My Diary #010

The most important thing that happened to me this week was that I got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Besides framing everything I did in some way, shape, or form, that also meant it was a quieter week overall as I just didn’t go out or do much because I didn’t know how my body would react to the shot.

Also, diary entry ten! Double digits!

Entry #010 (Jun 27 2021)

Table of Contents

Phase shift to…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #9
ට  Things I am thankful for this week
ට  Dreams

School

This Friday, I finally got back my rejection letter from the first stage of my grade appeal for that China 302 class. It was quite expected as this was a department appeal, and I didn’t expect them to be very impartial since they’re likely too personally close to the instructor. I just wish it wouldn’t have taken them 3 weeks to process it, as it seems like they were stalling for time for a bit. My deadline to ask for a final exam re-marking, for example, passed on June 22nd, and I wasn’t able to pick that option because this department chair was dragging his feet.

The denial itself was super polite, which I appreciated — the departmental associate chair was really nice and explained with rebuttals why he only partially agreed with my appeal and why it wasn’t enough. In particular, he stated that it wasn’t actually compulsory for the instructor to provide a marking rubric, as long as they provided some sort of criteria for it, and thus a large chunk of my appeal was invalid due to that. Including the things about the instructor inventing all the bogus mark deductions on the fly and ninja-changing the penalty to a higher one when I pointed out the calculation error.

That being said, I am fairly certain that I have an argument if I say that his argument is flawed because his denial was based on him noting that if he counted all the marks that he partially agreed with my points on, that would still not push me to the threshold for an A. As far as I was told by the students’ ombudsman, at this point marks are irrelevant and I’m arguing for the grade letter to be increased based on my body of work and evidence provided, and not for my marks to be increased to the point that I’d have hit the A threshold, which was unfairly high and impossible to begin with. Perhaps it wasn’t something he could do at his level of appeal though.

At any rate, the road is open for me to appeal to the next level up, which is the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts, I think. That’s due July 25th. My concern now is that I’m not sure I simply care enough about it any longer, since I have many plans and many other things to do as well. It’s sort of the mood I was in before the wave of adrenaline and energy from the second round of bedbug sprays event kicked in last month. I plan to travel around and do things this summer if I can, and this just ties me to the past at this point, and I suppose I don’t need the extra 0.3 grade points that badly. I don’t want to let it go that easily because I’d like to seek justice against that lousy teacher who stole the grade from me, but I do wonder if I should just forgive and forget. Then again, while dragging this out will let her dislike me more, it will also probably force her to be more cognizant of her marking with other students in future classes.

I’ve also been considering whether I should take any classes this fall. I could take my last Chinese class for the degree (which isn’t with the lousy teacher), or I could instead take the time off and do the things I need to do around the house, perhaps take a vacation or two and travel a bit, etc. I can’t take my next Japanese course in Fall either since it’d be Japan 302, which is a Winter-only course. I don’t need to take any classes to be eligible for the Study Abroad since my eligibility transferred over., so that isn’t a factor. And I don’t know if taking a course might mean my final exam might come into conflict with an opportunity to go abroad or something. Rinuruc also has his wedding in October, as I mentioned last week, that I wouldn’t be able to easily attend if I had classes.

The flip side though is that I do still need a few more classes for my Certificate in International Learning, although I might get some of them checked off from my Study Abroad as well. As well, if this is the last semester that I will be at work, this is also the last semester that I can get an employee discount on my courses. So there are a few reasons why I might still decide to take one or two courses this Fall. I still have yet to commit, though.

Work

Half my team got their second dose of shots this week, and side effects sidelined one of my colleagues for a day or two. We also had a lot of people off this week (and last week, and the following week..). This means that our team has been fairly lean this entire month. Myself, I haven’t taken any days off, besides the mental health day I took on the 3rd to figure out what to do after the Fall exchange program was cancelled. This meant that we don’t have a full crew in most days, and for whatever reason this led to a situation where my work ticket count is nearly equivalent to the combined ticket counts of the two people with the 2nd and 3rd highest ticket counts on the team. Like I’m sitting at 167 for the month at the end of this work week, whereas number 2 and 3 are at 95 and 83 respectively.

That’s ludicrously high, though I’m part-amused, part-impressed, and part-don’t-really-care since it hasn’t been particularly stressful. I did talk with my supervisor near the end of the week and got some tickets taken away though (or I would probably have been actually equal to or more than #2 and #3 added together).

We also finished a major categorization project this week, to identify old accounts belonging to people that had left the department between basically 2012 and 2019. I saw lots of old names that I hadn’t thought of in a long time. We’ve let go something like 260 people in that time span, either from restructuring or from contracts ending or from the employees themselves resigning. Our department size varies a bit, but there’s only 231 people in our All Staff Google Group right now, so that’s quite the turnover rate, huh. There are actually quite a lot of people that have been here longer than 9 years though, probably around two dozen or so, but it did strike home how much seniority I have at this place now, since I started in November 2010.

Also, the team that we’re going to get merged with had a team retreat this week, at someone’s acreage on the outskirts of Edmonton. No one from our side of the fence actually went, while everyone on theirs did, which kind of shows the divide between the teams and the unity of their team in particular. Part of it was just different circumstances — a couple people on our team don’t even own a vehicle, and half of those that do own one live on the outskirts of Edmonton as well, so they’d be crossing clean across the entire city to get to wherever this was. And no one was going to attend and get outnumbered something like 7 or 8 to 1 by people that we don’t know well (and have some bad blood with in a few cases).

Except our boss! He hopes (and is projected) to be the team lead of the combined team, and he does have friendships with several of them that transcend work, so he jetted off to join them anyway. We joked that he might not make it back and that we should set up a codeword that he should text us if he was in trouble. Much laughs were had. I kind of wish our team had a team retreat of sorts though. They apparently do it annually or bi-annually, where they hang out and bond and then eventually discuss a bit of work as well, but in an informal setting and mixed in with other stuff.

I don’t actually consider our team very closely-bonded, though my supervisor would tell you otherwise. We’re all largely friendly enough with each other that we can openly argue, and I can talk to them fairly easily about any problems, but with the exception of the person who was trying to set up the DnD game for the team (which I guess is a form of bonding exercise but not everyone partook in anyway), I’ve never really felt like I was welcome or that anyone was interested in talking to me and being my friend outside of work.

It’s not all a bad thing, as the separation makes it easier to keep work at work and not take it home with me, but I guess that’s what I get when I’m the only East Asian on the team (since the Japanese guy on the team got let go during a previous budget cut) and the only female on the team (since the other got let go during a previous budget cut), and eeeeeveryone else is a guy and have families or steady significant others and eeeeveryone else besides my boss (who is Indian) is white as well. And that’s not their fault that they fall that way — the definition of a majority is literally there are more of them than any other demographic after all — but it’s really difficult for me to find any common ground or interest to talk to them about. I get lonely at work sometimes, and there will be basically no social diversity left on the team after I am gone.

Life

But my problems are still small compared to other people’s. The biggest event in my sphere this week wasn’t actually my vaccine shot, but that Kynji’s job is getting restructured to the point that it no longer makes sense for her to work long-term at her current job any longer. Personally I think this has a chance to be awesome in the long run — we’ve been nagging her in Discord to find a better job for a long time because her workplace is full of doofuses and people that didn’t respect her, and I think she could come out of this with a dream job of some kind. Specifically, she announced after some soul-searching that she desires to use this opportunity to find a way to teach English again, like she used to do in the distant past, and I’m super excited (selfish feeling as it may be) about this path. And this is entirely unrelated, but my blog probably needs more editors anyway. Just saying.

But the problem is being able to hold on for the time it takes to figure out how to get to where that dream job (that pays enough to raise a family) is, and then apply for and get any positions that are open. Kynji and Frotswa (and I’m just now realizing how ludicrous it is to outsiders that I refer to friends by their online nicknames instead of their real names) have Declan and Mochi and Hammy (not game nicknames, surprisingly..) to take care of, after all, and that means there’s always a sort of financial pressure looming over them. And it’s scary. Change is scary. It’s both a time of great potential as well as a time of great uncertainty.

On a lighter note, I realized this week after putting together some dates that Kynji and Frotswa’s two cats, Hammy and Mochi, were adopted on Fames’ and Rawan’s (one game nickname, one not..) birthdays respectively. Two cats belonging to a couple, both adopted on the birthdays of another couple, in our small 30-35 person Discord server. That’s both super neat and a bit spooky at the same time.

Second on the list of important things that happened this week is that I got my second vaccine shot. My last diary entry talked about my shot being on Wednesday, but I was impatient, so I kept on refreshing the page and looking for new day-of slots to get my shot, as I noticed that people would sometimes cancel even up to a couple hours before the actual shot. This worked out for me on Monday, the 21st of June, at around 12:55 pm, when I snagged a spot at the AHS vaccination centre nearest to me for 2:50pm the same day.

This vaccination centre is not far away from me, so I had time to even start and finish up another episode of anime between work tickets, before telling my boss I was going off to get my shot (along with two other workmates that day) and skedaddling off. The place was only about a 15 minute bus ride away, using a bus that comes once every half hour or so. I realized that there were 20 minutes for me to wait before the next bus, and also noted that the library that the bus would be passing by on the way to the vaccination centre had an On Hold book waiting for me to pick up, as I had requested it a couple days before. I still had more than an hour at this point too, so there was no rush at all even if I were to miss a bus. So I decided to walk to the library to check out the book and see what would come next.

Fast forwarding to me and my book standing outside the library front doors, I realized that there was still about 12 minutes (according to Google Maps..) before the bus would pass by where I was, and I had already walked more than a third of the way to the actual clinic itself. I decided to just keep on walking, to see how far I could get before the bus caught up with me. 15-20 minutes later, the bus caught up to me.. at the very stop that I was going to get off at anyway, the one right by the vaccination centre. It turned out to be a very pleasant walk on a very pleasant day (though it didn’t save me anything as I had to use a bus ticket for the return trip anyway, and it would have cost me that one single ticket for both trips).

Unlike the last time, when they were allowing people in about 30 or 40 minutes ahead of schedule, this time the clinic was only allowing people in 10-20 minutes ahead of schedule, so I found a place in the shade and started to read my book as I had arrived there 40 minutes early in anticipation. However, the queue to get in and get the shot was really quick this time despite the number of people in the warehouse, and I had my second shot at 2:40 pm, and was out of there scot-free by 2:55, after the post-jab waiting period.

I was worried about the next day, as I had to sign my lease Tuesday morning and I wasn’t sure if I would be suffering any side effects then as a result of this Monday jab. I noticed that I had a bit of a sore arm and a slight headache that night, but that the headache was one I was familiar with, it’s one I get when I consume too much liquid without enough solids, or when my blood sugar or something like that drops. I allowed myself a bit of TLC that evening by preying on a half-empty box of blueberry shortcake ice cream that I had from months ago, and that eradicated the headache really quickly. But I still went to bed early just in case, armed with a flask of water and a book next to my bed, just in case I couldn’t get up the next day.

I was fine come morning though, so I went down to the rental office on Tuesday to sign my lease. The contract I was offered was actually wrong at first, I had agreed over the phone to a lease renewal that would maintain my current cost for 5 months ($1185/month) but the actual contract was for $1249/month because that was the market price minus an ongoing discount that I had, and the guy insisted that the ongoing discount wouldn’t carry over and there was no written record of the agreement… I was about to walk out over the extra $64/month when he went into the staff room and allegedly found the person I had actually talked to over the phone, who said that she did remember making me the $1185 offer. So I signed for my 5 month contract at that price. Now here’s hoping that they don’t have to spray for bedbugs again due to idiot neighbours within those 5 months.

Once that was done, I walked outside around a park since the weather was really nice, and then toward the Safeway in the nearby mall. There was an outdoor self-serve recycling center located in the carpark there, and I had remembered there being clothing bins a summer or two ago, but all there were these days were bins for cardboard boxes, newspapers, and items of that ilk. This shot of the image that was splashed over the front of at least ten bins there amused me though, as I wonder who hated Danielle Steel’s book so much that they made it feature front and center on the recyclable items picture. I wonder if she’s aware of it, even. Probably not, huh. Anyway I was disappointed that the clothing bins were no longer there because I have to sort and get rid of some old clothes as part of my spring-cleaning. Summer-cleaning.

I then went into the Safeway itself and picked up some juice and miscellaneous things before remembering that Safeway didn’t offer plastic bags anymore and that you had to bring your own or buy new ones. This is why I don’t think recyclable shopping bags really have as much impact on saving the environment as people would like to think they do. Oh well. I did see a cute recyclable bag though, and snapped it up. It’s fairly obvious from my blog that I love carrot motifs, and this one folds (scrunches) up into a little ball once done with using it, with a little strap that makes it easy for me to just slip into my little tote bag that I take everywhere anyway. This hopefully will help protect against needing to buy new bags during spur-of-the-moment shopping trips in the future, because regular recyclable bags are definitely on the bulky side and not worth carrying everywhere. This bag is made of hmm.. I still can’t tell apart materials very well, some sort of mix between paper and plastic and it feels like a thin raincoat (and dries about as quickly, too),

Either way, no disaster befell me on the shopping trip and I walked around a bit before ambling on home. I ended up having basically no side effects from the jab at all, besides a sore arm that was subsiding by the 24 hour mark and fully gone by the 36 hour mark or so. I joked that I had even less side effects after the second Pfizer shot than I did on the first one.

I’ve mentioned a book twice now, so this is a good opportunity to segue away from the vaccine topic and into everything else that happened this week. The book in question was one that Kynji had linked in Discord in an attempt to start a book club with Trinstar and others, so I had gone and borrowed it as well. It’s The Liar’s Club, by Mary Karr. I don’t have a ton of time to read every day, so I’m only 50 pages or so in after a week, but it’s been quite a fascinating read. While I don’t plan on giving a review on the book itself, it did make me reflect upon my diary blog and what it might eventually morph into. My blog’s not really meant as a memoir, but it’ll definitely share some characteristics with one.

In the foreword to the book, Mary Karr said her memoir “began as a love letter to [her] less-than-perfect clan”, and I really liked that phrase. I feel the same way about my blog, except I will replace clan (family) here with self. The blog is meant to be a love letter to my less-than-perfect current self and former selves, honouring the various choices that I’ve taken to reach this point, and remembering the things I had to leave behind. A way for me to embrace and apologize to my various selfs that I have left behind — my male self on the operating table, my unfulfilled self at work, my depressive self in University, my sullen and defensive self in high school, my blissfully innocent self in Singapore, and so on. And it will hopefully be a way for me to reclaim them and take their feelings along with me into the future. That’s why I need to write this blog.

Another thing I wanted to mention this week was that I started to plan my trips for the summer and fall. I don’t know how many trips I will be making, but on my wishlist was the Calgary Stampede in early July, and then possible trips out west to Jasper by train, or out east to either Ontario or Nova Scotia to meet friends. If the borders reopen, I’d also like to make it down for Rin’s birthday in October, but trips to either California (to meet Eileen and possibly several other online Discord friends), or New York (for the sight-seeing experience of visiting a large urban city) are on the cards as well. For now though, the first item on the list was the Calgary Stampede, which runs from July 9th to 18th this year. It supposedly takes two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so for me this would be July 05.

Tickets for this event were sold online and normally cost $20 each, but I noticed that they were (and still are) giving away admission and pancake breakfast tickets on Friday the 9th for free, so I snagged one as this gave me a tentative plan as well as a way to reschedule, if I needed to be flexible, without costing me a thing. I don’t exactly like pancakes, but if they’re free I don’t mind at least checking them out. The only “problem” with these tickets is that I noticed a Seat Map link on that order form, and clicking it gave me this picture. 😅 I’m not going to any of the sub-events that require a seating plan though, and the ticket reflects this as it doesn’t grant admission to any of those as well, but it was a funny thought that the “free” tickets to the breakfast were actually meant for us to be served AS breakfast instead of being served breakfast.

In terms of the blog, I finished scanning my Dunman High 1998 yearbook this week, and will be uploading that shortly. That’s two out of four done now! I will be doing the remaining family albums next though as I consider that a higher priority to get done. I also started work on an internal blog page that I won’t talk much about this week..

Edmonton (and most of Alberta) is apparently under a heat warning, with a (and this is Environment Canada’s exact phrasing) “prolonged, dangerous, and potentially historic heat wave” coming our way next week. Oh boy. I do see 37 to 38 degree Celsius temperatures projected for next Tuesday to Thursday, so while it will be hot — as hot as Singapore ever gets — it at least won’t be as bad as some of my friends down in the States facing 40°C summer weather. I can’t fathom living in such an environment consensually. For me, I’ll probably plan a shopping run on Monday, and then chill at home and thank my lucky stars that I can work from home all through the rest of the week. It overlaps nicely with my remaining week and change before the 2nd dose vaccine fully kicks in, at least!

And lastly, that lit tree that I was thankful about in Diary #005 is dark now! I don’t know if that means the Christmas lights broke, if they finally took it down, or if they just haven’t bothered to plug it in since the summer solstice just passed and we’re still getting light well past 9pm most nights currently. Still, it really was a nice beacon of safety that I could always count on seeing from my computer desk, looking out over my balcony. It’s been lit since December 13 2018, and it has gone out for a couple days on at least one other occasion, so I hope that it comes back again this time as well.

Games

The Steam Summer sale started this week! The phone game/s I were playing got boring real quick, and I moved that time largely into book-reading instead, so most of my gaming time this week went into PC games instead.

Firstly, with Satinel, we surprisingly spent Monday evening playing Aardwolf again. Stein.world was down that entire evening due to some game crash and unresponsive admins, so we had time to kill, but I didn’t expect us to ever return to the MUD. Instead, she was curious what her skills did, so we spent some time going through them and chatting before I went out and murdered some innocents for a game quest. Outside of that one day, our early week was spent on Stein, levelling our crafting and monster-bashing capabilities as we made it into the second major zone (out of four). We also found and reported a crafting duplication bug that earned us (well, her, even though the mail came in to me) an actual usable statue item in game. That was very cool.

I’m not sure we will be going back anytime soon though, because the Steam sale kicked in in the middle of the week. I had been eyeing Bloons TD 6 as a possible co-op game for the two of us for some time, and we picked it up this sale. We had to get to level 20 before we could co-op, which took about an hour and a half of playing, but the game is hilarious and fairly amazing and overall a lot of fun, even if I’m really bad at it. I like the mechanic where you have a goal to reach each stage to unlock a win on it, but can continue freeplaying with steadily more difficult enemies afterwards to earn extra rewards until they eventually overwhelm you. I just wish it had a rewind/review feature to see just how you lost in the end. Still though, I generally don’t like tower defence games, and I’m not sure the amount of fun I’m having in the game will last, but there have been exceptions in the tower defence genre that I’ve liked in the past, and this is one of those exceptions for sure (some others being Gemcraft, Creeper World, and Plants vs Zombies, as well as a few co-op ones like Orcs Must Die).

Other than that, there are at least a half a dozen other games that I’m seriously considering buying and/or trying out, but I’ll probably have a clearer picture by next week as to what I did or did not end up buying/trying. I also noted that I had never tried Satinel’s copy of Cyberpunk 2077 to see if it runs on my PC, so I sat through a 50+ gb update on Gog to line that up for when I have some free time. I really need to find (or kidnap someone to make) my Perfect Game, which is one that allows me to wander a neon-lit night city and walk into any roadside shop or tall building that I want to. I don’t even need gameplay objectives, just a pretty free roam.

The Steam sale got me thinking of games that I would like to make (or see made) in the future though. Design ideas are a dime a dozen, and not worth much at all, but I think my top games would be something like:

  1. A tool to design walls, floors, etc and make buildings within a certain space, kind of like the Sims build mode, but over a large neighbourhood rather than a lot, and with more of a commercial feel rather than a residential feel, with tools to import your own designs onto things like shop signs and bottles and such too. This should include road and pavement tools and such too, and options to include quite a bit of clutter, and even objects that can be placed down and then moved around once “in game”. It should come with an “in game” portion which involves being able to walk around the neighbourhood/world, either in first person or over-the-shoulder camera mode. NPCs and AI optional, as that would increase the scope of the tool/game quite a bit.
  2. A cyberpunk slice of life simulator, where the world map would be top-down tile-based, but there would be a lot of things to do and interact with in a huge city. Your character wouldn’t necessarily be able to interact with them right away though, I’d start them off either in school or just having graduated from school and needing to make a living by finding some sort of job to start off with. But it would have hundreds of possible jobs, thousands of NPCs that one could in theory interact with, and the meat of the game would come from an AI system where instead of giving static orders to an NPC, each NPC would be instead given a “personality” based on a plethora of character statistics and then set into the world to themselves try to eke out a living and figure out and achieve their personal goals, whether it be to find a job, get elected, end up on the streets, join the police force, or go on a rampage etc. The city itself would be simulated as such, and then once that simulator was in place, the player character would be added into the world and left to explore. And then have to figure out ways to survive. And then by adding mechanics to the game you could give the NPCs both good and evil goals to work toward, that the players would have to figure out and stop (or not, up to them). The simulator part would be especially fun for me to think about and code, specifically trying to figure out how to break down an NPC’s personality into statistics and still make it as life-like as possible.
  3. An idle scavenger game, where you’d be in charge of a convoy (think post-apocalyptic landscape) and have to travel around to find parts and/or people to slowly build up or join your convoy. Instead of a regular idle game where you recruit and upgrade generic troops to fight for you and gather resources while offline, my goal would be to focus on the scavenging aspects instead, so the active part of the game would be to upgrade your convoy to increase its carrying capacity, defensive value, overall convoy speed, searching prowess, extra vehicles for people capacity, etc, while the passive part of the game would be the convoy travelling from place to place. The balance of active play vs passive play (and allowing for both playstyles to work) would be pretty difficult to achieve, but I think it would be possible. You’d have a whole list of upgrades you could craft to buff up your convoy, and during passive mode you could set target crafting resources to focus on finding to fill up your convoy’s capacity with, whereas during active mode you’d be able to find them and use them on the spot, be able to micromanage your convoy people in what tasks they are set to do, and might run into random events as well.
  4. Satinel wants to make a magical girl game as well and I would like to help with that, though since it’s her brainchild I would defer to her when it comes to game ideas. This one would be still neat to help contribute to though, but it did pop into my head that I should set a life goal at some point to learn how to do digital art. Digital art is pretty amazing, and I think a portion of life skills transfer forth through reincarnations anyway, so the more I do now the better I will be in my next life as well if I start young there. Sort of like how I’ve been naturally good at solving math and logic puzzles since I was young.
Plushie of the Week #9 – Unnamed Dragon (Munsch)

This particular plushie is unnamed for now, but he’s huge and I like him very much. He’s a dragon!

Side:

Front:

Tag (this felt like a violation of his privacy):

Isn’t he the most adorable thing ever? He’s huge, easily a foot and a half or so long, and very firm and huggable. He looks a little goofy and I like that, though I wish his eyes were more prominent as I prefer plushies with well-defined eyes. His tiny wings are amazing, though!

I rescued this dragon plushie for $21.95 (plus tax) from a store called Frivolous in Minnesota’s MSP airport on July 10 2017, on my way home from the Summer Games Done Quick speedrunning event (where I was a spectator). I could probably have found a similar one elsewhere for cheaper, but this specific dragon plushie was the one I wanted. I noted in Discord the day that I found it that the plushie called out to me (and turned out to be fairly cheap). It was a struggle getting it to fit in my carry-on luggage at that point though since I was past check-in and just waiting for my flight to arrive, but I must have managed somehow. Tigey’s always in my carry-on luggage too, so they would have met there and he’d have been annexed by the old tiger immediately.

This was a picture taken on the day of purchase:

as he sat on an airport lounge chair beside me. He’s been one of the guardians beside my bed ever since (as he’s one of my bigger plushies, arguably the biggest or second biggest one depending on how you measure). I think of him as one of those dragon guardians you can find beside or on top of ancient Japanese or Chinese temples, except for my bed.

He’s one of two plushies that I picked up in Minnesota, the other one will likely get a feature next week or otherwise really soon. Both their birthdays are upcoming, since it’s almost 4 years to the day since I went to Minneapolis for the event, but I also plan to be away two weeks from now in Calgary so there might not be a diary entry that week.

Later note: There was a diary entry that week. And also, Kynji named the dragon Munsch and I like the name, so that’s his working name for now.

Things I am thankful for this week
  1. Long summer days. The summer solstice passed a week ago (Jun 20th), so the days are going to start getting steadily shorter again, but I love it when sunset is past 10pm and there’s still some lingering evening skies outside even at 11pm. And conversely, sunrise is around 5am each day right now and that’s amazing as well. I do like the night for various reasons, but I also love long, bright days for different reasons. It gives me energy and joy, like a photosynthesizing plant. Of course, I can say that in a place like Edmonton where our usual summer temperatures range from the low 20s to the high 20s… I’m sure my friends down south in California have different opinions. Also, I find it really odd that summer starts on the longest sunlight day of the year (both Jun 20th this year) when that day is also often called Midsummer’s day (or a variant). It should be rebranded Startsummer’s day, huh. In my view, the seasons should actually be adjusted a bit so they all start and end a month earlier. But I guess I’m just odd because in Singapore, where it’s basically summer temperatures year round, I used to think when young that spring was Jan to March, summer was April to June, and so on, to match up with our school semesters.
  2. These diary entries. As mentioned above, the Liar’s Club book made me reflect on this a bit, and I did appreciate that this is already my 10th entry, so I’ve apparently been writing this drivel for 2 and a half months. And they’re all long posts, too. I’ve dropped one category (anime) entirely, and have been pondering on adding a couple others (game review, random photo of the week, etc), and I’m sure there’ll be more changes coming up over time as well. My one dislike about these is that they do take several hours to write, so they take away from me gaming or watching shows or whatnot, but I think the sheer value of these blog entries, even just to me personally, outweigh the effort and cost. For now. I wondered if I was premature in naming these blog entries as three digit numbers (ie, this is #010 instead of #10) but I hope to be able to hit 100 and beyond eventually.
  3. The AHS staff. AHS being Alberta Health Services. Having gone through their warehouse twice, I’m both really thankful and appreciative of what they do to get people in and vaccinated with such efficiency. My dad mentioned it was like sheep getting vaccinated, but I think that’s a good thing! No one wants to be there longer than they have to, and the more people they can get in and out at once, the safer the community will be and the faster we can reopen. I can’t imagine working there though, though I’m sure they have people on shifts and such. But what’s their story? How did they get roped into doing this? Are they other kinds of medical staff that are doing this temporarily? Are they being paid well? Do they have regular jobs to go back to once all the sheep are vaccinated? So many questions I’m curious about.
  4. Wind chimes. We just saw a nice anime episode of Aria the Natural yesterday during group watch that featured them, but I also heard one tinkling in the wind earlier in the week from someone else’s house when my balcony door was open. They also remind me both of our first house in Canada, where I stayed for 12 years, as well as Singapore. Although we didn’t own one there, there were many apartments packed together in an apartment block and so you could often hear them from someone else’s place in the hot afternoon wind too. I love wind chimes, and the aesthetic of hearing one in the distance while being unsure of where exactly the sound is coming from. I feel like the sound of a wind chime makes everyone that hear it feel cooler, and the tinkling noise, set free into the world through someone’s open balcony door or window, is a gift from someone to all their neighbours. I have been pondering getting one on and off for the past few months, but have nowhere really to hang one up properly, and I haven’t seen one that’s really called out to me either. Not that I’ve looked hard.
  5. Steam sales. The Steam Summer Sale started on June 24th, and while I know a lot of people are jaded with them, and they’re nowhere nearly as creative or fun as they used to be many years ago, I still consider the sales a major event to look forward to most of the time as I find that Steam sales are like rifling through treasure boxes in a vault, or stalls at an ENORMOUS bazaar — an opportunity to dig through the piles of games (and a lot of garbage) to find games that really resonate with me and are hopefully on some sort of sale to boot. I generally avoid the big-name Triple-A games, because I already know most of what I want to know about those games from general gaming news osmosis or personal research, and instead I use it as an opportunity to take a deeper look at anything from little puzzle games from independent studios to Double-A type JRPGs that tend to get buried under either triple-A studio hype or meme-level Twitch hype. Oh, and it’s usually a good time to pick up DLC in games or for studios that I am fond of and support as well (while being able to placate my guilt at spending money to support them by the products being slightly on sale). I usually find new games that I had overlooked but that now call out to me, and the exercise gets me thinking about what I like, and often ends up with me considering either getting or playing half a dozen games across different genres, sometimes with friends, and sometimes by myself.
Dreams
Jun 21 2021
  • A bunch of us rushed for and boarded the end carriage of a train in an underground station. We barely made it before the doors closed. Two girls were standing there by the end carriage too before we arrived, but decided for whatever reason not to take the train. Instead, they headed off to the up escalators to try to get to another level of the train station building, which was also a train station two or three stops ahead of the current train station.
  • I realized that they were trying to “skip ahead” and catch the train before this one, with the drawback being that if they failed then they would end up on this train anyway but it would be a lot more crowded by the time this train reached that station, so they wouldn’t have places to sit.
  • I watched intently as the train pulled away and counted the stations. Two or three stations later, the train arrived at the train station above the one that we had initially boarded from. Indeed, the two girls were there, having failed to catch the desired train. Dad, who was seated beside me, leaned in to whisper and ask if I had noticed what the two tried to do, and I nodded and said I did.
  • At another point in my dreams, there was an unused upstairs room in a house that Mom was trying to rent out or something to someone. However, it adjoined a room that I could tell was my neighbour in my rental apartment IRL, and the wall didn’t reach down all the way to the ground in places. I wandered in during the day and inspected one part of the floor where there was a hole at the bottom of the wall, and I could see a few little bedbugs creeping in to the room.
  • I tried to tell Mom this but it was late at night by that point and everyone had to go to bed. The next morning, Mom had put a bunch of furniture in the room, including a dresser to cover up the hole, and was all ready to rent it out to a new renter, but I told her about the bedbugs that I saw the previous night and that it was unsafe to rent it out.
Jun 22 2021
  • I was playing some MUD-like game where I could walk around in 3D but the results of our actions were also broadcast in chat. My character died due to some ridiculousness and that death message was broadcast on global chat as well, and I was annoyed because it was my first ever death even though the couple dozen other players or so online ignored it. I got sent back to the main screen, logged out fuming, waited a minute or two, and then logged back in.
  • Once I logged back in, I had to spend all my practices and trains on the main login page, and then had to pick a new class that my character could adopt before I could continue. I didn’t know this, and found this kind of fun. I settled on a class called an Acolyte of Lurina/Lucina, which apparently was a thief class with some cleric skills, that no one else on the game was playing.
  • At one point in the game I had to piece together a poster that had been ripped up but that I had all the pieces for, and then figure out the history behind the poster. The poster was a promotion for a school play and once pasted together, I could hear the actors of the play lambasting the IT administrators of the school at the time who had removed their ability to do something. These complaints were actually part of the play though, and were a form of student protest against the administration. I realized that I could pinpoint the year that this play happened based on that.
  • At another point in the same game, I controlled a group of NPC soldiers that were tightly clumped together and always faced the same direction. When they shot, they would slowly drift in the opposite direction due to the gun recoil but otherwise would not be able to move by themselves. Terrible AI.
  • Anyway, I was invading an army base with soldiers and high-rank officers that were spread out through the camp in clumps of 1-3. Trying not to draw aggro from other groups, I set my soldiers against one wall of the base and had them assist me as I attacked an officer that was standing alone. The officer drew out a light prism and brandished it at me, using the sunlight to form a sun ray that burned my chest as I shot his face with many, many bullets, none of which seemed to physically hurt him (but his HP bar was still gradually shrinking).
  • He won, but due to a skill I had (as part of my new character class?), I wasn’t killed, only downed, and slowly started to bleed out as I continued shooting him. He deaggroed and started walking around, ignoring the bullets from me and my soldier clump, but he was on really low health nonetheless. I pumped all my remaining bullets into him, then sat there and waited as he walked off a short ledge out of my direct line of sight, but into much better range for my soldier clump, who apparently had infinite ammunition. They eventually killed him, and I popped back up to life due to the second chance mechanic.
  • Snippet: A group of people, including me, were going around giving people email alias addresses that they had requested. This required us going to their homes and meeting them at the front door and going through their email as well in most cases to check what was tied to the address, and it was implied that the person who was to receive the alias often didn’t know either. In one case we found email from a war period several decades ago that a soldier had sent.
  • Editor: The email alias addresses thing is a variant of one of the job duties we have at work. The MUD game, and the practices and trains, probably from Satinel and I playing a bit of Aardwolf the evening before, as we spent some time figuring out all her skills and figuring out what to train/practice. The downed and second chance mechanic was right out of Guild Wars 2, as the icons in game more or less matched what I remember from the game.
Jun 23 2021

Dream 1:

  • This was like a scene out of an anime, with me as a passive observer. The main character was a guy who was in a brainstorming/decision-making meeting with three other girls for a self-organized event, using some sort of machine that allowed them to communicate remotely.
  • He accidentally put a recording device in the machine that was broadcast to the other girls. This device revealed his identity and home location, as well as a short clip of him making a silly gesture and face, and saying a catchphrase that was supposed to sound cute but that was written in such a way that the audience (and the girls) would know how dense and obiivious the character actually was.
  • It turns out the girls all knew his identity and where he lived anyway, and they used that as an excuse to immediately show up in his room. There were three of them, a girl with long, black hair and a hime haircut, a shorter, yellow-haired genki girl, and a third childhood friend of some kind. They all arrived reciting the catchphrase that he had recited to show that it was them and that they had heard his recording, much to his chagrin.
  • They they took some time squabbling with each other, trying to be the top girl in the very typical romcom setup.

Dream 2:

  • I was wandering a shopping mall with Dad and occasionally other friends while looking for Mom and other people I knew. There was a slight sense of danger or loss, possibly because it was late in the day, and because we never found any of the people we were looking for.
  • I did learn at one point that one of my friends whom I had known from school was also an ex-NHL player for the Colorado Avalanche, as I saw his name and picture in a newspaper. He was difficult to recognize with a helmet on.
  • At another point, Johannes talked to me about setting up a weekly board game night at the mall and asked if I wanted to join the group. He held up a big board game box and said they were going to try that game. He had recruited a second GM and they would take turns GMing the game every other week, with the other GM taking the place of a player, so that they both could play the board game as well as GM it. He said he wanted to do board game reviews from now on from playing it with the group.
  • I said my Study Abroad application opens in September and I had to see whether my application was successful first or not before I could commit on joining. That would probably be a couple more months after September, but before January.
  • At another point, we were at a pet store in the mall and I accidentally dropped a few coins on the floor from my wallet because my wallet was damaged and bulging a bit. The store attendant said she had never seen a wallet like that before. Anyway I knelt down and picked up some of my coins, but also saw more coins that I hadn’t dropped as well. I picked up those and put them in my wallet too.
  • The store attendant said that she was a huge pet lover, though I privately wondered why she worked there since pet stores are evil. Case in point, across from the pet store were a bunch of open tables where people had bought birds from the store, butchered them, and were harvesting them for some sort of ingredient. They did this every week for the birds that weren’t sold. Dad and I walked among the tables looking at what they were doing, before leaving the area.
  • There was definitely an elevator involved at some point in the dream too.
  • Editor: The girls in the romcom setup were definitely modelled after Osamake Love Comedy, a currently airing anime. Johannes is the GM of a current real life DnD game among my workmates and we had pretty much the same conversation (the bit regarding Study Abroad) about me joining that. And I finally had a sort of subconscious reaction acknowledging my postponed trip!
Jun 24 2021
  • I arrived in a big room, possibly with a couple other people in tow, although I was the main participant. Our task was to pick and develop our own magic spell, and to do that we had to first complete a bunch of tasks, one task I remember was cooking a meal for a number of people. This might have involved breakfast-style eggs and sausages, as well as a large shared bowl of salad, and other food.
  • At some point, there was a “results room” where I could see the past years’ results of this spell creation event, as part of my research. Apparently this event was held annually, and always involved a girl making a spell. While this had a slight “competition” feel to be selected, the term “winner” is used here somewhat approximately as there was more a slight feeling of sacrifice rather than victory to be chosen to make the spell.
  • Anyway, the results room contained 3 girls, who were the past 3 “winners” of this event. It also contained their spells, and I could get them to cast their spells to see their effects and how they worked. Each one had multiple varied effects, positive and negative, for example I noticed that one of them would consume 500 gold pieces everytime it was cast as one of its many effects.
  • I could also inspect the previous 3 spells from that results room, for a total of 6 spells. The 4th, 5th, and 6th oldest winning entries/created spells did not include the girls though, so they couldn’t actually be cast. I saw that the winner (and winning spell) was added to a public newsletter that was then distributed though, and copies of those were in the results room as well.
  • Editor: I’m not sure if the sausage and eggs part really happened, as an anime episode I had watched before bed, Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san, also had a dish like that, and I could have been remembering that instead. Salad bowl definitely happened though.
Jun 25 2021
  • I boarded a train with Kaiting from the school MRT station, with me carrying a styrofoam bowl of soup for her because she had too many other little bags to carry. There were two empty long benches along one window and one bench along another, and she headed for the single while I headed for the double. I put down her soup on the corner of the bench and sat down as she sat down on the other side as well, then realized what we had done and came over to my bench instead.
  • I told her it was okay for her to take the soup to the other one if she wanted. She went oh, and left all her bags on my bench while taking only the soup to the other seat and putting it on the seat there, before coming back to my bench to sit next to me. No no no, I said, I meant that it was okay if she preferred to sit across the aisle instead. She went oh again, said it was okay, and brought the soup bowl back once she had put down all the bags.
  • Snippet: At another point, I was on a bus going around a neighbourhood while it was raining. I don’t remember the exact context but there was some focus on the bus stop that I was trying to get off at, but which I had some sort of trouble doing so at, versus the neighbouring bus stops that weren’t too far off from where I needed to go anyway.
Jun 26 2021
  • All I remember is that I was playing a tower defence game of some sort with one other players, where we were primarily using spells to defeat waves of enemies. There were many, many levels in the game, with varying mechanics to each (and often some sort of tasks that had to be done too), and we travelled from one level to the next on airplanes by catching on to airplanes that would appear on the left side of the “screen” and fly horizontally out the right side.
  • Editor: This was definitely inspired by a game of Bloons that Satinel and I were playing the night before. Except it was more magical. And the enemies in the dream weren’t balloons.
Jun 27 2021
  • I received a note from Mom that they were moving from their houes, which was pictured to be the 799 apartment complex in Singapore. The note said that I could call them at around 10am or 12pm if I wanted to visit them there, or at 10pm tonight if I wanted to visit them at their new place, which felt like it was in Edmonton.
  • I wanted to visit the old house because that meant I could visit Singapore too, so I skipped school that day and gave them a call instead. The call reception was really fuzzy, however, I could hear a voice on the other side but we could not really communicate at first, and all I could manage to say was “Hello?” a few times.
  • After a while, I realized that they were at an IHOP having pancakes for breakfast and the waitress there was the one that had answered my mom’s cell phone for some reason, which was why we were having this communication issue. When Mom took back control of the phone, we managed to communicate and I told her that I was coming over to help them pack.
  • I was also frustrated that there was an IHOP there now, as my mental image still had the local coffeeshop with cheap, great childhood food next to the 799 apartment, but I was sure that this meant that the IHOP had replaced it.
  • For whatever reason, this then transitioned into a scene over at the 799 apartment where we were on a soccer field, and 11 players that looked like green playing pieces were taking turns kicking a soccer ball into the goal. Each of these players represented an hour without the AM/PM marker, so there was a 1:00 player, a 2:00 player, and so on, in lieu of their jersey numbers. The only one that was missing was the 8:00 player, and I realized that this was an old task from long ago that Mom had and never finished. Now that the family was moving away, she would not be able to complete it any longer if we didn’t complete it right then and there, so we somehow found the 8:00 player and helped put that old task to rest.

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