I just finished moving for the 7th time in the past 2.5 years

View from a high-rise condo on the Las Vegas Strip

  1. 2016-11: Hometown in Chicagoland suburbs → Tempo Storm’s 1st SoCal team house, to start my full-time esports journey
  2. 2016-12: → Tempo’s 2nd SoCal team house (I was setting up these team houses while I was living in them)
  3. 2017-01: → apartment in SoCal, because the team houses were full with players
  4. 2018-01: → back to Tempo’s 2nd SoCal team house, after the conclusion of my one-year apartment lease
  5. 2018-03: → penthouse at The Mercer Las Vegas, because I wanted to live in Las Vegas
  6. 2018-08: → Tempo’s Las Vegas team house, because H1PL Split 2 was postponed and the players moved out
  7. 2019-03: → high-rise condominium complex on the Las Vegas Strip, after the conclusion of the team house lease

I’m hoping I’ll be able to stay at my new location for more than just a short duration, because the view out of my unit is pretty amazing. My unit itself is extremely efficient and fits what I need perfectly.

Yes, I realize that if you’re familiar with Las Vegas, I’ve essentially given away exactly where I live, because there’s literally only one building that could possibly have that exact view from the photograph. But, considering just how many units are packed into this building, even if you already know that I live on an upper floor, you’re still looking at a number of possibilities that almost rivals the size of an average American subdivision… so I’m not too concerned.

Right around two months ago, I posted a blog post titled “My desire to live in a high-rise condo has been rekindled,” after my co-worker Jordan King and I went to visit our lawyer’s office in a high-rise building in Los Angeles.

Well, if you know me, you know that there aren’t many things that I want, but when I really want something, I get it. So that’s how I ended up here, and I’m glad I did.

 

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2018 GMC Canyon & AutoNation GMC Henderson: ½-year owner’s review

Do I still adore my truck? Yes.

As much as I did before? No.

Making a stop at the Grewal Business Center in Baker, CA after driving through the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas in a rainstorm

Back at the end of July 2018, I purchased a 2018 GMC Canyon mid-size pick-up truck from AutoNation GMC Henderson. I’ve owned the truck for just over 7 months now, and here are the experiences I’ve had owning the truck.

  • The seat is incredibly uncomfortable for long-distance driving. I have the SLE model (yes, I am sure it is the SLE, it’s just that the exterior is modified to look like the all-terrain) and it does not come with lumbar adjustment. I’ve been on multiple trips across the Mojave Desert from Las Vegas to Southern California and back, and I usually have noticeable back pain if I don’t stop a few times to take a break and stretch my back.

    I’ve resorted to sitting half cross-legged – that is, I take my left shoe off and fold my left leg under my other leg to give my lower back a stronger base of support – to ease the pain during long-distance driving. I’ve also tried a variety of different lumbar pillows, but none of them seem to fit just right.

    If you also have lower back problems, I would recommend either purchasing a different truck (I’ve driven between Las Vegas and Southern Cali­fornia in both the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier via rentals from Enterprise, and I’ve had no back problems with either of those trucks) or upgrading to a higher trim with adjustable lumbar support.

  • Right around 4,380 miles on the odometer, the vehicle just randomly shut off with no warning while I was driving. Luckily I was cruising at approximately 20 MPH (30 KPH) because I had just turned out of my cousin’s neighborhood, but I noticed that the accelerator had stopped working, and when I checked to see what was going on, I saw that the vehicle was off.

    I continued cruising to the side of the road, stopped, put the vehicle in park, removed the key normally as if I was turning off the engine, waited several seconds, then started the vehicle again, and it worked perfectly fine. I’ve driven a couple thousand more miles since then and haven’t en­coun­tered the problem again.

    I brought the vehicle to the dealership to get it checked up, but the mechanic could not find any error codes in the history, and he was unable to replicate the problem (which was expected, seeing as I had already driven about 2,000 miles since the issue without the vehicle randomly dying again).

  • The transmission is slow and lurches the vehicle when the fluids are still cold. There’s an option to display transmission fluid temperature in the gauge cluster, and whenever it’s below ~100°F, the transmission takes longer to shift to different gears. This is particularly noticeable when you’re just starting up the vehicle and making your first stop of the day. If you do not come to a complete stop then wait a few seconds (and instead just slow down and roll through a stop sign), the vehicle will hiccup and lurch when you ease your foot off the brake and begin accelerating again.

    This problem did not happen right away, but became an issue a few months into ownership. After a few months, it happened with a 100% replication rate. Unfortunately, when I took it to the dealership for warranty service, the mechanic said that he could not recreate the problem, and said that the transmission is working as intended. The worst part about it is that it literally only happens after the vehicle sits overnight and completely cools down, so because the mechanic had already driven the vehicle earlier in the day, I couldn’t just get into the truck and show him myself.

    I plan on bringing the vehicle back for warranty service, though I need to figure out a strategy to actually show the problem to the mechanic my­self (which will be difficult unless I literally drop off the truck, use rideshare service to come back home, use rideshare service to go back to the dealership the next day, then drive the truck with the mechanic in the passenger seat the next morning on a cold start).

  • The climate control was fickle and often would not fully shut off, even though the center console claimed it was off. As a result, I couldn’t just set the temperature to very cold or very hot, blast the climate control until it was a comfortable temperature, then turn it off. Instead, I had to actually select exactly what temperature of air I wanted, because even in the “off” position, it would still blow out air of that particular temperature.

    The mechanic apparently forgot to write comments about this problem after bringing it in for warranty service, but after I tried to recreate the problem, it no longer happened, so I presume that they ended up finding some problem somewhere and fixed it.

  • The dealership, AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson, was great right up until my actual warranty service began. My salesperson was awesome, and my service consultant was probably the only service consultant I’ve ever seen who seemed like they actually cared about the customer. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I’m extremely dissatisfied with the mechanics.

    Not only did they fail to recreate a very basic transmission problem, even though I went as far as to drop off my truck and let it sit at the dealership overnight so they could drive it from a cold start, but for whatever reason, they decided to disconnect my dash cam part-way through servicing my vehicle. This was apparent far before I actually looked at the footage – I knew right away because, when they reconnected it, they didn’t even bother mounting it properly again, and instead left it dangling by the wires from the headliner (I have the dash cam hardwired).

    As far as I’m aware, the only reason to actually disconnect a dash cam then literally mention nothing about it when I went to pick up the truck (and also leave no mention about it in the service notes) is if they were up to something suspicious that they didn’t want me to know about. There’s another AutoNation GMC on the other side of the Las Vegas Valley, and I’ll likely end up taking my truck to the one on Sahara for a re-check on the transmission problem, hoping that the mechanics there know what they’re doing and opt to not disconnect my dash cam (or at least tell me if they need to).

So, do I regret the purchase of a GMC Canyon? Absolutely not. But would I do it again? … Absolutely not.

My decision was a toss-up between the Toyota Tacoma and the GMC Canyon; the Canyon won because it had substantially better styling for the price (both on the exterior and interior) as well as interior luxuries and conveniences. With the mid-size pick-up truck segment evolving with vehicle redesigns in the coming few years, I’m hoping that Toyota can up the quality of the Tacoma enough that it becomes the leader in the segment in both looks and reliability.

As for my Canyon, I was originally planning on keeping it for about a decade – and if I had gotten a Tacoma, I almost definitely would’ve kept it for a decade, as those things tend to run buttery smooth for a long, long time. However, at this point, with electric vehicles poising to take over the market, I’m almost glad that I have a semi-unreliable vehicle, as it will likely encourage me in the next 4-5 years to just trade it in and upgrade to an electric pick-up truck (while if I had a Tacoma, I would likely hold onto it forever).

 

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To everyone who said I was stupid for moving to Las Vegas because “it’s always 100°F there”

Yes, it is snowing in Las Vegas.

No, I did not Photoshop in the snow.

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

Snow in Rhodes Ranch, Las Vegas, NV

I haven’t been around in Las Vegas for that long, so I don’t have any prior first-hand experience with snow in the desert city, but I’m hearing that there is usually noticeable snow about once every 3-5 years. However, I’m also hearing that having this much snow piling up and actually sticking to the ground is extremely rare – closer to happening once every decade or so, most recently in December 2008.

So, as we can obviously see at this point, just because Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert and is one of the (if not just straight-up the) least humid cities in the United States doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get cold and there isn’t precipitation. People still wear coats in Las Vegas in the winter, and on occasion, have the privilege of building snowmen.

Unfortunately, after the snow stopped falling and it became midday, temperatures rose to the mid- to upper 40s in Fahrenheit, and the snow melted pretty quickly. I captured a final photo later on in the day as I was headed back to the house after getting some food, and the only remaining snow was high up in the mountains.

Snow in the mountains in Las Vegas, NV

 

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The best part of traveling is coming back home

At this point, I feel like “the best part of traveling is coming back home” should just be one of my catchphrases – it seems fitting, considering how often I travel and how I’m always eager to come back home.

After a tough second half of January 2019, I can finally sit back and relax, as the rush is over – the National PUBG League is moving forward in full force, we have an insanely high-end team house, and to top it all off, our PUBG team finished the opening weekend of league play in first place overall after the first day and second place after the second day, out of 16 teams.

Sunday the 3rd ended up being an errands and work catch-up day, spending a big chunk of the afternoon driving around Beach Cities with two of my co-workers, then doing a bunch of operations and editorial work after returning to the team house. Sunday also marked the day that Jordan King returned to Nebraska – I dropped him off at the airport close to midnight so he would catch his red-eye flight. This wassn’t just any red-eye flight, though – he took a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Chicago O’Hare, then retraced his steps on a connecting flight from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. He was planning on sleeping overnight on the plane and waking up fresh Monday morning to begin working again – I’m sure we can all guess how well that ended up working out.

After finishing up some final errands on Monday morning, I loaded everything up into my trusty pickup truck and drove back home to Las Vegas. Everything was decently uneventful – just the typical California traffic in the middle of nowhere up the mountains, plus a light drizzle. That is, everything was decently uneventful until I got to Baker. There was a massive collision right outside of Baker that backed up traffic to a standstill for a few miles. The funniest part is that people were presumably just following their GPS instructions, which were probably detecting massive traffic on I-15 S and were telling drivers to reroute to I-15 S Business, which is an extension of the freeway that cuts through the actual city of Baker… thus ensued a literal standstill throughout the entire city of Baker, and not just on the freeway.

I got a chance to plunder my SD card of photos I took throughout the week, and I have a few more highlights, the first being a photo of the Pacific Ocean that I took while touring a house in Rolling Hills, a gated city in the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Pacific Ocean from Rolling Hills

I also captured a glorious sunset from the rooftop deck of our new team house in Beach Cities… and also captured Jordan King taking a picture of his can of Red Bull with the sunset in the background.

If you’re a photographer, you know that most cameras adjust themselves such that, if you face it directly at an orange sunset, it looks a bit more dull than it actually is. That was the case for my photos as well, so I did some edits to the full sunset (I guess with these saturation edits, it becomes more “art” and less of an authentic photograph) to reflect the magnitude of what I recall seeing in person. However, I didn’t edit the saturation on the second photo, and that is still a pretty intense sunset.

Sunset from Redondo Beach

Jordan King taking a photo of his Red Bull can

Remember how I said it was drizzling during the drive? Eventually, the drizzle became an actual rainstorm, but the precipitation didn’t completely engulf the entire Mojave Desert. It was still the middle of the day, so the sun was strong – I managed to capture beams of sunlight penetrating storm clouds and illuminating the desert sand. I don’t think this photograph does the scene justice, but this was one of those rare times where I looked at something happening right in front of me and inadvertently said “wow.”

Beams of sunlight penetrating storm clouds and illuminating the Mojave Desert

My next scheduled travel is between February 13-20 to Chicago. I am already looking forward to my next “the best part of traveling is coming back home” post.

 

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My first time visiting the Santa Monica Pier

Having lived in Illinois and Wisconsin my entire life until late 2016, and not really traveling much or having an interest in traveling (except for just going back and forth between Chicago and Los Angeles multiple times for esports-related stuff), I never really learned much (or cared to learn much) about notable landmarks and points of interest around the world (or even around the country).

One of these points of interest was the Santa Monica Pier, which I did not really know much about until the middle of 2016 back when Pokémon Go was released and everyone said that the Santa Monica Pier was the best place to play. Since moving to the Pacific coast and learning more about what’s over on this side of the country, I soon realized the importance of the Santa Monica Pier (and even discovered that the pier in Grand Theft Auto V, which I play on occasion, is modeled after it). But, I still never really bothered to go visit it in person.

A few days ago, I joined one of my friends and co-workers on a trip to the Santa Monica Pier late at night – a trip I agreed to because I was able to be a passenger and be whisked away to our destination with no effort. Being the first time visiting, I aggressively photographed everything around me; here are a few highlights:

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

 

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The start of the 2019 National PUBG League

This is the culmination of the two weeks’ worth of travel I’ve done to California since the middle of January.

National PUBG League

Tempo Storm at the National PUBG League

National PUBG League

All the touring of properties, negotiations with realtors, reading of legal documents, coordination with contractors, and literal thousands of miles of driving was for this – the National PUBG League, or the NPL. In case you missed my references to it from my previous blog posts, I’ve been scrambling to get this team house set up as smoothly as possible because of our PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds team qualifying for this official league.

I’m not really a fan of live events anymore, as I’ve just been to way too many at this point, and they begin to lose their magic once you’re behind-the-scenes and see the clown fiesta that usually unfolds at each tournament. With that being said, it was still pretty satisfying being there in the front row of seats, especially on the very first day when we finished in first place overall.

This one cut it really close, and I got a good amount of help from a few people, but I think this is still considered another successful project under my belt.

 

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How to eat a week’s worth of sugar in one sitting

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older and my metabolism is slowing down, or if the people I spend time with while I travel just eat way too much, but every time I travel, I come back home with a small belly bulge that takes a few additional days of reduced calorie consumption to go away. I’m usually pretty conservative and controlled in my eating when I’m at home, but while I’m traveling, I’m usually at the mercy of those around me, as I generally just join in for meals when they want to eat.

Another significant aspect of why I stay healthy is because I stopped eating sugary products a while back. As I got older and did a bit more research, I learned that it’s not fat that makes you fat, but sugar, and the reason fat was demonized was because the sugar industry paid off a lot of scientists back when initial research study results were being published. Unfortunately, that sort of goes out the window when I’m traveling as well, and I ended up getting way too much dessert.

Jordan wanted to get some ice cream last night. I ended up with this massive thing.

Ice cream

Something I like to do when I go to new restaurants is to try their iconic or signature items. This is usually a good idea because, not only is it more likely to be popular so the food item has a higher chance of being fresh, but it also lets me try different foods made by people who consider it to be their specialty. For lunch today, Jordan and I went to a Cajun restaurant that served alligator. Not having tried alligator before (at least, not that I recall), I decided to order alligator.

Fried alligator strips with potatoes

Close-up of fried alligator strips

When I cook meat, I usually add only salt and pepper, as I personally like the taste of the actual meat and don’t want to overwhelm it with strong or excessive seasoning. Unfortunately, this Cajun restaurant didn’t share my values, and instead of giving me normal alligator, they cooked it in sort of a cross between chicken strips and fish and chips style. It was next to impossible to actually recognize what the alligator itself tasted like because the fried breading was way too overpowering, and the inside just looked like any generic white meat.

With that being said, from what I could tell, alligator had a chewy, fishy taste to it. Once I get the chance, I’ll likely go seek out some alligator prepared like a steak, so I can get a good conceptualization of what the meat itself actually tastes like.

 

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My desire to live in a high-rise condo has been rekindled

There is a massive palm tree right outside the window of the room I’m staying at in the new Tempo Storm team house. This palm tree houses two extended families of parakeets that screech the song of their homeland every morning, and I cannot sleep.

Palm tree outside a house in Redondo Beach

After emerging from bed in a disgruntled and sleep-deprived state, first on today’s agenda was to visit our lawyers for a casual meeting in Los Angeles. After arriving in the parking garage (which apparently was forced valet parking, and I later found out that I was charged almost $27 for their services for literally less than an hour of parking), Jordan King and I took the elevator up to their offices in the high-rise building.

I’ve always been a fan of high-rise buildings, and I was actually intending on living in a high-rise condo when I first moved to Las Vegas – the main reason I didn’t do that right away is because I would’ve also had to purchase a vehicle if that was the case (because things like groceries and reasonably-priced restaurants are not in walking distance from the Strip), and I wanted to work on building up my savings more than living in ultimate luxury. I don’t have a fear of heights, but rather, more so a love of heights – back when I visited the Wilis Tower in Chicago (formerly known as the Sears Tower), people were afraid to step in the clear glass pods extending off the skydeck, while I stepped on them and felt liberated.

After staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows of our lawyers’ offices, my desire to live in a high-rise condo has been rekindled. I tried to take a few photos, but I don’t think any photographs and do the view justice, especially considering that I can’t actually tilt the camera in a manner that captures just how high up I am without also just completely removing the remaining upper portion of the photograph, simply because of how vast the view is.

View of Los Angeles from a high rise building

View of Los Angeles from a high rise building

After taking in the thrilling view, we stopped by the University of California, Los Angeles campus to meet up with one of our employees at Tempo Storm and have lunch. After scheduling our meal for Boiling Crab, then receiving a call from him moments before we were scheduled to meet up with him saying “there is a caveat,” the caveat being that Boiling Crab does not open until 3 PM PST, we decided to have lunch at a Thai restaurant instead called Mr. Noodle.

I ordered some Thai-style ribs.

Ribs and rice

Normally, all this driving, especially through Los Angeles city, completely drains me. After returning home, I usually want to stay inside, wrap myself in a blanket, and be alone for the rest of the day. However, I was miraculously convinced to do a bit of touring during the night, and considering I wasn’t driving this time and just riding along, I agreed. One of the places we visited was the Venice sign on Pacific Coast Highway.

Venice sign

I thought this was my first time seeing the Venice sign, but after I actually looked up where it was, I realized that I had inadvertently been there already without even realizing it – back when Tempo Storm first partnered with Red Bull, we had a staff onboarding session, and I stayed at Hotel Erwin for the event, which was a street away. I was also literally standing right under the sign at one point too, because I had walked from the hotel to the poke shop next door to the sign.

 

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