My Diary #140

Dear Tigey,

Alright! The move is over, now let’s talk about our jaunt halfway across the world over some cake.

Entry #140 (Apr 14 2024)

Table of Contents

Clara can’t swim in my…
ට  Life
ට  Games
ට  Plushie of the Week #135
ට  Song of the Week #112
ට  Writing Prompt of the Week #55
ට  Memory Snippet of the Week #119
ට  Dreams

Life

There was a solar eclipse this week, but Edmonton only got 23% coverage or so during the peak of the eclipse, so I don’t think anyone here in town really did much about it. I certainly didn’t, although it would be nice to go visit a place to coincide with a total solar eclipse in the future. Apparently Australia is getting a lot of them over the next couple of decades, relatively speaking. Actually, Edmonton’s getting one in 2044. Japan will apparently get a nice one in 2035. Singapore’s next one is 2168. I might not be around for that one.

There’s also a solar eclipse on my leg, as I picked up a bruise around my thigh that makes no sense, as it doesn’t hurt in the least even if I poke at it or press on it and I don’t remember how I got it. It looks ugly but will probably pass.

I had the walkthrough of my old apartment and handing over of keys on Monday, and to my relief I did not incur any additional charge. Even after 10 years of living there. I had spent 3 hours on Sunday not only vacuuming the carpet but also cleaning the window sills and vent tops and shelves and such, and I also tried to clean the balcony doors but there were stains left over on that, so I wasn’t worried. The agent that walked through the apartment with me did check one of the vent tops, so I’m glad I cleaned that. She said that their cleaners would be doing some basic “polishing” of the house before giving it to the next tenant anyway, and that that was included in the $150 transfer fee that they didn’t fully discount. I’d have paid that fee anyway so I don’t consider it an extra charge.

After we left my old apartment and locked up, I mentioned that I should have taken pictures of the place before I left for good. The leasing agent agreed that I should have, and said that I still could, since we were both still there. So I took her up on that offer!

I wonder how my old apartment is doing. In my last week or two there, three separate groups of people came to view it, so there’s definitely demand for it, and I’m sure it’ll be snapped up soon enough. I hope I remembered to change just about all the named mail that was going to that place. I’m sure that after 10 years I’m missing updating my address in some obscure places that only mail me every now and then though.

I mentioned last week that there was a magnifying glass that fell out of my box when the movers dropped one of my boxes in the truck. They offered to bring it back to me this week, but the mover that came used the call button on my apartment box downstairs, then when I didn’t answer that immediately, he left the magnifying glass in the lobby and then texted me to say that he had left it there in the corner of the front lobby, with a picture. I immediately received the text, and went downstairs within TWO MINUTES of receiving that text, and the magnifying glass was gone. There were people going in and out, but I have no idea who took it — whether someone decided to take it or if a cleaner threw it away, or even if the mover just took the picture and then pocketed it anyway.

I think that it was only a dollar store magnifying glass, so it’s a bit funny that they came all the way over here to deliver that anyway, but it did miff me that they delivered it and then it disappeared, and that he didn’t bother waiting for a reply to the text before he left. A so close and yet so far sort of feeling. The thing that compounded this is that they still owed me money for collecting both the deposit and then the payment for me, and when I called them about it, asking for the invoice and the refund, they sent the invoice on Tuesday stating that there was an overpay (to the tune of about $97) but not the actual refund itself until Friday afternoon, a full week after the actual move, after Harry, the sales manager who had negotiated me hiring them, had decided to go out of town on a meeting and Mattie, who picked up the company phone on Friday, had to try to track him down to make him give me back the refund and who gave me his own personal number in case I hadn’t heard back from Harry by the end of the day.

Anyway, apparently Last Stop Moving has a client referral program where you can get 10% of the fee that the client pays if you refer a client to them, but after these experiences? Not a chance. After dropping that box, not telling me about it even though I saw it, stalling for time at the end to charge more, losing my item, overchanging me, and then withholding the return payment for so long, their service was so poor that I will never use them again and hope no one I know does use them. It was like Harry was hoping that I would forget about the extra $100 (they nickel and dimed me for something extra so they only returned $97.90 in the end, but whatever) and thus the company would get to pocket it.

At least I got to test the apartment building front door’s buzzer system, which the management office said on Monday that they’d forward to my phone on Tuesday. I confirmed that unlike a certain moving company that said that they’ll do things but dragged their feet on, Rent Midwest did do this properly and promptly for me.

Mom and Jon came by to my house to look at it, and to take pictures from the balcony of my apartment. I was “living out of boxes” though, as my boss put it, with them strewn all around the house, and I still am at this point even though I’ve unpacked a couple of the more “daily household items” boxes now. I’ve also at least moved all the boxes so everything is laid out in rows and nothing is stacked on top of each other, so I can more or less easily retrieve anything from a box if I knew which box it was in. There isn’t much point in unpacking a lot of the other things, since I’m leaving in a week and change and they will collect dust out in the open while I am gone. Although I at least rescued half my plushies from the cramped garbage bag they were in, and put them with the other half in an opened plastic container box. I look forward to getting my new house and acquiring shelves and other furniture to actually unpack my books and stuff onto, hopefully later this year!

I went down to the University again this week to engage that travel agent about getting a visa to China. One thing that helped was that they clarified that they’d know by this Wednesday on whether the consulate would accept my application or not, and they’d bring it back FROM Calgary as part of the fee when the driver went down next week too, so I could pick it up directly from them on Thursday or Friday next week if they accepted it. That was much better and safer than waiting for them to mail it back. And I received a text on Wednesday saying that the initial part was successful and my application that the agency helped me fill in had been accepted by the consulate.

That visa application was weird, since there were several questions where our exchange basically was (paraphrased) “Nah, don’t worry about filling in that section super accurately, they don’t care about it either. We’ve been doing these for years and we know some things don’t translate well into English.” Things like “Oh, you don’t have your plane ticket yet because you are waiting on your visa application to buy them? We will make up an itinerary for you.” And suddenly my visa application has an Air Canada plane from Edmonton to Shanghai on it even though that’s not the route I’m taking. Still, I appreciated all their help and they were very helpful, and though it was a bit pricey, not having to go down to Calgary was a good trade-off too.

I also withdrew and exchanged a bunch of money for my trip this week, though it’s largely only for the Japanese leg of my trip so far. I don’t have that much fluid money, nor do I want to drag around a couple thousand dollars in various currencies.

I probably will skip all my introspection sections in next week’s blog again, like I did in last week’s blog, because I need the extra time to prepare and plan for my trip. So no Song of the Week, Plushie of the Week, etc until I return from my trip. I still haven’t decided how long my trip is going to be.

In terms of my new apartment, I spoke to a housing agent and also had a maintenance person come over. The washroom is plain lousy, with no way to fix the poor water pressure and occasionally off temperatures. Apparently the shower system they use is the standard now and they’re going to be replacing the better one in my old apartment with this one too, but also this problem is probably partially because there’s a lot of people in the building (and the management is cheap). Whatever.

Next, the thermostat temperature pointer is broken and never changes, though adjusting the temperature itself is working. The maintenance person that came over confirmed that they could not fix it (again, cheap management).

The maintenance person did fix the stove for me though, which involved lifting up the stove cover, something I had not realized could be done, and reattaching something that came loose inside. This electric stove is very strong, and boils things much, much faster than the stove at my old apartment. I also really like being able to see my computer screen from the kitchen, and vice versa. Very convenient.

They also confirmed that there isn’t a switch for the bathroom vent — in fact it’s apparently always on, and inaudible, and if I can actually hear it then there’s something wrong with it and I should contact them. Sounds good to me. Or rather, the lack of sound’s good to me.

He also added a door sweep under my door to prevent the cold air wafting in from there, which was neat, though he warned that that meant that my apartment would be warmer during summer. I don’t care about that, since it’s not like any other apartment has a huge wall vent blowing cold air at their front door, and the door itself isn’t particularly well insulated so it’ll still be slowly radiating cold air into my place even with the big gap under the door stoppered up. That door sweep will also help prevent dirt from getting in.

Anyway, the new apartment is pretty great outside of the bathroom. There are still neighbourly noises, so it’s not completely silent, but it’s occasional and not incessant through the day and night, so that’s very nice. I feel very.. almost self conscious without white noise running all the time, after having it constantly going basically 24/7 for months. There’s less of a mild feeling of panic now when a few seconds of silence appear between successive Youtube videos or Twitch streams or anime episodes or AMQ songs.

A few neighbours have also come by to visit me, though these neighbours are of the avian variety. I’ve noticed them flying to the apartment balcony above me too, or to the sides, but they also occasionally stop by my balcony and I even got to capture some pictures of them.

Those pictures are just from Friday to early morning Sunday of this week alone. I think more birds have visited my balcony in the past week than the past 10 years at my old apartment’s balcony combined. This also means they’ve been leaving a bit of bird poop behind on the balcony, but apparently the prior resident left behind a broom on the balcony as well, propped against the wall and out of sight so the cleaners never saw it (or didn’t bother) to remove it and the previous tenant forgot (or didn’t bother) to take it with her, so that’ll help.

The sun can be really bright at times during the day though, but now that I have my blackout curtains in place too, I can just temporarily close off half the balcony door and that does the trick until sunset arrives.

Oh, and I learnt that my community mailbox does not have a solid back, as I accidentally pushed my mail (mostly brochures) out the back of the box and onto the floor of the mail room when trying to take it out of my box this week. They were just ads though so I filched a copy of them from the recycle bin to scan. What a weird community mailbox we have.

Thai New Year was on April 13, and apparently the local Thai Express stall in the mall food court was giving out free cake to the first 100 patrons on April 12th as a promotion. I had seen the sign for it a couple of weeks ago:

And I duly went down at around 10:40 am of the 12th to get mine, together with some lunch and a complimentary free drink that they always give me. Apparently I was too early and was basically one of the first there.

They apologized that they only had one flavour, chocolate banana. No no, that’s a good thing. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but choco banana evokes a very Japanese memory anyway so that was a good thing. The cake itself was quite nice, though really creamy, and the box was cute too but I didn’t keep it around.

And finally, here are more pictures of the view from my apartment this week. I spent some time wondering why the car in the bottom right of the third picture was on all night. I’ll probably witness and photograph a crime from here eventually too if I’m vigilent enough about it. Also I was wondering about setting up a camera here, pointed out at the balcony, and live-streaming the view. It probably won’t happen, but it’s interesting to think about. I love the view of the clouds and the unique sky every day, it’s a feast of calmness and abject joy.

Games

Amidst the hustle and bustle of moving, and catching up on my seasonal anime, games kind of took a back seat this week, with the only game I spent a bunch of time on, besides our mostly-daily AMQ, being Minecraft. Though even that is slowly losing its sheen. I would like to finish Hades before I go on vacation though, so maybe I’ll try to do that next week. I also tested out Backpack Battles on the Steam Deck and it worked fine, although I’m not sure that that one can be played offline, so it wouldn’t be an airport/airplane game, and I probably have other things to play if I find myself bored enough to play games while I’m in a hotel room or something at night when abroad. The list of games I’ll be installing on the Steam Deck before I go is something I do need to consider, and then test, though.

Plushie of the Week #135 – Tokidoki Alicorn

Continuing forth with the cake theme, the plushie of the week this week is an alicorn (unicorn with wings) that I am unfamiliar with, an alicorn with cake toppings on her back. She seems to be multinational, with a Japanese brand name (Tokidoki) with an Italian website top level domain code (.it) and yet made in China.

Her tag is also marked October 2012, which puts a bottom bound on how early on she could have appeared in our family treasure chest, and since I moved out to Edmonton 205 in July 2011, I would never have had been in the same house as her until I went to visit my family three Chinese New Years ago, which was when these pictures were taken.

Neither Jon nor Kel seems to know her story too, so this is one of our mysterious plushies that the latter parts of my Plushie of the Week segment will showcase but otherwise will not have much history or lore to talk about. Why does she have chocolate sprinkles and cream all over her back? Who knows! She was also stored in a Ziploc bag for some reason when I first found her.

In bag:

Side:

Other side:

Back:

Tag front:

Tag back:

Song of the Week #112

Title: Flower Dance
Artist: DJ Okawari
Album: A Cup of Coffee (2010)

I’m not sure where I first heard of this song, but it was back around 2014 when I first added it to my Spotify playlists, and then shortly thereafter I also added it to the Spotify Song Swap collaborative playlist that I had with my main group of online friends from LotRO, at which point Danethor complimented me on the pick and said that he also very much liked the song. Fast forward a few years, to when I visited him in San Francisco back in Nov 2021, and he played it for me live on the piano that he had in his house. Good times.

I do very much like the lilting tune and melody of the song, with the melody sending my heart soaring and dipping in waves through the sky. I think I’ve tried a bunch of DJ Okawari’s other songs but did not find them particularly good or bad, and yet this one sweeps me away everytime I listen to it. I’ve listened to it many, many times over the years, and it’s likely in my top 30, maybe 20, songs of all time, but my mental image of the song is definitely most strongly tied to that post-COVID USA trip that I took. I was shocked when I realized that I had not featured this song in Song of the Week before.

Apparently the spoken portion at the start of the song is taken from a 1960 movie called Space Men, or Assignment: Outer Space (local), according to the comment section of the linked video below.

Writing Prompt of the Week #55

This week’s writing prompt reads:

Word association exercise: don’t think, just write! What memory comes to mind when you hear the word “dare”?

This is probably me pursing my life goals, like the whole gender transition process and the whole travelling abroad by myself process and living by myself and applying to study abroad and more. I’ve long since learnt that big things can be done by taking care of the many small steps along the way, and big change can be affected by daring to take that first small step and kicking the urge to worry and the pressure of the “unclimbable mountain”, the big picture event that seems impossible, down the road. Then before I know it, the entire process is halfway done and it’s far too late to turn back now. Then one more blink and it’s 7 years later and I’m going through some life event that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

The other thing that this word probably evokes is the D.A.R.E. program here in Canada, which the schools that I attended did not take part in, but which at least one of my younger siblings’ schools definitely did. They came back with T-shirts that they wore around the house and paraphernalia like that, and that’s where I learnt about the phrase itself.

Memory Snippet of the Week #119

One of the things I dug out while packing was a notebook with the first couple of pages dedicated to “firsts” from (mostly) the year 2000, which I promptly scanned and am now sharing here.

As I remember it, the start of the booklet actually chronicles the day we came over to Canada from Singapore back in 1999, so there are entries like when we flew off from Singapore (around 6:20 am on Jan 01 1999 Singapore time), when we landed in Vancouver (around 1:00pm on Jan 01 1999 Vancouver time), and then again when we arrived in Edmonton (10:45 pm on Jan 04 1999 Edmonton time). But then I never did anything else with that booklet, so come Jan 2000, I repurposed the notebook, changed the date up top, and continued it by listing a bunch of irrelevant “firsts” and notes about the day. This tracks with what is written, since some of the things listed on the pages were impossible for me to have done in 1999 as we were not in Edmonton or specifically in our Edmonton 4012 house yet.

It contains such gems as how our last word of 1999 and first word of 2000 was “Rabbit”, this was a reference to this Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit superstition that we jokingly followed a variant thereof — instead of the start of every month, we’d just do it as our last words of the old year and the first words of the new year.

The references to L0, L1, and L2 radios took me a while to figure out, but they were codes for which level of the Edmonton 4012 house the radios were in, L0 being the basement, L1 being the main ground level with the kitchen, and L2 being the bedroom level. There was also a 0.5 level, halfway between the basement and the main hall, that had the television and spare room and also had a radio, but I suppose that one didn’t factor into my notebook.

I like that I had a distinction between the first CD that I wanted to play (Britney Spears) versus the first CD that I actually played (which I never actually filled in, and left blank in the end). I wonder what happened there.

Apparently I was not good at remembering the year rollover back then, since both the first things I wrote and typed were 01/01/99 even though it was 01/01/2000. Whoops. The first “word” I wrote being Wland is a reference to the first song I heard being Wonderland, by 911, and how at that time I kept daily song lists to catalogue what I heard, and then made weekly song charts to see which songs were the most popular based only on what songs I specifically heard myself. I can likely even find the exact sheet if I search hard enough through the pile of ratty papers displayed in the second picture of Memory Snippet of the Week #091!

I recognize the numbers on the top right of the second page as kingdom numbers from Utopia, which was also already featured in MSotW #051. See how all my Memory Snippets loop together into each other? 16:20 was my kingdom’s “kingdom:island” address number at this time, but I don’t know the context of the other three numbers.

Apparently at 11:48 am on Jan 01 2000, a 6 year old Jon was crawling around on the basement carpet with a Furby perched on top of him. I scolded him for being too loud three minutes after that. Kel knocked over a dustbin 12 minutes after that. My siblings, I swear. Lunch was at 1:37 pm to 1:50 pm, and then an hour and a half after that, at 3:27 pm, Jon got to use the computer for half an hour or so, before I started my usual afternoon-to-night computer usage from around 4pm until bedtime (this part isn’t recorded down but was my usual modus operandi for pretty much the entire time I stayed at the family home).

I also for some reason started to archive the main headline on the newspapers that we received for the first few days as well, but I stopped on January 06, and the page following the 4th scanned page here is completely blank. Still, I appreciate that I had enough of an archivist’s soul back then to write down a whole bunch of miscellany that happened in the first millennium so that 24 years later I can still look back at it and picture life as it was back then.

Dreams
Apr 10 2024
  • I dreamt that the Edmonton Oilers lost their last 3 games of the regular NHL season, including a 4-2 drop to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this caused them to not only miss the playoffs but finish below the Calgary Flames in the standings, even though they had a 99% chance of making the playoffs at one point. Connor McDavid was also injured and finished the year at 99 assists, being unable to get his 100th one in the last few games. I saw all this passingly while on the way to a large field that surrounded some sort of impassable object in the middle, where some sort of festival or event that I was participating in was taking place.
Apr 12 2024
  • Snippet: I was playing Minecraft with some friends but one of the ores that could be used to make powerful items was not spawning in the game, so we were finding creative ways to get copies of the ore by finding items that were made with it, and then uncrafting it to get the ore back. Eventually an admin came on to say that they had changed the configuration for the zone that the ore was supposed to spawn in, and were going to reset the zone to fix the issue.
  • Snippet: Kel came back to Canada, and we were trying to find a place for her phone in our family address book because there were five of us and the address book only had four slots. I said that we should remove either Dad or Mom‘s number since they were always together these days, especially since Mom‘s stroke. Also, later on we were going to play L5R with some friends, but Kel realized that she did not have a deck ready to go. I said that since they were all ultimately my cards, she had returned me the cards that she had used before she went overseas, and I had long since unpacked and sorted them into my general pool of cards, so she had to make her deck from scratch again.
  • Snippet: Lastly, I remember visiting a teacher in his office together with a friend. His office was located inside what was like a large abandoned trailer van, without the cab that would normally be pulling the trailer. It was parked in the middle of a field where students walked by constantly, and we commented on what a nice view and convenient location it had. We helped the teacher open some of the windows, one of which was high up on the wall but which my friend ended up entering through and dropping down to the office floor inside. I had the feeling that I had been here before in a dream from very long ago. I sat down in the outer room while my friend followed the teacher into a back room.
  • Editor: The ore situation in the first snippet does mirror a situation on the public server that I play on, except that that issue hasn’t been fixed yet.
Apr 13 2024
  • I was part of a group of four or five players that were attacking the final version of a difficult palace zone in an MMO-like game. We had been there several times before, and had defeated a series of bosses in that place, but this time all the bosses spawned at once and wandered around the palace, and we had to somehow defeat them all.
  • The four or five of us stood as close to each other as we could so that we would benefit from each other’s defensive and offensive buff spells. We were up on a ledge over the middle part of the palace, and bosses would enter and leave the area either through doorways on the lower level or on the same level that we were at. These bosses included four red ogre generals, a named efreeti in the centre of an entourage of genies and efreeti that followed him around, a lineup of Greek Olympian gods and goddesses, groups of tall, lanky robots, and several other roaming enemy groups.
  • It was a very difficult dungeon fight and thus it was going very slowly, but decently well, when suddenly one of the other players cast a dispel magic spell while the Greek pantheon bosses were in the room below. They reflected that spell back at us as an AOE dispel, which stripped our buffs and meant that we were suddenly doing a lot less damage and taking a lot more damage all at once.
  • This broke us, and our leader called a retreat to some nearby stairs, which he said we would run up and then look for a place to hide so that we could regroup and cast our buffs again. We did this, although our paladin tank got overwhelmed and defeated near the bottom of the stairs. Our leader said that we would pick him back up again on our way back down once we had buffed. The other three or four of us made it up the stairs specifically, and hid in a stack of school desks that were piled up outside a classroom. For some reason, even though some of the lanky robots came by to look for us, they could not see us in that stack of desks, and one of them merely gripped a table leg with one hand and shook it a couple of times, as though that would prove that we were not hiding in the pile, before they all left back down the stairs.
Apr 14 2024
  • I was going to be late to morning assembly in the school hall due to a queue at the washrooms, where I was lined up with a friend and waiting for the toilet stalls to vacate, but there were about 10 people or so ahead of us and so the line moved really slowly. I had even arranged to lead a highly anticipated game with my Dunman High classmates in a nearby warehouse before the assembly too, which would have taken me about 15 minutes or so, but couldn’t make it to that either, so while I was waiting in line I texted Xuanjie to tell everyone else to go to assembly instead.
  • After my friend and I finally finished our business at the washroom, it was already 10 or 15 minutes past when assembly had started, so my friend advised that we go back to the classroom to wait for our classmates to return, and try to blend in with the returning students so Mrs Shu wouldn’t realize that we hadn’t been at assembly, instead of going to the assembly hall and being very obviously late. I agreed with this and so we went back to the classroom to wait for our classmates.
  • Later on, in the actual class itself, I was sitting to the right of Debbie as she showed me an anonymous letter that she had written complimenting Paulene, and which Paulene had written a very nice letter in reply to. Gillian was seated on the other side of Debbie and also read the letter, which was written half in English and half in French.

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