Hello SoCal

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Southern California, as well as my recent move taking up a lot of my attention, I haven’t been traveling any­where since mid-November. With an over-two-month-long break, I was getting eager to go somewhere again, so I decided to take a quick trip to South­ern California to check out how Tempo was doing in-person.

Pumpkin decided to help me pack. And by “help me pack,” I obviously mean “lay in my suitcase to stop me from packing.”

Pumpkin the Highland Fold inside luggage

For this trip, I decided to fly instead of drive because the weather hasn’t been too great. It snowed in the outskirts of the Las Vegas Valley, there was trace amounts of snow in central Las Vegas, and there was a ton of snowfall in Mountain Pass, an area with an elevation of nearly a mile above sea level, which you need to travel through in order to get from Las Vegas to SoCal.

I was born in the Chicagoland suburbs and spent over two decades of my life in the Midwest, so I’m personally not too concerned about snow driving, but what I am concerned about are the other people driving in the southwest desert who aren’t used to inclement weather. No matter how safe and skilled of a driver you are, there’s very little you can do to protect yourself from the incompetence of others. I decided the risk wasn’t worth it, so I booked a flight for this trip.

McCarran International Airport

Flying out of Las Vegas

Clouds from a plane

Apparently Terminals 2 and 3 are undergoing massive construction at the Los Angeles International Airport as Delta carries out a $1.9 billion rebuild and renovation. They’re calling it the “Sky Way,” which apparently is going to connect the two terminals for easier access, and also link directly to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. This is great news for me, seeing as my airline of choice is Delta, and I’ll be flying into LAX far more often (as opposed to BUR) now that Tempo moved team houses. In the meantime, this means that not all areas of both terminals are available, so after we deplaned, we had to be shuttled to the gate.

Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 2

Travel day was yesterday. Today was show day for Hivemind, a game show that Tempo’s production division is running in partnership with Twitch Originals. It was an impressive show—a lot more intense and involved than other routine shows that we run—and it was an interesting experience to see it live.





The second time I’ve ever enjoyed going to Los Angeles

The first time was when I originally moved there.

With COVID-19 quarantine regulations ever so slightly easing up, and my desire to travel ever increasing, I spent the last week and a half in Beverly Hills at Tempo‘s team house. Of course, just because stay-at-home orders are lifting doesn’t mean the threat isn’t still there, so I drove there instead of taking a flight.

Usually, driving from Las Vegas to Beverly Hills can take anywhere from five to seven hours, depending on the severity of the traffic. Obviously, the trek through the desert is usually pretty quick, but it’s the final stretch of road from San Bernardino to the Pacific coastline that really gets you. I distinctly re­call a drive back home to Las Vegas in December 2019 where that stretch of freeway had so much congestion that I was sitting in traffic for three hours and literally had to get a hotel in Victorville because I was already so tired and felt like I couldn’t safely finish the drive home.

This trip? Four hours and forty-five minutes, including three breaks. Actual driving time was just shy of four hours. It was the fastest I had ever made it from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.


My favorite part of the drive was when I went to a McDonald’s in Barstow and proceeded to get kicked out because I didn’t have a mask on. Why is it my favorite part? Because the person who kicked me out had his mask on around his neck instead of on his face.

I usually like keeping myself isolated and staying alone, but this trip actually made me realize that interacting with people can be nice if the people are pleasant and also just as driven for success as you are. The team house obviously hasn’t been getting any visitors lately, so the only people around were long-time employees around whom I’m already comfortable, so my time in Beverly Hills was surprisingly productive.


What made things even better was that the Studio City area was actually driveable. When I was setting up the team house back in December 2019, there was so much traffic that I literally couldn’t even find a spot to park in at the grocery store, so I had to go to three grocery stores before I found one with sufficient parking to actually go in and get food. This past week, I’d say the traffic was at about 50% of what it usually is.

Now, I’d say the “usual” traffic in Studio City is around 160% of maximum capacity, in that it’s about to explode around the edges because there are so many cars, and the roads are just completely inconvenient and unnavigable because of traffic congestion. Obviously, 50% of 160% is still 80%, so the roads were still pretty busy, but it actually just felt like a bustling city rather than a place that needed a purge. I was actually able to go out and do er­rands without having to drive in circles for ten minutes before each stop in an attempt to find parking.

One funny thing though was how fast food restaurant drive-thru lanes were packed and flooding out into the street. I’m not too familiar with the Studio City area, so for food each day, my strategy was to drive around until I found a restaurant with a drive-thru that actually had room for me to fit. This made it so almost every day’s meal ended up either being McDonald’s or Taco Bell.


One of the days, though, our CEO added my food to his Postmates delivery order from SUGARFISH. I went with the “Trust Me,” which came with 8 pieces of nigiri, a small cut roll, some slices of tuna sashimi, and edamame. The price? With tax and fees included, ~US$42.00. For that price in Las Vegas, you can get all-you-can-eat sushi with a specialty beverage and gratuity covered. That’s absolutely insane.

Due to the generally confidential nature of my job duties, I can’t share too much else of what I was up to in Beverly Hills, but one thing that I can share is snapshots from all the productions that happened while I was around. We did some filming with one of our Rainbow Six Siege players, went out to The Point at the Bluffs in Pacific Palisades to capture some b-roll footage, and recorded some YouTube videos with our broadcast personality Jake.





The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously a terrible thing, but if we’re searching for silver linings, I think one of them is the fact that people are realizing that they can do a lot of things from home, and they don’t necessarily have to go outside. I’m hearing that a lot of tech companies are realizing how ef­fi­cient work-from-home actually is, and are extending the offer to employees to continue working from home, even after the pandemic has subsided.

People staying home is what’s making Los Angeles much more pleasant for me now, because I feel like I can go out and take care of business without having to be paranoid about not being able to find a place to park my pickup truck, or worrying about not being able to make it back home from run­ning errands for 2-3 hours.

If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think this is going to last. But while it does, I don’t think Los Angeles is that bad. Dare I say, “not that bad” enough that I might return for another visit in a few weeks.




Hello Anaheim

Yes, I literally just got back from California earlier this week, but I went back again a few days ago for DreamHack Anaheim at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Anaheim Convention Center

I originally wasn’t planning on attending, but one of my co-workers was making the drive up from San Diego, so I decided to join him at the convention. Anaheim is also far closer of a drive from Las Vegas than Beverly Hills, so I was more willing to make the trip over.

There were a few other conventions going on at the same time as DreamHack Anaheim, and the rest of the Convention Center was open to the public, so I managed to make my way up to the upper floor to get some good shots of the area.

Anaheim Convention Center

Anaheim Convention Center

Anaheim Convention Center

DreamHack Anaheim was relatively uneventful and felt the same as any other convention I’ve been to. My co-worker and I made it there early, so it actually felt a lot emptier than it probably actually was. A lot of the popular games nowadays are games that I can’t even watch due to motion sickness (I get dizzy when watching first-person shooters), so going to events and conventions has become even more unappealing to me, as if it wasn’t mo­not­o­nous enough already.

Fortnite at DreamHack Anaheim

DreamHack Anaheim BYOC

DreamHack is known for their bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) tournaments. As the name suggests, you actually literally bring your own computer into the Convention Center and use it to compete in the tournament.

Security is notoriously bad at gaming conventions and events, where it is more of a security theater than it is real security. They make you empty all your pockets, open all your bags, and go through a metal detector before you’re allowed in the secured area. This discourages already-law-abiding citizens from bringing weapons onto the convention floor, but it does nothing to actually stop someone intent on causing damage, as none of the guards were armed with lethal force to stop attackers.

What I saw at DreamHack, though, was an all-time peak in incompetency and failure. Remember the BYOC system I just told you about? Most people bring their computers, monitors, and other gaming equipment packaged in boxes. Those boxes never get opened or checked, and just get rolled through a side aisle past security. That means that someone intending on harming convention-goers can buy a BYOC admission pass, load up “computer boxes” with lethal weapons, and cause immense bodily harm.

And of course, with California gun laws, I, as an out-of-state resident, cannot carry a firearm… nor can a vast majority of in-state residents, because permits are rarely issued to begin with. Letting massive boxes of unknown equipment through security checkpoints while preventing trained individuals from carrying lethal self-defense weapons seems like a disaster waiting to happen.


DreamHack Anaheim

Luckily, things overall weren’t as terrible as I might be making it seem, because there were a lot of Tempo Storm members in attendance, so I was with pretty good company. During the time we weren’t in the Convention Center, we went to visit the Downtown Disney District, which apparently is the “other half” of Disney that you’re able to enter without having to pay an amusement park admission fee. (Photos from Disney will be in a separate post.)




Hello Beverly Hills

My next installment of my “Hello <Location>” series is here, but I can’t really reveal too much on this one. Back on December 15 after the Rainbow Six Siege tournament in Las Vegas, I drove to Beverly Hills to accept the keys for Tempo Storm’s new property.

This is going to be a team house revolving around content production with all the residents being high-profile public figures, so I don’t want to post too many photos myself in case it spoils some of the future content plans they have (like a house tour). Here are just a few exterior shots and the view from the kitchen.





My trip was cut extremely short when I got severely ill after arriving in Beverly Hills. I usually get pretty sick during my first ~20 hours of travel when­ev­er I leave Las Vegas anyway, and it was compounded this time by the fact that I was traveling with one of our esports managers who was also sick. Then, for my first ever meal from the new Beverly Hills house, I got food poisoning from eating blue crab sushi and avocado wrapped in salmon sashimi.

I ended up vomiting three times that evening and overnight, and I came home early to rest and recover from the illness, as well as to take it easy during the holidays. I’ll probably stay home in Las Vegas throughout Christmas and New Year’s, but I’ll need to head back over towards the beginning of Jan­u­ary to resume set-up.

As you can probably tell from the few photos that I posted, this house has a very big “wow” factor, so I’m excited to see what our production team has planned with this house for the coming year.




There was finally another big esports event in Las Vegas

After the H1Z1 Pro League ended up being an absolute, catastrophic failure, I haven’t really seen too many big esports events happening in Las Vegas. I saw that the Esports Arena at the Luxor held a few events, but most of them seemed to be amateur or smaller-end tournaments and nothing too notable.

… Either that, or I’m just ignorant.

Anyway, after Tempo Storm signed a Rainbow Six Siege team, it was announced that the 2019 US Nationals would take place in Las Vegas in the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. The Rio gives me borderline PTSD because that’s the hotel where the H1Z1 players stayed during the H1Z1 Pro League, but regardless, I was still pleased that something that Tempo Storm was involved in was happening in Las Vegas.

We had a handful of staff members coming into Las Vegas to attend the event because Rainbow Six Siege is going to be a big part of the esports division of the company moving forward. I booked an Airbnb at the Palms Place hosted by Creambnb for them, but that ended up being a huge disappointment.

It was listed as a Palms Place penthouse (a penthouse, by definition, is a unit on the top floor of a building), which implies that it would be on the 47th floor (seeing as Palms Place is 47 stories tall). I later found out that the address of the unit indicated it was on the 34th floor. Then, on check-in, we were directed to the 9th floor.

The person who helped me with check-in (which was not “Mona,” who was on the listing as the owner, nor “Cream,” who was communicating with me via messages on Airbnb) said that there was a water leak on the 34th floor and they were unable to put us in that unit. However, she also wasn’t able to provide a partial credit or refund for relocating us to a far lower floor. She was also adamant about never going to the front desk, and said that we would be in huge trouble if we did—which is strange, because Palms Place is a condotel anyway, so it made me suspect that they were doing something shady.

Anyway, the staff members went from having the potential to have a great view from the top of Palms Place… to staring directly at a parking garage with donut circles at the top.


I absolutely would not recommend staying with Creambnb, especially seeing as my situation does not seem to be an isolated case, as other reviews also show an unusually high number of people complaining about last-minute cancellations by the host, or ending up being put in a unit that was different than what they purchased.

Anyway, the event went about as expected—it was just another esports event—and unfortunately, our team lost twice in a row with a score of 7-8 and 7-8 (I’m not sure how Rainbow Six Siege works, but I think the rounds are best-of-15?), lost the series 0-2, and got knocked out during the first round.



During the evening, I went to get sushi with some other staff members, and while we were waiting for our table to be ready, we stopped by a nearby sports bar just to explore.


After we got eliminated, Jordan Kelly (who you may remember as my hiking buddy) and I went and experienced the one and only good thing (at least in my opinion) about the Rio—the Voodoo Lounge at the top of the Masquerade Tower.

Behold, the greatest city in the world.