Welcome to Anaheim

“What’s with California and their obsession with palm trees?”

Welcome to Anaheim

"What's with California and their obsession with palm trees?"

That’s what one of our professional Overwatch players asked me. With a quick search on Google, I found out that, apparently, palm trees were first introduced into the Los Angeles area during the 18th century by Spanish missionaries, and their popularity rose dramatically during the Victorian era. Palm trees are supposedly associated with desert weather, but it seems like they actually need a lot of water to grow, and the recent drought in this area has stunted their spread.

BlizzCon was at the Anaheim Convention Center, and we got here a few days early to get accustomed with the area. On the day of our arrival, a few of our pro players and I walked around Anaheim. We stopped by a restaurant that boasted meats with “no skin, no dairy, no trans fats, no fried stuff.” Then one of our players wanted to stop by a medical marijuana facility (which is legal in California) to see if he would qualify – unfortunately for him, a California identification was required (and an Australian passport was not accepted).

BlizzCon itself was pretty busy for me. I was there for work, but the press area was extremely crowded and loud, so there wasn’t really a nice place for me to work. I managed to find an out-of-the-way area where I was allowed to be because of my media badge, but even then, there were still hundreds of people flooding by right next to me to get to a different floor of the convention center.

I also realized that it probably isn’t the best idea to dispatch writers to BlizzCon to be on-site if I actually ever want content to be done. Conventions are pretty compelling, and I don’t really want to take away from writers who want to actually enjoy the convention … but seeing as there are non-stop shows and events and parties, it’s difficult for them to actually find the time to write.

Because of how busy I was, I wasn’t really too alert in terms of photographing things. Regardless, a lot of interesting stuff at BlizzCon I wasn’t able to photograph anyway, because they were in the restricted area where we were not allowed to photograph or share anything we were being told. But, I did still manage to get these two photos:

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The first photo was the meal I had when I met up with our Merchandising Director. The second photo was from my spot next to reynad as we were setting up when he was doing a meet-and-greet in the Hearthstone tavern area of BlizzCon.

My plan was to leave California and head back to Illinois shortly after BlizzCon’s conclusion, but there has been a change of plans … I’ll be sticking around for a little bit longer while I do some setup of our new team house here in southern California.

 

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BlizzCon 2016 Opening Week, and how I got kicked out of the studio

Surprise, I’m going to BlizzCon Opening Week.

Surprise, I'm going to BlizzCon Opening Week

At O'Hare International Airport

Arriving at Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport

Okay, well obviously that’s no longer a surprise, because I arrived in Los Angeles on October 23 and I’ve been regularly sharing photos and other posts on social media. The first photo is my ride to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois; the second photo is when I was at O’Hare waiting to board flight with American Airlines; the third photo is after I landed at Los Angeles International Airport and inhaled the familiar smell of cigarette smoke saturating the air; and the fourth and final photo is at Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport, the hotel at which I stayed during BlizzCon Opening Week.

If you’ve been following me for the past year or so, you probably already know that “Surprise, I’m going to ________” is my signature phrase for traveling. I have a tendency to not really share what I’m doing unless I’m already in the process of doing something, or it already happened – this allows me to avoid situations where people say “wait, but I thought you were going to ________” and I have to explain what happened. A consequence of this is that the stuff that I end up sharing is sometimes unexpected, and it’s particularly surprising when I announce out of nowhere that I’m traveling.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, mostly for our Heroes of the Storm team. If you only know me for Heroes of the Storm, you may be wondering, “why are you going to BlizzCon Opening Week when your new Korean Heroes of the Storm team didn’t even qualify for BlizzCon?”

With Tempo Storm being a very player-oriented organization, and the fact that I would be traveling to BlizzCon anyway for production work, I decided to book my flight early and be present for Opening Week as well. Although our HotS team might not have seen success this time, our Australian Overwatch team did – we had four people qualify for the Overwatch World Cup. I roomed with one of our players who got his hotel room covered by Blizzard, and stayed around to provide administrative support for our team.

Unfortunately, I personally am not much of an Overwatch player, so it was a bit difficult for me to actually be interested in what was going on. So, I generally only went to the studio to check up on the players and stopped by when I was needed. I spent the rest of my time in the hotel room working, as well as doing genius things, such as eating food from restaurants with two hotel coffee stirrers because they forgot to put chopsticks in my takeout bag.

Chop Coffee Stirrer Sticks

So what was this whole thing about getting kicked out of the studio?

Well you see, esports “managers” haven’t exactly demonstrated themselves to me as the most bright and alert people. They generally just do their minimum duties without actually genuinely caring for the players.

I’ve had experiences with league operations staff members who faced tech problems and just gave up. At ESL, a tech was addressing a “power outage” problem … when all he had to do was flip the power switch on the power supply of the computer tower. He couldn’t figure it out, when I identified the problem within seconds after he left the room to get more help. At DreamHack, our CS:GO coach and in-game leader had some audio problems on his laptop, and the tech couldn’t figure out how to fix it and basically said our team had to play the game with the coach’s volume at 1/5th of everything else. That one took me a little bit longer to fix, but I still managed to work through it myself.

Because I didn’t want stuff like this happening to our players at the hands of underqualified individuals, I decided to take care of stuff myself.

Unfortunately, there was no “official” way to have me be the team’s manager, as a manager was assigned for the Overwatch World Cup teams. The Australian team just happened to have four members of Tempo Storm on it, because we have the best Overwatch team in Australia, but for most other teams, random people came together to form the country’s representing team, so it was reasonable for them to not have a specific esports administrator be their manager from a specific organization.

With that being said, confidence gets you far. Even though I wasn’t exactly allowed inside the studio and practice area (because I was not a player or a registered manager), I just walked into the studio as if I belonged there, and was never questioned. I spoke with Blizzard staff members who were on duty inside the studio, and nobody doubted that I belonged there.

Except one person – Nelson – the person who was assigned to be Team Australia’s manager.

The reason he knew I wasn’t authorized on paper to be there is because I was essentially taking his job and making up for his shortcomings. Apparently he had a problem with that – I guess he put his pride before the actual needs of the players.

On one of the Opening Week game days, the team asked me for Starbucks, so I went over to the studio with coffee in hand. The thing about this day is that I announced in our Twitter group DM that I was on my way in the next shuttle (rather than just showing up and walking in), and that I would be arriving in about half an hour.

Nelson was also in this Twitter group.

Right as I got off the shuttle, there were security guards waiting for me at the entrance letting me know that I was not allowed to enter. To be fair, they weren’t wrong – I wasn’t officially on the list of people who could enter – but I had never had a problem with it before then, seeing as most people realized I was a positive addition to the team’s environment.

I have no proof of it, but surely, the only way this could have happened is that Nelson had reported to security that a “trespasser” would be arriving.

This is usually what happens with stories like this – they’re a lot less exciting than what people expect. No, I did not break someone’s bones to get kicked out. No, I did not hack the broadcast. I simply got told on by our own team’s manager.

 

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Apparently Amazon doesn’t price match anymore

Because of my very lean body style, I’m not able to purchase clothing in a majority of regular stores. Instead, I get a majority of my shirts online on Amazon, where I browse from Korean retailers and pick out shirts that are specifically designed for Asian-style bodies. As a matter of fact, every single shirt that I bought for myself (that is, every single shirt that I did not receive as a gift) happens to be purchased on Amazon from an Asian retailer.

A strange thing happened very recently. I bought six slim-fit button-down dress shirts at $24.50 each, which is already a pretty good price, considering the quality of the shirts (I had bought the same brand of shirt in the past). But, for some otherworldly reason, just a few days after my purchase, the price of each shirt fell to $14.50 each – a discount of $10.00 per shirt, for a total savings of US$60.00.

Seeing as, not only does Amazon have free returns on clothing, but also because I’m an Amazon Prime member, I figured they would just credit my account with the $60, and to avoid having an excessively long conversation with Amazon’s support team, I explained the situation and just asked for the $60.

I ended up going through three people – Jerryl, someone outside of Amazon’s Pricing team, even though I had specifically requested that department; Mohammed, someone who only knew how to answer my questions with canned responses; and Raghu, a manager who answered my questions like a politician (as in, he refused to actually answer with any statements of value).

Nobody granted me a price adjustment.

Apparently, Amazon has a policy that only televisions can be price matched. All other products are not eligible for price matching or purchase protection because Amazon “already thrives to have best pricing,” so they don’t grant partial refunds for price differences. What “thriving to have the best pricing” has to do with Amazon dropping the cost of their own item by 41% and screwing over people who already purchased it in the past, I have no idea.

Am I just going to accept the loss of $60? Absolutely not.

Apparently Amazon thinks it is worth it to have me return the six shirts and repurchase them all at the lower price. The silly thing is that this clothing has free returns, and I have Amazon Prime so I have free shipping, so they are literally just wasting money on shipping on six items in two directions.

You would think that, maybe, the customer service representatives would be intelligent and intuitive enough to realize that this would happen, save Amazon some money on shipping, not make one of their several-year Prime customers go through this hassle, and make a case-by-case exception?

At least I got a story out of it.

 

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Protecting the supermarket…

… with a fly swatter

Protecting the supermarket...

Some of my relatives from California are over in Illinois to visit, and while we showed them around our area, we stopped by a Korean supermarket after lunch. Upon entering, I saw a security guard protecting the entrance and keeping an eye out on the people entering … then I looked at his hand and found out that his weapon of choice was a fly swatter.

Obviously, these security guards aren’t sworn police officers, so they’re not allowed to open carry firearms in Illinois. Also, this guy was obviously just after a pest that might’ve found its way into the store (rather than regularly wielding the fly swatter during his watch). But, I can’t help but visualize the funny scenario in which a security guard combats shoplifters and troublemakers by chasing them down and battering them with a fly swatter.

After the shopping trip, we stopped by a bakery. My parents and relatives spent a lot of time browsing through pastries, so I took that opportunity to photograph some of the items that I thought were best designed.

Carrot cupcakes

"Banana" brownies

"Cherry Bomb"

 

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I hate Dell laptops

If you’re one of my long-time followers, you probably know how unhappy I am with Dell (seeing as if I feel like I’m getting ripped off or trolled, I will generally complain about it and take some action against it). Even if you just do a quick search for the word “Dell” on my website, you’ll see endless blog posts about how they tried to milk more money out of me for repairs and straight-up lied to me.

I have some brilliant news today.

For literally the third time in a row in the last six years, my Dell laptop has died one month after the two-year warranty.

At the rate that things are going right now, there’s literally no reason for me to ever lay my hands on a Dell product ever again in the future.

I’ve been working in the online entertainment industry for a while now, and as demands are increasing, the resources provided by a laptop are lacking. I’ve decided to take this opportunity to upgrade myself from a laptop to a desktop computer.

Of course, this heavily inhibits my mobility, but I’m pretty sure that with the savings from how cheap high-end desktops are compared to high-end laptops, I can probably just get myself a Chromebook or something if I ever need to work on the go.

Point is…

Never buy a Dell laptop.

 

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