The Adam Parkzer and Doug Wreden World of Warcraft: Classic hardcore saga

Starting in mid-April, I joined my friend Doug Wreden in playing World of Warcraft: Classic hardcore.

For those who are unfamiliar, hardcore mode, also known as “perma-death,” is a modified way of playing a game that enforces various additional re­stric­tions, the most iconic of which prohibits you from ever dying, consequenced by being forced to delete your character. WoW Classic doesn’t have an official hardcore mode, but there is a fan-made add-on that implements the functionality, which Doug and I used.

Here is our saga.

I joined World of Warcraft during Mists of Pandaria and never played Classic. I’m not really a fan of classic games in general—I appreciate the quality-of-life improvements that game developers add to modern-day games, so I usually don’t go out of my way to play older games unless they are particularly nostalgic. With that being said, Doug somehow convinced me to join him on a duo adventure of WoW Classic hardcore.

Doug really wanted to play Druid, which limited us to the Night Elf race. My first character was a Hunter named Parkzerect, a combination of “Parkzer” and “erect,” because this is hardcore.

We got to level 2, at which point, Doug got bored of the Night Elf leveling zone and proposed bum-rushing our way to the Human leveling area. I didn’t know what that meant, but I agreed; we set off on our journey and promptly died to a level 20+ Young Wetlands Crocolisk.

For our second attempt, I made a Hunter named Parkzerecter, a combination of “Parkzer” and “erecter,” because we were just getting started and I was even more ready than before. After six levels, I discovered that clearly was not the case, because I sort of just randomly forgot to keep track of my health bar and died to a Vicious Grell, ending our run.

I’m not great at World of Warcraft: Classic, but I play a ton of MMORPGs. I was pretty tilted at my method of death, which I found to be inexcusable due to how basic and easily-preventable it was. To express my frustration, I named my next character Parkzerblind.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. We were both insane. We tried the bum-rush strategy a second time and promptly died to another Young Wetlands Crocolisk.

… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. We tried the bum-rush strategy a third time on my fourth character, a Hunter named Pogzer because of how Pog it was to die over and over again.

As you’d expect… we were NOT insane, because this time, we died to some sort of strange swamp beast and not a Crocolisk. Very Pog.

In the spirit of actually not being insane, Doug came up with a different strategy to make it to an alternative leveling zone on our fifth characters—we swam. I put Doug on follow and he piloted himself and my Rogue Dogpit for literally 50 minutes through the ocean.

Miraculously, this was a successful journey. I’m generally a Shadow Priest one-trick pony and I know basically nothing about any other class, so the Rouge leveling experience was novel. One of my favorite parts about Rogue was its instant-cast ability, which was very convenient for tagging quest mobs.

There was one situation where a lot of other players were standing in an orderly line waiting for a spawn, and when Doug and I arrived, we joined the line. The line soon degenerated into chaos after some inconsiderate people showed up and tried to cut in line. Hilariously, after I realized there was no point in being respectful anymore, I said aloud, “I guess there’s no line anymore” … and then promptly proceeded to catch, tag, and steal the next spawn of the quest monster, effectively saving us potentially upwards of 20 minutes of waiting, had everyone else decided to continue using the line system.

We successfully made it to level 10, upon which I did the Rogue class quest. While doing the class quest, I had to find a treasure map, so I walked up to the target holding the loot and started attacking it. Suddenly, four Defias Bodyguards spawned out of nowhere and started attacking me.

I shrieked out to Doug for assistance, and he healed me… rerouting monster enmity to himself. Tanking four level 10 monsters as a level 10 is never great news, and unsurprisingly, he died. After their successful assassination, the guards went back to targeting me, and I died as well, ending our run.

So what happened? Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to attack the monster that had the treasure map. Instead, I was supposed to use my Stealth to enter his house undetected and use my Pickpocket ability to steal the treasure map. My lack of game mechanic knowledge caused our deaths, which was dis­ap­point­ing.

As a side note, remember how, in our second attempt, I died because I wasn’t paying attention to my health? I fixed that by installing an add-on that lets me create custom alerts. Now, when I descend below 40% health, an airhorn blares and the words “YOU ARE LITERALLY TROLLING” and “RUN AWAY” appear and start bouncing on my screen (which you will see in the next screenshot). It has been incredibly useful.

Doug and I were both pretty bummed that we lost our run just because I didn’t know a particular game mechanic and the quest text wasn’t explicitly clear about what I was supposed to do, so we booted up our sixth attempt with Dogspit the Rogue.

We made it to level 11, one level higher than before… but we died when Doug jumped into a pit to attack a melee quest mob and ended up taking too much damage from two additional rangers. I didn’t see them hiding behind terrain, but Doug said he did notice them, though it didn’t occur to him that they would deal so much damage.

I further compounded the problem by not properly focus-firing the lowest-health target—I thought I had killed the melee enemy and started sprinting towards the ranged ones, but apparently, I either missed my attack or canceled my attack animation and the melee enemy survived with a sliver of health, giving it enough time to make Doug flinch during his heal cast time and die by a margin of milliseconds.

At this point, we wanted to give up and refused to give up at the same time.

Attempt seven was Drooid the Hunter, which we managed to bring to level 12 (yet again, another one level higher than before), but failed our run when Doug… uh… drowned to death.

Attempt eight was Driud the Hunter, and at this point, both of us were pretty frustrated and mildly tilted. This death was very similar to our second attempt when I randomly died to a Vicious Grell; Doug ended up getting greedy and pulled a quest mob with a slow respawn timer while he was already under attack by a monster, and through a combination of unlucky respawns of regular mobs and falling under attack by even more enemies, we died.

Out of sheer stubbornness, we kept trying. It was infuriating that we kept on dying right after finishing the introductory zone, and we really wanted to get to level 20 and clear at least one dungeon. I created Dogmilk the Hunter to adventure together with Doug’s Druid Dogcheese for our ninth attempt.

At this point, as you’d expect, the Night Elf leveling zone was very, very boring. Luckily, there was apparently a Peggle add-on for World of Warcraft: Classic, which I eagerly installed. Doug has played a lot of Peggle, but this was my first time trying it. I got instantly hooked and proceeded to clear (all the orange pegs) and full clear (all the orange and blue pegs) every single one of the 13 levels in two days.

Peggle made leveling from 1 to 10 much more bearable, but it also came with its own risks… I got so invested into Peggle that I almost got our run dis­qual­i­fied three times. The first was when I was too busy playing Peggle to notice that I had to pick up the Stormwind flight path, and a few hours lat­er, Doug flew back to Stormwind while I was still stranded in the questing area (which is a problem, because both duo characters have to remain in the same zone and only have a 10-minute grace period). The second was when I was too busy playing Peggle to notice that Doug had logged out already to take a break for dinner (which is a problem, because both duo characters must be online together at all times in order for the duo run to be valid). The third was when I was too busy playing Peggle to notice that my ship had arrived back in town after Doug had finished his Druid-specific class quest, and I nearly kept riding the ship to the next destination.

I started actually having a lot of fun after we got past level 13 and realized we weren’t going to continue the “die after one more level” curse.

Doug and I also got much better at coordination, and we managed to survive multiple seemingly impossible situations, one of which involved being un­der attack by six enemies at the same time due to a combination of miscommunication, poor timing, bad respawn luck, and unexpectedly high aggro ranges.

After we got to the mid- to late teens in level, it felt like we actually had agency over our own lives, and if we played with good skill and synergy, we could survive sticky situations without feeling utterly helpless. I had a pet with Growl that I could use to juggle tanking aggro, we had multiple healing and buffing items to use at our disposal, and we had crowd control spells to slow or disable the enemies while we kited away.

So… we did it. We made it to level 20 and cleared both Deadmines and Wailing Cavern. I screen recorded our first dungeon to preserve the memory, and I live streamed our second dungeon on Twitch as my first stream in over 8 months.

Our Deadmines run went extremely smoothly because we had a highly competent and overqualified team, but our Wailing Cavern run was a lot more dicey, which made it far more interesting. I also enjoyed streaming again, and it was nice seeing and recognizing some old usernames from several years ago back when I used to stream more regularly, as well as a lot of new usernames from Doug’s community who joined in to watch.

Now that we finally achieved our goal, we’re both going to take a short break from obsessively grinding WoW Classic, but it’s definitely something we’re going to keep alive little-by-little over time to see just how far we can manage to take our characters.

Edit (May 28, 2023):

It hasn’t been too long since we cleared the dungeon, but unfortunately, our run has come to an end. We made it up to level 24, and while we were clear­ing some mobs in a(n apparently) dangerous area of Redridge Mountains, neither Doug nor I saw a patrolling group of enemies nearby. We were al­read­y en­gaged in combat with a few enemies, and by the time the patrolling group came into our field of vision, they had already aggroed onto Doug and beat him down pretty quickly, upon which I also fell shortly afterwards.

And with that, our World of Warcraft: Classic adventure comes to an end. We don’t want to try from scratch again anytime soon, but there are some ru­mors that an official version of hardcore mode may be coming to World of Warcraft: Classic, so if that happens, then we may make our return for at­tempt #10.




Photo dump from early 2023

After spending the winter setting up a temporary home base at the Tempo headquarters in Long Beach, California, the time has come for me to continue to my next destination.

I spent more time there than I usually do because we had some behind-the-scenes stuff happening on the logistical and operational side of the company that I had to tend to, but that also meant that I didn’t have a chance to do as much exploring as I wanted to… not that the amount I wanted to was that much to begin with anyway, though.

I noticed that this has been a recurring theme every time I visit California—the traffic is so paralyzingly bad, and for some reason, I generally just feel less motivated than I usually am, so I end up just staying indoors a lot.

This means that I didn’t really do much that would warrant their own dedicated blog posts like I regularly did when I was out non-stop road tripping, but I do still have a smorgasbord of photographs, so I wanted to share a handful of them here.

This is my friend’s greyhound Majima. He is very lanky, awkward, and clearly ecstatic to be a part of this picture.

Adam Parkzer hugging a greyhound

The CEO of Tempo, one of our Producers, and I all share similar birthdays within the span of a few days, so near the end of January, we celebrated by going to some nice restaurants. One of them was the Naples Rib Company in Long Beach, California.

I’m still eating a diet low in saturated fat for heart health, so I ordered some swordfish instead of barbecue ribs. The swordfish filet was tender and juicy, the flavor was exactly what you’d expect from nicely-cooked swordfish, the sauce was perfectly complementary without being too overwhelming, and the sides added richness and texture to the main entrée.

While stationed at the residential quarters of Tempo’s facility, considering that I wasn’t personally paying for rent or otherwise being charged a fee like I do with hotels or other forms of lodging, I was more willing to go on air travel trips.

One convenient thing about the location of the company headquarters is that it is in close proximity to both Long Beach Airport (LGB) in Long Beach, California and John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, Orange County, California. This means that I can fly out of much smaller airports, as opposed to going all the way over to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Here’s a photo of the Orange County suburbs:

… as well as the snowy mountains in northern California up by Lake Tahoe:

Air travel hasn’t been the best experience shortly after the initial surge of quarantine mandates during the pandemic, as most airlines decided to roll over everyone’s elite status, so it wasn’t special anymore to be a loyalty member—this meant that the upgrade list was oversaturated, so it was very rare to get free upgrades to first class if you weren’t one of the highest elite tiers.

However, in a “nature is healing” moment, I managed to be able to fly first class again on Delta Air Lines. Even better, regular meal service has been re­stored (as opposed to the “deluxe snack boxes” that they switched over to during the pandemic, where everything was pre-packaged to avoid physical con­tact by the flight attendants with the food). It wasn’t the best food ever, but definitely better than just having 8 different kinds of chips and crackers.

I also squeezed in a Las Vegas trip as well, for the usual—to check my mail, get a haircut, meet up with friends, and take care of some other errands. My hotel of choice for this trip was the ENGLiSH Hotel, part of the Marriott Tribute Portfolio, located in downtown Las Vegas on Main Street in the Arts District.

The hotel was pleasant, though I wasn’t a fan of the parking situation—the hotel’s lot is tiny, so I ended up having to street park… and downtown Las Vegas doesn’t exactly have the best reputation for being the most secure area in the Valley. Luckily, nothing happened to my truck.

Thanks to my Marriott Ambassador Elite status, I got to enjoy a free breakfast at The Pepper Club by Todd English, the restaurant directly connected to my hotel. I decided to order the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon because it was priced perfectly efficiently to be able to use my entire breakfast credit.

Maybe it’s because I’m just used to staying at lower-end hotels for the bargain and convenience, but the Eggs Benedict was unexpectedly delicious. It tasted like an actual high-end breakfast restaurant dish—everything was cooked well, the presentation was nice, and the flavors had just the right amount of intensity. I’m also usually not the biggest fan of cheese, but the cheese sauce was just that—more of a sauce than actual cheese—so it didn’t have any of the moldy or vomit-ey smell that I prefer to avoid.

While in town in Las Vegas, I also met up with one of my friends and went to 138 Restaurant in Henderson, a restaurant that specializes in dry-aged food.

For my appetizer, I ordered duck confit wontons with chili oil, fried garlic, and sweet and sour sauce. I wasn’t a big fan of it—the pickled vegetables on top were way too sour, the sauce was overwhelming, and the wontons were over-fried, so I could barely even tell that there was any duck inside at all.

My friend ordered dry aged crispy pork belly with fennel butter, pickled shallots, apple, and pork jus.

For my main dish, I got Ōra King salmon with aloo gobi spiced cauliflower, red pepper coulis, cucumber, and cilantro, with a special request for it to be cooked less salty. I liked this much better than my appetizer—the flavors were much more complementary, and I could actually tell what the meat was that I was eating.

Although the menu didn’t clarify, the waitress said that the salmon had been dry aged. I couldn’t really tell, and it just tasted like I was pretty much just eating very normal salmon.

Finally, for dessert, I got some crème brûlée. I realized after-the-fact that the photograph makes it look small, but it was actually literally about double the portion size that I would expect from an already big portion. It tasted amazing, though I’m pretty sure I ate a week’s worth of sugar intake in just that one bowl.

Hi Doug.




Hello, Wind Wolves Preserve in Kern County, California

There’s been an insane amount of inclement weather in California lately. It’s been raining a lot at the Tempo headquarters where I’ve temporarily set up my home base, I’ve heard that the California mountains have gotten literally several feet of snow, and I just barely missed the San Francisco Bay Area flood­ing really badly before my trip to Oakland.

The last time there was this much precipitation, there was a superbloom, which is a phenomenon where a ton of flowers bloom at the same time, es­pe­cial­ly from seeds that laid dormant for a while. In hopes of seeing one of these superblooms for myself in-person, as well as to visit a friend in the area who is planning on moving tentatively permanently to Puerto Rico, I made a quick trip an hour and a half north of Greater Los Angeles into Kern Coun­ty.

After entering the Wind Wolves Preserve, we followed some signs and drove over to the Crossing Campground and went on a short hike.

This campground had an unusually fancy bathroom.

We got to the end of the trail, where we got a nice view of Bakersfield to the north.

In this area of the preserve, we did see some open fields, but they weren’t covered with wildflowers—there were just a few flowering bushes along the sides.

We ventured over to a different area in hopes of having better luck, which we sort of did. Unfortunately, my timing was a little bit off—it did look like there were a lot of flowers blossoming out in the fields, but they weren’t quite at full size. According to Google Maps, this area is usually pretty barren, so I guess it is good news that there was even a lush field of grass at all, let alone any flowers.

Although rare, one of the perks of doing things together with a friend is that I get to post pictures of myself too, rather than just photos exclusively of things around me.

Adam Parkzer holding a camera after taking a photograph

I wouldn’t say this was a particularly successful trip, but it wasn’t a complete failure either.

As a consolation prize, here are a bunch of cows that were ex­tremely confused why I got very excited and parked my truck on the side of the road to take a picture of them.




Hello, Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle, Washington

After recovering from my week of travel in the San Francisco Bay Area, I took a trip to the Seattle Metropolitan Area again to visit some friends.

While there, I met up with my friends Doug and Dani and went to a sushi restaurant for an omakase experience. There weren’t enough reservation slots a­vail­a­ble for actual omakase with the chef, so instead, we booked a seat at the regular tables for a chef’s choice four-course sushi meal with 19 pieces of as­sort­ed sushi. We also ordered a few appetizers.

Just as a disclaimer, this is my first time using my new camera for close-up macro shots since getting my old camera stolen while in Oakland, California; as a result, some of these photos are a bit blurry while I get accustomed to some of the settings, though I am already progressively getting better.

The first course consisted of albacore tuna from Oregon, shima aji (striped jack) from Japan, kanpachi (amberjack) from Japan, madai (sea bream) from Ja­pan, and kurodai (black snapper) from Greece.

After our first course, two of our appetizers were ready. The first was black cod kasuzuke broiled with Shiro’s original recipe.

The photo makes it look a bit small, especially because I accidentally angled the shot in a way where not much of the fish is in focus, but it was a sat­is­fy­ing­ly large filet. It tasted great—it was so tender that just poking at it with chopsticks made it fall apart, and the texture was fantastic.

The second appetizer was assorted vegetable tempura. Because it was something that was fried, it felt a little out of place eating it between fish courses due to the oils bringing out more of the “ocean-ey” taste in raw fish. It would have been nice if it came out first or last, but we still had plenty of ginger to cleanse our palates before the next course.

The second course had six pieces: katsuo (bonito) from Japan, botan ebi (sweet shrimp) from Alaska, sawara (king mackerel) from Japan, hotate (scal­lop) from Japan, Atlantic salmon from Canada, and sockeye salmon from Alaska.

The shrimp nigiri also came with a shrimp head. I wanted to seize the opportunity to get a picture of my head next to the shrimp’s head… though the pho­to didn’t really turn out as interestingly as I had hoped.

The actual botan ebi was delicious—it was thicker than most oth­er shrimp I’ve tried, the flavor was stronger and richer than usual, and the texture was very satisfying.

Adam Parkzer holding up a shrimp head next to his own head

Our third and final appetizer came out—Shiro’s chawanmushi, steamed egg custard with shrimp, chicken, whitefish, shiitake mushroom, and mitsuba leaf topped with Hokkaido sea urchin and salmon roe. It had a lot of flavors going on at once, but most of them were complementary. As you can prob­a­bly guess, the sea urchin was my favorite part of this dish.

The third course was called “Bluefin Tuna 4 Ways,” and as you’d expect from the title, it was four different variants of bluefin tuna—one akami, one chū­toro, one otoro, and one prepared in a special way with a marinade.

The otoro, or the “wagyu of the sea” as some people call it, was as melt-in-your-mouth as you’d expect from tuna belly. The specially-prepared and mar­i­nated tuna was also surprisingly tasty; tuna is generally known for having a fairly basic, simple, and straightforward taste, but the marinade added in a nice bit of supplementary flavor to the fish.

The fourth and final course was negitoro (chopped fatty tuna) from Mexico, uni (sea urchin) from Santa Barbara, unagi (freshwater eel) from Japan, and tamago (egg omelet).

Although sea urchin is one of my favorite types of sushi, my favorite out of this particular lineup was actually the freshwater eel—it was a lot more fla­vor­ful and tender than what I usually expect from eel.

The tamago was very disappointing. It wasn’t prepared traditionally; there were no layers of egg, and it resembled a dessert more than it did actual ta­ma­go that you’d expect from a sushi restaurant.

After we were done with our appetizers and tasting menu, the waiter brought out a special order menu in case we wanted a second portion of anything, or if we wanted to try anything we didn’t get to taste during the four-course meal. There was one item on that list that I had never had before and that I had also never seen on a menu before, so I figured this would be a great opportunity to try it: ankimo, or monkfish liver.

It tasted very similar to kani miso, often nicknamed “crab brains.” Kani miso is not actually entirely brains—it’s just a mixture of the crab’s organs and oth­er innards. The texture was also very interesting, and difficult to describe—it was both firm and supple at the same time; both powdery and solid at the same time; both dry and pasty at the same time.

Although I probably wouldn’t go out seeking monkfish liver at a restaurant as one of my top dishes, it was actually pretty good. The unfortunate part is that it seemed to be a bit pricey, and apparently it is also only seasonally available during the winter according to the waiter, but if this is included as part of a “pick your own” kind of sushi experience (like revolving sushi or something), I would definitely have it again.

Dani and I wanted to split a Shizuoka matcha ice green tea, but they ran out, so we just drank water. I also wanted to try the mizu shingen mochi—rain­drop jelly served with kinako (soybean powder) and brown sugar syrup—but they didn’t have any of that left either, so we passed on dessert.

Here is a breakdown of what we paid:

Chef’s choice four-course sushi meal ×3  $ 255.00
Black cod kasuzuke  $  18.00
Assorted vegetable tempura  $  16.00
Chawanmushi  $  20.00
Ankimo ×2  $  26.00
Tax (10.25%)  $  34.34
Gratuity  $  75.00
Total  $ 444.34

Overall, I thought this was a decent restaurant, especially considering that the price per person of US$85.00 is a bit less than what you’d probably expect from a high-end sushi restaurant.

For me personally, I think the chef could have done more with flavor storytelling. I feel like the objective here might have been to give a unique, stand­alone character or “plot” to each course, so each “category” of sushi was able to have its own plate. This is definitely a valid way to do it, but it was dif­fer­ent than what I was expecting going into this—I was hoping for a bit more flavor micro-progressions piece-by-piece, as opposed to going purely off macro-progressions.

With that being said, a side effect of this above point is that, I think this restaurant would be especially good for sushi beginners. None of the nigiri pieces from the four-course meal were particularly adventurous or pungent, and I think one of the only “hit-or-miss,” “love it or hate it” items was the sea urchin. Having each plate broadly categorized by theme is also probably less “chaotic” for someone who just wants to have a good time eating good fish.




I visited the University of Southern California

After spending a lot of time with my friend Doug Wreden in the Seattle Metropolitan Area this past summer, I headed out for the next leg of my road trip journey in September. Two months later (i.e., earlier this month), we were reunited in Los Angeles, California after I had arrived in town to set up my temporary base camp for the winter at the Tempo headquarters in Long Beach, and Doug flew in for a few days for an unrelated matter to attend an in-person event at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.

We met up in Hollywood to get lunch together at a ramen restaurant with two of our mutual friends, then headed over to the University of Southern California campus so we would be nearby and he wouldn’t be late for his event. Event parking was US$40.00 in the main lot, but we managed to get the best luck possible by finding a side street with free weekend street parking.

We headed into the USC campus and wandered into the California Science Center, a museum with free admission.

This was one of the strangest museums I’ve ever been to, and I probably would not have been too happy if I had to pay to get in.

After we went up the escalator, one of the first things we saw was an exhibit dedicated to COVID-19. It already wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing to see in a museum, especially considering that we had just finished surviving a pandemic and most people probably want to take their minds off of it and want to resume normal life, but the mood and tone of the exhibit was a bit apocalyptic. It had the number of deaths prominently displayed on a digital screen, and the messaging still strongly pushed masking and social distancing. Confused, Doug and I chuckled a bit and went to the next section of the museum.

Next up was a section that was designed as if you were walking into a woman’s reproductive organs. Deep into the “uterus,” there was a video playing de­picting a woman giving birth in graphic detail with great clarity. There were a few small children eagerly watching. Further confused, Doug and I de­cided that was enough learning about reproduction for one day, and we walked through a tunnel (which I imagine represented a fallopian tube) to exit that sec­tion.

On the way to the next section, we took an intermission to watch a short film. The longer we watched, the more confused we got (as if we weren’t in­com­pre­hen­si­bly confused at this museum already). We realized that the film wasn’t actually a film, but rather, just a bunch of stock footage stitched to­geth­er with random words (like “water,” “desert,” “mountains,” “life,” etc.) overlayed on top of the footage. This is one of those “you had to be there to get it” moments, but if you have any experience editing video and you caught onto this, you probably would’ve also found it ridiculous.

If you thought it ended there, you would be sorely mistaken. The next exhibit was about avian life, and there was an interactive game I tried out where you would feed a ball into a tube and use a lever to shoot it out, and it was supposed to reflect something related to birds and how they evolved to sur­vive. I never found out what that was, though… because the ball just got stuck in the tube and I couldn’t get it out.

By this point, I had solidly awarded this the worst museum I have ever been to, and during my year-and-a-half road trip, I have been to a tremendous num­ber of museums.

It seemed like the main attraction of this museum was the area about space, and even this wasn’t that incredible.

The weirdness also didn’t end. There were a set of worn-down tires on display and a sign that said “Touch the tires!” but it was safely behind a barricade. The most prominent display of this entire area, directly in the middle of the space, was a movie and explanation of how astronauts defecated in space, as well as a physical model where you could climb up some steps and see what it would feel like to use a space toilet.

In a neighboring building, the Endeavour was on display. It was interesting to me that, as a space shuttle adorned with United States flags that was part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an agency associated with United States federal government, they decided to spell Endeavor with a “u.” My best guess is that it was named in honor of or named after something British, but I never found out for sure.

After we decided we had enough of this museum, we decided to go for a walk around the campus some more, first taking a stroll through some rose gar­dens that were not in bloom because it is December, and then walking through a field with a ton of chipmunks. It seemed like the university students treated them well and fed them a lot, because when I stooped down and extended my fingers, the chipmunks walked right up to me, presumably because they thought I had food.

Here is a fountain. (I like fountains and waterfalls.)

Something I found intriguing about the USC campus was how there were random single palm trees planted in random places, at an average density of one palm tree per few blocks. Usually, you’ll see a row of palm trees lined up along pathways or organized in a cluster in open areas, but USC seems to have decided to put single palm trees right in the middle of other trees and buildings.

With my adoration of dogs, I of course had to take a picture with George Tirebiter. This is a bronze statue of the dog located at the intersection of Bloom Walk and Trousdale Parkway, just off West Exposition Boulevard, in between the Marshall School of Business and Zumberge Hall of Science. It was erected in 2006 by Michael Davis and is titled “Mascot/Fan.”

By coincidence, I had great synergy with the dog because I was wearing a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 hoodie.

Adam Parkzer sitting next to a dog statue

Oh, and here is Doug who, after I passed my phone to him and asked him to take a photo of me with George, instead used the wrong-facing camera and ended up taking a selfie of himself (though, knowing Doug, I am guessing it wasn’t entirely a mistake).

After our adventure, we walked towards the Galen Center together so I could bid Doug farewell and head back to my truck. Of course, with my fantastic luck, the route we took led us onto West 34th Street, and we did not realize that its intersection with Figueroa Street right in front of the Galen Center was blocked with a closed vehicular gate and a locked pedestrian gate. … We solved this problem by just climbing over the fence.

I wasn’t really a fan of my undergraduate university years, and I feel like my exposure to the University of Southern California was probably the worst it could’ve possibly been considering the circumstances, but I still enjoyed spending time with Doug and exploring the campus, and it still brought back a bit of the nostalgia of being a younger college student.




Hello, Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise

When deciding what cities to visit, I generally look at bigger cities with larger metropolitan areas that are easily accessible off major interstate highways. This ensures I have a wider selection of hotels to pick from, which means the competition keeps nightly rates low. It also increases the like­li­hood of there being plen­ty of good tourist activities for me to do during my stay.

Capitals aren’t necessarily the biggest or most attractive city in the state, so I don’t always end up visiting each state’s capital. Out of my road trip since June 2021, the only capital cities I’ve actually visited were Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; Springfield, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Helena, Montana. Out of those seven, the only capitol building I’ve toured was in Springfield.

My current visit in Boise, Idaho is the eighth city to be added to that list, and also became the second capitol I toured. Interestingly, the Idaho State Cap­i­tol was one of the higher-rated attractions that I saw on travel websites, so I added it to my list of things to check out while in town.

I entered through the main entrance and was assisted by a canine officer who recommended I start my tour at the bottom-most floor. I climbed down the stairs and went to the visitor area, but the help desks and gift shop were empty, so I grabbed one of the self-tour booklets and started walking a­round.

This was called the “garden level.” The center had a lot of posters and a few interactive placards that explained how the government works. It also showed diagrams of how the three branches of government keep each other in check to ensure a balance of power, as well as a timeline of how new bills are passed into law.

On either side of the informational exhibit were the Senate Wing and the House Wing. These hallways mostly just had rooms and offices, as well as pho­to­graphs of past Senate and House members.

I continued upstairs to the rotunda and interior of the dome, which was nicely decorated for the holiday season.

A majority of the first floor was occupied by the Legislative Services Offices, but the south­eastern corner housed the Treasurer’s Office. This area was turned into more of a museum exhibit area, and one of the vaults was left open so visitors could see how the doors work.

The Legislative Services Offices had sections for administration, research, and audits on the western and eastern wings. When I headed to the north, I came across an employee who asked if I was on a self-guided tour, then offered to show me around a bit in the ref­er­ence li­brar­y.

On the way into the library, we saw an antique elevator, which was apparently used to pri­vately transport judges directly to the Idaho Supreme Court Chamber two floors up.

The reference library was very interesting to me, and it brought back memories of when I used to work for the police department. Because I was so efficient, I frequently ran out of things to do during my working hours, and would end up going to other areas of my vil­lage’s government services to assist there. One of the tasks I did was digitizing a lot of the old papers in the Village Hall.

When I told the state employee this story, and about how all these books and archives reminded me of my first real job, he took me to the back room and showed me hand­written bills and meeting minutes that looked nearly identical to what I had been tasked to scan nearly a decade ago.

Something unusual I noticed, not only in the library but also throughout the capitol build­ing in general, was how much they seemed to trust the public. There was minimal security present, visitors were allowed to just wander and roam around, and the library had im­por­tant written pieces of history just laying around and accessible to anyone who happens to stumble in.

I spoke quite a bit with the various state employees working in and around the reference library; I shared a lot of anecdotes from my travels, and we talked in-depth about the differences in culture between a place like Boise and a busier major city in a place like California… though Boise is also very rapidly increasing in population.

On my way out of the library and to the second floor, one of the employees offered to take a picture of me in front of the session law books from the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s, which is apparently something that is popular to do among new law school graduates.

Adam Parkzer standing in front of a shelf of legal books

For the next part of my self-guided tour, I worked my way up to the Executive Branch floor, which had the offices of the Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Lieutenant Governor.

And of course, an Executive Branch floor wouldn’t be complete without the Governor and his support staff. The current governor of Idaho is Bradley Jay Little, who has been serving as the 33rd governor since January 2019. Prior to being the governor, he also served as the lieutenant governor and a mem­ber of the Idaho Senate as well.

Unfortunately, the third and fourth floors weren’t that interesting. The third floor had the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee and the Senate and House Chambers, all of which were closed to the public. The fourth floor had public galleries from which you could look down on the chambers… but those were also closed.

While on the fourth floor, I peeked out some windows from Statuary Hall towards the Frank Steunenberg Statue for a nice view straight down Capitol Boulevard.

I know I regularly make fun of the United States government because of how inefficient government agencies tend to be, and I usually don’t have too many positive things to say about government, but I thought this visit to the Idaho State Capitol was great. All the people I met were very pleasant and looked like they wanted to go out of their way to answer my questions, teach me something new, and make sure I enjoyed my stay in Boise.

Some of the staff did mention that, with the growth of Boise, access to some areas of the Capitol were being restricted from the general public (which I guess was already going into effect on the upper floors). If you’re interested in learning how the state of Idaho is run (or just want to get a general idea of the baseline structure of how any state government is run), I think now is a great time to do it—better sooner than later.

I was originally expecting this to be a quick half-hour stroll, but because of all the great conversations I was having with everyone, my visit ended up lasting a few hours.

Oh, the two people you see on the steps? The man was taking photos of the woman, who seemed to be an influencer posing for thirst traps. 🤦