The big highlight this week was my trip to Calgary! This happened on Friday the 9th, though I travelled there on a bus after work on the 8th. The entry’s not that long this week, because I have a completely separate blog page where I am going to talk about the Calgary trip. This specific blog entry is only about everything else -outside- of the actual trip.
Entry #012 (Jul 11 2021)
I had Friday off this week, and basically sat around all day packing and dreaming about the trip on Thursday as well, so not that much got done this week at work. On Monday, I did help a panicked professor/department restore an account that had been deleted and had taken a bunch of Youtube videos with it, for a class that was starting Monday, so that did feel good. It was also more or less officially announced that we’d be working from home until at least December, most likely with a process where we can apply to our (supportive) team leader or exec afterwards to continue working from home indefinitely if our job suits it, although we’d almost certainly still be required to come in now and then. In other words, I’m probably never going in to the office again with my limited runway of time left. Or maybe one or two times at most. I still have my nameplate in the office that I’d like, but I’ve cleared out basically everything else already.
A really interesting thing happened this week outside of the Calgary trip, and outside of work and school, but I am unable to speak of it at this time as it’s still a work in progress. It’s to do with Singapore though, and is a bit of really good news that I wasn’t expecting, and might eventually lead to me taking a trip back there, so that’s awesome!
I noticed when taking a call this week that my cellphone battery gets really hot sometimes when I don’t expect it to. This has been happening both since I picked up that GPS game as well as when the heat wave came along. I also had the phone unexpectedly shut off once late last week, from the battery being overheated, even though I was using it and it wasn’t actually hot at that point. The battery must be a bit screwy and probably should be replaced at some point before I go to Japan if this keeps up, since I’d need it to be good for at least a year at that point. It did complain about heat again at the Stampede while I was taking videos in the sun, and turned on its own Extreme Battery Saver mode, but didn’t shut down there though.
I’m also considering getting my eyes tested next week, although I hate doing (and usually skip) the eye drop bit as I don’t like the dilation that happens and the time it takes for the eyes to go back to normal. However, I’m going to at least isolate myself for a few days to make sure I don’t seem to have any signs of COVID-19 first.
In the middle of the week, I also went off to the nearby library to borrow Humans of New York: Stories. I actually would like to do something similar to this, except that instead of focusing on the photograph, I’d like to interview people, ask them to recount whatever parts of their life story they’re comfortable with based on a list of questions, and then post their answers on the blog here on a page dedicated to each person. In this way I hope to capture people’s stories and memories in a compact format, on a far smaller scale than my diary but no less important, because the hope is that these pages and their stories will outlast me and them eventually and allow for their descendents or other people in the distant future to take a glimpse back at people from a bygone era. I hope to start this out with people I know, and then eventually branch out to strangers that I meet as well.
Due to this, I wanted to get some inspiration from Brandon Stanton’s book, even if it’s not quite exactly the same thing. I’m not really interested or brave enough to turn it into a philanthropist or political thing, at least not at this point in time, nor do I have current plans to go commercial with it either, though it would be nice to compile a couple books eventually. The interview format of his blog is fairly close to what I want to do though. Why? Because I’m a chronicler at heart! I want to record people’s lives, and their precious memories and thoughts, and I think that the act of recording is more important than the act of judging.
And how is it different from his blog? I don’t think it is fundamentally too different, we’re just different people and probably have different methodology and have and will meet different people. My ultimate goal is twofold; to chronicle people’s lives, and to use probing questions to get people to think about how their lives have been interesting and unique.
The other book I had checked out from the library, The Liar’s Club, was finished on the bus back from Calgary, and I dumped it off in the library’s 24 hour return bin while walking home from where the bus dropped me. I used to get motion sickness moving vehicles really easily, and I am glad I more or less don’t anymore if I’m careful about things. The book, a memoir written in a conversational storytelling format, was a great read. Heartbreaking in places, funny in places, and just suffocatingly depressing in others, it really struck me how different other people’s lives could be and how I basically couldn’t relate to any of it, but really appreciated the window into her life anyway. i had finished the book just after the bus passed Red Deer on the way back to Calgary, so I had plenty of time to sit and think about the story and what the title actually means, English Lit style. She apparently has a follow up book named Cherry that I might borrow some time too.
I would also like to officially lodge a complaint here, that Windows has been somewhat odd since a few updates ago. Everytime i reboot my computer these days, any old Explorer windows that were open before the reboot would reappear and I can use them. However, right clicking on the taskbar and opening a new Explorer window that way will cause Explorer to be stuck and no actual windows ever appear. Furthermore, right clicking on any file or folder within any explorer window will cause Explorer itself to freeze up permanently. Either way, killing the Windows Explorer process in the Task Manager (Summoned by ctrl-alt-del since right clicking on the taskbar stops working in both cases) forces it to relaunch afresh with whatever windows were open, and this second time it will work just fine until the next time I reboot.
Furthermore, this next problem doesn’t seem to happen immediately after a reboot, but I’ve noticed that after a short period of time, any Notepad windows I open through right clicking its icon in the taskbar will open just fine, but will never have cursor focus until I tab or click back into it, which is royally annoying. Any other thing I open from the taskbar will have focus as per normal, though, as will any Notepad file I open through Windows Explorer. Why is this?? Who knows!!
And lastly, I heard a commotion on my balcony on Tuesday the 6th and found that I had a feathered visitor. This is only noteworthy because of the unlikeliness of something landing on my balcony, a couple floors up from the ground, something that hadn’t happened (as far as I was aware, anyway) in the 10 years or so that I’ve been staying here. Cute. S/he didn’t stay long, though.
The Steam sale ended this week, but not before I picked up a couple more games. I snagged:
Cogmind – This is a really deep and intense roguelike which I have yet to actually play, but have no doubt that I will like if I ever get around to it. It will require time dedicated to it though, but I know exactly what I’m getting into in this genre, as I love similar roguelike games, so I picked this one up for the future, so to speak. It does claim to have better mouse support than most other ascii-based roguelikes of its ilk though, so that should be interesting.
Serment – Contract with a Devil – Satinel and I were talking about this game and it looked interesting from what we saw. I was actually going to go for another anime-art dungeon crawler game, but this one seemed to have an interesting alloted-time-per-day mechanic much like Stardew Valley that sounded really interesting, and claims to have a lot of side mechanics and things to do, which I like too. And cute girls without sexual content is always fun, too, especially when the player character protagonist is female.
TROUBLESHOOTER: Abandoned Children – This claims to be an SRPG (Strategy RPG) in the relam of XCom and such, but far more customizable. This is totally true, and the first 8 hours of the game that I’ve played have been an absolute blast. Although the devs are Korean, and their patch notes and announcements aren’t fully translated correctly, the actual game translation is mostly solid and the engine itself is fantastic, as it goes back and forth between a strategy RPG grid map battle portion, a visual novel portion, and an RPG upgrade portion that allows you to upgrade and change various things about your company base, your friends and allies, and yourself. There’s an intricate (so far) crafting and customization system that lets you mold your characters in many different ways, and has shades of Fire Emblem with things like levelling a character as far as you want in a class and picking up those skills permanently as available options, before swapping away to another class. The characters are really memorable so far as well, with some hints of people to come that I’m really looking forward to. This game is excellent!
Steam also started charging Canadians taxes at the beginning of Juiy, and this was my first purchase under this new system. Thankfully my first purchase at the start of the sale was before this tax system had kicked in, so I saved a bit there. Still, while this is annoying, I suppose I’m glad to be living in Alberta since we “only” have a 5% tax applied to our purchases, which is lower than every other province and territory in Canada, I believe.
On a lighter note, Satinel and I have still been playing lots of Bloons TD 6 in the evenings, occasionally joined now by Thrandor and Darkseize. 4 player money generation is waaaaay too slow, but it’s been fun nonetheless!
Although it’s apparently a two-week-old announcement, I also found out that the studio that makes my favourite JRPG series, the Trails games, announced English ports of several of the games and said that they would be coming to Steam in 2022 and 2023. This is huge news, as the first three games as well as the 6th-9th games in the series were already in English, but 4 and 5 were not, nor were the new ones announced to come after 9. 6-9, the Trails of Cold Steel series, were quite popular on Steam though, and 1-3, the Trails in the Sky series, have a slightly smaller audience but have a great story and a western port that holds up well even on modern PCs.
Games 1-3 represent one arc, 4-5 a second arc, and 6-9 a third arc, all happening in neighbouring countries in a war-torn region of a world, thus why the games were sort of released separately and could technically be played out of order as long as you did one arc at a time. There are some references to earlier games in the later ones though, especially in 9, so I’ve been hesitating to play through them without an official port for 4-5, even though they’re separate arcs and apparently the English fan-port for them is pretty good. In fact, apparently the translations for 4-5 (at least one of them if not both) are going to be based off of the unofficial fan translation. Anyway, I’ve only played (and 100%’d) the first two games thus far, but I look forward to this beloved series being fully completed eventually. Probably just in time for me to learn enough Japanese to play them in their native language anyway!
In terms of phone games, I didn’t really play any this week, except for pulling out the GPS game, Orna, on the way down to Calgary, to see how well it handles being on a bus. Long story short it’s hilariously broken and allowed me to farm a lot of resources and bosses on the way by virtue of the game continuously loading new areas as the bus chugged along, before I noticed that it was really chewing up battery and bandwidth.and shut it down.
Plushie of the Week #11 – Ralph
Meet Ralph! If you read my post about my Calgary day trip before you read this blog post, you’d have already seen a couple of pictures of him in the wild. Well, in the “wild”. Tigey’s on top of him in both pictures, so he’d obviously already been tamed by then. Here’s more pictures of him at home after his initial baptism bath in the washer and dryer, though.
Isn’t he the cutest thing though? I don’t actually know what foodstuff he’s supposed to represent… to me, I call him a fried tofu, because he looks like four unsliced cubes (these ones (local)) joined together to me. He’s probably actually supposed to be some sort of rice or cream squashed between two slices of something, though. (Satinel claims he’s probably a s’more, which might be right, but I’ve never eaten one of those so I can’t tell you if Ralph tastes the same.) But he’s tofu to me. His tag claims that he’s from Ideal Toys Express, but I don’t actually see this plushie listed on their site.
His birthday is July 09 2021, because that’s when I “bought” him from the Calgary Stampede. By bought, I mean that instead of looking at the carnival games, I was looking at the carnival game prizes, trying to find something unique-ish, cute, and not too large. He was what I settled on, and he was a prize at a carnival fishing game for kids. It was no challenge whatsoever for adults, and the proprietress told me that for adults, she just mandated that we catch one of each colour (instead of the usual 12 fish or so needed) in order to claim our prize, the value of which was tied to the number of fish we paid to catch (and it was not possible to fail to catch them!) and not any sort of luck or skill. He cost $20, in the end.
Why is he called Ralph then? Because the proprietress was friendly, and after I took Ralph down from the peg that he was hung up on, I asked the lady manning the booth to name him. She hemmed and hawed a little, then gave him his name and gender, and that’s what I’ve stuck with!
Things I am thankful for this week
- Dr. Nancy Cheng, my doctor over at the University of Alberta’s Health Clinic. She has been specializing in transgender health for aaaages… since at least around or slightly before the very start of my transition in 2010 basically, and she’s still more or less my “family doctor” equivalent at this point since I’ve been working at the UofA since prior to then. She’s basically accompanied me through the entire process from start to end, and although I had some complaints about her early in my experiences with her, those have long since evaporated and she’s helped me on so many little things as well. I’m sure it was a bit of a learning process for her too since I think I was one of her first patients to start before the very first referral process as well as go through the entire thing all the way through the surgery. In tandem to this, I also am thankful for my gender therapist, Dr. Warneke at the Grey Nuns Hospital, as he was the only gender therapist (and thus gatekeeper) in Alberta for many years, although I’ve heard that he’s since passed on and there are a couple other doctors taking on his mantle now.
- Having a library branch within 15 minutes walk from my house. I don’t read nearly enough, but having one near my house is a really useful resource that I should utilize more. When we were younger, this branch was the branch we frequented as a family at one point as well, but at that point it was something like a 20 minute car ride or a 45 minute bus ride away. I love the idea and the romance of a library though, and how chock full of knowledge and strange books there are, even if I usually shy away from fiction books and go for non-fiction instead. My very first website, back when I was 14, had an introduction that was basically a traveler stumbling upon a cozy, hidden library set into the side of a hill in the middle of dark, desolate steppes far away from civilization.
- Camera phones. I felt this acutely when my phone actually died, but I did get to thinking at some point that as a Chronicler, a convenient device to take pictures (and do a lot of other things on as well) is so important to have. One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have photos from the 90s and early 00s, even though I had flip phones by the early 00s at least. I didn’t appreciate the need to Chronicle things back then, and I wish phones were as prevalent back then as they are now.
- Travelling alone. There are tons of advantages to travelling with others, and tons of things to be thankful about as well, but having the freedom to travel alone and do things by myself, having the luxury to be able to change plans on the fly, is amazing. I got to thinking on the way to Calgary this week that it was like I was a teenager trapped in an adult’s body (since I had just transitioned not too long ago), but that was not all bad sometimes since that gives me freedom to do things that I would not actually have been able to do if I were a teenager trapped in a teenager’s body. I would like to travel around more of the world, and see more things.
- And lastly, no surprise, but I am really thankful for the hotel room that I was assigned in Calgary’s Best Western Plus Suites Downtown. Room 750. Thanks for an unforgettable night with the best scenery I’d ever had lulling me to sleep. Maybe next time I can find some amazing suite in a high room in some downtown hotel in a big city with an even better view, but this view was a cheap and great taste of what it means to dream, and it got me thinking about that potential career shift to become a diplomat or some other job that involves travelling.
I’m going to blame trip excitement for this one, but this week I finally had a night where I couldn’t remember any dream at all when I woke up the next day, not even small boring snippets. Oh well. I’m frankly survive my streak lasted so long, I basically went over two months since I started this blog when my previous record before that was maybe around or just under two weeks at most. I really need to find some time to get my entire dream diary down onto the blog, though.
On the flip side, I didn’t expect to actually remember or be able to write down a dream the night that I would be spending in the hotel in Calgary, but I actually had a pretty decent one!
Jul 05 2021
- Two opposing e-sports teams, TSM representing North America and some 4-letter team representing EU, were trying to figure out how to beat some new raid boss or mechanic in a game. They had two different theories and the information was closely guarded, but both teams were working out of the same physical arena in front of many online and in-person fans.
- Both teams had a lot of healers (white names) and DPS (green names), and I was with a friend that wanted to join one of the teams as a free agent, so I came along with him to watch. I had no interest in joining myself even though I was a healer.
- One of the teams had their base set up in a toilet, so when someone random came in to use the washroom, they thought he was trying to steal their secrets, so one of their members reported him twice to the GMs using a tool. They realized after a bit that he was just there to actually use the washroom though, so they cancelled the report.
- Later on, that member also reported a player on the other team for cheating, and made at least 8 reports on different aspects of the cheating (or perhaps he was just spamming the report button). The GMs not only suspended that other player, but also the random passerby that had used the toilet, because his name was still on the tool and they didn’t check to see that that was something else entirely. It eventually got sorted out after some time.
- Snippet: There was something about a gift shop trying to find a way to give its recent patrons some sort of gift as thanks for supporting it through the pandemic, but because of COVID-19, they had to try to find a way to do it online. Images of the patrons were kept by the shop in some sort of virtual system that looked like a giant whack-a-mole board or egg carton.
- Snippet: I was a hero player character in a game, and an npc brought a statue to me as thank you for some service I did for him, which he was really proud about. The statues the NPCs made had to be created by hand and would crumble after a period of time though, so I felt bad about telling the NPCs that I could actually create permanent copies of that statue out of nothing just by pressing one of my skill buttons, and instead just smiled and accepted it.
- Editor: TSM, or Team SoloMid, is an e-sports team that I know from when I used to watch League of Legends professionals do their thing. I haven’t tuned in to that fandom in ages, though.
Jul 06 2021
- Snippet: I was wandering through some dungeon in an MMO and saw a large giant blocking the cave corridor in front of me. I wanted to avoid it so I took a side passage instead. There were ten robed figures lined up in a row blocking that side passage, so I attacked and defeated them all. Outside the game, there were two versions of myself in the world that focus was going back and forth between — my current self, as well as my pre-transition depressed self, who was still living with my parents.
- Snippet: I had to visit a gang HQ to ask them for some clues about something. Their HQ was located in a junkyard. There was also someone dressed in a clown-like suit, so he looked rather formal even as he looked silly.
- Snippet: Something about sitting on a clump of bananas and squashing them to make something else. Also, something about me solving puzzles and being able to toggle the ability to do so at a 2x or 4x speed compared to everyone else.
- Snippet: My sister and I were going to swim up a river in a reverse direction from how it was usually swam. The river had many 90 degree bends and basically wound its way between a series of mountains that formed a square. Where we were at the finish line, we could see a physical model of the square, except it showed the live locations of polar bears, sheep, and goats in the mountain range with little icons as well. Kellie was taking forever to get ready, so I told her I’d go first and asked her to time how long I took. I jumped in and swam to the very start of the river, before drying myself and teleporting back home, and she said that I had taken about an hour and she had watched two anime episodes featuring dogs in the meantime.
Jul 07 2021
- There was a snippet about deploying myself and a couple friends, who were in some sort of military, to guard the very southeastern corner of a large game city map. I was “in charge” of the area and my friends, but nothing ever came by that I remember. Despite that, there were different versions of the ugprdes that we could buy, and one of my friends’ upgrades that he bought was cheap but would not allow him to detect things trying to sneak by, and we poked a bit of fun at him for that. Dad or a teacher was with us as well, and at some point we were travelling together through the city on the back of a truck that was probably driven by him.
Jul 09 2021
- Fern started a mahjong game in a secret room of a building we all frequented but invited only those around in the wee hours of the morning which was Jah, Satinel, and a few of my Singapore friends, incl a few that didn’t know of my transition yet. I asked much later in the evening for an invite link because I wanted to check out and see if I knew any of my old classmates playing there, but Fern was offline by then. Kynji said that when she woke up on the morning she saw them still playing but it looked uninteresting so she didn’t bother.
- Other shops in the building included a supermarket. It had an occasional event where an employee would cart out a cart full of frozen turkey butts, dump them into a bin, and announce a special sale event loudly to anyone nearby within earshot. They were apparently really good meat for a really good price and I stared at them for a bit, contemplating a bite. They looked like skinned chickens and were lying down with their butts facing up.
- Another shop was a cobbler. It was run by a Korean lady and her older mother. I couldn’t speak Korean and neither of them spoke English, so I had to try to communicate using broken English and gestures that I was looking to buy a shoe. Eventually they seemed to understand and took me to a back room where there was a single pair of pink shoes in the back of the room on the shelf. But it also came with knee high pink socks and those didn’t fit so I didn’t buy them in the end.
- By this point the older woman had figured out how to communicate using broken English and she said that she was pregnant and giving birth tomorrow to another girl and hoped that she could get some sleep. I congratulated her and said that female babies probably slept better than male ones so she’d have marginally more sleep than if it were a male baby.
- One last room in the building was another secret room that you could only normally stumble upon by taking an elevator. The building was 3 stories high but counted down from 1 as the top level to 3 as the bottom one, and if you left the elevator door open while the lift was descending then there’s be a 1.5 level that you could hop out of the elevator into even though the elevator didn’t normally stop there. We happened to have the elevator door open while the lift was descending, and did this.
- I was with 3 people at this point, two girls and a guy, all people I knew through various time periods in my life but I can’t recall any of them for sure. One of the girls was someone whom I had really wanted to be good friends with, another of them was either Amy from work or Kim from primary school or someone tall and lanky like that, and the third was someone romantically involved with Amy (or whoever) and was fun-loving and a bit wild, possibly Justin from secondary school.
- Anyway, Amy was freaking out because we were clearly not on the first level anymore when we saw the exit and hopped out, yet there were no elevator buttons and the stair leading up said level 1, but the sign on the current floor also said level 1. Us three girls held hands, and I remember noting that Amy’s hand was rougher whereas the other smaller girl’s hand was smoother but colder. One of the other girls told Justin not to run off as he might get spirited away and not return, he briefly disappeared behind a low wall in the middle of the lobby and the smaller girl and I were worried that he had indeed disappeared. But the next thing knew he was next to Amy back on our side of the little wall and was wearing a feather headdress of some sort.
- Finally I realized that I had read about all of this when learning about this building, and that this was a perfectly normal room, just a hidden one. I also remembered that Justin could corroborate this, which he did. Lastly, I remembered reading that there was a bow (the weapon) concealed on a shelf in this room, and we quickly found it after a brief search, proving that this was the room in question. Amy took the bow and equipped it by slinging it around her shoulder and body before we headed off.
Jul 10 2021
- I was a student in the school and was helping a friend in the school do something that I don’t quite remember, but was similar to renting a room or doing some sort of quest. The catch was that the application or activity was based on the person’s grades or stats, so whenever it wasn’t enough, I or the couple others with me would also sign up and help bump those weak stats/grades up temporarily until the person could deal with it. This might even have involved some magic spells. I don’t remember the exact details but we went through several of these events looking for the perfect one.
- At another point in our school activities, we were having Phys Ed classes and everyone was racing round and round on the oval running track. Focus was given to the girls at the back of the group, because it was implied that if they got lapped by the group then they’d get expelled. It started with one girl clearly falling behind everyone else, but it was paused and reset to transition to some other scene which let her fix it somehow. Later on when it went back to the Phys Ed classes again, she was now still near last but was running even with the pack and in no danger of being lapped. The new last place runner was another girl who looked like a short anime character and who I knew would eventually get to star in her own show as a tsundere after graduation. I remember thinking she looked like Beatrice from Re:Zero but wasn’t exactly that. She and everyone else was in no danger of being lapped and expelled though.
Jul 11 2021
- Snippet: My mom and I were part of an all-female police force that was keeping the peace in a neighbourhood. We were assigned and kept the piece largely through an overhead map of the area, and there was some sort of game mechanic going on that involved a festival or event as well as prerequisites for skills that meant that we got shuffled or moved our assigned spots around very often.
- Snippet: I owned or had the materials to build 3 copies of a defensive structure that could be placed on a top-down map of some kind, and I could remove and replace/resettle the structure elsewhere as appropriate. The structure was basically shaped like a person’s head, and would hover and bob in mid air where I created it. It would fire projectiles from its mouth when certain things got too near to it on the map, and it had two names — “Bubblegum <something>” for its casual name and “Large <something, a word similar to responsibility>” for its formal name.