My Diary #137

Dear Tigey,

We are going to Japan! And Singapore! And where else do you want to go?

Entry #137 (Mar 24 2024)

Table of Contents

Marbles imitating…
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #133
ට  Song of the Week #110
ට  Writing Prompt of the Week #53
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #117
ට  Dreams

Life

I didn’t sleep well this week, and actually didn’t sleep at all on Sunday night, while only sleeping for two hours on Tuesday night. Due to a combo of stress and/or excitement about the two big upcoming events, and the noisy asshole above pacing back and forth all night (and the loud white noise suppression I have to run at all hours) that I’ll be rid of soon. While this meant that I was very tired the next day afterwards, it also meant that I had really good nights of sleep the two following nights.

I haven’t booked any aspect of my trip or any of the stuff I need for moving yet, but I did chat with my enlistment officer over at CMPB to confirm that Singapore still does not have a travel ban against me and that the letter she gave me was still valid while my case is under (seemingly perpetual) review. She confirmed that it was.

The rental managers came by to do a pre-inspection check on the apartment early in the week, and then later on in the week, sent John by again to do a few touch-ups. He changed the toilet light switch so that the ventilator was linked to the lights, added a curtain rod above my bedroom window, and changed the kitchen sink’s faucet, though not the actual sink itself. Here are some before and after pictures.

Bathroom light and ventilator switch (with the panel removed):

New one:

Curtain rod in bedroom (the “old” one was just no rod there — for curtains in the bedroom I’ve always just used the extendible pole that presses up against the insides of the window frame to keep it up, as we “weren’t allowed to have or install curtain rods” when I first moved in.

The sink, with the old, rusty faucet taken out. I feel like that faucet already got replaced once, actually, and is only 3-4 years old at this point, whereas the sink is easily 10+ years old and all scuffed.

The old sink with its new faucet:

I like this faucet style much better, but I don’t like this specific faucet because it seems to default to hot rather than cold in the middle, and I tend to stand slightly to the right of the sink when using it anyway due to where my garbage bag is, so when I flip the tap on it tends to skew left, which makes the water even hotter.

He also replaced some bulbs in the bathroom — and then came back the very next day to remove all of them again, as he was given a directive from the housing agent to just go ahead and replace most of the lights in the unit as well.

They were bulbs and pale yellow incandescent lights before, now they’re all bright white LED ones which he says the housing staff wanted to put in to cut down on labour costs (i.e. his job!) as they didn’t have bulbs that need replacing or something like that. Um, okay. They’re blinding like the sun, too.

Here is John replacing the front hallway light:

You can see the bathroom and its lights in the background — it was a long metal strip with three holes for light bulbs set into it. Once those got removed, it looked like this:

And then once the new lights were installed, it looked like this:

Then the kitchen light went too:

I definitely remembered him from last time and he sort of recognized and remembered me with a bit of prodding. I told him I was moving to a new unit nearby (he said he had been there recently too and it was a good unit) and then would be looking to buy a house in the next seven months or so. We chatted a bunch as he worked, and then the next day when he returned again, though for some reason there were two or three stories that he repeated over and over, something like seven times each in an hour — one was to always check any forms before you sign them when buying a new place and to not trust lawyers that say they’ll change them later and jump at the early move-in option if I was buying a new townhouse or something because he had been bitten by that in the past, but that currently it was a buyer’s market and all the lawyers would be fighting over the commission.

And the second was that Canada kept requiring him to declare some overseas property he had in Malaysia and money he had in a Singapore account even though he wasn’t earning anything on it so he was going back there later this year to sell it all and consolidate his funds back in Canada. And something about how the Malaysian dollar (the ringgit) used to be worth $2 to 1 Singapore dollar, and he thought it’d stabilize there, but then that rose to $3, and now to $3.60, with people expecting it to hit $4 Malaysian to $1 Singapore dollar soon, due to the political instability of having four ruling party changes in a year

Not sure why he kept repeating those two stories. Third on the list, a bit behind those two in frequency with about four or five mentions, was how he had a teacher friend in Singapore who made a lot of money doing tuition as a second job for students as Chinese parents put a lot of pressure on students there now and how he pitied the younger generation there these days that had to suffer under said pressure of having tuition classes every day after school and got in trouble for not having perfect grades.

But anyway he was nice in general and I asked him if he did any freelance house repair/touchup work on the side, hoping for some connections there once I got my own place. He said he used to but not anymore but that he would be happy to help out once I got my own place — we didn’t trade contact information or anything like though. Although I got his surname as well, so now I know his name is John Chee.

He also gave me the light bulbs that he had just replaced the day before, to keep, so that was nice. I lost one bulb that was in the bathroom light strip the previous day (I only used one bulb in it to save slightly on the electricity bill) as I believe he took it with him at that point and I only realized it afterwards, but I gained five new light bulbs of the same size the next day!

The mug I won from a streamer last week arrived this week, so here’s a picture of Tigey next to the mug: It arrived much earlier than expected. I made a nice cup of David’s Tea, Valerian Nights flavour, as my first drink from it. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with that mug versus the unicorn cup that I currently have.

I shared that picture with the streamer’s Discord server too. Spreading the gospel of Tigey. The alien’s name is Glerm. The green one.

The Sousou no Frieren anime (first cour) ended this week, and while there were lots of good anime this season (and basically every other season as well as I enjoy watching anime seasonals in general), this one was an extra leap and bound over the other shows this season. And last season. And apparently every season ever, according to the community:

I really liked it because it’s very pensive, thoughtful, and vicariously nostalgic, with a lot of great and memorable characters and moments, strong writing without leaning into tropes, strong directing that makes the characters seem alive and ties the great music and visuals together, the entire fantasy world vibe, and more. Apparently the main person who directed it, Keiichirou Saitou, was also the main director for Bocchi the Rock!, another beloved recent show to me, and apparently those are his first two TV anime series as the lead director as well. Hopefully I’ll find some nice merch for both of those series when I go to Japan next month.

Talking about which, I haven’t yet booked my tickets for that trip, though I am monitoring prices. Calgary has a direct flight to Tokyo via Westjet now, and I noticed that that option never comes up when I do Edmonton to Vancouver searches, but I think it actually comes out cheaper in a lot of cases, so I need to think about taking a bus down there and then flying to Tokyo as my gateway into Asia. I still need to do the fare comparisons though. And this would mean losing out on that familiar feeling of visiting Vancouver International Airport and its lounges that I’m well-acquainted with by now.

I haven’t booked my movers for my apartment transfer in early April as well, though I have done some research into them and spoken to the family about it to see if they have any recommendations (they don’t) and to arrange a few other things. I’ve also emailed a potential cleaning service and was quoted $42 per hour for up to 8-12 hours depending on how much they have to clean. The main thing I am worried about, actually, is that I know from keeping my expenses in a spreadsheet from the past two months that my bimonthly paycheck comes in on the 9th-10th of the month and the 23rd-25th of the month or so, and rent is pulled on the 1st of the month, and my main credit card payment on the 24th-26th or so. I expect to have $4300-$4500 or so of fluid money in the account, possibly a bit less, by the end of March, not counting the rest of my investments and my side bank account that I don’t want to touch right now.

That’s great at first glance, but then before the first paycheck, I will need to pony up the $1300 or so for rent, taking me down to $3000, and then some unknown amount for moving costs, including not only the actual movers but also the cleaners, and then a spare amount in case some other costs unexpectedly arise. It shouldn’t take that much but I’ll put aside $1000 for that, bringing me down to $2000 minus the usual food expenses and such.

All that is fine in a vacuum, but then I also need to book my plane tickets and the lodging for my trip to Japan and then to Singapore, and possibly elsewhere too. I’m thinking of going down to Calgary to get a tourist visa to China so that I can visit Kel if I find a cheap plane ticket, for example. And I have to withdraw a certain amount of money in various currencies to have with me.

Much of this will end up on the credit card bill anyway and will thus be deferred to the next month, and my last month’s credit card total isn’t very high so it likely won’t be an issue even if it gets processed before the late-month paycheck comes in at around the same time, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t warily keeping an eye on my account and trying to figure out the order of operations of things and whether I will be okay by the time the 9th and 24th of April rolls around. I should be, but you never know. I’m not sure that I’ll book my entire trip itinerary at once though, I might not be able to fully afford that if I do it before March’s credit card bill deadline (as I would have to pay it off in the 3rd week of April). I think I would definitely be fine if I booked it after that cut-off date and put it on May’s bill though, since I’ll still be paid while I’m overseas and will have that extra month’s buffer by then.

I’ve been getting very forgetful lately, or rather, my concentration and ability to remember small things that I need to do has been shot. Despite near-daily AMQ games to train the memory. The main indicator of this for me is that I’ve left the stove on and over-boiling water on it many times in the past month or three. Water for tea, water for soup, water for noodles, water for boiling my pork or chicken pre-making soup, water for macaroni, water with macaroni inside.

I’ve forgotten about those pots to the point where I have to add additional water or burnt whatever was in the pot, probably about 10 times over the past 2 months or so. I still haven’t caused the stove alarm to go off from heating an empty metal pot though (I did this once, many years ago, but it didn’t cause a general fire alarm), but I have ended up with said poor metal pot being mindlessly heated with nothing inside a couple of times. I’ve also done this a couple times with macaroni in the pot now, so there’s some permanent black marks demarcating a macaroni mass grave at the bottom of my larger pot, and that’s my main regret of this forgetful streak. I’ll be glad when I move out.

The backs of both my upper arms have a small area, right by the armpits, that’s started to itch again. This happens every few months, isn’t linked to the eczema thing (which oddly has just about disappeared now even if I stop taking the pills), and is irritating both in the literal and the mental sense. This time I’m trying not to scratch and aggravate them. I suspect everytime in the past that I’ve tried ointment on it, it’s dried up the skin and made it worse too. Water and a prayer will do the trick this time hopefully.

Oh, and the marbles reference at the top of the blog post is in reference to this Youtube channel, which was linked to me in one of my Discord servers this week. It’s very similar to, but thematically different from, the other marbles channel that I’ve watched and linked in the past, which I’ve enjoyed watching videos from and even idly watched while curled up in an internet cafe (well, a manga cafe) in Osaka. Good times.

Games

This week was almost exclusively a Minecraft week again, although I played a bit of Backpack Battles and some Satinel-induced Super Auto Pets on the side. I struggled for a bit in that one before learning some of the meta and combinations and winning my first game. I’m not sure these auto-battler games are for me, but they’re not bad, and could definitely be fun to play on a Steam Deck while overseas perhaps………. I should really start thinking on what I want to play while overseas, if anything, huh.

Due to a bad patch a couple of weeks ago, it sounds like the Minecraft server I play on, using the Minecolonies: Dimensional Adventure modpack, is due for a server wipe to make things stable again once the next update comes, although it apparently might not come for a couple weeks or even a month, since the modpack author said that they want to make sure everything is stable and properly fixed this time, and it seems like they’re also going to take the opportunity to remove a few mods from the pack, before next updating it again.

I thought about visiting as many player colonies as I can and taking screenshots of people’s towns before it goes down, sort of as a digital archive, though I am still feverishly working on my own colony anyway, impending server wipe be damned, since there’s still a lot of institutional knowledge to be learnt and a lot of mods I haven’t touched at all but would like to explore in this transient world. That and we’ve more or less figured out now as a server community what things bog down the server in the current patch, so we try to avoid those things so the server doesn’t chug. Also less people have been on recently due to the lag last week and the knowledge of the impending fist of god landing upon the world, so the server’s also been more stable in general due to that.

Plushie of the Week #133

The plushie of the week this week is a Japanese tofu phone charm — it might be from one of Kel‘s trips to Japan, but I get the feeling that we already had it when we were living in Edmonton 4012, and none of us had been or did go to Japan while we were living there. I might have remembered wrongly though.

Anyway, it’s one of those plushies that we don’t have any notes on, so I will just present the plushie here as is. A Google Lens reverse search for this plushie actually turns up quite a lot of hits on random sites, for example here (local), here (local), and here (local), so its relatives and cousins have certainly made their way into many pockets over the years, The little branding on its bottom right says Tofu, I think. I didn’t think to get a very clear picture of it and it’s sitting at my parents’ place.

Front:

Back:

Tag front:

Tag back:

No ownership/copyright branding or anything at all, poor mass-produced toy!

Song of the Week #110

Title: Yorimichi Little Star
Artist: U149
Album: The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls: U149 OST (2023)

Yorimichi Little Star, the first ending song of the Idolmaster franchise’s Cinderella Girls U149 anime, is a song sung by the female voice actors representing the children characters in the idol anime show, which aired in Spring 2023, right around when I went to Japan for my Ritsumeikan Summer Japanese Program month of studying abroad. I bought this CD while I was there because well, it was released while I was there, and I had very much liked the song from hearing it on the anime before I went over. It turned out to be my favourite anime song from that anime season.

I had named that blog travel series The Slightly Longer Way, and a nice thematic coincidence with the title of this song is that the word Yorimichi also basically means taking a detour (local), so it fit in perfectly with my journey and experiences there as well. Especially how the very last line of the full version of the song below says “On the way back home today, we’re stopping by!” That was a good theme. I still have to figure out a “theme” for my upcoming Japan-and-region trip, and I hope I land on one as personally satisfying and meaningful as my last two.

Anyway, I tend to like idol anime in general, but I generally prefer the smaller ones, like Wake Up, Girls! or Shine Post, over the larger franchises like Love Live! or The iDOLM@STER in terms of both their stories and their songs, even though I also like those two franchises as well. I really liked this song though, though it’s only the second or third song from the entire franchise that I love (and the first one I’ve featured on the blog). That’s still more than Love Live! though, which I like but which does not have a single song yet in the franchise that I can outright proclaim that I love, for some reason.

Writing Prompt of the Week #53

This week’s writing prompt reads:

Write about a time when something turned out differently than you expected it to.

In the context of being a young adult, back when I was 18 and first realized I was transgendered, the answer to this was that I was still in contact with Lady Jinx, my first muse, and I expected to be able to transition in “just a couple of years” and be able to talk to her about it once I had completed my transition and even send her a picture eventually. Just a couple of years to finish University, then one year of work to move out, then one or two more years after that to save up enough for the surgery. What a silly idea. It took me 10 more years before I could start my transition and 15 years before I finished it. And I lost touch with Lady Jinx within a year

Memory Snippet of the Week #117

My thoughts have been pointed outwards, towards my impending trip, since last week, and I wanted to share a couple of memories about Changi Airport, the main international airport in Singapore.

The airport was not just a place for departing and arriving planes like in many countries, especially in Edmonton where the airport is so far outside of town that it takes nearly an hour to get there or back by bus. In Singapore, at least when we were around, it was also a recreational place where locals would visit just to hang out and spend the day at.

My main memory is that there was a long visitor’s lounge or viewer’s gallery or something on top of the departures and arrivals floor. It was quiet, air-conditioned, carpeted, and lit with pleasantly dim yellow lights, and ran the length of the entire terminal. There were two main terminals when we were there and I believe both terminals probably had this lounge. There were lovely multi-floored fountains that one passed on the way in, potted plants everywhere, and like the rest of Singapore it was very clean.

So people, including our family, would take a day trip here to just sit on the chairs and chill and watch planes take off and land. I don’t know if there was any ulterior motive with Mom and Dad taking us here, something like letting us get used to the idea of planes so we would be okay with travelling or something like that, but I think that was the effect at the end of the day anyway. Also, occasionally set into the side of the long lounge and walkway were little alcoves, and I remember seeing groups of students tucked away in those alcoves, seated on the floor and surrounded by papers as they studied or did their homework or whatever.

The other memory I have about Changi Airport is that there was a weird cafeteria tucked away on the ground floor of one of the terminals that didn’t seem to be advertised, as we usually came down through a weird side entrance into the cafeteria instead of down the main escalators and through the tourist areas. All I remember about the cafeteria is that something about the walls was “white” somehow, which made it feel like a little hidden gem, and that it had really good food. I believe there were maybe ten to twelve food stalls or so, sort of like an indoor coffeeshop, but my memory is no longer clear on that.

Dreams
Mar 18 2024
  • I dreamt that I went to school for exam day, and it was divided into two chunks, morning and afternoon. In the morning, I had a technical exam where I was going to present on the Bomgar remote desktop software to some executives from work, as I had originally been involved with not only configuring the system but also installing the server in the University’s server room when I first joined them over 10 years ago. I had been warned by someone that because many of the executives knew about the software since we all used it at work, they were going to grill my presentation and ask me about things like jump gates or something like that, which was a disabled feature in the software, but I said that that was fine since I knew what that was too since I had seen the option when I was setting it up way back. I would talk about not only its current usage but its future potential as well.
  • That presentation apparently went well, and once it was done I wandered out to have lunch and then prepare for my afternoon exam, which was History. I hadn’t studied yet but had all my notes with me. I went into a supermarket to get food, but somehow the supermarket was also mixed up with a simulated sports match “under” the aisle floors where the Edmonton Oilers were losing to some other strong team.
  • I got roped into this game, and while Connor McDavid led most of the opponent players away, Leon Draisaitl and I tried to defeat two little bosses that were concealed behind a shelf in the middle of the playing field in order to try to earn some points back. These two bosses were represented by two pink, dice-like spheres on the ground, the larger boss was about two inches in diameter and the smaller one about half that. We tried to defeat them by using our fists to hit them over and over again, and the small one crumbled as we defeated it successfully, but we were discovered by our opponents before we could smash the larger one and it escaped toward their goal.
  • At some point I extricated myself from the match and went back to shopping for food. While carrying around a red carton of Campbell’s soup stock, I bumped into Kel, who was there with Mom, and she looked surprised to see me. Mom hadn’t seen me yet, and I put down the carton and looked around for my bag as I wanted to go join them and surprise Mom too, but I suddenly couldn’t find my bag.
  • I went up and down the aisles looking for the bag, and began to panic as I realized that not only were my history notes in the bag, but so was my phone, as well as Tigey. The supermarket was also winding down for the day so people were starting to leave, and the bag was obviously nowhere to be found so I suspected that someone had taken it. I did find two other phones on the ground, both were smaller than my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra but one of them was using an old phone wallpaper that I had used in the past, and more importantly, was unlocked and thus usable. I picked up both phones, intending to return them to the front cashier.
  • I overheard two women talking nearby about some problem they were having, and even though the unlocked phone wasn’t mine, I loaded up the phone app anyway and proceeded to text them the answer using that phone. I hoped that the owner of the phone, once they were reunited with it, wouldn’t wonder too hard on why the phone had been used to send out a text to another random phone number. I realized that I could also use that phone to call the phone in my bag, although I wasn’t sure if I had left my phone on mute or not. I tried dialing in my phone number to make a call to it but kept on typoing the number, even though I had just finished sending the other text that was over 6 lines long on the phone screen just fine.
  • A woman came up to me as I was dream-fumbling with the phone, asking if I needed help, and I asked if she could please chase down Mom and Kel, whom I could see exiting the store, and ask Kel to come find me as it was an emergency. I would wait for them back here in the store. I pointed out Kel, who was wearing a green tank top, to the woman, and she nodded and ran off.
Mar 22 2024
  • Snippet: I remember being in class and how about half of us, who were also my actual classmates from Dunman, had set up some sort of secret group gathering after class that might have involved doing something in a computer game-like area. This was secret however, and not openly talked about in class, because the other half of the class was considered “evil”, I believe because they supported a right-wing political party and this somehow meant that they were looking to thwart our fun if they caught wind of it. So when they shuffled into our classroom just before classes started, everyone else quietened down and refused to speak a word of the upcoming event.
  • Snippet: I was waiting on a crowded train station with Allen and Ronnie after work. Our train arrived, and everyone crowded onto it, but then another train arrived as well and stopped ahead of our train on the same platform somehow, and Ronnie commented that it would have been smart for some people to wait for that train instead as that one was heading east faster than the one we were on, which was heading west, reaching the end of the line, and then turning back east. Indeed, a number of people were filing out of the current packed train and going to that one instead, so there was suddenly a lot more space in our train. Both Allen and Ronnie were headed west, so they remained on the train, but even though I lived toward the east, I stayed there too and said that I had made plans to go two stops west to the Paya Lebar train station, and then take a bus to a nearby market. Apparently this was only worth doing if we left work/school before 5:00 pm, as it would take at least a half hour of travel to get there, two hours of time to spend there, and then more travel time to get home afterwards, and I needed to be home before 8:00 pm. It was only 3:30 pm at the moment though, so I was good on time.
  • Snippet: I remember being in a hospital room with a cast on my left wrist and arm, and a nurse came in to prep me for a doctor visit later on in the day. I invited her to draw on my cast and she looked surprised, then nervous, then excited about the prospect. She started with a signature and then drew and coloured in stars and other pictures on it, and even folded one of the sheets of A4 paper she was carrying around into a quarter of its size and attached that to the bottom of the cast to use as backing so it wouldn’t smudge the table beneath. She completed most of it before another girl came into the room, sat down on a chair by the other bed in the room, and stared coldly at her, and I told her she was being stared at. She left at this point, having left a little bit of the cast still uncoloured, so I filled that in with the leftover coloured ink as I wasn’t sure if she would be back.
  • Snippet: Finally, I was shown an A5-sized jotter book with about 15-20 pages at one point and asked for my comment on it. It had some Japanese words in there, but also a bunch of drawings and cartoon panels and random English sentences written down across the pages, and I concluded to the person who had handed me the notebook that this was someone’s idea notepad and doodling journal and that the owner was a really creative person.
Mar 23 2024
  • I dreamt that I was playing a game of Civilization, and that I was was Indus Valley, mankind’s first ever civilization. My towns and owned land were coloured dark brown, and I settled down on the west side of a river with two little towns, each one taking up a 3×3 square, the second town two squares east and one square north of the first one so that their borders were touching each other. I knew they would eventually merge into one larger town later on in the game.
  • I had two allies with me, one to the west of me, and Satinel to my east across the river. She also put down a town and did some research and was surprised when the research completed and nothing happened. I told her that we were so early on in the game and in mankind’s civilization that we hadn’t even unlocked anything to research yet, there was a separate point buy system where we had to first earn enough gold or points to unlock gameplay elements from a long list of ideas, and every research node, along with other things, were gated behind one of those ideas in the list. Once we unlocked the idea, then we could research them.
  • At one point, there was an enemy city to the west somewhere whom I noticed had a wandering hero, Heroes 3 style, end its turn just outside the city, barely out of movement points to get back to safety. I also had heroes wandering about, with a strong hero relatively near, and I rolled two dice to see how many movement points I had and to see whether I could reach the hero and attack it, or steal the unoccupied town, before the enemy could move again. I rolled a 6-4 for a total of 10 movement though, and found that I was still 5 spaces short. I realized that the only way I could have succeeded on that roll was to roll doubles, which would have allowed me to add the doubles to the running total and roll again, but that didn’t happen this time.

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