I guess this is what happens when a garbage truck operator decides to randomly press the “release” button while still driving down the road





How much value I got from my Chase Sapphire Reserve in the first year

Most people are hesitant to sign up for credit cards with annual fees because they never know if it will be worth it. Back in July 2018, I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve because, after a quick calculation, I knew for a fact that I would get way more value out of it than a regular, no-annual-fee credit card.

Now that one year has passed, I decided to do a deep dive on all the spending I’ve done on my Chase Sapphire Reserve to see just how much value I got out of it.

Before we begin, I want to separate this benefit from everything else: I received 50,000 rewards points as a sign-up bonus, which is equivalent to $750 worth of travel redeemed through the rewards portal. All monetary value calculations of points will be done at the 1.5¢ per point rate, as I actually use all my points to their fullest extent (then usually still run out of points and end up buying more travel out-of-pocket).

According to my account’s spending report, here is what I bought between August 2018 and July 2019 (I don’t think all these categories are accurate; I’m just going off what Chase thinks each purchase is):

Category Spending Rewards
Automotive $ 324.72 $ 4.87
Bills & utilities $ 7,272.35 $ 109.09
Entertainment $ 386.00 $ 5.79
Food & drink $ 4,025.55 $ 181.15
Gas $ 1,664.72 $ 60.38
Groceries $ 2,061.33 $ 30.92
Health & wellness $ 2,240.28 $ 33.60
Home $ 1,759.77 $ 26.40
Personal $ 445.01 $ 6.68
Professional services $ 2,955.82 $ 44.34
Shopping $ 6,715.17 $ 100.73
Travel $ 4,678.49 $ 210.53
Total $ 34,529.21 $ 814.47

With that being said, here are the key points:

  • The annual fee is $450, but the card comes with a $300 travel credit that I am guaranteed to redeem each year, so the effective annual fee is actually $150.
  • If I had spent $34,529.21 on a 1% cash back credit card, I would’ve earned $345.29 in rewards. By using the Chase Sapphire Reserve instead, I accrued $814.47 in rewards points during the year. That is $469.18 more than if I had stuck with a regular credit card.
  • I am enrolled in Global Entry, but I enrolled one year prior to getting a Chase Sapphire Reserve, so I haven’t used the card’s Global Entry credit yet. However, over the span of the five-year renewal period, this benefit is equivalent to a value of $20 per year.
  • In regards to Priority Pass Select, my travel tendencies tend to fluctuate a lot, but if taking a very rough average, I travel about once a month and often enter an airport lounge 2 times per trip, for 24 visits per year. The cheapest way to enter an airport lounge this frequently is through Priority Pass Prestige, which is $429 per year. Now of course, if I didn’t have Priority Pass Select with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I just wouldn’t use airport lounges, so the weight put on this benefit is different than the raw monetary value of other benefits. However, I do get free food in lounges, and if I were to assign a conservative value of $5 worth of food eaten per lounge visit that I otherwise would’ve had to buy elsewhere, the benefit is worth about $120.
  • The card comes with various elements of travel insurance, like for flights and rental vehicles, but I’ve never needed to use this insurance, neither during the 1 year I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or at all throughout my entire life of travel. Thus, because it is so difficult to predict when emergencies and inconveniences will happen, I’m not going to assign a concrete value to travel insurance.

This is a lot of information, a lot of which is situational. But if you want a raw number without having to account for the arbitrary value of benefits, it is $319.18. I will passively make about $319.18 each year just for using the Chase Sapphire Reserve instead of a no-annual-fee credit card.

With benefits considered (including the introductory offer), that number goes up to $1,189.18 earned in the first year (non-repeatable, of course).




Visiting Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

As the final “event” of my trip to the Midwest, I went to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, accompanied by Monica Wang, Jordan King, and his daughter.

I’ve never really been that interested in the zoo, and I’m conflicted about the captivity of animals—it feels like they’re being forced into confinement against their will, but I also acknowledge that, in some situations, their environment might actually be better than what they experience in the wild. Because of that internal conflict/confusion, I never really went out of my way to visit a zoo.

But, when I asked Jordan King for suggestions for what to do during my final full day in Lincoln, he suggested the zoo, so I went along.









Full album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamparkzer/sets/72157710147372767




The only two photos from our road trip back from Minneapolis to Lincoln

Last week, I spent some time looking back to some of my tweets from 2011-2014 and realizing how nostalgic and interesting it was to relive my past, even if it was less than a decade ago. Because of this, I promised myself that I would create more content—both on social media and on my blog—so I can look back in the future and see what I did at any particular point in my life.

Unfortunately, the road trip back from Minneapolis to Lincoln yesterday wasn’t very eventful, and as a result, I forgot to take many photos. But, in the same spirit I had last week about my old tweets, I still wanted to post to maintain continuity in my life timeline for when I inevitably look back at my younger self.

One of the two photos I have isn’t even taken by me—it was taken by Monica Wang, an esports manager from Tempo Storm who was road tripping with us and sitting in the back seat. As you can probably tell, I’m extremely bored, and Jordan King is knocked out and asleep.

Driving from Minneapolis to Lincoln

When I finally did remember to take photos was when we were at one of our final stops before making it back to Lincoln. We stopped at the Flying J Travel Center in Avoca, Iowa, a random place between Des Moines and Omaha. It was actually a pretty nice travel center—it had a bunch of food places, and it sort of reminded me of the Grewal Business Center in Baker, CA, which I visit often whenever I drive back and forth between SoCal and Las Vegas.

Stopping by Wings America




X Games Minneapolis 2019

This is probably pretty obvious from my blog posts from the past few days, but in case you’re reading this standalone—I traveled with Tempo Storm to X Games Minneapolis 2019 because our Apex Legends team was competing in the EXP Invitational.

Unfortunately, I can’t actually watch first-person perspective gameplay, as I get severe motion sickness. But, I decided to attend anyway for two main reasons: (1) Jordan King was attending and I don’t get to see him in person too often, and (2) I got excited about the greater X Games event, broadcasted on ESPN.

I’m sure this goes without saying, but I enjoyed checking out the other X Games events better than the EXP Invitational, because I was able to actually watch and experience them, instead of just looking away from the big screen during Apex Legends gameplay and taking quick naps in hopes of not vomiting from getting too dizzy.

Tempo Storm’s Apex Legends team fell short of earning a medal, as we placed 5th, two positions shy of bronze. However, there were 20 total teams competing, so I guess I can’t be too upset, as things could’ve ended up being a whole lot worse. This fifth-place placement was with a substitute player as well—our regular in-game leader lives in Mexico and could not get his visa sorted out in time—so with all things considered, I actually probably shouldn’t be upset at all.

US Bank Stadium

X Games Minneapolis 2019

X Games Minneapolis 2019

X Games Minneapolis 2019

X Games Minneapolis 2019

EXP Invitational - Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis 2019

Victory huddle after EXP Invitational - Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis 2019

Full album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamparkzer/sets/72157710145589612




Hello St. Paul

The EXP Invitational – Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis 2019 is taking place in full force, but the games don’t start until later on in the afternoon. Although I’ve mostly been a night person all my life, I started waking up quite a bit earlier, and this morning, I joined my friend Jordan Kelly (who also accompanied me on my hiking trips in Las Vegas) and visited St. Paul, Minnesota.

I’m pretty terrible at using public transportation, so I just followed Jordan around as he brought me on a train and got me accustomed to using the Lime scooter rental system. We went and visited a handful of historic landmarks and other points of interest.

Usually, I’m not really a fan of “old stuff,” but after visiting St. Paul, I realized that old stuff can have its own kind of appeal. Those who know me closely know that I essentially ragequit my former Master’s program because my university forced me to take a ton of history classes that I was not interested in, as a mandatory requirement for my degree. Even with that kind of mindset, I felt like what I saw in St. Paul was rich and deep enough to pique my interest.

We wanted to get back to Minneapolis in time to watch Tempo Storm compete, so we were on a pretty fast-paced exploration path and I didn’t really get to remember where we went. So, unfortunately, I don’t have labels or captions for any of these photos, as I don’t quite recall what anything actually was.







Full album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamparkzer/sets/72157710146931707




Road tripping from Lincoln to Minneapolis with Jordan King

It’s very rare for there to be an esports event in the Midwest—they’re generally held around Los Angeles and sometimes in Las Vegas, and usually the “weirdest” place you can find a tournament is in Texas or on the East coast. So, when ESPN announced the EXP Invitational – Apex Legends at X Games Minneapolis 2019, Jordan King, a resident of Nebraska, was interested in attending, seeing as it was nearby.

I don’t get to see Jordan too often, so I decided to fly out from Las Vegas to Nebraska and road trip along with him. I arrived two days early (which was when my “hello Omaha” photo was posted), and August 1 was road trip day.

The road trip started relatively uneventfully—we set out at around 9 AM CDT and drove towards Fremont to have breakfast at the Polymath Café and Market. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found out that they seemed to have gone out of business, as there was a “For Lease” sign in the front window. Instead, we drove around until we found a McDonald’s and had breakfast there instead.

Making a stop at McDonald's

The next leg of our road trip was to Sioux City, Iowa, but it took a bit of time to actually get there. Not only did my phone lose GPS signal twice and I took two wrong turns, but there was also a lot of road construction along the way, and we did a whole lot of stopping.

At one particular construction zone, I had to follow a pilot car to the other side of the single-lane road, which is something that I had never done before. Usually in Las Vegas, a construction worker just flips the Stop sign to Slow and we navigate ourselves, but I guess these guys wanted to be extra safe.


First time ever seeing a "pilot car"

After a quick break in Sioux City, we headed to our next stop in Windom, Minnesota to refuel the truck. When I hopped out, I realized that, while driving through Iowa, I had collected a few cups worth of bug guts and about 20 dead butterflies in my grille. It wasn’t something I was expecting, so it was quite the sight.

Grasshopper guts and butterflies stuck in my grille

Our final stop was in Mankato, Minnesota where we headed to Riverfront Park to take a look at the Minnesota River. Apparently there were invasive species in that area, and the water looked particularly dirty.



After finally making it to Minneapolis, we went to all-you-can-eat sushi at Kyoto Sushi. I picked this particular restaurant out because it had something extremely rare—they offered sashimi on their all-you-can-eat menu. It was probably the best all-you-can-eat sushi experience I ever had—I ended up eating 65 pieces of sashimi, and the fish was actually decently-sized and pretty good quality.


Our first day of X Games is tomorrow; more pictures to come soon.