My Diary #003

Dear Diary,

I am starting this diary at 9:50 pm on Friday, May 07th, since I got my first Cov19 vaccination jab today, and so I have no idea if I’ll be comatose this weekend or not. Plus Jah abandoned us this Friday anyway. No stream night! (I also worked on this a little bit on Saturday morning, and then again on Sunday morning/afternoon. These things are a bit long and maybe I should cut them shorter so that they don’t take hours to write.)

Entry #003 (May 09 2021)

School

I got back all three of my three grades this week — an A+ in Easia 240 (Overview of Japanese Culture), an A+ in English 102 (Intro to Critical Analysis) and an A- in China 302 (Intermediate Chinese II). The A- in Chinese really frustrated me, and I sent an email asking for clarifications to my instructor. The breakdowns for the top tiers in Chinese are 97-100% for A+, 94%-96% for A, and 90-93% for A-. This is ridiculous, when the improvised mark breakdown for the online semester was as follows:

Attendance and class participation – 15%
Homework assignments – 15%
Lesson review quizzes – 10%
Presentations – 15%
Course project – 15%
Final exam – 30%

My grade was hovering around a 98% going into the final exam, though the only marks we had back were about 2/3 of the homework assignments and lesson quizzes. No feedback on class participation, no feedback on presentations, no feedback on course project, and no feedback on the final exam were provided at any time, although I expected full marks on attendance and presentations.

To explain the latter, we had to do two presentations and she did not give me post-presentation “these are your minor corrections” for either one like she did most other students, which implied that my pronunciation and powerpoints were basically perfect. I also did something creative for both presentations, which no other student even tried to do for either one. She did take slight issue with a phrase I used to end one of my presentations, but I told her that that was a radio station slogan that I had mimicked word for word, and that was part of the radio skit I was doing. That’s it. I also attended every class, volunteered to answer questions nearly every class, and led all my breakout rooms (conversely, usually half the breakout room was dead silent, with students who refused to participate even when I called them out by name, unless the instructor or TA were in the room). So I assumed I had 53% or 54% out of the first 55%, going into the course project and final exams.

However, the final exam was split into two parts. One part was an essay and written segment, and the other part was identical to the course project, which itself was a submission of a recorded video + script, except on a different topic. We were never given feedback on how we did on one in order to apply any changes to the other, since their submission dates were 1 week apart, so between the two course project things and the written essay, I guess there were so many open-ended and potentially subjective things to nitpick and deduct a point here and there that I swear this course was likely impossible to get an A or A+ on online. I have enough years of studying Chinese under my belt to know that I had no problems with any part of the final exam and course project, and should have answered everything nearly perfectly.

This issue happens in Japanese classes too, as the bar for A+ and A is set ridiculously high considering that people are supposed to be learning all the nuances of a language and even encouraged to try new things and make mistakes at times. What’s the point, if you just get penalized for trying to reach further and drop grade points for it?

At any rate, though I emailed to ask/argue about my marks, I never got a satisfactory answer as to why I only got an A- last semester as well — as in I asked to see my mistakes in the final exam/project, was told yes, then was never given that feedback. So I don’t expect any change from this semester either. Though I personally like this teacher a lot, I think that she might be the kind of teacher that will find minor and extremely subjective faults with things to avoid giving people full marks in anything because “students always have room for improvement”. And thus maybe 1% off each course project, 1% off the final essay, 1% off the written portion, 1% off the presentations, and suddenly my 98% is a 93% because there’s absolutely no wiggle room in this online class. And the only reason that 98% wasn’t a 100% is because there were four or five subjective essays in there too. Who’s going to get 100% when they’re nitpicking essays and suggesting preferred vocabulary words that we never learnt in class? It’s a lot of frustrated accusations though, but I absolutely should have gotten an A or A+ in this course too and this demotivates, not motivates, me from studying Chinese any further outside of what I need for the degree.

To illustrate my point, here are my Easia 240 marks. The marks (0-16, 0-24 etc) are actual grade %’s, you can see that this adds up to 92%. There were two more forum discussions that are missing from the list for whatever reason, these gave another 4% each and were largely participation marks. Easia 240 grades on a scale of 96-100% for A+, 92-95 for A, and 88-91 for A-. Everything in this course was basically an essay of some kind, we had to write about 9 of them and six or seven short paragraphs, and you can see that this instructor also essentially finds small things to deduct from each essay (although I can accept that there probably are small improvements that I can make on any essays, English or Chinese — but who doesn’t?). But because the deductions as though each activity was worth 100% to begin with, losing 1% or 2% in an essay did not equate directly to losing 1% or 2% off of your ENTIRE FREAKING GRADE. I still got a 97% in that, and walked off with my A+. Chinese was kind of set up a similar way, but I suspect that she might have literally took off 1 mark out of 15, 1 mark out of 30 etc, while nitpicking, without realizing that awarding a 14/15 for the course project (I’m using an example here, not actual score) was actually a 94% instead of a 99%, and those “little deductions” added up to huge amounts for the way that the Chinese class was structured. It’s a complete and slightly unfair conjecture, but barring an email that actually tells me where I went wrong and shows me some proof, it’s the only reason I can think of as to why I only got an A- (based on how China 301 went under this same instructor as well, and how the grading and feedback there was equally bullshit).

I suppose I’m getting a measure of revenge in the end though, as I was hinging on whether to write a recommendation letter for this instructor to the Dean of East Asian Studies on whether I would get an A in this course or not. My reasoning was that if I got an A- again despite knowing that I put in more than enough effort (and had more than enough innate knowledge) to get an A+ in this course, then obviously it at least means the instructor didn’t do a good enough job in teaching me, because I essentially got close next to ZERO feedback this semester on any mistakes I had made, and yet my A+ magically got downgraded to an A- at the last minute. And i’m supposed to take the instructor’s word for it?

So in the end, I will not be writing this letter of recommendation for this instructor, unless something happens in our email exchange that bumps the grade up without much fighting on my end, which I doubt. Though even then, it would feel like I was trading a letter for a grade bump or something nefarious like that. Either way it’s a bit petty, and I feel a bit guilty about that, but this left such a bad taste in my mouth that I’m not willing to go out of my way to help her career if she’s going to unfairly gatekeep A’s and A+’s and give next to no feedback back about that.

Work

So yeah, the negativity this week was on the school portion of the diary entry. Conversely, work this week was rather pleasant. There wasn’t a whole ton of work, but I did manage to identify a fairly major bug in a portion of the Identity Management System that we used, and that gave me some pride, as well as some goodwill and minor accolades from the clients when I helped them fix the issues that stemmed from that bug. I also vastly prefer the Identity Management portion of our work much more than the Google portion of our work, as my level of attention to detail and my general knowledge about the ins and outs of the University really helps me out there, and this week was nice for that, in no small part thanks to the fallout from that bug.

I did have to open a really trivial ticket with Google about the new External label thing (it’s actually fake and doesn’t act like a label, but it looks like one) that they’re quietly forcing onto emails that come from outside the domain, because there were a number of bugs we found with that “feature” and it was basically undocumented. Until we complained, and then they quietly sneaked out that above blog post. And then stealth fixed one of our bugs while asking us for email headers to prove it, which we obviously couldn’t then provide even though we had screenshot evidence that it worked differently before. Google plz.

Anyway, Google can be awful, and Google-related tickets give me some displeasure because a lot of them are time wasters or LMGTFY’s. Let Me Google This For You for $40 an hour! What a waste of University resources when we’re all already crunched. A good number are also outright miscategorized by our beleaguered, front-line Service Desk.

Our union also sent an email saying that the first round of negotiations for our University’s Support Staff contract went really badly, and the initial offer that the University tabled involved us retroactively accepting a lower salary and actually giving back pay that we had already received in order to come in line with this lower retroactive pay. Needless to say this doesn’t sit well with anyone. I’m definitely hightailing it out of this place as soon as I can gracefully do so though, so I’m not too bothered about it, although I wonder if there’ll be another strike. There was one a few years ago I think, around when our last Support Staff contract was signed. The reason for this retroactive demand from the University is that previous negotiations were cut short by Cov19 outbreak, so both the University and our union agreed to temporarily use the previous expired contract that was already in place between the two bodies until it was safe for negotiations to resume.

Vaccine

By far and away the biggest news this week was that I had my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! Signups for my age group (30-39) in Alberta opened on Thursday, May 06, and there was a mad rush for spots, with something close to an estimated 25% (142k) of the age group (600k) in the province signing up in the first day on the Alberta Health Services (AHS) website alone (assuming the number of 30-40 year olds signing up at a pharmacy, which are not counted in that 142k count above, at least balances out the number of people in other age groups signing up as part of that 142k).

For my part, I queued up at about 7:45 am in the morning, and was something like 30k deep in the line. I got to the front of the line at about 8:45 am, then got confused by some of the choices (and the inability for the form to let you move back a page), and hit the back button — this reset my form with no warning, and tossed me to the very back of the line again, which was now over 50k long. I wasn’t happy about this. It took me over another hour, but I eventually got back to the front of the line again, and by that time the earliest available appointment slot for the AHS location nearest to my house was on May 18th.

I booked it anyway, but then I started wondering if I could check nearby pharmacies in person or not. I went out to visit a Safeway with a pharmacy that was located in the mall pretty much next to my apartment area, as well as a Rexall Drug Store across the road from that. Both of those pharmacies said they weren’t taking in person bookings (despite the websites saying otherwise) and directed me to online booking websites. Both of these experiences were awful and one basically just planted me on a vague waitlist of some kind, while the other involved refreshing over and over to try to get an appointment.

I did notice that the one that involved refreshing over and over did have appointments occasionally pop up for anytime within the next couple weeks though, and they would last for a few seconds before someone would snap them up. I was on my phone on my way home at the time and the site was awful (refreshing was awful, specifically), so I decided to do this on my PC once I got home instead.

But then I had the brilliant idea to check back in on the AHS site and check to see if there was any queue left. There wasn’t! This was at 12:50 pm or so. And then I noticed that just like that pharmacy page, appointments were popping up and disappearing left right and center, for earlier dates than the May 18th one that I got. Assumedly as other people cancelled and moved their own dates or locations around. I also noticed that I could change the date on my appointment and pick another time slot without any penalty, I just had to FIND the time slot, which I could do so by refreshing the page. And appointment spots were popping open and closing shut like flickering fireflies.

So by 12:53 pm, I had swapped my May 18th date to a May 13th one. And by 1:08 pm, I had swapped that May 13th one for a May 07th one by clicking quickly enough onto an appointment spot that opened (two opened at once for the same 10 minute time period, and I snagged one of them). That was for the very next day! I was fairly amazed, it was like I had found some sort of cheat code. I booked the afternoon off work the next day, took a bus down to the AHS clinic that they had rented, and got my jab.

My appointment was scheduled for 2:50 pm, and the email had said to not come more than 10 minutes early, but I had gotten there one bus early since I figured it was better to be early than to be late, and I could just hang out in the Asian supermarket next to the place until my turn was up. When I got there at 2:10 pm, however, there was a big roadworks sign hanging outside the building, and while it first said they were serving 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm appointments, it changed to say 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm within seconds of me looking at it. I went over to the staff standing outside the building and they clarified that yes, the “10 minutes before” thing was a general guideline but the building was working ahead of schedule that afternoon and so I could just go in.

And thankfully I did so, as the process itself took some time to go through. First a pre-screening line to verify my eligibility and general health and to exchange my mask for a clean paper one, then another line to check my Alberta health card, photo ID, and enter me into some computerized system or other, which spit out a Client Immunization Record sheet. Then into a third line to wait for a spot in a chair, and then a further 10 minute wait or so in the chair itself as nurses went in pairs up and down the rows of chairs to jab people. And then one last 15 minute wait for precautionary reasons after the jab, before I was finally set free. Even though I was in the door by 2:15 pm, I only got the jab at 2:44 pm and waited until 2:58 pm to leave the building. I still managed to catch the bus home in time to barely meet up with my first online anime group watch group at 4pm though.

For historical records, the Client Immunization Record sheet looked like this (front | back) and there was an optional survey card as well that looked like this (front | back). I signed up for that survey, of course. As the CIR said, I ended up getting the Pfizer vaccine, and when I mentioned to the nurse that I might not be in Canada in 4 months from now if all goes well, she said to call 811 when the time comes for the 2nd vaccine and they’d try to schedule me for earlier. If they’re still using this AHS/Queue-It system though, there’s probably no need for even that as I can probably snag a nice appointment just fine. I jokingly thanked my Neopets restocking experience for this vaccine snag. What does that mean? You’ll have to read my Shrine of Memories, somewhere around the high school/university sections, when I get around to them. 🙂

I barely faced any side effects of this first dose at all. My arm was fine at first, but felt sore Friday evening all the way through to Saturday afternoon before that vanished. I had a very brief bout of chills and shivers (body temperature went awry) for about 15 minutes on Friday evening, but that was about it for me. Hopefully my second shot won’t be too much worse.

Life

Life outside of school, work, and vaccine went pretty good this week, as always. Because the vaccine thing dominated a good part of the latter of the week, there isn’t all that much to talk about here. The most important thing I did this week is probably that I stopped scanning the photo albums temporarily because I wanted to scan my Secondary 1 yearbook. This thing has a lot of pages, and the book itself is kind of stiff and hard to bend, so there’s a little bit of book spine damage that will definitely come from scanning this. I also accidentally lightly tore one of the first few pages. Besides that though it’s going fairly well and I think the sacrifices are worth it, because I don’t know how many of these yearbooks are even in existence anymore and I did notice through watching online anniversary videos and documentaries about my school that the late 90s seem to be a black hole in terms of information for the school, for some reason.

At any rate, I am scanning my 1997 Dunman High School yearbook, and I will eventually be scanning my 1998 one as well, as well as several other Artifacts from my time there. And I’ll be posting all of it online. I might have the 1997 one up as a a separate blog post by next week if I’m feeling industrious, or it might be a future project, but I plan to have it all up for public perusal and download. In the meantime, I found the Dunman High School 2020 yearbook and it’s pretty neat. Both in terms of how different it is from my old yearbook and in terms of how far the format has advanced from a technological viewpoint. By the way, even though that specific link disabled downloading, you can download it for archiving using a tool like this one.

i say that the book is stiff and hard to bend, because it’s a hardcover book, but I discovered about 3/4 of the way through scanning it that I also actually had a softcover version of the book in my boxes. That would probably have been easier (and maybe less damaging) to scan, ugh. Oh well. This hardcover one is still in relatively good shape and I’m nearly done anyway.

I did receive an email from Huihan, a former Secondary 2 classmate that I had been writing to over the past 8 months or so. Her emails are infrequent due to busy work and life schedules, but she’s the only one that’s actually still exchanging them with me (out of the 7 or 8 people that I reached out and wrote emails to), so any occasional emails at all are extremely appreciated! Thank you! I also sent her a postcard as a thank you for sending me postcards 20 years ago that I never replied to, and she said that she had received it, so yay.

I hit level 5 of my Wanikani journey earlier in the week, pretty much the day after I posted my last diary entry. The reviews are starting to pile up and they occasionally get a little annoying. I did run into this guide that I really liked though. I usually do them in tandem with scanning, though I’m not sure how I’ll WK after I finish all my scanning projects. Then again, will I ever finish all my scanning projects?

Influenced by another meWATCH email highlighting new shows on their platform, I watched an episode of a show called Gangnam Insider’s Picks. Apparently the site only has season 3 and so I watched the first episode of that, partially because I had visited Seoul and specifically Gangnam twice before, and partially because I was curious about the place and culture and eventually might gravitate over that way after learning Japan’s (or if I find myself prevented from continuing my Japanese study). In the extremely long run I think it would be nice if I were to understand English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean and be able to fluently read, write, understand, and speak any of the four languages. I’m probably 100%, 80%, 30%, and 0% right now respectively though. Anyway I’m not sure the show was terribly good but I did enjoy parts of it and it was nice to see an Asian culture that I was not really familiar with.

Anime

In the world of anime this week, the usual batch of seasonal shows were watched and none of them were spectacular enough to speak about. I did enjoy this week’s Tensura Nikki episode quite a bit since it was a festival episode, one of my favourite things in anime, and because it was a purely Slice of Life show, they spent nearly the entire episode having fun in it without much plotline to speak of and without too many of the usual stale jokes. It was a breath of fresh air that gave it a temporary jump out of my bottom 3.

Outside of seasonals, I finished watching Tenshi ni Narumon with Satinel. This was 26 episodes long, so it took us about a month to complete, but it did deliver what some of the reviews had mentioned — there were definitely Utena vibes throughout the show and overall it was very enjoyable, once you got past the 90s jankiness and trying to make too much sense about the actual plot. The story was absolute chaos, especially around the middle of the show when things started unravelling, but it came together quite well in the end. We also watched Kigurumikku V3 in our quest to watch odd Mahou Shoujo stuff, and it started off well with a first episode that had some promise, before rapidly devolving and crushing any hopes of a good show.

My group watch with Satinel and Serendipity is still slowly working on Samurai Flamenco. I’m still enjoying it quite a bit, oddly, more than I expected, and after thinking about it I think that’s largely because villains that appear more or less get defeated fairly quickly, so there’s no sense of an overarching, hateful super-villain that causes the main characters and me too much ongoing stress. The show reads like the main character trying to describe a tale of his own heroic exploits, that gets taller and taller each time he retells it to a new audience, with bubbly and flashy accentuations everywhere. We’re through episode 15 now, and will probably be done in two weeks.

In my main group watch with Satinel and Nak, we finished Uchi Tama?! as mentioned in last week’s diary entry, and I think it was safe to say that none of us expected quite that animation style when we started it. It was fine though, and they had equal parts charm, humour, and even some melancholy thrown in to the feed bag, Having 11 episode ending songs for 11 episodes is going to hurt in our AMQ games, though. Right now we’re working on Gakuen Babysitters, which seems to be a fun pick reminiscent of earlier group watches like Usagi Drop, Amaama to Inazuma, and Barakamon. I wonder if I’ll ever be in a situation to adopt a little kid. I’d like to, I think. We also had a spare block in our watching schedule between shows, and opted to watch Skelter Heaven, the lowest officially scored entry on MAL. As one of the other two put it, it basically felt like a high school anime club festival project.

On the personal front, I finished Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou and Kemono no Souja Erin within the past week. The first show wasn’t spectacular and kind of fizzled out at the end, though I really like its opening song. The second show was strong, and the storytelling sin that I accused them of committing in episode 44 last week turned out to be a false flag, so the show ended well. However, because it wasn’t explained well enough in the show, the way I interpreted that horrific scene coloured my expectations and mindset of the remaining 5 and a half episodes, and this really affected my enjoyment of the show. And then after that I had mild disagreements with people who did not interpret the scene in that manner and that further impacted my impression of the show. The show had several plot holes at the end that it handwaved away as well, which was disappointing. Still, that second bit didn’t really affect my enjoyment at all as the main story that was told was poignant. With those two out of the way, I marched on with a couple more episodes of Isekai Izakaya, which I oddly feel no urge to watch at all, and I started Kono Bijutsu ni wa Mondai ga Aru!, or This Art Club has a Problem!, which is far closer to my usual type of show. And which also has a nice, energetic opening song, sung by none other than Nana Mizuki. Her voice is wonderful, though she looks a little different than I had mentally envisioned her.

Games

This week, like every other week, I played a lot of Anime Music Quiz with friends. Not much needs to be said about this, I think. Other than that, we finally had our last (for now) Valheim session, defeating the Plains boss and sailing over the edge of the world. As Satinel pointed out, it is unlikely that the game will be completed before I leave for Japan (if that happens), so that’s probably the end of that. 93 hours in the game was a pretty good run though.

We also had a Tabletop Simulator session of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, which had glimpses of fun but also lots of jankiness, due to the Tabletop Simulator platform and vague rules, which added lots of frustration to the game for me. In the end, it was a good experience to have and I appreciated that a lot, because I know how to play the base game now. I almost won, too. However, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be returning to the game.

I picked up Trails of Cold Steel 1 in a Steam sale, and it’ll be interesting to see if I will ever find time to play that. Still, I don’t mind doing so to support the developer, since it was at a good price point. Trin also suggested I look at Rainy Season, as it looks just like my kind of game, and she might be right on that one. It looks like a short game as well so I picked it up and I’ll probably give it a shot one evening when it feels right.

I also tried out the CODE VEIN demo this week because the game was on sale and because Satinel and I were looking for co-op games. It was interesting, but the controls were janky enough that I didn’t trust it and it gave me a bit of a headache to boot, so I ultimately passed on it. I did complete the demo though, minus the optional side dungeons at the very end once you end up at the base, so that was something.

Lastly, a workmate wanted to start a Dungeons and Dragons session this upcoming Monday. While no one actually seems eager about the game besides him, about half the team at work seems okay with starting, while the other half agreed on principle but have been dragging their feet on actually creating characters and committing to a session. I feel for him, so I agreed at first to his plan of just trying to force through a session to start (as long at least 2 of the 5 players showed up), especially since I think I’d really enjoy my character as well (She’s basically a Haunted Phantom Rogue that I was going to play with a bit of a chuunibyou or gothic flavour).

However, I was uneasy about it because I would have to give up on the game if I were going to Japan, and I would likely find out whether I was going or not by the end of May. Worse, I felt like I was sort of betraying my hopes to go to Japan by joining this game now. So after some consideration, I begged out of this session until I could figure out what was going to happen with Sophia University.

Plushie of the Week #2 – Ducky

Yes, a rubber duck isn’t technically a plushie, but Ducky, with his stern look, bald yellow head, and a Made in China stamp on the underside, is basically the #2 in command of “the troops”, the military advisor that answers only to Tigey. He’s temperamental, and his personality is probably at least partly modeled after Donald Duck, hus he’s a good guy at heart.

Last week’s Tigey writeup showed Ducky nestling in the empty area in Tigey’s personal space, and here’s another picture of that:

They’re best of friends, utterly trust one another, and for a long time would travel to places together. These two would come with me when our family went on trips or vacations, and they’ve followed me to high school and University classes and to work as well in the distant past. A few different plushies would often get dragged around the house by us siblings, both in the late Singapore era and the early Canada era, and they would sit by our sides as we played games or did other stuff together. In the evenings, they would all end up at my desk while I surfed the internet or played some games on the computer. The exact makeup of these plushies that were dragged around would vary between two and seven, but these two were always there and always together with me. These days, not so much though, since Ducky has largely retired and sits with the other plushies besides my bed, while Tigey continues to accompany me to my computer desk daily.

I do not remember exactly when I acquired Ducky, but it was definitely after June 1998, when I acquired Tigey. I also have a blurry picture of him from June 1999, so it was before then. So his timeline of entry into my life was basically 6 months on either side of when we moved to Canada at the start of Jan 1999. I am fairly sure, though not 100% certain, that I acquired him in Singapore, around August or September 1999, and I literally found him lying on the ground in front of me in a void deck of a building while I was walking home from the MRT station after school one afternoon. I hesitated a while, then picked him up and brought him home, rinsed him under a tap and placed him down next to Tigey that evening, and that was that.

I also do not remember when he picked up that brown book that he carries around with him — I think this might have been from my early Canada phase, sometime during 1999, and I think I might have found it around some store or other, as in the book was obviously a broken off or separated piece from some other toy that was just lying there waiting to be thrown away, and I saved it from an untimely doom. I might be making up that memory though. If not, was that shoplifting?

Anyway the brown book is a spellbook with blank pages, and in our Plushie Lore, only Ducky could read the pages and cast from it — any other plushie that tried to read from it would go blind for a time. Naturally, Ducky started to abuse this after a bit, purposely taking the book and shoving its pages into other people’s/plushies’ eyes in order to blind them. Especially since the book had a knob that indicated which way was the “right way up”, and sometimes it would inadvertently get put upside down, and then other plushies would try to make fun of him for pretending to be reading when the book was actually inverted. The spellbook has also now aged over time, and looks kind of tattered and torn as some of its colouring has peeled, but that fits perfectly with Plushie Lore anyway.

Ducky had several “spells” that he could cast from the book with trigger words. Several of them started with Abraca-, like Abracapiano, which would summon a piano above the head of his hapless target that would then come crashing down onto it. Knocking over his book, or the duck himself, was a crime punishable by piano. There were a few other spells, but I don’t remember them. The key point is that this was arcane magic, and he basically became the second in command of the plushies this way. (There was also a divine magic user (Ally) within our plushies, but we will get to her in some future week.) He does need the spellbook to cast his spells though, which I guess makes him more of a wizard than a sorcerer. He hasn’t really needed to cast anything since I moved out though, since I no longer animate any of them besides Tigey.

Being a rubber duck, he is very light and floats on water — he’s joined me in the bath a couple times in the distant past (mostly when I’ve felt that he needed a bath, or wanted to feel cute and young), though he usually just had to glare at me a bit and I’d then put him awkwardly aside on the edge of the tub. An event that sticks out with me though is that I almost lost him in a departmental store one time, as I had on a jacket with an inside pocket and had brought both Tigey and Ducky along with me as my parents dragged us shopping. Ducky was on top of Tigey in the pocket, and he actually dropped out onto the floor due to all the jostling. I almost missed him, but something compelled me to turn around and I saw him sitting there on the ground glaring up at me, so I retrieved him and hoped that the store security cameras wouldn’t think I was shoplifting. That close shave made me seriously reconsider whether it was safe and necessary to bring Ducky along with me on trips or not.

Dreams

I had another good 7/7 streak of dream journal entries this week. I think at this point this might be the longest active streak I’ve ever had, and this is probably thanks in no small part to this blog (and me wanting to have dreams to write down for my readers). As well, I made a change on Saturday night that has helped immensely — I usually just tried to remember the dreams until I could get up and get to my PC to type it all out in a dreams.txt file, but I’ve found that even the act of getting up (and especially if I needed to them visit the washroom first) would risk erasing some of the memories and leaving me feeling very frustrated. I also sometimes was just too lazy to get up and write it down when it was 5 am, and I’d occasionally lose dream memories that way too.

Because I had been vaccinated on Friday though, I was preparing for a scenario where I would be too sick on Saturday to get out of bed, and so I brought a physical notepad with me and placed it beside my glasses. When I woke up in the morning, and also in the middle of the night, I scribbled down my dreams in that notepad instead of getting up and walking to the computer. This worked really well, and got me detail on my Saturday and Sunday dreams that I would not have otherwise been able to recall. I’ve tried this with a phone notepad app in the past too, however that didn’t work quite well for some reason. But this technique shows promise!

There were also some really interesting parallels to real life this week, like how the voice registers bit on May 04 were a direct result of a Discord conversation that my main Discord server had on May 03, and how Eralain turning up in the dream on May 09 was a result of her turning up in Discord on May 08 and saying hi after several months of being absent. The bits on May 04 about taking down a sign for teleports, and Trin terraforming the land, were definitely a Valheim reference too. And the Cov19 vaccine that I received on May 07 immediately came into play in the May 08 dream.

Without further ado,

May 03 2021
  • I was on a bus and playing some sort of game with friends where the bus was going through an area and we had to build a map of what was suspected the area looked like based on a bunch of pre-drawn map tiles that we had. We used clues like being able to see a flower through a specific window in a house that the bus went by, and then finding both the window and flower on two of the tiles.
  • I was taking both Japanese and Chinese class that semester in the dream, and was asking my teachers if we still had to come to class after our final exam, as we were still scheduled for two more weeks of classes after that — but what was the point of those two weeks since we’d be done exams?
  • Fames said something about quitting Overwatch because it had become really RMT-heavy, and that to develop his favourite hero he had to gacha pull a fresh copy of him and add it to the copy he already had to unlock his next “tier”. Jah tried to convince him otherwise by saying that there was a really high chance of pulling him again. But if he missed he would have to grind that new hero for 100 levels before he would get another chance to gacha pull.
May 04 2021
  • I was talking with people at work about using voice registers, and how there was a scale of about 10 of them or so. On Maciek’s birthday, James moved up a couple registers to match his and spoke like that the rest of the day as a gift. As for me, I told Ronnie that I was confined to the two lowest voice registers, but was completely okay with that despite being transgendered and having transitioned.
  • I don’t remember the context of how or why, but I found myself taking care of a white cat and her three or so white kittens. This involved adjusting the filters on big pipes so that food with the right nutrients came to the cat and everything else was directed away.
  • At another point in the dream, a small group of people (including me) were in a small arena trying to defeat a phantom boss. We had managed to defeat the boss but this new phantom was immune to whatever attacks we were using against the last boss so we had to retreat for some time.
  • We retreated to the guildhouse and basically went about our daily lives for some time while thinking about the boss. Our farm had room for something like 10 teleports, and eventually I took down the wooden sign that marked one of mine so that I could free up room for someone to use another teleport.
  • We also had land just outside the house where we had planted seeds and raised pigs. The pigs were on a tall, square upraised area of earth, and so they couldn’t escape and there was no need for a fence for them. We didn’t seem to have any trouble getting up when needed though. Trin was terraforming the farmland a little as well.
  • Eventually Seo called us all together and said to get ready to fight the boss again.
May 05 2021
  • This dream involved me trying to navigating my way around a region, centered on a shopping mall or complex. Flying was likely one of the options too, as was walking, but there were many skill sets that one could use and I saw many different people that tried different ways to get around.
  • There was also some storyline about an apocalypse thrown in, and one of the main quests of the people trying to navigate around was to find food and bring it back to the shopping mall to eat. I saw a girl eating noodles from a bowl at a table, and the host of the game commentated that that girl didn’t actually have enough to eat and was still hungry.
  • A guy then came back with a bowl of food that he had procured, sat down next to a half-eaten plate of food that he had started on before leaving, and combined the two dishes. The host was surprised that he had returned.
  • As for me, I was going around town meeting various people and doing various tasks. At one point I met up with Hirawyn and two other Lotro characters at a crossroads, and we all summoned our horses and went north following a road. We were dressed in tabards that had five little circles on them that showed five achievements that we chose to display, my tabard included a really rare achievement from being in a world first raid clearing group. My horse also had green barding, which was really rare.
  • I angled off away from the group and the path, cutting across the grass and heading north-north east toward a quartermaster or merchant that was nearby next to a fallen cart at the end of a road that branched off east from the north road not far ahead of us. I believe Hirawyn followed me, whereas the other two had some other destination in mind.
  • Somewhere off to the side of the city and peripheral to the story, two important characters, a male and a female, were dancing to some sort of rap song which I noted might or might not make it into AMQ since it was rap. The female might have been some sort of idol character who was going to leave the city.
  • Just before I woke up, I “saw” a number of Discord new message pings by Satinel, in both our main Discord, and a side group chat that we shared with Nak. When I actually woke up and checked my phone IRL, it was 6:30 am and there were indeed a couple messages from her in the main Discord chat from 5:30 am. Although they weren’t pings, this was rather spooky as she was online and had posted those messages way outside of her usual online times.
May 06 2021
  • There was a shopping region located in a mountain, which also served as a maze dungeon, as well as a shortcut to a certain town situated high in the mountaintop that we wanted to get to. I had explored this maze dungeon in previous dreams and knew it to be more or less safe, the only real danger was getting lost or lonely while travelling through it.
  • One of the expeditions to this region that I saw in my dream was done by a group of two, led by a female who had been a male in a previous life, and now had a voluptuous female body but still had a deep male voice as she hummed from the window of a train. She met up with an older man who was really pudgy. They sang really well together though, and she switched into a nice female voice when she sang.
  • I was a member of a team of five at school and we would train together by running around a track. A female friend on the team would grab me in a very romantic way by the arm and guide me around the track to some very good lap times, despite the withering glares and protests of another female friend who also liked me and wanted to romance me and chased us as well (my gender was also female).
  • The three of us generally had really good lap times, but the other two did not, especially a swordsman, who often very quickly got demotivated and would even almost get overtaken by the fifth person, who was usually really slow.
  • At some point after the training, six to eight of us visited a restaurant to have some food and left when it was late in the evening outside. I think this consisted of a mix between the people from that group, as well as my parents and possibly siblings as well. I was slow putting on my coat and gathering up my bag and it seemed from the noises outside that the others had already wandered off, but they returned for me afterwards.
  • From this restaurant, we were trying to figure out where to go, we all had maps but they were zoomed out really far and slotted into a rectangular, plastic placard as though it were meant to be worn like a nametag around the neck. I knew the area though, the mountain with its dungeon, as well as the Serangoon area of Singapore, were all to the north-northwest, and I told my father, who was part of the group, that. He said he wanted to head in that direction then just as I figured out how to pinch and zoom the map in the plastic holder.
  • Our party members changed a bit in between the restaurant and us reaching the dungeon, for whatever reason. Our party members initially consisted of three that wanted to go in — me, the female friend who had grabbed my arm, and the slow swordsman who was still really unmotivated and who we predicted wouldn’t do very well. The female friend whispered to me that he would probably change over to a magic class by the end of the day, as he’d be happier that way, and I whispered to him later on that he could consider hanging back and using his sword as a staff to cast support magic from like a Loremaster from Lotro instead.
  • Anyway all three of us were evil-aligned (in the DnD sense) characters. I was the healer. While forming our group, we decided to invite three others that were milling around nearby and obviously wanted to go in as well. I converted our group from a party to a raid, since a party only had room for 5 and there were 6 of us in total. We ended up inviting several other people that were nearby and were hoping for a group as well.
  • I noticed nearly everyone was a mix of red (evil) and blue (good) and requested that we rearrange our groups according to alignment so that my AOE healing spells wouldn’t injure the good members of my party and vice versa. We did so and I saw that we had something like 6 people in the evil party and 10 in the good party, though there were some neutrals mixed in to that number too.
  • Anyway we were all friendly to each other and set off into the mountain maze. We followed a map and visited a couple shops in the dungeon, one of which had a box with several toys for sale in front of the shop, and then headed over to a shortcut that would teleport us into the town that we wanted to visit.
May 07 2021
  • I remember one scene where I and some others were standing on a flat rock high in the air, a long horizontal piece that itself was balanced on a vertical rock.
  • In another part of the dream, humans were prisoners of some alien-like enemies that had invaded, and they occasionally picked out some of us to experiment on. I and another ringleader that I looked up to worked on opportunities to fight back and save some humans though.
  • For example, one scene had two of us plus another two random humans strapped in a car and with electrodes attached to us, and wires leading from those into the back of the car where it was attached to some electrical machine that would electrocute us. We freed ourselves before the test started, and I disconnected the wires from the machine, then managed to bluff a guard that came over to check as well, telling him that one of the wires had come loose during our struggle and to please reconnect it for us. Once he did so and walked away satisfied, I simply disconnected it again. We then helped the other two, strapped into the front seats, to escape as well.
  • Another scene was some sort of a top-down game, where first one person on a vehicle tried to escape as far as he could past monsters and birds and other enemies until he collided with a rock and lay there injured, and then the turn shifted to several of us back at the starting line on our own vehicles, and we pursued him to try to reach and revive him before his bleeding timer ran out, which would kill him.
May 08 2021
  • I was part of a group of 4, that included Kellie and the leader of some sort of gaming guild that we were in. We teleported to our target house, snuck in, picked the lock on a storeroom, and went in, closing the door behind us. We started picking up boxes and other things from the ground to take back to base with us, each of us trying to find a combination of boxes to maximize our weight capacity.
  • All that went out the window really quickly though as we heard noise outside. Dad came home/into the outside room where the storeroom door led to, and sat down on the couch to watch TV. This effectively trapped us inside the storeroom.
  • We tried to use our recall home skills to escape from the room but casting magic was blocked in the room. Our guild leader also tried to use his magic staff to cast something, but all it did was emit some golden light and make Dad look suspiciously over at the storeroom door, although he did not investigate it. I asked everyone to shush and asked the guild leader to turn off the staff light.
  • Instead, I told him that I’d log over to an alternate game account and use my level 10 Lotro captain on that account to summon everyone home. The captain had a summon skill which took 5 travel rations (purchasable from a vendor) to summon someone to his or her location, but since that didn’t actually count as magic being casted in the storeroom, only target selection, it would probably work. I logged over while noting that I had the only captain character in the guild (even if it were on an alt account) and we probably needed more.
  • As suspected, this worked. I told the party to grab as many boxes as they could even if it put them over the weight limit, then I summoned my guild leader and the other person out, while Kellie had gone AFK and her character had either logged out or gone into a special OOC area for AFK characters. I then swapped accounts back, giving my guild leader the password to my alternate account so that he could summon me. I almost gave him the password for a third account accidentally — but I only mischanneled the username and playtime for that one.
  • Once I swapped back I was summoned out to safety too, and then with no more evidence that I was ever there, I went back to my room in that same house to rest, as my bed had a good view of the storeroom door — I could see it out my bedroom door and through the door across the hallway, onto the wall on the far side of the TV room there.
  • But then I saw that my dad had left the TV room, and Uncle Wilson (note: Mom’s elder sister’s children, so they were cousins that were ~20 years older than Mom’s side of the family, so we called those cousins and their wives Uncles and Aunts) had come into the room instead. Worse, he had noticed that the storeroom door was unlocked, and had gone over to investigate it. I tried to bring out my phone and text Sis not to return to the game until he left because he would find her, but as I was about to do so, she returned to the game!
  • Kellie had the presence of mind to understand what was happening, however, and she sprinted out past him and out the TV room door, curving a right and fleeing from the house before he could stop her. He asked me why I didn’t make a move to stop her, I said that while I saw what happened, I was in bed recovering from my Cov19 jab that day and was in no shape to chase or catch her.
  • He asked me about the details of that character and I realized that he didn’t actually realize who that was, he only got a brief description of her character. She had close cut hair, brown skin, and a brown blouse top on that character and that’s all he noted, along with the character name that was floating above her character. But he got her name wrong, adding a dash and an additional vowel in the name, which made it match a famous character or person that had died several years prior instead.
  • After Uncle Wilson left, my sister came wandering back in to the house and my room and briefly complained about wanting compensation from the treasure that we had secured due to her having to endure the stress and wasted time of running off. I told her that that wasn’t important and to instead change her top, so that Uncle Wilson wouldn’t recognize her if he saw her. I gave her a white shirt to wear atop of her blouse to hide it.
  • At some point in that entire timeline, I actually saw the TV from my room as well and saw a picture of two actors doing something while seated on chairs in the middle of the crowd. While most people watching the show were fixated on the two of them, I noticed that some of my Secondary 2 friends (Rachel and two others) were randomly seated on chairs next to them, and I realized how valuable this historical clip was, as it was filmed more than 20 years ago.
  • At another point in that timeline, I was watching or talking to someone about a fashion show, and somehow something called a Neuoun was relevant and somewhat important to the conversation. I noted that it sounded like a subatomic particle at the time, but have no idea what it actually was in the dream.
  • And at yet another point in that timeline, I remember looking at my character skills and noting that a paladin-like skill I had summoned some sort of a hammer from the heavens that did holy/physical damage to its target, as well as lesser aoe damage to anyone within a certain radius of the original target.
May 09 2021
  • For some reason, I and a couple others were building a maze out of a limited number of square cube blocks that we had. The maze was small and was to be 3 cubes high, but we first built it with two so that we could sort of see our way around it. It was to be used as some sort of testing facility or puzzle for something or someone, but I forget what.
  • An important plot point in this part of the dream was that there were generic anime “pretty boy” characters that were seated in various places, they were either dolls or zombies or somehow robotic in nature.
  • A big part of the dream (and this was possibly somehow tied into the maze-building too) was that we were trying to unlock an ability or achievement or something that would allow those dolls to call us actual humans/players/owners by our actual names instead of our nicknames. This would also unlock the ability for us to either use their items or activate the board squares adjacent to those dolls.
  • We had apparently been trying to unlock this closer partnership between the dolls and us for years, though it was unclear as to whether there was more than one pairing, or if it was just me and my doll, or if it was just one doll with all of us.
  • Later on in a separate dream, I dreamt that I was getting married. I was female but so was my partner, she was an Asian/probably Chinese girl and I was at her family’s Asian house, sitting on stools by a really long bar table pushed against the wall. Her dad was seated on a nearby stool on the other side of me too.
  • Even though there was the vague aura of this being Chinese, there was also a vagueness about the location possibly being in Japan. Kynji kept a list of Discordians who would visit Japan while I was there, and there were five or six different people with different months listed, the latest one being Eralain in November 2022 or so that was added yesterday.
  • Anyway, her parents disapproved of her moving out, but I learnt that she was willing to move out if I was willing to commit and pursue a serious romance (that would eventually lead into this marriage).
  • At this point, she basically morphed into Mellandall, exuding that feeling of a gentle soul that needed to be protected. I promised that if we were to ever break up for whatever reason, I would finance and help her move back in with her parents so she would not be left high and dry.
Things I am thankful for this week
  1. Huihan. She’s a friend from Secondary 2 before I moved to Canada. She was not the first person I reached out to, but I did manage to contact-hop my way to her, and as mentioned earlier, she’s the only one of the people I initially reached out to that’s still actively contacting me, and she sent me an email this morning, so she was an easy pick this week. It’s incredible to hear what everyone is up to these days. She does tend to feature a fair amount in my dreams too. She was a very significant figure in my Secondary 1-2 school life for other reasons as well, but you will have to wait for that writeup to find out how and why!
  2. My health. This includes getting the Stage 1 COVID-19 vaccine this week, as well as the general achievement of not having actually contracted the virus (I assume) up until this point. But more than that, it also is me being thankful for my physical and mental health in general, despite the whole transgendered thing and the whole deaf in one ear thing. I consider myself somewhat lucky still because I have no allergies (that I know of, besides a mild feverish reaction to one particular antidepressant), no major illnesses, and being in a very good headspace at the moment that’s allowing me to really enjoy life.
  3. Instant noodles. Seriously, I love them. Not only because they’re cheap, not only because they’re easy to make, but because I find some of them really tasty in general. I enjoy trying new ones whenever I go to the Asian supermarkets too, picking out something that I haven’t tried before if it’s not too expensive. I love spiciness but tend to avoid some of the more generic brands, especially Samyang, which is terrible and extremely samey to me. My favourite obtainable A+ noodles are these Tung-I Onion Flavor noodles, although there are some good A tier ones like these Maggi Masala ones, and these JML Sauerkraut ones. There are also several unobtainable ones in the A to A+ tier for me though, either stuff like this Juzz’s Mee or this Myojo’s Mee Poh Dry or various other Maggi flavours that they don’t seem to sell in Canada! And as a side note? I want that person’s job! That guy who runs that site!
  4. Brita Water Filtration Pitchers. The specific brand doesn’t matter, but it’s ridiculously nice having a pitcher of water next to my desk that I can fill from the sink and then be able to settle down for hours and still keep myself hydrated with water that tastes awesomely neutral, instead of tap spew. I’ve had these things for so long that I’ve kind of taken them for granted. One could argue that this makes one lazy, as one would have less reasons to get up and walk, but I think that this actually is false, and not having this wouldn’t have appreciably done much except made me much less hydrated in general through the day due to laziness, which is worse to me than the few extra steps I would have taken without this here (and at that point I’d probably just resort to bringing water bottles to the desk). Being able to get fresh water without having to boil water is amazing, though.
  5. This is Mother’s Day, but I already gave Mom a spot two weeks ago, so oopsies. Instead, I’d like to thank my parents for all the stuff they did save and pay to ship over in a container from Singapore to Canada, and then between houses here, even though I mourn the stuff that they did not bring. I do appreciate the memories that I have left here though, and a large part of what makes this Shrine of Memories project even possible is because I have resources to look back at, because they understood the value of looking back at childhood things in the future, and didn’t throw absolutely everything away.

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Sherman the Sheep
23 days ago

CAT BOX