A ball of magma and a laptop

January 24th, 2016 by dad

Since Dorje stopped playing Pokemon, all he’s wanted has been a new computer. His old laptop was a bit of a wreck. The screen couldn’t support itself, and the power supply loose, with a habit of losing the connection. Since the battery was also entirely flat and unchargeable, that meant the whole laptop shut down.


So, for the last birthday and Xmas, with the help of family and friends, he’s been saving up for a new laptop. After a delay in delivery, it finally arrived on Friday.

I sat down on the couch, and started tapping on the cardboard box containing the delivery. Dorje didn’t notice, and entered into the ongoing world where I was Flare, a novice mage who had now graduated mage school, but was being attacked by an old classmate, Venom, who’d for some reason had never liked Flare.

As the battle raged, I placed the laptop on my lap, and started tapping louder. Flare now needed help from IceRath, as he was struggling to cope with Venom’s acid attacks.

I picked up the box and started lifting it above my head, and lowering it again repeatedly. Dorje still didn’t notice.

Venom had now managed to clone himself multiple times, and while Flare and IceRath had defeated multiple Venom’s, the real Venom was still untouched.

My arms were getting tired. Flare cast a solid ball of magma at Venom, and as he did so I handed Dorje the laptop. I was a little worried he’d toss it aside as Venom deflected the assault, but Dorje finally noticed the Loot sign on the box, and realised what it was. Venom was quickly defeated, and we opened the laptop.

We planned to install Ubuntu on it, but first decided to take a look at the Windows install. It’s been well over a decade since I used Windows, and I was curious to see how far it’s come.

The installation didn’t last long, as after having to painstakingly scroll down through a list of timezones (UTC +1 Windhoek, UTC +2 Helsinki, etc etc) to try and find our local timezone, and then finally being asked to create a Windows account in order to proceed, we gave up in disgust. I was trying not to be too biased against Windows, but don’t think I succeeded too well.

On to the Ubuntu installation. Besides needing to disable the “secure boot” setting in the BIOS, the installation was a breeze. The time zone was beautifully displayed on a graphical map, and correctly picked up as South Africa. Keyboard and language defaults were all correctly picked up. Everything just worked smoothly, and, after seeing the setup processes side-by-side, there were no worries about Dorje opting for Windows.

Dorje was soon installing Minecraft, and marvelling at the smooth experience. If he’s ever going to be a pro gamer, which these days is top of the career picks, he’ll probably be grateful for learning to play on a laggy laptop, and was already doing better in his epic PvP battles on the Minecraft servers.

This particular laptop came in a choice of colours – black, white, red and gold. Dorje chose white, and so far has been strict about washing his hands to avoid getting fingerprints all over it, and avoiding all food or drink anywhere near it.

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Last day of the holidays

January 19th, 2016 by dad

Yesterday was Dorje’s last day of the holidays, before starting Grade 7 today. Did we spend it up a mountain, swimming in a rockpool? Watching Star Wars? Dorje’s caught up with all six Star Wars movies (and I highly recommend the edits by Jeremy M West – they vastly improve the prequels, so much so that Episode 1 is now one of the my favourites), but the new release, which I’ve already seen twice, is reserved for his mom. Hopefully he can drag her away from work before it’s off.

So a rockpool then? No, getting Dorje outdoors is as much fun as pulling teeth, or watching the original Star Wars episode 1. So, we played some Settlers of Catan instead.

We’ve played quite a bit this holidays, and I was starting to feel a little bad about winning every game so far, although not bad enough to think about giving Dorje an easy time. This time it was just the two of us, in a 2 vs 2 variant, where each player takes two colours, and both need to reach 10 points for the player to win.

It was an intense battle, but I was on top again. Dorje was losing interest and making noises about giving up. My orange player had already won, and now I just needed red to follow and the game was mine. I gave him the story about never giving up, but actually wanted the glorious feeling of a slow, crushing victory.

Suddenly, the dice took his side, and there were two consecutive 10’s, the one number that give neither of my teams any resources. Dorje could see my dust ahead and started to get interested again. Then we realised that my orange player was a little hemmed in, and future growth would be slow and expensive. My red team was on its own. In a flurry of activity, Dorje’s white team reached 10 points. It was a race between our two laggards, Dorje’s blue and my red. Dorje scooped the longest road for blue, and was on 9 points, one away from victory! We were both sweating, and not just because it was another insanely hot day. But he couldn’t pull it off. My turn! In deep trouble now, Dorje almost certain to win his next turn. But I get a road building card and sweep in, taking the Longest Road, and his two points. Now my red is on 9, and Dorje’s blue is back to 7! I need one more to win. Dorje is stunned that I’ve pulled it off again. But I’m one resource short! It cannot be. I should be safe though, Dorje won’t be able to get three points this turn, and I’ll definitely get the one I need next time.

But no! The longest road changes hands again, and Dorje is on the brink. But he too can’t finish it off, and it’s back to me. I have to pull out all the stops to get the longest road back, but again I’ve exhausted all my resources, and can’t get that final point.

It’s Dorje’s turn again. On 7 victory points to my 9, it looks grim for him. He has to take the longest road back again to have a chance, but little does he know that even if he does, I’ve got enough to reclaim it and get the extra point. Victory is mine!

Dorje reclaims the longest road, but surely he can’t build a settlement as well. He can’t. I prepare to be gracious in victory again. But no! He builds a city instead! A city! Dorje almost sends the table flying as he leaps up in celebration, which I slump down in my chair, defeated.

Who says Catan can’t get the adrenaline pumping and the calories burning? No need for climbing a mountain after all…

First day at school, and Dorje is back with me in the afternoon. I’m on a conference call, and finish up to find him fast asleep on the couch at 7pm. After weeks of late night Minecrafting and Youtubing, it’s clearly going to take his circadian rhythms a while to get used to the early mornings…

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