30 November 2008

Why sell the piano?

The piano was unplayable. It needed a complete overhaul of all the playing guts inside. There'd be precious little of the original piano left if you'd tried to make it playable. I made that perfectly clear in my ad, hence the lack of interest.

The tuning was so bad that whenever Crazy Sister and I hopped on for a play, it was like "Guess this tune." The sound board would have cracked if you'd tried to tune it to concert pitch, so really it was just a pretty shell.

I've played my new Yamaha for years now, and this old one was taking up space at Mum's place, never played.

Oh eBay, thou treacherous enticement.

I have bought some real bargains from eBay. Unfortunately, others are also buying bargains from me and I'm wondering if it's all worthwhile.

When you sell something that for some reason isn't all that tempting to buyers, you want to list it at a starting price low enough to encourage some interest. But it seems that the three things I have listed have been so un-tempting that the best I've managed is to interest ONLY ONE buyer who has not had anyone to enter a bidding war with.

Something tells me that the meagre interest I have received would have been completely obliterated if I'd put higher starting prices on these things. So whaddaya do?

Here is a list of my leet selling skills with eBay.

Item 1: Chunky Silver Heels - Ladies Shoes - Size 5

UNSOLD, despite a funny-ish ad.

Item 2: Near New - Doc Martens Ten Holers - Size 5
SOLD for crazy price of $19.00. Apparently not a lot of people are in the market for Docs that would fit a leprechaun.

Item 3: Antique Victor Upright Piano (1908)
SOLD for an even crazier price of $21.00. That's Australian dollars. I am not kidding.

Pah. Can't I at least get TWO bidders who will fight it out together so I can get some decent cash for my pre-loved stuff?

29 November 2008

Storm in a Sipper Cup

There's an ad for a painkiller that's caused such a storm in the US that my head is whirling from reading about it in blogs.

Here in Australia, we have only seen this Motrin Ad on people's blogs. And I am at a great disadvantage because I have no speakers or headphones on my computer so I can't hear any of the video responses. Thankfully the ad itself was visual, so I think I get the gist, but I understand from comments on blogs that it's the flip, condescending voice that put people off more. And that's the bit I'm not getting from my computer.

I was a bit shocked to see responses on youtube from "outraged baby-wearing mommas" and I decided not to click on them, partly because they scared me a bit and partly because I wouldn't be able to hear them anyway.

This was the only video response that I could understand without the benefit of sound on my computer:


Initially, I had embedded it into this post, but the screen that it rested on was a bit of a shock, given the tone of "Killing A Fly" so I took the embedded video out and left you the link. Do click on it. It's great.

And here's the embarrassing bit. I must be terribly backward and stupid and wrong and a bad mother, but to tell you the honest truth ...

with no fake smiling ...

or lies ...

I - er - sorta...

Oh I can't say this...


There. It's out. Firebomb my house if you wish. Blame it on the fact that I don't have speakers and therefore have missed the entire point of the commercial and all the responses to it. But it's true.

28 November 2008

Thanksgiving in Australia

... doesn't really exist. Christmas is our huge celebration, with its 6-week summer school holidays from mid-December until late January. New Year's Eve is just about as big with many people. Easter is our other big celebration of note, as it involves a 4-day long weekend.

We love our public holidays, most of which fall on Mondays in Term 2 (April-May-June). Celebrating the birthday of the Queen, the Australia labour movement or those who fought and lost their lives for our country by taking a day off is right up our alley. It's The Australian Way.

But most of us only know about Thanksgiving from our American and Canadian friends.

We know it is big in the US, but we didn't know that Canada celebrated Thanksgiving earlier (in October) until we looked "Thanksgiving" up on Wikipedia.

Well really, that was just me.

However, because all of this thankfulness is going on in blogs everywhere, it's spread to us. That's why we're going on about things we're thankful for, without the hassles of the turkey and 5:00am cooking marathons.

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving - it's the little things...

I am thankful for ...

- My trip to visit my parents and Crazy Sister, Harpo, and Peanut

- A safe trip home

- Sonny Ma-Jiminy's kindy, which (although it has given me no end of stress this year) he LOVES

- My two lovely children, who were gorgeous in the car all the way back from kindy and around the supermarket getting a few groceries for dinner ...

- ... and who then accompanied me outside so I could collect the mail and take the bins in from the kerb

- Smoochy Girl who walked with me the whole way

- Sonny Ma-Jiminy, who kept busy watching the water I emptied from the bins trickle down the gutter to the drain

- the endless opportunities to keep humble, like when I came back from doing the bins only to find that Sonny had given up watching the water, gone inside, hit the button on the automatic garage door and locked me out.

- my neighbours who (to my knowledge) didn't take a video of me knocking on my own door, ringing my own bell and shouting, "SONNY! OPEN THE GARAGE DOOR FOR ME PLEASE!!" and post it on youtube.

- The incredible cuteness of a nearly-4-year-old boy wandering around upstairs (wondering where the food was and why I wasn't giving it to him) suddenly realising he'd locked me out and saying, "OH!" in that gorgeous, vacant, innocent Oh-I-Completely-Forgot voice

- That he's cool enough to tramp downstairs and let me in.

25 November 2008

I'm not there

On Monday as I raced out the door to take Mr de Elba to catch his train so he could catch his plane so he could catch his shuttle bus so he could catch his boat so he could catch his golf buggy trailer thing so he could start his amazing Schoolies experience, my Crazy Sister called me.

As the phone rang, Mr de Elba called, "No no no no no!" but I answered it anyway, knowing that he would take another 5 mintues to get out of the house at any rate. Crazy Sister had some wacky plan and I remember saying, "Yes, yes, okay, whatever, let's talk later, thxvrymchgoawaybye!"

And I didn't think much more about it until I saw these words on her blog 24 hours later: "Today, I drove nearly three hours in the car with my kids."


My parents' house is nearly three hours from her house.

I had a vague recollection, about as clear as a long-forgotten dream, that on Monday morning, Crazy Sister was hatching a plan for us to convene at Mum's house (okay, it's Dad's house too, but he just reads the paper, watches TV and gets mad at our kids) around Wednesday-ish.

I called. She was waiting for me. I was (at that stage) not planning to go.


I got off the phone, packed, picked up the kids from Aunty Awesome's house and did the trip to Mum's house.

So here I am. We are blogging together tonight. Our kids are all finally alseep. Dad has been getting mad at our kids. Mum made four salads and took off to a ladies' thing. Crazy Sister is claiming that her yawns do not mean that my blogging is boring her, but that they really mean that her throat temporarily needed widening.

I will log off and if you don't hear from me until Thursday or Friday, you can rest in the knowledge that all is well.

Except for Dad getting mad at my kids.

24 November 2008

Some have it tough

Mr de Elba is off on a Schoolies week camp this week. Now brace yourself, because this is the BEST schoolies anyone will ever have, and I really pity those poor sad schoolies at the Gold Coast right now. Twelve years of schooling, and they get subjected to this.

Check this out.

Well, that's the website for next year's schoolies fun. But they don't have cool websites up for this year's events. So here's the deal. (Mr de Elba has never had time to take photos in the past, so I'll search for some to show you.)

Mr de Elba, along with other leaders and a heap of school-leavers are flying out of Brisbane today for Proserpine. From there they will spend some time at Airlie Beach,

in a resort in Long Island,
and sailing tall ships around the Whitsunday Islands.

The weather today as they fly out is wonderful - warm and dry and very sunny. The kids who go are usually pretty well-behaved, and there are not all that many hassles for the leaders.

It's hard not to be jealous.

22 November 2008

If you love something ...

Sometimes you hear the beginning of something that sounds like it could be a really important word or piece of advice for you in your current situation.

Today I had the feeling that I was about to hear something significant.

Sonny Ma-Jiminy and Smochy Girl were watching Veggie Tales and I overheard Larry say, "Remember: if you love something, let it go..."

And I had a recollection that those words are the beginning of a wise saying I heard once, about love, loss and something-or-other-quite-deep. I couldn't remember the end of the saying, so I hung off Larry's words as he completed the proverb. This is what he ended up saying:

"Remember, if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you ..."

I thought.

"...it's probably hungry."

No help at all, except for making me laugh.

21 November 2008


I wrote something recently, and I got such a lovely bunch of funny comments on it, I thought I'd re-post it here.


This morning I noticed I have an ENORMOUS muffin-top spilling out over the waistband of my favourite 3/4 jeans.

It must have come from eating too many muffins.

Then as I turned around, I caught sight of my thighs.


I don't remember eating the dugong.

Dugong: from here.

20 November 2008

Moth Pressure

We stayed with my parents over the weekend. This was lovely, apart from the fact that when my Dad snores, it sounds like a grizzly bear drowning in a bucket of porridge.*

But you know, no matter how much you love them, parents have their quirks. And they can be weird.

Now, I don't particularly care if I get insects in my house. If it's easier for me to leave the screen door open when I go through it while balancing a small child in one arm and an enormous bin of recycling in the other, then I just leave it open.

If I find a fly in my house later in the day, I just wave at it with my hand. My parents, if they're visiting, chase it relentlessly with the swat until that creature is dead and disposed of.

Me? Not-so-much.

So this weekend when I was staying at my parents' place, I was highly amused to see my father's dislike of insects in action.

"When you've finished brushing your teeth, just -uh- turn the light off."

I nodded.

"It's just that the light attracts moths."

I wondered why this was a problem, given that all the windows and doors have screens on them.

"See - right now, we've got all this Moth Pressure."

Moth Pressure? I looked to where he was pointing. Sure enough, there were eight to ten moths on the outside of the window and screen. I'm sure that if they could have come in, they would have. But they hadn't. They were just sitting on the outside of the window, minding their own business.

Exerting a certain level of "Moth Pressure."

Sheesh. Gotta love my Dad.


* I thought that was a quote I'd heard somewhere before. I can't find it anywhere. The closest I found was this great quote that was featured on Blogtations: "Imagine what a chainsaw trapped in a bucket of mucus sounds like. Yea. Got it? Now try sleeping next to that."


Postscript: I'm in the mood to do Google Image Searches on odd phrases. So here goes: "Moth Pressure." Mister Google didn't disappoint.

Exhibit A, on an
Art website: an artist using Corel Painter to develop this piece, called "pressure moth":

And Exhibit B, a recipe on a blog, with a picture of something called "pressure-cooked moth dal":

Thankyou Mister Google.

19 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I see from many blogger's recent posts that Thanksgiving is coming up on 27 November. While you've been preparing your turkey recipes and planning major coronary heart attacks, Australia has been saying, "Wha?"

But I like the idea of Thanksgiving. That is, if there's any major Giving of Thanks involved. Let me just write a list of the things I'm thankful for.

Things I Am So Thankful For, It Hurts

1. My husband
2. My boy, Sonny Ma-Jiminy
3. My girl, Smoochy Girl
4. My education, my job and my ability to earn some money to support my family
5. My lovely town, which I'll tell you is Ipswich, Queensland, because after reading my blog, there is no way on earth any trolls or pervs would be remotely interested in tracking me down. I'm just not that sort of blogger.
6. My lovely house
7. My lovely kitchen. It was a huge thing, to renovate it, but it's done, and I am SO enjoying pottering about in it!
8. Our neighbours and our cute little cul-de-sac
9. Our church, although it has the worst driveway in the world. The thought of jolting along the pot-holed driveway alone is enough to turn me off going some mornings.
10. The local heated pool, wonderful for kids to swim and play in without getting cold!
11. The local RAAF base, with its awesome F111s and the giant C-17, and also the occasional Caribou.
12. The Ipswich Annual Show, whose fireworks displays we can see easily from our back deck.
13. The proximity to the animal park and the Workshops Railway Museum
14. The proximity to Brisbane, while being far enough away to miss out on the traffic
15. And of course, our wonderful friends. We've got some lovely people to laugh with, eat with and live alongside. We just love them!

So there you are. The things I'm SO thankful for, it nearly hurts! Some are obviously much more important than others, but they are all things I thank God for so much!

Stay tuned for more on my train of thought over this Thanksgiving season!

Addendum: Other things I am so thankful for, I forgot to mention them:

16. Mr de Elba's Aunty who lives a 5 minute walk away and who is the Family Daycare Carer for Sonny and Smoochy. They love her, and she loves them. Her style of care is right up my alley, and she gets paid for it! So I don't feel as if I am imposing on her all the time! A perfect setup.

17. A totally awesome kindy for Sonny for next years, which will be a relief after this year's kindy teacher hasw made it a really difficult time. She made me cry last Friday, and I really get the feeling she doesn't enjoy teaching Sonny at All. I think there's a personality clash between Sonny and her, and this doesn't surprise me because there's on between ME and HER!

18. We're in the catchment for a really good state school for Sonny Ma-Jiminy. People who have difficulties at other state schools in the town try to get in at our local school, because it's known to be really good. And we'll have no difficulty getting Sonny in, because we live so close!

17 November 2008

Cauliflower Sheep

One day, I used Google Image Search to find pictures corresponding with the search term "chicken money." I wasn't hopeful that there were ANY pictures on the Internet of anything resembling "chicken money," so I was quite amazed to find the following images:

Can you believe those pictures even exist?

I was so amazed that I decided to stick a vegetable and an animal together and do a Google Image Search for that. "There's no way there'll be anything remotely like, um, 'cauliflower' and , er, 'sheep'," I said.

So I googled "cauliflower sheep."

Silly me. Of course there are heaps of cauliflower sheep on the Internet. I found plenty of images just like this one:
Of course.

14 November 2008

Wasted Post

Hi Everyone. I'm here but have been stressed out of my tiny brain, so there's been nothing I've had the time to put down into a post.

Except at work, every "bathroom" in the building has been locked for a year now because some vandalism was occurring. But it actually stopped ages ago. It's locking the door after the vandals have bolted, but whatever, better late than never.

This means that everyone (speech therapy kids included) has had to take "the key" with them whenever they've needed to go. This is frightfully inconvenient.

I've found that I'm such a subversive character. Whenever I go to the "bathroom" - stop - turn around - go back - get the key - and actually GO to the "bathroom", I now leave it unlocked. Heh. And over the last month or so, I've gone one better.

I have discovered (I can't imagine HOW) that the doors to the men's are usually unlocked. So I just go there.

I was wondering today if it was blogworthy, but I decided that unless I dropped my mobile in the men's toilet, it wasn't.

And I didn't drop my phone, so it was a waste of time telling you all about that.

13 November 2008

Of Killing Birds With Stones

So here's an interesting thing.

I was making a spinach and feta pull-apart today. Great recipe! I don't usually mess about with yeast and dough and kneading and rising because the end product is sometimes a little heavy and if you can't finish it the day it's made (and our family usually can't), it's a bit of a loss the next day.

Anyway, the recipe calls for 10 minutes of kneading. That's a lot of physical activity for someone like me. But I was getting into it and noticing how it was working my upper body. And then I noticed that because the dough was fairly stiff, I had to 'brace' my body so I could knead properly.

The muscles I was working were for core stability, and in particular the transverse abdominals. These are the ones I need to exercise regularly to help what (I think) Kaz Cooke calls "achy breaky pelvis" - the sacro-iliac dysfunction I got when I was pregnant and haven't yet lost due to low tone and lax joints and grumble grumble grumble. And kneading the bread was the best workout I'd given those muscles for a while!

Then I remembered how the pelvic floor works in synergy with the transverse abdominals and if I try to exercise that at the same time, I'd be making bread, toning the upper body, dealing with the achy breaky pelvis and solving the sneezing problem all in one!

This is a recipe I'll have to make more often.

12 November 2008

True Greatness ...?

Sonny Ma-Jiminy and I have just finished reading our first Secret Seven novel together. With a little re-iteration of important points, explanation of trickier things and frequent revisions to help us remember the storyline, Sonny has understood the story and really enjoyed it.

He's enjoyed it so much that he now (like all of us when we were kids) wants to be one of the Secret Seven. He doesn't get alliteration, so he thinks it's fine for there to be a Secret Eight following his inclusion.

SMJ: Mum, I could be one of them. Can we ... (struggles to explain how to write himself in to the adventure) ... open this page (turns to the page with the Secret Seven's pictures and names) and ... put me in here?

Me: I guess we could always imagine that you're one of the Seven.

SMJ: Maybe we could ask God to ...

(What? He's asking for Divine Assistance to become one of the Secret Seven?!?)

SMJ: Maybe God could ... (changing his approach) ... maybe you could turn into a Fairy and make me go in this page here ...?

(So Mummy turning into a Fairy is better than God?!?)

Me: Well, hmm. I'm not sure.

11 November 2008

So Many Questions

Thanks to all my readers who keep on coming back, even though it's been a bit boring here at Killing A Fly. I told myself that when the next NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) came up, I'd be in on the fun because I like to post about once a day anyway. But this NaBloPoMo, I've hit the doldrums.

Your comments keep me going, and you've challenged me to visit more blogs and comment more often. Here I'll attempt to answer some of the questions you've asked me in recent days.

I confessed to you my lack of desire to use the word "heinous" due to the two commonly-used unfortunately-rhyming pronunciations in this corner of the world. Heather mentioned that the only pronunciation she's heard is "hay-ness" and blow me down, that's correct! Dictionary.com says that those who say "hee-ness" are wrong. I always knew that. I just thought that "hay-ness" couldn't possibly be right either.

Many of you are interested in the voting system here. Australian residents over the age of 18 are required to vote in all Federal, State and Local Government elections and referendums.

If you fail to vote in Federal elections you'll receive a letter asking you to provide your reason for not voting. If they're not happy with your reason, you will get a fine. If you don't reply or pay the fine, you may be taken to court. If you are found guilty you will be fined and may have to pay court costs. I assume this is because Australia does not have a Disneyland, and the Australian Electoral Commission has nothing better to do with their time.

Dee reminded me that in our recent federal election, the Labour candidate (whose name was Kevin, how Aussie is that?) had his "Kevin '07" slogan on everything from t-shirts to buses. And she's right. It was very in-your-face for us Aussies, and frankly, quite uncomfortable to 85% of the nation. Did y'all know we had an election, and that a bloke called Kevin won? We did, and he did. Remember that, because I'm thinking up a quiz on Australian trivia for my US readers, and you might need to know that.

Mrs Tantrum was right - my US readers do 'let it all hang out' a bit regarding political leanings, to the point that when she followed it up with "Wanna hear about my poop?" I headed straight over to her blog to hear all about it. Then I realised it was a rhetorical question.

Hot Tub Lizzy (nice blog header, by the way) asked if Smoochy got any soup in her - I rather think she did! She loves it. And Jen and Mrs Tantrum asked for the recipe. It's a good one. I start by caramelising some onions in butter then adding chopped potato and pumpkin along with enough half & half milk & water to cover them. They simmer away then I add about 3 chicken stock cubes and half a teaspoon each of nutmeg and paprika. That all boils away until the pumpkin and potato is nice and soft, and then I blend it. The clue is in the the caramelised onions. They give a lovely sweet taste. Don't ask about exact measures, ours and yours don't match up anyway. Just throw the ingredients in until they look right. That's what I do.

And finally, Le asked where the term "The Cone Of Silence" came from, and I guess this means she's not a Get Smart fan. Here it is, Le, The Cone Of Silence.

The Cone Of Silence

Our Cone Of Silence is one of our most fun toys. Look at us discussing our State Secrets!

10 November 2008

Style or service?

I love the whiteboard in my new kitchen. It's usually very nicely laid out with magnets, notes, reminders and photos of my lovely little family. But as you probably expected, style went out the window and its purpose was changed to one of purely service, as Sonny and Smoochy amused themselves while I cooked dinner:

They had a great time. Then they went out the back and played hopscotch:

And then they came back inside and ate buckets of pumpkin soup:

There was a time when they were too little to amuse themselves like big kids, and making dinner was so terribly difficult (as it still is, in between the whiteboardin' and the hopscotchin'.)

But as I watched them play, I was reminded that they grow up quickly and the joys and hassles of one stage are quickly replaced by those of the next. Dear sweet little things.

No, no, tell us how you REALLY feel

The US presidential election is over, finally. About this time last year, I'd reached saturation point with the news coverage of whatever-was-going-on-election-wise back then. I started wondering when the election was actually going to take place, and we could get some peace over here in Australia. I nearly fell off my chair when I got on the Internet and found out that the actual election was in November of the next year!

One of the things that has taken me by surprise is that you guys tell us how you vote! Wow. Over here, we don't usually wear our political colours on our sleeves and if we do, we're prepared for a bit of aggro. But then, everyone has to vote here, so we're a bit blasé about it. That's the Australian Way.

But wow, you guys like to tell us which side you're on. Takes my breath away.

09 November 2008

I've re-MEME-bered ...

I did that meme telling you 7 odd things about me. But I keep thinking of things. Perhaps I'm odder than the meme was expecting.

1. Sometimes when I sneeze, I follow it up with a quiet little "Yesss!" This is because I believe that after having 2 children, if you can sneeze and NOT let just a little bit of wee out, it deserves a celebration.

2. I don't eat blue foods. But you knew that already.

3. Thinking about playdough makes me gag and sorta vomit a little. And that you also knew.

4. I never use the word that is spelled h-e-i-n-o-u-s. This is because I do not know how I should pronounce it. It seems that there are two main bodies of thought on how to pronounce the word, and I'm not a fan of either of them. Either way, you're saying a word that rhymes with 'anus' or 'penis' and I'm so not down with that.

5. When I read my daily Bible reading, I always need to flick to the end of the passage first to see exactly where it ends. I feel like I can concentrate on the text better if I check the end-point first.

6. I just HATE people touching my belly button. This is difficult as little kids are interested in their own and others' belly buttons. My kids would dearly love to poke my belly button with their tiny fingers, but I can't bear it, and I won't let them.

7. Number 7 is not about my own oddity, it's about my sister's (her list would number into the hundreds, by the way). She has named me as an executor of her will, and in the documantation regarding her estate, she has a clause detailing where she gets her photos developed. I asked why this was included and she said that she couldn't bear the thought that she might die while she had a film in for processing, and nobody would ever know. Those poor photos ... waiting to be collected ... for years ... (sob).

Well hey, what a list. Thanks for continuing to read me here at Killing A Fly, even though I'm so ... odd.

Photo Mosaics

Some of you have been kind enough to say how you've liked the photo mosaics I've done of my kids, and asked how it's done.

Well, I put my photos into Photoshop, do the maths to resize them how I want, then I count the number of pixels, pull out my calculator again and I crop ... oh hang on, that was what I thought you had to do before I found the Mosaic Maker in Flickr. Try it!

I'm sure there are plenty of other websites out there to make photo mosaics with, because on other people's blogs, I see patterns of compiled photos that Flickr can't give me. So I know 'there's more than one way to skin a cat' as one of my old school teachers used to say.

But for putting my completed mosaics into something like this (below), I use Scrapblog through my Photobucket account. I haven't found they print nicely to photo paper though.

08 November 2008

He melts my heart

I love this kid. He says the most amazing things and through them he shows that he's way ahead of me.

He loves his father, his mother, his sister and his dog, and he's not afraid to throw his arms around our necks and tell us so.

He's fearless in the water with his floaties and his flippers. He's (usually) gentle with animals and with the little sister he loves so much. He's joyful when playing Pass The Pigs, Guess Who or car-driving games on Daddy's iPhone. He's always full of bright ideas, many of which we can't possibly try out, much to his disappointment.

He tries big words and often uses them well even if he can't pronounce them, like 'ridiculous'. Even today he loudly proclaimed that something was 'dickly-ous', and whatever it was, I agreed with him. He also asked lots of questions regarding why our bank's ATM wouldn't accept our cash for depositing, and ended up concluding that our bank was a lazy bank. Spot on again.

Anyone who asks his age is told that he is 'three years and seven months' which is described as being 'nearly three and a half, but it's a little bit bigger.'

And at night one of my favourite activities is to creep into his room and watch him sleeping.

It's the only time his dear sweet mouth is still.

06 November 2008

Poo in Your Room

Both Mr de Elba and I spent 4 years living in different residential colleges while we studied at The University of Queensland. Most university colleges are co-ed, but after 12 years at co-ed state schools, we were ready for something a bit different, so he lived at an all-men's college and I lived in an all-women's college. And it was there that we met, which was the best part of the whole 4 years.

The second best part of the 4 years was probably the pranking that went on in Mr de E's college. (Actually being awarded my degree comes in somewhere later in the top 10.)

There were prawns in the sun, naked runs, adjusting full-length mirrors to blind neighbouring colleges with the sun, and chasing plovers with vacuum cleaners. Mr de Elba's involvement was usually limited to watching these pranks from a distance, but he occasionally took part. For the pranks he left alone, he has stories!

Networked computers were a prime target. If Mr de Elba didn't like the music that was playing in a room next door, he could hack in and change the music on the neighbour's computer.

I don't know how, but with a bit of elementary hacking, keystrokes could be logged and covert chats could be carried out without the prankee's knowledge. In the resulting prank conversation, the prankee's computer appeared to have gained a mind of its own, carrying on intelligent and sometimes insulting conversations with its owner who, in total confusion, was blind to the paralytic laughter of the prankers and their friends as they typed away, giving the computer a 'voice' from the next room.

The PBX telephone systems were also hacked. It was discovered that, as well as being forwarded to a different internal number, the telephones could also be forwarded to an external number. This meant that long-distance phone calls could become free if one forwarded one's own line to the telephone number of the person one wanted to call, and one dialled oneself.

Poor unsuspecting first year students also had their phones hacked into and forwarded to -erm- phone services of ill repute, causing untold concern for protective parents calling in to check on the safety of their studious offspring.

These pranks were discovered when financial discrepancies were discovered and the telephone logs were examined. Some of the prankers were hit up for massive bills in retrospect.

I remember the time the senior tutor opened his door one morning to find that during the night, the guys had completely bricked up his door. He had to telephone for help to get out.

And there was a guy a year younger than me who was a mild-mannered studious Christian guy by day, but earned the title "The Mad Bomber" after dark due to his leet skillz with the dry ice bombs. Complaints flooded into the college administration regarding The Mad Bomber's bombs going off late at night and causing noise disturbances, both at neighbouring colleges and private residences nearby and across the river.

College Admin told The Mad Bomber to cease and desist. The Mad Bomber agreed but asked if he may just let off his last few bombs before he retired. College Admin reluctantly allowed him to do this.

They only agreed because they didn't know that 'his last few bombs' consisted of an entire floor-to-ceiling cupboard crammed full to bursting with collected Coke bottles, and he planned to buy the biggest consignment of dry ice the college had ever seen in order to fill them.

Word travelled fast that The Mad Bomber's Last Hurrah was going down that night. It started a few minutes before schedule and as I entered the grounds of the boys' college, I heard the first few booms echoing around the University, across the river and back.

I walked into the closest thing to a war zone that St Lucia has ever seen. One college guy had set up the largest speakers I'd ever seen and was playing the Mission Impossible theme music on continuous loop. It was so loud that half-way through the crazy all-in bombing frenzy, the speakers vibrated themselves off their perch and crashed down onto the floor.

The entire courtyard was a no-go zone, completely littered with schrapnel from scores of shattered Coke bottles. The bombing went on for ages.

The Mad Bomber, completely in his element, had given over the bombing duties to his Mad Minions while he busied himself making long thin trails of methylated spirits along the concrete ledges that served as hand-rails for the upper floor and setting them alight. The long thin blue walls of flame burned brightly, dribbled down the walls and through the storm water drains, trailing down to the lower floor, burning as they went.

I doubt the College Admin had this in mind when they made their "Just Your Last Few Bombs" pact.

But the prank that has me reminiscing at the moment was a game they called "Poo In Your Room." The Prankee would return home from lectures to find attached to their door a message which everyone dreaded: "Poo In Your Room." This meant, quite literally, that there was a poo hidden somewhere in the room and it was in the Prankee's best interests to find it.

I once heard of a poo being hidden in the inside of a lampshade. The Prankee had looked high and low for it, but the smell remained even though the poo hadn't been found. The poo was finally discovered because if its habit of heating up and smelling worse when the lamp had been switched on for a while.

And I only mention this now because as I walk into Sonny Ma-Jiminy's room, I get the feeling that there's

(a) something missing that should be there (i.e., a sign on the door), and
(b) something there that shouldn't be there (i.e., a poo.)

The slight hint of a smell wafting around. Slightly more noticeable when one sits on his floor. Nothing immediately visible.

The carpets were cleaned on Monday, and the smell remains.

The room is fairly free of clutter, but no poo is evident.

And still, the nagging feeling that there should be a little piece of paper tacked to the door, with scrawly handwriting proclaiming "Poo In Your Room." You can take the student out of the college, but ...

Sigh. At least he's not letting off bombs.

05 November 2008

She calls me Daddamummy

04 November 2008

The Ham that Kept Coming Back

One Christmas, about four years ago, we were the grateful recipients of a food hamper. It was given to us by a friend's sister and her husband, who were in the Salvation Army and had a few spare hampers to give away.

Some of the items, we could use. Others however, were the types of foods that we don't usually eat. Such was the case with the tinned ham.

I wondered whether I should open it and try it, but I really didn't want to do that. I wondered whether I should throw it out immediately, but that wasn't my style. I did what all right-thinking people would do in that situation: I wrapped it up and gave it to my sister for Christmas.

"Tha-a-aankss..." she said as she opened it. And she stored it in her pantry so she could give it back to me the next Christmas. I hadn't given the ham a thought all through that year, so it was a surprise to get it back.

Only one thing for it: wrap it and give it back the next year. I videoed her opening the present, rolling her eyes, laughing and saying, "Thaaanks!" yet again.

This time, it didn't go back into her pantry. It was found not long after Christmas in the glove-box of our car. Back in our possession again.

I visited her and her family in July, and you can read about that here and here. After we'd said our goodbyes at the end of the trip, I doubled back and popped the ham in her letterbox while the family was in the back of the house.

She vowed to get even, but that didn't bother me. I'd be ready for her!

Now my sister does odd things. She's a little left of centre, the oddball in a family of oddballs. No, maybe that title should go to My Wee Brother who has been known to do things odd enough to prompt me to send a Please-Conform-Or-Deny Email following this amazing news story which occurred in his home town a few weeks ago. (Of course it wasn't him. What was I thinking? Anyway, Wee Bro is 25, not 22.)

So, with a background of oddity, it wasn't out of the realms of possibility that she genuinely wanted to celebrate the fact that I was Me, when during Saturday lunchtime on camp, a chocolate cake elaborately decorated with whipped cream was presented in front of me with pomp and ceremony. Fifty ladies watched as I was "celebrated just for being a lovely sister" (What? Who does that?) and asked to cut the cake.

I cut into it, and felt something hard inside. I realised she'd cooked something into the middle of this cake, but I couldn't guess what. I pulled the two halves of the cake apart, and out came ...



Premium comedy, wit and practical joke, all in one. It was a moment I couldn't possibly top, and so I decided to retire from the Ham Swapping Game with my sister firmly on top as the proclaimed victor.

Pictures courtesy of "Graze" and "1, 2, 3, 4"

I popped the ham onto the lectern and it was found the next day by the speaker as she stood up to give her talk. She loved the idea and laughed along with the rest of us, but the ham inevitably found its way back to me, so I hid it in a friend's car while she was packing to go home.

Liz, you'd better check your glove-box if you haven't already.

02 November 2008


This hasn't got anything to do with anything, but I just wanted to share with you a clever handwritten sign that often popped up outside the corner shop near my childhood home.

Cool, hey?