Storms and Shenmue

Another lockdown update, as the country slowly re-opens and establishes a new “normal”. More baking, gaming and DIY. The weather hasn’t been encouraging for gardening.

Shenmue 3

I ended the last post on a pessimistic note about Shenmue 3. It felt dated, clumsy, graphically disappointing and carried on the tradition of abysmal voice acting. It’s not sounding good, is it?

Hours later I was still playing, immersed in the village life of Bailu. Chopping wood and collecting capsule toys. Interrogating residents and beating up bad guys. It wasn’t long before I realised what was happening. I was back in Shenmue. I was sitting in front of the Dreamcast all those years ago at Easter, after coming across a used copy of Shenmue in GAME (either Craigavon or Belfast), walking Ryo through the streets of Yokosuka.

I suddenly realised I wasn’t looking for the next generation of Shenmue, I was looking for more Shenmue. Clumsy and slow at times, clichéd, but tremendous nostalgia and fun. Playing the QTE (quick time event) arcade games and new gambling mini-games are fun too. Herb collecting and fishing mechanics are welcome additions.

Ryo in Shenmue. He really needs to change clothes…

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and is far from cutting edge, but I’ve enjoyed the long awaited sequel.

Mirror, mirror, on the floor…

A couple of years ago I picked up an Ikea Honefoss hexagonal mirror set in a charity shop in Taunton, and put it away for our future house. It just so happens that we bought that house and moved in October last year. The mirror tiles came with adhesive pads and we found the ideal location in the living room. It just so happened that location was above the fire, and despite appearing incredibly strong at first, the glue was no match for the heat of the flue. The tiles began falling off at random, one almost threatening to trash my father-in-law’s Olympus mirrorless. That was the cue to pull them down and rethink my approach.

The original configuration

Months passed. I had to study for my pathology exam, and life happened. The mirrors gathered dust, and the wall remained blank.

All that changed when the fire nation attacked…I mean, Covid-19 happened. My exam was cancelled, work dried up, and there was suddenly plenty of time for DIY. I started ticking off jobs one by one. The mirror was on the list, but my backup plan involved getting hold of a big sheet of plywood, which was made difficult for obvious reasons. B&Q re-opened recently, opening up another opportunity to get hold of DIY supplies and restart the mirror project.

Planning

The first step was to draw a rough rectangle around the mirrors and cut the plywood sheet to size. I was debating whether to have a rim of wood visible surrounding the mirror tiles, or cut them flush. Cutting around the tiles required additional time and care, and a decent jigsaw. Aesthetically, we decided that would be the best option and that was the approach I took.

Given the weight of the mirror tiles and plywood, I left a little notch at the four corners to allow the corners to be screwed into the wall. The more points of contact the better, after my previous experience of falling tiles. After cutting, I used the belt sander and sandpaper to smooth out the edges. The mounting holes were countersunk so screws could be flush for a better cosmetic result.

On advice from a friendly bloke in B&Q, I used PVA glue neat to seal the surface of the wood then mirror adhesive to fix the tiles in place. The adhesive is applied using a sealant gun and is supposedly a special type that doesn’t attack the mirror backing. Hopefully. Time will tell. For now, the mirror tiles need about 24 hours to dry then the whole thing is ready to go on the wall.

Baking

I’ve started reading Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, an Oregonian baker, and am learning to implement his bread baking methods. The first loaf is proving and will be baked on my pizza stone. I’ve also bought a Dutch oven to make some proper sourdough loaves.

I better get back to the kitchen!

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