Carping about pets

My family lives in a townhouse complex, an access restricted estate that features apartments built one upon the other, one downstairs unit and one upstairs.

On of the rules is that we are prevented from having pets that might bother the neighbours or upset the local wildlife.

So no cats, dogs or bears, lions or monkeys.

Althought this has put a bit of a dent in my plans for a travelling circus I bow before the wishes of the collective.

I do believe that having pets instills a sense of responsibility in children, so in the absence of opportunity for labrador retrievers I’ve purchased for my daughter a set of Goldfish.

Now although these small barrells of fun might not have the ability to fetch, roll over or retrieve the evening newspapers (I tried, their jaws are just not powerful enough) they can focus the mind in that they require regular feeding, cleaning and entertainment. Although, it must be said that on the entertainment side,  a small plastic pirate ship, rather than a game of fetch seem to be all they require. At least it seems that way, their faces are difficult to read but they seem happy enough.

At least they do until they die.

And for my next trick I’m going to float belly up at the top of the tank

Now I’m not qualified to comment on Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest but as a layman it seems to me that a species that goes belly up at when you so much as put a smidgeon too much food in their tank  (or give an enquiring look, or a short rainshower, or turning on a light) should not be part of this rich tapestry of life on this blue and bountiful planet.

Surely Goldfish as a species should have been relegated to the history books by now.

I mean come on, worldwide there can only be approximately 500 living Goldfish in existence at any one time. These are animals that are known for one characteristic, the ability to float to the top of a tank at the drop of a hat. There are probably Goldfish that have died because someone dropped a hat within 15 metres of their tank.

So… The question begs;  why on Earth do I keep refilling a tank with variations on the same theme? Big Eyes, Comets, Variagated Retarded Orange Bullets, Small Muddy Rainbow Pillow Fusspots, Golden Floaters and Mild Weather Compounded Fin Lickers (I might have confused some of the names , with a wildlife turnover like this it’s hard to keep track).

The answer (I think) is simple. When your daughter runs toward you wailing “Why does the fish have to die this time?” You can only have one response, “This is the way the natural world operates, some animals can’t take the rough and tumble world of the tank, some are just called away to the great bowl in the sky, where they swim around and take joy in remarking to their finny friends every 3 minutes ‘Oh look, a castle’.”

I lie.

What actually happens is that you rouse yourself, get a salad bowl and remove the poor, side swimming, floatie beastie to a more secure environment and hope to God that its either dead or recovered by the next morning. And promise your tear soaked little one that, yes,  she can intern Fast Fish (in retrospect that might have been a bad choice of name)  in the garden.

But here’s the thing, the original of the two fish;  Clam,  is still going strong. He (or she, I can see no distinguishing characteristics), has outlived three companions. The problem might not be a six year old provider, the problem might just be that Clam is a territorial, murderous bastard (or bitch, as the case may be).

So here I am. Tomorrow morning off to the pet store to replace Clam’s companion.

After the disasterous hamster appocalypse a fish seemed the right thing to do. I don’t know, perhaps we’ll try birds next, but given the track record at Mallach World Headquarters a parrot would just run riot and infect the entire neighbourhood with Avian Flu.

Yours in hope, until next time.

If I have a case of the sniffles, be patient.


Scuttle, scuttle… WHIRLING CLAWS OF DEATH!

Now you know that you’ve crushed the odd cockroach before, you’ve chatted to your kids about the sanctity of life and you’ve saved the odd moth.

But when it comes to invertebrates (no backbone – the research I do on your behalf), they fall neatly into three camps in my opinion; the cute and attractive (butterfly’s), the educational (silkworms) or the bowel clenchingly horrifying, (i.e. the rest / anything that scuttles around in a cave and attracts people like David Attenborough).

Now, lobsters are invertebrates and Crustaceans to boot  and no matter what every TV chef says they are are cockroaches, bottom feeding, seagoing cockroaches.

The first person to eat one must have been desperate or clinically insane (probably the same guy who first looked at an oyster and thought ‘hmmm, looks like snot, but I wonder what it tastes like?). They’re the most horrible looking things in the world, but yummy and some people don’t like to hurt their feelings, or use old school methods the help them shuffle off this mortal coil and onto the dinner plate.

Just read on.

Don’t boil a lobster, give it a zap instead

By BILL POWER Business Reporter

Thu. Nov 19 – 4:46 AM
A company in the United Kingdom is about to lift the lid on a device that zaps lobster with electricity to kill them, and the inventor said Wednesday his humane alternative to boiling is about to give the entire industry a jolt.

British entrepreneur Simon Buckhaven said the CrustaStun system, developed over the past decade by his company Studham Technologies Limited, near London, kills the lobster with an electric charge, so the crustacean feels no “pain or distress.”

“I am entirely aware this product will be greeted at first with some skepticism among people in the lobster industry in Eastern Canada and northeastern United States,” said Mr. Buckhaven, of what he called the world’s first crustacean stunner.

But he said the animal rights movement in Europe and the United States is gaining traction by protesting the traditional method of killing a lobster in boiling water, prior to serving it with melted lemon or garlic butter. for further information.

This is perhaps the most ridiculous application of environmentally friendly bunny hugging technology I’ve ever come across. There has got to be a better (and more entertaining) alternative.

And now my friend meet your nemesis, the butter knife of DOOM!

Apply your mind people, life’s short and entertainment costly.

That said I’d be first in line to buy an Xbox version of ‘lobster fight unlimited’. I’d choose the coconut crab, his character would be called Scuttler McCrush and his finishing move would be the Whirling Dervish Claws of Pain (Trade Mark pending).

And you’d be forced to choose the shrimp, and I’d OWN you.

Let the battle commence

If Microsoft is interested I’d like to offer my services to project manage the game implementation, on the condition that I get to eat the other consultants afterwards (I’ll supply my own lemon and butter).

I must admit if something like this crawled into my room at 4.30 I’d crap myself, jump up on the bed, grab the nightlight, aim for the antenna and have a heart attack, all within three seconds  (TaDaaah).

For the love of God get it off me

I have experience, living in Johannesburg has provided me with some interesting insect encounters and the reflexes of a caffeine addicted Ninja.

Why hello there, I sense you’re having a good night’s sleep, let’s work on that together

Good night and good luck.

Aaaargh, not the Jeffries Tubes again…

Just a quick one…

My S.O. (Significant Other for those of you who haven’t been following this Blog, and if not why not, it’s not as if you have anything better to do. You shiftless buggers), has been watching an inordinate amount of Star Trek lately.

I’ve got nothing against Star Trek, in fact I’ll be the first person to lift a hand to test the younger generation’s coordination with a swift “live long and prosper” gesticulation. Come on try it, spread those fingers, I’ll wait for you.

Heh, more difficult than you remember, I blame it on keyboard fatigue.

They just don’t get it. Star Trek, Star Wars, Battle Star Gallactica and the other Sci Fi stalwarts are what kept us going during the long dark nights of the 80’s.

But during my forced evenings of Star Trek Voyager I’ve noticed a few things.

Those crew members wearing the red vests are absent, so I don’t know who’ll be eaten, killed, assimilated, crushed or seduced by green hued women. Most disturbing. It’s like having a bedrock sci fi certainty removed. My Star Trek compass is spinning wildly.


But I was thinking about something else. Psychology.

These people are lost in quadrant D, 75 light years from quadrant A and home (Google it if you’re not up to date).

And each weekend (I assume they’re on the Holodeck looking for green, scantilly dressed alien women and those red vested missing crewmen from Monday to Friday) they encounter alien civilisations that seem to be intent on killing them in varied and inventive ways.

The deck of the ship is rocked by phaser bursts, the crewmen (and women) are taken over by alien life forms, strange wormholes in the fabric of spacetime threaten to engulf them in chaos and unexplained changes in their crewmembers mental and physical makeup make life a living hell. I saw an episode where a crewmember was turned into a plant, a plant for Gods’ sake! Being a plant would worry me, I wouldn’t have the first clue about how to photosynthesize. These are a weekly occurences for these poor, lost souls.

Now I’m challenged by life on a day to day basis; having my tires replaced places a huge strain on my admittedly frayed mental processes and a trip to the doctor to have a small pebble removed from my daughters’ ear test the limits of my mental agility and psychological strength. These are both not challenges on the galactic scale of things.

So I’m worried about the crew of the Starship Voyager.

I’d be a gibbering idiot by the end of Stardate 20.367.09 (Captains supplemental).

The holographic doctor would be less concerned about changing my genetic makeup back to a generally bipedal lifeform than preventing me from taking a phase rifle to the rest of the crew.


It will hurt when you urinate, but pointing that at me will not help matters

I’m just saying that these guys need all the help they can get, send psychic messages to the Delta Quadrant, care of the Vulcan Security Officer, logic would indicate that he’s got the keys to the firearms locker.


Don’t look they’re behind me. Just send the meds.

He’s going to need assistance when the Doc runs out of drugs and they escape the straightjackets, or when the crew runs out of fertiliser for the alien plants growing out of their skulls.

Or we can find a new series to watch.

Perhaps I can apply my mind to LOST.

I’ve got a time travel headache already (or is that tomorrow?).

Good night, live long and prosper.