My Diary #027

Dear Tigey,

Between the jury duty thing hanging over my head, two MLP pod sessions sandwiching this week, and having to plan for a potential vacation spanning the USA, this week sure flew by quickly. Even when I know that stopping to appreciate how every day is unique and smelling the roses is how you slow down time, this week felt very unique and jam-packed — but it still flew by!

Entry #027 (Oct 24 2021)

Table of Contents

The jury is out on my…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #26
ට  Photograph of the Week #13
ට  Song of the Week #3
ට  Dreams

School

Not too much happened in the realm of school this week. despite us having a pod meeting (4 of us girls) for our MLP program on Monday, and then an all-participants one on Thursday. There’s another pod one on Monday too so we can get ahead of the curve (our Monday one this week was supposed to have taken place last week, so they’re usually more spaced out). Both sessions this week were okay. Fun enough, though nothing huge stood out from either one.

For the pod group meeting, we began designing our scrapbook for the group project, and that went better than I thought. The Thursday all-participants meeting had an interesting segment talking about cultural brokers and their role in bringing a group together and making them gel, and that was also interesting. I hope I am being a good cultural broker in my group. Next week’s topic is gender though, and I’m probably going to reveal to them that I’m transgendered, so we’ll see how that goes.

I also really have to try to find time this week to do my study abroad application. It’s a lot of repeated stuff from my last application since nothing’s changed, but I won’t have time to do it over the next month if I plan to traipse around the United States, so I don’t actually have a ton of time left to get some parts of it done.

Work

With the jury duty thing hanging over my head this week, I didn’t really do that much at work — I had Thursday tentatively off, but I didn’t know until Wednesday afternoon whether I would be made to go down or not, and time at work flew by as I was worrying over that. I’m still queue monitoring, and made a huge stats page in the spreadsheet for my boss since I like stats. It showed our team’s numbers in September were kind of awful, when it was supposed to be our most focused time of month, and our numbers were actually better in October.

Anyway, whatever. We did have a piece of big news this week, which is that my boss seems to have gotten approval to hire three people instead of the original one or the upgraded two that they had landed on a couple weeks ago. Woo! Our team will finally be fully stocked again. We used to be a 7 person team, but had gotten cut to 4 from cuts and people leaving without boss being allowed to backfill. This will bump us back up to 7 and should help morale and such again. My boss said it was partly because his boss knew that I was likely leaving next year, and partly due to some big projects that were coming down the pipe in addition to all the additional work that we seem to have, since our workload hadn’t really dropped since the start of September.

So anyway we’re a couple weeks out from some new team members. Yay!

The other notable thing here in this section is that as I’m planning for a potential multi-city trip down to the States, I’ll be trying to avoid taking actual vacation time by also doing work while on the road, particularly in the mornings. I’ve cleared and re-cleared this with my boss and he does seem okay with it since he says I need a break, so it’s hard to say no to that offer since I wouldn’t be using up a ton of vacation time while still being able to travel and experience new things. I think I can do it reasonably well, alternating between mornings and evenings.

Life

The first point of order this week was my jury duty selection. Social duty and responsibility and all that. I called the phone number the afternoon before I was scheduled to go down and found out that the afternoon 1pm session was cancelled, but the 8:30 am group, which I was part of, was still going ahead. It was a mixture of bah (because the location was far away from my house and in the middle of nowhere, and I had to wake up at 6:30 to get there in time), and relief (because I wanted to experience this at least once, especially in these unique COVID circumstances).

This selection thing was held in what looked like a sort of repurposed warehouse. There were 133 people called, though about 10 or so of them didn’t show up. The first hundred people were in one room, on chairs spaced far apart from each other, and the remaining 33 people were in an overflow room to start, although they called us in to the main room to fill empty chairs as spots opened up. I was #117, so I started in that secondary group. It was all very official, a judge and two lawyer teams and a bunch of police and sheriff representatives doing body and bag scans and stuff. TVs broadcast the procedure in both the main room (for the people near the back) as well as in the overflow room.

Although we were asked to be there by 8:30 and even a bit before that to be safe so that we could get through the security checkpoint on time, the judge didn’t start until around 9:15 or 9:20. She said that two juries of 12 were going to be selected that day, with each jury also having two backup jury members. Apparently both of the trials had to do with alleged sexual assaults, one by a man on a woman and another by a man on a young boy. Both were estimated to take about a week (I think, we missed the full announcement of the second one as we were en route from the overflow room to the main room at that time).

She thanked us all for being there, explained the selection process, noting that numbers would be randomly drawn by the law clerk and the people whose numbers were drawn had to come up and tell her if they had any issues with joining the jury. If not, they were made jury members. Surprisingly enough, even though 28 members needed to be selected, they got nowhere near using all the 120ish people in attendance. All in all less than 40 were called, with most people having no objection to serving. A couple had reasons, and she excused most of them, although not all, in some cases she said it wouldn’t matter because and thus if that was their only objection then they could serve anyway. It was made very clear though that we should not hesitate to bring up any reasons that might impede our ability to serve, so I would almost definitely have gotten out of it if my number were called, due to my upcoming wedding trip and due to being a part-time student (sort of — I have the MLP thing and it’s online but not asynchronous) and full-time employee, even though the latter one by itself isn’t a valid reason. I wish this summons had happened 3 or 6 months ago though, as I think I’d have been happy to sit on a jury team once for the experience and duty.

Either way, my number wasn’t ever called, so we were dismissed around 10:10 am or so. I stopped by the Bay to do some shopping for clothes that I needed on my way home, and was home in time for lunch. Phones had to be turned off during the procedure, and I complied with this, but here’s a shot of the overflow + bag inspection room from before the selection process started, and here’s a shot of the main room once we had been dismissed and were starting to leave, and I could turn on my phone again. The judge and lawyer area was up in front by the tables with the white cloth, though they’re mostly concealed in the shot.

Another significant thing this week that happened was our Edmonton municipal election. The nasty, divisive candidate finished a somewhat distant second, thankfully, and I believe every one of his endorsed candidates lost too, so that was a good rejection of American-style polarized politics by the city, I guess. Our ward, papastew, had the highest voter turnout in the city, though it was still only 44%. We also don’t know the results of the daylight savings time referendum yet, although it’s projected to come right down to the wire. I think shifting clocks twice a year is dumb so I hope it passes this time. Nonetheless, it was fairly quiet at the voting station when I went just before lunch. They did have a really cool machine that ate my voting slip, scanned it on the spot, and then (I think, I might have been wrong) shredded my ballot, so that was really cool. It was a lot fancier than the federal election one a couple weeks ago.

What else. My new glasses with amethyst-coloured transition lenses that I mentioned last week were supposed to take around 10 business days to arrive, but I received a notice on Friday that they had arrived, and immediately threw on a blouse and skirt and traipsed off in the cold wind to the nearby mall to grab it. It looked pretty good! Unfortunately or fortunately, Friday was a cloudy day and Saturday had rain all day, so I haven’t been able to turn my world view purple yet. I did notice on the way home on Friday that the sun could sort of be seen through a thin cloud though, so I stared at it a bit before entering my apartment complex main door. While my view didn’t turn purple, the glass lenses did noticeably darken, which I could see in the bathroom mirror once I got home. It looked interesting. The world looks nice without countless scratches on my glasses though. I think the optician made a face when she looked at my old pair of glasses while tightening its side arm screws.

My overall amount of itching continues to fall, but I did experience something weird on Tuesday evening when my upper lip randomly swelled to twice its normal size for no good reason whatsoever, before recovering by the end of the night. I’ve also had an odd little bump on my left little finger and right index finger that looked like an angry red bite or something, with a circle of red around it. If I leave it alone it disappears in a little while, if I scratch it then it hurts and eventually my finger gets stiff for the rest of the night. It’s happened more than twice on that exact spot on my left little finger in particular too. My left thumb knuckle is another spot this happens to. It’s very weird. Oh well.

Turning to nicer topics, I’m doing some major planning for the potential USA trip now. It’s still only a “potential” trip even though I’d have to leave 4 or 5 days from now. Last minute trip planning is really interesting though. I could easily (if I don’t contract COVID) do a 7 to 8 city trip, spending 2-4 days in each city, and not actually spend a whole ton nor plan very far ahead in advance (due to COVID uncertainty and the general possibility that flights get cancelled or delayed). There’s many, many cities I’d like to hit and many, many paths I could take. Expect several upcoming blog posts detailing my adventures though. And on the flip side, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do journal entries for the next few weeks. My first leg of the trip will be to Vegas on the morning of October the 28th.

I also went out a couple times this week and took more test videos with the Pocket 2. They aren’t very good this time, which is fine, I’m mostly trying to get experience with recording and moving around with it, as well as trying to edit and normalize its sound, but the wind in the first one turned out far too loud, whereas in the second one, I obviously also turn the camera far too fast still, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of that. It looks like I have to turn really slowly to allow the camera to focus, and I have to come to a complete stop if I want it to actually look at something. Anyway, the second video at least shows off how unobtrusive it is, since I walked around an entire little supermarket with it, the Italian store that I bought the UFO Sauce from back in Diary Entry #009 (Although I didn’t see it on the shelves this time. It was featured on one of the shelf ends the last time, so I’m not sure where it normally sits. Maybe you can find it in the attached video.), and you can see how next to no one reacts to it. It’s the rather generically named Italian Centre Shop located here (local). See the two videos attached at the bottom of this section.

Warning: The second one gave me a bit of a headache, though there’s no bobbing up and down so that staved off a worse one.

I also found out how to get my provincial proof of vaccination not-passport card. I knew you could get a QR code version and I had my regular papers anyway but apparently I could call 811 or visit a registry to get an actual card thing printed, and I did the former. Hopefully it arrives before the trip though I don’t specifically need it per se.

All in all, I’m very happy I escaped this week unscathed, since I managed to drop my credit card on the ground twice while on my adventures. I would have walked off without it the first time without being any the wiser if I hadn’t had a hunch that something was wrong, and noticed that my wireless mic from the DJI Pocket 2 had also dropped on the ground somewhere behind me. I managed to retrieve everything in the end, though. If I had actually lost my credit card, it would have been a huge headache and I would never have been able to go on the USA trip that I’m doing a bunch of planning for next week.

Games

I bought two games on Monday from that Steam Roguelike sale that I mentioned last week, and the two games are KeeperRL and Sproggiwood. Both games are pretty good, the first one plays like a simplified Rimworld (but with different mechanics and themes), while the second is more like a roguelite (because it lacks permadeath) and plays somewhat similarly to Tangledeep, or any other more traditional turn-based roguelike. Sproggiwood basically has ten or so different randomly-generated map types (basically consisting of 3-5 or so floors each) that you can beat with with 6 different classes and on 3 different difficulties, and a bunch of different upgrades you can unlock. I’ve already beaten everything on normal with the starter character, and am halfway or so through the savage difficulty with it.

Neither game is superb, nothing to write home about for sure, but both are fun, and Sproggi in particular is nice and bite-sized, and sometimes the emergent nature of the game creates situations that devolve into little optimization challenges (to take as little damage as possible or to kill something as quickly as possible) that I enjoy quite a bit. There’s oddities with it though, like I spawned once into a level where a portion of it was completely cut off and inaccessible since the exit was in the way and you can’t walk “past” the exit — once you step on the exit square you move to the next floor.

We didn’t play any Back 4 Blood this week again as Gibbs has pretty much ghosted us and we now lack a 4th player, and we are unlikely to play this week either since I’ll be busy preparing for my trip. However, if I do go on this trip, I might meet up with Jahandar two Fridays from now and join him at his home for some couch co-op gaming on his weekly Jah Stream Night. That should be fun!

Plushie of the Week #26 – Tonttu

I have three plushies.. well, “plushies” that came to me from Secret Santa gift exchanges with Reddit users, using the Redditgifts platform (which is apparently shutting down at the end of 2021). I’ll probably someday make a post to chronicle about my Reddit Secret Santa matches, but I was very glad for this plushie of the week section and all the associated research that goes along with it because I wouldn’t have ever realized that the program was shutting down if not for it. Thanks to this, however, I managed to screenshot and save everything I want from there before the site actually closed down.

Anyway, today I wanted to highlight one of the three plushies that I received through this exchange program. Tonttu came to me along with another plushie for Secret Santa 2015, all the way from Helsinki, Finland. According to my gifter, Boomboomkah from Reddit, a tonttu is “a tiny Christmas elf” and “a very important part of Finnish mythology. They are little helpers that don’t just help during Christmas time but all-year-round!”

Here is a picture of him taken on Dec 11 2015, one day after he arrived on Dec 10. He came with a box of chocolates, long consumed, and a card that I still have. I don’t actually have the original picture anymore, just a small version that I saved from the Redditgifts site:

And two current pictures of him, one of his front and bushy beard:

And one of his back:

He isn’t what I would call cute, but I am fond of how unique he looks. He’s tiny, but filled with beads, just like Tigey, so he works well as a paperweight too, and his hat works as a great handle. I mean, I treat him with the utmost respect. He seems to collect dust a lot quicker than my other plushies, which means he’s obviously out and about during the night doing.. something when I’m not watching. There are no tags on this little guy.

Photograph(s) of the Week #14

My photographs of the week this week are of a particular event in my Secondary School days — Sec 1 and 2 at Dunman High School, which I attended in 1997 and 1998. These pictures are from my yearbooks, the first two from the 1999 yearbook (the year after I left!) and the third one from the 1998 one.

This ritual is our daily morning assembly, which took place in a paved area near the front of the school. Every morning before classes, all the students and teachers would be summoned down by a certain marching musical tune that played over the school’s PA system, through a loudspeaker in installed every classroom, that gave everyone a couple minutes to get down to the paved lobby area before it ended. Once it ended, everyone was expected to be in that area for the assembly, or else. The assembly consisted of the Singapore national anthem being blasted out over the loudspeaker, and everyone singing along (or pretending to) with it, while two scouts raised the school flag. Once that was done, everyone would cross their right fist over their heart (I initially wrote their left heart..) and recite the Singaporean pledge.

At the end of the day, there wouldn’t be a separate assembly, but someone from the scouts would lower the flag and tie it off in preparation for the next day. As a scout, I got to do this several times myself, both the raising part and the lowering part, especially in 1998. It was fairly cool.

While to an outsider it might seem like an unnecessarily militaristic or brainwashing obedience sort of thing to do this pledge of allegiance every day, this was and still is an extremely nostalgic ritual to me, and up until recently at least, my dreams would still occasionally take me to this paved area with my dear Secondary School friends. Therefore, that was what I wanted to highlight today, with these few pictures from my yearbooks that show us students and some of the teachers lined up, as well as several angles of the event so you can see what the surrounding area looked like as well.

Each class was lined up in “class order”, which was usually determined by gender and surname — the girls were first arranged in alphabetical order of their surname, followed by the boys in alphabetical order behind them. The first student of each class would be in the front row of the blob, the second student of each class would be just behind her, and so on.

I swear I’ll upload the full yearbooks one of these days.

Song of the Week #3

Title: I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Artist: Backstreet Boys
Album: Backstreet Boys (1996)

Similar to the songs featured in the first two weeks, this is one of the very few songs that has sat atop my favourite English songs list, occupying it for a couple years in between Lemon Tree in 1996-1997 and My Love, which rose to #1 closer to 2000-2001.

This song for me thus represented a bridge between my Secondary 2 days, in 1998, and my family’s migration to Canada in 1999. Like the previous two songs, I know the entire song’s lyrics by heart all these years later still, as it’s a very precious song to me. It is a song that straddles the two countries for me, my visual memories of this song are not Singapore-specific, nor Canadian-specific, but a bit of both, especially the mental images I still have around the moving period itself — when I looked at the large radio we left behind in our Tampines apartment as we were leaving the house for the last time, for example, or when I was looking out the airplane window at the morning sun illuminating my former home just after 6:20 am on Jan 01 1999 as our plane was taking off from Changi Airport. Memories that are forever seared into my mind.

In addition, back in the latter half of 1998, I was romantically linked to Huihan from my class (another thing that you’ll eventually read a lot about in my Shrine of Memories), and we spent a lot of time talking about and sharing songs, among other things. I believe she really liked As Long As You Love Me, also by the Backstreet Boys and from the same album, whereas I liked I’ll Never Break Your Heart, and that inextricably linked the two songs for me forever going forward.

At that time, to a youthful 14 year old who hadn’t figured out the transgender thing yet in a pre-Internet world, it was a super romantic song as well as a sort of promise of hope that I held on to even after I moved away, not knowing that the next time we would even get a chance to converse with each other over email would be 21 years later.

I actually remember nearly nothing about the music video though. Though bits of it look passingly familiar, particularly the part where they pan over the vertical rooms, it’s shockingly odd how most of it doesn’t ring a bell.

Dreams

Mostly short to medium length dreams this week, with the exception of the Oct 23 doubleheader, which was nice and long and complex. I don’t expect much in the way of dream journalling once I start off on my trip though, but we’ll see.

Oct 18 2021
  • I was playing a sort of Guild Wars 2-like game, except players were divided into East and West factions like Archeage servers, although you could have an alt on both sides if you like. Each side also had factions, and character creation tried to plonk you into a faction and guild without a ton of people in it. The list updated on the fly, sometimes as you were about to click on it, so sometimes players ended up somewhere other than where they were trying to click. Each faction was further divided into animals — one of the eastern sub-factions for example were the Kiseki which were a spider clan (in name only — you could still pick whatever race you wanted).
  • The main draw of the game was faction PvP, although in practice, like most of these games, the two main armies avoided each other and concentrated on taking undefended keeps from each other for maximum reward. The Western army I joined for example had a public raid leader who ruled with an iron fist, with things like giving strict time limits for people to zone in and out between keep invasions, and saying that most of the time, we weren’t allowed to visit the bank between invasions in order to speed things up and so that people in the raid weren’t waiting for one or two slowpokes.
  • The raid leader had a guildmate who had 3500 achievement points or so helping with tactics and coordination, and I thought that was kind of low — I had 5 more achievement points as her, and I hadn’t played for about a year. I saw that my latest achievement was one for taking out two bandit mountain keeps that had happened the last time I played (which might have been a previous dream session — I’ve played this game before in my dream). I had also finished a meta achievement based off of 5 other smaller achievements, one of which was to clear out those two bandit keeps.
  • In the raid itself, I followed along as best as I could for a couple keep takes. I had my bolster to me, and it was actually tied to my waist by a cord that encircled my waist, holding the bolster vertically in front of me so I could still hug it (and so it even partially obscured my view). I felt a bit self-conscious from this, but no one else seemed to notice or comment on this irregularity.
  • A few other online friends were playing the game with me. In particular, Trin was there, as were two other online friends. Trin had some trouble getting to one of the keeps because her mount, a car, got stuck on a slope of a sheltered overhead pedestrian bridge of some kind and couldn’t accelerate up to the other side. I dropped behind the raid there, which I knew would get me kicked, to help her lift the car up to the halfway point. We then realized that a car wasn’t the best mount of it because we faced a set of stairs for the second half of the ascent part of the bridge. Trin laughed and said not to worry — she was going to give up there.
  • I had apparently left the guild that I had created with my Discord friends in an earlier dream as well, and I asked for a reinvite since I saw several people were online. I believe this guild had the same name as our actual RL Guild Wars 2 one — Melody Fair.
  • At one point there was a top-down minigame where we were little dots on a large square map that looked like a magnified cartoon one-panel comic strip. We could shoot at (and be shot at by) other players on the map, and their projectiles would arc across the square map like tracers.
Oct 19 2021
  • The dream had something vaguely to do with school and time travel. I remember there being some video thing we had produced that had a review done on it from either our teacher or a classmate, and then returned to us/me on a single sheet of paper for us to do corrections and adjustments on. I found a little button on the sheet of paper that, when pressed, opened up a popup menu to display several more reviews from classmates in really small font.
  • For some reason that I don’t remember though, I wasn’t able to act on the reviews that I had, but some sort of time travel thing kicked in here and I was able to obtain a second set of reviews, also with the main one on a sheet of paper and a few hidden ones visible through the button on it. They were done by the same people on a different timeline, possibly gathered from after I had actually finished altering and re-submitting the video. With this secondary set, I was finally able to do something about the video thanks to one of the glowing reviews mentioning exactly what they liked about it.
Oct 20 2021
  • I had a 23 year class reunion with some of my Singapore friends, although they looked exactly the same as when I last knew them. Everyone was invited and it was more or less held in Singapore, but some people either couldn’t make it or there were complications as to how long they could be there. The people I remember were a mix of Dunman and Rosyth friends too — Yucheng, Yongrui(?), Allen, Sandra (who was now using an alias of Mickey), and Kim. There were definitely others as well but I don’t remember who specifically.
  • Allen in particular was interesting because I knew I had been good friends with him before but he had no idea of my recent transition so that was something I had to be wary about. I hadn’t told anyone else in that group about it either though, but I wasn’t as worried about them.
  • There were other students outside of “our group” around too in the classroom where we were having our reunion, and it was crowded to the point that we had to squeeze past people to even get to/from the exit of the classroom.
  • I don’t remember specific details, but the reunion was framed in terms of a game in part of the dream, with things like character statistics and quest objectives. I did win a prize at some school assembly though.
  • There was a company of some sort sponsoring this event, but they shut down and reformed into another company partway through the reunion. I saw it and thought that that was weird.
Oct 21 2021
  • I remember a cramped classroom scene that gave me great joy. I was with my what seemed to be my Sec 2 group of friends again, and all the tables in the classroom were pushed together into four clumps (as per usual seating arrangements). I entered from the back right classroom door and headed to my seat on the front right clump, with my seat facing the left wall of the classroom, the wall across from where I entered the room.
  • Allen was on my right, whereas Eugene was on my left. Xuanjie was two seats from my left, past Eugene, although that meant that he was on the back right clump of tables instead of the front right one since tables were arranged in groups of 5 to form C-shaped patterns (if the C were made out of right-angled lines, anyway). The table groups were really close together though so they were effectively adjacent anyway. In front of me, in the central hole of the C, was Huihan, her seat and desk facing the front of the class rather than the left wall. Everyone else in class was people I knew too, although I didn’t know who sat where.
  • Much later on in a separate dream, I again had another class and classroom with the same group of dear friends, although this was now located on some sort of University campus. Eisen was our teacher, and I was part of a separate group of four who would often be slightly late to class because we were wandering across different floors and different rooms in the campus looking for loot. I don’t remember who was in my group of 4, though, though I think the other three were guys (whereas I was a girl).
  • The campus was set up with rooms and buildings that looked like living rooms and such with modern furnishing, but there was an RPG aspect to it all — I knew, for example, that there was a quest starter item in the bottom floor of one of the houses that would lead us to a couple other houses to advance the quest, before bringing us back to the top level of the same house in order to complete it. We didn’t have time to complete that quest before class start though so we didn’t take it.
  • The antagonist of this dream was Singapore — they had sent agents to try to at least watch over us if not stop us, and we met a lady that we suspected worked for them seated in a lounge on a clump of connected plastic chairs (like you’d find at an airport) just outside our classroom. Two of my companions went over to her to chat with and distract her, while I took a door passcard for a storeroom located just next to our classroom, and wheeled our loot, conveniently sitting on a trolley cart, toward the door.
  • I initially shoved the passcard into the door release mechanism on the door, but the other friend who had followed me stopped me and said that the door was a living being and I had to gently put it in or it would clam up and refuse to open until after class, and we would be left in an awkward situation with our trolley of loot. I pulled the passcard out and gently slid it in again. The door swung open and we put our trolley in there before closing the door and heading for class.
  • We still had a couple minutes before class so I had a quick chat with Eisen at the front of the class. He showed me some peeling skin on his back and said that he was ashamed of how he looked. I told him that he looked fine and that it was natural for everyone to over-hate some aspect of their own body as that was the body they saw the most every day. He looked relieved at that. He then wondered if he should make everyone change into swimsuits for the class, shoving a black bikini top into my chest as he said that.
Oct 22 2021
  • Part of my dream involved being part of a family-like group of ragtag people by day. No one I knew, I think, but we lived together in a room in or near a shopping centre with many floors, but by night I was part of a smaller subgroup that was planning to rob a store.
  • We got recruited by a tall and proud man who gave me vampire lord vibes, who tried to hypnotize a guy I was hanging out with, but he apparently was immune to it, which surprised the man. He looked at me and another girl nearby and said that us two were definitely immune as well though, so he didn’t even try it on us. But he said our immunity would be useful against the guards for the store he wanted to rob, so he invited us three along that night and we decided to join him to raise some money for the people we lived with.
  • The night time heist took place in a top-down turn-based map and, while we tried to sneak in, there were too many guards and I accidentally aggroed one after we had found and marked three more guards. We were all still outside the shop at that point though so we took care of the guards, and even got some extra loot out of it, with the other girl using a thief skill called Distract on them to turn them facing the opposite direction away from her, before using a Pickpocket skill on them. These two skills were from Lotro and acted the same way, except they were usable in combat.
  • After defeating them, we entered the shop and everyone else took a bunch of loot from it while I waited around outside, standing guard since I did not really want to participate.
  • We left the shop and made our way to a bank. This bank just consisted of a large vault door and a single room, but it was instanced so you could open the door to enter any bank vault room you like from a list. The three of us, minus the vampire man, entered a room with the loot and the guy I was with (who had turned into Jah at this time) as well as the girl (who had turned into Jean, from Sec 2), began arranging their loot on the shelves.
  • Among other things, they both somehow had a bunch of gamebooks aimed at young girls, stuff like the Heartquest series of books. Jah said that it seemed to energize and give Jean power, so he also took a set to see if it would help him. I peered at them but didn’t touch them.
  • I didn’t have any loot so I was going to leave the room and head back to the room we lived in first. I noticed that the bank vault was ajar though, and asked in alarm whether they thought people would be able to peek in and see what they were doing, or randomly enter the vault and catch them in the act of unloading loot. Jean explained that while it was possible, if the vault door was left ajar, any random passerby would only be able to see and enter the latest bank vault that was accessed, which was unlikely to be ours, since the vaults themselves were instanced, even though all the vaults would show the vault door ajar from the inside, since the vault door was not instanced.
  • I left the vault, but as I did, I saw an angry government official, a rotund woman in a lab coat, along with several inspectors, entering our vault. I had no loot and seemed innocent enough so they didn’t give me a second look as I left the area, but they marched in to our vault anyway to confront Jah and Jean and I figured they had either been caught or had hit some sort of limit that triggered an inspection of some sort. I fled the area, but I did later on learn that Jah, through his silver tongue and pacifist skills, had managed to convince the official that everything was fine.
Oct 23 2021

Dream 1

  • I dreamt that I was someone that travelled around the land alone, finding and participting in challenging little mini-dungeons that were kind of like obstacle courses or races set up by other people. I was not very good at them, compared to some of my peers, but I was often quite resourceful and could usually complete them on my own time, ignoring the race/speed aspect.
  • These obstacle courses were generally set up underground or in the side of hills — the world was a voxel world like Minecraft where cubic blocks that made up the world could be added and removed and manipulated, but the characters and items were not voxel.
  • One map I remember went through wintry hills, and involved me exploring and occasionally digging a long and winding passage through a hill of snowy blocks, following the rough linear path to its end point. At one point though, I broke through some blocks and a snow wolf ahead of me attacked. I had to flee back the way I came, as I had no weapon, and only a number of blocks in my inventory.
  • While I couldn’t defeat it, I could slightly outrun it, and I tried to place down blocks between it and me in order to fend off pursuit, as I knew it could not dig through rocks. I failed a few times, but finally succeeded about halfway back the way we came, coincidentally around a part of the map where the walls of the passage ere contained also holes leading to the open world outside of the hill.
  • After filling up the passage with blocks to stop the snarling wolf’s pursuit, I removed some of the side blocks on the wolf’s side of the blockade to give it an opening where it could wander out. I then painstakingly started digging back the way I had come, removing blocks and then placing them to the side to create a smaller detour tunnel through the blocks I had placed that linked up with the larger tunnel beyond, while making a wall to seal off the part of the tunnel with the wolf and the hole to the outside world.
  • Once past the wolf, I was able to complete the dungeon without any other incident.
  • Another map I remember was a 6 person race. There was first a preliminary looting phase, where we could get teleported into the dungeon and a bunch of doors with books and loot behind them would open. We were allowed to loot something like 4-5 items each before the looting phase ended and we were teleported back out. There were 3 main types of important items — keys (of 6 different colours), spell books that enhanced spells of a certain class (there were different tiers of books on sorcery magic, for example) or gave the reader spells that emulated the skills of another class (I remember a silver book that gave warrior skills that someone else really wanted), and knowledge books that passively unlocked the ability to use nearby items related to the topic of the book (one was an alchemy-related book that allowed one to identify mushrooms, for example, while another book gave the ability to find and use a certain type of secret door.)
  • I took two keys, one spell book, and two knowledge books in this phase.
  • Once we were teleported back to the start, we selected a random starting place in the dungeon and were teleported to that to start our race. This one wasn’t a simple race, we had to find and collect as many keys as possible (there were a total of 6 coloured keys), and then make our way to the center of the map to get to the end goal, which would involve unlocking certain coloured doors along the way.
  • This map was a very huge, multi-level dungeon, larger than I had ever seen before, and I started out in an area that looked like a barracks with civilian NPCs (mostly attendants and cooks) wandering back and forth that I had to hide from. I noticed after a bit that even if I did aggro them, their AI seemed broken and they would stand still and kick up a fuss until I went out of sight, at which point they would resume their pathing. They also didn’t really seem to react to the “bodies” of other nearby NPCs.
  • Therefore, I crept around and up to various NPCs, grabbing hold of them from behind and covering their nose and mouth with my hand until they fainted from lack of oxygen. I did this to all the npcs that I could find except a couple in a diner who were talking to each other and had their backs against the back of a seat, so there was no way for me to sneak up on them. Fortunately, they were in a corner of a dead end room and so I had no need to disturb them anyway.
  • I looted the area and continued upon my way, using my coloured keys to unlock different doors and exploring the vast dungeon. A couple times I noticed that I had almost ran into another player, and the game was a PVP one so I was mildly afraid that I would be attacked, but I wasn’t. My two knowledge books also allowed me to find and use a lot of shortcuts, and I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with them — I had always ignored knowledge books prior to this because they didn’t directly give me a new skill that I could use in combat.
  • Eventually, I had all 6 keys and some gear that made me at least moderately strong, so I made my way to the center of the map. There was a large voxel hill in the middle of the room with a winding, broken path that led up the outside of the hill, and the objective goal was at the very top of the hill. The other five players were also in the area, and a couple of them had already started the ascent, while the others were at the bottom of the hill, still fighting monsters or tangled up in puzzles that they didn’t have the knowledge book to automatically complete.
  • I decided to sprint by the ones that were still by the base of the mountain, and I did so, reaching the bottom of the broken path up and starting to climb it. There were all sorts of paths — the starting part of the path was a short iron staircase, which turned into other various types of blocks and stairs that I had to figure out a best path for to cross, especailly when they started to be placed a little apart so as to form a jumping puzzle. Some of the keys came in use here.
  • I eventually made it to a section just below the very top, where there were occasional ledges that went around the outside of the mountain in a spaced-out fashion, but each ledge was connected by several ropes that formed a makeshift rope bridge (without any planks). I had to use my hands to hold on to a top horizontal section of the rope bridge, while traversing the gaps by by placing my feet on other horizontal ropes and inching my way along those tightropes, hoping that I wouldn’t slip and fall as it would send me back to the start of this central mountain.
  • In practice though, I found that I was rather good at this, and I could practically dance across the tightrope segments without much risk of falling. I did have to drop all my remaining gear as well as five of my six remaining keys in order to traverse it safely though, and I did so, keeping my red key even though the narrator told me that I didn’t need the keys any longer. I overtook someone here in this segment as he was catching his breath on one of the later ledges.
  • I eventually reached a point where there was a yellow belt in front of me, which normally required the yellow key to pass. I started to ask the narrator why he told me that a key wasn’t needed, when I realized that the belt had already been unlocked by one of the two previous contestants that had come by, and so I could just walk by it without actually needing a key.
  • I did so, reaching the top to find out that I had finished a very respectable third. Once everyone had completed the map, the fifth and sixth person, who were both part of the same clan, were criticized by the narrator as having fallen behind because they had picked the same area to get teleported to in both the looting phase as well as the actual game phase, so they were effectively splitting one person’s loot among two people that needed the same items instead.
  • I also discovered that our journeys in this dungeon had been streamed live to the internet, and that I had quite a few fans now who were going to watch me do other dungeons too. I didn’t really like that since I was more of a loner type.
  • Anyway, I moved on to explore other dungeons. One had live sniper fire in it, and there were warnings that you were likely to get shot if you made yourself too visible while sneaking around. I went in to the starting room to look at this map and decided it wasn’t worth it. Another one had a series of keys that I had to first collect, and they were themed after different coloured sakura blossoms, except the blossom were made out of maple leaves stuck together. In fact, they could be deconstructed to form 5 coloured maple leaves each, and in my review of the dungeon afterwards, I noted that I had seen people stuck in their starting spawn room because they had deconstructed their key into the leaf components and thus had no key to unlock the locked door leading out of their very first room.

Dream 2

  • The land had was basically divided into two factions that, while they weren’t at war, strongly disliked each other. Our faction was more peaceful while the other faction was more militaristic. I, Zixiang, and two others were a travelling musician troupe. Zixiang played an instrument similar to a guitar, and in particular he knew how to play the first stanza of a long lost song that was really important to the other faction because, we suspected, he was reincarnated from someone famous from before the two factions started to hate each other.
  • We travelled the land for a bit trying to research the rest of his song, undergoing various adventures that I don’t remember the details of, before we decided to get picked up by an army truck headed back to a large walled camp which was the capitol of the other faction, and where everyone belonging to that faction stayed. They were really wary of us and somewhat unfriendly but agreed to pick us up and drive us there since they had ten soldiers or so on the truck and weren’t worried. They offered to drop us off again when we were approaching the guarded camp gates but we shook our heads and remained on the truck.
  • So they announced their return and our presence and drove through the gates. We noticed that as we got to the gate, about two dozen civilians, men and women dressed in slightly dirty peasant dresses and tunics, stood by the gate, applauding the return of their comrades as the truck went through. We weren’t sure if they were being oppressed to clap and cheer for the military or if they truly were a more united country than ours, as no one would ever show this sort of community support for the troops in our faction.
  • Anyway, we alighted from the truck and joined the other faction for dinner, amidst the stares of the people around us. Everyone was seated at small fire pits dug into the ground, 4 to a pit. There were dozens of them, spaced out like tables at a restaurant, each one having a small rectangular campfire in the middle, with a table to put food on or a pole and supports to hang meat from stretching across the fire. There was an actual shallow pit dug around the two long sides of the campfire, so that we could put our legs into the pit while seating, two of us across from the other two.
  • Once everyone was seated and soup was served, Zixiang pulled out his guitar and began to strum his tune softly. Our two other companions also started to play their instruments, while I began to sing. Everyone fell silent as they listened to us for a bit.
  • This didn’t last very long, however. There was a sudden commotion and screaming at the gates of the camp as a third faction, a large horde of Mongol barbarians, attacked. They broke into the walled camp itself, and clashed with the soldiers at the entrance to the dining camp area. They were turned back for the moment, but there were many casualties.
  • The Mongol horde disengaged from the soldiers and ran around the camp, trying to see if there were any straggling civilians trying to escape or if there were any other entrances into the campgrounds. The campgrounds were surrounded by a large athletics track, like a football field, and it had walls that prevented anyone from coming in, although people inside could leave in an emergency like this. Most of the peasants decided to stay put and trust their military though, so the Mongol horde ran clockwise around the large athletics track and found no one.
  • Someone nearby whispered that we should make a break for it if we wanted though. It took the Mongol horde about 30-35 seconds to make a circuit, and I whispered to my companions that we should run for it after the next time they passed us. On the far side of the athletics track were some low walls that we could hide behind, and as long as we all got down out of sight before the horde passed by again, I figured we should be safe, as the horde was very disciplined and no one was falling out of step that might inadvertantly check behind the walls even though they would pass by quite close to it. There was then a low wall with a decorative metal fence, like that surrounding a fancy villa, just past the walls, that we could climb over within the next 30 seconds to escape the camp.
  • The rest of my group agreed, so we waited for the Mongol horde to next come by before starting our escape. I counted under my breath, 15.. 25.. 35.. and yet they were nowhere to be seen. We realized that the horde, realizing that no one was trying to escape and that the peasants of the faction were equally well-disciplined as their own people, had re-engaged with the troops at the gate of the campgrounds and were starting to slowly push their way in. The four of us, me in a heavy dress that went down to my ankles and that I had to lift up as I ran, jumped over the walls and made good our escape.
Oct 24 2021
  • My dream had an aspect of buying plane tickets and booking hotels, first at a regular site and then at an overflow site that I was building and then using. There was something about aligning the output of the site that I was building, containing many short lines of text, to the right side of the screen instead of the center. But when I did this, I found that all the text displayed backwards, with The become ehT and so on because it was actually starting from the right margin and printing backwards, so I had to undo the change. I was planning a trip and booking the hotel with two friends, and they both got their bookings confirmed before mine because I had to remove and resubmit my request to fix this backwards spelling thing.

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