My Dog Sheba

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on May 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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Life is so laughably strange. Three years ago I was going nuts trying to figure out why my life seemed to be going down the toilet. I pretty much hated my job, because everything was just a mess and nothing worked the way that I wanted it to. Our finances were sliding into the abyss with no real hope of reversing the trend. I felt useless, incompetent and emasculated. What to do? I hadn’t a clue.

My wife, Eunie, was a constant, faithful encourager. She encouraged me to get my lazy butt moving and do something  instead of simply whining. Do something – anything!  I had plenty of wild notions which quickly took wing to the wild blue yonder. However, getting my work under control and facing the fact that it was going to take me a couple of years to do that was something that did help. Taking baby steps toward the goal of reclaiming my dominance in the IT Dungeon gave me confidence to try other things.

I had always wanted to write. I have written tens of thousands of words none of which anyone has ever read. I was still editing short stories which I wrote thirty-five years ago. It’s a strange hobby. Nothing is ever finished. The process becomes the product. What a waste! I laughed at my funny stories and cried over the pathos. It was a narcissistic amusement, nothing more.

When a new magazine came out which matched my interests, Niugini Blue,  a water sports magazine, Eunie strongly  encouraged me to submit an article. It was promptly accepted. I wrote several more which were likewise accepted as written. When the same publisher, Pacific Islands Publishing, started an new magazine titled Our Way,  I began submitting articles for it. All were accepted. Having written many articles now, I must be among the few free-lance writers with no rejection slips. Do I have any real talent? I simply don’t think much about that. All that I know is that I now have an audience. That’s enough for me. The size of the audience seldom had much to do with talent. Need I name names?

So, why am I pouring out all of this self-congratulatory clap-trap to you, gentle reader? I’ve been asking myself that question since I started tapping this out twenty minutes ago. I think that it’s my way of passing the torch, so to speak. I know that many suffer from identity issues, self doubt, loss of confidence and the emptiness that accompanies evaporated dreams. My life is nowhere near in order yet, but the encouragement of my wife and friends to take action, any action,  saved me from the miasma of inaction.

There’s nothing here in the way of advice. It’s only an anecdote.

However, I’m going ot prove my mettle by daring to write a post about nothing by our dog, Sheba. She has appeared here in Madang – Ples bilong Mi  many times before. This morning I took a couple of shots of her on the veranda. Here she is not so patiently waiting for her breakfast:

The anticipation is evident in her expression.

If I fail to respond with the expected food, she feigns indifference:But not for long.

This evening, after devouring her afternoon bone and going outside for a swim, she lay on the sofa and whined for attention. She knows that I will not pet her until I finish my beer and cigar, but she whines anyway:

It doesn’t take much energy to whine and it just might get me to cave in and let her sit with her head on my knee while I try to juggle a beer, a cigar and a book while I scratch behind her ears.

She will sometimes pretend that she doesn’t care. She puts on her happy face and seems to say, “Who needs you,  anyway.”

I know, however, that this is a ruse. She knows who takes care of her.

I’m getting sleepy now, so I have to wrap this up. I can’t leave, however without showing, once again, Sheba’s incredible tongue. If you could lick your nose like this you could have a successful career in the circus:Sheba’s magnificent tongue has featured here before, attached to some famous faces.

There. I did it. I wrote a post about my dog. I’ve sunk to the bottom of the blogging barrel.


Birth of a Salesman

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on May 18th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, I once again find myself a day behind posting my nonsense to you, so brevity will be the soul of my witlessness today. The big hoo-hah last night was a Road Show put on by Remington Communications to introduce their new beaut VSAT technology to the North Coast of Papua New Guinea. That pretty much means Madang. What is even more anusing (stop yawning – I CAN HEAR YOU) is that they have appointed me be the Sales Representative for the whole shebang. Me. A salesman again. I came to PNG so that I would never have to sell anything again, with the possible exception of my soul.

So, it seems that I am to be the Willie Loman of Madang. Here are two of my many bosses in one shot. That’s Eunie, my wife, who is the Managing Director of J & E Enterprises Limited, not to mention being my boss at my other  job at Pioneer Bible Translators, as she is the Director there. Next to her is Adam Dwyer, the General Manager of Remington Communications who is my newest boss. My other  other boss, David Doig of Pacific Islands Publishing was not present, thank heavens. In the background you can see Pita Evans who is probably also my boss too, but being an übergeek, he doesn’t seem  bossy, just very informative:

What with all that fuss last night, I’m a little tired this afternoon.

And, what do I do when I need to relax (all together now) – I create fake art:

Using my super-power skill of ProseMaster I titled the one above Watercolour Sunrise.  Try to contain your laughter, please. You’ll wake up the cat.

This “piece” is called Rough Pastel Sunrise:

(yawn) I’m slipping away fast here, folks.

As if me being a salesman again isn’t fishy enough I’ll give you a gift from the sea that could be taken for a clutch of goose eggs, which strikes me as entirely appropriate at the moment:Yes, that is a Bubble Coral, as you have undoubtedly surmised. You can call it Plerogyra sinosa,  if you are so inclined.

And that’s it from here. Over to you.

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I Invent a K20,000 Ray Gun

Posted in Humor, Under the Sea on May 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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Monday morning dawned peacefully enough. Why does it always start that way? The days which turn out to be the ones during which you should have taken a Valium and gone back to sleep always seem to begin with the birdies twittering and the sun popping up like a big smiley face. Anyway, it was a pretty sunrise and I was there to take its picture. Little did I know that horrible events were brewing. My first warning was when I suddenly began mixing metaphors:

As it turns out, mixed metaphors were not the day’s most terrifying gifts. *

Unfolding events soon proved it fortunate that only the night before I had finished my labours on my soon-to-be-patented MadDog’s Death-Ray Alien Exterminator. Here is a secret picture of it. Please don’t tell anybody about this:

As you can see, it’s a rather Disneyesque design, just the ticket for the teen super-hero set. I made it in my laundry room out in back of the house. It’s mostly old lawn mower parts and bits and pieces of computers and defunct VHS and 8-Track tape players. The charging unit can be carried in a back pack. It provides enough charge to kill approximately all of the aliens in the known universe. If there are any left after exterminating the bulk of them, you can use the ray gun itself as a club. It’s very sturdy.

It was, indeed, fortuitous that I had completed my construction project, as early in the day we were invaded by a troop of four metre long aliens disguised as Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyallarus):

The one in the image above is busily smashing our sidewalk into tiny little bits. Curiously, these “Barbie Crushers”, as we nicknamed them, seem to be enraged by sidewalks. The one above also ate several large dogs and three mops. When it headed for our remaining supply of mops and our single mop bucket, I decided to take decisive action.

Having previously charged my MadDog’s Death-Ray Alien Exterminator, I donned my Cowstria Super Hero costume and did battle, protecting our mop supply and the mop bucket which was accidentally overturned in the fracas:

For those of you who may not be familiar with Cowstria, its other name is Austria. Here I am, taking careful aim to dispatch one of the horrid aliens.

Having homogenised them all, I decided to cool off with a nice, refreshing dive. Near The Green Dragon  B-25 Mitchell bomber I found this plump Cushion Star (Clucita novaeguineae):

I always think of these as the Mermaids’ footballs. Hey, wait. Mermaids have no feet. Never mind.

Now, you might think that this is a mistake:

And you would be wrong. I seldom make mistakes and when I do I bury them under disingenuous excuses. This is a Divericate Tree Coral (Dendronephthya roxasia)  growing upside-down under the wing of The Green Dragon.

And that is about as much as I can cough up today.

* Of course, it’s not really a ray-gun, nor was there an alien invasion. Sorry to disappoint. The gizmo is the business end of an Internet satellite dish. On Monday, we replaced the one which we’ve been using for about two years with a different one from another vendor. It’s much cheaper and faster. Unfortunately, the K20,000 we spent for the gear is probably now a write-off. Anybody want to buy a ray-gun?

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Additional Miscellanea

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on May 16th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, it’s a rainy Sunday morning and I’m doubly stymied. We had planned to put up a new VSAT receiver on the satellite dish on the roof of our office, but the rain looks as it it may prevent that. And, since it’s raining, there’s not much point in going up the beach at Blueblood. Our present vendor for the Internet signal has simply become too slow and expensive for us. We are switching to another vendor partly because of their much lower price and partly because they have appointed me their sales representative for the Madang area. I’m hoping to sell a bunch of them. It is the first time that we have had, in Papua New Guinea, a VSAT system that is really affordable by a small business or even a well-heeled household. More to report later after the introduction at the Madang Club on Tuesday evening.

The sun this morning was putting on a rather nice show:

If you click to enlarge, you’ll see that I caught two eagles in this shot. One is just to the left and above the towering cumulus at the left edge of the yellow shaft of sunlight. The other is in the centre of the frame at the very top.

This is very similar to the one I got a couple of days ago:

And, I’m still very upset with Digicel. This is not over yet. When I get upset, stinky stuff begins to hit the fan.

This is the most colossal collection of Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)  which I have ever seen:

The area at which you are looking is maybe a half-metre wide. I guess that it contains at least a hundred Christmas Tree Worms. I found it directly under Faded Glory  when we were tied up at the buoy near The Green Dragon  B-25 bomber. I put this shot up on my server at much higher resolution than usual. If you click on it you’ll see a very detailed image, but it will take a little time to load, as it’s almost 700KB.

At the very end of the port wing of The Green Dragon  is a giant barrel sponge. It is so huge that I’m worried that will eventually break the wing. I caught this shot of bubbles from our tanks trapped underneath the sponge:

The bomber is in considerably worse shape than it was when I first dived it about about twenty-some years ago.

Here some fish which are exceedingly unlikely to end up on your table for a light lunch. They are the improbably named Shrimp Fish (Aeoliscus strigatus):

They are much too small to make a meal of. These were attempting to hide from me on the port wing of The Green Dragon.  They normally swim with their heads down as you see them here. If their ruse to appear as if they are part of the coral fails, then they adopt a horizontal position and swim away rapidly.

Yesterday afternoon in my garden the sun was shining through a yellow Trumpet Flower blossom:

I fooled around for about five minutes to get the flower lined up with the orange lilies which you see in the background. Photography is a very fussy hobby. I can take in a scene with my eyes and know exactly what I want to capture in the bits of digital data. Getting it there is sometimes more difficult than imagining it.

Yesterday I got lucky. Everything was copacetic.

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Oddities for You

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on May 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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Yes, it’s Saturday again and I’ll soon be loading up Faded Glory  to go out for a dive. But first, I have a few odds and ends from the last week to show to you. Morning time is about the only really peaceful respite which I have. I like to get out in the yard with my Canon G-11 for a while to see what photographic opportunities may present themselves.

A magenta sunrise with a passing canoe:

An Air Niugini jet coming in for landing at Madang airport:

I’m still too sleepy to come up with any witty comments about that. I hope that someday we have a decent airline to serve the needs of the people of Papua New Guinea. Air Niugini is just about the worst example of small country government-owned airlines. It’s inefficient, packed with dead wood, far, far too expensive and its routings are disasterous. Current politics won’t allow the proper solution – sell it off and allow some real competition. Of course, the Grand Chief doesn’t need to worry about all this. He has his own jet. So, when you go the the hospital and they tell you that they have no medicine, you can at least be happy that the big man is riding in comfort.

This is a moderately cool shot of the twin Browning M2 50 calibre machine guns on the dorsal turret of The Green Dragon  B-25 Bomber at Wongat Island:

Note metal that is still shiny after being submerged for nearly seventy years.

This is the biggest Sailors Eyeball (Valonia ventricosa)  that I have ever seen. It is the size of my fist:

As I’ve mentioned before, it is the largest single-celled organism on the planet. It is a kind of blue-green algae.

As time is growing short, I’ll leave you with this image of a ship which we saw on the way through the anchorage:

My only comment about this ship is that when we saw it, we all started laughing at once. I’ll leave it to you as a little puzzle. (Hint: try adding a vowel.)

See you tomorrow.

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What a Country! – Shame on Digicel!

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on May 14th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, it’s Friday afternoon and I’m feeling downright sassy. I got me another new job this week selling Internet satellite equipment for a huge company. That’s three jobs I am currently holding. Between the two of us taking on extra work while still putting in full time at our current employer, we have nearly replaced all of the money which has disappeared when churches suddenly decided that we are no longer the flavour of the month or we are getting too old. Hah! We’re just getting rolling. Eunie was elected Director (that’s as high as you can get) of our organisation here in PNG. Does that sound like someone who is ready to “come hone” and sit around waiting to die?

Only one small issue remains – sleep.

However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. And neither is this:

That was sunrise at my  house this morning. Sorry if it is a bit in your face.  I am hoping to get the cover of Our Way  for that one.

What I am  here to talk about is a situation that is so fraught with absurdity, irony, comedy and perfidy that it should be in some kind of record book for Things Which Ought Not To Happen In A Reasonably Governed Nation.

Let me illustrate:

I’ll attempt to explain as best I can. I am not conversant with the facts in this case. I am only presenting the logical conclusions of a reasonably disinterested observer. If I get it wrong, somebody can scream and shout and jump up and down about it. The fact is that somebody owes the people an explanation. I’m prepared to listen to it. Let’s dispense with the facts for the moment and simply deal with the appearance.

The pole belongs to PNG Power, a government  owned monopoly. The big satellite dish in the background is owned by TELIKOM, the government  owned communications momopoly (well, it was  a monopoly – read on). Got that so far? It’s all government  owned stuff here. Okay, sometime ago Digicel, a cell phone peddler, came in somehow, nobody is quite sure how, and kicked the snot out of TELIKOM (remember, the big satellite dish?) for the mobile communications business. At first everybody whooped and hollered, “Competition! We’re saved!”, but it soon developed that nefarious powers colluded and prices for mobile communications did not come down anywhere near world standards. The two competitors simply met somewhere in the middle. We’re now paying only ten times the world market price for everything that communicates instead of one hundred. I suppose we should be grateful.

Stay with me, now. I’ll get to the point, if you haven’t already figured it out. If you have, you are already laughing.

So, My Question IS:  What is a Digicel advertisement doing on a PNG Power pole outside the TELIKOM main exchange? Hey, if it were just one, I’d say that it’s a very clever joke and immediately purchase the jester a beer at the Madang Club, if I were a member. But it’s all over town!

At first the poles were simply painted red and everybody was scratching their heads and complaining that it ruins the look of Madang. Now Digicel has turned our entire town into one giant advertisement. That’s really crappy and I don’t like it one bit!  Digicel, you don’t own Madang! SHAME ON DIGICEL!

What’s more is the big  question of how does Digicel get the rights to place their ads on government owned property. Remember, that’s the same government (I think. Nobody is  really sure right now.) which owns TELIKOM, Digicel’s only competitor. Exactly how did this occur? Whose money was exchanged for what rights and how was it approved? Certainly nobody consulted the citizens of Madang. How does it benefit anybody in Madang? How does it even benefit Digicel? I’m ready to throw my Digicel handset into the rubbish tip. Would any other residents like to join me? We could make a big pile of them and burn them in protest.

I haven’t talked to anybody who’s happy about this. I just heard a comment about what Digicel is doing along Coronation Drive, the place where many of the beautiful photos in Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  originate. Look at this monstrosity:Disgusting!

If Airlines PNG (a private company) is really smart they will now get Air Niugini (a government near-monopoly) to allow them to paint, “Fly Airlines PNG” on the sides of the Bird of Paradise fleet of Air Niugini.

Okay, that’s enough rage for a Friday afternoon. Look at this incredibly warty tree:

Did you ever see so many warts on a tree? I wonder what causes it.

Have a gander at this splendid crab:It’s dead, I’m afraid. When I first started taking its picture I thought it was alive. Alas, not so. I placed it on this leather coral to see if I could fake a live crab. It reminds me of the Dead Parrot  shtick from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue… What’s, uh… What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, me lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh, … he’s resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, aidn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Praline: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

I swear:  the above crab is resting. Permanently.

Mother’s Day Like You Have Never Seen It

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 13th, 2010 by MadDog
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On Sunday, I was sitting in the lounge room taking a few minutes to read instead of work. I heard the familiar sound of drums and indigenous music coming from the little church on the hill above our house. I grabbed my camera and walked up to see what was going on. I had completely forgotten that it was Mother’s Day. Neither Eunie nor I pay any attention to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, so I wasn’t prepared for the wild celebration which I encountered as I approached the church.

By the way, the sunrise was uninspiring.Nothing like yesterday’s.

When I arrived, our community mothers were dancing up a storm. The lady on the left with the ginger hair is Sisilia, our next-door neighbour:We are very blessed to live in a place where we are surrounded by good neighbours. There are many places here where it is dangerous to live. For over twenty years we have felt very secure and welcome in the Lutheran Shipping compound. All of the people here work for the same company, so it is very much like an extended family. Neighbours work together, party together, and mourn together and help each other in times of trouble.

A very common feature of Melanesian culture is the telling of stories and instructional information by the use of impromptu theatre. If you want to get a point across, you make a little play of it and perform it. Here we are seeing how hard the mother works:It may seem odd to see someone sweeping the ground, but there is no simpler way to get rid of the leaves and pipia (rubbish) which accumulates.

While the mother works, the children play all day:It amazes me how quickly a little tableaux can be worked out. I have seen small groups discussing an idea and working up a performance in only a few minutes.

Here we see mom giving food to her children:All the while the actors are playing their roles, a narrator is telling the story.

After a play is over, the traditional dancing begins:The dancing is very stylised; every movement and gesture has a meaning.

It sometimes gets a little wild and unconstrained:That was Mother’s Day at our house.

Not a day passes that I don’t enjoy some new and interesting experience here in Paradise. I’m the luckiest guy on the planet.