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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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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Back to The Green Dragon

Posted in Under the Sea on January 14th, 2010 by MadDog
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A few days ago, Wouter, Anita and I dived The Green Dragon,  a B-25 Mitchell bomber shot down near Wongat Island  during WWII. We dived on The Henry Leith  later that day. While walking on the beach during our de-gassing surface time I picked up a couple of handfuls of the little treasures that Mama Nature placed there for my amusement:
Among the lovely baubles I find several opercula (the “door” of a marine snail’s shell), a bunch of cowrie shells, including a rare Golden Cowrie (I think), lots of colourful bivalve shells, and some beautiful blue coral.  The opercula are commonly called “cat’s eyes”. I imagine that you can easily pick those out. The bit of bright blue glass at the top is a weathered fragment of a fancy wine glass. Somebody had a party on Wongat Island  a long time ago.

Down on The Green Dragon,  I got a nice shot of the starboard engine. The port engine was lost when the huge machine was ditched after being hit by Japanese gunners:

As you can see, the wreck is rapidly being made part of the reef.

Since I began diving The Green Dragon  a couple of decades ago, I’ve seen it deteriorate severely. The wonderfully tough and corrosion-resistant aluminium framework and skin are finally giving up the ghost. Here you can see all that remains of the four 50 calibre Browning M2 nose guns:

It’s sad to see the once powerful war machine going back to nature. Or is it?

Here is Anita waving hello to you from the cockpit:Nearly everyone wants to have a photo of this strange activity.

Wouter would rather pretend to fly the plane than wave:To each his own.

Under the Starboard wing we found one of the resident Ribbon Eels (Rhinomuraena quaesita):

You can enter RIBBON in the search box to find other images of this fascinating and gorgeous critter.

At the tail of the plane, just above the little 30 calibre “stinger” machinegun, I found a new growth of very unusual coral:I don’t have a clue what species it is, but it certainly sports an incredible colouration. I believe it must be a Fire Coral of some sort. It has the right shape, but it is tiny compared to the other species of that family of corals.

I’m having difficulty finding time to write much in my posts. I love doing the photography, but I also enjoy the writing. Since work pressure forces something to be left behind for a while, you’ll be spared my incessant jibber-jabber for a few more days.

Like The Terminator, I’ll be back!

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A Real Pilot Flies the Bomber

Posted in Under the Sea on February 2nd, 2009 by MadDog
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A couple of weeks ago we had some new Spanish visitors. One young lady, Nuria DeFrancisco, was a keen diver. We did a dive on Saturday and she seemed to enjoy it. Then she started talking about the B-25 Bomber – The Green Dragon – at Wongat Island. She seemed to be very interested – not a usual thing for chicks!

They were flying out on Monday, so I said if she really wanted to do the bomber, we could go out at nine on Sunday morning. That would give her sufficient time to lose the nitrogen built up in her blood before she flew out on Monday.

Here’s a photo of Nuria sitting in the cockpit of The Green Dragon:

Nuria in the cockpit of The Green Dragon

Here she poses in front of the vertical stabilizer:

Nuria in front of the vertical stabilizer of The Green Dragon

The visibility, never the best at this location, was dismal. Fortunately, everything you need to see is up-close. This is a very cute shot of Nuria riding the dorsal twin 50 calibre Browning M2 machineguns:

Nuria riding the dorsal twin 50 gun turret on The Green Dragon

What is amusing about all this is that on the way back I learned why she has such an interest in aircraft. She is a pilot for a Spanish airline! She flies an Airbus A320. I didn’t have a clue. This is a first for me, and a first for Faded Glory.

I did get a couple of other nice shots on the dive. Here’s a photo of a tiny Black Saddled Toby (Canthigaster valentini)  with Nuria in the background:

Black Saddled Toby (Canthigaster valentini)

There are always Ribbon Eels (Rhinomuraena quaesita)  under the wing of the The Green Dragon. This time it was a juvemile:

Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita) under the wing of The Green Dragon

I have shown an image of an adult Ribbon Eel here.

We’re always happy to have visitors in Madang. It’s an out-of-the-way place and it’s expensive to get here. So, we always get a kick from new faces.

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A Fix-up

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on November 23rd, 2008 by MadDog
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As you may note, I have increased the font size for the main text and made it brighter. I can read it much more easily now. I’ve also changed the header to give me more control over the fonts and placement.

Later today I’m going to try to change the orange colour of some of the fonts to something less startling.

I am also going to contract with a WordPress blog expert to move the site to a USA server (it should be faster for even those in PNG) and to get me back to my old address so that I don’t lose my Google rankings.

So, while I’m busy doing that most of the day (Sunday) you can amuse yourself with this odd creature:

Ribbon Eel

I got this shot while diving on the B-25 Mitchell bomber at Wongat Island.  It’s called a Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita).  I’ve had this critter on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  before, but I think this is a better photo.

More to come . . .

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