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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Taken: Star Wars

So one day I walk into the church office and Pastor Josh shows off his new purchase - the just released Star Wars: The Force Awakens DVD.  When I return home I tell my kids about Josh's new prize possession.  To which Meredith responds "We should kidnap it!"  That's my girl.

Of course, the first thing to do is make a ransom demand.  But I had to train them on how to properly make a ransom note to avoid detection.  Frank & Joe Hardy taught me everything I ever needed to know.

They spent Saturday evening making the note, but when they arrived at church early on Sunday morning to find the DVD in Pastor Josh's office it's nowhere to be found.  He had taken it home the day before for safekeeping so that it would be available to watch on Monday, his day off.

But my hooligans were not to be so easily deterred.  And of course, they found a willing accomplice within the Bolaji family.  Exchanging the note with "E" Bolaji (names changed to protect the not-so-innocent), they captured Josh's The Force Awakens DVD in mint condition.

Disney's decision to release the DVD before International Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) is suspect, but it lent itself to a perfect deadline.  Alas, only to find out that Pastor Josh wanted to play hardball.  Channeling his inner Harrison Ford, he chose not to negotiate with my little terrorists.

The only acknowledgement was this much-commented on Facebook post...

The silent treatment is ineffective with children, however.  His decision to ignore their ransom demands only led to an escalation.  The O'Tool children needed to send a message that they are not to be trifled with.  So, in the spirit of a famous mafia family, it was painfully apparent that Pastor Josh needed to learn a lesson.  And how else to intimidate an insubordinate subordinate than to leave the head of some creature dear to said subordinate in said subordinate's bed?

Not wanting to decapitate an Ewok, and knowing that Wookie heads are notoriously difficult to obtain, the only alternative was the noggin of some droid.  And when Amber noticed that one of our old speaker covers was exactly the size and shape of BB8's head, the way forward was clear.  An hour of work yielded a spot-on rendition of the cranium of Artoo's heir apparent.

From there it was nothing to get hands on the Bolaji house keys and place the menacing ultimatum upon Josh's billet.

The message came through loud and clear, as the ransom was paid promptly the following afternoon.

The lesson, as always, is the lure of the dark side is strong...especially when Cadbury is involved!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Palm Trees

Growing up in west-central Iowa, palm trees were something you saw on TV.  They represented exotic beaches, desert islands and pirate adventures.  But now, living in the high plains of central South Africa, I've come to realise that palm trees don't necessarily represent such exciting things.  If you've ever been to Welkom you understand.

We bought a house 2 years ago and in our yard are two huge palm trees.  Guess what?  They're a pain!  They can house all kinds of vermin.  These don't bear coconuts, just these little coffee-bean looking things that litter the yard and sprout mini-palm trees everywhere.  They drop their fronds at the most inopportune times, so that you better have your head on a swivel if you're anywhere nearby.

But they still look pretty cool.

A couple months ago a work crew came to Welkom leaving little flyers at everyone's house that they are buying mature palm trees.  These trees are in great demand at new housing developments, golf courses, and especially in China.  Apparently, a large palm tree is a status symbol in China.  So many of these trees are packaged up and shipped east so that a wealthy Chinese family can have a home for vermin and get conked in the head when they walk too close.  Very posh, indeed.

Well, we were so excited about the possibility of getting paid for someone to take out our nuisance trees that we had one of the reps come by for an inspection.  They pay R3,000 per tree, or about $250.  We were looking forward to a nice $500 bonus (considering we probably would be willing to pay that much for someone to take these infernal things!).  But alas, 6.2 meters is the limit they can take, and our trees are 7.2 meters tall.

However, our church had 3 palm trees that fell within the specified range, so we were able to make a cool R9,000 and rid ourselves of some high maintenance garden foliage.  And that is a huge blessing too, because that increases our church bank account by about 30% (yes, our entire church bank account is less than $3,000)  I found the process interesting and thought maybe some other Mid-American hicks might too.  Enjoy!

First, they trim them up all nice and pretty
Then they dig a trench all the way around
Note the root system.  Nothing bigger than a pencil.
That piece you see still attached is just dirt for support
in case of strong wind.

A truck with a crane lifts it out.  They tie up the fronds and
drop it on a flatbed for transport.