Hi, I'm Adam.

Adam Parkzer   •   32   •   Las Vegas, USA   •   5'10" (178 cm)   •   152 lbs (69 kg)   •   Korean American

Although I am best known for my various public appearances as a personality, I am a busi­ness­man by trade. Pri­ma­ri­ly, I help run cor­po­rate op­er­a­tions at Tem­po, a game de­vel­op­ment studio, mul­ti­me­di­a pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, and esports fran­chise; I cur­rent­ly o­ver­see le­gal, fi­nance, and hu­man re­sources ad­min­is­tra­tion. I also pro­vide busi­ness ad­vi­so­ry serv­ices to en­tre­pre­neurs and pub­lic fig­ures. You can find more details on my curriculum vitae.

Having formerly been in law enforcement, my main interests include criminology and forensic psychology. In my free time, I like to write, train mixed mar­tial arts, pursue investment opportunities, and de­vel­op new prac­ti­cal skills. I used to be a competitive gamer, but now I just play casually.

The easiest way to get to know me better is to read about INTJs on the Myers-Briggs Type In­di­ca­tor. I'm split between Investigator (Type 5) and Chal­leng­er (Type 8) on the Enneagram. My CliftonStrengths Top 5 are De­lib­er­a­tive, Learner, An­a­lyt­i­cal, A­chiev­er, and Com­pe­ti­tion. I score highest in Well-Being, Self-Control, and Emotional Stability on the SPI-27. My top per­sonality trait on both the Big Five and HEXACO-PI-R is Con­sci­en­tious­ness.

If you want to write me a letter, you can send it to PO Box 2222, Las Vegas, NV 89125-2222, USA. I don't really use so­cial me­di­a an­y­more, but my pro­files are Parkzer on Twitch, Adam Parkzer on YouTube, @Parkzer on 𝕏, Adam Parkzer on LinkedIn, and Parkzer on Last.fm. I don't have any se­cret “alt” or “friends only” ac­counts. Never send cash, gift cards, or cryp­to­cur­ren­cy to any­one claim­ing to be me—they are all im­per­son­a­tors and scam­mers.

Below, you can find my blog where I document my adventures, organize my thoughts, and share snippets of my life. You can browse in re­verse chron­o­log­i­cal or­der, or you can sort by these popular categories: Food | Finance | Travel | Hiking | Cats | Best of the Best

 

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Hello VidCon 2024

The second half of last week, I attended VidCon Anaheim.

This may come as a surprise because I’m fairly open and outspoken about how much I hate the stereotypical influencer or content creator kind of per­son, so it would seem strange to intentionally thrust myself into a convention full of them, but there were three fairly compelling reasons to go.

The first was because I’ve been getting pretty bored over the past year with a non-nomadic lifestyle, especially compared to road tripping and living out of hotel rooms full-time for two years during 2021-2023. I missed being in a new place every few weeks, so I decided to pick back up traveling and seize op­por­tu­ni­ties if such travel corresponds with an event.

The second reason, and the more important one, was that my friend Aidan, who runs the Skip the Tutorial channel on YouTube, was supposed to be hold­ing his very first meet-and-greet and panel at VidCon. It ended up not actually being his first panel because he received an impromptu short-notice invitation to Open Sauce to host a Minecraft panel there shortly before VidCon, but at the time that I booked my travel, Aidan’s firsts were anticipated to take place at VidCon.

And finally, the third and least influential reason was because I already knew I wouldn’t like VidCon, but I didn’t want to have a negative impression of it without ever trying it out, so this was a chance for me to see VidCon for myself to either confirm or deny my suspicions.

Unshockingly, I was indeed able to confirm that I do not like VidCon.

 
Let’s start with a mild point first. VidCon was boring.

I felt like there wasn’t really much to do. TwitchCon has a similar problem where, if you’re not there to meet your favorite Twitch streamers, the only other thing left to do is to be a victim of all the exhibition booths that are, to be frank, just massive advertisements hoping to expose you to their brand and leave an impression in your memory so you remember them the next time you have to buy a keyboard or extend your car’s warranty.

VidCon obviously had an exhibitor’s hall, but it seemed incredibly empty and underwhelming. Conventions like PAX pack the halls so the aisles are only the width of about two people laying down head-to-toe, but VidCon’s aisles between booths were gaping chasms. It almost seemed like they couldn’t find enough exhibitors who wanted to buy space in the hall, so they stretched out the aisles to be gigantic so it looked like they were still filling the hall.

The booths that were there weren’t very engaging. There was a really nice Minecraft booth, but there wasn’t actually anything to do in there except for look at the decorations and take pictures. There were some branded rooms on the second floor of the convention center, but those were also just wide-open and empty rooms that were only used for networking purposes and not for actual interactive experiences.

 
Now onto one that is a bit more serious. I have never felt more objectified in my entire life than during the collective handful of hours I spent at VidCon.

For a bit of context, I have been a public figure for over a decade now and am no stranger to being recognized, both at conventions as well as randomly through­out my day-to-day life. I used to be a vlogger and live streamer, I’ve hosted many events and casted many tournaments, and I’m often a guest on a bunch of my friends’ shows. This means I have people recognizing me for dif­fer­ent reasons and I end up meeting quite a variety of dif­fer­ent people, which is nice.

Lately, I have been making very frequent appearances on my friend Doug Wreden’s Twitch live streams and YouTube videos. He is by far my most pop­u­lar friend with the biggest fanbase whose content I regularly appear on, so naturally, an increasing ratio of people recognizing me have been from dis­cov­er­ing me through Doug, relative to other mediums.

The problem with this is that Doug’s content is very different than what I usually do. I’ve historically done very “normal” appearances often revolving around commentary or discussing professional topics with a focus on self-improvement and the practical application of life­style adjustments to achieve personal goals. Doug’s content, on the other hand, throws me in as a target to fairly crude and primitive humor.

In a vacuum, I don’t mind; in fact, one of the more fun facets of being an actor or public figure is being able to participate in a broad scope of scenarios like that. However, it becomes extremely annoying when those artificial or manufactured situations are not contained in those contexts and instead end up bleed­ing out into my real life.

For example, one of the comedic segments on Doug’s live streams and videos ended up being calling me things that I’m not, such as a barred attorney or sworn peace officer. Within the context of his content, it’s supposed to be a show, so that is fine; however, without the proper context, this ultimately just ends up being the same as spreading blatant misinformation. Another segment revolves around obsessing over the fact that I own a firearm, which is fine as part of his content, but the obsession is very unusual out-of-context, especially considering I live in the United States and it is a very normal thing to own firearms here.

Back to VidCon. I guess it is reasonable that people would recognize me through Doug’s videos there, considering that it is basically an unofficial You­Tube convention and Doug’s YouTube channel has over two and a half million subscribers as of today… but never before have I had such a crushing ratio of people recognizing me from Doug’s content. Out of the few dozen people who recognized and interacted with me, all but two were because of Doug.

People who know me for other reasons usually have something interesting to talk about, but apparently Doug’s fans don’t have much to discuss, so they just parrot Doug’s jokes at me. I feel like I only had three good conversations with fans. Everyone else just awkwardly yelled things at me, primarily re­volving around calling me things that I’m not. Never before have I felt like less of a human and more like I had just been reduced to nothing beyond a tool for their entertainment. This happened so relentlessly that, at this point, I never want to hear the words “lawyer,” “cop,” or “gun” ever again.

Was this unique to VidCon? I don’t know. It’s very possible that this just happens to be the tipping point of this being the norm for me moving forward. But what I can say for sure is that VidCon was the very first place where it was so shockingly and blatantly obvious to me that it was happening.

 
Time for a quick intermission. Here are some random photographs I took around the exhibition hall:

(Note: I am aware that some faces are blurred while others are not. Technically, as part of the terms and conditions of a purchase of a VidCon admission pass, attendees agreed to be filmed and photographed while on convention grounds, so I can leave my pictures as-is. With that being said, I still dis­cre­tion­arily chose to censor some faces of minors who had enough of their likeness captured to be recognizable. Please stop attempting to contact me a­bout “forgetting about some faces.”)

As one of my final activities of VidCon, I watched Aidan’s panel.

I thought Aidan did a great job. Every time he spoke, he said something impactful and meaningful. The way he worded the information he wanted to relay was precise and succinct. The tone and cadence of his voice made him sound expressive and engaging, and he enunciated all his words clearly. He was also quick-witted and added on-topic humor to the panel where appropriate.

Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed about every other aspect of the panel. The other panelists rambled on about random things that sounded unre­lat­ed to the panel’s primary topic and were literally just spamming comms. I had never heard of any of them before, but apparently they were all suc­cess­ful YouTubers, so they clearly know what they’re doing, but it felt like they were at a point where they hadn’t yet quite reached a level of mastery of their craft to be able to articulate and teach how they did what they did.

There was an extremely strange and off-putting interaction during the post-panel Q&A segment where, not longer than 15 minutes after one of the pan­el­ists discussed the negative mental impact of hate comments, one of the audience members went up to the microphone and casually unironically in­sulted the hairstyle of one of the panelists. Aidan took over and skillfully diffused the situation by making light of the comment and diverting attention a­way from the in­sult and back to the Q&A, but if it wasn’t for him, that would’ve been a very awkward moment.

So, my final verdict? I did not like VidCon. I do not plan on ever attending again, and I do not recommend it for anyone else unless you are or have child­ren who admire YouTubers.

But before I wrap up, I do want to share one positive thing.

My second-to-last fan interaction of VidCon was with a girl in a cosplay (whose name I did not catch) walking alone on the second floor near the panel stages. She recognized me and was in utter shock that, not only was I was a real human being, but I was standing in front of her.

She was speechless, but just from her body language, I could tell she was either drained of energy or otherwise having a rough time, and seeing me was a moment of bliss in her day. She didn’t say much apart from asking for a picture and telling me that I had made her day. It was very fulfilling to me and I felt very honored that I could seemingly bring so much joy to someone and brighten their mood just by existing.

 

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The San Francisco Bay Area round-up

I’m off on my next adventure after my week in the San Francisco Bay Area for Open Sauce, but I had some spare photos that didn’t fit in any of my pre­vi­ous topic-based blog posts, so I decided to do a final travel round-up.

But first, a story. I call this one… “How not to travel out of Burbank Airport.”

As is probably blatantly obvious by now, I travel a lot. Not only do I travel a lot in the conventional sense, but in case you’re new here and missed it, I used to travel literally full-time during 2021-2023 when I road tripped across the United States and Canada and lived out of hotel rooms for two years straight. Throughout my travels, I have become an expert and acquired some specialized knowledge.

Upon arriving at Hollywood Burbank Airport for my Alaska Airlines flight to San Francisco, I entered through Terminal B to get through security, as my plane was scheduled to board from the B gates. I noticed that the TSA line was unusually long, so I decided to walk to Terminal A to go through an al­ter­na­tive security checkpoint. I thought I had made a great choice, because upon my arrival, I noticed that the line in Terminal A was nearly non-existent. I entered through the TSA PreCheck® line and finished screening within two minutes.

After popping out the other end, I looked for the connector between Terminal A and Terminal B so I could get to my gate. I looked around and there was only one way forward, so I mindlessly started walking from Gate A1 deeper into the airport. I eventually made it to Gate A9, upon which I had a fateful encounter with a brick wall. Confused, I checked my GPS location on Google Maps and realized I had walked in the literal opposite direction, a­way from Terminal B. I turned around and walked all the way back to Gate A1.

But, remember how I said there was only one way forward after the security screening checkpoint? Once I made it back to Gate A1, I had that exact same problem. I needed to walk west. The only path forward was east, unless I wanted to leave the building and go outside. Confused, I explained my situation to a nearby officer, who let me know that there isn’t actually a gateside connector between Terminals A and B and that I would have to exit outdoors and go back through security in Terminal B.

By trying to outplay the system, I outplayed myself.

I went outside, walked back into Terminal B, and stood in line to go through Terminal B’s security checkpoint. I made my way to my gate with four mi­nutes to spare before boarding doors closed.

Here are some photos of Los Angeles on the way out.

Burbank to San Francisco is a short flight so there was no meal service, but I did get some snacks. I felt the need to take a picture of this bag of chips be­cause it only had about five chips inside it. (Insert disgruntled statement about shrinkflation here.)

Landing at San Francisco International Airport is always an interesting experience due to its location—SFO has runways extending into the San Fran­cisco Bay. This creates an amusing visual where it looks like your plane is about to dive directly into the water, up until asphalt magically spawns un­der you and you touch down safely.

If you followed my adventures during my road trip, you probably know that I’m a Marriott loyalist and achieved Ambassador Elite status from my time liv­ing out of hotels full-time. Unfortunately, I had to cheat on Marriott and stayed at a Hilton during Open Sauce because I had a room inside the des­ig­nat­ed special guest hotel.

I don’t have any special status with Hilton, so I didn’t have lounge access for free food (if there was even a lounge at all). This meant that, on the day I flew in, I had to go searching for my own food. I didn’t have a rental vehicle so I decided to order on a delivery app. Conveniently, the restaurant did not in­clude utensils with my tonkatsu donburi, so I had to pull off my hotel specialty: using two coffee stirrers as chopsticks.

I extended my stay in the San Francisco Bay Area after Open Sauce finished because I have a friend who lives in the area, and I figured it would be a good opportunity to spend time with her while I was already there. On the day after Open Sauce before I transferred from the special guest hotel to my own hotel, some friends and I stopped by ToToRo Ramen for lunch.

After ridesharing from San Mateo to downtown San Francisco, I checked into The Jay, an Autograph Collection hotel under Marriott. After the me­di­o­cre room and service from Hilton, stepping once again into a Marriott felt like coming back home.

On my way out, I decided to fly JSX from Oakland International Airport back to Hollywood Burbank Airport. I’ve generally had positive experiences with JSX from back when they were still known by their full name JetSuiteX, and because I was leaving from downtown San Francisco which was almost equidistant between SFO and OAK, I decided to go with OAK and fly JSX again (they only service OAK and not SFO).

That was a mistake. JSX’s quality of service has severely degraded to the point where I’d rather save the money and fly premium economy on a mass com­mer­cial airline from now on.

They used to have nice, luxurious lounges with food and drinks, but it seems like they got rid of all the food and only have a Starbucks dispensing ma­chine. The only trace of food available was cat and dog treats next to the sink. I had not eaten at all this day, so I was literally banking on having food at this lounge, and I could not. Note that JSX flies out of a separate hangar, so it’s not like I could walk to an airport restaurant and get food either.

The interior of the jet I got seemed to have not really been taken care of that well. The jets also used to be a 1-2 all-business-class configuration, but for some reason, this jet was a 1-1 configuration… except instead of using the extra space from the missing row of seats as just extra space, they installed gi­gan­tic blocky armrests that make the entire cabin look cramped and unnavigable.

My rideshare vehicle from my hotel to JSX’s Oakland hangar was a Tesla Model Y that had an extremely jerky ride so I was already very motion sick, and I ended up flying on an empty stomach; this combined was a great recipe to get severe air sicknesses. I was on the verge of throwing up the entire time, and the fact that there is more turbulence on JSX flights due to the small size of the jet didn’t help.

Fortunately, I made it back to my friend’s house without vomiting, but I got really close.

And finally, to close this blog post, here is an out-of-context photograph of my friend Doug Wreden‘s blanket after I wrapped it in plastic food wrap.

 

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Hello, Yakiniku Shodai in San Francisco, California

For my final night in San Francisco, my friend and I had dinner at Yakiniku Shodai, a high-end Japanese restaurant in the Civic Center area southeast of the Fillmore District.

Known for its wagyu, Yakiniku Shodai has two different tasting menu options—a basic one for US$150 per person and a full experience for US$225 per per­son. We opted to go for the full set because, not only was I hungry, but I also figured I might as well go all-in while I’m in town and have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to do so, as I don’t really ever visit the San Francisco Bay Area unless it is for a very compelling reason.

My friend works remotely on East Coast hours and wanted an early dinner, so we booked the first available reservation slot at 5:30 PM PDT and were the first ones in the restaurant.

After being seated, the chef explained how the tasting menu process works. We then received a set of sides—pickled cucumbers, seasoned bean sprouts, and kimchi. We also got a small dish of lemon juice, used to offset some of the fattiness of the wagyu to come.

We also received a small bowl of beef broth with mushroom and green onion.

We were seated at the end of the side of the eating area, as close to a “command” position as possible, which allowed us to clearly spectate what the chefs and cooks were doing (as well as observe the other guests, once they arrived).

Our first meat was thin-sliced Australian wagyu beef tongue, served with seasoned onions and green onions.

The chef cooked only one side of the beef tongue and took it off the grill when it still appeared blue rare, but the heat momentum continued cooking it to a perfect rare by the time it was ready to eat.

Beef tongue is my favorite cut of beef, and this exceeded my expectations. It was the most tender and delicious beef tongue I’ve ever tasted.

Next was thin-cut American wagyu short rib with fresh wasabi and seasoned kelp strips, and thick-cut American wagyu zabuton topped with plum paste.

I had never tasted anything like this plum paste before, and it was incredible. There was definitely plum in it, but it wasn’t just plum—there was an in­de­scrib­a­ble additional flavor in there that made it uniquely sweet, and I cannot for the life of me pinpoint what it could’ve possibly been.

Eating back-to-back cuts of wagyu can feel very filling due to the extremely high fat content, so we were regularly served palate cleansers. For this in­ter­mis­sion, we were given some zucchini and mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper.

Our next portion of meat was thick-cut Australian wagyu harami skirt steak with barbecue sauce.

Note that this was a very light Japanese-style barbecue sauce, not the type of thick American BBQ sauce you’d find in the United States.

Our next palate cleanser was the house special salad. I really appreciated the frequency with which they mixed in vegetable dishes, as it really helped bal­ance out the overall flavor storyline.

The chef took us on a brief detour with some seasonal seafood—scallop. This was the thickest, juiciest, most tender, and most flavor-rich piece of scallop I’ve ever tasted in my life.

It was time to go back to the meat. Next up was thin-sliced Japanese A5 wagyu oyster blade, served with barbecue sauce and wasabi.

Our second portion of Japanese A5 wagyu was thick-cut tenderloin, seasoned with garlic sauce.

Although my friend and I opted for the full set, some of the other diners who had arrived after us were opting for the smaller menu. While enjoying my meal, I was able to watch the chefs prepare their dishes, which served both as extra entertainment as well as a good learning opportunity.

Next up was what ended up being my second favorite item of the dinner—Japanese A5 olive wagyu ichibo served thin-sliced nigiri style with caviar and truffle.

I’ve always known truffle to have a very strong flavor, but the truffle used on this wagyu nigiri was very mild.

The flavor bal­ance of this nigiri was incredible—the intensity of the wagyu, caviar, and truffle was perfectly equal, and no single flavor was o­ver­whelm­ing, so it truly felt like you could taste the richness of every single individual flavor depending on what you were mentally focusing on.

We were slowly approaching the end of our meal. Our second-to-last main dish was salmon and ikura with a small sprinkling of edible flower.

The grand finale dish was yakishabu don, made with thinly-sliced Japanese A5 wagyu striploin over rice, topped with raw egg yolk and truffle.

This combination manifested as a beautifully shimmering golden sauce over the wagyu rice bowl.

Our dessert was a refreshing frozen yogurt. It was only subtly sweet, which allowed the yogurt flavor to really shine.

Shodai Set ×2 $ 450.00
Mandatory gratuity (20%) $  90.00
SF HCSO surcharge (4.8%) $  21.60
Sales tax $  48.44
Total $ 610.04

The table on the right shows how much we paid.

You might have noticed that I didn’t really give many thoughts on the various cuts of wagyu. The rea­son for that is… my thoughts are basically the same for all of them. Pretty much every single piece of meat I ate during this meal ranked as a top best cut of meat I have ever tasted in my life.

I don’t eat anywhere near enough Japanese A5 BMS 12 or Australian MSA 1100+ grade 9 wagyu in or­der to compare it on an appropriate scale, and if you compare any meat of that quality to anything else, that ultra-high-end wagyu is just going to be indisputably better by a chasmic margin.

I cannot put in words how much I was impressed by our chef Chris Yuen. He managed to cook every single piece of meat to absolute perfection, and he appeared to do it effortlessly. I would be overjoyed at myself if I had even 5% of his cooking ability.

I’m not too happy about the 20% mandatory gratuity. I would have preferred for them to just set the price at $270 per person instead of $225 and make themselves a no-tipping establishment—that would’ve felt much better than making it look like there was a nearly hundred dollar hid­den fee. Gratuity is meant to allow diners to show gratitude, and it just doesn’t feel the same when it’s forced. This would also probably be particularly unsettling for in­ter­na­tion­al guests who may come from cultures where the concept of tipping does not exist.

Regardless, this restaurant has easily landed itself in my top three favorite restaurants of all time, alongside Utzutzu and Masamitsu. A meal coming in at $270 per person before taxes and fees is obviously unrealistic for most people, but if you’re ever in the San Francisco area and this pricepoint is man­age­a­ble for you (remember that there is a lower-cost option as well), I highly recommend Yakiniku Shodai.

 

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Hello Open Sauce 2024

FTC Disclosure: Open Sauce, Inc. did not ask me to write this blog post, did not pay me cash for this review, and did not have an opportunity to review or request changes to this piece prior to its publication. However, I did receive material financial incentive to attend Open Sauce 2024 by way of free VIP admission and free lodging. The public retail value of such incentives amounts to a VIP ticket worth US$1,499.00 and a hotel stay worth approximately US$600.00. All other expenses beyond the aforementioned items were self-funded.

 
I’m not really the biggest fan of the San Francisco Bay Area in California (which should be unsurprising to you if you’ve read my blog post about how I got ~US$3,000.00 of stuff burglarized from me the last time I was here), but my friend Billie Rae invited me to attend Open Sauce, a science and tech­nol­o­gy convention taking place at the Cow Palace in Daly City. Billie Rae is a full-time employee at the company that runs the convention, so I de­cid­ed that was enough of a reason to support her work and check it out last week between June 14-16.

I’ve been to a lot of events and conventions of all different kinds over the past decade. I’ve attended as various roles, including an organizer, staff mem­ber, host, tournament competitor, exhibitor, media, broadcast talent, and plain old con-goer. Many conventions and brands have compensated me (or have tried to compensate me) in the past with high-end luxury accommodations worth several thousands of dollars, as well as hefty cash payments.

With all that being said, I can confidently say that Open Sauce 2024 was my favorite convention of all time.

Yes, I understand that people probably think my opinion doesn’t mean much because I got a special invite from my friend who works there. However, long-time readers know that I take my reputation very seriously and would never write an intentionally inflated or exaggerated review just to help out a friend. I have been very honest and transparent about disclosing everything up to this point, and I feel that I am being objective and unbiased with every­thing else in this blog post as well.

 
Open Sauce had a very different feel to it than any other convention I’ve ever been to, which made me enjoy it a lot more; upon some thought, I’ve con­clud­ed that that can be attributed to a handful of factors:

  • It does not feel commercialized.

    Revenue from ticket sales are pretty much never enough to run a large-scale convention. A convention center will have limited space for attendees, and consequently, there will be a limited number of tickets available for sale. If the ticket price is scaled to cover all expenses, it would be pro­hib­i­tive­ly high and cause fewer people to attend, thus reducing revenue. There is a sweet spot of balancing ticket price with attendance, and that sweet spot is usually nowhere close enough to cover expenses associated with venue rental, attractions, experiences, staffing, utilities, equip­ment, dec­o­ra­tions, marketing, etc.

    For this reason, conventions will sell space in their exhibition hall to sponsors, and these sponsors will promote their brand and products at their booth. Every other convention I’ve been to has had its exhibition hall feel like a gigantic three-dimensional billboard of endless advertisements with logos plastered everywhere. Companies furnish their booths with plush carpeting and nice fake walls to attract con-goers and incentivize them to get ex­po­sure to their brand.

    Open Sauce did not feel like this whatsoever. There were four exhibition halls, and all of them looked like massive empty warehouses with no love or care given to their presentation… which fit the convention perfectly, because it made it feel more genuine and authentic. All the focus of Open Sauce was on the science and technology of the cre­a­tions that people brought to the convention. Each booth was run by passionate scientists and inventors, not salespeople. There was nothing fancy in any of the booths—it was just the creator and the creation, and nothing else there to distract you from taking in their work.

    This doesn’t mean there were no sponsors at Open Sauce. However, the sponsors they did have were extremely well-integrated. For example, PCBWay sponsored the admission credentials for the convention, so everyone’s badge was a thin metallic circuit board (as opposed to just a flimsy piece of laminated paper like every other convention does). At their booth, you could finish soldering the connection with a battery and LED and make it light up. Formlabs also appeared to be a sponsor, and they brought high-end 3D printers that people could experiment with and try out. Both of these were directly relevant to the theme of the con­ven­tion and were actual interesting interactive things, as opposed to just ads.

    I diligently went up and down every aisle in all the exhibition halls, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. This is the one and only con­ven­tion where I regularly stopped at many booths to try out their activity because of how inherently fun all the creations looked. I heard from a mu­tu­al friend that Michael Reeves (who was also in attendance) calls it a “science fair” instead of a convention, and I think that is a pretty accurate de­scrip­tion.

  • The special guests were pleasant people.

    Due to the nature of my work at Tempo during our prior esports and influencer marketing era, I’m used to interacting with stereotypical content cre­a­tors and broadcasters, especially those related and adjacent to Twitch live streaming. I’m fairly outspoken about my dislike of most of these peo­ple due to how disconnected they are with reality—many of them have a false and egregiously inflated sense of ego and self-importance com­pared to the rest of the world, which manifests in them coming off as extremely vain, arrogant, ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible.

    Open Sauce also had content creators in attendance, but the attitudes of these content cre­a­tors were very different. They all acted like normal people, and they all treated me like a normal person. I have had my fair share of encounters with meeting Twitch streamers during which they acted genuinely insulted that I didn’t already know who they were, but all the content creators at Open Sauce introduced themselves to me with a clear intent to meet new people and make new friends. I imagine there was a fairly thorough vetting process to decide who was and was not invited as a special guest, and this vetting process was well done, because I felt comfortable around everyone who was there.

  • I personally liked how the panels were scheduled.

    Most conventions have many panels scheduled and happening at once, and attendees have to pick which ones they want to go to, oftentimes hav­ing to miss out on some panels they want to watch in lieu of others. Open Sauce seemed to have a fairly limited number of panels, and there were only two places where panels were taking place—the main stage and secondary stage.

    This had two interesting effects. First, the panels that it did have were higher-impact panels that appealed to a broader audience, as opposed to having a lot of more specialized or niche topics. Second, because there were limited options of panels to watch, the audience was naturally bigger for each of the panels. Because the main stage was in a sporting arena and the massive amount of arena seating was used for the panel audience, it actually felt nice enjoying panels together with a large group of people.

    In a similar vein, I think Open Sauce realized that, although some people attend panels to listen to the topic, many of them go just to watch their fa­vor­ite content creators and broadcast personalities speak. I heard that most panelists held small meet-and-greets after speaking, so what the pan­els functionally ended up being was an opportunity for fans to know when and where to find their favorite creator, so they can meet them af­ter­wards.

    I heard that some people didn’t like this format, but I personally think this was a very efficient and practical way to run the schedule.

  • The activities for special guests were fun and relevant.

    When I am invited as a special guest or otherwise receive VIP treatment during conventions, the “exclusive access” usually just ends up being a lounge and a networking party. Although Open Sauce also did that, they further scheduled two fun activities that really stood out to me.

    The first was a visit to “The Cave,” Adam Savage’s workshop. The second was a visit to CrunchLabs, Mark Rober’s facility. Considering that both Adam and Mark are well-known personalities in the science field, being able to see their offices was very meaningful and interesting. I didn’t watch MythBusters when it was on TV, but I do watch all of Mark Rober’s YouTube videos, so I loved being able to see in-person the things he built for his channel.

    In a not identical but still similar vein, I enjoyed the fact that there was a hotel fully booked out exclusively for special guests. At first, the staff por­trayed this as being done for “security” reasons, which made me chuckle—I’m from Las Vegas where even A-list celebrities walk the casino and ho­tel floors alongside everyone else, so the fact that YouTubers would need that level of security was funny to me. However, I realized that having this kind of hotel was a good idea for a different reason.

    What was nice about the booked-out hotel was that everyone knew everyone else there was a science-related or science-adjacent person. In a reg­u­lar hotel, if you saw a stranger, you wouldn’t know if they were there for the same convention as you, or for something else entirely unrelated. How­ever, for Open Sauce, you knew that, if someone was inside that hotel, they were definitely there for Open Sauce. This encouraged people to be much more social and approach and initiate conversation with strangers because they are going into the interaction knowing that they share some degree of interests.

The second and fourth points obviously will not be relevant if you are just a general admission attendee, but for the sake of thoroughly sharing an an­ec­dote of my own experience, I decided to still include them.

 
So, if it wasn’t blatantly clear by now… if you are interested in science and technology and want a fun and high-value convention to attend, I highly rec­om­mend Open Sauce based on my experience that I had this year. The general admission ticket for 2024 was US$200.00, which I think is a very rea­son­a­ble price for a two-day convention that has so much to do that you’ll probably fill both days from open to close with interactive experiences. Their web­site currently shows early bird purchases for 2025 coming soon at US$99.69, which I find to be insanely cheap for what you get.

Below are some photos I took (and some that others took of me) during the convention:

 

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Hello, Izakaya Rintaro in San Francisco, California

For my second dinner in the San Francisco Bay Area post-Open Sauce (the convention blog post for which is still in progress and will be published soon), my friend and I decided to go Izakaya Rintaro in San Francisco, California. Japanese is my favorite cuisine, and she had recommendations from a friend who already had a positive experience at Rintaro, so we figured this would be a good spot to check out.

For our first cold dish appetizer, we got Ika no Nuta with Monterey Bay squid, Hikari Farm Tokyo turnip, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), Fuji ap­ple, and scallion with mustardy-sweet white miso.

Overall, this was a good dish taste-wise, but I couldn’t really tell that it was a squid dish, as the intensity of the squid flavor was very low relative to the tang of the sauce. This served as a great opening salad, but I didn’t think it was worth it at its price point with the squid, as the squid didn’t add much to the profile.

Our second cold dish, which wasn’t actually entirely cold, was Gindara no Sunomono with miso-cured Ft. Bragg black cod and Hikari Farm cucumbers, dressed in sweet vinegar and with a side of Half Moon Bay wasabi.

This was a nice, clean, straightforward cod dish. The ratio of cucumber to cod was a little high, but that was fine—we portioned the cucumber ac­cord­ing­ly to each bite of cod, then finished the remaining cucumber on its own as a salad. The fish was very tender, and the skin was cooked to the per­fect done­ness such that it maintained the skin-like texture but wasn’t too difficult to cut and chew.

For our drinks, we ordered off the non-alcoholic beverage menu—my friend got a Rintaro yuzu cooler with Kochi yuzu juice and seltzer, and I got a Rintaro ginger cooler with fresh ginger-lemon juice and seltzer. The yuzu cooler was sweet and had a nice yuzu flavor as you’d expect, and my ginger cooler had a rich gingery citrusy flavor with a great mixture of pungency and zestiness.

For our sashimi dish, we ordered San Ten Mori. On the sashimi plate, we received five slices each of San Diego bigeye tuna, konbu-cured San Francisco halibut, and Baja yellowtail amberjack.

The fish quality was great, but the thickness and size of the cuts were quite a bit smaller than I expected. I was also slightly disappointed at the fact that, although we got some Half Moon Bay wasabi, we didn’t get any ginger to act as a palate cleanser between the different kinds of fish.

The slices of halibut were placed on top of a slice of seaweed, but only the bottom-most cut actually touched the seaweed directly. I was the one who ended up eating that final slice, and this physical contact made for an interesting phenomenon where the flavor of the seaweed got absorbed by the halibut, thus making that last bite taste extremely rich, umami, and unique. To be clear, I don’t actually prefer that seaweed-infused halibut over clean halibut, but I definitely appreciated being able to try it at least once.

With the cold dishes done, it was time for chicken skewers. We ordered three portions of charcoal-grilled yakitori, with each portion constituting two skewers—momo (thigh) sansho, sori (oyster), and kawa (skin).

The thigh and oyster was some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever tasted. I’m not the biggest chicken skin fan, because I think it just tastes a little bit too intensely gamey of chicken, but this kawa yakitori wasn’t bad and was fairly well-balanced in flavor.

We didn’t want to be too healthy, so we threw in a fried dish to our set. We opted for Sakana Furai, consisting of minced yellowtail amberjack and white miso with fresh acme panko, snowy cabbage, and Rintaro tartar sauce.

In my opinion, this was the least memorable dish, as it basically just tasted like a fish cake. However, unexpectedly, the snowy cabbage stood out above everything else. With whatever sauce was already on it, it was joyfully delicious.

For our final main course, we ordered Kama Tama Udon. This had Rintaro hand-rolled udon “carbonara” with a raw egg yolk, butter, ginger, scallion, and freshly-shaved katsuobushi (bonito flakes).

We tossed all the sides in and gave it a good mix. The bonito flakes, made from skipjack tuna, gave the udon a rich fishy flavor, which I liked. It was also pretty salty, and even though I’m not usually a fan of excessively salty foods, the udon’s flavor had so much depth to it that the saltiness worked well in extracting and enhancing it.

Satisfied with the dishes so far, it was now time for dessert. First was Hojicha Panna Cotta, consisting of Japanese toasted green tea panna cotta with a side of hojicha syrup and almond cookies.

I’ve had panna cotta before, but none that had this kind of flavor profile. The Japanese toasted green tea gave it an extremely unique taste that was unbelievably rich and umami. It was almost like it was triggering the bitter taste receptors on my tongue to fire, but not all the way, so it seemed like it was bitter but it didn’t have any of the negative sensation usually associated with bitterness.

The presentation was also charming. The hojicha syrup came in a fun miniature cup, and it added an element of smooth sweetness without being too intense.

I think this is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I was already fairly satiated from dinner, but even then, I still literally could’ve had three or four more cups of this just because of how good it was.

Our second dessert was Sufurei Chiizu Keiki, which, as you might have guessed from the name, was Japanese soufflé cheesecake with Montmorency and Bing cherry compote.

I’m usually not the biggest fan of cheesecake, but I got this anyway for two main reasons: (1) it was marked on the menu as a limited-edition item, and (2) my friend wanted to hear me pronounce “sufurei chiizu keiki” when I ordered it. I wouldn’t say I have a strong fear of missing out, but I do still like getting limited-edition dishes because they are often experimental and I like trying unique and innovative foods.

This cheesecake did not taste like a normal cheesecake. Apparently Japanese cheesecakes are much lighter, and in my opinion, that made it significantly better. This tasted more like a fluffy pastry as opposed to a thick, blocky chunk of grease like cheesecake usually does. On top of that, the cherries bal­anced the flavor profile even more because I made sure to include some with every bite.

The restaurant was also aesthetically pleasing. I took photos of the entrance, dining area, and kitchen.

Ika no Nuta $  17.00
Gindara no Sunomono $  23.00
San Ten Mori $  45.00
Yakitori Momo Sansho $  10.00
Yakitori Sori $  12.00
Yakitori Kawa $  10.00
Sakana Furai $  21.00
Kama Tama Udon $  16.00
Hojicha Panna Cotta $  12.00
Sufurei Chiizu Keiki $  16.00
Rintaro Yuzu Cooler $   7.00
Rintaro Ginger Cooler $   7.00
Sales tax $  16.90
Gratuity $  40.00
Total $ 252.90

The table on the right shows how much we paid.

I thought this restaurant was fantastic, and it exceeded my expectations in basically every facet.

The food tasted excellent. It was obvious that all the ingredients were of high quality. All the flavors were clean, simple, and straightforward. There was no reliance on excessive amounts of salt or sugar, and the ac­tu­al contents of each dish spoke for themselves.

The order in which each item came out was also optimal for the flow of the meal (though I guess a lot of this had to do with us and the way we ordered); there were no jarring changes of flavor profile between dish­es, and everything told an overall nice flavor story.

In a similar vein, the variety of dish­es available on the menu was fairly vast. I feel like there was something available for someone with any kind of food preference (provided that you don’t hate Japanese cuisine en­tire­ly… but even then, I still think you’d be able to find something you enjoy). This let us build an entire jour­ney with our build-your-own eight-course meal.

The service was appropriately satisfactory, which is to say, also excellent. Our server was always there when we needed her and never around when we didn’t need her, which indicates that she was good at keeping an eye on us and knowing when to show up at our table. We ordered little by little based on our level of full­ness at the time, and when we were almost ready to order our next batch of items, our waitress showed up so there would be a minimal break between our items.

The ambiance was very comfortable and soothing. It was clear that they went for a cozy and casual feel, which made dining feel stress-free. It was as if we were allowed to just be ourselves, without any external pres­sure to act in a certain way. It was clear that diners wanted to reciprocate this level of respect for the cli­en­tele, so the entire vibe of the restaurant was one of peace and consideration for others.

If you’re in the San Francisco area and are willing to take a trip to the northern Mission District, and if these price points are within your budget, I highly recommend checking out Rintaro.

 

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Hello, Nopa in San Francisco, California

I traveled into San Mateo County, California last week for Open Sauce, a science and technology convention that ended this past Sunday. While I’m already in the area, I decided to extend my stay for a few days to try out some nice restaurants in San Francisco. My convention blog post is going to be fairly large and I’m still waiting on some friends to send me photos of me that I might use, but until then, I decided to do some food reviews.

Last night, a friend and I went to Nopa, a New American restaurant focused on using fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms. We applied my typical strategy for restaurants like this—instead of ordering a main entrée, we ordered a lot of smaller plates to build our own meal and try out a wider variety of available dishes.

For our appetizer, we got Little Gems, made from Star Route Farm lettuce, K&J Orchards Bing cherries, caramel walnuts, and Matos St. Jorge cheese.

This was a very refreshing salad. Each piece of lettuce was the perfect size—not too big and not too small—and each bite had a nice crunch to it. The cherries had a great balance of sweetness while still being subtle as to not overpower any other flavors. The caramel walnuts expanded the breadth of texture in the dish, which I liked. I am usually not a fan of cheese, but the flavor of this cheese was smooth and not excessively cheesy.

For my drink, I ordered a non-alcoholic beverage off their zero-proof cocktail menu called the Influencer, made with Vibrante vermouth, smoked black tea, pomegranate, and peppercorn, topped with an orange peel.

Of course, the reason I picked it was because it was named “Influencer,” and it wouldn’t be a normal day in the world of Adam Parkzer without joking and memeing about influencers. The drink itself was passable, but not that great; it had a flavor profile that I had never tasted before in any other drink, but it was a little bit too bitter for my preference.

Next up was local halibut crudo with Dapple Dandy pluot, pickled G&S Farm sweet corn, basil, and urfa chili.

The halibut was fresh and had a satisfying texture. This was the first time I had ever tried pluot, and I think I like it—I couldn’t really isolate and pick up on its core flavor because it was just an ingredient in a broader dish, but I could still tell that had a good amount of sweetness. The sweet corn was a bit overpickled for my preference, but when added together with the other ingredients in each big bite, it served its role well.

Because of a minor mix-up, my friend didn’t get her drink for a little while, but it eventually came out—she got a pomegranate hibiscus soda. I tried a few sips of her drink, and it was sort of like a sweeter and “purer”-tasting variant of my own drink.

For our first savory dish, we got house-smoked trout with marinated cucumbers, Brokaw avocado, tzatziki, purslane, and crispy quinoa.

This was a bit more cooked than I expected for a dish that was supposed to be smoked, but it was still very tender. I took care to add each ingredient into every bite, and it had a very refreshing flavor with no unexpected aftertastes. The quinoa added a fun crunch, and the very lightly fried oily taste added great balance to the richness of the fish.

Our second “main” entrée was saffron rigatoni with Shasta morels, porcini, Genovese basil, and herbed house ricotta.

We mixed in all the ricotta with the pasta. Usually, I’ve found Italian dishes to come with too much sauce such that the cheesiness and saltiness over­pow­ers the pasta, but this dish had great balance of sauce and pasta. The ricotta had a deep, rich flavor, and the pasta was cooked to be soft and chewy.

Our final entrée of the night was flatbread with Nopa bacon, Rojas Farm white nectarine, Point Reyes Toma cheese, and arugula.

I’m usually not a big fan of bacon, but this Nopa bacon was not too greasy and it was cooked to the perfect firmness where it’s not too hard and not too rubbery. The nectarine added an amazing refreshing flavor to the flatbread—it’s like it took what people like about pineapple on Hawaiian pizza, but toned it down enough that it maintained the crispness and sweetness without being way too watery and tangy on pizza like pineapple is. I couldn’t really taste the arugula, but it added some color and was nice for presentation.

For dessert, we got a blueberry apricot cobbler with a hot sugar crust and topped with frosted almonds and crème fraîche ice cream.

Like the main courses, the cobbler also had a very clean and refreshing taste. The cobbler had a great consistency to it, the almonds had a very deep nut­ty flavor, the ice cream was smooth and rich, and even the edible flowers added a nice touch without being too fragrant.

This is a bit silly, but I decided to include this picture anyway—instead of regular salt shakers, Nopa has a small wooden bowl with rock salt in it. All the dishes were well-seasoned so we didn’t need any salt, but I still thought this was a nice touch to make the restaurant feel higher-end and classier.

Here is a view of the interior of the restaurant. My friend works remotely for an East coast company and operates on Eastern time zone, so we booked our reservation for 5:30 PM PDT right when the restaurant opened, which is why it looks so empty. However, by the time we were done with our dinner two hours later, the restaurant was packed and bustling.

Our table was up on the mezzanine, and you can actually see my chair in the top-right corner of this following photograph. It meant I had a nice view of the restaurant throughout my meal, but the downside was that I overheated halfway through my meal because I was directly above the kitchen and the heat of their cooking rose directly up to me.

Little Gems $  18.00
Local halibut crudo $  25.00
House-smoked trout $  25.00
Saffron rigatoni $  23.00
Flatbread $  25.00
Influencer $  15.00
Pomegranate hibiscus soda $   9.00
SF HCSO surcharge (4%) $   9.42
Sales tax $  14.36
Gratuity $  35.00
Total $ 215.78

The table on the right shows how much we paid.

A recurring theme across the dishes was that the ingredients spoke for themselves. I don’t think there was any extra seasoning added beyond salt and pepper, and the amount of salt used was small enough that it didn’t overwhelm the dish or make it too salty. Any additional supplemental flavors were added with herbs and other premium ingredients that synergized well with the dish, which made all the food taste pure, clean, and refreshing.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my dining experience. We got a lot of dishes and the bill added up pret­ty quickly, but with all factors considered—supporting local farmers, California’s cost of living, San Francisco’s even higher cost of living, and just the overall quality of the dishes—I don’t think the price was unreasonable.

The dining experience was also very pleasant. This was the first time I had seen this friend in-person in almost an entire year so I was fairly distracted with conversation, but when I did notice the waiter come around, he was available when we needed him and he was attentive to our needs. I also think I got some of the most prime seating in the restaurant, as we were in an elevated and quieter area of the res­tau­rant, and we were able to look down on everyone else, almost as if we could people-watch as en­ter­tain­ment.

If you live near San Francisco or are in town visiting and want a nice meal that is light and healthy but still filling and tasty, I’d definitely recommend checking out Nopa. They have some large plates that may be more cost-effective than what we did, but if you want to experience a build-your-own multi-course tasting menu, their small plates are fantastic.

 

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