My Diary #129

Dear Tigey,

You’re so plump.

Entry #129 (Jan 28 2024)

Life

Phew, what a hectic two weeks at work. Being queue monitor means I get to see the queue of tickets coming in and triage them the way I want to, which means that I spend most of the day every day knocking out low-difficulty, high-volume tickets since our team has been down numbers for these two weeks (we only had 2 of 5 team members present on Monday and Tuesday this week). I must have processed something close to 300-400 tickets these two weeks. It’s fun, but a little tiring after a bit, especially since it’s rather monotonous.

On Thursday though, I had a little break from this as I went down to the University for a department-sponsored “free” lunch. I believe that this took the place of the Christmas lunch/dinner last year, that the department usually holds in December, at least before COVID, but that got postponed until January this year.

Sandy and Ronnie were supposed to be there too but they both called in sick, so I thought that I was going to be alone there, but I had not realized that Alex had also signed up for the event, and we met outside the conference room that was acting as our dining hall, and ended up seating together at a half-empty table and having a great chat for a couple hours.

Because I never got/haven’t gotten a chance to go overseas and take food pictures there, I took food pictures, and other pictures, from this event instead. Firstly, about half an hour before the event started, I walked around a nearby building called the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, or ECHA, next to where the train stopped. There was a small food court upstairs called Skyah’s Food Hall that I had never visited before, and I decided to snap a couple pictures of it as I wandered by.

There was a loop of pedways from that building leading to where Mom was hospitalized when she had her stroke last year, and I still had about 20 minutes to spare before the event started, so I decided to take a leisurely stroll around the hospitals across the street and back. I wandered into a gift shop and back out, then passed a bear mascot on the way back to ECHA.

I then left ECHA in the other direction, toward Lister Hall, where the lunch was being held.

There were a bunch of people lining up outside the conference room that we had booked, and I ran into Alex there. Two of our admin assistants were giving out nametags for the attendees and entering people into a door prize draw, which was drawn later on once everyone had settled in. There were lots of tables, and Alex and I sat toward the back of the room, at a half-empty table. There were three other people at that table, from three different teams, and three empty seats as well that were never filled.

Someone seated next to me, but at another table, won a door prize. That was close.

Because we were at the back of the room, we didn’t get to go out to the buffet tables until most of the other tables (except the one next to us, which had a bunch of executives at it) got to go. So this was what was left by the time we went out.

Seasonal vegetables, but they didn’t specify the season (it sure isn’t winter though, since I think carrots are a spring/fall vegetable):

Whipped potato, a very charged phrase — no gravy though:

Herb-Roasted Chicken. Singular form of the word. They ran out before the last two tables had a shot at it:

\

Dinner Rolls, a fancy way of saying plain bread buns. I didn’t take any of this:

Spinach salad, with “onions, mushrooms, strawberries, and goat cheese”, though there were no strawberries at all:

And poppy seed dressing, for the salad:

But on a separate, smaller table in the corner, I saw a vegetarian area that had been ignored by everyone who had gone before us:

In the middle tray were stuffed mushrooms. These were amazing! I took two for myself over two separate helpings:

Later on, the catering staff brought out desserts in the form of various cakes, and they even refilled the chicken! I had some fresh chicken in my second and third helpings. No cake though:

After the meal, Alex and I left together, walking back toward our old offices to take a look at it. Ronnie had given away our offices so we had nowhere to return to (and thus could not be forced to return to work), but we were supposed to have some hoteling space as well for the rare occurrences where we had to come in to work. We couldn’t find it. We then walked back from the office area toward the train station, and randomly found the biannual travelling poster sale (it’s called the Imaginus Poster Sale and travels between the Canadian universities through the year, stopping for about a week each time) in full swing along the way:

We also tried to stop by the new Dentistry/Pharmacy building on the way back, as it was just outside the entrance to the train station, but it was apparently not open to the public yet even though it looked done from the outside. Oh well.

Once I was back on my home turf, passing through Southgate Mall on my way home, I went to visit a Star Wars exhibit (local) that was being held in the mall, but the signs for it splattered up around the mall that I had seen prior to that day had failed to mention the entrance fee for the event, and I had not looked at that webpage above until today when I wrote up this section of the blog, so I didn’t actually get to enter the exhibit:

Finally, I saw a Chinese New Year exhibit that had been set up in one of the central areas of the mall too. I really appreciate how Southgate Mall always has really neat seasonal setups through the year. The woman’s blocked by the lanterns, and they dispersed before I could take a better picture, but I also really found the concept of Indians taking a commemorative Chinese New Year photo to be very awesome and cool.

There, now the fact that I just stayed home and played Palworld all week and don’t have anything else interesting to talk about has been covered up by the presence of many pictures. Although, my legs were sore on Friday after all the walking I/we did on Thursday.

Talking about staying home, last week I mentioned two Twitch channels that I had more or less settled on to follow because I liked their communities and vibes — SoEverdream during the day and Nomakk during the night. This week, I randomly received a 1 month gift subscription by people who were tossing them out to viewers in the channel — to both channels, in separate incidents, on the same day. How random. I’ve also cycled in another occasional night-time channel, Nookrium, to watch, but he doesn’t tend to stream for very long and he can be a little bit harder to hear sometimes. I like the smaller indie games that he plays though, and he has a channel points redeem for Dad jokes that people redeem regularly — I love when he drops them in his very deadpan manner.

And while I don’t mention hockey much outside of the occasional dream, because I’m not interested in analysis or statistics in it even though I enjoy watching the games when I remember they’re on, our local hometown Edmonton Oilers are now on a historic 16-game winning streak, and it’s been pretty fun to watch. It’s probably safe now to mention it since the team’s on a couple week break until after the All Star Break. Best of luck to them after the break.

Games

Palworld was most of my playtime this week — I had a solo game going, a game with Satinel going, and one with Heg going as well. It doesn’t feel like a game which can sustain my interest more than 2-3 weeks at a time, nor does it seem that can I play it more than 3-4 hours at once without starting to feel worn down, but I have very much enjoyed my time with it so far and it doesn’t seem like there’s an endless amount of content to work through either, which is a positive in this case. There’s a level cap, of which we’re about 70% of the way there on our main map, and a finite number of pals one can catch before diminishing returns start setting in, and a finite number of buildings and recipes to unlock as well.

Experiencing the combination of mechanics and the gameplay at launch has been very much worth the price of the game. Heg‘s home apparently burnt down while I was offline, due to a raid of enemies that attacked him, which must have been quite a sight. He provided this screenshot:

Just another day in Palworld. I wonder how this game is going to develop over time. It took a good chunk of the gaming world by storm this week, but I don’t know yet how much long-term potential it will have for me. Then again, it’s not like I’ve gone back to play survival games after my initial playthrough very often. As I heard one streamer say this week, as far as most people are concerned, a game only launches once, whether it’s early access or full release. Releasing in early access means a good chunk of the people who played it then will not come back for any future Version 1.0 full release, and that’s the only version they’ll ever know and experience.

We’ll see though! Right now the game is still lots of fun, and early in the week I stayed up until 4am playing it. Here’s some shots of Satinel and me and our base.

Outside of Palworld, and our near-daily AMQ games, the only other games that got even a sniff this week were a bit of Hades and a bit of SWTOR.

I did win my 3rd and 4th game of Hades this week, with the 4th one finally coming with a weapon other than the sword and the spear. At this point I’m using the “god mode” damage mitigation buff because, well, I’ve already beaten the final boss without it twice and I’m contemplating farming for full achievements now as a tribute to the great game. Never mind the gameplay itself, which is still quite excellent after all this time, it’s also fit in very well into my real life and daily schedule around work and Steam sales and Palworld sessions and noisy neighbours and Youtube videos and Twitch streams and anime group watches and blogging and everything else I do. It just keeps finding a way to make me want to continue playing it, while being neither too addictive nor too draining or stressful, and not many games can do that 55 runs in.

I also did learn that the game keeps separate scoreboards for attempts and victories with the god mode buff on, versus attempts and victories with it off, at least for tracking weapon victories.

Plushie of the Week #125 – Dog in Canada Pig Onesie

I’m not even sure how to describe this thing, but one of our keychain plushies is a little brown dog wearing a pig onesie with the word Canada emblazoned across its front. Why is Canada associated with a pig or a dog? No idea. It just is. That’s the way he chose to exist in this material world, and who are we to judge?

I have not been able to find out anything about this keychain online, nor do I remember anything about him, other than this thing has been around for a long time, to the point that I believe that he was either bought when we first arrived here in Canada in the late 90s or early 00s, or possibly even further back, when we were on one of several vacations to Canada while still living in Singapore. He’s been around a long time though, that much I know.

Right now he lives in the plushie box at my parents’ place, very much out of sight out of mind, and I haven’t thought about him in ages. He jumped out at me as I was flipping through my plushie picture folder this week though, while trying to pick one for this PotW #125 segment out of all the remaining unknown plushies that I haven’t featured yet, so here we are now.

Front:

Back, and blurry tag back:

Tag front:

Dog without onesie head:

I don’t seem to have just a good frontal shot of the pig hoodie, but it doesn’t pull down totally over the dog’s head or anything like that anyway.

Song of the Week #102

Title: Tokimeki Experience!
Artist: Poppin’Party
Album: BanG Dream! OST (2017)

This song is the opening song for Season 1 of the BanG Dream! anime, and while Season 1 wasn’t as good compared to the next two seasons, I really liked the bubblegum energy in this opening song, to the point that it’s still one of my favourite songs in the entire franchise. It was also one of my first idol anime that I watched, and while I like idol anime quite a bit now, at the time this served as one of the introduction shows (and by extension, songs) to that genre.

I watched this from Jun 07 to Jun 11 2020, and to put this in timeline perspective, our University started its Work From Home program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Mar 16 2020, so the song and the pandemic are somewhat inextricably linked because I liked it enough to put it on my phone to listen to as I went walking around the neighbourhood while society was caught in the throes of the pandemic and everything outside looked like a dead, post-apocalyptic city. Therefore, the mental image I get when listening to this song is that of walking along very sun-lit but very quiet pathways, a very weird, liminal experience like I was the last person alive in the city.

Another thing that happened in the middle part of 2020, and that I tie this song to as well, was the Summer Connect 2020 program where I met Ran and planned a trip with her out to Banff, among other places. The nostalgia of that trip and the trials that we went through together and experiences we shared, as well as the mental push I needed to even put the trip together and chaperone her in the middle of a pandemic, are all things that contribute their own colours to the pastel palette that I associate this song with.

Writing Prompt of the Week #45

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“What is your saddest memory from your youth?”

That would be coming to Canada, and specifically having to leave my friends in Singapore behind, though I’ve already written about this one in bits and pieces here and there around the blog. Both the Sentosa Chalet incident as well as the Sun Plaza Park stuff were events that were directly and indelibly linked to leaving Singapore and moving to Canada for me, and there were lots of side memories linked to that event too, like the last time I saw Kallang McDonalds before walking away from it, or when Huihan visited my house to deliver a Christmas card during the school holidays, about a week or two before we left for Canada, or the extended family having one last gathering with Dad (and by extension our family) at a coffeeshop three nights before we left, or seeing the sun rise over Singapore from the airplane as we flew off from Changi Airport in the early morning of Dec 31 1998. Some of those demons took a long time to vanquish, pretty much not until I finally re-visited Singapore in May 2022 in most cases.

We actually still have some remaining photos from that extended family gathering, and besides the relatives who also came to see us off at the airport three days later, that was the last time I saw (and will probably ever see) most of them, since they have no idea about my transition and I’m not really close enough to any of them now to visit them even if I go back to Singapore again in the future. Especially since the two that I were closest to, Ah Ma and Ah Kong, have both since passed on as well. This event was the last time I saw both of them.

This gathering was held at a place called Tat Lee Eating House, according to photos, which apparently is closed down now but was located near my grandparents’ place. A few curated photos follow of the event. We apparently had enough people present to fill up three full tables (the three with pink plastic tablecloths), but that actually only meant that maybe half of the extended family on Dad‘s side was actually here. The full roster would have included a lot more people.

The woman in the middle of the first picture, in the flowery shirt, is Ah Ma, my paternal grandmother, and the man in the middle of the second picture, in the blue checkered shirt, is Ah Kong, my paternal grandfather.

Memory Snippet of the Week #109

One thing looking through old photos made me remember — I used to get carsick in, well, cars, particularly air-conditioned taxis in Singapore, but to a lesser extent regular automobiles as well. Weirdly, I would not get carsick in buses or trains at all, and the family only had a motorcycle that Dad drove around which I had no issues with as well, so family outings were often not an issue because we used public transit much more often than taxis. Not sure if that was because of me or because of the way cost and convenience balanced out. I definitely threw up a couple times in my much younger (pre- or early Primary School) days though.

Anyway, I wasn’t ever sure why this happened, but I think it was a combination of the car/taxi air-conditioning and the smell of the warm leather seats that I hated. When we came to Canada, Dad adopted a mini-van, and I learnt that my carsickness was a lot milder in that thing, especially with the windows down during the summer, although I hated the “hot van” smell that would linger in the air when we entered the van after it was seated in the sun for some time. I would also occasionally still get headaches if we remained in the van for long trips. I had no such problem in winter though, as far as I remember anyway.

Anyway I still wrinkle up my nose now and then when entering a hot car, but by and large this issue has disappeared over time and no longer bothers me. Maybe I’m more tolerant or just less sensitive as an old adult now.

(TIGEY SORT OF SMELLS LIKE THIS NOW — HE NEEDS A BATH STAT.)

Dreams
Jan 23 2024
  • I remember gathering up with classmates and people from other classes on a school grass field at one point, in preparation for some school event that involved participation in a computer game where each school class was a different guild in the game, we took control of large guns on the ground that required three people at once to man.
  • I saw some school bags belonging to unguilded stragglers lying just outside the grass field and I brought them in to the field, placing them next to my class’s. I also told the class that I was considering dropping from the guild and starting my own guild to allow people who didn’t have a class/guild the chance to play as well, in a guild that would then be loosely allied with my class. Whether my idea was worth it or not depended how many people like that there were though. I saw after a bit that the two bags I brought in had been claimed — this was apparently a good sign as it meant that those people had now stepped on the field too and weren’t content to just be spectators on the sidelines.
  • I must have formed this guild as at one point in the dream I controlled a large group of about 100 soldiers, who weren’t individually good or organized but made a potent force together due to sheer numbers. We came across a bus parked in the middle of a circular courtyard next to a closed gate. I did something on the other side of the bus from where we entered the courtyard that opened the gate, but also caused a red warning circle to appear around the bus where an explosion was about to occur. Thankfully everyone was smart enough to back out of the circle so as to let it harmlessly explode.
  • Lastly, much later on in the dream, I was handed a Chinese exam paper by a teacher as I walked by her. Even though we were not on the best of terms, I scored a 100% on the paper (“for once”, I thought) somehow, and I was proud and couldn’t wait to show it off to my friends. The front page of the quiz was a bunch of fill in the blanks questions that we chose answers for from a list of potential answers that were each labelled with letters, like there was an “A.” corresponding to a potential answer, a “B.” corresponding to another, then a “C.” answer, and so on.
  • Two of the exam answers were single letters of the English alphabet, but were mapped to two different letters and not the actual letters that they were somehow, and I noticed that the teacher had marked one of those answers as wrong to begin with before correcting herself as I had put down the denoted letter for the answer (the equivalent of the leading “A.”) and then put the alphabet letter representing the actual answer after it in brackets. I believe this specifically was “B. X”, which I wrote down as B (X). Also, one of the other correct answers on this section of the quiz was “Zixiang” for some reason.
Jan 27 2024
  • I was in some sort of game world where I led a group of people around a slightly post-apocalyptic world, society had broken down a little bit and there were zombies and perhaps bandits around to fight, but organized city-life still existed as well. Although the dream was mostly in first-person perspective, I do remember navigating by way of a top-down area map at times as well.
  • The group of people I led numbered between around a dozen to two dozen people. Mom and Dad were in this group, although Mom was injured, and Zian was in this group as well, as I remember at one point breaking out two Chinese Chess sets and sitting down on a plush carpet that also doubled as a single bed to play with her. One of the two sets had a normal board, and the other one had a weird extended board with an extra column space between each column on a regular board for the equivalent of pawns to line up on. All the other non-pawn pieces could not use those extra column spaces though and had to act as though they were not there when moving.
  • What I remember of the dream started out in a house similar to our Edmonton 4012 house, although it had a gated front area between the sidewalk and the house proper, kind of like a garden, except it was a large indoor covered courtyard area with concrete floors and roofs but no walls. A woman rang our front door’s doorbell, and when we peeked out, we saw that she was from EPCOR, the local utilities company.
  • Upon opening the door and talking to her, we found out that she wanted access to the water meter, which was in the fenced in courtyard area. We let her in, although she mentioned something about needing to keep the meter in a publicly accessible location. We countered with an argument that it was still outdoors, but if we had left access to that open then all sorts of homeless people would wander in and encamp there in our yard instead, since it was partially sheltered, and they wouldn’t be able to safely reach the meter either way. Soon enough, she completed her task and left the house.
  • Another aspect of the game world were skills, there were lots of skills, many with only about a 20% chance of activation, but we could attempt them multiple times with no penalty to get them to work anyway. One of the skills I remember had to do with manipulating the clouds. Many other skills were combat skills.
  • Satinel and Nak were also part of my group, and eventually I went around scouting the neighbourhood, finding a large, unknown building complex that I wanted to explore, before going home to change out my dress for another dress. The three of us then returned to the building complex and stood outside, using throwing and shooting skills to lure out one zombie at a time before killing it. At one point, a woman flashed by a window near us, and a door near us burst open as she charged out with a baseball bat. Thanks to us noticing her flash by the window though, we reacted in time to defeat her before she could actually hit us.
  • Eventually, we cleared out the building and found out that it operated a missile shield around the country or world. We also learnt from radio and television that our world was slated for destruction in ten days because it had fallen into such general ruin that the missile shields were no longer operational and could not prevent the automated missiles that were shot our way from somewhere off-planet every couple of weeks from destroying the planet. Apparently these missiles were an automated check to make sure humanity still existed, and if not, then the shields would be down and the planet would be destroyed.
  • By clearing this missile shield facility and making it operational again, we thought that we had saved the world, but we found out that the flares that it could emit into the atmosphere could only dissipate about 40% of the incoming missiles. When we held a meeting back home, many of the people in my group had given up and were resigned to their fate, but I argued that there were bound to be other stations around where we cleared the first one, and that we still had ten days to find another one or two stations to save the world. Soon after though, we caught wind of the fact that there were also other pockets of humanity outside the main city and that several of those communities had also managed to find and restore four other missile shield facilities, which gave us more than enough coverage to survive this round of missiles.
Jan 28 2024
  • I was wandering around a voxel world with rooms that contained machines in them, I could unlock human allies and assign them to those machines, which would then open up other rooms or passageways to explore, but I didn’t actually know which allies could be used on which machines so there was a lot of backtracking and trial and error to find matches.
  • There was an emperor character who suggested I buy a game set from a shop in the level below me, but when I bought it and opened it, I found that it only came with the base game and not some other supplementary stuff that a folded sheet of paper in the game set referenced.
  • There was also a workplace buffet that I attended where you had to pick your food and then bring your tray past a checkout cashier. An investigation was done on some food that I brought to the cashier, however, as either I or the cashier pointed out that something was wrong with it, and after that investigation was done, it was found that someone else at work had maliciously rotated some of the the food (that looked like potatoes) while it was on a tray and this caused a security incident somehow. This person got reprimanded.

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