The Funny Side of Life

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As it was never difficult for me to find humour in the oddest corners of life, it has been disturbing recently that I don’t laugh as much as I used to. The reasons for this are multiple and obvious. Depression never gives one a cheerful outlook. Stress is not likely to invoke laughter. Trauma seldom makes one giggle. Nevertheless, I have discovered that I can regain areas of functionality by concentrating my attention on how I perceive life unfolding around me and consciously adjusting my habitual reactions to those perceptions. In other words, I give myself an attitude check.

For instance:  It has now been nearly two weeks since I last posted. I’ve been fretting about this for days. Sometimes I simply can’t kick-start myself into action. Oh, I have a list of excuses as long as my ape-like arms. However, analysing it as objectively as I can, I have to admit that I just ran out of things to talk about. I needed to give myself some time to let the word well refill. Among other excuses were power outages. Several times as I sat with my hands poised over the keyboard composing the first sentence, the UPS screamed in agony and the air conditioner groaned and fell silent. Also there were rainstorms which blocked my satellite and killed my web connection. A few times I just felt “too tired” or I “had a headache” or I suddenly “got hungry” or any of several other manufactured distractions pulled me away from what I needed to get done.

So, what’s so funny about that? Well, nothing and everything. It’s not funny that a grown (dare I say mature?) man can find so many excuses to avoid doing something which he knows will make him feel better when he’s done it. It’s not funny that depression cripples us in so many unfathomable ways. The list of reasons why it’s not funny is lengthy. However, if you wrote a scene for a comedy and put Steve Martin in as the slightly disturbed and angst filled star, it would be very amusing. It might invoke some self-conscious giggles. Let’s have Steve preparing his CV for an important job application. I can see how he might never get around to actually doing it. Each time he starts and fails to complete the task it adds to the comedic frustration. As time goes by the distractions become more and more contrived. Forgot to feed the cat. Was that the telephone ringing? Oh, I need to trim my fingernails!

If I step outside my skin and watch myself, I have to admit that I resemble Steve in the movie. This strikes me as funny. It’s funny because it’s unreasonable. There’s an almost slapstick quality to it. Each little act of masochism is like a pratfall. One asks why is this guy doing this to himself? Why doesn’t he just get on with it?

Now that I’m writing, I feel better already, though when I read through what I’ve written I can’t imagine that anyone will make sense of it. Oh well, I am not here to make sense. That’s never been a goal.

I think that I’ve flogged that dead horse long enough. I’ll now show you some images from last week’s dive on the wall at Blueblood. I’ll try to find the humour in one of the worst dives I’ve had for ages. I’ll try to smile at a cold, rainy day.

We saw clear water as we approached the wall and prepared to go in. However, by the time we went over the side, we had drifted a bit and we ended up in a torrent of muddy water spilling out from the lagoon. The sky was very dark with grey rain clouds so there was little light. The water was so turbid that by the time we reached fifteen metres the visibility had dropped to less than two metres. I sincerely did not want to be there. I started to give Rich Jones the “I don’t like this” hand signal and pointed upward with my thumb. Rich just kept moving forward. I wasn’t happy about that, but the last thing that I wanted was for us to lose sight of each other. After a while we came into clearer water and things brightened up a bit. I got this shot of a nudibranch:

You may note that it is a bit grainy. That is because the light level was so low. I had to boost the ISO of my sensor to 400 to get an acceptable shutter speed. That is the point at which the Canon G11 gets noisy.

There were no big fish about, something which is becoming more and more common; I don’t know why. Everyone is commenting on it. We see no sharks these days and fish bigger than a hand are becoming less and less plentiful. I did, however, get a few nice shots of unusual corals. Here’s one:

And here’s another:

My thumb is there to show you the size of the coral.

I like this shot of coral polyps streaming in the current:

This is a very young Leather Coral colony, I think:

And this is the most strangely coloured Fungia coral that I have ever seen:

It seems to me that these very strange colourations of many species of coral are becoming more and more common. I have no idea what causes it. It may be another manifestation of abnormalities caused by an increase of water temperature. This is something we have been experiencing for many years. The average temperature of the local reefs has risen considerably over the time which I have been diving here. We are seeing a huge increase of coral bleaching episodes.

I haven’t found much humour yet, so I’ll finish up with this grinning Moray:

Rich Jones found it hiding in a crevice. It was very difficult to get a shot. I took about ten exposures. This one was the best.

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18 Responses to “The Funny Side of Life”

  1. Bronislaus Janulis Says:

    Well, Jan, in those immortal words of Mr. Natural, “keep on truckin”


  2. Steve Bennett Says:

    I do like the Eel shot, very nice indeed.

  3. Don Silcock Says:

    Good to see you posting again – two weeks is too long….

  4. Ali Says:

    Nice post Jan, and bout that last photo……
    In the words of Dean Martin. “That’s Amore”

  5. Ray Selby Says:

    Hi Jan, great to see you back, I was a little worried . With what you have been through recently I’m amazed at your strength .
    I can imagine how you must feel about leaving “paradise” for the unknown. After I departed the PNG “paradise” I eventually finished up in the British Virgin Islands “paradise”, one of the catch phrases we used there was “Oh boy, it ain’t easy in paradise”. After many years there, I worked in Thailand setting up and running a yacht building company. I delivered the last yacht we built from Thailand to Florida, took about 2 months. It was a fabulous trip and something I’d always wanted to do. Turned out to be the last thing I did in Thailand, as when I flew back found the company had gone bankrupt……So at the age of 65, what to do? The only choice I really had was to return to my place of birth, the UK. Not a choice I was very exited about. Landing at Heathrow with all my worldly possessions in one bag, it took a while to get sorted out. But that was 5 years ago, and I must say there are many advantages to living in a civilized part of the world.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Can’t do anything else, Bron. Thanks.

  7. MadDog Says:

    I got lucky with that one, Steve. I like it too, though I have better ones.

  8. MadDog Says:

    You are right, Don. I’m shamed. My lazy nature is showing. Thanks for the prod.

  9. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I can always count on you for a wicked pun. That one is above average. Keep trying!

  10. Ali Says:

    You asked for it!

    Stick your hand in a crack, if it doesn’t come back…it’s A-moray.
    It’s got sharp pointy teeth and hides in the reef ….it’s A-moray.
    It’s a beautiful sight, but beware of the bite of…. A-moray,
    This may sound quite absurd; you could be an horsd’oevre for..A-moray.
    La la la la la la la
    Had enoughhuh???

  11. MadDog Says:

    Well, Ray, I had several severe attacks of lazy recently and the well is running dry on “current events in my life”. I’m getting bored with talking about my woes. I leave for Interesting Places in nine days. I expect that I will have plenty of amusing things to write about.

    There are certainly a lot of unknowns in my life now. What a change! A few months ago everything was all set. Now nothing is certain. That takes some getting used to. You have had in interesting career! I know what you mean about the prospect of “returning home”. I don’t really have a home to return to unless you call the entire USA home. That’s a big target. I expect that I will leave Madang in the same condition – a backpack and a suitcase. I have to admit that I’m looking forward to living somewhere someday where I can enjoy a decent meal in a restaurant and go to a movie. Even those simple pleasures are not available in thie corner of “paradise”.

  12. MadDog Says:

    Ali, you are amazing. I’m saying that in the most complementary way. . . . Really.

  13. Ali Says:

    A very good friend and long term resident and lover of paradise (58 years+. He was also widowed there) once told me that –

    “Paradise, is only paradise, till you CANNOT leave …. and then it is hell”

    (BTW- He always had a return ticket in his pocket)

  14. MadDog Says:

    Ali, a year ago I would have argued against that statement. Now I understand perfectly. For decades I was happy to believe that Madang was “home”. What a fallacy that was! Home was where Eunie was – it always was. I was unable to see that even though our most common theme was “everything will be ok as long as we’re together”. Now that she’s gone I’m living in a strange land. It’s most definitely not home. In fact, I have no home. It’s a very scary feeling. Suddenly I realise that I have no place to go. A return ticket to WHERE?

    Madang is not hell yet and I hope that I don’t begin to see it that way. However, the feeling that I’d like to escape is strong, but to where? I am sincerely hoping that when I return after my travels I will be able to see Madang in a different light. I know that it is not Madang which has changed. It is me.

  15. Paul Crozier Says:

    Hello Jan,

    Just trying to get in touch with Charlie Edmunds – Charlie gave me my first paying job in 1976 when I was a young bloke growing up in Lae, he was Ela Motor’s Manager. Please give him my Email address,

    Thank you very much


  16. Colin Huggins Says:


    Get out of the place before it erupts.
    Dictators are getting chucked out all over, and Mugabee, is not really in any position, anymore, to advise Somare!
    It will and you and I know it.
    Move down here or return to the USA.
    Woeful predictions, but correct. It is EXIT time for you.
    Colin (HB)

  17. ahna Says:

    I have to agree with Colin in living in paradise, or work where you can and travel. Something I would love to do. You always have a home here, but Indy is so boring and I hate the winter blah. I feel the winter is my worst season. I love the west alot.

    I will have to say we have alot in common (which we should blood wise). I find it very hard to get motivated. I think alot, alot and alot of what I need to do. I do alot of sketches and paintings in my head and love them. I also think of the line of ballet figurines that i want to sculpt and the outfits to make for them. But my behind gets wider just thinking. Have not been able to take any pictures and with having one car and 5 months prego walking is limited to the boring back yard. EEEWWW. Of course your depression is brought on by a terrible change in life. I feel the same if I lost everything that I have here in Indy for I would get up and leave, not that it would settle my feeling but it would be a change, My Change.

    i pray everyday that God will lift this cloud and maybe during your visits and travel will be fun. When you come home (yes home in Indy or where Hans is is always home) for a little while maybe you can teach me more about photography and help me find a nice camera that I can buy one day and possible a career change for me in this field or something. I feel like a Jack of all trades. I need to do something but so confused. Maybe we can be confused together. LOL.

    Lots of love Uncle Jan.

  18. MadDog Says:

    Ahna, I’ve travelled much over the decades, but I always loved being at home the best. I’ll find a new home somewhere, when my work in Madang is finished.

    We both seem to be going through a rough patch. I might suggest that even in your back yard you will find interesting subjects for photography. I’m having a similar problem now getting my mind off of details of daily life with which I’ve not had to be concerned before. So much is new to me. I have a hard time thinking of interesting things to write about. I certainly agree that sometimes what we really need is change. I’m ready for some good change.

    The cloud is lifting for me, a little at a time. It’s not the kind of thing that you can hurry along. Each month I feel better and more confident. The trip will be good for me. I can’t imagine living in Indianapolis again, but I don’t know what God is going to do with me. I don’t have a clue. I hope to spend some time with you. As you say, we can be confused together.