I Shoot Myself

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 7th, 2011 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I’ve had an interesting few days. I went a couple of weeks ago to get a physical check-up. A few months ago I was wishing to find something which would kill me as quickly and painlessly as possible. Now I am more hopeful. It would be nice to find that nothing serious was amiss. Well, it seems there are a couple of numbers out of whack, but I’ll not go into that until I have more information. It’s probably nothing serious, but I can’t get it checked out now. I’m just too busy. If the second round of tests come back with a frown, I may have to take some more time at the end of my holiday to stop in Australia to get myself checked out thoroughly and go in for repairs if necessary. The cards keep coming, whether one is ready for them or not. Best to keep playing with as cool a head as one can manage.

I did get my wrinkled old skin examined expertly. I was amazed that it cost me only $35. Decades of careless sun exposure have forced me to have tiny bits and pieces frozen off here and there.  Some pesky spots on my head turned out to be nothing. Good news. One little place on my hand had to suffer the liquid nitrogen treatment. It’s a fascinating thing to watch, but don’t be in a hurry for it. Be careful with the sun, kiddies. It wants to kill you.

I’m a fanatic about getting my flu shots every year. We have some terrible flus floating around here. I know that these yearly vaccine concoctions probably will not protect me from those, but it makes me feel better when I get jabbed. I’m very fond of placebos. I wish I could get them by the dozen. So I asked my doctor to script me for the flu vaccine for 2011 and also the Pneumovax pneumonia vaccine, which I have not received for a few years. You’re supposed to get it twice in your life, five years apart. I’ve gotten sort of used to being alive now, after a spell of intense ambivalence, so I would rather not get struck down by something as mundane as the flu or pneumonia. If I’m going to go, I want to do it with a bit of panache.

In line with my extreme frugality, I decided to save another $50 trip to the doctor’s office by injecting myself. It’s really no big deal. When I was in “the military” we were always having to practice injecting. I don’t know why they wanted us to be so proficient. Maybe it was training for a future life on the streets. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting to give yourself a shot. In fact, it stings a lot less when you do it yourself. The flu shot turned out to be no problem at all, as it came neatly packed in a throw away syringe:

As you can see, this image is part of my continuing plan to amuse and enlighten. I may or may not succeed.

Alas, I discovered my plan to cheat the medical industry out of fifty bucks was foiled, as my Pneumovax came in a vial. I was tempted to use the syringe for the flu shot over again, but I was afraid Val would catch me. I can’t imagine that she would have approved:

Nice try. Now I have had to make yet another appointment and fork over another five ten-spots just to get some person in a white suit stick a needle in me. You just can’t win at this game.

By the way, the cane toads came back to the frog pond the next day with reinforcements. Val squirted disinfectant on them to try to kill the pesky beasts. They’re nice and clean now and no worse for the experience. I was funny to watch them blowing soap bubbles:

I was tempted to go and get one of Val’s golf clubs and practice my wedgie or whatever it is golfers do. I despise golf. No, wait. That’s too strong. I find golf puzzling. Okay, now I’ve offended all of the two or three golfers out there who may read this. I’m sorry. Sometimes I just blurt things out. It’s not my fault. I’m impulsive that way. Blame my mother or my father or some other ancestor. I got some truly bad genes. I’m amazed that I’ve stayed out of jail so long. Hey, it’s never too late!

Rummaging around for something else to throw at you today, I ran across this shot of the beautiful red mushrooms which we found near the beach at Teewah a while back:

I reckoned that these would be easy to identify, but no luck. Anybody want to have a go?

Okay, I’m randomising again. Perhaps I should focus a little.

On the way to Teewah, the sky was flamboyant. It was all herringbone and ripples. As I understand it, this is a sign of an extremely unstable upper atmosphere. Something got up its nose. Anyway, as the trees whizzed past with the relatively stationary clouds in the distance, I was mesmerised. It doesn’t take a lot to mesmerise me. I’m hyper-sensitive to mesmerisation. Now I can’t stop saying the word. See what I mean.

So, to make a long story a little shorter, I started thinking about how to capture the effect most cleverly. It turned out to be simple, okay, relatively simple. Here’s an example:

My first efforts were not all that flash.

So, here’s how a photographer thinks:  First, I know I want a relatively slow shutter speed so that the trees in the foreground will be motion blurred. Here’s some nice motion blur, better than the first one:

Next, I have to remember to hold the camera pretty still, as moving the camera with the slow shutter speed will cause the clouds themselves to blur from “camera shake”. The image stabilisation gizmo in the camera can only do so much.

Also, I gotta make sure the camera can focus, since it’s going to get pretty confused by all the whizzing. That’s pretty simple. I just have to set it on manual focus and push it to infinity. Bob’s your uncle.

Except, and there’s always an except, with the slow shutter speed, there was way too much light. My G11 won’t stop down more than ƒ8, and that wasn’t enough. Fortunately, it has a nifty built-in neutral density filter which can be turned on with a couple of stabs of the finger. Once I got that set, the rest was easy. I could get it down to a nice, slow shutter speed:

The perfect sky and the perfect tree.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Reflections

Posted in On Tthe Road on March 24th, 2011 by MadDog
No Gravatar

“Been crook, mate.” is how an Australian might put it. It doesn’t refer to criminal activity. It means I’ve been sick. What seemed to be a waning viral chesty thing suddenly regained its foothold on my aging carcass and discovered a new and vigorous life in my tortured sinuses. I call this extremely poor timing. This is the first day in a week when I’ve felt like doing much other than laying in bed moaning about my face which felt as if it had been in intimate contact with the massive bumper of a speeding truck. This explains my absence from MPBM for a week.

Other than that, I’m having a pleasant, if surreal, time. The trip to Teewah was fun and refreshing. It took my mind off things for a while, a welcome interlude, indeed. I’m trying to retrain my mind to leave aside things best not thought of. Possibly you know what I mean. It’s those pesky themes which plague your thoughts, forcing you to go around and around trying to think of solutions to puzzles which have none. I had just about banished this kind of pointless mental exercise from my life. Recently it has returned with reinforcements. Now I have to subdue it again. The change of scenery is helping.

I’ll return to Teewah in my head this morning before I have to get to work and catch up on ten days worth of ignored urgencies. As the title implies, reflections are on my mind – not the moody kind – I disposed of that already. The watery places around Lake Cootharaba abound with captivating counter-images. Here are a few:

The phantom tree is far more, ummm . . . spiritual than its hardwood doppelganger.

The water here is deeply stained with tannin from the rotting vegetation:

The ground all around reminds one constantly that the path follows the contours of a giant sand dune.

Reflections create amusing symmetries everywhere:

There are great seas of magenta-tinged reeds. Nearly all of the vegetation in this area does not appear truly green to me. I find myself constantly removing magenta from green shades to make them look more natural to my eyes. That’s really a cheat. I shouldn’t be doing it. Coming from Madang, everything here looks dried out and sickly. I admit to freshening up the greens in these shots.

Huge swaths of scraggly forest show fresh evidence of bush fires. Two years ago an enormous portion of this area was burned out. Strangely, in these habitats, fires are not only untroublesome (to the vegetation, anyway), but absolutely vital the very survival of many species:

Many Australian plants cannot propagate without fire. The heat allows the seeds to escape from the protective pods. I’ll be talking about that in a post soon.

This burt-out Banksia tree is a good example. Though it finally succumbed to the last fire, its final crop of seeds was released to regenerate when things cooled off.

Here you see Ali Raynor cleverly taking my picture through the hole. No, that is not a spear she is holding.

What it is is the central spike of this plant. This is what is commonly (but politically incorrectly now, as I hear) called a “blackboy”. They are quite impressive and can live for hundreds of years. The proper name is Xanthorrhoea:

The reason for the political incorrectness of the common name is rather obvious, but seems just a little, uh . . . unnecessarily sensitive to me. Here’s the explanation which I casually ripped from Wikipedia:

“The best known common name for the Xanthorrhoea is blackboy. This name refers to the purported similarity in appearance of the trunked species to an Aboriginal boy holding an upright spear. Some people now consider this name to be offensive, or at least belonging to the past, preferring instead grasstree.”

Okay, enough of that. I’d rather let them explain it.

As soon as we started up the path to the lake and encountered the wetlands further up the dune, we were surrounded by millions of toads ranging in size from a pencil eraser to a tennis ball. Did I mention that there were millions of them? Mind you, I didn’t count them. Apparently, they all come from these:

Yes, Virginia, those are tadpoles, some of them sprouting legs already. There were millions of them also. They seem to have no predators here. I suppose that their number is limited only by the size of the edible insect population available to feed the adults.

It seems that they grow up to be these:

I, being ignorant, of course, believed these to be cane toads – a menace if there ever was one. Discussing this with the ladies accompanying me proved to be useless. None of these Queenslanders could state with conviction that these were or were not cane toads. Possibly that is because none of them have engaged in the popuplar sport involving a doomed cane toad and a hefty golf club. This morning I perused Google Images for cane toad pictures. It’s my judgment that these are something else. These are nowhere near ugly enough. Comments are welcome.

Tomorrow I am off to Toogoolawah for a few days with Ali Raynor. I have absolutely no idea what is in store for me, but I hope it includes some spectacular images of skydiving, kangaroos, koalas and whatever else I can manage to get stuck into. I’ll have a dial-up connection there, so my postings may be sparse.

If I can shake off this disease, I’m going to have some fun.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,