My Diary #059

Dear Tigey,

We have just over one more week to go before the absolute final deadline for my Fall 2022 study abroad rolls around. Think the government agency will come through for us and send us the letter they need to send? No? Me neither.

Entry #059 (Jul 10 2022)

Table of Contents

Drenched in blue at…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #57
ට  Song of the Week #34
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #41
ට  Last Year’s Entry #10
ට  Dreams

School

As mentioned above, I should have a much clearer picture next week on whether I am going to Singapore or not, even though the deadline is technically a little bit after next week’s post. I will be making my Student’s Pass application early next week either way though, even if I hear nothing from the agency in charge of the citizenship renunciation that I need completed first, as it can take up to two weeks to do, and if that gets rejected and there’s no time left for me to reapply and go then that will be it for the Study Abroad in Fall 2022 plans.

But it’s all in the name of picking the route that will give me the best odds of making it.

I also got offered my housing spot this week, and it’s a single room with attached washroom, slightly more expensive than the regular rooms but that’s fine. It’s kind of complex as to when I can or have to accept the room offer by though, and I’m not yet sure what happens if I accept and then find out I’m not going. Here are what the housing offer and attached email looks like though.

Way too complex when I’m still worrying on whether I’m even going to get to go or not.

Work

Work as usual is a little bit between frustrating and boring, there isn’t a ton of work but I don’t like what the University plans to do to get rid of unlimited Google storage accounts and their poor communication around the plans, so I hope to not be here when the support and frontline teams get slammed because the executives want to push initiatives without caring about the details, which works sometimes but not in such a wide-ranging, impactful change like this. Not that I can share a lot of details yet but from what I hear currently, I think it’s going to be an unmitigated disaster that doesn’t work with current processes, and many departments are going to permanently lose data because our IT department is bad at communication and bad at giving people ways to figure out what they need to do — our processes are complex but we like to assume that everyone in every department knows what we’re talking about when it comes to offboarding and such.

Anyway I don’t mind being a fly on the wall for this but I want no part of actually having to deal with the impending rage that will fall upon the support teams early next year.

Life

I took a walk early in the week to the Asian supermarket, but took a different, more scenic path there this time, a walk which took me through the Canadian version of neighbourhood strip malls, I always wonder how lonely shops like these survive rental fees and such in such a low-populated suburban housing area, especially in fierce winters. The building on the right here is a carwash but the walls made for a nice corridor shot.

I also passed by the tree that had those fluffy pods a couple weeks ago and took another picture of them, the tree was actually fairly clean of fluff now and all the fluff had dropped to the ground around it:

I still have no idea what those are but I’m no plant expert and I didn’t try looking it up.

There are toadstool rings growing down in the central yard of our housing area, this is something I haven’t seen in the 10 years or so I’ve been living here:

I remember being very fascinated by them when young, and fantasy books and games (local) linking them to gnomes and pixies and fairies and such. I liked that concept quite a bit.

A mushroom tavern —
Pixies get drunk on moonshine,
And vanish by dawn.

Talking about My Diary #057, I finished the library book that I had been casually reading, To Touch a Dream: A Wilderness Adventure (local), by Sunny Wright. It’s a memoir, so reviews like the one in that link that say that it’s “not particularly riveting”… I hope people like that never find and rate this blog either because they’re totally missing the point of a memoir. It jumped from highlight to highlight and thus occasionally skipped entire seasons and even years of the author’s life, and the dates and years are not well recorded on top of that, so I did feel like the timeline was rather rushed (especially nearer the end) and the author just wanted to get to the end of the book, but nonetheless some of the stories in the book were quite amazing and has kind of rekindled my interest to go to an urban wilderness retreat or something for a couple days (because I definitely am not suited for a true wilderness experience).

My favourite anecdote from her book has to be her story about rescuing someone from a small Native tribe called the Babine, that lived on Stuart Lake, in British Columbia. She was invited to stay with the tribe for two weeks, and an entire short chapter of the book is a firsthand account of her experiences and an invaluable snapshot of their daily lives there. While on their reserve, the tribe matriarch explained the meaning of their totem pole to her, and Sunny wrote that “their lineage was derived from the Athapascan-speaking tribe called Takulli. They dwelled in the upper branches of the Fraser River, between the coast and the Rocky Mountains, in what is now central British Columbia. Their name derives from the custom whereby widows carried the ashes of their deceased husbands in knapsacks for three years. The name Takulli also means, “People who go upon the water.””  (98)

She also wrote about how even 30+ years later, she could barely find any information on the tribe, and how magical and mystical it was for their lives to touch for the time that she spent with them. The book was written in 2006, and the Wikipedia page on the indigenous people in that area is a lot more populated now, but that unique firsthand experience, chronicled and recorded from almost 50 years ago now, really piqued my interest and made the book jump from good to great for me. She ended the chapter with “I still feel as though I missed out on something crucially important in not living longer with those people who seemed to have found spirituality in the very simplicity with which they joined themselves to the world around them.” (104) and I empathized heavily with that line, life is a series of choices and opportunities and what-if’s, and all the missed opportunities themselves form part of a person’s life experiences and identity and goals.

It reminds me of a comment in a Reddit thread I read somewhere where a traveller on a cross-country train somewhere (Japan? Europe?) struck a nice conversation with a pretty local girl around his age who was travelling back to her home town, and she invited him to get off the train with her when she arrived at her stop. He politely declined, but always wondered where that road would have left if he had been more capricious or daring and had accepted that offer.

I also found a (couple months old) new food store in the mall that I’ve been frequenting recently because I noticed that they have a nice pricing model:

It’s a store named Bourbon Street Grill, and, despite the name, it’s basically a Chinese fast food place in terms of having a number of hot trays of Asian food you pick from to assemble your meal, but apparently you get a discount for going with vegetarian options, which is actually not something I’ve seen before but I do appreciate because I usually go for 1 meat and 1-2 vegetarian dishes and it’s nice spending less than that. And while still pricey compared to a food mecca place like Singapore, it’s actually cheaper than the other two or three options I usually go for in the mall. Also, their green beans are to die for.

Games

I bought a few more games at the tail end of the Steam summer sale, as I usually do. This list is here to make me review it again next year and feel guilt at all the games I didn’t get around to playing. One thing I do do these days that I didn’t used to before is that I do at least watch gameplay videos before purchasing them though. My go-to reviewer is Splattercatgaming, if he has a video out for the game.

State of Decay 2 — I played the first one long ago and liked it, although it’s somewhat simplistic (especially in base building and lack of consequences) and not too dangerous, it’s no cakewalk either and I like the gradual power creep and resource scavenging and hoarding. I need to find a really good scavenger + base building game and I haven’t quite found it yet. I’ve put some hours into this already and while it has its issues, it’s still quite fun.

The Wind and Wilting Blossom — How could I not buy a game with a name like that? But seriously its a roguelite (you can’t win the game on your first few runs but unlock things that help you fo further over time) game with a Faster Than Light sort of overworld with creeping miasma you have to keep ahead of while exploring, and combat which is basically a tactical optimization puzzle slapped onto a hex grid that looks like it’s right out of Heroes of Might and Magic, and I’ve also finished a few failed runs into this and unlocked some stuff for future runs. I did run into a significant (but avoidable) bug that cost me an expensive item, ruined a run, and dampened my excitement a bit though.

Kenshi — This one has been high on my wishlist for a while and I decided to pick it up. It’s a Mount and Blade style overworld that evolves around you while you’re trying to struggle for survival, and apparently you can even eventually set up your own base and mercenary company. Haven’t had time to play it too much yet, but I certainly hope I can get into the game.

Horizon’s Gate — I was itching for some sort of RPG, and this one looked really good, with some fairly intense character customization that has you levelling classes to unlock other classes, a crew you have to build, equip, and level/train, and a fleet you can build and sail around with to do trading or pursue a global main quest with. Lots of exploration and stuff to do. The main negative point I’ve found about the game so far is that you have an extremely limited personal inventory, but I found that this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you have a ship stash and that thing is more or less infinite, I think.

Core Keeper — my group decided to pick this one up and play it, so I started a game with Trin, Kynji, Milumbar, and Satinel. So far it’s okay. Nothing too spectacular, but I like solid digging/crafting/base building games anyway. I largely stayed home and fished/gardened/cooked a lot in the two sessions that we’ve played so far though.

Deep Rock Galactic — This one was in the July 2022 Humble Monthly, so it’s not exactly a Steam sale purchase, I have been an ongoing subscriber of the Humble Monthly for essentially since the start. But we played this for Jah Stream Night this Friday and the game wowed us with how good it was. Or at least the staging base. So much love and detail put into it.

Atelier Sophie 2 — Because I had 1 already and this completes my Ryza/Sophie set. Still working on Ryza 2 slowly, though. This was from Fanatical because they had a better deal than Steam or Humble did.

Mindustry — Because it was $1.09 on Fanatical and looked like the kind of game I’d like to play sometime.

If you think I buy a lot of games, you should see the number of games I considered and then passed on!

Games outside that list that I’ve been playing in the past week include Approaching Infinity from last week’s sale, Vampire Survivors now and then, and OPUS: The Day We Found Earth on my Steam Deck.

Plushie of the Week #57 – Klondike Days Plushies

The following plushies will be introduced as a set as we don’t have much to say about them, except that we -think- they were likely from around 2004 (to maybe up until 2008?) when Kel went to K-Days, or Klondike Days, as it used to be known as, with a good friend from high school named Christina. We can’t prove it for sure, but it seems right from what we remember, plus all the plushies have the same tag on them, from a Toronto-based company named Ganz. They’re all also equally terrible, and have thus been relegated to a box for most of their plushie lives without a name or personality to call their own. They’re not necessarily from the same year, as Kel thinks that they went there on several different years, but unless their tag numbers mean anything (and they don’t seem to), there’s no real way to tell.

However, since the Calgary version of the Klondike Days, the Calgary Stampede (which I went to this time last year) is going on now, this seemed like an apt time to give them their own blog post. There seem to be six of them, so rather than put full-sized pictures up for each one, I’ve decided to have six mini-galleries for each one instead. There’s a purple bear, a purple hippo, a green turtle, a black, white, and brown dog, an orange tiger, and a yellow bird with a blue tuft of hair. The dog is kind of cute, and the bear is okay, but the rest of them are dopey-looking!

Song of the Week #34

Title: Someday
Artist: Michael Learns To Rock
Album: Played On Pepper (1995)

Michael Learns To Rock, or MLTR, as they later rebranded to, are a Danish pop/rock boyband that were (and probably still are) really popular in Scandinavia, and the Pacific rim, especially around South East Asia, apparently a little bit of South Africa as well, and almost completely unknown outside of that for whatever reason. Growing up in Singapore in the 90s though, they were extremely popular in my friend circles and even my parents liked their music, and they had something like 15-20 radio singles through that time period. Their soft, sometimes almost mournful ballads, clean image, and earnest lyrical style earned them a lot of fans, and I myself even owned one of their CDs at some point in my life.

I could have easily featured one of at least six possible songs by them that I or someone I knew well really liked here, and I might feature some of their other songs in the future due to that, but there isn’t actually one song of theirs that stands out far and above the others and demands to be featured here for me, and most of my memories of the band are connected to liking the actual band and watching their music videos on MTV Asia or listening to them on the radio.

Case in point — when trying to consider which song of theirs to feature this week, I went through a mental list of their songs and was able to remember over 10 songs from their album, but it wasn’t until I looked at an actual discography list that I remembered the existence of the featured song this week. Yet, this song used to be my favourite song from them for a spell, and charted as high as the top 10 of my combined favourite English songs list back in the mid 90s when I was making such lists to while away time, in a day and age before computers and phones were ubiquitous.

I love the riffs and melody in this song, though the lyrics confused me a bit. I didn’t really question it though, and it also acted as a bit of a farewell song when I was parting from my friends and heading to Canada in 1998, especially since this beach music video got tangentially linked to the Chalet Incident and the beach visit there for me. So this song brings me back to those nostalgic days, to a much simpler childhood place now only present in my memories when radio and TV made up a lot of my daily activities and I spent time printing out lyrics of songs I liked into a ring folder that I still have in a box somewhere, and memorizing and singing them. I also remember wondering how the music video was shot, since it looked like it was all done as one continuous shot, but the camera quietly goes through a window that it shouldn’t be able to at one point.

The band even put a video comment in the Youtube video below, detailing some interesting trivia about the song:

It’s the most fun we had for a video shoot ever. We were touring in Bali and a Danish video crew flew in and spent most of the week building the set on a beach. Local models were hired and supposed to sing along to the song during the video. But the locals had a hard time learning the words, so a Brazilian surfer-girl that happened to be on the beach that day was asked to participate. She did well and ended up as the “star” in the video. On the day we only had a short time to shoot because we needed the light from the sunset. We love the energy in the video and it always brings back great memories of a few long and hot days on a beach in Bali.

Cool!

Memory Snippet of the Week #41

This is the third entry in the memory snippet series where I list classmates and schoolmates from a particular time period in my life, partly to have somewhere I can point back to eventually if I ever have to, and partly so I can make sure that each and every one of them has an hover text entry in the WordPress plugin that I use. This week I’m listing the people I knew from my Dunman High days, and these people, especially the ones in my class, are by far and away the most influential and important people in my various classmate lists. Look no further than my dream diary entries for proof of these — even these days, nearly 25 years later, they still regularly make appearances in my dreams, and often not as cameo characters but main characters to boot.

The Dunman High GEP classes when I was there were Secondary 1K and 1L, and Secondary 2K and 2L, there wasn’t a class shuffle between Sec 1 and 2 (nor between Sec 3 and 4), so I was in 1L and 2L and had the same classmates through both years, minus one guy who left after Sec 1. There was a shuffle between Years 2 and 3 after I left though, and everyone else continued on in 3L/3M and 4L/4M after that. But I never knew that class roster split except in yearbooks, so my mental division of the class is still done along Secondary 1/2 lines.

I finally went back to meet several of them a month or two ago, as detailed in my Rose-Tinted Goggles blog post series, and there are various adult pictures of the people I did meet there, but most of my mental images of them as well as how they appear in my dreams derive from their 1997-1998 photos. The 1L/2L photos, the class I was in, are located back in Diary #019, and while I didn’t have a coloured class photo for the 1K/2K class, they can be seen in this specific page from the 1997 yearbook and this one from the 1998 yearbook. I’ll be listing them all in 2K/2L photo order:

Dunman Students

2L, front row, left to right:

Eileen: The baby/babyface of the class, always cheerful and fun even though she was one of our moral compasses. She was in St John‘s Ambulance Brigade. I eventually met her in Los Angeles in 2021 here.

Paulene: The sporty girl in class, she was always active and always seemed to be tanned. She was on the basketball team, and along with Gillian below, was one of the two people in our class that were not in the GEP in primary school — the two of them were part of a very small group of students that qualified and joined between Primary 6 and Secondary 1. I met her in Singapore in 2022 in this blog entry.

Zixiang: Our class rebel and delinquent, he was very likeable and one of my closest friends. Even the teachers, especially Mrs Shu, liked him quite a bit too, but we would have our own fair share of squabbles and he would occasionally get in trouble for flying off the handle or do something totally crazy like skip classes (or even walk out on one eventually, I hear). He also loved reading fantasy books, and was soccer-crazy (he was a Liverpool fan). He was in Scouts, but had a blood problem (that eventually apparently was cured or faded away) where his blood wouldn’t clot on its own so any cut would just continue bleeding. I met him in 2022 in this blog entry.

Jean: She was our local English and English Literature expert, read a lot of books, and I liked her, although she apparently is nowhere to be found now as she drifted away from everyone else after graduation and thus is not on the Whatsapp group chat. I know a couple other people on the list had been looking for her recently as well to no avail.

Yiwen: I believe she was in the choir, and I seem to recall her being really good at Chinese as well, though I’m not sure if that’s my memory playing tricks on me. I was friendly with her (and everyone else) and remember her well, but we didn’t hang out all the time or anything so I don’t specifically remember any standout moment or memory with her the way that I do with many others.

Gillian: She lived in Tampines like I did, and our houses were basically just across the street from each other, so we would sometimes take the train and then the feeder bus 292 home together (a journey of about an hour or so altogether) if we met up after school. She was probably the person I would consider closest to being my childhood friend in the stereotypical anime/manga sense, though it was not quite that sort of relationship, and we never visited each other’s houses more than briefly to drop off something or other. Our parents apparently did get to know each other though. She had scoliosis and I knew would sometimes get back pains while in school, and she eventually got surgery for this at some point after graduation. I re-established ties and chatted with her over email back in 2021 and Whatsapp in 2022, and we tried to meet up while I was in Singapore but ran out of time.

2L, back row, left to right:

Yaoxiang: He was in the Scouts and was one of our computer/technological geniuses. He lives in the States now and eventually did end up working and innovating in the field, I believe! I was in the same Boy Scout unit as him (Rayfish), and so we spent a lot of time together watching out for each other’s backs against the larger Scout troupe that didn’t really like us GEP kids.

Kaiting: She lived somewhere on the west side of the city, and was very good friends with Rachel, who also hailed from the extreme west coast (so the two of them were often late together coming to school). She was in the Girl Guides club, and I remember her as being very happy-go-lucky, and one of our blur queens, but she was very nice to be around and hung out with us a lot (in the Kallang McDonald’s) and I consider/ed her one of my closer friends as well. Zixiang made a bold prediction once that she and I would end up married at some point in the future. Bzzt, wrong. She lives in Hong Kong now and I want to go visit her at some point.

Allen: He was one of my better friends and was the person who gifted me Tigey in the summer of 1998. He was also one of our moral compasses and could get really serious when the situation demanded it, so I remember him as being really reliable. His family lived in a bungalow (as opposed to nearly everyone else who lived in a flat), and I remember going around neighbourhoods with him and a couple other people on a quest to find, retrieve, and clean discarded pop cans in a school-wide recycling contest in Sec 1 or 2 that our class won. We washed the bottles and cans that we retrieved on his driveway with a hose. He apparently lives in Vancouver now and I also need to find some time to go down and meet him over there.

Xuanjie: Another close friend, I remember him and Zixiang defaulting to speaking Chinese a lot in each other’s presence rather than English, though they were both proficient in English too (as was everyone else). I remember him really liking Chinese Chess, and the two of them (along with Eugene) would spend a lot of time playing each other. I believe he was in the NPCC (police cadet corps) club, though I’m not 100% sure. He was the catalyst for getting me into computer/PC gaming, I believe, in a story that will be a future Memory Snippet.

Jonathan: The tallest guy in class, and so he was often banished to one of the back row seats in classroom seating arrangements. He was our resident blur king, wasn’t interested in the basketball team or anything like that, and loved hanging out with us after school too. He was occasionally a co-conspirator with Zixiang in his escapades and would get into trouble with him now and then, and I think he was in the St John‘s Ambulance club.

Valerie: One of our two class prefects and moral compasses who would occasionally give us a tongue-wagging when we went out of line, she was nonetheless great fun to be around, and I remember liking her a lot. There were three girls in our class from Raffles Girls’ Primary School, all three of whom had multiples of 3 as their student number in class (#3 was Debbie, #6 was Kaiting, and #9 was Valerie), and all three joined the Girl Guides as well, though I’m not sure if they all stayed or if they transferred out in Secondary 3.

Me: Read the blog. Skipping this terrible person.

Eugene: If we had a class clown he was probably the one, he was a very funny and likeable person who also was part of the friend group that I hung out with the most. He really, really liked penguins, in the same way that I like Tigey and my sister liked turtles and Jinbe-sans. I tried reaching out to him back in mid-2021 over email but never heard back, though I hear that Zixiang and him still meet up now and then.

Debbie: Our other class prefect, super self-depreciating but super nice and gentle and accommodating as well. She’ll heavily dispute this, but I actually always thought of her as the smartest and most studious student in class. She was in the Girl Guides. I never really knew her that well in secondary school compared to some of the others that I hung out with, but I met her twice when I went to Singapore in 2022 and had a blast with her and her kids, and she’s an awesome person that bent over backwards to make me feel really welcome. I wish I had hung out with her more in secondary school now! During my trip back to Singapore, we met once here with Huihan and once here with her family.

Huihan: We were romantically linked for a few months near the end of Secondary 2, but I think we largely used that as an excuse to hang out with each other and buy each other little trinkets now and then — at least, that was about all I could manage to do for her, as romance wasn’t really a thing I understood well. At any rate, she was my closest female friend and part of my innermost friendship circle even before that and we spent lots of afternoons together playing cards and other things with each other. She was one of the first people I reached out too over email after getting in touch with Kaiting in mid 2021, and I also met up with her and Debbie here in 2022. Great person, can’t say enough nice things. Gave me a friendship bracelet in 1998 that Tigey still wears around his neck today.

Not pictured:

Zhuquan: He was a tall guy in the Sec 1L picture (in the Diary #019 link) that never made it to Secondary 2 and onwards with us, as he dropped or transferred out of the program to go to a normal school after Sec 1. Our grades in general weren’t that good but I think he had been lagging behind everyone else even relatively speaking. My enduring memory of him is that he accidentally squished a spider with an upside down classroom chalk box (a box that we beat the chalkboard dusters against to get the chalk off of it) once while trying to capture it, and was really upset and grossed out by it.

2K front row, left to right:

Arlena: I never really associated with her much and was never in the same class as her so I don’t know all that much about her, though I do know she was/is good friends with several of my closer 1L/2L female friends. Someone I wish I had gotten to know better!

Sandra: A girl I liked and also wish I got to know better. I knew she was crazy about horses, loved reading fantasy books, and was terrified of dogs (somehow I remember it was supposedly due to being chased by dogs when young and hiding inside a graveyard or something to escape from them — I think that might have been slightly embellished by the time it was told to me, but who knows for sure). She was part of a group of 7 or so of us that went to NUS or Singapore Polytechnic (I have to check notes) every Thursday for special computer programming workshop classes after school as part of a program called JSIST (or maybe they were the sponsors), for a semester or two back in 1997 or 1998. She was the only girl in that group, which I think included Allen, Yucheng, Yaoxiang, me, and maybe Xuanjie and/or one or two others.

Antonia: She was fun-loving and boisterous and on the loud side, and was kind of the girls’ enforcer and protector against the boys, if such a role actually existed. A lot of the girls liked her, but I think some of the boys definitely didn’t. As she was in the other class I didn’t have much opportunity to interact with her one way or another.

Heidi: If Antonia was the fatherly protector of the girls in school, I think Heidi was more like the motherly figure for them, although I never was in the same class as her and so don’t have much to prove that besides the general vibe that I had from them too. All the girls were fairly close with each other though and I think that largely continues to this day. She apparently left to go overseas as well after Sec 3, a year after I did, and so never graduated from Dunman with everyone else either, but she got invited back to the Whatsapp group by Eileen just after they got me in and renamed the group to include everyone that was ever in either class.

Leong Wai: Another girl I never got to associate with and thus never really knew, though she was famous for liking cows the way that Eugene liked penguins. Her online moniker at one point was the Divine Bovine, which stuck with me because of the rhyme and the great mental image that that created.

Rachel: The class beauty, Kaiting‘s inseparable best friend, and the person who lived so far west in the country that if you went any further west you’d be swimming in the Johor Strait. Well, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but she lived so far west that she had to take a feeder bus just to get to one of the westernmost train stations in the country to then slowly make her way to school every morning. She was fun, eclectic, completely immersed in fantasy books and her own fantasy world, and a bit blur at times, but everyone liked her as well. Due to being good friends with Kaiting, she was partially in our friendship circle as well and eventually became good friends with Zixiang and Eugene too. I met her during my trip to Singapore here and we had a great and memorable talk together. I literally wrote down a page of notes (that I didn’t share) once I returned to the hotel room afterwards, so I wouldn’t forget it all.

2K back row, left to right:

Eisen: I remember him as a fun-loving, always smiling goofball with perpetually really short hair that we liked to pat, and as mentioned last week in the Rosyth writeup, I always thought that he’d become a newspaper reporter. I think he currently works as a museum curator though, which is even better! A job I’d love to have for myself, anyway.

Kenneth: I didn’t get to associate a ton with him so I don’t remember any specific interactions or impressions of him, but I definitely remember him.

Yucheng: Yaoxiang‘s close friend, and someone (one of many people) I had spent my Rosyth years with as well. A computer genius too that also ended up innovating in the field, I believe, and also lives somewhere in the US now. The two of them were fast friends and I liked them both, they were both not only smart but fun people to be around as well, with conversation topics and point of views that would straddle the crazy at times (in a good way). Those two were our mad geniuses!

Jianwei: He was one of the spiritual leaders of the other class, and someone I looked up to a little bit as he was a nice person in all interactions that I had with him, but didn’t otherwise really know as we didn’t have that many interactions. Him and Justin Yip on the far right were the two “shuai ge” (local) people in our classes, basically the handsome/cute guys that all the girls liked (or were said to like, anyway!).

Paul: Our Dungeons and Dragons game master! He hung out with us now and then as well and was a great and imaginative guy, I remember liking him a lot. I borrowed an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition Player’s Handbook from him at one point and had it photocopied at a now-defunct shop near the Kallang McDonalds so I could use it between our games.

Harvey: He loved the popular rock music of the day, and was probably the one most in tune with current trends. He was a big soccer fan as well and occasionally came over to hang out with Zixiang and the rest of us since he was also a Rosyth alumni and knew us from there. I think he ended up joining the Symphonic band.

Jackson: All the boys in 1K except for Kenneth, Jianwei, and Paul were Rosyth alumni as well, so I knew them at least passingly, but never got to interact with them a ton in either Sec 1 or 2 since we were in different classes. I remember Jackson being really kind-hearted, and I remember him having a really nice, good-natured laugh, but have no specific memories with him outside of that.

Yongrui: Another Rosyth alum, and I seem to remember him being a bit of a gamer as well even in secondary school. I liked him quite a bit from primary school, but we definitely didn’t hang out as much as I’d have liked to in secondary school.

Leon: Same as the above two, Rosyth alum, and a really nice guy overall, but one that I didn’t get to hang out with as much as I’d have liked and thus have no particular lasting memories with or of.

Justin Yip: A good all-rounder in sports, I’m pretty sure he was on the soccer team in Rosyth and I think he was on the volleyball team (along with Jianwei, and possibly Jackson and Eugene?) in Dunman. See the Jianwei section above as well!

Dunman Teachers

After ruminating on this, I’m skipping this section because this list is already present over here, and there’s so much uncertainty over some of the teachers and what they taught us in my memories that I don’t want to have two separate places that I might get the information wrong on. Plus I don’t have that many memories involving the teachers in particular, though I remember most of their faces and voices. I built the hover text off of that list instead, though.

The only other notable teacher to add to that list is:

Mr Kiw: Our school disciplinary master. He was also a teacher (though not ours), but as the discipline master, he had his own separate office away from the staff room and he wore a scary face around wherever he went. I can’t comment on whether he was truly fair or not, but we had the impression that he didn’t like our GEP classes and often had it in for us because we were wilder and more freedom-oriented (and tended to have worse grades) than the regular student body.

We clashed with or were always mindful of avoiding him a fair amount, especially Zixiang, who saw the inside of the discipline office (for a stern lecture or three) probably more than any of us did. According to Zixiang, Dunman had a demerit system where three minor infractions led to one small infraction, three small infractions led to one large infraction, and three large infractions led to explusion. But in general, he felt that it was there more as a deterrence system than anything formal (unless you actually racked up a true major infraction and not just a number of little ones), as Zixiang wasn’t sure how he had managed to survive four years at the school without being kicked out otherwise.

He also provided an anecdote as an example — sometime in Sec 3 or 4. he and Jonathan were in class one morning furiously trying to finish some forgotten homework before classes started, while some random prefect was trying to get them to leave the class and go down to the carpark for morning assembly, the Singapore pledge, and the school song. They refused and Jonathan told the prefect to shut up, and he got a minor infraction for that once it was reported! Whoops.

Last Year’s Entry #10

My corresponding diary entry from last year is My Diary #012. This was published on Jul 11 2021.

There isn’t always a lot to talk about for previous entries — part of the reason I’m doing this is that I need to motivate myself to work on and tidy up earlier diary entries, and what better way to do so than in weekly chunks. I did retrieve the office nametag I talked about in My Diary #012, but who really needs to know about that? And the first Windows error I talked about there does still happen sometimes, but not always. The second has thankfully largely fixed itself and hasn’t happened for some time, as that was by far the more annoying one of the two.

The Calgary Stampede started yesterday but I am not interested in going down this year, especially not with my study abroad thing about to either succeed or break down in the next week. The Edmonton version is at the end of this month though, and I might go to that.

While Steam and Humble Bundle charge digital tax now, we’ve found that Fanatical does not for whatever reason (I think they absorb the taxes instead), but for that reason alone they’ve earned some game purchases from me over Steam or Humble Bundle because their prices were that much cheaper than the other digital game storefronts.

I did buy a bunch of games in this current Steam sale, but I realize with horror from looking back at that blog that I hadn’t actually really played two of the three games that I picked up at the end of last summer’s Steam sale yet. Oops. I did play the third one, Troubleshooters, extensively so that kind of overwhelmed the other two, I guess. That is a great game and I have wanted to go back to it.

Also, I didn’t know if it was okay to talk about it at that time, but this paragraph from last year’s entry:

A really interesting thing happened this week outside of the Calgary trip, and outside of work and school, but I am unable to speak of it at this time as it’s still a work in progress. It’s to do with Singapore though, and is a bit of really good news that I wasn’t expecting, and might eventually lead to me taking a trip back there, so that’s awesome!

Refers to a phone call that I got from my enlistment officer/rep over at CMPB on July 06 2021, where she had originally indicated that I might eventually get an exemption for my National Service obligation that would pave the way and allow me to reenter Singapore. Which I did do last month. The whole Singapore study abroad idea wasn’t even on the cards back then, it was born a couple months after this phone call.

Dreams
Jul 04 2022
  • I was staying in a house in the wilderness of Alberta with some friends, it had two back doors and two side doors and occasionally a vehicle driven by a friend would show up. It was mostly a relaxing scene, though at one point it also became a school scene and I had to help out Seren, who was the head monitor and one year my senior, confiscate and chide a group of students for smuggling back an ostrich-like egg from a school excursion, as this also brought back a bunch of angry adult ostriches that attacked people in front of the school. The students were upset but I managed to talk them down and I bought them a packet of supermarket meat from Safeway or something as a gift to placate them in the end.
  • At that point the house had a couple classrooms and our class, in the back of the rural school, had people who were able to use magic, which is why we were also the prefects and enforcers of the school. There was a scene where a teacher, while heading to the class next to ours to teach them, was shown to be in denial that our magic worked at all even as we pointed out some magic that took place at the other end of the corridor outside the front door.
  • Besides the school scenes, we had sleepovers and one scene involved some of us queueing outside the upstairs bathrooms in the morning, waiting for the chance to use it to brush our teeth. We thought it was occupied at first, but soon realized that the door was shut but unlocked as Mom was boiling water in a pot in the sink or something. To save some time, Kel and I went downstairs and used the sink there instead, and found a pot of rice being prepared down there.
  • We also saw a report about a husband and wife who had been trying to get here from Montana a long time ago, back in 2011 or so, and the husband did not have a pilot’s license but kept on pestering his wife to let him fly her here, and she eventually agreed after several months, though she regretted this soon after but was too meek to renege on her agreement. So on July 04, we saw some pictures of them taking off in a small plane, and then a flight path that started on the east coast of the country (where somehow Montana was located in my dream world), flying west (apparently Alberta was located west of and adjacent to Montana). But the plane never made it, as we also saw an aerial picture of a crash site and plumes of fire, as well as a phone screenshot that showed a news story about a mutual friend of the two waking up that morning to see her flight tracker proclaiming the plane as “doomed”, next to a couple stories about celebrating Independence Day.
Jul 05 2022
  • Amidst my dream snippets were a few scenes where I was playing AMQ with Satinel, Nak, and Heg in a physical room. Songs/videos that came up include the Minori Chihara insert from Occult Academy, an ecchi seasonal 9 characters long with four X’s in it that Nak was watching, and a random English dubbed song that mentioned Grimm’s Fairy Tales by name but which was some other show entirely so we all got it wrong. It was a comfortable room that we were all situated in and I was lying down amidst a pile of pillows next to Satinel, who was sitting upright, as we all stared at the LCD TV mounted on the wall playing the songs for us to guess.
  • There were also snippets at the end about exploring a map on a top down area similar to Heroes 3, but I controlled a number of friends or party members who followed me around, and we were investigating things. One of the things we did was to pry open a trap which had some dead adventurers in it or something, which bloodied the fingers of the person that pried it open. We then retrieved some children’s picture books from the trap and donated it to some other children, with the note that the blood on the later part of the books would make the book more authentic and teach them that adventuring life was dangerous. We then returned to an area on the map denoted by dotted lines, to camp for the night and set out again in a different direction the next morning.
Jul 06 2022
  • I took a bus back from Calgary to Edmonton and once we reached and everyone disembarked, it was late in the evening and I noticed the bus driver and everyone else still standing around at the Edmonton bus depot. I asked the bus driver about it and he said that he had a red science textbook that he was asked to bring to Edmonton, and was waiting for the owner to come pick it up. I took a peek at the cover and saw that the owner’s name was written on the front, and it was someone I knew — Yaoxiang.
  • I told the bus driver that I knew the owner, and texted him on Google Chat on my phone. He said that he was unaware that the book was coming, but he had been trying to get it back from a female underclassman based out of Calgary that he had been tutoring for some time now, as all of us apparntly had to tutor someone recently as part of our Science class. He had almost given up on the book. I told him that I could try to pick it up for him and asked him if it was okay that I did so. He still seemed confused but said yes with a ? and then added some other text after it.
  • I showed the screen to the bus driver, who was satisfied and gave me the book and left. There were some other students around, one of which had been trying to read through the book as well, but they also ceded the book to me and I went to a bench to pack it into my bag. I noted that this bus depot was actually right in the front lobby of the school so it would be better for me to go up to class and dump the book there for Yaoxiang to pick up the next morning, rather than for me to bring it home and back.
  • I told my plan to the two other students next to me that hadn’t left yet, and then remarked that it might be scary going into the classroom this late at night. Then I realized that the skies were still bright as the area was apparently running on Canada time, so I said never mind and headed off. I left the book in the back corner of the science classroom. The two classrooms were apparently named 5D1 and 5D2 after our Rosyth classroom numbers. I also tried out some apparatus located on some of the seats to find the best seat, there were four of them set up out of about 20 seats, and three of them fizzled out but the fourth at the side of the room was working the best so I took that seat for the next day. The next day, we had an all-day Science class, but I noticed Yaoxiang had not picked up his book yet, and I gestured to him partway through the class that his book was located at the back of the room, on a shelf. He went to pick it up.
  • After school, all of us students went onto a bus that looped around various roads in the city, passing by tall HDB flats with hawker centers and night markets set up in their void decks. I made a note on the map where they were so I could come back by myself later, and watched the bus looping around each isometric-like city block as I did so. I heard some of my schoolmates behind me look out the window and point to one of the night markets being set up. I knew their Malay name was pasarmalam but I heard them call it lobang, which meant good deal.
Jul 07 2022
  • Jon, Kel, and I were travelling around some city, though not all together — I had a travel event just with Jon at one point and just with Kel at another. We travelled in some sort of structure surrounded by stone walls, and there were three rain pipes in total on the inside of the walls that they liked to stand near, one each on three of the four sides of the room, basically one for each of us. I tried to warn them against standing next to them though, as I could occasionally see bees or something hovering around the bottom of the pipe. Some scientists figured out why they were there later on and removed them though.
  • There were also two areas in the room where we could stand on to trigger some heat, and I thought only one or the other could be on at one time and that we had to share it. One of my siblings eventually figured out a way to use one to trigger the other so that both could be online at once, though.
  • At one point on our journey through our city, while within sight of our end destination, I also recall being able to see an office building and one window in particular had bees or something inside of it. They had managed to get into a candy stash and had gotten inside the candy wrappers somehow, and it looked like the candy wrappers themselves were crawling up and down the window. I passed the area twice, once with Jon and once with Kel, and the wrappers were different both times, at first they were red wrappers and later they were blue.
  • Once we were all at the end location, we attended a family gathering where a bunch of people reprsenting our entire extended family were seated on the floor, all facing Mom and Dad in the front of the small gathering. Mom and Dad were the only ones facing the crowd and us as the three of us settled down near the back. The purpose of this gathering was to look at Jon and Kel‘s school grades, Jon had scored an 83, and Kel, who was in a higher grade, had scored a 73. Answer keys and grade calculation charts were also given out and everyone present looked them over.
  • It was pointed out that Jon‘s sheet had a pencilled line on it written in cursive, next to the grade, indicating that the paper didn’t need to be shown to parents as a signature wasn’t needed. Someone asked if the teacher had written that or if he had written that, but it was pointed out that he had scored well and didn’t seem particularly distraught at his mark being shared so it was likely not him.
  • I also had scores from a single class at my University, I had scored an 83 as well, and I wondered if they wanted to look at my paper too. It was a significantly thinner body of work than Jon and Kel‘s, but I passed it to the front anyway to let Mom take a look, and once she saw what it was, she stood up and went over to the photocopier to make copies to hand out as well.
  • Later on, I was travelling around the Tampines transit hub area, which had a couple shopping malls and a bus and train station, and also horizontal elevators on the west side that allowed people to travel from one location to another quickly. I had been carrying my travel backpack with me but had left it behind on one of the elevators, and was retracing my steps to try and find it but I was unable to do so. I eventually found it lying on the side of the road, which was a strange place to find it until I realized that there was a criminal ring travelling around by car and looking for easy pickings in terms of tourist loot to steal, and they had picked up my backpack from the lost and found area in the mall where one of the horizontal elevators led to, but they had dumped my bag because they were unable to open it as they lacked a key. I eventually joined a police sting operation that was trying to catch them, and hung around the roadside carrying my bag and pretending to be lost in the hopes that they would stop and pretend to offer me help.
Jul 08 2022
  • Snippet: I remember a number of buttons on pedestals that I could press, and they each gave me a certain debuff for a certain number of turns. They could be pressed together, in which case the debuff would stack, or pressed separately, as long a I waited for the previous debuff to run out first, but I had to press all of them one way or another.
Jul 09 2022
  • As part of a larger quest on a map to retrieve food and supplies and other things, I remember one segment where I was in a room with two other people, and we were all from different groups or something but were all essentially allied with each other. There was a fourth person by a gate at one of the room exits, she was allied with the second person in the room who was either mentally unstable or somehow not allowed to know something, and the third person and I were trying to coax that person to the gate so their groupmate on the other side, the fourth person, could rescue/tend to them.
  • To do this we had to lower the suspicion of the second person, and we did that by staging a fight between me and the third person, which ended up with me staggering backwards and slumping against the gate, so that the second person didn’t feel like everyone else in the room was working against her. I used this opportunity to secretly tell the fourth person about our plans too. The third person then was able to gain the trust of the second person and manipulate her toward the gate, while I snuck out of the way and went around to the other exit to block it just in case. This entire segment consisted of an overhead map with grid-based movement and possibly involved a math puzzle somewhere as well.
  • There was also a scene in a place that looked like an amusement park, involving a long and complicated quest to cook some rice, and ended up with one girl giving a friendship buff to another girl and the two of them becoming fast friends over the pot of rice.
Jul 10 2022
  • Snippet: Three people were looking for an item on a strange grid-based map that was three tiles wide and many tiles tall, and had a totally dark background, which made it look like they were floating in the depths of a void. They eventually found the item, but then had to bring it to one of their three houses, with the added caveat that if they took more than three turns/days to do so, the item would then expire and disappear. One of their three houses was really near somehow though, so they brought it there and then had dinner together at the person’s house.

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