Leper Island Curiosities

Posted in Under the Sea on January 7th, 2011 by MadDog
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The diving has been sporadic over the holidays. People were off cavorting elsewhere and I was hiding out. Now things will hopefully be returning to something resembling normality, me being one of those things. I’ve picked out some of the more interesting images from our last dive at Leper Island  to display here this evening. Fish seem to be more and more difficult to chase. I don’t think the fish have changed. It’s me. Though it seems impossible, I am becoming even more lazy. Let the fish come to me.

Corals don’t move around much, in fact, not at all. They provide easy fodder for my hungry lens. I’m particularly on the lookout for colourful specimens. Part of my laziness is demonstrated by my lack of attention to species names. I’ve decided that they are not so important after all. All that they do for me is provide lots of Google hits. Let the colours speak for themselves and we’ll stick with generic names such as “coral” and “sponge” and so on. This coral is strutting its stuff in a most flamboyant manner:

One might suspect that I’ve fiddled with the colours in this shot. While that’s true, it was minor fiddling, mere accentuation. I might be forgiven for that.

This coral is altogether different from the previous one. While the former was flashy, this specimen is so subtle that one might not appreciate it at a distance:

Ah, but up close it is a different story:

The violet colour sprinkled with great care across the tops of the colonies is exquisite. I don’t know what it is and I have not seen it before. I’m happy for it to remain a mystery. We need our mysteries, eh?

Well, I’m tired of coral all ready. Restless, that’s what I am. How about a sponge? This one is outrageous:

Yes it really is that bright. I often wonder if these colours have any purpose. But, then again, I often wonder about a lot of things.

Now here is something which one doesn’t see every day. Dive buddy Rich Jones spotted these two nudibranchs presumably doing what comes naturally:

It’s worth a click on the image to see the clarity that is possible from a cheap underwater outfit such as my Canon G11. Passable stuff for an amateur on a budget. I could never get images such as this when I was shooting on film.

I cropped the shot down and used a Photoshop trick of repeatedly enlarging the image by 110% until it is about four or five times as large. It can then be sharpened to make it appear as if the shot were taken at an impossibly close distance. It’s now possible to see what they are doing. Well, not exactly. It’s just a jumble of miscellaneous spindly bits:

Never mind. It’s a private party, anyway.

Tomorrow marks four months since Eunie departed from Brisbane to claim her reward. Kindly people ask me almost daily, “How are you doing.” That’s a good question. I wish I had an answer. All in all, I suppose that I’m doing, as they say, better than expected. In fact, I am doing considerably better than I expected and I don’t fully understand why. For a while there I wasn’t sure if I’d be around to welcome 2011. I’m sure that I am being cared for by my creator. If I didn’t believe that, I simply wouldn’t bother. Wasting away seems to be a popular alternative. However, over and above the care from above, I’ve also gotten huge attention and love from my friends. Moreover, giving credit where it’s due, I’m coming to realise that my survival is largely due to whatever minuscule amounts of common sense and wisdom which I absorbed from my dear wife over the course of nearly a half century. That’s a lot of training. Even for someone as slow as I it was bound to be helpful when things got rough. Thanks again, babe.

I must end my hermit episode. People will give up on me if I don’t make an effort. Tonight they are having some kind of quiz thing at the Madang Country Club. Though I’m not a member, Rich will sign me in as a guest. I think I’ll venture out. I wonder if anything has changed?

Anything could happen.

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Surrounded by Love

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 6th, 2010 by MadDog
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I can say truthfully that my wife of forty-six years is the most remarkable human that I have ever known. Certainly, my profound love for her biases me. However, when I examine the evidence objectively, I come to the same conclusion.

I have not the time now nor the emotional energy to catalog here all of her merits and accomplishments. Those of you fortunate enough to know her do not need this.

However, I do now want to say that her most remarkable characteristic is her infinite capacity for love. Eunie is so bursting with love that it floods out and saturates all those who come to know her. Her love is unconditional, utterly free of judgement and accompanied by wisdom that allows her to gently guide those who have lost the path and advise those in need of correction without inflicting hurt.

It is only fitting now that some minuscule portion of that love comes back to her. This is a very difficult post for me to write, because my agony is acute. Nevertheless, I can get through it because I am so full of wonder at her composure in this, the twilight of her life. Eunie is a woman of strong faith. She does not fear death.  Yet, she still speaks of getting back to the job which God gave her thirty years ago. I know that I am going to have even more difficult posts to compose in the future, but I shall see if I can get through this one and take the others one at a time.

I cannot view this image without weeping. Eunie is speaking to her daughter-in-law, Tamara, and our granddaughters Pippa and Audrey Rose in Hamilton, Ontario while our son, Hans holds the phone for her. You can see the joy in her expression:

I am so grateful that Hans was able to come for this time. I have needed much support to keep me vertical and functioning.

Eunie loves mystery novels. Here Hans reads to her to give her distraction and comfort:

Hans also reads many of Eunie’s favourite parts of the Bible. It seems strange to speak of blessings at a time such as this, but one of the many that have benefited Eunie is that she is in no pain and is receiving no pain medication. She is very weak and sleeps or drowses much of the time, but her suffering is confined to the discomfort of medical treatments.

Here we see our friends Rich Jones and Carol Dover expressing their love for Eunie:

Rich suddenly put his life on hold for a while and flew from Madang to Brisbane to be with Eunie as a sort of ambassador of love from all those who would want to be with her now to comfort her. Carol flew from Vanuatu for the weekend to give her warmth and comfort to Eunie. I wasn’t able to slow Val Jerram down long enough to get a picture of her with Eunie; she was in and out taking care of business. She has been doing so every day since we arrived at her home in Gympie. How many friends such as her do you have?

Eunie feels comforted when  I can get a chance to lie with her for a while. This post is not about me, but it’s fitting to record this image of two people who have been joined in every way – become as one:

Since we first fell in love our song has been Our Love is Here to Stay.

I’ve mentioned many others who have expressed their love for Eunie over the last few weeks in very tangible ways. If you want a lesson in love, read back a way.

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Up In Smoke – Burns Philp Moresby Lights Up

Posted in Dangerous, Mixed Nuts on July 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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Good buddy and Madang- Ples Bilong Mi  reader Rich Jones shot me an email this morning with photos of the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby.

This from Rich Jones:

We were sitting on the balcony drinking wine and saw a huge plume of smoke from downtown. Like any good PNGer we immediately raced towards the disaster and saw the final moments of the famous yet flammable Burns Philip building, once home of the excellent Tribal Den nightclub and currently under, um, renovation. There were vast and knowledgeable crowds who were remarkably close to the action and a few brave firemen trying to save Westpac with some very leaky hoses.

Check out Jenn’s chairs in the heart of the fire.

It was quite a communal affair. Well ordered and quite solemn at times.

Rich sent some shots of the fire along with the email. The Sunday night fire, which rated a short blurb in the Post Courier’s online rag, was apparently spectacular and a great crowd pleaser:

Burns Philp in Port Moresby lights up

The building was under renovation at the time of the fire. You can plainly see the scaffolding.

Here it is getting well and truly under way:

Burns Philp in Port Moresby lights up and stays lit

I’m not familiar with Port Moresby (and I can’t say that I’m a big fan either), so I don’t know what we’re looking at in this shot:

Part of the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby

A lot of money burning up, I’d say. Rich explained to me on the phone that the firemen did manage to save the bank next to the blazing building, but doesn’t give huge credit for that, since the wind was blowing the other direction quite strongly.

Here is a shot showing the mystery chairs, which were, by all accounts, amazingly fire resistant. Sounds like a handy thing to save your home in case someone spontaneously combusts while napping in front of the tellie:

The "Mystery Chairs" in the Burns Philp fire in Port Moresby

I recall several huge fires here in Madang. The first that I remember, strangely enough, was the Burns Philp warehouse fire way back when. Then Binnen Bakery burned down, followed soon by the Lutheran Shipping Fibreglass shop. That one was very spectacular. There were 200 litre drums popping like bombs and rocketing many tens of metres into the air trailing orange flames. A terrific show which we could easily watch from our house.

Probably the most well remembered fire in Madang is the old Chemcare shop. Here’s our old buddy Greg O’Keeffe looking a little bewildered as his shop burns to the ground behind him.

The old ChemCare store burning in Madang

The Fire Service makes an easy target, since the equipment is laughable, and the record of success rather thin. I can’t recall a single fire in Madang at which the Fire Service made much impression on the fire. Maybe it’s just my poor memory.

Lest we pick on the poor Fire Service fellows, let’s remember that they are about as effective as any other government operation. Let’s not single them out for abuse. There’s enough to go around to everybody.

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Boats – Bats – Sun – Fun

Posted in At Sea, Mixed Nuts on April 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s time to show a few images out of my big folder of shots that amused me.

If you don’t find this one amusing, then you may as well skip the rest and come back tomorrow. Rich Jones and Mike Wolfe were fooling around snapping Jenn in the reflection of Rich’s extraordinarily funky sunglasses. Only an Englishman would sport eye ware so in-your-face gauche. The glasses are by Cheesy-Mart. The model is sold only in the UK and is aptly named “Ouch, was that a stingray?”

Jenn reflected in Rich's funky sunglasses

Of course, being the bore who knows all about all things photographic, I had to shoulder in with my boxy-but-safe G-9 and hog the set. The shot turned out the way I wanted, except for one thing. An astute observer will note that there is a physical impossibility in the image. If you click to enlarge, you will note that you can read the “SENIOR OF CIA” warning on my cap. You should not be able to read it nomally. It is a mirror reflection, therefore it should be flipped horizontally and read backwards – “mirror writing”. I fixed this annoyance by flipping the image horizontally in Photoshop. The shot above reminds me of the “Shiny Sunglasses” image that won me a chintzy medal in a photography contest.

The sun was being very coopreative, so Rich got his pasty-white English body out where the deadly rays could do it some good:

Rich and Jenn relaxing in the sun on Faded GloryThere was a big thunderstorm hurtling up the coast. You can see it in the background.

As events were conspiring to change the outing into a camera party, someone said, “Look at the reflection of the boat in the motor.”  Sure enough, the sun was just at the right angle to cause a strong reflection of the entire aft section of Faded Glory in my nearly new Suzuki 140:

Photographer and boat reflected in the shiny cowl of the outboard motorAt this point I would like to mention that I am not nearly so short and broad as the reflection indicates. It’s a sort of fun-house mirror effect.

On to another time – another day. I was at The Madang Club waiting for the game fishing boats to arrive. We sometimes don’t even notice the screeching sound of the Flying Foxes. I just fades into the background after a few years. The ears become desensitised and it’s no longer annoying. The moon was a hazy blob and the Flying Foxes were stirring around in the sky on their way to raid village gardens of bananas and papayas:

The twilight features a coconut tree, the moon, and flying foxes

Of course, they also feed in the rainforest. They don’t ravage the gardens. They just eat the best stuff. I can sometimes hear them flapping around at night on my banana trees.

A game fishing boat rests in the twilight after a hard day's fishing at the GFAPNG 2009 TitlesWinding down now, on the same evening I caught this nice image of one of the game fishing boats snuggled in for the night with the setting sun in the background.

Inside, I would lay odds, beer and wine flow like the waters of a mighty river.

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Astounding Port Moresby Sky

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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Eunie came back from Port Moresby yesterday morning with a present for me from Rich Jones. It’s nice to have friends who know what you like. This, I like:Astounding sky shot by Rich JonesI’ve seen some good sky shots and I’ve taken a few myself, but I’d have to put this in the top ten. Rich, you know your way around a camera.

Rich referred to J. M. W. Turner as the ‘look’. I agree. To prove it, here’s a Turner:
A painting by J. M. W. TurnerEnough said.

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Chasing the Fish – Two Lucky Shots

Posted in Under the Sea on April 21st, 2008 by MadDog
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Rich Jones emailed to me a photo that he took at Planet Rock. I don’t often get a chance to see myself underwater. I’m madly chasing a school of barracuda with my camera stuck out in front snapping away. Here it is:

 Chasing Barracuda at Planet Rock

I was thinking about that day and looked back through my own photos to see if I could find one taken at the same time. Luckily, I found one that came out looking okay. Here is what I was seeing as Rich snapped his shot:

Barracuda at Planet Rock

The fish are Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello). We have previously called it the Chevron Barracuda and the Millitary Seapike, both of these I now think are species different from this one. Who cares? It’s a fun fish to swim with. Despite the reputation of barracudas these are pussycats. On occasions when I can get close enough, I’ve rolled over on my back and reached up to briefly tickle a tummy. They don’t much care for that.

Thanks, Rich, for sending it along. I look forward to being back in Madang on 4 June with my new Cannon G9 and housing.

And don’t send me any more emails about seeing Orcas while I’m here freezing off important parts of my anatomy.

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