My Diary #131

Dear Tigey,

Let it be known that you had a bath on Feb 08 2024. This is your first bath since the one after I returned from Kyoto, isn’t it? You basically still had hospital germs on you from last year. But not anymore, now you’re clean and fresh-smelling again!

Entry #131 (Feb 11 2024)


Chinese New Year arrived this weekend, and with it, a visit to the parents’ place for a family dinner on Saturday, since Kel is also back in town now, on spring break from her teaching job in China. Here is a picture of our Chinese New Year family reunion dinner this year:

It was the five of us plus Jon‘s girlfriend, whom I had previously met in the hospital when Mom was there, and who stopped by tonight and felt very much like part of the family as well. It was nice to see everyone again. I brought some food over and got some snacks and the DeskCycle back again.

Dad gave me some pristine clothing tags from old clothiing to scan because he heard that I liked scanning things and figured this might pique my interest. It’s not something I’ve been interested in and I’m not sure I want to formally start a collection like that, but I appreciated the gesture and habit anyway so I took them. They have lots of treasure in old boxes I hope I get to rifle through someday, us siblings spent some time while we were there pointing out things that were from Edmonton 4012, or even from Tampines 294 in some cases, that had somehow made it all the way to that very day still.

I brought some of my plushies to the reunion dinner as well, including not only Tigey but also Ducky, Clara, Ally, Orson, and Patchouli. Upon sighting Ducky, Kel regaled us with tales about a drink company named LinLee that she ran across in Hong Kong that sells ice tea and gives away small yellow rubber ducks with each drink sold. They come with different accessories and you can apparently collect and trade 10 small ducks in for a medium one, and 3 medium ones in for a large one, and they’re apparently crazy popular both there and wherever on the mainland LinLee operates in. I want them. (local) Why doesn’t Edmonton have any stores that do clever marketing like this?

Twitch is weird — after lurking on and surfing through several channels through the week, I received a couple of gift subscriptions for channels that I weren’t actively on at the moment, and had never spoken a word in, one even when I was offline entirely. Gift subscriptions are given to random members of the community, but I always assumed that they were given to people that were actually present at any given time that the gifter gives them out. Apparently they are not.

I’ve been watching so much Twitch recently as something to fill in the noisy silence, that I’ve become very tempted to start streaming myself, if nothing else then just to record and archive the games I play. I don’t really have the time for this without a major rearrangement of my daily priorities though, but in another world where I wasn’t bound down by a busy schedule already, it’d be tempting to try.

I made it to my first bimonthly paycheck on the 9th without incident so my bank account balance (or at least the regular uninvested part of the balance) is no longer dangerously low again.

Anyway, between stuff that fit in the top blurb (Tigey‘s bath), Steam Next Fest and Yakuza 0 (Games), and Writing Prompt/Memory Snippet of the Week (scanning), and a lot of Twitch-watching, there isn’t a whole ton else besides the CNY dinner that fit in this general section.


The main game I played this week was Yakuza 0 — I had tried playing it a couple times before but had only gotten as far as Chapter 2, and it always felt very hard to come back to after some time ago because the controls early on were fairly complex, with a bunch of combos to remember, and one of the early Chapter 2 quests is very vague and doesn’t actually tell you what to do, so I never had any clue where I was when I loaded up the game again. I did want to properly get into the franchise though, and this week I managed to break through the brick wall and put some significant progress into it, getting to Chapter 10 or so out of around 17. The game writing is goofy and insane and that’s one of its best parts, although it has a couple of real downsides too, like a propensity for item inventory glitches that lead to crashing, and terrible camera controls. Overall I still like it, but I doubt I like it enough to 100% it, since that requires a second playthrough as well.

Outside of that, other full games that got playtime this week include Palworld and Hades, as well as a bit of The Room Two because one of the streamers I watched was playing a similar sort of game involving opening intricately locked boxes, and I remembered that I had finished the prequel, The Room, several years ago but never did play its sequel. I finished it this week in time for this blog entry. This brings my number of 100% achievement games on Steam to (back to? some games fluctuate) 100. I also completed the main story in Hades, which came on the 10th victory, on my 69th run (about half of them with the god mode buff on). That was a nice ending. There’s still more in the game to do though, apparently.

Satinel and I also got to Chapter 3 in SWTOR this week, so we’re about 2/3 of the way through the class stories that we have been trying to complete. We play twice a week now, on Mondays and Thursdays, and we’re level 57-58 on a level 41 planet as Preferred Status players thanks to the double xp wave that we caught early on despite skipping all side quests since the third planet or so.

In addition, this week was the biannual (I believe) Steam Next Fest week on Steam, which means that there were a whole bunch of demos for random games available to play. As I also have been actively keeping an eye on Twitch for a couple of weeks now, I realized that a lot of streamers were spending the week playing random games from this Next Fest, so I ended up watching many, many demos rather than playing them since I was busy with Yakuza 0 and other projects. I still did play a few though, including:

  • Breachway, which was a decent deckbuilder but I ran into a major bug that ruined my run and soured the game for me. Watching other people play it felt a lot more fun though. Whether a game like this is “good” or not depends on the later parts of the game that are not showcased in the demo. (Score: 7/10)
  • Pacific Drive, which I am supposed to like because it involves a moving mobile base and scavenging, which are mechanics that I like a lot, but I found the looting portion to be extremely generic, the vehicle to be a bit headachey to drive, and the UI to be problematic. Still, I like scavenging. (6/10)
  • Star Trucker, which seems to have nice ambience and music but I’m not convinced works very well in practice as space is so big even with stargates, and in which I suffocated a couple times due to poor tutorials and didn’t want to start over again. I like the cozy feel of the inside of the truck though, which doubles as a bunk bed and scavenging hold. (5/10)
  • Magical Delicacy, which is a witch-themed cooking platformer but whose demo was far too short, lasting only about 20-30 minutes, and didn’t really show off much about the game. The jumping did not feel fluid and the cooking felt generic as well. It dropped a story nugget and then immediately ended the demo. (5/10)
  • Dream Tactics, a blend between a tactical JRPG and a deck-builder, the art and writing was super cute and I liked it very much. The major downside with this game was that it didn’t have as many shortcut buttons as I’d expect, so controls felt janky at first, but it did have some nice QoL features that I wish every game had, like the ability to rewind cutscenes. It also has a terribly generic name. I tried to recall it four times in the two days directly after playing the game demo, and I failed four times. (8/10)
  • Yohane the Parhelion – NUMAZU in the MIRAGE –, based on the Love Live! anime spinoff show that I have watched and did like, so I was pretty obligated to play this, especially since it’s a deckbuilder, a genre that I do like as well. The art was pretty, however the animations were repetitive, the gameplay was shallow, the fights were all really easy, the level map layout design was poor, there were a few translation issues (not a ton, but enough to furrow a brow over), voice overs were lazy and basically nonexistent (each character does an “Ahh!” noise or something similar at the start of each of their lines), and there were some weird UI bugs like awarded cards sometimes popping up and then disappearing before you can view them. It had a very “doujin circle with low budget” feel to it, despite the graphics being pretty. It did have some sort of story though, so that part might be interesting. (4/10)
  • Cryptmaster, a mix between a party RPG where you start as a group of four undead and have to break your way out to the surface or something, and a typing game like Epistory. I’m not sure if I liked it overall but it was an interesting concept. Chests spawn a guessing game for an item that you’d normally find in a fantasy world chest, and your reward for guessing the item is the word itself — or rather, the letters that make up the word, which give you clues as to what your skills are, and you can type words out at any point to guess the skill itself and unlock it. Then in combat, you type words out to attack enemies with the skills you have unlocked already. Also each of your party members’ names are their health bar. A character with a 3-letter name has a maximum of 3 health, and enemy attacks can knock off letters from their name. It sounded like a game that I’d need a separate sheet of paper in front of my PC to play, but it was novel. Didn’t like the graphics, lack of mouse support, and the unresponsiveness in parts though. (6.5/10)
  • Cividle, a mix of an incremental idle game and a Civlization-style 4X game. It’s weird because you can only explore the map by building buildings that expand out your fog of war radius, so I ended up building worker huts here and there just to expand my kingdom’s vision range, but I did need tons and tons of workers anyway since they both work on resource and production buildings as well as produce science, so that worked out. I didn’t play far enough to build wonders or find other players to trade with, especially since building wonders supposedly takes many hours of real time and the demo save file would not sync to the Steam Cloud and thus would probably not carry over to the full game, but I did more or less get the gist of it. Tutorial needs a bit of work, but I liked the in-game global chat system that lets people chat to anyone else playing the game despite it being a single-player game, similar to games like Oafmatch and Tales of Maj’eyal.

I absolutely have to write these down though, because I found myself looking back at old screenshots and blog posts several times over the past year looking for the name of a game demo or two that I played in previous Steam Next Fests.

I also started hanging out at a nice, evening-time secondary Twitch channel called SeriouslyClara, when the primary night-time channel that I lurk on is offline, and she participates in a Twitch-integrated browser game called Stream Raiders (local) in between games that she plays. It reminds me of the Streetpass Mii Plaza games that I used to play on the 3DS. There is absolutely no way I’ll remember that generic game name after a couple of weeks though, especially since she left this week for a two week holiday, so here it is written down for future me.

Plushie of the Week #127 – McDonalds Squishmallows

These ten little squishmallow plushies were given out as limited edition bonus toys with every purchase of a meal at McDonalds Canada back in Summer/Fall 2023, although apparently you could also just go in to a McD store and buy one for about $2 when each plushie was being featured. There’s a press article on the promotion here (local), and here’s (local) another article showing that different countries actually have slightly different sets of Squishmallows. We only collected the Canadian ones though. As per this Reddit thread, the Canadian schedule looked like this:

There were ten of them that ran from Aug 01-Sep 04 2023: Wendy and Kevin on Week 1, Archie and Prince on Week 2, Fifi and Winston on Week 3, Cam and Sunny on Week 4, and Michella and Maui on Week 5.

Between Kel, Jon, Dad, Kel‘s friend, and me, we collected all ten of the Canadian ones, including boxes and all, pretty much in the same period as when Mom was in hospital, and this blog segment exists as a catalog and a shrine to all ten of them.

Kel was the main driver behind organizing people to collect all of them, so even though she had to leave Edmonton for China in the middle of the promotion, we still ended up collecting all of them and they were all finally united for a group photo this week now that Kel is back in Edmonton. We actually also missed one of the first two due to not really starting the collection until the first two had been cycled out, but I picked that one up from eBay for $7.65 plus tax plus shipping (it came to $18.52 overall) after a couple of weeks of scouting, and it came together with its original box as well so I think it was worth it.

Here’s a group photo of all ten of them, front:

And back:

All ten of them have a different tag front, but identical inner tags, so I listed the inner tags first. Tag 1 inner/Tag 2 outer:

Tag 2 back:

And here are all the front tags:

I also took a picture of all six sides of the boxes they came in:

The QR codes apparently went to, which redirected to a website on that contained a bunch of playlists with a few songs for each Squishmallow, but all that seems to now be deleted. It is sad that corporations seldom care about archival and preservation. It hasn’t even been six months since the promotion ended.

Song of the Week #104

Title: Bai Nian (拜年)

It’s Chinese New Year this week, so why not feature a traditional Chinese song for Song of the Week, right? There are a fair number of them that I am familiar with, but while I can’t say that I have a favourite one of the pile, this one is one that I do like and have had earmarked to put forward on this week for several months now, as it brings back somewhat fond childhood memories of Chinese New Year and Singapore.

As with traditional/folklorish songs, there are a million variations on the song, and no official singer as far as I know, so I picked up a couple YouTube versions from the popular search results that I liked, the linked one below as well as this one. The title of the song refers to visiting relatives or friends on Chinese New Year to pay them seasonal greetings, something we did a lot of when I was young.

A side note about the song is that the most recognizable part of “chorus” is the part that goes “qi ge long dong qiang dong qiang”, and that translates as “seven (qi ge) drums (long) making noise (dong qiang dong qiang, noise onomatopoeia)”, but not only did I always think when young that the “long” here used the kanji for dragons () instead of drum noises (隆), I was always aware that the “long dong” part sounded a lot like lontong, which is the Malay word for a Southeast Asian rice cake dish that’s relatively popular in Singapore. It’s a widely riffed pun of the song in Singapore and I am reminded of lontong everytime I hear this song.

Writing Prompt of the Week #47

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“Describe a friendship from childhood in which you grew apart. What changed, and why?”

More questions that go back to the migration from Singapore to Canada event. The people I were closest to were people from Dunman High, plus Geeyong, who I met at Rosyth but had not continued his journey in the GEP after primary school. What changed, of course, was me moving away and then not doing enough to keep in touch with them afterwards from Canada, though I’m not sure how we could have done it back then in an early Internet world. We had chat programs to talk to each other through, ICQ and AIM and such, but there was no good (easy, cheap) way to do video or even voice chat back then.

One memory that I do want to attach to this writing prompt though, is that Huihan sent me a couple of cards for Christmas and my birthday for a couple of years even after I had gone to Canada — I was just really bad at doing things like replying to postcards at that point in my life, so I never returned any of her well-wishes and they eventually stopped coming. I alluded to this 20 years later when I contacted her in late 2020, apologizing for sending a reply 20 years or so late, and we exchanged cards again at that point.

I went down a rabbit hole of looking through my stash of old greeting cards, and split them into a nice, chronological pile to help me eventually scan and upload them all. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight a couple of her early cards to me, so here they are.

These were cards sent to me by Huihan in 2001, between 2 and 3 years after I had moved to Canada. This first set are scans of the birthday card (and envelope) she sent me that year:

And this second set are scans of the Christmas card (and envelope) that year. Huihan, firstly, thank you for the cards! And secondly, thank you for DATING the cards (or including enough information that I can figure out the date anyway)! I have so many cards where I only know the rough period in which I acquired it.

Memory Snippet of the Week #111

This week, I’m going to throw up a couple of scanned class timetables/schedules from when I was in Secondary 2 in Dunman High. For some reason, I haven’t found a copy of my Secondary 1 class schedule yet, but I have two separate ones from Secondary 2, one a printout given to us at the start of the year and the second one a copy that was inscribed onto a… Pentel pocket calendar thing. This was taped into the inside cover of my pencil box so I could refer to it at any time to know what class was coming up next.

The printout version of the schedule is very weird too — it gives a key of what subject is what, which is very nice, although I have no memory of a couple of the subjects, like Reading Program (Chinese), a mid-day Assembly, PCCG (apparently this stands for “Pastoral Care & Career Guidance”), Art, and Music. In addition, there are only 6 teachers listed at the bottom of that sheet in the teachers section, when there were a lot more classes than that. Oh well. I do like that I can tell from that sheet that Art and Science classes were held in a separate classroom from our homeroom though, since that’s what those arrows by them meant.

Here’s what the schedule printout looks like:

And here’s what the Pentel timetable that used to be stuck to my pencilbox looked like:

Hopefully I will find a copy of my Sec 1 timetable at some point, or even better my Rosyth ones. They will be posted here if so.

Feb 05 2024
  • My dream involved a game featuring a large dungeon with dozens of floors, and thousands of people playing the game and moving through the floors together, earning experience and loot by mowing down monsters as they descended from one level to the next via stairwells. The monsters got a bit stronger for each successive lower floor that one went to.
  • I started the game with Satinel and two other friends, but I got distracted by something on the third level and got separated from them, and got a little bummed once I noticed that they had moved on to two floors below me already and had already become level 6 whereas I was only level 4. However, the floors were not linear, in that there were stairways to alternate floors that one could take while descending through the dungeon, even though they would eventually meet up again on lower floors, so I decided to take an alternate route downwards for some loot variety.
  • I also met Michael from work, who told me that I was definitely overlevelled for the level that I was on and suggested that I head down to one of the nearby exits that went to the Caverns of Chaos level 3. I did so, and ended up in a cavern level with a large chasm in the middle and paths going around the side. On that level, I found a secret portal that led me onto an island in the middle of the chasm where I took down a couple of bosses and got to choose several rewards by tapping one of two walls that lit up with different loot options to decide which option I preferred.
  • There were also rest areas between zones where there were lots of public washrooms, both male and female, and at one point I saw a girl making fun of some standing urinals which had leather shields for guys to put their hands behind while they stood at the urinal so that their hands would be hidden. She said that the hand pockets were pointless as obviously guys would be using the urinals with their hands in front of them anyway, after all who ever used a urinal with their hands behind their back?
  • The next rest area after that had two people watching the hustle and bustle of a bunch of other people using the washrooms, murmuring to each other that it looked like the members of the raid group they were watching were obviously getting ready to move out to the next level. They were plotting to follow that group around even though they were not part of the group.
  • The next rest area after that didn’t have washrooms, but it featured Jah winning a large, shallow basin by defeating a boss in the level just preceding it, and then placing down the bowl on the grass in the rest area so that everyone could draw a jug of water or wine from it and drink from it for a reward. Everyone thanked him for that. A movie then started, but someone indicated that those people who were not interested in watching the movie could move on to the next level, so I did so.
Feb 08 2024
  • I played a battle royale game that was divided into beginner players and more experienced players, with the ultimate aim being to join some friends in the more experienced player pool after some time.
  • For the moment though, I joined a beginner-friendly round and ended up in a group of 12 or so beginner players on a map that started off with a wide bridge leading across a river, and a whole bunch of terrain beyond the bridge that I never got to see because we all immediately started shooting each other with our starter pistols there.
  • By lurking behind the others, and by looting a second pistol off of one of the other players’ dead bodies, I managed to wipe out most of the group myself, and I proudly showed the game’s end screen to my friends afterwards, which stated that I had killed 8 players, most of them while they were shooting each other, with the rest of them dying from the crossfire between the other players.
  • There was one entry on the list that was peculiar though, apparently it said that person had gotten over 200 kills but yet had not done any damage at all. We concluded that that person was cheating via injecting a rubbish result into the high score table somehow, but they didn’t seem to have actually been on the map anyway.
Feb 10 2024
  • I was in school and us students were in class with a female teacher, about to take a Physical Education class. We were going to play basketball in the gym, and this apparently entailed the teacher splitting up the class into four different groups before we went there.
  • Three of the groups were fantasy-based, which would give us relevant skills that would somehow help us in the game as well, as the teams were not playing against each other but some form of enemy instead. There was a tank team, an archer team, and a warrior team. The teacher asked who had experience playing any of them, and I raised my hand and said that I had already played as the archer team by myself offline so I knew more or less how both the game and the class worked, but would be happy helping out whichever team.
  • However, the teacher ended up placing me on the fourth team instead, which was a refreshments team whose purpose seemed to be to support the other three teams outside of the actual game. I started to protest about this, but it sounded like we were still going to be allowed to play the game anyway, just with no class skills, and also Eisen, who was next to me and was also assigned to this refreshment team, asked me to come along as he did not know anyone else on the team.
  • So I relented. Everyone else on the refreshments team was wearing blue shirts, but I did not have one to wear, so I kept on the shirt that I had, which was my orange Puma shirt from Rosyth.
  • When we actually got to the gym though, the teacher ushered in the other three teams and directed each of them to one of the three courts in the gym, while our refreshment team waited outside. She then proceeded to ignore us for the entire gym class, directing the other three teams to start a building phase to construct some barriers and defences on their side of the court, before starting the actual game, until there were about two minutes or so when the other students started to leave for lunch break.
  • At that point I then noticed that she had ushered a few members of our team in and was making them construct some barriers as well, so not only did she assign us to a useless refreshments team, then consign us to wait outside the gym for the entire class without even asking us to serve refreshments, but she was going to actually still make us play the game as well over our lunch break. I got angry at her for that.
  • Snippet: At one point during the dream someone was carrying buckets of vegetables that I had to choose between. There was also something about holy and unholy auras that people had. Also, I had to cross a narrow valley by walking across train tracks that stretched over it like a bridge.

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