My Diary #130

Dear Tigey,

Still no bath yet, but maybe this week?

Entry #130 (Feb 04 2024)

Life

As January comes to an end, I reviewed my budget spreadsheet that I mentioned I started at the start of the year, and saw that I earned $4,534.91 this month and spent $2,900.11. I feel like I’m missing some expenditures though, even though my rent ($1,300), utilities, parents’ tithe ($500/m), groceries, and so on are all in there, and I tabulated everything I could find on both my bank accounts. I’ve never needed to keep track of expenditures because I know I spend less than I get and have never felt particularly pressured by it, but this month was actually a bit different since I had dumped basically all my money from my main chequing account into my Tax-Free Savings Account and First Home Savings Account this month.

This actually meant that due to the timing of when I did my transfers and when my net bi-monthly paycheck comes in, I needed to transfer some money back from my secondary account (with Scotiabank) to my main account (RBC) at the end of this month in order to make my rent, which automatically withdraws from my main account, while still keeping enough in my secondary account to not dip beneath the $6k mark, which would for some reason make me have to pay an account fee. I was aware of this, but still wanted/needed to quantify and see the looming deficit for myself, so I tabulated all the numbers and I believe it will work out until my next mid-month payday. So anyway, now I have a data point for me to look back on in the future and compare finances to once I get my own house.

I scanned a whole bunch of things this week, some of which made it into this week’s Memory Segment of the Week, some of which will probably make it into next week’s or sometime else soon, and some of which will never see the light of day. It’s very satisfying though, especially when paired with rain ambient noises and Twitch streams droning on in the background. I had a lot more free time this week now that I was freed up from QM duties at work and an insatiable urge to play Palworld, which has rescinded to the urge status of a normal game for me. The weather has been very nice this week too, with temperatures well above 0°C and even briefly over 10°C despite it being only late January, so my balcony door was opened a crack for much of the week as well. What a nice week. Now if only the gorilla neighbour above would move out.

The Christmas lights in the tree outside my window, that went dark recently, possibly due to the power usage warning we had a couple of weeks ago, are still not coming on in the evenings. Ah well. We had a water usage warning (local) this week due to a failure in one of the water treatment plants in the city, although that ban was lifted Friday this week too.

Mom has more or less finished her physical therapy sessions now, and they’re trying to return that exercise machine that I foisted onto them a few months back, the Deskcycle, back to me now, and threatening to donate it or get rid of it instead if I don’t want it. Dang it. I was hoping to not have it back until I moved into the new place but I’ll have to find a nice wall that it can stand beside again, and then add it to my moving expenses once it comes time for me to move to my future house. I’m not even really sure how items that can’t easily fit into a box get moved by moving companies. One of the things I’ll have to figure out at some point.

Oddly, outside of all this, I don’t have much to talk about this week, so this section is short for once!

Games

What did my diet of games include this week? AMQ, SWTOR, Palworld, Hades, Marvel‘s Midnight Suns (from the January Humble Monthly, which I ended up getting near the end of the month — no discount this time though), ZERO Sievert, Talented, largely the same pool of games as over the last few weeks, with a couple of new additions.

I also touched a bit of, and am feeling another possible attempt at, a Yakuza 0 run coming up because I want to play enough of the games that I can play the later games in the franchise (currently the Like a Dragon games) while knowing all the backstories eventually. It’s hard to get back into that one after being gone so long though, even though I’m only in early Chapter 2 still. I also remember that I pondered doing a New Year’s resolution of some sort to complete a bunch of games that I have played halfway but never finished, but I don’t like those sorts of resolutions so I won’t. I should still do that to some of my older games though. This thought brought to you by the release of Persona 3 Reload this week, since I am only halfway through Persona 5 Royal and a slight dabble into Persona 4 Golden.

I also learnt that Heroes of Might and Magic 3, a childhood staple, has a fan-made expansion pack called Horn of the Abyss that I had not heard of until this week. They just hit some sort of milestone (local) that includes a new town and campaign. I kind of want to play it, but time commitments are an issue.

Plushie of the Week #126 – Koya

I don’t reeeeally know the history behind this plushie as well as I perhaps should, but I’ll try my best to and make mistakes now and ask for clarifications later. This plushie’s name is Koya, and he’s a member of BT21 (local), a character collaboration between Line, a mobile messaging app, and BTS, a very popular South Korean boy band. I don’t follow them though so I know basically next to nothing about them other than that they exist.

My notes say that this plushie itself came from Singapore in 2019 from a Kel trip there. I also have the name Shooky associated with it in my notes. The problem though is that when I went digging around on that wiki’s pages, this biscuit character’s name is obviously Shooky (local) and not Koya (local). So why is its name Koya in my notes? And why does the plushie’s tag itself literally say Koya? What is real in this life? I don’t even know anymore. Moving along, my notes also say that this plushie originates from a BTS member’s drawing, and that he loves hockey.

Nonetheless, until I am reprimanded and told otherwise, here are some pictures of Koya.

Front:

Back:

His main tag is very blurred, but here’s the front of it, along with a little side tag that says Koya:

And tags back:

And a “NO MILK” shirt featuring this character that Kel has:

Song of the Week #103

Title: Kiss the Rain
Artist: Billie Myers
Album: Growing Pains (1997)

I’ve been playing rainstorm ambient music all week long to combat the idiotic noises from upstairs, so this song felt strangely fitting for this week somehow. It’s a song I strongly relate to Singapore, since it was released in 1997, in the time period where a lot of the other songs that are dear to me are from. And obviously, it’s a song that I specifically relate to the long rains that fall heavy and often in Singapore.

I love the smell and sound of rainstorms, and so even though I think this is supposed to be a sad song, it never really totally nailed that feel for me. Rainstorms at home, rainstorms in school, rainstorms at the bus interchange, rainstorms on the way home from school that make me have to stand outside the door on a spread piece of newspaper and dry out for a bit before I’m allowed in the house — rain in Singapore was a glorious and integral part of my childhood memories, and one that I still deeply appreciate to this day, and I was very happy when it rained heavily the last time I returned to Singapore. I still remember that day well.

The first part of the song, which mimics being on a phone call, also reminds me specifically of Zixiang (though sometimes it would happen with other friends like Eugene, Xuanjie, or Huihan) and the hours we would spend on the landline phones talking to each other in the evenings back in Singapore. Until Dad yelled at me to get off the phone. Good times. As I liked Billie Myers’s other single songs from this CD as well, I ended up buying this CD at the time, and still have it sitting in a box in my apartment.

That being said, the song comes with a healthy dose of nostalgia these days, and that part brings with it an aching longing for my childhood days again. Outside of childhood friends, locations, rainstorms, and phone calls, the song also reminds me of playing board games with Mom when young, particularly Scrabble and another somewhat similar game called Mathable that I credit for a lot of my early mental math prowess.

Writing Prompt of the Week #46

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“The first time I disagreed with my parents…”

Eh, I don’t like this question and I don’t think it belongs in the “young adulthood” section. Do children never disagree with their parents?

Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be the first time, but probably the most interesting recurring disagreement I had with my parents was over haircuts, which I’ve passingly mentioned here and there before. While I had no idea that I was transgendered at the time, I always hated haircuts because I wanted long hair, and didn’t like short, boyish hair, especially when my Dad would ask for really short buzz cuts. Also, I really disliked spending time in the barbershops in Singapore, which were sterile white rooms with mirrors and chairs and a bench on the side for the people waiting to get haircuts.

Dad would often get his at the same time as well, and later on Jon would often be made to come along too, so it not only meant that I got to lose most of my hair, but it also meant that I had to sit around miserably and have to wait a couple hours for everyone’s haircuts to be done before I could go home, take a shower, and get on with the rest of my day.

When we came to Canada, this also continued, but instead of sterile white rooms, we instead visited a cheap barber franchise named Great Clips for our haircuts. There was a time period after I realized that I was transgendered and before I actually told my parents where I always made sure to have a fight with my parents everytime they wanted to bring me to that hair salon. At least by that point they no longer insisted I got buzz cuts, just relatively short hair.

It’s funny though, at that point, early on in my transition process, I absolutely wanted longer hair as I thought that it made me pass better and that it was more feminine. These days, now that I’m fully transitioned and very comfortable, I actually am fond of shorter, somewhat boyish cuts again, although I seldom get that actual hairstyle myself. I just go for shoulder-length bobs these days and let it grow out.

My favourite haircut is still a variation of what the Japanese call the hime cut though, at least the shorter sides around the ears, although I tend to dislike fringes very much. In games with character creations where I get to pick hairstyles for my character, I still tend to favour ponytails, with pigtails and various straight haired hairstyles (shorter bobs or longer hair) not far behind, or else interesting Asian royalty sort of hairstyles with various hair ornaments, but then right after those come a variety of short, boyish hairstyles which about 10 years ago I would never be caught dead wearing.

(I still strongly dislike certain other kinds of hairstyles though, including curly hair, and more expressive styles like mohawks and dreadlocks.)

Memory Snippet of the Week #110

I scanned and uploaded a bunch of my old exam papers this week, from the end of my Secondary 2 year in 1998. As we were part of the Gifted Education Programme exams, the Sec 2 GEP students in the 4 schools that hosted us, Dunman High School, Raffles Girls’ Secondary School, Raffles Institution, and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), all took the same exams.

I uploaded all of them to archive.org (sans names, since I don’t like uploading personal information directly to the Internet Archive even though it’s very obvious what it is from my blog here). I’m not going to display all 62 pages here, or complain too much about how some papers count the front cover page as Page 1 and others as Page 0, but I will link the Internet Archive links here anyway.

ට  1998-10-08: English Final Exam
ට  1998-10-08: History Final Exam
ට  1998-10-09: Science Final Exam
ට  1998-10-13: English Literature Final Exam
ට  1998-10-14: Geography Final Exam
ට  1998-10-15: Mathematics Final Exam

Only the Math one actually has my answers in it, all the other exams seem to have had separate question and answer booklets/sheets, and I didn’t get back the answer sheetes for those. The Science one is also missing the entire second section, because that one was apparently a section where we had to write our answers directly on the sheet itself. Similarly, the Geography one is missing a map insert that we had to fill in. I’m not sure why I have the Math one, but if we didn’t then I wouldn’t have had anything for that subject at all since the entire paper was done on the “question booklet” itself. I apparently ran out of time to finish the paper even though I was one of the best Math students in the country/programme. Also, I don’t have the Chinese final exam and I wonder why.

Anyway, I also scanned my secondary (and primary) school report book(s), and I wanted to highlight a few pages that tie in to the final exams above, so I’ve attached my Secondary 2 marks as well, from the semester that ended just prior to us going to Canada. Actually, maybe we were supposed to return the papers at the start of Sec 3 but I never went back for Sec 3 and thus got to keep the papers or something. Who knows for sure anymore. Nonetheless, I’m not 100% sure but I think Continual Assessment on the report card is the ongoing mark from quizzes, homework, the midterm exam etc throughout the year, and Semestral Assessment is the actual final exam itself after mark corrections.

(These ones do have names attached, but they’re my old name, since I’ve long since legally transitioned and everything, and I’ve featured that name many times on the blog already. That person is quantum now.)

There almost always was a “highest and lowest mark” sheet as well, which I included in the uploads, and this shows the high, low, and average marks for each subject throughout the entire GEP, so not just from students in Dunman but from both Raffles schools as well as Anglo-Chinese. The cream of the crop, so to speak. So to highlight how brutal some of the exams could be sometimes, the average score across the ENTIRE GEP student body for the Sec 2 Mathematics final exam in 1998 was… a whopping 39.9 out of 100. I apparently initially got a 66% on it but apparently got it changed to a 70% somehow or other afterwards, either by arguing how some questions were marked or by pointing out some summation error or something.

Also, apparently 444.3/700 was good enough for 5th in class out of 16 students.

And there was also this very random and subjective sheet, I have no idea why this was a thing, but it is nice because it lists all my teachers and their subjects:

And lastly, there was this sheet tucked between one of the pages, that lists a bunch of extracurricular activities I (was forced to) took part in during Secondary 1. I don’t remember most of this but I do have some documentation for a few of these things that I haven’t scanned or uploaded yet.

There were over a dozen other pages, including my Sec 1 marks, and I’m glad I have them all archived on my hard drive now.

Dreams
Jan 29 2024
  • Part of the dream had something to do with things that I could throw a ball at and capture, each one with a % chance for the ball to succeed in capturing them, with the twist that they remained in that % state for some time and I could remove some % from one attempt to add an equivalent % number to another attempt that I felt was more lucrative.
  • These balls were small, about the size of a ping pong ball, but made of rubber, and there was a specific snippet where I got to a picnic area and found a spot on the grass next to a cliff and near four spawn points. I had two rubber balls with me there, one a patterned yellow ball and the other a solid black one that I felt had also featured in another recent dream. I sat down at that spot to reserve it, although there was a group of people seated at a picnic table nearby that I was slightly worried might be mad at us if they had picked the table for its proximity to those spawn points. They didn’t seem to mind though. There was also a clump of tall grass nearby with spider webs on it and a small spider visibly crawling upon those webs, and I wondered if giant spiders spawned there.
  • I don’t fully remember the context, but there was a similar mechanic to the removal and addition of the % chance on those captures that also applied to some land that could be owned by people, where control over a particular zone could be lowered or removed altogether in order to add control over another zone. This came into play somehow when trying to apprehend a robber who was on the run in my dream.
Jan 31 2024
  • It was an event day at school, so there were no classes, but there were special events taking place in each classroom. Most of them were presentations by teachers, though I got into a turn based battle with another ally and a bunch of gorillas at one point to try to save a grandma and her flute in a room. We failed.
  • I also got into a 2nd fight near another room with a hospital bed in it. We won this one but got hit by a followup crafting project that required a bunch of stuff before we could get the book we wanted as a reward from the room. It required five different materials, and in particular we were missing about 20 gold ingots or so, so we decided to come back later.
  • I ended up with about 24 empty drink tetra paks and dumped about half of them into a dustbin in a classroom after the event there had ended, while bringing the other dozen or so home with me for the recycling deposit. While in the classroom I copied a phrase from a teacher into a Google search. The phrase was something that made no sense and the teacher wondered why I wanted it since there were no relevant search engine results, but I secretly wanted it for some other reason and was just using the Google search as a pretext to write down the phrase to remember it for later.
Feb 02 2024
  • Satinel and I went to a fair together. This was an exhibition with shops from, plus was held in roughly the same two-storey building as, a previous dream, specifically the one on Nov 10 2023, although it also contained puzzle elements from yet another previous dream, plus some other elements of its own.
  • We arrived at the location and got in line at the entrance, until Satinel pointed out that we needed to actually buy the tickets at a side booth first, then get it stamped at another side booth, then come back. Neither of those booths had queues though so we did so quite quickly, and I got two extra handouts to bring home to scan for my efforts as well.
  • The main queue also moved quickly, and soon we were at the front of the line. Satinel was ahead of me and got processed and allowed in, while I had to fumble around in my bag a bit to find and pull out four different cards for the attendants to process. There were two attendants, one male and one female, and both of them became distracted and wandered off into the large employee area behind the attendant window while I was doing so.
  • While waiting for them to return, I chatted a bit with the two girls behind me, who pulled out several cups of ice cream from their bag and placed it on the counter so they wouldn’t spill and dirty the girls’ handbags. One of the girls asked me if we were staying in a room on the roof, I said no, we were staying at a hotel downtown.
  • The male attendant returned and started to process my cards but got distracted by someone else who came up for help in solving a puzzle. The attendant pulled up a Discord window and showed him a music bot where one could type in the name of a song and the bot would then play its music video from Youtube, and then played some sort of rap song for the patron, which was supposed to act as some sort of motivational gesture. I asked the attendant to hurry up and process my ticket as I had a friend waiting for me inside.
  • Once I got in, Satinel and I walked around a bit, and even sat down to enjoy some food at one point, while watching Tigey deploy little minions in a straight line out from him on some grass to destroy a little bug enemy on the floor. I also noticed a single spider web strand had tangled itself with my hair and my food, so I brushed it off.
  • We then decided to tackle some puzzles. This went fine at first until we reached a puzzle where we had to move between tiles to get to a chest, but the entire floor shifted everytime we moved. I was pretty sure that this one could just be solved by moving back and forth between two tiles, and I demonstrated this and got to the chest and looted it fine, but Satinel couldn’t replicate this and got a bit frustrated, so she said we were moving on to another nearby room with a different frost-based puzzle instead, since the general tip for puzzles that couldn’t be solved was to come back later.
Feb 03 2024
  • I was preparing for my final week staying at a dorm attached to an overseas study school. This final week consisted of final exams, which I had yet to fully study for. Some other people I knew were already leaving this week, due to being in slightly different variations of the same program, so this was the last day that everyone would be together, and I went upstairs to the room of an Indian friend to watch him pack as he was leaving the next day.
  • I couldn’t help noticing that despite his room being located directly above mine, it was shaped very differently, his room was narrow but long and had two single-person mattresses on the floor as well as a living space in the front, toilet on the opposite wall between and across from the two beds, and kitchen in the far back. It was a very messy room, with items strewn all over, and I sat down on the edge of one of the beds as we talked a bit. This room looked familiar too, like it was from a previous dream in the past.
  • He said that he couldn’t wait to move out because his room had some sort of bugs crawling around in it. I noticed the bed had some blood stains and I asked if he could show me what the bugs looked like because I could probably identify it for him if it were bedbugs. I expected it to be, but when he showed me a bin with a couple of the bugs in it, they looked like very, very tiny rats instead. I shrugged and said that I had no idea.
  • After a bit, I bade him farewell and went back down to my dorm room to study. While I was there, some other guy came up with a sheet of paper divided into rows and columns, and asked me to fill in my contact details and also answer a few other questions, one of them being an adjective that we wanted to be remembered by. I told him I already had a list of everyone’s contacts and could fill it in for him if he desired, but he said he wanted a writing sample from each person as well as a keepsake.
  • I filled in my row, although because the girl above me never completed her full row and left her first few columns blank, I accidentally started writing in her row twice and had to erase my writing both times before finally settling on the correct row. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it seemed like I had also written something on this sheet in the past when we first arrived and started the program, so he was reusing a list from back then that he had circulated. Also, I saw that Alvin Foo had filled in another row, but for his adjective he had written down “math”, which obviously wasn’t an adjective. How weird.
  • A sad feeling welled up in me as the guy left, as I didn’t want to leave my friends here. I contemplated that maybe I should take a detour to South Korea or Japan before heading home to Singapore or Canada, but I figured that that would prolong the heartache of leaving my new friends, I needed to go home to a familiar life to start healing.
  • Later on, I was playing a game of Heroes 3, but found that there were UI glitches when the game was in windowed mode and stretched across more than one monitor. The buttons on the main menu were somehow blank in this configuration. When I confined it to one window and maximized the window, the button text then finally appeared.
  • I started the tutorial, which involved grabbing a number of powerful artifacts and recruiting a bunch of monsters from my home island, getting into a ship, and landing on an enemy island to defeat the knights there. For some reason I had to do this tutorial twice, and the second time I tried to complete it without recruiting any monsters, and got defeated by the tutorial knights instead, although I was one turn away from escaping that island.
  • Later, there was a scene where AOE elemental magic cast onto a grid was needed to fill up a gauge. 35 points or so were needed, and I used AOE ice magic, which was worth 5 points a cast, so it took me only about 7 casts to complete the gauge. I noticed that most other people were using water or cold spells, which were similar to ice, but were only worth 2 points per cast. They had to go all in with their magic to complete the gauge, which worked for this level but left them with much less mana and a high likelihood of not being able to complete future levels.
Feb 04 2024
  • I dreamt that a guild leader was forming and leading a 20 person raid in a top-down MMO, and opened it up to random people to join, but as the game was a relatively new one, he was the only max levelled person in the raid. The raid group was divided into four groups of five, and he led one of the four subgroups, while also being in charge of the overall strategy. One other person was from his guild, and he had taken some time off his own levelling to come help his guild leader out, and the leader was happy about that.
  • The raid consisted of an attack and a defence portion, as we took airships to a castle area and most of us stayed behind to defend the airships while he took his smaller group of 5 into the castle to complete some objective. As we were rather underlevelled, with the lowest level player being only level 13 out of a maximum of 25 or so, it was quite chaotic but as far as I remember all the objectives were completed successfully.
  • Once the leader’s subgroup got to the king’s throne room, he also managed to figure out a way to dupe some attacking wolves on the fly by hitting a door open on both sides so that their pathfinding was tricked and they just ran in circles in one door and out the other and looping back around a corridor to the first door again. This allowed that group to defeat the wolves by hitting them without fear of retaliation or attack as they ran past, and also allowed him to level up two of his group members by dragging them off to a side chamber to pick up some diamonds that gave them +100 maximum hp permanently.
  • I was a fire mage and I was on one of the airships as a defending team, fighting a bunch of air drakes and bats who had flown up to us. I saw one of the other defenders was flying around on a frost dragon or something himself but was caught out by a swarm of bats and barely managed to escape after blowing some of them up with a skill to carve out an escape route. I wasn’t certain how to play but figured out from watching others that our gear that we brought along started off unequipped, and I had to use the first turn to equip my gear before I could do anything else in the battle. I also accidentally moved into melee range next to a drake at one point since that’s where another teammate ended up as well, and we took a bit of AOE damage from there but nothing terrible otherwise happened.
  • Snippet: As part of a scene later on, I was at an airport and there were two flights to Singapore that I could board, a larger plane that would take a longer time to reach the country, and a smaller plane that would take a shorter time. I led a group of 5 to the airport, but both flights nonetheless felt too long for me to suggest that we take them.
  • Snippet: Another snippet I remember was travelling with Dad and Kel and finding out that Dad had no idea that people commonly abbreviated Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC. Kel and I were pretty incredulous about this, though when we got home to where Mom and Jon were, I asked Jon if he had ever remembered Dad using the KFC abbreviation for the fast food store when buying food for him in the past, and Jon said yes, definitely so. Dad said he had no recollection of this though and I could not decide whether to believe him or not.
  • Snippet: There was also an art class segment where everyone was painting colours onto sheets of paper that had shapes on them. There were several sheets and shapes that we had to work on, the first sheet that everyone did was a shape that consisted of many long, thin, cone-shaped triangles that were adjacently connected to each other by virtue of sharing their long edges with the triangles next to them, and then a small little semi-circle capping the far side of each triangle that was also connected to the semicircles of each adjacent triangle. Finally, with the exception of the first and last semi-circle, there was another thinner semicircle connected to the outer edge of the previous semicircle that acted as a “shadow” of the semicircle that it was connected to. This ended up creating a shape that looked like a 180 degree math protractor tool, with extra lumpy semicircles attached to the curved end of it. All the triangles were meant to be painted one colour, I think red, all their capping semicircles were painted blue, and the shadow semicircles were painted yellow. We had palettes of paint and tissues to wipe down the paintbrushes before we changed colours. I noticed at one point that I was falling behind the others a bit as I was daydreaming, so I hurried up and caught up to everyone else and prepared to hand in the first picture and start a second one.
  • Snippet: I also remember hearing about a court case in the United States that a few of the cities in the middle states were currently undergoing a court case where there was a chance that the judge would force the land that the cities occupied to be returned to the natives. This would entail having a large number of adult trees suddenly sprouting from the ground in each location, and an acquaintance was talking about how they knew another person living in one of those cities that would almost certainly lose their house because it was already identified that several trees would appear in their yard and house and break the house apart.

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