Melrose and the bibble

December 19th, 2012 by dad

Dorje and I have been playing quite a bit of 30 Seconds recently.

It’s a great game. There are five words on a card, and a questioner has 30 seconds to guide the listener to as many correct words as possible without saying any of the actual words in the answer. So, “your mom’s dad” might be a clue for “grandfather”, but not “your father’s father”.

Since he’s nine, we play the Junior edition. I’ve played quite a few Junior versions of games, and most quickly become as boring for Dorje as they are for me, highly simplified versions without any of the enjoyable gameplay of the original.

Junior 30 Seconds is an exception. The senior edition contains all sort of politicians, celebrities and sports stars even the most TV-addled junior would barely have heard of, so a junior edition works well. Most of the words are generic, some very easy, for example “ears”, others a little trickier, such as “venom”.

It’s fun to see which words Dorje understands, and the creative explanations he comes up with. “Not frenzy but?” was one clue, which had me scrambling for adjectives for “calm”, missing the correct answer, “peace”.

It’s equally fun to see which words he doesn’t understand. It’s normally just the two of us playing, so we play co-operatively, and it’s rare that we get all five.

So where is his education lacking?

Geographical place names understandably almost always stump him. Botswana, Paris, Asia are all as mysterious as Phuntsholing and the Chambo River to most adults.

Similarly difficult are, “My Little Pony” and the like, being both a bit dated and him having little exposure to them, and he was equally at a loss to explain “the bibble” (the Bible)

Dorje is however crippled in one area compare to me, my childhood knowledge in the area far surpassing his. “Melrose”, “NikNaks”, “Oros” and “Milo” would all have been easy for nine-year-old Ian, but to Dorje they’re as arcane as the simple “quinoa”, “spirulina” and “amaranth” were to me.

Long may he remain blissfully ignorant of such horrors lurking in the world.

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Master Wu’s worst day ever

December 19th, 2012 by dad

It was hot. Very hot. I’d gone to Anique’s house (otherwise known as ‘the oven’, even on a cool day) to look after Dorje for the day, and Dorje and I decided to go swimming at Silvermine.

When Dorje was a baby, I remember thinking packing couldn’t get any slower. The baby sits there unhelpfully while you try remember nappies, bottles and whatnot.

I was wrong.

Searching for costumes, towels, boogie board is infinitely slower when Master Wu is practising his ninja skills on me, and trying to get “where’s your boogie board” in amidst “Heeya! Waho!” and blows to the chest is challenging. Eventually, after a phone call to mom, we learn the board is at his gran’s house. A 20-minute detour, but we can’t go swimming without it!

It’s hot. I plan to go past SA National Parks to renew my Wild Card, and vaguely remember that they’ve changed offices. I decide to pull over and do a search for the new premises on my phone.

10 minutes later I’m wondering where all the freshly painted yellow lines came from, and why I’m feeling so law abiding.

I finally find a spot to pull over, a few scraggly branches providing more of a magnifying effect than any shade.

“SA national parks wild card” comes up as a helpful alternative. Click that. I seem to have pulled over in spot that makes me yearn for the speedy days of my first old dial up connection. Half expecting screeching modem sounds, the results finally appear. Perfect looking link, I click it. Or at least try to. My cellphone’s browser seems to have got a life of it’s own, and immediately starts scrolling to the top of the page, without me doing anything. Clicking on the minute link while moving proved beyond me and I go to the wrong page. Click back. Nothing happens. Back again. Whirr, click… Gone too far back, and reloading the Red Bull default home page that helpfully came preloaded on the phone. I’m sure they think their campaign is a roaring success, getting thousands of visits to their front page every day. Perhaps they’ll realise one day that their retention rate is just about zero.

Back to the search. Whirr, click. This is ridiculous, maybe I should find another spot. It’s hot. With the car off, the cooling fan has the effect of a high wind in a bush fire.

Here it is. My dexterity proves up to the task this time and I click the correct link. Whirr, click. I’m instead directed to an utterly useless mobile version of the site that has prominent links to the forum and other I’m sure exciting pages to visit, but nothing usefull I can find. I click a few links, each page costing me a gallon of water as my shirt begins to resemble Peter Siddle’s underpants after yet another Australian bowler has broken down and he’s asked to keep going for just one more over.

A few useless and painstaking results further, I disable the mobile page and get the original page I wanted to. Searching its vast caverns while the browser is helpfully auto scrolling out the way is a test in both dexterity and patience. I fail both and decide to drive to the original offices, hoping that they’ll either still be there or that there’ll be directions to the new premises.

On the way some screeching psychopath in a 4×4 tries to ram me and then sits on his hooter as I do a U-turn. I decide to set a good example and smile calmly while picturing what I could do with Peter Siddle’s cricket bat.

We get to the original offices. They’ve moved, but there’s a sign up with the address of the new premises. Back we go. We find it relatively easily, although by this time Dorje says he has a headache, and the joys of the wide freedom of the road are wearing thin.

Dorje waits in the car while I go to renew my membership. The staff are friendly, but it soon becomes apparent their backend systems are up to the same standard as their mobile website. They can’t renew my membership, and I have to apply for a new one. Now they need not only my ID number, address, phone number 1, phone number 2 and what I had for breakfast but Anique’s too, since I want to get one that Dorje, his mom and I can use anytime.

It’s the busiest half hour of Anique’s entire week and I can’t disturb her to get her details, so we’re stuck.

“Sod this” I think (or words to that effect), I may aas well just go directly to Silvermine and forget about the card for today.

By the time I get back the car has heated up nicely, and is now ready for frying veggie sausages. Luckily meat takes a bit longer and Dorje is still alive.

We drive to Silvermine. A car in front at the entrance gate. Looks like a National Parks staff member, as they’re chatting away nicely with no money passing hands. “Hot weather we’re having hey?” “How about Torres miss then?” “How long do you think we can keep talking before the car behind gets annoyed”. Timing it to perfection, finally he moves on. In at last! I hand over my credit card, not begrudging the lack of a Wild Card, my thoughts focussed entirely on the cool oasis ahead of us.

“Sorry, we don’t take credit cards, you’ll have to pay cash”


“Sorry, we…”

I had had cash as the day began, but Anique had been robbed on the weekend, and had no way to draw money, so I’d lent her my cash, and only had my cards with me.

“I don’t have any cash, only my credit card”

“Sorry, we…”

“So how can I get in?”

“Sorry, we…”

And so on and so on.

Choices, choices. Roar through the booms? Leave the car right where it is and walk in? Thank him politely and leave to go draw money down the mountain? What to do, what to do… I decided to on a Silence of the Lambs mask, Smaug demeanour and Ozzy Osbourne vocabulary, and expostulating with the hapless attendant on the wonders of SA National Park’s systems, went roaring off down the mountain again.

Since I’m going back down to draw cash, and now the half an hour is over and I can get hold of Anique’s life history, I may as well try to get a Wild Card again. The office is not much further than any ATM I know about.

Dorje reminds me about the dangers of driving the car while the revs are in the red. Luckily the traffic prevents any engine explosion. I see some humanoid shapes on the road and roar onwards, thinking they must get out of the effing way. They turn out to be baboons, who I know are not very good at getting out of the effing way, so I slow down, and calmly drive on to the SA National Parks office.

There’s a queue out the door. The staff are run ragged. “I’ve been waiting three years for my card!” says one. “The lady at the counter said she’d fixed it for me…”

“I want to add an activity to my Wild Card” goes another. “It’s a present for someone”. At least this one’s going smoothly.

“Sure” says the friendly staff member. “You need to bring two ID photos…”

Bit premature with my judgement there.

Another one begins with a staff member explaining that the new “Cape Cluster” doesn’t actually allow anyone into any Cape Nature reserves, and if they actually want to visit Cape Point, or Boulders, or anything in the Cape at all, they need the “National Cluster”. Obviously.

None of the transactions are going smoothly, the systems seem unable to do anything that anybody actually wants to do, and the angelic staff are patiently answering phone calls between every query, mostly sympathising with someone’s failure to signup or renew online, but gently trying to dissuade them from jpining the growing queue.

I’m beginning to compare the experience unfavourably with a Telkom office (at least in the days they still had lots of customers), and even have happy memories of halycon days in a Peruvian home affairs queue.

Since by the time I get the whole thing sorted out Dorje will either be French toast in the car, or Silvermine will have closed, I decide to leave.

Driving back gloomily, too hot and tired to even get the engine into the red, Dorje tells me “it’s been the worst day ever”, and in the moment I can only agree.

After some time, he reconsiders, and decides it hasn’t been quite as bad as the day Sims 3 wouldn’t work on his uncle’s computer.

There, not so bad then.

All things come to pass, and the day ends with a cold shower punctuated by lots of shrieking. The blocked plug even seems fun, just adding more entertainment to the shower.

After the return of Master Wu, and my subsequent beating to a pulp (amazing what stored up frustration can do to a master ninja), 30 Seconds, and more Master Wu, Dorje manages to beat Chess Shredder at his highest level yet.

A very impressive game, and I’m left contemplating the prospect of soon being surpassed in both ninja and chess skills.

Yes, definitely not so bad then.

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