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.



H/T to Peter.


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.





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 Moyo 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.















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.


Most if not all second-hand car dealers in Slovenia work through www.avto.net (The letter V after a vowel becomes a W, similar to the English U. So awe-too.net). However, from South Africa, www.avto.net gives you a nice ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT.

Others are less subtle. www.offerup.com gives

The owner of this website (offerup.com) has banned the country
or region your IP address is in (ZA) from accessing this website.

So what is a geek to do? Assuming Windows (7, in my case), go to http://www.freeproxylists.net/eu.html , pick an IP / port combination that suits,  Start / Control Panel / Network and Sharing Center / Internet Options at the bottom left, Connections tab at the top, LAN settings button at the lower right, tick Proxy server and put the address and port in the relevant blocks. / 36012 gives me access to www.avto.net but I had to go find a proxy in USA to make www.offerup.com work. And the first three or four I tried didn’t work (I ended up using / 3128). These guys are paranoid lemme tellya.

(And for the record, paypal.me uses similar fuckery, don’t ask me why. All it does is redirect you to paypal.com anyway).



So my brother and I (well, mostly him, with my support) bought this little place in Slovenia.  Tiny house, 4 500 square meters of wine grapes, nice view, nice people, low cost (not kidding) of living…

Except it needs a bit of work. For rather large values of “a bit”. And since we needed to be there to sort out banking nonsense anyway, and with Ethiopian offering R7500 return flights to Vienna, off we went.

First thing to know is, you don’t hire a car in Austria. Actually, you don’t do anything involving money in Austria. The place is expensive. So we caught a bus from the airport to Maribor.

Austria is very scenic.

We enjoyed looking at the scenery…

Got to Maribor, hired a car, did some shopping (this is a recurring theme), drove to Globoka.

Now the main problem is that the little house is tiny. It was built as a “summer getaway” in the eighties, when a whole lot of this kind of thing apparently happened. But now, the people who built them are passing on and their children have no interest, so they go on the market for not a whole lot of money.

But we got basically a bachelors with a toilet, no bath or shower. I make it about 28 square meters, all in.

Fortunately there’s a lot of space in the roof, so armed with our newly-bought ladder (from Hofer) I climbed up there and started throwing out junk.

Lots of junk.

The attic space is quite roomy, but the cross beams were too low for us 6’4″ types. In the picture you will see I’ve moved the second beam from the wall up to give about 6’5″ clearance. I did this to all the cross beams except the first and last one, which are not in the way.

In the mean time, of course, we did quite a bit of shopping, eating and drinking (routine was, work until 11 or so when the roofspace got too hot, go shopping in the afternoon).

The next task was to install the loft ladder (bought from Jager, and featuring prominently at supper).

Serendipitously, the “rustic” (not my word) floor planking had been installed in such a way to make it easy to install the ladder where we wanted it, even though we had decided on the spot before inspecting the roof. This…. rarely happens. We saw it as a good omen.

The jigsaw and battery drill came from home. Everything else (electric drill, electric saw, hammer, crowbar…) we bought there.

And after more shopping to get the štirideset little screws I needed, I could screw the planks I removed back on to the cover for a neat-ish finish. Later we went shopping and got some cover strips to cover the gap.

In the mean time Pieter had cleaned the kitchen, so we proceeded to drink and cook and in general un-tidy things again.

Then we went shopping again (I didn’t keep notes, but I am pretty sure of this).

A roll of plastic and a cheap staplegun, to keep most of the dust out (we hope).

What did we do on the 24th? Well, we went shopping… but we also braaied. Sausages and chicken, since the closest thing to steak we could find looked too much like silverside so we passed on that.

And braaibroodjies, of course!

It was a beautiful day.

We have also figured out how to add a shower (it involves moving the toilet and basin), now we have to do just that. And we also need to put in a septic tank (the place currently has a holding tank which needs to be pumped every now and then, which would have been OK if it didn’t smell like the devil’s armpit) and Lohra wants a sliding door and maybe we need a larger window upstairs and and and… guess it won’t be long before we’re in Slovenia again.




« Previous Articles    Next Articles »