Coachella Essentials: AKA How to Survive Weekend 1 or 2

Coachella will be upon us real soon! I’ll be returning after attending my first one 3 years ago (and again on Weekend 2), so I’m excited knowing that a good number of friends will be there as well. However you manage to prepare yourself for the festival, whether it be your first time or just another year hanging out in Indio, here are a few things to consider for the weekend.

1. First and foremost, don’t forget your wristband! This is your way in and out of the venue. I activated mine as soon as it was delivered. You probably should too. It’ll be one less thing to worry about while planning out the rest of your itinerary.

2. Stay hydrated – Water will be your bff, especially with the hot and dry weather that the area gets year round. Trust me. You can bring water bottles to the event as long as they are plastic and not the metal/glass reusable type. There are refill stations scattered throughout the venue in case you start running low.

3. Sun protection – Again, it will be hot in Indio! Sunscreen is a must if you don’t want to burn to a crisp. It ought to be an essential in addition to bringing sunglasses and/or a hat. Might as well throw in a bottle of aloe vera/after sun lotion to use in the unfortunate event of overexposure.

4. Comfortable shoes –  This is an event where people love to showcase their outfits. Go ahead, werk it! But do keep in mind that you’ll be walking around on a field, so your shoes/feet are bound to get a bit dirty. I’d recommend staying away from crowded areas to prevent getting stomped on in case you’re wearing strappy sandals or (God forbid) flip flops. Limping out of Coachella doesn’t sound like a fun time.

5. Cash – I plan on withdrawing a couple hundred before I head down there. It seems like too much, but when you think of the food and drink you’ll consume within the festival’s 3 days (hello, Spicy Pie and beer!), your expenses will add up. Of course ATMs will be available, but having cash with you in advance saves on forking over fees and waiting in line.

6. Light jacket/hoodie/anorak – So it’s the desert where you’ll be getting your rage on, but why bring these? Believe it or not, it does get cooler in the evening. It even rained a few years ago. Doesn’t hurt to have them handy.

7. Extra battery/external power bank – The great outdoors won’t care about your need to be connected to the tech world. That said, data usage on your phone will increase, causing its battery to drain quickly. This will be more apparent if you plan on using your social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to document your time at Coachella. Need I say more? Bring an extra power source (and don’t forget the charging cord)!

8. Bandana – If you’ve ever gotten caught in a Coachella dust storm, you know why this is necessary. Attendees use them to cover their faces. Add on sunglasses and you’re good to go.

9. Download Lyft/Uber – For those of you staying a few minutes away from the venue without a car or aren’t at a hotel with a shuttle route to it, these apps will be your savior. You’re welcome.

 

Miscellaneous items

Bring them or not. It’s up to you.

Hand sanitizer/wet wipes – Because you might not be able to get to a restroom right away to wash your hands.

Band aids/small first aid kit – Good to have in case you need cover up a few scrapes, or blisters from your poor choice of foot wear. Just sayin’.

 Saline nasal spray/Neti pot – It’s not uncommon to feel stuffed up after a day at Coachella. I recommend them to help clear your sinuses if you’re prone to seasonal allergies.

 Allergy meds/eye drops – Listed this for the same reason as above. Take them before heading out.

Whether you’re a party of 2 or 12, be sure to set up a meeting place and time in case you separate from each other (it will happen). If you don’t plan to leave the venue at the same time, have an alternative means of transportation to get back to wherever you’re staying. All the more reason to have #9 installed on your phone, given that it still has battery life.

Already packed but not sure if what you have will be allowed inside Coachella? Check out what you can bring here.

 

 

The Nintendo Switch Preview Tour Visits SF

Nintendo will be releasing its latest console tomorrow. In preparation, The Nintendo Switch Preview Tour made a few stops at select US cities. Attendees to the event were able to get hands on with the console before anyone else. The San Francisco event took place last weekend and ran for 3 days. The first 2 were open to invite-only attendees, while the public was welcome on a first-come, first serve basis for the last. I was still a bit skeptical about whether or not I wanted to invest in the Switch. It wouldn’t be keeping certain aspects of past consoles like the Wii and Wii U (e.g. Netflix streaming and free online multiplayer service). Would this event convince me otherwise? Let’s find out.

Here’s some info about the Switch console:

  • Easily transition between home and mobile play using the portable handheld and Joy-Con controllers. Think of the latter as mini sized Wii controllers, except these can slide into either the handheld or the Joy-Con grip. They can also be used individually with select Switch games.
  • Play solo or with friends. If all of your group owns the console, each of them (up to 8) can be linked so you can have game time anytime and anywhere.
  • 32GB of internal memory can also be expanded via micro SD card.
  • Battery life can last up to 6 hours (varies depending on software and usage conditions)

Since I registered for the first day of the event, I was among the first group of people to see the Nintendo Switch up close. Heck yeah I was excited! After a quick scan of my ticket and handed a freebie, I was on my way. A few staff members were lined up on each side of a lit up catwalk of sorts that the attendees walked through. It led to the main stage where the host kept everyone informed about different activities taking place. The playable demos included games that would be released the same day as the Switch, along with ones that will be released within the next few months and later this year.

After circling the space, I headed to a play area located next to the stage and tried out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (out April 28) . I got to use the console as the portable handheld, which felt similar to the Wii U, except less bulky. Having the joy sticks of the Joy-Con controllers on opposite locations needed getting used to. I also didn’t get all of the button functions since the staff member explained them too quickly before I started playing. Aside from that, this was just as fun to play compared to previous Mario Kart games. The graphic output on the handheld was nice as well.

 

I was going to walk around some more afterward until I realized it was time for my demo session with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Tickets with different time slots were handed out for attendees to play a 20 minute demo of the game. This was played using the Joy-Con grip, which feels like a traditional style controller. I didn’t get to do too much in game, but I did get the gist of how the controls work. And the graphics are amazing. This is one of the games that I’d look forward to purchasing alongside the console. That is, if I decide to. More on that later.

 

Here are the other games that I played at the Preview Tour:

Splatoon 2 (releases Summer 2017) – Being a fan of the first Splatoon game, I was happy to check this one out. This version introduces new battle areas, characters, and weapons. Players can also take advantage of local and multiplayer battles using the Switch in either TV, handheld, or tabletop mode. This is another game I’d love to add on to my collection.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (release date TBD) – This game is also adding more characters to their lineup, 2 in particular being Evil Ryu and Violent Ken. Choose either classic pixel-art or updated graphics to customize how you play. Can’t take down a certain CPU player? You can now team up with a friend to show them who’s boss.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (releases April 25) – I wasn’t familiar with Puyo Puyo (think of match 3/more games like Candy Crush) prior to playing this, but I quickly got the hang of it and had a blast playing a few rounds. Do your best to clear as many lines as possible to beat either the CPU or other players. Up to 4 can participate for a competitive gaming experience like no other. This is a must have for any fan of puzzle games.

 

switchfreebies.jpg
Switch swag, FTW.

Although there was still time left before the next wave of attendees were let in, I felt confident checking off what I wanted to do at the event. I was handed even more goodies on my way out. Overall, this was quite the experience, and I had an awesome time trying out this console. I will definitely consider purchasing one, but probably not until some time after its release. The last leg of the Nintendo Switch Preview Tour will take place in Los Angeles this weekend between March 3 – March 5. For those of you in the area, I highly recommend that you check it out. More info about the Nintendo Switch Preview Tour can be found here.

Do you plan on purchasing the Nintendo Switch? Sound off in the comments.

An Evening with Alton Brown

This past Wednesday, I picked up a copy of Alton Brown’s cookbook Everyday Cook. This is his 4th cookbook, and his latest in 10 years. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I watched an episode of his show Good Eats on Food Network. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been able to marathon the series (Sometimes falling asleep to it. Not his fault, I’m just tired after my 8 hour shifts!). He had 2 Bay Area appearances in San Jose and Menlo Park. I attended the latter since it didn’t fall during my work hours. It was nice to get to know a little more about him before the audience got their books signed.

Here are some random facts I learned:

  • One of his favorite recipes from the book is the Midnight Mug Cake for 2 (Although he’s never shared it).
  • All the book’s photos, with the exception of one at the beginning, were all taken on an iPhone.
  • A favorite food he enjoys that he cannot make himself is sushi.
  • His favorite part of a chicken is the drumsticks/thighs.
  • He tends to say “Oh, bother.” Someone in the audience asked where he got that from. His answer? Winnie the Pooh.
  • Although he watched his mother and grandmother cook growing up, he finally got around to it from reading magazines (most likely ones about cooking or food, I forgot what he said).

 

There was a good number of attendees, including kids. When it was finally my turn to get my book signed, I told Mr. Brown I was glad to hear he was a fan of sushi and drumsticks (I too love them both). “I wouldn’t eat drumstick sushi though”, he said. ūüėõ He’s funny and awesome, just like he is on TV.

photogrid_1476335662477.jpg

After his book tour, he’ll kick off his live show Eat Your Science. I’m hoping to check it out when ¬†it comes to SF next year. It’s still a but surreal to me that this opportunity actually happened, but it did. I look forward to trying out some new recipes!

 

My Visit to Facebook Farmers Market

Since the beginning of August, Facebook has held a weekly farmers market on their campus every Saturday. For the most part, the event is free to attend, but the one I visited at the end of the month was a bit more on the larger scale. In addition to the market, they also put together a small “county fair” with rides, games, and kid/family friendly activities. Reservations had to be made via Eventbrite for crowd control. I believe this may be the only time that would be needed.

 

Local Bay Area vendors set up shop selling various types of produce. There was even a cooking demonstration, florists, food trucks, areas selling craft beer and wine, and live entertainment. I sampled some tasty berries and got an ear of grilled corn. It was either that or Kettle Corn. I had to go for the former.

 

 

The market’s theme changes every week. It’s not as big in size compared to other markets I’ve seen, but hey, any excuse to visit the Facebook location is a good one in my opinion. There’s also free parking available, but early arrival is highly suggested. Visit their site here for their current schedule.

My SDCC 2016 Experience – Part 2

Check out my Part 1 post here.

Day 3

First line of business for Saturday was to get a wristband at the Tokidoki booth for a signing with creator Simone Legno in the afternoon. I’ve managed to do this several years straight, minus one year when I didn’t get to the booth in time. He signed a small figure and did a sketch of Bastardino (aka Cactus Dog). It’s one of very few signings during the convention that I feel isn’t much of a hassle to get into.

20160723_140252.jpg

Prior to the signing, my friend and I roamed the exhibit hall. We checked out a few booths that we had missed and also ran into some familiar faces.

Although I barely took any photos of attendees in cosplay (I decided not to wear one of my costumes due to the weather being too warm/muggy), I was happy to see a few from my current favorite video game, Overwatch. And there were a bunch Pokemon trainers each day because of Pokemon Go, obviously.

 

The afternoon was spent checking out the off site events behind the Convention Center. Some of these included FX, Adult Swim On the Green, and the yacht from Fear The Walking Dead. The weather was too warm to hop into any lines, so we continued to wander until we were¬†back at the Marriott Marquis and hung out again at the Con Suite. After about an hour, we headed back over to the Convention Center and got on the shuttle. My pending Saturday night plan was to try and check out at least one off site event on my list. But because the shuttle got caught up in traffic and we couldn’t find a place for dinner right away (most restaurants outside of downtown were nearing closing or were closed by 10.), I asked to be dropped off at the Gaslamp area. One thing to make note of when attending SDCC is to not expect everything to go as planned. Always have a Plan B (or C, D, etc.) so as to not disappoint yourself. I managed to meet up with other friends who were in the area and eventually had a late dinner.

 

Day 4

Had to¬†make the most of my last day at SDCC, so I was ready to head out a bit after 9. I managed to dress up after all, sort of. I put together a casual getup as Tadashi Hamada of Big Hero 6, complete with Baymax. A friend and I¬†headed to Nerd HQ. This was the only time I was able to check the place out. Last year I had gone to their dance party on Saturday night, which I had hoped to do the previous evening, but to no avail. One thing I did do differently this year was check out their gaming area. Got to try out Titanfall 2 and it was pretty fun. I also visited the Krave Kafeteria, which served visitors bowls of Krave cereal throughout the day. NOM. They even gave out full size boxes for free, but I skipped on taking one since I didn’t want to have to carry it around with me all day.

We crossed over to Marriott Marquis to pass through the Nintendo Gaming Lounge. This by far¬†marks the most times¬†I’ve been to this hotel during any SDCC year. Our timing was perfect because at the photo-op area was Pikachu. I haven’t had a pic taken with him in a few years, so you bet I was excited! Checked back¬†there after a few minutes¬†because Mario also made an appearance. The lounge had their usual game demos and a tournament for Super Smash Bros. They also had the upcoming NES Classic Edition console on display. It’s less than half the size of the original NES, plus it’s pre-loaded with 30 popular games.¬†Do I want this? Heck yes.

Finally made our way back to the Convention Center to walk around the exhibit hall, and then to the parking lot at the Hilton where my friend parked to chill out and play Pokemon Go. The game had a panel in the afternoon with rumors swirling around via social media that the creators of the game planned to drop a legendary Pokemon. Sure enough, it was too good to be true. Not a total loss since I was able to level up a few of my collection and catch some new ones. Great way to define adulting, eh?! Afterwards, my friend had to start their drive back up to the Bay Area, so I headed back to the Convention Center to meet up with other friends. We were out of there before the PA system made their closing announcements.

My traditional plan of going to Altitude for happy hour and to see the post-Con was a no go since everyone else in my group was out and about. However, I got to go to Bub’s at the Ballpark again for their awesome tater tots. Couldn’t stay out too late since I still had to drop by the condo to move out my stuff…again. I would have surely been able to do more this year if I didn’t have to relocate so many times. It really seemed like an OK plan at first since it saved me some money on lodging, but man, so tiring. I had 2 days remaining of my trip and used them to decompress. I did some additional hotel hopping, but it wasn’t as bad since I didn’t have to be anywhere downtown. A local friend was nice enough to treat me to a post-Con massage. So happy I finally got around do doing that after a few years of considering one. I also shipped my SDCC purchases home, and they arrived the next day after I flew back.

And that concludes my time at SDCC 2016. Each year will always differ from the last, whether it be good or bad. My main focus for next year is to make improvements with my planning on all parts. I finished putting together my Project Life pages from the event last night, so look out for a post on that soon.

My SDCC 2016 Experience – Part 1

It’s been a about a week since I’ve been back from my trip to San Diego for Comic-Con. Although I had fun this year, I didn’t get to do as much compared to last year despite having a few things planned ahead of time. One downside of this year was my lodging situation. I had to relocate 3 times from a friend’s timeshare, to a hotel with other friends, to another friend’s condo, and then finally to another friend’s home outside of downtown. It was exhausting! Therefore, I didn’t have all the energy to check everything off my list. Still, I tried to make the best out of my 5 days at the convention.

conansan.jpg
San Diego International Airport is decked out in Conan.

 

Day 0  РWednesday/Preview Night

photogrid_1470246287973.jpg
My little buddies and I are ready for SDCC!

This is what made it a 5 day convention for me instead of the common 4 that most attendees have, ¬†that is if they’re lucky enough to get all days. Preview Night gives some attendees the chance to see exclusive merchandise and walk the convention floor before it opens to the public the next day. For me, this was my opportunity to get most if not all of my shopping done early. I also attended my first event for the week, which was the only event I actually paid for. I had never done that in the 8 years that I’ve attended SDCC. Goes to show there’s still a first time for everything with this convention. I didn’t leave empty handed either. There were passed around appetizers and I got tickets for 2 free drinks, which I happily used. Plus they gave out a bag full of free stuff and raffled off several giveaways. Didn’t win any from the latter, but it was still a fun way to kick off Comic-Con.

Day 1 

In addition to Preview Night, this was the only other day during the convention in which I arrived early to line up. For anyone interested in exclusives from popular booths such as Hasbro, Bandai, and Funko (new for a ticketing system this year), this was the place to be. It was also line central for raffles for LEGO giveaways and autograph signings, both which differed depending on the day of the convention. As soon as I got my ticket to come back for Hasbro, some of my friends and I headed towards Spreckels Theatre to pick up our tickets for Conan. Yep, I saw another taping this year! This one had the stars from the WB shows Supergirl, Arrow, and The Flash. Additional guests included Nick Kroll from The League, and a performance by Weird Al Yankovich. Pretty entertaining, I must say. All attendees received a Conan Funko Pop! figure after the show. I ended up trading the one I got (Ghostbusters) with a friend for theirs from the next day’s taping (Stormtrooper).

After the taping finished, some of the group headed back to the Convention Center to drop off stuff and walk the floor again. Myself and 3 others checked out the MTV Fandom Awards event at Petco Park. This was my 3rd year attending, and it’s always been fun. Plus they offer free food and drink to attendees, so what’s not to like? The live performances this year included Kent Jones, Pierce the Veil, and Krewella. Sadly, I was only able to see Kent Jones. I would have loved to stay for Krewella, but time was of the essence and my group and I (especially me) had to get moving. The Sheraton SD and Marina was my place for the night. The room was a bit snug for 5 people, but it had a nice view and the shuttle line from there to the Convention Center only had 3 stops. Sweet.

fandomawards.jpg

Day 2

Off to another early start, but mainly to get a better look at new additions for the convention. I walked over to the Marriot Marquis to check out the extension of the hotel and also locate where to pick up my pre-order from Mattel. Since there was no line when I arrived, I went ahead and got my stuff, took the shuttle back to the hotel to drop them off, and then headed back to the CC. Made a few pick ups for more pre-orders to later drop off, ¬†and made purchases for a few friends. I even got a photo-op with Snoopy at the Peanuts booth, which I haven’t done in several years. It’s hard to resist a beagle hug!

Speaking of friends, I saw a bunch of them that day. Met up with a few for lunch and then at the Petco Park Interactive Zone. One of them happened to see the Game of Thrones panel in the afternoon and gave me an extra fulfillment room ticket. Yay for free stuff! Before heading to the Hyatt to redeem it, we made a stopover at Marriott Marquis. This was THE place to see familiar faces. Every few minutes, I’d hear someone call me as they were walking by. This was also where I found out about the Con Suite, which was basically a room at the hotel where convention attendees could go to unwind. They also serve snacks and beverages there. How have I not heard about this before?! I made sure to make a mental note of this for next year. After spending a good hour or so in between both hotels, our group of 3 finally made our way back towards the Convention Center to meet with more people and take the shuttle back to my friend’s condo. I still had to back track to¬†the Sheraton to pick up my other purchases and my luggage before calling it a day. The remainder of my Friday night was a blur and by far the most tiring out of my Con weekend. So glad I didn’t have to move again until after SDCC was over.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

SDCC and Star Trek Beyond Contests Galore!

I came across yet more contests to attend SD next month for either Comic-Con or the Star Trek premiere. Good luck to those of you who decide to enter.

SD Radio contests:

The following radio stations in San Diego are giving away pairs of single day badges to SDCC. Just text the code to the specified number and keep your fingers crossed! All of these are only open to San Diego County residents 16 and over until July 21st.

Magic 92.5

91X

Z90.3

General SDCC contests:

Designer Studio is giving away 2 single day badges for Sunday. Open to US residents 18 and over. Enter here by July 7th.

Star Trek Beyond premiere contests:

Colorado radio station 99.5 The Mountain is sending 1 winner and a guest to the premiere. Open to Colorado residents only. Enter here by July 8th.

Residents of Canada (except Quebec), this one’s for you! Tribute Entertainment will send a winner and their guest to the premiere. Visit here¬†for entry and prize information. Contest ends July 10th.

Are you an 18+ resident of the US with a Star Trek memory to share? You may want to check out this contest. Visit the YOMYOMF page here for entry and prize information. Contest ends July 6th.

For even more contests for both events, including SDCC ¬†related ones, please visit the SDCC Unofficial Blog’s Contest Hub page.

.