13
Jun
'19

So this time we flew with Turkish Airlines, Cape Town to Zagreb via Istanbul. Quite a nice flight, in that the first leg is long and the second quite short, unlike the Ethiopian Air flight which wakes you up halfway through to change planes.

Also, Turkish gives you 40 kilos baggage allowance, which meant I could bring a mess of brass fittings and some poly water pipe and more — because a brass elbow which costs me R12 at the Muizenberg market costs pretty damn close to 12 Euros here and at a 16:1 exchange rate (this was before Squirrel caused more kuk) that’s a big saving.

But the leg room is atrocious. No seriously, if you’re like 5’2″ I will recommend Turkish, but for us six footers it’s ridiculous. I normally travel with my rucksack under my legs and my feet kicked under the seat in front of me. Not on Turkish, oh no. Only one place for the rucksack, and that’s overhead. And even then there’s no room to move.

And look at the nice menu you get. You know what? In the end it’s chicken or beef (in this case, chicken, and maybe veg lasagne if you ask nicely — we were not given the option). And the food’s worse than Ethiopian’s, which makes it pretty much piss poor (for the record, I think Ethiopian Air’s food is not bad at all, given the challenges).





Remember this picture from last year? You should, I blog a whole lot less than I used to…

Well, it now looks like this:

The knotty pine ceiling boards are from Germany, via the Bauhaus in Varaždin, Croatia (Varaždin is actually the closest big city to us, closer than Murska Sobota).

Also in the works, new flooring (click vinyl, a bitch to work with if the surface you’re laying it on is not level (the surface I’m laying it on is not level)) and (most importantly) a shower.





2
Jun
'19





5
Apr
'19

Played my first game of Castle Wolfenstein in … 25 years? tonight. Got to the third floor. I am not as good as I used to be.

Also played a game of Lode Runner. Yup, not nearly as good as I used to be.

Then again, I played Lode Runner to the point where I went to bed with a book and was trying to find paths between the words and sentences on the page… yea, I was a bit obsessed.





Liquid cooling of ICs? With liquid nitrogen? A Wrist Computer? (OK, we don’t have ones powered by body heat… yet). A smiley as part of the ASCII character set?

Surely none of that can really happen.

Radio Electronics April 1984.





3
Feb
'19

 





H/T to Peter.





25
Dec
'18

Last year Chris Otto wrote a text adventure style version of Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne. I like it a lot, so here it is.

Welcome to SAME OLD LANG SYNE: THE I.F. EXPERIENCE
Original implementers: Dan Fogelberg, Infocom.
Release 1.0 / Serial number 122416 / Post 2100.0

It is Christmas Eve, and a light snow is falling. You have been dispatched to acquire whipping cream for Irish coffee…

Grocery store
The holiday hustle and bustle is going at full steam. Carts squeak urgently across the floor. You smell gingerbread. Departments include fresh foods, a bakery, and, in the back, frozen and refrigerated foods.

>GO TO BACK OF STORE

Back of grocery store
The eggnog and apple cider have been well-raided. Scanning the shelves for whipping cream, you notice someone in your peripheral vision. She is wearing a blue coat and standing in front of a case of frozen desserts. Your heart skips a beat.

>WALK OVER TO WOMAN

You are now standing behind her, as she continues to examine the frozen pies. Without thinking, you gently touch her coat sleeve. She spins around, a bit startled, looking exactly as she did at age 20. After a short moment of confusion, she recognizes you, her eyes opening wide. The two of you move simultaneously for a hug. But, as you do, half the items in her purse spill to the floor.

>PICK UP ITEMS

Laughing, the two of you crouch and pick the items off the floor. The scene seems absurd to both of you, and you can’t stop laughing. You get a few odd looks from other hurried customers, which only feeds your laughter. Tears form in the corner of your eye.

After composing herself, she adds an apple pie to her cart. “I should go pay for all this,” she says.

>GO TO CHECKOUT

Grocery store checkout
You head up front together. The groceries are totaled up and bagged. The two of you make small talk, and the conversation lags a bit.

>WAIT

Time passes.

Through the big glass window at the front of the store, you see that it’s still snowing. The groceries are bagged up, and she’s ready to go.

>SAY SOMETHING

“Do you have time for a drink or two?” you ask.

She smiles. That old smile. “Absolutely.”

>EXIT STORE

In front of grocery store
You carry her bag as the two of you exit the store. The street continues to the north and south.

>GO NORTH

Northern end of street
You see two bars, but they are both closed. It is Christmas Eve, after all.

>GO SOUTH

In front of grocery store
The snow picks up a little.

>GO SOUTH

Southern end of street
Another closed bar. But there is also a six-pack store, still open.

>ENTER SIX-PACK STORE, BUY SIX-PACK, EXIT SIX-PACK STORE

Done.
Done.
Done.

“We should get out of the snow,” she says. “Let’s drink it in my car.”

>GO TO HER CAR

Inside car
You set the groceries in the back. The two of you sit up front. Snowflakes plop upon the windshield.

She hands you a beer and opens one for herself.

“To our youthful innocence,” she says.

>DRINK

Your score has gone up by one point.

>PROPOSE TOAST

“And to now,” you say, tapping her bottle with your own. You both take a sip.

Your score has gone up by one point.

The two of you are silent.

>REACH BEYOND EMPTINESS

You don’t how how to do that.

>WAIT

Time passes and snow falls as the two of you drink. The conversation turns to how your lives are now. She tells you that she married an architect; he keeps her warm and safe and dry. But then she pauses, clearly leaving something out. She never did like to lie.

>LOOK INTO HER EYES

They are the bright blue eyes you remember so well.

>SAY SOMETHING

“The years have been a friend to you,” you say. “You look great.”

Her blue eyes flash. You know that flash, but aren’t sure what it means this time. Doubt? Gratitude?

>WAIT

Time passes. The moment is lost.

“Your career must be going really well,” she says. “I see your records in the store all the time.”

You lapse into your standard reply: The audiences are heaven, and life on the road is hell.

More beers are cracked open.

>PROPOSE ANOTHER TOAST

You drink again to innocence, and again to now. Bottles are tapped and tilted upward.

Your score has gone up by two points.

>REACH BEYOND EMPTINESS

You don’t how how to do that.

>WAIT

Time passes.

You are on your last bottles now. She glances at her bottle. “Last toast, I guess,” she says, looking at you. “This one to innocence … and time.”

>DRINK

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,” you sing, and then you finish off your beer. She giggles.

Your score has gone up by two points.

It grows silent.

>EXAMINE BOTTLES

There are six empty beer bottles. You are starting to feel tired.

>SAY SOMETHING

What do you want to say?

>ANYTHING

You don’t have anything left to say.

“Well, it is Christmas Eve,” she says, finally. “I should be going. But it was so good to see you.”

She leans over and gives you a kiss.

“Merry Christmas,” you both say, simultaneously. You laugh again.

>GET OUT OF CAR

In front of grocery store

The store is closed now. There are only a few cars parked here. You stand and watch the tail lights of her car as she drives away. You start to feel a little lightheaded. You close your eyes…

…School, many years ago…

It is a beautiful autumn afternoon. The two of you are on the campus quad, parting ways. Sunlight pours through the golden leaves as she walks away from you, never glancing back. This is a familiar pain.

In front of grocery store

You are standing here alone. The snow has turned to rain.

 

 

 





It was a bit like that.

On our way to Kruger 2018, somewhere around Sabie, one of the CV joints started making a noise. Hey, I know you can go a long way with a buggered CV but the noise was driving me nuts.

So the first chance we got, we headed on down through the park, aiming to get out the gate and go to Mbombela (aka Nelspruit) after 10 when there’s not much moving anyway. Which is what we did, spotting hyena and lions and the normal fauna along the way.

Got to the U Joint and CV Joint Centre somewhere after 11. “Can you quickly replace the CV joint on that there red Microbus?” asks I. “That’s a four hour job” sez they.

After taking into account that I would have to drive back to Kruger and up through Kruger to get to the Lower Sabie rest camp by 18:30 when the gates close, this was pushing it just a little too fine. So I asked where to find the Goldwagen (down Loco Street which becomes Waterfall Avenue which becomes Weir Street and there you are), bought a new CV joint and the correct 12-point triple square spanner, did some shopping at the Spar just down the road, and headed back, refilling our gas bottle along the way (at the gas place on the corner of Peter Graham and Tom Lawrence, White River — recommended).

After some more sight-seeing we were back in Lower Sable at 14:00 (which means that if the job had taken four hours we could maybe have been back in time, but that’s the kind of margins I don’t like gambling with — there would have been much more traffic in the afternoon for example).

I sat around a bit waiting for the exhaust pipe to cool down (I had changed the right-hand side CVs back before I had the back op, so I knew what needed to be done, but the left-hand side ones are somewhat more tricky because the exhaust pipe is in the way) so I guess I started 14:30 at the earliest.

Jack up the wheel, get under the car, rotate the wheel until you have a bolt at 6 o’clock, get out from under the car, jack down the wheel, get under the car, undo the bolt at 6 o’clock and at least one bolt on the inside, get out from under the car, jack up the wheel, rotate 1/6 of a turn, jack down the wheel, undo two bolts, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Inside CV joint. Looks like it ran a bit dry.

Of course getting the CV joint off the half shaft without a circlip spanner involved language reminiscent of Russian Mat.

And putting it back again required the same jack turn in out repeat as before.

And how long did it take me? Without a car lift, air tools, big spanners, lead lights and (presumably) a whole lot of expertise? Less than three hours. Two people and a circlip spanner and I could probably do it in an hour.

I suspect sometimes a job takes four hours because hours are billable.





Yes, we went to Kruger National Park again. With the red VW Microbus. More to follow.





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