My Diary #052

Dear Tigey,

Life is so uncertain right now. I could be leaving Edmonton as soon as mid-June, and as late as this December or even next June, depending on how the next few weeks play out. However, I have dreams to chase, and they won’t chase themselves. Here’s a mood piece to chew on, from Machikado Mazoku season 2, episode 5:

Entry #052 (May 08 2022)

Table of Contents

Maybe…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #50
ට  Song of the Week #27
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #34
ට  Last Year’s Entry #3
ට  Dreams

School

Still pending on the Singapore NUS application! However, I had a relevant phone call with someone in Singapore that I will talk about in the future, to do with getting one of my clearance letters. However, I don’t actually still have that letter, and things are really complex, as I actually might have to plan a separate trip down there beforehand to get clearance and report in for some paperwork. I really wish I had confirmation (or denial) from NUS already as waiting for this is giving me knots in the stomach. There’s a rather complex balance of deadlines I have to strike to achieve my dream to study there, that has to do with work, my living arrangements here, school, and the government, and I can’t really start on most of it until I get the aye or nay from them. It will likely come within this month — housing applications start in early June after all. Comparing old notes, I received my Sophian acceptance letter on May 30th last year, but the start date for classes there was Sep 27, Sep 21 for Orientation. For Singapore, classes start Aug 08 and orientation is on Aug 01!

My current housing rental lease here in Edmonton actually overlaps with this — it’s a 6 month lease from the start of March to the end of August 2022, but that’s fine. I can probably always give it over to my parents/siblings for “free” for a month or something. This is actually likely what I will do, because there is a chance that I will have to come back to the place if I am accepted to go to Singapore but some legal issues force me to turn back after actually travelling there. I’d still have a bit of a safety net here both in terms of my job and my housing. It’s really complex though. But quite interesting.

Also I was informed that I still have a Risk Management portion of my current Singapore application that I still have to do though, but I don’t really have the appetite to fill it in before I know whether I’m going or not.

Work

Our workplace this week removed all Google Shared Drives that had no members in it that belonged to our University. Step one of reducing our Google Shared Storage usage toward eventually meeting Google’s draconian storage quota. I actually had a test drive I had shared out to my friends in Discord which fell prey to this — but I had identified this as a security risk some time ago and created this Drive with disclosure to my boss a couple of years ago anyway and had asked my friends to upload a variety of (mostly?) free/legal media of different types there to see if there was a way we could then detect an abnormality on the administrative end. Basically Google’s tools for managing Shared Drives suck though, and this wasn’t possible at all for the longest time as far as I am aware. I even threw up a 16 GB zipped save file of a Minecraft server, and a bunch of class lecture videos I had saved, to see if any of that would trip any sensors, but to no avail.

Apparently we have some tools (which still lack significant capability) now though, so they finally were able to find this Drive and others like it. From what I was told, there were quite a number of people abusing it for free storage. And those people lost all of it this week (barring a few fringe cases which appealed with valid reasons and will be getting temporary access back to transfer away a few things). We had all but forgotten about its existence anyway, and never used it for mass storage and distribution of illicit things or anything like that, so no one batted an eye at losing it.

Life

Early in the week, I got back my favourite skirt from the tailor’s. I don’t know what sort of magic they employed, but it came back perfectly, with next to no sign of the large tear or any of the cloth damage around the tear that it had from the safety pins — very well worth the $25 since I have no idea where to get another skirt that looks anything like it. Yay!

The two videos that I uploaded last week finally finished their uploads and processing after nearly 100 hours — yikes. That 120 Mbps video, 43.6 GB in all, took an extra two or three days to process compared to the smaller one. The difference was fairly stark though, Jahandar made this comparison video (below) of a random point in the two videos and.. yeah, there’s no question that the 120 Mbps one is significantly sharper than the 10 Mbps one. I guess I’ll have to go back and do a v2 of a lot of my previous videos (those that I still have the raw files for anyway). Particularly the important ones like the trip ones. I also spent most of last week uploading my raw video footage from an external drive to the cloud in Backblaze, and that also took the better part of a week to do, but now that that’s done it’s given me a bit more peace of mind (as good as it will get without personal servers anyway) and freed up those raws to be re-processed. Not sure how I’m going to upload 40gb videos while in another country though. I suppose I’ll have to invest in some decent Internet there.

I decided to mostly try to document my week through pictures, so here are a bunch of pictures from the week!

Tue May 03: I took a nice walk down to the supermarket, bought some mushrooms, came back home, and added it to a sauteed salad dish that I had been working into my food rotation for several weeks now. It’s vegetarian since I swapped out the only meat product in it (minced/ground pork) for a soy-based version of it that tastes pretty good, but I’ve been adding new ingredients to it to see what works with my haphazard cooking style (I just guesstimate cooking times and quantities and sometimes ingredients instead of following recipes) and mushrooms really worked out well in it. I use a mini wok (that looks almost identical to this one (local)) and two spatulas — one a silicone flipper and the other a wooden spade. Anyway, my lazy recipe is basically:

  • Pour approximately one tablespoon of (extra virgin olive) oil into the mini wok. Spread it around the base. Turn stove to medium-high heat (around a 7) and leave it there for the entire cooking exercise.
  • Prepare other vegetables into bowls — Bowl 1 contains 3-5 leaves/stalks of romaine lettuce, washed under the tap and shredded into small bits with my hands. About 1/3 to 1/4 of a lettuce. In this bowl also go chopped colourful peppers, sliced or cubed tomatoes, and anything else like that that has fresh wetness that shouldn’t be totally gutted and fried up like the mushrooms. This bowl goes in last, so only things that need minimal cooking time go in here.
  • Bowl 2 contains chopped/diced onions, sliced Thai red chilli peppers, minced garlic, sliced green beans, and anything else that is dry and/or fries well and/or needs to be totally cooked through that isnt tough.
  • Bowl 3 contains mushrooms, and would probably contain anything else tough that needs to be cooked for a long time as well (potatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc) though I’m not sure about this bit as I haven’t had a successful cook with those ingredients yet. The mushrooms should be sliced into halves or quarters, and if washing them is needed then also dry them moderately with a paper towel before slicing.
  • The oil’s probably been ruminating its poor life choices for about 5-10 mins by now, so dump in a teaspoonful of butter (I use an organic-based veggie butter replacement), wash the teaspoon (15-30 seconds) while the butter melts, and then immediately dump in Bowl 3. Toss and stir the mushrooms on and off for about 4-5 minutes. The mushrooms will begin to sweat some liquid, and that’s fine.
  • The contents of Bowl 2 then goes in, and the mix gets stirred and tossed together for about 3 minutes more. Pour in some (the amount is up to personal preference) of the soy ground beef directly from its bag, a dash of any random sauces sitting around, and mix that all together for about 2 more minutes, which should leave everything dry and sautéed. If I were using actual ground beef, I’d probably put it in a minute earlier and cook it for a minute longer or so.
  • Finally, introduce Bowl 1 to the potpourri, toss and turn everything together for about 2 more minutes, then turn off the heat and wash the spatulas as the veggie mix simmers in the pan. Once done, I scoop everything with my eating spoon into a bowl and bring it to the table for immediate consumption.

I made this twice this week, once on Tuesday without green beans and once on Thursday with green beans. The end dish looked like this:

Tuesday

Thursday

I’ve been eating it as a main dish, and it’s not particularly filling but quite good! But it probably works quite well as a side dish that I can refrigerate for a few days too, and then serve with rice. I’ve also been thinking of ways to add some meat options back in there, maybe fishballs in Bowl 2 or 3. Or shrimp or something. Hmm.

Wed May 04: I went down to the library, and stopped by the steamed buns shop, Yan’s Family Restaurant, again to pick up a handful of buns for the next few days’ breakfasts and lunches. They only had the standard cabbage and ground pork this time, none of their other special fillings, but the lady indeed confirmed with me that I could order the day before to let them know what I wanted and come and pick it up the next day, or else if they cooked a special order on the spot it would take up to an hour to prepare. She said the best option was to text them, so I took a picture of their current menu and might just do this next week! Or the week after. Here are some pics of the lovely, windswept skies, too.

At the library, I returned the book that I picked up a couple weeks ago, Why Travel Matters by Craig Storti, and picked up two new books. The first one, which I am about halfway through now at the end of the week, is The Food Traveler’s Handbook by Jodi Ettenberg, which I am enjoying very much, it’s kind of similar to the Why Travel Matters book in that it talks broadly about the need to travel and how to experience new things while travelling, and the importance of doing so, but from a foodie’s point of view, using food as a medium to interact with locals and as an entry point into an unfamiliar culture, with a dash of the author’s personal experiences on the side. I definitely love books like this, especially after my MLP class last year, which gave me an appreciation for the interconnectedness of culture that I was not really fully cognizant of before. The second book looks similar, though I haven’t started it — Better than Homemade by Carolyn Wyman, except less travel focused and more food history focused, which is a passion I want to try to cultivate. That book talks about the history behind a lot of Western snacks and such. I’m also going to pick up a Kindle copy of the book that I returned this week to have it permanently somewhere, and I suspect I will do so with these books too eventually.

I also saw this great passive-aggressive notice on our mail room door on the way home:

Then, on Wednesday night, our apartment building caught on fire.

Sort of anyway. There was a faint, odd smell running through the house in the evening, kind of like a musty, old carpet or something, but I didn’t really think much about it at first. Around 11pm though, I was poking around to see if it was something coming from my apartment, and heard an Indian woman talking on the phone in the corridor right outside my front door. I poked my head out, and saw her talking on her phone to the fire operator, with a concerned family kid standing nearby. She felt that she had pinpointed the source of the smell to a vent outside and across the hall from my door, next to the laundry room and a store room that I used to own but had given up (for a tiny monthly rent discount) some time ago after it was broken into.

Anyway, she said that this smelled like smoke, looking to me for confirmation. I wasn’t too sure but agreed that it could be that, but noted that I usually stopper up the hole under my front door with carpet and cloth so the smell hadn’t really registered until now. The operator asked for our address, which I helped with because the woman was “just passing by” — visiting a relative or something in the building. The woman asked if she should pull the fire alarm as well, the operator said yes, and I acted as a witness as she pulled the alarm. I went back into my apartment, put on a jacket and my newly repaired skirt over my pyjamas, grabbed Tigey, my keys, and my phone, and headed out, joining other confused people carrying their pets in cages and sleepy children on their back.

We still weren’t sure if it actually was a fire at this point, there wasn’t a visible fire anywhere, and we all milled about outside for a bit. The fire trucks came REALLY quickly (they were probably on the way before the alarm was even pulled), and they soon found that there actually WAS a fire. It was on the roof, a furnace was on fire in the mechanical room there, and hoses were deployed into the building, firefighters were sent both into the building and up onto the roof via the fire truck basket, etc. It was out of the way enough that none of the firefighters were ever concerned though, and so that nonchalance also transferred over to the residents mingling around outside.

We were out there from about 11 pm till about 11:50 pm before they let us back in. The security night guard for the premises hung around too, as did the manager, who opened up the rental office doors for people who wanted to take shelter from the night weather, and served some coffee to the waiting folks in there too. It was a nice, balmy 11 degrees Celsius or so outside though, without much wind, so I didn’t feel cold and instead wandered around watching the firefighters and curious neighbours peeking out at the commotion and trucks from the balconies of the surrounding blocks. A hitherto unknown poem was born to capture the moment,

Vaguely familiar
neighbours exchange sheepish grins,
and stare at our homes.

The ambiguity in the break being where it is after the first line (“neighbours that are vaguely familiar”.. vs “a vaguely familiar scene: neighbours..”) is intentional, since I wrote this after the second incident below. See how clever even bad haikus can get after taking a University haiku class. Anyway, even once we were allowed back in, the building still smelled of smoke, and they deployed huge fans in the hallways until Friday night/Saturday morning or so. The air ventilator system also smelled of smoke, as I found out when I left it on overnight and still woke up to an apartment smelling about the same as before I went to bed. Leaving the balcony door open the next day cleared the smell though. We also didn’t have heat or hot water until the next afternoon.

In a couple of the following pictures, you can see the smoke wafting from the roof. None of us actually saw any visible fire at any time though, nor did it spread to any residential area. And somehow the mechanical fire didn’t actually set off the fire alarm where the furnaces were, so it was a Little Miracle that the woman who was “just passing by” (in our 2nd floor hallway) decided to raise the alarm and call the fire department.

And the most ridiculous part of this was yet to come — on Saturday, when I was writing that above section of this blog post, the alarm went off AGAIN! This time it was mid-afternoon, but I literally had written this much (the dash added for emphasis), when suddenly the siren exploded again and we all had to shuffle outside, again! A couple fire trucks came by — I recognized some of the fireman names (on the back of their vests) from three days ago — but they didn’t have to deploy hoses, fans, and the ladder and bucket (apparently called a cherry picker) this time. I was told that the mechanical room fire alarm went off, so same location as where the furnace fire was, but we couldn’t see any smoke this time. And I suppose I was glad to know that that fire alarm was working now. I feel like the next time they come by, I should bring them cream puffs or something.

All this felt very vaguely familiar. Anyway, jumping back a few days to a less chaotic Thursday, I took advantage of really nice weather to walk to the Asian supermarket again, and took more pretty and swirly photos of skies and clouds along the way.

It was really such a nice day. I also saw these apartments as I walked by them, and got to thinking: One thing that stayed with me on my trip to the USA, at least to the major cities there, is how the houses and schools and such there are very.. unfriendly. High walls, heavy fences, padlocks, doors facing away from the main road, etc. Seemed to be to be a reaction to the high homeless population and high crime rates in many parts of the city. Whereas here, you have things like this:

What’s stopping someone from just vaulting into one of those homes? Ack. It might be a major city vs a minor city difference too, and not a USA vs Canada difference, but we’re not THAT small of a city and living in one of those would give me such anxiety. Although it’s also very convenient…

I also got to see the inside of a gas machine at the pumps, which was mildly interesting, I’d never gotten a chance to do that before. And I ended up taking many pictures of the bakery and sweets/snacks section of the Asian supermarket, T&T. Mostly for Discord, but since I have them, I will put them in this little scrapbook too.

I bought a couple of those thanks to Jah‘s nagging — the coconut tarts, and the green bean cakes. Those cream puffs also really tempted me, as I haven’t eaten those in years, yummy. I held off, though. I recognized those White Rabbit snacks in the dark blue box from my childhood too — I had mentioned them here, in the Memory Snippets section of My Diary #045. and you can see them on the blog page linked off from there too.

However, elsewhere in the store, I saw those Yan Yan cracker sticks in the second last picture of the above gallery, and — whoa, those brought back an instant flood of childhood memories! I couldn’t resist grabbing a box, and opened it at home the next day. I remember the little pocket of dipping in the box, and the cracker sticks, but I don’t remember little animal snippets written on them, and I didn’t even notice them until I had chewed off the cat one, but I decided to catalog the remaining ones anyway (half of them were broken off):

Some of those slogans… Cow, Moooo, really? Snail, slow mail, really?? The sticks per packet seem random, and I wonder how many there are. Googling those phrases doesn’t come up with any site that lists them all. I guess I’ll have to buy a few more the next time I return. I remember eating those back in primary school and maybe early secondary school though. I don’t think I’ve eaten then since then though, so around 1996-1997. And had long forgotten about them until I saw them on the shelf here.

Talking about snails, I also tried snail rice noodles this week, and here is a picture of the packet and all the condiments inside of it. I’ve never seen an “instant noodles” bag compartmentalized into so many separate parts. Google articles talking about this dish said that the smell tends to linger in the air for some time afterwards, and they were right — while I didn’t particularly mind it, I could certainly smell it, and even with the windows open, it took about six hours for the smell to dissipate from my living room afterwards. And even longer for the bedroom. And the fire alarm on Saturday rang during this six hour window, so now my joke is that the snail rice noodles caused that!

Games

This week, I played two games in about equal chunks, both of which I mentioned last week. The first half of the week saw me busy with Dawncaster, a rather tough deckbuilding dark fantasy RPG on mobile that was quite fun for a few days. I’ve won twice, and come close a couple other times, and it has a few interesting ideas, but the game is so long that it feels more stressful than it should, and I feel like some of its mechanics are not fleshed out enough and lack strong cards/ways to win with them without a lot of luck. Also the tooltips are rather haphazard (due to length) and don’t properly explain how some of the mechanics synergize together. The cards in your hand being hidden half off the screen also annoy me at times, as does the end turn button being too near the edge of the screen — I’ve lost a couple runs by prematurely ending my turn due to reaching across the screen with a finger for a card on the far side and brushing my hand against the bottom right corner of the screen where the end turn button is. Annoying.

The other game is Atelier Ryza 2, I’m probably about a fifth of the way through the game now and loving it, things have escalated in cute and fun and slightly wacky ways that make the first game look like child’s play now. Combat now is also a lot more actiony and a lot less dependent on spamming weapon autoattacks. However, the AI is dumb as rocks and there’s no good way to get everyone on your team to focus fire one opponent down, a problem which Tales of Arise also had, if I recall.

Plushie of the Week #50 – Unibert

This blog post already has too many pictures, so here’s a plushie writeup with minimal pictures. Unibert is a nice round plushie for a nice round number, the 50th edition of this Plushie of the Week segment. While she’s a unicorn, we really adored that she was a perfectly plump and very squishy sphere, and in our plushie lore, she gained the power to make the world shake whenever she jumped, which she would sometimes do when she didn’t get her way. Other times she’d just happen to fall on the floor while we were fooling about with the plushies at night before Jon and Kel went to bed, and we would pretend an earthquake had happened. Back in the 2000s, when we lived together in our Edmonton 4012 family house, I would sometimes leave my computer refuge and go up to the bedroom my siblings shared before their bedtime, and hang out with them and the plushies that we had until Mom came up to yell at us.

Anyway, there’s not much else to say about Unibert besides that she had the power to move the world and even shake the universe by jumping. I’m not even really sure how she got her name, though it was probably something to do with Dilbert and his various -bert friends. Not entirely certain though. We’re also not sure of her origin, though Kel thinks that Unibert was a Grade 9 or High School gift from a friend to her.

Front:

Back:

Underside:

The tag is nonexistent, so we have no idea what her pedigree or heritage or origin is, and reverse image search engines online failed to bring up any matches as well.

Song of the Week #27

Title: You ni de Jianghu (有你的江湖)
Artist: Lan aya (岚aya)
Album: Feng Ling Yu Xiu OST (2017)

This Chinese song is the opening song to a Chinese-style anime called Feng Ling Yu Xiu, or Spirit Wind Elegance, or Soulmate Adventure (so many different names..), that Satinel and I watched in March of 2022. It was a difficult watch — I believe it’s legally streamed on Bilibili but without subtitles, and while I could understand most of it, I needed an English subtitled version so that the two of us could watch it together, so I downloaded the Bilibili version of the show, found English subtitles from a terrible video version that had been uploaded online, extracted the subtitles from those, and crammed it together into one package. While that was technically painful, the show itself was pretty good, with the two main characters having a relationship not all that far off from one of my favourite friend pairs in anime, Ritsu and Mio from K-On!, except set in a wuxia/cultivation-based fantasy Chinese world full of secrets, a setting which I am also really fond of but have not ventured very far into as of yet.

I enjoyed the show very much, and this opening song was one of the highlights for me, and it persisted with me long after the show, becoming a song that I would go back and listen to randomly on occasion. It doesn’t have any particular significant meaning or message behind it for me, besides being a song about best friends. But I like it very much, and therefore I wanted to cut out the opening and set some lyrics to it, as I only found two translations of it on the Internet and both are fairly terrible. Sadly, there is no full version of the song that I know of — only this 90 second or so snippet of the song exists, and this show and song isn’t in AMQ as well.

The title, You ni de Jianghu, roughly translates to A World with You — Jianghu is the name of the world they live in but also a general term for Ancient China used in wuxia fantasy literature, and so the term comes with a lot of intertextuality that can be somewhat difficult to describe, as it also comes with connotations of secrets, danger, depth, martial arts, and a personal quest to better oneself against overwhelming odds. And so the title here speaks to two best friends accompanying each other on their own personal quests and defending each other from danger. The girl in red is a character I idolize very much, she’s also really cute in a couple of her actions that I can’t get enough of, like the tongue sticking out at 0:49 and the weird wrist shake at 0:55 of the video below.

I took snippets from the two different translations that I found for this following video, but I actually translated most of it myself, though it’s a bit more on the liberal side in places in order to capture the essence of what I think they’re trying to say, and more or less in proper, flowery English to boot, instead of the literal translations of every last word — translating Chinese to English involves a lot of challenges similar to translating Japanese to English. If I were to ever become an anime or manga fansubber, I’d probably use [TigeySubs] as a tag, and this one is thus the first thing ever released under this theoretical TigeySubs label. Yay Tigey!

Some people give up immortality for a glimmer of moonlight,
Some lives are long lost to time, fleeting as a handful of snow.
Three thousand pages are not enough to say how I’d miss you.
The look in your eyes, your hand in my hand, they make my life worth living.
In a world with you, things might be confusing,
But like in a dream, I won’t care what’s right or wrong.
For in a world without you, I would be lonely,
Lost in mountain fog, with no one to guide me along.
In a world with you, we might be chained by fate,
But I’d fear nothing and would move mountains and rivers.
For in a world without you, I’d wake up alone and lost.
I’d give up everything to live this life with you.

Memory Snippet of the Week #34

Something mentioned in one of the notes featured in last week’s Memory Snippet #33 was OSL, and that is something I wanted to expand on this week, as it was a silly, but still significant, endeavour that I spearheaded back in my Dunman High days in 1997-1998 and had forgotten about until I talked with Eileen last year and read through my diary and some of those notes this year.

Operation Sokrates, also known as OpSok, was an initiative I launched sometime either in late 1997 (Sec 1) or early 1998 (Sec 2) to try to romantically hook classmates up together. I asked everyone, from both genders and in both GEP classes, and over a long period of time, to give me a list of the members of the opposing sex in both classes, ranked by order of who they would most like to be romantically involved with. And in return, I would give them access to the top 5 lists of everyone who had submitted one so far, to see where they themselves stood. This included the lists of  new people who joined up later as well, as long as the requester was willing to update their list at that time of requets, since the lists were definitely not static. OSL, in this context, referred to someone’s Operation Sokrates List — their own personal rankings of the members of the opposite sex.

I don’t remember too much detail about these lists now, but I do remember that there were a few of us, mostly my closer friends and their closer friends, that were very enthusiastic about this, and many others that didn’t really care or were against it. Many of them were eventually roped in anyway, but definitely not everyone. Some just gave their top 5 or so instead of the entire list, which was fine by me.

This, especially by modern ethical standards, is obviously something fraught with problems — for one, while I was cognizant enough to understand that sharing out full lists to people was problematic because the boys and girls at the bottom of most of the lists (although I believe that everyone had at least someone mildly interested in them) would feel terrible, which is why I only shared out Top 5 lists, that still doesn’t mean that that problem didn’t exist, and it must have made some people feel marginalized. Secondly, it doesn’t account for LGBTQ people at all, and I know at least one of the 32 people or so involved eventually ended up marrying someone of the same gender, and I have no idea how they felt back then being surrounded by this nonsense.

For my own part, I am transgendered but had no idea what it meant back then, or that that was even a thing, as I was still trying to make myself fit in a societal role that I didn’t fully understand why I couldn’t really feel myself fitting into. So while I was attracted to members of the other gender, it was more in a platonic sense than in a sexual one, and this in a way was perhaps me trying to grapple with that and find out more about myself. Or so that’s my excuse, anyway. And I’m sure it at least made some other people think on the question of what love and romance versus friendship was.

No one in class, by the way, ever ended up marrying someone else from the class, although there were a few brief romantic attempts along the way according to what I have heard. At the time, this was the catalyst for Huihan and I getting together as well, as I was at the top of her OSL (I think) and she was near the top of mine. What I thought was a romantic attraction from me (at least, I was trying to figure out what that meant and what sort of feelings I was supposed to have) back then was something I now know was probably a desire for female friendship bonds and someone that I could confide in and hang out with to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. My old childhood diary is full of angst about loyalty this and loyalty that and wishing we could just be together more, and absolutely nothing whatsoever about wanting to go further and seek out anything intimate.

All in all though, OpSok did suggest a few potential high mutual pairings a few friends and I then tried to hook people up with, things like Allen and Eileen, or Huihan and I. I think I liked all the girls in my 1L/2L class to quite a high degree though, since we were together so much in class, even though 2 of my top choice were also from the other class (and notwithstanding the warped definition of like coming from a misgendered individual.) There were also a few very much unrequited one-way feelings among other people in the classes, and lists that changed based on seeing other people’s lists and then reciprocating their likes (or dislikes). And I’m sure a few that listed me higher out of politeness since I was the one collecting and compiling the lists.

It definitely shifted our two classes’ social dynamics though, and made me more aware of being together with the class’s girls and what that meant too, introducing and locking in memories like how I occasionally went home with Gillian because we were practically neighbours (we both lived in Tampines and could see each other’s blocks from our own block) even though Singapore was so large and our GEP classes came from all over the country to this school, as well as many memories about hanging out with Huihan after school in and around the Kallang McDonalds, and how Zixiang was actually the one that hooked Huihan and I up together, but also at some point had made a bold prediction that I would marry Kaiting one day. Sorry to disappoint you, buddy! Although that pushed me to try to be closer friends with her, and Kaiting was eventually the person that I first reached out to back in 2020, which cascaded into me getting in touch again with most of the GEP group in 2021. So… thanks, buddy! I guess?

I haven’t found many artifacts relating to OpSok, but it’s possible I have a bunch of lists in a bag somewhere. I still do have some lists written down in my diary, though I know that my own changed wildly over the weeks and months back then. I acted as the gatekeeper and guardian of the vault back then, the information broker that you had to feed your own list (or an updated list) to to get other people’s curated top 5 lists, and everything else I kept in confidentiality. As far as I remember, anyway.

Last Year’s Entry #3

My corresponding diary entry from last year is My Diary #003. This was published on May 09 2021.

I see I started off the preface with a “Dear Diary” here and in My Diary #004 next week. I would eventually come to adopt this into a “Dear Tigey” blurb at the start of each blog post, one of my unofficial blog traditions these days, but that wouldn’t actually start until My Diary #021, and this segment has some ways to go before it will get to that one.

This was the start of a bunch of drama and frustration I had with my China 302 teacher that was documented in this diary entry and several subsequent ones. That was an unpleasant memory and so I am not going to dwell on it, nor even really mention it in the next few weeks, except to say that I have had no contact with the teacher since and have no desire to ever see her again. It’s a negative in my life that I have the luxury of cutting out, and I will do just that. I also have not taken the last Chinese class I need to fulfil one of my degree requirements, nor taken any other further Chinese class for self-fulfillment, and a large part of that is thanks to my negative experiences with her, so not dwelling on it will let me forget about it and move on that much quicker.

One of the reasons I am going back and doing this review of Last Year’s Entry is that I have a list of cleanup and maintenance things that I need to do to old blog posts, and this one was definitely one of them that needed some work. Standardizing names (like COVID-19), fixing hyperlinks (so local shiara.antarat.com links used a relative path for their URL where possible instead of an absolute path), adding (local) snapshots of sites (I added five for My Diary #03, and re-uploaded another two pictures to fit my standard filenames), and so on.

I had to think about that proof of immunization thing that I had uploaded and whether it contained Too Much Information or not. I decided that nothing on it was information I cared about hiding in the end, since you need more than just the raw dates to fabricate any sort of vaccination proof, and even if someone did, in the end it would only be hurting themselves if anything (that, and having proof of vaccination seems to be quickly heading towards being meaningless anyway) and wouldn’t compromise me in any way. Nor is my date of birth or name a secret as far as I care.

I also wanted to give an updated picture of Tigey and Ducky. Alongside picking up a few new friends over the past year, Ducky also picked up an oversized Christmas hat that nonetheless fits his head size and ties nicely around his neck, thanks to Kel. Here he is dressed in his Christmas best, in the middle of May, much to Tigey‘s amusement.

While I stated in My Diary #003 that only Tigey follows me to the computer these days, my current computer-side contingent of plushies number seven — Tigey, Ducky, Orson, Ally, Cruiser, an Unnamed Tiger, and a turtle I have yet to introduce.

Dreams
May 02 2022
  • Snippet: I remember watching an animated short about a ghostly old woman that was hanging around a building that represented McNally in my dreams. In the short, the woman could be seen walking around in the background as a tall man talked to some girls in the foreground about the woman, before the climax of the short had her walk by them as he tried to point her out to the girls. They were unable to see the her, however, since she was a ghost, and the only reason that he could see her was that her ghost had given him a physical diary (or he had found it) at some point. This diary belonged to her when she was still alive. She walked right past them carrying a plate of food she had made and went right through a wall. The version of the short we were watching, however, was a bit spoiled as the uploader of the animated short had tried to be too smart, and highlighted the ghostly woman walking about in the background of the clip with an arrow that followed her around the screen from the very start.
May 03 2022
  • Mom and Kel went out shopping, and came back with about seven bags and boxes and stuff for my fridge which I helped them bring into the house and put them on the floor next to the fridge. Some of them had expiry timers due to how long they had been out of the fridge/freezer environment, so I quickly got to work on unpacking them. There was food for the fridge, but also things like stickers, magnets, bookmarks, etc. One card had a Tigey friendship band-coloured cord running down its left side and then wrapped around and tied behind it, and it had Kel‘s name, a colon, and then a Teehee message at the end. Another was a long and thin bookmark that Kel didn’t want and didn’t want me to have either, but I slotted it in with the other paraphernalia anyway.
  • Later on, in the same dream world, I went out with a guy friend, I don’t remember exactly who he was but he was someone I know and was round and plump in the dream. We triggered and got an automatic award by waiting for a traffic light before crossing a narrow road that most other people were just crossing since there were never any cars. It was then around 3:10 or so, and we had to wait until 4:00 or 4:30 for something (classes, or some transportation) to start, so I asked him if he wanted to go eat something. He said sure, but he had just finished eating something not too long ago for lunch, and would not be willing to pay for overpriced caesar salad again.
  • I gave him two options, either a restaurant or a food court, but they were in opposite directions so we had to pick one before we headed out for it. Eventually we picked the food court, because my apartment was also on the way, and I told him that he could dump off his school backpack there, and if we had time afterwards we could go back there to hang out before 4:00/4:30. I didn’t think we would though because it was quite a walk, though he hoped that it wasn’t too far. I began to lead the way, and beckoned him to follow me as we passed through the school building and ended out at a side door that he had no idea existed. I had because I had explored the place somewhat thoroughly. He commented that that door was so unfamiliar to him that he was confused at the environment outside the moment he stepped out the door.
  • Near the very end of my dream, before I woke up, i was watching an 11 minute 52 second superhero film or video clip which ended with him being romantically involved with a female villain, and the clip ended with the woman flashing a sinister grin at the camera that the hero could not see as they embraced, obviously setting up for some sort of sequel or a “read the source material to find out what happened next!” followup.
May 04 2022
  • This dream took place in a world where photographs were disallowed, officially speaking. There were two government spies that met up in a dark museum at night, crouched behind a doorway on some mission as they watched a security guard patrol around. They started to talk about old times, and the second, taller spy mentioned an opposing government’s female spy that was in the area on some unrelated mission and said that the first spy should reach out to her phone number (which the second spy had, for some reason) and send her a photograph of himself since he was romantically interested in her.
  • The first spy didn’t have a photograph of himself, of course, but the second spy said that he had saved some things from when the first spy had first enlisted in the organization and had to have a photo of himself taken for the records. That photo was supposed to be destroyed after, but the second spy had saved a physical copy somehow, as well as a doll figurine of the first spy, which the floating scene camera conspicuously looked at but which was never mentioned in the rest of the dream.
  • The first spy was taken aback by the photograph, which the second spy gave him. The second spy told the first spy that the government’s photo derection scanners only worked outdoors and on the ground, and he then leapt up onto the roof to clear out any guards there. Taking the hint, the first spy followed suit, and began to work his way home going from rooftop to rooftop via a form of close-range teleportation.
  • He wasn’t very skilled at this teleportation though, and the scene camera zoomed in on a couple examples of this — on one roof, he left a brick out of place after he teleported away from his perch on the roof, though it didn’t clatter down onto the ground. On another roof, he barely missed bumping into the homeowner who had for some reason come up onto the roof and was climbing a ladder to an indoor toilet that looked like a water tank on the roof. After the spy was gone, the scene camera showed the homeowner nervously laughing a little and cheerfully saying that his home security system had detected something on the roof but that it must have been a bird, since the coast was obviously clear now.
  • Anyway, the first spy got home safely, and entered his home through a second floor window. His second floor was made out of four narrow glass corridors connected to each other perpendicularly to form a perfect square, along with a couple rooms jutting out of the corridors. One of the rooms, which the spy now headed to, was an evidence development room, and he was headed there to use a swab on the photo to make a spare copy of it. The scene camera swooped around the house from the outside before entering the house through another window in an adjacent room.
  • Snippet: I had a dream about a male character who had three female friends as part of his (anime romcom-style) harem. All three of them were golfers, as well as robots/androids, and had different coloured hairstyles. The guy was currently smitten with the blonde, but was close to all three of them and they all banded together to help him when needed and then squabbled with each other when things were safe.
  • Snippet: I also had a dream involving seeing news reports of ice hockey teams that were entering the playoffs, except they were still somehow playing multiple games against different teams in one day. There were many new teams, but some old familiar ones as well, and the older existing teams (like the Edmonton Oilers) were blowing out the new teams in their games, with absurd scores like 22-0. I did notice that 4 scores involving one of the newer cities were not showing up at all, and surmised that the games had probably been postponed due to bad weather.
  • Snippet: I was playing a card game with Jon and Kel, which involved cards from a poker deck that also sometimes had specific powers attached to them. The objective was to get rid of all your cards first, and they could be played in singles, pairs, etc, but it was harder to get rid of them the lesser cards that you had, so it basically played like Uno. There was a card that allowed you to choose a number and an opponent, and they had to discard all copies of that card if they had one of that number, which would give the person who played the card some sort of reward. When I drew that card near the end of the game, I picked Jon and picked the number 3, which caused him to groan as that got rid of a power card of his. He then drew the same card, used it on me, and called Ace — but I had two cards left in my hand, and they were both Aces, so I got rid of both and won that way. Everyone laughed in surprise — we had never seen a game end like this before.
  • Snippet: Then there was an MMO, where I was fighting a mounted knight that was giving me trouble as his attacks were powerful and I was on foot. I lured him into a narrow valley with low-resolution grass hills on the side, and he couldn’t manouver there at all so he was stuck and couldn’t attack me. I couldn’t really reach him either, but I could reach his horse. The game was like Ultima Underworld in that depending on which part of the screen you clicked on, you would do a different attack type — the top third was an overhead swing, the middle third was a slice, and the bottom third was a thrust, so I thrusted until the barded horse fell over and the knight tumbled off. He then started to attack me but immediately despawned. Once he did so, three barbarians approached me from three different directions, two in front of me and one behind from the other valley entrance. There was no way to escape behind me as he was nearer, so I charged forward into the enemy land on the other side of the valley, aggroing about 20 enemies as I ran further in, looking for somewhere to hide. At that point, I saw a notification in our guild chat that Thrandor was logging in, and I also saw a sign that someone was logging in (but still loading) in a house near where I was in. I ran into that house, figuring it was probably Thrandor, and saw a book on the table that allowed me to teleport to his home realm, an extradimensional space within the book. This book loaded in first before the player since it was coded like an NPC pet, a separate entity from his inventory. By jumping into the book’s world before Thrandor loaded in, I was able to reset the mobs chasing me since there were no players there momentarily.
  • Snippet: There was also a double-decker park bench in one of the dreams where the upper level was reserved for me and my romantic partner, whereas other characters could only sit on the lower bench.
May 06 2022
  • I don’t fully remember the context but part of my dream was set up like a classroom in a dark fantasy world, where we were in a sort of outdoor hub with desks and a blackboard at the front of the room. There was a class portion that took place in the front of the room with Dunman classmates — I remember Allen, for one, though not what role he played, but there were also unknown strangers mixed in, I remember sitting next to some girl I didn’t know near the front of the class, but with other classmates I did know nearby.
  • Later on, there was a math class and at this point I was in a different seat (and possibly even classroom as the camera angle was different), near the front left side of the room and right next to the chalkboard this time. The teacher was trying to teach the class about functions, particularly about the f(x) notation, and I reached out to the blackboard in front of me and picked up a piece of chalk from the tray. The teacher told me to feel free to try explaining it since he knew that I was good at math and knew my stuff.
  • I wrote down that 2 + 2 = 4, drew a circle around the left side (2 + 2), and an arrow that pointed to it that said “f” (for function). I wrote that f = 2 + 2 on a line just below that, and then f = 4 on a line below that, and then started to explain that just calling the function “f” was all great if it was a fixed formula like 2 + 2, but if you had an unknown value in there, and called it x for simplicity’s sake, then you would change the notation to f(x) = x + 2 or something just to differentiate it from other formulae, and be able to say f(x) = x + 2 = 4.
  • The class seemed confused though and seemed to drift off around there to other scenes, with a feeling that even that was still a bit too advanced for where my classmates were.
  • For those other scenes, there was an adventuring aspect to our classes as well, we could basically head in four cardinal directions from our classroom, in solo and small groups, and there were things to explore and gather and different mini-dungeons to delve into. If we died, we respawned at the main classroom, or possibly the start of the mini dungeon we were in. I remember one particular dungeon to the west that led to a series of white passages that looped back onto itself and formed an octagon, with shops or upgrade stations along each wall, and some sort of exit that led to a boss fight. One of my friends commented to another person he was with that he used to come here to upgrade and had no idea that you could actually do your upgrades back at the classroom. That particular dungeon also had a button at the front door that you could press to help rescue a friend’s gravestone if it were stuck in the boss demon’s room, in return for some realm currency, as there was no leaving it besides dying and dropping your gear, or defeating the demon, once you entered.
May 07 2022
  • I was in a foreign city and walking alongside a group of two or three other Chinese girls for some time along city streets, headed for some shopping mall destination in the distance. I didn’t know them and didn’t talk to them, we were just incidental walking buddies. Eventually, I split away from them near an overhead bridge that led to a large covered building, planning to cut diagonally across it to get to my destination faster. I secretly still hoped I’d see the group of girls there though.
  • I passed a busy coffee shop inside the building, and heard to my utter surprise, someone calling out to a boy hanging in there with his name — Zixiang. I had fallen out of touch with him because he was no longer in our old class’s shared Whatsapp group, so I hadn’t been able to tell him that I had returned to the country for studies, and I knew that he now looked different due to how many years had passed, so I didn’t think I’d be able to find him.
  • He was helping out with this coffee shop though, and was shocked when I went up to him to introduce myself. He did look different but was still basically the same height/age as what I remembered him as. Two old ladies that were seated at a table chit-chatting with each other dismissed him, telling him to have the rest of the day off to go hang out with me, and I bowed to them in greeting, they obviously owned the shop and I had the feeling that at least one of them was his grandma.
  • We left together, and he brought me and another friend across a couple streets and toward his secret hideout. This turned out to be a warehouse, and he took us to a plate blocking a small square hole in a wall, removed the plate, and invited us to crawl into a short tunnel to get in. I didn’t want to however, and asked if there was another way in. We could see large, double barn doors on the far side of the “room” through the tunnel, and he said that we could try using the barn doors but he was never able to get it open (and that this was a new location he had only recently rented) as it was locked from the other end.
  • We walked around to the front of the row of buildings and found what seemed to be the barn doors, they looked pristine and majestic but also somewhat fake. The other guy with us asked who had rented it out, Zixiang said someone at the coffee shop did, and we returned to the coffee shop at the other guy’s insistance. You could see the gleaming double barn doors down the hill and across the street from the coffee shop, but due to some trick the other guy had played, he managed to prove from that viewing angle that those double doors didn’t actually belong to the warehouse, and that it was a minor scam of sorts, to make the supposed hideout that he was renting out look more glamourous and thus expensive. The actual double doors were a couple buildings to the left of those gleaming doors, shrouded in shadows and easy to miss. We went back and entered that way.
  • Inside the hideout, we sat down on the floor and looked around. There was lots of junk lying around, and a television set that seemed to work still, so Zixiang wanted to try to hook that up. They asked me to find and plug in a VCR or DVD player or something, and I fumbled with a box for some time before realizing that all it contained were three controllers. I pointed at something else that was plugged in and Zixiang noted that that was a router, not a VCR/DVD player, but I was actually gesturing at one of the output ports for it and that it was made for the VCR/DVD player, and I wanted to see what kind of wire fit into it as that would allow me to trace down the player faster. Using that strategy I eventually found and plugged in the machine.
  • We then either briefly played some games or watched some sports, I forget which. I had vague feelings here that I wasn’t doing very well because I had been away from the country for too long and was still trying to acquaint myself with all the changes, and that I preferred to be going to that shopping mall than stuck in this hole, but decided that I would do so tomorrow instead as meeting up with Zixiang and his friend was a much rarer event to be treasured.
May 08 2022
  • I dreamt about five evil witches whose goals were to flip five levers owned by the human realm. The five witches had some overpowered statistics, like an enhanced luck stat that allowed them to reroll a Luck roll if they failed the first time, and they could also sense the direction that the levers were from them. In addition, there was some ways that they could be resurrected, so they were a pain to deal with because even if they were defeated, one of the other witches could resurrect them. They also had individual unique powers on top of that. However, I believe that they disappeared once their lever was pulled.
  • I was followed across a school campus by one of them at one point because they either needed something that I knew the location of and was going to try to retrieve, or they needed to know the entrance to an underground bunker where the levers were kept. I pretended to be unaware and walked across streets and through buildings to keep them busy.
  • At some point, we ended up in a room that looked like a courtroom for a sort of final showdown, with several of the levers already pulled but several of the witches already dead as well. The five levers were on five chairs lined up in a row, and I and several of the human heroes were sitting on the chairs and guarding them as the witches tried to get us to make mistakes so they could get to the levers. There were also human civilians in attendance in the room, watching on like spectators from the sides.
  • I broke one of the levers in an attempt to stop it from being flipped, which the other heroes turned aghast about because that also controlled traffic lights on the surface or something, and a camera feed was shown to display the pandemonium that it was about to create at a busy crosswalk. However, I was the newest hero and had Earth powers that were still more or less untapped and unexplored, and I fixed this by using my powers to create a large button where the lever was, replacing the mechanism that allowed the traffic lights to work again, even if it meant giving up that lever/button to the owning witch in the end.
  • The witches used trickery to get us to expose the levers so they could pull them, the third last lever was pulled when one of the witches commented that my shoulder bag strap had caught against the lever and was about to pull it after I leaned over to help thwart some attempt on another lever. When I dropped my guard to check, she darted in to actually pull that lever (before getting vaporized by us or it).
  • We eventually won when there was one witch left, and she sacrificed herself to pull the second last lever, suffering a mortal blow from us in the process. Lying on the floor, she then announced something like how she had 20 seconds of immortality left before she would fade away and she also had the power to peek 20 seconds into the future and see if the witches had succeeded in pulling the last lever or not — she paused a moment then cried out in joy because she said they had. Two of us were guarding this last lever very closely, practically guarding it with our hands, and I sensed the other person tensing up to the point that they might made a mistake and accidentally press down on it if they were pressured or something. I told him to keep calm, as we only had a few seconds left to victory and she was probably making a last gambit for it. I was right and she wailed as she withered away to nothingness.
  • Snippet: In an earlier dream, I don’t remember the context but I do remember a dungeon located in a desert, with a sandstone door that was nearly the same pale beige colour as everything else set into the side of a rectangular wall of sand being the entrance to said dungeon.

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