In Cairns and Stayin’ Alive

Posted in Humor on June 23rd, 2010 by MadDog
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The good news is that the plane didn’t crash on either of my flights today. I was not detained by any authorities. I did not have my crouch sniffed by a beagle hound when entering Australia and I had a nice chatty cabbie on the way to the Hides Hotel. In short, none of the plethora of potential disasters eventuated.

Two minor glitches prevent me from taking up the normal amount of your valuable time today. One is this:

The wireless in my room does not work, despite “rebooting the access point” to encourage it. So, I have to work out in the hall. After paying for a room, I am disinclined to do this for long.

Also, I discovered that I do not have the right software to process all of the wonderful images which I took today and was so eager to show to you. I’m downloading the correct software out in the hall as I write this.

I have to get up at 04:00 in the morning to get a cab to the airport so that I can catch a plane to Brisbane. Then I can cool my heels for a while and wait for my flight to Nandi in Fiji.

So far the highlight of the day was an excellent pizza and two beers at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby – highly recommended, but probably not worth a trip to PNG just for that.

Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, by this time tomorrow I shall once again be in the proximity of my woman.

Very close proximity.

UPDATE – My software came in, so I can show you a couple of more shots which may or may not amuse you.

I am fascinated by the security checking process at the Madang Airport Air Niugini Terminal. It consisted today of the single question, “Are you carying anything dangerous in your bag?” I was tempted to say, “Only a camera.” but decided, for once, to keep my mouth shut:

To be fair, I must admit that she did open one zipper and peek in.

However, one may be assured that the floor in the terminal is perfectly safe, as this image clearly proves:

Good night and sweet dreams.

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Travellin’ Light – Off to Fiji

Posted in Humor on June 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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Tonight’s post will be mercifully short. Of course, that’s what I always say when I plan to blather on until you are nervously looking over your shoulder to see if the boss is watching you waste the company’s valuable resources surfing the web.

As you may have learned from previous posts, I am off to Fiji tomorrow to join my gorgeous woman for eight blissful days of working my bum off writing magazine articles to pay for my trip. Sounds like fun, eh? Well, it’s better than staying at home in an empty bed. I get freakier than usual when she’s not around. I mean scary freaky. I talk to myself. Sometimes I talk to Eunie, even though I know she’s not there. “So, where did you hide the jam? I can’t find the jam. Yeah, I know  it’s in the fridge, but where  in the fridge?”

And then there’s packing. That’s one area where I take no chances. I never travel anywhere, including clear around the world (about twelve times now) with anything more than a back pack. My theory is that the less stuff I have to pack the more likely is that I won’t forget anything important. Does that make sense? I can’t tell.

Here is my packing:

Travellin' Light - Off to FijiI have my clothes: a shirt with a collar, two t-shirts, a pair of “tropical whites”, some crappy old shoes, the necessary undergarment or two and a belt to hold my pants up since my bum seems to have evaporated into old age  The backpack will soon contain my Toshiba.  I also have my Speedos, the modest kind, my dive mask, underwater housing, cameras (two), battery charger, Valium, Nasonex and another drug which I shall not name, but which is very necessary. There’s the all important passport and about half a tree’s worth of paperwork necessary to get me to Nandi and back. Oh, the wallet is there too.

Poor Sheba is in a dither. She has been acting more strangely than usual since Eunie left on Friday. Though she looks relatively calm in the photo, she has been running around in little circles scratching the floor where there is nothing but dust bunnies and whimpering as if she were saying, “Something bad’s gonna happen, I just know  it!” I think that she has lived with me too long.

I never bother with toothbrush, toiletries, etc. I just get what I need when I need it. I don’t have a cell phone, because some jerks stole it from my boat last week. More about that later.

I don’t take much clothing, since I compulsively wash out whatever I wore that day before I go to bed. It’s usually dry enough to wear in the morning. If not, I go the back-up garment.

HAVE I FORGOTTEN ANYTHING?  For pity’s sake, please call me immediately if you note that some critical item is missing.

Never fear, I shall continue, connections allowing, cluttering up your screen with my sorry excuse for daily entertainment. I might even stumble onto something amusing. Hey, I’m not Jay Leno. What do you expect?

If I do, I will surely pass it on. If I don’t I’ll just keep taking up space.

I just noticed. I managed to mention my bum twice in this post. Is that too many times?

No, wait! Make that three!

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Crazy Day!

Posted in Humor on June 21st, 2010 by MadDog
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I am possibly the world’s worst traveller. Being one of the Top Ten Terran Worriers doesn’t help matters much either. Add to that my natural wussfulness and predisposition to melancholy and depression, it’s a wonder that I ever leave the house. This is Monday evening. I’m just getting around to writing today’s post after a day of chasing my tail. Tail chasing is exhausting work. Have you ever watched a dog after a furious tail-chasing session? Well, that’s what I look like now, sprawled out on my belly with my head on my paws panting and drooling.

Tomorrow I planned to stay home all day and worry. That thought brought me comfort. I felt more at ease. Now I have already thought of several things which will take me to town where I will note yet other things which I have forgotten to do. I have to get dog bones. I have to get money. I have go buy credits for the electric meter so that Juli doesn’t run out of electricity while I’m gone. By tomorrow there will be twenty other things which I will suddenly remember.

Wednesday will be even worse. My plane leaves, Air Niugini and God willing, at 11:15. By then, if you lined me up with five extremely agitated mental patients, you would choose them as the calm ones.

Strangely, once I am on the plane and I have chewed my 5mg Valium tablet which I keep in my pocket for just that moment, everything is calm. I have lost all control. There is nothing which I can do to change the outcome. My free will has become so much philosophical clap-trap. Que será, será.

So, what to write about today. At about 14:00 I threw in the towel. I decided to call up a search on my web server for all of the *.jpg images and pick the first six which caught my eye. I would then write something, anything, about them. So, here comes the “anything”:tugboat_fractal_img_0927That was one of my “Art Projects” from A Week Into 2009.

I’m certain that, by now, you have discerned my fiendish plot. All I have to do is show you images from old posts and sucker you into following the links. I don’t really have to write anything at all!

Strangely enough, at 23:30 I can’t find which post this shot came from. It is, however, one of my favourites. If I remember correctly, Trevor missed the shot:trevor_shooting_web_PA270146

It doesn’t matter.

This is the sweetest horse who I ever knew. Yes, I know that it should be “which” and not “who”, but you don’t know Honey.

The nice thing about it is that we are the same age, taking “horse years” into account.

This one is from Harlem Redux, which some of you may remember. Sorry to be repetitious, I’m in panic mode, remember?harlem_malcom_x_blvd_P6100235

It’s not a fantastic image, but I did enjoy writing the post.

If you like MC Hammer, you’ll like You Can’t Make This, from which this image came:hanwas_img_1561

Fading fast now. I just gave about three hours of Photoshop lessons.

Here’s another one which I can’t find, but I’m so zonked I don’t care. It’s funny anyway.


I think that my comment was, “Is nothing sacred?”



A Long, Hot Ride on a Harley

Posted in Humor on June 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today’s post will be a brief one as far as the chatter is concerned. Eunie has gone off to Fiji to represent the Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce and Industry at some big Pacific Island international conference. I find this intensely amusing as, I am quite certain, this is the first time in history which someone who’s primary work is being a missionary has ever been chosen to do this. This makes me proud of my wife, of course, but it is also satisfying that our constant guidance within our organisation that we should fully engage with all segments of society have paid off. The salt isn’t much good for anything as long as it’s in the shaker.

While moping around at the office last week moaning that I had to stay once again at home while Eunie went off to exotic places our receptionist, Elizabeth, said to me, with what seemed like a mocking tone, “Well, why don’t you just GO!” So, in my Mars way, I began to tick off all of the reasons why I couldn’t go. First on the list was:  I can’t afford it. The second was: The IT operations will fall apart.

Eunie put me “on the carpet” in her corner office – the one with windows – and gave me my instructions. “You can write enough magazine articles about your trip to more than cover your expenses.” That took care of reason number one. “You already have Mark coming in at least once a week to help out with the technical stuff. Just put him on notice that you’ll be gone.” Reason number two shot down like a rabid dog. Within an hour she had all the bookings done and had gotten me an Australian visa for my night in Cairns. Oh, how I love powerful women!

So, on Wednesday morning I’ll be off to Fiji. I’ll try to post daily while I’m travelling. I would have gone on Friday with Eunie, but, of course, Air Niugini was by then booked up for days with long waiting lists. For a country which depends on air travel exclusively for internal commerce, we have a pretty sorry example of a national airline. Anybody want to argue that point? And don’t use “they are doing the best that they can” as an argument.

Well, I said that I wasn’t going to chatter. So much for promises. The cat being away, the mouse played yesterday. I took a long, fairly fruitless ride up the North Coast Road with Ush to a place which we heard about from the Marshalls at a party at Lockland’s house on Saturday night. It was Marleen’s last party before departure and Ush’s birthday. I severely abused a bottle of Chardonnay and danced and kakaoked until 01:30 when Monty and Meri Armstrong finally herded me to their car and deposited me back at our house. Chattering again . . .

Anyway, 108 kliks up a road which is the Swiss cheese of highways you will find a place with a promising name: The Tapira Surf Club:

That’s the Harley sitting there in front of a little bar shack just to prove that we actually went up there.

It looks considerably better with Ush decorating it:

It was an exhausting ride up there. On three separate occasions I had both wheels locked up with Ush slammed up against my back to get the beast slowed down quickly enough to avoid Harley-eating potholes which stretched across the road.

I had decided already that I would have one beer only and smoke a nice Cohiba which Pascal Michon gave me on Saturday. It turned out to be a bit of a wasted trip. There was no surf, nobody home and only a toasty warm beer:Nevertheless, Ush and I had a nice time chatting in the club house or whatever they call it. We asked when the surf was up. The answer was “October”. Go figure.

I’ll finish up with a rather remarkable image which I shot on The Henry Leith on Saturday.

On the left side of a fan coral which you are seeing side-on is the rather rare Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus). On the right is a Black-Saddled Toby (Canthigaster valentini). They are both nibbling bits off of the fan coral. In the background is the extremely rare Rozas savagica bearing the common name of Roz Savage.

I feel quite smug about this shot.

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Ants in the Sugar

Posted in Humor, Under the Sea on June 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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Though I love living in a tropical paradise I’d be less than honest to say that it’s all fun and games. There are minor imperfections. Having had malaria seven times is an example. Horrible things called tropical ulcers and a flesh eating bacteria which attempted to remove my left are other trivial complaints. My recent bout with staph and bacillus bacterial gobbling up my olfactory organs, leaving me odorless (at least as far as I can tell) could have happened anywhere, but upper respiratory infections are very common here. You haven’t had a cold until you’ve had a “tropical cold”.

However, the trivial day to day irritations bug me the most. For instance, ants in the sugar:I slipped that pun in so cleverly that you may have missed it. It is also easy to miss the ants in the shot above, because they are the teensy variety. You can’t miss them when you take the lid off, though. They scurry around in a panic and try to hide by burrowing into the sugar. You can see  them better if you click to enlarge.

You may also note that our sugar is rather odd looking. It smells funny too – not funny ha-ha. No, it’s more like funny they forgot to take some of the goop out when they were making it. Some might call it raw sugar. We call it the best we can get.

Here I have enlarged that culprits for you:I honestly don’t know how they get in the sugar. We take it straight from the bag and put it into an air-tight plastic container. The lid goes “suck” when you pull it off. One must assume that there are ant eggs in the sugar. Why these are considered a suitable ingredient I don’t know either.

Well, enough of that.

Here’s an nice fan coral which I shot yesterday on The Henry Leith:

I managed to grab the wrong battery for my Canon G11 on Saturday morning, so I was out of juice half way through the dive.

Here’s Richard Jones poking around the stern of the wreck. Rich forgot to load a battery into his camera. Therefore, Rich was the chief dunce of the day:

It’s Sunday evening here. I’m pretty wasted from riding three hours on the Harley up the north coast road and back, dodging Harley-eating potholes all the way. I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow.

So, I’ll cut it short and get some down time. First let me show you the collapsed roof of the pilot house of The Henry Leith:

It’s too bad that it finally fell down. I was cool to get into the pilot house and look out at all of the fish swimming around.

Here’s one of the better shots that I’ve ever gotten of a Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus):

They are very shy, so it’s difficult to catch them out in the open.

This Divericate Tree Coral (Gendronephthya roxasia)  doesn’t move at all, so it’s no fuss to get a nice close-up:

Nice detail in that one. It’s worth a click to see the full-sized version.

I’ll have a Harley story tomorrow and some shots of the Tapira Surfing Club.

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Guest Shooter – Muffet Petrehn

Posted in Guest Shots on June 18th, 2010 by MadDog
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I get tired of everything here being centered on me.   Of course, me  is a very important concept and the me  things need to be kept at the forefront and proper attention should be given to me.  However, much as I am devoted to the promotion of me,  I still sometimes get bored with me.  That’s why I sometimes like to feature interesting people who are not me.

Today she, who, by the way, is not me,  is a nice young mom of three kids who loves her family, photography, traveling, horses (has two), playing guitar and speaking Spanish. Before she became a photographer about six years ago, she was a Dental Hygienist.  She has a photography studio in her home on nine acres twenty miles south of Kansas City. She told me that one of the coolest things that she has photographed was open heart surgery (twice) at an incredible children’s hospital KC. I have photographed corneal implant surgery from a safe distance, but I’ll forgo getting up-close and personal with a throbbing heart.

Each of these images has been merited in the Professional Photographers Association International Print Competition. I’m going to let Muffet tell you about them in her own words.

Fire Warrior  – Was taken down the street from my house. I went out to feed the horses one night and it looked like the whole skyline was on fire. I grabbed my camera and tripod and got this shot.Fire Warrior by Muffet Petrehn

Rough Exterior  – taken in a small town in Tuscany.  I named it Rough Exterior because maybe this man is a lot sweeter than he looks in this image. : ) *

Rough Exterior by Muffet Petrehn

Soul Mates  – An example of my portrait work.  Taken at my place in my 150 year old barn.
Soul Mates by Muffet Petrehn

Siena Rain  – Taken in Siena during a photography workshop –  the assignment was to capture motion.  This image is very special to me because I was just starting photography and a world famous photographer leading the workshop told me that he wished that he had captured this image.  It did a lot for my confidence as a photographer.
Siena Rain by Muffet Petrehn

Cheyenne Autumn  – My place and my horses : ) It had been stormy – I went out on my deck and the clouds broke shining light down on the horses.  I grabbed my camera and whistled to them to get them to look up. I later took out my electric fence and used a Nik filter to change the green grass and leaves to the oranges to match the horses better.Cheyenne Autumn by Muffet Petrehn
Silent Sentinel  – Taken in Montepulciano. One of my favorite places to visit. This cathedral is in the movie  Under the Tuscan Sun.Silent Sentinel by Muffet Petrehn
Holding on to Hope:  Taken on a missions trip to Honduras. The summer after I took this image my daughter spent more time there and was able to find this little boys family and give them a copy of this image.Holding on to Hope by Muffet Petrehn
* An interesting note here is the amazing resemblance between this shot by Muffet and my shot taken in Tuscany in The Rule of Thirds: My image from Tuscany - Jan Messersmith

All this proves is that many photographers are looking for the same compositional factors.

Give ten photographers a scene and you will get ten visual essays about what is in it. Some may be radically different, but some will be nearly identical.

The Arcade Lights Up

Posted in Madang Happenings on June 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, there is no shortage of news from Madang today. Yesterday afternoon at about 18:00 Erastus, our Translation Coordinator, called me from our office where they were having a dinner to greet our new intake of interns. He said that there was a big fire in town. He told me that he thought that Papindo’s was burning down. I ran to grab my camera and rushed out into the front yard to be greeted by this:

It certainly looked like a big fire to me. I haven’t seen anything like that since the Lutheran Shipping Fibreglass Shop burned. I could hear pops like guns going off clear across the harbour.

Here is a telephoto shot taken only a few minutes later when the fire appeared to be at its peak:

Within a short while it died down significantly.

As it turns out, it was not Papindo’s which was smoked. It was the building across from the Development Bank (the building you can see on the left in the light of the fire). We called this building “The Arcade”. Don’t ask me why. That’s just always what we’ve called it. It’s pretty much gone now.

Eunie called me from the office to tell me that she was worried that the fire would jump the street and get the bank and then us. I couldn’t get into town. because she had our car. I told her that all that they could do was wait until it was pretty certain that our building was in danger and then yank the wires out of every computer in the building and carry them someplace safe where the inevitable looters could not grab them. I remember when a hotel in Goroka burned and people were throwing television sets over the fence to be carried off by wantoks.

Here is the heart of the beast. This shot and the one before were taken by Eunie. I think that she was a very brave little photojournalist. Click on this one for some interesting detail:

She said that she couldn’t get any closer because of the heat. I told her that she got quite close enough, thank you.

Here is a shot in the morning from the same angle as the first fiery shot:

As you can see, the place is pretty well trashed.

This morning there was still a fire burning inside. The fire department did not seem to be around. I was told that the cops bashed a looter earlier in the morning. I’m just as happy that I wasn’t around to snap that:

People were standing right up in front of this door when I came across the street. Things were still popping inside. I wanted to say something about safety, but then decided to save my breath.

Even the darkest clouds bring refreshing rain to someone. So, I did get to take away a bit of grim comedy. This guy was astonishingly angry at the door:He was bashing away at it and cursing it to hell. He had a big iron bar in his hands and kept dropping it on his feet which only fueled his fury to the next level when he got his arm caught between the door and the bar and nearly broke it – the arm, not the bar. I never did get what his problem was. The door was not locked. It was swinging wildly on its hinges as he pounded away at it. Why he should have been so enraged at a defenseless door is beyond me.

Well, nothing new there. There is a lot in PNG which is still well beyond me. I have the rest of my life to try to figure it out.

By the way, I’m goign to Fiji next week. SURPRISE!