Nob Nob and Kar Kar

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 28th, 2011 by MadDog
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Today’s post title mimics the sound of baby talk. Nob nob kar kar goo goo. Maybe that’s a stretch. I’m going for a little humor today and finding it more difficult than usual. Some days are easier than others. It’s a roller-coaster.

A few persistent and pedantically observant readers may note that my spelling seems inconsistent. For instance, in an earlier sentence I used the word humor. In other posts I have spelled the word as humour. The machine which I am using today has a US English dictionary installed in Firefox, my web browser of choice. I usually use my computer at home or in my office, both of which have Australian English dictionaries. One might ask why.

Okay, since you are so inquisitive, I’ll tell you why. Having lived in Papua New Guinea so long that I can’t remember how to behave anywhere else, I have observed that Australians are laudably picky concerning spelling. I care about spelling only to the extent that I prefer not to appear as if I don’t care. Strangely enough, Americans seem more tolerant of UK/Australian spelling preferences than Australians are of the “Americanisms”. Therefore, I learned early on that, since a great deal of what I write ends up being seen by those who adhere to UK/Australian spelling than the American standards, it is prudent for me to use the Australian forms. It is simply too onerous a task to have to switch from one to another according to who might be the predominant audience. Australians seem to stumble over every Americanised (Americanized, if you are an American) form while Americans simply zip through text littered with Australian forms.

So, in the text of MPBM posts when there are alternate spellings you will usually not see the American forms. I’m not anti-American. I’m just catering to the closest audience and the one which finds the American forms to be a little odd. I’m not saying that Australians are spelling snobs. They are snobs about very few things, certainly no more things than Americans. However, there are some things which can set them afire. One is the American preference placing the letter z  near the end of words for which Australians insist must have an s.  For example, let’s take the word recognise.  To Americans this spelling appears strange, possibly exotic or even wrong. The Amercan form would be recognize. However, most Americans can recognise/recognize the word. They are not outraged by recognise.

Some Australians, however, would be compelled to point out, after careful consideration assisted by a healthy slug of Foster’s Lager, that is American  spelling. This might be accompanied by a slight frown.

So, there we have it. Now I have managed to insult both Australian and American cultures in a few brief paragraphs. If you are not already tired of the subject, you might look at an interesting Wikipedia item on American vs British Spelling Differences. I learned quite a bit from it.

Having dispatched my insults to my homeland and my favourite playground, it’s now time to proceed to the subjects. Last week I had the great blessing of a house guest. Dr. Riley Savage, a young Australian physician, has been in Madang several times working with the local hospital. Each time she was here she went out to dive with us. I invited her to take advantage of the guest rooms that Eunie and I had prepared so that visitors to Madang could economise by staying in a bed and breakfast atmosphere. It was a wonderful treat to have a friendly face for a few days in the big, lonely house.

We could not dive on the day before Riley was to fly back to Australia. This is because it is unwise to have any excess nitrogen in the blood before traveling to a high altitude. It can lead to symptoms of “the bends”. Instead, we went to visit old friends on Nob Nob mountain. Tag Tap took us for a brief bush walk. On our way up to his house we stopped at the Pacific Orientation Course camp to take in the view of Madang, Astrolabe Bay,  the North Coast and Kar Kar Island.  Here is a shot of Kar Kar Island  taken from the ridge upon which sets the huge TELIKOM communications tower:

The air was too hazy for a good shot. I had to massage this one very roughly. Kar Kar Volcano is potentially very dangerous. It is not gentle on our minds. One of the more interesting recent events occurred on the 4th day of December in 2009 when Kar Kar did not  erupt.

Here is a slight telephoto shot. I was attempting to get a better balance of tones. I tried combining multiple exposures including one underexposed, one normal and one overexposed. I then combined them in Photoshop for a single High Dynamic Range image:The resulting image is no improvement, but does have a point of interest. Look at the top of the big towering cumulus cloud (Cumulus congestus)  to the right of the peak. The rate of vertical development at the top of the cloud is so rapid that the two or three seconds between my exposures was long enough for multiple images to develop. Photoshop did a good job of lining up the three hand-held images, but it couldn’t cope with the motion at the top of the cloud. I’m still learning the HDR process. I was disappointed in this shot. I expected to be able to see detail in the brightest area of the cloud. I think the reason is that my underexposed frame was still washed out in the bright part of the cloud. I should have reduced the exposure even more to capture detail in the brightest areas.

While still on the ridge I shot this rather plain flower. It is not a very interesting shot except for the discoloured areas of the petals:

I’ve seen this on many flowers here. Red hibiscus blossoms often have bright blue patches which look a little wilted. It appears to me as if there is a base colour on the petal which is overlaid by another colour. If something happens which disturbs or removes the top layer of pigment the base colour shows through. You can get a hint of this by the general appearance of the petals. There is a hint of blue showing through.

When we started on our bush walk, I was strangely uninterested in shooting. I took only a couple of exposures. Riley was shooting everything, but I failed to get any images from her before she returned to Australia. This line of mushrooms up the side of a rotting tree did catch my eye:

Tag Tap said that they are edible. I’m cautious. I never eat wild mushrooms unless I find them at the market. These looked as if they were safe, but I don’t trust my extremely limited knowledge. Even if they are not poisonous, I might still be taken on a trip for which I’m not prepared.

I was greatly amused by this very elaborate flower. I think is is some kind of Pasiflora:I hope that Anne-Marie sees this and let’s me know what it is. Tag Tap says that it is used to combat fungal skin infections. If one has an itchy patch all that is needed is to find some of these and rub them vigorously on the skin. I had no itches, so I didn’t try it. Pasionfruit and Sugarfruit flowers are very similar in configuration and general appearance to this, but are much larger.

UPDATE: Anne-Marie rescued me with the species name. See her comment.

Getting back to Kar Kar, here are a couple of panoramic stitches of multiple images which include the island. You can see it in the distance at the left end of the large island:

With my equipment and skills images without obvious geometric distortion seem out of reach. I have seen a few, but the requirement for this seem complex to me. The shot above has no troublesome distortions, but it sags a bit in the middle. I ran out of time before I figured out how to correct this. I’m sure that Photoshop provides a method, but I couldn’t find it quickly.

A second series of exposure and a different style of stitching yielded this image:

The water line in this one is straight and most if it looks more realistic. However, the distortion at the right is distracting.

These images are for Rich Jones. Rich asked that the shot include the swinging rope from the Tarzan post. There was a Big Event at Blueblood recently of which I hope to write soon.

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Smoke – Phantosmia

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have some nice sunrise shots for you today, some a little out of the ordinary, and I am going to whine a little. There’s nothing like whining to a large audience to make one feel better. First, a sunrise. When I first started processing this one, I wondered what happened to the trees on the other side of the harbour. Then I remembered that there was a line of towering cumulus way off on the horizon. It took a little bit of fiddling to separate them from the black shadows of the town:

Two months ago today I wrote about losing my sense of smell, a condition called anosmia. I’d love to report that it has come back, because I miss smelling Eunie’s perfume in the morning. It has  come back, sort of. But the way it has come back is not useful at all. My anosmia has now transmogrified into its grimmer cousin, phantosmia, smelling things which don’t exist.

Let me pep this up with another sunrise. This one is the widest panorama which I have ever done, I think. It was seventeen exposures. The original file is 27,000 pixels wide. I’ve put this one up on the server at 4,000 pixels, so it might be amusing to click on it:

Phantosmia is characterised by olfactory hallucinations, involving smelling odors that are not derived from any physical stimulus. In my case, from my first moment of consciousness in the morning until I fall asleep at night, I smell smoke.

It would not be so bad if it were the aroma of a comfy forest campfire or a yummy barbecue. I only wish. No, it is a nasty trash-fire, a refuse dump set aflame. It’s not nice at all. And, it is strong. If you were caught in a breeze wafting this odor to you, you would move away smartly.

Here is my neighour’s haus win  (a little thatched roof with a platform under it) in the morning sun:

You can see Sheba, our mutt, over at the right.

As you can imagine, this is not only unpleasant and inconvenient, but it could be hazardous as well. If I smell smoke all of the time, how can I detect a fire which might endanger me? Moreover, I can smell nothing but  smoke. Got a gas leak, don’t count on me to warn you. We’ll all blow up if you wait for me to offer, “Hey, I smell gas.”

Here’s one of my “lucky” shots. It would be a pretty ordinary shot of Kar Kar Island  volcano in the sunrise if it were not for the two canoes:

I was using a fairly low shutter speed here, so there is a bit of motion blur in the arms of the canoeists.

The prognosis for any kind of anosmia isn’t particularly encouraging. There are many treatments suggested on the web, but none promise consistent or significant improvement. Most information indicates that, if there is no improvement within a year, the condition is probably permanent. I’m not looking forward to smelling smoke the rest of my life.

Here is another version of the super-wide sunrise above:

I’m going to try to see an ear, nose and throat doctor while I’m in Australia later this year to see what he has to say. From what I’ve read, the fact that I’m smelling something  now may indicate that my normal sense of smell may return. There may be some re-wiring going on and it’s simply not worked out yet.

Of all of the health problems that I might  have at my age, I suppose that I should be grateful that smelling smoke is the worst of them.

Hey, do you smell smoke?

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Sunshine and Orchids

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today I shall begin with the beginning and end with the end and skip all of the boring stuff in the middle. I’m talking about my work day, of course. I usually awake between 05:00 and 05:30 and try to get the computer turned on and start working before Eunie rises at 06:00 for her breakfast and an hour of reading. I have to keep running to the front door if there is anything interesting developing in the sky to catch the ten minute window for a decent sunrise.

This morning the sky looked chaotic. I was hoping it was not a portent of the day to come:I had a little hurry-up in the house to catch up with Eunie, who was eager to get into town for her aquarobics on a sunny morning.

I did have to pause in the front yard for this image of Kar Kar Island  sticking its dangerous head up over the horizon. I hope this baby never blows:Nothing untoward happened on the way to town, no drunks staggering out in front of the car, nobody throwing rocks at our new Nissan Navara (more to come on that later).

I had to turn off on Coronation Drive for a quick shot over Astrolabe Bay  including Coconut Point:It seems that the sky was out to impress me. It was doing a fairly good job.

Just before the Coastwatchers Monument, I got another blast of beauty:Okay, now I was set for the day. Time to focus on work for a while.

Now I skip over the boring part.

Since Eunie is helping out at the Madang Lodge and Restaurant for a while, we needed to stop there for a while on the way home. I always take advantage of this time to browse on the orchids. They are delicious:

The ones above remind me of the mating displays of some of the birds of paradise. They spread their wings and vibrate their tails. Hey, that just gave me an idea for a new dance craze. “Yeah, baby! Do da Bird o’ Paradise! Spread yo’ wings an’ vibrate yo’ tail!” Never mind. It’s nearly noon. My blood sugar is getting low. I feel dizzy.

This one is called, “Come on, Baby. Let’s do the Twist”:No, that won’t work. Somebody already took that one, Chubby Checker, to be exact.

This is the kind that we would buy for the girls when I was in high-school if we wanted to encourage them to feel generous after the dance:Which was always!  Dweebs and nerds bought wrist corsages for their dates, because they were too shy to pin one on the bosom.

I preferred the full-pinning ceremony.

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Water Comes Down – Water Goes Up

Posted in Guest Shots, Mixed Nuts on April 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have some very amusing images from two dear friends who are guest shooters today and a couple of shots of my own. I very much enjoy featuring images from friends. I hope that I’ve given enough encouragement to readers to send me images which have spoken to them. If not, I’m issuing the invitation once again. I started this as a source of eclectic amusement and information. There is much here about Madang and our lives and interests. However, our many readers have much to contribute also. The more participation that we have, the more interesting Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  will become.

Our first shot today comes from our Hamilton, Ontario friend, Ron Barrons. Ron said that his wife treated him to a visit to Niagara Falls recently. One can only speculate what prompted that generosity. Anyway, Ron captured this stunning image of the falls through the window of their hotel room:Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the beauty of this picture. Great job, Ron. Makes me drool. However, I’m picturing Brenda’s face as Ron fiddles with his tripod and his f-stops and his shutter speed while she re-thinks the whole idea. Ron, I can only pray that you did not ask her to carry your tripod. Women hate  that! There’s an old photographers’ joke that goes like this:  A life-long English amateur photographer dies. At his funeral his wife is overheard to say, “Ah, well, it’s a pity he’s gone, but at least I don’t have to carry his bloody tripod any more.”

Here’s a lovely shot from the lovely Tracey Lee. It’s a waterspout shot at Honiara in 2006:There’s some pretty furious action there at the base. We had another waterspout from Trevor Hattersley just the other day. Nice one, Tracey!

And, now that we’ve disposed of the title of this post, we’ll move on to this crisp shot of Old Fort Niagara again by Ron Barrons:Fort Niagara is the oldest surviving building in the Great Lakes area, having been erected in 1726. It is also the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. This looks like a long telephoto shot to me. I got images of parts of the fort area from the same spot with my Olympus SP-590UZ the last time I was up there. I nearly froze my bum off.

This morning the southern sky was wonderfully back lighting Kar Kar Island.  I had to get up on the top of the roof of my truck to get this shot. It would have been better from the top of my house, but I was to wobbly at that time of the morning for ladders:Whenever there is a lot of news about volcanoes, such as the current fracas in Iceland, we all cast wary eyes toward Kar Kar Island. It’s listed as one of the most potentially dangerous volcanoes in the world and it by no means dormant. It rumbles and smoked regularly. There was a recent report that it has erupted, but that turned out to be a false alarm.

Last for today, but my no means least, are the Two Eunice Messersmiths:The larger model on the left is my gorgeous wife. The little one in the middle is also Eunice Messersmith. Her mom, Maureen, was raised in our house by her mom, Juli who has been our haus meri  and general manager of the house for over twenty years. Juli is sort of like a daughter to us, so Little Eunice Messersmith is like a great-granddaughter. Juli came into the office to show us Little Eunice’s birth certificate, a document which few Papua New Guineans even possess. It says right there that her name is Eunice Messersmith. Go figure!

I like her very stylish pink shades. She’s gonna be trouble!

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Photoshop for the Ultimate in Day-Tripping

Posted in Humor, Photography Tricks on March 5th, 2010 by MadDog
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I spent a major part of my “Communication Time” today working with Eunie on a post for our Messersmith News site, which she has a very difficult time updating, mainly because her job is a lot more important than mine and she has a corner office with windows. I hide back in the IT dungeon, so my time is a little more, uh . . . flexible. As long as I keep things perking along, nobody seems to care much what I’m doing. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Anyway, pop on over to Madang – My New Home Town for a little sweetness and love. The whole purpose of this post is to lure you over there, so don’t disappoint. The rest of this is a product of a mis-spent youth.

Since I was pressed for quality time to produce something that would blow your mind, I had time only to blow my own. I shot four image on the way to work this morning and that’s all that I had to work with. So, I decided to let what passes for my mind to wander to those forbidden places my ancestors used to visit while experimenting with pre-industrial chemistry. Five solid hours of Steely Dan have aided the process.

In case you’re puzzled, this one is titled Tripping Out at Coconut Point:I can easily imagine flying at supersonic speed to this very spot and landing on my bare feet on the mossy rocks like a droplet of water flicked from the tail of a passing mermaid. Am I getting through to you?

A violent wave of vertigo from my superglue-filled inner ears caused me to stumble and I was blessed with this vision of a tiny, glowing rock garden at my feet:I took its picture. It said, “Dacă-mi dai de apă, eu va iubesc.”, which is, of course, what any sweet little rock garden would say. Unfortunately, I had none available, so I had to sorrowfully decline.

Even before I left the house this morning I had the G11 out and was letting it exercise its muscles. This one is called Freaky Kar Kar:Some day that baby is going to blow. I just hope I’m looking straight at it with my camera in my hand when it does. I’ll be one of the most posthumously famous photographers in all of history if my camera survives. You can just see the top of it lurking over on the right side of the image.

I finally pulled out all of the stops and produced Funky Foreshore:It has been sublimely massaged with various filters, shadings and secret MadDog incantations to within an inch of its life. It’s panting from exhaustion.

It’s a victim of tough love.

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Overworked and Manic

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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Everybody is bored hearing how busy I am. Hey, I’m  bored with it! We’re working frantically this week to get the new network rolled out and all of the computers switched over to it. When it’s done, I’ll be able to get back to what passes for normal. I’ve been in a state for the last few months. The old system went back to Windows 2000 Server for Domain Controllers and had been upgraded, patched, hacked, glued together and thrown into a mix-o-matic with a bunch of Linux monstrosities that were supposed to be “enhancements”. Never again!

The new system has dual Windows Server 3008 R2 Domain Controllers and all workstations will be running Windows 7. Most of it is working already and it is sweet, sweet, sweet. I just have three mission-critical machines to move over to the new network. Then we have to get the big network printers switched over, do a little prettying up of bits and pieces and we’re done.

Then I have to get cracking writing some magazine articles and arrange for some bush walks to gather new material. I also plan to ride the Harley more. I’ve only been on it a couple of times in the last few months.

Today, to amuse ourselves, I have a few miscellaneous images that tickled my eyeballs over the last couple of weeks. I’ll start with an unusual view of a nice red hibiscus blossom:

Those water drops caught my eye from twenty metres away. I never pass up a chance to shoot drops. I love the way that they reflect the light. You can see some interesting reflections if you click to enlarge.

Here’s another of my ongoing series of “crazy foliage” shots:Sometime when I was a child I was brainwashed, probably by a gym teacher who was assigned to teach science – a common enough occurrence in the U S of A – that plants are green. Despite intense therapy, I’ve not gotten past this crippling mental defect. Plants here are all kinds of nutsy colours and it is deeply disturbing.

The shots above came from Blueblood as did this one of a man hurrying home during a brief rain shower:You can see the base of the huge Kar Kar Island  volcano at the right side of the frame. Click to enlarge and you can see the rain drops hitting the water and even a few streaks of rain drops against the darkness of the canoe. I took all of these shots with my new Canon G11.

You’ve seen the flower of the Sensitive Plant or Tickle-Me Plant (Mimosa pudica)  here before:

This is the nicest shot that I have of it. I attribute that to the increased dynamic range of the G11. It seems to capture many more tones of colour and brightness than the G10, as it should, given the massive changes to the sensor.

Here is another familiar to regular readers. It’s my favourite spider:This fellow was distinctly grumpy on the dull day when I shot him. They usually try to hide by crawling around on the opposite side of the flower. This guy turned to face me and raised his front legs in a menacing display of aggression. I have to admit that I didn’t feel greatly menaced, but I didn’t mention it to him.

Oh, yeah, back to water drops:This is one of my favourite water drop shots. I have others that are sharper, flashier, more colourful, blah, blah, blah. This one, however, makes me feel very relaxed and mellow. I’m strongly affected emotionally by images, always have been. I think that is why I love photography so much. When I look at my favourite images, I feel good.

I love sharing those good vibes with you. I hope you dig it too.

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Suspicious Ancient Photos and Other Esoterica

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on January 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s another one of those days when my Superpower of Story-Telling is failing me. Yes, I am a Superhero. I try to keep it a secret, because my Superpower is so useless to humanity that I’m ashamed to reveal it, let alone my true identity. I guess I’ve “outed” myself now. Oh well, It’s no big deal anyway. My Superpower only works on one or two people at a time. It’s not very spectacular. The general effect is to put people to sleep within a minute or so. Therefore it is of no use in emergencies. People generally awaken as soon as I relent and complain of mild headaches. They usually remember, at that point, that they are late for an important meeting and depart post-haste. It’s a peculiar Superpower, I admit. Now the world knows. I am Astonishingly Boring Storyman.

So, today I’ll keep it short, since I’m sure that many of you don’t have time for a brief nap followed by a puzzling period of disorientation.

I walked over to the market this morning to see if I could find some nice red bananas. I love ’em. It looked as if the place was abandoned. I found some red bananas, but I’d neglected to bring any money. So, I took this panorama shot instead:

It did nothing to subdue my craving for red bananas.

Something in my brain went “pop” and I smelled an odd smell and suddenly I was entranced with the concept of turning perfectly good images into “old photos”. I started with this shot of Miss Rankin  when Tony and Lorraine had just purchased her:

They were toying with the idea of renaming the ship Moonlighting,  but decided against that, as it is widely thought to be bad luck to rename a ship. It would be pretty tempting if you had purchased a ship named The Crapper.  Anyway, I’d call my “old photo” job a failure. All I did was turn it into monochrome, apply a sepia tone filter and add some random noise.

I did discover that it’s much better if you start with a bad photo. This was an image of Kar Kar Island  taken from the little bridge across from Memorial Lutheran Church. That’s Sir Peter Barter’s boat Kalibobo Spirit  on the right:

It was a very grey day, so the image wasn’t interesting even after I toiled over it for ten minutes. My efforts to give it the “old photo” look were somewhat more successful. You can get filters for Photoshop that make it more effective. They add coffee stains, scratches and fold marks and even splotches where tape has been removed.

As I walked to the hotel a few days ago I noted this exceptionally hairy tree. Many trees here have aerial roots. This one is taking the practice to ridiculous lengths (here I go with the puns again – hey, it’s part of my Superpower – I have no control over it):

Two things intrigued me about this hairy tree. (I’m easily intrigued.) First, there is the colour of the aerial roots. I can’t remember seeing red ones before. The other thing is that someone, probably with a lot of time on his hands, has lifted a mass of them up and tied them into a knot, something that would not enter even my  mind. Whoever did this, my hat’s off to you. It’s wonderfully whimsical.

A few years ago we had a young lady named Twila Schofield working at our office for a little while. She is a very talented artist and specialises in most amusing caricatures. She did this one of me and my darlin’ Eunie:

I’ve had it hanging on the wall of my office for years.

To finish up this witless conglomeration of time-wasting tomfoolery I present to you The Rocket Cloud:

No, in case you’re misled, it has absolutely nothing to do with a rocket. I have observed many, many fine clouds. Nevertheless, I have never seen a towering cumulus cloud rise so quickly. There was no need for imagination to see it blasting up into the sky like the might fist of the God of Clouds punching its way up into heaven. Even from the moving boat, we could see it rising. It was magnificent.

In a modest sort of way.

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