My Diary #134

Dear Tigey,

Your plushie army has somewhat increased lately. Are you preparing to conquer the world now?

Entry #134 (Mar 03 2024)

Life

One of the things I did on my day off on Monday this week was to go down to the nearby mall and visit the Star Wars exhibtion event taking place there. I took a bunch of catalog photos to chronicle it and made a separate page for it here. It was the last day of the event, and I got charged half price for admission for some unknown reason — I don’t know if those two things were connected or not. Either way it was a nice surprise for having to leave the house on a day when the temperature went down to around -20 degrees Celsius.

Because I did save $10 there, I went into the London Drugs store next to the exhibition afterwards, and went to browse the plushie section. I came away with a new plushie that was also on sale, and he’s featured down in this week’s Plushie of the Week segment.

I also found some Edmonton postcards on a rack next to the plushie shelves, which made me happy — Canada Post had stopped selling postcards at their outlet sometime in early 2023 or late 2022, so there was nowhere else that I knew of in Southgate that sold postcards (I had even tried asking the mall helpers to no avail) until now. They were 69 cents a pop, which were cheaper than the 99 cent ones from the airport shop too, so I bought five of them in preparation for my next trip. I didn’t buy more because I like having a variety of different Edmonton/Canada postcards to give out, but this one definitely works as an entry in my stable of postcards.

I also took some mugshot pictures of Tigey, and am going to add them into his Plushie of the Week entry, but why not put them here as well:

I finished the rest of the blog entry and then came back here and wondered what else there was to put in here, but it didn’t feel like there was a lot else for me to write here at the moment. My week was filled with white noise and Twitch streams, work was busier this week due to a bunch of meetings that we had as a team, I fought with my upstairs neighbour a couple more times, and I sent a strongly worded email to my rental office’s central management but I probably just hit an email address from which I won’t be getting a reply back.

I tabulated my expenses for February 2024 in my new ledger spreadsheet, and found that although my income was lower by almost exactly $200 this month (I think because January included a December paycheck and our end of year paychecks are always higher than the start of year ones for some reason), my expenses were also lower by very close to $200 this month, so my savings for the month after taxes and expenses turned out to be $1643.49, which is virtually identical to January’s $1634.80. As mentioned before, I’ve never formally tracked the numbers before so it’s interesting to me to track all this.

I put in an inquiry for an interesting (to me) and probably somewhat rare CD commemorating a Minecraft mod called Botania this week. I would have never known about it except for serendipitously stumbling upon a Reddit post that led to this forum page (local) while randomly searching for a modded Minecraft server to sate my current Minecraft cravings. But I like the mod and I like having rare CDs and the Reddit post went up about two hours before I happened to land on the subreddit, so it felt like destiny giving me a shove in the back there.

Lastly, here’s one of the two main streamers I watch now, serenading me with a Happy Birthday song last Sunday. This is pulled from Twitch video logs and chat playback is a bit delayed on that for whatever reason.

Games

Most of my time this week was split between Balatro and Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor, both games that I picked up last week and have been immensely enjoying. Both games experienced an attention dip a couple of days after I bought them though, but since I had two of them I just swapped over to the other game until I felt like playing the first one again.

I’ve got around 55 hours in Balatro and 8.5 hours in Deep Rock Galatic: Survivor now, so the former game has definitely been the more captivating one of the two, but you sure wouldn’t think that from the screenshots of the game on the store page, which make it look like a terrible poker game. Lots of people in the Steam reviews, as well as roguelike or card game oriented streamers I’ve watched, have noted that the game did not look like something that they’d enjoy from the store page, but that they gave it a try (with trepidation) anyway due to the game having a massively overwhelming positive review from players, and then found out that they really enjoyed the game too. Both games are lots of fun, though I’ve had cravings for several other games recently.

In between, I’ve also been doing my daily games of Hades. I’m down to two achievements left and am about 4 hours away from 100 hours in the game. It will certainly join a long and illustrious list of Steam games on my account that have hit the 100 hour mark, barring some sort of act of god. I also installed and messed around with Might and Magic 6 a little, of all things, after watching a streamer play Might and Magic 7 for a little while and getting all nostalgic.

Satinel and I are also on what we think is the final SWTOR planet, Corellia, for the original class storyline quests that we set as our goal to complete. I hit level 60 in the second-to-last planet, Voss, which was a level 44-45 planet, one gaming session after Satinel did, despite us skipping all the optional non-planet-storyline quests since the first planet or two, purely on the strength of the double xp wave that we caught early on as F2P/Preferred players.

Plushie of the Week #130

Tigey enlisted another new recruit into his army this week. So the story behind this plushie is that when I came out of the Star Wars exhibition that I talked about above, I knew I had somehow saved $10 on the admission fee, so I popped into the London Drugs store next to the exhibition hall to look at the (mostly Squishmallows) plushies there since I knew that they were sometimes on sale and wanted to see if anything caught my eye.

I don’t usually randomly buy plushies, and by that I mean that they usually have to catch my eye in some way most of the time or I usually have to want a souvenir from the place or something like that before I commit to a purchase. I need some sort of flimsy reason or pretext to buy a plushie. I do do absolutely spontaneous purchases now and then, but not all that often, despite what my wall of plushies might suggest. But this dolphin plushie was an example of one that immediately caught my eye, and the moment I saw them (there were a couple of them) I knew I had to purchase one.

These dolphins were randomly and haphazardly tucked among a long shelf of Squishmallows, despite having nothing to do with them. Some of those were on sale too, but none of them appealed to me right at that moment. The reason I picked this dolphin was because about 36 hours earlier, during the very early morning of my birthday this year, I had a dream (check out my Dream Diary or last week’s diary entry under the Dreams segment for the Feb 25 2024 entry) where I had picked up and held a dolphin plushie from a pile of plushies. So, seeing these dolphins in front of me now, I interpreted that as a sign that I should pick one of them up too as I didn’t actually own any dolphin plushies in my collection. (We do have this one, but it’s in the extended collection and is currently living in the plushie box at my parents’ place. And it’s a keychain plushie to boot.)

Anyway, this plushie cost $16.99 CAD before tax, or $17.84 after. and it’s officially registered birthday is Feb 26 2024. It lacks a name currently, and even a gender at this point, but those will probably be decided on in time. Here are pictures of it.

Side/top:

Other side/top:

Front:

Underbelly:

Booklet tag outer:

Booklet tag inner:

Tag front:

Tag back:

I couldn’t find out anything about that New Planet line of plushies, and that Toy Target Inc website link listed on the tag goes to a spam site that tried to install malware on my computer with popups now.

Song of the Week #107

Title: The Story of Love
Artist: OTT
Album: This One’s For You (1997)

The late 90s and early 00s were a beloved era of boybands for me, and I believe many people in my classes, both in Dunman (Zixiang, Huihan, etc) as well as McNally (Justin in particular liked them). Many of them came out of Europe, and England specifically, and for me it was a good time to be a Europop/Britpop fan, though some of these boybands were from America too. This was true especially in Singapore where lesser known boy bands had a lot more radio exposure than they did in North America. We had everything from hyper popular global bands like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, to medium popularity bands like Westlife and Take That, to lesser known Europe-regional ones like Code Red, Michael Learns To Rock, and OTT here, to a whole bunch of one-hit wonders and far more obscure bands that I probably have not heard of or remembered myself.

Many of my top favourite songs were from these bands, and while I’m not certain that this specific song ever reached #1 in my personal rankings, it would definitely have charted into my top 5. I don’t have specific memories of this song though, it just reminds me generically of Singapore and my classmates and walking around Tampines on my way home from Dunman in the afternoons or early evenings after classes. These walks are things that I did not revisit the last time that I visited Singapore, so it might be on my to-do list if I ever go back there again.

Writing Prompt of the Week #50

This week’s writing prompt reads:

“What kind of learner were you in high school, and how did you do academically?”

I’ve talked here and there about my time in Rosyth, which was my primary school, and Dunman High, which was my secondary school. But despite having the word High in its name, that latter school wasn’t actually my high school, and wasn’t even adjacent to it in my academic career — high school wouldn’t be until my fifth school (including kindergarten) when I went to McNally High School in Edmonton.

I was fairly quiet in general, though not as quiet as I was in Vernon Barford in Grade 9, since I spent 3 years here in McNally instead of the half a year in Vernon Barford. I was in the full IB program, the closest thing they had to Singapore’s GEP, and we had to take a second language so I took Chinese as mine. We also used sciences to fill out our schedule — there were three options, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, and in the first year I took all 3, in the second year I took Biology and Physics, and in the third year I just took Biology, due to a lack of schedule space in each succeeding year. I would have liked to take Physics instead of Biology in the third year, and probably even Chemistry instead of Biology in the second year, but Biology was a Higher Level IB class, along with History I believe, so they were compulsory. These days it seems like they have more varied options.

Anyway, I did pretty good academically. I didn’t score a full 100 on my math for the entire year like in Grade 8, but my marks were a lot higher than they were in Dunman and the GEP. I do remember that for the end of our Grade 12 year, we knew that we would get 3 free credits in University for each IB subject that we scored a 6 or higher (out of 7) on, because they would let us skip, with credit, the corresponding first year 100-level class in that subject. I only got two 3-credit skips for my grades in the end though, in History and Mathematics.

One anecdote I remember clearly is that Mrs Douziech, my English Literature teacher in Grade 12, had us do classroom discussion analysis things on a book that we were studying as a class, where one person would sit up at the front of the class, and she would assign a passage from a book and everyone would have 10 or so minutes to read and analyze it. The person seated up in front of the class then had to make an impromptu presentation on that segment, talking about symbolism and other things, while other people had to then chime in with questions and such. This was in preparation for our final exam, where we had to do a similar 10-15 minute study and then analysis in front of the teacher in a one-on-one setting.

Anyway, Mrs Douziech was very impressed with my presentation when my turn came, because I made some sort of connection between the author’s description of someone with a triangular face, and talked about how a 3D triangle was like a pyramid, which was a symbol of someone being lost. This tied in very well to the person whom the passage was about, so I remember the incredulous and very proud look on her face when I said all that, and her nice comments after to the class, since she was always cheering me on and trying to help me speak up more.

Anyway, fast forward to the final oral analysis IB exam at the end of the year, and I had two face down papers in front of me. One was a poem, and one was a passage, and, as instructed, I picked one of them for analysis. It was the one on my right, I believe. She raised an eyebrow and asked if I was sure I wanted to take that, and I started to say yes, but something in the way she looked at me and held the papers was strongly suggesting to me to take the other one instead, so I did — and that other one turned out to be virtually the exact same passage that I had analyzed in class and gotten praised for several months prior.

Lucky? A setup to help me? I don’t know for sure, since they were pulled out of envelopes, but I easily analyzed it the same way that I had in class and passed that fairly well. The oral exams were all recorded and a random number of them were sent to wherever the central IB headquarters were for analysis though, and if I recall correctly mine did get sent and I did get docked for something or other that they felt was suspicious somehow.

Either way, I only ended up with a 5 in English IB, so I did not get to skip English 100, and although English was needed for basically all University degrees, I also dropped out halfway through English 101 in my first University stint in Fall/Winter 2003 due to depression, so it wasn’t all the way until Winter 2021, about 18 years later, that I finally came back and completed my first-year English requirement. By that point I was very used to writing and aced that course with an A+.

Memory Snippet of the Week #114

With the Writing Prompt segment above, and closely following the Dunman report cards a month ago, this seems like a good time to show a report card that I have from McNally High School as well, from my the 3rd term of my final year in Grade 12 of high school. This is the only report card I’ve found from my time in either of my pre-University Canadian schools thus far, and would have been the final report card we received before the end of the year final IB tests.

Compared to my Dunman curriculum and report cards, I did a lot better here and considered school here much easier in general. I never really studied super hard back in Singapore, but I barely studied here at all outside of some targetted subject topics now and then, and was one of those students that knew just enough to coast through most of high school (and then hit a brick wall in early University). I’d argue that the level of what I was studying back in Grade 8 in Singapore was roughly equivalent to what we were studying here in Grade 10 or 11 in Canada, although there was a lot more breadth and different context to it so it was never just a straight copy of my earlier work.

Anyway, this is a somewhat shorter memory snippet but here’s the saved copy of my Grade 12 3rd semester grades, with some fields anonymized:

I appreciate that it has teacher names and everything too. Really good for record-keeping and analysis 20 years down the road. Unlike the Singapore report cards, these didn’t have to be signed and returned. Anyway if I ever find other McNally (or even Vernon Barford) report cards, I will likely come back here to post them.

Dreams
Feb 27 2024
  • I won a Twitch stream giveaway that was being done in a classroom, because I happened to notice the giveaway message that the streamer, who was also the lecturer at the front of the class, wrote in the stream/classroom chat and thus was the first one to respond to it. I won a copy of the game and an artbook that I planned to take home to print. The streamer also did a second general giveaway and Lukasz won this, and its prize was another copy of the game plus a $5 Twitch voucher. Lukasz wasn’t here to collect his prize, however, as he had been pulled away to work on an energemcy work project, so the streamer lecturer handed me Lukasz‘s prize too since I was going to see him later on in the day.
  • I don’t remember much about the game itself but I do remember the main character being a man dressed up as a detective and dragging a large plastic container around with him. At one point another man tried to prise open the lid to stuff his backpack inside for storage, and the detective noticed that and helped him open the lid and put his backpack inside. A woman who was passing by happened to glance at them and saw something inside the box that made her scream, it was implied but never shown on camera that there were four corpses inside.
  • Anyway I took the prizes and went out of the classroom once the class ended. I started by heading toward our offices, but the door was not only locked but had been changed to a wooden door that I didn’t recognize and certainly didn’t have the key for. Ronnie said that he had the key and to look for his desk in the staff room next to a swampy area, but I didn’t find the key there either. So I went to the canteen instead.
  • The canteen consisted of two long rows of stalls with the middle part between the stalls divided into two, one half had a bunch of long canteen tables while the other half had a raised stone platform and five phone booths that had each been converted into additional little cramped food stalls. I went toward the tables and found some friends eating there, and one of them (possibly Eisen) was just about to leave, so I put down my prizes there and went to look at the stalls.
  • I was hoping to find and buy some chai tao kueh, or fried carrot cake, but I couldn’t find a single stall that sold that dish. I walked up the entire length of one of the rows, then crossed over to the other row, but apparently overshot and ended up across the street that ran parallel to the canteen instead. Apparently the canteen was located in the middle of a busy business and shopping district in Singapore. I didn’t want to just cross back immediately so I walked down the pavement of the street to the traffic lights on the other end of the canteen and crossed there instead.
  • It was raining, and the pedestrian light turned green a short ways before I actually reached the intersection, so I had to hurry my footsteps to try to cross the road in time. I was also half-daydreaming about how to figure out when Mom would like something or other, and I could walk at a slightly sped up speed but couldn’t run outright in the dream, so I had still not fully crossed the road when the pedestrian light turned red and the vehicles started moving. I almost got hit by a small bus but managed to avoid it.
  • I then went back down the other row of stalls toward the table, checking out the telephone booth stalls at the same time and noticing that at least one of them had telephone books next to it. Those books were also apparently being given out to the student population at large as some sort of school promotion. I never did find my meal in the end though.
  • Snippet: Much earlier, there was a separate dream with a world map that I was looking at, and several upgrade balls spread around the map that I could visit and pick up. In a very Balatro sort of fashion, my skills consisted of a base number and a multiplier, and each ball I picked up made me stronger at a progressively faster rate by upping both numbers a certain amount.
  • Snippet: There was also another separate scene where eight girls in a room were hogtied, gagged, and lying face down on the floor, with their butts in the air, as some sort of consensual training. One of the girls got a cramp in her legs, and when the overseer came by, he could see on a status screen that her scream level was at a 96, so he undid her gag to let her rage, then undid her legs to let her stretch her cramp out. Another of the girls, who looked like an Arabian princess, only used her body as a vessel for her spirit and never learnt to speak or do anything much with her body in the first place, so the training didn’t have much of an effect on her. She could communicate telepathically, however, so the overseer and her had a nice mental chat while he was waiting for the other girl to finish stretching.
Mar 01 2024
  • Snippet: Most of what I remember is having to “upgrade” some poker hands, similar to Balatro, by playing them against a certain boss character, and then taking the victory spoils from those games to another separate boss character in order to pacify him.
  • Snippet: I also remember a specific scene where I went into a meadow area to search for and pick up flowers for points. There was a ruined castle there to explore as well, although there was a danger that other players would attack me in there. However, I saw Kel at the end of the castle, by a small slope that acted as a shortcut exit from the castle to leave it after defeating the boss, and with her help I climbed up the slope and entered the castle that way instead, which was normally impossible to do as a solo player.
Mar 02 2024
  • Snippet: I remember a scene where I had to find my mechanical pencil and foam eraser in order to craft something using those two things as ingredients, but I had to have the actual items that were on my computer desk, so I pulled myself out of my existing dream (while still being in a dream) and went to fetch the items from the computer desk in my Edmonton 205 home.
  • Snippet: Another scene involved a guy and three girls being in a bottom level of a home. One of the girls lost her top somehow and the other two girls were consoling her or taking care of her. One of them asked the guy to go upstairs and bring her one of his shirts, but he hesitated too long and she got annoyed and went upstairs to take it for herself.
  • Snippet: Yet another scene involved being inside a supermarket while I was holding two frozen eggs in my hand. Both eggs were cracked and a weird elongated shape. I saw a sign that said that cracked eggs could be taken to a special section of the store where they would hatch the chick inside the egg and then give the customer the chick once it had hatched, but then also realized that that only worked on eggs that hadn’t been frozen or boiled while inside the store yet, so the ones I was holding (and many of the ones the store had) wouldn’t even count for that program.
  • Snippet: Lastly, there was a scene where I visited a girl’s guild house and helped her lower level alt character collect dozens and dozens of artifacts for her guild. She gave me several artifacts to bring back to my own guild. She then logged out and logged in on her higher level main character as her guildmates, whom I did not recognize, came back to the guild house from whatever they were doing. They found out she had given me a number of artifacts even though I wasn’t in the guild and were puzzled as to why she would help me out when I was in a different guild, she said not to worry and that she had many more where those came from. I then left and later on went flying on a dragon around an ASCII world map, similar to the Medievia MUD, looking for a zone to explore and level up in.
Mar 03 2024
  • Snippet: There were wooden logs lying outside of the Edmonton 205 apartment complex I was in that apparently came from three trees that had toppled over in the yard, this apparently somehow represented victims of some event too that we had to rescue from some sort of monsters outside. When the monsters were distracted by something, Mom, Kel, and I snuck out and started dragging the logs across a road further away from my apartment complex, which was supposed to be some sort of salvation for the victims.
  • Snippet: There was also a dream about some sort of grand strategy empire “game” that involved Earth as a civilization as well as other aliens, and how civilization progressed through several stages that unlocked new goals and outcomes. Near the end of the game, we had reached a point where we were a spacefaring civilization but were also the only known planet/civilization left and were in a state of slow, but impending doom and destruction ourselves. To get to the final stage of the game and of humanity’s progression, which had two endings where we would be annihilated either by aliens or by entropy, we had to push forth from Earth and explore deep space for new planets to settle on. This would either let us find any other alien race that might still be out there for the first ending condition, or allow us to build a total of three spaceports, each one of which took 60 hours to build, for the second ending condition.

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