Crazy Colours

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on October 26th, 2010 by MadDog
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I need to redecorate this place, refurbish it. It’s in danger of getting boring. I’m getting tired of theme posts and the same ol’ same ol’. We need more variety and humour, like in the old days. A breath of fresh air will be . . . uh, . . . refreshing. I haven’t yet thought about how I might get some variety back into Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  I’ll have to cogitate on that for a while.

Still, I do know what triggered my thinking about change. It’s not what you might suspect. It has to do with moving my wallet from my back pocket to my front pocket.

Yesterday, at the town market, I was the victim of an attempted robbery. It’s not as dramatic as is sounds. It is, however, becoming a far too common event in Madang. No matter how much we love the place, we have to accept that even Paradise is not immune to any and every kind of decay. The decay of security, feeling safe in one’s living space, has been shocking.

As I was leaving the gate of the market, I felt a disturbance in my personal aura space. Then I experienced an abrupt violation of my very personal physical space as clumsy fingers attempted to sneak into the back pocket of my ancient Levi Strauss 501 cut-offs. Fortunately, there were plenty of people around (not that that helps much). So, when the first try failed, there was no violent second go at the wallet. That’s when things get nasty. The clumsy thief beat a hasty retreat back into the market followed by my nasty comments regarding his personal hygiene.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I returned to my car and sat there for a minute of quiet gratitude that I did not have to replace my various driver’s licenses, identification and credit cards. As I sat there I decided it was time, disregarding comfort, to move my wallet permanently from my back pocket to the front.

Reading back over that, I realise two things. First, I realise how little sense it makes. Then, I realise how difficult it is to connect an attempted mugging to my sudden need to spice up MPBM. As you may have gathered, I’m making this up as I go.

Now that I have wasted this much of your time, you may as well stick around a little longer for the main course of blather.

As I was looking for some amusing images from about forty that I have lined up for posts, I was struggling to find some that fit together in any interesting way – some way that I haven’t already worked to death. A few stuck out like sore thumbs. Some greens, reds and magenta hues began shouting in unison, me, me, me, me. Well, how can you ignore that? So, mixing them up a little (shaken, not stirred), I begin with Green Coral Imperfection:

There is some interesting detail in this shot. You might want to click to enlarge it. I particularly like the one structure which sticks up above all of the rest. It becomes that place which the eyes simply can’t stay away from. The rest becomes a negative space which all the more directs the eyes back to that single difference, that imperfection.

Switching from green to red, here is an image of the embers left from lunch at Blueblood last Sunday afternoon:

I confess to a childish fascination with fire. Given some spare time and an opportunity, I can sit by a fire much the same as a ten-year-old boy, poking sticks and throwing objects into the flames just to see what happens. These visceral reactions to fire seem primordial. As a natural phenomenon, I imagine that fire is at once the most useful and the most dangerous of the processes that humans have been able to harness. Possibly that is why it holds such sway over our emotions. Fire is possibly the most comforting and the most terrifying force of nature.

When I saw this fern at Blueblood, standing alone on its dead tree fern pedestal, the afternoon sun was lighting it up like a neon sign:

It looks to me like a huge green flower.

Mixing the colours up a little, we have here a Magnificent Anemone hosting two Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion):

It’s a delicious combination.

Finally, let me show you this lovely magenta-stained Solitary Coral (Fungia fungites).  These are also known as Mushroom Coral:

I wish that I knew what causes this colour. I’ve not been able to find a reference for it. Behind it and in front are three other species of coral. The white and green blobs to the left and below are a species of sea squirt.

The muse seems strangely mute this night. I have promised myself that I am going to try to avoid laying down on the bed this evening until I’m ready to go to sleep. I’ve been reading about bad sleep habits lately, in hopes of finding something which will help me. Lounging in the evening in the bed in which you sleep is reckoned to be a very bad habit. That’s a tough one for me to fix. I’ll have to think about moving some things around. I hate that. I like for things to stay the way they are. I’m going to have to get used to change.

So, it seems that what I ended up with here is yet another theme post.

Oh, well.

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Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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Some days it just doesn’t pay to carry the camera around. Yesterday I drove up to Blueblood to join friends for a day at the beach. it was a greyish day with very flat lighting. I had hoped to get some images for this journal, but I seemed uninspired and the poor lighting didn’t help. I guess that it’s okay to show the results of a bad day of shooting, It reminds me that I can do much better.

The memorial service for Eunie on Saturday went very well, but I was in a weird state through most of it. I seemed to be running on autopilot. However, I was grateful that I was overcome three times during the service and dissolved into a sobbing mess. I have been distressed during the weeks since I returned to Madang that the reactions which I expected to experience were not forthcoming. It was a relief to discover that, when the circumstances are right, the tears will come. Though the day was exhausting, I felt better in the end. A small group of us went over to Mike and Di Cassell’s home for a mini wake afterwards. I also spent a couple of hours in the afternoon with our PBT group at the home of Mike and Eunice Herchenroeder. Both were comforting and happy celebrations of Eunie’s life.

The barbie is a constant feature of Blueblood beach parties. This is a typical spread of yummy victuals:

Pascal Michon wields the spatula. How a Frenchman came to be the barbie master, I don’t know. I guess he knows what he’s doing.

Since the lighting was so poor, I had to seek out subjects that might promise some small portion of visual appeal. I became mesmerised by the interplay of light dancing on the ripples on the water and the small ripples forming in the sand in the shallow water near the beach. There was a lot of dark leaf detritus which formed into lines along the ridges of the ripples:In this shot, there was just a hint of sun poking through the overcast. This gave enough of a point source of light to refract bright patterns on the sand from the little chaos of waves on the surface of the water.

Of the dozen or so shots that I took, this one was the best:

The ripples in the sand were quite small. These were only about five centimetres apart. Again, a hazy sun created enough shadows to make a pool of light in the middle of the image. You can also see the reflection of the flat, grey sky. On a sunny day, the reflected sky would be distinctly blue.

To demonstrate just how desperate I was for something to shoot, here is some rust for you:

This shot might be a little puzzling without explanation. The corrugated, galvanised iron roofing is a little the worse for wear. There are two sheets of it in the image. The one in in the rear is in fairly good shape with only a few rusty holes. What appears to be a huge rusty area on it is actually a second sheet a few inches in front of it. That one is nearly rusted away.

I thought that this shot of driftwood on the beach might be more appealing. Try as I might, I could not bring it to life:

I thought to convert it to monochrome, but the black and white image was even more lifeless. Sometimes a flat grey sky is just what you want, but this was not one of those days.

Of the hundred or so shots that I took, this is the best by far. The softness of the light worked to advantage here for these fern leaves:

There is something strange going on in the water drop at the tip of the leaf. You can see it if you click to enlarge. At first I thought it was mosquito larvae, but now I notice all of the other little twisty, black threads near the end of the leaf. I don’t know what it is. There is also a strand of sticky stuff extending from the drop down to the leaf. What’s that? Nature is full of tiny puzzles.

UPDATE: From reader Lee Downie concerning the black, hairy stuff on the fern leaf and in the drop of water:   The birds nest fern (as it is known here) has hair on the back of the leaf when it is sporing. My father has actually grown ferns from this hairy stuff, he has quite a green thumb.   – Thanks, Lee

As soon as I gather some photos from friends, I will write a post about the memorial service.

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Back to Nob Nob Mountain

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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A couple of days ago I had to drive a mob of visitors up Nob Nob Mountain.  It’s not really a bother, except the road is a bit scary. It’s just dirt and tight switchbacks and two-hundred metre drop-offs, so it is really no big deal as far as PNG roads go. Nevertheless, when I’m driving it in a van, it’s not my cup of tea.

The view from Nob Nob is fairly spectacular. You can see the entire coast from way over at Saidor on the other side of Astrolabe Bay  to the southeast up to Sek Island  and further to the north. Here’s a shot from the Pacific Orientation Course camp:

View from Pacific Orientation Course grounds on Nob Nob Mountain

I enjoy having a walkabout with my camera whenever I’m at Nob Nob. I never know what I’m going to discover. I was stopped dead in my tracks by these very trippy pink fungi growing on the side of a rotten log:

Trippy pink fungi on Nob Nob Mountain

One can’t help wondering what a little nibble might do. The possibilities are endless, beginning with a psychedelic journey deep into your navel and probably ending with a quick trip to the morgue. On the other hand, it might be an Alice-like experience. I didn’t look underneath to see if they had little labels attached commanding “Eat me!”

This, as any fool can see, is the underside of a fern leaf. What is interesting here is the size and colour of the sori. In case botany was not your favourite subject, I’ll mention that sori are the clumps of sporangia. Does that help? Okay, okay, they are the naughty bits of the fern by which big ferns make little ferns:

Underside of fern leaf on Nob Nob Mountain showing sori (clumps of sporangia)

The spores from the red spots are released into the air to find a suitable place at which to start all over again.

Here is another kind of fern called a Staghorn. You are looking at about half of it. The rest is hidden higher in the tree. The part that you are looking at is about two metres long:

Staghorn Fern on Nob Nob Mountain

If you look at the flappy looking bits at the top you can see that they are completely covered underneath by a solid mass of sporangia.

Enough of ferns. Have some orchids.

Here are some frosty-white ones:

Frosty White Orchids from Nob Nob Mountain

I don’t know the names of any of these. It’s enough strain on my brain to keep up with fish.

The design of this one seems a little overblown to me. I’m not sure what the point is, but I’m suspicious that it has to do with reproduction:

Funky Yellow Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

It probably goes something like this:

“Hey you! Bug! Look over here. Yeah, baby, I’m hot! Don’t you want to pollinate me? Come on, big fella; you know you want it.”

Sorry for that.

Anyway, I admit that I’m fascinated by orchids. Look at this clown:

Orange Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

If I were an orchid I’d want to look like that.

Only moreso.

And yes, I would be sticking my purple and white striped tongue out at you.

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The Knights Who Say, “Ni!” Demand Shrubbery

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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It is theoretically possible that many readers are, as I am today, wracking their brains to recall how Scene 13 of Monty Python and the Holy Grail  goes. But first, Something Completely Different:

Bouganvillia flowers on water

As I was sitting in Faded Glory  at the Madang Resort Hotel last saturday, someone had been trimming the Bouganvillia shrubs and, as is the custom, throwing the cuttings into the sea. Everything gets thrown into the sea here. Nevertheless, it makes a pretty picture.

So as not to keep you waiting, refresh your memory of The Knights Who Say, “Ni!”

[spooky music]
[music stops]

KNIGHTS OF NI:   Ni!  Ni!  Ni!  Ni!  Ni!
ARTHUR:   Who are you?
HEAD KNIGHT:    We are the Knights Who Say… ‘Ni’!
RANDOM:    Ni!
ARTHUR:    No!  Not the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’!
HEAD KNIGHT:   The same!
BEDEVERE:    Who are they?
HEAD KNIGHT:   We are the keepers of the sacred words: Ni, Peng, and Neee-wom!
RANDOM:   Neee-wom!
ARTHUR:   Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale!
HEAD KNIGHT:   The Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ demand a sacrifice!
ARTHUR:    Knights of Ni, we are but simple travelers who seek the enchanter who lives beyond these woods.
KNIGHTS OF NI:    Ni!  Ni!  Ni!  Ni!  Ni!…
ARTHUR:   Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  Agh!
HEAD KNIGHT:   We shall say ‘ni’ again to you if you do not appease us.
ARTHUR:   Well, what is it you want?
HEAD KNIGHT:   We want… a shrubbery!
[dramatic chord]
ARTHUR:   A what?
KNIGHTS OF NI:   Ni!  Ni!  Ni!  Ni!
ARTHUR and PARTY:   Ow!  Oh!
ARTHUR:   Please, please!  No more!  We will find you a shrubbery.
HEAD KNIGHT:   You must return here with a shrubbery or else you will never pass through this wood alive!
ARTHUR:   O Knights of Ni, you are just and fair, and we will return with a shrubbery.
HEAD KNIGHT:   One that looks nice.
ARTHUR:   Of course.
HEAD KNIGHT:   And not too expensive.
ARTHUR:   Yes.
HEAD KNIGHT:   Now… go!

So, Knights Who Say, “Ni”, shrubbery ye shall have. Here is a bit of budding shrubbery:

Pink Flowers

I insist that this also could loosly be classified as shrubbery:

Little Blue Flower

And here is an infant bit of shrubbery:

Green bud

Though ferns are not technically shrubbery (are they?) I’m throwing this in as a bonus:

Clurly fern frond

This fern has a doppelgänger lurking behind it.

Fern and its shadow

Take heart, I’m nearly finished. My continued fixation on water drops hasn’t dimished. Honestly, when I was a kid, I never wet my bed. (I still don’t, but I’m only 65, so we’ll have to wait and see.) Anyway, I couldn’t resist these happy little drips on a fern frond:

Fern with water drops

I am so easy to please.

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More Life at Ukarumpa

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m writing this on Independence Day for release tomorrow, because I want to have a day off. It’s the time machine thing again. It’s only a small cheat. I still have to do the work. I just get to do it a day early.

I’ll toss out a few more images from my recent visit to Ukarumpa near Kainantu in the highlands. I wish I could name all of these plants. Botany was one of my favourite subjects at university, but it strains my brain just to remember a few hundred fish names, let alone try to remember plant names. There’s only so much room in my skull and it feels like it’s shrinking.

Anyway, I like the way this pretty little yellow flower seems to be growing out of a very messy bird’s nest:

Yellow flower

I showed this white one a couple of days ago. Here is what it looks like as it’s ageing:

White flower - young and old

It gives me hope that it’s still interesting. It’s colours are faded, it’s missing a few petals, it looks a little tired, but a bug still comes to visit. It’s not proud and glistening as is its younger mate, but it’s got a lot of character.

Here is another juicy spider for you: (click to enlarge and do a Save Image As – it makes a great desktop background)


I think these are a fairly common flower in gardens. Here, in this light, they seem to glow:

Orange flowers

Ukarumpa, being a high-altitude tropical place is, of course, a fern lover’s paradise. Here is a typical hillside:

Hillside ferns

I particularly enjoy the colours of this one:

Another fern

Here is another shot of the same hillside:


It’s ten in the morning on a holiday and I’ve been here since seven. I’m going home now to get ready to go up to Blueblood for party time.


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More Nob Nob Mountain Miscellanea

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 7th, 2009 by MadDog
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Today, I have more than enough images to show you of things that caught my eye on my recent visit to Nob Nob Mountain. There’s no particular order or theme here, so be prepared for more than the usual randomness.

Here is a rather amazing shot that I got from the communications tower ridge of the main wharf in Madang.  I’m guessing that the straight line distance is in excess of ten kilometres. I got the shot with the Olympus SP-590UZ at full 26x optical zoom. It points out the good and bad points of the cheap, but impressive zoom lens on the Olympus:

Madang Wharf telephoto shot from Nob Nob Mountain

First, I should point out that it was a very hazy day. That hurt the quality of the image before it ever reached the camera. You can see some vignetting around the corners. The shot is slightly cropped, mostly vertically, so there was even more light fall-off at the corners and edges. Next, you’ll note that the shot is not very sharp. I did a bit of cleaning of noise and sharpening. The original was more blurry and noisy. I also had to increase the saturation of the colours, but that was mostly because of the haze. Still, despite the problems I think that it’s amazing that you can buy a camera for less than US$500 that has a lens equivalent to a 700mm hunk of glass on a 35mm camera. If you’re just shooting snapshots, but you always wanted that super-telephoto effect, you can get it for free on any of the new superzoom cameras. They cost no more than any of the top-of-the-line point and shoot cameras (such as the superb Canon G11) and they give you telephoto shots that will blow your socks off. You can see some other examples of the relative quality of the superzoom shots from the Olympus here, here and here.

Showing the random nature of today’s post, here is the biggest mass of coconuts that I have ever seen on one tree. I’m sure that it is nowhere near a record, but it did amaze me:

Mass of coconuts at Nob Nob Mountain

Many times on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  I have told you about the Flying Fox. It is one of my favourite critters, though if I lived under a roosting tree, I might not feel so happy about them. Anyway, here is a papaya tree showing a nice, ripe papaya that nobody is going to want to eat. It’s half gone and the rest is covered by Flying Fox slobber:

Flying Fox meal of papaya at Nob Nob Mountain

I don’t often think of male and female trees. It’s something that just doesn’t come to mind. So, whenever I see a male papaya tree, I think what probably a lot of women think. Men – they’re so much bother. How many do we actually need, anyway? Here’s a lonely male papaya tree pitifully hoping that some of its pollen will be wafted on the wind to a receptive female:

Male Papaya Tree at Nob Nob Mountain

As you can see, he does nothing useful except to produce flowers. Not a bad job, I guess, if you can get it.

Here’s another interesting plant. It’s the top of a tree fern. Many of you in temperate and cold climates may never have seen one. If you can image a fern as tall as your house with a trunk like a spiny tree, that’s a fairly good description:

Tree Fern at Nob Nob Mountain

Here is another kind of fern called a staghorn fern. They also grow to be huge. I’ve seen a few that were nearly the size of a Volkswagen. This Frangianpi tree is an unusual host. It won’t be long before the weight of the fern causes the tree to come crashing down.

Staghorn Fern at Nob Nob Mountain

Here is a coconut tree groaning under the weight of a staghorn fern. It will eventually grow so big that it will drag the tree down, destroying its host. There is no noticeable intelligence among staghorn ferns. It has that in common with the human race:

Staghorn Fern at Nob Nob Mountain

I think that this is a common house plant over much of the world. I don’t know what it’s called. It reminds me of taro. Whatever it is, it looks as if it has been too near to where the house painters have been working:

Painted leaf at Nob Nob Mountain

We must have a million colours of hibiscus here. This is one that I particularly like:

Hibiscus at Nob Nob Mountain

Finally, back to ferns one more time. There is a kind of vine with blue flowers on it that grows all over the trees around Nob Nob Mountain.  You saw it a couple of days ago on the Tree Monster. I saw this nice fern frond growing where I could get a shot of the blue flowers on the vine in the background:

Fern frond at Nob Nob Mountain

I found it frustrating that I couldn’t get an angle on the frond that showed the lacyness of it the way that I wanted. I tried twisting it around, but it wouldn’t stay. Afraid of damaging it, I left it be and shot it as it was.

It was a good lesson for me for the day – take life as it comes. There’s little that you can change without making things worse.

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