Games, Mixers, and Mountain Biking

This week marked the end of my geriatric medicine placement in the Ulster hospital, and after a grim group work session, I couldn’t be happier to see the back of it. I am a pretty tolerant person by most accounts but I have my limits, and there are some people that I cannot deal with – the dangerously incompetent. I know I am not the best at many things, including medicine, though I try my best and aspire to improve. Recognising your core competencies is critical to being a team member, but when a person’s confidence/cockiness far exceeds their actual ability, that causes serious problems. I am not a confrontational person by nature but in this instance I couldn’t help it, and I tried to be assertive as far as possible. I am not going to give in to someone with a dominant personality if I believe they know absolutely nothing about what they are talking about. Enough complaining! I’ll get onto the actual blog post eventually.

I’m starting my stint in accident and emergency in Altnagelvin this Tuesday, so I will be hiding out in the West until mid-November, which is not great. The hospital itself is decent and only a stone’s throw away from the student accommodation, but it’s so far away from Belfast that getting back to do anything is a bit of a nightmare. I’ll have plenty of time for games, as there isn’t that much to do otherwise. I’m not a huge fan of clubbing, but there is always the cinema and bowling if things get desperate. I probably should do some work, but there will be plenty of time for that too. Hopefully it should be a good placement and busy most of the time. I’m also looking forward to anaesthetics, which makes up the second half of the six week block. After that, I won’t be back in Derry for a few months – I’ll be based in Belfast most of the time.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

No new games this week, but I have revisited a favourite: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, picked up at the charity shop in Stranmillis for the princely sum of one pound and fifty pence. I played this game for the first time at Gamescom in 2011 on the Xbox 360, in German. This would have been fine, but an important mechanic in Deus Ex is hacking, and trying to figure out the instructions from German prompts is a tricky business. It was a demo of the first level and though I enjoyed it, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. After playing the first Deus Ex way back in 2000, I was really excited for the new game, even though I largely skipped over the second game. I may have tried it once, but it didn’t really gel and I wasn’t into storylines to the same extent as I am now. It wasn’t until I played Human Revolution on the PC that I really got into it. It isn’t as complex as the first game and there are fewer things to do, but it still has a compelling storyline and a lot of ways to complete each mission. I’m a fan of the sneaky approach personally, moving from vent to vent and tranquilising people who get in my way. Speech options work well in the game too, and it provides another way to get things done without violence. In one particular interaction, we had to break the NPC down by antagonising him, then console him at the last moment, offering to talk about the issue another time. Simply antagonising him worked once, but the second time he saw through it and became aggressive, preventing any further progress. It’s a great deal more sophisticated than the simple percentage chance speech prompts in Fallout 3, which feel much more logic based than emotionally centred. Combat is cover based, and there is a good selection of weapons, but I prefer to stick to stealth tactics where possible – it makes for a good challenge. If you haven’t already played Human Revolution – three years after launch – you should give it a go. Graphically it stands the test of time well, though my standards may have somewhat diminished after playing many hours of Costume Quest (well, as many as it takes to finish the games, which is not that many).

Ah...the "good old days"
Ah…the “good old days”. How did I wind up making the cakes?!

There was much excitement today, as we paid a visit to the Crumlin road mega car boot sale, on the hunt for a Kenwood Chef KM300 (a mixer to those not well versed in the wonderful world of kitchen lingo). Kenwood Chef mixers are fantastic if you do any amount of baking, or want to preserve the integrity of your arms (baking is hard work!), and most are built like tanks. Kenwood has been making mixers since 1950, and at home we have had a number of machines from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 90s, and 00s. They are pricey when new, but second hand models can be picked up in the range of £30-£60 and most will last for years and years, provided they don’t decide to jump off the bench to their demise. The new mixer is in place, and much more powerful than the older model, but not as aesthetically pleasing.

If you think mixers are exciting, just wait until you hear about the rest of the day! We spent the afternoon/early evening mountain biking in Castlewellan forest park. It was the first mountain biking I had done in many years, and I haven’t even cycled recently, so it was definitely challenging. My fitness levels didn’t help things, as they are pretty poor at the moment. It was a fun experience though, and there is certainly an adrenaline rush when you are barreling along forest tracks (or crawling along, as was the case at some points).


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