Wednesday, 21 May 2008


A pooter is a device for the field collection of animal specimens. They can be full-on proton pack-type mechanisms that will suck-up small dogs but we never had anything like that for Mr Stuchberry’s biology class. The ones we had at high school consisted of a jam jar with two tubes coming out of the lid. By sucking on one of the tubes it created a vacuum and pulled whatever you’re pointing the other tube at, into the jar.

I don’t know what we were supposed to be learning (might have been sampling methods or something) but we were sent out into the fields of the school grounds, instructed to randomly drop a setsquare and told to collect all the insects within the grid. We were 14 year-old boys so there were a whole heap of pooter-related blowjob jokes and hilarity surrounding the dropping of our setsquares on top of other boy’s squares/pencil cases/heads.

Then came the collection of the poor beasties. One guy quickly sucked up a spider and then a number of ants, slaters and beetles. He then spent the rest of the lesson lying on his back, watching the carnage and playing Emperor to his insect gladiators. Another sucked too hard and managed to swallow a ladybird. A third had to go back to class for a replacement pooter when he got a slug lodged in his in-tube.

I’m not sure where this story is going. I don’t have a moral or punch line to neatly close off this anecdote or relate it to something I’ve been doing in the present. I just remembered an afternoon running about in the sun sixteen years ago and felt the need to share.

Monday, 19 May 2008

12 minutes can seem like an eternity

Last Thursday, I turned up for a meeting I was dreading, only to find the meeting room empty. I took a seat, twiddled my thumbs for a while and after five minutes I got a giddy feeling in my stomach I hadn’t experienced since high school – “Maybe I can leave?”

Whenever a teacher was late for a class, a buzz would go around that if they didn’t turn up by 12 minutes past, then we were allowed to leave. The added bonus of an unexpected free period was such that we ignored that we would just have to make the time up at a later period. And if anybody brought up the idea of going and finding another teacher, they were shouted down with desperate cries of, “The rule is 12 minutes!” and “That’s why they have the rule!” Inevitably, there would be an echoing groan as the teacher was spotted hurrying across the quad towards us.

In fact, over my six years at high school there was only one time when neither the teacher nor a proxy turned up and we actually made it out of the classroom. Even then, we were spotted walking back to the boarding house by the deputy-headmaster and sent back to the class where another member of staff was waiting with a video for us to watch in place of the lesson on asexual reproduction.

This was much like the freezing rule – allegedly if the temperature ever dropped below a certain mark (the figure was always two or three degrees below what ever the current temperature was) then it was too cold to teach and we’d be sent home. Again, I think it was just an urban legend, as it never happened to us. Roo tells me it was the same in South Africa only they’d be sent home if it got too hot so they could swim in the pool and take their family giraffe for a walk.

Despite a plea from my 14 year-old inner child to just leave, my 30 year-old actual adult decided that as I was getting paid to attend the meeting I should find out what was going on. I phoned around and discovered that the other meeting attendants had gone to the wrong room and would be with me presently. So I sat back down, ordered the notes I’d need and doodled a picture of a pig driving a tractor while I waited for the others to arrive.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


I cooked biscotti on the weekend and it was surprisingly easy. Just think bread but without the time-consuming waiting to rise phase. Mix the eggs, flour, sugar and vanilla essence together. Add the flavour (in my case pistachio and craisin) and form into a loaf. Cook for 40 minutes, rotating after 20mins, and then remove to cool for about 15. Finally slice into half inch pieces and return to the oven for 7 minutes, flip the pieces and cook for another 7. Done.

Total cost came to about twelve dollars and I made about 30 biscotti. This is where cafĂ©’s make all their money! One batch of biscotti nets you about $50 dollars profit and it’s a hard biscuit so it last for ages. I thought there was an art to it or maybe it was super laborious but no, the biscotti is the easiest of biscuits to make and there is nooo way they should be any more than 50 cents a biscotto.

I’ll most probably be whacked revealing this as its origins lie at the feet of the Italian-American Legitimate Business Men’s Association. The over-priced biscotti scam is up there with racketeering and gambling as a cornerstone of the Mafia. Hell, why do you think Tony Soprano’s belly hung so far over his pants? It was all those blackmarket biscotti he was running into the coffee houses of Jersey.

Monday, 12 May 2008

(2PS x 3)6m = awkward

There is a person at my work who I don’t have very much contact with. We work on the same floor but the only interaction I have with them is when we cross in the hallways or kitchen. When we do exchange words it’s generally of the “How was your weekend?” and, “you seem pretty busy at the moment,” variety. It’s all very congenial and no real awkwardness.

However, once in a while when I’m waiting for my lunch to heat up and they’re making a cup of tea, my co-worker can’t meet my eye and stumbles over their words. At first I put it down to something else being on their mind. The second time I thought maybe I had misspoken and then when it happened this morning I realised that I was wearing my pink shirt. I can’t say for sure but I could well have been wearing it the other times they suddenly became shy.

I have ten work shirts so that places the pink shirt on about a two-week rotation. Given that I see this person once every three days or so puts the dealings to awkward ratio at about the right figure. So, I’ve come up with two possible scenarios, either they’ve got some strange pink shirt equals gay stereotype going on in their head and they’re not comfortable with that, or they think the pink really brings out the colour in my eyes and having to hold back the feelings it provokes makes them giddy as a school girl.

I‘ll start a series of experiments to get to the bottom of this and report back.