Cute Lady – Cute Dog – Cartooning Again

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks, Under the Sea on April 5th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s Easter Sunday morning. In Papua New Guinea it’s an official holiday, so I have no excuse for going into the office. Miraculously, my TELIKOM copper line has dried out sufficiently so that I can get on the web, albeit at glacial speed. I sincerely hope to get my wireless connection to the office going tomorrow. It’s disappointing that we’ve put so much money and effort on it and it doesn’t work. I’m certain that the fix is simple. It just involved getting up on the supermarket roof again.

I have a small collection of miscellanea for you today. I am simply too lazy on this last day of a long weekend to go through the 160 exposures that I took on my two dives on Saturday. There are only two here. You will simply have to wait a bit longer for your fish. I hope that you’re not too hungry.

This morning I went outside to check out the photographic possibilities. Beside the front door, where I installed my last link in the wireless hop to my office, there was a katydid perched on the Cat 5e cable. I can only assume that it was trying to heal the link:Unfortunately, it’s efforts were unsuccessful.

Since this is an entirely random accumulation of images, I’ll jump to this one of Swami Monty wielding his new Canon G11 at some unsuspecting underwater critter. This was Monty’s first outing with the new rig, which is identical to mine:Richard Jones also has the same gear. I think that we’re going to have to start a G11 club here in Madang.

Today’s spider is a spindly looking critter. I’m not sure what the purpose of all the webbing is. Maybe it simply provides a firm scaffolding on which to hang:There is a fair amount of detail in this shot. It’s worth clicking to enlarge.

On one of the dives on Saturday I found this poor starfish which has had a leg chomped off by some predator:I can’t imagine that a starfish leg would taste very good, but then I’m not a fish. The most likely predators of starfish are sharks, rays and larger bony fish (as opposed to sharks and rays, the skeletons of which are cartilage and not true bones).

Back to the garden, I found one of my favourite subjects – water drops:As they say, simple things for simple minds.

I’m still slaving away to learn cartooning techniques. I’m not at all happy with the commercial software for creating cartoons from photographs. Most of the results look horrible and require a huge amount of reworking. If I’m going to go to that effort, I may as well develop my own workflow to get the results that I want. It’s really one of the most interesting and enjoyable Photoshop tricks that I’ve tried:

You saw the image above with Ush and Andrew and Jade Marshall’s Blue Heeler pup yesterday. I cleaned up the clutter in the background and cartoonised it.

I have in mind to someday write some cartoon strips based on photographs for Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

I need to broaden the horizon. It’s getting smelly in here.

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Spooky – Diving the Lady Anne

Posted in Under the Sea on January 10th, 2010 by MadDog
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On Saturday, Monty Armstrong (A. K. A. Swami Monty) and I dived The Lady Anne an old tanker which sank from sheer neglect in Madang Harbour. Month by month we saw her going down by the stern. Eventually, she rolled over on her side and hung there at anchor for several more weeks. Finally, with a sigh of relief, she went to her rest at about 15 metres on the muddy bottom. Here is a shot of Swami Monty inspecting a propeller:Since she lies on her side, it is a bit disorienting to swim along her length. You can see just far enough to make it very spooky.

Here a ladder lies on its side against a bulkhead. The bulkhead is now the “deck” and the ladder seems as if it has fallen over:Here some Banner Fish swim near rusting winch machinery:And, a hatch, once a vertical door leads down into the bowels of the ship:Here again, a wall that was once vertical provides a playground for more Banner Fish:Closer to the surface there were billions of fibre-like particles in the water. At first, with horror, we thought that they were probably fecal matter from the hundreds of “drop toilets” located around the inner harbour – a sanitation nightmare that the Town of Madang sees no need to fix, I suppose:However, on close inspection, we were astonished, not to mention relieved, to see that each little fibre was a living creature.
They appear as tiny sticks with a fuzzy spiral frill wrapping around their length:

How do they swim? That’s the amazing bit. At the upper end of the body is a tiny, nearly transparent propeller! You can see it in the close up shot above. I captured one to bring home to examine it under a microscope.

Once you realise what you are seeing, you note that all of them are madly spinning their propellers as if they were an infinite fleet of stick-like helicopters. I have no idea what they are nor why the water was filled with them that day.

Every time that I think that I’ve seen it all, I am humbled.

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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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MadDog vs. Caspian the Cat

Posted in Dangerous, Humor, Mixed Nuts on November 3rd, 2008 by MadDog
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Being stuck in Port Moresby for two days and two nights in order to attend a two hour meeting, I have way too much time on my hands.

Therefore, you must suffer. Sorry, that’s the way it works. The more idle time I have on my hands, the more I amuse myself by torturing you with sheaves of mindless prose.

I can match the Marquis de Sade move for move.

Fortuitously, I am abiding, for the while, in the gracious home of Swami Monty and his pulchritudinous consort, Meri.

For today’s contest I’ll first introduce the combatants.

In the red corner we have MadDog, your host.

My daughter-in-law snapped this telephoto shot of me walking along the shore of Lake Ontario in the freezing cold. I am here to assure you that never again will I expose my fragile constitution to these immoderations of insanely glacial temperatures. I have on my body enough clothing to resupply an orphanage in Anchorage.

My ancestors (Cherokee, in case you missed it) braved North American winters in buckskins and buffalo hides. Later on, after the Europeans came along, the cold was ameliorated by disease-ridden horse blankets. They were such a generous people.

Somehow, I missed out on those frost-tolerant genes:

A freezing MadDog

In the white corner, we have, from Hamilton, Ontario, Caspian the Cat.

Here’s Caspian catching a cat nap (what else?) in the locker room before the match:

Caspian the Cat cooling his heels in the locker room

He doesn’t look very worried.

Caspian’s managers are a family who generously allowed us to house-sit for them. We saved a bundle and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It’s extremely difficult to take proper photographs whilst being mauled by a wild animal. Cats are, after all, completely wild creatures that cohabit with humans only for the entertainment value. They could otherwise quite nicely do without us.

Caspian likes to toy with me once the match is underway, leaving me feeling like a humungous mouse. He is here applying the ploy invented by Muhammad Ali. It’s a sort of Pusi  Marquis de Sade Rope-a-Dope.*

He allows me to roll him back and forth with my foot while he grabs at me seemingly ineffectually with his paws (claws retracted). This lulls me into overconfidence. I seem to be getting the best of him.

He growls weakly and sometimes yawns:

The Pusi version of Rope-a-Dope

All this, of course, sets me up for the kill.

In a nanosecond the claws extend and he lunges for the tender digits:

Caspian the Cat delivering the coup de gras

The human physiological response induced by this aggressive action by Felis catus  is invariably a loud utterance of some local variation of, “OUCH!”,  followed by the appropriate expletives.

At this stage of the game, I am usually ready to throw in the towel.

I haven’t had a mouthful of my toes since I was an infant (not that I would admit differently**), so I can’t imagine what that tastes like. However, Caspian is ready and able to tolerate the noxious flavour for the sake of the sport.

I am not looking forward to a rematch in four years. I will be weakened by advancing years and Caspian will be moving from strength to strength.

* In Neo-Melanesian (Tok Pisin  or Melanesian Pidgin, as you please) the word for cat is Pusi.  It is pronounced: poo - see.

** Okay, somebody is going to catch me out on this. I do admit  to occasionally sitting on the floor cross-legged and sticking my big toe in my mouth for the amusement of my friends. It seems that the highly improbable sight of a wiry, wild-haired sixty-five year old man with his toe in his mouth is a sure-fire formula for inducing paroxysmal laughter. The never tire of it. They are so easily entertained.

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A Birthday for a Queen and an Audience with Swami Monty

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on November 1st, 2008 by MadDog
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It’s a Rainy Saturday*. No boat action.

So, I’m at home going through the news archives. I discovered a horribly underreported event of significant significance which occurred in 2005.

Our humble abode was the venue for a double celebration – The 39th Jubilee of Queen Eunice of Madang and an Auspicious Visitation of Swami Monty**.

Out of fairness to the other resident royals, I must mention that there are actually several Queens in Madang, most of them women.

Each Queen influences events with immense grace and mercy within their respective areas of expertise. It’s a sort of power sharing deal. There are Business Queens, Social Queens, NGO Queens, and not a few Bar Queens.

Here is Her Majesticness Queen Eunice in her Royal Regalia:

Queen Eunce of Madang

At her Royal Backside hangs her Royal Flogging Belt. She uses this instrument of splendid torture on me only when I truly need it. Come to think of it, in her copious wisdom, she employs the RFB only when I request it on bended knee.

Her Stern Mercifulness is a Matron of Great Virtue and a Lifetime Member of the Country Women’s Association. All in all, she is a person with whom not to trifle.

All hail Queen Eunice!

I shan’t dare to say that I’m saving the best for last. Queen Eunice may deign to read this wretched missive. I do not wish to dally with the RFB when I am not in the mood.

Nevertheless, the mere happenstance of being in the Presence of Swami Monty is a blissful transcendence into realms of Humbuggery that mercifully induces a trance-like state not unlike that of having consumed a half-litre of Glenfiddich. If fact, any decent single-malt Scotch will do quite nicely.

Being of humble nature, he delights with self-effacing speech. When I addressed him as Your Sublime Insightfulness, he responded jocularly, “Oh, my goodness gracious! Call me Monty.” We all giggled nervously.

When we retired to My Garden for meditation and yet another single-malt, His Trustworthiness exclaimed, “Great balls ‘o fire! I observe with sublime satisfaction that you have planted the seeds of the Harmonious Daisies that I previously sent to you. Is it not amazing how quickly they blossom?”

As the Swami delivered a brief homily concerning the beneficial effects of sacrificial smoke of the Harmonious Daisies, I retreated to the house to snatch my camera and a chair, hoping on hope that I could persuade His Unpretentiousness to be seated for a portrait.

From the vast, unimaginable magnitude of plenty in his storehouse of goodness, he summoned the humility to sit it a homely chair, next to the Harmonious Daisies and greet us with wry humour.

And this is what we saw:

Swami Monty

Note how his blissful eyes sparkle; his mischievous grin; the girding of his splendid feet in humble sandals.

Swami Monty entranced us all.

If ever again the Swami graces us wretched servants with his Beatifical Presence, I pray that my bar is well stocked and my camera battery is charged.

Peace, baby!

* If you’re not to make jest of your friends, then who? And, by the way, this is what you get when I’m really bored.

** For the uninformed, I’ll note that Swami Monty, for purposes of security, uses the alias “Monty Armstrong” – a likely enough moniker. As a cover, he pretends to work for Airlines PNG.

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