Saturday, December 21, 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is Ant Poison

My last post to share an effective ant poison I found became one of the most shared posts this blog has had. Since there is such surprisigingly strong interest, I thought it only right to update that I had found an even better one.

For those reading this for the first time, this is the source of my irritation: these tiny ants that crawl all over the home and are even attracted to water - and are not interested in traditional ant bait. You can read more about them in the previous post.

So I was happy to find Maxforce Ant Killer Bait Gel, which worked perfectly. After I blogged, I got several requests to borrow the ant poison. However, the problem with Maxforce is that it comes in a tube and requires a special gun to apply - the entire setup costs about $50 from Amazon (excluding international shipping).

I still thought it would make a good Christmas present for my loved ones, and that's when I discovered Terro Liquid Ant Baits. There are two kinds - one comes in a squeeze tube and the other is packaged much like traditional ant bait, a pack of six that you can break apart and place wherever you want.

So why Terro? There are a few good reasons!
  • It's cheap - $3.49 for the tube or $5.67 for the pack of 6 baits
  • It has free international shipping from Amazon with orders of more than $125
  • It is the #1 ranked pest control lure on Amazon
The only downside I've found compared to Maxforce is that Terro is a liquid, while Maxforce is a gel. This means it is possible to spill the Terro if you are not careful and make a mess. You also can't just squeeze it into a wall or corner like what we did with Maxforce.

So if this got you interested and you want to try it out, check out some other free shipping ideas to make up your $125 shipment. And if you know anyone with ant problems, you can share this with them too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where Do Army Songs Come From?

Our Army songs (also known as cadences) have been passed down for generations. But where do they actually come from? It is my pleasure to unveil some of their origins, and you may cringe at the truth. But perhaps this will spur some local creativity? I'm not going to name the songs in the short video clips below, but I'm sure anyone who has gone through NS will be able to pick them out in an instant.

Photo credit: cyberpioneer

My Rifle, My Pony and Me
This song has already gotten quite a bit of attention lately, but I think it was still a surprise to many where the song actually came from. It was recorded in 1959 by Dean Martin as a country song and movie soundtrack, as shown below.

But as I said, the origins of some of these songs will make you cringe, and maybe you won't feel quite so macho anymore after the next few ... most of which I discovered while listening to 150 Fun Songs for Kids. In a recent exchange over questionable song lyrics, one online commenter joked that perhaps the ladies would rather soldiers sing nursery rhymes, and I informed him, "we already do".

Camptown Races
Undoubtedly one of the most popular Army songs of all time! It was popularised by American minstrels in the 1850s and now lives on as a kid's song.

Gee Ma, I Wanna Go Home
This tune has been taken almost wholesale, although of course the lyrics have undergone major surgery. The original was sung by Canadian soldiers in WWII and today, is sung by this cat below.

Que Sera Sera
This oldie has been translated seamlessly into the military career planning context. It was written in 1956 by Jan Livingston and Ray Evans. Most recently, I saw it accompanying the wedding slideshow of a fellow officer!

The Ants Go Marching In
This one is for all the warriors out there...

This reminds me of a passage in a senior military officer's memoirs (I think it was Colin Powell), who expressed his amusement when he was the Guest of Honour in a foreign country's parade and the Guard of Honour turned out to "How much is that doggie in the window". Sometimes the tunes sound great until you learn the original context of the song!

When Johnny Comes Marching In
To be fair, the above is probably a case where the children's song evolved from the the military tune, which originated from the Unionists in the American Civil War in the mid 1800s. Here is are two more original military renditions - the first is a very grand instrumental (which I included because I really liked it) and the second includes the lyrics.

We Shall Not Be Moved
No prizes for guessing what this song became. It's not clear who the original artiste is, but it started as an African American gospel song. It was used as an anthem by slaves, and in the American civil war, and now is sometimes sung in place of Berhenti during Hentak Kaki.

Why Do We Need Cadences?
Marching cadences serve a very important function, apart from getting people to walk in step - they build camaraderie, keep spirits up and morale high. Try walking 24km in silence and you know the psychological difference a good song can make - whether it be a traditional cadence or the latest pop song.

Personally, from my own experiences training overseas, the best cadences are a brilliant mix of storyline and either humour or more sentimental emotions, against a catchy tune. Here are some other good examples from from the wide selection available on YouTube. And none of them need profanity or obscenity to motivate their men.

This list is still far from complete, and I'd love to discover the origins of some of my favourite songs like "Far, far away in the South China Sea..." and "Training to be soldiers..." These may be the truly original ones, or perhaps the lyrics have just changed beyond recognition, making them difficult to Google.

So where do we go from here? We've been singing the same cadences for a long time, and I think it would be really refreshing if we started to come up with our own. Our soldiers have already demonstrated no lack of ingenuity in borrowing old tunes and twisting lyrics, I wonder if we can take it to a new level?

If anyone has the history behind any other songs to contribute, do leave a comment below!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Best of Amazon's Free International Shipping (Parent's Edition)

Christmas came early this year when Amazon started shipping selected items internationally, for free! This opened up the opportunity to buy many great value-for-money items, that in the past would not have been worthwhile to ship using freight forwarders like Borderlinx. And it was no difficulty at all to make up the minimum $125 order for international shipping.

So my kids are getting many great presents from Amazon for Christmas this year, and here are just a few samples to whet your appetite. These include items that are selling for dirt cheap in the US, and would usually have been too bulky for cost-effective shipping. (At one time this even included strollers, but unfortunately they have since been removed from the list.) This post might be of particular interest to parents with kids under 5, like mine.

First there are the books - basically pretty much any book that is fulfilled by Amazon seems to ship for free internationally. And to find other great deals on free shipping items, I use this wonderful site 125andup which first got me started on the free Amazon shipping in the first place ... And if anyone else has suggestions and examples of what you have bought, do leave a comment and I will add to the list!

Anyway, here are some parent-specific examples, in no particular order ...

Educational Insights Geosafari Jr Bugwatch

My son loves the great outdoors and I've been hunting high and low for a science kit to encourage his interest in nature and insects. Toys R Us didn't have anything suitable - but Amazon does!

Rhode Island Novelty Assorted Jumbo Dinosaurs - Up to 6" Long Toy Figures

Huge toy dinosaurs and free international shipping go so well together.

Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer with 1-second readout, IRT3020US

A good ear thermometer is a parent's best friend. This one sells for almost $100 in Singapore, about half the price is the US.

Schwinn Infant Helmet, Unicorn

It has been impossible to find my toddler a helmet that fits - but again Amazon has come to the rescue, and it's a pink Schwinn! It fits her perfectly and it's so light that when I showed it to her at breakfast, she refused to take it off ... all the way through the meal, getting dressed and until she was finally out on her skate scooter.

If this list has whetted your appetite and if you're looking for more items, check out