Safety Can Kill You!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 29th, 2010 by MadDog
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Sunday morning rolls around and I look back on the week as a mixed bag of sadness, adventure and success. We lost a dear nephew. Our thoughts have been largely consumed by grief and family concerns. The first real work day of a (yet another) new job left me exhausted but enriched. We also received the amusing news of Eunie’s selection by the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce and Industry to represent the business and industrial interests of the entire nation at a European Union conference of the Pacific Regional Economic Integration Programme to be held in Nandi, Fiji next month. More and more I hear myself introduced as “Eunice Messersmith’s husband”. It doesn’t bother me a bit. Eunie gets a free trip to Fiji.

Yesterday morning was exceptionally pink:

Pink makes me uneasy. This shot is from the back of my neighbour’s house.

Yep, those are pink clouds:

Hard day coming.

Putting the beef in the middle of the sandwich, right were it belongs, I’ll get the the safety gag. Yesterday I was doing my impersonation of a cat on a hot tin roof along with my workmate Benson while we installed a VSAT on the roof of a local business. Being a major player in a hazardous game, they take their safety precautions very seriously. The boss was not greatly amused to note that I showed up at the work-site in sandals. I offered to go back to the office to put on my Harley-riding boots, but I think that they were all so virtually drooling over the prospect of a speedy Internet connection that they simply told me to “stay out of the workshop.” As I had no intention of going anywhere near a workshop, I gave them a gratuitous “No worries, mate.” and we got on with it.

However, not before they brought out these torture garments:

These “Safety Harnesses”, as they are laughably called, are the most dubious contraptions yet conceived by hard-hearted, profit-seeking men. Not to say that a woman couldn’t conceive a similarly diabolical instrument. Aside from the fact that It made me look as If I were wearing a baby-blue diaper thanks to my Lt. Dangle short-shorts (ref:  Reno 911 in case that is too obscure for you) they are extremely heavy and cumbersome. They are made of webbing of sufficient strength to restrain King Kong and they attend to areas of the body not usually subjected to such rough treatment. Walking was a torture not unlike being repeatedly kicked in the crouch by Chuck Norris in his prime.

As if this is not sufficient to deter a worker from applying for a job here, once you are up the ladder you are attached to a huge hook which is in turn attached to a finger-sized steel cable which is attached to a monstrous spring-loaded thing called an “inertia reel” which is in turn attached to some corner of the roof far away from where you need to work. It goes like this: Two guys on the roof attached from their backs by cables which cannot be crossed or you will both die. To progress toward the work site, you must lean forward and trudge against the pull of the “inertia reel” until you build up sufficient weight against it to move forward. You must keep the momentum up, or you will be dragged back to the reel, where you will fall backward over the side of the building and die as you smash up against it, your body held safely dangling above the ground by the “inertia reel”. Likewise, if you get up too much steam, your momentum will carry over the opposite side where you will once again be saved from plummeting to the ground, but will die and dangle in a manner similar to the above.

It is impossible to stand in a normal position. One must constantly lean forward, struggling against the pull of the accursed “inertia reel”. Furthermore, the slightest inattention will find you falling backward, grabbing futily for a hand-hold while hurtling toward the “inertia reel” to be flipped over the side and die cursing all safety precautions.

There’s more, but I think that you get the idea. As a final caution before we ascended the ladder in an overly-cautious and terrified state, the managers offered us the opportunity to view photographs of “displaced testicles”. We declined the kind offer.

It would have been a two hour job if I had considered having them weld the pole for the dish in the middle of the roof instead of on the edge (Duh!) and we had been allowed to live dangerously and forgo the “safety devices”, but we persevered and had the job done in about five hours.

So, that was my Friday.

A few days ago I was standing at the edge of the water very early, just as the sky was lightening. As I looked down I was struck by the clear reflection of the blue sky in the water. I snapped this shot at about 1/5 of a second and was amazed to see that the image stabilisation gizmo in the camera captured a usable image:

I call it The World At My Feet. Inscrutable.

Down at The Madang Lodge and Restaurant a few days ago, I was killing time waiting for Eunie and got a few nice orchid shots:

I have no idea what kind of orchid this is, nor do I much care. The depth of field in this shot leaves a lot to be desired. I was trying to get the coconut trees in the background very blurred. I was going for that “five Piña Coladas” look. Therefore, I had to open up the lens very wide to blur them. Unfortunately, this also meant that parts of the orchid are outside the depth of focus field.

It is true. There’s no free lunch.

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