My Diary #039

Dear Tigey,

Kel gave you a mini tatami mat (01 || 02 || 03 || 04) to sit on last week. It’s seriously the perfect size to fit your bulky square frame on. And if you ever need to cross a large body of water, you’re all set now.

Entry #039 (Feb 06 2022)

Table of Contents

Reviewing my…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #37
ට  Song of the Week #14
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #21
ට  Dreams

School

I had opted out of the dental and health plans that were the optional part of the assessed school fee this semester, because I largely already have coverage from work and I’m only taking one class this semester so they were a disproportionately large part of my school fee as well (20% or so). The deadline for paying school fees (without a penalty) this semester was Jan 31 2022, but the deadline for opting out of the medical/dental fees were January 24 2022, and I had opted out of them on Jan 17th. Yet, it wasn’t until the morning of the 31st that my fees assessment was actually updated to remove the $203.33 that I had opted out of. How scummy.

I had calculated how much I had to pay for my one course after discounting that cost anyway though, and paid it off so my balance remaining was the $203.33, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be considered overdue and have to pay some sort of fine or not right up until the afternoon of the 31st when I checked my balance again. I was seriously paying it anyway and ending up with a credit for future semesters or something, but I wasn’t too happy about that prospect.

Anyway it worked out in the end, and I ended up paying C$245.20 for my course out of the original $1057.65(!) for a one semester course at the University of Alberta, with the bulk of it covered by tuition remission, an employee benefit, and the rest of it covered by that opt-out. (Note that some of the fees were per-term and not per-class, so a second course would only have been probably $600 and change, not another $1000.)

Work

Work work. I took Monday and Tuesday off, so this was a very short week. It was also the last week of a long-time member from the other team that had been merged with us, as he was leaving to join another team in the department, which took place at the end of Friday, so we said our goodbyes, although the people on my team only really somewhat knew him. The other team was also fairly close to each other and knew him well and fondly though. The morning meetings between our new combined team has been fairly fun.

Our current queue monitor went on vacation for a week or so, so I took over that duty again and will be doling out tickets in the evenings as per my style until next Wednesday or so.

Someone else in the department left the University this week to join a game developer studio named Original Fire Games, working on a Steam game called Circuit Superstars. I didn’t really know the person, but I thought that was pretty neat, hopefully it’s a good place to work.

Life

In other news, I signed my lease extension this week, a six month extension that will take me to the end of August and to the next possible point for going abroad for a year. This put my rent at C$1200 a month, in between the $1250 for a month to month least and the $1185 for a 12-month lease. This sounded relatively fair, ignoring how the prices are somewhat expensive in general (my original lease here when I moved in 10 years ago, in August 2011, was $888, which included a new-renter promotional bonus).

I also put in a work order for my bathtub drain to be unplugged, as the drain had been taking forever to drain water for the last couple weeks or so and I wasn’t sure if they wanted me to try to clear it myself (which would have involved purchasing some drain unclogging solution and pouring that down the drain, which would mean pollution) or not. They said they’d rather do it and sent someone over the same afternoon, an Indian guy who was in with a long wire brush and out in a few minutes.

While at the rental office, I also inquired about a curtain rod for my balcony door, as my apartment did not come with one when I moved in and they had said I wasn’t allowed to drill screws into the balcony door frame, and I’m not sure if they mentioned anything about the wall or not. I wasn’t about to handle any power tools by myself anyway. They seemed surprised that I had been living there 10 years without curtains in the living room, and I said that it usually hadn’t been a big deal since I was out at work for most of the day pre-pandemic, but now I was working from home, with my computer basically next to the balcony door, so I wanted to get one. The rental office asked if I had a curtain rod and I said I didn’t have one, so they said they’d order one in and get back to me eventually. Eventually was a mere one day later. Did I mention I really, really like my rental company/office sometimes?

Anyway, it was the same Indian guy who had come over to fix my bathtub drain the other day. He seemed surprised to be back at the same location and we chatted a bit as he drilled some rod holders into the wall. Turns out he lived in Singapore for some time in the late 80s or early 90s as well and so we bonded a bit over that, which was cool. I now have curtain rods on my main window (balcony door) for the first time in 10 years!

He actually did put screws through the balcony door frame though… for the middle support brace in particular… but he’s an employee so it should be fine, right??

Anyway, the other reason I wanted this was as a preparation step for possibly getting an Oculus Quest 2 like I had intimated about last week. I mean, the Meta Quest 2. Most times currently, I’m just sitting at the desk, and I don’t really care if people can see in or not (they can see me at my desk from one of the walking paths outside in theory, especially at night). My mattress is also not usually at an angle where someone from the block across the way can look in at me while I am asleep. However, I definitely don’t want to use that thing if people can technically look in and see me. So, curtains.

I now have to look for and get my own curtains and hooks, which actually should be somewhat of a fun project. The position of that middle support brace means that I probably can’t use a one segment curtain though, unless I don’t mind it just ever opening halfway — the better “type” of curtain that I need to get is one that opens up in the middle to either side. I should probably find something nice that reps my interests, home decor style be damned. Maybe this, which I actually have as a digital wallpaper as part of my rotating wallpaper set. Or this? But that’ll take 6 weeks to arrive. Or this? But that’s pricey! めちゃくちゃ pricey! Or maybe something a lot cheaper but a lot more muted. In all seriousness it has to actually be hook-based, not curtain rods or those threaded holes (grommets), and it needs to divide in the middle. Decisions.

I have ten more videos or so to process for the USA trip, but I’m now getting to the longer videos that I had skipped because they were, well, long. I processed the fifth longest one on Friday night, and it took a whopping 14 hours to process a 1 hour 43 minute-long video at 4k/30fps. You can see the video below though, it was a fun activity overall. This was recorded with permission, it’s a Ghost Tour through L.A.’s Chinatown. Let me know if anyone sees any ghosts that we missed seeing. I’m pretty sure my longest two videos will take over 24 hours to process on this machine though, which will be awkward since I can’t do anything strenuous with my computer when processing is running, and that means I can’t do those if I have work the next day, and each video will burn half my weekend if I do it then. I have wanted to get back into watching walking videos from my favourite channels though, I’ve been lacking that in my life lately.

I did not make an anime post segment between the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 seasons, as I wasn’t caught up on Fall due to going abroad in November. The Winter season is approaching halfway done now as well so that’s kind of pointless. That being said, there are four or five really good shows this season, and I do want to give a shout out to Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) in particular because that one has completely swept me up in it and is pretty much guaranteed to enter my top 10 favourite anime, possibly my top 5, and threatening to eventually go higher than that depending on how it continues and ends, and how my opinions of it age in the future. It’s fairly close to the pinnacle of what I think I would enjoy the most in a Slice of Life + School setting sort of anime or game story so far, there’s something raw and honest and pure about the tales it tells that I can’t quite place my finger on yet, but that I definitely like a whole lot.

Lastly, I started the project that I had mentioned last week, to call Dad once a week and record him talking about life and stories to upload to our family collection of artifacts. This is important to do to preserve our and his history, and while it might not be the best recording setup, I ended up using Google Duo to call him on his phone (which also had to have Duo preinstalled) and using Audacity to record our conversation on my PC.

Games

Genshin wore my patience a bit thin this week, the Lunar New Year event is/was great and cozy but the grindiness and lousy RNG on the gacha rolls were getting to me a little, so I haven’t really played much this week outside of doing the bare minimum for dailies.

I also didn’t purchase that Touhou Izakaya game on Steam — yet — since that sale goes on until the middle of the month. Instead, I picked up two other games from the Steam Lunar Sale — Factory Town for 50% off and FortressCraft Evolved for 85% off. Two more base-building sort of games that I hadn’t played yet but have been interested in. I spent a good 7-8 hours or so during the week working through the first three maps of the Factory Town campaign. I’m not sure an endless mode of the game will be particularly fun to juggle everything in, but the campaign with its predefined goals each map is interesting and about the right level of difficulty to whet my appetite for town-building and network-building games, and it’s a cool experience to see workers, carts, trains, and caravans act as “conveyor belts” that are normally a mainstay for these sorts of games. Although it also does have actual conveyor belts, which I thought felt out of place.

For Jah Stream Night this week, Jah, Nak, Belegil, and I played Castle Crashers, which we hadn’t played (together) for almost exactly 9 years to the day. How time flies. I remember it being extremely funny, but it wasn’t particularly funny at all this time, though I feel like we skipped bits of the story at the start and thus lost a little bit of context around the game. Not that much though. I’m not sure it’s a particularly good game, some of the mechanics are a bit obtuse (especially around weapon unlocks), and some obvious stuff we had to figure out on the fly (like how to cast spells, how to sprint, and how to resurrect others quickly), but it was still a fairly good time overall.

I had a copy of the game in my Steam inventory, a relic from the time that Steam was less locked-down and allowed people to buy games and keep them in their inventory as gifts to gift out later, and even trade them around as gift items without actually redeeming them. That practice largely ended several years ago. But to me it reminds me of a better time for Steam sales, when games would go on sale in packs of 6, 8, or 10 so you could buy them and gift them to friends. This site covering the 2010 winter sale, for example, mentions some package deals. That might have been the only sale where that happened, and I remember (and my purchase logs back this) picking up the Freedom Force 10-pack and giving out the spare copies of that one to friends. That was also the first Steam sale that my Discord group, a Ventrilo group at the time, participated in as a group. Those were the days of interesting Steam sales and events though, these days it’s all so bland. Also, it’s hard to find much detail about that sale anymore, it’s sure difficult to find information from more than a couple sites about events 10+ years ago.

On the mobile side of things, I dabbled in two games this week, one a free to play game called Sdorica with a really simplistic puzzle game battle system but with interesting characters and funny situations, I genuinely laughed a few times going through the early chapters. But the game has a blatantly and poorly-monetized gacha, throws garbage characters at you like candy from the gachas, and has unforgiveable sins like exclamation marks that never clear (until you pass a certain level anyway, as this unclearable alert is to tell you about a place that you can enter another player’s referral code), so I rapidly lost interest in the game.

The other game I tried was WitchSpring 2, the second game in a series of four that looked pretty interesting, and apparently is the most recommended starting point for the series. The game’s touch controls are finicky as heck though, there are odd animation bugs (particularly when crafting multiple items in your starting home base), and the training system and enemy scaling is.. odd… so I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet, as it hasn’t fully captured me either.

And so I soldier onwards on my journey to find a compelling mobile game or three (that isn’t also already on PC).

Apparently my family plays Wordle and compares scores with each other too — it’s everywhere, to my absolute non-surprise. It’s a great reason/excuse to be slightly social though!

Lost Ark launches next week on PC in North America too, and Thrandor has been busy mobilizing the troops trying to get people to try it out. I haven’t really looked too closely at the game but will likely give it a shot.

Plushie of the Week #37 – Orson

Besides the Three Musketeers (Toodles in PotW #7, and Steroids and Rebel, which have not been introduced yet), who were the three little turtles who were kind of floating around the 4012 family house at their own pace but often sat with the Main Group, there were five other plushies/animals that together consisted our actual Main Group of plushies. The other four have been covered before — Tigey in PotW #1, Ducky in PotW #2, Cruiser in PotW #4, and Ally in PotW #36 last week. And the last main plushie, Orson, finally gets featured in his own PotW segment this week.

Orson is a Canada bear plushie from what we suspect was a dollar store in Mill Woods — we have no idea which one exactly, or when, but it was prior to May 15 2003, and he was from Canada, so after Jan 01 1999, and almost certainly after Jun 28 1999… we barely have any photos from back then though so it’s hard to tell exactly when from that time range, though. He also looks like a Ty plushie, and is likely either one or a knockoff counterfeit of one, as I kind of remember a Ty tag might have been clipped through his ear at one point, but we couldn’t actually find a matching plushie that looks like him on the Internet, so who knows. Particularly with the Canada crest on his left chest.

Anyway, he predates both Ally, from May 2004, and Cruiser, from May 2005, and postdates both Tigey and Ducky. His tags are long whitened out and faded away to oblivion though. His name apparently comes from the French word for bear cub, Ourson, which we decided on since he represents Canada in all her bilingual glory. He doesn’t speak a word of French, though.

Orson balances out the group in a lot of ways, like a rock in the storm or the straight man (tsukkomi) in a group of crazies (boke). He’s the protector of the three turtles, as they call him Uncle Orson and sit on his lap like in one of the pictures below, and he prevents them from toppling over since the turtles have a high center of gravity, relatively speaking. He dreads them and tries to escape now and then though. But overall, Orson is known to be steady and reliable, has a nice deep voice to boot, despite having no mouth, and Ally openly prefers being in a relationship with him over Tigey, and if given a choice will inch away from Tigey to snuggle up against Orson. Yet, Orson and Tigey share a really good relationship with each other, despite being involved in this love triangle. They seldom really speak with each other about Ally, as Orson is rather coy about his feelings toward the alicorn.

Ally‘s demand in return for coming to stay with Tigey when I brought her back last week was that Orson came along as well. The Three Musketeer turtles were upset because they had to stay behind, but Orson was glad to finally make his escape from them (though they were just lying in a box for the past few years anyway.) For now. But anyway he’s a mainstay and a really central plushie for us, even though we have no idea where he’s from.

Pictures. Front:

Back:

Toodles (center), Steroids (left) and Rebel (right) crowding onto Uncle Orson‘s lap one last time before he left them last week:

I doubt he’s seen the last of them, though.

Song of the Week #13

Title: Chiheisen Stride (地平線ストライド)
Artist: Yuka Iguchi, Kana Asumi, Youko Hikasa, Yui Ogura
Album: Yama no Susume: Third Season OST

Chiheisen Stride, translated roughly as Horizon Stride, is the opening song of the 3rd season of Yama no Susume, or Encouragement of Climb, a short-form anime about middle school girls hiking up various mountains, doing cute Slice of Life things like camping and eating and enjoying gorgeous landscape views, and then getting eaten up alive by Mount Fuji, student life, and mounting costs. Just kidding. Mostly. While the first and second season’s songs were catchy and bright, the third season’s opening and ending songs both wowed me and claimed near-permanent spots in my top 20 OP and ED song lists, with the ending song in particular hanging at #2 on my EDs list for quite some time. I still arguably like that song “better”, it’s a really, really good song that will probably feature it at some point in the future as well. However, in terms of nostalgia and memories, the OP song is more powerful in that regard even though it is only sitting at around #10 or #11 on my Favourite Anime Opening Songs list overall, so it gets to go first.

The anime itself was one of the first anime I watched — it was the ninth show/series that I finished back in early December 2018, before I had really committed to learning Japanese, going to study abroad, or doing anything funky like that. It was nice and short and I finished all three seasons and a special over the course of three days, about half a week after I finished the first season of Yuru Camp, which was another show done in the same vein, but about the camping aspect more than the hiking one. While I liked that show better, I liked the music in this one better, though both shows rated (and still rate) really high in both song and show enjoyment factors.

These days though, this song in particular shines through because it reminds me of a couple things. Firstly, I went on a camping and hiking trip with the University of Alberta Outdoors Club in September of 2019 to Jasper, Alberta, just before COVID hit. I don’t have a ton of pics of that trip, but I do have a few that I will probably post sometime (my to-do blog list is really long currently.) That was a new thing I would never have tried if not for the combined efforts of Yuru Camp and Yama no Susume, romanticizing activies like that and instilling in me the urge to try and experience new things now that my transition was completed. I thought of both shows a lot while on that trip, and both shows now also conversely bring to mind that fun weekend. It’s a very happy song in general, with splashes of symphonic colour and horns and confetti everywhere in the melody.

The second thing that it brings back to mind is already more or less explained in the blurb above, but it brings me back to the time when i started watching anime, in a way that few other songs can, though the ending song of this show also has somewhat of the same effect. The other songs that do this are some of the songs from K-On! and Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, which are all also future SotW candidates. It’s kind of a time when I watched anime blithely, before I knew about the (what I consider to be a rather) toxic and elitist community, and before I got pulled into meta-music quiz games and anime music collections and writing projects and Japanese language classes and seasonal shows and group watches and failed attempts to study abroad and all the other memories and events that have come along with the territory. Those aren’t bad things, but they are complicated things, and this harkens back to a time when watching anime was a lot less complicated for me. It also elicits a specific scene of watching anime at my desk in the evenings, with a deep purple sky outside at around 9-10pm on an Edmonton summer night, with the balcony door ajar and cool wind blowing in, which will probably be even more of a significant memory once I move out from here. Never mind that I actually watched this show for the first time in the middle of winter.

Lastly, it oddly brings to mind a Singapore connection as well, specifically taking a bus or train with schoolmates to visit places around the country. Either on a school outing to a place like Bukit Timah Hill or Sentosa Island or even Pulau Ubin, or a trip after school with a friend to some random train station and some random shopping mall or street of bustling shops. I didn’t really appreciate it back then, but Singapore is a very explorable town — each train station, located about 2-3 minutes away from its neighbours, serves its own little town nucleus with shops and malls and tons of housing and other amenities nearby, because it was a specific goal by the government to have a large proportion of the population, I think something like 75% or 80%, be living within 15 minutes walking distance of a train station. So, you could just take the train one stop in any direction and basically be in a mini self-sufficient town of its own. That’s very cool. I remember that if someone wanted to talk to me after school for whatever reason, we would sometimes just take the train together to one of the other stops on the train line, disembark there and walk around while we talk, and then take the train back home (or to Kallang to the McDonalds there) once we were done. Two boys out, two girls out, a boy and a girl, we just did these things without really much of a care in the world, even though we were only 13 and 14 year olds back then.

You can listen to the full version of the song below, but it’s not translated. There’s a translated version here of the 90 second part of the song featured in the actual opening though, with its cute lyrics. This is also the song that made me learn that the word chiheisen meant horizon, long before I actually started studying Japanese. My favourite part of the opening is the part from about 0:17 to 0:31 or so, because it actually goes through the previous first two seasons and summarizes the climbs they did and the people they did it with, with Season 1 Episode 1 being First Station, Season 1 Episode 3 being Third Station and so on. And then it transitions to New Third Station, New Tenth Station, and so on, representing episodes in Season 2. But a nice tie-in with that part is also that those names aren’t completely random, there are actual 1st stations at the base of Mount Fuji, 5th stations (four of them on different sides of the mountain apparently) about 50% up that buses and cars to go and that most people climbing Mount Fuji start from, and then 6th to 10th stations the further up you go, with the 10th being at the very top. Anyway I found that real life tie-in really cute.

Memory Snippet of the Week #21

This week I initially wanted to highlight several of the games we had in our childhood, after talking with Satinel about a card game that we had, but upon further review I decided that I’d rather do a bit more research on that and save it for another week since I can combine quite a few games into that post. Instead, this week I wanted to talk about the culture of playing games in my Secondary school, and a specific game that our Dunman class self-invented (though I’m sure it wasn’t unique in the world) that several of us enjoyed playing.

Firstly, game culture. This started in my Primary School, Rosyth, where I was from Primary 4-6 in their Gifted Education Programme. Popular games there included Chinese Chess, and 5-in-a-row Tic Tac Toe, which was played on a broken cupboard door that our Primary 4 English teacher, Mr. William Grosse, had in a storage room adjoining our classroom (it was his main classroom and he was our form teacher, ergo it was our class where we had all our lessons as well). The cupboard door had a 30×30 or so grid chalkboard pattern on it so we could lay it down on a table and mark various X’s and O’s on it and erase it all off after. Another game that caught our interest here was the Legend of the Five Rings collectible card game, abbreviated as L5R, which itself requires a future blog post of its own. And yet another game that requires a future post were a couple people who invented pen and paper RPGs for us to play or ran Dungeons and Dragons games for interested people.

Anyway, when we finished Primary 6 and moved on from primary school to secondary school, a decent number of us ended up at the same secondary/middle school for Secondary 1/Grade 7, Dunman High School, and there we continued playing games with each other and with our new friends. L5R was a game still in our rotation, especially since we had more freedom now and I basically had my own pocket money to occasionally spend on card packs for it, for example. Chinese Chess and Big 2 (Dai Di) were other big games in our gaming circles, but there was one more game in our repertoire which we dubbed Speed Scrabble.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that outside of Chinese Chess, which was “educational”, the teachers would frown upon us playing other games like Big 2 or L5R in the classroom. The exception to this was a tradition that took place on the third week of December, after final exams (first and second week of December), and before winter holidays (last week of December), where in Singapore classrooms we had no actual classes, but still had to show up for attendance, and we were allowed to bring board and card games to school and spend the entire day in class, socializing and playing games with each other, as long as we were relatively quiet. The teachers would come in for their scheduled lessons but spend the class up front at the teacher’s desk marking our final exams. I believe this happened after midterms in May/June as well, but on a smaller scale.

I think this was a fairly unique custom — it does not appear in any Japanese school anime or Chinese/Korean school movies or TV shows that I’ve ever watched at all, and it sure doesn’t happen over here in Canada as well. I am also unsure if it happened outside of the GEP classes, as I was in that program from Primary 4/Grade 4 all the way up until I left after Secondary 2/Grade 8, and I don’t remember a ton from my Primary 1-3 school days. I believe it did, though, although many people also just spent the time reading or chatting or fooling around with each other or visiting people in neighbouring classes.

I often brought a small tote bag of board games and stuff and let people play with them, as did others, it was like a mini gaming convention we had every year. Tangentially, I did forget a bag on the bus home one year though, and lost a couple board games that way, which really bugged me as the bus driver was contacted when he arrived at the bus interchange because I immediately told Mom about it when I arrived home, but he said the bag was nowhere to be found. I figured that just meant some kiasu Mom on the bus had found it and taken the games for their kid though, so they were probably still being used somewhere out there. What made me most upset, I think, was that I had lost half a game for reasons that I will explain below — I lost a bag of Scrabble tiles in that incident that belonged to a small Travel Scrabble set, but still had the actual board and stuff, so neither party would have been able to put the game to use.

Anyway, the teachers frowned upon our card games and we could only really play them after school at our secret hideout near the Kallang McDonalds mentioned in MSotW two weeks ago. However, once we showed them (and even “taught” them) Speed Scrabble, they basically turned a blind eye to us playing that in class after school, the same way that we could do so with Chinese Chess, because it was “educational”. This game was thus played in class, on the floors or on a desk or the teacher’s table, or else after school in McDonalds or under the nearby big tree.

The game was played as follows: There would be a bag of 100 scrabble tiles (or they would be laid face down to one side between the players, if we didn’t have a bag), and a “dealer” would take turn pulling tiles from the bag and putting them face up in the “pool”, the empty area in the middle of all the players. The dealer would add a new tile every 3-5 seconds or so, as long as no one was trying to make a play or moving tiles. The aim of the game was to make words from the tiles on the board, which had to be at least three letters long, so you could for example see the letters C, T, and A on the board, form the word “CAT”, and grab the three tiles, arranging them in order of the word and placing it in front of you, facing you but visible to everyone else.

The twist to the game was that not only could you make words from the letters on the board, but you could also steal words from other players by adding at least one letter to it and turning it into a different word that was not related to the root word. So if an S was played, you could yell out “CAST”, “SCAT”, or “ACTS” and steal the CAT word from the player who had it, adding the S from the board to form the new word and place it in front of you. If you owned the base word already, it was called reinforcing the word instead of stealing. In that situation, however, you could not yell “CATS” and steal or reinforce CAT and add the S from the board, because the root word was the same. Adding -ing or -ed or -er or similar suffixes to a word without rearranging it was also against the rules. Edge cases (say CAT to TOMCAT or CATTY) were determined by general consensus but usually allowed. You could also steal and add multiple letters at a time, so you could turn CAT into TACIT, for example, if an I and T were on the board. You could not, however, steal CAT into ACT since no new letters were added.

An additional twist in the game was that you could also steal more than one word at once if you could anagram and combine them, and adding a letter in this case was optional. So you could steal CAT and LOON and take an I from the board to make LOCATION, or CAT and KINGS to make STACKING without adding any letter, for example. The two (or more) words could be on your side, or on another player’s side, or from two different players entirely. At the end of the game, we calculated who won purely by who had the most number of tiles on their side of the board, although because the board was static and there was no hidden information in the game, it was not unheard of for people to wander off after they thought the game was over while someone else stared at the remaining letters and tried to find some sort of anagram that would win them the game.

We weren’t very good at the game back then, as there usually was a pile of letters left over in the pool at the end of the game, but it was a fun game that I do partially credit for myself being pretty good at anagrams and word games in general these days. Back then I usually went for absurdly long words that combined at least two words on player boards, and required waiting for several letters to appear, which was definitely suboptimal, but fun when I could pull it off.

I’m not sure if the game ever spread outside of our two GEP classes and the couple teachers that we taught, I did teach my siblings the game at some point too but would probably have crushed them just by virtue of being older, so that was rude. If someone wanted to join in on the social aspect but didn’t actually want to play though, they could always play as the dealer, and conversely if there were just two players around that wanted to play, they could always just have one of them act as the dealer while also playing the game, since the dealer had to stop dealing when a player was making a move anyway. So it was a very versatile game for all sorts of social situations, although one bag of Scrabble tiles wasn’t enough if more than 4 people wanted to play at once.

Hopefully I described that game well enough that a reader picks up the game and makes it popular several centuries from now!

Dreams

Lots of multiple-dreams nights this week, including a night with 6 dreams and 1 snippet. I’ve never had a 6 (remembered) dream night, I think my previous high was 4 dreams and 8 snippets. I found some of the dreams this week to be fairly interesting too, a dream about outer space and steerable rockets (which is a rare but occasionally recurring motif that I never really thought about before — for a recent example, see Jan 23 2022 — other examples are outside the scope of the blog until I import in old dreams, but include Jul 26 2019, and May 29 2020), a San Jose trip with another dream friend lost to the mist (I feel like I could come up with a dream graveyard list of them too), a Sports Day marathon plotline and resolution that I was proud of myself for thinking up, and a bunch of really interesting scenarios in which I met friends old and new.

Jan 31 2022
  • All I remember is looking through a picture book at some point which had a full-page spread for each season of the year, with a picture of a scene set in an idyllic garden or meadow and fancy names for each part of the photo. In particular, I remember the Spring page, which had a girl holding a basket in a field of some kind surrounded by flowers. The two-page picture was divided into eight sections or so, and three of the eight sections were distinctly named after the Fate anime movies — Spring Song and Heaven’s Feel were located on the left page, next to the image of the girl, and Presage Flower was located down at the bottom of the right page. I wondered whether the movies plagiarized the book or the book plagiarized the movies.
Feb 01 2022

Dream 1

  • I was an adventurer with clairvoyant skills, and was searching through various cities on an overhead map with a male companion, possibly Jah, for Doggy, Jon‘s plushie, whom I had apparently sold away in a previous dream to a pawn shop somewhere once it ran out of some sort of scrying power, but now regretted selling. I wanted to buy it back however, and could scan a shop’s contents when near, so we went around visiting different towns, then entered the town, which turned the game into a first-person point of view, and looked at the one or two shops in each one.
  • Eventually, we located Doggy in an Arabic town near the edge of a desert that was also contested by a military that made the area dangerous. I knew from clairvoyance that we were safe until at least nightfall though. We sat on a bench by a busy outdoor market to rest on our way to the shop where Doggy was, but eventually gave the seat up to a pregnant woman in a hijab who came by.
  • Once we met the shop, I noticed Wela and Jessica from McNally in the shop as well — they were great friends with each other so I wasn’t shocked to see them together having a pleasant girls’ night out, but I knew that Wela knew about my transition and new form and would recognize me since we had worked together post-graduation at the University, whereas Jessica wouldn’t. We passed them on the way in to the back of the store to get Doggy, but they didn’t notice me. But they were still by the cashier when we pulled up to it to check out as well, so I waved and called out to them.
  • Wela called me Tiffany at first, apparently due to a joke I had made over some chat where I said I might as well change my name to that if I were going to undergo some sort of further surgery or transformation again. I said no, I’m still Jessica, that was a joke, and she ahh’d in understanding. She introduced me to the other Jessica with my former name, and Jess looked at me strangely in a way that led me to believe that she didn’t know what to make of me and probably wasn’t fully supportive right off the bat.
  • Wela invited us both out for lunch though, and we agreed, although there were apparently other people standing around in the shop that one of the four of us “knew”, like Harvey from Dunman, and at least one other Indian woman. They all got invited too, and there were about 10 in total. Jah said he could come but he only had until the top of the hour before he had to leave, so we should hurry.
  • I paid for Doggy, who cost $16 and had apparently been on sale for two weeks, but the shop just couldn’t sell him, so he had been shoved to the back of the plushie shelf that I plucked him from. He also came with a free fantasy poster of some kind as a shop promotion, but the poster was shrunk to 23% and was really tiny. The cashier said she would blow it up to 69% size for me for a small additional fee, and didn’t give me the chance to accept or deny the offer before she added it to the cost. A nearby mom and her young boy thought I had won a prize and were really interested in looking at what the cashier gave me, but it was still somewhat small in size even at 69%, so they were disappointed once I showed them what the poster looked like.
  • Wela and Jessica and two others had gone off ahead to the restaurant, and everyone else had waited for me, so we sprinted from the shop toward the restaurant. I had to use the remainder of some mana I had to help the slowest runners along. Once we reached the restaurant, we saw that they had gotten a long rectangular table and were both seated at one corner of it. They had ordered some food as well. The furthest seats from them were also occupied, I sat four seats away from Wela and Jessica, with Jah two seats away from them, and the Indian girl in between the two of us, to my right. I wanted to swap seats with her so I could get closer to them, but that never happened. Oh well.

Dream 2

  • At one point I was at a performance of a show named Maitetsu, in a raised gallery at the back of the theater which was packed to full seating capacity. The show was a live, cultural stage play being put on by devils who had taken over some town or other and were subjugating the humans in, but that I was helping fight against, although they were a formidable force and far more powerful than me. They didn’t really know about my existence yet though.
  • Most of the audience were humans, and there was a charming curse effect emanating through the room as the captive audience watched the play. I was a magician however, and was resistant or immune to curses due to a spell aura I had active, so I was passively disrupting the charm curse spell for myself and those around me and causing a soft and constant beeeeep noise that the devils didn’t seem to notice but that was very irritating to me as it rang in my ear.
  • Magic in this area was crafted or prepared but could only be done so at certain times of the day, with different spells being able to be cast at different times. My Resist Curse spell was a whole-day spell, so I had that active, but I was also trying to get and cast a Curse spell on the devils, which could only be cast between 12am and 1:50am or so, so I had brought my spellbook along and was patiently waiting for the right time. There was another spell I forgot that could also only be cast after 3:30 pm.
  • Editor: I did work with Wela briefly at the University after graduation, but long before I started my transition, so she actually would have had no clue if I ever met her again in real life.
Feb 03 2022

Dream 1

  • I was sick in bed, lying with Tigey spread out face-down over my eyes to block the light. I heard Dad return and him and Mom were talking outside in the living room, but I continued lying down and even pretended to be asleep for the moment.
  • Eventually they yelled for me, so I got out of bed and went out. It was dinner time, and I saw the entire family there, even though I didn’t recognize the layout of the house. The kitchen table was a square table set near the entrance to the kitchen, to the right of it, and there was space for Kel and Jon to sit at the table’s opposite diagonals, near left and far right respectively, while leaving the near right seat between them open for me. Mom and Dad were seated just outside the kitchen, they were visible through the kitchen entranceway.
  • There was porridge on the table, which I appreciated since I was still ill. Dad said we were originally going out to dinner as a family, I said I was glad we were not since I would have just gone back to sleep instead.
  • Later on, while back in bed, I learnt that I was cast as Jesus in a Russian stage play. It was a really minor role though. The guild leader of some guild that I belonged to was playing the actual stage character. Because I now had a proper gig though, I could cancel self-practice that was scheduled for me by the guild, since I would be practicing at the actual studio.
  • I learned from bed that the Russian-themed play involved me getting to wear a robe with cute oversized sleeves, and some sort of wagon escort quest, and was overall a Slice of Life travelling story.
  • Our family house was also apparently able to move between places or between time in small increments.

Dream 2

  • I was in San Francisco with my family, a perfectly square city packed with dense urban places. We started at a library and shopping mall in the middle of the city, where it was crowded with people and I was triple vaxxed but still feeling guilty about being out and not using a mask because I was missing something else that other people were.
  • I was looking to buy some clothes in the library, but that was the wrong place for it, so I eventually wandered out of one of the exits which led into the mall proper. Just outside the library was a booth with someone who was giving away prizes to people who he saw were carrying specific books, sort of like a scavenger hunt. I took a look at his list, which was three or four pages of paper stapled together, but told him that I had no books with me anyway.
  • After I emerged from one of the other shops, I saw Dad standing around with a bunch of shopping boxes and looking for the rest of us. Mom and Kel were in nearby shops too, and I could have teleported away to another shop but decided to wait for him to walk over instead.
  • I feel like he could also normally teleport, but couldn’t while carrying all those boxes. We discussed using this ability with some sort of a delayed effect at some point to pass time, he said it was a bad idea because picking a destination but delaying the teleport spell meant teleporting to that exact point in the universe after the Earth had continued its journey rotating around the sun, so a delayed teleport would trap you in outer space. I disagreed, saying that the spell was calculated as a vector from where you are, and since you were on Earth and hurtling through space along with Earth, picking a distance and a direction relative to where you were from would correctly send you to that desired spot whenever the spell finally cast.
  • Dad, as part of his argument, brought up three space satellites that the University of SF had launched and accidentally left stranded in space with people on board. Those were there because their teleport destinations were actually set to specific positions in space and they weren’t affected by the Earth’s gravity once they were out there though.
  • Anyway, I decided to save the people and satellites. I teleported to the nearest one, which was between Mars and Jupiter, and noted that I could attach my phone to it and use its battery to guide the ship, and I could even attach a secondary external battery pack to it. I teleported home to get the secondary battery, teleported back to the ship, and managed to guide it home to Earth, then to SF, and once I was near enough to the University, it automatically glided over to a designated parking zone.
  • This took most of the juice from my two batteries. The second satellite was also basically in the same location so I wasn’t worried about that one, but once I recharged, I decided to go to the third satellite first, which was trapped in a really quick orbit around a moon belonging to one of the furthest planets. I teleported to it, then decided that to save some of my battery, we could use the rotation of the ship and the gravity of the moon/planet to slingshot the ship toward Earth, as long as we boosted the engines at the right point. We did all that and were soon cruising safely back to Earth.
  • At another point in the dream, Robert, one of Dad‘s younger brothers, had a young daughter who was gravely ill and in hospital. Dad was driving Kel and I past the hospital toward the University when Kel got a call about it, and although she didn’t tell us what the call was about, we understood from the side of the conversation that we heard, and we stopped to visit her.
  • Robert had donated $4000 to the ward, but he or Dad complained that the hospital had spent it frivolously — they had ordered a large bed for her room, a queen-size mattress that was wide enough for two people, and an old TV set into the wall as well as some snacks and games to keep her occupied. I pointed out that the daughter was actually being treated in a room in the adult wing of the hospital, so the big bed was probably them futureproofing this room for the future as well, and the daughter probably appreciated the distractions, even if the hospital didn’t directly spend the money on treatment tools, which they probably already had.
Feb 05 2022

Dream 1

  • I and many other people I knew were on vacation. We were asleep in our “hotel room” at night, with Mom and Dad asleep in a separate room that looked like their 4012 bedroom, off to the left of where I was sleeping on a mattress in the main living room.
  • Milumbar was on a mattress between me and them, but he had stayed up to play some arcade game on a gaming tablet that was as long as three iPad tablets joined lengthwise, and he was now King 3 ranking on a shuffleboard game of some sort from playing against the AI, which was an insanely high level.
  • Many of the games were co-op so I went to search for Jah to see if he wanted to play something, but he wasn’t really interested in playing most of the games even though he was also really good at a couple of them.
  • I ended up playing some MMO game by myself and wandered around a snow/ice area, past a bunch of people questing or farming wolf mobs, looking for a specific wolf mob that was part of a quest I had. I remember Shelley from work telling me that the area was really busy at the moment. I wasn’t sure if I would have to wait around and try to tag the wolf mob once it respawned, but I eventually found th wolf mob and realized that it was tied to my quest and thus only visible to me. I pulled it and tried to kill it, but it reset to its starting position because I tried to pull it too far, so I had to do it again.

Dream 2

  • This was an airplane scene, where Satinel and I were seated in the front middle set of seats of the front row, with her on the right aisle-adjacent seat and me next to her, and two empty seats to my left. There were two seats on the right past the aisle, and two seats on the left past the aisle, for a total of 8 seats per “row” divided by two aisles into 2/4/2. The male pilot and female co-pilot were seated at their own pilot’s seats at the controls, which were just regular seats at the front of the plane about two or three “rows’ in front of the front row, so there was no actual pilot cabin, just an empty space between us and them. There were a bunch of other rows behind us, but I didn’t know how far back it went.
  • Anyway, the male pilot stood up while the female pilot piloted the plane, and he played a series of videos that were similar to instructional or safety trivia videos in his upturned palm for us all to see. This was implied to be entertainment and optional. He then started to quiz the passengers as a group on the videos. A man in the second row left side window seat was really good at trivia though, and answered basically all of them himself.
  • While the pilot was playing the video, I was curled up on the seat with my legs pulled up to my left, leaning against Satinel‘s shoulder on my right as I pretended to be asleep. I was dressed in some sort of strange Chinese traditional outfit that made me stand out a little bit, so I saw the pilot look at me through my squinted eyes a couple times as he was showing the video and quizzing the passengers, but I was mostly covered with a blanket anyway and didn’t bother engaging with him and his game.

Dream 3

  • There was some sort of event in a mystery game or something going on where an evil organization was crumbling, and many of their goons were escaping with papers and other treasures from the evil organization’s HQ and trying to flee to safety. I was part of a group of two or three friends working for some detective agency who didn’t care about this in general, except that there was one specific and really important paper document that we knew that someone had that we were trying to retrieve.
  • We staked out one of the streets leading away from the evil org’s building, and soon saw an old man hurrying away from the building, clutching a large brown envelope with documents in it to his chest. We felt that that looked like someone who knew the value of documents, so we stopped and caught him and took the envelope from him.
  • We didn’t find the document we were looking for, though, not even after we started searching him, which included looking down his shirt and pants for papers, which embarrassed the poor old man. We actually ended up returning him the papers that he had stolen since it was not what we were looking for. In return, he said he’d help us look for the papers if we wanted — he was a cleaner or something that was working there partially against his will and had now turned over a new leaf and wanted nothing else to do with the evil organization even if they ever recovered from this setback.

Dream 4

  • I took a bus to San Jose for a day trip, and alighted at a bus stop together with a boy and a girl in their late teens/early 20s who had sat behind me. I was kind of interested in them and silently wanted to befriend them, especially the girl whom I admired for some reason, but I had no reason to talk to them on the bus so I didn’t. However, I did notice when they alighted at San Jose and started walking down the same road together some distance behind me.
  • After a while though, since I was quietly watching them, I noticed that they had stopped to help out someone with his car in a garage driveway that I had crossed a few seconds prior. I didn’t notice the person having trouble until they approached him, so I wanted to turn back and help them as well, figuring that it would be a good icebreaker.
  • However, before I could do so, a woman approached me on the street, welcomed me to San Jose once I mentioned that I was on a day tour here, then talked about how the street we were on led south and eventually led to some quay or dockside that tourists should definitely visit.
  • After she left, I went back to help the person with the car. The boy had left — I had assumed the girl and boy were a couple but that didn’t seem to be the case after all — so I greeted the girl as well as the man that owned the car, and we finished taking care of whatever problem it had.
  • To thank us, he took the two of us for a ride in the car as we chatted a bit. Since we were both tourists, he drove us down the avenue to a museum that he recommended, although it was actually a small gift shop with a front desk counter that doubled as a cashier. He said we could pick whatever items we liked as a reward, and he would pay for them as long as they cost less than $5.
  • I wasn’t sure if he meant one single item less than $5, or a few items that combined to less than $5, but only one item even moderately interested me, a fuzzy keychain that cost $1.50 or so, so I put that in his shopping basket and looked around the rest of the room besides the gift shop area.
  • There was a Chinese/Japanese-like shrine of offerings in one part of the room which prohibited photography unless everyone involved in the picture paid $10 each. There was another empty shrine without the warning that was probably being set up as an exhibit of some sort. There were also several rooms leading off from the main room, with shut office doors preventing me from looking inside, but I had the feeling that those contained actual museum exhibits in them, but the place was obviously set up to promote the gift shop over the actual museum for profits’ sake.
  • Once we left and parted our own ways, I realized I had forgotten to get either of their names, and because I didn’t end up with the receipt as well, I had no way of finding out the man’s details and contacting the man again. The girl, whom I had befriended in the meantime, was also gone, another transient dream friend lost to the mist, and I was a little sad about this. This meant that while I could talk about them on the weekly blog, I couldn’t actually even refer to them by their names, which I also felt sad about.

Dream 5

  • I was playing an odd baseball match as a manager. It was basically a football puzzle game where our players were pieces that could not move without our specific instructions once they were on the field. I only had two pieces on my team, one was a really powerful human blocker that could only be used for defence, and the other was a large, elongated flying squid with outstretched tentacles which could only be used for offence. Defensive pieces could only be placed in the player’s defensive half of the field, and offensive pieces could only be placed in the opposing player’s half.
  • My single winning combination was basically being able to block all my opponent’s offence with my blocker, getting the ball, and then having him toss the ball downfield to the flying squid for the touchdown and victory. Each touchdown was worth 7 points and that was the only way for scoring — no field goals, extra point plays, or anything like that. But despite it basically having American football rules, it was still called baseball in my mind’s world.
  • Anyway, in the main game of the dream, I was up against a really powerful team which used a number of hard-hitting offensive playing pieces that were all identical. There were nine of them, but they had to be lined up or stacked together in a row with each other (to form a snake) to use, which was usually a drawback but was actually really effective against me because I only had one defensive piece. In addition, their special ability was that the first piece had to start in the defensive zone, but the other eight could extend into the offensive zone and count as both offensive pieces at the same time as well, as long as they were connected to the first piece in the defensive zone.
  • I had to place my defensive and offensive pieces first, so my blocker was next to my goalline and my flying squid was next to the opposing goalline in the far right corner. The female manager opposing me would then stack up the 9 players in the same column as my defensive piece, the first one at the very edge of the zone and the next eight crashing down into my offensive zone, knocking back my piece and crushing it into the ground, and they would then go on to score. She won the first two rounds this way and build up a 14-0 lead.
  • However, I realized that although they could reach me anywhere on the field with their length, their weakness was that they could only go in a straight line, especially since my blocker also had synergy with that as the enemy could not score until my blocker was defeated, so they couldn’t just try to avoid me and go for the goalline. The goal line did not extend across the entire field, as there were walls on the left and right side of the goalline so that teams could only score in the center part.
  • Therefore, I put my blocker player two squares in front of the wall on the right side, and as predicted the opposing manager put her units opposing my blocker and sent them crashing against me again. However, this time, the impact of the blow sent my blocker stumbling back a square, but he was then able to brace himself against the wall, which absorbed the rest of the impact and left him alive with a low amount of hit points. He could then take the ball and toss it to the flying squid for a score. The game thus became 14-7, and then 14-14 again once the female manager tried the same thing with the same results.
  • She was frustrated, and the camera zoomed up to her in the glass booth, furrowing her brow and shaking her head as she tried but failed to figure out how to overcome this. There were other suited executives outside the glass booth, seated at tables and drinking from champagne cups as they looked at her and shook their heads — I wasn’t sure if that meant they knew she had lost, or if that meant that they knew how to defeat my team and were disappointed that she couldn’t figure it out.
  • The camera then went down to the sidelines, where she had actual reserve players, who could move by themselves, that wanted to cheat and get on the field, as one additional hit would have knocked out my blocker in the current setup, but there were also actual Edmonton Eskimo players there, dressed in their golden Canadian football game outfits even though they weren’t part of either team, who grabbed those reserve players and dragged them away when they tried to get onto the field.
  • I ended up winning this game since my opponent could figure out no way to break my blocker.

Dream 6

  • This was a school dream of sorts, except it was centered on a Sports Day or Marathon Day sort of event, where we had to make 20 or 30 laps around a large residential and shopping area near the school. Although we were Grade 8 or so kids again, I knew that some of my former Dunman friends would not recognize me if I stopped to talk to them so I kind of ran separately from them, as there were also children from other schools doing their rounds on the field the same time as us.
  • I did need to find Yucheng for some reason though, so I looked for him while I was running. I don’t remember why, but I feel like I wanted to give him an item or envelope, but I knew he started off earlier than the others and was running separately, but I never did find him even after doing 3 or 4 laps or so, and so I gave up after a bit.
    – I also knew that because I was considered both a male and a female, I had to run this race twice, as a male with the other males today and as a female with the other females tomorrow. My transgender status was represented by me basically controlling two characters at once, and I could swap between them as my main character, like in Genshin, which was really cool. In addition, my male and female characters were really good friends with each other and very willing to help each other out even though they were “separate people”.
  • My male character was faster, so this meant that I could swap between a faster and slower speed at will to speed up or slow down to avoid people, and could also let one tiring character rest while the other one ran, as exhaustion and the lactic acid buildup were calculated separately but did tick off even when the character was not on the field, so I never actually got tired.
  • The only key was that my male character still had to do the majority of the running in the first race, and my female character the majority in the second race, so that my times didn’t look too far off from the gender average, as everyone else was only one character. I took in the lay of the land while running, since the route would be the same one used tomorrow, and I noticed at one part that we were running by a residential building where a guy on the second or third floor was staring at us running by.
  • I realized that he was a creep and that the girls tomorrow would be more of a target as they ran by in their soft cotton shirts and bloomers, so I hatched a plan to capture him. I decided that my girl character would also run alone tomorrow to look vulnerable, and she would lag behind everyone else and slow down around that leg of the circuit to rest. When the creep invariably showed up to try to molest me, I would swap into my male character and beat the stuffing out of him.
  • Snippet: I’m not sure between which dream this snippet came from, or the context behind it, but at one point I was looking at two pairs of reddish-brown glasses, both of which looked like mine but both of which a little loose-fitting, and trying to identify which one was actually mine.
Feb 06 2022
  • The first part of the dream was a game that I was playing with what seemed to be a Discordia group of 7. It alternated between first person view and a sort of narrator ghost view, and featured us inside a two-storey manor fighting off a number of foes. There were weak shambling zombies upstairs in a room that moved slowly and would lose aggro on a person once they moved out to the room, and more powerful zombies outside the house trying to break in through a wall.
  • There were also ducks in the main hall, that would stand there for a while, and then replicate by splitting itself, and then have the original duck attack us after splitting. These had a lot of HP, so after a while we realized that they were the main threat and concentrated our firepower on it. Jah, Kynji, and Trin started attacking them in earnest, with Trin in particular toting a large minigun that needed a bit of time to spin up but was very effective after that. My weapon was bad so I largely was running utility tasks and also scouting in nearby rooms for more enemies.
  • After this game, I had a class on campus to attend, although I wasn’t actually part of the registered class since I was a lot older than those other University-aged kids in it. I was auditing the class or something though so I was allowed to sit through it still. It was a math class with a professor lecturing in front of a large lecture theatre, but the room was a standalone portable classroom that for some reason was located next to The Quad in the University of Alberta, which was basically a large grassy field area.
  • There was a party tent with loud booming music pitched next to the lecture theatre, so it was difficult to hear the professor as all you could really hear was the booming music from the tent and the sound of people partying and having fun next door. The professor looked annoyed, but less so at the music and more so at the students who were fidgeting awkwardly and obviously having trouble following the lesson thanks to the distraction.
  • After the class was over, I took a group of three friends and went to meet up with my previous crew for more games. The previous game had a limit of 7, so I was slightly worried that I was taking a group of four (which included two wizards) to meet up with another group of four, as someone might have to sit out, but the next game had a maximum limit of 20 players so we were set in that regard.
  • We reached the staging area of the game, where there were people milling about a elevator lobby hoping to find people to form a group for a game. The four others I had planned to meet were already in an elevator and holding the door open for us, so we went in as a group of 8, closed the elevator door, and waited as it ascended to the actual game lobby.
  • On the way up, I noticed that there was a crossover from the last game — those who had found a yellow key item in the last game could use it to teleport around short distances as long as no one who had no idea about the teleport item existing saw them either teleporting away or arriving at their destination. Those of us with the item were also not allowed to mention the item, but that was how I found the weak zombies upstairs in a side room for example, and how I got away from them in the end.
  • This time, instead of not being allowed to speak about the yellow key item, speaking about it (specifically, someone with the yellow key item saying the word “teleport”) would summon extra monsters to attack us in the next game, which I realized was a bonus fight that would also mean a higher reward. About half my group had the yellow key item, so I tried to ask my group if we could trigger that fight as I thought we could handle the extra challenge for an additional reward. I also said that everyone would probably get the yellow item after this round, so this would be the last time that we could qualify for this fight and also the last time that the people who did not have the yellow key item could be legitimately surprised by the turn of events.
  • However, the group, or at least those in the know, refused the request. I called them conservatives, someone said to not bring politics into this, and I replied saying that I was talking about small-c conservatives and not the big-C ones.
  • The door opened and we were in another warmly-lit room, which was a second staging lobby area for the game where you could recruit others, with an opening in the wall that led to the actual map. Because there was no actual door, we could even wander into the actual map while waiting to pick up others. The map was that of a Singapore hawker centre, with most of the stalls closed and the tables deserted, except that I could see some stalls further down the map were actually on fire, so it was some sort of a mystery game to be solved.
  • Because we were still at the entrance to the zone, it was a shared area that we could see other people and groups milling about in, and because this was set in Singapore, I definitely saw many interesting people here, including most of my Dunman friends, my entire family, several people from work, and a few other people from Rosyth and Discordia.
  • In particular, I remember Ronnie from work trying to recruit Alvin Foo from Rosyth in the second staging room at the top of the elevator. He was part of our team and asked permission from the rest of us, I said yes it was fine because I knew Alvin. Of the Dunman people, I saw Gillian and she waved to me and came over to say hi, though she was part of another group already. Allen also came up to me, with his wife and kids behind him, it was the first time I had seen him in many years after I moved to Canada and transitioned so I was delighted to see him there. Zixiang and Xuanjie were also standing around, as were Huihan, Kaiting, and Eileen. From Discordia, Jahandar and Kynji were also around for sure.
  • My parents were there too, and my mom approached my direction and looked like she was trying to hug me, so I stretched out my hands to receive the hug, but she was actually trying to hug Kaiting who was next to me. My right hand got in the way of the hug since we were next to each other, and was kind of trapped between the two of them, but Mom just laughed and said she was going to hug me next anyway.
  • Kel and Jon were also there and brought small bags of stuff from home for me, including things I had not seen in a long time, like a unicorn figure and the Ninja Turtle card game set that I had been pestering them to find for quite some time now.

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