My Diary #001

This might or might not get very far, but I would like to start a weekly diary journal to both help feed into the semi-public Shrine of Memories that I am trying to build here, as well as for my own personal use, as what happens on a week to week basis tends to all mash together really quickly after a while. This might also help me satiate my writing mood — I’ve been wanting to write for some time but my main project is my gigantic About Me history page, which is on a bit of a hiatus right now as I’m scanning family photos into digital form before I can turn some of that (and other artifacts that I’d like to scan or photograph) into part of that page. And I’m in a holding pattern for my Japan application, as I am still waiting to hear back from them, so I have nothing further to write about there either.

I’ve wanted to do a diary since young, and in fact have done short ones on and off before. Nothing formal though, because I didn’t appreciate the necessity of preserving memories back then. While I cannot turn back time, I can change the future, and the longer I wait the lesser I will have written down at the end of my life. And I do recognize that this will also become an important part of the life memories that I am trying to preserve with this shrine going forward. So, there’s no time like the present to begin.

That being said, several notes are worth mentioning in their own bullet points:

  • I won’t want to do this if this becomes a chore, so for now it’s considered to be happening on a trial basis. The length and the things I’ll talk about might also evolve over time. I’ll probably start with categories to help me organize my thoughts, but this might shift over time.
  • I tend to avoid bad things instead of engaging them, so sometimes if something made me upset I will only gloss upon it or not even mention it in here sometimes. Also, I’m not interested in discussing politics or religion in general, so don’t pick fights with me. Make your own diary entry!
  • I will sometimes describe the mundane. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the same old routines”, nothing is boring if you’re truly engaged with life.
  • My intended audience is not you guys reading this now, but people 100-200+ years in the future. You’re welcome to read, but I’m not aiming for you per se, so things like descriptions of current events might feel out of place.
  • While the intent is to talk about the past week in each entry, I’ll be touching on some events over the past month in this first post instead, since some things require context, other things are still fresh memories, and even more things just feel like a waste to leave out. Due to this, this first week’s entry will be abnormally long.

So, without further ado,

Entry #001 (Apr 25 2021)

School

School is over! Classes for the semester ended on Friday the 16th, and our final exam week was the 19th to the 23rd. Because I work full-time, and work is my priority, I had only studied in two classes a semester up till this semester. As explained in other posts though, since I am aiming to go overseas next September, I had to take a full time course load this semester, which at the University of Alberta is defined as 3+ courses. I’m still juggling work though, so I took 3 courses that I judged would not cause undue pressure on my work-life balance. And as it turns out, it didn’t.

Two of my courses (English 102 Intro to Critical Analysis and Easia 240 Overview of Japanese Culture) had short final papers instead of a final exam, and the third one (China 302 Intermediate Chinese II) just had a short take-home final “exam”, and an assignment to record and submit a video in place of an oral. This semester actually felt lighter than last semester, when I took China 301 and Japan 301, because of how much crap Japan 301 had and how unoptimized and unsuitable for online learning (in this COV19 work/study from home world) it was. I tried Japan 302 at the start of the semester anyway but dropped it after one class because it was the same thing with no meaningful adjustment from feedback given in the previous semester’s end-of-semester survey, whereas the Chinese courses of the same grade level, which already were better suited for online learning, adjusted to become even better! I’m thinking of writing a recommendation or appreciation letter to the dean for my Chinese teacher, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

Anyway, I’m still glad it’s over. While the course load was lighter, it still constantly felt like there was a Sword of Damocles hanging over us from various deadlines and other worries, and it’s nice to be able to relax my mind.

One thing that all three of my classes were really bad about was posting grades on time. My worst class still only has 16% of the 100% worth of graded assignments marked and posted on eClass, our online learning management platform. Another one was doing well until about halfway, and then the marking dropped off the face of the Earth entirely, because that course was reliant on our TA to mark the homework and he got busy. The last one was always a bit behind, but kept up a decent pace, but now that the class is barely over, that subject page has already been pulled off of eClass and we’ll probably never see the marks for our final paper and the last few assignments/quizzes.

I also picked up a $4000 (Canadian dollars) scholarship for my Japan study abroad trip, contingent on it actually taking place, and I appreciated this. I wasn’t confident that I would get anything since I am a mature student and out of student loan debt and with a decent nest egg saved up. Still, I had applied for scholarships/grants using the generic form that they would submit to all of them on my behalf, stating that even though I could finance the entire trip myself, the study abroad opportunity would involve me leaving my current job and getting ready for a career change after all was said and done, so there was always a measure of risk in the decision. The $4000 toward the trip will be really nice, if nothing else I guess it will offset meal costs for most of the year, or perhaps ~4 months worth of rent.

This semester has been really interesting though. Upon reflection, I would probably not have been able to juggle being a full-time student AND a full-time employee at the University no matter which 3 courses I picked, if not for Cov19 and the advent of Working from Home. I’d probably have had to give up my job to pursue my larger dream already. Instead, this WFH move has allowed me to precariously balance the two and carry it through the entire semester. I wonder how many other people have ever been full-time student and employee at the University at the same time? Not many, if any, I wager. I was able to achieve this despite the recent budget cuts by burning a bunch of vacation hours as well, since I was apparently becoming a liability with how much I had saved up. Through fall and winter, I took off hours every week to compensate for the lecture components of my classes, and this managed to burn through my accrual rate as well as about half my accrued bank of vacation time, so I have 100 hours or so left out of the 200 that I had at the start.

This is interesting because it means that if my attempt to go overseas should fail this year, and I decide to stick on with the job and try again next year, I should have enough vacation time to cover next Fall and Winter as well if I do 1-2 classes in Fall and 3 in Winter. I am also able to get tuition remission for 6 classes a year, so this was a really nice double bonus as that basically cut my class fee in half on top of everything else. That tuition remission has to be signed off by the department though, and taking vacation to cover my time this way was also probably the only way the department would sign off on my discount, because they had a vested interest in making sure that people’s vacation balances weren’t too high. Or so said my boss. Anyway it was a nice (if globally unfortunate for a lot of people) meshing of events and circumstances that let me walk this really narrow path this year.

Work

This week at work, two-factor/multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA) was enabled on the domain on a trial basis for our IT department, including me. It’s not too painless, so that’s fine. But I’m really jaded and fed up with various aspects of the admin/execs and senior dev teams at work, so I’ll note that, similar to virtually every recent technical upgrade in the past two years that’s affected us, and are meant to somehow represent the greater good, this one not only has large parts that are functionally broken, but that take forever to fix due to bureaucracy and the people in charge not ever listening to the little people’s opinions nor caring about the effect that things have if it doesn’t directly affect them. It feels like my boss always has to beg his way up the chain to get things fixed, or tiptoe his way around and try to socially manipulate others into getting his way, due to the poor decision-making skills of both our dev team lead and our execs.

Case in point, 2FA is a good thing, no arguments here. But our 2FA implementation is awful. It’s Duo instead of a friendlier app like Google or Authy, and they went with Duo “because Cisco”, and picked the free-est of implementations so even phone auth doesn’t work (because SMS codes are too expensive), only push notifications and passcodes, neither of which work well as phone badges or regular phone notifications. So every request to 2FA requires unlocking the phone and authorizing the app in there before you can access the app that requires it. That’s all great except that in this pandemic world, I also used the phone as my camera during online meetings, and I feel that I can no longer do so as I won’t be able to easily log in to anything that way. And it’s even a personal phone, not currently subsidized at all by the University (although I have started the process to change this), and yet I’m obligated to put this Duo app on there.

But even all that is understandable, except that currently in a normal day of work, our team as well as the front-line Service Desk have to authenticate 10-15 times a day on the app, because there’s a genius security decision in place to require a separate 2FA authorization on the same machine for different applications that we use, the number of actual applications behind the 2FA wall is a bit too broad, and two of the apps require new authorizations every 15-20 minutes or so. We even warned of this before the product went live, and its launch got delayed by a month to fix something else that in the grand scheme of things was extremely trivial, but not only was this last issue not fixed before launch, they’re still dragging their feet on it even though we’re a full week into it now. The reason being that it only affects us internal teams and we’re too small a blip on the radar for the bigwigs to care about our experience.

Instead, their knee-jerk reaction is instead to put up a stone wall against feedback. It’s like our execs are virtue signalling and are only implementing things without context to satisfy the wider University community or to put on their resume for future jobs. And our chief security officer in particular, while a super nice person, has no sense of restraint and has no check and balance put in place against him, so everything that comes down sacrifices any semblance of usability in the name of security because he’s like a kid in a candy store, who when asked to pick between any two pieces of candy, will always take the bigger one, and no one will ever directly stand up to him since security is such a buzz word. He’s single-handedly ruined several products on campus while being such a nice person that everyone (me included) wishes him well, heh.

So work politics is annoying and acting as a push factor against staying here long-term, again. It’s a pretty sad place to work at, and a shell of what it used to be, especially after how the executives bungled the budget cuts. No worries though, they’ll all be gone to cushier jobs in a couple more years.

Life

The biggest thing that has been consuming my late night free time over the past couple weeks has been scanning. I’m busy digitizing my family’s physical photo albums, and it’s been a fun and meaningful experience, even though it’s not a professional job — I’m using a dinky and old Epson WorkForce 323 to scan it. The printer-scanner is old, probably around 10 years old, I’ve long stopped bothering to replace its ink cartridges as they keep drying up because I don’t print enough, and one of the roller wheels on the scanning bed falls out now and then. But it does the job.

This has been a months long project, there’s a large box of photo albums sitting on the floor next to me that Mom sent over a couple visits ago. It’s been sitting there since around January 19, but only recently, near the end of the school term, have I been able to start seriously going through it. I am about halfway done with the scans, and have 2737 files totalling 25.4 GB so far. Most photos are saved in two modes, in lossy .jpg format and in lossless .tif format. There are also misc files in there, like the occasional text file, and a bunch of photos and videos saved from a graduation CD that doesn’t have a lossy/lossless version. That’s why it’s an odd number.

In particular though, this week I have been busy scanning photo albums belonging to my mom and dad from before they had me, their eldest child. There was an entire photo album of my mom that I do not remember seeing before, from when she was a baby all the way through her Pre-U (Grade 11-12) days. It was in an album with a “secret message” that I found etched into its front cover, signed off by a Susan Tan, and when I asked Mom, she said she was unaware of it as well, but that Susan was a friend from those Pre-U days that had likely given her that photo album as a birthday present. To be precise,

“Susan Tan was one of my good friends during my Pre-University days at Outram Secondary School. We used to hang out together with 2 others, Shirley and Miriam, during recess time and after school. “

How cool! This really struck it home that before my mom was my mom, she used to be a pretty girl with all the hopes and dreams of a teenager, too. (I crushed those, obviously!) It was also nice seeing pictures of my mother’s mom, as I never knew her — my maternal grandparents were gone before I came into this world. But it’s cool because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that my parents are more than just my parents and have their own stories and lives before me as well. I need to get their stories someday.

There was also a photo album of my parents’ marriage celebration day, which was really neat to see. I learnt that my parents filed the paperwork and were legally maried on Oct 03 1979, but only had their Chinese wedding ceremony with the extended families present on Jan 27 1980, and that latter date was when all the pictures were from.

My next album, for tonight or tomorrow night perhaps, seems to be of trips that they took between 1980 and 1983. I remember them saying that they went through Europe on trains for their honeymoon, and I remember seeing and sometimes reading books like this one back home on the shelves in Singapore/early Canada. Except it was a different monetary figure on the book, I think. These album pictures are definitely from Europe somewhere though, though I haven’t looked too closely as to where exactly. But they’re from 1983, 11 months before I was born, so it probably wasn’t their actual honeymoon.

Changing the topic, I’ve been very nostalgic and very focused on memories and histories the last few months, and this week I found myself on this video about past-life regression through meditation. I do believe in reincarnation and past lives and might eventually write a blog post on these beliefs, so I thought this was interesting and tried it out. The results were interesting. About halfway through the process you are asked to recall an early childhood memory, and then sharpen that memory and feel yourself in that process. I went back to one of my first ever memories that I recall (that will be mentioned on my main About Me/Shrine page once I get that up and running), and after some concentration on it I remembered some new details about the surrounding that had laid buried and dormant for years. That was really cool.

The process after that to actually delve into memories of your past life was more hit and miss. It might require a few attempts to successfully do anyway, so I might go back and try it sometime, but despite my beliefs I was skeptical of this because it was hard to tell what was made up and what was not — i.e. how much of it was just my brain creating a space of some kind to fill in an empty fog because the instructions told me so? I ended up “seeing” a room with rattan or tatami flooring and a large, sunken, square area (for shoes) at the side of the room by a wooden sliding door that led outside. It was low on overall detail. I definitely wanted very much to see something but wasn’t particularly convinced by this image.

Still, it got me thinking for sure. I get the feeling that the reason I am transgendered and needed to transition to female might have been that I was one in my last life, and for whatever reason ended up in this body. I’ve also had this fascination with Japan for a long time, and they did invade Singapore back in World War II, so it’s possible that my past life involved the two countries as well. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking and me desiring to justify it more, hah. I’ve had wrong-gender feelings ever since I was very young, though.

Talking about Singapore, I’ve been meandering around mewatch.sg recently as well, an online site that offers streaming for Singapore TV shows. Especially since I found a way to quietly bypass the silly country restrictions on some of the content and download some of it for watching and archiving. This week, I ended up watching the first (and so far, only) episode of LNX x Hawkers, where the host visited some hawker centers and tried to cook up some fusion food. Fried carrot cake (chai tow kueh) is soooo nice. I miss Singapore food (this is a refrain you’ll hear often from me). Anyway, the show wasn’t particularly good, but I did enjoy understanding about 75-85% of the conversation even though it was Chinese, thanks to the two courses I was taking and a whole lot of refreshing of the stuff I learnt from Primary 1 to Secondary 2 before moving here (and I guess the Grade 10-12 Chinese IB I took here as well.). A week or two ago, I also watched most of Midnight Story and appreciated the night city pictures in there, though that one was less interesting overall so I didn’t stick with it to the end. At least it was English, though.

On the side, I also am slowly reading a book from our library — Pure Invention, How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World. It was recommended to me by an online friend that goes by the name Quintopia. I enjoy the content, but it’s going slow, since I don’t really have a time of the day set aside for reading books. It’s due in 5 days and I’m maybe 20% done with the book, although I can probably extend it, and library fines have been abolished in our city anyway. Not that I want to hold on to an overdue library book even if it’s free, as it’s still wrong. It looks at the development of various aspects of Japan’s pop culture from the post-war era onwards, and how that reflects on its society and economy, which is a really interesting topic to me.

This is not only because I hope to go over there in a few months to study but also because I know that Singapore and Japan became good economic friends very soon after the war despite them invading us and terrorizing the country and then us performing revenge murders on them right at the end of the war. Singapore history class touches on a lot about the WW2 occupation of Japan, but I never really heard or felt racism or anger against the Japanese within my generation, from my parents/extended family, or when I was in school. Granted, I didn’t really see or know of any Japanese personally so my view might have been coloured. Japanese stores were everywhere though, many of the largest and poshest departmental store chains in Singapore were proudly Japanese in origin and name.

I also bought a Panasonic HX-A500, a small wearable camera, within the past couple weeks. It was half off (CAD $200) as it was refurbished, and black, not that awful orange in the link above, I came across that while I was doing research and pondering getting a wearable camera to do some walking tour-style videos, as that would be a cool way to make memories, both here in Edmonton and over in Japan or Singapore or wherever else I end up. Hard to tell what works and what doesn’t though, but I figure half off was cheap enough to be worth the risk as I could always just try to resell it if it doesn’t work out and I need the cash  It came with mounts too, but not an SD card, and I can’t flash its firmware without that. I also couldn’t seem to get it to connect to my phone in order to control the camera from my phone, so I’m hoping that a firmware update might fix that. I’ll eventually get an SD card and play around with it more.

Anime

This week in anime was (roughly) the third week of the Spring 2021 season, and I seem to be watching about 26 shows, with another 4-5 carrying forward from previous season. Mind you, several of these are shorts, and one only releases episodes once a month, so it’s not like I’m watching 30 full-length episodes of seasonals every week or anything. The shows I am looking forward to most each week currently are Super Cub, Sayonara Watashi no Cramer, Hige wo Soru, Slime Taoshite 300-nen, Seijo no Maryoku, Zombieland Saga: Revenge, Bishounen Tanteidan, Odd Taxi, and Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song, roughly in that order. That’s 9 really enjoyable shows, with a few more decent ones after that. The biggest disappointments of the season for me have been Dragon, Ie wo Kau, which has been uninspiring and a bit cringy, and Tensura Nikki, which has managed to actually make me nod off and fall asleep for 3 out of the 3 episodes so far despite me being a big Slice of Life genre fan and a moderate fan of the base Tensura show as well, of which I am fully caught up on (we’re currently in the break between the first and second cours of Season 2).

For group watches, my main group (Nak and Satinel, we do roughly 3 episodes a day, 6 days a week) finished watching Shirokuma Cafe last Saturday, and that was an absolute treat. We watched Frame Arms Girl, which oscillated between boring mech fights and funny and sweet character interactions, and then started watching Otome Youkai Zakuro, which has been very pleasant thus far. Both have a lower level of drama than I expected, with no antagonist that seems to have a strong enough hateful presence for it to linger on and grip my heart between sessions and make me think about how unfair life can be for the protagnists — I hate that sensation.

My secondary group (Satinel and Seren, 1 episode a day as schedules allow) is working through Samurai Flamenco, and I’ve found that to be a blast as well. Humour is on point, the characters are cute, magical girl and superhero antics are awesome, and it seems to be lacking that overarching hateful villain archetype too.

My tertiary group (just Satinel, 1 epiosode a day, 5-6 days a week) is working through Tenshi ni Narumon. It has old and very rough production values, which definitely hurt its score, but the story they’re trying to tell is really interesting and I’m enjoying it quite a bit. We’re halfway through the series and some really interesting and unexpected things have happened that have broken it away from the episodic monster of the week feel that it had early on.

My quaternary group (Seren, Neichus, Benny), an Anime Writing Club offshoot group that I watch and react to shows in, is kind of on a holding pattern because everyone’s a bit busy with new jobs or end of semester things. I also got a bit frustrated after our last show as I was the only one really writing things, and I talked to the organizer who seemed to mostly agree too, so I am also basically stalling for time without saying so in the hopes that if we do get back to it eventually, maybe people will be fresher and freer and chomping at the bit to write. It’s still an extremely fun Discord server to hang out and chat in for me though, and I don’t want to break that.

On a more personal front, I’m trying to push forward and clean up some of my old shows recently. I’m 37/49 of the way through Futari wa Precure, and I started that on Aug 03 2020. I’m also 38/50 of the way through Kemono no Souja Erin, which was started Jul 26 2020. And then there’s Aikatsu!, which I’ve been watching since Aug 20 2020 and am done 74 of 178 episodes. School really did a number on me and I couldn’t muster up enough time to watch any of the longer shows once homework assignments and quizzes started rolling in, but I hope to finally finish at least the first two within the next month now that I have more time. I definitely have some measure of “new show syndrome”, where I get really interested in a show and start it strong before fizzling out, and the nice thing about shorter shows is that the show often ends around that time as well, so it’s usually the perfect length for me. Longer shows always come with a risk of me stalling out, although I do have several moderately long shows completed. I do try to eventually finish all shows that I have started, though, my MAL list is really “clean” in that regard and I’m fairly proud of that. I definitely need to write a post dedicated to my thoughts on anime in general someday.

Besides those, I’m also halfway through Isekai Izakaya, which is fine but not as good as another similar food-based isekai, Isekai Shokudou, which just had a season 2 announced this week! That show was the monthly featured show for the main Anime Writing Club group last month (well this month, April) and Seren told me I’d probably enjoy it. I do usually enjoy food-focused shows with either exaggerated reaction faces, or a focus on the recipes, and I’ve tried out a fair of them — excluding those two above, I’ve also watched (or am watching) Amaama to Inazuma, Koufuku Graffiti, Maiko-san chi, Yakitate! Japan, Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san, and even a live action one called Boukyaku no Sachiko. It’s an odd and interesting sub-genre and there’ many more to go. I also finished a short this week called Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan, which I liked. I enjoy “regional anime”, shows that are based around a certain region of Japan to promote it, and this was one of them. They’re a good way to learn about different places in Japan, and they’re also usually really short due to budget issues or something, heh.

Games

A constant in my life for the past two years has been Anime Music Quiz (AMQ). I play this with Satinel, Nak and Heg, up to 7 days a week, 3 games a day, 33 songs a game, so about a hundred samples a day. Around two years later, it’s still really fun, and has definitely influenced my anime-watching in a number of ways since everything is framed in terms of its music for me now. Instead of using full lists, we all now run custom lists of about 100 shows each for the game to pick songs from, to try to reduce the lack of randomness due to the size of (and duplicates across) our collective watched lists.

I recently bought and started to play Amazing Cultivation Simulator, although I haven’t gotten very far into even its tutorials at all due to other things getting in the way. I hope to change that over the next week or two. This game stood out for me not only because I know Chinese and want to learn more about its mythology, but also because the cultivation themes are interesting and seem to be thematically similar to a fun anime that Satinel and I are watching, Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?, although from what I gather the Japanese videogamey implementations of the isekai genre are appreciably different from the Chinese wuxia/xianxia implementations. They’re inherently related genres though, so even if I don’t have a full grasp of what the wuxia/xianxia genres embody, it looks like I could get very interested in it. It also has layouts and an engine that’s not too dissimilar to Rimworld, down to things like task priority lists, so there’s familiarity there too.

My game du jour before that was the first Atelier Ryza, as I really liked its nostalgic childhood themes and the lead character, Ryza. I believe that the game was responsible for headaches that I had for a couple nights around when I was playing it, though, and it also started to get annoying because nothing in game seemed to tell me where I could go to get the resources I needed to craft this or that, so I shelved it for now. The crafting system was quite neat though, though it had ease of use issues. I have been fascinated about two aspects found in many games and have pondered making a gaming blog to compare and contrast between the implementations of those two aspects in the past. These two aspects are fishing and crafting. I enjoy finding new and interesting and unique crafting implementations, and this one certainly fit the bill as my first Atelier game (besides an aborted run at Atelier Sophia four years ago). Another issue that worked against this game was that its combat was real time, and that was distracting to do while also trying to scan photos on a scanner next to me in the meantime.

As much so or even more than anime though, I definitely am aware that I have a “ooh, a new shiny!” mentality with games too. I’ll often lust after a game, get it and play it a bit, and then abandon it and move on. I think that’s alright, though, as long as I can feel like I extracted enough pleasure out of it relative to what I paid for the game. I don’t think I need to finish or win games.

A group game that we’re playing these days and worth mentioning as well is Valheim. It’s been an interesting ride, with my initial reaction to the game being a mild dislike to neutral reaction to it, amidst fears that certain friends who were more industrious would play ahead on their solo game and spoil things for us like had happened in other games prior. This didn’t happen this time though, and I really started to appreciate the game more as we got into it, especially once we got to boats. I found I really liked sailing around the oceans and waterways, and the game appealed to a certain skill I think I have, or at least an aspect that I enjoy, that no other co-op game has really appealed to much before — the need for establishing and maintaining supply lines, in the form of little outpost houses and portals that I was building everywhere, that others could in theory then use to go exploring, resource gathering, etc. This was really cool and I’m not sure I’ll ever have this experience again. The game has started to get stale though, in large part because the engine is unoptimized and lags so much now around our main base that it’s basically slideshow central for me. We were also playing twice a week for 5 hours a session, which is a bit too much, and was really starting to eat into my patience and love for the game. We missed the Saturday session this week and we only really have one more session to go to beat the current final boss anyway, so those two things are helping to drive me forward even though my interest for the game is flagging hard.

Jah Stream Night this week was Outland, which was incredibly boring (puzzle platformers are really not my type of thing) but somehow kept me more or less half-engaged right to the end anyway, which is probably the best thing I can say for that sort of game. It also let me dust off the Jah Death Counter, which was fun. I had forgotten about that site.

Dreams

I will eventually have a dream diary on my website, with 4.5 years (and counting) of dreams written down for interested parties to view how twisted my mind is. For now though, these weekly entries might also contain dreams from the week, and they’ll vary both in length and number depending on what I remember. Some weeks I remember and am able to write down dreams during 6/7 of the mornings after, whereas other weeks I bat 0/7. My dream entries use the date of the morning after I had the dream, not the night before. They’re also usually in point form, because I’m trying to hurriedly write them down before I forget.

Anyway, this week I had just one entry.

Apr 20 2021
  • My secondary 2 class was being held in a sci-fi University school with robots running around and drifting all over the place. The University was broken down and even partially on fire due to an earlier accident, but most of the campus was open and the damage was covered up using holograms that made everything look pristine.
  • One had to walk carefully though as one could step through the holograms since they were not real. I even gingerly tested this in places.
  • This was the first day of school so I also had to plot my path very carefully on both the going and returning trip, which took me past some corridors and shops and an open area.
  • From our classroom, we could oversee most of campus and could, if we temporarily disabled the holograms (apparently they were tied to each person and you could only alter what you yourself saw), we could see most of the damage and some of the little fires. We could also see an incomplete swimming pool.
  • The tables in the class were arranged in an inverted U pattern that faced the teacher’s area at the front of the class. I sat at one of the corners of the U, next to two friends whom I was taking refuge by. I didn’t want to draw too much attention because I wasn’t sure that most of them knew of my transition yet, but no one seemed to care in the end.
  • The teacher seemed to be leading a music class, in fact she brought in some enormous brass instruments from Brazil and picked one up and started to blow into it. Each one was so large that it occupied 1/4 of the empty space that was surrounded by the tables arranged in the U shape.
  • The girls in my secondary 2 class from Raffles Girls Primary School (Valerie, Kaiting, Debbie) immediately jumped up from their chairs and requested to join in impromptu, each one picked up an instrument and started playing as well, the four instruments pointing toward the center of the open space to form a rough circle/square.
  • The music teacher noted that the previous class had 9 impromptu performances and the one before that had 3 or 4, and she doubted whether we would have that many or not as we only had one thus far. Someone offered up some notes from a previous class involving some sort of game activity that said we had some sort of impromptu participation there though.
  • One person had even participated twice, which was normally against the rules of what was possible due to time as well as something about the University bring broken down, but we said it was possible for us because of some other circumstance (possibly being the gifted class that everyone else in school disliked). Although that class didn’t happen in this “dream”, and this was the “first day of school”, I still remembered it happening and even remembered being the one that noted the double participation down on the sheet.
  • On the way home I stopped at a posh departmental store and thought about buying a bowl and chopsticks to bring home and eat dinner in. But I remembered how boring my food (rice and soup?) was, and also that since I lived with my family, we probably had a ton of other utensils, so I didn’t buy anything in the end.
  • I did meet one of my Chinese teachers in the store and she asked about my favourite OP/ED from One Piece, listing a few suggestions to boot. I told her I had not watched the show yet and she apologized and left.
  • There was also some kind of subplot branching out from one of the locations that I passed by on my journey to/from. I’m not sure where it fits into the timeline, but it started outside an empty shop, outside of which there was an empty newspaper rack. For some reason, there was a storyline where a domineering female friend came up with an excuse to molest me, this started a three or four chapter subplot where things escalated to nudity and even wilder sexy stuff. But it happened outside of the commute, so I’m not sure how or when it even took place, or whether it was even really “me” or just a different character I was observing, nor do I remember the exact sordid details.
Things I am thankful for this week

This last section came from some article I read and wanted to try out. It’s part of the whole positive thinking schtick, and the article mentioned writing down the things you were thankful for this week.

Obviously there are many things that I am thankful for on an ongoing basis — my parents, my siblings, my online friends (especially Satinel), my workplace team, my freedom, my independence, my health, Tigey, and so on. It would be remiss to not mention that — and yet it would be repetitive and I feel would miss the point if I had to list those things every week. So assume that my thankfulness for those people and things are always there. This section, I think, is meant for odd little things that I never remember to appreciate unless I stop to think about them, or for really big things that influenced my life that week.

I will try to list around 5 things each week that I am thankful for. This week, they’re larger/more general things as I only had the idea to do this darned journal today. Anyway, I have:

  1. My mom. As mentioned earlier, obviously I know that my parents had lives before they had me, but it’s one thing to vaguely know that and another to see her life in photographs, flipping through old photo albums. I guess I could have just thanked the photo albums here too, but my mom felt more apt.
  2. Backblaze, the software I use for backing up my data to the cloud. Data in this case involves a lot of memories too, old files that I have to sift through and maybe will someday upload, and new files that I am constantly downloading, creating, and adding to. Case in point, I accidentally deleted part of my scanned images folder the week before last, and thanks to its file restoration process I didn’t lose hours of work to re-sorting and re-scanning albums that I had already completed. That was a huge weight off my chest. The peace of mind from knowing that my data is safe even if my hard drive kaputs is really priceless too. I did prefer Crashplan over Backblaze before Crashplan betrayed its users and killed its good home user plan though, and I still think some aspects of Backblaze are dumb, but I’ll take it for what I have to pay for it (very little — $60 USD for a year).
  3. My apartment. I love the feeling of safety that I have in the house, even though I’m going to do something soon that would involve me losing this safety for a year or more. It’s very much “my” safe storage space where I can quietly store my treasures and pursue various dreams and indulgences of mine though, especially since I live alone. I would like to someday own a space instead of just rent it out, but I do think I prefer an apartment over a house with multiple entry points that I have to secure and worry about late at night. Also, while I wouldn’t call it gorgeous, the view from my balcony, next to my computer, is really serene. And as the spring weather gets better and I can open the balcony door throughout the day and eventually night as well, the combination of peace, gentle air, sunlight, and the odd smell that wafts in, really adds to an indescribable sense of aestheticism that I love.
  4. Kwanyin/Guanyin. The Buddhist goddess of mercy. My parents gave me a talisman to place on the inside of my front door as a protective ward, and whether you believe it’s just a piece of paper or something more sacred than that, my belief that it helps keep me and my apartment safe is still so strong that the positive mental benefits at least are tangible. I had a conversation with my sister this week when she sent me a picture of a statue of Kwanyin in Tokyo in a temple or park that she was visiting, and we both mentioned how much we appreciated and valued the talisman we each had.
  5. Satinel. For always being there and always giving me the feeling that I can reach out to you for anything and get a sympathetic ear about it, and for forgiving me for my occasional bad nights when I get mad over something unimportant. And also for introducing me to anime, because that’s sure cascaded out of control into many different things that have affected and drive my life goals now, and that’s always something important to reflect on.

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