The Spider and the Fly

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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This morning’s sunrise was unmanageable with the tiny sensor and the somewhat limited dynamic range of my modest Canon G11. I have nothing but praise for this camera, considering that I am a relatively poor person. We just bought our first new car in nearly twelve years. I’d like to purchase a camera which would cost, with lenses, nearly a third of the price of our new Nissan Navara. That would be patently insane. Therefore, I squeeze the lemon. I do not, in any way, resent being relatively impoverished. I certainly live as a rich man here in Paradise, so why should I complain? I can’t afford an expensive car. Where would I drive it? I don’t own a Rolex. I don’t own any  watch. Why would I need one? In Paradise, things happen when they happen. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams of three or four decades past. It’s a richness that money can’t buy.

Anyway, the contrast ratio between the sun and the clouds was greater than any camera can handle. Only the human eye can deal with these conditions. I began to wonder if I might use that to my advantage. What if I could turn day into night?

Well, it’s not totally convincing, but the general effect is pleasing.

When I turned around and saw the morning sun lighting up our house and the garden all I could think was, “Wow. Gotta have that shot!”:

Too bad about that ugly TV satellite dish spoiling the shot. It’s tacky. I should Photoshop it out. What’s amusing about this shot is that you can see my shadow. I’m like the ghost appearing in the hall of the mansion. I held my trusty G11 up as high as I could to get just the right angle. The other shadow is one of our coconut trees.

Down at the water’s edge I could not resist yet another shot of one of my favourite plants commonly called the Sensitive Plant or the Tickle-Me Plant (Mimosa pudica):

Its flowers remind me a cheer-leader’s pom-poms and the leaves fold up magically if you touch them.

Half a lifetime ago, I never dreamed that I would live the rest of my life in a place where I would have orchids growing in my yard:

Life can be full of surprises. Let it flow, baby, let it flow.

Even the now familiar orange lilies were decked out in their sparkly caps of morning dew:

I will never tire of shooting water drops. There’s a purity of imagery there which is difficult to top. Less is more.

Today is about images. I suppose that you’ve guessed that already. I enjoy letting the images speak, because images can speak more eloquently than words, at least my words. I was hunting for my wonderful green spiders who frequent the yellow flowers forever blooming in our garden. They have been curiously absent recently. Today I found one laying in wait for a meal:

Does the fly sense danger? I think not. The spider is designed to be covert. Its posture mimics the shape of the flower.

Even as the spider slowly moved its legs to conform more closely to the contours of the flower, the fly approached:

And then the fly flew. Was the spider disappointed? I doubt that a spider thinks much about disappointment. It’s a waiting game. Patience is the key. The occasional meal will suffice. Would that we had such patience.

Yes, the spider waits and my attention is focused upon it. My concern is the perfect image. The spider is takes no note of me. Even as I hold the stem of the flower to adjust the angle, the spider is unconcerned:

My concentration prevented me from noticing, until I had this shot on the screen, the other  spider, which had completely escaped my attention.

How much we miss when we concentrate on one thing!

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Overworked and Manic

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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Everybody is bored hearing how busy I am. Hey, I’m  bored with it! We’re working frantically this week to get the new network rolled out and all of the computers switched over to it. When it’s done, I’ll be able to get back to what passes for normal. I’ve been in a state for the last few months. The old system went back to Windows 2000 Server for Domain Controllers and had been upgraded, patched, hacked, glued together and thrown into a mix-o-matic with a bunch of Linux monstrosities that were supposed to be “enhancements”. Never again!

The new system has dual Windows Server 3008 R2 Domain Controllers and all workstations will be running Windows 7. Most of it is working already and it is sweet, sweet, sweet. I just have three mission-critical machines to move over to the new network. Then we have to get the big network printers switched over, do a little prettying up of bits and pieces and we’re done.

Then I have to get cracking writing some magazine articles and arrange for some bush walks to gather new material. I also plan to ride the Harley more. I’ve only been on it a couple of times in the last few months.

Today, to amuse ourselves, I have a few miscellaneous images that tickled my eyeballs over the last couple of weeks. I’ll start with an unusual view of a nice red hibiscus blossom:

Those water drops caught my eye from twenty metres away. I never pass up a chance to shoot drops. I love the way that they reflect the light. You can see some interesting reflections if you click to enlarge.

Here’s another of my ongoing series of “crazy foliage” shots:Sometime when I was a child I was brainwashed, probably by a gym teacher who was assigned to teach science – a common enough occurrence in the U S of A – that plants are green. Despite intense therapy, I’ve not gotten past this crippling mental defect. Plants here are all kinds of nutsy colours and it is deeply disturbing.

The shots above came from Blueblood as did this one of a man hurrying home during a brief rain shower:You can see the base of the huge Kar Kar Island  volcano at the right side of the frame. Click to enlarge and you can see the rain drops hitting the water and even a few streaks of rain drops against the darkness of the canoe. I took all of these shots with my new Canon G11.

You’ve seen the flower of the Sensitive Plant or Tickle-Me Plant (Mimosa pudica)  here before:

This is the nicest shot that I have of it. I attribute that to the increased dynamic range of the G11. It seems to capture many more tones of colour and brightness than the G10, as it should, given the massive changes to the sensor.

Here is another familiar to regular readers. It’s my favourite spider:This fellow was distinctly grumpy on the dull day when I shot him. They usually try to hide by crawling around on the opposite side of the flower. This guy turned to face me and raised his front legs in a menacing display of aggression. I have to admit that I didn’t feel greatly menaced, but I didn’t mention it to him.

Oh, yeah, back to water drops:This is one of my favourite water drop shots. I have others that are sharper, flashier, more colourful, blah, blah, blah. This one, however, makes me feel very relaxed and mellow. I’m strongly affected emotionally by images, always have been. I think that is why I love photography so much. When I look at my favourite images, I feel good.

I love sharing those good vibes with you. I hope you dig it too.

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Put a Little Chili on My Bees and Grasshoppers, Please

Posted in My Garden on August 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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I got up late this morning. By the time I was outside with my Canon G9 in my garden the sun was blazing horizontally across the flora and fauna that make up our little private jungle.

I always check out my chilies each morning. They are a very small variety, only about two or three centimetres long. They are very sweet and not too hot, just right for chili chicken and several other dishes that require the flavour, but not too much heat – at least that’s the way I like it (uh-Huh, uh-Huh). This little chili was casting a brave shadow on the leaf of a Bird of Paradise plant:

A chili in the morning sun

One of my favourite posts on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi is an old short one about chilies. I’m not sure where my head was that morning, but I’d sure like to get back in that place.

Another popular denizen of my jungle is the Tickle Me Plant. Its leaves fold up and hide at the slightest touch, and its blossoms would please any high-school cheerleader into a giggle:

Tickle Me flower (Sensitive Plant)

They’re a bit small for pom-poms, being only about 2 cm high. The branches are thick with thorns too, so I have to watch where I’m stepping.

As I was walking around our central garden in the middle of the yard, I caught a grasshopper in the open on a leaf. As soon as he saw me, he ducked behind the leaf to hide from me. Little did he suspect that I an an old Cherokee stalker from way back. Little escapes my attention or the merciless eye of my camera. Whistling nonchalantly, I eased down on my bum and surreptitiously snaked my arm around behind some foliage to snap this shot:

Grasshopper "hiding" from me

The grasshopper is lit only by the light shining through the leaf. I don’t think that it ever noticed the camera. Sneakiness is a valuable attribute for a nature photographer.

Ah, yes, the bees, the bees – the main topic of today’s nonsense.

Well, as usual, as soon as the sun hits these strange little whitish hibiscus blooms they open up. The blossoms last for several days and close up tightly each night. When they open in the morning, the bees are there to greet them and go mining for nectar and pollen.

It’s devilishly difficult to shoot them. They buzz all around me as I sit there on the grass. I have about a half of a second to catch one entering a flower. Since the G9 has about a half-second lag between punching the shutter button and actually capturing the image, it is strictly a crap shoot whether you will get the bee or not. I took about fifty exposures this morning to get these three.

Here is a bee approaching the hibiscus flower which has just opened:

A bee approaching a hibiscus flower

This bee has landed and is on his way down to the pollen mine:

A bee mining nectar and pollen from a hibiscus flower

This one has collected all that was available and is leaving the flower:

A bee leaving a hibiscus flower

Though is was exasperating at moments, I had a lot of fun trying to get good shots of the bees feeding. You can clearly see the orange globs of pollen on their hind legs. The shots turned out considerably better than I had hoped.

All in all, a good time in the garden to put me in the right mind to tackle:

The domain name “PBTPNG” might be a NetBIOS domain name.  If this is the case, verify that the domain name is properly registered with WINS.
If you are certain that the name is not a NetBIOS domain name, then the following information can help you troubleshoot your DNS configuration.
The following error occurred when DNS was queried for the service location (SRV) resource record used to locate an Active Directory Domain Controller (AD DC) for domain “PBTPNG”:
The error was: “DNS name does not exist.”
(error code 0x0000232B RCODE_NAME_ERROR)
The query was for the SRV record for _ldap._tcp.dc._msdcs.PBTPNG
Common causes of this error include the following:
– The DNS SRV records required to locate a AD DC for the domain are not registered in DNS. These records are registered with a DNS server automatically when a AD DC is added to a domain. They are updated by the AD DC at set intervals. This computer is configured to use DNS servers with the following IP addresses:
202.5.191.160
202.5.191.130
10.1.1.2
10.1.1.1
– One or more of the following zones do not include delegation to its child zone:
PBTPNG
. (the root zone)

Well, I know that something is awry with DNS on my two new Domain Controllers that I built. But what? I don’t want a lecture. I want a fix! Hopefully, something that I can actually understand well enough to accomplish.

Wish me luck. Anybody know where I can get a job digging ditches?

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New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Opinions on January 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s an old-fashioned idea, I suppose. But, I’m an old-fashioned sort of guy. I also feel slightly silly when I attempt to give advice to others. I have a hard enough time just getting by myself.

Today, I’ll make an exception.

In the mid-80’s, when I began to realize what a jerk I was and I started employer-enforced therapy (yes, that’s how bad it was), I was looking for any sort of coping skills that could help me with my bipolar problem, depression, and the fact that nobody at all seemed to want to be around me – including my wife! The nice guy who I thought I was was a figment of my imagination. The truth was that I was horrid.

You wouldn’t want to hear about most of the stuff to which I submitted so that I could begin the long road to becoming someone else. It has been a tough journey, but, at the very least, I can truthfully say that I like myself better than I did before. More importantly, most people seem to be able actually to tolerate me now. It’s been a significant improvement over about twenty-some years.

Here’s a pretty picture of a sensitive plant flower after having been nourished for a month on a secret formula of psychedelic drugs – just in case you’re nodding off:

Spaced-out tickle-me plant flower

I attribute much of my happiness today to New Year’s Resolutions of the past. I never started doing it until I got into serious trouble. That was probably because I never believed it would work. I was so wrong.

I can’t tell you what several of my successful resolutions were, because they would be far too revealing. I’m not much into soul baring in public – it’s too Hollywood. However, I can tell you about a couple that aren’t too personal and really improved my life (not to mention relationships with others).

Have you ever been inside the Toronto subway stations? Some of them are über-cool indeed:

Subway station in Toronto

One resolution that saved me from employment doom was to learn to treat my co-workers with the same cordiality and respect that I (sometimes) accorded to my friends. Simply having to remember day-by-day that I had to pay attention to this, over a period of a year, improved my situation at work remarkably. Gradually I went from the always-grumpy old dude that nobody really wanted to interact with to someone less grumpy who seemed to actually care. Not perfect, but an improvement.

I love the way water drops look on leaves and flowers:

Water drops on a pandanus leaf

New Year’s Resolutions are strange beasts. I think that there’s a sort of placebo effect in action. If you think it will work, and you have no evidence to the contrary, then It probably will. I review my progress on my resolution all year and begin to think about the next one sometime around October.

I’m careful to choose resolutions that I honestly believe that I can accomplish. I will put off an important resolution for another year and try something less challenging if I don’t think I’m ready to achieve a difficult change.

I’ll reveal one other resolution that improved life considerably. Forever I had this annoying and unfair habit of blaming my wife for everything. No matter the situation, I could find a way to make a problem her fault. You guys out there – I bet some of you know exactly what I mean. It goes like this:

“Yes, I know that I goofed up there a little (bashed in the side of the car), but if you hadn’t parked it so close to the rubbish bin when you pulled in, then it wouldn’t have happened.” It sounds like a three-year-old. I could give a thousand more examples.

Here’s a beautiful deep sky over Pig Island. I darkened it by shooting through my polarized sunglasses:

Pig Island sky

Here’s MadDog’s Seven Secrets for Successful New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Resolve to change something significant. Don’t waste your years fixing trivial quirks.
  2. Choose a problem that you think that you have a good chance of fixing. If it seems too difficult, then choose something else. In the intervening year, continue to think about the more challenging problem and invent ways to tackle it the next year.
  3. Enter into the resolution fully committed to it; anything less guarantees failure.
  4. If you’re the praying kind, include your resolution in your prayers. If praying isn’t your thing, then commit yourself to a regular, frequent quiet time of introspection to consider your progress.
  5. From January 1st onwards, make it habitual (easier than you think) to stop and consider your response in every situation that bears on your resolution. Once this habit is in place, you’re more than half-way to success.
  6. Learn to chastise youself appropriately when you fail to live up to your own expectations for your behaviour. Guilt works fine for me. Flog yourself if necessary – this is serious stuff.
  7. No matter what, don’t give up.

Have you seen the new kind of kid’s blow-bubbles stuff that doesn’t pop? The bubbles last for a long time:

Long-lasting bubble

I’ll reveal to you my 2009 New Year’s Resolution:

I’m going to eliminate nasty and offensive expletives and euphemisms from my daily speech – including times when I’m angry or when there’s nobody around even to hear me (Those will be the difficult times to zip my lips!). I picked up the habit in the military and it’s been with me since. I’m tired of it. It makes me sound ignorant. It’s childish and I’m no longer a child. It’s time I stopped.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting along with that.

Happy New Year!

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Tickle Me – Again

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 18th, 2008 by MadDog
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Had a hard day out on the water, so I don’t have much time to write. What a shame. I’ll entertain myself by showing you some photos that I got this morning in – guess now – My Garden. Where else am I going to go?

Yes, I’m back to the bugs on flowers thing again. I’m saving the star of the show for last.

These little flies or whatever they are seem to be attracted especially to this particular flower. On any given day one can find them on almost every blossom:

Little flies on a flower

Nevertheless, they do sometimes have relatives over. The big flies are hard to catch with a camera. They are very skittish. The little fellow seems to be hiding from the big black monster:

Big fly on a flower

 A careful observer will note that I got the colour balance all wrong on the first photo. It has way too much red. The one above is the correct colour for that flower. I’m too lazy to fix it. I will leave it as a demonstration of how not to do it.

A week ago I hacked away at some bushes near the water that were beginning to block my view of the harbour. I had a look at them this morning. It appears as if I’m going to be hacking away again soon:

Shoots!

Jenny, one of my readers, commented that the other name for the Sensitive Plant is the Tickle Me plant. How quaint. I’ve showed you how the leaves collapse at the merest jiggle.

Here is a blossom and a couple of developing seed pods:

The Tickle Me Plant - Blossom

The seeds themselves, when they mature, are truly nasty characters. As you can see, they are bristling with little barbs that are incredibly effective when it comes to sticking to your clothes, or your skin, if you’re unlucky:

Tickle Me seeds - Don’t get them on your clothes

Ouch!

They are nature’s Velcro.

Except that they are even better.

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Like a Bee to a Flower

Posted in My Garden on October 7th, 2008 by MadDog
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What’s a tiny mushroom got to do with bees and flowers? Absolutely nothing. There were a bunch of these popping up in our front yard after a heavy rain last night. They seem to favour spots that Sheba also favours when she feels the need to lighten her load. After the pile melts away the tiny mushrooms grow in rings around it. I can remember giant rings of mushrooms in the forest when I was a kid.

They’re called fairy rings:

Tiny mushroom

Here’s a nice little honey bee sitting on a leaf:

Bee on a leaf

I have a strange kind of low-growing hibiscus in the garden. I’m going to look it up sometime. I caught this tiny bee mining nectar and pollen way down inside:

Bee in hibiscus

This one is very interesting to me. I’ve seen many bees with their legs fat with pollen. This bee is different. It carries its load of pollen back to the hive on the underside of its abdomen:

Bee with pollen on his belly

That’s pretty much it for the bees today. What about more flowers?

Well, I have this interesting plant growing like a weed under my coconut trees. It’s some kind of mimosa (Mimosa pudica). People living in the tropics will probably already know it. If you brush against any part of the plant, the leaves fold up in a couple of seconds (nyctinastic movement).

Here is a photo of the flower and leaves:

Mimosa before tickling

Here is a photo taken a few seconds after I gave the plant a little jiggle:

Mimosa after tickling

You can see that the leaves have all folded up and now only the reddish-brown undersides are visible.

Isn’t that cool?

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