Travellin’ Light – Off to Fiji

Posted in Humor on June 22nd, 2010 by MadDog
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Tonight’s post will be mercifully short. Of course, that’s what I always say when I plan to blather on until you are nervously looking over your shoulder to see if the boss is watching you waste the company’s valuable resources surfing the web.

As you may have learned from previous posts, I am off to Fiji tomorrow to join my gorgeous woman for eight blissful days of working my bum off writing magazine articles to pay for my trip. Sounds like fun, eh? Well, it’s better than staying at home in an empty bed. I get freakier than usual when she’s not around. I mean scary freaky. I talk to myself. Sometimes I talk to Eunie, even though I know she’s not there. “So, where did you hide the jam? I can’t find the jam. Yeah, I know  it’s in the fridge, but where  in the fridge?”

And then there’s packing. That’s one area where I take no chances. I never travel anywhere, including clear around the world (about twelve times now) with anything more than a back pack. My theory is that the less stuff I have to pack the more likely is that I won’t forget anything important. Does that make sense? I can’t tell.

Here is my packing:

Travellin' Light - Off to FijiI have my clothes: a shirt with a collar, two t-shirts, a pair of “tropical whites”, some crappy old shoes, the necessary undergarment or two and a belt to hold my pants up since my bum seems to have evaporated into old age  The backpack will soon contain my Toshiba.  I also have my Speedos, the modest kind, my dive mask, underwater housing, cameras (two), battery charger, Valium, Nasonex and another drug which I shall not name, but which is very necessary. There’s the all important passport and about half a tree’s worth of paperwork necessary to get me to Nandi and back. Oh, the wallet is there too.

Poor Sheba is in a dither. She has been acting more strangely than usual since Eunie left on Friday. Though she looks relatively calm in the photo, she has been running around in little circles scratching the floor where there is nothing but dust bunnies and whimpering as if she were saying, “Something bad’s gonna happen, I just know  it!” I think that she has lived with me too long.

I never bother with toothbrush, toiletries, etc. I just get what I need when I need it. I don’t have a cell phone, because some jerks stole it from my boat last week. More about that later.

I don’t take much clothing, since I compulsively wash out whatever I wore that day before I go to bed. It’s usually dry enough to wear in the morning. If not, I go the back-up garment.

HAVE I FORGOTTEN ANYTHING?  For pity’s sake, please call me immediately if you note that some critical item is missing.

Never fear, I shall continue, connections allowing, cluttering up your screen with my sorry excuse for daily entertainment. I might even stumble onto something amusing. Hey, I’m not Jay Leno. What do you expect?

If I do, I will surely pass it on. If I don’t I’ll just keep taking up space.

I just noticed. I managed to mention my bum twice in this post. Is that too many times?

No, wait! Make that three!

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Sunrises Until You Want to Scream

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on June 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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I usually try to get my daily post off at the beginning of the day before disaster strikes. I didn’t make it today. Nobody is dying and there are no injuries, but otherwise what started out as a hectic but promising day including hard work in the morning and a dive with some very significant visitors in the afternoon turned out to be a day of interesting events (In the sense of the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times!”) which simultaneously led to both sadness that something so disgusting should happen and gratitude that it wasn’t much worse. Someday, when the dust has settled, I may tell you about it.

In the meantime, I’ll show you garish images until you feel like screaming, “Enough with the sunrises!”

Here is this morning’s immensely uninspiring sunrise:

Yawn . . .

I tried to doll it up with some cocount trees:

Hey, we’re getting a hint of some crepuscular rays. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Okay, how about if I put my dog, my lovely sweet mongrel, Sheba, in the sunrise?

Okay, I had to use a very low shutter speed, so one of her legs is blurred. She really does have four legs.

Now, let’s try it with my neighbor’s haus win:

A haus win  is a little platform on which one can sit with a roof overhead and enjoy the breeze without being fried by the tropical sun. It is also an excellent place for a nap, since the roof will protect you from falling coconuts knocking your head off.

Okay already, enough with the sunrises. I’ll show you a failed image of a Spotfin Lionfish (Pterois antennata)  which I love nevertheless:

I got this one on Saturday someplace. I can’t remember where. It’s all a blur. I was shooting down in a hole and I had to use a ridiculously slow shutter speed. Therefore the blurry fins. However, I love the look of the image. It implies motion. Heaven knows, we need motion. Otherwise we would all turn into Ice 9.*

As you may have gathered, I am rather zoned out at the moment. Others say, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” I say, “What doesn’t kill me gives me the giggles.”

Okay, here is my last desperate attempt to amuse you. If this doesn’t do it, I give up:

One might ask, “What is it?” And, this would be a perfectly reasonable question, if, in fact, there were any reason to be had. Is that too many commas?

Well, let me tell you what it is. It is a piece of metal off of The Green Dragon,  a B-25 bomber which regular readers will remember from many tiresome messages sent into the black hole of the web in times before. It has slept on the bottom of Tab Anchorage  near Wongat Island  since the year I was born.

And, it’s still shiny.

* See Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.

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My Dog Sheba

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on May 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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Life is so laughably strange. Three years ago I was going nuts trying to figure out why my life seemed to be going down the toilet. I pretty much hated my job, because everything was just a mess and nothing worked the way that I wanted it to. Our finances were sliding into the abyss with no real hope of reversing the trend. I felt useless, incompetent and emasculated. What to do? I hadn’t a clue.

My wife, Eunie, was a constant, faithful encourager. She encouraged me to get my lazy butt moving and do something  instead of simply whining. Do something – anything!  I had plenty of wild notions which quickly took wing to the wild blue yonder. However, getting my work under control and facing the fact that it was going to take me a couple of years to do that was something that did help. Taking baby steps toward the goal of reclaiming my dominance in the IT Dungeon gave me confidence to try other things.

I had always wanted to write. I have written tens of thousands of words none of which anyone has ever read. I was still editing short stories which I wrote thirty-five years ago. It’s a strange hobby. Nothing is ever finished. The process becomes the product. What a waste! I laughed at my funny stories and cried over the pathos. It was a narcissistic amusement, nothing more.

When a new magazine came out which matched my interests, Niugini Blue,  a water sports magazine, Eunie strongly  encouraged me to submit an article. It was promptly accepted. I wrote several more which were likewise accepted as written. When the same publisher, Pacific Islands Publishing, started an new magazine titled Our Way,  I began submitting articles for it. All were accepted. Having written many articles now, I must be among the few free-lance writers with no rejection slips. Do I have any real talent? I simply don’t think much about that. All that I know is that I now have an audience. That’s enough for me. The size of the audience seldom had much to do with talent. Need I name names?

So, why am I pouring out all of this self-congratulatory clap-trap to you, gentle reader? I’ve been asking myself that question since I started tapping this out twenty minutes ago. I think that it’s my way of passing the torch, so to speak. I know that many suffer from identity issues, self doubt, loss of confidence and the emptiness that accompanies evaporated dreams. My life is nowhere near in order yet, but the encouragement of my wife and friends to take action, any action,  saved me from the miasma of inaction.

There’s nothing here in the way of advice. It’s only an anecdote.

However, I’m going ot prove my mettle by daring to write a post about nothing by our dog, Sheba. She has appeared here in Madang – Ples bilong Mi  many times before. This morning I took a couple of shots of her on the veranda. Here she is not so patiently waiting for her breakfast:

The anticipation is evident in her expression.

If I fail to respond with the expected food, she feigns indifference:But not for long.

This evening, after devouring her afternoon bone and going outside for a swim, she lay on the sofa and whined for attention. She knows that I will not pet her until I finish my beer and cigar, but she whines anyway:

It doesn’t take much energy to whine and it just might get me to cave in and let her sit with her head on my knee while I try to juggle a beer, a cigar and a book while I scratch behind her ears.

She will sometimes pretend that she doesn’t care. She puts on her happy face and seems to say, “Who needs you,  anyway.”

I know, however, that this is a ruse. She knows who takes care of her.

I’m getting sleepy now, so I have to wrap this up. I can’t leave, however without showing, once again, Sheba’s incredible tongue. If you could lick your nose like this you could have a successful career in the circus:Sheba’s magnificent tongue has featured here before, attached to some famous faces.

There. I did it. I wrote a post about my dog. I’ve sunk to the bottom of the blogging barrel.

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The Cockatoo that Loathed Rush Limbaugh

Posted in Humor on July 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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Out next door neighbours have a Sulfur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) named Wili  (Willie). He’s quite the charmer. Cockatoos are raucous, outrageous, in-your-face creatures. In the afternoons, after a hard day taming wild computers with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other, I love to sit in my favourite chair with a cold beer and a cheap cigar, pet my dog, Sheba, and listen to Wili  raving next door in his favourite tree:

Wili the Cockatoo

Here’s another shot of Wili  in his “modesty” or “hiding” pose. When Cockatoos feel uncertain, the pull their cheek feathers up over their beaks and do not make a sound:

Wili the Cockatoo

Cockatoos are neither always certain, nor always noisy. Hmmm . . .  Why does this make me think of Rush Limbaugh? Could it be because he is always  certain and always  noisy? I find this irritating. Apparently others do. I Googled “rush limbaugh” and “buffoon” and got 26,500 hits. Impressive. Lest this turn into an unsubstantiated personal attack on a famous public figure, I will make my usual feeble attempt at humour to soften the blows.

Years and years ago we had a Cockatoo named Sysgen. (Old timers in the computer game who used Digital Equipment’s iron will remember the command to initialise a system device.) Sysgen was simultaneously fascinated and enraged by newspapers (much like myself). All I had to do to whip him into a frenzy was put a newpaper on the floor and let him have at it. If I wanted a spectacular show, I could wad up a sheet and throw it at him. I can remember Eunie and I laughing until tears streamed down our cheeks.

Somehow, in the tangled circuitry of my mind, I connected Sysgen and my disdain for Rush Limbaugh. The result was this poster, which has hung on my wall for probably twenty years:

Sysgen - The Cockatoo that Loathed Rush Limbaugh

You can click to enlarge to read the captions if you like, or here they are:

Frame 1:  What’s this!  Rush Limbaugh is coming to town???

Frame 2:  Arrrrggggghhhhh !  I can’t STAND that guy!

Okay, I admit that I’m a leftie, so sue me. However, if you’re of a conservative bent I ask you quite frankly:  Aren’t you sometimes slightly embarrassed by dear old Rush?

SO, on to less controversial images. While I was taking the shots of Wili,  sweet Sheba was observing.

Our Sheba

Honestly, have you ever seen a prettier mongrel?

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Sheba – Princess of My Heart

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Opinions on February 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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If my wife is the Queen of My Heart (and she is), then my dog, Sheba, is the Princess.

What kind of blogger who loves his dog doesn’t feature his canine pal in a post occasionally? Heartless – that’s what it would be. I know she can’t read. She seldom browses the internet. But, in my heart, I know that she knows that I’m not giving her ample air-time. She can see it in my eyes.

We read each other well:

Sheba - Princess of My Heart

See what I mean. There is that listless accusing look that says, “You’re always talking about others. What am I? Chopped liver? Hey, wait! . . . mmmmmmm, chopped liver . . .”

She is a pretty little mongrel. I use the word “little” loosely. She probably weighs about thirty-five kilos. On a leash, it’s all I can manage just to hold her back. If she decides that she’s going somewhere, then I’m going also.

She’s about two years old now and I think she’s stopped growing. We almost lost her to a quack who called himself a veterinarian. What a charlatan! He’s been put on notice that it would be wise for him to stay away from Madang. He killed two animals the last time he was here and injured several more. You can plainly see the huge scar on her foreleg. It is just shiny black skin. I don’t think that she will ever have fur there again:

Sheba cooling her heels
She is easily the smartest and most trainable dog I have ever had. Most times, I don’t even have to say anything to her. If she can see me, all it takes is a gesture or a look and she knows what I want.

It is not that she is placid or lacks a will of her own. Sometimes she simply gets stubborn and I have to resort to shouting or get the whistle.

She is part Doberman, part German Shepherd, and part Rottweiler. There are probably a few others mixed in also. I truly believe that, in general, mongrels make the best pets. I’ve had purebreds and mutts. I love the mutts.

I am, after all, a mongrel myself.

You can get more of Sheba here, here, here, and here.

Woof!

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When Your Pet Is Sick

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 24th, 2008 by MadDog
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Sheba has a hurt leg. This is the story of that.

I’ll begin by warning that this post contains some unpleasant photos. The first two aren’t too bad, but the third one is not nice at all. If you’re not ready to see an injured dog, then skip past this quickly.

It started with our need to have Sheba spayed. There are many mangy dogs around here, so the less contact she has with them, the better. There are also some very ugly doggie STDs which I don’t even want to know about.

Without going into any details, let’s just say that the person claiming to be a veterinarian clearly was not. This is not an attack on him. However, I would advise him not to come back to Madang. Several others whose pets he treated are looking for him. Me – I’m a peaceable guy. I just don’t want him around my dog.

The main problem is that he injected the anaesthetic under her skin instead of into a vein. She lay on the table struggling for a half hour until he wanted to give her more and I said something quite unpleasant to him.

Within two days the skin over the area had died and she began to lick it off. That was four months ago.

Here’s Sheba with her bandage:

Sheba with her bandaged leg

The worst problem was to keep her from tearing it off. We wrapped two layers of tough medical tape over the gauze and used honey as an antiseptic. The trick turned out to be to wet the bandage and then thoroughly paste it with Dr. Wong’s Sulphur Soap – the most horrible tasting soap I could find (yes, kiddies, I did taste-test several varieties):

Sheba's bandage

After the first two weeks, she stopped bothering the bandage and life got a little easier. At first, we changed the bandage twice a day.

This is what it looked like about two weeks after she licked the skin off:

The injury after two weeks of bandaging

As you can see, new skin is already beginning to grow in from the edges.

A month later, it looked like this:

Sheba's injury after about two months

Fur is starting to grow on the new skin.

After another month, it was looking better still:

New skin growing slowly but steadily inward

It has now healed enough that we do not need to bandage it:

Thin new skin covers the remainig area of injury

There is no more bare tissue. The pink area is very thin skin. I don’t know if her fur will ever cover the scar. At least she doesn’t seem to even notice it. It’s ugly, but she’s well again.

So, what’s the point?

Well, I guess if you live in an area where you can get good care for your pets, then I’d suggest that you take a moment to be thankful for that – it’s one less thing, as Forest Gump would say. You might want to consider adding your vet to your Christmas card list or whatever.

Our vet back in Brownsburg, Dr. Dale Steele, gave us advice by email. It was very helpful. He’s the same fellow who supplied us with very posh free housing the last time we were in Indiana. All in all, he would be at the top of my list of People I’d Trust With My Life.

If you’re in a situation similar to what we have in PNG, then all I can say is be sure that someone offering to treat your pet is fully qualified to do so. Be there while it’s happening, Watch what’s going on. If you have any doubts at all tell the guy to stop.

Sorry for the gory photos. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll understand why I posted this.

Happy dreams.

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Lucky Canoe

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 22nd, 2008 by MadDog
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I used to love to sleep in on weekends. It doesn’t appeal to me much now. I wake up early on Saturday and think, “Hey, I don’t have to go to work today; I can write instead.” So, from 5:30 or 6:00 until about 9:30 I can take time to look over my folder of “potential blog photos” (about 250 now, and counting) to see what inspiration the Muse may lend me.

This particular Saturday morning delivered a smidgeon of serendipity in the form of a sleepy fellow paddling lethargically in the brassy glow of the rising sun:

Lucky Canoe in the brassy glow of the rising sun

Sometimes I’m so focused on the camera and the lining up of the panorama shots (this is four exposures stitched together) that I forget to note what else might be going on. However, this time I did notice the canoe coming and I got the timing very close. I was missing just a bit of the trailing edge of the canoe wake. I had to clone that in, but it doesn’t look too faked. I’m going to try to sell this one to Our Way as a cover shot. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

Sheba was out in the yard following me around and whining. She was longing desperately for her breakfast. I wanted to get a good shot of her in the warm glow of the sunrise. She’s such a mongrel – like me. She’s part Doberman and part Rottweiler with a healthy dose of German Shepherd tossed in at the last moment for good measure. She is a pup of Greg O’Keefe’s bitch and was owned briefly by Swami Monty and Meri, his luscious consort.

Here I was commanding “STAY!” about every five seconds while she fretted, “Why doesn’t the stupid biped feed me?” One can easily see the concerned expression on her pretty face:

Hungry Sheba

I try to avoid taking hundreds of photos of Sheba and then forcing innocent captives to look at them. They are like baby photos. “Oh, here’s Junior spiting up, and here he is making kaka in the back yard, and, Oh look, here he is holding the dog by its ears. Doesn’t he remind you of Lyndon Johnson?” You have to be an aging Yank to get that reference.

This next shot seems a little out of place. As I looked through frames that I liked and had spent some time to make them just so, this one evoked some pleasant memories of Miss Rankin and all the good times we’ve enjoyed on her decks and under her hull. Here’s Carol seeming pensive as she watched the sunset on our way out of Tab Anchorage:

Carol Dover

So, that’s my Saturday so far.

I hope my readers like the new look of the site. I’ll get the URL problems settled down eventually and hope I haven’t lost too many of you along the way. I’ll also clean up the messiness in the sidebar and fix the garish colours of the fonts.

For those of you with eyes like mine, I’m also going to increase the size of the body text and make it brighter so that it’s more easily readable. Generally speaking, I hate the black background sites because of the readability problem. But I can’t give it up now that I’ve seen how much better the photos look.

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