Akeome Kotoyoro! And whatever else they say in Japanese. When I was young, the year 2000 seemed so far away and I wasn’t sure I would ever reach it. Then 2010. Then 2020. Yet, here we are now.
Entry #034 (Jan 02 2022)
The weather continued to be terrible during the bulk of this week, and I literally didn’t step out of the apartment complex even once between Christmas and New Year’s. Oddly, there was a gap of good weather on Saturday (Jan 01) and Sunday (Jan 02), before we get hit by another freezing cold pocket next week, which was a nice reprieve to get out and dispose of garbage and get groceries. I can’t imagine going out in this -35 to -40 degrees Celsius weather (though I’ve had to do that in the past enough times to last me a lifetime).
The large bulk of the week was thus devoted to lazing around and catching up on Steam games and the Steam sale, which will have its own section below. That being said, New Year’s is always a time period that makes me (and many others, I’m sure) reflect on the year that just passed, and look ahead to the upcoming year to wonder what it will bring. Or, as I prefer to look at it, to wonder what cool things I can make out of whatever the year will bring me. It doesn’t help that articles like this pop up on Pocket as well and make me think about my blog and why I do things.
Despite many people looking down on things like New Year’s resolutions and pompously declaring that they’re pointless, I don’t think they’re pointless at all, as I like a bit of structure and some short-term goals in my life. However, I also don’t feel the need to absolutely have to decide on a resolution or start right on Jan 1st, nor do I feel the need to necessarily need to quantfy what I do somehow, trying my best is generally good enough for me and I will know in my heart at the end of the day if I succeeded in it or not. I usually pick small things that sound somewhat easy and fun to do for me, as long as they give me some sort of benefit that I can rationalize. I then make them part of my daily or weekly routine, and see how things turn out. Examples of New Years’ resolutions that I’ve successfully done in the past include:
- Not eating sweets/candy for a year. (This one has pretty much persisted ever since, even though it’s not an official resolution any longer so I can do so if I choose to, I just don’t consume candy for the sake of it since I don’t have a sweet tooth.)
- Not eating chips for a year. (I did at one point snack on these a bit too much, I don’t generally buy them anymore due to this resolution.)
- Not using the elevator for a year. (This was an initiative to use the stairs when possible instead. I’m not as harsh anymore but usually will opt for stairs for short distances anyway out of habit from this.)
- Sitting down to use the toilet (This was pre-transition, and was a small thing that gave me a lot of comfort during my pre-surgery depression.)
- Packing my clothes into the clothes bin after laundry (I use resolutions to try to undo bad habits too, like when I got into the habit of just dumping laundered clothes in a pile to reuse during the throes of my depression instead of packing them properly away.)
- Doing Japanese Duolingo every day (Duolingo turned out to be a really bad way to study Japanese, but I did use a resolution early on to push myself to study it there, and got a 365-day streak out of it before I decided enough was enough.)
- Starting this blog (yes, this blog was a resolution option on its own, to start it sometime this year.)
- Finishing some digital sorting projects (because digital clutter can be worse than real life clutter, I had a couple that had been sitting for over a year.)
- Travelling out of the city at least once a year. (One of the “do something by the end of this year” resolutions that I try to do, this is more of an ongoing one.)
Things like that. I’m sure there were others too, that I’m just not remembering right now. I can acquire good habits that don’t have to be tied to resolutions, of course, if I like something well enough I’d just do it, but I often use resolutions as a way to convince myself to “try something out for a year and see if I like it,” or “this has been bugging me for years, maybe I can finally get it done tihs year.” But if I don’t, oh well, I can drop it and pick another resolution or something. I don’t need to have one every single year either, only when I have an idea that possibly strikes my fancy, so it’s fairly informal overall (I’ve picked up resolutions as late as April), but still something I try to take seriously once I commit to it (which is different from choosing it).
(There are also some I’ve constantly pondered about doing but have never gotten around to, things like learning to drive a car or ride a bike.)
So anyway, what’s on the plate this year? These are some resolutions I’m thinking of, that would be fun but I haven’t completely settled on yet. One is to finish scanning all my old stuff this year. There’s a couple specific boxes that I would like to scan before I temporarily lose access to them due to going abroad. Another is to start exercising, though I doubt that I will do this one, since I’ve never really needed to and Canadian weather just puts a damper on it all in terms of going out to even our apartment complex’s gym. I do have the cycling machine now though that I can reinstall once they fix my baseboards and I can actually put back all my furniture and boxes. Cleaning the house regularly is another one I’d consider, that’s fallen by the wayside a bit the last few years for various reasons.
But the last one that I latched onto and really want to try is this — cooking! I love food, but I don’t think my cooking skills are anywhere near where they should be, and I end up either eating out or ordering delivery (for dinner) out a lot, because laaazy and the time/money factor isn’t worth it. I do have a drive to someday cook for others though, so I’d like to get into a routine where I’m ordering pre-cooked meals at most once a week eventually. In particular, I want to pick up two skills — firstly, my “ideal” meal is one of those Asian-style dinner tables where you have rice and maybe soup and then a variety of side dishes to pick from, and so I’d really like to experiment with learning how to cook a variety of (not just Asian!) side dishes in particular, and see if I can get into a routine where I have plenty of leftover side dishes if I’m cooking a new, quick batch every day, and can cycle through them every night. And secondly, even though I don’t like eating pastries, I’d like to try my hand at baking at some point, though that’s a lesser goal compared to the first one. So, no guarantees, and I still have to figure out how, but cooking would be a pretty useful skill to spend this next pandemic year trying to learn.
A friend from work gave me a $50 (Canadian) Steam card on Christmas, which surprised me. He said it was for helping him out with a ticket that he had forgotten about and had gotten completely stalled on and he felt very bad for it. I felt very bad that he gave me the gift card for it, so I didn’t even claim it for two whole days until I made sure he had no buyer’s remorse for it, but I gladly took it after I had a chance to chat with him, since it meant I had a larger budget to spend on the Steam sale! My 2nd round of purchases ended up costing $113, but that turned out to only be $63 due to the gift card, which was like mana from heaven. Anyway, these are the games that I picked up this round:
Crosscode: Complete Edition – I don’t think the game was fully complete when I last played it, but it is now, and even with a well-regarded DLC to boot. I liked the game very much when I tried it out and got to about the second dungeon or so, so this complete edition package let me support the devs on a discounted scale by picking up the DLC and some random skin without paying for the base game again, and hopefully I’ll have time to play this this year. The main character is great though, as was the first act or so of the game, so I’m a huge fan.
Labyrinth of Touhou – Gensokyo and the Heaven-Piercing Tree – A Touhou game that isn’t a stupid bullet hell game! And it’s in one of my favoured genres (it’s a dungeon crawler in the style of Mystery Dungeon and Persona Q and Etrian Odyssey)! And its English translation and PC port are actually pretty good! I picked this up when I saw it even though it was only on a 10% discount, and I’ve been extremely happy with it thus far. The dungeon maps are huge, but there’s plenty of QoL features like being able to reset your characters’ skill and stat point allocations so you’re never screwed due to bad builds or butter fingers, and how you keep all your map revela and item/xp progress if you get party-wiped and return to town, that have made this game plenty enjoyable for me thus far. I’m no expert in the Touhou characters (although I’m largely familiar with the main characters), but I’ve always wanted to play more games featuring them and perhaps get more immersed in the world, because I like their shrine maiden/witch/fairy art aesthetic very much, and I like how most of their characters are very pretty while also being fully-dressed and not lewd, as I mentioned to my friends in Discord yesterday. I also appreciate how the creator gives other people license to use his characters without reasons, and if I ever make a hyper-popular game, my game characters will be the same way, freely available for use with little in the way of copyrights, within reason.
Quantum Protocol – This is a really cool card game, with a mix of cyberpunk influences (in that the world they’re living in seems to be under megacorp influence, the UI aesthetics are quite clearly cyberpunk-inspired, and, well, you’re “hacking” servers by playing the card game as part of the plot line), and Japanese influences (some, but not all, of the costumes and decks are themed after things like shrine maidens, mecha, idols, and magical girls). I’ve only played it a little way so far but there’s very little deckbuilding nor traditional card roguelike gameplay here, instead it plays like a puzzle game where it is “always your turn,” and you basically have a bunch of tools you have to use and optimize in order to defend against and destroy cards on the other side of the board before their timers count down to zero too many times and murderize you. Each (largely pre-built) deck plays differently and has required a couple games to get a “feel” for how their mechanic works, but at the same time the game so far doesn’t feel deadly to the point that there’s only one optimal solution to each puzzle, so it’s been a nice ride. It’s a really clever game mechanic.
StarCrawlers – I haven’t played it yet and I probably won’t for a bit if ever, but it was 90% off and it sits in a game genre not far off from the game that I would currently like to make in the future, which is in the very niche manage-your-team-of-shadowrunners-and-do-quests-and-upgrade-your-hideout-and-explore-slice-of-life-stories-around-the-megacorp-controlled-city-in-a-cyberpunk-futuristic-world genre, so I had to get it for future research material. Ahem. Anyway it’s being tsundoku’d for now. Or whatever the game variation of that word is.
Idol Manager – I’ve come to like the Idol genre a lot in anime, and the reviews for the game say the game can get pretty deep, AND you can write or play Steam Workshop scenarios as well, so this one had enough checkmarks for me to grab it. Not something I’m playing right away, either, but it bumped out an aquarium management game that I was going to get anyway.
Time Break Chronicles – Apparently a JRPG roguelite with a huge cast and a very long tail of grindable/farmable things to do. I’ll probably never complete it, but I do like that sort of game, and all the things that the negative reviews that I read called out were basically positives in my book anyway, so I got sold on this game very fast. That game narrowly beat out Himeko Sutori for me, because the games seemed somewhat similar to each other (and to Labyrinth of Touhou) in terms of being long, grindy strategy JRPGs, but boy it was a tough decision between them. I’ll probably get that one another sale..
Path of Wuxia – This one was hailed as being Persona-like in the sense of it being a school + training story at its base, while eventually going epic places, with martial hero and cultivation themes built around the story. See this article for a brief explanation of wuxia and cultivation and a few other terms related to the genre. I also do enjoy Chinese mythology in general and have been looking for more Chinese-focused games recently, so this one caught my eye when it crossed my path. And while I can more or less understand Chinese enough that looking up specific words as needed is enough for me to get through most standard Chinese content, it apparently has an unofficial English patch as well. Haven’t played it though, but I hope to sometime in the next couple months.
Heroines of Swords & Spells – Lastly, I came across this game while randomly browsing, and it seemed pretty great, so I added it to the cart and eventually picked it up. Apparently it’s a story of hapless and terrible heroines bumbling their way through a huge fantasy world, without the usual trappings of “you are the hero and must save the world.” It sounded unique and fun and the reviews were accepting enough that I just had to get it and hopefully try it soon to see for myself.
I also picked up Necesse earlier in the week, in between my first and second round of purchases, as I wanted a town-building game to chew on, and it has been somewhat compared to Terraria in the sense of boss and gear progression, which is a plus. It’s decent so far, though not immediately super great, but I spent six hours in it and basically cleared out the first map (before getting squashed by the boss). It looks like a game that will be a very slow burn, and something easy to come back to every now and then when I’m craving such a game, so we’ll see if I do put more time into this at some point.
Plushie of the Week #32 – Terraria Baby Eater Hanger Plush
This week’s plushie of the week was very easy to photograph, though I suppose he stretches the definition of plushie a little bit. He’s more of a keychain. He’s still made out of fabric though, so it counts in my book. He was my New York plushie from my America trip in October 2021, specifically from the Sanshee booth in AnimeNYC, which I visited on October 19th 2021. I don’t think I got Omicron from that trip, though I never specifically checked, but I did get this little corruption-spreading world eater from Terraria, known as the Terraria Baby Eater Hanger Plush, although he does need a cuter name at some point (since he’s a baby “Eater of Souls” but his official name sounds like he eats babies instead. Seriously, some marketing person needs to be fired.)
He cost me $14.14 USD after tax, but more importantly, he cost me very little bag space, since New York was the last stop on my trip and my bag was already overflowing with goodies at this point. Sure, he’ll probably corrupt my world at some point, though I think he’s already being corrupted by Tigey as we speak. I’m not sure what he was doing at the anime convention, but I had never seen official (or unofficial) Terraria merchandise in person before, so I decided to pick this one up and spread his miasma to Edmonton, Canada.
I should have added a Tigey for scale, but this little guy’s only 4 inches long from the tip of horn to the tail.
Song of the Week #9
Album: Tail Wind (2017)
This was the opening song from the first anime series I ever watched, Demi-chan wa Kataritai, or Interviews with Monster Girls. Satinel convinced me to watch this way back on Nov 23 2018, and I binged it in an entire night, falling in love with the cute and hyperactive characters and, shortly thereafter, anime as a medium. That show was a catalyst for me getting into anime, which in turn fed into my interest in Japanese culture and eventually led me to put several years into trying to learn the language and trying to go over to the country to study or live there for some time, as well as me looking back at my own history and school life and deciding to fix the regrets in my life, plus try a whole bunch of new experiences on top of what I had done so far.
This show and my foray into anime coincided with the end of my surgical recovery time (my vaginoplasty took place in Nov 2017 and takes a year to fully heal from), and thus basically also took on connotations of my new life and the countless opportunities that I hoped now lay open before me, especially since all the aforementioned girls were very different from their schoolmates, who were normal humans, and the show dealt with topics like how various people deal with being different. So the show was in the right place at the right time, and its impact on my life’s direction cannot be overstated at all. It played a big role in me opening my eyes and looking outwards at the world around me, broadening my horizons and being more global.
In the meantime, this song was the opening song for the show (and the better song of its two songs, although the ending song is also good and also floods me with nostalgia), and the song itself still currently hangs in my top 5 or so anime opening songs, partly on the strength of how bubbly and cute the characters in the video as well as the singing itself is, partly on the range of notes that the tinkling music goes through, which I love, and partly on the nostalgia factor and what the song and show means to me. It also won extra points for the cape flap at the 20 second mark of that video, because who can resist that cuteness? In fact, all my mental images of the song are basically what is in that video, particularly of Hikari, the blonde girl with vampire who grabs onto the wrists of her friends and pulls them along into puddle-jumping and other ill-fated shenanigans.
The full version of the song can be found here, though I opted for the short version since wing flap. The translation is here, but it’s too literal and thus not very good. I like the band, TrySail, as well, although it wasn’t until much later that I realized that the band was made up of three voice actresses who acted in a number of other shows as well (two of them did minor characters in this show). That was an entirely foreign concept for me at the time, but connections like this eventually came to add to my strong link between anime and music.
By the by, the anime version of the ending song I mentioned earlier, Fairy Tail by Sangatsu no Phantasia, can be found here, with a translation here, although it will probably never get its own Song of the Week section. Apparently it’s supposed to be an upbeat song, but for me, that song is tinged with a lot of wistful sadness and a touch of cold from a winter evening, which acts as a foil to this opening song featured in this week’s Song of the Week section, which is upbeat and bursting with sunshine. While I prefer the opening song, the ending song helps add the spice or topping on top of this song to really accentuate and bring out how much it means to me, and I appreciate it for that.
Apparently there’s a thing called Hatsuyume, or the First Dream of the New Year, in Japan, where your dream on the night of the 1st of January (i.e. what I call my Jan 02 dream) is supposed to foretell your luck in the upcoming year. It’s considered extra auspicious if your dream contains Mount Fuji, a hawk, or an eggplant, but those seem awfully specific, even Japan-specific, and I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt of any of those things.
Anyway, I did have a Jan 02 dream, though I’m not quite sure what to make of it in this context.
Dec 29 2021
- I was in the University region around a city, and part of the city had rain that was causing electrified water to pool on the ground, and people had to steer clear of that sector for a day to wait for it to clear. Also, while I could return to my apartment, which was modeled after my current real life apartment, I had to stay clear of the part of the house where the baseboards had still not been fixed, for similar reasons.
- The Facilities & Operations and Sustainability departments of the University were holding some sort of event out by the entrance of a carpark, where they were handing out brochures at a line of table and then followed it up with some sort of talk. This attracted quite a few students, though some guy commented that he was trying to actually get into the carpark beyond them and could not do so.
- After the event was over, the organizer noted that there were a lot of smokers at the event, and a girl nearby mentioned that that was because they had started to advertise the event outside a building where those smokers had already congregated and were puffing their cigarettes at. Most of them joined before anyone inside the building even knew about it, and the event spots were immediately almost filled up by them. She said that regardless of that, she was still very interested in the event.
- Later, I was modding the Tip of my Tongue subreddit’s Discord server, except in an actual physical room, where threads were represented by boxes on tables or something. There was a random person there trying to chat my ear off about some thread to do with someone asking for equivalent or similar medicines for different types of minor issues (like tummyaches, etc), and I listened patiently for a bit before telling him I was not remotely interested in the subject, and he left.
- I noticed that I had posted a thread earlier in the day, from the sustainability event, where they had given out Steam keys. My post had 3 Steam keys, but Reddit’s formatting had messed up all three keys. Still, the thread had an upvote score of two (so a net gain of +1) and there were two replies to it, one of them noting that someone had already redeemed the third key.
- I also noticed that the first key in particular had a section where two dashes had been truncated into one by the formatting, and another section where it had :ghost: as consecutive characters, and that had been translate into an emoji symbol. I thought that was too odd to be true, even for a dream, so I opened the webpage and tried to redeem it anyway to see if it was indeed a valid key.
- Before the page would tell me either way though, it needed me to fill in a captcha, which turned out to be a grid of coloured dots surrounded by other random dots, and I had to replicate the dots from the main picture grid in a blank canvas. The colours were automatic, but I had to pick the right dots from the grid, and the image was of Yukina, the lead singer of the band Roselia from BanG Dream!, singing a song. The page did indeed play the actual song as well while I was filling it in. Anyway the Captcha worked after I filled in the dots, and told me that the key had already been redeemed.
- Snippet: I’m not sure where this fit in, but at some point there was a boy on a horse, following a girl on a horse around a fantasy kingdom. Her name was Pecan, she was dressed fully in green, and she was collecting ingredients for a Moonlight Potion.
Dec 30 2021
- I was playing a game where I and two others were in a camp in a jungle, and we were going to hunt down something that someone at camp needed. The three of us were all different types of units that had a rock > paper > scissors style battle advantage over each other, and we didn’t know which one the target was, so we resolved to split off in various directions alone to look for it as there was a sense of competition over the outcome.
- Later on, I dimly remember some school and classroom scenes, with a Singapore friend commenting that I had switched back and forth between my Singapore friends and my online friends three times in terms of picking a seating position in class.
- That school segment culminated in Eugene deciding to go abroad to study, and specifically to walk to Kenya in Africa to do so, which was north of us and would be somewhere between a 1 to 1.5 hours walk to reach, because no roads went there from here. He promised we’d all meet again someday.
- I missed him and thus decided to follow him to keep him company when he went, and trudged along paths and up some mountains and then across log bridges with him. At one point one of the bridges started to break, with a wooden log that was a support beam falling onto me, though it was light enough that I could carry it to the end of the bridge before laying it down, as laying it down in the middle of the bridge would probably have caused the entire thing to immediately collapse. I commented that I wasn’t sure if I could now make it home on my own if the bridges were all damaged like this.
Dec 31 2021
- Snippet: In one scene, Nyari was trading wheat, and then beer, with some sentient sharks using a large electronic machine set against the wall that acted as a market. The wheat was an older trade that he had made with the sharks some time ago when they were selling it for cheap, and the beer was something he just obtained in exchange for the wheat, but he knew that they paid a slight premium for beer and would even round prices up if they were just below a round number. He made a tidy profit off of this and opened the door for future trades with them as well.
- Snippet: In another scene, there were two towns, a vaguely good town and a vaguely bad town, and a brown man had just turned over a new leaf and moved to the bad town to raise a family. However, the town refused to fully accept him, with neighbours constantly gossiping about him and such, and he was eventually ruined and either left or passed on. My family lived in the good town, but there was a box of photos belonging to the man that Dad refused to let the neighbours looking through the remnants of the man’s house they’d just throw away, so I flew over on a magic carpet-like vehicle to save the box and bring it back. The man’s young son also had something that he had named Dizzypixie, and Kellie noticed this, realized that the name was my Twitch channel name, and asked the boy about the origin of the name. The boy said that that was the name of a guardian angel that had helped him when he was really young and in trouble, lost on the streets somewhere. Apparently I had met the kid somewhere before.
- Snippet: There was a train scene where the train tracks were arranged in a large, eight- or ten-petalled flower pattern, with a station on the tip of each flower, and a station in the middle that acted as a train depot, but could only be entered from the northernmost petal. Kellie was on the train going around the petals and I was waiting for her with a van of my own at the northern petal. There was also a security guard waiting at the entrance of the train depot and getting annoyed at me waiting for my sister for some reason, and we had some interactions while waiting for her that I don’t quite remember.
- Snippet: There was also a classroom scene, where our classroom was on the second level of the building, but we found out that a specific class in our timetable was changed this semester to a classroom on the ground floor beneath us, so most of the class had gone already even though it was still 15 minutes before the class started. Another teacher entered our class and noted that we had to go as well because our class was going to be used by another class during this class block while we were out, but I hadn’t showered yet, so I hurriedly packed up my bag so I could spend ten minutes or so washing up before the class started.
Jan 02 2022
- I worked in some company that consisted of a mix of real life work people (Ronnie, Rick), Singapore friends (Yucheng, Harvey, Zixiang, Xuanjie, Allen), and even my family (Jon), plus other strangers. It was made out of a lot of smaller teams, and just like in real life our team was getting merged with another team, which was represented at some point by the physical knocking down of the walls of some room on an overhead map. There were several work-related snippets i can remember from my dream.
- One snippet involved a new girl that was sent to our team by upper management at work to help us with some task or other. She wasn’t good at it but it was part of her training, she wanted to become a lawyer even though she hadn’t been working in a related role, but management supported her move and wanted to use us as a test bed for her.
- One involved my team and me going out to collect a bunch of items, or so I thought. My cue card told me what to collect and say, as we had to do some sort of mini presentation or answer some questions as we went along too, but I had no actual idea what we were collecting the items for. I found out later that everyone else’s cue card told them the real reason and just said to play along with me, though. This reason was to collect funds for a birthday present for me, and between everyone we raised about $125 and these funds were split into several gifts, the most expensive one being $50. My team had noticed that I was feeling down and had arranged this somehow, which completely blindsided me, even in the dream I had no idea about the surprise happening until the last second.
- Another snippet involved me leading a bus full of people, who were split into groups of 3-5, against an opposing team in a card/board game tournament of some kind. As captain, I went between the teams to assign roles and give pep talks, and even split up and reassigned a few teams, whose players I knew wouldn’t really play well in their existing group, in order to complement each others’ strengths and shore up weaknesses.
- The game involved placing down numbered cards on a small grid and moving them around to attack opponent cards. Only the cards that were exposed and attackable were visible, every other card was face down, and the way attacking or defending worked was that when two cards clashed, the lower number would be subtracted from both cards, and the one that hit 0 would be defeated and removed from the board. But there were various techniques you could use to weaken stronger cards and such too, so much so it was advantageous to attack your opponent’s larger cards with smaller ones first to weaken them significantly.
- Zixiang was apparently really good at this game, as he soundly beat the opposing team’s top player who hadn’t lost in 5 years, even while he was narrating all his moves to the opponent.
- Yet another snippet involved three brown bears that our company somehow owned. The three bears were of equal level, but one of them had a slightly increased experience total due to helping out in the birthday snippet earlier in some capacity.
- Another one involved our team going out to watch some street performer give a pep talk or something, as a prelude to some work event. There was a crowd of people listening to him. The rest of my team, which was made up of Singapore friends at this point, crossed the road to get a drink from another vendor, but she refused to serve them because she didn’t like the performer we were listening to, so they went back across the road and returned to where I was still watching the original performer and where I was silently praying that they’d return as soon as possible for some reason.
- Lastly, I remember a train ride to a separate location, and in particular we ended up outside a building at night, where there were a bunch of squishy-looking, green cabbage plants in a neat row in a vegetable garden between the outer road and the carpark. The cabbages were shaped like flat cuboids, and looked like comfortable, green square cushions on stalks, except that I noticed that they reached out toward passersby and tried to eat them. This never worked as their stalks weren’t very long though, and the green cushiony parts were constrained by the short stalks, so they kind of looked like sunflowers reaching out to the sun as we stood nearby and watched them try to reach us.
- No one knew what species of plant these were though, as the company that had made them had only come into existence 3 months ago and had also shut down 1 month ago, so the window of time that they were even active was a really small one, and the plants hadn’t been well-documented yet outside of their website, which was now not working.
- Editor: The cabbages were basically shaped exactly like green versions of Ralph, my tofu/smores plushie.