My Diary #062

Dear Tigey,

This week was surreal. We learnt that Thrandor passed away and that, plus me getting sick afterwards, overshadowed most of anything else that happened this week.

Entry #062 (Jul 31 2022)

Table of Contents

Skyblocking in…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #60
ට  Song of the Week #37
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #44
ට  Last Year’s Entry #13
ට  Dreams

School

It was hard to care about this this week, not only because it’s stretched on so long that I really just want the uncertainty to be over already, but that as the week rolled into Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and the Thrandor thing (covered in Life below) and the sickness thing (covered in Work below) took over the week, I temporarily ran out of enthusiasm fuel to feed this neverfull crockpot of dreams. And yet oddly I’m closer to this study abroad attempt now that I’ve been in for the last month or so, despite it being so late in the game that I’m practically in the overtime period.

So early on in the week, on July 27th, NUS opened up the Student’s Pass application for me again, despite it being less than two weeks now before the first class starts, and despite them saying in the past that the deadline for getting my renunciation thing should be Friday, July 22nd. That date’s long gone past now. But ultimately, the only real hard deadline apparently is:

“We require students to report to us by 19th August, which is the end of instructional week 2.”

But ideally I’d want to be there as close to the start of the semester as possible, so around August 08. (Also, Aug 09 is Singapore’s National Day, that’s a holiday buffer day.) My University would like to hear a final decision from me on whether to postpone or not by Aug 08 if possible, and NUS suggests I cancel/postpone it if I don’t get my Student’s Pass by Aug 10. August 10 is also my housing deadline, apparently, not in Singapore but over here in Canada, as I need to decide whether I am going to extend my housing lease or not.

Everything’s hinging on the renunciation, and while sick in bed on Thursday night of all things, I fired off an email to my ICA rep anyway who replied back with an,

Hi Jessica,

The CMPB officer did reply to me. The higher officer who has to finalise your case is on 1 week MC; that was since last Monday.

I did email to the officer today about your renunciation and he has yet to reply to me.

I was surprised to hear that there was progress, and surprised at the use of the word “finalise”…. finalize… but anyway MC (medical certificate) is a Singaporean term that means sick leave, and if I do actually get the renunciation signed off early next week, that would significantly improve my chances of going.

The other thing was that I had applied early on July 27th because I figured it would take about a week for the Student’s Pass application to go through the system anyway based on my last experience with it, but I also received an email with a “Notification of Student’s Pass Application Status” on the same day that I received that email from my renunciation officer — I was upset when I saw the email because I figured such a quick turnaround time (two days!) meant that my application had already been rejected somehow.

But no, when I logged in, it actually was asking me to upload a copy of my birth certificate as well, by August 12th, or my application would be considered “withdrawn”. This was a step I didn’t reach in my first application, which just got closed as “withdrawn” without comment or explanation for some reason after 1 week. I was actually pretty happy about this, because one of my other worries was that even if my renunciation went through, there was some other procedural reason I didn’t know about that would just make my Student’s Pass application fail anyway and would continue to make it fail even if I tried to apply for the Winter/Spring semester. I still don’t know why the first one came back as “withdrawn” without any comment, perhaps because I made it too complex by trying to explain my renunciation thing as part of the application, this time I left all the detail out and figured that they’d do their own legwork since it’s all the same department (the renunciation and the student’s pass people, that is).

I do like that they asked for the birth cert upload, because this means that the Student’s Pass application is still live but the ball was now in my court and I could delay it a little until early next week to see if I actually get that renunciation. And if I get really bad vibes about trying to force through this Fall 2022 study abroad attempt, I could just choose not to do anything and let it expire as well.

Work

The headliner at work this week was the team meeting we had in Whitemud Park on Thursday. It was meant to go from 11am – 4pm, so I decided to go early and arrived at the nearby train station at 9:45 am or so, planning to leisurely walk my way over to the park, which would have taken a little over 30 minutes. What Google Maps did not tell me though was that there was no actual footpath along the route that it gave me, which was along the edge of a rather major expressway-like road leading through the city. There was also a part early on where I had to cross a bridge while walking along the shoulder of this road, and even though I was carrying my bright pink camisole for visibility and to hide from the sun, a public transit bus screeched to a halt beside me and the driver told me to hop on for free as he said he still could barely see me due to turns in the road and that it was dangerous. He ended up giving me a ride to the park itself, which was the next stop along his route anyhow.

So with all that, I arrived there at 10am or so, and I took the front picnic bench spot since no one else was there yet and we hadn’t actually made any bookings. I idled around watching a chirping squirrel, playing Vampire Survivors on my Steam Deck, and listening to podcasts while waiting for colleagues to show up.

Then a work crisis happened at around 10:30 or so, which apparently delayed a few people as critical systems were down and they needed to try to figure out exactly what was happening. It was only really partially resolved even by the end of day and required vendor help to fix the rest of it as I understood it, but diagnosing all that and trying to partially restore the service took some time, my supervisor said he had to pull over to the side of the road when his phone blew up about it on the way to the park.

Several people arrived at around 11:10, saw where I was, but said they were going to check out an interior picnic spot not far away from where I was as well and that they would let me know which spot they wanted in the end. While they were doing that, a whole flock of Indigenous women and children moved in to my picnic spot from a bus and took it over without a word, like they owned the place. Maybe they had a reservation or maybe they didn’t but those natives were extremely rude. I did realize by that point that the spot was too close to the front of the park and the road and washroom buildings, and had far too much foot traffic, so I told my supervisor (over Google Chat) to pick the other spot instead, and he agreed.

I had brought steamed buns and BBQ pork as side dishes for the picnic (even though only one other person besides my boss ended up bringing any food, my boss provided hot dogs and sandwiches and drinks for all though), and the BBQ pork was inside a glass tupperware box that I had gotten from a Safeway reward and that I was using for the first time. The paper bag I was using to carry that in broke as I was moving away from the picnic table though, and the glass box (and BBQ pork) was sent smashing into little smithereens all over the pavement. That was a little upsetting and I mentally blamed that on the natives forcing me to move as well, as I stooped down to pick up all the little glass pieces I could and dumped them in a nearby bin, earning myself a small cut on the finger in the process.

I eventually made my way over to the rest of the group and helped them set up the tables, and then settled down to chat and socialize and watch colleagues play badminton and frisbee for the next few hours. We were a group of nine in the end, although one of them brought his kid along as well. I’m not much of a chatterbox, and I wasn’t actually feeling the best, partially because of the Thrandor news I had received the previous night — see below in the Life section, and partially because I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I just mostly listened to others speak.

I had taken a COVID home test the night before and it came back negative, so I decided to go anyway, but my body temperature had been a little bit off for about 24 hours by that point and I had a slight dry cough too that was annoying me. The day we had picked turned out to be the warmest day of the summer (so far), and was in the middle of a “heat wave” in Edmonton even though the high was “only” projected to be around 32 degrees Celsius. That temperature was also projected for the late afternoon to early evening, and it was under 30 degrees or so for most of the time that we were at the park. We were also mostly under the shade of a few trees, which helped a lot, and I actually thought that the warm wind buffeting through the area was a positive thing for whatever ills I had begotten, as I could feel my chills being washed away by the warm wind. Or so I told myself. I was really tired, but wanted to (and managed to) stay awake anyway, especially since there was nice, free food to be had.

My boss gave me a ride home after we packed up for the day, and I am very thankful that he did, because soon after getting home and taking a shower, I just collapsed and spent the rest of the afternoon, evening, and night in bed, stricken with what I suspect must have been heat exhaustion. I was shivering, even though parts of my skin felt hot, I found it hard to breathe in certain (lying down) positions, I was a bit disoriented, and the hearing in my right ear (my one good ear!) was dulled as well, both from ringing in my ears and from what felt like expanded blood vessels. Anyway, our anime group watch and daily AMQ game got cancelled and I basically lay in bed until 7am the next morning, at which point I felt a lot better.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the event. It was Daniel (the one who brought the kid)’s last week with our team as he decided to be masochistic and join the ITSM team instead, so even though future team events are planned, he probably won’t be there for those any longer. He used to be on our team too, and had left to another team, come back to us, then left again. Quite the storied history. The event was overall still quite a bit of fun and I connected in ways with some people that I did not feel connected to beforehand, which I am glad of.

Life

That heat exhaustion thing made Thursday and Friday surreal, yet that wasn’t even the most noteworthy thing that happened this week. On Wednesday, which feels like a lifetime ago now, we learnt that Thrandor, real name Erik Hanifin, had passed away “peacefully, in his sleep” a few days ago, sometime between the 11th and the 19th of July. He lived alone in a town in Oregon as far as we knew, so it wasn’t discovered for a bit, and the family then needed some time to process what had happened. After that, his brother, who had also played Lord of the Rings Online on the same server as us (and whom we knew via his ingame name, Arrival, though he was in a different kinship/guild), reached out to Darkseize, who had been Thrandor‘s best friend for over a decade.

Darkseize, who himself is fighting COVID and various infections, then reached out to me to let me know, and I reached out to Arrival directly for more details to share with our Discord server, as several people had been trying to reach Thrandor in the couple weeks since we last saw him, since he usually was quite active in chat but had gone completely radio silent since the night of July 11th. Arrival also said that that was the last time he had heard from Thrandor. I’ve been very blessed to not have ever faced death much in my immediate social and family circles, and he’s definitely the closest person to me to ever pass away (discounting like grandparents passing away after we migrated and I hadn’t seen them for years etc), and my thoughts have been consumed by the event every day since Wednesday night, to the point that he’s since appeared in my dreams twice already.

He had been sick with something from a couple days before he passed on, but he also claimed on the 11th, which was the very last day he ever chatted with us, that he had taken a COVID-19 test and it had come back negative. He did work as a technician at a pharmacy so he was a front-line worker but had taken a few days off work to recover from this. I will definitely miss him, not only because it was so sudden but because I genuinely liked him and we shared a liking for a lot of similar games (roguelikes, deck-builders, Minecraft-like games), and he had hosted the last few Minecraft servers that we had played on.

There were also two notable remembrance pieces that I wanted to capture in this blog post. The first was that oddly enough, even though Darkseize had been offline recovering from his malaise for months, Thrandor had kept our last Minecraft server, running All the Mods 7, version 0.4.16, up and running and paid for for many months past when they/we last actively played together, keeping the server alive and awaiting Darkseize‘s return to the game and Internet social life in general. Yet, on July 10th, the day before his last contact, he had finally decided to shut down the server and offered me a link to the server files, which I had accepted (as I had occasionally helped pay for a couple months of server hosting and had put a decent amount of time into my base on the map as well). This had made me think, before we found out what had happened, that his disappearance had been planned, perhaps as a way to cut down living costs by temporarily disconnecting from the Internet. In hindsight, (I’m guessing the topic must have came up in chat between them or something.)

The second was Thrandor‘s last message in chat, which was a sticker created through an app called Bitmoji that he and a few other people in my main Discord group use/d. It was done innocuously, on 6:50 pm (MST) on July 11th, but works terrifyingly well in hindsight as a goodbye/now happily resting in Heaven picture as well. At any rate, it was his last interaction with us, so I wanted to memorialize it, especially since none of us ever saw actual photos of him, and his Bitmoji, generated from the phone app’s approximation of him, was the closest any of us knew him to look as.

Also here’s a Bad Haiku to mark this week,

We love, and we cry,
We live, we learn, and we fly,
And then we die. Why?

It’s also doubly unfortunate because this time last year was when Hirawyn (Mary Ellen) passed away, and although most of us weren’t as close to her as compared to Thrandor, we still thought the world of her and she was a very community-focused member of the Landroval server that we all played on. Julys will be dedicated to the two of them from now on.

This shock pretty much overshadowed the entire week. Outside of that, as mentioned earlier, I was various degrees of sick for the latter half of the week as well, with a persistent dry cough that totally isn’t COVID that still is bugging me as of the end of the week, especially since there isn’t any phlegm associated with it that I can hack and cough out or anything. I don’t even have a sore throat, just there’s something that causes the throat to itch. I wish I had some Chinese peppermint cough syrup around now, as I worry that I’ll blow through the stitches in my throat from nearly a decade ago now by coughing. I’ve also woken up drenched in sweat for a couple days now, despite the fact that the room isn’t particularly hot or cold. And my bones really ache after waking up for some reason (making it hurt when I cough). And I’ve drank so much water that I’m sick of the taste of water. I’ve also lacked any sort of an appetite since Thursday. Whine.

(Note: I wrote most of that on Saturday — I’m feeling a lot better on Sunday now, though still coughing a little. We have a long weekend this week though, so yay, not that that would affect much since I work from home.)

This plus the uncertainty of going abroad also meant that I had no appetite in going out to see other things this week. No Heritage Festival, no Taste of Edmonton, no K-Days or whatever it’s called now. Animethon is in a couple weeks and I’m not really feeling that as well right now even if I remain here for the semester.

I went out to the Chinese superstore on Wednesday, before I was feeling sick, and ended up walking both there and back, partly for exercise and partly just because my timing didn’t jive up with the bus schedules. Of note, I took a picture of the sky and clouds that intrigued me.

Patchy, broken clouds.

This actually happened the previous week, but I had noticed that the rent payment I had made on my Singapore trip, through the Wise payment app, had somehow been credited to my credit card as a cash advance, which meant that two months worth of high interest payments were made against that amount even though my bank account and credit card had plenty of room to pay it off. It wasn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, but this made me angry, as I considered this a bank scam — how are regular people supposed to know that a system like this even exists? The bank teller assured me that it had been automatically paid off after the second payment though and that I wouldn’t see that charge again, as there was no more “cash advance” amount on my card. Nonetheless, I also now do not like the Wise app (local) for this sleight of hand, since I don’t know if the fault lay more on Wise’s end or the bank’s end.

In a spot of good (sort of) news, I learnt that I had a lifetime subscription to the Pocket Casts (local) podcast app, because I had been grandfathered in to a lifetime plan that they implemented after the company had announced plans to move to a subscription model back in 2019 and faced a huge backlash from users of the app who had already paid a one-time fee for the desktop/web app. The thing is, they never informed me of this — I received the email announcing the changes, and I quit listening to podcasts immediately after that, but they never sent me a followup email letting me know that I had been grandfathered in to their Plus plan on a lifetime basis, so I never realized until this week that I still had access. I’ll have to reevaluate if I still have time for podcasts at this point and what I want to listen to if so. I went back to an old flame that I had fond feelings for, Welcome to Night Vale (local), though I’m still about 9 years behind the live episodes. The desktop app is great though, partially because it syncs subscriptions and watched podcasts with the phone app as well (as long as you have the Plus plan anyway).

Oh, and someone knocked on my door on Friday evening, during Jah Stream Night, asking for the key to the laundry room across from my hall because his key (he held it up) had snapped. He was a shirtless Caucasian guy in his 20s and was wearing a backpack, despite being shirtless. That was odd. I unlocked it for him anyway, and the building and room seems to still be standing today, sooo.

There is also someone, somewhere in the apartment, who enjoys playing loud music at night, sometimes into the wee hours of the night, especially on Fridays. It’s not actually loud enough for me to hear the music, but the bass from the speakers is loud enough to thrum and vibrate very audibly through the building and it is really annoying. Not sure how the management would figure out who exactly is doing this though.

And yes, Tigey did get a bath this week.

Games

I didn’t play much of anything during the end part of the week due to events already mentioned above. The first part of the week saw me largely playing Elite: Dangerous, based on some Discord conversations that were had last weekend. I roamed around the newbie planets, earned some cash doing the various activities there in solo mode, upgraded my ship, and then went out to explore the wider world. I can see the game possibly being intriguing, but the sheer chaos of the outside world and poor UI as well as end of week events kind of threw a spanner at any prospects of playing more of this game for now.

Unlike last week, where I played a whole bunch of games, I didn’t really play much else this week outside of a couple good rounds of Deep Rock Galactic, and a few bad rounds of Vampire Survivors. I might go back and touch on some of last week’s games, or pick up some of the games that I have been eyeing that are on sale right now, which all more or less expire on August 1st. If so, you’ll hear about them next week!

Plushie of the Week #60 – Cat

Cat is one of my younger sister (Kel)’s oldest plushies, basically her “first one” that has always been there since young, though it’s not one that we have a super strong attunement to to the point where we gave her a personality and voice and a better name than “Cat”. This one usually sat in my younger siblings’ bedrooms on wherever all the plushies that weren’t confined to a box congregated on.

We think Cat is even older than Doggy, so we estimate that we got Cat around the late 80s or early 90s (1988 to 1992) or so. Where from? As a gift or from a store? No one has any idea, and the tags don’t help since they’re faded. Cat is still around with us today, and I took pictures of her when I visited the family house in early 2022.

Front:

Back, as she’s being coy:

Tag:

Other side of tag:

Underside of toppled over Cat:

She stands (sits) up on her own two (four?) feet quite well by her own self, and can’t be bent into any other pose, her limbs are stiffly locked into place despite being a soft plushie overall.

Song of the Week #37

Title: Dui Mian de Nü Hai Kan Guo Lai (对面的女孩看过来)
Artist: Richie Jen
Album: Love Like Pacific Ocean (愛像太平洋) (1998)

With a title commonly translated as “Look Over Here, Girl”, this song by Richie Ren/Richie Jen takes me back. I know very, very few Chinese songs in general, although I run into one or two that I realize I know from the depths of my memory occasionally when randomly listening to Chinese radio stations. This one is probably the one I know the best, however, as it peaked around the time that I was most involved in music. It played on the radio and in stores and such a fair amount back around 1998 in Singapore, before I left the country, and might have gained a bit of an ubiquitous status. At least it was to the point that I knew of the song even though I never tuned in to listen to the Chinese radio stations at all.

In addition, it was on the jukebox in the Kallang McDonald’s that was such an integral part of my secondary school life. It was a common selection by the “random” setting that would play free songs on the jukebox when there were no paying customers. This is the reason that this song instantly brings me back to my Secondary School life and Kallang McDonald’s, specifically sitting around a table in the fast food outlet with some friends (probably Zixiang, Xuanjie, and Eugene, though nearly everyone did come by at some point) eating french fries with my signature tartar sauce and tomato sauce mix, enjoying our youthful after-school life together. It’s also the Chinese song that I mentioned in that above link, where I did a writeup on the McD’s itself.

I don’t otherwise have any strong connotations with the song itself in terms of lyrics or such. It has a nice bouncy melody, but the lyrics always seemed a bit simplistic to me and I didn’t actually like the song back in 1998, it took an absence of a couple decades for the song to move from “this thing is playing again..” to “hey, this really reminds me of my childhood and our hangout that’s now gone.” While it does come with a good shot of nostalgia, the dose would have been even bigger if I hadn’t managed to visit Singapore two months ago, which did a lot toward relieving the 20 years of pent-up memories and longings trapped in me. I liked looking at the residential neighbourhood of whatever Chinese city that video was shot in and seeing sights from ~25 years ago though, it made me draw some parallels to my lost/trapped memories of Singapore from 25 years ago as well.

Memory Snippet of the Week #44

As a tribute to Thrandor, and because I mentioned Lord of the Rings Online being one of the things I was thankful for in last year’s post, I figured I would do a partial name list and brief synopsis of my LotRO “career” on the Landroval server, just like I did one for all my primary and secondary schools, although I spent the better part of 10 years on and off here and so there are so many character/player names that I could potentially list that there is no way that I would be able to list even remotely close to all of them here, nor any way I will be satisfied with what I will produce here.

In that vein, this is officially only a subset of the people (listed by characters) that I met here in my time, covering both the very start of my gaming time there (and the first people I met), and the very end (the people I still am with today). Someday, I hope to use my extensive notes and screenshot collection and others’ memories as well to make a much longer version of this. This, then, is a Very Brief Introduction to Shiara‘s LotRO Days and Some of Her Friends. Knew me but you’re not in this? You might be in my final version! Especially if you reach out and say hi. jesskitten at gmail. Do it. I actually would love to hear stories from people in other kinships on Landroval around the time we were playing who knew me or my kinships (guilds).

Lord of the Rings Online was my second MMO ever — my first was Dungeons and Dragons Online, and that one probably requires a separate writeup of its own. In a nutshell, my supervisor at work at the time, Brad, was a gamer as well and invited me to join that game (DDO) and even his guild if I wanted because he knew how much I liked gaming as well, although browser games and MUDs were the extent of online gaming that I had done at this point of my life (2005-2006). I joined it and liked it, broke away from his guild to join a separate guild and made friends there, and spent a good year or so with them. Then Lord of the Rings Online was announced, and since it was being made by the same company (Turbine) that ran DDO, and was from a book series I actually knew about and had more or less read, I was really interested and made the jump over to that game.

This was only my second MMO ever, but I bought the game box CD from the local EBGames, and even paid for a lifetime subscription for it. This was $199 in total and would take the place of a monthly subscription of $10. It was a risky move at the time because I did not know if I would like the game, or how long I would spend playing it, and I definitely did hesitate before making the purchase. It definitely turned out to be one of the best purchases of my life though, since I spent over 10 years playing it. And the game is still around and my lifetime membership is still passively accruing benefits for if I ever return to it, even though it’s now shifted to a premium free-to-play model.

This was also my first “open world” MMO ever, DDO was largely an instanced map with several instanced city staging areas where you could run around and meet other players but not really do anything with them. LotRO was a more traditional MMO, with zones that connected to other zones, with monsters to kill and quests to do in each one. Even though the game didn’t launch until March or April 2007, I had closed beta access since November 2006 or so, though I didn’t really start playing until January 2007 (my main account was created on Jan 23 2007), and even then not a whole ton until actual launch. My first two screenshots from the game were taken in Ered Luin around December 15 2006 during a beta stress testing event, and they looked like this:

Don’t even ask what’s happening.

By and large, I’m going to keep away from posting screenshots in this Memory Snippet section though, because I literally have 5,930 of them and sorting through them will be a couple week process of its own. Those are just interesting since they’re so early on. My closed beta characters were Shaeriel (pictured) and Lyssa (a hobbit, pictures in the future), but neither character name was one that I kept going into live. I had access to the pre-order open beta program that started on Mar 30 or so, but I didn’t actually use it — according to an email I found I was rather depressed at the time and struggling with parents, work, and DDO as well, and I believe there was one last character wipe on Apr 06 2007 anyway before closed beta turned into pre-launch open beta where there was then a level 15 cap for a certain period of time (one week? two weeks?) to strike the fear of the higher level zones into players and allow people to congregate and form communities in the lower level zones, before the level cap was raised to 50.

I took this time to scout out guilds, known as kinships in LotRO, to join — none of my DDO friends had came over to LotRO and my boss had tried to come over, bought the game, and even set up a kinship too but he didn’t seem too interested in playing the game overall (as he was having a lot more fun in DDO making and publishing zone maps for the community), so I definitely wanted to find a place I could belong in this game myself.

In fact, in a sense, I was trying to find my own identity and using the game as an engine to do so. While I am/was transgender/ed (depending on how you use the term, I don’t really care) and had more or less known that since the summer of 2002 or so, I had never breathed a single word to anyone about this, and it was one of the things that had been eating away at me over the past 4-5 years. Here in LotRO, I had rolled on the roleplay server, Landroval, as I had the notion (and still do to these days) that even though I don’t roleplay (I used to in my MUD days though), the roleplay community in any game was a more pleasant and interesting place to be around than the general gamer community, and a little less crass, immature, and insulting overall. Imagine just wanting a decent community to live in and interact with without overly-privileged people rolling in and rubbing their rights all over you.

Anyway, while scouting around during open beta, I had noticed that among other things, Landroval had a large LGBT kinship being set up — Knights of the White Lady, or KWL, led by someone named Calafalas, and I actually stalked him around in game for a week or so, watching him farm around in Bree-land and looking for how the kinship held themselves in chat (as many kinships were using the time to openly advertise) before I decided to join them. The officers of this kinship were the first people I ever told that I was transgender, and yet they warmly welcomed me — within a month or two I had made many friends that I remember to this day and was actually an officer myself as well (I think I was the first promoted officer, not counting outside external friend/s like Faern that Calafalas had brought in to start the kinship with), helping to run events, reach out to people, handle little issues that occasionally blew up, and so on. There are many stories from here on that I have to eliminate for brevity, but I had an amazing time here, and it helped me a ton to be able to find my social footing and a place in the world where I could fluorish and dance.

I was extremely proud of the kinship — I believe that one of the reasons I had initially joined, actually, was because people quickly pointed out that the Landroval server contained both the largest LGBT kinship (Knights of the White Lady) and largest Christian kinship (Band of Hope, led by the dearly departed Hirawyn) and surely the two could not coexist? Both leaders reached out and publicly professed support for each other though, and the two large kinships in fact became friendly allies with each other. There are many, many people I could name from this period of time, but a few that I initially want to give highlight text to include:

Calafalas — the first kinship leader and founder of KWL.
Faern — one of our kinship officers and a stalwart dwarf! The longest-serving active member of the kinship, I believe.
Gabrielle — a close friend who eventually came over to DoMH with me.
Hesgrin — an officer who led our raids and whom I liked, but whom drifted away from the game far too soon.
Kerrison — one of the first people I hung out with a lot, she disappeared from the game pretty early on. She was apparently the vocalist for an indie metal band.
Lorenius — the second kinship leader.
Luinori — the third/current kinship leader.
Pinkfae — another officer I hung out around with a lot and remember fondly.

Of all the memorable events I had there, one compliment Lorenius gave me was something that has stuck with me ever since and is a part of what carries me and inspires me through good and bad days. If you think saying something nice to someone when they’re having a bad day doesn’t do anything, you’re quite wrong. He said, verbatim, on Jun 23 2008,

I love Shiara…I don’t think she knows just how important her presence is to us…if Joe is the intellectual heart of KWL, Jessica is the heart of KWL.

Joe is Calafalas, Jessica/Shiara is me. That meant the world to me at the time and still does, 14 years later. Anyway, besides Band of Hope, we were also closely allied with a guild called The Palantiri, led by Mosby, and whom another of my later raiding kinmates, Gregeor, came from, although I wouldn’t really know him uintil near the end of 2011. I also met many people out in the Monster PVP zone, the Ettenmoors, during this period, a part of the game with so much drama and so many stories that it would be an entire writeup on its own to even begin to feature all the colourful characters and personalities.

I began building relationships with some of them that eventually translated to my joining forces with some of them to try out raiding in the game, under the tutelage of someone we called Seo, or Seoromur, his champion (melee dps/tank class) character, though he largely used his burglar (thief/rogue class), Seorus, at that point. Or Argyle, his minstrel (healer class). He had inherited a small kinship called Defenders of the Mithril Halls (DoMH), and had cobbled together a team of people from the Moors whom he had judged could both play proficiently as well as were nice people in general, and although we were all in different kinships, most of us weren’t in kinships that did any serious raiding at all and were drawn to the raid environment that he created. I eventually got drawn into this group as well, and spent more and more time with them and less and less in the Ettenmoors.

Still, it would be several years of adventures and misadventures before I made the painful decision to leave KWL and join DoMH. I agonized on this for over a year, but had by that point been playing with them on a near-daily basis for months. We even had our own Ventrilo server set up, and had also started to occasionally branch out casually into other games (Warhammer Online, City of Heroes, and more). Other members of the patchwork raiding group had by that time started to consolidate in Seo‘s kinship, DoMH, as well, and on April 16 2010, right after Trinstar did so, I finally made my move, stepping down from my officer role in KWL and moving my main character, Shiara (minstrel), over to DoMH. My other alts followed suit a week later, on April 23 2010, 3 years and 2 days after I first joined KWL.

From then on I was pretty much invested with DoMH, raiding and running content together and achieving a number of server firsts, becoming the top raiding kinship on Landroval for a brief period of time, and even branching out and playing other games together. But more importantly, I built friendships with many people that have come and gone over the years, with several close friends that I have maintained constant contact with for over a decade. The sheer number of stories written with these people would take up several Memory Segments of the Week to scratch the surface of, but I would never trade this for anything else in the world.

Anyway, I can draw a straight line from there to my current main Discord server, although very few of us have even logged onto LotRO in the past year anymore, never mind still play it. The kinship is no longer active, and a couple people have moved on to other raiding kinships on other servers (as the game’s population has been slowly but steadily shrinking), but most of the people in my main Discord server are people (kinmates or allied friends) from when we were last active in LotRO, and this is ultimately the actual point of this first post (minus all the introductory LotRO background, which is a preamble to future writeups) so I am going to categorize and note them here. This list includes a few people that we did not play with during our LotRO days but picked up along the way.

Currently active people in our Discord server:

Belegil — Our main guardian tank, he’s an elf and likes a big shield, long walks along the beach, and mortgages. I’ve never seen him upset at anything besides himself. A great sport and super chill person.
Fames — He’s our law expert and the most well-travelled of us all, and has been to and lived on at least three different continents for extended amounts of time. He enjoys the great outdoors a lot as well and is never afraid to try new things — he’s one of my inspirations to venture out and seek new experiences.
Gibbs — He is a friend of Jahandar‘s and played a bit of LotRO with his kinship, although he probably didn’t play enough to ever really meet the rest of us outside of Kynji, Jahandar, and Rinuruc. Still, he was introduced as a friend in our Ventrilo one day once we had already set up our raiding groups, and has sort of hung around ever since. I think of him as our local rascal and miscreant… he’s known for occasionally posting awkward links and pictures and stories in chat, but he’s an extremely fun person to be around and to talk to.
Jah/Jahandar — He owns antarat.com, where this blog is currently located on (as of time of writing), is our go-to person for anything involving a technical solution, my ideal partner if we were a standup comedy duo, an immaculate gentleman, and a co-conspirator whom I plot tons of things with. I almost left this friends group many years ago and he reached out to me and talked me out of that bad mistake. Jah, Kynji, and Rinuruc were in an allied kinship, Shadows of Eventide, when we played LotRO together. I met him when I visited Las Vegas in Oct 2021 and New Orleans in Nov 2021.
Kynji — Our group’s creative dynamo, with a quick wit, sharp tongue, and fearless demeanour, she’s our bullshit and scam detector and our general knowledge expert on nearly any topic under the sun that we don’t have a separate knowledge expert on. She isn’t afraid to call people out on bad things they do, and that is such a rare and valued trait. I met her when I visited Minneapolis in Jul 2017. Married to Frotswa.
Mell/Mellandall — Our resident cat and sweets lover, lore-master/scientist, moral compass, and someone with over 10,000 hours in the Sims series by now. One of my life muses/best friends and a gentle soul unless you manage to make her mad, then it’s been nice knowing you. She was the first person outside of KWL that I ever told my (being a transgender/ed person) story too, and was a big reason I could eventually talk to my parents about it.
Mil/Milumbar — He’s our expert on volcanoes and earthquakes! He’s a nature/outdoors enthusiast and goes on a number of outings too, usually around Steam sales. He has wonky internet in general and is more of a private person, so we seldom get to play or talk with him as much as we’d like.
Nak/Nakatak — He’s an anime and music enthusiast like Satinel and I and we drag him around to group watch and AMQ when we can. He has the best one-liners and we also rely on him to carry us through first-person shooter games, and are involved in a tug-of-war for his time with another friend group of his. I met him when I visited New York in Nov 2021.
Rin/Rinuruc — He was from Jahandar‘s kinship in LotRO, and I didn’t know him (except by character name recognition) while we were actively playing, but we got to know him very well in Discord once he came around and started hanging out with us. He’s our local medical and food expert and seems to have travelled widely across the USA, so he’s probably our foremost expert on that (as well as sleep deprivation) too. He’s a super great guy though and I was very happy that he invited me to his wedding in Oct 2021, which was the catalyst for me meeting several other people from our Discord in the end as well.
Satinel — One of my life muses and best friends, and the person I currently spend the most time talking with online or offline. We complement each other well and have worked out most of our boundaries and shared a lot of laughs and stories together. She looks out for me a lot and constantly surprises me with how well she knows (and treats, and supports when needed) me, I don’t deserve her. She didn’t actually play LotRO with us though, she joined our group years later. She’s the only person in our Discord who hasn’t played LotRO.
Trin/Trinstar — She’s our local computer gaming expert (she’s even published her own game on Steam — go buy it) with a pulse at what’s going on in the industry and news, and probably the person who constantly pushes for us to play games and do things together the most. She has a great laugh and the most fascinating family stories, and the person right behind Kynji best at keeping everyone honest.

Inactive/Occasionally active people:

Anaden — She more or less drifted off with another group of friends, but we had tons of fun playing with her back in LotRO and in other games like City of Heroes and APB: Reloaded. I’ll always remember our fun times in APB.
Argyle/Seorus/Seoromur/Seo — Our kinship leader and raid leader and the person who pulled us all together in the first place.
Dan/Danethor — One of our former raid leaders, very enthusiastic and passionate. I met him when I visited San Francisco in Nov 2021.
Darkseize — He had a burglar character that I had known since very early on in the lifetime of the game, since I also had a burglar character and we would occasionally make all-stealth groups with other burglar characters like Trinstar and Seorus to wander the Ettenmoors. Thrandor‘s best friend.
Digero — I don’t actually know much about him other than he worked at Microsoft, and might have been involved in that new design for the Microsoft Excel 2007 ribbon toolbar. And he programmed a midi import music tool for LotRO.
Dupre/Valygar — A somewhat introverted original member of DoMH who was nonetheless really good and really, really lucky as well. if he wanted to win a loot roll, he was going to win it no matter how many people he was rolling against! Blessed by Lady Luck.
Endeiit — Funny guy, a friend of Eralain, but I don’t know him very well as he hasn’t been around in forever.
Eralain/Fern — She’s also from Singapore and also one of our kinship’s main healers. So similar to me! We met for dinner when I visited Los Angeles in Nov 2021.
Fallowyn — A close friend of Thrandor and Darkseize, all three of them came over to us more or less together from their former kinship late in our DoMH playtime.
Frotswa — Married to Kynji.  I also met him when I went to Minneapolis in Jul 2017. I need to go back and visit them and their kid (Declan) sometime.
Gabby/Gabrielle — She’s a friend and fellow minstrel (healer class) that I first met in KWL. We both eventually joined Defenders as well. I wouldn’t say I know her super well but she’s been extremely friendly and cheerful in all interactions I’ve ever had with her. Not to be confused with another player from Jah‘s kinship who actually had the character name Gabby.
Gregeor — He is an older player that joined us from another kinship because our raiding times were better suited for him. He used to hang around with us a lot in Ventrilo and Discord but drifted away a couple of years ago. I liked him a lot. Hope he comes back.
Hevok — He works as an aviation pilot so he’s never around much, if at all, anymore. I seem to remember him being quite friendly and boisterous.
Hira/Hirawyn — She passed away last year, but was a good friend or ally of many people in the community. She was the founder and longtime leader of the Band of Hope Christian kinship on the Landroval server, that the community respected and loved.
Kata — He’s one of our kinship’s main healers and also works in the medical industry in real life. Married to Niftoria.
Niftoria — Married to Kata. I don’t really know her that well, other than she seemed nice whenever we’ve associated in the past.
Steffy — A former life muse/best friend, we’ve largely drifted away from each other though we’re still in a couple servers together. She actually did play LotRO as well and even ran raids with some mutual acquaintances, but I only really met her later on in Guild Wars 2. I met her in Seoul in Oct 2015.
Thran/Thrandor — We found out that he passed away this week. Great guy, always kind and sharing, and very much a ringleader type person who would lead and inspire others to do things with him.

Yes I’ve been considering what my friends’ most useful skills would be if I were in a zombie post-apocalypse colony-building game with them. Uh, I mean, I have plenty of good friends and I like them. There are plenty more people even from the LotRO realm (even from DoMH itself, never mind allies) that need their own mention on a separate page sometime, so this memory segment is probably best considered a Part 1 in that sense.

Last Year’s Entry #13

My corresponding diary entry from last year is My Diary #015. This was published on Aug 01 2021.

I haven’t talked to my Summer Connect buddy at all in the last year. One bit of school news I’ve forgotten to talk about is that the Japanese Conversation Club is taking signups for people that want to learn Japanese and tutor English and vice versa, and will be trying to match people up for that. It’s one of the initiatives of the new executive group for the upcoming school year. That’s super cool, though I’m not sure if I’ll take part yet, I might though with the caveat that I would be overseas for at least part of if not most of the year.

Either way, I will definitely be reaching out to Ran, my Summer Connect friend, at some point if/when I do go to Japan, whether it be for vacation or for (eventually) studying abroad. I hope she’s doing well.

It’s been down for so long that I’ve kind of forgotten about it, but our community Christmas Tree has still not lit back up, and that’s kind of sad. Only the little trees around the base of the big one are lit up, which I can see whenever I walk by the place in the evenings, but the big tree that I can see from my balcony is dark despite still being wrapped in cords. I guess they’ll figure it out closer to Xmas.

It’s odd that I talked about craving to go to South Korea around this time last year, because I also feel the same way currently, but I didn’t really feel this way for most of the year between then and now, at least not compared to Japan and Singapore. My two previous trips to Seoul were in July 2014 and October 2015, so maybe I associate this time of the year with that place.

It’s cool comparing pictures again from Singapore in the late 90s to the current day. This, for example,

from 1993-1994, compared to this:

from Jun 05 2022. How things have changed! And the sky isn’t so sepia-tinted any more! I’m sure that was the exact shade of sky and buildings back then!

Dreams

We learnt that Thrandor passed away on July 27th, and that had an immediate effect on my dreams, as this event instantly appeared in my dreams that night (July 28th entry) and the following one (July 29th).

Jul 25 2022
  • Snippet: I was playing a spaceship game and had two ships, a class 4 and a class 1 ship. I mostly drove the class 4 ship around doing whatever it was that I was doing, but occasionally swapped into the class 1 ship as it was smaller and more able to fit into tight places.
  • Snippet: I was playing a top down team deathmatch game with friends where we were defending our half of a map against opponents who also had their half of the map to defend, there was an indoor portion with a two storey house and an outdoor courtyard portion. Most people played ranged characters cause it was easier, but I played a mage character and was really good at sniping ranged players with it from out of their maximum range for whatever reason. We also actually got to sleep in the house later on and although the house was air-conditioned, we found out that leaving one of the downstairs doors open meant that the bottom level of the house was warm and toasty even as the top level of the house was nice and cool.
Jul 27 2022
  • I took an old bicycle out for the first time in over a decade or some absurdly long time span like that, and realized that I didn’t have a lock with me so I couldn’t really chain it up anywhere and do things while I had it. I drove into a shop that was a restaurant and bank all rolled into one, picked an empty table, and shoved my bicycle into the bike post that was there, hoping to both reserve the seat and fool any would-be thieves that the bicycle was locked and hoping that no one would try anything funny in broad daylight since there were several patrons and security guards around.
  • I hurried out of the bank restaurant, over to a convenience store about one block away to try to pick up some items. There were other people loitering around the shop and asking the proprietress where to get certain items, so I had to impatiently wait around as she sent them on their way after answering each question in turn. Once it was my turn, I asked her if she had a bicycle lock (she said yes but gave me a regular combination lock), and a bicycle pump (she gave me an inflatable pump that looked like a Chinese paper lantern, with a clear tube that had a little protruding thing on either end, where one side could be shoved into the paper lantern pump (I tried this out) and the other side was meant to go into the bicycle wheel. I thanked her, paid her for it and left.
  • When I went back to the restaurant bank, I found to my horror that the bicycle was gone and there didn’t seem to be any witnesses. I had no idea what the bicycle model was either so it was hard to report it. I approached one of the wandering security guards, who motioned me over to the front desk where he and a couple other guards heard out my story, then said I should probably have left the bike with them or let them know about it. They were sympathetic but couldn’t help.
  • However, I could still “sense” my bike nearby, lying in the dirt somewhere after it was taken and given to a friend of the perpetrator who then used it for a bit and abandoned it, and I left the building to circle around the outside perimeter of it, passing one or two people who were also on their bikes and circling the building in the other direction.
Jul 28 2022
  • I dreamt of Thrandor, and how he was represented in the dream world by a sort of power source for a game now that he had passed away, and his family as well as some of his friends were trying to figure out how to use him to power up nearby things in order to spread the news of his passing. The power source had 15 distance pips that could stretch out in any direction and configuration from the central square as long as all the pips were connected to each other, so it could power things that were 14 units east and 1 unit north, or 5 units down and 10 units west, and so on. The one thing that we couldn’t figure out how to do though was to something that was exactly 15 pips in one direction away from the power source, that configuration had been locked to Thrandor himself but he was now not here to arrange it.
Jul 29 2022
  • It was the final day of a three day graduation event to mark the end of our Secondary School life, and I had come to Singapore to join my friends in the celebration. It had a very wistful tone through it all. There were speeches and stuff in a hall and various one off events that I remember.
  • I went to the school canteen to order food at one point, and the only store open was an Indian food store manned by a short Indian Lady. There were fish heads piled on the front counter and she was at the back of the small stall with her back turned to me, cooking something, and I called out to her with a “Mom” to get her attention. Among the things on offer, I saw Mee Rebus and Mee Siam, and I had the vague feeling that the last time I was here at this stall in a different dream I ordered Mee Rebus, so this time I ordered Mee Siam.
  • She poured me a bowl of the dish from a pot, and put the bowl on a serving tray, then asked me if I wanted chopsticks and a spoon. I shook my head. She asked if I would be fine bringing the bowl home then. I said no, I wasn’t bringing it home, I just had my own chopsticks and spoon and so did not need one from them. She asked where I would be sitting, I looked around and said that the second row of tables away from the canteen stall had a lot of empty space on the left side, and a group of my friends on the right side, and it would be at one of those locations depending on how sociable I was feeling.
  • Later, I explored a new attraction that had been set up, a different “zone” that was set up as a computer game where there was a house that I could explore. The house was eeriely quiet and each level was small, but I found staircases leading up at least seven stories. From the third storey onwards, there were cameras installed into the ceiling that would rotate in a 360 degree along the hallways and trigger an alarm if it saw me. From the fourth or fifth storey onwards, there were also “evil spirits” roaming the house, slowly doing house things (like using the toilet, brushing their teeth, etc) that I had to avoid while also avoiding the camera. There was a green guide book I had picked up just outside the house that assured me that these were humans and paid actors.
  • I eventually triggered a camera on the 5th level or so on accident and the evil spirit on that level came chasing me. I figured I’d test out how far I could go anyway, and sprinted up the stairs, running into rooms and blindly looting things as I went. On the seventh level, there was a bedroom window or door that led out onto a pathway and then a flat, grassy plain with lots of wandering mobs on it, I figured this was a higher level area I shouldn’t be in yet. The evil spirits had stopped chasing me by then though so I paused to catch my breath and then turned around and made my way out.
  • Even later, I was sitting at a table by a pathway with Zixiang next to me, and we were watching people go by. Eileen went by at one point with three school ties tucked into the waistband of her skirt, with the school crest part hanging down in front like an extended skirt. She walked around with a prefect’s authority and two boys were following her.
  • I got to talking with Zixiang and mentioned that this was the last day of our youth before we became adults and how glad I was to be here. He had a red yearbook with him, and I had the same red yearbook as well as the green guidebook from that house zone still. He said that he wondered if there were any pictures of Singapore from our early school years in that yearbook so that he could show people how the country had developed and expanded since then. He also asked me if I had cleared out a storeroom that we apparently used to use, and also informed me that there was a new room that was built where I could pick up an Adept Ring. It gave +1 to attack/hit chance.
  • I asked if he meant the new house zone, and showed him a handful of things that I had pulled out from chests and drawers as loot as I ran through the building, I had seven things with me including a ring but they were all junk. He said no, but he pointed out that the fourth finger of the hand I was holding all that junk in already had a ring around it and that was the very ring. I said that that must have been from Paul‘s Dungeons and Dragons games back before I left Singapore, but maybe that’s why the chests wouldn’t generate a second ring.
  • Snippet: I also dreamt that Thrandor came online in Discord, but we very quickly figured out that it was his brother going through his things. He started talking in our main Discord channel and sent me a few virtual things to sell, then mentioned that his brother had always logged his chats and also would just alt-f4 out of his MUD gaming sessions in such a way that those were all logged too, and that those were all now precious to him and he was going to archive all of them. I said I’d send him any logs I had with Thrandor in it as well.
  • Snippet: This also reminds me of a snippet where I was in my 4012 living room with my two younger siblings, there was a game they were playing or wanted to finish playing on my computer, so I sat on the floor with my back against the back wall of the room while I watched them play, instead of kicking them off so that I could play my own games.
Jul 30 2022
  • I was riding a bus through town with Mom in the wee hours of the morning. I wanted to get off at a couple stops along the way to visit some interesting sounding landmarks (one was named Wave Point and was located in the middle of a bridge, a second was some sort of shrine in the middle of a residential area), but Mom forbade me to do so and threatened to follow along if I stopped at any of those risky places in the middle of the night. So I decided to stay on the bus instead.
  • One of the bus’s stops was by a double mall in the southwest side of the city — I described it as two mall spaces side by side next to each other to create a super mall, and I asked Mom if she had been there yet and if she would be interested in stopping there otherwise. She said she hadn’t, and sure. The first rays of light were starting to creep over the horizon at this point and I asked if she wanted to text Kel and Jon to let them know we were heading to a nice mall and they could come over once they woke up if they wanted to. She said no to that.
  • Once we got off the bus, I explained that this mall was set up with two narrow three-storey buildings on either side where the anchor stores were, and then a big square building in the middle where all the regular stores were. From the side we approached the mall from, we saw a Safeway and a Zellers store in the bottom two levels of the anchor building we passed, and the top level of the building was empty. Mom commented that that didn’t seem like a shopping mall at all, just a couple of standalone outlets.
  • We then entered the mall’s main square building on the ground floor, it was a large and slightly musty building with a wide-open ground floor space, and we could look up and see a second and third level with corridors going around the perimeter of the square. Small stores lined the edges of all three levels. In addition, on the ground floor there were bazaar-like stalls in the open space in the middle. I specifically told Mom that this mall was special to me because it had been used as a basis for a mall that had frequently appeared in my dreams, and I was happy to be able to share it with someone.
  • Mom was attracted by and wandered over to a bazaar stall that was selling stickers, she sat down on a stool and picked up a little glittering sticker to place on the lapel of her blouse. I had the feeling at this point that she would be back here and would bring Jon and Kel the next time she did so.
  • In the meantime, I wandered away and joined some of my workmates in another part of the ground floor mall level. They were apparently in charge of security, and were in charge of checking guests’ ID before they entered. Ronnie and Shelley were there. Govinda was also there, and he was being onboarded to his new job here — Ronnie was drawing a picture of him on a whiteboard and wrote his name above the caricature. Govinda seemed really amused by this, and said that he was going to make people bow down to that drawing of him as part of his station’s guest check and entry procedure.
  • We were in the middle of the mall at this point as the whiteboard had not been wheeled outside to one of the entrance booths yet, but two girls dressed in Rosyth PE uniforms were passing by and he asked them to bow down to the whiteboard. They looked quizzically at him and then at the rest of us, unsure what to do, and I noticed that all my workmates were also in Rosyth PE uniforms at that point.
  • Editor: This mall indeed has been featured in my dreams before, although I usually entered from the other end. It’s the Japanese/Korean one from Sep 19 2019, Jul 20 2021, and Aug 15 2021, among others. There are other dream malls that occasionally recur for me, particularly another three-storey one with offices/classrooms on the top floor, a food court in the middle of one of the levels, and a train station underground, but that one is a separate mall.
Jul 31 2022
  • I was in a Chinese class that was slightly too advanced for me, but I was actually paying attention to the class whereas the people around me weren’t really. As part of the class, we were given a song that we were going to perform as a class, complete with one or two girls that were playing instruments and singing some main parts. Since I didn’t know much Chinese in the dream, I was just singing some small supporting portions. Our teacher went over the song with us, then said that we were going to practice snippets of it, depending on who she called on she would pick a stanza or so that they were singing in and she wanted them to then solo sing that stanza as practice. The class of about 10 people or so seemed confused or distracted though so she asked people to repeat what she had just said, and no one could do so but me.
  • When we were giving feedback on each singer, I noted that one of the other people in class was fine except he had slight mispronunciations on some of his words but that was normal since we were still learning the language. He said he actually wanted to know all those examples too, and that classmates were always too nice to mention it in practice, which wasn’t a good thing since he wouldn’t know what he got wrong and what he could improve on since he’d think that all his pronunciations were correct. I agreed and said I felt the same way in Japanese class and that I would try to give better input from now on. I definitely remembered that there were other examples of this happening in Chinese class and I did actually know Chinese well enough to point out these mistakes sometimes. He asked for specific examples but I couldn’t give any, since I hadn’t written them down and they were from previous classes.
  • We had other classes in that classroom as well but what I remember most from the dream are three scenes that happened in the corridor outside that classroom. Firstly, there was a class that I wasn’t really paying attention in, to the point that when the bell rang, I thought it was lunch time and hurried out of the class and toward the stairs on the southern end of the corridor for a break. However, I looked up at the clock and saw that it was actually 4pm, the end of the school day, and I had daydreamed right through lunch and the second half of the day without realizing it. I still was happy at this and went back to class to retrieve my items.
  • I confusedly couldn’t find our classroom door though, even though I knew we were in the second classroom from the north end of classrooms. I peeked into the first classroom, which was a large lecture theater with a curved arrangement of seats with little foldable tables attached. I saw a bunch of people in there, including David from Rosyth, but this wasn’t my class, so I moved on. I looked at the second classroom and there were about 15 people in there too, including Harvey, but again no sign of our class or my stuff. I met our teacher at this point who told me that the students there wanted to use our classroom, so he had moved everything left in class to the third classroom, so I went there to retrieve my things instead.
  • Secondly, there was a scene where I was walking back to my room from lunch break on another day and passing by a large group of students that were watching a male student’s singing performance out in the middle of the hall. I didn’t care for it and had to squeeze my way past them as they were blocking the path, this confused people who wondered why I didn’t care for such a celebrity. I reached my class and grabbed my bag, then wanted to head to the library, which consisted of a small reading room that the north end of the corridor opened onto, and then some other rooms to the east of that. I realized as I was headed out of my classroom that I didn’t actually know any of these students, and that they were sort of.. imposters, and interested in that music because they were hedonists. Indeed, as I looked around more clearly, I saw some of them embracing and kissing as couples, or making a fool of themselves as foreign students being rowdy and perhaps drunk.
  • I reached the reading room and started browsing books that were placed on a metal shelves there, these were books that sampled the collection available in the library, which itself apparently was ever-changing, but today’s books were largely puzzle books aimed for younger children, though I did see a couple books on simple lateral logic puzzles. A couple young children were in the reading room with their parents, clamouring for the books available there.
  • Lastly, there was a scene in that corridor that took place at night, when I wasn’t supposed to be there. I came out of my classroom dressed in a brown hooded robe and perhaps carrying my bag as well, and my goal was to reach the northern edge of the corridor where the library room was again, but this time there were policemen or security guards strewn about the place, as well as a concert by a number of young idol girls that was being put on in the hallway itself — the girls that would be singing and dancing would be doing so in the hallway and the audience was standing outside the hallway railing (so this must have been a ground floor hallway). The idol concert was starting shortly, and I had to somehow make it past them before then as where I was was considered out of bounds.
  • Of note, I had three pairs of sensors that I could put on the ground, each pair of sensors had two effects, one was that it would mask me and my sound in a small dome area around me, and I could hide within it as long as I stayed crouched. The second sensor was glued on to the first one and its sole role was to hide the first sensor as well as itself so no one could detect it. I found out after a bit of experimentation that I could still see myself when I was inside the dome, but indeed that no one else could see me from outside, but this meant that I wasn’t sure and couldn’t test what the exact radius of the dome was or if it affected other people as well.
  • At any rate, I did figure that I could actually get by with just two pairs of sensors, by spacing the second one about a meter further along from the first, and then going back to pick up the first one again, this distance would create enough overlap in the domes to keep me hidden. I crept along the wall on the far side of the audience, past security guards and the girls who were performing their concert right in front of me, and I felt very surprised and a bit awkward that they really couldn’t see me at all.
  • I instinctively saved my game at one point when I was near one of the girls, and was very thankful I did so, as the girl accidentally placed her hand on a sensor one second later while sitting down to rest, causing a commotion when she exclaimed that her hand had landed on something gluey, which exposed me to the security guards right away. I loaded the game and immediately swiped the sensors toward me even as her hand was coming down upon it again — this succeeded and didn’t reveal me since this meant the dome (which apparently didn’t affect her or allow her to see me within it) was still entirely over top of me. This did make a slight sound and made her and the guards a bit suspicious, but I quickly placed the next set of sensors down and picked up the current one, and then again, scurrying away even as they looked curiously toward the part of the hallway that I had saved and loaded the game at.
  • Snippet: I was playing Chinese Chess with my sister, and was headed toward a checkmate with my cannons before she lost interest and was pulled away by someone else seeking her attention. It was informal, so we basically ended the game right there and let the computer AI take over, but she made an illegal move on her last move, having her cannon jump over 10 tiles to kill my cannon (a cannon piece has to jump over exactly 1 piece, no more and no less, to destroy the second piece in a line in any direction from where it is). And the AI took over from there and played the game out to a draw. I wondered if Kel knew about other special Chinese Chess rules that made it differ from chess, like how the knight always had to move two squares and then one to form its signature L-shaped pattern like in regular chess, except in Chinese Chess the first of the two squares in the 2-square move must be empty, or it would be an illegal move as the knight would be considered blocked.
  • Anyway, since I saw the errant move, I reverted the game to just before that illegal move and let the AI take control from there instead. This time it played as expected, to a position where I would basically be victorious, I had the enemy king boxed in in a 1×4 rectangular portion of squares along the edge of the board and had two weird horsemen pieces left over attacking it. These pieces weren’t actually part of the standard Chinese Chess set, especially since I learnt that I could stand them up so that their steed was long enough to cover two squares and thus each horseman could also attack two of the four squares that the king was trapped in from a distance of about 3 squares away. From here it was just a matter of arranging the two pieces so they would attack two different squares each.
  • Editor: In a nod to how the blogging project can affect my dreams, I was surprised that David showed up last night — he does not appear in any other entry in my nearly 6 year long dream journal, and even in the Rosyth writeup I did four weeks ago, I wrote that I remembered next to nothing about him. I did recognize his face from the class portrait though, and that must have triggered him appearing in my dream now as well.

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