How Bad Can It Kill Me?

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on December 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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I’ve been holed up in the house for about three days. Today I opened the bedroom curtains for the first time. It was sunny outside. I think that I know what sent me into this latest deep depression. I’ll tell a little about it later. I’ve been having some face-to-face with a friend who has dealt with this kind of uncontrollable emotional paralysis in her own life. It’s comforting to have someone to talk to that understands from first hand experience.

However, I’m not here to blab on about distress. I’m in the mood for a bit of humour. Let’s see if I can pull it off. It’s time to laugh a bit.

A week or so I was talking to someone about something difficult I had to accomplish and I was trying to make it sound light-hearted. I had intended to say, “How bad can it hurt me?” It came out, somewhat more ominously, “How bad can it kill me?” I took a mental note of that and proceeded to bore my friend with the details of my plan to conquer this horrible thing which was an everyday problem for many people, but made me feel as if I were a passenger on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. When his eyes glassed over I relented. Later, I began to think about my Freudian slip.

I certainly don’t recommend fooling around with fate and getting yourself in such a pickle as the one in which I’m presently fermenting. Nobody is stupid enough to bring such things upon himself. Nevertheless, I must admit that there is an upside. Regardless if it is true or not, there is a certain freedom in feeling  that I have nothing to lose. Of course, I know that it is not true, but knowing is not feeling,  knowing is not accepting.  I have many things going for me. I’m healthy, if putting on a little too much weight. I’m reasonably sane and able to take care of myself day by day, though my bed only occasionally gets made. I have a job which I can still perform well enough for the time being and I’ll improve as I get better. I have a nice house to live in, though I do rattle around in it like a cracked marble. I have friends to annoy. All in all, I’m likely better off than maybe eighty percent of the population of the planet.

I admit that I can’t do a post without images. I’m sure that this stems from the fear that what I’m writing is so abominably rotten that nobody could possibly read it without becoming nauseous. If I throw in a few pictures, it might possibly be seen as a redeeming value. Here is the rather unusual sight of three Solitary Corals (Fungia fugites)  cuddled up together:

Let me get back to what is passing for a train of thought tonight. As I was saying, perceiving a current state of life as being unsustainable over the long run and being not so nihilistic as to believe that there is no hope that it might get better is the starting point. So, it’s pretty bad, but it could get better. Now add that what has happened is the worst thing possible that could have happened. Yes, it could have happened in a worse way, but there is nothing on the list that could possibly top it. And the list is exhaustive. Okay, throw into the equation that even if more bad things pop up, they can’t make me much worse than I am now. My money all disappears – hey, money is not security. What good is it doing me now? I lose my job – well, that would be tough, but it would just force me into a change. The list goes on.

Nothing that I can think of really threatens me. This seems to create some kind of weird super-power. Call me Sticks-and-Stones-Can-Break-My-Bones-But-Nothing-Can-Really-Hurt-Me-Man. No, that’s too long a name for a super-hero.

Ah, now I remember what set off my hiding-under-the-covers period – the second coffin-building incident in less than two weeks. I won’t go into the details. It suffices to say that it was another time of grieving:

It does strike me that I look terribly angry in that shot. I was going for “resigned”. It came out much differently. By the time I came into the office to discover that it needed to be built, a friend had already been recruited, so at least neither of us had to face the job alone. I am getting rather good at knocking together a coffin. I don’t plan to take it up professionally, but one never knows.

Feeling this freedom of relative invulnerability, however, it not a safe thing. It can make one reckless. I find myself thinking outrageous thoughts about what I might conceivably do. I fantasise. I make astonishingly stupid plans. I catch myself dreaming of selling everything and scuttling off to Bali or Rio and living off my photography and writing. Then I’m brought up short by the realisation that I’ve found no way to live off it yet and the fact that I might starve trying to is not  an improvement on the present situation. Not a bit.

No, I’m better off now staying here and doing what I was sent here to do. That’s where my security lies now. In some ways that’s a hard pill to swallow, but that is only because I’m not exactly ecstatic about life at the moment.

This horrible thing, looking for all the world like “The Small Intestine from Outer Space” is a Prickly Sea Cucumber:

It’s not a great picture of one. Possibly you can see the hideous frilly arms that wave around engulfing whatever seems edible. I’ll have to try feeding a banana to one.

Yes, fantasies sustain me these days. I’ve always been an exceptionally good daydreamer. Walter Mitty has nothing on me. I’ve dreamed up several schemes lately, none of which have proved, upon the most cursory consideration, to be remotely feasible. Most of the difficulty lies in where,  I might go. Except for Papua New Guinea and the USA, any place I might choose to go would present considerable difficulty. You must have permanent residency to work in almost any country worth living in. That is a high hurdle.

I had a passing fancy for Costa Rica until I began to look at the residency problem. I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to jump through all of the hoops. The same goes for Canada, which I would like to be able to think of as my final “home” when I’m so broken down that I need to crawl into a hole and wait for the end. I’d probably have to do it as an illegal immigrant. Wouldn’t that be an interesting way to end up? I’d have to start a new journal and make it anonymous.

I met a friend at the Madang Lodge and Restaurant last Friday evening for some light conversation. I noticed that the big storyboard on the back wall had been decorated for the Christmas season:

I got this storyboard along with four others about the same size while on a trip to the Sepik River quite a few years ago. They were among the largest I have seen. I don’t know how much they would be worth now – probably quite a bit, as they are very hard to come by now. I have two of them about the same size hanging in my house.

Much of the future is too fuzzy for me to think about with any clarity. I wish I had something like this:

Yeah, a big brain – that’s the ticket. I need a huge Platygyra lamellina.

Then again, I probably spend far too much time pondering the future. When I consider that, I feel silly, but I’ve always been that way. Yeah, a thinker about the future and silly. I admit to both. It’s painfully obvious that the future is the thing over which I have the least control. How delusional it was to believe otherwise. It was all planned out . . .

Look what all that planning got me. Best simply to plan to brush one’s teeth in the morning. If that works out, then begin to plan what to have for lunch. Anything beyond that is getting risky.

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Waterspout!

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 21st, 2010 by MadDog
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I had intended today to write a post called “Green’s the Thing”, but then Trevor Hattersley came into the office with an image on a flash drive which upset me very much. Last Sunday, work seemed more critical than fun. I turned down an invitation to come up to the beach at Blueblood for the second week in a row. As if that’s not bad enough, I missed seeing something that I’ve wanted to see all of my life – a waterspout!

Here’s Trevor’s nice shot of the waterspout:You can clearly see that it appears to be a hollow tube. He said that the base was visibly sucking water up from the sea. He tried to get a telephoto shot, but a temporary brain malfunction prevented him from remembering what I’ve told him a thousand times about focusing his camera. Thanks, Trevor for the shot. I sneer at you for not telling me that a waterspout was on the entertainment schedule.

So, to the green. Green just happens to be my favourite colour. Green stuff is easy to find on the reef, especially if you pay attention to corals. Here is a close-up shot of a Brain Coral (Platygyra lamellina):The tracks of skeletal material are not always squiggly; sometimes they are straight:The area which you see in the image above is about 10cm wide.

Acropora  corals can also be green. This one is about the size of a large coffee table:In this shot, you can see hints of the spiral shapes that dominates the large scale growth pattern of many corals.

We’ll take a brief break from coral to adore this cute little Linckia multifora  starfish:Three of its arms have been bitten off, but are growing back nicely.

Prepare to use your imagination. Look at the right side of this Acropora  coral:Does it look a little like Australia to you?

Well, it’s almost 07:00 and I have to quit now. When I got back from diving on Saturday the motor on Faded Glory  would not go up, only down. Down doesn’t help. Up is what I needed. So, this morning, I have to take the boat over to the marina to get it fixed. I’m often reminded that a boat is simply a hole in the water into which you pour money.

I’ll leave you with a nice shot of our lovely orange lilies:Now I have to haul the fuel tank and the battery out to Faded Glory.

If I leave them on the boat they will be stolen within a week. Security guards seem to believe that their primary duty is to get a good night’s sleep. Useless! Why do we bother?

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Smart Corals and Dumb Corals

Posted in Under the Sea on February 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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First I’ll deliver the latest dispatch from the MadDog/TELIKOM War. Today’s skirmish was a brief exchange of peace offerings which occurred at my house. Two technicians came and got my Internet connection going again. As a peace offering, I agreed that, as long as it worked, I’ll not display any more images of shoddy workmanship, no matter how many I find. I think that’s pretty fair. We’ll see how long that cease-fire lasts. One of the technicians promised to come to do data error tests from my office to the exchange this afternoon. He has not shown up yet. I may have to fire another volley to get some action going again. UPDATE: He is here now, but I had to go pick him up in my car, as you will note below.

I must admit that my ring of spies in TELEKOM is growing nicely. In return for anonymity, I’m getting surprising information and remarks. Today’s revelation, from three independent sources, is that some genius at TELIKOM has forgotten, refused, or otherwise failed to release funds to register all of the TELIKOM vehicles. Therefore, TELIKOM workers are obliged to hoof it to their work locations. Needless to say, some sorry customers will not receive service as walking distance to and from will exceed the six or seven hours usually allotted to a working day.

Another tidbit that delighted me was a remark by a TELIKOM technician concerning management. “They’re making us look stupid!” His  words, not mine!  It came as a response to my comment that I believed that the technicians were willing and capable to do first-rate work if given the proper equipment and supplies.

Okay, enough of that.

Why are some corals considered brainy and others not so? Maybe it has to do with the general appearance. They all have that squirmy, vaguely disgusting look about them. We’re not really supposed  to actually see  our brains, are we? So, of course, they’re not designed to be attractive, unlike other body parts I could  name, but probably won’t. For instance this Brain Coral (Goniastrea australensis)  is sort of brainy looking, but more like the brain of the alien from Alien,  if you know what I mean:

Sigourney Weaver would squish this with her boot wearing her long-johns, if she got the chance.

This is still brainy looking, but somewhat less disgusting. It’s a Leptoria phrygia  brain coral, which means absolutely nothing to me. I looked it up in a book – probably incorrectly:It looks as if it may have been removed from a Conehead. Possibly Dan Aykroyd, who is now, not coincidentally, a minor wine producer in Canada. I’ve tasted his plonk. It’s quite drinkable.

Now this is a brain! Mister Spock would have had such a magnificently squiggly nugget in his noggin. It’s a Platygyra lamellina.  and a fine one, at that.I’d be proud to have such a well-rounded and obviously classically educated brain. I’d be proud to have a brain at all.

But, what about the less mentally nimble corals? Need we dismiss them? No, of course not! For, like blondes (there, I’ve finally said it and my wife will have my hide for it), corals need not be excessively bright to have their . . . attributes. For instance, this young Acropora cerealis  is as pretty as a picture (nasty pun there – sorry) and need not fear for its future because of a lack of mental acuity:Likewise, this very young and most rare Solitary Coral (Fungia costulata)  possesses an ethereal beauty that far exceeds its more intelligent cousins:The identification as a little tricky here. The colouration had me stumped. It wasn’t until I noticed that the radiating ridges (each called a septum, if you care) are considerably thicker in the center that I was able to pin it down. With other Solitary Corals, this is not the case. I’m such a clever boy, I am.

Finally, we have the dumb corals and the dumber corals. The one which is being engulfed is some kind of Acropora,  I think. I don’t know what the one which is encasing it is, but I’d give it the edge in wit:So, there we have it. We’ve covered the entire spectrum of intelligence of corals in one simple, easy to remember lesson.

All that need be remembered is that they are all as stupid as stones.

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