My Diary #143

Dear Tigey,

Most of your plushie army are still in their moving box. Should I unpack them?

Entry #143 (Jun 16 2024)

Life

My rental office replied to me this week, saying that the bugs that I had found on the floor and had sent them pictures of last week were, according to the extermination company, likely wood boring beetles. She asked if I had seen any this week and I said that I had been looking out for them but had only seen one, although one is still one more than I’d like to see. I asked if the pest company thought that some sort of treatment had to be done, and she said that she has a follow up with the pest control technician and would let me know once they reply.

For the hole in the wall, they are apparently sending “painters” in to evaluate and fix it next week, over a period of four days — Tuesday to Friday. That should be interesting. They did acknowledge that the hole was made as part of a leak investigation, though.

I cleaned my third luggage bag this week, the large suitcase, by drenching it under the shower head and then letting it drip-dry and then air-dry. This, plus another round of laundry for my reusable face masks that I had missed for the first round of laundry, means that I completed my post-trip cleanup process, and more or less everything (short of a couple of newer plushies that escaped a bath, not Tigey though) that can be washed has been.

My jet lag and sleep issues post-trip continued to plague me for about half the week, before finally fading away around the weekend, but the work week itself floated away into the ether as I was sleepy and nodding off for large parts of the day through the weekdays. It was hard to concentrate on anything so very little else got done this week. I took an afternoon nap basically every day this week, and the way my naps work, I hit a wall of tiredness and become zombified. I then close off whatever I’m doing, stand up and walk over to my bed, and flop into my pillow. Can’t resist or stop the process.

Strangely, at night, or once the sun sets, my sleepiness also vanishes, and past about 8-9 pm or so I’m usually wide awake to the point that I can’t easily go to sleep even past midnight. Besides the second day back last week though, I haven’t actually suffered through being unable to sleep at all through an entire night, but my sleep has still been very awkward. I seem to sleep in around 2-2.5 hour chunks, waking up after each one and then falling asleep again. And usually after the second time I wake up, I can’t go back to sleep again, so I end up getting up and starting my day at 5 am or so and then needing a nap in the afternoon.

(It probably also doesn’t help that my favourite Twitch streamer to watch is a nighttime/overnight streamer. But what I actually think is happening is that the sun was making me sleepy, even if it’s behind a curtain. When it was cloudy and raining on Friday I felt a lot more alive. Or was that the effect of the jet lag becoming less pronounced over time? Naaah, I’m turning into a vampire.)

Nonetheless, this sleepy feeling gradually ebbed away as the week went on, and it feels very good to be home. Things are slowly getting back to normal. I’m slowly catching up on my anime backlog, and we have resumed our weekly Anime Group Watch and AMQ games as well. I’ve also been snacking a fair amount more than usual, I feel. Mostly on late-night cereal, though. Eventually I will catch up on my scanning too. I reached the peak of At Peace with the World for a chunk of time on Saturday afternoon, just staring at the ceiling while bathing in peaceful bliss in my bed, and it felt wonderful.

That one CD that I mentioned that I bought last week arrived in the Canada Post sorting facility or possibly mall outlet itself, and then promptly got marked as incomplete address and got sent back to the sender. This enraged me. I confirmed that the address I gave the sender was correct, so I’m not sure if it was an error on the sender’s part or Canada Post’s part, but Canada Post seems to have had issues with employees even knowing what FlexDelivery (which gives me a free PO Box for receiving packages at the local post office) was, or refusing to honour it or something for some reason, in the past. I filed a ticket to complain and am trying to get in touch with the seller to ask them to send it again (to my proper address this time) and also to get a picture of the parcel’s address once it returns back to them, as the analyst I talked to said I could file a complaint if I had proof.

On the flip side, I ordered a couple of things from Amazon this week to fuel my tea journey (a flask with tea steeper and a larger ice tray) and because they were arriving on separate days, I set the delivery location to be the Amazon lockers inside Southgate Mall instead of my address directly. I’d never used those lockers before, but waiting for the delivery drivers to come to my apartment and being unable to leave the apartment for a couple days in a row and then also occasionally missing the package anyway due to bad drivers can sometimes be an ordeal in and of itself, so I figure this way I can test this new option and just pick up both packages at once at my leiosure.

Well sort of. The option has been there for a couple of years now, I’ve just never actually thought to use those lockers, and it’s not quite at my leisure because I have 3 days to pick up any item that arrives there or it gets sent back. Still, it seemed like a good idea since I live next to the mall. It’s probably better than having an item directly shipped to me, unless the item is heavy or large or it’s the middle of winter.

I picked my two packages up on Saturday, after the second one arrived, and it worked quite well. My packages were stuffed into little slots in the top right section of the lockers. I hadn’t realized that every little segment that looked like a drawer there was actually a locker. I also met Jon and his girlfriend walking around in the mall while I was picking up the packages, which was a nice surprise that I would never have encountered if I had the packages delivered directly to me.

Also, I bought some honey for my tea, which I have never done but have wanted to try. Upon visiting Safeway to get that honey, I was reminded that I had seen this sign when I returned from my trip last week.

Hey, that was this week, and more specifically, that very day that I was there at the store to get honey. I found the one single booth doing these samples:

I was coincidentally there at 2:45 pm for the 11 am to 3 pm event, and there were only a couple left, but I tried one of each of the bowls that were there anyway. That was the one single table for the “store wide sampling event” I saw in the store though, and a couple minutes after that it was dismantled and carted off as the end of the event arrived.

Anyway, I have a third item, a cute electric kettle flask, coming from the USA version of amazon.com, and that one I elected for direct delivery instead of the Amazon lockers, since I almost never order from the .com version of the site and don’t know if there’s any weird fine print with ordering from there that I’m not aware of yet. I ordered from there because that flask was half the price on the USA site, even after shipping, compared to the listed price on the Canadian site.

Also, my Amazon Prime subscription (on the .ca version of the site) ends in 3 days, and I’m pausing it as I use it rather infrequently. I’m not sure I will reactivate it. Maybe I will, but even though it’s “only” $99.99 CAD in Canada, which is significantly cheaper than the USA version, I don’t really use the benefits all that much, do I?

And I can still probably get free shipping by just hitting some price threshold or other. The only thing that kind of makes it worth it for me is that it comes with Twitch Prime and thus one free Twitch subscription per month, which I can give a Twitch streamer that I like, but they’ve been lowering the value of that Twitch Prime sub over time (by making it not count for this and that) and ultimately that’s still giving away money for not much of a reason. Twitch Prime also comes with some free games and/or perks for certain games but I’ve barely ever gotten any actual benefit from those either.

I’m thinking of getting a water pistol for the two pigeons that come by my balcony. Don’t tell them.

And finally, here’s a nice sunset from the week — Mother Nature dropped a palette of paint all over the sky with a splash. I continue to love the balcony view here.

Games

I bounced between games this week, partly fuelled by the Steam Next Fest, June 2024 edition going on, where developers release demos for their upcoming games. I wasn’t super enthused about playing demos because there’s been too many Next Fests in the past year and I have demo fatigue, but I still enjoyed watching streamers showcase some of those games, and I did end up playing a couple that caught my eye myself anyway.

Some of the games I played this week include:

ට  FFXIV (trial)
ට  V Rising
ට  Fallout 76
ට  Graveyard Keeper
ට  Cyberpunk 2077

I’m not sure which one I played the most, due to my day being broken up and moving back and forth between these and demos through the week. However, V Rising in particular was interesting because I played that with my overnight streamer, Nomakk, and a couple of community members, as he was trying out the game for a sponsored 2 hour segment and invited whoever had the game to join him. He liked the vibe of the game, so that 2 hour segment turned into a 5 hour session from 11 pm to 4 am (my time). So I ended up playing that entire session as well, since I wasn’t tired at all, and ended up sleeping from 4 to 8 am that day instead. Since he streams, there’s even a video of it, starting somewhere around here for Twitch or here for YouTube, though the YouTube video isn’t chaptered so I picked a random point nearer the actual game launch.

Some of the demos I played this week include:

ට  Technotopia — A futuristic city-building card game thing where you’re an AI, and there’s a storyline that you progress by doing quests. You will die every 4-6 “weeks” or so and reset the map but you still get to continue on most of your quests. It’s interesting, though I’m not sure if it’s something I’d buy by itself to play. (6.5/10)

ට  The Shimmering Horizon and Cursed Blacksmith — An RPG Maker Japanese RPG game with flavours of weapon crafting, which looked interesting. I finished a couple of dungeons, and it reminded me of, well, a couple other JRPGs built on RPG Maker that I sort of liked. Apparently it has a lot of voice acting already included and is also actually an adult game but without the adult part on the Steam version. I didn’t read that bit initially, but Satinel pointed it out to me later on. It also apparently has a bunch of donation money from a bunch of sites I’ve never heard of, outside of Patreon — it’s a glance into a part of the Asian internet that I am not familiar with. (6.5/10)

ට  REKA — A witch gathering and slow life cozy game, supposedly. I found the graphics to be unappealing, but I did like the visual effects that happened later on in the demo, and I liked the idea of summoning and decorating Baba Yaga. Felt unwieldy though, but I got to carry a chicken around in my arms. (5.5/10)

ට  Heart of the Machine — This was my favourite demo of the fest, but I’m biased, because this game is by Arcen Games, a dev studio which I adore and whose new games I will typically when I notice that they exist, just for the chance that the game turns out interesting. I like how they try to push the envelope and combine genres in novel ways. This was a 4X-style, and possibly story-driven game about an AI trying to hide and build a machine colony inside of an existing human city, which is a super great idea. I played this for 4 hours and only stopped because I didn’t want to spoil everything for when I actually get around to the game in the future. (8/10)

ට  SunnySide — This one isn’t actually a Steam Next Fest demo, but it was a demo of a game that released this week, a cozy Japanese farm/town life sort of game, supposedly with a lot of chill activities you can do, though it’s single player only, and persona-style copycat UI in places. I watched a couple of streams and tried the demo too, but the demo didn’t save my character after I had to quit so I never went back. Apparently I heard a stream talk about how other people found the demo buggy compared to the real build.

The landscape graphics looked very blocky, but the characters looked good, and the town design looked good, and character creation was really neat without being silly with a bunch of sliders for pointless body parts. It even has a slider for gender identity, which was very cool. But it seems to have gameplay depth issues, like the entire town feels lifeless and large and unpopulated for no good reason other than padding, and many aspects lack a finishing touch for now. And it’s more like a “Western localized” version of a Japanese town rather than an actual Japanese town, even outside of necessary language translated things like signs. I won’t buy it on launch but I will watch it for the future.

Next week edit: After watching more streams on it, there actually is a whole bunch of content squirreled away in the game, and it even kind of has an overarching plot. It’s not nearly as awkward as my initial impression made me feel about it. Still missing a bit of QoL stuff and a few rounds of (cosmetic) bug-fixing, but something that I am more interested in picking up sooner rather than later now.

I also played a bit of Minecraft earlier in the week, but instead of the usual Minecolonies mod server I play on, I played on a different modpack called Vault Hunters 3rd Edition (local) instead, where I was able to randomly generate vaults and go hunting in them for loot and objectives. That was interesting for a bit, though I’m not sure I care about it as a long term game mode.

Lastly, I pledged for a Rainbow Goobert plushie on Makeship (local), which is an uh.. item? a character? from Backpack Battles. Good game, super cute item.. character. It’s projected to ship in September though, and I’m not sure if I’ll still be here at that time, but apparently if I move I can change the delivery address for the item if it hasn’t shipped yet. So I added Makeship to my text file of things I have to change when I get a new address.

Plushie of the Week #138

The plushie of the week this week was bought mere hours after the plushie of the week from last week. That one was bought on the way to meet Quintopia for a Bocchi the Rock! event on Apr 25 2024, while this one was bought in the event itself, which was an exhibition (and preview of the upcoming recap movie) on the 8th floor of the Matsuya Ginza building in Tokyo. After the event, there was a small retail area with special goods from the show that we could buy at overpriced prices, and this Nijika plushie was one of the things I got, as the character, Nijika, is one of my favourite anime characters if not my current outright favourite. The plushie itself is kind of ugly though, especially the eyes, and was definitely overpriced at 2,500 yen, but it was an “official” and “limited edition” one and they can be hard to find at second-hand stores after, so whatever, it went into the souvenir budget.

As also displayed in last week’s blog post, this was the picture taken that night.

And here are pictures of my Nijika plushie from last week. Front:

Back:

Tag front:

Tag back:

She came in a bag that looked like this:

And that contained a piece of warning paper that looked like this:

I like that it contains instructions on how to fluff up the doll again if the plushie gets too flat on the top.

Song of the Week #115

Title: Second Chance
Artist: 38 Special
Album: Rock & Roll Strategy (1988)

Like a good number of other people in my age group, I love 80s soft rock, love ballads, adult contemporary music, and everything that fits in that vein of music. This one specifically is one of my more favourite ones even within the genre, and was elevated to my S-Tier Spotify list from my A-Tier one at some point last year once I re-discovered it from my much larger A (or B, they overlap) tier lists.

What was interesting with this song specifically is that I went to look at the discography of the band as well, and even though they had a couple of other far more famous songs with something like 4x the airplay on Spotify, I had never ever heard of any other song in their catalogue that I sampled. Not super surprising since I’m not into noisier rock at all, and my exposure to American rock that didn’t make it worldwide is limited, but still, how weird that I had not heard of their two “more popular” songs. Yet this one was a mainstay, a song that was supremely familiar and loved by me.

It penetrated a completely different station genre playlist, I guess, which is probably known as adult contemporary these days but was just on various normal Singaporean radio stations back in the 1990s, where it reached me and enveloped me in its sound. It’s one of the quintessential 80s rock ballads for me now though, and the memory it offers me is of me peacefully and lazily lying down on a couch or bed on a late weekend afternoon, listening to the song as I felt and smelled a fresh city breeze wafting in through the ajar window in the room. Distant car noises accompanied the song as a backing orchestra, and I wondered how beautiful the evening would be and what sort of hectic nonsense the next week would bring. I just love the keyboard/guitar/synth?/whatever instruments are used to produce the background music in this song. It just feels so right.

Also, as Wikipedia states, “A heart needs a second chance” is just a particularly brilliant and memorable line.

Writing Prompt of the Week #58

This week’s writing prompt reads:

Top 10 time! List the top 10 songs that you loved as a teenager. What memories stand out with those songs in the background?

This is far too close to my ongoing Song of the Week segments, so it gets the old Skip sticker. I don’t know specifically which my top 10 songs would be since they kept changing, though I could pull a list from this pile of papers, or several of my leftover childhood diaries and journals, which should contain several lists of my favourite songs from that point in time.

Describe your personality when you were a teenager. Were you a nerd, an introvert/extrovert, a leader, an athlete, or did you keep to yourself? Tell a story that shows this side of you.

I don’t like this question either. I was more extroverted before I came over to Canada, and more introverted after due to culture shock, and I’d like to think that I was a leader type back then but I don’t think I actually was in hindsight, rather the leadership role was shared amongst everyone and all of us took turns to lead during our days in the sun. Even in class, once I got onto the GEP track, this was encouraged by (if I recall correctly) our class monitor roles shifting to someone new every semester or two, so most people probably got a turn in a leadership role at some point in Primary or Secondary school.

Eh. I got several turns at that through the years actually, which doesn’t fully make sense to me if everyone got a turn since our classes were usually 16-25 people large  So I guess I was a bit of a class leader in that respect, though we didn’t have much responsibilities back then besides collecting things from the other students and bringing things to the staff room sometimes. I wish I wrote down exactly when my class monitor stints were, but I did not. I know I for sure was class monitor at least 3 or 4 times though, and that my last time was in term 2 (or end of term 1?) of 1998 when we came up with the seating plan that I scanned and posted at the bottom of this Memory Snippet.

Also can I take a moment here to point out the absurdity of the writer thinking that an “athlete” and a “nerd” are personalities?

Memory Snippet of the Week #122

Back in 1997, when we were in Secondary 1 in Dunman High, there was a school-wide competition pitting classes against each other where we were asked to go out and collect and clean cans and bottles for recycling purposes. This was a week-long event, possibly even two weeks. Because our 1K and 1L GEP classes were half the size of the regular stream Secondary 1 classes, we were combined into one class for contest entry purposes.

Most classes probably just had a large bin and had their students bring in whatever bottles and cans their families used and submitted that for the contest. However, we decided that we wanted to win this one, so a group of my friends — I remember Allen for sure, and at least one if not two of Xuanjie, Zixiang, and Eugene, going around as a group in the neighbourhoods around Allen‘s house, which was a standalone bungalow in the Bedok neighbourhood (as opposed to a HDB block), and poking around in people’s trashcans. After one or two weekend afternoons supported by Allen‘s dad, we ended up with several black garbage bags full of cans, which we then brought back to his house and washed out with hoses in his house’s driveway.

We then brought those garbage bags to class, and stored them in the metal cupboard that was in every classroom. We submitted the bags (along with whatever everyone else collected from their families) when the time came, and won the contest handily. By quite an overwhelming amount even, if I remember right. I’m not sure if there was a separate contest for every grade or just our grade though, and I can’t find any documentation on this event otherwise, but it made for a good weekend memory with friends, and an impulse to look into garbage bins for “treasure” for a good long time afterwards.

I remember having the vibe that it didn’t feel all too different from going out door-to-door during Jobweek as a Scout activity, except we were doing so as a group instead of solo, for class pride instead of donations to an organization we didn’t really care for, less social interaction since we didn’t have to talk to people, and we were going around affluent neighbourhoods instead of the more lower to middle class HDB blocks, since those did not have public trash cans outside every house. (HDB apartments have garbage chutes that lead down to locked garbage carts on the ground floor of the high-rise apartments which get emptied daily).

I can’t imagine doing something like this these days though, after having spent time walking around in Singapore in both 2022 and 2024 on my return trips there now. It’s just so hot. Part of it is of course not being acclimatized to the weather any longer, but even talking to Debbie and Zixiang recently, they say that the weather now definitely felt hotter (and had more ultraviolet rays) than it was when we were children.

Dreams
Jun 10 2024
  • I visited a pair of tall apartment buildings together with an officer from Singapore, who worked in the government and was important enough that he outranked the chief of the national police in the govenrment hierarchy. I was introducing him to the building, and the reason for this had something to do with how Kel, who was sick, was living with Jon and my parents in the apartment, but was nearly well again and they wanted to meet someone of high rank for something.
  • The apartment itself was run by a landlord family who lived in a room in the other building, and they were running some operation that was technically illegal. It had something to do with gambling, I think, and was something that could be done in person but was better done remotely but required the landlord’s apartment computer to be online too, and at one point involved towels spread out on tables and being folded up into little squares and given to friends. It felt about as illegal as selling pirated movie DVDs. The super high-ranked officer could have easily busted the landlords, and we were a bit wary about that initially, but as it was somewhat benign, it turned out that he turned a blind eye to it and may even have partaken in it a little bit while anonymous.
Jun 12 2024
  • I worked for a Mass Effect themed government department, who wore black shirts and had a red N7 logo emblazoned on the left breast side of the shirt. Due to budget and political enemy issues, the department got changed from a department with secretive agents to a uniformed department, with a chip embedded in that shirt emblem to unlock their offices. This made many past agents targets for enemies who they had helped taken down, and several were killed. These days the agents seldom left their office except in pairs. My pair wasn’t with me but was nearby in another office due to some reason I don’t recall.
  • Their offices were also scattered in different buildings, and the particular one I worked in (or was viewing) was in a computer closet located in a school in a housing district, near many civilians. The office was around a 5 tile by 4 tile room, Minecraft style, with a desk and computer, a long couch and phone, and a closet for clothes.
  • Nonetheless, about 12-15 of us gathered in the small office to wish a distant agent happy birthday over the phone. Not all were agents, some of them were agent wives who were nonetheless known to us, including someone named Debbie (no relation to anyone I know IRL) who was dressed in some swimsuit and had to change out because it was too cold.
  • Most of them signed a birthday card for the remote agent, and some people also passed around other things to sign as personal keepsakes since it was not often that many of us agents were together. Many signatures were given out and collected.
Jun 15 2024
  • I dreamt that I was a visitor to a mildly dystopian future city, and met up with some other friends who were also visiting the city separately on their own schedules, as well as a couple of friends that were in the city.
  • I largely travelled by myself though, and one of the things that happened on my final day was that I was on a tour in a government-owned fire station when an earthquake or something hit, disrupting security and scattering people around. In that fire station was a white door marked No Entry, which citizens were forbidden to enter, but which rebels in the city needed to know what was behind it or something. I took the chance and slipped into the door as the guards that were usually posted in front of it were gone.
  • I discovered that inside that room was a large portal that allowed people to leave the city and go somewhere else. There were also floor tiles on the floor that demarcated a zone which guaranteed the absolute safety of anyone inside those tiles, like a sort of asylum or truce area, even if the city’s guards were chasing them. It was marked off as a sort of freedom area and was linked to the portal so people could queue up there until it was their turn to leave. There was an indentured African man nearby in the area outside the No Entry door and I tried to wave him over to enter the room and the portal to make his escape, but he was reluctant to do so as he didn’t know me.
  • Eventually, the guards regained control of the sector and started to look for everyone to make sure that everyone could be accounted for. One second before a guard looked into the No Entry portal room, I pushed open the window with my feet, which had hinges on the top horizontal bar of the window frame that easily swung open, and hopped out of it onto the street pavement outside, before shutting the window behind me. I was then “found” and marked safe by surveillance.
  • I took my newfound knowledge and tried to spread it, both to friends in the city as well as in Twitch chat online. I was leaving the city the next day though, with a time schedule that somehow was displayed by a large, floating square panel with many vertical chains wrapped around it and moving up and down, so I couldn’t stop to lead a revolution myself. But I knew that if people knew the portal and escape route was there, and very easily accessible, they would easily manage to overthrow the city’s overlords themselves.
Jun 16 2024
  • I brought my luggage bags home to an apartment that my family was staying in, and Mom, Kel, and Jon were helping me by rifling through my clothes in one of the bags, refolding them and putting them into another bag. I opened another bag of clothes as they worked on the first one. One of the clothes in that suitcase was a small Chinese traditional cheongsam dress, and Mom mentioned that she had no idea that I was going to a wedding on my trip. I said that I was not, and that that was not a dress that could only be worn at weddings, even though I seldom dressed myself up.

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