Time Warp

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on November 8th, 2010 by MadDog
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I had no intention of being absent from this place for an extra day. I have no shortage of ideas for posts and writing seems to be more than usually good for me these days. However, the power situation in Madang for the last few days has been absolutely miserable. On Thursday my UPS died a hideous death. I went to get a new one, hating to spend the money, but unwilling to risk my computer. On getting it home I was disheartened to discover that it did not appear to work. So, I spent the entire weekend without the web. I felt as if I’d had a lobotomy.

As it turned out, the new UPS worked fine. I took it back to the dealer today. It was pointed out to me that I had the connections wrong. Sigh . . . Yet another stupid mistake. How many does it take?

None of that has anything at all to do with what I want to write about today.

I can remember at times near the end of the year, such as now, when I would think to myself – for example – “Where did 1992 go? Time is whizzing by so fast! I’ll soon be dead.” This is what happens when you’re having fun. When life is sweet it flashes past so quickly that it seems unfair. You feel cheated. The inevitable close of the show seems to be approaching in too much of a hurry.

And then something happens. Suddenly life is not such a joy ride. Nobody escapes these seasons. Winters come to us all. Winters seem to last forever, eh?

Remembering that I once thought where did the year go, it seems so awfully opposite now to look at the calendar and note, as it has been creeping up on me day-by-day, that it has been only two months today since Eunie died. Amazing! It feels like a year. It feels like forever. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’ve had plenty of time to think about it – centuries. I found it an odd coincidence (is there really such a thing?) that I met Nancy Sullivan today, who is an old friend I seldom see, and practically the first thing that she said to me upon reflecting that it had been only two months was, “It seems like forever, eh?” My case rests.

I pondered mightily concerning what images I might use for this post. Dali’s The Persistence of Memory kept wafting around the corners of my mind. Finally I decided that I needed timepieces. No worries. Eunie and I both had a small collection of what we called our “Seven Dollar Watches.” We collected them from Wal*Mart:

I looked for the better part of an hour for Eunie’s watches. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried for a while when I couldn’t find them. It’s that kind of day. I put mine on a sly grinning cat which Eunie applied to a bedspread, along with frisky puppies, well over two or three decades ago. It’s a very durable bedspread. It will outlive me. I hope some child enjoys it.

I can hear the watches ticking. Too fast? Too slow? I can’t tell.

Then, unbidden today, but always on my mind otherwise, came the thought of solitary creatures as I looked through the images of my dive on The Green Dragon B-25 bomber on Saturday. Solitary creatures . . . I don’t intend to stay that way forever, not if I have anything to say about it. Eunie will be my cheerleader.

Here is a solitary Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula):

That’s right. It’s Nemo come to cheer us up. Good luck, buddy.

I wonder if time will speed up again in a year or so. Of course then, when I’m having some fun again, I’ll moan that it’s going too fast. I’m never satisfied.

Here’s a critter that seems to prefer solitude, a Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita):

Weird, eh? But pretty.

Now with my brain churning so furiously that it has set my hair on fire I run across this image which I took at the end of the dive. It seems to fit here:

It’s good old Faded Glory. She’s a lot like me. She’s beat up and corroded, but she’s still afloat. She’s still a bit pretty in a sort of efficient, functional way. She’s still got a lot of love and good times to give. Just like me. I’m certain that someday this will be my favourite image of her.

I’ll wrap this up with a magic trick. See . . . nothing up my sleeves.

Stuck in the sand near the rapidly deteriorating corpse of the war machine in which good men died I found this bit of the Perspex windscreen, which was smashed to smithereens when the bomber ditched near Wongat Island. Geneviève hovers like a pixy ghost in the near distance:

This shard of plastic has been resting alone in the warm sea since about the time I was born. It had never been disturbed before. I came along on Saturday and dug it out of the sand. I resurrected it.

I carried it back to the wreckage and dropped it into the pilot’s seat.

Home at last.

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A New Library of Articles

Posted in Articles on July 30th, 2010 by MadDog
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For some time I have been thinking about collecting all of the magazine articles which I have written and making them available here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. Today, I got myself in gear to start the process. The work is slightly complicated and time consuming. First I have to scan the magazine pages into a compact PDF file. Then I have to get the first spread into an image file. Then I have to go through a process in WordPress that is ridiculously complicated. I want both the link and the thumbnail image to point to the same PDF file on my server in the USA. You would think that WordPress would make this easy. Maybe I took too many Stupid Pills last night when I started working on it.

The first article that I tried was Heart of the Hunter. from Niugini Blue magazine. You should be able to click on the link or the thumbnail image below to get a new window or tab. It may take a while for it to load, but if you have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can then read the article. The file is about a megabyte, so be patient.

Since that one seemed to work after two hours of fiddling, I decided to add a couple of more while I was on a roll.

This is about diving at Planet Rock. a location about which you have seen many posts if you are a regular reader.

Though it is one of our favourite locations, it is a little farther out and if the sea is rough it can be an unpleasant experience.

The last one for today is The Green Dragon. This is the B-25 Mitchell bomber near Wongat Island.
I hope to find a neater way of doing this. I plan to have a section in the sidebar for Articles, but I haven’t figured out how to get the PDF files over there. It should be child’s play.

Unfortunately, I’m no longer a child.

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Sunrises Until You Want to Scream

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on June 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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I usually try to get my daily post off at the beginning of the day before disaster strikes. I didn’t make it today. Nobody is dying and there are no injuries, but otherwise what started out as a hectic but promising day including hard work in the morning and a dive with some very significant visitors in the afternoon turned out to be a day of interesting events (In the sense of the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times!”) which simultaneously led to both sadness that something so disgusting should happen and gratitude that it wasn’t much worse. Someday, when the dust has settled, I may tell you about it.

In the meantime, I’ll show you garish images until you feel like screaming, “Enough with the sunrises!”

Here is this morning’s immensely uninspiring sunrise:

Yawn . . .

I tried to doll it up with some cocount trees:

Hey, we’re getting a hint of some crepuscular rays. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Okay, how about if I put my dog, my lovely sweet mongrel, Sheba, in the sunrise?

Okay, I had to use a very low shutter speed, so one of her legs is blurred. She really does have four legs.

Now, let’s try it with my neighbor’s haus win:

A haus win  is a little platform on which one can sit with a roof overhead and enjoy the breeze without being fried by the tropical sun. It is also an excellent place for a nap, since the roof will protect you from falling coconuts knocking your head off.

Okay already, enough with the sunrises. I’ll show you a failed image of a Spotfin Lionfish (Pterois antennata)  which I love nevertheless:

I got this one on Saturday someplace. I can’t remember where. It’s all a blur. I was shooting down in a hole and I had to use a ridiculously slow shutter speed. Therefore the blurry fins. However, I love the look of the image. It implies motion. Heaven knows, we need motion. Otherwise we would all turn into Ice 9.*

As you may have gathered, I am rather zoned out at the moment. Others say, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” I say, “What doesn’t kill me gives me the giggles.”

Okay, here is my last desperate attempt to amuse you. If this doesn’t do it, I give up:

One might ask, “What is it?” And, this would be a perfectly reasonable question, if, in fact, there were any reason to be had. Is that too many commas?

Well, let me tell you what it is. It is a piece of metal off of The Green Dragon,  a B-25 bomber which regular readers will remember from many tiresome messages sent into the black hole of the web in times before. It has slept on the bottom of Tab Anchorage  near Wongat Island  since the year I was born.

And, it’s still shiny.

* See Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.

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Another Fine Mess

Posted in Under the Sea on June 14th, 2010 by MadDog
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Thanks to the Queen’s Birthday, a public holiday here in Papua New Guinea, I did not have to go to work today, a bright and sunny Monday. That gave me a chance to work on one of my other jobs and write an article for Niugini Blue  about diving with Roz Savage. Well, it was a productive day, but I’m knackered, so I will spare you my usual nonsensical chatter.

My Facebook friend Kevin Lock sent me a link to a very scary site which allows you to put the footprint of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico right over the top of your house, if you are so inclined. My sense of geography is askew because of living in the same place for nearly half of my life, so I wanted to get an idea of the scale of the disaster. I put it right over Madang:

I was dumbfounded. All that I could think of was to be thankful that we have no ecological woes that could, even in the worst possible case, hold a candle to this one. That would be the same as comparing a firecracker to a hydrogen bomb.

I spent years in the U. S. Army National Guard flying helicopters. A large percentage of our missions were in support of disaster relief. I have seen close up and personal the kind of personal tragedy that such disasters cause. This one goes well beyond my imagination.

To get my mind off of those dreadful memories, I’ll show you the wing of The Green Dragon  B-25 bomber near Wongat Island:

What you see is the remaining metal framework of the control surface at the rear edge of the wing.

Inside the fuselage at the corner of one of the ammunition boxes was a spindly shrimp with an eel poking its head out next to it:

I wonder if they are even aware of each other.

Down on the bottom, behind the wing is a Heliofungia actiniformis  coral full of Periclimenes  shrimp:

The shot above is about as good as I can get with the Canon G11 in the low light conditions. I had to shoot at ISO 400. If you know what that means, you’ll have respect for this little camera a bit bigger than a pack of cigarettes, if anybody remembers what that looks like.

Here is another shot that gives an idea of how many of these little nearly transparent shrimp you might find in one coral:

They were hopping around like tiny bunnies.

This is very young coral colony which Monty Armstrong found out near the nose of the bomber. It was as delicate as any flower I’ve ever seen:

Its current size is about five or six centimetres. It will be interesting to see how fast it grows.

I’m tired and I still have captions to write. There will be more useless mumblings tomorrow.

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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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Fish Bites Lady

Posted in Under the Sea on May 10th, 2010 by MadDog
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Saturday was  a beautiful day on Astrolabe Bay  north of Madang at Wongat Island.  The sun was shining fiercely, the sea was flat and mirrored and the fish were jumpin’ and the cotton was high. Whoops, that’s a little of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess  slipping in there. I must have listened to that operetta a thousand times as a child. The line is from Summertime  sung by Porgy. I can still sing it from memory.

Here are the first couple of verses:

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

I always loved Gershwin. Rhapsody in Blue  is my very favourite.

Well, I’m rambling already, but it’s Monday morning, so I may as well get an early start on the week.

How about this very cute French Canadian, Genevieve, sitting in the cockpit of the B-25 bomber The Green Dragon:Now, that is a very fetching sight. However, it’s not funny. I’m in the mood for funny.

And funny I give you:Just forward of the starboard wing is an anemone inhabited by a very feisty little group of Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii).  That’s not the funny part. Here you can see Genevieve’s darling hand stretched out to play with the cute little fishies. They dart about and brush against your fingertips as if they are enjoying it. Do not believe it. It is a ploy to lure you within range of their teensy-weensy little teeth. A couple of seconds after I took this shot I heard a piercing scream. I looked at Genevieve. She had a startled look on her face and was shaking and rubbing her hand. I knew, of course, what had happened and I began to laugh into my regulator, an experience which itself is comical.

After doing the Bomber, we attempted The Henry Leith  from the beach. It was a mistake. I couldn’t find a 34 metre wreck only about 100 metres off the beach. I will excuse my poor navigation by mentioning that the visibility was less than ten metres. Back up on top of the reef, we spent the rest of a seventy minute dive snapping whatever looked promising, such as this ridiculously orange sponge:

What’s that  all about?

I did manage a nice one of a couple of Clown Anemonefish (Amphiprion percula)  in an absurdly green anemone:Yes, those are Nemo’s cousins.

Here is a typical coral bomie in the range of depth between one an about seven metres. They are covered with Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus):Last Christmas I gave my faithful readers Christmas Tree Worms for Christmas, complete with Christmas presents.

I’m such a cheapskate.

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Bomber Beauties

Posted in Under the Sea on May 9th, 2010 by MadDog
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Wehn we arrived near Wongat Island  on Saturday morning to dive The Green Dragon, an American B-25 Mitchell bomber which was shot down by Japanese gunners during WWII the sun was bright and the sea was pancake flat. It looked as if we were going to get one of those “Paradise Days”. We weren’t wrong.

After a string of rainy Saturdays, It was quite pleasant to have an entire day of sunshine. When we arrived at The Green Dragon,  lying on the reef at about twenty metres, I immediately began photographing the beautiful scenery, including Genevieve, who peered inside the fuselage through one of the waist gun ports as I photographed her from the opposite side:

This is a favourite gimmick at the bomber. It offers the opportunity to frame a model in an interesting and easy to compose setting. Another favourite is “sitting in the cockpit” which you will see tomorrow.

Here is one of the best shots that I’ve gotten of the dorsal twin 50 calibre machine guns of the B-25. Japanese gunners had to brave these two death-dealers when attacking from above. The one thing which was certain is that the warrior inside this turret was just as determined to live through the experience as the attacker. You can clearly see the devastation to the turret caused by the anti-aircraft fire which downed the war bird. It’s a sombre experience to view this:The whole experience of diving The Green Dragon  is simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. The most common remarks which I hear from first-time divers are those of reflection. One can’t take in the scene without thinking of the circumstances which created this amazing dive site. It is one of the best preserved WWII aircraft left in Papua New Guinean waters.

Inside the fuselage, under an ammunition box, I found these beautiful tubeworms:I can’t identify the species, but no matter, the are lovely just the same.

Another familiar creature, a Pipefish, similarly escapes by ability to identy the species. It is one which I have not seen before:The spots on this one are very nice and worth clicking to see the detail.

The resident Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita)  was in its burrow under starboard wing of The Green Dragon:

I think that this might be the best shot of a Ribbon Eel which I’ve ever snapped. You can see the juvenile colouration here and a couple of more adults here and here.

Stay tuned for more irrelevant nonsense tomorrow. I’m a wellspring of idle amusement.

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