My Diary #110

Dear Tigey,

I had a nagging headache basically this entire week. Excitement and waking up too early? Vertigo from new monitor? Who knows.

Entry #110 (Sep 17 2023)

Life

While I cancelled most of my study abroad stuff last week, there was one bit that I hadn’t thought of doing until early this week, when I contacted the Sophia University Inbound Team and informed them that I was going to cancel, so that they could cancel my Digital Certificate of Eligibility and then the visa from there, I think. Not sure about the visa part. Anyway this is probably the last email from them and contact with them that I am ever going to have, but I was basically given a withdrawal form to fill in.

Dear Jessica,
 
Greetings from Sophia !
Thank you so much for your email.
 
It is saddening to hear that you will be withdrawing from exchange program. However, we totally understand your health concerns,  so we wish you all the best for the futue opportunities ahead.
In the meantime, It would be great if you could fill in the attached document. This document is necessary to cacel your mobility.
 
Looking forward to hearing from you.
 

(typoes theirs)

I cried when filling and submitting that form, I guess due to mourning for the last bit of that old dream as I let it go. Ultimately I still think it’s the right move in the end though, as even outside of the Mom situation, the job market is too rough right now to do this. And I had no other emotions or regret besides this and the breakdown a couple of weeks ago, so I think overall I am comfortable with the decision. This weekend though, would have been the weekend that I was flying off to Japan if I were going for this program, so everything that happens from here on is completely “new territory” in my life, stuff past the door that I have chosen to take.

Anyway I had no time for regret or other emotions, since my new monitor arrived on Monday and the status of my new computer turned from InProcess to Shipped on Monday, and then followed suit by arriving from Calgary on Tuesday, and suddenly I was really busy!

I did a round of cleaning of my computer desk and peripherals, unhooked the old machine and rehooked it up nearby, put the new one in place, and swapped out the oldest monitor for the new one as well.

Way too high resolution picture of my computer area here (these hi-rez ones don’t generate with thumbnails). For those on low bandwidth, here’s a simulation from Jahandar:

(A new Shiara Station! Max hype! Thanks, Jah.)

I installed Windows 11 on it, and then spent about 24 hours installing other apps and configuring everything. Windows 11 is fairly terrible, with lots of little bugs and missing features that annoy me, like the inability to click and drag taskbars around or have my system tray be on my secondary monitor or on all monitors at once (making the secondary monitor my main monitor is not an acceptable solution either). Or things like how if I change album art on a bunch of songs from an album in a folder, all the thumbnails except the very first one will update correctly, but the first one never, ever updates. Or how when I use Ctrl-F to find something in Notepad, the search tool finds it just fine and highlights it normally, but when I close the search tool, the viewport jumps back to where it was when I first initiated the search, rather than leaving it where the result which I just searched for was. Or how sometimes the Dark Mode theme will randomly update to a half-dark half-light theme:

Granted I am on one of the beta branches, reason being that that’s the only way to get labels on my taskbar icon buttons, which was a deal-breaker for me otherwise. For some reason that update’s been on the Win 11 beta branch for months without being promoted to live yet, and in the meantime seems to have broken other workarounds and 3rd party tools that used to do the same thing, even on the live version. Well, whatever.

It all kind of makes me want to go back to Windows 10, even though I also want to stick with the new operating system until Windows 12, which is apparently round the corner, comes out. Which should be a lot better and have far less experimental/missing features, if Microsoft’s OS development and release pattern holds.

Anyway, I’m enjoying how quick and responsive and clean and sleek my new computer is. It’s also very quiet. The old computer was noisy and the graphics card always made a fan noise that I will sort of miss now. Okay, I won’t actually miss it. But my tinnitus flared up during the week and I’m not sure if it was due to the new quietness. I also developed a slight headache for most of the week, and that might have been due to the new, larger monitor and colour difference, or also just coincidence.

My JVC earphones also came on Sunday, and they were great. In addition, the AncestryDNA kit I bought a couple of weeks ago also arrived, on Monday, and I scanned everything on that thing and then did my saliva swab and mailed it back to them a couple of days later. It’s going to take 6-8 weeks for results. At least, if the package arrives. I hope it travels safely to its destination without mishap. Especially without a stamp (apparently because it contains biological specimens, it doesn’t require a stamp, but I still felt weird submitting the return box without a stamp).

My Mom is doing a lot better at the hospital now, she’s scheduled to be released back home in about a week and a half. She can stand and walk gingerly on her own now, for short distances and with effort, which is a great development. Her old e-book reader she was using in the hospital was terrible, and she mentioned a wish to upgrade it to a newer version, so I kept my eyes out and found a Kobo Libra 2, which currently retails for $230 CAD, on sale for $180 through an ad. I chatted up the seller, Gerald, and met him a couple days later at Southgate Mall to purchase it from him, unsealed box and all, and brought it to the hospital the next day. Gerald had literally just flown back from a Sep 11 Beyoncé concert in Vancouver (so he had the box with him while on the trip, I guess) when we met on Sep 12, and we had a brief but pleasant chat before we parted ways. That was the first time an e-reader had graced my apartment with its presence.

My Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s battery life is so good, that I adjusted and did a policy shift this week to help prolong its battery a bit — it already lasts so long for what I use it for that I figured I was wasting its battery by charging it every night even when it ended the day at 70% or so, so now I’m charging it once every 2-3 nights instead. I’ve been very happy with the phone thus far.

My latest box of Japan CDs, including Dad‘s CD, is somewhere in customs now and should arrive early to middle next week. Then I can bring it down to him the next time I visit the hospital.

I made a bunch of macaroni soup this week, a variation of my usual potato-carrot soup where I put in less ingredients but add part of a box of macaroni instead. It’s way too filling though so I need to adjust the recipe a bit, but it’s not actually super far off from a taste and combination that Mom used to make when I was young in Singapore sometimes, especially when I throw in some simple salad greens from Safeway, I just need to find the right amount of ingredients to put in and then I can start having it more regularly.

I brought a bowl for Mom to try at the hospital and she somewhat enjoyed it too as something different. The hospital keeps getting her food orders mixed up (patients fill in a sheet once per day choosing from and circling a list of choices for the next day’s meals) because thanks to our Conservative government, the health care budget keeps getting sliced and at some point in the recent past they started to outsource food prep to some external company that doesn’t really care and often gets orders mixed up. It’s pretty bad. She only has one and a half weeks left there at this point though and she’s back to eating normal rice and other small easily-chewables now.

I used my vacuum cleaner for the last time this week cleaning up the area where the old computer tower used to sit. It’s broken in several places — the handle’s long snapped and I’m fairly sure part of the suction pipe doesn’t fit properly any more and spews out dust if I try to use one of the alternate suction tubes. It’s pretty bad. I don’t know why I go through vacuums so fast, looking back at my blog I only just got this one back in late December last year, and it’s already essentially useless. Funnily enough, in that My Diary #075 entry above, I had just officially cancelled my last NUS exchange (Study Abroad attempt #4) that same week that my new vacuum arrived. I haven’t bought a new one yet so the timing is slightly off this time (Study Abroad attempt #5), but not by that much!

Anyway, I do NOT recommend that vacuum cleaner, which was a HOOVER PowerDrive Swivel XL Upright Vacuum (local).

I did a fair amount of scanning this week as always, but I’ve been neglecting my blog uploads for quite a few months now, and I hope to get that going again within the next month or so. That and my dream diary. Once I upload all the old entries to that, and reach the 2021 era (when my blog actually started), I’m probably going to remove the Dream segments from my old diary entries and add them to that page instead, so I don’t have them in two separate locations. If it ever catches up to “current week”, I’m not sure what I’d do. Maybe I’ll still post the dreams here as well as there but then remove the ones in my blog entry the next week as part of maintenance when I’m doing up a new weekly post, or I’ll just stop posting them as part of these blog posts altogether and only place them on that page instead. Or maybe I will leave it as it is to “give context” for some of my dreams and how they sometimes (seldom) reflect events that week? We’ll see.

The Google Rewards Android app changed a little bit for me this week. Previously, for about a year or so now, they had been giving me new surveys that asked me if I had visited a store (usually Safeway) and then asked for a receipt for a purchase that I made there. I got my first survey like this on Jun 28 2022 here in Canada (it used to be USA-only, I think, as Kynji had these surveys a long time before I did), and I usually get something around 66 cents from it — 52 cents from the survey and 14 extra cents if I upload a picture of a receipt, according to a benchmark note I made on Feb 01 2023. This week though, they seem to have changed the format so it no longer asks me for a receipt right away, but creates a separate “receipt task” asking me to upload a receipt for a few cents reward.

This is good as sometimes I answer the survey on my phone while I’m out of the house, and I have had to miss out on the receipts question many times in the past just because I didn’t have it on hand right then and there. I had two this week, for 53 + 16 cents and 57 + 13 cents. 69 and 70 cents total, I guess they’re adjusting for inflation? I’ll take it in exchange for a picture of a receipt or two, especially since now I can upload other weird receipts instead of just an endless number of Safeway grocery ones!

In related news, I apparently either forgot or never realized that Microsoft Rewards (local) was a thing, I used to do this all the time on early incarnations of Microsoft Edge, and even redeemed a gift card or two, but in September 2016 they became USA-only and I was unable to redeem or do anything with it, but also wouldn’t let me unsubscribe from their marketing emails and stuff because that section of the website was ALSO USA-only, so I had to send them a support ticket and wait around for some time until they figured out how to remove me from the database. Anyway I guess they became international again at some point (and is usable on other browsers but gives more points on Microsoft Edge) so maybe I should pick this up again. I do still have more than enough points to claim a $5 Amazon gift card leftover from 7 years ago.

I dropped that one University class that I had been hanging on to this week, the Introduction to Korean Culture one. Not before getting and reading through a couple of the slides from its eClass online course website though, but I definitely have no time or headspace this semester to pursue that. Not when I want to do some self-learn programming courses soon, too!

In work news, I actually got assigned a couple of small but interesting mini-projects/tasks this week now that I’m no longer under threat of leaving work for study abroad, a couple of investigative things and a Google Form redesign, and I did feel some measure of fulfillment (or potential fulfillment, as most of the tasks are not done yet) based on that. I guess part of the ennui I had been feeling about work literally might have been because I’ve had one foot out the door for so long, huh.

And lastly, here are a couple of pictures from the week. Firstly, some clouds after the rain on Tuesday, Sep 12 (I pity the worker cutting wet grass just after the rain stopped):

And lastly, some very, very bright and clear skies and vibrant colours on Friday, Sep 15.

Games

A new computer means new games to try! There were a bunch of Steam sales this week, so I picked up Red Dead Redemption 2 to try out my PC. I installed Cyberpunk 2077 and that to play around with, and both happily run fine on maximum graphics, although Cyberpunk 2077 stiill suffered framerate drops in some heavy areas like the first nightclub I visited (time for another hardware upgrade!), though I think that part of that was due to some NVIDIA frame generation AI thing which I eventually disabled. RDR2 ran fine too, but I got sick of it really quickly because the main character’s movement controls are terrible on a keyboard/mouse setup and I felt like I was fighting his movement more than playing the actual game. Apparently there are mods that might fix that, or I can just switch to a controller to try that, but I have other games to try too so I left that alone for now.

Cyberpunk 2077, in contrast, feels great, but there’s a major patch that drops next week and an expansion that drops a couple weeks after that, so I have no real reason to go too hard into the game right now as well.

I tried to install Skyrim as well, and then transfer all the mods over from my old computer, which were set up using Mod Organiser 2. Configuring the paths and then copy/pasting the filers worked really well for this, though I had to transfer something like 45 gb of files over so that took forever. But it ran successfully afterwards. I’m curious about trying some graphical enhancement mods now though.

I also installed Grand Theft Auto V, and will likely try out some other games, old and new, over the next couple weeks. The universe put all these games on sale for me to celebrate my new computer, after all. The only other solo game I played this week was more Yamafuda, where I’m still stuck on the last few climbs, but it now has the dubious honour of being the first game I played on this new computer.

Co-op wise, I played a game of Risk of Rain 2 with Satinel early in the week, and then late in the week I reinstalled Monster Hunter: World and played a couple of the starting missions of that with Satinel, Nak, and Jahandar. That sure brought back some memories. I had acquired and played it at launch with Satinel and Jahandar back in August 2018, and had a post-game character, but had long forgotten nearly everything about it.

As mentioned above though, my main concern so far is that I’ve had a bit of a lingering headache all this week (and for a good part of the week, my left eye was out of focus as well) and I’m not sure if it’s because of me needing to get used to my new monitor, especially at night when my living room isn’t very well lit (or if it’s because of the dragon trying to escape from my left eye), or if it’s just happenstance and something that will go away by next week.

Plushie of the Week #106 – Anna Club Bear

This is probably the largest plushie I have in the subset of plushies whose origins I have absolutely no idea about. None whatsoever at all. I am fairly certain that this plushie is one that I picked up after I moved in to this house, so most likely post-2011 or so, but definitely not recently, so before 2020 (COVID-19) and likely before 2017 (final surgery) and possibly even before 2015 (voice surgery/2nd Korea trip) as well.

Besides that, I have no idea where she came from, who gave her to me (if applicable), how much she cost (if applicable), or any sort of story behind her. She’s just sort of always been there with my other plushies.

Front:

Back:

She has a lot of tags. Tag 1:

Tag 2 front:

Tag 2 back:

Tag 3 front:

Tag 3 back/Tag 4 front:

Tag 4 back/Tag 5 front:

Tag 5 back:

Song of the Week #83

Title: Lately
Artist: Divine
Album: Fairy Tale (1998)

Back in my formative music days of the late 90s, there were seven or eight songs that took my #1 favourite song spot over a period of a couple years, from Lemon Tree (Fool’s Garden) in 1996 through to My Love (Westlife) in 2000/2001, after which I never really listened to enough English music to ever change it again. That mix of songs to hit #1 included other songs with sizable streaks that I have featured in Song of the Week, I’ll Never Break Your Heart (Backstreet Boys), and Say It Once (Ultra), as well as a couple other songs with shorter streaks — one of them that fits into this latter category is this song, Lately by Divine, which swept me off my feet in what was apparently 1998, though I have them slotted in my mind as 1997 somehow.

They were only ever at the top of my favourite songs list for a couple of weeks at most, I think, before I got more enamoured with another song, but the start of this one hit wonder especially captured me with their vocals and the various instruments and the way everything bubbles together into a cohesive form that still give me chills years and years later. I love the start of the song.

My memory of this song is obviously tinged heavily with Singapore memories, my younger days in the sunshine and of walking through void decks and the fragrant scent of flowers mixed with a visual of books somehow, but I don’t actually have any memories of this linked to the end of my days in Singapore and going abroad.

The other songs that have held the #1 spot on my list of favourite English songs besides the aforementioned five are End of the Line (The Honeyz) and Save Tonight (Eagle-Eye Cherry). Even though this Song of the Week snippet predates both of those blog snippets, I eventually edited those in anyway as this snippet is the most complete list of my #1 songs on my blog for now.

Writing Prompt of the Week #26

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“Open a dictionary to a random page and, without looking, point to a word. What memory or relationship comes to mind when you see that word, and why?”

What a weird question. But I guess I’ll play along. Lacking a real physical dictionary anywhere near me, I used a random word generator site and generated five consecutive words.

Shadow — This’d be Lady Jinx and the many sister characters (rogues and assassins come to mind in this case) we created in fantasy worlds, particularly the Forgotten Realms. Also how I shadowed her around.

Relative — This’d be Auntie Doris, one of Dad‘s sisters, and a literal relative. Why her over all the other relatives I have? No idea, she just came to mind first. I think of her as very kind.

Sheet — This’d be Zian, as my mind went from sheet to letters and envelopes to the nice letter that she sent me (and the postcards and thank-you notes that I bought and got for/from her and others) on the last couple days of my Kyoto Ritsumeikan study abroad trip. Those were the days. Until my next adventure, anyway.

Width — Word association here went from Width to Blog Post to Jahandar.

So — What a weird word. This one went to Satinel, as we talk daily, and talk often, and she challenges me to think about things in ways that I appreciate all the time. It also reminds me of the Japanese “sou!”, which is “I see” or “Is that so?” depending on inflection, which reminds me of anime, which goes to Nak and Satinel.

Memory Snippet of the Week #90

To commemorate my new computer, I wanted to feature my computer speakers this week. Visible in the images above, I use a pair of “dostyle SD209” speakers, a Chinese brand, and while they were very cheap, they’ve also performed admirably (for me with one deaf ear and unable to distinguish fidelity anyway, but apparently they’re a decent choice even for normal people). And more importantly, they’ve lasted forever!

Mind the dirt, even after some wiping down. I did some digging back in my log archives and found that I had bought this from the English version of a Chinese commerce site, en.jd.com, back on Nov 09 2015. This was part of a “Singles Day” (11/11) promotion that they were having where you could sign up and get $10 off your first purchase. en.jd.com is long dead, they turned into joybuy.com or something in Sep 2016, according to my email ads, but that also seems to be dead now. The original link of my purchase was here though it didn’t save correctly, and the other archive.org version of that page links to a slightly different speaker instead. I also did find the thumbnail of the speaker in question here, but again, that link did not go to a usable page.

Ma ii ka. What is important is that some of us in Discord, Kynji, Jahandar, Fames, and I, and possibly a couple others, daisy-chained some referral invites to each other so that we got either $10 or $20 off our first purchases each, and I ended up getting those speakers for 5 cents USD (7 cents CAD). Nearly 8 years later, they’re still going strong for me! Best 7 cents ever. Apparently, during that sale, Kynji picked up a set of sparkly lights, and Jah got a wireless handheld keyboard. I wonder if those are still holding up as well.

Dreams
Sep 11 2023
  • All I remember is the very end part of my dream, where I was walking through a park from its southeast corner, toward an outdoor classroom in the middle of the park, for my next class. I was going to be late, but there was a part of the park where there was an upper path that I was walking along, and a lower path that was a shorter route to the classroom, and I jumped down from the upper path to the lower path and therefore made it there in time. Also, there was something about my classmates and I having some sort of special skills that could be activated a couple times a day each, and I was thinking about how many charges I had left at some point, but I do not remember more detail than that.
Sep 12 2023
  • The dream featured a girl named Venus Flower, the daughter of a king in some sort of military training program. The program consisted of mostly guys, but not all. The king of the country was holding an audience in his throne room with the people in the program, there were about 100 people on benches around the room, with another girl seated next to me (in female form) on a bench on the right side of the king, and Venus herself seated with some other guys on the left side.
  • On the way in, she tripped and fell, and the king huffed and within 1 second, demanded for 15 volunteers to do 15 sit-ups as punishment for letting her fall and no one immediately being by her side and helping her up. 15 of the guys around her dropped to a seated position within seconds and began to do sit-ups, for everyone knew that the punishment for not having people volunteering quickly enough would be even more severe. Later on, for something even more minor, I think it was something to do with a task she didn’t complete properly, the king demanded the same thing again and another 15 guys, this time spread around the room, immediately got up from the benches and sat down on the floor to do situps too.
  • The king only counted from 1-6 each time, and the guys called out 7-15 in a militaristic brisk pace to finish the counting as they did their sit-ups, though I did notice that many of the volunteers skipped out on a couple of the actual sit-ups since the pace was so quick.
  • The king declared that he was giving the troupe a “Last Chance”, and everyone agreed that this “Last Chance” should be assigned to the girl beside me, as she shared a large room with the princess and thus as her roommate was the best person to look after her. The king told her that if she succeeded, her reward would be that she’d be assigned as her trainer forever. If she failed, she would be forced to graduate from the training program by the king, who would literally give her her graduation papers and tell her to leave forever.
Sep 15 2023
  • All I remember is a segment where a cartoonish character had eaten too much and become immensely obese, and at some point he tripped and fell face-up on the ground and could no longer get to his feet. A girl whom he was friends with jumped on top of him and started to tickle him, driving him insane through involuntary movement, and the spent energy made him grow thinner and thinner, until he was back to his normal size again.
Sep 16 2023
  • There was a game where a male protagonist had to try to escape hell. The game started with a dinner in a mansion with him and about 14 other people or so, many of who were members of high society in the circles of hell. It led to him meeting the people in various scenes and locations, although the only thing I remember about this part is a scene where someone was tied to a pole and then placed along an exercise bench in a torture chamber basement, and told to make sure he kept his legs off the ground because if his legs dipped below the bench and touched the water on the ground he would get electrocuted. This was very tiring, but eventually he figured out, perhaps with the protagonist’s help, that he could roll off on one side of the bench onto a slightly higher dry ground.
  • Anyway, the game itself had multiple paths through the story, and always ended up with the protagonist collecting 14 thin notebooks via events or minigames, and putting them on the table before a hell clerk at the end of the game that guarded a door back to the real world. The protagonist then had to choose the correct notebook out of the 14, as one of them would give him his freedom, whereas the other 13 would doom him. He chose wrongly the first time, and the game restarted as there was a free New Game+ mechanic built in, so he had to go through the entire game again. But it was much quicker this second time, and soon he was back at the desk again.
  • Just before reaching the desk this time, he spoke to a grandmother character who happened to mention the colour red, so this time when he laid all 14 notebooks down on the desk, he picked the one with a red cover. The clerk looked at him, then said something like, “You took 30 minutes to complete the game to get here, so you get 30… years in hell instead!” He had apparently picked the wrong notebook again and still had no clue how to figure out which one was the right book.
  • The protagonist asked the clerk to hold on though, and tried to make a deal. He said he knew that the game only gave two playthroughs, but he asked if there was actually any specific rule against giving him another try. The clerk thought a while and said that no, there wasn’t, but it was getting late. The protagonist said he’d follow the clerk back home to his apartment, wake him up in the morning, and even cook him noodles or scrambled eggs if he wanted, if the clerk would grant him another shot. The clerk agreed to this, and said he’d prefer scrambled eggs. So they did so and the cycle began all over again.
  • One thing I noticed as an observer of the dream is that there were subtle changes between each playthrough. For example, at the start of the first game, there was a boisterous maid girl who was one of the attendants in the hell mansion. In the second playthrough, she was assisted by a new recruit in a maid outfit, Cyan from Show By Rock!!, who was very reserved and did things very gingerly. In the third playthrough however, Cyan was now very comfortable in her role and had actually become a secret unlocked playable character, even though the third playthrough wasn’t “supposed” to exist except by the grace of the clerk. I remember telling someone about this and noting that a favourite character that both Satinel and I liked had now become playable in New Game++ and how great that development was.
  • Outside of the game world, the “I” character (separate from the protagonist of the game) also had a phone call with my family as we tried to figure out where to go and meet up for dinner. I was with Dad and Kel whereas Mom and Jon were at home in our apartment, but somehow when we all got into the same voice call on the app, there were 6 people, or at least 6 phones, in the call. Anyway we were going to meet by a restaurant near our home but Dad said it was too late in the evening and that it would be better to just eat at home instead.
  • Lastly, there was a golf game that I attended, and we golfed in a group of 6 — Tiger Woods, a slightly portly Chinese guy, two white businessmen, a middle-aged woman who was some sort of executive, and me. Tiger Woods was obviously leading the pack on the scores, with some great shots like a long ranged putt that clipped the lip of a hole and went past it partway up a slight incline, came back down the hill and rolled toward the cup, clipped the lip again and went a full 180 degrees around its rim and back up the same incline, then back down again, and this time landed in the cup. The Chinese guy was really good too, with a perfect shot across a river and right into the cup on that same hole that Tiger Woods had done that shot on for an albatross, and he also had a hole-in-one from an earlier hole.
  • Out of the other members, one of the two businessmen had spent some time looking at the other one, and eventually he spoke up and said that he had decided that he actually recognized that other guy from a golf debate show or something similar that he had watched in the past. That guy was one of the debaters standing on “the left side” of the stage. The woman executive or director confirmed that he was correct.

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