Amazon knows my life better than I do

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.

 

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Re: “Why did you move to Las Vegas?”

Exactly two months ago, on March 20, I moved from Southern California to Las Vegas. Those who were aware of my plans weren’t completely surprised, while others who weren’t expecting it got very confused, but in both circumstances, a common question has been “why?” Most of my family is still back in Illinois where I grew up, a lot of my friends and co-workers are still staying in California, and I know next to nobody who already lives in Las Vegas, so it was (reasonably) strange for me to get up and move to a different state.

So, I decided to try and clarify things a bit better in this blog post, so the next time someone asks me, I can just link them to this page instead of going through the story all over again.

First of all, it’s important to understand a few things about me as a person that are very different than the general population:

  1. I don’t commute to an office for work. I have the great fortune of having a dream job with complete flexibility in the work I do, when I work, and from where I work. As a result, I’m not bound to a particular location for my job – wherever I choose to live becomes my home office.
  2. I am on the extreme end of self-reliance. I do not depend on my friends or family for support, neither financially nor emotionally.
  3. I find peace and comfort in solitude. I am also on the extreme end of introversion and prefer to be alone; all of my longings for human interaction are already satisfied through the Internet.

However, contrary to what those points may imply, I did not intentionally move here by myself just for the sole purpose of running away and being alone.

Instead, here are the real reasons why I moved, in order of influence:

  • Lower cost of living

    When I lived in Corona, CA, I lived in a 27-year-old apartment building in a tiny one-bedroom unit that cost approximately $1,400/mo. (with elec­tric­i­ty, gas, Internet, and other utilities paid separately) – and this was actually a gold mine of a deal. Anything cheaper than that would only be found in terrible-quality neighborhoods with a lower household income and higher crime rate. For those who aren’t familiar, Corona is on the east side of the Santa Ana mountains… go farther west closer to the ocean and rent prices continue to skyrocket.

    On the other hand, I pay $1,570/mo. in Las Vegas, which numerically is a higher price… but I live in a newly-constructed luxury building on the upper-most floor with vast suburb and mountain views. Some of the amenities include a clubhouse with game rooms, a massage room, and a private movie theater; a pool with a waterfall and fountains; a gym; a rooftop lounge with a barbecue and fire pit; a Starbucks coffee machine; and free breakfast everyday. The rent price includes the cost of gas, water, sewer, trash, cable TV, and Internet. Considering that I don’t have to pay all those extra bills, my net living expenses have actually declined, and I’m still getting astronomically more value.

    Cost of living also extends beyond just what I pay for my apartment – the price of food in the Las Vegas suburbs is noticeably cheaper, up to the point where I feel like I’m paying generic California Walmart prices for food items of much higher quality. Even the cost of ride­sharing is cheaper here – I can easily get around with Uber in Las Vegas for far cheaper (although a portion of that is attributed to the fact that Las Vegas is also a whole lot smaller than the entire Los Angeles and Orange County areas).

    And of course, there’s always the possibly of getting a random discount by showing your Las Vegas driver’s license. Because Las Vegas thrives off its tourists, there are a lot of places that provide locals’ discounts to show appreciation for and unity with those who call Las Vegas their home.

  • Esports proximity

    Although Los Angeles will probably eternally be the main hub for esports, I personally think Las Vegas will be a secondary hub. Las Vegas is already considered to be the live entertainment capital of the world, and as esports and professional gaming becomes more mainstream, it feels only natural for it to have a bigger presence in Las Vegas. Although the opening of Esports Arena Las Vegas and Caesars Entertainment’s part­ner­ship with the H1Z1 Pro League are just two examples, I feel like many more instances like this are going to pop up soon.

    Of course, being a member of the esports and entertainment industry myself via Tempo Storm, I wanted to get a head start in having a physical presence in a location I presume will have a lot of relevant events. A majority of Tempo Storm staff lives in Southern California while the re­main­der lives spread out in random parts of the world, so I was the first one to step foot into Las Vegas with an intent to find a residence and expand Tempo Storm’s physical reach.

    This actually has already proven quite helpful. I had initially made the decision to move to Las Vegas prior to knowing Tempo Storm would be participating in the H1Z1 Pro League in part­ner­ship with Caesars Entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip, so it was very convenient for me to be local to this area during the process of setting up the new team house and coordinating with players as they arrived from across the United States and Canada.

    As for events in Los Angeles, as well as Tempo Storm’s (relatively) new production studio in Hollywood, Las Vegas is just a quick 44-minute flight to Bob Hope Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, CA, so for events that are still taking place in the Los Angeles area, I am a convenient distance away such that I’m still able to make it in person without any intensive travel days.

  • Safest area from natural disasters

    I grew up in Illinois and received my undergraduate degree after studying in Wisconsin, and I literally never want to see snow in person ever again. After being pummeled by snowstorm after blizzard, I wouldn’t mind if I never really saw anything fall from the sky ever again in general. It does, in very rare circumstances, snow in Las Vegas too, but I feel like the miraculous nature of there being snow in the middle of the desert would offset the fact that I have to see snow again, so I’m fine with that. Also, tornadoes. There is a tornado season in Illinois and Wisconsin, but nothing close to that in Las Vegas.

    As for Southern California, we all know that the long-overdue catastrophic earthquake nicknamed “The Big One” is about to strike at any mo­ment. Residents who have lived in California all their lives have gotten desensitized to earthquakes, but it’s actually a real threat to that area, and I personally think anyone living there who doesn’t have to live there (e.g., for their job, family, etc.) is either ignorant or stupid.

    Why invest in a property and raise your family in an area that is expected to crumble due to its relatively soft soil, causing an estimated $200 BILLION in damage? Unless every single seismologist in the world is incorrect, the big earthquake will eventually strike, setting off a chain of fires and splitting outbound interstates into pieces.

    I’m the type of person who values safety, security, reliability, and predictability. I keep over half a year’s worth of living expenses in a fluid savings account in addition to more long-term investments for big purchases and retirement; I literally pay hundreds of dollars a month for health in­sur­ance so I know I won’t go bankrupt if something devastating happens to me. Being that kind of person, there is absolutely no way I’m even taking a sliver of a risk of losing everything to an earthquake that every scientist says is coming soon.

    Beyond just that, a lot of tech companies have been in the news for moving a lot of their servers and facilities to Las Vegas due to the fact that it is the area of the United States least prone to natural disasters. Sure, we definitely do get torrential downpours of rain around 10 times a year, and it does sometimes get extremely windy, but those are weather effects that are on a completely different level than debilitating blizzards, destructive tornadoes, or high-magnitude earthquakes.

  • No state income tax

    Having built up quite the online presence prior to working with Tempo Storm, I have some passive income that comes in to me for being an independent contractor with programs such as Google AdSense and Amazon Associates. Income taxes for independent contractors are particularly punishing because they end up paying “both ends” of the tax – including the portion that the employer would normally pay for full-time em­ploy­ees. Because Nevada doesn’t have state income tax, I get to keep a large chunk of my income just for living in Las Vegas that I would other­wise have to give to the government.

    I do end up having to pay more in sales tax – I paid 7.75% while living in Corona, while sales tax here in Las Vegas is 8.25% due to a noticeably higher county sales tax – but the 0.5% is negligible compared to how much I end up saving in income tax. I also end up avoiding sales tax anyway because I make a majority of my purchases online on Amazon.

  • Opportunity fell into place

    The existence of my current working situation (work-from-home, which I explain more above), plus the timing of the end of my one-year lease in Corona and the fact that I was able to spend my in-between time at a Tempo Storm team house, all made this move fall into place. Those items made the move possible, but what sealed the deal was the fact that I found this particular apartment complex.

    I’m the type of person who spends a lot of money on items that I use regularly and refuses to buy items that I know I won’t use much. As a result, I didn’t really want to purchase a vehicle (though I would have if I had to). When I rented a car and drove to Las Vegas to do apartment tours, I found this particular apartment (in which I live right now) that was on the upper echelons of quality, but also had everything I needed in walking distance. As a result, I didn’t need to buy a car (and I still don’t have one) because I’m able to easily walk to the grocery store and tons of different restaurants, as well as a hardware store, crafts store, and a Walmart for anything else I can’t find. In the situations where I do need a car to go somewhere relatively far, there is even literally a car rental location within walking distance from my apartment.

    Thus, I was able to live exactly where I wanted, avoid having to own a car, and move here without having to pay any penalties or struggle to make things work – this rounded out the plan and finalized the deal.

To round out this explanation, I also want to address some misconceptions about Las Vegas that people brought up to me when I said I was moving here:

  • The hot weather is not that bad

    People who just associate “desert” with “hot” don’t quite realize what exactly the weather is like in Las Vegas. In fact, just purely out of temperature degrees, on average compared to where I used to live in California, Las Vegas is hotter for 4 months out of the year, about the same for 4 months out of the year, and actually colder for 4 months out of the year. Just because it’s the desert doesn’t mean it is always blisteringly painfully hot.

    It actually feels less hot in Las Vegas than it does in other areas at the same temperature due to the extremely low humidity. Las Vegas is the least humid city in all of the United States, and as such, the air will absorb the sweat off your skin very quickly, leaving you feeling cool and dry. Of course, this does mean that you have to drink an absurdly large amount of water on a daily basis, but because the sweat doesn’t linger on your skin like it does in excessively humid areas, the heat here doesn’t make you feel as uncomfortable.

    On top of that, it actually gets chilly very early in the morning. The coolest time in Las Vegas tends to be right before the sun rises, and during those hours, the average temperature lingers around 40°F during the winter and the upper 70s during the summer. Yes, even on days where it may reach over 100°F during the afternoon, there is a high chance it will dip down to around 80°F right before the sun comes up. That literally means that, excluding maybe July, you can literally open your window in the mornings and turn off your air conditioner for a bit.

  • It’s not constant parties

    I personally hate parties. I find them overstimulating, and I’d rather relax and spend a quiet night at home. If someone invites me to a party for a particularly monumental event or occasion, I will often still decline the invitation, then instead invite them out for a nice dinner or a private trip/vacation afterwards. Because of this, most people are wondering why I’m moving to a place where, according to them, there are non-stop parties everywhere.

    Like nearly every major city, there is a suburban location surrounding Las Vegas that is very different than the Las Vegas Strip. Now for Las Vegas, the difference is that the address even out in the suburbs is still “Las Vegas, NV,” but the environment out in Summerlin South where I live is completely different than the environment on the Strip.

    If you’re referring to the Strip as a constant party, you would be correct – the Strip is a tourist attraction and there are multiple parties per­ma­nent­ly taking place night and day. However, the farther you go out into the suburbs, the more it begins looking like a regular town; if you drive out as far as where I currently live and don’t look at any street signs, chances are that you might even confuse it with any suburb in California (though you may notice a substantial lack of natural grass in Las Vegas).

    The grocery stores, restaurants, and even the huge Walmart here reminds me quite a bit of the area where I used to live in Corona. The one funny thing about my area is that there is literally a McDonald’s with a rotating sign (as in, the golden arches are literally spinning around 20 feet in the air), and I feel like that is a very Las Vegas-esque thing, but other than that, all the buildings look very “normal.”

  • You (or at least I) will not ruin your (my) life

    Las Vegas is often the place people go to smoke, drink alcohol, get high on drugs, watch stripper shows, and gamble away all their money – it didn’t get its nickname of “Sin City” for no reason. However, again, similar to the section about parties, that all takes place on the Strip, and it’s pretty peaceful out here in the suburbs. Now, it is actually true that there are slot machines even in grocery stores, but in my personal experience, I rarely ever see them being used, and when they are, it’s only by older people who seem to be in their 70s or above.

    But you may be asking, “Adam, you can easily Uber to the Strip to partake in such activities, what’s stopping you from doing that?” The answer to that would be… disinterest. I am completely drug-free (including cigarettes and alcohol), I have no interest in viewing stripper shows, and I absolutely refuse to gamble because I’m too logical. So, although Las Vegas could be the place people come to ruin their lives, I feel as if I’m particularly immune to that issue.

Although this seems incredibly in-depth, this only scratches the surface of the amount of research and thinking I did before making the decision to move here; I just summarized it into the key points to avoid writing a post so long that nobody would ever read it. To put things into perspective, I’ve literally gone on Google Maps street view and “drove” around a massive portion of the Las Vegas suburbs, and while researching for key information, I literally went to page 4 on Google results… and I have my Google search results set up to display 100 results on each page.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments of this blog post (or just ask me directly if I sent you to this page), and I’ll try my best to answer them based off the research I did prior to moving here, as well as the experiences I’ve had while living here.

 

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I’m still probably the world’s unluckiest traveler

I have notoriously bad travel experiences that you’ve probably heard about if you’ve read my blog before. Pretty much every time I leave my home and go to the airport to go to an event, something ridiculous happens after a culmination of misfortune.

This past weekend, I went to Burbank, CA for Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm collegiate tournament, Heroes of the Dorm. Blizzard flew me out to do press and media coverage, and they offered travel and lodging, so I still accepted and attended the event, even though I’m not a huge fan of traveling.

When I received a link to book my flight, the travel overlords noticed that I was about to travel again, and began their wrath.

 
It started out pretty simple – the travel agency’s website stopped working and gave me an error message that I couldn’t get around. So, instead of booking my flight normally, I had to speak with a customer service representative at the agency to get my flight booked. That was fine, though – I’m pretty experienced with travel, and I was able to find a good Southwest Airlines flight non-stop from Las Vegas to Hollywood Burbank that our travel agent was able to book for me.

Surprisingly, the flight to Burbank was pretty decent. This was my first time on Southwest Airlines, and although the cabin of their planes wasn’t really that great, I was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness and efficiency of their open seating policy. Instead of picking a seat prior to my flight, I had to stand in line to get on the plane, then seating was done on a first-come first-served basis. Apparently nobody wanted the exit row seat, so I literally got a seat where there was no seat in front of me. It was literally the most leg room I’ve ever had on a flight.

Once I arrived in Burbank, I discovered that my shuttle wasn’t there. Apparently, the travel agency only had shuttles available at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (because that’s the airport to which everyone else was flying), and not at Burbank (which is a smaller airport that doesn’t service as many other airlines). So, instead of making a huge deal out of it, I just called my own Uber to the hotel, as I didn’t want to add extra work to the travel coordinator who was already running all over LAX to organize rides.

In the process of figuring this out, the travel agency found out that my shuttle had not been booked properly, and they ensured me that I would have a ride provided to me from my hotel to Hollywood Burbank Airport on my way back home. I told them it wasn’t a big deal at all, as I’m very familiar with travel logistics (seeing as I usually tend to book my own travel due to my preference of customization), but told them I appreciate the ride they will organize. Not long later, I received an email letting me know that a shuttle will arrive at 10:30 AM at the hotel to take me to the airport.

 
After the conclusion of the event, Sunday came around and it was time to go home. I had everything packed up and ready to go at 10:20 AM and I was outside the hotel where the shuttle had picked us up the two prior days to take us to the Arena – I figured that was just the designated pick-up spot, and thought it would be the best place to wait. Unfortunately, the shuttle never showed up.

About 15 minutes after the expected arrival time of the shuttle, I went into the group Discord server for Heroes of the Dorm travel logistics and asked what was going on. A different member of the press let me know that the 10:30 AM shuttle was actually at the Hilton hotel, which was several hundred feet away from the Marriott where I was saying. I thanked him for the information and started walking over when I realized I should probably check the shuttle’s destination – I asked again where that particular 10:30 AM shuttle was headed… and he said it was going to LAX. So, that wasn’t actually my shuttle.

I walked back to the Marriott and checked in with the travel agency one more time before just calling my own Uber, when a representative told me to stay waiting at the Marriott because she was calling me an Uber. I stood and waited for another 10-15 minutes when the agent let me know that a Honda was at the front door waiting to get me.

I roamed around the hotel for a while looking for this Honda, but couldn’t find it; I messaged back in the group chat that unless this particular Honda had a Kia badge (which was the only other car at the front of this hotel), the Uber was not in fact ready to pick me up. I checked in with her to make sure she had sent the Uber to the correct hotel, and… you guessed it, she sent the Uber to the Hilton instead of the Marriott.

I quickly messaged back letting her know that it was no problem, the Hilton was close by in walking distance, and I would jog over there to catch the Uber. However, the agent told me that she would contact the driver to head to the correct hotel, and before I could stop her, she had already let the driver know of the new pick-up address. I planted my feet and waited some more.

The Hilton is literally a block or so away from the Marriott – literally joggable in about a minute. The Uber must’ve gotten catastrophically lost, because he didn’t show up for 8 minutes. But, he ended up making it – after 8 minutes, the Honda showed up at the front of the Marriott.

I got in and let him know that I was headed to Bob Hope Hollywood Burbank Airport… upon which he informed me that he had to cancel the ride because he doesn’t have his permit to conduct rides to and from the airport. If you’re not familiar with Uber, rides to and from the airport are regulated more strictly and require the driver to pass a quiz to earn a permit, and they’re also more expensive due to extra airport fees and taxes. Apparently this guy had already passed his quiz, which is why Uber put him into the pool of airport-eligible drivers, but he hadn’t actually received his airport permit sticker in the mail yet, so he couldn’t conduct airport rides yet.

I exploded and told him not to cancel the ride, because I had a flight to catch and I had already gone through the absurd trouble of even getting a ride at all. Because I travel to Burbank a lot for Blizzard and ESL events, I’m actually quite familiar with the area. I told him that we’re going to change the destination – we are no longer going to Bob Hope Hollywood Burbank Airport, but to Panda Express.

At first he looked a little confused, but after I explained that Panda Express is nearby the airport and I can just walk the remaining third of a mile or so to my terminal, he caught on. He successfully drove me to Panda Express, I walked into the airport, and I successfully caught and boarded my flight. No exit row seat this time though, unfortunately.

 
The plane departed Burbank and made it to Las Vegas. As we were approaching McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, I looked out the window and spotted my apartment complex. We were a little too high for comfort, though – my apartment is only about 10 miles away from the airport, but our altitude didn’t really seem like we were about to land in 10 miles. Moments later, we flew right past McCarran International Airport and continued southeast.

We kept flying quite literally to the edge of Henderson, nearly to Boulder City. I clearly wasn’t the only person who was this confused, as other passengers were staring out the windows with puzzled looks on their faces. Once we were nearly 30 miles out… the pilot decided to do a 180-degree turn straight back to the airport.

Yes, I understand that landing order and directional runways are a thing – we sometimes have to wait for different planes to land first, and sometimes runways are shut down for one reason or another and we need to land from a certain approach angle. What I’m particularly curious about is why we ended up flying an extra 30 miles off into the corner of the city, only to turn around sharply as if we only had 1 mile of turning space.

I get motion sickness pretty easily on planes and cars, but I managed to avoid motion sickness on that flight.

Until that point.

My head felt like it was about to explode, and I nearly vomited.

 
I’m alive, safe, and back home now. The tournament was great, the Blizzard Arena was awesome, and the event itself was excellent. It’s pretty rare that I actually give out generous compliments like this, but I actually really think that the Blizzard Arena is one of the best studios I’ve been in. I watched some games from the stands, and although I think the lighting and immersion could use a bit of extra work, it felt like a real stadium experience. The behind-the-scenes of the Arena is intense, and the tour I got of the production rooms was intriguing and insightful.

I just can’t wait for esports to eventually move to Las Vegas as a main hub so I don’t have to get on another unlucky plane ride.

 

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How I nearly failed my driver’s license eye exam

Earlier today, I transferred over my driver’s license from Illinois to Nevada.

Yes, I know the first question popping up in many people’s heads is why I still had an Illinois driver’s license when I moved to California in late 2016. The simplest answer for that is that I didn’t really know how long I was going to stay in California (meaning, it wasn’t exactly a “permanent” move), the address on my Illinois license was still technically a valid address of mine (as it was my parents’ home), and I determined I didn’t want to pay the extra fees to move my license when it was still valid (meaning, not expired).

However, a few days ago, I scheduled an appointment with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) so I could apply for a driver’s license transfer (in person, as required). The thing about Las Vegas in particular is that you get a whole lot of benefits (upgrades, discounts, etc.) if you’re a Las Vegas resident – it’s just something that a lot of businesses do to distinguish tourists from locals, and give the locals some perks. I’m also considering going back to school for more advanced degrees, and I want to avoid missing out on in-state local tuition rates simply because I failed to update my driver’s license.

My visit made me realize how important it is to schedule an appointment. When I showed up, the waiting list showed 142 people in line with an estimated wait time of 3 hours and 52 minutes, but because I had scheduled an appointment, I got to skip the line and immediately receive help once my time came around.

I meticulously researched this process ahead of time so I could get in and out as quickly as possible. As a result, I was overprepared with all the necessary forms filled out and documentation provided. Everything was going very smoothly… until the eye exam.

The representative asked me to look into a machine and read off the letters from left to right, starting with column 1.

I said, “Those are literally gray dots… is this a trick question?”

… She confirmed that it was not a trick question.

You see, there were three columns of text. Column #1 was composed of gray dots, column #2 was blurry but was still sort of readable (as in, I couldn’t tell the difference between a B and E or an O and D, but I knew the difference between an M and J), and column #3 was perfectly readable.

I took a quick breath, said “Okay, pretend like I didn’t say that,” then started reading the letters. I said completely random letters for column #1, took my best guesses for column #2, and read column #3 normally.

After that was finished, she said, “Your vision with corrective lenses is 20/40.”

I asked, “So did I pass?”

She said “Yes.”

I replied, “Okay, that was literally more difficult than the LSAT that I took 3 years ago.”

 

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It’s getting a little chilly in here

Like I mentioned yesterday, I went into this PUBG NVIDIA trip with insufficient sleep and ended up feeling unwell because of it. A side effect of me getting sick and energy-drained after a flight was that I was pretty tired … tired enough that I very easily fell asleep on a recliner in the esports boot camp room.

This trip was relatively unexpected and unplanned on my end – I basically decided to attend and booked my airline ticket with only a few days’ notice. Because of that, NVIDIA wasn’t exactly expecting me, so they didn’t have a hotel room prepared. That was perfectly fine with me, though – our players were booked suites, and I was ok with sleeping on one of the couches out in the common area. I tend to fall asleep pretty much anywhere and stay asleep pretty well, so a couch was more than enough.

The problem here was that I never actually made it to that phase. I ended up knocking out in the comfort of this recliner somewhere around 9-10 PM, back when the players were still busily practicing. The players didn’t finish up until almost 1 AM, and by that time, I was very deep asleep.

Before they left, our PUBG team’s captain poked me on the shoulder and woke me up, letting me know that it was time to head over to the hotel. In my sleepy state, I assessed the recliner to be comfortable enough to continue sleeping on throughout the remainder of the night, so I told him that I would just spend the night at the studio. The team asked if I was sure, laughed a bit, then headed off.

My assessment of the comfort of the recliner was actually correct. My assessment of the comfort of the air surrounding the recliner was incorrect. After the team left, I quickly fell back asleep without a problem. But, a few hours later, I woke up and thought to myself,

Hmm… it’s getting a little chilly in here.

I went over to the climate control, but realized that it was broken. The temperature was set to 50°F, but it clearly wasn’t actually 50°, and there was no air flowing out anywhere (nor were there even any vents visible in the room). I attempted to raise it to 74°F, but the needle seemed like it wasn’t really doing anything, and the thermostat didn’t seem like it was actually reacting, apart from the needle shifting positions.

This is when I realized that I failed to take into account the fact that the temperature of the air around the recliner was just as important as the comfort of the actual recliner itself. I also failed to take into account that the room was only an acceptable temperature this entire time because there were four other guys inside the room, running the CPUs and GPUs of four gaming computers at high load while playing PUBG. Once they were gone, the room started cooling rapidly.

But as I mentioned before, I’m pretty good at sleeping in pretty much any conditions. I sort of shrugged off the chilliness and went back to sleep. Unfortunately, the sleep was short-lived, because about an hour or so later, I woke up again, and thought to myself,

Hmm… it’s getting a little cold in here.

The temperature was still rapidly falling even further. I’m known to produce a lot of body heat when I sleep – enough that, if I close the door to my bedroom overnight, it will actually be a noticeable few degrees warmer in my bedroom than out in the common area. Unfortunately, the esports boot camp room was quite a bit larger than my bedroom, and my natural body heat couldn’t keep up with the fact that it was actually pretty cold outside at night in Northern California.

This is the point when I realized that it was a mistake to have not brought a jacket, even though it never actually crossed my mind that I would need a jacket for a 30-hour trip from California to California. I did, however, remember to bring an undershirt and a spare pair of socks. I put on my second pair of socks as a second layer over my first pair of socks, and wrapped the undershirt around my hands as gloves. It wasn’t much, but it made things marginally better, and I fell back asleep.

You guessed it. Another hour or so later, I woke up again, and thought to myself,

Hmm… it’s getting a little Antarctica in here.

By this point, it was getting uncomfortably freezing. The two layers of socks were doing their job, but the rest of my body was cold, and the undershirt was far too thin to have any effect on my hands.

In an effort to generate some natural body heat, I put on my boots, walked out of the esports boot camp room, and started jogging around the building towards the bathroom. Thinking to myself that the 24-hour security staff watching me through the camera system probably think I’m crazy, I made it to the bathroom, used the bathroom, then jogged my way back to the practice room. This quick burst of physical activity warmed me up enough that I was able to fall asleep again.

That is, only for another hour or so again.

I finally just gave up and stayed awake at that point.

 
In other news, we shot an interesting segment with Zanpah, the newest member of our PUBG roster; here’s a behind-the-scene look at one of the photos where he drops an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Yes, he actually really did drop a piece of hardware worth around US$1,000.00 onto the ground, but no, it did not break.

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You might be mad at Logan Paul for the wrong reason

If you haven’t heard yet by the explosive media coverage, people are a bit angry with Logan Paul because of a vlog he posted on YouTube that included footage of the dead body of a man who committed suicide in Aokigahara, Japan, often referred to as “Suicide Forest.” I’m not really a fan of Logan Paul’s lifestyle and choices, so I don’t follow him, but the public outcry made it next to impossible for me to ignore this, so I looked into it a bit more closely.

Although I agree with the general public and believe Logan Paul is in the wrong, I think most people are mad at Logan Paul for the wrong reasons. Here’s a breakdown of the situation, and reasons why people should and should not be upset with Logan Paul, through the eyes of someone with a background in criminal psychology.

 

Unjustified reason: Logan Paul’s laughter

Laughter is a complicated thing. In fact, it’s so complicated that there is an entire field of research dedicated to studying the psychology and physiology behind laughter – it’s called gelotology.

We’ve all witnessed awkward or nervous laughter – laughter that is prompted by cases of stress, discomfort, embarrassment, trauma, and/or pain. The physiological source of this kind of laughter is completely different – nervous laughter comes from the nose and/or throat, while joyful laughter comes from diaphragm contractions. It’s prevalent enough in everyday life that I’m actually surprised this many people are so unempathetic such that they are claiming Logan Paul is laughing out of amusement instead of nervousness … but then again, this may also be a case of bandwagoning.

Sometimes, there is a disconnect between how our body wants to feel and how our brain actually feels. Neuroscientific studies show that when we en­counter something traumatic, our brains often trigger nervous laughter as a way to attempt to convince ourselves that the awful thing we are wit­nessing isn’t actually that awful. To keep things simple, this is a coping mechanism.

The most famous study demonstrating nervous laughter is Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment, in which subjects (the “teachers”) were instructed to electrocute experiment insiders (the “learners”) every time the “learner” got a quiz question incorrect. Of course, the electrocution on the “learner” was fake, but they were told to act as if they were in terrible pain.

The test subjects laughed at the cries and screams for help not because they were sadistic, but because they were unsure of what to do. The discomfort they experienced while they were having an internal mental dilemma – whether to continue electrocuting the “learner,” or defy the authority of the principal researcher – prompted them to laugh in order to relieve some of the stress.

Seeing a dead body is no joke for most people, and for someone like Logan Paul, it’s likely that this was the first time he ever saw a dead body “out on the field” (as opposed to in a controlled environment, like a funeral). He was laughing because his body was put in a shocking situation and it didn’t know what else to do. We shouldn’t be hating him because his body engaged in an uncontrollable physiological reaction.

 

Inconclusive reason: Displaying a dead body

It’s easy to skip this topic by saying “displaying shocking images is against YouTube’s terms of service” and disregard this entire argument, but I think this is important.

Culture is a powerful force. So powerful, in fact, that it basically determines what is okay and not okay to do. Cultures can vary substantially across different regions – that’s why culture shock exists. Sometimes, culture is so dramatically different that something considered to be inherently bad in one culture is not inherently bad in another.

Japanese culture sees suicide very differently than other cultures.

Have you ever heard the meme “commit sudoku”? It’s often accompanied with an image of a dead man with a bloody sudoku board carved into his chest. The origin of this meme is an ironic representation of the confusion of the word “sudoku” with “seppuku,” a Japanese term describing an honorable, ritualistic suicide by disembowelment. The fact that such a concept even exists in Japan should be a clear indication that Japanese views on suicide are very different than American views.

The Japanese government is taking steps to ensure suicide rates go down in Japan, but public demonstrations of seppuku have been done as recently as 1970 by Yukio Mishima after a failed coup d’état. Those who were raised in, or are familiar with, that era have non-negligible exposure to a culture accepting suicide, as long as it is done in an honorable manner.

An example of a suicide that may be considered honorable is if a man is unable to support his family due to unemployment. According to his inter­pre­tation, he would have believed he did the right thing by taking his own life because he was being a disservice to his family; consequently, he is allowing his wife to remarry with a more financially stable man, resulting in a brighter future for his children.

To Americans, a story like this would be catastrophic and heartbreaking. To some Japanese, especially members of older generations, this is considered tolerable behavior.

This is not at all an argument claiming that it is okay to show this man’s body because he is Japanese. We may never know the circumstances sur­round­ing his suicide, and there is no guarantee that he committed suicide with honorable intentions. Just because he was found in a public forest does not automatically mean he intended for his suicide to be a public event.

I stand by the philosophy that we should respect his privacy and conceal his body. However, it is important to note that we should not be quick to generalize our thoughts on all situations, as unexpected things – like wildly differing cultural views – can introduce strange twists. Just because you and I think one way does not mean the rest of the world thinks the same way.

 

The most concerning reason: Logan Paul may be increasing suicide rates

To keep things simple, talking about suicide increases suicide.

That is obviously grossly oversimplified, but the point remains the same – research has shown that poor media coverage of suicide increases suicide rates. The more detailed the coverage, the higher the chance of suicide rates increasing. Once suicide methods and photos are introduced, rates skyrocket relative to other types of coverage (known as the dose-response relationship).

By providing video coverage of this Japanese man’s suicide in his vlog, Logan Paul is exposing his fans to a trigger that has been scientifically proven to increase suicide rates in those with risk factors. Adolescents suffering from depression and anxiety are most in danger – which happens to be the age group in which most of Logan Paul’s fanbase is presumed to reside.

Another issue of Logan Paul’s methodology of coverage is the lack of depth of discussion. Excluding cases of youth impulse, most instances of suicide are a culmination of a massive number of problems. Poor coverage of suicide events may misattribute the motivation behind suicide to something superficial or simple, thus implicitly reporting that suicide may be an option for single-faceted problems. Although Logan Paul attempts to discourage his audience from engaging in suicide, it is done with relatively low emotional depth; it is critical to balance out the negativity of the suicide story with stories of hope and recovery.

(As a disclaimer, there is some degree of generalization happening here when applying the findings of these studies to this scenario. Most conclusive studies investigate suicides by notable public figures who may have had a following, putting followers at risk for imitation. In this video, Logan Paul is reporting on an anonymous man, which may provide a sufficient disconnect between the suicide victim and the viewer such that this research could possibly be inapplicable.)

While doing some supplementary research and fact checking while composing this piece, I ran into a website called ReportingOnSuicide.org that goes further in depth on the topic of the media inadvertently increasing suicide rates. If you’re interested in learning more about this phenomenon and finding out how you can avoid it in your own coverage (even if it’s just commenting about it on social media), I recommend you check out their website.

 
In summary, if you’re mad at Logan Paul for his actions, your emotions are probably justified. However, instead of being mad just because everyone else is mad, it’s important to reflect and understand the real reasons why you should feel the way you do.

 

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This is not a New Year’s resolution

I made a New Year’s resolution over a decade ago that I would never have another New Year’s resolution.

I haven’t broken it since.

 
I know that New Year’s resolutions are more of a cultural, social thing – this is because I’m regularly told by Easterners that New Year’s resolutions are generally a Western thing. And this doesn’t mean that I’m against that – if people want to use New Year’s resolutions as a way to turn their lives around, then that’s great, and I encourage everyone to do so.

But there are two distinct problems with New Year’s resolutions in my eyes. The first (and more straightforward) one is that people just don’t really know how to properly use New Year’s resolutions. I recall seeing in a study somewhere that literally nearly 90% of people fail their New Year’s resolutions. Issues range anywhere from setting goals that are way too far beyond reach, not really keeping track of progress and forgetting about it, to just straight-up disregarding it and giving up. The impact of a big turning point, like a new calendar year, can be a strong psychological motivating factor … and people are just using this tool wrong.

The second reason I dislike New Year’s resolutions is because I’m a person who does things now. Need to exercise more often and eat healthier? What’s wrong with starting in April, instead of waiting for January of the following year? Want to break out of a bad habit? Why not start now instead of waiting until later? New Year’s resolutions have become nothing more than an excuse to procrastinate for some people. I’m very lenient in the use of the term “excuse,” in that I will generally accept things as a “reason” while other people snap to misuse the word “excuse.” But this… this is the epitome of an excuse.

Back in late August while I was visiting Illinois, I went to my old doctor for a wellness check-up, and he reminded me to go back to doing cardiovascular exercise. I used to practice martial arts and sweat almost every day, but since moving to California, I’ve been doing a whole lot of sitting around and working. Instead of waiting until 2018, I took that opportunity to immediately start exercising when I returned to California. I’ll be taking a two-week break starting from today, though… I don’t really like exercising when there are a lot of people around me, and I imagine the gym is going to be really crowded for a little while, so I’m going to wait it out for a bit until people go back to being their normal selves.

 
There’s something that I want to do. The timing of this makes it seem a whole lot like it’s a New Year’s resolution, but I swear, it’s not. (I still want to be part of that 10% of people who succeed in their New Year’s resolution—as a reminder, mine was to never to set a New Year’s resolution again, and to always act promptly and immediately.)

At least for the next full year, I’d like to create something everyday.

On some days, it might be a vlog; on other days, it might be an album of photos I shot at an event; on special days, it might even be collaborative projects with other people that end up getting published on their medium of choice. But, no matter what it is, I’d like to create something on a daily basis.

When I was younger, I prided myself in being a creator instead of a consumer. While other people were watching TV, I was running around with our family camcorder. While other people were reading books, I was writing short stories. While other people were browsing the web, I was learning how to script in PHP.

Lately, I’ve noticed that this has been trending in the opposite direction – I spend more and more time sitting around watching Twitch streams and YouTube videos. Even when I am working on something creative, I’m revising and editing someone else’s work instead of creating my own. Of course, part of my job at Tempo Storm involves being an editor, so that’s not going to stop, but I’d also like to start supplementing my editing with some more original creating.

 
I’m not going to fall into the same trap as everyone else and fail in just a few weeks. Here’s why this is a good definitely-not-a-resolution, as well as my execution plan.

  • Is it realistic?

    Creating one thing per day is very possible, and there are tons of people who already do it, daily vloggers being an example. We regularly hear of daily vloggers getting burnt out after a few years, though, which is why I’ve made some slight adjustments to my goal – instead of creating a vlog every single day, I’m just going to create something every single day. That level of flexibility should keep things fresh enough that I don’t im­me­diately get burnt out and want to give up.

  • Do I have the time for this?

    I’ve been noticing lately that I spend a scary amount of time sitting around watching other people’s content, thinking “I should try doing that” in the back of my mind but never actually doing it. I can easily cut back on a small portion of that time to actually go and do it, instead of just pondering about doing it.

    On top of that, my duties within Tempo Storm have recently shifted substantially. Over the past year, I was doing a lot of miscellaneous administrative and operative work outside of the production division, simply because we just needed someone to take care of things. Although it was a great learning experience, due to our recent growth and staff expansion, I can now be more hands-off on that kind of stuff and really focus in on my digital media production division, which naturally connects to creating more things.

  • How will I keep track of progress?

    I happen to have a handy tool called a blog where I can share my thoughts and projects. Every time I create something, I’ll be posting the results on my blog along with a bit of commentary about the creation process. If I end up deciding to create something private or personal on any given day (that doesn’t end up on my website), I’m also keeping track of my creations on Google Calendar, which I use multiple times a day.

  • What are my short-term rewards for success?

    I think successfully creating things is intrinsically rewarding to me.

    But, other than that, this one is a tough one, and I guess is the weakest facet of my plan. I personally don’t really feel satisfaction from receiving “rewards” unless those rewards are either money or some indication that I’ve changed the world or helped society advance – both things I just can’t really “give” myself.

 
And finally, touching on a few other common pitfalls – my goal is extremely specific, and any amount of ambiguity was intentionally added (and already addressed above); I plan on setting aside time to do this every afternoon after exercising if my daily creation is not event- or collaboration-related; I will keep going, even if I were to miss a day; and I’m telling the world so people can voluntarily keep me accountable.

So let’s see how this goes.

 

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ally ell eahell at the eahore

A few weeks ago, Ed let me know that the S key on his keyboard had broken. This is how he informed me of his tragedy:

He ended up going to a keyboard key website and ordering the letter S for his particular brand and model of laptop.

This is where the story gets juicy.

Apparently, the company from which he ordered his replacement key couldn’t fulfill his order, and sent him this message:

Hello,

The “S” key is currently out of stock for your laptop model. Unfortunately, this part is also very rare and we are not able to acquire it for you at this time. The good news is we do have several options:

1. If you have the original key cap, we can send you the hinges (plastic clips) and rubber cup that fit underneath the key. With these pieces you will be able to fix your keyboard.

2. If you don’t have the key cap, we can remove a random key from the keyboard and place a professional keyboard key sticker of the letter “S” on the key cap. This way, it will look very close to the original.

3. We can sell you a brand new complete keyboard for $78 shipped.

Please let us know how you wish to proceed, so we could further assist you.

This was (literally) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a genius plan I had come up with. I instructed Ed to respond with the following email:

Hi,

I would like to go with option 2, but without the ticker (I know where my key is, o a blank key is fine). o, pleae end me a blank key cap, hinge, and rubber cup.

Thank,

Ed

After literally laughing non-stop at my own joke for a few minutes, I finally calmed down enough to hear that Ed had followed through with my wishes. He let me know that he had copied, pasted, and sent that exact email back to the laptop key replacement company.

I found out today that Ed had finally received his key in the mail. Apparently they didn’t have any blank key caps, so they sent him a random one instead, which ended up being “Q.”

He tried to install it himself, but he had some problems because the original laptop manufacturer had glued the rubber dome on the base of the keyboard and made key replacement nearly impossible.

He called me over for help, so I went over to his house and installed the key for him.

So now, when something sad happens to Ed, he has two Q keys so he can QQ more effectively.

 

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