Did you know my name is Usain Bolt

My travel experiences lately have been great, but it wasn’t always like that. When I first started traveling, I took American Airlines a lot (instead of Delta Airlines), and because I had very limited “travel hacks” knowledge and no elite/loyalty status, I ended up not really enjoying travel. American Airlines also always tended to be unreliable, and I had flight delays or other kinds of flight-related problems basically every single flight that I took.

After I got more used to traveling, started getting regular complementary upgrades due to elite/loyalty status, and changed my air carrier of choice to Delta, I stopped having issues. I had actually never had a problem with Delta, at all, whatsoever, apart from one single flight out of New York City where my flight was delayed by a bit due to inclement weather.

Today was the first time that I actually had a problem with Delta Airlines.

Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles International Airport

My day started with waking up, showering, getting some work done, refueling and returning the rental Ram Rebel, and going to the Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles International Airport, one of the only lounges still open due to COVID-19.

When it was time for my flight, I headed over to my gate and boarded the aircraft on time. However, once we were on board, we were informed that there was a minor issue—there was some extra paperwork that needed to be filled out, and that needed to be taken care of prior to departure.

Honestly, after some of the absurd reasons I’ve suffered from delays from American Airlines, ranging from “there is an overhead bin that will not close” to “the toilet will not flush” to “we ran out of planes so we have to fly one in from Mexico City” and “we ran out of pilots so we have to fly some in from Baltimore” (all of these reasons are 100% non-exaggerated situations that happened to me while flying American Airlines), a paperwork issue seemed negligible. I patiently stayed seated and waited for departure.

Then, a second piece of unfortunate news was delivered to us. Apparently the jet didn’t have enough fuel, and they had to wait for the fuel truck to come refuel the aircraft. They were unsure how long that would take, but said that they would get us in the air as soon as possible. I continued patiently wait­ing for departure.

Delta Airlines jet

As we approached the 30-minute mark of delays beyond our expected departure time, I started getting a bit concerned. I had an option to take a non-stop flight from IAD to LAS via United Airlines, but because of my hatred of United Airlines and my love and loyalty for Delta Airlines, I intentionally took a flight that had a layover at DTW. This was a fairly tight layover—we were expected to arrive in Detroit at 6:03 PM EST, I would have 22 minutes to deplane and get to my next gate before boarding began, and the flight out of DTW to LAS would depart at 6:55 PM EST.

Right as we hit the 35th minute of delays, the pilot announced that we were good to go and we would be taxiing to the runway shortly. They retracted the jet bridge and we started moving. At this time, I got a notification on my phone from my Delta Airlines app telling me that, due to the delay, I would not have sufficient time to make my connecting flight, and as such, they would be automatically rebooking me to the next DTW-to-LAS flight.

Of course, I was a bit disappointed, because the next available flight out wasn’t until tomorrow. I figured that I would just have to go to Delta customer service, collect a hotel and taxi voucher, and spend a night in Detroit before heading out tomorrow evening. I even considered just getting a rental car and using this opportunity to spend 24 hours in Detroit touring the city and exploring.

But there was an inkling in the back of my mind that told me that there was still an ever so tiny chance that I might still make my regularly scheduled connecting flight.

I sat back and relaxed for the one-and-a-half hour flight, as if biding my energy for what was to come.


The 35-minute departure delay ended up translating to a 26-minute arrival delay. At 6:29 PM EST, the jet arrived at the gate. After doors to arrival, crosscheck, and deplaning, it was 6:34 PM EST. This was a Bombardier CRJ, which meant the overhead bin space isn’t large enough to accommodate normal carry-on luggage, so I had to pseudo-check my carry-on at the boarding gate. Waiting for my bag to come out from the ramp took another two minutes, and at 6:36 PM EST, I was zooming down the jet bridge.

I deplaned at Concourse C, and I needed to get more than halfway down the northeast wing of Concourse A, which involved going through an un­der­ground tunnel between the concourses by foot. Total distance to travel from gate to gate was right around 3,500 feet (0.66 mi, 1.07 km).

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

I made it in 6 minutes.

I arrived at the gate of my connecting flight at 6:43 PM, three minutes after boarding doors were supposed to be closed. The gate agent had received a no­ti­fi­ca­tion that my inbound flight had been delayed, and held the boarding door for me. I was the last one to waltz on the plane, apologizing to the flight crew and informing them that my connecting flight had been delayed—to which they replied, “we know.”

I’m back home in Las Vegas now.

I think my Delta mobile app is very confused as to what happened, because it seems like it still thinks I need a rebooked flight for tomorrow. Little does it know that I occasionally turn into Usain Bolt if it means I can avoid having to delay my return home by a night.

You know that I’m going to fill out that customer satisfaction survey for that gate agent who extended boarding for three minutes for me, and leave her a glowing review.

Adam Parkzer's travel map, last updated November 1, 2020

And with the conclusion of that trip, I add three more states—Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland—to my travel map, bringing my total to 26 out of 50.




Re: “Why do you think Las Vegas is the greatest city in the world?”

In March 2018, a little over a year after moving from the Chicagoland suburbs to Southern California, I moved, by myself, to Las Vegas. I rented a mini­van with lay-flat second and third row seating from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, packed it literally to the brim with my belongings, and drove from Corona, CA to my new apartment in Summerlin South, a census-designated place in the Las Vegas Valley.

Two months after I moved, I wrote a blog post titled “Re: ‘Why did you move to Las Vegas?'” where I addressed… you guessed it, why I moved to Las Vegas. In that post, I pointed out why I decided to relocate, then busted some myths about Las Vegas. A lot of what’s in that post still stands, but I decided to do a follow-up post, now that I’ve been living here for over two years.

In those two years, it’s become a meme among my friends and co-workers that I am one of the most avid proponents of the greatness of Las Vegas. To be clear, that being a meme is well-labeled. I definitely do not think that Las Vegas is objectively the greatest city in the world. In fact, I think it could very well be one of the worst cities for many, many people to live in. Obviously, the greatness of a city is highly subjective, and my belief of Las Vegas’ great­ness is subjective to my own unique situation.

With that being said, Las Vegas is what I believe to be my best place to live, and I decided to list off some of my personal favorite things about the city.

  • It’s the perfect combination of a city and a suburb.

    I hate the unnavigable congestion of packed cities, but I also don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere like the small village where I grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs. I don’t want to be in a bustling city of millions where I’m constantly shoulder-to-shoulder with other people and have to pay to park at the grocery store, but I also want things to be accessible.

    I think Las Vegas is a perfect combination of both a city and a suburb. There are no stretches of forest or empty land separating things, but things also aren’t so packed that it’s excessively dense. I value the fact that it feels like I can get from place to place without having to traverse through nothingness, while also feeling like I can drive somewhere and I can actually get there faster than just giving up and walking.

  • I can live in luxury without paying luxury prices.

    I currently live in a studio on one of the upper-most floors of a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip. My building has dedicated security and all amenities you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Depending on your preference, this is basically one of two living situations that you could classify as the “best” in this city, the other being a mansion on the outskirts of the Valley by the mountains, if you like that over high-rise living.

    My housing expenses, including rent and all utilities, total less than US$1,500.00 per month. I personally have an unbelievably great deal, but literally anyone, even the worst negotiators, could live this lifestyle in Las Vegas for less than US$2,000.00 per month. Search for something com­pa­ra­ble in Los Angeles and you’re look­ing at an absolute minimum of US$4,000.00 per month.

    And it’s not like I have to make “sacrifices” for it being in Las Vegas. I live on the northern end of the Strip with a north-facing view, so I’m not constantly bombarded by the flashing lights and ground-shaking music of Las Vegas Boulevard. There’s occasionally a loud train horn, but other­wise, it’s just the basic hum that you’d expect from any bustling city.

  • A vast majority of anything that I would possibly want to do is within a half-hour drive.

    Las Vegas is built as a tourist hotspot, and as such, it has pretty much anything and everything you could possibly want to do. Of course, a lot of it feels forced or artificial (because a lot of it is), but I’m not too picky, and something that feels fake will still often meet my relatively low standards of satisfaction. (To be clear, I am known to have unrealistically high standards for things I truly care about, but for everything else, I’m mostly in­different because I take all the “care” that I would allocate to those “other things” and just hone them in on a few select important things.)

    There are also nature-y things to do in and around the Las Vegas Valley as well, with Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, the Hoover Dam, available on the outskirts. A “desirable” thing that is obviously missing is the ocean, but I go to California enough already, and I personally am not really too compatible with big bodies of water anyway.

    In a similar vein, actually getting to all of these unique things you want to do isn’t a pain. My central location on the Strip means that everything is relatively close-by, but even if it wasn’t, Las Vegas traffic isn’t that terrible (at least not yet). Even when traffic gets “bad,” you still feel like you’re getting to your destination, albeit a bit slower; it’s not like California where you just feel stuck in an endless stretch of jammed freeway.

  • There is little to no risk of natural disaster.

    I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to account for everything that could go wrong and minimize any risks that could be a consequence of unattended or unexpected variables.

    As you can imagine, this means that I particularly do not get along well with natural disasters, and specifically, with earthquakes. It makes no sense to me that you would willingly put yourself in a scenario where your living situation could be thrown completely off balance by something you cannot predict and something you have no control over. I don’t think I will ever understand people who choose to move to Los Angeles voluntarily (meaning, they don’t already have family there and it’s not for work), then proceed to pay inflated prices to purchase real estate, only to be at per­pet­ual risk for your overpriced property to collapse without notice.

    Las Vegas occasionally gets earthquakes, but it’s only when the actual earthquake itself happens elsewhere, and the magnitude of said earthquake is high enough that Las Vegas is within the affected area. Las Vegas also takes the concept of avoiding natural disasters a step further by not really having natural disasters or severe weather effects in general.

    A lot of tech companies are moving their servers to Las Vegas to minimize the chances of their data being lost to something unexpected. I ob­vi­ous­ly value my own life more than tech companies value their data, so I think it’s only reasonable that I think the safety of the Las Vegas Valley is one of its big pros.

  • I save money by not paying state income tax.

    This one is pretty straightforward. The state of Nevada doesn’t have state income tax, so that is literally money that I pocket each tax year just because I decided to live in Las Vegas.

    The impact of this can be made a bit more obvious with a mathematical comparison. Someone filing taxes as a single individual living in California who has an annual salary of US$100,000.00 pays over $6,000 in state income tax. If that individual instead chose to live in Nevada, they would pay $0. That means that they would pocket an extra $6,000 every year.

    Of course, that’s oversimplified, because if they lived in Las Vegas (a city with a lower cost of living), then their annual salary might be adjusted down. Or, the same kind of high-paying Californian career opportunities might not even be offered in Nevada. However, for someone like me who works full-time remotely, this actually literally functionally becomes a “free” $6,000 every year.

  • McCarran International Airport provides great accessibility to the rest of the country for business travel.

    I travel for business quite a bit. If it isn’t going back and forth between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to take care of in-person work with Tempo, then it’s usually flying to random places across the country for events, conventions, and meetings.

    Because Las Vegas is a tourist hotspot, the airport has a great selection of affordable, non-stop flights from a lot of destinations to incentivize people to come visit. That’s obviously good for me as well, because those tourist flights can be the same flights that get me where I need to be for business.

  • I like the hot weather.

    I think snow is a magical thing. Waking up one day and seeing everything covered in a pretty blanket of white sets you up for a great day.

    That is, until the snow keeps falling, day after day, foot after foot, until you’re sick of seeing white everywhere and you can’t get where you need to be because everything is buried in snow. Living in the Chicagoland suburbs dumped too much of a good thing on me (often continuing on into the spring), and it took away the magic of snow.

    Ever since moving to the Pacific Coast, snow has become magical to me again. It’s so rare in the Las Vegas Valley that seeing it after waking up in the morning brings back that childhood awe and that feeling of knowing that it’s going to be a special day.

    Also, just in general, I prefer warmer and drier weather. I hate humidity because I feel like it makes the air feel heavier and more difficult to breathe, and it leaves an unsavory weight on your body where you always have an urge to shower throughout the whole day. The dry air in Las Vegas feels crisp and clean, and I never get that unsettling feeling on my skin.

  • Nuisances that I’ve had to deal with my whole life, like mosquitoes and allergies, are no longer a thing.

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. I can actually leave my sliding glass door open during the evenings without worrying about a swarm of mos­qui­toes leaving behind 50 red bumps on my skin. When I lived in the Chicagoland suburbs, I had the worst bout of seasonal allergies that would cripple me between August and October, but that’s completely gone in Las Vegas.

    There hasn’t really ever been a thing where I would look at it and think “wow, that’s annoying” that was exclusive to the Las Vegas Valley.

  • I feel like I’m “cheating” at real life.

    I have a stereotypical “ruthless businessman” kind of mentality. I have a strong foundation of morals and ethics, but as long as I believe I am abiding by those standards I have set for myself, I often do not show much mercy. This also means that I will do unusual things and employ non-traditional strategies—things and strategies that some people may consider questionable—in order to get ahead in life.

    By having a remote job with a company headquartered in Southern California, I almost feel like I’m “cheating” the system. A massive portion of Las Vegas revolves around the service industry, so the “health” of the city is based heavily on tourism. When the tourism industry is prospering, the city prospers; when the tourism industry suffers (like during the COVID-19 pandemic), the city also suffers.

    By maintaining a non-service job from outside of Las Vegas, I am able to remain completely financially stable, even through the ups and downs of Las Vegas. This means that when the city dips down to a low, it actually ends up serving as an opportunity for me to swoop in and take advantage of the situation. For example, if real estate prices go down because people are moving out after losing service-related employment, that’s a chance for me to come in and get a property at a great deal, even if I would’ve been able to afford it at the non-discounted price anyway.

    I am under the firm belief that you cannot become the top 0.1% in the United States by doing things the traditional, “normal” way. Making net-positive business decisions like this adds up, and with enough of them, I can get closer to joining America’s elite and setting myself and my family up for a great future.

As I said before, these are my reasons why Las Vegas is the best city for my situation. My situation is obviously very unique and unusual, so for the sake of providing clearer information catered towards the general public and presenting both sides of the argument, I’ll be covering the cons of Las Vegas as well in a future Q&A post.

If you’ve read this because you were one of the people who were just curious as to why I rave about Las Vegas so much, hopefully this was a satisfying-enough response. If you’re here because you’re seriously considering also moving to Las Vegas, be sure to keep an eye out for my cons post as well, in addition to doing additional research and collecting information from multiple reliable sources before making a final decision.




How not to pick up food from North Las Vegas

North Las Vegas is widely considered to be one of the more dangerous places in the Las Vegas Valley.

Of course, neighborhoods a few blocks off the Strip or around downtown (near where I live) don’t exactly have the best reputation either, but the vibe of the area is completely different. There are luxury high-rise condos a few streets off the Strip, so it actually becomes quite ironic, in that both the richest and poorest people in Las Vegas end up intermingling (albeit, it’s often the rich literally looking down upon the poor from hundreds of feet in the air from the safety of their guard-gated skyscrapers).

North Las Vegas, on the other hand, often gives off a “rough” and “run down” feel. There are no dichotomous elements to the neighborhoods, so it just seems like a regular mid- to low-income area.

Yesterday, I was browsing through some restaurants to see if I could find something new to try. I came across Teriyaki Boy Healthy Grill, described by Google as an “Asian counter-serve restaurant doling out grilled meat and rice bowls along with boba smoothies.” There were five locations in Las Vegas: one in Enterprise, one in Henderson, one just shy of Summerlin, one in East Las Vegas, and one in North Las Vegas. Being on the northern side of the Strip, the closest branch to me was the one in North Las Vegas.

Lately, I’ve been driving out to the suburbs on a regular basis, acting as my own food delivery driver, just to see how Las Vegans were handling COVID-19 quarantine in the outskirts of the Valley. One of the places I hadn’t been to so far was North Las Vegas, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to check out the area and gather some information. I put in my order for pick-up at North Las Vegas and hop on I-15 for the quick six-mile drive up north.

The drive on the freeway was quick and smooth. Once I get to the Cheyenne exit, I take the right two lanes and exit the freeway. Out of nowhere, the right two lanes suddenly expand to six lanes, three going westbound and three going eastbound. I needed to go east, so I kept right at the fork. … Except the three lanes going eastbound weren’t actually three lanes. It was only two.

I cross to the right-most lane, assuming it would be a turn lane, but no, it’s actually a shoulder—the most massive shoulder I had ever seen in my life, even more massive than the lanes themselves, and without any diagonal markings. So now I am just randomly sitting on the shoulder of a freeway exit, facing directly at a point in the road where the shoulder sharply nar­rows into nothingness, while two lanes of cars have me blocked in from the left at the traffic light.

I am going to take this opportunity to go on an intermission to inform you that, this took place in the evening and the sun was setting, so I’m just per­pet­u­al­ly blinded. Not only that, but I haven’t washed my truck since coming back home from Beverly Hills, so my entire windshield is covered in a thin film of what appears to be bug semen or something, and when the sun shines directly at my windshield, it just glows white. Obviously, just having the sun in my eyes isn’t enough, so now I am literally functionally driving blind.

Back to the freeway. As I’m sitting on the shoulder, the person directly to my left looks over, realizes what I have done to myself, and decides to be a good samaritan and let me cut in front of him so I don’t have to suffer the full wrath of my mistake. But remember how I said the shoulder sharply narrows into nothingness? It wasn’t literally nothingness; it was a curb going into a triangular divider that exists for no apparent reason.

The traffic light turns green and the guy to my left rolls down his window and waves me forward. I too roll down my window and start gesturing, letting him know that I can’t actually go forward, because there is a curb and platform directly in front of me.

But no. This man was not going to let me foil his opportunity at doing his good deed of the day. He more furiously waves me forward, while I more furiously gesture back at him and yell “can you open your stupid eyes and realize that I can’t actually go forward?” But luckily, it comes out of my mouth as just “I can’t.”

I am now a participant of a gesture war on the shoulder of a freeway exit—a gesture war of two men trying to make the other one go first.

People start honking behind us. I realize it’s a lost cause. I drive up over the curb and onto the platform, just barely missing some object protruding from the ground, and off-road my way onto East Cheyenne Avenue. At this point, I already just want to go home.

(Note: I do not have a diagram for this because there was new construction recently completed in this area, so the aerial view of this area on Google Maps at the moment no longer reflects what the road actually looks like anymore.)

But I can’t go home yet. I need to pick up my food first. I take a right onto Civic Center Drive and turn into the west entrance of the parking lot of Cheyenne Pointe, the strip mall where Teriyaki Boy Healthy Grill is. I glance down at my navigation system and realize that the restaurant is actually on the opposite side. I ideally should’ve just stayed on Cheyenne Avenue for another quarter mile and used the northeast entrance, but it’s fine. I’m already in.

Cheyenne Pointe

And then… hordes of people. As far as the eye can see. There are sidewalks and walkways, but no, we absolutely cannot use those. There are literal fam­i­lies—a mom, a dad, and like four little children—just randomly walking around the parking lot, crossing roadways, and just aimlessly wandering at the most random trajectories. They don’t have shopping carts, they don’t have merchandise, and they apparently also don’t have a purpose. They’re just going for their evening family stroll in the parking lot of Cheyenne Pointe.

There are, no joke, about six groups of families that I have to get through before I reach the restaurant. A big pickup truck approaching from your left? Better start walking more slowly; you don’t want that guy driving the truck to get to his destination.

I’m fairly certain it took me an extra three minutes to get to the restaurant.

Remember, throughout all of this, I’m still being blinded by the sunset.

I enter the restaurant and pick up my food.

As I turn out of the restaurant and drive westbound towards Civic Center Drive, I notice that a small white sedan is following me pretty closely. I thought I could just drive straight and exit the parking lot, but I was very mistaken. For this next part, I have a beautiful diagram constructed from a screenshot taken from Google Maps’ satellite view to illustrate what happened at the Panda Express.

How not to drive around Panda Express

I thought the area circled in pink had open access to Civic Center Drive, but I was clearly wrong. The red line represents me driving my red truck in the wrong direction. The green arrows represent the direction in which a competent person would drive when going through the drive-thru of Panda Ex­press. The yellow line signifies that the parking area on the side was full. The yellow circle comes into play later.

It’s fine, though, because I can just back out of this before anyone pops out of the drive-thru. I reach over to my shifter and put my truck in reverse.

But remember the small white sedan that was following me too closely earlier? Apparently they decided to be equally as idiotic as me, because they were still following me, and they were also driving in the wrong direction towards the drive-thru. As I realize this, a vehicle approaches me from ahead. Some­one is trying to get out of the drive-thru, and I’m boxed in from behind by this sedan.

Instead of putting his car in reverse and just backing out, the driver of the small white sedan instead decides that this would be a fantastic opportunity to prove that he was, in fact, more idiotic than me. He decides that he needs to turn around.

If you take a look at the diagram, you’ll notice that the travel lane to the west of Panda Express is extremely narrow—just a little bit more than a single car’s length—because of all the cars parked off to the side. Remember the yellow circle from earlier? That yellow circle is a curb—a curb that the white sedan drives up and down multiple times while he performs an eight-point turn to do a 180.

As I gaze into my rear-view mirror in astonishment, witnessing the beginning of the human race facing extinction as a consequence of its own stupidity, the car in front of me decides to add to the theatrics by beginning to honk at me.

The white sedan finally manages to turn around. I decide that today would be a great day for me to use both halves of my brain, so I just reverse out. The guy trying to get out of the Panda Express drive-thru, surely proud of himself for honking because that clearly made the situation much better, is also free from his eternal damnation. Everything is okay now.

After what feels like 14 additional twists and turns, I finally make it to the southwest exit of the Cheyenne Pointe parking lot and prepare to turn right onto Civic Center Drive.

While checking for cars, I notice a woman in her 30s riding a bicycle on the opposite side of the road. I’m not entirely sure what happened afterwards, but it’s almost as if her front wheel just suddenly malfunctioned and stopped spinning, because she got launched forward in a nosedive and the bicycle went slightly airborne, flipping upside-down in the process.

The incident looked pretty severe, so instead of turning right, I cut across all six lanes of Civic Center Drive, drive onto Harewood Avenue, and activate my warning lights. I step out and ask, “Are you okay? Do you need me to call EMS?”

Her response:

“Fuck off.”

Harewood Avenue, North Las Vegas

When you’re in a neighborhood of small, run-down, single-story homes with chain-link fences, dying palm trees, and lawns overrun with weeds, and some­one tells you to fuck off, you fuck right off. I hop back in my truck and drive away.

After making it back home, I open my bag of food to realize that Teriyaki Boy had forgotten to include the extra side of vegetables that I added to my order.

Now that’s what I call an 11/10 experience.




Re: “Why haven’t you bought a Ram Rebel yet?” & “Are you going to buy the new Ram Rebel TRX?”

There’s been a lot of news popping up lately about the new Ram 1500 Rebel TRX, a new off-road pickup truck that’s supposed to compete with the Ford F-150 Raptor. Because my favorite vehicle is the Ram Rebel, and because I’ve spoken out in the past about how overrated the Raptor is, I’ve had an in­creas­ing number of people coming to me lately asking why I haven’t bought a Rebel yet, and if it was because I was waiting for the TRX to come out.

I figured this would be a good time for me to lay out the four main reasons why I haven’t bought a Rebel yet:

  1. Ram Rebels are inconveniently large as a daily driver.

    Even though this might not make much sense to most people, I’ll start with the raw numbers. Right now, I have a GMC Canyon, a mid-size pickup truck with stock dimensions of 212″ L × 74″ W × 71″ H. With the grille guard and leveling kit I have installed, the modified dimensions are ~220″ L × 74″ W × 73″ H. In comparison, a stock Ford F-150 of the same base configuration (basically, the “normal” family pickup truck you see on the street) would be 232″ L × 80″ W × 75″ H. A stock Ram Rebel measures 233″ L × 82″ W × 78″ H. If I were to even go as far as to get a conservative leveling kit, the height would hit 80″.

    In a language that can be understood by normal people and not just truck fanatics who are also mathematicians, trucks are big. Compared to the Toyota Corolla, the most popular car of all time, the Rebel is more than four feet longer, a foot wider, and almost two feet taller. Having a longer vehicle means a higher chance of swiping things with your sides while turning. Having a wider vehicle makes maneuvering more difficult; anything over 80″ is basically considered a commercial vehicle and requires extra clearance lighting to be installed. Having a taller vehicle means you might not fit in every parking garage.

    I live on the Las Vegas Strip and I drive to Los Angeles relatively often; neither of those places are too friendly towards huge pickup trucks. You generally won’t face any problems if you drive a Rebel out in the suburbs, but once you get into the bustling city, navigating narrow roads and trying to slide into parking spaces becomes a big hassle.

    To be clear, these hassles aren’t just theoretical; I’ve personally faced these issues first-hand, even when driving just a regular pickup truck. There are some hotel parking garages on the Strip with insanely low ceilings, and I’ve gotten dangerously close to maxing out the clearance, even in my mid-size pickup truck. I’ve ridden in a Ford F-150 through an Orange County parking garage and the antenna kept scraping up against the ceiling. Trying to get into the Tempo team house garage requires a five-point turn with a full-size pickup truck even with the “perfect” angle, and parking at the Tempo studio requires taking up two parking spots. U-turns at city intersections become k-turns. Imagine how worse all of this would be with an even bigger truck.

    If I lived somewhere out in the Midwest suburbs and had no reason to ever drive into the city, I might’ve already gotten a Rebel, but with my cur­rent living and work situation, my adoration of the truck doesn’t outweigh how inconvenient my life will become. Realistically, I only ever see my­self getting an oversized off-road pickup truck after I get married, assuming my wife will have a smaller vehicle and I can take her’s when I know I need to drive somewhere cramped.

  2. Fiat Chrysler is notorious for reliability issues.

    I had to think very long and very hard before deciding to buy a GMC Canyon over a Toyota Tacoma, because one thing I prioritize very highly is reliability. Toyota Tacomas are known for basically running forever, and that’s definitely something I want.

    Unfortunately, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the group behind the Ram brand, is notorious for having severe reliability issues. Recent reports have shown that they’ve improved their build quality substantially, but I’m still very hesitant to jump into a Ram truck until I wait it out for a few more years and see if critics of the future still agree that Ram is getting better.

    I also know a handful of people who own Ram Rebels who have been complaining about a lot of problems coming up. Most of the issues are (rel­a­tive­ly) minor, like the back-up camera showing up as a blank blue screen or the infotainment system not booting up at all, but some of them are also pretty significant, like clunking sounds coming from the powertrain. What’s even worse is that I’m hearing people are hav­ing trouble even getting the dealership to fix the problems at all—they would put in a work order and get the truck returned in “fixed” condition, but the problem would just come back days (or even hours) later.

  3. All-electric pickup trucks are coming out soon.

    I have enough to say about all-electric pickup trucks that this could be its entirely own blog post, but long story short, I want my next pickup truck to be an electric one. Definitely not a Cybertruck, but still an electric truck.

    In summary, I think the pros of electric trucks already outweigh the cons, but for my situation in particular, the cons aren’t even that bad, so it becomes a no-brainer to snatch one of these up once they’re in production.

    The timing of electric pickup trucks entering the market is actually perfect with the schedule of me having bought my GMC Canyon in 2018. I’ve been having some severe transmission issues with the Canyon, so I definitely want to get rid of it before the five-year powertrain warranty runs out. That puts us at mid-2023, which is about a year or two after electric trucks should already be on the market; that will give manufacturers enough time to troubleshoot any problems they find in the first couple years. So, I’ll be getting a new truck, but not a so-new-that-it’s-broken truck.

    I’m actually very happy with how this timeline turned out and love when things fall into place, so I’m definitely not going to go out of my way to mess it up.

  4. I’m not rich enough to get a new vehicle after less than two years.

    Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should buy it. I bought my GMC Canyon in late 2018, so already trading it in now for a new truck would be an absolutely devastating depreciation hit. If my truck were new and I counted the value of all the modifications, it would MSRP for over US$40,000.00. If I try to sell it now, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be able to get more than US$30,000.00.

    I’m still relatively young and there’s a lot that I want to save for. Going $10,000 negative on a truck, then proceeding to buy another new truck and going another $15,000+ negative again in the next two years… that sounds like financial suicide.

I think it’s clear now that I’m not opting not to buy a Ram Rebel yet just because I’m waiting for the Ram Rebel TRX. Not only is the TRX going to be even wider and taller than the regular Rebel—so it’s even more impossible for me to use it as a daily driver—but it’s speculated to have a 707 horsepower Hellcat engine, so it’s not going to be an electric truck.

With that being said, I am equally as excited for the TRX as anyone else, even if there’s basically a 0% chance I’m going to get it. Just last week, there was some footage released online of what appeared to be a camouflaged TRX out in the wild in the Las Vegas desert. A few days ago, there was also a spy shot of the console area where there’s a graphic of a tyrannosaurus rex dwarfing a truck—this is suspected to be Ram throwing shade at Ford because of how much larger a T-Rex (“TRX”) is compared to a raptor.




Someone stole $100 of ammo from me

My ammunition of choice for self-defense is the Federal Premium Law Enforcement Tactical HST 9mm Luger. Because it’s designed for law en­force­ment, you won’t just find it for sale at your local gun store, so I have to order it online. (If you want to get your hands on some as well, the Personal De­fense HST is effectively the same ammunition, but much more readily available to the public.)

Of course, ordering online means shipping, and my supplier sent me the ammunition via FedEx. The package arrived fine at my condo’s receiving area, but then it went on a mysterious adventure…

Federal Premium Tactical HST 9mm Luger ammunition

My condo’s homeowners’ association has been hiring quite a few new people lately. That, coupled with the fact that there is literally a global pandemic right now, and people are trying to streamline things to minimize social contact. The security for package distribution has gone down significantly—not only do the new people not recognize all the residents, but ID checks and signatures are also being waived so people won’t have to interact for as long.

I have no clue what the motive was, but a resident who lives in the other wing of my floor apparently decided that the day after my ammunition arrived would be a great day to take someone else’s package.

Why had I not already picked up my package by the day after it arrived, you may ask? My ammunition arrived on a Friday, but I had an Amazon package scheduled to arrive on the following Monday, so I figured I would just go down to concierge on Monday and pick up both in one shot—for the sake of minimizing person-to-person exposure, obviously. I very rarely do this, but I guess this was a very unlucky time for me to choose to do this.

On Monday, I went down to concierge and let a new guy know that I had two packages. He said that he could only find one—my Amazon package that had arrived that day—and told me to come back when the manager was available again so he could look into the other one. I checked in an hour later upon the manager’s arrival, and he stated that my FedEx package from Friday—the one containing 100 bullets—had already been picked up.

Thus ensued an investigation where the homeowners’ association, concierge, and property management company looked through security footage to find out what exactly had happened to my ammunition. Luckily, I live in a luxury high-rise condominium so the security in the building is extremely tight, and the concierge has strict inventory processes and procedures. So, they were actually able to pinpoint on exactly what day and what time my pack­age was taken; they also easily identified the resident who walked away with my package.

At first, the resident seemed cooperative. By the time we had discovered the package had been given to the wrong person, that resident had already gone out of town. However, he permitted concierge to enter his unit and take the package from his kitchen counter. So concierge went into his unit to retrieve the package… and it wasn’t there.

That’s fine, though—maybe that resident just thought it was on his kitchen counter but had actually already moved it, or maybe concierge just couldn’t find it. We waited until the resident came back from his trip. … This is where things start getting strange.

“I don’t have the package, and I never picked it up. What do you want from me, old woman?”

Apparently that was the resident’s response when the manager of the concierge team followed up with him about the package he took that wasn’t his. He had altered his strategy since when we first discovered he was the one who took my package. His cooperation turned into feigned ignorance, and he be­gan acting like he had absolutely nothing to do with the missing package.

I guess we’ll never know why he decided to change his approach, but by doing so, he turned a situation that could be glossed over as a mistake… to a situation that could land him in prison for up to 10 years. As per 18 U.S. Code, Section 922(j):

It shall be unlawful for any person to receive, possess, conceal, store, barter, sell, or dispose of any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, or pledge or accept as security for a loan any stolen firearm or stolen ammunition, which is moving as, which is a part of, which constitutes, or which has been shipped or transported in, interstate or foreign commerce, either before or after it was stolen, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the firearm or ammunition was stolen.

Surely, the other resident knew the ammunition was stolen—by himself—because the recipient and unit number on the package clearly was not him. My supplier is based out of the Southeast, so there was definitely interstate transportation. He had just committed a federal offense.

The concierge manager asked me to call the police.

An officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department came for a visit to take a report. I gave him a quick summary of what had happened, then referred him to the concierge staff, who had a folder of evidence ready for him.

From here, I’m not entirely sure what happened, because I wasn’t directly involved in the officer’s conversation with concierge. I suspect it was a com­bi­na­tion of unclear evidence, overexplaining, and uncertain recounts of what had happened, but ultimately, the officer concluded that there was in­suf­fi­cient probable cause to make an arrest, and there definitely was not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for there to be a conviction.

The main hold-up seems to be that there is no clear proof that the package the other resident walked away with was my package. Sure, the dimensions were the same, and my package was the one that was logged in the system as “picked up” at the same exact moment that he received that package, but all of that is deductive evidence. The security camera wasn’t clear enough that the package in his hands clearly showed my name and my unit number on it.

Regardless, a police report was filed, and a detective would be assigned to the case to investigate further.

The concierge company contracted by my homeowners’ association ultimately took responsibility for the error and agreed to reimburse me for the cost of the ammunition. Now that I was made “whole” and it was concierge that took the financial loss from the larceny, they were the new victims in the case, and it would be up to them to pursue further charges against that resident if they wanted.

I’m obviously definitely going to help them out if they need my assistance, in the scenario where they do choose to pursue charges—which I’m unsure as to whether or not they will do. However, the one thing that I am sure about is that I’m no longer going to let packages sit at concierge anymore.

Federal Premium Syntech Training Match 9mm Luger ammunition

Twitch bulletsSince then, I repurchased a replacement set of Law Enforcement Tactical HST ammo, as well as 20 boxes of training rounds. Luckily, both packages are in my possession without incident, the larger shipment of which just arrived today.

If you do end up going with the Personal Defense HST ammunition that I linked above, I recommend going for the purple-tipped ammo pictured above for training—the Fed­er­al Premium Syntech Training Match 9mm Luger.

It’s always a great idea to train with the ammunition you would use in a self-defense sit­u­a­tion, but that can get pricey with hollow-point rounds. The Syntech Training Match se­ries is designed to emulate exactly what it feels like to fire personal defense rounds—down to the velocity, trajectory, and point of impact—but at only a third or so of the cost.

I’m not going to say that this necessarily applies to everyone, but I firmly believe in the idea that people don’t actually rise to the occasion, but rather, fall to the level of their training. Sure, you can get round-nose bullets for cheaper than synthetics, but I think it’s worth the extra bit of cash to provide yourself with the best possible training, especially if it’s in preparation for a life-or-death situation.

(If you don’t understand the screenshot to the right, that is taken from a conversation with one of my co-workers. She lives in Europe and isn’t particularly a gun enthusiast, so she presumably has never seen synthetic ammunition with colored tips, and called them “Twitch bullets.”)




Five songs

These aren’t my favorite, but they’re the ones that evoke the strongest memories.

Hearing any one of these brings my consciousness back to an exact moment in time with surreal vibrancy.

This is the story of the past four years of my life, told in songs.


Finding Something To Do by Hellogoodbye

I knew it was the right decision.

With a Starbucks drink in hand—a fruity concoction with undertones of strawberry—I hit the unlock button on the key fob twice and watched as the red Ford Focus hatchback lit up the dark to acknowledge my approach. The car was Andrey’s, the CEO of Tempo, and I was using it as my daily driver while setting up a new team house for our upcoming League of Legends team.

My friend and I got in the vehicle, sat down, and closed our respective doors in unison. The tips of the fingers on my left hand absorbing the coldness of my drink, I transferred my overpriced sugar water to my other hand, then to the cup holder. I leaned over and carefully navigated the air with my lips, repossessing my friend’s straw and taking a sip out of her salted caramel frappuccino before she could react. On my retreat, I noticed that she smelled pleasant.

As long as there’s something to see, I’ll see it with you.

My right thumb and index finger began an ascent towards my chin as I thought back to one of my psychology classes where I learned that finding some­one’s natural scent to be pleasant meant that your immune systems were complementary and you’d make healthy children. The thought quickly dis­si­pated and my right hand took a detour, rerouting itself to the car’s ignition instead.

I reversed out of the parking spot and drove towards Grand Oaks, departing the Crossings at Corona and heading back to the team house. My friend and I sat in blissful silence for the mile-and-a-half trip until she reminded me, “the next turn is ours!” I narrowly avoided missing the left onto Prairie Dunes Drive for a third day in a row.

With five Target bags of groceries in hand, I approached the house, juggling the key ring in hopes of unlocking the front door before the tips of my fin­gers turn plum from the weight of tomorrow’s breakfast. As I push open the door, the thought returns to my mind. I knew it was the right decision.

And I swear I’ll always follow you.

The “decision,” of course, was the decision to put my regular life on hold and move from the Chicagoland suburbs to Southern California in 2016 to pursue my hobby as a full-time career. I’m always meticulously careful with my decisions, and I had already been so with this decision as well—but this song captures the moment where the 99.9% certainty became 100.

Another thing to point out here is the recurring theme that the song itself doesn’t necessarily reflect the event—I bet a lot of you thought this had something to do with the friend beside me—but rather, it just happens to be the soundtrack that my mind associates with the par­ticular event.


Ride by Twenty One Pilots

The feelings of frustration had faded.

But so had the feelings of freedom.

I squeezed my toes together and curled them inward to feel the individual loops of carpeting rub between them. I was seated at my desk, but now I was looking through my two monitors instead of at them, lost in thought.

A bullet for them, a bullet for you, a bullet for everybody in this room.

Coming back to my senses, I looked to my right at the three-headed tree lamp in the corner, projecting the familiar blistering hemispherical glow on the ceiling, but leaving everything behind it engulfed in shadows. I would normally have the kitchen light on at this point as well, but I had decided a few hours prior that it could take the day off. The uneven lighting cast an eerie mood on a once exclusively joyful room.


I stood up, walked five quick steps to the front door, and leaned slightly towards the peephole to confirm my suspicion that my delivery driver had man­aged to sneak in behind another car past the front gate of the community. I was never one to order delivery, but no more roommate meant no more car.

With a brief frisk of the bag, I confirmed my order from Double or Nothing Pizza was correct. Dinner now in hand, I thanked the Hispanic man in front of me and waited for his body to rotate a quarter of a turn clockwise in the dim lighting before beginning to shut the door, as to make him feel like I wasn’t in a rush to part ways. It’s the details that count.

I’d live for you, and that’s hard to do—even harder to say when you know it’s not true.

I can’t give further details on this memory because it involves an incident where the public perception of what happened is vastly different (and milder) than what actually transpired—and I want to keep it that way.

What I can say, though, is that this happened in late 2017, and it was another “realization” moment—a moment where I fully accepted a decision I made in the past and committed to not letting it negatively affect my future.


Lost in Japan (Remix) by Shawn Mendes & Zedd

I floored the accelerator… and nothing.

Creeping forward at a snail’s pace eastbound from the intersection of Tropicana and Grand Canyon, I watched the column of drivers in the lane beside me overtake my Chevrolet Malibu. I was being left in the dust—both figuratively and literally, because the relentless construction in my area wasn’t doing much to help the air quality.

And then, blast off.

The navy blue mid-size sedan suddenly revved to 4800 RPM and launched me forward past the empty dirt lots to my right. Jerking my foot off the gas and hovering the brakes, I navigated my way half a mile down and took two lefts, the first onto Fort Apache Road and the latter into the entryway of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

I’m a couple hundred miles from Japan and I—I was thinking I could fly to your hotel tonight.

I stepped out of the Malibu and took a deep breath of crisp, clean, warm desert air. I traded the keys to the malfunctioning car for a Chevrolet Impala. The rental agent explained how I was getting an upgrade, but I barely noticed a difference between the two vehicles. I pulled my seat back, adjusted the rear-view mirror, and drove back to my apartment.

This one is strange, because this is the first memory where the song that triggers the memory wasn’t actually playing during the memory. This particular incident happened in mid-2018, while the song wasn’t released until late 2018.

When I first moved to Las Vegas, I relied entirely on walking, Uber, and rental cars to get around. But, after I moved from my apartment to Tempo‘s new team house in Rhodes Ranch, I purchased a new GMC Canyon pickup truck as my daily driver because nothing was in comfortable walking distance anymore.

For the first three months, I had a free SiriusXM trial, and I heard Zedd’s remixed version of Shawn Mendes’ Lost in Japan on the radio on a near-daily basis. This song ended up becoming associated with the happiness I felt after moving to Las Vegas in general, but more specifically, the sensation I felt when breath­ing in hot, dry air. Having grown up in the Chicagoland suburbs, the hot summer air had historically always been linked with excruciatingly crushing humidity.

They say you never know what you’re missing out on until you experience it for the first time, and for me, hilariously, breathing hot dry air is one of them.


Floral & Fading by Pierce the Veil

Why I expected anything different, I’m not sure.

Of course there would be half a mile of traffic. Why wouldn’t there be? It’s here every day.

With the extra vertical boost granted to me by my leveled pickup truck, I looked westward down Warm Springs Road at the rooftops of a seemingly end­less queue of vehicles waiting to get past the intersection of Buffalo Drive. I took a second to look to my passenger seat to make sure my bag of Chipotle hadn’t disappeared. I turned back and faced my windshield to find that, to my misfortune, the traffic also had not disappeared.

I want devil horns; I wanna breathe in your rush; I wanna leap when you want me to fly.

A quarter mile in, the other pickup trucks started off-roading on the unpaved dirt shoulder to get around the traffic. I would’ve done the same, except I needed to go straight at the intersection instead of turning right, so that wouldn’t have helped. I rolled up my windows to stop the billowing clouds of dirt and dust from getting into my cabin, wondering when they would finally add a second lane to this segment of Warm Springs Road.

Close your eyes; picture you and I selling daylight for gasoline.

This one, again, is a little strange and different, because this song doesn’t quite precisely trigger a memory, but rather, a general phase in my life. This phase happened during late 2018 and very early 2019 when I moved out of my first Las Vegas apartment and into Tempo’s team house in Rhodes Ranch, when I had a “lull” period in my life for the first time in a while.

I always like to keep my life active, engaged, and advancing, and I had managed to maintain that throughout a majority of my adult life. Things obviously picked up a lot after I moved to the Pacific Coast, and this perception of “lull-ness” in late 2018 and early 2019 may have just been a problem in a com­par­ative sense—I had just gotten so used to “go go go” that even a little peace started feeling strange.

But even with that in mind, it still felt like things were going a bit too slowly for my comfort. Ever since joining Tempo, I had been in a perpetual state of learning, constantly changing my role within the company and expanding my breadth of knowledge within the esports and gaming industry. However, since mid-2018, I felt like my career had become stagnant, and I felt like I was just doing the same tasks repeatedly without a bigger goal.

While living in Rhodes Ranch, I would drive out to go grocery shopping or pick up a meal from a restaurant at least once a day. This was my way of forcing myself to get out of the house; otherwise, I would just stay in my room all day. (This is still something I do to this day—I drive out and pick up food once a day, acting as my own delivery driver, so I can get some fresh air and sunlight on a regular basis.)

Two restaurants that I visited frequently were Chipotle and Raising Cane’s, both of which were in/by the Arroyo Market Square along the Rainbow Boul­evard exit of I-215. In order to get back to Rhodes Ranch, I would drive southbound on either Rainbow Boulevard or Tenaya Way, then turn right onto Warm Springs Road to head towards the intersection at Durango Drive.

Southwest Las Vegas is still under heavy development, so there are a lot of empty lots, and a lot of these empty lots still have single-lane roads sur­round­ing them. One of these areas was on Warm Springs Road between Tenaya Way and Buffalo Drive, where I probably cumulatively spent count­less hours upon hours waiting for traffic to get through the one lane. This waiting time gave me numerous opportunities to reflect on the state of my life, which is why I associate this song, as well as those moments, with realizing that I cannot get complacent with my life.

Luckily, shortly after early 2019, I got back on track with self-development, and I’m continuing to advance myself to this day.

As a side note, for those who are familiar with the Rhodes Ranch area, I did not want to take Robindale Road because then I would just get in traffic later on, when I arrived at Rhodes Ranch Parkway and would have to cut across three lanes of oncoming traffic from Durango Drive to get to the gate to the community.


100 Bad Days by AJR

Will I fit?

I always overestimated how big I was when I drove large vehicles. But that’s a good thing—I’d rather assume I won’t fit and take it safe, instead of leaving a wake of destruction in my path. There was no need for me to drive into the covered entryway of the hotel anyway.

“You should probably just get out here.” I haphazardly stopped in the roadway—”close enough” to the door of the AmericInn by Wyndham in Lincoln, Nebraska—and put the Ram 1500 Rebel in park. There was nobody else around anyway.

“Thanks for the ride. Good night!” she said as she took a hard step down from the running-board-less rental pickup truck.

“Ok,” I mindlessly replied.

As she walked towards the hotel entrance, I slowly drove off, turning onto 84th Street and heading northbound towards my co-worker’s house where I was spending the night. The V8 under the hood roared every time I accelerated, the sound amplified by the fact that I had the windows rolled down. I teased the pedal harder and harder each time, wondering how high I can rev without causing a disturbance in the calm night. The thick, humid air bat­tered my face with parallel force.

A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties.

Is this the end?

I don’t want it to be the end.

But if it is, it was a good run.

Right as I let down my guard… lucky me.

Similar to “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots above, I can’t give further details on this memory, this time because it involves an incident where there is no pub­lic perception. Most people who were involved with it have a good idea of what was going on at this point, but apart from a small group, this entire sit­u­a­tion was kept incredibly confidential.

What I can share about this memory is that it happened in the middle of 2019, where this ongoing incident was consuming a majority of my thoughts. When I was with other people—like the person I dropped off at the hotel—I was distracted enough by their presence that I had a “normal” life. How­ever, whenever I was alone, I had trouble thinking about anything else because I am a very future-oriented person, and this definitely would affect my future.

Well, we’re all still here and alive. The problem was ultimately fully resolved two months later, and it was one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life.

It wasn’t the end.