Recently in Amusement Park Category

As promised last night, here's the story: 

It was a mid-winter's night when I was about 14 years old. The Pretoria Show (sort of like the US equivalent of a State Fair combined with a trade show) which ran for a couple of weeks every year, was in full swing.

I got to hang out there almost every night during that time, because my mom was working for a sewing machine company and running their stall at the show. The show hours were brutally long – from early morning until about 10 at night – so I had no choice but to tag along, help out and sometimes also to explore the enormous show grounds on my own. There were several massive exhibition halls, tents, fields (where equestrian shows, pop concerts and other outdoorsy type things were held, with pavilions for spectators) and of course, the large amusement park with the roller coasters, merry-go-rounds and all the other rides.

The sprawling show grounds are located in the western part of the city. Right around that same time, girls my age had been disappearing in that very area of town; vanishing without a trace. Sometime after this particular night, the man who had been identified as the kidnapper shot himself and his lover (who happened to be the aunt of one of the kidnapped girls) while being chased by police. None of the kidnapped girls were ever seen again, nor were any remains ever found to give their distraught families closure.

Back to the Pretoria Show: so on that particular night, I must’ve been wandering around again on my own for ages. Eventually, I saw a poster advertising some sort of magic show. Intrigued (and probably somewhat chilled too from being outside), I decided to enter the theatre and see what it was about.

I don’t remember many details surrounding this particular show, but I do remember that I found it dead funny. The magician/hypnotist’s routine included the usual shtick of randomly pulling rabbits from hats, and then eventually, pulling people from the audience and hypnotising them. He made grown men crow like roosters and dignified ladies act like little girls. The audience (myself included) was screaming with laughter.

When the show ended, I followed the rest of the audience out into the now-almost deserted show grounds. I still remember telling the woman next to me that the show must’ve run overtime, because all the other stalls and halls seemed to have already been closed down for the evening. I was a tiny bit alarmed that my parents would possibly be worried, but was soon distracted from that thought when I heard the sound of a helicopter and saw a blindingly bright search light.

I looked up. It was a yellow South African Police helicopter and it was flying low across the grounds, sweeping the search light back and forth. We shielded our faces as the chopper flew over us, kicking up a gust of wind and a swirl of dust.

Moving towards the gates, we rounded a corner and suddenly I saw a few hundred police officers. And police dogs! The dog lover in me squealed with delight: “Oh, look at all those gorgeous Alsations!” I remember telling the lady who was still walking next to me.

I wondered aloud what on earth was going on, what they were all doing there, when suddenly, from a distance, I glimpsed someone vaguely familiar standing in the middle of this massive crowd of cops and canines. When we moved closer, the figures became increasingly clearer and even more familiar. The recognition finally dawned and I told the woman next to me, with some amazement and not a bit of excitement: “That’s my parents! And oh… wait, is my mom CRYING?”

It turns out that all those cops (almost every single one who was employed by the Pretoria City Police Department at that time) and that helicopter? They had been searching for ME! As I had suspected when we left the theatre, the magic show had indeed run overtime… by about an hour! So knowing that I fit the profile of the kidnapped girls, my frantic parents immediately called for help when I didn’t appear at closing time, as I had dutifully done every single night until then.

Even though I had done nothing wrong and it wasn’t actually my fault, I was in so so SO much trouble, it wasn’t even funny. Not with the cops, understand – they were just happy that the case of one “missing girl” had for once just been a misunderstanding, and that it had a happy outcome. I could’ve handled trouble with the cops, I think. No, it was far worse: I was in seriously hot water with my parents.

They were certainly NOT happy. Especially not my dad. He was FURIOUS. In fact, technically, I believe I am probably still grounded. That’s what “you'll NEVER EVER EVERRR leave your room EVER AGAIN, young lady, except for school and church” means, after all, right?

So, that then concludes the true story of how a whole city’s entire police force was once looking for me. 


So I can't count very high, right? I lost interest in Maths the minute I found out that Pi doesn't actually involve eating anything. 

There's just something about numbers that make my brain seize up and immediately misfire. Yet, I am writing, tonight, about something having to do with stats, facts, finances and figures. For work! It's about something financial and luckily I don't actually have to count, subtract, add, divide or multiply anything. But I have to wrap my mind around some new concepts and keep the numbers straight enough to at least quote them correctly.

Incidentally, the subject of finances came up with a friend as well today and I reached the following epiphany: One should never EVER launder money. Because, duh, everyone KNOWS it's dry clean only! (Especially these brand new Mandela notes that we now have here in South Africa.) 

*Rim shot* 

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here 'til now-now (South African term for anytime between now and a few centuries from this moment). 

And yes, astonishingly, people do actually take me seriously at work! 

It’s a quiet night. The first breath of summer is in the air at last; the windows and balcony door are flung open to let in the coolness. The breeze brushing my face is like balm on my hot skin.

The only light in the room is the soft glow coming from the laptop screen. I’m lying on the couch, my sister is surfing the web.  

Suddenly, the serenity is shattered by a brief, deranged growl. (Just so you know: there is no animal on the premises.)

“What the hell was THAT?” my sister whispers, pale with fright.

“I don’t know; probably the TV in your room,” I say, unconvincingly. Outwardly, I probably appear calm, having not even budged an inch from the couch. Actually, it’s only because I have been completely frozen with fear.

Then we hear it again, and it sounds decidedly closer this time.  

For a moment my sister goes just as motionless as I am. However, seconds later she turns in her chair and lunges at something towards the right hand side of her.

This time, it’s my turn to squeak: “What the HELL..?”

She grabs the offender and starts to laugh.

Seeing that I’m still a tad perplexed, she holds it up to the laptop screen’s glow. It’s her iPad.

As if on cue, it emits another growl. “It’s that stupid game!” my sister laughs.

Turns out my niece had played Talking Fred (the pig that imitates and responds to the player's voice) on the iPad and never turned it off. If you leave Fred on without playing with him, he sulks by, every once in a while, making attention-seeking growling and grunting noises.

Yes, indeed. Two adults were spooked by a game for toddlers…

In our feeble defense, despite the microphone in his hand, Fred IS one scary-looking pig, complete with an “Eat Me” tattoo across his belly, a red Mohawk, a bad-ass, spiky dog collar around his neck, a nose ring, cut-off camouflage trousers and combat boots…




I was recently invited to attend a very chichi soiree. The type of do that requires me to dress like a proper girl, shove my hooves into torturous footwear and cover my head with... well... headgear. 

A hat was essential, because the presence of one on one's head was actually specified in the dress code portion of the invitation. 

After sending out a panicked e-mail to some female friends pleading for help in finding a fancy enough hat to wear to the event, Gmail used its algorithms to offer me the following morsel in the top ad spot of my mail the following morning: "Recycling tip: You can make a lovely hat out of previously-used aluminum (sic - American spelling) foil." 

Really, Google

In theory a tin foil hat sounds terrifically sparkly, sure, but I can't help but wonder if you weren't perhaps throwing a hint about my sanity there?
As you may or may not be aware, I have a day job as a technology writer/blogger. Yes, me. A person who has been known to, on occasion, make gadgets explode. Gadgets that are not bombs and are therefore not supposed to detonate. Ever.

But luckily my employers have decided that, since my knowledge of technology is even less than scant, I am somehow the perfect candidate to explain it to people who are as dumb as I am also a little less than perfectly confident and knowledgeable about the subject. So I'm very grateful and I absolutely adore my job!

Since I write about tech, you might be under the impression that I tote around all the latest and greatest blinged out gadgetry. Not so, I'm afraid. I own nothing with an on/off button that is less than two years old. The laptop I'm writing this on right now clangs and bangs so much when I type, a typewriter would have been less noisy! (On good days, it makes me feel like a female Bob Woodward. On bad days, it simply gives me a headache!)

And my phone... Yes, it is smarter than me (doesn't take much), but it too is ancient decidedly vintage. It is a BlackBerry Curve 8900, complete with a trackball (remember those?) and I absolutely love it. Despite being a circa 2008 model (which is akin to centuries in technological years), it is new-to-me. I inherited it from my sister last year when she upgraded to a Torch.

In using this BlackBerry, I have learned quite a few things. Including what a Java-enabled handset does NOT mean! Here, I'll let this "news report" explain...

Stellenbosch – The life of a gorgeous local communicator is hanging by a thread after a tragic – yet, in retrospect, rather inevitable – encounter with a cup of coffee.

Miss BiBi (full name BlackBerry) Curve had been in critical condition on a sun-drenched windowsill of a farmhouse situated on the outskirts of town since having a horrific encounter with a steaming mug of java. The unfortunate accident happened way before the crack of noon on Wednesday morning. By Thursday, BiBi’s condition had deteriorated to such an extent that the device was urgently transported to a cellular repair shop in town.

Her guardian, local blogger Redsaid, was allegedly responsible. (Although several witnesses have already – and slightly too eagerly, if you ask us – issued sworn statements, gleefully saying that they saw her do it with their own eyes.)

Redsaid, who has recently taken guardianship of BiBi from her sister, is rumoured to be a hardcore caffeine addict.  “But don’t think you’ll catch her in local coffee bars or cafés. She’s far more insidious about it,” said an anonymous source claiming to be a close family confidante. “She’s the type that drinks at home. ALONE.”

Leaning in, the confidante... erm... confided: “She is the one who should be drying out right now, if you know what I mean.”

An investigation into Redsaid’s sordid past has revealed a disturbing trend. “This woman has a shocking track record when assuming guardianship of electronics. Various devices, from cameras, to smartphones, to not-so-smartphones... have reached awful endings while in her care. And a few of them were still so young, they were hardly out of their boxes!”  revealed yet another anonymous source.

At the windowsill, a visibly upset Redsaid was constantly seen by BiBi’s side, regularly checking the handset’s vitals and incessantly knocking back mugs containing an unidentified beverage that had a distinct, suspiciously coffee-like aroma.

She was too distraught to comment, but the thumb on her right hand - the one that she uses to controll BiBi’s trackball - was twitching forlornly.

I’ve been so busy trying to master a bewildering array of skills – not the least of which includes the art of eating with chopsticks – in preparation of this upcoming journey, that I’ve not had the time or the fingers left to reach out to this keyboard and let you, my three loyal imaginary readers, know what is going on.


Where did these past two and a half months go?! And why did I ever stupidly, naively think that it would be MORE than enough time to lose 15 kilos and finally realise my dreams of uncovering my cheekbones (long lost – since birth, actually); become fluent in Mandarin (HAHAHAHA! I can’t even say hello without putting the rising intonation on the wrong syllable and therefore changing what ought to be a safe pleasantry into a linguistic landmine of potential insult…); AND find the perfect wardrobe that would deceive everyone into believing that I DO have cheekbones. And hip bones. And collar bones.

On the upside: Thanks to inyourFacebook, I have already forged firm friendships with some of the other international delegates and cannot WAIT to finally meet them in person. AND I have gotten in touch with my host family! A process which makes me feel like an alien making contact with humans for the first time.

At first, I was informed that I had another host family in a different area. But then, just two weeks ago, before I had even said as much as a virtual hello to them, I was told that they withdrew. No reasons were given, but I suspect that they took one look at my awful photograph and the essays I had written, and were forever traumatised.

My new family is located in Taichung City, the third largest in Taiwan and, according to the Google oracle, about two hundred kilometres southwest of the capital Taipei. They consist of 21-year old Tanya and her younger sister Page, their mom and their dad. I’ve been in e-mail contact with the sisters, exchanging photos (yes, I figured to just get the harsh truth out of the way quickly) and they look and sound utterly adorable and so-so-sooo kind. They are ALREADY going out of their way to make me feel extremely welcome and I’ve already fallen for the lot of them. Their mom can’t speak English, so coupled with my lack of Mandarin, I’m bound to be a farcical picture of wild gesturing – which, really, is not too unlike my usual mode of communication. However, according to the research I’ve done, even such innocent charades could lead to plenty of unwitting insults and rudeness. Winking is considered vulgar and so is the way in which we use our finger to beckon someone towards us.

And speaking of hands and fingers, that reminds me: the training on the chopsticks… it is not going so well, I’m afraid. Then again, my crippling lack of dexterity even makes eating with the aid of pronged and bladed western utensils a right – forgive me – fork up most of the time, so it really isn't that surprising that my chopsticks-wielding chops aren't up to snuff. After all, I can't even play Chopsticks on the piano!

I could either starve, which is not too likely, since I have way too many fat reserves in my backside, front side and side sides to fall back on. If you think that this might just be the thing to make me lose all this excess weight I’ve been lugging around since birth (WhadoyouMEAN I can’t still call it baby fat at 36?!), my reserves will mean that even if I don’t manage to successfully transport a single grain of rice into my mouth for the next two weeks? I probably won’t even lose a gram…

(Blog post powered by this shiny new accessory I’ve been sporting…)

It all began about two months ago when I received an email from my gorgeous editor. "How would you like to go to Frightfully-Exotic-Destination-Far-Out-Of-The-Country?" (She actually called the place by its proper name, of course. This is just me, up to my usual amateurish writing tricks.)

My reply was probably half-incoherent as usual, but I DO recall that I said something along the lines of: "AREYOUKIDDINGME? Of COURSE I do! I want to go ANYWHERE!" (Yes, I always yell at her on email.)

Unfortunately my hysterical over-enthusiasm and willingness did not make it a done deal. Not by far. We had to actually enter a global competition first. This required us to complete a flurry of virtual application forms, answer almost 200 questions, write some essays, take pictures (UGH! WHY do people need to see what a writer looks like?!?), submitting all of it on time and crossing our fingers until they turned red then blue then black.

Being my usual 'optimistic' self, I decided not to get my hopes up at all. So I tried my best to forget about the contest (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Right, because I don't fixate. At all) and just carry on with my no-life life. Two weeks ago, Ms Gorgeous Editor and I both received emails informing us that we had made it through to the semi-finals. (I wasn't surprised about her success. I've been telling her all along to just pack her bags already.) One step closer to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I still didn't dare to think about it.

Thing is, as always when I forbid myself to do something, my lack of any self-discipline results in me hardly thinking about anything ELSE! I even went as far as joining the contest's Facebook page, Googling the amazing destination, reading travel articles about it and losing myself in the photographs. But then I'd crossly remind myself to yank my hopes back to earth in order to protect myself from sure, heart-shattering disappointment.

But yesterday morning really early, LONG before my usual wake-up time of round about the crack o' noonish, I got up and obsessively calmly checked the website to see who had been selected. The press release stated the usual "everyone was amazing, but sadly we couldn't pick you all" consolation. (Don't they KNOW that stroking your ego before brutally crushing it just makes the horrible news even WORSE?) Then they said that the chosen ones include the likes of Olympic medalists, beauty queens, Harvard grads... and that one guy even received a personal endorsement from his country's head of state, and I knew right then and there with such a crystal clear certainty that I was out. So I climbed back into bed, curled into a ball and told myself that not being picked isn't the end of the world.

I was just drifting back to sleep when a text message notification on my phone woke me up. It was Ms Gorgeous Editor and she told me that she has made it!!!!!

And... she told me... so have I.

SO HAVE I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On August 12, her and I and two other Saffas will be jetted off to Taiwan for two glorious weeks to attend the Republic of China (Taiwan) International Youth (! According to the Taiwanese, I'm still youthful!)  Centennial Homestay celebrations with 246 other people from around the globe. We will be staying with host families and all we have to do in return for being handed this amazing adventure is to tell the world (or, in my case, my three imaginary readers) about our experiences on our blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, or whatever other social media platforms we have available to us.

I honestly still can't believe it! I keep on staring at the list of names, expecting my (horrible) name to disappear from it when they realise their terrible mistake at including the likes of me. (I'm just kidding, judges! Please don't get any ideas?!?)

One thing is certain: I would NOT have this to look forward to had it not been for the help and encouragement of many people, from former and current employers, fellow bloggers and co-workers writing me the most lovely references, to family, to the few other people I had confided in about entering. My Gorgeous Editor has my eternal gratitude for telling me about it and inviting me to enter in the first place. I know she has told me to stop thanking her already, but wow... how can I ever thank her ENOUGH?

There is Elaine, the fabulous lady from the Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa who bent over backwards for me and graciously answered all my queries during the application process.

Then there is my darling friend Lemony, who patiently sat up with me until the wee hours (while she was ill, no less!) to listen to me stress and vent and moan and cry, making me cup after cup of coffee and just generally calming me down and jotting down my answers to the questionnaires faster than I could even dictate it! I guess you'll be getting that souvenir from Taiwan after all, Lemony!

And of course, none of this would be possible without Alice and the rest of the SayTaiwan Homestay organisers and judges.

Although I am definitely walking on clouds, my joy has been a tad subdued and bittersweet. As some of you know, this year has been particularly awful for my family. Three months later, we're still reeling from my brother-in-law's murder. I'd be lying if I said that I don't feel guilty for having this thrilling opportunity land in my lap at a time when my sister is hurting so deeply.

But bless her, for despite her grief, she is so genuinely, unselfishly happy for me...

My editor and I recently played a Google-your-own-name type of game. But unlike regular vanity Googling, the game requires you to type only your real first name (no surnames) into the Google search box and wait for a drop-down list to appear with Google’s suggestions of frequently searched for phrases or names that have to do with that particular name. And since I have, like, no life, I also played. My editor of course is SO famous; her surname coupled with her name appears as the very first option. I had no such great expectations.

My own name, a horrible, utterly despicable affair which I have yet to forgive my parents for (and which I have riled against before a bit over here), is not, thank goodness, bestowed on many other people. If only my parents had changed the spelling of my name slightly, it would have spared me an endless amount of embarrassment, and of a lifetime supply of letters and – more recently – e-mails, erroneously addressing me as “Mister”.

Not to mention the lengthy speeches I was forced to give when I lived in the States, while explaining to people how to correctly pronounce it and trying to convince the Yanks that no, it does NOT in fact rhyme with ‘bagel’ (despite my own rotund shape and my body’s uncanny resemblance to an actual bagel). Adding one measly letter to my name and changing another would have altered my name into the far more palatable and globally pronounceable ‘Rachel’.

But moan aside… (for the moment): So I also decided to give the Google Name Game a go, wondering what on earth I would encounter, but not really expecting anything interesting when I typed in my awful first name.

Only to be met with this:

Google Name Game.JPG


The “Ragel State Machine” led me to another site where I made the astonishing discovery that I have an actual namesake! Okay, so it’s not exactly a person (and really, I’m relieved about this – no one else should be saddled with a name this awful), but it is a computer program/software development tool!! Which is commonly used! And which was created by a rather handsome, surprisingly ungeeky-looking (bio pics don’t lie!) AND tremendously clever (he has a Ph.D in Computer Science) Canadian guy named Adrian Thurston.

At the risk of seeming downright insane, I immediately e-mailed him to find out why on EARTH he chose the name ‘Ragel’ for it. Told him that it’s my first name and asked him if it’s an acronym for anything? Not wanting to be mistakenly ‘mistered’ by such a dashing male speciman, I told him that I am indeed a girl. And then I cheekily suggested that maybe he had met ANOTHER living girl burdened with this name, and perhaps he had fallen madly in love with her and THAT’s how and why he decided to name his Magnum Opus after her?

I then asked whether he pronounces his version as if it rhymes with ‘bagel’ and then I gave him a quick primer on the horrid Afrikaans pronunciation of mine:  I'm not sure if you're familiar with Afrikaans, but it is quite a guttural language, so the "g" in my name basically sounds like a cat coughing up an enormous hairball. So if you want to say my name in Afrikaans, simply go: Rah-*andthenmakesound likeacatcoughingupanastyhairball*-el, with the 'el' sounding ‘flat’ like the "ill" in Will and not like the “ill” in kill.”

I never in a million years expected to hear back from him (or anyone else, for that matter), so imagine my total astonishment and delight when I received an e-mail back from the man HIMSELF less than 24 hours later!

Here’s what he wrote: “I've heard from people with the last name Ragel (Me: He HAS? Well, I suppose it could have been worse then. I could’ve been Ragel Ragel…), but never anyone with the first name Ragel. (Me again: Tell me about it, buddy.) When I named it the Internet was a much smaller place. All I found in my searches was some Arabic text using the word.”(And me AGAIN: Go figure. Arabic is one of the few other languages in which speakers constantly sound as if they’re coughing up hairballs.)

Then he wrote: “I picked it by putting the R and L of regular languages around my nickname Age. I haven't had any romantic encounters with anyone named Ragel! Or Colm! (Me: At first I didn’t get the Colm joke, until consulting his bio again and seeing that Colm is the name of the “new source transformation system” that he is working on.)

So then I simply HAD to e-mail him back. You know. To stal… I mean… THANK him, for so graciously taking the time to write to me. I asked his permission to please blog about it and then asked for clarification on his pronunciation of Ragel and, since I do not speak much ‘computer’, what exactly the Ragel program does?

A few hours later, my inbox lit up with this response:

“Hey Ragel (still seems weird writing that),

I started out thinking I would pronounce it like bagel (how Canadians say it at least)” (Me: Yes, those Canucks do have some rather strange pronunciations, such as saying aboot instead of about, and punctuating the end of every sentence with an ‘eh?’, whether they’re asking a question or not. But it’s utterly charming when you hear Canadians speaking alood like that eh.)

Okay, back to Adrian’s reply: “That's roughly ray-gul. But that never stuck. Now I say rah-gul. A lot of people still pronounce it ray-gul though.

“Naming and choosing a pronunciation for programs is generally a task that's full of confusion. Us programmers are not the most social bunch, so you can go a long while never having to say your program out loud!

Aboslutely, feel free to blog about this!


And then, while I was still bouncing around with joy aboot his e-mails, I received ANOTHER one from him, asking me on a virtual date.

Okay, just kidding! It was a real date, not a virtu… Okay! Joke! But he really DID e-mail me again soon after, to explain the intricate workings of my namesake in language that someone as dense as I am can actually grasp. Unlike most awesomely clever people who usually aren’t very good teachers, Adrian managed it really well, because after I had mentioned to him in my first e-mail that I’m a writer, he compared it to a tool that I use and can therefore relate to in order to explain it to me: “Ragel, in layman’s terms… is basically a software development tool for producing parsers.

“When you read and comprehend text, you need to parse it using the rules of the language. You look at the string of letters and punctuation and decide on its syntax. Once you’ve got the syntax nailed down, you can decide on the semantics. Computers need to do the same thing when they exchange text over the internet, or via files. Information is transmitted and stored in strings and must be parsed.

Then he explained how Ragel takes rules about a language as input and produces a program that parses. “One can always write programs that parse by hand, but Ragel simplifies menial tasks and provides an abstraction that people seem to like.” (Me: Modest he is, when he says ‘seem to like’. My research has revealed that PLENTY of people like Ragel the parsing program very, very much!)

Now, if only Ragel the unfortunately named human girl can be nearly as useful as her computer program namesake!


I saw this while I was dead tired, and - make no bones about it - I just about killed myself laughing. (And now I'll stop with the lame puns.) Thank you, News24, for making me giggle for a change.

Funny Headline.JPG

(I should actually create a category called Extreme Puppy Love for this one. But before you roll your eyes and hiss at me, cat lovers; please retract those claws, because for once this is not about MY adoration for dogs. In fact, I have nothing on the person I’m about to tell you about.)

A distant relative of mine is a rocket scientist. Apart from the obvious brilliance his occupation requires, he also has a kind and gentle soul and a fondness for dogs.

His love for creatures of the canine persuasion is indiscriminate. He is not bogged down by technicalities such as pedigree or size. I found this out for myself a few years ago when he gave me a lift back from the town of By George! to Stellenbosch. His two dogs accompanied us on the trip, because the three of them had been on holiday together.

I remember the one dog in particular. His name was Jakkals (which is Afrikaans for ‘fox’), but Jakkals the dog did not resemble the sly and pointy-nosed species he was named after. Not even remotely. Maybe his name was ironic, or perhaps he had looked much different when he was a puppy. Doubtful, though. Like me, I suspect that Jakkals was also the runt of the litter, because the mature Jakkals that I got to meet had a perfectly rotund body that was precariously balancing on four disproportionately skinny legs. (Kind of like me! Except for the four  skinny legs part... I don't even have ONE skinny leg!)

Upon first glance, his lineage became perfectly clear: Jakkals was a purebred pavement special. It didn’t matter though, because one look into that odd-looking little mutt’s sweet brown eyes and my heart was stolen.

Throughout the four hour drive (which actually took longer due to bad weather), I reached back frequently and petted him and the other dog. When they finally dropped me off at my sister’s that night, I said my goodbyes, thanked him for the lift and went on my way.

A few weeks ago I ran into that very same relative at the grocery store. We had not seen each other in more than a year. “How are you? And how are the doggies?”

His expression immediately changed. “Haven’t you heard? They’ve both died.”

I felt so horrible for him. Those dogs were like children to him! I reached out and squeezed his arm. “I’m SO sorry to hear that!”

“Yes, thanks,” he said. “They were both old, but still… I miss them terribly. Especially Jakkals.”

Suddenly he smiled a bit. “But you know, after Jakkals died, I had to go overseas for a satellite launch.”

Aww, I thought to myself. So the poor, grieving man immediately and bravely plunged back into his work. “Good for you!” I said.

“Yes, I had saved some of his fur and took it along. And while putting the finishing touches on the satellite before the launch, I attached it to the satellite.”

"Wait... you attached the FUR?" I wasn't sure that I had heard him correctly.

He nodded, squinted up at the Stellenbosch sky and solemnly said: “So now, twice every day, a little piece of Jakkals orbits by here, looking down on us!”

I was immediately so overcome… with the giggles. In my mind's eye, I saw the satellite, completely covered in dog fur. Luckily I managed to scrounge together enough decency and self-control to at least hold my laughter until I was in my car.

 Bow-WOW! Jakkals had gone from being an underdog in life, to being a posthumous astrodog! I always knew that the pup had it in (or shall we rather say on?) him to end up among the stars…

And I don’t think too many other dog owners will ever be able to match – let alone top – such a send-off for their dogs!


is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
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  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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