Happy birthday, my precious, dear friend! You turned 25 this week on Jun 21. Yet you look no older than the day you were born. What’s your secret? Oh right, you’re a largely inanimate object.
Entry #098 (Jun 25 2023)
One potentially very significant thing happened this week, which is that I noticed that housing applications for the second round of dormitory placements at the official Sophia dormitories started. Information for it was at this page (local), though the URL spells “recruitment” wrong so I expect they’ll fix it some year and the link above will break. Specifically, I applied for the Sophia-Arrupe International Residence, which is only ten minutes from the University itself or so by walking distance, which is probably about 15 minutes by walk from Sophia. I had looked at this place before when I did my housing roundup post ages ago, and I’ve walked around the neighbourhood a couple times now so I’m somewhat familiar with the area, even if I haven’t specifically walked to/from the house the way I have the Sakura Houses.
I picked this house partly because of their proximity to the school, which is slightly closer than the Sakura House place that I reserved, so I won’t need a bus or train pass to get to and from school either, but also partly because of their Living Group thing, which would be a cohort of sorts, at least on a semester-by-semester basis, consisting of different kinds of Sophian students. That RSJP experience and meeting Zian really opened my eyes to how that sort of thing can be beneficial.
Still, there are downsides to a place like this, like sharing the public facilities with a lot more people, and a higher chance of things like noise and hygiene problems. So I’m not completely sold on it. It’s also significantly smaller than my Sakura House place would be, at 9m² and change instead of 13.2m², though it’s also slightly cheaper at 95k (plus inflated first month “entrance fee”) as opposed to 110k (without any extra fees, I think), but with no option to find a roommate and split the fee in half. However, part of the reason I applied in the end is that I like to leave the decision up to fate/the gods — if it were a 100% acceptance rate of application at this point, I still probably wouldn’t have applied yet and would have waffled right up until the final application day next week.
But not only are there only a limited amount of alloted spots for this round of applications, I’m not even actually sure if I am allowed to apply this round — I had said no to all the housing options in the initial Sophian application form back in late March, and this round does say: “The following current or incoming students at Sophia University are eligible to apply: Degree students (Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students); Non-Degree Students; Foreign Special Research Students; Research Students.” whereas on the application form itself, the categories listed are Undergraduate Regular Student, Master’s Course Regular Student, Doctoral Course Regular Student, Research Student, Exchange Student, Non-degree Student, and Other.
Does that mean exchange students aren’t eligible for this second round, or is it just that it’s usually not for them but they’ll be considered anyway, or is it a very Japanese thing of not being that great at the subtle points of English and not listing all possible options? Who knows. It does mean I might not even be eligible for this round of application, since they might already have allocated all the exchange student spots that they want to in the initial first round. But the form does support Exchange Student as an option anyway, though it might be a weeding out thing at this point (though I’m pretty sure from the Sophian application that we’re also considered non-degree students). So it’s all very confusing and unclear.
And you know what? That’s perfectly fine by me. I can’t change the past and I’m not completely sold on this anyway, but this is exactly the sort of fate roll that I like when I cannot make up my mind on a decision by myself, so I assembled my best application (the application consisted of, among other things, three questions with short writing segments of under 150 English words) and pitched the ball to the dormitory gods anyway. If I do get in, great, and if I don’t, great. It’s not like I don’t have another suitable place to live at already (and conversely, I’ve booked that other place but haven’t actually paid for it yet). I always assume the worst, so I don’t expect to get it, but it’s no loss for me at this point to try.
The receipt email says that “We will let you know the result of selection on Monday July 14, 2023 by email.” July 14th isn’t a Monday though, but the website above does clarify this, saying that the Notice of Result will be on “July 14 (Fri.), 2023”. So I’ll know about the result by My Diary #101!
In minor news, I had signed up for some Sophia University online event thing:
What is this? Will it be good? Will it be bad? Will I get to meet interesting people? Will it be one of those really awkward events where 6 people turn up? Who knows. It does seem to be in English though, and it’s basically at 5 to 6 am on Monday morning, just before my weekly chat with Zian, so why not, I figured. This is organized by COIL Sophia (local), and I’d never heard of the COIL, or Collaborative Online Interactive Learning, program before, but my exchange coordinator, Michal, sent that brochure to me a couple weeks ago since I’m an incoming student to Sophia now, so I plan on wandering in to check it out.
I noticed that I still had 3 credits to go for my Certificate in International Learning thing, and inquired as to whether my RSJP program would count toward that or not. The answer was no, but the coordinator helped me adjust my claims so that the second language competency part of my certificate used Chinese instead of Japanese, which freed up me being able to use last semester’s Japanese 341 course on Classical Japanese for my final 3 credits for this certificate. So now all I have left is my capstone project, a 1000-1500 word personal essay on my experience (and a quick informal presentation on it). For comparison, this School session of this blog post alone is 1113 words long, so this won’t be too difficult. Apparently some people do do more complex and time-consuming things with it though, and that would be interesting except I’m going overseas shortly and would have a lot more things to do once I get back before graduation. So probably just an essay.
This was my first week back at work, and it was a fairly quiet one, since I’ve just been relegated to doing day to day tickets for the most part. And this is fine for me, since my heart isn’t really in my work right now after my RSJP experience, and because I only have two more months or so before I leave for good. It’s been a wild ride coming back and seeing a bunch of questions that I know I used to know the answers to but have forgotten in my couple months off, though. Although only one other person on the team seems to be regularly answering Service Desk questions (which is an ongoing problem with our team) so I had to jump into our shared chat with both feet several times this week anyway.
The highlight of the week was the team picnic on Friday, and despite a lot of worrying about the weather forecast, the weather held off just fine, and there was actually no rain from Thursday through Saturday. Well, I lie, it drizzled a tiny bit near the start of the picnic event, when people were still arriving, but that was all the rain we got in the end. (Pity, I like the rain).
The event was scheduled for 11 am to 4 pm or so, but I arrived at 10:28 am to book a table, which was about perfect because a horde of kids arrived with their chaperones at 10:30 am and claimed all the remaining unclaimed tables at the corner of the park we were going to be at — there were about 100 kids in all.
It was quite a sight to see them flooding in. They stayed until about 12:50 pm before leaving.
Everyone more or less arrived on time and the table was soon covered in food that people brought:
At that point all the hot dogs that Ronnie brought had been consumed, though there were a lot of buns leftover still. Ronnie also brought the condiments, several types of drinks, and a few boxes of mini cupcakes. I brought a box of steamed buns from Yan’s Family Restaurant near my house, Emily brought some chips and dip, and Babita brought a box of Timbits from Tim Horton’s. I didn’t notice it then, but outside of Ronnie, all the girls brought stuff to share and none of the guys did. Teehee. Oh well, it wasn’t marked as a potluck or anything, and we didn’t exactly finish the food anyway, it was just an interesting split there.
Depending on if we have any more team picnics in the next couple months, and depending who goes (or if I even end up going myself), this might have been the last time I see some of these people in person. The picnic itself was fun enough, it was nice to see everyone, although once the food was done, the conversation devolved into TV and movies stuff for over an hour, something that I don’t have any experience in and had absolutely no input in, so it became extremely boring and I sat back to use my phone and answer some work chats that had come in in the meantime instead. The cell connection there was rather terrible but it worked out.
The way the circle kind of worked out, I ended up sitting on the bench behind and outside the circle itself, since it was a convenient, central place for the food while the grill was going, but this became inconvenient once the picnic turned into a social circle, since that seat was outside of the impromptu circle or deck chairs that had formed. The person I was seated behind was never self-aware enough to move their chair to the side so I had space to join the circle, and then, about halfway through, even randomly opened a large umbrella as shade from the sun that basically blocked my view of half the circle and made it so I might as well have not been there. No one else was cognizant of this, and I was not socially forward enough myself either to force my way into the circle, nor was I interested in the movie conversation as it dragged on anyway, so about an hour later I excused myself and headed on home early.
It was nice to see them again, but it did remind me that I don’t consider any of them close friends and probably won’t end up more than slightly missing them after I go, since we don’t share enough similarities or time (this is partially my fault, of course, since relationships are a two-way street) to chat or play meaningfully outside of work, never mind visit or get invites to each other’s houses. Yet, at least, but at this time I’m pretty much out of runway anyway. And maybe that’s for the best, since I’ve learnt that separation pain can be like ripping a plaster off the skin.
To top it all off, I discovered that my free student bus pass on the Arc Card had expired at the end of April. For some reason I had thought that it persisted through Spring and Summer since the old version of the bus pass prior to the Arc Card did. So the train/bus ride to and from there, as well as the ride to/from the airport for my RSJP/Japan trip, all did cost money and was quietly withdrawing funds from my Arc Card. At least, unlike Kyoto, we have a transfer system where subsequent rides are free if you board a second bus or train within 90 minutes after the previous one or something.
It wasn’t a terrible experience or anything, but I’m not really sure I’ll go to another one of these even if one is held, partly since it now definitely costs a bit more money too, on top of more potentially awkward interactions. I’ve never been good at group social gatherings, only one-on-one, as loud and talkative people tend to tread all over me. We’ll see though. Oh, and I did discover (or re-discover) that I have a nice black and pink foldable umbrella that I actually like and might bring along to Japan with me. Although its structural integrity isn’t great so I’m not sure it’ll last very long.
Here’s a couple extra pics:
No frisbee games or anything like that this time!
I went out several times this week, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening. Of note was Jun 21st, Tigey‘s birthday, which was also the summer solstice. It was neither the longest day of the year nor the latest sunset here in Edmonton though, but it’s close, we’re basically in the best time of the year here for gloriously bright mornings and evenings. See the following list from this site (local), which WordPress really hated me trying to upload a local screenshot for (but at least now in that local link above, you can find a full list of projected sunrises and sunsets for Edmonton in 2023 from the future if you bother with that sort of stuff):
It’s also a very noisy time of year, by the way, the birds are always really loud and out in force this time of year, especially in the mornings. It’s one of the things that has really stood out for me after coming back from Kyoto, that I perhaps hadn’t really noticed or paid attention to in past years, despite being all about mindfulness and stuff.
Anyway, I went out at around 9:30 pm of Jun 21st to the nearby Safeway to buy stuff for a late dinner, and I enjoyed the rays of sunset that showered down on the city that evening. Here are some random pictures from the day. At 9:27 pm:
Edmonton skies are so pretty this time of year. If I were to align myself with one of the four nature elements (between Air, Earth, Fire, and Water), it would definitely be air — I love the wind, the clouds, and the wide open sky, during the day and night and everything else in between.
I also saw this on the way home:
A clothing donation bin! This is great — they used to be present around Southgate during the summer, but I hadn’t seen one in a couple years, I assume due to COVID-19. I have extra clothes I need to get rid of before I leave for Japan, but I had no good way to get rid of them besides lugging them half an hour to the nearest Goodwill donation center, or quietly dumping them all in the general trash bin, which would have been a colossal waste of resources. I’ll need to take care of this within the next week or two in case the bin disappears again.
That evening, I also tried making fried bee hoon, or vermicelli:
I used a simple Economy Bee Hoon (local) recipe, but it wasn’t particularly tasty, though it looked good. This is about what I expected though — I believe economy bee hoon, which can be found in SIngapore, is supposed to be more like a base meal paired with other side dishes to provide taste anyway, else it’s just a couple steps up from eating plain rice, so I just put a dollop of chilli sauce on it and that worked for taste. I do need to experiment with better sauces as well as other more tasty standalone recipes that also don’t take a ton of prep time though. The problem with searching for Singapore noodle recipes online is I get a lot of hits for the fake Singapore Noodles dish, which actually has nothing whatsoever to do with Singapore itself.
Here are a couple more random photos I took out and about during the week too. This one is from Monday, the 19th, while on the way to the local Chinese supermarket:
This one is from Thursday, when I went to the library (and the steamed bun shop next to it, visible in the picture):
And this one from Friday, while waiting for the bus on the way home from the team picnic:
I guess I went out every weekday this week except for Tuesday. On that library trip, I borrowed a Japanese book on seasonal food and recipes to browse through. This one, titled 四季を楽しむおいしいおべんとう. Apparently Amazon’s title translation tool needs a bit of work. It should translate to something like Enjoying the Four Seasons with Delicious Bento Box Lunches or something like that. And probably not “Four Seasons It In Your Delicious Blah, Blah. Bringing.” I mostly grabbed it to look to see what level my Japanese understanding is at, and to see if I can mine some cooking-related vocabulary words out of there, and maybe even a reicpe or two if I’m lucky. One of our textbook chapters in the RSJP classes had to do with seasonal (i.e. holiday-related) foods though, so I thought it would be interesting. I haven’t actually started the book though.
The CD I sent Mart arrived at his house in Switzerland on Saturday this week, 8 days after I sent it without tracking. That cost $10.89 base shipping plus a $1.25 volumetric weight charge, in Canadian dollars, plus $1.79 for the bubble mailer and $0.09 for tax, so that was pretty good.
And lastly for pictures, here’s Tigey‘s official birthday picture this year:
Isn’t he the cutest grey tiger ever? I mean white tiger.
I had my first weekly video chat with Zian this week, nice and bleary-eyed early on Monday, although it might be more accurate to say that we had our first week-long break after a chat since we met since we haven’t talked since, besides a bit of a chat on Tuesday. I don’t like the long break, and still miss hanging out with her quite a bit, to the point that she turns up in my dreams on many nights, but I don’t have much of a choice and it’ll probably get better over time. I still feel a bit empty when I go out and realize that I’m all by myself with no one else here by my side.
It was a very nice and chill chat in our respective beds though, and I did even get to chat with Zian‘s mom a bit this week, and got a standing invite to drop by and say hi if I was ever in Beijing, though that might have been just a standard politeness thing. After that brief exchange, Zian said she had never heard me speak so much Chinese in one go, and I laughed at that. I look forward to our chat next week.
I did read this article (local) that claims, as a guideline, that “…it takes between 40 and 60 hours to form a casual friendship with someone in the first six weeks of knowing them; between 80 and 100 hours to transform a casual friend into a friend; and more than 200 hours to transition from friends to good or best friends.” And yeah, we’re definitely friends, but I don’t know how to get to the next level with our schedules being the way they are.
After the first couple days of the week, my sleep schedule got a lot better, but I’m still feeling very tired in the afternoon and often take a nap somewhere along the way, either before or after our group watch anime and AMQ sessions, and then end up either going to bed later or waking up earlier than I like. I had an afternoon nap nearly every weekday this week. I also had a couple sleepless or near-sleepless nights, particularly at the start and at the end of the week, which was weird and made the next day difficult.
I am ending my Last Year’s Entry section of the blog, since I’ve already gone through and tweaked my first year of entries under the guise of committing to doing that section every week, and that goal has already been achieved. There’s lots of things I still need to tweak, but I want to do them separately from that section, which was too formal and restrictive for me. I can still comment on past year blog entries in other parts of the blog though, and as and when I have time I will occasionally look backwards for inspiration. I might even resurrect the segment now and then. But all that will be done at my leisure, and not as part of a rigid schedule.
On a related note, I’m definitely not going to do a daily post once I go to Sophia for my study abroad, but weekly seems too slow as well, so I might start off with a daily post until things settle down, and then move to a biweekly or occasional as-I-feel-like-it posting schedule, which would probably be somewhere between 1 and 3 times a week. Or maybe I will do a post a day for 300+ days and flood my blog with mundane daily life stuff so Satinel and Jah don’t get too lonely. I just changed my tune between writing the start and end of this paragraph huh. Well, we’ll see.
And lastly, I don’t know if I’ve just been unlucky or what, but three of my four bus rides on public transportation this week have felt so bumpy and teeth-rattlingly rough that I felt like I had to clutch on to something for dear life or fall over, and one of them even made me feel dizzy afterwards. This was so weird, I’d never felt like this before prior to going to Kyoto, and I took a lot of bus rides there with no issue too.
Satinel and I played quite a bit of Barony this week during our mutually free evenings, and finally got past what I thought was the end of the game but turned out to just be the halfway point of the game. I guess it was the end of the game under the original Classic mode run, but they’ve since added a second half of the game so you can take your absurdly powerful characters and smash them against more absurdly powerful monsters. The real losers in this situation are the little NPC lackey companions we find along the way who are dressed in paper and get murdered by a variety of environmental hazards or monsters that so much as look their way though. Especially if said monster was a cockatrice.
Jah also had a special Jah Stream Night stream this week, for a game called King of the Castle. Five of us from our Discord server joined him, as did a bunch of people from other Twitch streams since he played late enough that other community streams were winding down by the time we started. It turned out to be quite the interesting experience, a mix between co-op and friendly versus, with what seemed to be a good, small game community of players, external to our group, that we had no idea existed until that night itself. We laughed a lot at the random events and various proceedings as we jostled with each other and tried to get him to implement this or that policy or get other people to vote for our own self-interests. In the end, there was much mayhem and chaos in the kingdom, but it seemed that everyone had fun.
From a personal point of view, I finished all the existing content there is in Honkai Star Rail, so… great stuff, but there’s no more of it for now besides running dailies to strengthen my characters, I guess. This despite the 6 week break I took to go to Kyoto. I also played a solitaire-based game called Ancient Enemy, which is passable but not very good. It has Puzzle Quest-style game systems though, where you do enough matches of a certain type to power up a skill of that type before you can then fire off that skill against the enemy, and I do like that particular game system.
Plushie of the Week #94 – Narako
Narako, or Child of Nara, is a cute deer plushie that I bought from a stall in Todaiji Temple in Nara, on May 14, 2023. She cost 1,980 yen. There were lots of deer on the way there, and lots of deer on the way back, crowding the sidewalks and fields and demanding shika (deer) senbei crackers from passersby, but this one was well-behaved and just demands a nibble of Tigey‘s sideburns occasionally, which is much more acceptable. She’s the first of four plushies I acquired while in Kyoto, all four of whom I will be listing in their own weekly segments over the next few weeks.
She’s also a temple deer, since the stall was inside the temple itself (the only temple in my entire trip to Japan that I saw with souvenir stalls inside the temple itself, above and beyond the usual store selling charms and goshuin and such, which most notable temples and shrines have), so she and Ally will definitely hit it off as fellow clerical/divine magic practitioners.
Here’s her initial picture taken with Tigey on the evening of May the 14th:
And then some taken today, June 24th. From the front:
She has three spots on each side of her back, for a total of six.
Tag and booklet front:
Tag and booklet back:
Song of the Week #71
Title: Red River Valley
I don’t think I actually liked this song before coming to Canada — I had certainly heard of it in Singapore growing up, but not a whole ton, and it never particularly stuck out to me (or any of my peers that I know of). It was more prominent in Canada though since North America likes their country music a lot more than Singapore does, and by the time I finished half a year of junior high, and then three years of high school, here in Edmonton, I knew the song quite well indeed.
I’m not sure if I like any particular rendition of it, there are quite a lot according to Wikipedia, and lots more besides those that just aren’t listed. I used one video below that I liked from listening to it while making this blog post, and doubly so since it has (slightly modified into female version of the song) lyrics, but I’m not even sure if the ideal version I have in my mind is one from a guy singer or girl singer or a group/choir of some kind, never mind which version it actually was.
At any rate, it’s here in particular because it was one of two songs that I wept to in Kyoto when I was mourning the separation from Zian in the couple of days before, during, and after our graduation, and at some point all songs that do elicit tears from me belong somewhere on my blog as a memorial. I don’t always mention this, nor do I even always remember the exact event, nor do I even always end up liking the song enough to put it on my main music playlists in the long term, but nonetheless they are songs that evoke a strong emotion or memory for me, and thus here they are.
I don’t really know why or how this song came to mind for me during our separation period though, as it’s not like I heard it on the radio or TV or anything, but it did nonetheless. Perhaps it’s because one of the Hyakunin Isshu poems that Zian and I bonded over was poem 77, this one (local), which I believe was her favourite poem in the set of 100. In the Chihayafuru anime that we also both loved, this was translated to:
Swift waters parted by the jagged rocks, are joined at river’s end.
Like the song, it’s supposed to be a love poem but works equally well for friendship, or people generically parting with each other but hoping to meet up again in the future, yes indeed. Life is like the rushing waters of a river, events (rocks) might split us apart, but we will meet again in the end, somewhere down the river of life.
And boy did the lyrics of the song sting.
From this valley they say you are going,
We shall miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while.
Come and sit by my side if you love me.
Do not hasten to bid me adieu.
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the girl who has loved you so true.
(version from the video below)
Even though Kyoto is a valley city, it doesn’t perfectly fit because I was the one that left first, but still. About the third time through the song today I started to sprout little tearbuds again, so it’s time to move on to the next section.
Writing Prompt of the Week #14
This week’s writing prompt reads:
“My favourite childhood vacation was…” Go into as much detail as you can.
We took several family vacations when I was young, basically pre 1999 when we moved to Canada, and I do firmly believe that this helped broaden both my and my siblings’ world views, to the point that all of us have travelled out of country in the past year and both Kel and I have even spent or will soon spend significant time away from Canada on school exchanges.
No one’s really 100% sure when we took all our family vacations though, so this list is a bit of a work in progress. But right now my notes list something like this:
Jun 1987 – England (London), Canada (Montreal)
Dec 1994? – Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)
Jun 1995? – Canada (Montreal, Toronto)
Dec 1996 – Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Genting)
Jun 1997 – Canada (Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver)
In addition to that, I went to Hong Kong in June 1996 as part of a math competition that, while was very memorable, wasn’t really a vacation and still does need its own dedicated segment someday anyway.
I’ve already posted pictures from the first 1987 trip, even though I don’t remember much about that trip. The Canada trip kind of blend together for me, though I have a few interesting moments from those. I don’t remember much about the 1995 Malaysia trip either, if that trip was even separate from the 1996 one. That 1996 trip though, is interesting enough to get a mention but not interesting enough to probably ever get a second mention again, so this is probably a good place to talk about it.
Although students in Singapore have only a 4 week break in June and a longer 6 week break in November-December, most of our major holidays took place during the June school holiday. Even my math contest trip was in June. Those December ones, however, was different — they were just in Malaysia, the country adjacent to Singapore.
For this 1996 trip, I had just finished my final year of primary school in November of 1996, so in a way this was probably a bit of a celebratory trip as I was now going to be headed to secondary school in January of 1997. As far as I can tell from photos, we went from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, and from what I remember, we took a taxi from there to Genting Highlands (local), a casino resort northeast of the city. This took place from Dec 21 to 23 1996, according to the photo timestamps.
The reason I remember this trip quite vividly is that Genting Highlands was in the clouds, so on the way up the temperature started to get cooler and we could see the mountain shrouded in clouds, and eventually the road led up into the clouds itself. That was very cool.
I don’t remember much about the actual resort itself — there were casinos, of course, but there were also generic arcade machines, and the photos we have show pinball machines, bumper cars, a merry-go-round, a bowling alley, a billiards table, what looks like a water park ride, and a few other things that we visited. I’ve never been to Disneyworld or Disneyland, nor do I crave to, but this was probably the closest to something like that that I’ve ever been to, just on a much smaller scale.
Here are some sample pictures from the trip. Mostly clouds and buildings since I didn’t want to feature the photos that actually contain family pictures:
Memory Snippet of the Week #78
When I was in Secondary 1 and 2, so in 1997 and 1998, I was in the Dunman High‘s Scouts club. Everyone had to pick an ECA, or Extra Curricular Activity, though these days I hear that it’s been renamed to CCA, or Co-Curricular Activity. There were four uniformed groups in the school — Scouts, Girl Guides, St John Ambulance Brigade, and the National Police Cadet Corps. These days (local), the school seems to have a lot more options than I remember us having, especially now that it’s a 6-year school instead of a 4-year one,
Even though I was about 4-5 years away from learning about being transgendered here, I remember having a lot of gender dysphoria-like thoughts while being in this Boy Scouts troupe, since we worked somewhat closely with the Girl Guides team and occasionally had camps or other activities together. It wasn’t pretty. But it was what it was, and while I didn’t like the Scouts, I didn’t outright despise it either and eventually got through it fine.
Out of the 32-33 people that made up our two GEP classes, 6 of us picked the Scouts/Guides as our ECA of choice. On the girls’ side, the three girls from Raffles Girls Primary School, Debbie, Kaiting, and Valerie, went into the Girl Guides, whereas on the boys’ side, Yaoxiang, Zixiang, and I went into Boy Scouts. Regardless of what I thought about it at the time, it’s interesting for me to note now that of the 7 or so of the 32 others that I’ve met since I joined the Whatsapp group as my true self back in 2021, Debbie, Yaoxiang, and Zixiang were three of them, with Kaiting and Valerie no longer being in Singapore to begin with, and the person I talked to to even get access to the main group in the first place was Kaiting. So in general I’m still pretty close to these folks.
I don’t know about the Girl Guides, but our Scouts were divided into 6 patrols — Eagle, Lion, Owl, Rayfish, Seahorse, and Tiger. In our 1997 cohort, 18 of us joined, and we were split across the six patrols equally, with 3 people each. There more or less were about that many students in the years above and below us as well. Yaoxiang and I were placed into Rayfish, while Zixiang was in Eagle.
We met up every Saturday, and our normal activities consisted of inter-patrol competitions, where the senior scouts would set up challenges at six stations around the school, and the other members of the patrols would rotate in groups to each one to perform whatever challenge was being held. Usually some sort of mini-game, or team-building contest, or something like that. We would then reconvene at the end and the combined results would be announced, and the losing team would have to do pushups or some other game like that. I don’t remember what the winners got, if anything. Our patrol seldom lost but seldom outright won either.
There were other events during some regular weeks as well. For example, we might have a cooking or knot-tying exhibition or practice session or something, or badge certification where we could pick what badges we wanted to try for and achieve, which would give us (I think) stamps in our book and actual badges to wear on our uniform, plus progress toward some sort of scout certification or other. I think. It’s been a while, and I don’t seem to have my Scout book anywhere anymore. Or we’d have troupe weeks where our troupe leaders would decide on our activity for the day. Or volunteer sessions somewhere off campus. We did not have a club room per se, but we did have a club store room, full of sports stuff and coils of rope and wooden beams and camping gear and other things like that. I went in there several times and still remember the smell of the place.
There were also several annual events of note — Orientation (for the new incoming Sec 1 students) was one, and the Secondary 3 Leadership Camp, jointly held with the Girl Guides, was another, though I left Singapore before I attended any of those. Jobweek also comes to mind, and I did this one twice — Jobweek is an annual fund-raising activity where we go around Singapore by ourselves during our free time, dressed in our Scout uniforms, knocking on people’s doors and asking if they wanted any help with anything in return for a donation to the troupe. Some people would just shake their head and apologize or shoo us off, others would just give us a free donation, and yet others would give us an odd job to complete, after which we’d get said donation.
For the donation, they’d write the donated amount down on a card that I carried around with me, for tracking purposes, before giving me the actual monetary sum. This was a Singapore-wide activity among all scout troupes, but there were plenty of HDB flats everywhere, so one never really had to travel too far to find doors to knock on. Most of the odd jobs that I got involved helping to carry and throw something or other away, or cleaning or washing something, but more often than not it’d be a straight up donation (when they didn’t just close the door in my face anyway) for me.
One notable encounter that I vividly remember was knocking on someone’s door, and that person then asking me if I wanted to help him with a task or if I just wanted a donation without a task. I hesitated a moment and then told him that if he wanted, I could help him with his task. He smiled and said that he was a former scout (or scout master, I forget), and that it was a good thing I answered the way I did, or he’d have reported me to my school. Don’t know if he meant it for real or not. He did set me to wash some of the windows in his house, though, and donated a handsome amount to my cause after that.
We also had various camps, some where we slept out in tents in the school field, others where we slept in the assembly hall in school. One of my best memories of the school was playing a hide-and-seek game in the dark, through the school buildings, at night as part of an inter-patrol event. It’s just not the sort of thing one gets to do normally, and I felt like we were less stringent and discipline-focused and more focused on having fun than the other two uniformed groups (SJAB and NPCC).
When we went into Secondary 2, I was made treasurer of our Rayfish troupe “because I was good at math”. Seriously, what does that even have to do with anything? The troupe had a thick logbook that was passed down from treasurer to treasurer, it was quite interesting and went back quite a ways, I wish I had a scanner back then to preserve that. I had to collect something like $10 a month from the other members to add to our fund, which would then be used for troupe activities and new shirts and such. I remember an outing one of the seniors took us on to get shirts, perhaps for the first years, and me tagging along because I was the treasurer. I remember a couple of the Sec 3’s in particular, the seniors one year above us, being very hard to collect money from, they’d always be chronically late with paying or ignore me until I went to their class in the morning to ask for the money.
Talking about morning routines, I remember as Sec 1’s being asked by our Rayfish seniors to come to the track and field exercise area, together with Yaoxiang and the other Sec 1 Rayfish recruit, to work on things like running, rope-climbing, and monkey bars. That wasn’t fun, largely because it took up time we could have been using for socializing or last-minute homework, and left us tired to start off the day’s lessons. That eventually stopped.
The Dunman High Scouts also ran a lion dance troupe — they had an extra evening practice session starting at 6 pm or so on Saturday, once normal Scout activity had disbanded. At one point I wanted to join this, auditioned for it and got to watch and then try out playing the lion drums, and I think I was even accepted (everyone who applied was accepted), but then Dad and I started to worry about the time commitment, and Dad convinced me to agree to pull out. He then spoke to the troupe leader about it and said that he was stepping in and disallowing it because I had too much homework as a GEP student.
I remember Dad being quite close with that scout troupe leader for some reason, who was an old teacher in his 40s or 50s. Dad usually picked me up after scout activities and brought me home on his motorbike, so sometimes he would arrive early and hang around the place, and somewhere in there he somehow befriended that scout leader. When we finally left for Canada, even though it was somewhat of a secret from the teachers, he said sometime in the last couple months that he had already told the scout leader so he was aware of what was about to happen and about the decreased number of people in our troupe in the next January term.
Although there were some fun moments to be had here and there, I never ended up really liking the group due to dysphoria and was glad when I finally was rid of them. I’m sure I can remember more stories over time to add to this page though, but what I really hope to find one day are some of my Scout-related artifacts that I can photograph or scan and then upload here, even though I suspect most or all of it is gone already, since I never liked them all that much.
Although I wished I was part of the Girl Guides instead of the Boy Scouts during those days, before I knew what being transgender meant, if I could regress into a 13-14 year old female today and join one of those listed CCA’s in the link at the start of this page segment, I don’t think I would actually join the Guides anymore, though I’m sure they would have been quite fun too. If they would take people with no experience, I think I’d have liked to learn the Chinese Orchestra. Or one of the sports clubs. Those Chinese Societies and/or that Beijing Opera club sound interesting too, though the level of Chinese actually needed might have been beyond me. Our school was a Chinese school after all, so we had some unique clubs that other multi-racial schools probably did not. And several of those new 5th year/6th year senior high student clubs look interesting too. They even have a Japanese Cultural Club.
I had some rather interesting dreams this week — Jun 20th was memorable and vivid to me, Jun 21st was really interesting because of the double dream layer that happened in the end, and Jun 23rd consisted of two very memorable and long dream entries as well.
Jun 19 2023
- I dreamt that it was my last few days in Japan, and we were staying at some sort of place that included a miniaturized town located in and around the mouth of a cave, with buildings that were around 2 feet tall or so. As my parting gift, I was going to help set up some tiny tunnels or tubes leading from the hotel and down some steps to the cave area, using a chisel and a tube to punch holes in the rock somehow, in order for people to get around. Other people that were staying with me were doing other projects, like someone was building a bakery for them.
- I had to get Ronnie and Gordie‘s help to set up these pipes, as there were security concerns with them that had to be solved first. It was something to do with the types of accounts that were going to be connected and usable by the pipes, as everyone had different types of primary or secondary accounts depending on their resident status, and it was going to work for only people with primary accounts, whereas I did some sort of logic proof that showed that it made sense from both a humanitarian and a security standpoint to open the system up to secondary accounts too. Gordie agreed, and asked me to estimate how many secondary accounts there were in the city so that they could at least deploy a plan to get them access as soon as possible after it was built. It was over 10,000 accounts, so he said he could do them in stages, starting first with everyone whose account started with A to C, and so on.
- Oh well. Just like my workplace, I would not be there by the time that improvement was launched anyway, but at least it was coming, so I moved on. There was also some sort of war going on, where our army was fighting another group of invaders inside another cave and there were workers dressed in blue who were also working in the same area and would sometimes get shot. Someone kept yelling to the opponents that the blue people were not worth any points and to stop shooting them.
- Our army was made out of several platoons or groups and each one carried a tank, but we were using the tanks to carry some supplies to some people that were up a flight of stairs, and each of the weakest fighters in each unit was left to guard the tank and carry out that mission since it was a non-combat one. I had been helping my team move our tank there before leaving it in the hands of someone else on our team who gave me a strange look as I moved away. Lacking a tank, we then hopped on a cart that was headed for the battlefront, it was the type of cart that was supposed to be pulled along by a horse but there were no horses there so it was travelling by itself somehow.
- At one point, I also infiltrated yet another cave with a science facility belonging to the enemy, and I sidled up to a side window and asked how the progress on their research was. A couple guy scientists looked up at me from the table that were seated at, and the leader of the group, who was a female scientist standing behind those two guys, said that things were going on fine, but research had stalled a bit, partially because someone (she dropped a western guy’s name but I forget what it was) had gone missing and could no longer be found. I said that I would file a report to see if we could hire someone else.
- Later, I was walking along a miniature city when I noticed a small black spider or something stuck at the bottom of the wall on my left, it was worth some points so I picked it up. There were also five bugs with long legs and no wings hopping around on the ground, trying to chase me, and I defeated them by holding out a strand of plucked hair and letting water or dew drip down on them, which they apparently loved. A popup appeared in front of me detailing the types of dew that existed in the world and which ones they liked. The next time I came into the area, I noticed that the spider and the five bugs had respawned, and I realized that the area was stuck in a localized time loop due to another person “saving the game” in the past while it was in an active state. Apparently there was a second black bug on the wall somewhere, as there was one “on the left” and one “on the right”, and some people farmed those for points, but I wasn’t sure which one the one I found was and never did find the other.
Jun 20 2023
- My class was making an end-of-semester school play for something like Drama class, and while I didn’t care much for most of my class or the play itself, I did find upon reading the synopsis that it was somewhat interesting, so I did decide to take part to the best of my ability.
- We were due to meet our drama teacher in a large stage room on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a side school building after school, in order to find out our roles and lines and to rehearse the script before next week’s performance. As we got there before the teacher, we settled in various groups around the place. I sat down on a chair with a back rest that tilted backwards a little, and that chair was part of a small circle of chairs facing each other.
- A couple other students I recognized sat down on those chairs, including Aurora, as well as other students that I didn’t know. One of those students said he had a couple of extra flip flops, and whether anyone wanted to try one on. I did, so I asked for a pair and he handed them over.
- The teacher then came in, and did a head count of the students in class. He then frowned at one of the boys that was wearing flip flops and asked about them, and he was going to do the same to me but I showed him that I also had shoes and was currently changing back into them, so he passed over me. The boy said that he wished he had shoes too because he now knew that flip flops were a bad idea because the stage part of the room was made of wood and the flip flops would make too much noise on them and possibly damage them.
- We were each given a copy of the script — sort of. We actually each just got a piece of paper with our specific lines on it, and the act and line number that we would have to say the line at. My sheet of paper said that I was a nameless Fireman character, and that I had ten to twelve lines spread out across mostly Act 2, with three or four lines near the end of the play in Act 3.
- Even though it was a nameless role, I had more lines than any other person that wasn’t in a named role, and even a couple of minor characters that were named, and looking closely, I noticed that it was because I was playing several different firemen chbaracters that came to the scene of the play at different times, including one who died when a wall fell on them in the middle of Act 3, so he ended up pinned, and was pleading for help from a named character who then put him out of his misery since the place was falling apart. I idly wondered how the logistics of that scene was going to work — most likely they’d have a bunch of empty oil cans stacked up to form the wall and then have those fall on me, but I also played another fireman with one line in the final scene a few minutes after that, so the stage crew would have to rescue me and remove those oil cans without making noises to distract the audience.
- Anyway, we were then all ushered off into the backstage room so we could start our rehearsal. The backstage room was separated from the stage by a double door, and I tried to peek through it to watch the play but was asked by someone to stay in the backstage room properly so that they could actually close the door, the reason being so that the people who finished their lines and came backstage through the doors could drop character and sigh or laugh or so on without that noise floating out to the stage or audience.
- I asked how this made any sense — if we could not watch and only had our lines and not the full script, how could we tell when it was time to go out? Someone then showed me a flat LED number display panel above the door that showed the current Act, as well as the line number that had just been read. It incremented in real time as someone outside spoke their line, and we would know when it was our turn since our scripts also had Act and line numbers.
- I started to practice my lines, and noticed that one of my characters was a fireman from Southern Australia and that his couple lines were written in with a grammatical accent, and then devolved into squarish characters that were not from the English language but that I could still somehow read correctly, although it was difficult as I didn’t know the language well. I tried to bounce my lines off of someone but he said that I was not pronouncing it correctly. I said that yes, I didn’t know how to do an Australian accent very well but whatever I could do would have to do.
- Just before the rehearsal actually started, I also remembered that several people were not here at the moment due to being overseas and not having the proper clearance to come back into the country yet. There was at least one person from Canada, as well as Zian, who was in China. I went to inform the teacher that they would not have been able to pick up their lines yet, so we would have to skip them, though thankfully they both only had minor characters. But just then I saw that Zian actually had managed to somehow just make it to the rehearsal. I was very glad to see her and we waved to each other.
Jun 21 2023
- I was a girl in middle school or early high school, and as part of our school activity, we were in an RPG world playing a game of sorts. I was in a party with three other female characters or players, and I was the leader.
- We were in a cave, looking down at a small cave ruin on the level below us. To get down to it, we would have to climb/slide down a ten-foot high rock wall to reach the level below. We did so, just as another party of 3 guys walked in to the ruin through its normal entrance.
- Their leader captured and handcuffed one of my companions, but I jumped on top of his two subordinates at the same time, pinning both. Pulling out a similar pair of handcuffs, I handcuffed one of the top boy’s wrists, slid the metal chains of the cuff through the horizonyal handle of a kitchen drawer that was part of the cave ruin, and thern handcuffed one of the bottom boy’s wrists, trapping both of them there.
- With two of his teammates incapacitated, it was 3 versus 1, and the other leader gave up. I told him to free my companion, and he did so. We finished looting the ruin, and then I told him I’d give him the key to his companions’ cuffs once we climbed back up the wall. He commented that I was a good leader, caring about my party mates before looting the place, and even caring about his party mates afterwards.
- After we all ascended, I tossed the key back down to him and we all left.
- After this, I “woke up” from my dream, on my Edmonton 205 mattress in the living room, but the mattress was on a slightly raised bedframe instead of the floor. I slid to the foot of the bed, with my blanket still covering my legs, and I heard a weird dingling noise.
- I swung my feet over the side of the bed and kicked my nylon blanket off my legs and onto the floor. When my feet were revealed, I saw a small bell attached to a dainty decorative chain around my ankle, as well as a locked combination lock that wasn’t attached to anything and fell to the floor by my feet. I was so surprised that I actually willed myself back awake in real life immediately after this and was very confused for a second.
Jun 22 2023
- Snippet: All I remember is cycling with Zian along really wide, but short, streets that curved back and forth like a squarish snake, forming an elongated 2 or S pattern.
Jun 23 2023
- The dream started with two factions in a game-like world, Blue versus Red. I was part of Red, as were several of my friends. There was a dangerous feel to the “game”, as though if we died it meant a long-term hospital stay, or something like we would be forcefully logged out of the game with no way to log back in for some time afterwards, except like with most dreams the “game” felt very much like the entire world with no knowledge of whether there was an outside world or not, so there was very much a threat of permanent death.
- The game itself involved medieval-style castle sieges and faction battles. Blue controlled the top half of the map and Red the bottom, but Blue had an army sailing aboard a ship down a river that cut through our land, and was busy attacking and taking zones and castles along their way, whereas Red had several smaller armies strewn across the land, each one led by a guild leader/captain.
- I was in a multi-guild coalition that consisted of a few smaller merged Red armies, led by our captains, who had commissioned some boats and were chasing the enemy along the river. We were about a day behind and even had to plan logistics like how to transport food and people and where to lay out beds (not tents, but actual 1-person mattresses on small bedframes) for the night.
- The Blue army followed the river east and landed on the north side of the river, overwhelming and taking over a castle there right next to the coast, and seemed to settle down there for a bit to regroup. We had a window to land next to them and attack them, but the captains were very wary of this because it would be a slaughterhouse trying to land within range of the castle. They pored over scouting records to figure out if there was a beach to the east or west of that castle where they could land instead, but there were not.
- Eventually, I convinced them that this was likely a trap, and not to fall for it. Instead, I said to circle back and take the last castle before the one they were in to cut them off and continue whittling away at their resources since they were deep within enemy territory. I showed them the game map and pointed out that some of the earlier castles that they had taken were already being retaken as well, either by other groups of Red players or by NPC militia that had swarmed out of nearby towns once the Blue army had left. They didn’t actually have much property in our Red side of the map outside of the immediate vicinity of wherever their army blob currently was.
- The captains agreed in the end and we circled back to take back an earlier castle that Blue had taken, about a day west of their current one, while setting scouts to watch them. For the actual fight, the castle had a king and prince NPC that we had to defeat to take the castle, but neither one was aggressive or attacked us on sight, they just both stood side by side in the top level of the castle. I was scouting ahead and walked right up to the two NPCs, standing next to them and waving the main army in.
- I stood behind the king with my weapon drawn as some of our fighters came up, and when the signal was given, we attacked and killed the king in one strike. I prepared to do the same to the prince but was waved to stop, and at this point a large tyrant troll from LotRO dressed in red garb (thus signifying that was on our side) walked up to become the new NPC king of the castle, and the opposing prince NPC ceded the throne to that king instead of becoming king himself, and turned into a red-aligned NPC himself. Apparently that prevented us from needing to recruit a new prince.
- My captain pulled our guild together and asked us how many of us disliked the game’s default built-in player titles of Duke, Lord, Baron, etc. A couple people raised their hands, as did I, and I stated that even though I had a Duke rank in game, the game’s title system was not gender-aware, and I would have loved it if I was Duchess but hated that it remained Duke. He nodded, and said that we had just completed the prerequisites for a new achievement that would be released in tomorrow’s patch, and would get a new title from that, and that hopefully we would like it. I don’t remember what the title was but it was a phrase made out of two short words.
- Zian then arrived at the castle, and I was super happy to see her around and alive. We embraced, and then dinner arrived in the form of catered meals soon after, and the two of us ate together.
- The leader of our combined armies, who was called our program director, announced a new course for us for tomorrow over a loudspeaker, saying that we were going to take yet another Blue castle in Red territory, since today’s plan worked well. This would be their last one minus the one they had taken today. He suggested that between these castles, there was a good chance that we could wait on the Blue army’s likely route back to Blue land in order to ambush them.
- Zian and I took out passport-like books at this point and submitted them for participation stamps in preparation for tomorrow’s campaign. The stamps apparently could then be used as proof of allegiance later on so we could acquire rewards or buy stuff from special stores. As training, since she had just arrived, the two of us also decided to take over a tiny two-storey tower or pagoda where a local lord had been installed by the Blue army, set inside a small walled keep area with other buildings and rooms in it.
- Zian was an attacker class, she was good at dodging individual attacks but could easily be overwhelmed, so she waited for me to aggro an entire room or area, then ran ahead to engage and kill enemies once they were shooting at me, but then waited for me by the next door or outside the next building before going through, so that I could go in first. For me, I was a slower character but could absorb arrow and sword attacks without being hurt. We soon reached the tower and overwhelmed the local lord really quickly. We were both very thankful for the existence of the other person and the synergy that it allowed us to do.
- There was a button on top of a bookshelf-like structure in the middle of a room that we found and used too, that gave us a bunch of Japanese yen as a reward. We pressed that on our way out, after thoroughly exploring the place and paying an impromptu visit to a tiny museum that we found within the walls of the keep. We also noticed that some of the walls of the keep had engravings that formed a little cartoon strip, and we read that strip and pieced the plotline together too as we walked along together.
- This dream started on a train, where I and several friends or team/guild members of some sort each had a large semi-private seat to ourselves, that kind of looked like the first-class seats on airplanes. However, on one of the train stops, Matt, who was seated in front of me and whose dream identity had overlapped with Gepard from Honkai Star Rail at some points, stepped out of the train door to take some pictures with his camera and didn’t make it back in in time, so the train left without him.
- I pointed this out and said that we would proceed to our final destination anyway, but I would take all his stuff and wait for him over there, even though the next train wouldn’t be until the next day and we didn’t originally mean to stay overnight. I pored over a map and noticed that I could in theory go home, but to get from my home station of Yishun back to the meetup destination the next day again would require either a nine stop train ride including one train transfer at Paya Lebar Station, or a five or six stop train ride including three train transfers across the Singapore MRT line, and either option was a little annoying, so it was better to stay overnight at the location. Several other people also offered to stay behind with me.
- We settled down in the town next to the station, renting some rooms in a tavern that had both a front and back side, each side facing one of the two main roads leading away from the station through the town. Our room was on the second level on the back side of the tavern. Dusk soon arrived, and since we weren’t expecting Matt yet, all the people who were staying overnight sat around a tavern table on the ground floor and started to chat. One of them pulled out a red camera, which I recognized as my Olympus Tough TG-5, and snapped a photo of another member of my group, who had pulled out his or her own phone to simultaneously take a picture of the person with the camera.
- An old man in a nearby table saw that happen, and laughed, stating that just a few hours earlier, someone else with a red camera who had just arrived in town also snapped a picture of him while he was taking a picture of something else with a phone. I realized that Matt had the same camera and so this could have been him, and I asked the old man where that person then went. The old man shrugged and pointed west down the northern road, which ran along the front side of the tavern, and said that he seemed to be headed for some lodging outside the west side of town.
- There were free huts there where people who did not have money could stay and log out in, so that also sounded like something Matt might have done as all his money was with us. Satinel and I set out to see if we could intercept him before night fell, but by the time we reached the hut, darkness had more or less arrived and any players in that hut had logged off for safety, since the hut was located outside the town and there were often monsters nearby.
- In fact, there were two tomahawk trolls lurking just outside the hut, so to protect it and anyone else who might come by or log in, I paralyzed one with a spell from atop a slope while Satinel murdered the other, and then tossed a returning throwing axe at it once Satinel had finished with her enemy to injure it so that she could finish it off with ease. I caught my returning weapon with ease and a flourish even though it was so dark that I couldn’t actually see the axe at that point. We then returned to the tavern to rest for the night.
- We eventually found Matt the next day once he logged in again, and led him back to the tavern and to his stuff in the room that we had booked. He thanked us and asked if I wanted to settle the fee for the tavern now and I said that we could if he wanted, but that it made no real difference to me, it was a fun adventure for probably everyone except him.