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!

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What a Day! – The Arrival of Roz Savage

Posted in Madang Happenings on June 4th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today began for me at 04:30 when I loaded up Faded Glory  to go out to try to find Roz Savage. The day before she had told me that she planned to ease off and arrive in Madang the next morning. It was dark, of course, but as the sky lightened I began to scan with my binoculars. At about 06:00 I decided to call home and discovered I had left my cell phone on the charger. I decided to make a quick trip back to town to get it.

As I was coming into the harbour I saw Mike Cassell in Felmara  coming out. We stopped to chat. He told me that Brocade,  Roz’s boat, had been tied up all night next to the Kalibobo Spirit,  Sir Peter Barter’s boat. Much relieved that Roz wasn’t still rowing her heart out to get to Madang, I went back home for a while to wait for the official entrance. As Roz tells about in It’s Been Special,  Sir Peter put her up on Kalibobo Spirit  because it was legal for her to be on a boat at that point, but not dry land, as she had not yet cleared customs and immigration.

So, early in the morning Kalibobo Spirit  towed Brocade  out a short distance from the mouth of Dallmann Passage  and set her adrift with Roz turning herself toward Madang once again, repeating the hundreds of strokes which brought her to safety the night before. It was a spectacle which I doubt will be surpassed in my lifetime.

And, this is the very shot which I had been thinking of since I first heard about Roz’s visit to Madang:

Circumstances conspired to deliver to me a perfect image. Those of you do not live in Madang won’t know about our strong feelings about our Coastwatchers Monument. I’ve written about it so many times that it has its own tag in the Tags section of my sidebar. To catch Roz passing by and glancing over her shoulder at it is a gift.

Luck was with me again as the little flotilla of highly decorated canoes arranged so thoughtfully by Sir Peter Barter gave me once again the opportunity for an image which will always be among my favourites:

Sometimes everything just comes together.

It was very hectic in Dallmann Padssage.  I tried to simply stay out of the way and shoot as the opportunities arrived.  I did most of the shooting with a mid-telephoto setting:

This image of Roz standing in her frail life-capsule waving joyously at the welcoming crowd will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is uplifting and inspiring.

Over at the wharf, everything was strictly business. Roz spoke to the authorities and handed over her documents:

I should point out that I was surrounded by about thirty little canoes at this point. In order to get close enough to get pictures for Roz’s mother, Rita, a lady I would dearly love to meet, I had to slowly work my way in, asking the canoeists, “Sori, plis mi like kisim piksa. Mama bilong Roz em i bin askim me long kisim piksa.”  (Sorry, I would like to get pictures. Roz’s mother asked me to take pictures.) The people were very polite and guided me in among them for a few minutes so that I could get some shots.

I’ll have more images and stories of Roz’s adventures in The Land of Surprises over the next few weeks. I’ll leave you with this one. It’s a photographer’s shot. Some would say, “Hey, it all blurry.” But to me the motion blur speaks volumes:

After, months of isolation and 2.5 million oar strokes, Roz, with one quick step, concludes this segment of her incredible adventure. She carries a powerful message to us. Let us hope that there are ears here who will listen.

Lest anyone mistake me for a purely sentimental observer, I’ll admit to what everybody already knows. I’m am a glory hound. I have to be. We have to eat and the only thing that I have left to sell is myself. The more people who read what I write, the more doors open to Eunie and I for opportunities to make a living.

My arrangement with Roz’s mother was that I would provide all images to her free of charge, considering that Roz’s adventures are a non-commercial enterprise. My only request was that I receive photo credit. Roz’s Public Relations man Alan Murray has been kindly sending me links to show me where my images have been popping up. I’m frankly blown away by the growing list. You can catch old MadDog’s snapshots at ABC News, Roz Savage – Ocean Rower, ABC News (again!), CNET News. My fifteen minutes of fame may have finally arrived. Zowie!

I didn’t get this post finished on Friday, so I’m now looking out my bedroom window on Saturday morning at bright sunshine on the cocount trees. It’s Dive Day. Time to load up Faded Glory.  Our own little adventures will feel larger while Roz is with us.

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The Soaring Spirit – Roz Savage

Posted in Madang Happenings on June 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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You know, maybe a few times in one’s life come opportunities to feel a closeness to amazing human accomplishment – to meet, to observe, to appreciate people who magnificently overshadow the puny imaginations of the rest of us. Today I had that privilege. Today I met a woman in an improbable vessel in the placid calm of a mirrored indigo sea with flying fish swarming about. It was magical. I met Roz Savage.

I’f you’ve been living in a cave, you may not know about Roz. First, imagine getting into a rowboat. Now imagine rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.  Now imagine rowing around the world! Got that? Around the World!

You might want to take break from my drivel to visit her web site at Roz Savage, Ocean Rower.  In fact, I insist. I seldom insist.

I’ve been following Roz for some time. I admit to being an adventurer groupie. Roz is The Rock Star of adventurers. I clearly remember being mesmerised by the grainy images of Commander Neil Armstrong hopping off the ladder to land flat-footed on the moon. I never had the privilege of meeting Commander Armstrong. But, today I met Roz Savage. I just can’t stop saying it. I met Roz Savage.

Don’t mistake my comparison for hyperbole. Landing on the moon is a huge accomplishment. It was backed by a huge government with a huge budget and a huge national interest in making it happen. We can’t compare apples to oranges here, but both are sweet fruit.

What interests me here is the motivation. Roz’s tag line, Rowing towards a greener future,  says a lot about what drives her. I’ll say more about that later. First, let me take you with me as I relive this morning’s experience.

Here is the GPS chart from Faded Glory.  Last night, as if in a dream, I had the insane notion that I might be able to go out and find Roz to welcome her to Madang. I do a lot of goofy things, This is by no means the goofiest. I loaded up plenty of fuel and took off with three cameras, binoculars and a small bag containing some munchies and beer:

You can see my path out from Madang as the wobbly line from town to the lower left corner of the image. After nearly two hours I began to consider that she may have made better time that expected and I thought about turning back toward Madang to look for her. I saw a flash in the distance, but, through my binoculars, I could see that it was a sailfish jumping. A banana boat came along, heading to Madang. I waved them down and felt a little silly asking them if they had seen a woman in a big rowboat. They gave me a puzzled look. However, they did say that they had seen something  “over that way” in the distance. I started heading “over that way”.

Shortly thereafter I saw a black dot on the horizon. I thought, “This is crazy. It can’t be her.” I kept going and soon I could make out with my binoculars that it was, indeed. I gave a little more throttle to Faded Glory  and approached within another five minutes.

I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes. Roz allowed me to tag along until she was able to calculate whether she could make Madang before nightfall. If I let Faded Glory  drift after taking her out of gear I could get her down to about 2 knots. The numbers weren’t good. It looked to me as if Roz could, at best, arrive in Madang between 19:00 and 21:00. I nearly burst my buttons when she told me that those were also her numbers.

Not wishing to arrive during the night, Roz finalised her decision to ease off and arrive near the entrance to Madang Harbour at Dallmann Passage at about daybreak. This would allow her to enter the harbour passing the iconic Coastwatchers Monument at a time convenient for her welcoming party. This demeanor of consideration simply stuns me. I would be steaming to port as quickly as possible.

Speaking of welcomers, Sir Peter Barter made a splash near Roz yesterday when he dropped a care package with the obligatory beers and victuals from his helicopter. Sir Peter is hosting Roz and taking care of all of her needs for her visit here in Madang. I think that most people don’t realise what a big deal that is. It’s not just handing over the key to a hotel room. It is an enormous job and Sir Peter has the wherewithal to get it done. Roz is blessed to have such a trustworthy supporter here in Paradise.

As I made final arrangements for photography in the morning and passed over to Roz the little offering of goodies, I did not want to leave. I can’t explain that. Finally, I waved off and forced myself to shove the throttle forward and not look back. Suddenly, I felt that “old man thing” when unexpected tears blurred my vision. In my mind was the whisper, “May the wind be at your back, Roz.”

Roz had the composure, good humour and grace of a young woman out for a row on a glassy pond on a Sunday afternoon. I suppose that one must possess those qualities to do what she does. The heart of a lion and the soaring spirit of an eagle are also necessary attributes.

Earlier I said that I would mention more about what drives Roz. She says it best. I take the liberty of quoting directly from the page on her web site Roz and the Environment:

A lot of people don’t believe they can do anything to make a difference.

We can’t make other people do what’s right. But we can ensure that each of us as an individual does what’s right. Do your bit and encourage your friends, relatives and colleagues to do theirs.

You might think that your effort is just a drop in the ocean. But a drop spreads ripples.

I believe that our every word, every action, has consequences and effects far beyond what we will ever know. So I try to be mindful of the consequences of my actions, knowing that somewhere, somehow, they will have an effect.

If I throw this plastic bag into the river, might it end up in the sea, in the stomach of an albatross, inflicting a slow and painful death?

If I don’t recycle this glass bottle, then maybe not the next one, nor the one after that, over the course of my lifetime how many of my bottles will end up in landfill instead of being reused? Is that pile of bottles something I would want in MY backyard?

On the other hand, if I do the right thing – for example, if I ask for a paper bag in the store instead of a plastic one or, better still, take my own re-useable bag – might someone else notice my choice and decide to do the same?

If I take my reusable mug to the coffee shop instead of using a paper, plastic or styrofoam cup, how many disposable cups will I save in a year, in five years, in my life?

If I walk or cycle instead of driving to work – or even just park a mile short and walk the rest of the way – might I inspire my colleagues to do the same? How much gas money will I save in a year?

I found that when I started living in a more environmentally conscious way, it felt good. It made me feel like a better person. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

Words to live by. Seriously – if we don’t live by such principles, we may not live at all.

Oh, by the way. Roz is a DIVER!  Whoopee!

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ANZAC Day 2010 – The Celebration

Posted in Madang Happenings on April 30th, 2010 by MadDog
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If there was ever such a thing as a “Just War”, then World War II was probably it. I can’t imagine a sane person who would say that the world would be a better place if the Allied forces had not prevailed. Hundreds of millions of people died in the spasm of ghastly violence that accompanied this tour de force  of human folly. In the wake of war the vanquished inevitably mourn and the victors celebrate. Both regret their dead and honour them for their sacrifices.

I covered the memorial service which commemorated the courage of those who protected us and finally prevailed. To me it seems quite proper that a memorial of courage should also include a celebration of life. Otherwise the sacrifice is cheapened. We did celebrate life and remember the sacrifices on Sunday at Blueblood. Here is Mike Cassell’s Felmara  with Group Captain Tony Behm at the helm and the appropriate array of beauties on the bow:No small craft should take to sea with less exuberance.

My first task upon arrival at Blueblood is to document the beach for posterity. Future scientists will study this series of images for evidence of ancient sea levels:All that you see here may be submerged.

The usual suspects gathered for lunch joined by some new honoured guests:

On the near end in front of Trevor Hattersley is Lt. Colonel Simon Watts on one side and his lovely wife Sue on the other. Down at the end in blue is Group Captain Tony Behm.

The usual after lunch activity is hanging in the water and drinking adequate quantities of delicious Australian red wine while laughing like a convention of comedians:As I seldom get into the water unless I have my diving gear on – I can’t swim very well – I usually end up being the photographer and wine steward. Constant demands rise up, “Bring us our wine!” I sometimes long to reply, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”

Between my wine runs to keep the revels going, I wander with my camera. I search for “odd shots”. Here’s an example:A perfect hibiscus blossom superimposed on fishing boats with the Kar Kar Island  volcano in the distance.

It’s a sad fact that every good party must end. Here we see Felmara  cruising back to Madang with a load of happy people:And a pensive soul:Karen silhouetted against the setting sun.

I wonder what she’s thinking?

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ANZAC Day 2010 – The Service

Posted in Madang Happenings on April 28th, 2010 by MadDog
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As promised, here is the first installment of the ANZAC Day memorial service and celebrations in Madang. We were blessed with a very nice sunrise. This, however, is not from ANZAC Day, it’s from yesterday morning. I’m still running a day behind, so I may have the sunrises mixed up. I’m working at home today trying to get caught up. Anyway, no matter what day it was, it was beautiful:

They are coming more regularly now that the season is beginning to change from wet to dry.

When I arrived at the Coastwatchers Monument, I immediately went up to the restaurant at the Coastwatchers Hotel to get an image of the structure. It’s too bad about the coconut trees in the way:

Back at the monument, military personnel were preparing the flags of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand to be raised:
This was just as the sky was beginning to lighten.

There were many dignitaries in attendance. This is Sir Arnold Amet:

Group Captain Tony Behn delivered a moving address:
As did Lt. Colonel Simon Watts:
Here Sir Peter Barter retreats after placing a wreath at the base of the monument:
And the monument stood tall and proud in the colours of the rising sun:
As you may notice, I’m not spouting the usual prose. It was a solemn occasion and my comments seem superfluous. I was so busy taking pictures that I didn’t really absorb the intensity of the event until later, when I began to think of my own father who fought here during WWII.

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I Shall Now Tease You

Posted in At Sea, Madang Happenings, Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 25th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s no trick at all to figure out when I’m completely stuck for a title for a post. It makes even less sense than usual. Though I am  going to tease you today concerning some amusing posts which I will have coming up in the next week, don’t get your hopes up too much. No, the war in the Big A is not over, nor are any others that I know of. Aliens have not landed to my knowledge, but I’m still hoping. The only interesting news is that we absolutely must buy a new car. Eunie has now “mentioned” for some time how nice it would be if we had a car from which the fenders were not falling off and I’m becoming more and more inclined to agree with her. On an insane whim we stopped off at Coastal Automotive to see, perchance to dream, if there was anything remotely within our price range. Well, there was a red Nissan Twin Cab ute there which is like the younger sister of the one we drive at present. Since Eunie will resolutely not  drive anything but a red car, my fate was sealed.

I reckon that if we sell all of our PNG stocks, get a good price for the rust bucket and I can remember where I buried the cash in the back yard, we’ll be only about K10,000 short. We decided two years ago that we would never again borrow money for anything. Eunie won’t let me sell the Harley, bless her heart. So, we’ll fall on the mercy of our corporate account for a couple of months and pray for a miracle. All that just to work up to this sunrise, which is a lulu:No, we’re not to the teasing yet, though I will have some very nice underwater shots over the next few days.

This image is in support of my philosophical sermon for today which  is titled, No Matter How Bad Something Is, If You Can Practice Utter Denial, You Can Probably Make It Better.  This is the same advice which I give when poor desperate wretches come to me for marriage counselling. This proably explains why my success rate is so patheically low. When I snapped this image as a Vlaming’s Unicornfish (Naso vlamingii)  darted past me, I thought that it was a complete waste of valuable pixels: However, when I saw the image on the screen, all washed out and motion-blurred, something snapped in my mind, an all too often occurrence, and I denied utterly the possibility that the image had no merit whatsoever. So, kiddies, what do we do when this happens?  (All together now . . .) We make ART! In a mere five minutes I created something. What it is, I cannot say. However it is distinctly more than it started out. I appears vaguely as if it is a rocket-propelled fish. Hurrah! NASA, eat your heart out!

Since we’re in fail mode, I’ll underwhelm you with this excruciatingly ordinary, plain Jane starfish. Honestly, if I were a starfish so devoid of charm as this one, I’d simply hide under a rock and await the Rapture:Hmmm . . . that’s more or less what I’m doing now. Oh, well.

Still no major tease, so don’t get confused. I didn’t have time the other day to work on these two panoramas which I shot on Orion.  This is, as you might well imagine, is The Library:There’s Justin Friend lecturing my gorgeous, platinum blonde wife, Eunie.

And, this is one third of the stunning spiral staircase wrapped around the elevator in the central “Light Well” of the ship:Pretty flash, eh?

Okay, now I’ll deliver The Big Tease. Don’t get too excited, because if you’re not an Australian, New Zealander or Papua New Guinean, you may not begin to quiver with anticipation. Sunday morning was ANZAC Day. I’ll trouble you to look it up if you don’t know what it means. Let me just tell you, however, that here it is a big deal indeed:I could never be mistaken for a war enthusiast. To me it seems to be the stupidest thing that humans have ever dreamed up. Nobody has yet explained to me why we have to keep doing it. However, in this part of the world, as in others, naked aggression made war unavoidable. It was about defending against the rape and murder of entire cultures.

People here are rightly proud of the part that they played in defending themselves against seemingly overwhelming odds. Eunie and I felt privileged to be invited to participate. I’ll probably do a two-part post on the ANZAC Day memorial and following festivities during the next week.

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A Marriage of Equals – Trevor and Karen

Posted in Madang Happenings, Mixed Nuts on November 9th, 2009 by MadDog
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It would be far too easy for me to make myself the actor in this little scene. And it’s very difficult to avoid the temptation. It’s not often that one gets to be so intimately involved, in such a positive and enduring way, in the lives of one’s closest friends. On Saturday, I was privileged to be the Registered Celebrant at the wedding of Trevor Hattersley and Karen Simmons. Here is the cover of the Wedding Program:

A Marriage of Equals - Trevor and Karen - The Wedding Program

Trevor and Karen chose every word spoken in their wedding ceremony. Trevor said that he had thought about it “for weeks” and came up with a program over which they toiled for perfection for a few days. I much prefer that couples write their own ceremonies. These two did the job perfectly.

Fiona Buffini read The Selfish Giant  by Oscar Wilde. It was wondrous to watch faces progress from puzzlement to comprehension as the story unfolded. It’s a wonderful tale of transformation.  Then I said my little bit to get the show rolling. Trevor and Karen read their identical vows in unison, again speaking their own words. The mixture of laughter and tears during this brief performance was most touching and not a little amusing:

The Wedding Service

The formalities and Signing of the Registry being duly completed, we proceeded eventually to the Cake Cutting:

Wedding of Trevor and Karen - Cutting the "cake"

Pascal’s “Best Man’s Speech” was one of the tamer of those that I have heard. I have to commend Dr. Michon for showing remarkable restraint.

Wedding of Trevor and Karen - Pascal's speech

Here’s a nice shot of Trevor, Karen and Alexander:

Trevor, Karen and Alexander

And, the obligatory Wedding Party Scene:

Wedding of Trevor and Karen - The Wedding Party

Plus the obilgatory bigger wedding party scene:

A Wedding Party Scene - Trevor Hattersley and Karen SimmonsAnd now we get all of the women with Trevor:

Wedding of Trevor and Karen - The Wedding Women with the Groom

And all of the men with Karen:

Wedding of Trevor and Karen - The Wedding Men with the Bride

I can’t say any more. It was Trevor and Karen’s day. What it meant to me to be honoured by them in this way is obvious. To put words to it would be to diminish it.

So, I’ll close by wishing my dear friends all of the happiness that life has brought to me through my marriage.

It should happen for all of us.

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