Fish news

News from the housesitter:

Fish are doing fine.

Which they should be, because Cape Town’s climate is much better than Siberia’s when it comes to owning pet fish.

No news on the beagle this morning yet, though.

Oh well.

Regal Beagle

A million or more people have asked if I knew that Meghan Markle owns a beagle, and that said beagle was on the guest list for the Royal Wedding over the weekend.

Yes, yes I did. Thank you.

In addition, plenty of those people told me that the beagle in question (it’s called Guy, by the way) shared a lift to said wedding in a chauffeur-driven, bulletproof Range Rover with the Queen.

Which – as one informed subscriber noted – is not what actually happened.
What actually happened is that the Queen shared a lift to the wedding in a chauffeur-driven, bulletproof Range Rover with the beagle.

There is no way that Colin must ever see this image.

I draw the line way, way above curtseying each time I serve a bowlful of kibble.

Homework

High School is no party, hey?

Today, I’ve been helping the boy with his homework.

I have learned about Teutonic family relationships with specific reference to the inter-generational understanding of the Holocaust, I have assisted with the conjugation of several (or more) French verbs, and aided him with describing the differences between natural and synthetic structures, including the specific roles of frames, solids and shells.
We did some stuff on levers as well. Types 1, 2 and 3.

And it’s not even lunchtime yet.

Oh – and then we both worked out how to apply an unsharp mask in Adobe Photoshop to make a photo of the beagle look like this*:

Because yes. If you’re doing a High School photography extra-mural, you get homework for that, too.

 

* A bit overdone for my liking, if I’m honest, but that was the brief. 

Biosecurity Beagle retires

Incoming from Sword Devlin, Purveyor of Crossword Puzzles to Royalty, the Rich, the Famous and even to Commoners Like You: news of the retirement of Andy, Adelaide Airport’s Biosecurity Beagle, and indeed the last Biosecurity Beagle on the Australian mainland.

Andy the beagle, who single-nosedly detected about 2.3 tonnes of biosecurity risk material over a career which took him across Australia, will return to Sydney to live with his original handler.

It’s no secret that beagles are good at sniffing things out. It’s obviously quite difficult to quantify just how much more powerful their sense of smell is than ours, but I’ve seen a lot of estimates of around 10,000 times. Given this astonishing statistic, I’m astounded that they’re not instantly killed by their own Beaglegas, but maybe there’s some sort of innate immunity thing going on there.

But I digress. Often.

The fact is that Andy has been sniffing things out across Australia for over six years and is now ready (between naps) to sniff the pavements and parks of Sydney. And who knows what he will find there, given his record over the last few years:

2.3 tonnes of biosecurity risk material confiscated.
718kg of undeclared fruit and fresh vegetables.
432kg of meat including dried organs.
8.9kg of viable seeds and live plants.

In the last few months he’s been involved in the South Australia Fruit Fly project, preventing fruit flies from annoying South Australians. And we all know what irritating little bastards they can be (the fruit flies, not the South Australians) (although…).

Useful but little known beagle feature – pull that
little tag on its head and the whole thing deflates for easy storage. 

Andy will be replaced – as many of Australia’s Biosecurity Beagles have been – with a Labrador, because as his handler tells us:

“There is a saying with sniffer dogs that labradors will work to please but beagles will just please themselves.”

Well, yeah. I mean, it’s a beagle. But you weren’t moaning when he found that half ton of illicit beef, now were you?

Because while they may be lazy, difficult to train, easily distracted, difficult to handle, distressingly flappy eared, obstinate, surprisingly unintelligent, constantly hungry, selectively deaf to many commands and requests, and just generally massively frustrating to own or work with on virtually every single level, beagles do have a really good sense of smell.
Far better than your average labrador.

Thus, I predict a massive upsurge in dried organ trafficking and fruit fly numbers coming to South Australia real soon now.

It’s worth noting that Cape Town International Airport does still employ a Biosecurity Beagle – you can see him patrolling the baggage carousels in the International Arrivals hall – and he’s probably the reason why nothing illegal ever happens in South Africa. Just saying.

Thanks for all your hard work protecting the South Australians from viable seeds and fresh vegetables, Andy.
Enjoy your well-earned retirement.

Beagle Encounters

I’ve written a letter of complaint to the kids’ school.

It concerns my daughter’s class outing to Stellenbosch today.

They’re going to a place called Beagle Encounters.

It’s at Spier.

Now to be fair, I haven’t done a massive amount of research into this place, but to be fair, I really don’t need to: the name is pretty much self-explanatory, and the fact that it’s at Spier means it will be overrated, expensive and achingly zeitgeist.

Much like my feelings regarding forcing specific religion and/or political views upon my children, I don’t believe that there is any value in the promotion of certain, troublesome breeds of canine either.

We get quite enough of that nonsense at home, thank you very much.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the value of knowing about these things. It’s the pushing of the kids in any one specific direction that bothers me.

Also, having reviewed the proposed Learning Outcomes for Term 2 this year, I can see no link between this visit and any of their classwork. Let’s face it, visiting several slobbering, disobedient, tri-colour dogs is not going to help with Maths or English, PE or Languages, is it?

And even in Science, they’re supposed to be learning about birds. Not dogs.

I’m all for school trips and all, but surely it’s not that hard to simply link them in with something that the kids are currently doing? This seems, at best, a bit of a jolly. And one with an unnecessarily excessive number of flappy ears involved as well.

No, I think I’m well within my rights to let the school know my feelings on this matter.