Thursday, 30 December 2010

Smell My Finger, and other Christmas games

Christmas has been a mixed bag as far as preparation for the ride is concerned. On the one hand I received my own portable library in the form of a Kindle but on the other hand my foot nearly fell off.

The Kindle is mightily impressive but it's not without its problems. The screen with its magnetic ink is absolutely gorgeous and the clarity is amazing. But it has to be. The text within Open University PDF course books has a font size of about five points. Honestly. I was trying to work out what a word said the other day and it turned out to be a dead ant. If this blog suddenly dries up halfway around Europe, it's because I've gone blind. And although most pages turn in a second or so, page 32 of S283's An Introduction to Astrobiology took over four minutes! Now, page 32 is a lovely page but it's not worth waiting that long. Admittedly, without it I'd have no idea what a bilayer vesicle is but, now that I come to think of it, I'm still not entirely sure. But, on the plus side, the battery lasts for ages and if it can even temporarily replace my laptop for reading OU stuff then that means less time recharging batteries in one-star hotels and more time wild camping. So the Kindle may work wonders for my pocket, although perhaps not for my body odour.

The foot incident came about as a result of my family's ridiculous competitiveness. Christmas Day isn't a time for telly in our house. No, it's a time for games, and lots of 'em. Both my brother Dave and I had organized our own family Christmas quizzes. His was a straightforward question and answer game whereas mine included rounds such as Smell My Finger and another based on a former Lloyd Grossman show, which I called Through The Bumhole. The rules of Smell My Finger were easy; each contestant had to tell me what my hand smelled of. Despite familial concerns that loading my fingers for this round was going to involve sexually abusing my brother's dog Britney, in the end I plumped for the less deviant odour of salami. My dad went first, took a deep sniff of my forefinger and decided that it was aftershave, which is a bit worrying but at least explains why Britney loves him so much. Through The Bumhole involved identifying celebrities by photos of their arses. Unsurprisingly, everyone correctly guessed J-Lo's, but Ann Widdecombe's was more of a challenge. Next year I'll have to make it harder and make sure that they're clothed instead.

Anyway, after our two quizzes, and following in the footsteps of his dad, my twelve year old nephew Conor decided to do a gameshow of his own. This involved everyone thrusting his or her hand into the Bag of Doom and pulling out a number. Whoever selected the unlucky number three was then forced to undergo some stupid challenge. I lucked out and was the first to receive trial by snowball, right down the inside-back of my new Christmas jumper. This was pretty tame stuff compared to later items on Conor's deathlist. Dave was next, and his involved lying in the front garden for thirty seconds stripped to the waist in the snow. He took his position and started counting. Surfing a wave of Jack Daniels, I decided that what Dave needed more than anything in the world right then was to have extra snow kicked on top of him too. (Around here they call that "teabagging" but I'm pretty sure this means something else entirely where you are.) In my haste to cover him, I stood awkwardly on a rock, heard a tearing sound in my foot and then danced around the garden like a Native American. The game was abandoned after that. It was just as well because the third challenge involved a bear trap and a can of petrol.

So, for the rest of Christmas, I'll mostly be confined to the sofa with a swollen foot, but at least I have my Kindle to entertain me. Well, I will if it ever finishes loading page bloody 33.


  1. Steven

    I have also loaded my OU books to my Kindle. I found that changing the page view to horizontal rather than vertical helps with reading.

  2. Yep, the 5pt text was when viewed horizontally. I suppose it depends upon the layout of the OU book in question. Maybe I'll just buy a magnifying glass, or perhaps I could do an OU technology course and design a bionic eye.

  3. Or perhaps my books (a business course) have less words, so they are in a bigger font to make us feel we are getting value for money ;o)

    Having said that, the OU textbooks are the only books I prefer the hard copies of now (and this from someone who has owned a Kindle for a mere two weeks). I enjoy the physical act of scribbling in the margins and using different colour highlighters on different concepts in an effort (generally unsuccessful) to make it all make sense and sink into the quagmire that is my brain.