The Perfect Imperfection

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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Get ready for some day tripping, because I’ve got only a few images left from this week which are mumbling to me. Don’t try to follow any thread of thought here. You’ll just hurt yourself. The title came from an unlikely source.

I’m greeted every morning by these lovely flowers which I have dubbed The Harmonious Daisies.  Yeah, it came to me in a dream:What I like about this image is that it is flawed. It is flawed in a most perfect way. It is perfectly imperfect. As my mind careers (or careens if you’re a Yank) around iconosynclastic infundibulums and tumbles down an endless staircase of giant pickled herring, I sometimes fall upon incongruous congruities. Why does this flower make me think of humans, individuals, I mean, specifically me? Possibly is is because my imperfections seem to be perfectly suited to me. I behave erratically and improperly in manners which, observed by my friends, are perfectly predictable in the case of erratic action and perfectly excusable (in most cases, anyway) in the case of impropriety. Thus it is with the flower with the missing petal. It is a perfectly perfect imperfection. Nothing more can be said. Therefore, I shall say nothing more.

Except that this is what friends are for.

Might as well throw in a sunrise while I’m here:Actually, the astute observer might notice that the image above is simply the very centre of yesterday’s sunrise. This morning it was raining cats and dogs.

When we arrived at the office we had to wade ashore from our truck because Lake Madang was overspilling its normal banks:Our perfectly imperfect Town Government seems still unable to dig a hole. Well, what can we expect from people who apparently get paid to maintain the status quo? Hah, if only they could do that much!

To prove to you that no detail is so insignificant and devoid of meaning to escape my scrutinous eye I present to you the Mysterious Curly Thingie in the Ants’ Nest:Please to click to enlarge, please. Thank you. See it down there in the lower left under that ant’s bum? It looks like an itsty-bitsy teensy-weensy coil of rope. What in tarnation is it, for pity’s sake? I’m gobsmacked. Anybody got any ideas?

Not to change the subject too abruptly, but I’ve been harping for an office with an actual door on it for years. Since I’m one of the oldest dudes in town, and poor misguided souls sometimes reckon that I might have actually learned something while staggering through my long and adventuresome life, I end up doing a lot of counselling. Hey, I’m the only game in town. People desperate enough to seek me out prefer not to come to my house, lest they find me indisposed or otherwise unable to respond. They prefer to come to my office where, one presumes, I might be found to be more alert. On the door I have a sign which announces, “The Quack is In”.

So, having cajoled the administration into allowing me to modify the IT Dungeon, I’ began today to plan my new office with a door. I thought that you might be amused to see the miraculous state-of-the-art equipment which I used to calculate the dimensions and specifications of this complex project: I carefully measured the room and the placement of the current door and measured all of the furniture and fixtures. Then I “inputted” this data into my Architectural Design Computate-o-Matic Machine (which I invented). The results indicate that now, instead of one  door for one  office we will have five  doors for two  offices. All I can say is that my boss made me do it. She said I wouldn’t be happy with only two doors since I’d been whining for one door for thirty years, so she’s giving me five doors to head off future crying jags. She sleeps with me, so she understands me better than anyone else does.

There’s nothing like hearing someone snore all night to get you into their head.

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Purple Snow and Boys Gone Bad

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 8th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, I certainly have some strange stuff for you today. We’re moving from a stunning sunrise, to Purple Snow (magenta, actually) to Boys Gone Bad and ending up with ship lights in the rain. Eclectic, eh? We’re dealing with the product of a meandering mind here, folks. Fasten your seat belts. We’re going where no Hoosier has gone before.

First I have to mention my soaring spirits as I note the change of season. It has been a dismal rainy time. I mentioned to Eunie this morning that I can tell the season is changing because I’m getting more good sunrise shots. They have been rare and peculiar for months. This morning’s was a beaut:I guess this means that I’m going to have to start getting at 05:30 again. I nearly missed the one above at 06:00. I had to run to the bedroom to grab some shorts and my camera. Both are needed for a sunrise shot. The neighbours would not appreciate a wild-haired naked white man waving a camera around in their yard in the morning.

Yesterday on the way home from the office we had to stop to get pictures of the incredible display of flowers fallen from this tree along Airport Road:I don’t know what kind of tree it is. It appears to be similar to the trees that are referred to in Australia as “bottle brush” trees. I’m a fish guy, not a tree guy. If you know the name of this tree, please leave a comment.

Here’s the closest shot of the flowers that I could manage without a ladder or my long telephoto Olympus SP-590UZ camera:As you can see, the flowers not unlike small pom-poms.

If this shot doesn’t blow you mind, I don’t know what will:From years of watching these kinds of trees that cover the ground with flowers, of which there are many kinds and colours, it seems to me that the phenomena lasts only a very few days. It reminds me of the intense but brief flowering of some desserts.

UPDATE: Our own Lucy Proctor of Madang says that this is a Lau Lau Tree, sometimes called a Bellfruit Tree. She commented on Facebook. I’ve gotten several other comments, all different, which you can see below. No way I’m going to get caught up in this one. Let them battle it out. I’ve offered to supply more detailed images so that maybe we’ll get a species name. Stay tuned.

UPDATE FROM JUSTIN FRIEND: Jan – its of the Genus Syzigium  – which species exactly is hard to say as there are abundant varieties very similar to each other. Its part of the Myrtaceae  Family hence the number of comments mentioning similarity to Eucalyptus genus, they are indeed first cousins. The fuit of the Syzigiums in PNG are generically referred to as Lau Lau, the fruit … See More of Syzigiums in Australia are generically referred to as Lily Pillys. Various Syzigiums produce various fruits known by various names around the world such as Malay Apple, Water Apple, Water Cherry, Rose Apple, and many other fruits often with the word Water and Apple involved. Samarai has huge Syzigiums on the main street. Some Syzigiums are native to PNG, other varieties have been introduced, in my humble opinion PNG has the largest variety of edible fruit bearing Syzigium varieties I have personally come across in the Asia-Pacific.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A storm (okay, a little breeze) of controversy has been generated concerning the exact species of this tree. Here are three images that should allow the botanists out there to continue their battle with fresh ammunition:
That’s the trunk, as any fool can see. Here is a closer shot of the flowers in the tree:And, here is a close-up of the flowers:

FINAL UPDATE (hopefully): [From Steve Bennett] I’m hoping my last post on this matter… after consulting with my paper based library (the internet can be very vague in searching for botanical taxonomy), I have ended up with the timeless tome by Stirling Macoboy “What Flower is that?” and Stirling comes up with the goods and a great quote when discussing Syzygium malaccense  or the Malay Apple. Stirling says “A taxonomist’s nightmare and a great nuisance to gardeners, these lovely trees have changed names as often as Elizabeth Taylor (note from Steve: I’m sure MadDog remembers who she is…): Acmena, Jambosa, Phyllocladyx, Eugenia, Stenocalyx, Myrtus  and now – Syzygium!”

Stirling then follows this up with a picture of Syzygium malaccense  and it matches the new pics posted by MadDog. One of my other books mentions the brownish reddish flaky bark of the trunk.

And as a consolation to my namesake, Syzygium  and Eugenia  are both in the genus Myrtaceae  which is where you will find Eucalyptus  as well.

Let’s take a break from the gaudy pictures to find out what matters of great import are occurring in our world. It seems that big  boys have gone bad. You may be familiar with an English expression, which I shall not use here because of my New Year’s Resolution regarding naughty language. The expression graphically depicts the settlement of serious disagreements between men (and, presumably between women, though I don’t know how that would work) by comparing the relative distance that a stream of urine can be projected by the respective individuals. The following reminds me of this kind of silly contest:

LOS ANGELES: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in hot water with the governor of Alabama for his response to comedian Robin Williams’ “Australians are basically English rednecks” jibe. Williams made the joke on the Dave Letterman TV talk show in the US earlier last week and Rudd, during a radio interview last Wednesday, hit back by recommending the comedian “spend a bit of time in Alabama before he frames comments about anyone being particularly redneck”. Rudd’s reference to Alabama and rednecks generated a terse response from Alabama governor Bob Riley. “I’m not sure if Prime Minister Rudd has ever been to Alabama,” Alabama governor Bob Riley responded in a statement.

“If he has, he would know that Alabamians are decent, hard working, creative people.”  [and also rednecks, Eunie added as she was reading this to me – ed.]  Williams was recently in Australia voicing a character in the animated film sequel  Happy Feet 2  and spoke about his visit during the Letterman TV talk show appearance. “The Australians are basically English rednecks,” Williams said. “I realised if Darwin had landed in Australia, he would’ve said ‘I’m wrong, I don’t know what I was thinking’… “You look at some of these animals and realise there was an open bar in heaven on the last day.”  — AAP

I have but a few succulent comments concerning the above.

First, Robin Williams is the consummate clown who modelled himself after one of the greatest buffoons of the 20th Century, Jonathan Winters. Anyone who takes serious umbrage concerning any of his “jibes” needs to immediately and determinedly lighten up. Shame on you, Prime Minister Rudd, for falling for that one. It was an obvious trap.

Next, the Honourable Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, needs to get real. I’m sure that most Alabamians are “decent, hard working, creative people”, but an astonishing percentage of the population are rednecks, pure and simple. Proud of it too, they are. Eunie and I spent several months at a U. S. Army installation at Fort Rucker in Alabama. We can attest to the redneckism rampant among the population. I don’t know what the fuss is about. Being redneck is like being gay. There’s not a lot you can do about it.

As for the whole matter of Australians being merely Englsih Rednecks, it’s patently obvious that that’s rubbish. Firstly, Australians are nothing at all like Pommies. Pommies hardly ever remove all of their clothing in public. Secondly, the Redneck population is confined primarily to Queensland. Get your facts straight, Robin. Factual material is nearly always funnier than made-up crap.

Concerning the open bar in heaven . . . well, it’s heaven, eh? Everybody gets a little social lube and there are no noisy, rude drunks picking fights. Sounds like heaven to me.

I’ll knock this one off with this peculiar image that I got the other night in the middle of a moderate rain storm:Sometimes the images of which I expect the least are the ones which please me the most. I love moody stuff. This one really appeals to me. It was a devil to work with. I had to convert it to a 32 bit per channel image and then do a heavy Gaussian blur on the area above the lights to get rid of banding in the extremely subtle tonal variations. The image was shot hand-held at medium telephoto with the Canon G11 at ISO 800 for 1/5 second at ƒ4.5. The blurring is caused mostly by the heavy rain.

As if anybody cares.

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Warship Panorama, Blondes and Other Stuff

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks, Under the Sea on April 7th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today is yet another day when there will be no plot to follow. I’m free associating. Come along for the ride. The big Australian Hydrographic Survey Ship HMAS Leeuwin sitting across the harbour from our house inspired me to Zoomify nearly the entire west side of the peninsula.

Here is the view from our front yard in a zoomable image:

On the far left is the main wharf and the warehouse. Moving to the right, you see HMAS Leeuwin.  If you zoom in as far as possible, you can read the name of the ship on the side of the bridge. At the far right is a the only three floor house in Madang. It belongs to a big-shot politician about whom I will say nothing else. I’m not a fool. In front of the house is a sunken boat. Again, no comment.

Geeks may be interested to know that the image above is about 20 MB and is comprised of nearly 1,000 files.

Eunie occasionally feeds me tidbits from the newspaper. I read neither The Post Courier  nor The National.  They’re simply too depressing. However this tasty morsel merits a bit of space here:

BLONDE-haired women may be traditionally labeled as fun-loving and less intelligent but a new study reveals they earn seven percent more on average than women with other hair colours. They also marry wealthier men, who earn six percent more than the husbands of other women, the University of Queensland study revealed. The study, which surveyed 13,000 women, found that the difference in pay remained the same even when factors such as height and education were removed. No other hair colour had the same effect. The research, reported in journal Economics Letters, does not explain just why blondes earned more and have wealthier husbands. But Dr David Johnston, who led the study, said: “Blonde women are often depicted as being more attractive than other women, but also less intelligent. But it seems the association between blondes and beauty dominates any perception that they have low intelligence.”

You see, this makes perfect sense to me. Having married a fun-loving blonde who is also, I’m quite certain, the Smartest Person On the Planet, none of the positive aspects of blondeness surprise me. My wife missed out on the big money, but that’s because she married for love. That she got a looser for her trouble is not her fault. I’ll never be a big earner, but I’m ever so sincere and also cute and cuddly – like a 59 kilogram puppy.

Well, I’m not out of space yet. I’ve done a lot of work this morning and I have a few minutes before my lunch hour. I don’t actually take a lunch hour. I just eat while I work. That leaves me more time for a beer when I get home. Then I have to go back to work again in our “other” office. I’m not complaining. It’s not like I’m stoking boilers on the Titanic.  Most of my work is enjoyable now that I have the network bludgeoned into submission. So, since I’ve got the time, here’s this morning’s sunrise which I have titled from the depths of my boundless imagination Sunrise with Canoe:Also, since we can’t have a post without a fish smell, I’ll show you a Mushroom or Solitary Coral (Fungia fungites):The green stuff is a kind of Sea Squirt. Tomorrow I’m going to show you the biggest blob of those that you are ever likely to see. I bet you an hardly wait. The anemone above and to the right is the fairly rare Merton’s Anemone.

Here’s a cute little Linckia multifora  Starfish:That one’s for you Julie. It seems that one of his legs has decided to have its own way. In reality, I suspect very strongly that this starfish regenerated from a single severed leg. That would explain the one huge leg while the others are small. They are only now approaching normal size after having sprouted from the cut end of the severed leg.

Maybe if I ate enough of these I could grow a new face.

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Warm Fish Soup

Posted in Under the Sea on April 6th, 2010 by MadDog
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Divers have an amusing expression to describe the scene when there are far too many fish to count. Indeed, you can’t even count the number of species. We call it fish soup.

I had some warm fish soup in the tepid water of The Eel Garden  near Pig Island  on Saturday. Most of the fish that you see here are some species of Anthea:There are many varieties of Anthea.  Most are very colourful. They gather in small schools around a fixed location.

I snapped this shot as I was passing over these two Soldierfish. The one on the left is a Scarlet Soldierfish (Myripistis pralinia)  and the one on the right is a Brick Soldierfish (Myripistis amaena):A you can tell, if you click to enlarge, they were both looking up at me as I passed overhead.

I nearly missed this Slender Grouper (Anyperodon leucogrammicus)  as it tried to sneak past me:One trick that I’ve learned is that fish will almost always flee to deeper water. Therefore one needs to have a head’s up stance to catch the ones which have spotted you and will soon be trying to take the shortest route to a deeper hiding place. This usually means that when they pass directly to your right or left, they will be a close as they are going to get to your camera.

This is a very young Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinosa)  only about 4cm in diameter. At this stage they look more like a strange, puffy flower:To the right and below is a colony of very small Sea Squirts which look to me to be Eusynstyela latericius.

This sneaky little Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus)  thought that he was hidden behind a bit of coral about a metre away from me. I popped up and caught him with his mouth open:I’m an old stalker. I can usually get a shot if I don’t have to give chase. I’m not as fast on the long pursuit as I used to be. Ah, but crafty I am.

How foolish it is to attempt to hide from me. This is a fairly rare orange variation of Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii):I tried to get a shot in the clear, but finally gave up and accepted this one instead. I can pretend that I intended it that way.

PRESENTER: See how the timid anemonefish attempts to hide behind the tentacles of the anemone? It seldom exposes itself to danger by leaving the poisonous, protective arms of its host. This symbiotic relationship is reinforced by the protection that the anemonefish receives from the anemone. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Works for me.

Nudibranchs are a pushover. This Phyllidia varicosa  moves so slowly that the whole idea of evasion is silly:

I love to photgraph nudis. I can just float in the water with my camera about 5cm from the little devil and relax while I snap away.

The nidibranch is none the wiser.

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Cute Lady – Cute Dog – Cartooning Again

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks, Under the Sea on April 5th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s Easter Sunday morning. In Papua New Guinea it’s an official holiday, so I have no excuse for going into the office. Miraculously, my TELIKOM copper line has dried out sufficiently so that I can get on the web, albeit at glacial speed. I sincerely hope to get my wireless connection to the office going tomorrow. It’s disappointing that we’ve put so much money and effort on it and it doesn’t work. I’m certain that the fix is simple. It just involved getting up on the supermarket roof again.

I have a small collection of miscellanea for you today. I am simply too lazy on this last day of a long weekend to go through the 160 exposures that I took on my two dives on Saturday. There are only two here. You will simply have to wait a bit longer for your fish. I hope that you’re not too hungry.

This morning I went outside to check out the photographic possibilities. Beside the front door, where I installed my last link in the wireless hop to my office, there was a katydid perched on the Cat 5e cable. I can only assume that it was trying to heal the link:Unfortunately, it’s efforts were unsuccessful.

Since this is an entirely random accumulation of images, I’ll jump to this one of Swami Monty wielding his new Canon G11 at some unsuspecting underwater critter. This was Monty’s first outing with the new rig, which is identical to mine:Richard Jones also has the same gear. I think that we’re going to have to start a G11 club here in Madang.

Today’s spider is a spindly looking critter. I’m not sure what the purpose of all the webbing is. Maybe it simply provides a firm scaffolding on which to hang:There is a fair amount of detail in this shot. It’s worth clicking to enlarge.

On one of the dives on Saturday I found this poor starfish which has had a leg chomped off by some predator:I can’t imagine that a starfish leg would taste very good, but then I’m not a fish. The most likely predators of starfish are sharks, rays and larger bony fish (as opposed to sharks and rays, the skeletons of which are cartilage and not true bones).

Back to the garden, I found one of my favourite subjects – water drops:As they say, simple things for simple minds.

I’m still slaving away to learn cartooning techniques. I’m not at all happy with the commercial software for creating cartoons from photographs. Most of the results look horrible and require a huge amount of reworking. If I’m going to go to that effort, I may as well develop my own workflow to get the results that I want. It’s really one of the most interesting and enjoyable Photoshop tricks that I’ve tried:

You saw the image above with Ush and Andrew and Jade Marshall’s Blue Heeler pup yesterday. I cleaned up the clutter in the background and cartoonised it.

I have in mind to someday write some cartoon strips based on photographs for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

I need to broaden the horizon. It’s getting smelly in here.

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Saturday – It’s Not All About Diving

Posted in At Sea, Under the Sea on April 4th, 2010 by MadDog
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Regular readers of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  probably think that Saturdays are all about the edgy sport of diving, photography and taxonomic names. One might be forgiven for thinking that it’s all so unbearably geeky. If you’re not a diver, but you’ve been around them, you know that they can be a snobbish lot, making whooshing noises with their gear and strutting around arrogantly in their wetsuits. Well, the truth is, everybody looks better in a well-fitting wetsuit, even me. It’s like an all-body girdle. You’re trimmer when you need trimming and you bulge in the appropriate places. So, one might be forgiven for wanting to be a diver. It’s semi-cool. Sort of like driving a Datsun Z car.

Hah! Saturday is not all about diving. It’s also fun for a very pleasant gang of people half my age who enjoy the pleasure of getting out on the water and away from the office. Here we are on Faded Glory  with Sanguma  in the distance heading for Pig Island  for some tropical water pleasure:It was a strange sort of day – half sunny, half  gloomy.

When we tied up with Sanguma,  the inevitable Scrabble game began:If you click to enlarge, you can see that Ush has a fairly good selection of letters to play with. Maybe that explains the expression on her face.

When the sun came out, everyone got into the water:Each boat has a generous selection of “noodles” to assist in the floating pleasure.

Monty Armstrong and I both did two dives, so it was not all fun and games. Monty just bought a new Canon G11 with the factory underwater housing, the same rig that I use. I feel a contest coming on:Richard also has the same camera and housing. We have yet to coax him to bring it into the water. Above is a nice little starfish that I snapped. I’ll have many more underwater shots later in the week.

Jade and Andrew Marshall were out on their boat with some friends and their very cute three month old Blue Heeler. After a dunking in the ocean, which he did not appear to enjoy, he was warmed up by Ush. Not surprisingly, he did seem to enjoy that.

Everybody seemed keen to get out again for the evening to enjoy the wonderful phosphorescence in the water. I was skeptical about the weather, but agreed to have the boat ready to leave at 17:30.

On our way out, my fears for the weather proved well founded when the western sky got very angry:It turned out to be a fairly miserable evening. We suffered rain, mosquitoes, a pesky chop which kept the boats bouncing against their fenders and finally a cold wind which drove us all back to Madang by 20:00.

Nevertheless, all was not wasted. We encountered a small group of mermaids frolicking in the warm sea:There is seldom anything such as a bad Saturday in the Land of Surprises.

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Of Ants and Warships

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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When Satruday starts off grey and rainy, I get all antsy and make frequent trips after dawn to have a look out the front door. This rainy season seems to be lasting forever. This morning it was very soggy and the sky looked as if it had fallen. Maybe Chicken Little was right. I did a double-take as I looked across the harbour and saw this:She’s the HMAS Leeuwin,  a Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Survey ship.

Leeuwin  and Melville  enable the Australian Hydrographic Service to gather high quality hydrographic information at a much greater rate than the ships they replace. The ships are 71 metres in length, with a beam of 15 metres, and a draught of 5.4 metres. Each ship displaces 2,550 tonnes and is manned by a crew of 46 officers and sailors. A state of the art Hydrographic Survey System (HSS) developed by STN Atlas will integrate accurate position information with data from a multi-beam echo sounder, towed side-scan sonar, single beam echo sounder and a forward-looking sonar. The ships will also carry three fully equipped 9 metre Survey Motor Boats for surveys in waters not suitable for the ships themselves. Both ships are capable of carrying a helicopter to assist in survey operations.

While I was outside yesterday afternoon in our garden, the orange lilies were calling to me:“Take some pictures of us. Please.” Lilies are so polite. These were hiding in the shade with just a bit of the late afternoon sun warming them.

Another pair were still catching the rays. How did that drop of water last all day?

The ants were marching up the post of our veranda roof. I didn’t like the shadows going to the right; it just didn’t look right. So, I turned the ant images a quarter twist clockwise. The ants didn’t notice:These are not nearly the best ant shots that I’ve done. I think there was a little camera shake, since I was holding the camera out as far as I could and leaning out over the rail. I’m lucky I didn’t fall off and break my fool neck.

The ants still took no notice:The just kept on marching. I like ants. They are so . . . industrious.

I could never be an ant. I’m far too lazy.

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