Somewhere around 5-8 years ago, I used to vlog a massive portion of my life. A lot of those videos made me cringe so hard that I hid them from the Internet, but I would regularly film sit-down vlogs, or just bring my camera around and film stuff in my everyday life. This was around the time I was an undergraduate university student, and vlogging and producing videos was just a hobby of mine that I did while studying. Fast forward several years and I have a job in the esports industry as someone who literally gets paid a full-time salary to professional create things… and somehow, I think I’ve become a worse vlogger. Now of course, the stuff I create for my job (thankfully) isn’t just exclusively vlogs, but I realized that I missed my days of vlogging. Back then, I worried too much about view counts and getting my video in front of as many people as possible, but recently, my interest in vlogging has been rekindled due to approaching it from a different perspective. My dad enjoyed filming stuff on his camcorder when I was young, and this gave me an opportunity to watch footage and see what life was like when I was too young to retain long-term memories. I think this should be the true spirit of vlogging – not trying to be as popular of a vlogger as possible, but just creating memoirs of the present day upon which to look back when you’re older. So, as I mentioned before, unfortunately, since the time I stopped vlogging, I believe I’ve gotten substantially worse at vlogging… not because I’m more shy or unnatural on camera – in fact, I believe I’m exponentially better on camera now than I was before – but because I literally forget to record footage. I’m going to work on that, but until then, here is a disjointed vlog of my recent one-week visit to Southern California. In case you’re curious, the rental vehicle I’m driving in that video is a Nissan Frontier. It’s pretty bad. Don’t buy one.
I’ve always avoided going into escape rooms because I thought my style of approaching an escape room would make it unfun for everyone else. I just assumed my inner maximum-efficiency and optimization urges would kick in and I would basically flip the entire room upside-down to try and figure out how to get out as quickly as possible, without really going through the actual puzzle process. Essentially, the thought process is that the room can only be so big, so I’m eventually going to “accidentally” run into a solution, possibly faster than just solving the puzzle (because the rooms are supposedly designed to take about an hour to complete). I was catastrophically wrong. I went to an escape room with members of Tempo Storm’s Heroes of the Storm team and staff, mainly because I was their ride, but also because we had a different appointment together shortly after the escape room. I was anticipating on spending the hour outside the escape room getting some work done on my laptop. At the beginning, I went into the room to grab some photographs, but while I was snapping pictures, before I realized what was happening… the room started. Instead of just vigorously knocking on the door asking to be let out, I decided this would be my very first escape room experience. I immediately got to work flipping things over and trying to figure out the solution. I rapidly realized that trying to brute-force the escape room was not as easy as I thought it would be, and it’s not just something you can “accidentally” do. We actually already knew the solution – to open a humongous padlock to retrieve the key – but it just happened to be protected by a 5-character lock. Now this wasn’t just a normal numerical lock… it was an alphabet lock. It didn’t take long for me to realize that just solving the puzzle would be easier than trying 11,881,376 different combinations. I’m a pretty amazing human being, but I know my limitations, one of which is the inability to attempt 3.3 five-character alphabet combinations every millisecond. … and that was only the first part. Eventually, we figured it out and got out of the room, but we didn’t really come anywhere close to setting a record. I’m actually pretty glad I got unexpectedly locked into the room, because it was an interesting experience.
Several years ago, being a deliveryperson was an actual full-time job for which you had to apply to a shipping company, wear a uniform, and operate their huge delivery trucks. However, in the past handful of years, Amazon started a new system called Amazon Flex where people can essentially be their own boss and deliver packages for Amazon during their free time on their own schedule – essentially like Uber, except you’re transporting packages instead of passengers. Ever since this started in my area(s), package delivery has been catastrophically bad. Amazon Flex was a thing in Southern California where I lived before I moved to Las Vegas, and the deliverypeople had massive issues actually reading the address properly such that they would confuse unit and building numbers and think that the number 6 was the same as the number 8. Amazon Flex deliveries haven’t quite been as bad in Las Vegas, but I had multiple instances of deliverypeople failing to deliver and saying they did not have access to my apartment building during normal business hours when there is literally a leasing office and an unlocked front door. I had even more instances of people not realizing we had package lockers, getting lost in my apartment building while trying to find my door, then proceeding to just leave the package in a random place on the first floor commercial area. That brings me to the amazing feature my apartment building has that people don’t use – the package lockers. My apartment building installed Luxer One into the mail room, a system that essentially accepts packages on my behalf so we (theoretically) never have to miss another package again. For the deliverypeople who actually know it exists, it’s worked very well. However, apparently this is still a somewhat new system that not many locations have, so beyond the people who just don’t know we have package lockers in our mail room, there are others who aren’t really too familiar with how the system works. For everyone who actually isn’t familiar with it, the deliveryperson registers the package in the little tablet computer that controls the lockers, holds the package up to the camera so the resident can see the package, then places the package into the designated locker for pick-up. The resident then receives an email with the photograph and a notification to come pick up the package. The deliveryperson who delivered my package yesterday got all the steps right… except for the photo. But he was close.
(Photo quality is terrible because the restaurant was dark and I forgot my camera in my vehicle, so I used my ancient phone.) Although I’m not really a food enthusiast, I enjoy having various different food experiences. When I buy raw meat from the grocery store to cook for my meals, I like to rotate across different kinds of meat, and immediately grab the “specialty” item if they have one available (usually not something completely exotic, but still something rarer, like swordfish or buffalo – stuff you usually don’t see). Yesterday, I went to a restaurant with Tempo Storm’s H1Z1 team and a handful of staff members while they were in Las Vegas. Most of the items on the menu seemed boring and underwhelming, but there was one meat item I had never tried before – rabbit. So, the answer to the obvious question of “how does rabbit taste”? I’m not sure if it was just because of the gravy and how this particular serving of rabbit was prepared, but it literally tasted exactly like turkey, so much so that I thought they were ripping me off and giving me turkey instead of rabbit.
Jordan King, one of my co-workers at Tempo Storm, left the comfort of his cornfield hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska to visit Los Angeles. Humorously, flights from Omaha directly to Los Angeles were over double the price of flights to Las Vegas, so he decided to fly into Las Vegas first to visit me, then we took a road trip to Southern California. Along the way, we decided to stop by Zzyzx, an unincorporated community in the Mojave National Preserve, and a hot tourist spot for people traveling through the desert. I’ve driven to and from Los Angeles and Las Vegas a handful of times already, so I obviously have seen Zzyzx on the map and passed signs for Zzyzx while on the freeway, but I never actually bothered to stop; I felt this would be a good opportunity to experience it for the first time with Jordan. While traveling down Zzyzx Road towards the California State University Desert Studies Center, we saw “majestic creatures of the rock,” as Jordan called them (I believe they are officially named bighorn sheep, though I’m not entirely sure). It was quite unexpected, as there aren’t really too many wild animals in Las Vegas where I live. After we visited the Desert Studies Center and started making our way back to the freeway, they were still there and bravely stood their ground against my rental truck, so we were able to get some pretty good close-up shots of them. After the animals headed back up into the hills, we proceeded until we found a good spot where Jordan could head out deeper into the desert and collect some small rocks to bring back home to Nebraska for his daughter. He grabbed two small black rocks that had originally been located somewhere near 35°09’16″N, 116°06’20″W. I haven’t been vlogging too much lately, but I remembered to bring my camera with me, so I cut together some clips, starting from picking Jordan up from McCarran International Airport and concluding with departing Zzyzx.
Full photo album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamparkzer/sets/72157667844122227
For a short period after I moved to Las Vegas, I thought that I had forgotten my shower curtain in California. However, I soon remembered that I never actually had a shower curtain (my apartment used to have a sliding glass door, and the team house shower curtain belongs in the team house), so I went and bought a new shower curtain. I bought a Volens ruffled white shower curtain because it looked more luxurious and elegant than a regular printed shower curtain, and it fit my apartment’s minimalistic and simple theme pretty well. After it arrived, I hung it up using the included rings, and I had my shower curtain. Now normally, Amazon gives you product recommendations based off what you purchase. Sometimes it will recommend the same item again in the case of refillable products, but for one-time or big purchases (like televisions), it usually won’t continue to recommend you even more TVs, as it knows you now already have one. In those situations, it may instead start recommending related products, like a TV wall mount. For some reason, Amazon insisted on constantly giving me additional shower curtain recommendations. Now, if I had purchased a product like dog treats, it would make sense for Amazon to continue recommending dog treats to me, as my (theoretically-existing) dog (for the purposes of this example) would eventually finish consuming the treats and need more. However, people generally don’t eat or replace their shower curtains too often, so I was very confused as to why my recommendations were lined with more shower curtains. I ended up just ignoring the recommendations, and everything was fine for two months. But recently, my shower curtain started smelling a bit unpleasant – it was actually the smell that clothes give off if they’ve been left out to air dry in a humid and bacteria-prone area, instead of being quickly dried in a machine dryer. This wasn’t a problem, though – I just unhooked my fancy shower curtain from the rings and threw it in the washing machine and dryer. It shrunk. For some reason, the shower curtain railing above my bathtub is unusually high, and on top of that, my tub is one of those hybrid soaking tubs that are ergonomically designed in an oval (which requires even more leftover curtain at the bottom to be able to stretch inward and fit inside the tub). My royal shower curtain was already only just barely making it in, but with it just barely shrinking in the wash (because this was made out of polyester and not vinyl), it was hanging above the tub. This is the moment I discovered that Amazon knew what was going to happen months before it happened, and I began questioning the meaning of life. Amazon somehow knew that, because I had only purchased a polyester fabric shower curtain and no vinyl shower curtain liner to go with it, it should keep recommending shower curtains because it predicted that (1) I needed something vinyl to go inside the tub, (2) I would wash this shower curtain, it would shrink, and I would need to buy a new one, or (3) both. I picked out a PEVA shower curtain liner and placed my order. The shower curtain recommendations instantly disappeared. Now Amazon is recommending different kinds of body wash, soap, and toothbrushes to me. I haven’t replaced my toothbrush in 4 months. I’m just going to pretend like Amazon doesn’t actually know that, and they just made a lucky guess.
I was originally going to title this blog post “I am now officially a Nevadan” as a follow-up to the story of how I nearly failed my eye exam when transferring my driver’s license over from Illinois to Nevada. But, when I went to photograph my two driver’s licenses to show the difference between the two, I noticed something pretty interesting. I have a Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II, which comes with facial recognition. There’s a setting in the camera where you take multiple photographs of yourself and record them into the camera, allowing it to recognize you in photos and videos. I guess this allows you to stay in focus a bit better, because the camera knows that you are the star of whatever you are filming. I personally don’t think it’s really that noticeable, but apparently, my face has changed enough that my camera consistently detects my current face as my real face, even though I don’t have glasses on (yes, I still wear glasses, and all benchmark photos in the camera are me with my glasses on; I just had to take them off for my driver’s license photo because the photographer asked me to). I guess this blog post technically could’ve gone either way – if it recognized me as my old photo, I would’ve laughed at how I used to be me more than I currently am, then just attribute the discrepancy to my glasses. But either way, I found it pretty interesting.