December 2018

Merry Christmas

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

She smiles. That old smile. “Absolutely.”


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.


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


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


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



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


Your score has gone up by one point.


“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.


You don’t how how to do that.


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.


They are the bright blue eyes you remember so well.


“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?


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.


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

Your score has gone up by two points.


You don’t how how to do that.


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.”


“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.


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


What do you want to say?


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.


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.




Kruger 2018

2019-08-01, backdated. Yes, I just realised I’d never blogged our 2018 Kruger trip, except for a bit about fixing CV joints.

Anywayz, this time we took the red Kombi. This worked out well except for the lack of speed and the abundant presence of fuel consumption. Compared to the Golf’s say 6 liters / 100km, the 11 liters / 100km of the Kombi hurt the wallet.

As we often do, we went via Dullstroom to sample the beer at Anvil Ale. Excellent as always.

Waiting for the Phabeni gate to open. Sumdood set up a coffee stall there — the coffee isn’t great but I will always buy a cup to reward the entrepreneurial spirit.

We saw a hyena, and then two cheetah.

Nice, because there are fewer cheetah than leopard in the park, and everyone (including us) are on about the leopard.

Note that this was before half past six the morning — this is when things happen, this is when you need to be out there.

Stopped at Skukuza (you always stop at Skukuza), saw a few lions but too far for nice photographs, proceeded on towards Lower Sabie.

Spent some time at Sunset Dam with an elephant, three lions and the normal bunch of hippos, crocodiles and impala.

Next day we saw more lions, two rhino, all the usual stuff.

This mother and youngster were watching the buffalo, but they knew they had no chance.

Early the next morning (before 05:00) we found ourselves some more lions. This is where the Kombi works, you can see over other cars.

We did well with rhino.

The next day we headed up to Balule (the camp site for Olifants).

Definite sign of… something.

In this case, a lion.

And another lion.

Playing it cool.

Something to eat, maybe?

Om nom


Somewhere after Tshokwane there were cars.

Yea, it’s a leopard, but it hardly counts.

There was also a hyena and a jackal, obviously looking for left-overs.

Checked in, parked the teardrop at Balule, and went looking for the leopard that we’d heard was on the S147. The S wait, what? Yea, it’s a new road, not on our map. It runs from the main Olifants-Satara road to the S89 along the Ngotso river. It’s also a one-way, south to north.

And that’s where we found them. Moya and her cub.

We could stay out quite late too, with Balule just up the road.

The next morning we were first out the gate, and since I knew. for. a. fact. that we were the only people on the road (Satara being miles away) I took the one-way the wrong way, was on-site by five.

And then we spent the  next two hours watching them play and it was glorious.

Drove up to Letaba for lunch.

Back in camp there was this elephant cow with a new-new-born calf, giving herself a dust bath just on the other side of the wire.

The next morning Moya and cub were still there, but further away from the road. They abandoned what was left of the kill after we’d been there about half an hour and that was the end of that.

We went back to Balule, hooked the teardrop and headed off to Mopani (the camp site for Orpen).

Saw three cheetah having supper.

And these two little guys playing.

The next morning we headed out early (there’s a methodology here) and …

… this fellow crossed our path.

And a bit later, this fellow.

And then, these fellows…

It was way dry up Mopani side so we changed our booking, went back to Lower Sabie one day earlier.

There was a a whole pride of lions going downriver parallel to the S30. We followed them for a while, until the road bent away from the river.

They eventually made it down to Lower Sabie and we could sit on the deck and watch them.

The crocodiles were having a field day with a really smelly dead buffalo in the water just under the Lower Sabke restaurant deck.

It looks like Satara’s Scops Owls have moved on, but these fellows are still here.

Next morning, a nice big rhino bull.

Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl.

And closer to Lower Sabie, still the same lions, being watched closely by the local meat providers.

For the last night, we changed our booking from Lower Sabie to Pretoriuskop, and got an air conditioned bungalo for… well, actually I didn’t have to pay anything in. Something about a credit on the system. Idunno.

Saw these guys on our way out. They’re cute when they’re small.