Sunday at the Office

Posted in Under the Sea on February 21st, 2010 by MadDog
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Wooo Hooo, I just LOVE driving all the way to work on Sunday morning to do a post because swampsucking TELIKOM can’t figure out how to twist two wires together so that somebody can get an actual dial tone for more than two hours. However, it does produce the occasional side-benefit. Witness this lovely, if somewhat sombre, morning scene at Coconut Point:The water was all sparkly and the sky looked like it had just dropped some acid. Very trippy, indeed.

Speaking of trippy, I showed you some Blue Coral (Heliopora coerulea)  in a mixed bag of things that I picked up on the beach. It took me a long time to figure out where it came from. There’s nothing that looks like it underwater. Then I discovered that it is actually brown on the outside. I began looking around for the right stuff and finally found a little bit that had been broken off. On Saturday’s dive, I found a big spot where something, probably a clumsy diver, had broken off a couple of knobs:As you can see, it’s improbably bright blue inside. I’d be interested to know what causes this blue colouration, but I’m far, far too lazy to research it. The beach at Wongat Island  is covered with the stuff that has been broken up by natural means and washed up and tumbled. That’s what you see in the image to which I’ve linked to in the paragraph above. The image here is the live stuff that has been broken off.

I simply love these chubby, cuddly looking Starfish (Choriaster granulatus).  They are the puppies of the Starfishes:I noticed that this one was particularly pink, especially in the centre. The do vary somewhat in tint. The posture here is suggestive that it’s leaping over the boulder with its arms outstretched, probably hollering “Whoopee!” Don’t believe it. Their top speed is about a half-metre an hour.

Here’s some very gaudy female Purple Antheas (Pseudanthias tuka)  flitting around at the local mall:The male is around somewhere, probably near the edge of his harem, keeping an eye out for poachers.

I showed you one of these nightmarish Sea Cucumbers (Bohadschia graeffei)  a few days ago:This is a much better shot. It clearly shows the sucker-like food-gathering thingies that reach out continuously and grab onto anything remotely edible.  As soon as one of these appendages has sucked something up, it bends around in a particularly creepy fashion and shoves itself down into the gob of the squishy, prickly, disgusting critter.

You’ve gathered by now, I’m sure, that this is not among my favourite creatures of the sea.

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Care for a Little Wine With Your Fish?

Posted in Under the Sea on February 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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Four days of drugging myself unmercifully have relieved me of most of the symptoms of what seemed, at first, to be a bad cold. Not so. Feeling much worse each day, I eventually went for the Cipro. One day later, I was nearly human again. On Saturday, I felt well enough for a little dive at Pig Island  on top of the reef. Despite poor lighting, I got some nice pictures.

TELIKOM, having “fixed” my phone for exactly two hours until the dial tone disappeared once again, forced me to drive to the office this morning to access the web. Not a bad thing, since I got this lovely shot of the Finisterre Mountains from the balcony of the Coastwatchers Motel restaurant:So, what’s this about wine? Well, I saw some Sea Grapes (Caulerpa racemosa)  on my dive and hacked them into the title of the post, that’s all:It’s a kind of sea weed, so I wouldn’t expect a fine vintage from them. I’m not even sure of the species name. The info on the web is a little confusing.

The beautiful little Dwarf Hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco)  is always fun to shoot, that is, if you can get them to stay still long enough:They tend to flit from perch to perch about every five seconds as long as you are close to them. Fortunately, that is enough time to grab focus and click.

Here’s one that you haven’t seen here before, because they usually hide so well that you can see only their bright blue eyes. They are Split-Banded Cardinalfish (Apogon compressus):The water was nice and clear at Pig Island,  but the light was poor, since there was an overcast. Still, I managed a pretty reef scene in which I can identify about a dozen different species:These Redfin Butterflyfish (Chaetodon lunulatus)  are exasperating. It’s almost impossible to get a side-on shot of one. They always try to keep their tails toward you:I suppose that that is a good escape technique, since it presents the smallest visible area for a predator to lock in on.

You’ve seen the Arc Eye Hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus)  here many times, but you’ll have to see another one now, since I never get tired of shooting them:I’m sure that there are prettier fish in the sea.

However, for today, this one will have to take the winner’s place.

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Today’s Walk

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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A little fresh air seemed to be in order today, as I’ve been locked down at my office desk or in bed all week. Yes, quite! A little stroll around to to see what I can see. So, what did I see?

Hmmm . . . starting on a sour note, I first saw a fake remedy peddler, or, as I prefer to call them, murderers:Take careful note of all the things that he can cure. If you are afflicted by any of these, he will arrange to send you a a fix.

I stopped by Ho Kit’s, a Chinese variety store, and found something that I haven’t noticed for years. No, they are not red rocks. They are salt plums:I have no idea how they are made. When you put one in your mouth the first instinct is to spit it back out as rapidly as possible. If you hang in there for a few seconds you are rewarded by an amazing, powerful salt, sweet, vinegar, plummy taste that lingers until the thing eventually melts down to the pit, which I recommend that you do spit out.

Ambling over to the market, I found some rather rare red bananas, which I really like:Inside, the flesh is orange and they taste more like banana custard than an ordinary banana.

Still under the heading of tasty sweets, I found some very nice ripe rambutan:You peal the prickly outside off to find the jelly-like very sweet stuff inside.

While I was at the market, I got this panorama shot to give you a little taste of it:This one is pretty cool if you click to enlarge. There are a couple of messes where people moved between shots, but it’s still interesting.

These little Coke stands are all over town. Apparently Pepsi lost that war:

I’ve just been listening to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man. Of course, in my usual mode of shameless self-promotion, this image came immediately to my mind. It’s from a “Fashion Shoot” that Eunie and I did in Hamiltion, Ontairo.

She has a nice eye for the moment. I love the way she caught the cigar smoke drifting across my shoulder:

Well, enough about me.

Now let’s talk about me.

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So, So Blue

Posted in Under the Sea on February 18th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, now I’m only two days behind. No thanks to TELIKOM. For some reason known only to God and the local manager, I got a call this morning from a guy in the business department. He seemed to want to sell me a PABX system to fix my problem. I asked him if it had any copper lines going to the exchange. He didn’t know. I asked him if he knew anything about the USB wireless adapters that were announced for sale in April and still don’t work. He said he didn’t know. I asked him if he knew anything at all. He said he wasn’t sure. I think the local manager is trying to avoid me. Every time I call, he has “gone to pick up his kids at school” (funny thing for a manager to be doing in the middle of the day) or, “just stepped out”, or “in a team meeting”. Hah! Since his office is only a few steps from mine, that makes it a little easier for me. I can station one of my spies in the parking lot and he can inform me by walkie-talkie when the guy comes to his office. My means are many and nefarious.

I will not let this matter rest.

Never mind. I’m soon going to set up a wireless link between our big radio tower at our office and my house. I’ll have a fast 24/7 connection for absolutely nothing! I’m going to take my two TELIKOM handsets and throw them into the ocean where they will do the fish more good that they have ever done me. I’ll set up some Skype phones in the bedroom, lounge and our new J&E Enterprises Limited office and say “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish!” to TELIKOM forever. How glorious it will be to see the day when none of my communications have to pass through a single piece of TELIKOM’s crummy gear. Digicell will do me nicely for a portable. TELIKOM’s cell service doesn’t work half the time anyway.

I should possibly apologise to my readers who do not live in PNG and therefore do not understand the agony of trying to get simple phone service. My good mate Trevor Hattersley’s phone has not worked for five months. Most people simply give up and buy a cell phone. In fact, I believe that is exactly what TELIKOM wants. They want to abandon huge sections of copper cable that are so old that they can’t support even voice service. This leaves outlying small businesses stranded with no phones. Imagine owning a hotel (Such as Jais Aben) if your phones do not work half of the time. Yet TELIKOM offers no business alternative.

Okay, okay, enough for today. The pictures aren’t that great today either.

Today’s music is Pink Floyd’s Pigs on the Wing  from the ethereal Animals  album of 1977. It’s strangely in tune with my mood today. I also like Dogs  from the same album. Some of the lyrics bring tears to my crusty old eyes for their timeless poignancy. The guitar riffs are stunning.

Do you have to deal with people who think like this?

And after a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.

Sure, we all do. Sadly, some aspire  to that philosophy.

Never Mind. My task is only to show pretty pictures.

Here’s a little mob of Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus)   who, happily, never have to make a phone call: Lucky little critters, eh? You’ll probably have to click to enlarge them.

This is one of the prettiest Feather Star images that I’ve managed:The lovely Lamprometra  seems to be in a state of grace, all curly and calm.

This is a sort of throw it out and see who likes it shot. It makes me think of looking down into a particularly nice aquarium at some friend’s house. He must be very good at his hobby:It’s a bunch of small Anthea  of some species that I can’t identify.

Some of you will recognise these Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus)  from many other posts here. I shoot them whenever I get the chance:I think “conformists” when I look at this image. I don’t like the feeling. If I stare at it long enough I can see them moving. Must be all the drugs I’ve been taking the last few days.

I usually strive for natural colour. Of course, that’s not what you get from the camera. They usually look more like this:Sometimes blue is what you need.

From Animals,  I leave you with Sheep:

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
You better watch out,
There may be dogs about
I’ve looked over Jordan, and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

Peace.

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TELIKOM – FAIL!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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Yesterday I was so sick that I couldn’t come to the office – first time since I can remember. I’m usually very healthy. However, when I do catch a cold, it almost invariably attracts an opportunistic bacterial infection and I get very sick in only two or three days. I started Cipro yesterday morning and today I’m back to work.

I’m now so far behind (it’s the 19th here now – the last post is dated the 16th), that I don’t know if I’ll catch up. I thank TELIKOM for that. If I can find a cheap shyster in Madang today, I’m going to file a million Kina lawsuit against the clowns just for the sake of harassment.

Here’s this morning’s sunrise, the first nice one for several weeks:Since I had nothing better to do than to harass TELIKOM yesterday, I insisted that a data technician come to my house and do a data transmission test from there to the exchange. The results were exactly what I’ve been telling them for the last five years. The decades-old cables are totally incapable of transmitting data. This morning, when I got up, I didn’t even have a dial tome.

Here’s a typical shot of a TELIKOM junction box:What have we here? Hmm. . . Among other items that don’t belong there are water, buai spet (the horrible bloody-looking stuff that is spat from the mouth when chewing betel nut), various bits and pieces of garbage, and someone’s shoe. I have seen worse. They seem to make a convenient place to, ah, . . .  how can I put this . . . take a dump. I wonder if this is a matter of bodily necessity or a comment about TELIKOM. I’ve been tempted.

Need more TELIKOM goodness? How about this shot that I took only this morning outside my own office:Well, that certainly doesn’t look quite so messy. However, close inspection shows some serious no-no items. First is the continual flooding. I’ve often seen this box full to the brim with water. Check out the silly attempts to plug the thing up with scraps of tape. The black bulb contains all of the junctions between the wires. It is supposed to be water-tight. Does it look water-tight to you?

I’ve had it with TELIKOM.

From now on, it’s WAR! Starting TODAY.

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Nightmare From the Sea

Posted in Under the Sea on February 16th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, I am again today trying to get caught up. I can’t really speak, since my voice box seems to have malfunctioned. I got a call from California today, pretty important call, but I had to give up and say I just couldn’t do it. Try again tomorrow. Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with my fingers – yet.

I’ll continue today with a few more shots from last Saturday’s dive at the Eel Garden. Some of the critters you’ve seen before. These are different angles or show different features. For instance, I showed the the ugly mug of the Papuan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis)  yesterday. Care for a game of “find the fish”? It’s not to difficult with this one. It was having trouble matching the leather coral on which it was lurking in wait for a meal:I’d really love to see one of these catching a fish. I’ve read that it’s one of the fastest actions in the animal kingdom. I imagine that all that I would see would be a puff of “dust”, probably accompanied by a loud popping sound.

I don’t often bother with most of the damslefishes. Except for a few, such as the anemonefishes, they’re not particularly pretty. However, I do like this shot of a White-Belly Damselfish (Amblyglyphidodon leucogaster):It’s one of the few shots that I have in which the image actually is prettier than the fish itslef.

You saw these two Reef Lizardfish (Synodus variegatus)  yesterday. Here is a shot of them from the side:It’s amazing how often one sees them in pairs.

You have seen a lot of images of these Solitary Coral (Fungia fungites)  here before. This one is unusual because of the white stripes. I can’t find any reference to this differentiating between species, so I’m guessing that it’s some kind of “sport” or mutation that’s not harmful to the individual. Any other guesses out there?It is not an uncommon sight, as is the purple stain that you can see at the top. I’ve seen these bright colours before on these corals.

Butterflyfish are extremely exasperating to photograph. I have very few good shots. This Spot-Tail Butterflyfish (Chaetodon ocellicaudus)  blasted past me at full throttle and I just pointed the camera and pressed the shutter release:Talk about a lucky shot!

Today’s nightmarish feature is this Sea Cucumber (Bohadschia graeffei):The body extends to the right, where you would find the stinky end, if you cared to look. I don’t want to think about what comes out of there.  The worst part is the end at the left, which is the consuming bit. I wouldn’t use the word “eat” to describe what this thing does. It engulfs, it vacuums, it . . . sucks!  The frilly black things with white edges are constantly reaching out, gluing themselves to anything remotely digestible and then shoving them down the ugly gob of this, this . . . thing.

Fortunately, it doesn’t move very fast.

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Massive Rainbow Heralds More Fishy Things

Posted in Under the Sea on February 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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Let’s start out this morning with something that we don’t see every day. If you’re a regular reader, you know that our house faces east and looks out across Madang Harbour. If condition are just right, as the sun is lowering in the west and it is raining over Madang Town on the peninsula, we might get a bit of a rainbow. A few afternoons ago we got a spectacular double rainbow. I was too slow to get the camera going, so I missed it. Wouldn’t you know, a few days later, we got another good one. Fortunately I was just getting out of the car and had my camera with me. I ran out to the back of Faded Glory and grabbed this five frame series which I stitched together in Photoshop to make a rainbow panorama:I’m a bit surprised that I got no red in the rainbow. It is usually pretty strong. Maybe someone out there can explain it.

I have some more shots from our dives on Saturday at Pig Island where we hunted the Eel Garden and Barracuda Point. The Eel Garden is a favourite place to stalk the Papuan Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis papuensis):It’s not fair to use terms like “ugly” for such a creature. They probably look fine to each other. In fact, this is probably the Steve McQueen of scorpionfishes.

If I’m making less sense than usual today, I’m blaming it on my horrible cold. I feel as if my head is stuffed full of cotton and I can’t concentrate on anything. I should be at home in bed, but I’ve finally coerced the TELIKOM technicians to do a bit error rate test on my line to my house so that I may get back an Internet connection. Unfortunately, they have no vehicles on the road. The manager mentioned something about registration, so my guess is that someone either forgot to register them or the cheque bounced. Either is equally likely – or both.

Anyway, the Barracuda Point dive was equally productive. Here is a lovely mob of Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello) cruising past me:Something is terribly wrong with these barracuda. They are supposed to be ferocious predators. Many attacks on humans are reported. Our barracuda, however , seem to be uncannily tame. I regularly swim up to them an stick my camera withing inches of them. The don’t seem to mind at all. If I get too close, they simply make a bump in the line to accommodate me. If I get closer still, they break the line and join up elsewhere. It’s a breathtaking experience.

A week wouldn’t be complete without some nudis. We’ve been finding many of them recently after a long period during which we hardly saw any at all. This Phyllidiella pustulosa is one of our most common varieties:I realise that I’m showing you a lot of them. I hope you’re not getting bored. We’re all nudibranch geeks here. My speciality is not in identifying them, but rather taking the most perfect images that I possibly can. I want to eventually come up with an identification guide for all of the species in the area. As there are hundreds, I’m afraid that I’m in a race with the Grim Reaper to complete the project.

Another that I’ve been trying to get The Definitive Image of is the Notodoris minor:Put “notodoris” in the search box to see how I’m doing. I’m not sure these shots are better than the last batch.

I certainly have more anatomical detail in these images, but I’m not as happy with the molding of the body surfaces:Since I’m still having to catch up on my posts and I have an impending battle with TELIKOM today, I’ll sign off and wish you a good day.

Please don’t get too close to your screen. I wouldn’t want you to catch this cold.

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