into her shell-like ears (she’s wearing a stereo headset). His rich baritone voice, roughened by years of tractor dust to a masculinity exceeded only by the likes of Charlton Heston, the late and much lamented former President of the National Rifle Association, will melt her with his quickly acquired Tuscan accent.

She will arrive at the family farm. They will marry with much fanfare. He will give up farming to sell insurance. She will, in an astonishing short period, gain 80 Kilograms. They will live happily ever after.

Ain’t life grand?

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Much Ado About Guria – The Victoria Crowned Pigeon

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on February 26th, 2010 by MadDog
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I’ve seen a lot of stuff percolating on the web recently about the “amazing” Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Well, I’m here to tell you today, friends and neighbors, that that are absolutely delicious. However, before we get into recipes, let’s have a look at this morning’s rapturous sunrise:No, I wasn’t “taken up” or anything like that, but I do think the sky may have rolled back a little at the corners. Better be safe than sorry.

So, setting off to fulfil a promise to some Facebook friends to unveil the secrets of the aforementioned pigeon, which, by the way is the largest pigeon on this planet (frankly, I’ve seen larger on other planets – I’m only visiting here, you see), I walked over to a rather large and pretentious hotel where an impressive flock of our huge, magnificent flying rats abide. As luck would have it, some enormously fat dignitaries were arriving for some sort of mighty pow-wow and a small, timid group of local Sing Sing performers had gathered to present their modest contribution to the pompous festivities:One of them was about to offer me a pillowcase full of Mary Jane for K20 when I reckoned that I’d had enough of the war paint and decided to begin my stalk for the rare Goura victoria.

I didn’t have to stalk far. They are, after all, merely chicken-sized pigeons. Yeah, they’re pretty, but they’re still just pigeons. If you get enough of them together in one place and don’t overly molest them, they’ll multiply until you can’t swing a dead cat without knocking the top-knot off of one of these haughty buzzards:The Tok Pisin  name for these fat show-offs is guria,  which, oddly enough, is the same word for earthquake. For a long time I thought that the coincidental monikers was because of the deep booming noise that the males make when giving the come-on to their lady friends. As it turns out, when I looked up the taxonomic name, the genus is, of course, Goura,  which explains the sameness of the words. Or does it? I asked three local people today why they call the pigeon the same thing that they call the earthquake. The all looked at me as if I were stupid, something that you get used to very quickly here. “Because they make that earthquake sound when they are . . . you know . . . laikim meri.”  (That’s a polite way of saying, well . . . you know.) So, the mystery remains. [See UPDATE at the bottom of the post.]

Anyway, my first contact with a G. victoria  was at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Our son, Hans, of tender years, proclaimed it the most magnificent of God’s critters. We were inclined to agree. The next time that we came in contact with G. Victoria  was in a dugout canoe motoring up the Clay River  in the Sepik area. On that occasion, we stopped briefly at the river side where the canoe driver’s wife, with little ceremony, wrung the neck of a G. victoria  which she had caught in a snare. Hans was stricken. We had to remind him that to our guests, the wondefulest pigeon is just a hunk of meat.

Here’s a Sharp Dressed Man  (ZZ Top is playing now) jazzing it up in hopes of getting lucky:She didn’t look very interested. I didn’t stick around to watch.

In case you think we’re running short of Victoria Crowned Pigeons, I snapped this shot to show you a small platoon of them out foraging for the local farmers’ crops:Their apetites are voracious. They’ll eat fruit, berries, nuts, flying fox feces (a bit like jam, actually), small dogs and pretty much anything including rocks.

Oh, I nearly forgot the recipe. Here’s my favourite: (Sorry about the non-metric measurements. I was educated, if that’s what you could call it, where “The Metric System” is considered a despised foreign influence.)

The beauty of Goura victoria  is that it cooks so quickly. The meat, richly flavored and all dark, is at its succulent best when rare. To get good browning, this means the birds have to cook at high heat – which introduces a problem. The fatty layer under the skin drips and smokes in the oven or catches fire on the barbecue. The solution: grill over indirect heat. If parts of the Goura victoria  get quite dark before birds are done, drape affected areas with foil.

MadDog’s Honey-Thyme Goura victoria

Yield: Makes 12 servings


  • 4  medium Goura victoria  (5 lb. each)
  • 24  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 12  tablespoons  honey
  • 8  teaspoons  fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
  • Salt


1. With poultry shears or kitchen scissors, cut each Goura victoria  in half through center of breast and back. Pull off and discard fat lumps. Cut off necks and reserve with giblets for other uses. Rinse birds and pat dry. I recommend that you remove the feathers before starting all this. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier.

2. In a bowl, mix vinegar, honey, and thyme. Add Goura victoria  and mix to coat with seasonings. Let stand at least 20 minutes or chill, covered, up to 1 day, turning pieces over several times.

3. Prepare barbecue for indirect heat.

If using charcoal, mound and ignite 60 briquets on the firegrate of a barbecue with a lid (20 to 22 in. wide). When briquets are dotted with gray ash, in about 15 minutes, push equal portions to opposite sides of the firegrate. Place a drip pan between coals. Set the grill in place.

If using a gas barbecue, cover and turn heat to high for about 10 minutes. Adjust burners for indirect cooking (no heat down center) and keep on high. Set a drip pan beneath grill between ignited burners. Set grill in place.

4. Lift Goura victoria  from marinade and lay, bones down, in center of grill, not directly over the heat. Cover barbecue and open the vents.

5. Cook until birds are richly browned, basting Goura victoria  frequently with marinade, using it all. For rare, breasts are moist and red in center (cut to test); allow about 25 minutes. For medium, cook 6 to 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Save the top-knots for table decorations. If you have enough, guests can stick them in their hair and pretend to be pigeons.

Em Tasol!  (That’s all!)

UPDATE: Facebook friend Justin Friend (funny coincidence, that) just left me a message saying:

My understanding of the name Guria pigeon, is based on the way they almost shiver and all their feathers shake and vibrate as they do it, and that the Genus name was actually a direct link to the name “Guria” when they were first described in New Guinea, having heard the birds described as “Guria” when they do that shiver-shake thing…..but I could be wrong….but thats my understanding…. and give me a good ‘ol BBQ Tree Kangaroo over a BBQ Pigeon any day!

Thanks for that very nice clarification, Justin.

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Harley Madness – The Ride to Balek

Posted in Dangerous, Mixed Nuts on February 25th, 2010 by MadDog
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After a week of being sick with sinusitis and bronchitis and not having time to take off of work to heal, I was ready yesterday to cut loose for an afternoon. Having a boss who is particularly in tune with my needs (my wife of 45 years, Eunice) gave me the privilege of saying, “I’m going for a Harley ride this afternoon, to which she responded, “Get out of here!” Long-term monogamy has its advantages.

My dear wife was likewise approving of my riding companion, Jo Noble, who had been . . . ah . . . shipwrecked here in Madang for several months. Jo is the Steward (I think that is the correct term) on a large yacht which is here in Madang awaiting major repairs before traveling on to where it is that large yachts go. I’m sure that I’ll never know. Jo is the very nice young lady you met on our trip to Nob Nob for the post Lightning Down a few days ago. Here she is fooling around with the Harley on the road out to the mountains on the way to the Ramu Valley:

The road this far is “improved”, which means there are fewer giant potholes and the gravel is not so loose that you risk a rash at every corner.

We took a couple of breaks for photos. Here Jo tries to remember how ‘left’ and ‘right’ are somehow magically reversed as she attempts to photograph herself in the rear-view mirror of the Harley:

I didn’t ask to see the resulting image.

Our plan was to cross this river ford and ride for a few kilometres up into the beautiful mountains. However, when we looked at the deep mud at the ford, we decided not to spoil the day by wallowing in the muck with the Hog:

So, we turned around and headed back to town to the Balek Wildlife Reserve, using our noses to guide us to the famous “Stinky River”.

For this shot, Jo asked if I thought that she looked “too silly”. Little did she realise that she was asking the wrong person. Silly is a way of life for me. I’ve made a career of it. I think she looks just fine:

One wants to visit Balek in the morning hours. In the afternoon the giant limestone cliffs from which the spring emerges block out the light and make photography a challenge.

I did manage one nice shot of Jo in the cave with only the natural light coming in. The colours on the rocks in the cave are psychedelic:

On my last trip to Balek, I had forgotten about the giant eels. This time we managed to coax one out. This was the best shot that I could get:fdsa
There are several that live in the river, along with some fairly large turtles.

At the village, we got the classic “Baby in a bilum” shot:

Babies are normally hung in string bags from trees for their naps.

I hate to do a post without a weird critter shot, so here it is:

This giant millipede seemed to be curled up for a nap in the sun.

Back safely at the office, we coaxed Eunie out to take our picture with the Harley:

I needed a fun day. Sometimes we all do.

I got one!

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More Reef Scenes – For Pity’s Sake, Somebody Stop Me!

Posted in Under the Sea on February 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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Man, I’m just freakin’ out! Good things are popping up like Jack-in-the-boxes all over the place. I’m hoping to be able to make some highly amusing announcements over the next couple of weeks. Eunie and I will have several bits of news that will surprise a lot of people. (No, we’re not  having a baby!)

None of these involve web connectivity, unfortunately, as the MadDog/TELIKOM war continues. Today’s dispatch from the front:  A spy informs me that several major cables, affecting hundreds of customers, are full of water and the equipment used to clear them out is not being employed. This is a problem that can be fixed and someone has simply not fixed it. I talked to the manager this morning and he said that he has instructed the crews to use the equipment to blow the moisture out of all of the cables. We’ll see how that goes. It should improve service for many customers. He also informed me that the long-awaited USB dongles for Internet connections should be available shortly. Let’s see what the definition of “shortly” turns out to be.

Wow, I’m in a good mood today. I’m going to make the most of it. If it doesn’t rain this afternoon I’m going to give myself the PM off and take a Harley ride with a friend. I hope to have some photos tomorrow. I got this schmaltzy picture of the sunrise this morning:I saw a remake of Hair  the other night and the tune of Good Morning Starshine  has been tickling my neurons at odd moments. It was generating extremely strong vibes this morning. So strong, in fact, that I added a fake star to the image above.

Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below

Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song

Gliddy gloop gloopy
Nibby nobby nooby
La la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba dabba
Le le lo lo
Dooby ooby walla
Dooby abba dabba
Early morning singing song

Well, that certainly made me feel better. I hope you know the melody so that you could sing along as I did. It took me several tries to get the words right. It was a pleasant little task, requiring a nimbling of the tongue that I haven’t practiced since my acting classes. (What a waste of time that  was.)

I am presently listening to a lovely female artist by the name of Bebel Gilberto. She was born in America of Brazilian descent. She sings bossa nova as it was born to be sung – very smooth and sensual.

Before I start stinking the place up with more fishy stuff, here’s a nice panorama of Madang across the harbour from my house:I got the shot yesterday afternoon. It’s a stitch-up of nine frames.

First, I’ll show you the cute little chubby nudibranch with the disgusting name (Phyllidiella pustulosa): It’s hustling along at top speed along a white sponge.

Now, here is a coral of the Lobophylia  persuasion:Might make an interesting desktop background or screen saver if you’re in the mood for a little day-tripping.

Ah, and now on to the reef scenes. The two are quite similar, but with amusing differences in detail, showing how, in a few seconds the scene changes:You’ll probably by now recognise the Ornage Finned Anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus):I suppose that I’ve annoyed you sufficiently for today, so I’ll say adios  until tomorrow.


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Make the Scene, Man – at the Reef!

Posted in Under the Sea on February 23rd, 2010 by MadDog
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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. In 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 makes 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 your caption had 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.

And finally, because you’ll never  get tired of looking at female Purple Anthea (Pseudanthias tuka),  here are some for you:Well, never say never.

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.

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Smart Corals and Dumb Corals

Posted in Under the Sea on February 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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First I’ll deliver the latest dispatch from the MadDog/TELIKOM War. Today’s skirmish was a brief exchange of peace offerings which occurred at my house. Two technicians came and got my Internet connection going again. As a peace offering, I agreed that, as long as it worked, I’ll not display any more images of shoddy workmanship, no matter how many I find. I think that’s pretty fair. We’ll see how long that cease-fire lasts. One of the technicians promised to come to do data error tests from my office to the exchange this afternoon. He has not shown up yet. I may have to fire another volley to get some action going again. UPDATE: He is here now, but I had to go pick him up in my car, as you will note below.

I must admit that my ring of spies in TELEKOM is growing nicely. In return for anonymity, I’m getting surprising information and remarks. Today’s revelation, from three independent sources, is that some genius at TELIKOM has forgotten, refused, or otherwise failed to release funds to register all of the TELIKOM vehicles. Therefore, TELIKOM workers are obliged to hoof it to their work locations. Needless to say, some sorry customers will not receive service as walking distance to and from will exceed the six or seven hours usually allotted to a working day.

Another tidbit that delighted me was a remark by a TELIKOM technician concerning management. “They’re making us look stupid!” His  words, not mine!  It came as a response to my comment that I believed that the technicians were willing and capable to do first-rate work if given the proper equipment and supplies.

Okay, enough of that.

Why are some corals considered brainy and others not so? Maybe it has to do with the general appearance. They all have that squirmy, vaguely disgusting look about them. We’re not really supposed  to actually see  our brains, are we? So, of course, they’re not designed to be attractive, unlike other body parts I could  name, but probably won’t. For instance this Brain Coral (Goniastrea australensis)  is sort of brainy looking, but more like the brain of the alien from Alien,  if you know what I mean:

Sigourney Weaver would squish this with her boot wearing her long-johns, if she got the chance.

This is still brainy looking, but somewhat less disgusting. It’s a Leptoria phrygia  brain coral, which means absolutely nothing to me. I looked it up in a book – probably incorrectly:It looks as if it may have been removed from a Conehead. Possibly Dan Aykroyd, who is now, not coincidentally, a minor wine producer in Canada. I’ve tasted his plonk. It’s quite drinkable.

Now this is a brain! Mister Spock would have had such a magnificently squiggly nugget in his noggin. It’s a Platygyra lamellina.  and a fine one, at that.I’d be proud to have such a well-rounded and obviously classically educated brain. I’d be proud to have a brain at all.

But, what about the less mentally nimble corals? Need we dismiss them? No, of course not! For, like blondes (there, I’ve finally said it and my wife will have my hide for it), corals need not be excessively bright to have their . . . attributes. For instance, this young Acropora cerealis  is as pretty as a picture (nasty pun there – sorry) and need not fear for its future because of a lack of mental acuity:Likewise, this very young and most rare Solitary Coral (Fungia costulata)  possesses an ethereal beauty that far exceeds its more intelligent cousins:The identification as a little tricky here. The colouration had me stumped. It wasn’t until I noticed that the radiating ridges (each called a septum, if you care) are considerably thicker in the center that I was able to pin it down. With other Solitary Corals, this is not the case. I’m such a clever boy, I am.

Finally, we have the dumb corals and the dumber corals. The one which is being engulfed is some kind of Acropora,  I think. I don’t know what the one which is encasing it is, but I’d give it the edge in wit:So, there we have it. We’ve covered the entire spectrum of intelligence of corals in one simple, easy to remember lesson.

All that need be remembered is that they are all as stupid as stones.

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