Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ho Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum

Avast Ye
Scurvy Swabs!

The Stevieling received a copy fo the "Pirates of the Caribbean Game of Life" and insisted that everyone play it in the early evening of last night (Christmas Day). Game of Life is simple. You drive around a board, acquiring a spouse, kids and mounting debt until the end of the game track. In the original you could then optionally bet all your worldly assets on a spin of the wheel and in at least one case I can remember someone becoming Bill Gates Rich and thereby trouncing everyone else by doing just that. That rule has been excised from the latest Politically Correct versions I hear, which ruins the whole thing in my opinion.

Pirates of the Caribbean Game of Life has no spouses, kids or whatever. You sail around the board acquiring captains, ships and mascots until you reach the end of the game track. Each of the cards representing ships, captains etc has artwork based on the movie on it. Spiffy.

The first problem was the relative lack of light in the Steviemanse. All the lights are at one end of the room, and we decided the absolute best place to host this Piratical Marine Simulation was at the other one. I promptly broke out an ancient reading lamp and an extension cord, but when I plugged it in the sound of frying bacon erupted from the plug. This wouldn't do at all. The plan was to dominate the in-laws on the high seas, not electrocute them on a lamp with a dodgy plug1. Action was called for.

I ran downstairs to the basement-o-many-useful-items-and-some-not-so-useful-piles-of-junk and found a new plug in the lucky dip that is my electrical tool box. Then it was back upstairs to deploy The Leatherman Tool in it's First Job. I removed it from it's box and it's leather pouch, casually discarding the diagram of available tools snugged up inside it. It was the work of a few seconds to cut away the old plug with the Wire Cutter (#3 on the diagram), assemble the new plug, crimp the tines with the Pliers (#2 on the diagram) and use the snout of those same pliers (#2 on the diagram) to reassemble the plug. Job Done! A Great Triumph! The only fly in the ointment was the fact I didn't need to deploy any of the other 27 blades, awls, screwdrivers, bottle openers, files, inflatable landing craft or periscopes (#1, #4 through #27 on the diagram) folded up cunningly into the handles. Never mind, their time will come.

Now I have always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean, long before they made movies of the ride. I would stand on line driving everyone crazy by talking like a pirate, deriving much satisfaction from the increasing angst in my fellow "adults" in the queue as their kids began to pick up on the lingo and "go for it". It was therefore natural that I begin to ham it up and utter "Arrrgghh!" at every juncture. The Stevieling took great exception to this and went into an immediate sulk.

Her temper was not improved by the fact that the rules state that at certain points you may forcibly trade your cheapo ship for anyone else's more expensive one provided you make up the difference in value in GOL dollars. The more expensive the ship, the better it is at raiding other players, another occasional game mechanic. The Black Pearl, worth 4000 GOLBux was traded so many times I seriously doubt it actually sailed anywhere. No-one kept it for more than half a turn. This also worked to sour the Stevieling's mood, although everyone else thought it great fun indeed.

In the end we abandoned the game and went to have dessert instead. That was much better.

I'd forgotten how much children add to the Xmas Atmos.

  1. Plugs in the US differ from those in the UK. A typical UK plug is about 2 inches across, made of hard bakelite-like plastic, weighs about half a pound, contains a (usually wrongly chosen) fuse and has sturdy brass pins maybe 1/4 inch by 3/8ths in cross section. The wires are held in place by screw terminals and the cable is secured with a cord grip to prevent mechanical stress ripping out the wires.
    A US plug by comparison is usually moulded into the cord. Replacement plugs are, by British sensibilities, disturbingly unbusinesslike. They are a half-inch or so wide by about 3/4 inch long, have pins made from folded brass strip that can be bent with only the pinkie finger and have no fuses or screws involved in them at all. The wire is secured by pushing it into th plug body and closing the hinged pins together to drive spikes through the insulation into the metal core of the cable, then the assembly is pressed into the outer body of the plug. There are heftier plugs available in the US, but they are usually seen on high current (20 amps and above) circuit applications. There are a bewildering array of asymetric pin arrangements to differentiate a 20 amp plug from (say) a 40 amp one too.
    Americans look at UK plugs with amazement that such bulky things would actually work. It is all in what you are used to.

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