My aunt and uncle tried to visit me in Las Vegas yesterday

My aunt and uncle—the ones who live in Southern California and own a farm up in the mountains—tried to visit me in Las Vegas yesterday. They hopped on Interstate 15 to drive north towards Las Vegas, but after a few hours, they called me and said that they had to turn around and go back home because of traffic.

A bit confused, I looked at Google Maps and saw deep, dark red blanketing the traffic map of Cajon Pass and Mountain Pass. Even more confused, I searched on Google News for those areas… to discover that they were apparently completely blanketed in snow, and cars weren’t managing to make it through.

2019122701

The snowstorm was obviously unexpected, because the only snow that I could see out my window was the snow far up in the mountains. But Cajon Pass and Mountain Pass are 3,776 and 4,728 feet in elevation, respectively, so it’s quite a bit higher than the Las Vegas Valley, and thus a whole lot more prone to snowstorms.

I watched a story post of someone I’m following on Instagram who was also making the drive from Southern California back to Las Vegas; she stuck through the drive, and apparently, she left SoCal at around 3 PM and arrived back in Las Vegas at 1 AM the following day.

… That sounds terrifying.

 

—§—

 

Indonesian stingray rowstone belt by Jacob Hill Leather Co.

I published a blog post yesterday titled “I got myself a new stingray wallet” where I explained why I got rid of my Louis Vuitton Gaspar Wallet made out of canvas and replaced it with a custom-ordered, hand-crafted leather wallet with stingray exterior and kangaroo interior. After posting, one of the ques­tions I got was how I knew I would like stingray.

There’s actually a very simple and straightforward answer to that. Early this year, I purchased a white smoke hornback saltwater crocodile belt from Jacob Hill Leather Co., and after I received that belt and was satisfied with it, I made a repeat purchase.

The next purchase I made with Jacob Hill Leather Co. was an Indonesian stingray rowstone belt. It was made with the same level of high-quality ma­te­ri­als as my crocodile belt, and after feeling the stingray skin, I knew that stingray would be my leather of choice.

Indonesian stingray rowstone belt

Indonesian stingray rowstone belt

Indonesian stingray rowstone belt

Indonesian stingray rowstone belt

You may notice that this stingray looks noticeably different than the stingray that I posted yesterday on my wallet. My wallet is made out of completely polished stingray (to create an entirely smooth and mirror-like finish), while my belt only has the center rowstone area polished. That means that the center is similar to my wallet, but the outer edges of the belt are far more bumpy.

If you were to run your finger down the sides of the belt (the black part), it would feel close to extremely coarse sandpaper with extremely low grit, but with each of the nodes being much larger and not as aggravating as real sandpaper. It’s not exactly painful to the touch, but if you apply enough pres­sure, it will definitely make the stingray push into your skin.

As a reminder, the little bumps on stingray skin are made out of calcium deposits. Stingray leather doesn’t quite get affected by a traditional patina, but the way that stingray does undergo a patina-like process is when the belt is used enough that day-to-day wear will grind down on the calcium a tiny bit such that it soft of creates a natural, subtle polish on the remainder of the belt.

This grinding process obviously only happens when the belt comes into contact with harder materials though, and your pants definitely are not harder than stingray. As a result, a little bit of extra care is needed when wearing stingray belts as to not damage your belt loops—this belt isn’t just going to smoothly slide off your waist with little effort. At first it was a bit inconvenient, but it barely takes several extra seconds, it’s easy to get used to it, and it ultimately will be a non-factor once the belt goes through its “patina” evolution.

Another question I got about stingray is how the texture doesn’t “weird me out.” I imagine that this question is in reference to trypophobia, or the fear of the sight of clusters of small holes or bumps, especially on the human skin. Even though having some form of trypophobia is actually considered bio­log­i­cal­ly normal, my senses don’t actually really respond too much to trypophobia-triggering patterns, and I usually only have any kind of reaction at all when I see those pictures of a lotus seed head Photoshopped onto someone’s face.

So, apologies in advance if you’re with me in-person and I take out my wallet or you get a glimpse of my belt and you’re repulsed, but I think stingray skin is mesmerizing. I would get more stingray belts, but I very recently spent US$359 on the wallet I posted about yesterday, so I’m on my “exotic leather goods cooldown period” so I don’t end up spending an irresponsible amount of money on luxury products.

 

—§—

 

I got myself a new stingray wallet

If you’ve spent any time with me in-person recently, you may have noticed that I’ve been using a Louis Vuitton wallet for a little while. The wallet I had in particular was the Louis Vuitton Gaspar Wallet in Monogram Macassar canvas, which goes for about US$500.00 today on Louis Vuitton’s website.

I wanted to switch wallets for a few reasons:

  1. My Louis Vuitton wallet drew too much unwanted attention.

    I’m usually someone who wants to go unnoticed so people don’t bother me, and I failed to realize that having a Louis Vuitton wallet draws at­ten­tion from people who have an interest in designer goods. It also draws at­ten­tion from people who don’t have an interest in designer goods, and they don’t realize that having a canvas Louis Vuitton wallet is probably one of the most entry-level designer pieces anyone can own, so they instead assume that I’m too rich for my own good.

  2. After using a Louis Vuitton wallet, I realized that I no longer want to support the brand.

    Louis Vuitton is an extremely overrated brand for the products they make and the price point at which they sell them. Some people don’t realize this, but Louis Vuitton canvas is literally a cotton canvas that’s coated with a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride, better known by its abbre­vi­a­tion, PVC. The company claims that it’s more durable, but I’ve faced issues of the canvas cracking, while I’ve never faced an issue like that with full-grain leather. Even the quality of the edge glaze is poor and peels off too easily with normal use.

  3. I wanted to use an actual nice wallet, and one that was custom-designed and unique.

    I don’t really spend that much money, so when I do, I like to buy high-quality products that are long-lasting, luxurious, and nice to the touch. There’s no doubting that a nice, well-treated, full-grain leather product is far more pleasant to feel than PVC-coated canvas, so I wanted something made out of top-tier leather. I also wanted something that was custom-made specifically for me so I would know that nobody else in the world has something exactly like mine (which obviously wouldn’t be possible by just buying a pre-made Louis Vuitton wallet).

After making this decision, I had to decide on two things before moving forward: what kind of leather I wanted, and which leatherworker I wanted to make my wallet for me.

For the type of leather, I decided on stingray. Stringray skin is extremely durable, often considered to be about 25 times stronger than regular cowhide leather that most people’s normal leather wallets are made of. Stringray has a very unique texture, and most people don’t own anything made out of stringray. Stringray—especially polished stingray—is also one of the most difficult skins to counterfeit, so it decreases the chances of someone else having a “fake version” of the wallet that I have.

As for the leatherworker, this discovery process basically just involved me going online and researching as many leatherworkers and leatherworking shops as I could find until I came across one that had experience working with stingray skin. I realized that even finding someone willing to work with stingray at all was difficult enough to begin with, as stingray is a tougher skin to craft so most people don’t even try, so finding someone well-versed at it was nearly impossible.

Eventually, I came across a father/daughter/son-in-law family of leatherworkers who run a company called Wilburn Forge. I noticed that they already had some stingray products on their store, and when I zoomed into the high-resolution photos, the attention to detail was fantastic. The exterior was made with polished stingray, the interior was made out of kan­ga­roo, and the whole thing was stitched together with Ritza Tiger thread, allegedly the best thread in the world.

I reached out to Francesca Wilburn-Ritchie and asked for a custom version of the stingray wallet available on the website. I requested black polished stingray, black kan­ga­roo, and black thread; I wanted the wallet to have six credit card slots, two hidden pockets, one cash slot with no divider, and a side-swinging ID slot. The price we agreed on was US$359.00, which I think was an absolutely amazing deal for me.

Because this was a special order with custom color requests, Francesca had to reach out to her leather and skin supplier in Thailand to custom-order the materials, which meant I had to wait almost two months to actually receive the wallet. But, it was definitely worth it. The wallet arrived about a month or so ago, and I’ve been using it since then. It’s actually somehow been better than what I expected.

Stingray wallet

Stingray wallet

Stingray wallet

So, to get the two obvious questions out of the way:

I mentioned that I wanted black stingray, so why is it white? Well, the stingray skin started as all black, but stingray skin has calcium deposits on it, which is what gives it the beady feel. When the stingray is polished, the calcium deposits are sanded down so it’s smooth, and the white calcium gets exposed. The skin is not re-dyed after the sanding and polishing process, which is what gives the polished stingray skin that texture.

What does stingray feel like? The closest comparison I can give is that polished stingray skin feels like flexible glass. It is extremely reflective of light, and when you bend the skin, it literally feels both rigid and flexible at the same time.

Overall, I’m extremely satisfied with my purchase. It’s insane to me that this wallet is literally ~US$150.00 cheaper than the Louis Vuitton Gaspar Wallet, yet it is constructed with incomparably better materials. Also, with both stingray and kan­ga­roo being some of the strongest leathers available (with kan­ga­roo having one of the best ratios of being lightweight and being durable), I can expect this wallet to last basically a lifetime, as opposed to Louis Vuitton canvas wallets barely lasting a handful of years.

As for my old Louis Vuitton wallet, I decided to give it to a family member who is much more of an enthusiast for designer goods than I am, so it’s in better hands now.

 

—§—

 

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.

2019122001

2019122002

2019122003

2019122004

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.

2019121401

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.

2019121403

2019121404

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.

2019121402

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.

2019121405

 

—§—

 

They replaced my post office with a trailer

My local post office is the one in downtown Las Vegas, one block away from where South Las Vegas Boulevard turns into North Las Vegas Boulevard. Specifically, the address of my local post office, and my PO box inside of it, is 201 Las Vegas Blvd S # 2222, Las Vegas, NV 89101-5780.

If you ever forget that address, have no fear. Some troll took my PO box and added it on Google Maps as my “corporate office” named “Adam Parkzer.”

2019121002

Anyway, I just got back from a long string of travel, so naturally, I stopped by the post office to check my PO box to see what I missed while I was gone. The problem was, when I arrived, I noticed that the post office’s doors were chained shut. I figured something had happened on that side of the building and walked around to the other side to take a back entrance directly to the PO box area… but that was locked too. I went around to a third entrance, and noticed a sign—that the post office had temporarily relocated… to the “parking lot.”

Confused, I went back out to the parking lot where I had parked my truck and looked around a bit. I did notice that a big trailer had been added to the parking lot, but I didn’t really find it that interesting, so I had initially disregarded it.

On closer inspection…

2019121001

Yes, that is indeed the “new” temporary post office. They moved all post office operations, including the PO boxes, into that trailer while the main building was undergoing construction on the upper floors.

I think that is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.

 

—§—

 

Photo dump while I sit here freezing to death

My trip to Illinois has finally almost come to an end. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I flew out to the Chicagoland suburbs to watch my parents’ business (a laundromat) while they were out traveling to South Korea. They’re due to return tomorrow, and I fly out of Chicago and back home to Las Vegas the day after that.

… And if you weren’t able to guess, yes, it is freezing cold in Chicago.

I’ve been both very productive and unproductive at the same time. I have a lot of time to sit in the office in the back of the laundromat to do my own stuff, but I also face a ton of interruptions from customers, and I’m confined to a Chromebook while I travel because I never bothered upgrading to a newer laptop. What I have been able to do, however, is browse through some of my old photos and back them up on Google Drive.

While I did that, I noticed I had a handful of photos from recent times that I never got to post. I picked out a random set of them to post here.

The first is of a “chicken” “sandwich.” I placed both of those words in quotation marks because I’m not really sure if the chicken was real (and if it was, then it was wildly overcooked), and I’m not sure if placing a thin slice of pita bread on both sides of the meat and vegetables counts as a sandwich. It was also extraordinarily expensive… though that fact is mitigated because this was from a restaurant in downtown Long Beach. I think the food was borderline terrible, but at the very least, I had a pleasant experience.

2019120701

The next couple photos are shots I took from the balcony of my condo back in Las Vegas. Being high up has the benefit of letting me see a massive slice of the Las Vegas Valley at once, and the view becomes surprisingly different depending on the time, weather, and other factors.

2019120702

2019120703

I also have a clear view of the Stratosphere from my balcony, which was recently rebranded to the Strat. To go along with the rebranding, they put “STRAT” in blue letters down the side of the building. I managed to catch it before they were done.

2019120704

Because my travel scheduling was so tight, I flew straight to Chicago from Oakland after the PUBG Global Championship. Unfortunately, there were no non-stops from Oakland to Chicago, so I had to take a layover in Salt Lake City. Upon landing, I was (un)pleasantly greeted by… snow.

2019120705

2019120706

Unfortunately, because my layover was so short, I didn’t have an opportunity to walk around and explore Salt Lake City International Airport—all I had time for was to deplane, go to the bathroom, answer a few emails, then board my connecting flight. But, seeing as my feet did technically touch the ground, I can say that I’ve been to Utah now.

 

—§—

 

Hello Oakland

November 21 was a tough day. If you missed it, I posted two blog posts that day, one private one about something absurd that happened at work regarding international flights, and another one later that day after I discovered that Tesla’s pickup truck is a meme.

To recover from the absolute terror of that day, I made an impulse decision to join a bunch of my co-workers on a trip to Oakland, California to attend the 2019 PUBG National Championship.

2019112201

I headed out of Las Vegas via JetSuiteX and took a quick flight over to Oakland International Airport in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2019112202

The following day, Jordan King, Glen Tokola, William Lucas, and I headed out to Oakland Arena to watch the games. Here is Jordan King with his big camera looking like a tourist.

2019112203

Edit (December 7, 2019): I didn’t mention this originally because it was still considered sensitive internal information, but it is no longer sensitive—another big reason I went to this event was because I knew that it would be Jordan King’s last esports event as a member of Tempo Storm. Jordan King’s final day at AVY Entertainment was December 6, so I wanted to spend time together with him at his last event.

2019112204

The event was actually pretty impressive. The presentation was awesome, the opening ceremony was exciting, and the extra screens with additional gameplay information was very useful.

2019112205

Overall, Tempo Storm didn’t do too well, but we ended up getting one Chicken Dinner.

2019112206

I also have a random photograph of a burger and some chili that I ordered. It was actually an extraordinarily good burger (the chili was passable at best), and my experience was made even better because this was an outdoor restaurant that let dogs in, and there were a ton of dogs sitting around and woofing while I ate.

2019112207

I was completely indifferent about the esports part of the trip because I’ve been to so many events at this point and they all just feel the same now, but meeting back up with Jordan King was pleasant. We also explored Oakland and Alameda a bit, which was an interesting experience.

2019112208

Now I depart to Chicago to watch the family business for a week and a half while my parents go to Korea. I am going to freeze to death.

 

—§—