My Diary #074

Dear Tigey,

Tadaima! Wait, you came along wih me! Back to the weekly posts we go!

Entry #074 (Dec 04 2022)

Table of Contents

Once again, into the…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #72
ට  Song of the Week #49
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #56
ට  Last Year’s Entry #25
ට  Dreams

School

I’ve all but cancelled my Winter study abroad with Singapore’s NUS, because there has been absolutely no news from the SIngapore front, even when I tried to contact my Mindef rep. She said she’d give me an update on Monday or something, but I expect more postponement excuses. In the meantime, I’ve already extended my house lease for another six months and I’m looking forward to go to Tokyo and Sophia University if I can, more so than NUS at this particular point in time, so that’s what I am aiming for next Fall anyway.

In the meantime, I’ve tentatively signed up for a course next semester. There’s only one compulsory class I need left for my East Asian Studies degree, which requires either China 302 (Intermediate Chinese 2, which I have), and China 341 (Classical Chinese 1, which I do not have), or Japan 302 (Intermediate Japanese 2, which I do not have), and Japan 341 (Classical Japanese 1, which I do not have). I do have Japan 301 though, and I’m guessing by taking Japanese courses in my exchange program, I will be able to get credits for 302 fairly easily, so I’m probably going for Japan 341 this upcoming winter semester, even though I’ve also basically completed this degree using the Chinese requirements except for the China 341 equivalent of this course. That last China 302 teacher I had really soured me on the language.

This Japan 341 course is taught in English anyway, by the teacher whom I had for my Haiku class last Winter, so this should be interesting. The class is something like 11 am to 12:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I’ll have to go into school for those days, during the winter at that, but I’ll survive and have a good HUB Mall lunch those days at least.

Work

While I was gone, the powers that be at my workplace in all their infinite wisdom decided to not only release a University-wide letter stating that alumni and non-active staff/students would be losing their Google Drive storage sometime in the new year, and be left with a very limited Gmail account, but also are trying to force through multi-factor authentication for everything and everyone (or at least all staff) before the new year or shortly thereafter, two big changes that both impact our team in terms of support and implementation. Our poor boss is frazzled and making nervous jokes during standup that everyone else laughs politely at and I think something is going to explode soon as we seem to be at unsustainable levels of work, especially since James, the former boss of the other team that got merged with us, is no longer with us after having left a few months ago.

In the meantime though, we had something like 150 tickets in the queue while I was on partial vacation, though we’re down to “only” about 75 now, it seems. It’s terrible, but at least it’s nice and busy for once, though there’s a lot of internal dislike for the University administration (and also somewhat toward us, even though we’re only the ones implementing it) from the students and other staff. It’s interesting though because at least for the Google storage changes, the “blame”, if there’s any, ultimately loops back around to Google for reneging on their promises and then the students in the first place, particularly certain members of our alumni, who treated Google’s unlimited storage offer as a place to upload terabytes of stuff as a backup solution for all their personal data. And now everyone’s feeling the pain for that.

Anyway, fun stuff. The annual Christmas break is coming up too. Our unit also finally got rid of our time tracking system, ClickTime, so we no longer have to make up numbers to put in there for reports that no one in their sane mind cares about. Only overtime, sickness, vacation, and project work time are tracked in another app now.

My sleep schedule has been off whack, it’s not as bad as it was when coming home from Singapore but it’s still not normal yet either after a week. I still often take afternoon or evening naps to catch up and try to realign my sleep schedule with weird Edmonton winter sunrise and sunset times again. That being said, I still have four sick days to burn before the end of the 3rd week of December anyway, or I’ll lose them, and I burnt one this week so that I could destress a little and try to sleep better. Probably will burn one or two next week as well on whatever day that I don’t sleep well on, since I don’t expect I’ll need them once my sleep schedule recovers.

Life

During the last two or three days of my Japan trip, I had noticed that the glue holding my phone’s screen to the back case of the phone was coming loose, and the screen was “rising” from the case, and would continue to push up even if I pushed it back down. This got diagnosed as an expanding battery when I got back home, and the “official authorized retailer” store at the nearby mall offered to repair it for $160 or so, which I balked at and said no thanks. I was prepared to buy a new phone using Black Friday/Cyber Week deals, but I tried a new phone repair store that had opened in the mall while I was gone, and they offered to replace the battery for around $65 (it turned out to be $68.25), which I agreed to.

They said it would take a day for the part to arrive, and the repair would take about 30 minutes, but apparently due to postage delivery delays this time of year, it took five days before the battery actually came in, and then due to.. I’m not sure what, because they sure weren’t busy, but the half an hour repair turned into an hour, and then an hour and a half, before I got my phone back. I get a bit nervous when I have to unlock the phone and hand it to someone for some time, since there’s work stuff on there as well as personal stuff and Paypal account access and stuff, but I checked the recent apps afterwards and saw that no app was accessed from the time I gave them the phone until the time they returned it, so that was good. I had to do this on a day where it was something like -20 Celsius outside, but at least it’s only a couple minutes from my place to the mall, and I needed to pick up a few more groceries anyway.

Now my phone is right as snow again and I hope it lasts. I haven’t found any adverse effects from this “unofficial” repair shop’s job yet.

When I came home, there was a sheet of paper by my kitchen sink detailing all the visits by the residence caretakers. Since I told them that I would be gone for 5 weeks and I knew that when I went to the USA for nearly a month last year, someone ended up checking the house 5 times, I had expected them to check on my house more than that this time around, especially since the first snowfall of the winter came while I was gone. I had also requested before going that if there were any delivery notices on the front door of my apartment or the apartment block, to please bring them into my apartment.

When I looked at the sheet, though.. they had visited a grand total of once, near the very end of my trip, and their only comment was that I had forgotten to lock the window, so they had done it for me! … the “window” that I had “forgotten” to lock was the outer balcony glass door, which I had always left open, since there was also an inner door right next to it (with a screen door in between) that was closed shut. So thanks for closing it.. I guess?

For comparison, see what they did last year when I went to the USA. I didn’t close/lock that outer balcony door then either.

This part will overlap a bit with my Japan Day 35 post, but there was a homeless person in the front lobby of our apartment building, building something on the ground with a pile of pebbles or something, and mindlessly talking to himself and occasionally at the people who passed by in and out of the building, though he didn’t seem to be threatening or expecting a reply from them/us. He was just right next to the door and making everyone nervous. I’m not sure what became of him in the end, he was there when I left the apartment to get dinner on the evening that I returned, and gone by the time I returned.

While I was at the mall to get dinner, I met Karlo, a workmate who lived in the area and whom I had just met a week or two before I left for Japan as well, after not seeing him for years. We were both buying food from the same Chinese fast food store in the mall. We chatted briefly and he was shocked that I had been to Japan for five weeks.

While at the mall, I went to the Canada Post outlet to try to pick up the package that I knew was waiting for me — it had been sitting there for eight days since I had mailed it back to my house for far too high a cost from Kyoto. One of the papers in the pile of letters and brochures waiting for me in the mailbox when I got back home was a Final Delivery Notice thing that said that they would hold the package until the beginning of December, even though it said on the Canada Post website that they were no longer putting expiry dates on package holds due to understanding that people could get sick — they preferred people to get well and then come in and pick up their packages again. Anyway, I went down to try to pick it up, as the mall and the post office was supposed to be open until 9pm, but there was a notice that due to “unexpected circumstances”, the post office had closed early that day and would be open again the next day. Doh.

The next day, I came in and picked up my package, and also got quotes on how much it would take for me to send Shuuka her CDs down in Alabama. Far too much, it turned out, it was $27.70 for shipping with no tracking and 3-4 weeks delivery time, and $30.83 for shipping with tracking and a 2-2.5 weeks delivery time, due to holiday delays. It turned out that she was okay with that and actually wanted me to explore what other slightly faster shipping options there were. Purolator was an option somewhat near my house, with a package drop-off point about a 20 minute walk away, but that Monday was the start of a terrible cold wave, so I never ended up going there. There was a $48.75 CAD option for 6 business days option there that she was interested in, though I felt it was too pricey and likely also did not take into consideration the holiday season rush.

Instead, I opted for the next level up of shipping at Canada Post, which was 8-9 days or so for $35 CAD or so, which seemed to be a good middle ground and would also basically save her the cost of a CD. Then I didn’t tell her until the next day so that by then it was 7-8 days left anyway, so that it seemed shorter. Teehee. She repaid me the cost of the CDs and shipping and hopefully we were both happy with that. I like shopping for other people and spending their money on bargains quite a bit, but shipping sucks. I also had a keychain to send to Heg down in Chicago, but the Canada Post guy said that sending a keychain, even in an envelope, meant it had to be considered a parcel and the shipping would be at least $10-15 for it. We agreed to wait for now on sending it, maybe I can pass it to someone going down to the States at some point, or maybe I can sneak it in an envelope with a postcard or something. Ridiculous. I should have sent those things when I was in Seattle, if only I had more time there.

I renewed my housing lease this week for six months, that came with a raise of $50 or so per month, from $1249 to $1299 I believe, but going month-to-month would have cost me +$100 over the base cost anyway. So it’s a reasonable compromise even though I don’t like that the rental company keeps raising prices. I do like the staff at the rental office a lot though, and got to chatting with one of the girls there for something like ten minutes. She’s apparently from Fujian province in China too, which I think some of my ancestors are from, as my parents speak the dialect (Hokkien) like most (older) Chinese in Singapore do, and I do at least somewhat understand it.

It looked like our city finally rolled out general usage of the Arc Cards, our city’s smart card initiative for transit, on Nov 21st this year, four days before I returned home. I’m glad I picked one up last year from my University, and I promptly registered it on the city’s online website for it and added some money to it. Glad to see we’re slowly inching into the modern era of transportation, though there’s no phone app version of it yet.

I noticed when I got back home that my toilet would sometimes stop refilling after I flushed it, and I had no idea why. The first time it happened after 8pm or so on the first night, and I couldn’t find anything wrong with it when I lifted the toilet’s water tank cover and fiddled around with the toilet float. Eventually, I just refilled it with bowls of water from the sink, and then went back to the computer and sat down to look for the work requisition form to ask someone to come fix what I figured was a plumbing issue from the housing people not coming by my house to check on the water often enough. Before I did so however, I heard the water start flowing in the toilet again, so I figured it was fixed and left it be.

The next day though, this happened again at 8pm. Puzzled, I went to check again and found nothing wrong with the system, then I sat back down at the computer and mentioned the issue to my Discord friends. Jah said to look at the float lever in the tank again, and that there was often a screw that controlled the water flow that could be tightened or loosened. I tried this, and saw a screw right on top that looked like it was holding everything together. I swear that all I did was just touch and prod it once, and the entire tank started to refill again and has been fine since then. It’s magic. Thanks Jah!

Reading back on My Diary #073, I am glad to report that my new Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card gave me absolutely no issues while I was abroad at all, exactly because I had spent the week before fighting the banks and fraud department on that online purchase, and they had put all sorts of notes into my account already and told me that I would be okay using my card overseas. Nothing was declined, everything worked great, and the no foreign transaction fee thing saved me a lot of money, I believe. As well as the Scene+ bonus points I got for signing up for that.

A good number of things in Japan that I charged against the card counted for double Scene+ point credit too like they do in Canada, like nearly all my restaurant/eatery bills under the 2x points for food (a few were missed though), random local supermarkets under the 2x points for groceries category, and the online Livepocket.jp purchase under the 2x entertainment category, even though international purchases were always a bit of a “maybe it will work, maybe it won’t” thing. Even the Keisei Skyliner ticket I bought on the first day there counted for 2x travel points, as did my JR Pass purchase, which is why I’m not very happy that I couldn’t top up my Suica card there using my credit card. I’m very happy with this new card and fully on board with making it my new main card now. My new Scene+ card from after the account merger was also waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home.

The main food purchases that didn’t count were things like department stores and convenience stores which also sold general things, so those got charged to my card as “Lawson” or “Seven-Eleven” or “Kyoto Isetan” or “Daiso”, for example. NewDays, a train station convenience store chain, came through as “JR East” and did not count either. A striking exception within those was Aeon Mall, which charged things to my card with their specific grocery store name, so I got double points on grocery purchases from Aeon Mall on three separate occasions, one from the deli in Otsu on Nov 08, and twice from the Okayama one on Nov 18 and 20.

Weirdly, the Aeon Town Chikusa one on Nov 16 in Nagoya did not count, although that one was more of them owning an entire shopping mall and subletting it to various supermarkets inside, and the supermarket inside that I eventually bought Kel‘s desired tea and some groceries from had a separate name, MaxValu Grand (MaxValu Chikusa Wakamiyao on my card). That one should have counted but didn’t. Still, they nailed a lot of other supermarkets as 2x points locations — Pure 13 in Osaka, Amica in Nagoya, and York Foods, Maruetsu, and Y’s Mart in the Minowa/Ueno region of Tokyo all counted, which was surprising to me, as I don’t think any of them were particularly large supermarket chains. None of my bento purchases from station stores counted with the exception of one — Ekibenya Matsuri at Tokyo Station came through on the credit card as “JR East Restaurants” and counted for double, whereas Omiyage-sho at Kanazawa Station, for example, came through as “Seven-Eleven” on the card and thus didn’t count. Many others didn’t accept credit card in the first place, but even those that did never counted.

Anyway this was all super fascinating to me. I had read somewhere, but couldn’t really confirm, that this particular card allowed foreign purchases to count whereas many other cards only allowed domestic or North American purchases to count, I’m not quite sure which. I don’t know how true that is though since I didn’t have any of those other cards to test out with, but I’m definitely bringing this one with me when I go to Japan to study.

I have a ridiculous number of things that I would like to scan and add to my blog collection, not only brochures and booklets and CDs that I brought back from Japan, but also a pile of things that were waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home. I don’t know when I will get the time to do all that, especially since I have a bunch of anime and blog-writing to catch up on as well. My Kami Watch Over Me series was completed this past week though, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m glad that went well and I wasn’t still stuck on blog post 15 of 36 or something.

I also have a couple of new sections I would like to premiere for the scans archive on my blog. One will be to separate Books and Booklet-type scans from brochures, as I now have a lot of those coming up eventually, and another is a Collections category for sets of pictures or things that I would like to upload, for example a collection of photographs of Tigey, or a collection of personal photographs of other people taking photographs. Or collections of scanned temple seals/stamps that I have. Things like that. I don’t know when that will arrive, but that will arrive eventually.

Still on the to-do list first as well is a number of touch ups that I have to do to my Japan travel blog series, including updating all the Table of Contents for each blog page and also my blog’s general ToC, which I let go of updating during the trip for sanity’s sake.

I also now have a small acrylic stand on my desk, my first one ever and possibly only one ever, as I usually don’t care about them as a souvenir. This one though was very nice because it features one of my favourite characters wrapped up in traditional costume, the titular character from the show that my blog’s title is based off of, Yuuki Yuuna from Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero. She’s here inspiring me to write, and to behave like a Hero (by following her tenets).

Besides the Christmas event I posted pictures of in blog entry #35 of my trip, a couple other new stores appeared in Southgate Mall, the mall near my house, while I was gone for five weeks. One was this Sporting Life store, which is good news because this was an empty anchor store spot that had been closed for a couple years now, and used to serve as a shortcut between the mall and the attached Safeway. That shortcut might never be reopened but the outer door of this store still acts as a partial shortcut during the deep, dark winter.

The other store seems to be a temporary one. But I want to bounce too.

I went grocery shopping this week at the local Asian supermarket, and was aghast at the prices of items there compared to what they cost in Japan. For example, these seasonal Shiroi Koibito cookies, a famous export from Hokkaido, cost me 1760 yen (so vaguely $17.60 CAD) at the airport on Day 35 for a box of 24, and I figured that was already probably a tad overpriced because it was from a tax-free shop in an airport and thus meant to be a tourist trap. But here in Edmonton, they were on sale for $29.88 CAD Yikes.

And these teas, they ranged from 65 cents to up to a dollar in Japan, and they were everywhere.

$3-4 here, yikes. At least other things like fruits are cheap compared to Japan, I bought a big pile of apples from Safeway that were on sale. I remember seeing bags of grapes in Japan going for 1000 yen (~$10 CAD) or more.

I put in some money for a new, cheap vacuum cleaner (local) from Walmart that was on sale during the Cyber Week sale, since my current one doesn’t seem to really work anymore (again, I seem to go through vacuum cleaners pretty quickly) and I only have about six months left here in theory before I go overseas, so I didn’t want to break the bank on a better vacuum cleaner that’ll actually last me some time. I do have a hand vacuum still but that isn’t something I can clean the entire house with. While I was at it, I tried to buy a couple more plastic containers (local) as well, but got a notice the next day that Walmart had cancelled my purchase and refunded me because ???.

I had mentioned in my blog that the special tree in our neighbourhood was lit again, but I noticed that other trees were now lit up with Xmas lights as well. The special tree in the background actually has its lights come on in the evening and go off around midnight every night, but the other trees with their new red and blue and green lights stay on all night.

And lastly, here’s a scenery picture of a road and the sky on the way to my house, taken last Sunday, before the snow and cold snap settled in this week.

Games

I picked up a couple games at the end of the Steam Autumn Sale, which there was a couple days left of when I arrived home from Japan. They are Siralim Ultimate, a franchise which I really liked the second and third game of, and Jack Move, a game that I really liked after playing the demo for it in a Steam Next Fest earlier this year. I also redeemed a bunch of games from the past few months’ Humble Monthly/Humble Choice subscription that were still sitting in my inbox, as well as this year’s Yogscast Jingle Jam indie game bundle, and my total Steam game count went from 3,999 games to 4,087 games and counting. Not sure when I will have time to play them though, my backlog of things to do is just so enormous, but that’s fine.

I didn’t play anything on the trip at all, except a little Vampire Survivors on the plane on the way there if I’m not wrong. I did want to install and play Kirara Fantasia on my phone while I was there since that game is locked to the Japan region (though I can access it from Canada via a phone VPN), but again, there wasn’t time to actually play games while I was there, everything felt like it was “go go go!” and I could always be doing something far more productive than playing games.

Once I got home, I looked around the Google Play Store and got interested in a game called Chimera Recollect, which seems to be an interesting RPG-like game that has nothing to do with the usual plague of gacha games and lootboxes. Instead, my character goes around a world to try to protect a young girl that is his/her companion, and goes around unlocking and levelling body parts by defeating enemies. The combat is really interesting, its sort of a block breaker game where I flick my character around with a finger and s/he bounces and ricochets off the screen’s edges and flies around the battlefield, colliding into and knocking off the pixels making up pixellated monsters that are trying to do nasty things to me. And defeating a monster involves knocking off all their pixels and then flying over to pick up all the coins and stuff that they drop. Really neat so far.

Anime Music Quiz premiered a new mode, their Nexus mode, while I was gone, and this is a rough around the edges Roguelite mode that is specifically designed to look like Slay the Spire with its slightly branching dungeon paths that lead to a final boss encounter, with an adventuring party assembled using unlocked characters and skins that players have collected. I actually really like the idea behind this mode, and hope to see this further developed and not just abandoned in initial launch stage like everything else new that’s been added in the past two years or so since we started playing the game.

Plushie of the Week #72 – Mama

Mama is a plushie I bought from a Sanrio Gift Gate store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on Nov 04 2022, for a friend named Oaisa who wanted me to get her a Kuromi plushie, from the Hello Kitty/Onegai My Melody franchise. She cost 3960 yen, and her entry on the receipt read “0050 Nuigurumi Chiru”, whatever that means (nuigurumi is plushie is Japanese), but her placeholder name is Mama because she was a larger version of some identical smaller Kuromi plushies in the store, and I called her Mama when I sent Oaisa the picture of this plushie after sending her the pictures of the smaller ones, as part of a conversation where I was sending her pictures of all the Kuromi plushies in the store and their prices so she could choose which one she liked the most between them. This one was the one she settled on in the end, and the name Mama seemed to stuck when referring to her for the conversations between the two of us!

This plushie is slated to be given to Oaisa at some point in the next couple weeks, in return for the purchase cost, so I haven’t let her meet the other plushies outside of Tigey yet, but I nonetheless wanted to feature her here because Plushie of the Week isn’t necessarily meant to only feature *my* plushies, since not only are a bunch of plushies belonging to my siblings in here too, but even one from Jahandar. Mama also made me more interested in the Hello Kitty franchise than I ever have been in, since I had to research Kuromi and her rivals as part of prep work for even finding the plushie, and I did find her really cute in the end and was sorely tempted to get a different Kuromi plushie for myself as well. But I didn’t. Yet.

Ran and I also visited a Sanrio Gift Gate shop in the Mosaic mall in Kobe, and when I gave Ran my souvenir from Canada at the end of our day trip, she mentioned that she had noted how I told her I found Kuromi cute and she wished that she had bought one of the plushies for me from there as well, heh. Exactly why I didn’t give her the gift earlier (besides her having to then carry it around all day as well) — I didn’t want a reciprocated gift or for her to feel like she had to give an obligatory one, but I appreciated the sentiment anyway and that little memory snippet is mixed up with this plushie and Hello Kitty/Kuromi now as well.

This plushie is fairly big and squishy, but fit just fine within my duffel bag, where she sat on top of my CDs for most of the trip (since I bought her about two-fifths of the way into my trip), protecting them from harm.

Front:

Back:

Front of two tags:

Back of two tags:

Front of third tag (back is blank):

Song of the Week #49

Title: Tachiagare!
Artist: Wake Up, Girls!
Album: Wake Up, Best! (2015)

Wake Up, Girls! is one of my favourite Japanese artists, and basically my favourite Japanese idol group there is, despite the fact that they’re now disbanded. They had two seasons, and a bunch of movies/OVAs of an anime based on them, but they disbanded on March 08 2019, some time before I actually watched their show and learnt how much I liked them, in June of 2020. Oh well.

Nonetheless, Tachiagare!, or Stand Up!, is their first performed song and a pivotal moment in the group’s development in the show, and a song that’s reused in most of their followup seasons and OVAs, but it never actually got a single release of its own for some reason. Still, the song was performed on a cold Christmas Eve to a tiny audience, and it somehow sort of brings me back to when I was new to anime and bright-eyed to everything the world had to offer. I mean, I’d like to think I still am this way to some extent, but this song helps me remember my earlier days of anime, even though it wasn’t a couple years after I started watching anime before I started watching this. The song lyrics are also inspiring, talking about how the night is not neverending and dawn will always come, and to stand up for what you believe in. And the song has plenty of dramatic drops and lifts, just the kind of song I like.

I’ve listened to this song so much that it’s bled into all sorts of other memories too, like standing by a brick wall in our University near the library while snow gently falls outside, or memories of playing AMQ with my friends every day for years, or much more recently, even my trip to Japan because I picked up a lot of Wake Up, Girls! CDs while there. They were really cheap, though I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps because the band had disbanded and there was some sort of fire sale of their stuff at the time or something. Or they just produced way too many CDs for the number of fans that they thought they’d have. It’s every CD of theirs over a long period of time though, not just a couple of them.

The group itself was not the first idol group I learnt about, but probably the first one that I really, really liked. Anyway, although the group itself is now gone, most of the members are still around and active in the anime industry, voice acting various characters across various shows, and while I do not religiously follow them from show to show, I am slightly partial toward shows that any of the members star in (like the currently airing Bocchi the Rock!). Due to them already having disbanded by the time I started listening to them, I don’t have the pain that the fans that knew them from before probably do, but I did want to visit Sendai to see the city that they were founded and based in while I was in Japan, and never made it over there just due to a lack of time.

Oh well, next time.

Memory Snippet of the Week #56

A couple weeks before I returned to Canada, Kynji linked this Youtube channel about marble races, and I’ve been enamoured by it ever since. Not to the point of watching it religiously or anything, but I definitely have filled up some free time holes with these videos, and even watched a couple (downloaded) videos on the plane returning from Seattle to Edmonton.

This, however, reminded me of another memory snippet — when Kel, Jon, and I were younger, back in Singapore, I (and to a certain extent them once I roped them in) was really interested in After Dark and Windows Entertainment Pack screensavers, and we would watch things like Idlewild’s Boat Race, and After Dark’s Marbles (which this reminded me of), and Rat Race (which this also reminded me of). In particular, even though I knew more or less that it was essentially random, I kept lists on the rat names in Rat Race, and published them here eventually, but I/we also had a small list of overall winner and loser rats that I/we compiled in a jotter book that I really need to fully scan because it’s a book that became very close to my heart, it was a book where we compiled game stuff before Internet walkthroughs and Google was a thing, things that we discovered or compiled and wanted to keep information on.

Apparently the list of races that I watched and compiled notes on wasn’t THAT big — we only had limited computer time per day back then, and this wasn’t the only screen saver that we liked and would watch, plus there are a lot of races that the rats were spread out over since there were only 3 rats per race, so most rats only had 1-2 race results to their name, but I’m glad the jotter book still exists at all, as it’s a precious memory snippet.

The jotter book also contains things like Chip’s Challenge and Populous 2 level codes, monster stats from the early Heroes of Might and Magic games, notes and self-written walkthroughs for portions of The Savage Empire, level passwords for the Lemmings game, the transcribed song from the Flying Toasters screen saver:

And even some stuff I don’t understand at all now why they exist in the book or what I wrote them down for.

Anyway, this jotter book is important because it was a voice of my 10-14 year old self — Heroes of Might and Magic was a 1998 game that we played, but there’s also a squabble in there between me and Dad because he used one of the earlier pages to draft a leave of absence notice for my teacher dated May 14 1995 on the 6th and 7th page, so that provides estimates for an upper and lower bound of when I was writing in the book. There’s scribbles and notes all over, and it was a treasured book when young in a pre-internet era where not everything was available at one’s fingertips and people’s lives weren’t inundated with social media and memes and doomscrolling from young.

Also, Dad never respected that my jotter book was mine and I might still slightly resent him for that. I found another page later in the book where he again used that to scribble down some calculations and destroyed that entire page. He had no respect for children and their things.

Last Year’s Entry #25

My corresponding post-trip diary entries from last year are My Diary #029, published on Nov 28 2021, and My Diary #030, published on Dec 05 2021. I didn’t do a Nov 27 post this year because that was only two days after I returned from my trip, so this section here will have me looking at both diary entries above to catch me up with the current date minus one year.

Diary #029: I feel like an expert on both the UAlberta study abroad application process as well as Sophia University itself now. Reading this reminds me that I need to re-evaluate the housing options that Sophia provides, because I now have a much better grasp on what the train stations and lines are like and how difficult (or not) multiple line transfers or (vaguely, I don’t have the best idea of this yet) how crowded certain train lines are in the morning and evening.

We apparently have to “renew” our work from home agreement once a year, but there’s been no pushback from our department yet on our entire team working from home, so hopefully this continues into the foreseeable future for the sake of my team. Since I don’t expect to be with them past June or Juily or so, I expect that my renewal will carry past the remaining time that I will be on the team anyway. I wonder where my first aid kit is now? I think I have four separate first aid kits in my medical closet.

My apartment has been bedbug free for nearly one year. Touch wood. They say that bedbugs can live for about a year without eating, so to me there’s always been a mental finish line where I can say that hey, if I haven’t seen one for over a year, chances are they’re really gone for good even if they were hiding in a box or something and biding their time for the past few months.

I note with amusement that I bought plastic containers around this time last year, too, and that this was the week that I featured Yukie Nakama’s Tremolo as my song of the week, since I finally found and bought that CD near the very end of my trip.

Diary #030: Two of our three new hires are gone now, though both of them left amicably, one for another job in the department, and the other due to needing another job to fulfil work visa requirements or something. Our third guy is still going strong and I hope he has a long and fruitful career here.

Oddly I have nothing else to say about Diary #030, but I did fix a couple embarrassing typoes in that, and a bunch of links in both #029 and #030, so that was nice.

Dreams

There weren’t many dream diary entries while I was on my trip, I was too busy and/or too tired to have a restful state conducive to remembering dreams, most likely. Nonetheless, there were some, and here they are. And they’re followed by my dreams from this week as well.

Oct 26 2022
  • Snippet: I had a dream of running through the rain in a female school uniform, white blouse and dark skirt, toward the void deck of a tall HDB flat where I lived in. I loved the feeling of the rain and my clothing sticking to me, and I wasn’t wearing any bras or singlets underneath.
Nov 06 2022
  • Eileen and Huihan were taking part in a race on a racetrack. Huihan won and set a new personal best record because she didn’t give up, and because a mutual guy friend dressed up as a maid and ran in front of both of them to enable both of them to run faster and try to catch him. Eileen also posted a great time, and there was another more official females-only race in a week, so they joked that they needed to figure out how to enlist him for that race as well.
Nov 11 2022
  • I dreamt that one of my friends was a secret cowgirl (kind of like Minos from Jashin-chan Dropkick) and her secret got revealed to a bunch of mutual friends by the roadside while waiting for a bus or something. I knew this already, so I hugged her from behind through her loose clothes and said I liked her, as a form of support. Also at one point I was musing that I was finally taking classes with my Dunman High friends again but it wasn’t the exact same classes they were taking, since I had been away for several years now, so I was a little disappointed by that. I was still glad to have the opportunity to study with them in the same school at the same time, however.
Nov 16 2022
  • I remember a particular snippet from near the end of my dream where there were two bright red trees right by a shopping street entrance, and I was happy to find them and see their pretty red leaves. The sun was also setting soon and I was trying to find a spot that I could stand where the sun would be in the middle of the two trees from my perspective.
  • Earlier in a separate dream there were some school scenes. One involved hearing a rumour from some students that there was someone roaming the halls that should be avoided if possible, he was wielding a towel and flicking it against people that he passed to hurt them. I wasn’t particularly worried about this but never did find or meet this person.
  • Another scene had me in guy mode, and I was participating in a swimming class with a bunch of my Dunman friends, headed up by a female teacher. I remember looking across the way at the girls and seeing Huihan, Eileen, Valerie, Jean, and more. At the end of the class, the teacher cornered the girls and told them to remove their shirts before she would let them leave, something about relieving monthly stress and there about ten fewer girls than guys, which was somehow unfair to the guys, even though I noted that the number of males and females was about exactly the same, about 15-17 each. Not wanting to see this scene play out, I left the room via a door next to where the guys were standing and tried to find another teacher to report this errant teacher to.
Nov 17 2022
  • I dreamt about a place that used to allow people to visit and see fall foliage turning colours for free or something but now didn’t any longer, and that was plot-significant somehow as I had planned to go there with a friend but now couldn’t.
Nov 27 2022
  • My dream had a overarching quest with daily events that progressed the plotline of the quest slowly, amd all of us had a character that was part of that quest and was separate from our daily dream lives, kind of like a virtual MMO. It started with events in a forest to beat back some invading monsters, and got to a point over a few weeks wher we defeated them, found a portal, and went through it.
  • On the other side of the portal was a small, medieval village full of innocent little creatures, they were fluffy and round and white and about one foot tall. They all had jobs like mayor, innkeeper, villager, blacksmith, etc. There was no quest objective for that first day that we arrived on the other side of the portal, which implied that what happened next was up to us, and I and others were hoping that we could make friends with the creatures or something, but there were too many players and it was not really possible to stop the dumber players from murdering them.
  • In the end, the council of humans made a decree that we were indeed going to wipe out all the remaining little creatures, this even involved someone going to a manor that was owned by a human lord who had turned two of the little creatures into his butlers in order to try to save them. That person killed the two creatures in front of the lord, which angered him and cause him to stab the person in the stomach with a rapier.
  • Once all the creatures were dead, new quests begin to spawn that involved the angry denizens of the land on the other side of the portal declaring war and coming to attack us at the portal.
  • On a more macro level, I occasionally went out adventuring with a couple friends. I remember going out with Jahandar to explore a path that led to a house-like structure in the hopes that we would still be able to find some of the creatures who had escaped, but the house was deserted. There was some sort of global threat that I was watching out for outside of the window as well as on our quest objective UI, and I kept watch while Jah went around the house to collect or process or something the items and furniture in the house.
  • There was a tiny little white table in front of the window that I could interact with, and it would swirl and transform into other things that were about the same size as the table for a few seconds before turning back into a table. Which I did to show Jah once he came over to the window to process the final two items in the room, the table and the chair that was next to it. We then waited for the table to revert its form before Jah processed the two items and we left.
  • There were several other snippets that fit into this game world, but I’m not sure of the exact context.
  • One was that at some point, Jeremy contacted me because we had a lot of work tickets in the pool and everyone else was going to be busy or off work so I would apparently be the only person working for three of the five days in the upcoming week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I said that that was far too much work for one person to do and he could assign me all the tickets from one day, but that was it. He laughed softly and said he’d give me more details once he returned to his hospital room.
  • At another point, I was finishing up a stint at work and a kid belonging to someone at work gave me a really juicy fruit to eat. I ate it and liked it, and found out that the kid was selling three types of fruit outside the side doors of the office building, just outside the kitchen and next to some walking paths. I went out to buy some fruit from her.
  • Also, there was a snippet where our entire family went in a minivan to a carpark that I recognized as being very similar to the Mill Woods KFC carpark near our 4012 Edmonton home. Mom was driving, Dad was in the middle seat, I was in the back seat, and Jon was with me too. We were waiting for Kel to return via a school bus, at which point we would pick her up and drive home. The bus eventually arrived but some other Chinese girl whose name was just a single letter, like a B or a H, hopped into the van next to Dad instead as she mistook our van for her family’s one. Dad didn’t realize this right away and was about to embrace her in welcome when I piped up and asked who she was. Dad then realized it and asked her coldly to leave, which she did. Kel then properly alighted from the bus and joined us and we drove off.
Nov 29 2022
  • I remember one snippet from my entire dream, which was that I was exploring the tower portion of a large castle at night, and when I reached the very top of the stairs, I was hit by a sudden sense of dread and trepidation telling me that I should go no further. I could see a couple rooms from where I was, and I tried to bring out my phone to take pictures of the place, but because it was dark the phone could not actually take any good pictures of the place. I obeyed my sixth sense and left the area, going down to the very bottom of the castle and leaving it. Outside, I met my sister and parents there and they bought me some sort of stick, which was apparently a tourist souvenir, that I really wanted for $1.25 from a stall owned by a Chinese man that was set up in front of the castle.
Nov 30 2022
  • I was on a train and about to alight at the next train station when I noticed that one of the three newspapers that were lying on a table in the train, and which were meant to be provided free of charge for customers to peruse while on board, was folded wrongly. The entire newspaper was made up of smaller sections were supposed to be arranged with the A-section on the outside, the B-section slotted in behind it, and so on, before being folded and put on the table, but for this one, the Sports section that was normally the C-section of the paper was slotted in the very front instead. Worse, inside the folded up C-section was an empty disposable lunchbox from an Australian fast food company that was making the paper slightly greasy.
  • As the train rolled to a stop, I decided to do something about this, so I “bought” the offending newspaper for $10 and took it off the train with me, together with the backpack that I was carrying on my back and a lunchbox in a bag that I was carrying in my hand. The newspaper was tangled up with some blue cloth that looked like it was part of a blanket, but was connected to something else in the train as well, so the door couldn’t close even after I stepped out until I threw down my bags and used my free hands to untangle the newspaper from the cloth, as a station attendant sitting on a nearby high chair like a train lifeguard watched me. He didn’t stop or help me or comment on anything though. I then tossed the end of the cloth back into the train and it drove off.
  • I took the newspaper and lunchbox and threw it into the nearby bin on the platform. Finally gathering up my bags again, I narrowly dodged a really long pole that a girl was holding. She was doing ballet further on down the platform, and this pole was pretty much as thick as a telephone or power pole and twice as long, but she was somehow balancing that on her shoulder as she danced around. It nearly hit me a couple times so I moved further away.
  • Soon the train on the opposite side of the platform arrived, and I knew ours was coming soon as well. I looked across the tracks and saw that there were long, metal canteen sinks there, as well as a stall selling drinks and jellies past that. I went to the sinks to brush my teeth, then hastily rinsed it as I heard my train approaching. My train had to stop for a traffic light of some sort just before the platform though, at the tunnel exit, even though this station was an underground station, so I crossed back over to the main platform and gathered up my things in time before the train actually arrived.
Dec 01 2022
  • I was travelling with another girl around in two carts that were joined together like train carriages, she was in the front cart and driving/steering and I was in the back cart chatting to her and gathering stuff that we passed by. This other girl might have been Eileen, as I do remember having conversations with Eileen over some sort of chat UI or loudspeaker at some point, but I’m not sure.
  • Dream snippets that we did together involve moving through a field next to some sort of residential area in the pre-dawn light, and watching a pet ferret or raccoon that she owned run around looking for food. When dawn hit, all the residents in the nearby apartment blocks woke up and clapped their hands twice in reverence to the sun, we did the same thing before starting to drive off in our carts. I saw some green lemon-shaped fruits on the ground and told her to drive by it, and scooped four of them off the ground as she did so — she also scooped up a couple extra. I tossed them into the back of her cart for safekeeping.
  • Another snippet involved us arriving at the top of an abandoned construction site where a lot of homeless men stayed. In particular, it looked like there was a pathway where we had to walk to the end of a ledge that ended in midair, then drop down from it and jump to a ladder that started underneath that ledge, and then climb up from there onto a different ledge before we could continue on. Obviously our carts couldn’t travel that way, but we could re-summon new vehicles once we were on that top ledge again.
  • The homeless men were extremely polite and all waited in line behind us at the dead-end springboard-like ledge, and even helped point out where the next ladder was. My companion checked the map and noted that we needed to get to a building with a certain name on it to continue, and I looked up and saw that building looming large over us back behind the road attached to the ledge we were already on, so I told her it didn’t look like we actually needed to jump off that thing. She was glad and went there to resummon new carts.
  • However, we were already down a couple ledges at that point and our stuff was still on the other carts. She was willing to leave them there, but I said that Tigey was in there and so we couldn’t do that, but that I didn’t mind making the jump and that it would probably take about two trips to get everything here. I found out that I did need more trips, as I had to unpack some bags and then wanted to bring along all the bags too, so as not to leave anything behind, but I created an alternate route to the vehicles so I only needed to make that jump once in the end.
  • While on that route, I noticed a worm crawling on the ground toward me that looked like it was labelled as some sort of computer virus from two years ago that was supposed to be extinct but somehow had survived here. The worm slithered toward me and I poked it with a weapon and my foot but was otherwise careful to stay away from it as I went up and down to collect my stuff. It got stuck on a ledge and couldn’t follow me vertically. I noted this worm to Jah, who came by, looked at it, and swung a weapon at it to kill it. This made the worm explode into 4,000 different worms that lined both sides of the path we were on and reared their heads up around the two of us, and I hastily entered a Killall console command that wiped all the worms off the map. I was asked why I didn’t use that command earlier and I said that it seemed overkill for just one worm that we could technically have ignored. Thankfully by then all the polite homeless men had left as well so they weren’t affected.
  • The conversation I mentioned earlier that I had with Eileen was implied to be held over our Dunman High group’s Whatsapp chat, and was her saying something like she was glad I was there because something to do about giving her support while she was moving as a lot of her clients or a lot of her other friends didn’t seem to be supporting her move when she was so young, which she was doing in an attempt to search for happiness in her career or life. I thought to myself that those people probably wouldn’t like or understand my drive to get my surgery a few years ago either then, and I told her that no one is ever too young to have the right to search for happiness.
Dec 03 2022
  • I was staying on the 5th level of an apartment block of a building while in Japan with Kel, renting a lodging there as I always do. This lodging was apparently owned by a Malay or Indian family, and there was one bedroom owned by a young girl that we weren’t allowed to go into, but that I saw into and took a picture of at some point. I was allowed to rent and move around in the rest of the three-room apartment and also meet the family living there, and took a perfect picture of the rest of the family plus Kel around a sofa, the camera frame aligning itself so it was perfectly horizontal just as everyone else drifted into the shot.
  • Among other things, that family we lived with must have been from Singapore, as someone from their extended family came over and decked me out in Singapore clothing. Also, they had a lot of animals at their house, one of them was a little bear that the elder brother of the family had tamed and was holding safely, and I was trying to take pictures of Tigey on the bear as Kel held Tigey up against the bear. This took a few tries.
  • Later on there was also a scene where a large fish animal make a ripping noise and regurgitated a long, frozen fish from its mouth, which clattered to the ground at the feet of that elder brother. He bent down to pick it up, saying somethig along the lines of he knew this might be a bit too icky for us but if interested we could look at that fish as well and he could tell us all about it.
  • I had CDs that I had been buying on the trip strewn around the apartment, they were in two separate piles on opposite sides of the main room, and I took some time to gather them all up. The father asked me if I was leaving already and I said no, but I was afraid the animals would accidentally destroy them so I wanted to keep them safely away.
  • There were also voices welcoming us that I could hear at the front of the house, just outside the entrance area, when we were moving in, but I ignored those and assumed that those came from people inside the house itself.
  • A bit later on, when I was coming back to the apartment by myself in the middle of the afternoon, I came out of the elevator and started fumbling with my keys. My one free hand held a phone and what looked like a portable CD player, and my finger pressed against a button on the CD player that popped open a compartment and revealed a mini SD card that could be inserted via a USB reader into the CD player. This also made some strange water fall out of the compartment and onto my fingers, and I made a tsking noise and muttered something to the effect of how I hope the water wasn’t poisonous.
  • At this point, I heard the voices again, greeting me cheerfully and asking me if I were a guest here. I knew at this point they couldn’t have been from the house itself, but the voices were kind of ethereal and far away and I wasn’t sure where they could have been from. I said yes and asked who they were, they answered saying that they were from the first floor and to stop by sometime if they had time. I misheard them and thought they said fifth floor, and I asked where on the floor they were as I thought there were only three apartments up here and all three doors faced the little lobby that I was in. They laughed and clarified again that they were on the first floor, running a shop that sold watches and general gear. I realized at the point that we were talking using a vibrating pipe in the lobby that stretched all the way down to the ground floor and transmitted nearby noises up and down the pipe.
  • I told them that I might visit them later, and then disengaged. I put my stuff down in the apartment, washed my hands, hung around for a while, and then decided to go down and actually visit them because they seemed nice and because the rest of the household I was living with hadn’t returned yet. I went downstairs, where I found the tent selling watches. Using a 3rd person camera viewpoint and spinning the camera around, I was able to look in the tent from the outside and see three sisters and one or two brothers in the shop, all of them about ten years older than I was.
  • I went in to say hello and was immediately greeted by a chorus of welcomes and “ah, so cute!”s, and one of the women came over to passionately chat with me as the other two women and one of the men went around the shop like a whirlwind, gathering items to outfit me with. This included a backpack and a dark green cloak, something like a druid stick, a watch, of course, and some provisions. Even with a discount, this came to about 320 gold or so out of the 600-something that I had, and I also had a warning in my equipment that the cloak I already had was already a better fit for me because it was fitted in a Singapore medium size, whereas this was a generic medium size, and I would lose some defence points for equipping this. This cloak did have a hood that would hide my face, though.
  • One of the men also stood by waiting to take my old gear from me to burn, saying that this was how they recycled old items, if I wanted to make this purchase. I didn’t like being pressured to accept courtesies like this but I don’t remember if I actually ended up paying for the items.
  • I did learn two things about the trip, one was that Kel had won 4th place in a contest to get a ticket to come with me. Even though she had far less points than some of the competitors she had beaten, she had read some of the lore behind the contest and written in a letter with it, and the scoreboard showing her 4th place finish included multiple accolades below her name that proclaimed her the first person to say certain things, which bumped her up in the rankings.
  • The second thing was that I was here while working remotely, and even though this wasn’t very long after I had returned home to Canada, and it had been somewhat expensive to come to Japan again, it was now cheaper for me to stay here for some time and work than to fly home yet again to work, especially since I was coming here to study eventually. I decided to tell Ronnie that I’d just stay here and drift around for a bit while working from my laptop. At least until I filled my bag with more CDs.
Dec 04 2022
  • There was a dog sled race taking part in my dream, where there were six teams, each consisting of one dog and one sled guided by a single person, racing through terrain that started in a snowy area, went through some city streets, then eventually into an industrial building before ending at a finishing line several floors up inside that building. The Edmonton team in that, led by a kindly man with a beard and a large husky, won by quite a large margin over their competitors.
  • I didn’t really care too much about the race, but I saw the start of the race anyway because I was with my family, Dad and Kel and more, and we were at a train station near where it started after returning from a holiday at some rural town from where we had to take a local train back to civilization. Every team struggled to get their dog going, as the dogs would move a little bit and then stop, or move in the wrong direction, or run into a wall, and require re-adjusting every few seconds, but at some point the husky shot through the snow in the correct direction, burrowing a path in the snow and overtaking everyone else.
  • The scene then shifted to the middle of the race, and had me seated by the side of a road alone as I waited for something. The husky team stumbled up to near where I was and stopped, and the man got off the sled. I saw him pat down the dog, who seemed to be in some distress, and he picked up a handful of snow from the ground, melted it in his cupped gloved hands, and extended his hands with the water in them to the dog to let him drink from it. He said that the dog had a headache and he was trying to make sure the dog felt better — he wasn’t sure if the dog could make it to the finish line. They were way ahead of all their other competitors though, so they were taking it slow.
  • There was a plastic bag, similar to an airplane sickness bag but for the dog, he needed to dispose of, and I told him to just leave it next to me and I would dispose of it for him — there was another discarded plastic bag on the ground that someone else had littered and I could throw the both of them away together. This technically might have counted as outside assistance, but no one was around to watch and dustbins were rather scarce. He thanked me and left the bag with me and I got up and disposed of the two bags as the Edmonton team continued onwards.
  • I then went to the final building area, and headed in to the building and up some ramps. There were arrow signs pointing to where the ramp to the next level was, but the course itself was rather tricky, with ramps sometimes located at the very end of each floor that required a sharp 180-degree turn to be made to access it, or multiple ramps leading off in opposite directions with only one of them being the right ramp. Even walking up the course, I took a wrong turn at one point near the top and ended up in some engineering area made up of walkways with pipe railings and a sign that said the area in front of me was a restricted area and entry was prohibited. Two friendly workers, a male and a female, were at separate open-aired desks nearby though, and I got directions from the both of them back down one level and over to the correct ramp up.
  • Finally reaching the finish line, I saw that the Edmonton duo had already won, but the man was fretting because the race staff were supposed to bring him a replacement sickness bag for his dog but had not done so. I took a bag lying on a nearby table and gave it to him and said that he could probably just use that. There were other people around and they were congratulating him on his victory but he didn’t seem to care about that, just his dog’s wellbeing.

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