My Diary #083

Dear Tigey,

What have you been doing? You’ve only been sitting on my computer desk next to me (and by my pillowside every night), yet you already smell like you need a bath.

Entry #083 (Feb 05 2023)

School

Our Classical Japanese class had one of our two classes cancelled this week, as the instructor seemed to have been taken ill. I sent her well-wishes in response to her email and also asked if we should forge ahead in the textbook ourselves (as the course has been very by the book anyway) and prepare for the next quiz on our own to keep to the original schedule, or if we will be still reviewing the previous class and starting on the stuff for the missed class on Tuesday when we next reconvene, but I haven’t heard back yet. Kind of worrisome. Oh well. Maa ii ka. The class only has 10 people registered for it, but even then only 8 regularly show up for classes.

I paid for the course this week literally with about an hour left on the very last day, Jan 31, before I would incur a late fees charge. I had kind of forgotten about it because I was waiting on the tuition remission from my workplace to go through since it required signoff by the department and that had gotten stuck in the inbox of an executive assistant who had then left the department before dealing with it. It had been fixed and processed a week earlier though, I had just forgotten about it since then. Anyway I paid $646.99 for the course, slightly less than half of what the course actually cost after being discounted by waived fees and the tuition remission. I am taping this to my scrapbook as a record of the actual fee payment for one course in Winter 2023:

It looks like it only got processed a couple days after the deadline anyway, but as I did an online bank transfer payment, the process was immediate and was dated Jan 31st. Giri giri safe!

I reinvested the extra time from the cancelled Thursday class into the next day, knocking one of the big items off my to-do list — applying for the UAI Education Abroad Individual Award (local) for my study abroad program this year. I had applied for this in both the last two years, and won a $3000 award both times, but was not able to use either award due to COVID cancellations and stuff. And they expire after a year. This year I don’t expect to win that much since there’s more people going abroad and applying. Oh well.

While I definitely could and did use a chunk of what I had written previously for this year’s application as a template, and thanked myself for even still having saved what I had written down for the previous applications in the name of archiving, I still endeavoured to change large portions of what I wrote with a giant brush to make it more consistent with my current world view and to keep things authentic in case any of the judges compared it to what I actually did write last year, so this entire process still took something like three hours to do.

I also went to the University on Wednesday for an info session on the Ritsumeikan Summer Japanese Program (local), scheduled for May 09 to Jun 09 in Kyoto this year, a couple months before I would actually go to Tokyo to start my year abroad. Apparently the U of A has 14 reserved student slots out of 45 or so according to the agreement that they have with Ritsumeikan, but only 6 people came to the info session this year. I remember there were slightly more than a dozen people in the room back in late 2019/early 2020 when I came to the same info session about the Summer 2020 version of the RSJP/Theme Studies, which got scuttled after I had applied (and was accepted) for it. The two week Theme Studies program is no longer attached to the tail end of this RSJP, but they say they might arrange something similar for future iterations of this program. It would be too late for this year though.

Apparently up to five students can get a $750 award for this summer program as well, and they will be chosen automatically after all the applications are in, so that would be nice as well, although the whole application process is a bit weird. Back in 2020, there was a form that we had to fill in on the website and it even included needing a Japanese instructor as a reference. Actually, this is even still all up on their How to Apply page (local). But during the info session, it was said that they were going to transition away from that and into the Horizons app that UAI uses for all their applications as well, and that page is also up:

But it doesn’t come with any form to submit, just a place to upload an unofficial transcript and that’s it.

There’s also an onerous $250 application fee hinted at on the left sidebar that might just be a leftover from the regular UAI Study Abroad applications, but that might not apply because this Ritsumeikan program technically isn’t part of UAI‘s offerings. That fee wasn’t part of the original Ritsumeikan application, and isn’t listed on the website, but is standard for UAI exchanges (although my fee has been waived for the past two years since I paid for the Fall 2021 attempt and they’ve just allowed me to transfer that and my eligibility to Winter 2021, Fall 2022, and then now again to Fall 2023.)

I wonder if I will still need a reference from a Japanese instructor. I wonder if I can use my Classical Japanese instructor for that if so. That’s JAPAN 341, so it’s technically a Japanese course, even if it’s taught in English.

Work

Comparatively, work was quiet this week. I felt a bit burnt out so I was glad it was a mostly easy week. With two exceptions.

Firstly, on Tuesday, just before class, something exploded because Google quietly implemented a default 100 GB storage quota on all our Google Shared Drives while spouting some nonsense about helping manage upcoming storage limits. They apparently only sent the University one email about this, and it was sent to a generic account that receives hundreds of emails a day, instead of to our Google rep’s local contact, so it was missed and cause a big kerfuffle when departments all over campus started ringing in and saying that they could no longer do anything with their Shared Drives.

Our dev team eventually found the issue and changed the setting, but Google acted in a really scummy and unprofessional manner here. Part of the fallout from their budget cuts and firings recently, we suspected. Anyway this almost made me late for class, although our professor was even later than me (and had sent an email saying that she was going to be late about 15 minutes before the class, which I didn’t read until I was actually in the class because I was hurrying to class.)

Next, toward the end of the week, I was asked by my supervisor if I wanted to work on helping to vet resumes for our team’s job posting (local) again. I say again because I used to help with this many years ago, but that was curtailed because our department HR wanted our supervisor to be the only one with access to do it since it contained other people’s personal information and such. And because I was a little too good at digging up people’s secrets (I once found a reference to one of our applicants being a developer for spam software).

Now though, due to the Conservative government’s gutting budget cuts from the past few years, our department HR (and all other HR teams) had been consolidated into a central HR department which was far more hands-off, and my boss was far too busy since he now had to manage two teams conjoined into one, so he was happy to pass this one down to us again. I like doing this so I was happy about it too. This came in on Friday and will also likely be a good chunk of the next week.

Life

Not much happened this week that isn’t slotted into one of the other categories already. I did note this article (local) that states that Japan’s COVID fatality rate is the highest now that it’s ever been after reopening, and I wonder if that will mean anything for Summer and Fall since they tend to be a rather politically and culturally conservative (and timid) country. So far the government hasn’t shown any signs of kneejerk reactions to it though, so we’ll see.

In response to a question from Dad when I went over to my parents’ house during CNY celebrations, asking how my appeal to the Canadian Transportation Agency was going regarding the Air Canada debacle when I went to Singapore last May (event recounted here, and my appeal was filed in late June 2022). I hadn’t heard from them in ages, and I figured it was just abandoned or something, but nope. It’s just a really long queue. It’s been 7 months! And I’m still 8,839 in queue. No idea what the queue was like when I first filed the complaint though.

This section is miserably short this week, so here’s a picture of a life-sized er.. person I found discarded outside the Fine Arts Building on campus this week on my way back from the information session I mentioned above in the School section.

Games

The mainstay of the week was again Vintage Story for me, largely with Satinel, partially with Milumbar (before he left for some trip on the weekend), and a little bit with Heg, who picked up the game and who we then invited to come along to take a look at our house (and help us gather some materials). We’re into our second late fall/early winter now, and enough of the greenhouse is done that we have some protection for some crops that we want to try to grow through the cold season.

The game mechanics are seriously lacking though, they look great on the surface and there’s many nice small touches and innovative details I’ve never seen before in a (Minecraft-esque) game, but we already cannot wait for the next patch because there’s nothing to do with the high-end materials we’re getting, there’s no compelling reason to push on to forging steel because we can’t craft anything interesting with it anyway, and it’s mind boggling how some recipes can be created with equivalent metals but others cannot, like they just haven’t implemented a lot of the recipes yet. Some flowers can be used as alternate material to create dyes, and others cannot for no good reason. That sort of inconsistency. Oh and monster implementation is very poorly done, they’re unbalanced and irritating.

Our house is still very cozy and homely and I continue to hang out in there all the time though. There’s still plenty of puttering about processing ores and reinforcing our land that can be done. I’m really interested in how the game can evolve in the next few years too, the roadmap I’ve seen (or at least planned features I’ve heard about) look great, and mods will give the game a really long tail as well, they just have to get to the point where the game’s basic features are complete.

The day off from school also got partially reinvested in Genshin Impact, where I finally completed the Lunar New Year event this year (called The Exquisite Night Chimes) and also was made to tear up by some of the quest stories. It’s my favourite time of the year to play some Genshin, as I love their lunar events, so I used the momentum to also work on some of the dozens and dozens of world quests still incomplete in my quest log, finally unlocking Seirai Island and Tsurumi Island in Inazuma, which require specific quest chains to be done to even unlock the ability to explore them.

Here’s Paimon with a blog-worthy mood piece that I could have also put down in the Music section instead of here:

Our combined gaming group with Tes and Kay that had just finished Valheim was going to move into V Rising this week, but due to people being away, we are going to postpone that to next week instead. Instead, this week was spent helping them set up a Satisfactory map and getting them going on endless production lines and efficiency checks in the vein of Operations Management, for the greater good of mankind.

Because we were a little worried about being swept along by more experienced players in V Rising without having a chance to learn the ropes, I ended up playing a bit of that with Satinel as well, and then separately with Milumbar, just to learn the controls and see the flow of the game. We all agreed that we came out of it really liking the game though, more than we had expected at first, and we are looking forward to the joint gaming sessions.

Then Kay started up a dedicated server for it anyway, and we spent most of Saturday night playing that and starting a nice little castle. We even caught a stone golem as a pet!

Plushie of the Week #81 – Opal

My Plushie of the Week this week is a Squishmallow that my siblings asked about after seeing her hiding away in the corner of the group picture last week. Her name, for now, is Opal, and I picked her up on sale on Oct 19 2022, just before I left for Japan, from the new London Drugs store in Southgate for $11.99 plus tax, so $12.59 overall.

I had originally somewhat forgotten about her, as I had stuffed her into a bag once I got home that day (as all my stuffed animals were in a bag to prevent dust from collecting on them while I was away frolicking in Japan), and then left her there for a while until last week when I unpacked her for the group photo again. I literally got her less than 24 hours before I flew off, after all. Whoops. Still, she’s none the worse for wear, and now has several junior plushies since she predates the three new ones that came home with me from Japan.

This is Opal, from the front.

And back:

And underside. Aren’t her little tentacles cute?

Her tags look like this. Front of the first one:

Front of second one:

Back of second and front of third:

And lastly, her name is Opal because that was the default name given to her on the character tag that she came with. Here’s the front of said tag:

And back:

I had a spirited discussion with my siblings about the virtues of Squishmallows and honestly am tempted to pick up several more for the collection. Some of them are just so cute. I only have two right now, the other one being Starmiya from My Diary #015, and here’s a picture of the two of them chilling out together on my bed.

Song of the Week #58

Title: Yellow Rose
Artist: TINGS
Album: Shine Post Character Song Collection (2022)

I usually alternate between English/Instrumental and Japanese/Chinese/other non-English songs, but you know how sometimes you just fall in love with a song that you hadn’t heard in a couple months or years and can’t help but play it over and over again and revel in the memories from back then? That was what happened this week, with this 3rd ending song from Shine Post, an idol anime from the Summer 2022 season, which ended a week or so before I went to Japan.

Up until this point in the anime, Shine Post, that the song is from, the character the song is about (the song’s obviously framed around her with her blonde hair) had been struggling to keep up with the rest of the team and had been very hard on herself for various reasons while trying to do so, but here she gets thrusted into the spotlight as the center and main vocals for this song (which normally isn’t her role for the group) and nails it and then some.

Anyway, I’m not here to shill on or spoil the show, although it’s one of my favourite idol anime (next to Wake Up, Girls! and ahead of a lot of other big hitters in the genre that I love), but what I didn’t expect this week is to listen to it and not only get hooked on it again but to also shed a few tears just as I did when the scene originally played in the show itself. It’s not a typical idol song in that it’s more of a wistful ballad than a peppy bubblegum song, and the main vocalist (Yuuko Natsuyoshi) does a great job in carrying the rhythm and conveying the character’s pain. It’s achingly good, and I want to remember this feeling in this blog post. In particular, the “Can I bloom too?” about two and a half minutes in absolutely guts me each time.

The version of the song below is slightly different from the one in the show, which only has her doing vocals. The video below instead features a group performance of the song (with the group singing several of the individual in between lines), and since this is the full version of the song instead of the half-length version used in the show, the visuals in the first half of the video consist of actual footage from the anime (minus some editing by the uploader to try to make a version without credits) while the second half is all custom stuff using official art.

Writing Prompt of the Week #1

I haven’t introduced a new segment (or killed off an old one) since April of last year, so to waste even more time each week, I decided I wanted to do something new when I saw a pile of memoir writing journals at my local Indigo store in Southgate. Specifically, my personal favourite section each week is Memory Snippet of the Week, so I wanted something extra to give me more excuses to look back at and write down my thoughts about my past (and/or sometimes future) each week. While Memory Snippet is topicless and lets me write about anything that strikes my fancy on any given week, I realized that I could do a similar thing but with pointed guiding questions from one of these writing journals, and come up with a structured companion to and version of MSotW by writing down and answering one question each week.

With that said, the book I decided on was this one, The Story of My Life journal by Piccadilly. It cost me $16.99 (plus tax, so $17.84) from the Indigo Southgate store. Flipping through the book, not all the questions apply to me, and some of the questions have already been answered in past Memory Snippet segments, and some of them I don’t think I have actual good answers for, but I’ll still write them down anyway and give my thoughts on them where possible even if I plan to skip them. Some weeks will be better and more interesting (to me) than others, and that’s kind of the nature of the beast.

It’s easier showing by action rather than by words, so without further ado, I’m going to type out the preface, and then jump into the first question. This is my new segment, answering a weekly writing prompt question from the book entitled The Story of my Life — If a story is in you, it has to come out. (The last part is a subtitle printed on the cover page of the book.)

The preface reads as follows.

Every life is packed with stories worth telling, and no one can tell them better than the person who lived them. But when you sit down to put it all into writing, where do you begin? The blank page is the most intimidating and procrastination-inspiring part of any writing project. Luckily, this notebook clears that hurdle for you. In its pages, you’ll find prompts and exercises, written by a published writer, to help you bring your stories to life.

A good memoir is more than an autobiography that chronicles your existence; it’s a life on a page full of description and dialog, a window into your past. If you’re not a writer, even if you’ve never written before, don’t worry: these prompts and exercises are designed to coax out your inner storyteller with specific, guiding questions.

This book will create a record of your life, but it will also help you express who you are as a person, and how you become who you are today. Whether you’re writing down your life story for yourself, your close family, or for a wider audience, this book will guide you through the project and make your life story a joy to write and a pleasure to read.

Once you’ve done all of the prompts, you’ll have a wealth of memories, anecdotes, and personal knowlege to work wirth. The question is, what will you do with it?

it’s a little heavy-handed, but it also had to be written to a wide audience, so I understand that. It also uses the word chronicles, which is probably one of my favourite guiding words in life. I wonder if there’s a question in the book asking what my favourite word is and why. I certainly haven’t read through all its pages, nor even most of them, just some casual flipping of pages at best.

I have never been intimidated by a blank page, not even during school essay-writing time, but I do like some structure nonetheless, that’s why my entire blog is structured around smaller bite-sized segments. This is also a good time to mention that I’m also positioning this segment right before the Memory Snippets of the Week one, because this gives me the option to continue on with a side story or tangentially-related blurb in MSotW if I so choose.

Anyway, the questions in the book are divided into sections, and this first section has an introduction page that reads:

 Childhood & Family — Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. -Pablo Picasso

The first question is already kind of a difficult one, because I don’t think I can completely fill this in. I might come back to this one and add stuff to the page as I think of more, or better, things to add to it. But that’s fine, it’s a journal, after all. The question reads:

Make a basic timeline of your life. List the years of your life in increments of five, and write one short sentence that describes a major event that happened in each year. Fill in any major events in the gaps, like moves, births, and deaths. If any question in this book doesn’t apply to you, refer back to this list and write about something else.

I don’t really understand right now what they mean by fill in any major events in the gaps. What gaps? There’s no physical gaps on the paper, just one line for each year. Maybe they mean I can add additional blurbs for moves, births, and deaths even if I already have another significant event listed for the year. But again, the paper doesn’t really allow for this. You can actually see the page listed in the Amazon page above, archived here:

It’s literally one short line per year, so again.. what gaps? Oh well, whatever. Also what does it mean to “refer back to this list and write about something else”? I interpreted that as “use one of these lines as a prompt to write about if a question doesn’t apply to you.” And so that is what I shall do.

I guess I did add a lot of ado to this after all.

Anyway, this specific snippet is one I might come back to edit now and then, and the reason is that this is actually a good way to achieve one of my original goals of the blog, as currently stated on my front page (which I just edited):

The ultimate goal of the blog is to have a place where I talk about my life’s journey and how each individual part — my migration from Singapore to Canada, my depression and gender transition and subsequent happiness, my job, games I’ve played, anime I’ve watched, friends I’ve had, and everything else — influences each other and ties up together into one big package.

A year breakdown like this actually does help a ton, and is something I’ve wanted to do for some time, so I might come back here to continue to add and flesh out “layers” to it — think of it as a haphazard table of columns, with one row for each year, and one column dedicated to life events, one dedicated to school, one dedicated to games, and so on. But this actually takes a long time to build and would be an ongoing thing, especially the games section, as I remember more things to add. So here is my ongoing table, divided into groups of 5, with a year and then my age in brackets after each one.

1-5 years old

1984 (0)
Life: I was born in Singapore.

1985 (1)

1986 (2)

1987 (3)
Life: Family moved from Clementi 730 to Yishun 799. (~1987-~1992).
Travel: Our family travelled to London, England and Montreal, Canada. My earliest childhood memories come from here.

1988 (4)
People: My younger sister, Kel, was born.
People: This was also most likely the year I first met my babysitter, Auntie 795.

1989 (5)
School: I entered kindergarten (Jan 1989-Dec 1990).

6-10 years old

1990 (6)

1991 (7)
School: I entered my first primary school, Peiying Primary School (Jan 1991-Dec 1993).
Games/School: I picked up my first ever gamebook with a book award for topping the school in grades.

1992 (8)
Life: Sometime in 1992/early 1993, we moved from Yishun 799 to Yishun 723 (~1992-~1996).

1993 (9)
People: My younger brother, Jon, was born.

1994 (10)
People/School: I qualified for the GEP, and transferred to my second primary school, Rosyth School (Jan 1994-Dec 1996).

11-15 years old

1995 (11)
Travel: Our family visited Canada, stopping by Montreal and Toronto, as well as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1996 (12)
Games: I started playing Legend of the Five Rings (CCG).
School/Travel: I represented Singapore at an overseas math competition in Hong Kong.
Life: In late 1996/early 1997, we moved from Yishun 723 to Tampines 294 (~1996-1998).
Travel: In December, our family visited Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands in Malaysia.

1997 (13)
People/School: I entered my secondary school, Dunman High School (Jan 1997-Dec 1998). I am still in touch with many of them today.
Travel: In June, our family visited Canada, going to Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, and then Vancouver again before heading home.

1998 (14)
Games: I started playing Medievia.
Games: I was introduced to proper RPGs and the Might and Magic series in particular.
Life/School: Tigey came into my life.

1999 (15)
Games: I started playing Utopia.
Life/Travel: My family migrated to Edmonton, Canada. On March, we moved into our Edmonton 4012 house (1999-2011).
School: I entered my junior high school, Vernon Barford Junior High for half a year (Winter 1999-Spring 1999).
School: I entered my high school, McNally Composite High School (Fall 1999-Spring 2002).

16-20 years old

2000 (16)

2001 (17)

2002 (18)
Games/People: I met Lady Jinx, my first muse, online while playing on a MUD together.
School: I entered the University of Alberta for the first time (Fall 2002-Spring 2005).
Transition
: June of 2002 was when I learnt I was transgendered and what all the signs in my earlier life meant.

2003 (19)

2004 (20)
Games: I started playing Neopets.

21-25 years old

2005 (21)
School: I was forced to withdraw from the University of Alberta due to poor grades (Spring 2005).
School: I entered NAIT on a one year certificate program (Fall 2005-Spring 2006).

2006 (22)
Games/People/Work: Brad got me to start playing Dungeons and Dragons Online, my first MMO. There, I met Althenna, my second muse.
School: I graduated from my one year program at NAIT at the top of my class (Spring 2006).
People/Work: I did a summer work practicum at the University of Alberta, and first met Simon there.
People/Work: After the practicum, I then started working for my first department at the University after that (2006-2009), and met Brad there.

2007 (23)
Games: I started playing Lord of the Rings Online.

2008 (24)

2009 (25)
Work: I was let go from my department at the University of Alberta after they didn’t renew my contract (2006-2009).

26-30 years old

2010 (26)
Games: I joined a raiding guild (and allies) in Lord of the Rings Online, and would eventually become lifelong friends with many of them.
Transition: I talked to Mell, my third muse, in September about being transgendered. She’s the first person I ever told.
Work: I started working at the University of Alberta in the department that I ended up transitioning at (2010-2023).

2011 (27)
Life: I moved out of Edmonton 4012 to my own place, Edmonton 205 (2011-2023).
Transition: I first reached out to my doctor and the gender transition specialist in Alberta to start the transitioning process. I also told my parents.

2012 (28)
Games: I started playing Guild Wars 2.
People
/Work: I moved to a new team after a reorganization, and would remain here from 2012 to 2023 and meet Ronnie and many other people.
Transition/Work: I talked to my workplace (Hisham, then HR and execs, then Ronnie, then my teammates) about transitioning at work.
Transition: Near the end of the year, I started on female hormones for the first time.

2013 (29)
Games: I took over moderator work for our community server’s RvR forums in Guild Wars 2 for about a year.
Transition/Travel: I went to Portland, USA with Dad to get vocal cord surgery but cancelled it while I was there.
Transition/Work: In March, I came to work as a female for the first time, as part of the Real Life Test portion of transitioning.
Transition: In May, I had my male name legally changed to my female one with the government.

2014 (30)
Games: I quit my moderator position at our GW2 community server forums and passed on the torch to someone else just before my Seoul trip.
Games: I started playing ArcheAge with some GW2 friends, including Steffy, who would become my fourth muse.
Transition/Travel: I went to Seoul, South Korea to get vocal cord surgery but the clinic cancelled it while I was there.
Work: Between the South Korean trips in 2014 and 2015, I was off work for several months due to clinical depression.

31-35 years old

2015 (31)
Life: I started a Discord server for my LotRO friends, which has now been our main communication channel for years.
Transition/Travel: I went to Seoul, South Korea to get vocal cord surgery at the same clinic as 2014, and this time it worked out.

2016 (32)
Games/People: I met Satinel, my fifth muse, and we started playing Final Fantasy XIV together.

2017 (33)
Games/People/Travel: In May, I travelled to Minneapolis, USA for SGDQ and met a longtime online friend while there.
Transition: Public health funding for my vaginoplasty surgery was approved and I went to get my surgery in November.

2018 (34)
Life: At the behest of Satinel, I started watching anime in November.
Transition/Work: After several months off work to heal, I returned to work.

2019 (35)
Life: I reached out to Mindef in Singapore to start clearing up my National Service obligations.
Life: I started helping out as a moderator on a large subreddit’s Discord server.
Life: I started writing my Chihayafuru analysis posts on Reddit in February. This would span about 75 little posts/essays and stretch until March 2020.
School: I reapplied to school again to start learning Japanese, working on finally completing my degree, and going to study abroad.
School/Travel: I went to Jasper, Alberta with the University’s Outdoors Club.

36-40 years old

2020 (36)
Life: I broke ground on the current iteration of my blog, though weekly blog posts wouldn’t actually start until early 2021.
People: I reached out to old Dunman High friends over email to introduce my post-transition self and talk to them again.
People/School/Travel: I met Ran through the Summer Connect 2020 program and brought her to Banff, Alberta.
School: I applied to the Ritsumeikan Summer Japanese Program/Theme Studies in Japan course and was accepted, but it was cancelled due to COVID.
Work: As COVID hit, our work shifted from in-person to online remote work, and has remained that way ever since.

2021 (37)
Life: Mindef (more or less) granted me a retroactive exemption for my National Service obligations.
People/Travel: In October/November, I travelled around the USA and met several online friends in person for the first time.
School: In Winter 2021, I was both a full-time employee and full-time student at the same time.
School: I applied to study abroad at Sophia University for a year twice. Accepted both times, but both times cancelled due to COVID.
Travel: I travelled to Calgary for the Calgary Stampede and my first travel blog entry.

2022 (38)
School: I applied to study abroad at the National University of Singapore for a year, but this fell through due to student visa issues.
People/Travel: In May/June, I travelled to Singapore for 2 weeks for the first time in 23 years and met many old friends there.
People/Travel: In October/November, I travelled to Japan for the first time and met some old and new friends there.
Work: Our team was combined with the developer team that we regularly worked on issues together with.

2023 (39)
School: I applied to study abroad at both the RItsumeikan Summer Japanese Program as well as Sophia University for a year.
Work: I left my work to study abroad.

Funnily, this question has 3 lined pages dedicated to it in the book, and the book goes up to 81-85 years old, but only gives 4 lines for that last age bracket. There are no spare pages to continue writing in either. I guess they ummm… don’t expect people to have any more life events after that.

Anyway, this one actually takes/took a lot of digging and introspection to do (though I expanded it far beyond its initial scope) and I am sure I will add stuff to this over time. There are also several years where I’m not sure anything significant enough to mention here actually took place. I just need to do more research and fill stuff in as they come up.

When I do get weeks where the question in the book doesn’t apply to me at all, I will probably start taking a year and expanding on how the bullet points in each one interacted, so I better make sure this list is fleshed out as soon as possible! Also, subsequent writing prompts are a lot shorter in scope. This one just was a lot of fun to build out.

Memory Snippet of the Week #65

In keeping in thematic step with my new segment this week, I wanted to highlight one of my informal collections or “hobbies” I’ve been working on over the years, collecting stationery in the form of pretty journals and branded papers. Here’s a snapshot of a bunch of them laid out on my bed:

It’s not nearly an exhaustive list because I ran out of space. The journal I took along with me to Japan from My Diary #072, for example isn’t in the shot, nor is the jotter book mentioned in My Diary #074. There’s plenty of other ones I have that are not included in the shot as well, especially branded paper. I used to collect examples of nice branded paper from schools and events and such.

It’s a great cross-section of my life though, with lots of representation from my three Singapore schools (Peiying, Rosyth, and Dunman), some notebooks and diaries I doodled and wrote in when growing up, some from my working years, and even some from right now, from my second round of University classes. There’re modern Dunman High foolscap papers here from my Singapore trip which I specifically went to the school bookshop there to buy, a notebook from my Japan trip (the pink Fairy Tale Dream one at the bottom), and even a notebook from my South Korean trip a few years ago (immediately to the right of Fairy Tale Dream). I don’t think I bought anything from my USA trip in October 2020, unfortunately, so that trip isn’t represented here. The Akebi book in the middle was mentioned in My Diary #046 too.

Sometimes I buy these notebooks because I like the cover, other times because I like the paper inside, or perhaps it’s a plain notebook that just happens to have lots of meaning to me because I’ve been using it for a long time. I don’t really buy them just to keep them, either, as the vast majority of the books are at least partially written in.

Now’s probably a good time to transition into one specific memory snippet. I had passingly mentioned having a minor memory regarding Centrepoint back in Day 5 of my Singapore travel blog series, when I visited the shopping centre after meeting Paulene, and it actually involves that light green notepad in the middle bottom of the picture that reads “I made it through the Amazing Maze”.

My one endearing memory of Centrepoint is that at one point they had set up a maze for children in the mall, and completing the maze within a certain period of time would net you a prize. The maze had doors that opened in one direction but couldn’t be opened from the other side. I’m not sure if the maze was lose-able, though there were definitely exit doors that led “out” of the maze but were not the proper exit, but I tried it as an 8 or 9 year old kid and did win that notepad, although my method for getting through the maze involved prying open one of the “one direction only” doors with my fingers at one point and going back the wrong way through that door, because it wasn’t properly closed shut all the way…

I still remember coming out of the maze to a wide open area where I then received my slightly tainted prize though. And while I have used some pages from it, I still have the notepad today!

Last Year’s Entry #34

My corresponding diary entry from last year is My Diary #039. This was published on Feb 06 2022.

That’s quite a jump in tuition fees for one course from last year to this one. I didn’t opt out of medical and dental this year, because I wasn’t sure if or when I was going to leave the University, but the other difference is the reinstated U-Pass program, which gives free transit on my Arc card (local) as long as the semester is active. Nice to get around with, but it cost $180 more on top of everything else. In fact, I may as well tape a photo of the full fee breakdown in this scrapbook journal too for future generations to see, so here goes:

I love both my balcony rods (and the ability to close my curtains at night) as well as my actual curtains themselves, they’ve been such a big part of my mental wellness and I still feel glee whenever I look at them. I liked all those curtains I listed still though. Hopefully the next house I live in after I come back from Japan and settle down again will allow me to have some (more) fun options for curtains.

I am no longer calling Dad once per week, those conversations devolved into his rubbish Conservative political views too often, although I did find out that even he drew the line at supporting Trump on most issues and recognized how bad he was in general. Still didn’t stop him from having extreme views on some things though.

I actually tried to teach the ChatGPT bot (local) how to play Speed Scrabble earlier this week or late last week, but while it could regurgitate and restate the rules just fine, it couldn’t even generate a proper string of anagram+1 words, never mind the more advanced rules about combining words.

Dreams

While I had a full roster of dreams this week again, they were by and large much weaker diary entries. Lots of random snippets and nothing that I was proud to show Satinel in the morning or anything. If I were to rate them on a scale of 10, I don’t think any of them scored more than a 5/10.

Jan 30 2023
  • Tonight was my last night in Kyoto, and I was being driven to a school campus by someone with my bags to meet my friends and parents for a farewell party there, before Dad would drive me away from the area and back home.
  • On the way there, we passed some quiet residential side streets which were reminiscent of the area outside my Edmonton 4012 home. We passed by the tiniest of kittens running around by the side of the road in the snow, and we later passed by a discarded cardboard box at the side of the road as well, and I wondered if we would run into the kitten on the way back as well, at which point maybe I could ask Dad to stop so we could catch and rescue the kitten.
  • We also passed a traffic intersection in a commercial area where I could look to one side and see glittering city lights from lowrise 1-2 storey buildings. I recalled that Tokyo had a very similar campus, with a moderately similar view, but there were a lot more highrise buildings there.
  • When we arrived at the campus, I went into a room where there was a party going on, involving a lot of people I didn’t know, but there were also a group of people there that I did recognize as my friends, though I don’t specifically remember who any of them were now. I went over and sat on a cushion with my bags next to me and hung out with them for a bit.
  • There was a TV showing an ice hockey match, where the Edmonton Oilers were helping out some junior national team playing against a conglomerate of other professional teams, so they were vastly outgunned and likely to lose. I found out over dinner later on that they actually won though, 3-2, in overtime.
  • After hanging out with my friends in the room for some time, I left the room with my bags, feeling a bit lonely as I stepped out into the quiet street. There was a sign outside the door listing a couple other places that were supposedly part of the same farewell party as well, like a restaurant next door, and I went on tiptoes to peek in through a glass pane with a horizontal lattice on it, and saw a few patrons at tables eating by themselves, as well as a lot of empty tables. Not quite a party.
  • Another of the listed party locations was another restaurant across the road, and there was where I had been slated to meet my parents for dinner. I went in there to find that it was equally as empty. Mom was already seated at a table eating rice and mapo tofu, and she offered some to me, which I had. She offered me a refill of rice as well but I declined for the moment as I wanted to finish what I had first before committing to more.
  • Dad eventually came and started eating as well. He complained that due to old age, he always felt thirsty now and even drinking lots of water didn’t seem to slake that thirst much. Mom and I encouraged him to drink the water anyway, as his body still needed the water, and some portion of it must still be retained as it went through his system. And perhaps by drinking more he could eventually retrain his thirst receptors again. I thought to myself that I really appreciated feeling young and comfortable and not plagued with permanent physical problems like he was.
  • Mom offered me a second helping of rice again to go with my mapo tofu at that point and I accepted, as I was almost done my first bowl.
  • Snippet: In an earlier dream, there was some convoluted plot about blocks that need to be transported around from one place to another within a certain amount of time or moves. Among other people, there were four brothers who travelled together doing this, but because they were always together, they only counted as one active character in the “game”, and they could toggle between any of the four of them to make the toggled brother the active character and the other three brothers invisible/inactive.
  • In this way, they could get past certain obstacles, for example, there was a scene where the smallest brother was the only one who could fit through a window in the side of the building, so they toggled to him and he forward rolled out of the window with a block and landed nimbly on the ground outside, before they switched to the eldest brother, who had the largest stride, to move the block out towards the building’s gate to minimize the number of steps taken.
  • Also in that same dream, near the end, there was a scene where some sort of being floated up to the clouds to talk to a giant flying whale with a big smile who was apparently itself some sort of god watching over the land.
  • I also remember at some point some pencil lead falling out of a mechanical pencil and my efforts to gather them up and put them into the pencil again.
Jan 31 2023
  • I was part of a team of 6-8 friends in some sort of game world based on a modern day city with superhero themes. We were apparently really skilled, but there were a lot of people in the city and while many of them were regular powerless NPCs, there were also a good share of other characters who had their own means of fighting back. I don’t believe that there were any other players, though.
  • We set up a kill zone downtown around the base of a tall office building, and then proceeded to have me and another person be scouts and lurers, to lure any passersby back toward that kill zone, while everyone else on the team stayed behind to actually defeat the people who got lured in.
  • However, no deaths were involved. This was actually an event that we had run once before in the past to much critical acclaim from the citizens, and this was the second time we were running it, a surprise, unannounced event to both test the resilience of the city against foreign attacks, as well as a chance for people to meet and fight the superhero team protecting them. The object of the game for us was to defeat everyone that came our way, and each defeated citizen would have to kneel down in the kill zone area and was worth 1 point to our team.
  • Many people came by to simply surrender and give us points, even moms with their kids that happened to be passing by, while others formed teams and came to give their best shot at fighting us as well, but to no avail for them. It was all very festive and a very popular event.
  • For me and the other scout, the two of us were extremely mobile and speedy, but we couldn’t actually defeat people outside the area as they wouldn’t count for points, so we had to be doubly sure not to get hit while “aggroing” people and bring them back toward the rest of the team, since many of them were also trying to attack us as well. I was dressed in a snug jerkin and pants and had on a pair of roller skates, although I’m not sure that I actually used them for movement.
  • The goal of our team was to get 320k points, as that was apparently around the score that we got the first time we held this event. Getting 320k points would push the event into “tier 2” status, whatever that meant, although our female leader said that she was thinking of pushing the event to tier 2 status early in order to hype up the kneeling crowd even more.
  • Snippet: Much later on, perhaps as part of the same world or perhaps not, I remember a specific scene where me and some friends were fighting and trying to subdue a female enemy, and I had already even put handcuffs on her, but she still managed to bite or injure me somehow, and afflicted a Pregnancy debuff on me that made me instantly lose all my powers. I had my team there to help me so I was fine anyway, but had to wait around for the debuff to wear off before I could do anything again.
  • Snippet: Even further on, I and a male friend were fighting a male member of the mafia who was wielding a large laser sword. All three of us were flying around in the air around a tall, abandoned office or apartment building, and one of our goals was to destroy that building in search of something that possibly had to do with the colour pink. Anyway both my partner and I had a utility skill that among other things could slowly damage the building, and he had been using the skill on the building whenever its cooldown was up, but the mafia member was chasing me around so I was using another effect of the skill purely for avoidance and having the mafia member taking out the building by flying next to the exterior walls and roof and dodging his blows when they came, which instead then sliced open portions of the building like a loaf of bread.
Feb 01 2023
  • I only remember some very small snippets. One was being in a field and planting some herbs. A second was being in a public toilet in an apartment building and being checked on occasionally by Mom and Kel, who were living in a unit next to the toilet. The last was being on a bus and being accosted by a woman seated beside me, who gave me a handout with a website that she wanted me to visit as she claimed it would be helpful for whatever I was trying to do at the time, but that turned out to be full of ads. I refused to entertain her request and closed the tab after seeing the first few ads loading, telling her a firm “No” when she tried to persuade me again. The handout also had listed the site 4 times, but 3 of them were wrong, they pointed to an old link that must have been her previous site before it got suspended, and she must have forgotten to change it to the new link when editing the old ad. Only the fourth link was correct.
Feb 02 2023
  • I dreamt that both Discord itself, and a Discord server that I help moderate, had an update that added new features. For one, the server now popped up with a list of rules and a popup box when a new user first joined it, and they had to chat a “Yes” into the box before the server would grant them access to the rest of the server. I could now also finally kick someone from the server while also erasing their posts automatically, which was previously only reserved for a ban. I or one of the other mods accidentally granted someone (named Blayer) moderator powers instead of kicking them when we tried to test it out on the first person to break a rule, though. Thankfully they were AFK and so didn’t get a chance to misuse it before we caught and fixed the error.
  • Snippet: A little snippet I remember involved going to something that looked like a school tuckshop and trying to order food from one of the stalls there. I remember noting that it looked like the stalls also had a technological upgrade, but I don’t remember the exact context of how or what was upgraded.
  • Snippet: Another snippet involved going down the escalator into an underground train station and watching the train close its doors when I was halfway down. The train had been delayed and so was quite full though, so I was not upset at missing it and was going to wait for the next one anyway.
  • Snippet: I also remember a bunch of chairs similar to my computer chair, but with four wheels on the bottom of the legs, all tucked in under a long table set against a wall of some kind.
Feb 03 2023
  • I was seated on a bus next to a black man when he suddenly turned to me and asked if I knew anyone named Warsong and Essence. I did — they were character names of a nice couple that I used to hang out with in the PvP zone really early on in LotRO‘s lifespan, and who used to lead raids in there, but eventually left the game a few months or so after release. They also had a kid who played, whose character was named Aleste, and my bus seat neighbour said that that was him.
  • I was surprised that he knew who I was, but he pointed out that my bag had a small pink badge buttoned to it with the name “Shiara” on it, and that he recognized the name. He asked for the badge to show his mom, Essence, and I gave it to him.
  • Overall, he was rather curt and not too friendly, but it felt like a “not very good at talking” personality thing rather than a “didn’t want to talk” situation. He also mentioned that both his parents were now getting on in age.
  • I wanted to tell people, especially Kynji and Eralain since I felt like they in particular would remember those people, so once we had parted ways and I had gone home, I logged onto Discord and let them know. I don’t remember any reaction from any of them though.
  • After a bit, someone came online and asked if anyone wanted to play something. Kynji, Gibbs, and Eralain all apologized saying that they were all already in the middle of playing something. I was also playing something by myself at that point so I also chimed in with an apology.
  • The next day, I somehow met Aleste again, this time on a train. He returned me my badge, and said that he was taking his mom on a trip somewhere in a few days, and she was really looking forward to that, whereas his dad would stay at home and look after the house, and he conversely was very happy about that as well as travelling would have been too taxing for him.
  • Snippet: I was at the bottom of a HDB flat with another man, and we saw a Japanese woman living on the third floor come down and look around quizzically. It turns out that she needed to calibrate her radio so sound was being piped to the 19th floor or so according to some law that she was bound by, but there were two sound conduits that she could tune her radio to, one that led to the ground floor, and the other that led to the 19th floor. The other man and I told her that we’d help her, so we both floated up to the 19th floor as she adjusted the radio in her 3rd floor apartment and both gave her a thumbs up once it was set up correctly.
  • Snippet: I was in an elegant white dress walking along the side of the road, in a little side story where I was playing a rich lady or princess character who was about to get robbed. The object of the game was that I was carrying three pouches on my waist, one each on my left and right hips and one in front of me by my belly. Each one carried $500. A man on a motorcycle would drive by me on either my left or right side, and I had to hold on to the two nearest pouches to him to prevent him with my two hands from stealing it as he reached out to grab them. I also knew that I couldn’t fight back against him or I would be kidnapped and dragged to a nearby room to be taught a lurid lesson by him and his friends.
  • Snippet: There was a tree at one point that I stood next to and patted. I don’t remember the context of the overall quest but that tree required a 600 degree Celsius tool to be able to penetrate its bark and chop its wood, and I had nothing of that sort on me.
  • Snippet: The game world I was in for most of the night could also be set to different levels of danger, and some of the levels unlocked different characters that I could play as. For example, one of them unlocked a pirate girl wielding a whip whom I could use as my player character in that specific difficulty level.
Feb 04 2023
  • I remember being in a ground-floor house by myself at night as Mom and Dad were out travelling. There was a mild sense of danger so I had planned to just lock all the doors and hope that the time would pass quickly.
  • Two men came to the door carrying a cardboard box package sealed with tape, and I could see them coming because most of the front door and side wall was made of glass that allowed me to look onto the main street and the building corridor leading to my apartment.
  • I went to meet them at the front door, which was actually just a waist-high glass gate that we could talk and reach over without me actually opening it, and they gave me the package, then told me to sign off on some hi-tech device they had to signify that I had received it. I did so, and they then left without incident. Opening the package, it was full of vegetables sent here by my parents from wherever they were.
  • I then looked up and found Mom standing beside me. She said she had stopped by and come home temporarily to help me while they were travelling between two locations, and asked if everything was alright. I said yes, but I asked for her help in locating some item in the house that I wanted to help protect myself, and she pointed out where it was being kept. There had been a whole side plot earlier in the day with some friends regarding me trying to find some variation of that item, but we had all failed, and I hadn’t realized that it was just sitting on a shelf in plain sight together with a bunch of other things until she pointed it out.
    – Snippet: Just before I woke up, I remember being in a plowed field of crops, waiting for something to grow so that it could be harvested.
Feb 05 2023
  • Jon, Kel, and I were playing some sort of game that ended up with us driving around on a cart in a golf course, and Jon used a bazooka to take out another golf cart of people that either were chasing us, or that we were chasing.
  • For this, a millionaire who owned the course and many other companies and buildings caught up with us and made the three of us kneel down inside a nearby restaurant building — he then started to lecture us on how we had destroyed his family and launched into a tirade about society at large and the woes that a millionaire faced.
  • He pointed to a nearby house outside and across from the building we were in and said that that was one of his spare homes and it was lucky we didn’t destroy that with his bazooka as well. He said he went there often to relax. He said he could go over there right now and fetch something and come back if he wanted, and then pulled a car starter button out of his pocket and pressed it to show us how the house doorbell rang when he did so, as proof that he owned it.
  • This lecture was apparently also filed as a scheduled class thing for Jon, but an extra-curricular thing for both me and Kel. A coordinator for the program came up with some bread for Jon and he thanked her for that, even as the millionaire was still blathering away. She offered Kel and I some food too but we shook our heads and said it would soon be over and we would have a lunch break anyway.
  • The millionaire eventually glanced over at Jon and saw him looking down at his phone on the floor under him even though he was kneeling down. Jon was apparently fiddling with three phone games that he had downloaded, one of them called Cat’s Paws, and the other two with names that also started with Cat’s, so they were likely all from the same game series.
  • He yelled at Jon from that, who finally stood up and started arguing back with him. I also piped up and made a snide comment about him and money that gave him pause and made him throw a death stare my way before continuing with Jon, who was surprisingly holding his intellectual ground despite being around 12 years old or so.

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