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. 🤦

 

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Hello again, Mina the domestic shorthair cat; and Alki Beach Park in Seattle, Washington

Last month, I met Mina, a domestic shorthair cat. Before heading out of the Seattle Metropolitan Area to continue my transcontinental road trip, I had a fi­nal opportunity to visit and play with her one last time.

Earlier that day, a few friends and I went exploring at Alki Point, an area near the West Seattle neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. One of the friends I went with was Doug Wreden. We took another “typical Doug and Parkzer”-style photo in front of the Seattle skyline.

I wore long pants because I brought my point-and-shoot camera and I wanted sturdier pockets to hold it, but it was perfect shorts weather. The sun was shining but not too uncomfortably hot, and there was a light breeze coming from the water. The views were great, and we went on a weekend so there were a lot of other people out and it was fun people-watching.

We got some lunch from Marination Ma Kai. I ordered an entrée of four miso chicken tacos and a can of strawberry-lilikoi-flavored Hawaiian Sun. The food was great—the chicken was high-quality, the tacos weren’t excessively seasoned, and the garnish perfectly complemented the meat without being too sour.

After eating, we walked along the coastline to the Alki Point Lighthouse (which we later discovered was closed, as the tours only operate until La­bor Day), then we found some rental scooters and rode them all the way back to our parking spot. The last time I had used one of these scooters was way back in 2019 when I went to St. Paul, Minnesota, and I hadn’t ridden a scooter, bicycle, or anything of the sort since then. It was fun riding one again, especially because Alki had a separate, designated bike lane that I was able to use.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip.

 

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Hello, University of Washington in Seattle

Back when Tempo was an esports and gaming content creation company more than the game design and game development company that it is now, we had a content director named Glen Tokola who took over the editorial department after me. After Tempo phased out those departments, the Glen tran­si­tioned his career to a different position, and is now the Esports Manager at the University of Washington.

With my stay in the Seattle Metropolitan Area soon coming to an end, Glen wanted to give me a tour of the university campus before I left and con­tinued on my road trip, so I headed over to check out the football stadium and some of the university buildings.

The tour started at Husky Stadium. One of Glen’s co-workers who handles sales for the football team showed us around and was able to take us to some of the more exclusive areas.

We eventually made it to the upper-most floor, where I stepped outside and was able to see unobstructed views of the entire field.

This area of the stands also had amazing views of Union Bay and Lake Washington.

We also got to take a peek into the presidential suite. Apparently this is a coveted place from which only the highly privileged are able to watch the football games. To me, it just looked like a normal room, but I took our tour guide’s word about the prestige of the room, so I snapped a photo.

After a thorough trip around the stadium, we headed to the main campus area. At the end of a long, grassy strip of field was Drumheller Fountain.

From this point, we walked around some more and I wasn’t quite able to keep up with exactly what buildings we were entering, but we saw some in­ter­esting libraries and even peeked our heads into some empty classrooms, waiting to be occupied by students in the upcoming and soon-to-start ac­a­dem­ic year.

Finally, Glen took us to the new esports room, which is basically like a LAN center.

I already played a lot of video games when I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, though I was somewhat limited by the fact that my laptop wasn’t very high-end, so I lagged a lot. I’m glad that my school didn’t have some­thing like this when I was a student about a decade ago, or else I feel like I would’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time in it.

Here is Glen in his office.

The University of Washington campus had a lot of husky statues scattered around. I pet all the ones I came across, but decided to take a picture with one before I left.

For the record, I thought Glen would zoom in and capture just my face with the face of the husky, which is why I am standing in a way that makes it look like I learned how to use my legs yesterday … I did not realize that he was going for a full-body shot.

Overall, our tour was a little over three miles (the GPS tracker shows less distance because I started it late and it also didn’t keep track of movement very accurately inside some of the buildings). It got a little warm towards the end, but it was a pleasant trip, and it brought back some of the nice memories from when I was still an undergraduate student.

 

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Eating a whole salmon in bunny costumes with Doug Wreden for charity

On August 26, 2022, my friend Doug Wreden ran a charity fundraising event for the Monterey Bay Aquarium in celebration of Rosa the sea otter‘s birth­day. The US$90,000.00 stretch goal was for Doug and me to eat a whole salmon while wearing bunny suits. The event ended up raising US$104,327.89.

With my stay in the Seattle Metropolitan Area soon coming to an end, we decided now would be a good time to fulfill our promise. Yesterday, we went to a local seafood store looking to purchase a whole salmon.

We asked the fishmonger what the smallest whole salmon would be, and he said it would be around 12 pounds (5-6 kilograms). He went to the back to grab one and came out with a 17.87 pound (8.11 kilogram) salmon, saying it was the smallest one they had available.

We brought it back to Doug’s house and stored it in the refrigerator. It barely fit.

This morning, we extracted the salmon from the refrigerator to prepare it for cooking. We were considering putting it on a tray, but then realized that would be completely pointless.

Here is a picture of Doug next to the salmon, for scale.

We covered the inside of the oven with tin foil and placed the fish inside. It was too big to comfortably fit in the oven, so we turned it diagonally and curved the head and tail upwards so it would fit.

After about an hour, the salmon was more-or-less done cooking, and it had a nice, golden brown crust.

We went into this knowing that it would be completely unrealistic to actually eat the entire fish, but we had our estimates—I thought I would be able to eat about 2 pounds, and if Doug does the same, we’d finish about a quarter of the fish.

Oh, and also, my inflatable bunny suit was aggressively large.

I ended up underestimating ourselves, because we finished about half of the salmon. If we account for the head and tail that we did not consume, as well as the weight of the bone, I think we might have eaten about 3.5-4 pounds (1.5-1.8 kilograms) of salmon each.

This was the aftermath. We took the leftover salmon and stored it in containers to finish consuming another day.

By the end of it, I had eaten so much pro­tein and fat that my stomach was upset and I felt physically exhausted, but I ate some popsicles high in sugar, and that neutralized some of the weird feeling in my stomach and made me feel much more refreshed.

This is by far my favorite stream that I’ve been a part of. Not only was it just an absolutely absurd, ridiculous, and insane concept, but it was tied to a great charity event, the audience was very happy to watch and was looking forward to it for over a month now, and it went surprisingly smoothly from a logistical perspective.

I’m glad I got to participate, and now Doug’s community just needs to convince him to eat a bunny while wearing a salmon costume…

 

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Hello, Mina the domestic shorthair cat

Last night, I met up with some friends to get dinner together and walk around Volunteer Park for a bit. After our adventure, I stopped by and visited her condo to meet Mina, her new cat.

Mina is a domestic shorthair that was originally a stray cat with some severe health problems, but she was able to be nursed back to health. Now, Mina is an extremely active, agile, and affectionate cat—probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever met. We suspect Mina is about a year old and has reached cat adulthood, but she still has the size, youth, and energy of a kitten.

It was a bit tricky to get some good pictures of Mina because the lighting wasn’t that great and she was always on the move, but I still got a handful of decent shots, especially after she had calmed down a bit and started grooming herself on the couch.

For the record, I’m not actually as tan as it may seem from this next photograph… Mina’s white hair just radiates light, so when I edit the photo such that her hair no longer blinds you, it ends up making my skin look pretty dark.

 

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Hello, PAX West 2022 in Seattle, Washington

Back during my esports and influencer marketing years, I would go to events and conventions pretty much once every month or two. However, since the pandemic, as well as since Tempo‘s pivot of its primary business focus into game design, I haven’t gone to any conventions.

I had an opportunity to attend PAX West last year with some friends, but I heard that a lot of companies were withdrawing from attendance due to con­tinuing surges of mutations of the coronavirus, so I decided not to go and instead just continued on my road trip. When the opportunity to attend PAX West arose again this year, I figured that, considering I was already in the Seattle Metropolitan Area, I would give it a shot and go to my first con­ven­tion since PAX East 2020, days before the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantines across the United States.

I’m staying in various different locations across the Seattle Metropolitan Area while I’m visiting, one of which is with my friend Doug Wreden. Doug lives in the suburban outskirts of the Seattle Metropolitan Area, so we decided to use public transportation to get to downtown Seattle. More on that lat­er.

Once we got to downtown Seattle, we first headed to the Seattle Convention Center for the main exhibit halls. This was one of the very few conventions I’ve been to where I was just a tourist and not working as an exhibitor, so I was able to roam around freely and explore. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find PAX to really be that exciting. It was congested with visitors, and every single booth had a very long line waiting to participate in whatever game or activity they had.

I’m thinking it might be because I’ve just been slowly losing interest in video games over the past handful of years, considering that I’ve been finding a lot of museums across the country to be very interesting, and museums are sort of like extremely small and static conventions. Regardless, the PAX ex­hib­it hall just ended up being a lot of walking and squeezing past people, looking at video games that I could be trying but couldn’t because there were al­read­y 10 people playing and another 20 waiting for their turn.

The convention was too large to fit in just the Seattle Convention Center, so they partnered with some of the neighboring hotels, including the Sheraton Grand Seattle. Pretty much the one and only main reason why I decided to attend PAX for a day is to watch some of my friends run a panel, which we used as an opportunity to also hold a larger meet-and-greet session.

Doug and I got first-row seats to watch the panel, but before it even began, we had people coming up to meet us and asking us to sign things. Here is a photo of Doug signing a “contract” that was partially generated by an AI scriptwriter that integrated a lot of inside jokes and memes from Doug’s Twitch stream and his community (I also signed it right after he did).

The panel that we watched was called “Fight Mii,” hosted by YouTubers from the channels Failboat and JayMoji.

The premise of the panel was for Jay to go into the audience and select two contestants to build a Mii (which, if you’re not familiar, is basically like a cus­tom 3D avatar) within five minutes based on prompts given to them by the hosts.

The room wasn’t completely full, but it was still one of the biggest crowds that I had seen from a PAX panel. Here’s a shot of audience members eagerly vol­un­teer­ing to compete in the Mii-building contest.

I thought the panel was great, and the hosts did a great job adding clever twists and turns to keep things exciting and comedic. For example, one of the prompts was to build a Mii that resembles Sonic the Hedgehog, but instead of just announcing it, Dan took off his gold jacket and ripped open his white button-up shirt to reveal a Sonic t-shirt underneath.

This particular prompt had a very interesting result—one contestant properly made a Mii of Sonic the Hedgehog, but one of them must have missed the “the Hedgehog” part, because instead, they built a hamburger from Sonic Drive-In…

Another hilarious thing they did was give out completely pointless and impractical prizes. This one was my favorite—a literal air-circulating box fan. I bet whomever won that had a great time trying to take it on their flight to bring it back home.

After the panel was over, we held a meet-and-greet in a nearby conference room—Dan and Jay had one line on one side of the room, while Doug and I had a line on the other side.

People brought some very interesting things for me to sign, such as a broken blender, toy drill, miniature rubber chicken, catnip mouse, issue of National Geographic magazine, and computer science homework. One person mentioned that they tried to bring in a shovel for me to sign, but it had gotten con­fiscated by security because it was a metal shovel and could be used as a weapon.

However, my favorite thing that I signed, simply due to the sheer absurdity of it, was a mold of somebody’s teeth.

After a successful day at the convention, we stopped by The Cheesecake Factory, where I ate the driest and most shriveled chicken I had ever tasted in my entire life.

After dinner, we started making our way back to the train station to head back to Doug’s house.

I looked up the Westlake light rail station on Google Maps and led the way. Unfortunately, I led us straight to the coordinates on Google Maps, which were underground… and I couldn’t remember where the entrance was. Doug really didn’t want to miss the next train and have to wait an additional 15 or so minutes for the next one, so we started running around trying to find the entrance to the underground.

We eventually found the entrance right near the infamously dangerous McDonald’s at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, and we made it to the light rail stop with a few minutes to spare. My stomach was very unhappy with the fact that we ran, considering that I had just eaten a bunch of really dry chicken, then consequently drank a lot of strawberry lemonade and water to make the chicken easier to swallow.

We got on the light rail, and I continued having an upset stomach, but I just kept my mind off the stomach pain and tried to take a nap (which was pret­ty much impossible, because I am always conscious of how, on public transportation, dangerous situations in a confined space can unexpectedly e­rupt without warning, so I always impulsively keep my head on a swivel). However, once we got about halfway to our destination stop, there was an an­nounce­ment that said that it was the final stop and everyone had to exit the train.

Apparently, there had been an emergency on the train tracks, so they froze train transport beyond a certain point and replaced light rail service with bus shuttle service. This was not ideal, as my stomach had gone from upset to infuriated, and now we had to go find the bus stop and basically take a layover.

After several minutes, the bus arrived, but it was obviously nowhere near as large as the train, so we all sardined on board, probably exceeded the ca­pac­i­ty of the bus, and made our way to our final destination.

… That is, the final destination for the public transportation portion of the trip. After we got to the station, we got into Doug’s car, which we had parked in the commuter lot, and drove the rest of the way back to his house.

We took public transportation because we didn’t want to bother finding parking in downtown Seattle, but it seems like the hassle of finding parking would’ve been worth it—a drive that would’ve only taken a little over 20 minutes in a personal vehicle took almost 2 hours on public transportation due to the obstacles faced throughout the whole process.

We finally got back to Doug’s house at almost 2 AM.

Needless to say, my sleep schedule is broken again.

 

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