My Diary #144

Dear Tigey,

Satinel says hello!

Entry #144 (Jun 23 2024)

Life

The four day maintenance project to fix the hole in my wall began (and ended) in earnest this week, with the management company scheduling painters to come in for four days this week, Tuesday to Friday, to fix it. The main worker, a Frenchman who spoke very little English but whose name I learnt was Alex, ended up coming in on Tuesday to put a panel over the hole, then he ghosted me on Wednesday despite saying that he would be back on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning to put an initial coat of some sort of paint-like material over the panel. But this was what it looked like on Tuesday:

And as a bonus, here’s the evening sky at 10:31 pm on Tuesday:

He then came back in on Thursday to do that promised round of painting instead, which took all of 15 minutes. It wasn’t actually paint, but I don’t know what that material is that you apply over top of the drywall or whatever the previous day’s material was. Anyway, this was Thursday afternoon:

And evening, at 11:05 pm:

Finally, he came back again on Friday with another person, whose name was Walery/Waleri (or something phoenetically similar to that anyway, so maybe just Valery). This second person used a smartphone light and a scraper to scrape a bunch of shavings off where the panel was covering the hole, I guess to make it even, before they left for half an hour and then came back again, at which point Alex went through with a large paintbrush roller and painted the whole thing a paler shade of white.

No more hole! There was still an evening sky though, at 10:24 pm.

Anyway the apartment, and thus my life, was in a temporary stasis sort of state this week because I had to move most of the boxes away from the wall and into the center of my apartment to clear the area around the wall for the painting job, so I had to stutter my way through a thin gap between the boxes and my mattress, or go the long way around them, anytime I wanted to visit the kitchen or bathroom. On the other hand, it was very blissful when I finally had the energy to clean everything up and move the boxes back on Saturday in order to free up the middle of my house again.

I provided Alex with a cup of cold water on Tuesday, and then both Alex and Waleri with a flask of cold water (well, room-temperature water with added ice, but the ice all melted fairly quickly) on Friday, and they seemed to appreciate that and the ceiling fan quite a bit. They drank almost exactly half a litre of water.

The pigeons must have heard my threats from last week. They barely came onto my balcony this week at all (relatively speaking) and left a lot less of their dried crustiness on the floor this week.

Moments (4 hours) before my Amazon Prime subscription was paused this month, I remembered another thing that I needed to buy, and pulled the plug on the purchase for a new kitchen knife. I haven’t actually ever had a halfway decent knife, never mind a good knife, but I basically needed something better than a 15 year old knife that felt like it was going to snap in half everytime I used it. So for a bit under $30, I went from this floppy thing:

To this:

It came in a fancy case and everything too. I’m not even sure how I should store the thing. Maybe in a medieval castle display case? Or a shield-shaped item plaque on the wall? Either way, I can actually cut corn cobs and carrots and small fruits without struggling now.

The delivery itself did qualify for Prime even though it arrived after Prime had expired, and it’s obviously not related but it was left outside my apartment front door without me ever hearing them knocking on my front door or ringing the front apartment door buzzer downstairs, so I told myself that they probably just didn’t care and dumped it there because I was no longer a Prime member.

I did decide that I’d probably just reactivate my Prime the next time I actually need the Prime delivery for some sort of Amazon purchase though. But for now, having a couple weeks to a couple months break in the subscription will basically stretch it that much further.

I puttered around on my test sandbox version of this blog website this week, playing around with the theme and trying to get ready to figure out if I can move away from the specific WordPress design tool that I have been using for my blog posts up until this point, which has been the free version of Elementor. It’s become bloated with all sorts of Search Engine Optimization and AI garbage that I have no interest in and have disabled though, but I can’t help but feel like it’s still slowing down the site loading times, plus I don’t want to support that company (partly due to the bloat and partly due to them having a subscription fee for a full version of the tool that I refuse to pay), so I’ve been toying with the idea of moving away for some time now.

Instead, I got a bit distracted and ended up slapping together a new background for my site in Affinity Photo 2. It is a bit smaller and thus should load faster, and I like the look in general, as does my sample audience of 1 that was polled about the change (thanks, Satinel). It might still change again in the future, of course, but for now, I went from whatever the heck this was (a monster at 476 KB in size is what it was):

To whatever the heck this is (at a slimmer 143 KB in size):

I might have to adjust the opacity of some of the panels in the upcoming week if things seem hard to read against the backdrop of the stars though, but I will premiere it with the upload of this blog post on my live site too.

I also unpacked a few things from my boxes, and repacked a few things from my trip *into* boxes, and Jon brought over some lovely Indian food (nasi biryani) from Uncle Droy and Auntie Stella to tide me over the start of this week, but overall the four day maintenance project took up a bunch of time and energy in the week, and not much else in the week stood out. Oh, there were some Edmonton Oilers games that went on. Not that I have a television or sports subscription to watch them on, and I’m not going downtown 6 hours in advance of Game 7 to try to get a good seat for a watch party, but the energy in the city and the fans wearing shirts and businesses hanging up banners and signs everywhere has been quite nice to see, especially now that they’ll be playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the Monday immediately following this blog post.

Games

I played a tiny bit of Fallout 76, a little bit more of Cyberpunk 2077, and then a small chunk of Graveyard Keeper early on in the week. After that, someone on Nomakk‘s Twitch community hooked him and me and various other people in the community on a suspicious sounding game called Esports Godfather, and wow it’s so good. It’s a squad management and upgrade game wrapped around a card-based tactical game wrapped around an auto-battler set on a vaguely League of Legends style MOBA map, and it’s incredibly fun and addictive.

I named a team after my plushies and started it on the hardest difficulty after figuring out how the game works, and this (and a bit of save-scumming early on — not past the halfway point of the first season though) allowed me to really figure out the game and appreciate the entire gameplay loop and package. They slowly feed you new heroes and items and the gameplay mechanics change with new rules cycling in and out over time too so the gameplay will always feel a bit different, which is a lot of fun. I don’t like having to trade away my players to get better though (though it’s also possible to not do it, but there’s a couple of things you can never improve otherwise), but I just rename and re-appearance the new players to the same player plushie names and anime-art appearances as the players that I traded away had, so it’s not the end of the world I suppose.

The pictures above are post-game stat screens. I also appreciate that they let me upload my own picture for my team logo. Technically if I wanted to I could even upload custom plushie pictures for my players too. Though I don’t know if you can restrict those custom pictures to just your own team of players, so it’d be weird running into other Tigey-lookalikes in the league.

Plushie of the Week #139

The third plushie I picked up on the Japan leg of my Asian trip was a Touhou-line official plushie of a character named Parsee Mizuhashi. The plushies were from a stall named Gift at the Touhou Reitaisai 21 convention in Tokyo, the same stall that my smaller Patchouli plushie, from an earlier Touhou Reitaisai festival (Fall version) previously highlighted here, was from. These Gift Touhou plushies are very popular and very expensive, and I had to brave a couple hour long line at the official store in the convention only to find that most of the plushies were sold out by the time I got to the front of the line anyway. But perhaps under the power of sunk-cost fallacy, I still bought one of the remaining ones anyway, this medium-sized Parsee one which cost 6,000 yen, and you can read about all my pain in acquiring her over here.

I don’t really know the character (local) at all outside of the name — the parts of the Touhou games that I’ve played have not featured her. It’s fine though, it means I don’t know that she’s a lonely and jealous character. Well, hopefully she won’t be lonely here in her new forever army home.

Plushie front:

Back:

Butt tag. Why is this in such an awkward place?

Size comparison of Patchouli and Parsee:

Bag with sticker:

A “certificate of authenticity”, though it’s more like a little tag:

And finally, the plushie came with a badge inside the bag as well.

Song of the Week #116

Title: Junshin
Artist: Shoko Inoue
Album: Kaitou Saint Tail OST (1995)

As Nak, Satinel, and I wander the various rolling grasslands and desolate wastelands and rugged mountaintops of anime shows in our daily Anime Group Watch, we leave in our trail a lot of songs that remind me of said group watch, just by the nature of how many we watch and the banter or thoughts that we share about each show as we go along. Many of the opening and ending songs found in the shows are songs that I associate with the two of them and our shared group activity, and even in AMQ we’ll occasionally get songs that I cannot identify but that I know was from a group watch that we did, just by virtue of the way it sounds or the emotions that the song elicits from somewhere deep within me.

This happens even for the vast number of ordinary songs that we come across, songs that I don’t particularly like or dislike but were just there as signposts along our shared anime trail. This effect is amplified, however, for the occasional gem of a song that I do end up really liking from our group watches, as it acts as a further layer of nuance on top of the song and a good “starting memory” that for me is indelibly linked to the song. It’s like an extra helping of secret sauce on top of a delicious bowl of rice or noodles.

Examples of previous songs like this are things like Tenshi no Yubikiri or Yume no Naka e from Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, or Yuki ni Saku Hana from Shinsekai yori, all three of which are some of my favourite Japanese songs that I fell in love with and that hit me hard even without the added layer of the Group Watch memory on top of that.

Junshin, the first ending song from an anime called Kaitou Saint Tail, is another song along those lines. It’s a song that I ended up liking quite a bit from our group watch session alone, so much so that I even ended up buying the CD several months back during one of my bulk purchases from Suruga-ya, and while I haven’t recently updated my top 20 list of anime ending songs, I think the song might be right on the cusp of being in the list. I listened to it many times even after we finished the show itself, and like all the above songs, It has the Anime Advantage of it being inextricably linked to Nak and Satinel in my memories, so I expect that it’s a song that will continue trending upwards over time, especially if I end up managing to link it to other good memories too.

I love how peaceful and beckoning the echoey song sounds, and for some reason the mental image it gives me is like I’m staring over a large, flat expanse of savannah or tundra plains just after the sun has set, with flickering colours from the recently-departed sun still reflected in the sky and bouncing off small, lone trees and glimmering off tiny lakes in the distance. It’s a glorious sight and I feel pulled in to its embrace. I want to walk forever and chase after the sun.

Writing Prompt of the Week #59

This week’s writing prompt reads:

When you were in high school, what did you want to be “when you grew up”?

Hmm. When I was in early primary school, I wanted to be an astronomer, but I didn’t seriously pursue that out of childhood. After high school and before University was when I discovered what being transgendered meant, so at the time I was conflicted but didn’t know why and certainly wasn’t seriously pursuing anything in that direction either.

In high school, everyone was like oh, you are very good in math and computers, surely you must be a mathematician or a programmer when you grew up. I couldn’t fathom what it means to be a mathematician though. What do you even do? Where do you even start? Do you just wake up and pore over equations on stacks of papers on your desk all day? That never felt like a real “job” to me even though I had all those math competitions that I had always done really well in.

Computer programming seemed more attainable, especially since there was a compuler lab in school and we had programming classes as well. In fact, I had been taking them in some capacity or other since the mid 90s. So that would probably be my answer, though I wasn’t sure at the time if it was something that I would have enjoyed. I did start along this path in University but never finished it since it was too much and I had too many things weighing on my mind and soul at the time, so I flunked out of the program.

Memory Snippet of the Week #123

One thing I saw in markets while on my trip, especially in Hong Kong and China and Taiwan, were some small stalls in independent/strata malls that were somehow advertising that they were selling phonecards. Phonecards! For public pay phones that, in most parts of the world, were phased out decades ago. They can still be found here and there though, especially in Asia, in everywhere from Japan to Singapore, and seeing those brought up memories that I used to have a small bunch of Singapore phonecards in a box somewhere.

I couldn’t find them though, but I did find some from the early 2000s, from soon after we had come to Canada, squirreled away in a treasure chest. One of them has an expiry date of 2002 printed on the back of the card, which gives an indication as to how old they were. If I ever find any that I had saved from my SIngapore time, this will be where I post them, but for now what I am displaying are the cards from the early noughts that I found.

The Telus one in the top right in particular is one I remember very well, I think it was a very visible mainstay in one of my wallets at some point in the past. Looking at it was like looking at a photo of an old friend.

Dreams

Not much this week, although I swear that I had a dream almost every night this week that juuust got away from me.

Jun 21 2024
  • I was travelling somewhere abroad and ending my day in a train station shaped building that was also both a hostel and a hospital at the same time, with a bunch of rooms for people to stay in. To get into the building, I needed to navigate my way past a number of metal poles and banisters, and to do so I had to lift one leg into the air and tilt my body to the side to form a shape that would fit through the barrier. I wasn’t actually sure what the best way was through that barrier at first until an old woman who was also entering the building saw my predicament and demonstrated the way in.
  • Several slightly wounded refugees also followed me in, and we went to different adjacent rooms of the building and met some staff members there. The injured refugees got some treatment, though I don’t remember exactly what my event was about since I don’t think I was injured myself.
  • After it was over and I emerged from my room, I saw a Russian man whom I had remembered seeing earlier on the way to the building. He was bleeding profusely and crawling into the lobby area, and a couple of nurses ran over to him to help save him as he was on the brink of death. He had apparently crawled his way in after being injured in the war, and this involved taking a bus to a nearby bus stop and then crawling his way to the building and underneath the metal blockade. He didn’t speak English, but he had a website, written in Russian, listing people who had helped him to get here, like a young man who had given him bus fare, the bus driver, someone who had helped him off the bus, etc.
  • Later on, I was in a school computer lab at night with a bunch of other people. I don’t remember the plotline exactly but I and someone else, possibly Kel, had recently made dinner in the form of fried rice with peas and carrots in a large rice cooker in the adjoining kitchen. But after putting in all the ingredients and cooking the rice, the rice expanded and overflowed out from the rice cooker on the countertop, so we had to eat some of it on the spot and then put the rest of it in tupperware containers and try to arrange the containers, over 30 or 40 of them, into a large plastic bag while Dad and Mom and other people wandered around and occasionally looked on in amusement.
  • To end off my dream, I had a scene in the same room where I had just either ordered something or invited someone on a computer but was not expecting it/them to arrive at the computer lab at night, so I wanted to “defend” the computer lab by going up to the windows lining the wall where the front door was, and shutting all the windows and twisting the blind wand so the horizontal plastic slats on the blinds were closed, with the higher part of the diagonal slope on the inside and the lower part on the outside to ensure that it was easier to look out from inside than vice versa.
  • Several other people in the room came to the window and blinds as well while I was securely closing them, assuming that I was standing there because I was expecting an arrival or delivery right away. They inquired as to what was coming. I refused to answer them but told them I wasn’t expecting whatever I had done to arrive at that night and was just closing up for safety’s sake.
Jun 23 2024
  • Jon and Kel visited an apartment in a HDB flat that I was living in, and after I opened the door and let them in, I noticed that Xuanjie and his girlfriend were also coincidentally following behind them and passing by my apartment door somehow, so I also invited them in to my place to stay in to save them on housing costs while they were travelling. It was a bit of a squeeze but everyone fit in the apartment just fine, with Jon and Kel already having taken up residence in a side room by the time I closed the front door and sat down.
  • Later on, there were loud noises outside and I opened the door again to poke my head out. Apparently an Indian wedding was taking place in the corridor outside my apartment soon, and there were strings of lights set up in the ceiling, tables and chairs laid out along the narrow passageway, and so on. Two ladies were stacking what looked like bags of uncooked wheat and rice up against the outside wall of my apartment, apparently to be cooked for the wedding dinner at some point.
  • There were also a lot of tourists wandering around and looking at the setup and going into and out of my neighbour’s house as the wedding had been publicly advertised. Since my door was now open even though I was still standing in the doorway, two groups of tourists also barged by and wandered into the front hallway of my apartment to look at my house interior, and I chased them out before closing and locking the door behind me.
  • Snippet: I also had two different MOBA-style dreams last night that flanked me getting up to visit the bathroom, the first one where I was helping someone in my house to weaken opponents in the top or middle lane order to secure a team objective as they had to spend their next turn healing instead of fighting at the objective. The second one was me being more of a spectator and watching a game play out in front of me on a board, this was done mostly in English but with scatterings of Japanese and/or Chinese as well for player names and such.

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