Stand United




Apparently squirrels like eating pumpkins

I was at one of our properties today and noticed that one of the tenants had a pumpkin outside their porch door.

I saw that it had some holes in it, and I figured that it was intentionally carved into it, as a design. Then I realized that it was a terrible design, and had absolutely no resemblance to the classic jack-o-lantern that most people cut into their pumpkins.

After completing necessary business at the property, I got in my car to leave, when I discovered why there were random holes in the pumpkin.

Squirrel eating pumpkin

Apparently the holes weren’t there as a result of a carving … they were there because a squirrel ate the pumpkin.

(The photo is a bit white and blurry because I took it from inside my car, which was parked far away from the pumpkin.)

Happy Halloween



Controversy around preferential treatment for Overwatch beta invites

I made a post yesterday talking about how I had never been invited to a Blizzard beta test, and how it is just my luck that I didn’t get invited to the Overwatch beta, even though it’s a near-necessity for me to do my job with Tempo Storm.

That was mainly intended as a comedy piece so you guys can share my misery at the fact that literally nothing related to pre-release test periods (alpha and beta invites) have gone my way.

Apparently, a lot of people aren’t really taking this as lightly as I am (even though my content production schedule is on the line, while everyone else only has their personal entertainment on the line).

I browsed reddit a bit and saw some links on Twitter that pointed me to some controversies around the invitation process for Overwatch.

Blizzard obviously states that Overwatch beta invites were sent randomly. We all know that, to a degree, that is true, and to a degree, that is false.

It is true because, technically, the invitations are random. The language is accurate, and this is the kind of stuff that lawyers would pick on when fighting a case.

Blizzard needs to test Overwatch on particular machines with particular Internet connections. When you signed up for inclusion in the beta program, you ran a test on your computer that let Blizzard collect in­for­mation about your machine.

After picking out the needed machine/Internet credentials that require testing, Blizzard then randomly selects from that pool.

On a different facet, Blizzard extends offers to large content creation companies whose employees require beta access to report on Overwatch. Once a list of their employees is made, Blizzard then “randomly” selects from that list (although, they might just randomly select 100% of the people on that list).

As you can see, language is pretty intricate, and there are a lot of ways you can twist it to have it work in your favor.

This preferential treatment is expected, and I don’t understand why it wasn’t completely obvious that Blizzard would be using a recruitment method like this one. They want to pick out the best beta testers, and it’s obvious that people who create content and report as a profession would most likely produce findings and reports that will help Blizzard.

And yes, the reason I’m so laid back about my personal Overwatch situation is that I’m confident I’ll be getting in, as a representative of Tempo Storm. But remember, I have a very low passion for FPS, so all my Overwatch-related gameplay will be driven by a passion for eSports and creating content, not just because I want to play the game for fun.

For the “regular” players who want to join in for fun, sure, it might seem a bit unfair, but that’s just how life is. Keep in mind that, in your field of expertise, you will probably gain some sort of preferential treatment as well, in situations relevant to your field, simply because you are knowledgeable about it.

That field, for me, is the online entertainment industry. So, there really isn’t anything to get upset about if you didn’t get invited to the Overwatch beta; look back at the things you take for granted that might prompt jealousy from others who don’t have it for their own.



I’ve never been invited to a Blizzard pre-release test

Apart from the fact that I was a RuneScape player instead of a World of Warcraft player, I’ve been a Bliz­zard game fan since I was in high school.

I was loyal to RuneScape so I didn’t want to play World of Warcraft (and I saw my WoW friends as inferior gamers); my first Blizzard games were Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood War, which I played a lot in high school.

I was a member of the web club and took computer science classes, and a lot of that time spent in the computer lab was spent improving my Starcraft skills. The web club was mostly a gaming club, and I pretty much already knew everything that was done for computer science so I spent the classes playing Starcraft.

Now, I realize that World of Warcraft was Blizzard’s huge source of income, and because I didn’t play it, I didn’t spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on it from subscription and microtransaction fees. But, just the fact that I’ve been around for a decently long period of time should mean that I eventually get invited to at least one alpha or beta test.

I didn’t get invited to the Hearthstone beta, and I didn’t really care too much – although I would’ve been fine testing it out, I didn’t really have a dying passion for card games.

I didn’t get invited to the Heroes of the Storm alpha, which I did care about. I was a League of Legends player all throughout my undergraduate university years, and around the time of Heroes of the Storm was when I was getting frustrated with all the annoying aspects of League of Legends.

I didn’t get invited to the Heroes of the Storm beta, which I cared even more about, because by this time, I had consumed a lot of Heroes of the Storm content from other players, and I was eager to jump into the action. Fortunately, Day[9]TV came to the rescue when he provided me with a beta key so I could activate Heroes of the Storm on my account.

And, now that Overwatch is out, I didn’t get invited to the Overwatch beta either.

Normally, this would’ve been something that I cared the absolute least about, because I’ve never really had a passion for first-person shooters. When I do try to play FPS games, I tend to get dizzy because of the way the camera is set up.

But, I’m working on a project right now that requires me to get involved with Overwatch. Although I don’t have a passion for the genre of game, I have a passion for eSports, and I have a jack-of-all-trades kind of skillset that makes me a decent candidate for this project.

So, the “cared the absolute least about” has become a near-necessity … and of course, I didn’t get invited again.

Maybe one day, Blizzard will notice me.




Taekwondo promotion testing at Keumgang Martial Arts Academy

The martial arts academy next door to our family business had promotion testing yesterday, and I joined in as one of the judges.

I’m an occasional visiting guest instructor and coach, so I’m usually not intimately involved in what they do. Because of that, normally, the announcements and notices they make are usually very plain. For example, the schedule they release of their testing times is usually done with regular black text on a white background.

I had some spare time a few days ago while I was waiting for a meeting to start, so I decided to throw to­gether a more eye-catching schedule for them.

(Javascript is required to view the embedded Facebook posts.)

Yesterday was test day – it started at 4 PM and went on for almost four hours.

The owners of the academy usually call in a master from another school to maintain judging neutrality. They usually call in someone different each time; the one they called in for this testing session was prob­a­bly the most satisfying judge I’ve seen so far.

Normally, the invited judges don’t really seem to care (while I’m sitting next to them furiously writing de­tailed notes on everyone I’m grading, to help them learn what they need to improve).

In the past, I’ve even worked with a visiting judge who I determined, after my experience observing his actions for a few hours, was a complete and hypocritical joke. He seemed too proud of himself for being a sixth degree black belt, and that apparently made him unable to realize how incompetent he sounded every time he opened his mouth or made a decision.

But, the one for this session seemed to be as detail- and discipline-oriented as I am when it comes to taekwondo.

Taekwondo, being a Korean martial art, is more about discipline than it is about the workout. The biggest selling point for taekwondo is that it will teach younger kids to be obedient to their parents’ authority and be respectful to their peers (among other valuable life lessons).

Generally, academies run by non-Korean people tend to treat the core values of taekwondo as a secondary element, and want it to be more about the workout and fun for the kids.

The guest judge this time, however, even though he was a white American, put a satisfying emphasis on the students’ success, rather than just going through the motions. He valued student presentation (clean­liness, physical evidence of mental preparation for examination) and performance (focus on tech­nique, instead of allowing them to just go through the motions).

In case you can’t find me, I’m the one and only Asian person in the picture. If you can’t see the picture at all, it probably means the embedded Facebook post from Keumgang Martial Arts Academy’s page didn’t load properly.

In the end, three people ended up not passing (which is proof to those who say “everyone passes at Amer­i­can McDojos” that we do in fact actually fail people who do not meet the requirements for promo­tion).



Strange white fruit

My parents went to a buffet today that serves a variety of food, ranging from regular American-style meats to sushi.

I wasn’t too excited about the regular American- and Asian-style meats because I eat it all the time, but I like sushi, so I ate plenty of that.

For dessert, my dad went to grab some fruit. One of the fruits was this strange-looking white thing that had the texture of jelly.

This was the first time I’d ever seen or tasted it. The best way to describe it is an artificial sugary aloe taste similar to that found in those Korean aloe juices.

I put the whole thing in my mouth and chomped down to discover that it had a hard seed on the inside.

I bit it in half with my teeth; this is what the inside looked like:

I would’ve taken more detailed, close-up photos, but I only had my cell phone camera with me, so that was the best I could do.



Have you ever wondered what a septic tank at a laundromat looks like?

Well now you know.

We had to get ours cleaned today, so I snapped a photo after the lid was opened and before the cleaning actually began.

If you’re curious, the tank is split up into two sections. The first section, which is closer to the bottom of the photo, is the filter section. All the garbage gets piled up in that section (like lint from clothing and other items that manage to get thrown into the washing machine and make it down the drain).

Although you can’t really tell from the photo, because only the top part is showing, the divider is actually like a sifter that holds the garbage on the closer side and lets the water through to the other side.

Once the water makes it to the other side, it should be relatively free from debris, which at that point, it gets drained out through the regular sewage system.

I would estimate that the tank, when emptied, is approximately five feet (1.5 meters) in depth.

A consequence of septic tank cleaning is that the entire laundromat begins to smell like moldy sewage. To try and mitigate this, I opened up all the windows, propped the front door open, and opened the side doors to the hallway of the building.

Opening the doors to the outside didn’t really do much, apparently, because the smell still lingered; but, opening the door to the hallway did do fantastic work in the sense that the entire building started smelling like sewage.

Our neighbors were extraordinarily delighted about that, and by delighted, I mean irritated.



Android Pay no longer accepts all custom loyalty programs

I got an email from Google about a week or so ago letting me know that Google Wallet was now Android Pay.

In response to the notice, as well as from all the hype going around about using your phone as a payment method, I decided to give Android Pay a try.

I uninstalled my old Google Wallet app (which now apparently serves the single purpose of sending and receiving money), and downloaded Android Pay to set it up.

The main reason I used Google Wallet was to keep track of my loyalty cards (and other cards with a bar­code), not so much to use it as a credit card replacement. Most of the stores I go to don’t even have the features installed to use NFC for payment anyway.

The first thing I noticed about Android Pay was how unintuitive the controls were. You would expect things to only respond when you want them to, but if you tap any card once, your entire card set expands, rather than just that one card popping up. If you scroll too far up, everything collapses again.

But that’s not my primary complaint. The main problem I’m having is that you can now only add loyalty cards for companies registered in Android Pay’s database.

Back when I used the old Google Wallet, I was able to put in my library cards as loyalty programs because it would let you assign a custom name for all your cards, and it didn’t have to match it with any database.

Now, although my library cards carried over to Android Pay, I’m not able to add any new cards with bar­codes (such as my student ID). When I type in “Northwestern University” (because that’s what I want to save my barcode as), it just says there are no results found, and won’t even let me put in a custom card.

I searched around for a solution, and it seems like that’s just not a feature that’s available anymore.

Sure, Android Pay wasn’t exactly designed to be a loyalty card holder, but it, in theory, is supposed to be a wallet replacement (or, at the very least, a wallet shrinker, because you can’t store your driver’s license in Android Pay). If a secondary feature like this is implemented, I would hope that it has full functionality (or at least not take a step backwards from a previous version of the app).




I had a meeting today in a room at the top of these stairs:

I took these photos out the window while I was waiting in the lobby:

There were a lot of geese there, as you can tell from the second photo.

I watched them.

Edit: No, I did not miss my meeting because I was busy watching the geese. I stopped watching them when the meeting began.