My Diary #101

Dear Tigey,

Life is great right now, almost criminally so. The last entire week has just felt so peaceful, with satisfaction levels high on all fronts. I wish I could preserve this time forever.

Also, you are so cute and feel so lovely to hold in my hands.

Entry #101 (Jul 16 2023)

Table of Contents

Walking in the rain to…
ට  School
ට  Work
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #97
ට  Song of the Week #74
ට  Writing Prompt of the Week #17
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #81
ට  Dreams

School

The results of my housing application to that Sophia dorm from the last few weeks is… still not in. The Notice of Result was supposed to be in yesterday (as of writing), Friday July 14 2023, although that could arguably have meant Thursday too due to time zone differences between here and Japan. I’ve heard nothing though, and I’m not sure if that means I didn’t make it, or if they are backlogged and haven’t processed it yet, or if I’m on some sort of waiting list. There’s also the day mixup in the original confirmation email that I pointed out a few weeks ago that read:

> We will let you know the result of selection on Monday July 14, 2023 by email. 

And that might have meant they were trying to change the date to Monday, July 17 but forgot to change the date number or something. Who knows! I guess I will, by next week.

Our transcripts from RSJP/Ritsumeikan University are apparently en route to the University of Alberta or maybe have recently arrived, and we were told that they would give us a notice when they were ready to be picked up from the International Centre. Zian already received hers, and she said that it had a bunch of scores on it as well as things like the number of minutes attended by the student. Interesting.

Work

Again, nothing much of note happened at work this week, and hopefully it’s like this for my remaining 6 weeks or so here. A lot of people are on holiday though, about half the team or so are away. As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of tickets to process, about 20 a day instead of like 6 a day, but the vast majority of them have been easier tickets (though one or two will sometimes explode out into a kaleidoscope of head-scratching issues) so I haven’t minded that too much.

Life

This was a relatively quiet week. Animethon is going on in the city right now, as well as the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, and the Calgary Stampede is going on south of us, plus there’s the Taste of Edmonton and K-Days going on next week in our city, and I’ve been to all those events before.. but not this year. Firstly, I only have a limited amount of time left in this place before I go overseas, and secondly, at least late in the week, there was also a blanket of smoke over the city so everything smells like burnt wood. Which I really like the smell of, but don’t want to go out too far and too long in. Also, I was wishy-washy about going to Animethon last Sunday, as that evening was the last day to purchase discounted tickets for the event, and Satinel rolled some dice for me and told me that the dice said not to go. Which was probably a good thing once the smoke settled over the city later on in the week.

On Sunday, after submitting last week’s blog entry in the morning, I went for an early morning walk around the area. The weather, wind, skies, and neighbourhood were very nice. So here are some regular pictures of the cloudless skies.

And a 200 MP picture. As usual, the detail at the sides of the picture are very bad, but the middle area is quite good. There’re a bunch of people doing something way in the background, I have no idea what as I didn’t even notice them when I was walking around, but apparently my phone did. Well, they’re in the baseball field there so they’re probably playing baseball.

On Monday, I went down to the Asian supermarket, picking up some groceries there. Among other things, I picked up some cheese ice cream in a fit of inspiration that I regret, as I probably won’t be able to finish it before I go to Japan if I’m eating at my normal pace. But at least it’s interesting and sort of reminds me of that sweetcorn flavour that I really like. I also wondered what part of these Squid Fish Balls, front and center in the picture below, was actually ball-shaped to the manufacturer:

At some point, aren’t those just fish cakes? I also eyed some snail on sale:

And was reminded of the snail noodles that I tried last year in My Diary #052. The Asian supermarket sure sells some weird things.

On the way back, I took some hi-rez pictures of the main road bordering one of the sides of my apartment complex, with one shot semi-focusing on the tree with the cottony/woolly aphidy/dandelion fluff that I commented about last year in My Diary #057. This time the tree itself was mostly fine and the fluff was largely on the fruits/pods on the ground though. The other picture was pointed the other way, toward a major intersection (though you’d never know it from the lack of cars) and a direction I never really do much walking toward because it’s all residential. I should though. And I should bring my video camera.

On Tuesday, I finally sent in my poor old Google Pixel 5 phone in to Samsung for my trade-in rebate. I actually took it to the local Canada Post store in Southgate, before being told that the pre-paid mailing label that I had was a Fedex only one and that I had to go to a nearby Fedex facility to drop it off as Canada Post wouldn’t/couldn’t do it. Annoying, as Fedex and all the other courier services do not have a convenient dropoff location around my area, the closest one was about a 25 minute walk away. But I did want to get this final part of my new phone purchase squared away, and the weather was still excellent, so I did that walk anyway.

I’d walked in this direction, northeast of my home,  before, but not this far, so it was nice to see some new scenery. The inside of the shop itself, which accepted drop-off parcels from Fedex, UPS, and a bunch of other courier services, looked like this:

After dropping off the phone in its padded envelope, I bought some lunch from a somewhat seedy Chinese restaurant (Calgary Trail Noodle House) that seemed to be run by one person and thus lacked a staff member to clean up after patrons, so there were dirty plates everywhere on the tables closest to the kitchen, even though the restaurant itself seemed clean. It was very weird. They also provided me with a single-use plastic bag for free even though that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore, but their food was rather expensive anyway ($15-16 per dish and I bought two) so I’ll just assume the plastic bag levy was baked into the price (but then shouldn’t I have gotten two bags?). The food was just average in the end too.

Anyway, while I followed the main road there, I followed a more residential path home afterwards, as there was a cemetery that I liked nearby and I had hoped to pass through it.

I passed by some guys working on top of a roof as I walked, and found it endearing enough to snap a discreet picture, since while they were “working”, they were obviously also just chilling out and chatting to each other:

Before running into some road work signs that told me the roads toward the cemetery were closed:

So I had to pass by that and content myself with taking more random pictures of scenery and houses:

It kind of struck me that the city is very green and I take that for granted sometimes.

Basically every evening this week, and over the last couple weeks, there were a bunch of neighbourhood kids outside playing and making noise every evening. And I love it — it’s a different sort of noise than my noisy neighbours who (used to, though they’ve mostly ceased, though I still hear things once in a while) play loud music audible through walls as endless thumps. This sort of noise makes a neighbourhood feel more lived in and authentic and I fully support it. There are also so many kids that take part in this that they must come from several different households. But they’re all making memories together that some of them will hopefully remember for life. How great. Here’s 7 of them on Monday at 9:30 pm, meeting up together after a play session before heading home:

And here’s like 11 of them playing on Friday around 6:45 pm:

I wonder what the catalyst was for them starting this this year — there was nothing like this in the prior ten or so years that I’ve been living here. Although it’s a little concerning that they’ve been playing through the smoke and bad quality air that we’ve been having. But as long as they’re okay with it and their families are okay with it, who cares? I like the smoke smell myself and it’s not THAT bad.

But I mention all that because sometime during the week, after Monday and before Thursday (inclusive), someone drew little chalk patterns all over the sidewalk:

I wonder what the story is behind these. It’s a LONG stretch of chalk doodles, across at least 100 of those cement pavement “tiles”, and would have to have taken quite some time. It’ll all wash away the next time the rain comes anyway, but did the kids do it? Amazing.

My last set of pictures come from Thursday, when I did a run to my local Safeway mall during lunchtime. I saw this guy standing on a cement divider on the carpark while trying to tie something down on his car:

Took another picture of our glorious sky and wished there was a way to also capture the feel of the wind on my skin and the excellent temperatures:

Saw a new service that Safeway was apparently offering:

And then took a picture of this apartment on the way back home. A very pretty mini-garden, though I have no idea what Starlight Leo is.

During that Safeway trip, I also noticed for the first time a shelf of baskets with small bags of slightly bruised fruits in them — bananas, oranges, tomatoes, and more, all priced at 50% off. I was delighted and bought three of the five or six small bags that they had displayed. This seemed to be new — I’d never seen this section before and the cashier also projected surprise when she was trying to cash the bags out for me. I was very glad to see this though as it helps promote less food waste and saves on my budget as well, so it’s a win-win for both sides. I hope this is a trend that they keep doing permanently, and that it wasn’t just a one-time thing with extra stock that they had.

The week has just been so calm and relaxing altogether, and even the little bit of smoke from a wildfire wafting into the city late in the week has helped with this a bit, since it’s helped block the sunlight to some extent so everything is just, as I described it in Discord, a diffused yellow glow rather than sharp sunlight. The sky’s just a pale film of dull yellow instead of bright blue, it’s a little bit surreal, and a little bit magical, like I’m inside a painting. Though I’m not sure the yellow captures very well on camera.

I also noticed that the evening and weekend locks on my apartment building’s front doors are gone — they had enacted a change back on March 13th this year where they said they’d lock the outer apartment lobby doors from 6 pm to 8 am Monday to Friday, and all day from Saturday to Sunday. The inner lobby doors are already locked, and the apartment call/phone box is between the inner doors and the outer doors, which also already have cameras monitoring them, so while this was probably done because of a homeless person or two that had taken up root in them during the winter (I had actually seen one at the very end of my Kami Watch Over Me trip, my first trip to Japan, when I arrived home), it was also very inconvenient for anyone who was expecting any sort of delivery, and likely universally hated. So now that it’s spring and summer and the homeless no longer have a reason to hang out there, I guess they quietly rescinded the policy.

(That being said, whether one considers the homeless problem and the people trapped in that vicious cycle to be “dangerous” or not, there generally aren’t any homeless around our neighbourhood, to the point that the Starlight Leo apartment above and other nearby homes have no issues openly leaving things on tables just outside their balcony, and parents have no issues sending their children out to play in the very open and totally public courtyard in the evenings. Nor have I ever felt any danger wandering the neighbourhood and looking for aurora at midnight. Apparently like anywhere else we do have occasional car catalytic converter thefts though, since those warning posters are everywhere.)

I was considering getting an AncestryDNA test kit (local) this week, but I couldn’t find any sort of sale or even referral program for Canada (the only referral program they have works for the USA only and does not apply in Canada) so I’ve held off on this for now. It would be nice to do before I head off to Japan though, so we’ll see how I feel about it over the next month or so.

Zian was on the train home this week when she called me for our weekly chat, so I got to hear train and subway noises as she headed home from her grandparents’ house with her Mom. That was amusing, although we sadly found out that either WeChat or her phone did a lot of background muting that could not be turned off, so I couldn’t outright hear most of the announcements that were being made over the loudspeaker. It seems that next week I might walk around the neighbourhood a bit in the early morning to show her the area during our video chat, but we’ll see. It might be our last chat for a bit too since I think she’s headed back to Sydney afterwards.

I also found this clip of scenes and pictures from Singapore in 1984 that made me a bit nostalgic, so I wanted to record it down here (and then save it locally for future backup, as I do with all videos that I link to on my blog). Though I’m more of a 90’s kid than an 80’s kid, in terms of what I remember of the country anyway, that was the year I was born and it’s neat to see video going back so far, as I’ve found that video documentation of life in Singapore in the 80s and 90s seems rather hard to find online. Though it’s a little weird to think that many of the people in the video have likely passed away or are on the verge of doing so now, 40 years later. I miss my home.

Games

Back at home, most of my time this week was poured into computer games, since the Steam sale was going on. Firstly, I built some more nice, modern-looking and material-saving rectangular buildings in Eco:

Satinel, Milumbar, and I then finished saving our world in Eco:

That was a good gaming moment! It took us about 9 days in all. The game’s interesting, and each playthrough is probably about the perfect length, as there isn’t a lot to explore (and because we were playing with maximum linked container length, there weren’t logistical/supply chain issues that we had to optimize either), and by the end of it I was about done with the game for some time, since it got a little repetitive once everything was set up with our settings. But it was a good experience. At least in our small group setting, some skills like farming and fertilizers were absolutely useless though, nor did we have to research any of the higher tier cooking and baking skills.

We then moved on to other games. Besides Eco at the start of the Steam Sale, I picked up the following games on the last day: Atelier Ryza 3, Circadian Dice, Magic Research, Queen’s Wish: The Conqueror, Yamafuda! 2nd station, Rogue Fable III, DAVE THE DIVER, River City Girls 2, and Risk of Rain 2

The last two, together with Children of Morta (which I already owned but she picked up this sale), will probably be my next couple of co-op games with Satinel. We’re currently playing Risk of Rain 2 first, with lots of deaths and uncertainty as to what’s happening, but the game feels and plays surprisingly really well.

Of my single player purchases, Queen’s Wish, Rogue Fable, and Atelier Ryza are for later on, the first one being a game from a studio I like that was on deep sale, the second being a random roguelike that I liked the look of, and the third being a game that I’m currently on the second game of the trilogy for.

Magic Research was an incremental/idle game that caught my eye, and I wish Thrandor was still around because he’d likely have liked this game too, no one else in my gaming group plays incremental games though but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve played of it so far and the unique take behind introducing new features and things to unlock.

Circadian Dice was a game I picked up because I also picked up a game called Slice & Dice on the Google Play store earlier in the week, and really enjoyed it. Both are dice drafting/placement games. Again, another game that only Thrandor (though maybe Frotswa too) in my online friends circle would have enjoyed, if he hadn’t passed away last year. We don’t know the exact day he passed away, but it was around today plus or minus a couple days, so I’ve been thinking of him.

I had heard of DAVE THE DIVER from watching SplatterCatGaming‘s YouTube channel a year or so again, and this game apparently came to full release just at the start of the Steam Sale, and to critical acclaim in the indie gaming world to boot. I had been looking forward to it, so I was happy at hearing this and picked it up during the Steam sale. I’m not very far along in it yet, but it’s a lot of fun so far and I’ve laughed out loud several times at the absurd cutscenes and events even in just the early game alone.

And finally, Yamafuda! 2nd station was a game that I had randomly found and showed to Satinel during the sale, and even though it wasn’t on my initial purchase consideration list, she somehow convinced me to pick it up and try it. It’s so cute! It’s “easy” in the sense that at least early on, it’s not really easy to lose if one is playing logically, and due to budget issues there isn’t really a story either (though the artbook suggests that they had been trying for one) and they use stock music and stuff for their game.

But the game is basically about two friends, one leader and one supporter, climbing various mountains around Japan, and they represent each climb with a semi-narrative abstract card game, kind of like Signs of the Sojourner but with even less in-between text, with a bit of basic math and a lot of buffs and debuffs thrown in to manage. And at the top of each mountain you get a victory picture and some additional unlocks. It’s all very light-hearted, comfy, and fluffy. It’s like if Yama no Susume the anime was made into a computer game that focused on the mechanics of climbing a mountain. The vibes are exactly the same and I love it. I’ve already climbed 9 mountains/zones out of however many they have. Here’s a slightly curated screenshot dump.

The English translations aren’t great, but enough to get by, especially since there’s also a Steam guide (local) that properly explains the mechanics when the ingame blurb fails to do so properly.

Satinel finished updates on her latest game, 2D Princess, this weekend. She had finished the first version of it while I was in Kyoto for a game jam, but had asked me to hold off on actually playing it until she finished fixing some issues after the game jam period was over, and those changes were finally published today, so I got to play the game. I finished it too with a nice score.

I can’t recommend it enough, it’s a novel little stealth and semi-puzzle game that easily ate up about an hour or so while I first located all the secrets (the hearts) in the levels and how to get them, and then worked on trying to more or less speed run the levels to get good times on them all. I’m particularly proud of the last level’s time.

I now have a perfect 100% completion rate on all of Satinel‘s games again, more or less — 2D Princess, Corpse Run, Magic Quarry, Majokko Rail, Shiara Day, Tigey Match 3, Tigey Survivor (and a bonus version she made for another Discord server). It’s insane how many games she’s made in the past year and a half.

Alex from work, also took part in a two-day game jam with a friend, and he shared his game submission with the people at work as well. It’s called Fisherman’s Fiend and is located over here.

I really want to write my own game too. If not for this going abroad to study thing, I’d be sitting in my cushy if boring job that pays the bills, and working on a computer game of my own in my spare time, I think. My current game idea involves an adventuring party doing quests from a board in a high fantasy or cyberpunk world and getting pulled into some intrigue. Or maybe I’d be working more regularly on my blog or another scanning and archiving or chronicling project. Am I following the right path up the mountain?

Plushie of the Week #97 – Ame

Ame was a little keychain plush that I got from Miyu on Jun 09 2023, when she asked to meet me and Zian in the evening outside Saiin Station in Nishioji Shijo in Kyoto. She had a little bag for each of us, and in mine was Ame and a card. This was the original picture that I had taken of him:

The actual plushie is a kaomojinuko, or a.. well, Kaomoji Nuko. Miyu explained it to me as follows:

“Kaomoji” 「顔文字(かおもじ)」is a popular Japanese emoticon style on the Internet. “Nuko“「ぬこ」 is an Internet slang born in Japanese 2channel. It is same meaning as “cat”「ねこ」. It is similar to the English slang “catto”

This page (local) has a slightly longer explanation of kaomoji.

Anyway, I asked poor Miyu to name the little guy, and she thought a bit and nominated the name Ame, though she left the spelling up to me. There’s three main spellings for Ame, one being the neutral hiragana あめ that can take any other meaning, one the kanji 雨 that means rain, and one the kanji 飴 that means sweets. She left it up to me to pick which spelling of Ame to pick.

I was going to originally use the sweets version of Ame for him, because he kind of looks like a donut to me, but after some thought, I decided to use the rain kanji instead for him. Partly because I shed tears at my departure from Kyoto, so there’s that sort of rain analogy, in addition to how we almost had one day rained out due to typhoon rains, and many shared umbrellas with Zian being one of my lasting memories from the trip. And partly because Kyoto (and Japan in general) is often represented by “long rains” in Heian poetry, which I love.

But it’s also because rain is not just sadness, rain can also represent happiness, as it represents growth and fertility and cool temperatures — I love a good rainy day more than a good sunny day. Similarly, the rain kanji also pairs with other kanji or hiragana to form compound words, and in particular I like the word ameagari or 雨上がり, which means “after the rain”, very much, it’s a very poetic and/or romantic phrase and concept that I like. There’s even an anime that uses the word that’s supposedly really good, though I haven’t watched it. And well, now that I’m home from Kyoto, ameagari is very much what I feel when I think back fondly on Kyoto and my experiences there. But at the same time, it represents moving on from that and into the future.

Plus his mouth sort of looks like a rain catcher half-filled with fresh rainwater, doesn’t it? With the upside-down A — ∀.

Here are some pictures of him from today. Front:

Back:

And just his little hat:

He reminds me a bit of Billy in terms of having a hat of another animal that can sort of come off. Except this one can come totally off.

It looked far too small to fit on Tigey though, as Tigey‘s head is an order of magnitude larger. But when I tried — much to my shock, it actually fit him just fine!

My good lord. What have I done?

Song of the Week #74

Title: Be My Lover
Artist: La Bouche
Album: Sweet Dreams (1995)

Another unapologetically 1990s song, this one came to the forefront because I’ve been spending a couple days this week listening to Singapore radio stations (local), and it came up at some point.

I have one incredibly strong memory of this song, and that is ascending the escalators at Century Square in Singapore, specifically the 2nd to 3rd floor ones, heading to the collectible card shop there at the top of the elevator to purchase some L5R cards or to browse around the mall with Huihan or Zixiang. The song will never, ever, not remind me of that mall in particular and my Singapore secondary school days in general. The mall is completely changed and all those stores that I knew are long gone though, as I found out when I went back to Singapore last year and visited the mall again.

I also associate the song with the act of opening up the new booster card packets for the game, and peering at what cards I had received this time, as well as the smell and texture of the cards themselves, and I seem to have good memories of the song overall so I must have pulled some pretty good cards while the song was playing. While I was not a mall kid, and didn’t hang around them much outside of going to the card shop now and then with extra lunch money, that song brings me back to the mall and the excitement (and slight trepidation, as I don’t think my parents ever officially gave me permission to spend my money like that..) of buying those cards.

Writing Prompt of the Week #17

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“Using as many smells, colors, and textures as you can remember, describe your childhood kitchen.”

While we moved around a fair bit when young, I actually have pictures of some of the kitchens that I remember, like this one from Yishun 799, previously featured in My Diary #014.

I’ve uploaded a second picture of it here, that omits the half-wall dividing the kitchen from the living room, but also omits the dining table area:

Most toilets in Singapore HDB flats are attached to the kitchen, and ours here was off to the left of the stove, past the washing machine.

We do not seem to have pictures of our Yishun 723 house’s kitchen, for some reason. The closest we have is this one:

That’s the hallway to the dining area, the kitchen is to the right of that, past the fan. The attached toilet was to the end of the kitchen and off to the right again.

For Tampines 294, the only picture that seems to survive was also used in My Diary #020, it’s the bottom half of this valuation picture:

Here, the attached toilet was to the end of the kitchen and then to the left.

Smells, colours, and textures is an awfully specific set of senses to use though.

In terms of smells, it must certainly be food. Whether food that Mom cooked, or that Dad brought home, Singapore food is very varied and delicious and I remember everything from various vegetables (especially fried French beans) and meats (especially fish in black soy sauce), to carrot porridge and a sort of puffy vegetable porridge, to Maggi 2-minute instant noodles, to potato/carrot soup (that I still love making for myself to this day) and various wintermelon and bittergourd and mushroom soups that Mom would make, and things like Vegetable Rice or Hong Kong Noodles or Chai Tao Kueh or Char Kuay Teow that Dad would bring home. (My favourite hawker center/coffee shop dish was Hokkien Mee, but I don’t really associate that smell with my houses’ kitchens). Dad would also often cook fried egg and bread on Sundays in particular, and that smell also still resonates with me today.

Not all of it was positive though, I remember some negative smells as well, though this might be closer to tastes — in particular, two things I was force-fed when I was young was Cod Liver Oil (a spoonful a day when I was really young) and Monkfruit Tea (every other Sunday or so growing up), and I despised both.

Outside of food, I remember the vivid smell of Dettol, that one I’ve already written about a couple times before though. There was also whatever detergent Mom put in the soup before she mopped the kitchen floors, as well as the paint from weekly shoe whitening and painting. See how everything is looping together now the more of these I do. A negative smell I do remember in the Singapore homes is the garbage chute, at least whenever it was open so that we could toss garbage down it. It was always a little metal chute set into the wall inside a cupboard below the sink.

In terms of colours, well, not much that can’t be seen in the pictures above already. Something that always stood out as being colourful in the kitchen were the tekos, or bamboo poles, used for hanging clothes, which I’ve also previously briefly mentioned in Photo of the Week #1, but it was a reoccuring thing in all the Singapore houses as that was the main way that people dried their clothes. Even when I went to Singapore in May/June 2022, the rich place I stayed at used bamboo poles to dry their clothes in their fancy, stand-alone bungalow house.

Besides that, not much else comes to mind. I couldn’t even tell you what colours my cups (and toothbrushes) were any longer from memory.

In terms of textures, it would have to be the floors for sure. Singapore loves their marble and ceramic materials, though I’m not sure which one was which in our houses, but I do remember that Singapore was so hot that sitting, lying down, or even just walking around on the marble floors would leave sticky patches on the ground that would then have to be mopped so it was smooth again.

We never went to the kitchen to sit around there though, except around the dining room table, but due to cooking activities, the ceramic tiles (I think) that covered the kitchen floors were always regularly cleaned, and the marble tables that we used to sit at to do homework on also required constant cleaning.

Another last texture that I associate with the kitchen is rattan, in terms of a chair texture or a hand fan, since there were no air conditioners or overhead fans in our kitchens. Just a wall fan sometimes. I even still have a rattan fan that I brought back from Singapore in 2022 that pretty much looks exactly like the ones we used to use back home, and that I still use now and then when it gets too hot here in Edmonton.

(A strip of rattan would also be used for canes, and I definitely did get caned a couple times when I was young. Bad memories.)

Memory Snippet of the Week #81

In a continuation of this week’s Song of the Week, I wanted to begin to talk about one of my childhood passions, a card game called Legend of the Five Rings, or L5R. In the current day, the production of these cards has long since ended, and has been replaced by a Trading Card Game (TCG) of some sort as well as some RPG sourcebooks. Back then, this game was a Collectible Card Game (CCG), which meant that you bought starter/clan decks and booster packs and the contents of each deck or pack would be somewhat randomized.

This meant that you’d get a certain configuration of cards each time you bought and opened a pack, like X number of actions and Y numbers of personalities (units/heroes) each time, and a certain configuration of rarities (like say 8 common cards, 3 uncommon cards, and 1 rare card out of a 12 card pack or something), but the exact cards you would receive would still be randomized from a set of possibilities.

Though L5R was #3 at the time in Singapore in terms of CCG popularity, behind Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon, if was the game du jour in my GEP classes, both in Rosyth and in Dunman High, and I went in on this fairly hard as well, buying a whole bunch of packs and decks with spare pocket change after school and collecting and building decks. I had tons of written lists of decks that I had built and configured, as well as lists in general of all the cards that I had collected. A good number of my friends played them, especially Geeyong, Zixiang, and Xuanjie, but also pretty much everyone I hung out with to some extent, including several of the girls. We traded our cards between each other and puzzled over how to defeat each other — I usually played the Phoenix Clan’s decks, which was a spellcaster-focused clan, whereas Zixiang favoured the Crane clan, which was an honour-focused clan. I feel like Xuanjie liked Unicorn, which was a cavalry-based clan, whereas Geeyong liked Lion, which was all about attacking. I might be wrong on the latter two though.

Anyway, when I came to Canada, no one here played it, but the cards were still on sale at the local hobby shops, so we continued picking up some anyway and occasionally playing them just amongst us three siblings. When I moved out, I took all the cards with me, since I bought just about all of them, and they’ve sat in a box ever since.

Several boxes, actually. And while there’s far too much to scan and catalogue right now, I wanted to at least show pictures of my stash here.

Here’s my main box of cards with some example cards pulled out. It’s very heavy:

The game has been very inspirational to me over the years, was my first exposure to Japanese culture, is one of the reasons that I’ve loved learning about its culture and history, and am ultimately going there in the fall to study there. You can see some of the cards in the middle-top there that I’ve used the names of over the years — Walking the Way, which is my Reddit account, Kharmic Strike, which is one of my Utopia province names, and The Kami Watch Over Me, which inspired the name of my first Japan trip.

Here’s a second box, more like a toolbox really, with empty boxes and booster packs, a couple of rulebooks, and a box of mostly Singapore 1-cent coins that we used as tokens for the game:

Here’s a third box, this one has just empty boxes and packets too. Some of the boxes can be used as cards themselves (they have a picture of a stronghold card — your “home base” so to speak — on one side) and I never threw any of the booster packs away anyway since they were some of the first things I bought with my own money. There’s an entire box of rulebooks on the left there too.

Here’s a fourth box of some later edition cards. The right box is visibly full of cards, but the left one actually is too — a lot of those packs are sealed and unopened, or barely opened but never sorted and catalogued.

Next, here are some folders, the top one containing sheets with various deck configurations that I had built and then written down, and the bottom one containing full lists of all my cards that I had sorted into different stacks and then fully catalogued. Many times over, since this was a hobby I kept up for over 10 years. I had (and still have) over 10,000 cards, possibly over 15,000 by the time I stopped.

And here’s a bunch of game-related printouts I did from the early days of the Internet. Online card lists, errata, newsgroup posts, and so on. Also, a folder of foil cards.

One of my most interesting memories when young was that I submitted a nasty instakill trick combination involving three cards that I found to a webpage somewhere that was collecting L5R tips and tricks, and about ten years later I happened to see it on another page in a list of deadly card combinations. It doesn’t work any more because one of the cards got nerfed in some errata during a change of editions, so it’s not listed anywhere anymore (that and with the game retired, no one even plays the game anymore), and I’m sure other people would have found it and listed/used it at the time as well anyway, but in my headcanon I was the one that found it and had it spread amongst the community.

So that it’s recorded here for posterity, it involved the three cards as follows: Narrow Ground, which is a terrain that reduced the force (strength) of all personalities (heroes) to 2 at the end of a battle, A Samurai’s Fury, which allowed one additional action to be taken after the very end of the battle but before battle resolution, and Heart of the Inferno, a spell which would destroy any and everything on the board with a force of 2 or under. I believe it was the spell, Heart of the Inferno, that eventually got nerfed. Or it got retired between editions maybe.

Anyway, one of my many problems before leaving to Japan is where and how to store these cards, since that cardboard box that most of them are in is not suitable for long-term storage in a facility, so I’ll have to figure out a way to move them to a regular plastic storage box of their own. I also really should categorize and catalogue the cards properly again, but that takes a lot of time.

Dreams
Jul 11 2023
  • Snippet: I had a variety of dream snippets including a 50-round game of some kind with a little loading circle that announced the round number in a game we were playing, Japanese share houses or dorms with parts of the house missing that we had to retrieve from somewhere, and underwater diving for something at the bottom of the water that involved an undersea faction that I was part of that could not really go on land and an above-ground faction that could not really come underwater.
  • There was also a scene involving some villain who was kidnapping random people off the street to collect strands of their RNA to build and power some sort of humanoid doll that she was building. She had minions do the kidnapping and bring them to a giant place that Dad and Mom lived in. Regardless of whether the villain used the person’s RNA or not, they were then sent to squat down in a couple of lines on the top level of the two-level building, in a corridor that overlooked the front lobby below, guarded by a couple of minions. I went there to visit Dad and Mom and was promptly told to get into that line too even though I hadn’t been kidnapped the same way that the others had. I complied, then looked at the number of people there and wondered how they were being fed or watered if they were going to be kept there for any significant length of time. Dad was looking on the television to see if help was on the way, and wondering why no one else that they knew had come to visit them yet, and Mom reminded him that I had just visited them.
  • I sat down next to Zixiang, Eileen, and Antonia, and the first two started to play cards, particularly Big 2, together, before eventually lying down on pillows next to each other. Antonia said that Eileen had quit playing cards until that moment, and that she shouldn’t have picked that habit up again, but she did so anyway.
Jul 12 2023

Dream 1

  • Zian and I were attending some sort of weekly handball training club session, we were first years in some University together and the club was mostly made up of older seniors so we mostly sat and watched as they played. Everyone was divided into two teams and we were on the same team but the rosters were still at least 20 deep each and the game was being played 5 on 5 at its highest.
  • They varied themes so different players could play though, so near the end of the practice game, they turned to a Chinese players theme, and we were the only two on our team that were Chinese, so they put us into the game. The other side also only had two eligible players — Jerome and some other unknown person, so we had a 2 on 2 rubber match to close out the series.
  • But at this point our team was down something like 17-0 or 20-0 anyway, so we were just playing for fun without much hope of changing the score. Nonetheless, this was our first taste of action, and Zian and I worked quite well together. This game of handball involved passing the ball to each other in a way similar to basketball, and then trying to throw the ball past any opponents into a small net, similar to water polo, on a hardwood floor court.
  • There was even a catchup mechanic where the losing team could score into either net or something like that, and a funny scene where a video or something that explained this to the other team popped up, right after they had just passed the ball to us on “our” side of the court, only to watch us calmly bounce the ball into the empty net as we were aware of this rule. Both Zian and I scored two or three points each before our time was up to ensure our team wasn’t shut out.
  • Everyone cleared out after the match, and I had a tummyache and had to go to the toilet after this so Zian said she would head home. I wanted her to stay longer but it was getting dark and she had some ways to travel to get home, whereas the practice session was apparently held in a room in my house so I was already home, so to speak. I was also disappointed that the coach didn’t praise us for scoring, but also really excited that we finally got to play a little bit, this was our first action since we joined the team and I was sure we had just earned ourselves more in the future.
  • I had a phone app with a camera feed that connected me to her, so from my throne in the toilet, I watched her leave the house, and she passed by our living room where Mom and Dad were seated on a couch and Dad was criticizing a play that Zian did during the game for some reason or other. Mom tried to shush him as she said that the person he was talking about was passing by the corridor behind him. Zian also didn’t seem to notice though, as she was on the phone too by this point and speaking in Chinese to what assumedly was her mom on the other side of the line.
  • My phone app allowed me to watch over her as she left the house, then winded her way around the neighbourhood, heading to the train station across a rather seedy playground, then some sort of garbage dump, then to a road as it curved weirdly into some area that I was unfamiliar with. I could hear some sort of muted mumbling as she talked to her Mom, though I couldn’t hear exactly what she was saying, but I could see her very well as well as the people around her, and I watched the people around her like a hawk, ready to call the police if any of them decided to try to accost or attack her. She got to the station safely though, at which point the feed ended.

Dream 2

  • I dreamt Mom had a new baby, and we were having a party with our extended family, many of whom I had not seen in many years and no longer recognized, to celebrate our new half-brother. Our house had a corridor that was basically a looping square that went through four or five separate rooms, one of which was a kitchen with a sink, and I was helping out my actual siblings with clearing the dishes and washing them instaed of actually seeing the baby, since I reasoned that I had plenty of time to see and play with him afterwards.
  • At one point, I dropped my pink flowery plate that I had bought last year and liked, but it only made a single clink noise as it dropped on the floor before bursting into many little pieces. I tried to tell Mom, who was standing right next to me, to close off the corridor for a bit so I could pick up all the little pieces and put them into another bowl to throw away. The floor itself had a very shallow layer of pooled water so it was relatively easy picking up all the pieces, although I wondered why it had barely made any sound at all and why there were so little pieces.
  • I overheard a conversation at another point that one of my paternal uncles back in Singapore also had a baby recently but he or she had passed away when someone who was holding the baby dropped them on accident onto the floor. Someone asked if the uncle was ruled at fault and another person replied no, and that he was on the third floor, two floors up from the baby, at the time. I worried about our new half-brother but felt that he would be fine.
  • At another point, I had to go downstairs for some reason, to the level beneath our apartment, which was a goblin base. I snuck in and inched along the wall to look for something while readying a drawn bow and arrow to shoot the first goblin that I saw for 3 damage. Which I did, and then it ran away deeper into the room.
  • Editor: The plate in question is the one I got and posted about in My Diary #066 last year. It’s been almost a year!
Jul 14 2023
  • I dreamt I was living high up in an apartment block overlooking a river and bridge that looked like Arashiyama and Togetsukyo Bridge in Kyoto. Except we were in Canada. There was some sort of event today or this week where plenty of Indians were making a pilgrimage to this river, similar to how pilgrimages were made to the Ganges River in India. There were tons of people visible outside — I could see a long queue stretching across the bridge and then back again before disappearing out of line of sight. None of them were or could enter our building though, so it felt like an area safe from the chaos outside.
  • I took the elevator up from the bottom floor to my floor. I shared the elevator with an old Chinese man who had come back from a food run and had a plastic bag containing a couple of styrofoam food boxes. He said he had bought the food to go so that he could return to his apartment and watch the crowds from there while eating.
  • Once on my correct floor, my apartment was located at the very end of a long and narrow corridor, but there were also train tracks running parallel with the corridor, and the corridor was also lined with metal clothes hangers that made it even more narrow and harder to walk along without falling onto the tracks. I ended up crawling on all fours down the corridor, using my hands for balance along the ground and stretching out my right leg to the right in order to invert all the hangers as I went (they were diagonally facing the people coming from the elevator lobby, but as I went by my outstretched leg turned them so that they were all diagonally facing away) so that it would somehow be easier for the next person taking the path down that corridor.
  • As I went, I was trying to point out to Ronnie what I was doing and how I probably should be praised for it, but Ronnie was busy praising Justin from work as he had organically talked through some problems that the team was having with another team during our daily standup, and thus solved a bunch of issues we had with the team in one fell swoop. Ronnie was very impressed with him.
  • There was also some sort of anime movie airing on the weekend that tied into a weekly seasonal anime that I was watching but that had ended this week, that was somehow plot relevant. Also much later on there were some school scenes too, but I don’t remember anything about them.

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