Signs that the group is a just a BIT older than you are

randomEven though I’m bear-ly in my 40s 😀 I joined an online group for older furries recently.  After a while, my Spidey-Sense began to tell me that most of other folks in the group have at least a decade or two on me:

  1. “Attachment unavailable”
  2. Vertical videos
  3. “I hate that thing that’s popular with the young people!”
  4. Black and white pictures
  5. Scans of actual Polaroid pictures
  6. Pictures rotated the wrong way
  7. Five-year old memes
  8. “Why is this [meme] funny? It makes no sense!”
  9. When people say ‘back in the day’ they REALLY mean it
  10. And of course: “Get off my lawn!”

51 Things I Noticed at San Japan XI

San Japan is probably my favorite convention, bar none, and this year was great! As always, I noticed a few things…

  1. BEFORE – I’m guessing “Magical Universe” means there will be a lot more Sailor Moon crossplayers.

    badge

    #17 Yay?

  2. They’re going to have to try pretty hard to top Okashicon for: “Con with the most pinks and pastels” prize.
  3. Between this and Furry Fiesta 2019’s ‘Roll Fur Initiative” theme, I’m not feeling a lot of love.
  4. As a nerd who’s old enough to have owned an Atari 2600, I’m not exactly the target audience, so yeah.
  5. I’m getting a new fursuit and this will be my first time wearing it. It’s just the thing for MID-90 DEGREE WEATHER.
  6. In addition to the usual con prep, I’m also looking for a new job and getting my house ready to be put on sale the Tuesday after. No rest for the weary! >.<
  7. I guess I can’t awkwardly refer to San Japan as a ‘Comic-Con’ anymore to normies for fear of being sued by SDCC.
  8. Staying at the nearby Tru by Hilton, which apparently is a more modern hotel, which means it annoys me somewhat.
  9. Thing I forgot (again): Aftershave.
  10. Chili’s seems to have become our San Japan Thursday dinner go-to.
  11. Looks like my fursuit won’t be ready for the show. Given the temperature outside and my lack of experience, it’s likely just as well.
  12. Had a funny moment with a friend when I had to remind him that he wasn’t working on Labor Day the following Monday.
  13. Dave: “You can have ambience or you can have a butt-load of arcade games.” I’m glad he went with Door #2.
  14. Maybe they should change the name to ‘Sign Japan.’
  15. I find the lack of security on Thursday nights to be just a little concerning.
  16. FRIDAY – Nothing like waking up early to go feed the meter; a small price to pay for cheap parking!
  17. I was happy with my badge art until I saw the volunteer badges have the same art and now I’m less happy.

    signjapan

    #14 The signage was YUUGE!

  18. Yay escalators!
  19. Yay, I forgot about the escalators and took the scenic route down to Artist Alley!
  20. Furst World Problems: I quit wearing my ears because the hairband kept digging into my head.
  21. I got a haircut the other day so there is less hair to cushion it now.
  22. The uneven lanes the Artist Alley are just a little weird.
  23. No panels to run on Friday: HOW DO I HAVE FUN?
  24. Retro Game Museum might be better off being called “Pong Museum.”
  25. Might need to put together a video game history panel, made better because I WAS THERE FOR MOST OF IT.
  26. The arcade was cool, though the sound on the music games wasn’t always loud enough.
  27. You know the competition between the three(!) Chinese joints at Rivercenter Mall is crazy when someone tries to hand you a sample WHILE YOU’RE IN LINE FOR THE PLACE NEXT DOOR.
  28. SATURDAY – I didn’t have enough change to feed the meter for the whole day, so I decided to live dangerously.
  29. Old hotness: Annoying music over Bluetooth speaker. New hotness: Watching anime subs on your phone with the volume turned up
  30. Sign of the times: Sriracha at the breakfast buffet
  31. Thanks for the retweet, Dave. Be nice if your Twitter account wasn’t protected, but such is life.
  32. I had an unfortunate situation with the light switches before Furry 101…maybe not for me, but the dance contest people next door likely hate me now.
  33. Very happy with the turnout and participation at Furry 101 this year, thanks for the help, San Antonio furries!
  34. I always have to buy a paleta from the vendor in front of the Henry B…BECAUSE REASONS
  35. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to lose fursuiters at an anime con!
  36. There seem to be more people wearing ears and tails this year, hmm.
  37. Chili’s again for supper.  I’m okay with that.
  38. SUNDAY – Good trend: Vendors playing 80s music
  39. I’m still having difficulty finding cool stickers for my my laptop, though I did buy a chibi Bender.
  40. I’m pretty much forced to stay all day thanks to having a panel scheduled at 530 PM.
  41. Decision time: Carry my laptop around all day or return to my car to get it at 500 PM. I went with door #1
  42. Luckily, there is less me to carry around this time so it wasn’t a big problem.
  43. Dunno if anyone is going to be at “How to Panel,” but the show must go on.
  44. laptop

    #39 Bite my shiny chibi ass!

    Maybe I’ll use the setup time to take a nap.

  45. Mental note: Add a “Finish on time and clear the room” slide to the presentation because the group before me didn’t.
  46. Yay, people showed up…including one person with REALLY weird questions.  Sometimes you get ‘that guy’ at a panel, and he definitely was THAT GUY.
  47. Overall, the panel went well. I learned some stuff and made notes to add stuff to the presentation to make the next one even better!
  48. I took one of those Lime-S rental scooters back to the car, it was pretty cool!
  49. I was relieved to not find a citation on the my vehicle when I returned to it.
  50. I really can’t find anything major that went wrong this year, it’s gonna be a boring post-game Con Talk episode.
  51. San Japan XII: Sports?! Finally, a theme I can get behind!

Super-Short Storytime: “Reassurance”

ssst003

In the future, a pair of friends join the Space Force but don’t exactly end up where they want to be.  In light of current events, I should mention that this story was written in 2014.  Of course, lots of other folks have had similar notions for years.

A “Real” Book

My first paper book: “Fuzzy Words: The Con Fluff Collection,” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

It has always been my goal to create a paper book.  Thewriting problem with doing so is that my short stories are so short that I had to accumulate a pretty good number of them (27 in all) in order to have a book of reasonable length printed.

Naturally, I encountered a bit of a learning curve in publishing something physical.  In the digital world, there is no concern about margins and fonts and all of that stuff, because the screen that your book is going to be read on may be of any size and the reader can adjust the text font and text size to their liking.  In the print world, you have bleeds and gutters and covers and inches and all sorts of things that need to be done the right way.

Things have certainly changed for the better:  Way back when, if you wanted to print a paper book on your own, you had to go through a vanity publisher, which meant paying to have a few hundred (or thousand!) copies printed.  This meant that you took a big risk of being stuck with boxes of books that nobody wanted to buy.  Thanks to modern print-on-demand technology, paperbacks can be printed as they’re ordered, so just like in the e-book world, your cost of entry is nearly zero, save for the purchase of proof copies.

I gave both CreateSpace and NookPress a try, and ended up going with CreateSpace because of their expanded distribution options.  Also their books seemed to be of higher quality and they offered a better discount to authors purchasing their own copies.

A funny thing happened as I showed friends my print proofs; I repeatedly got this ‘so you’re a real writer now’ vibe (and a comment or two) from them.  Never mind that I’ve published quite a few digital ones.  Oh well, what can you do?

In any event, now that I’ve finished my first one, I can’t wait to do another!

Super-Short Storytime: “Message”

ssst002A mysterious alien box appears in the desert.  What will be revealed once the scientists of Earth decipher its “Message?”

Contract-to-Fire

workI recently started a new position; my first-ever contract job.  At the beginning, I was enthusiastic about coming in and doing a good job.  I noticed a few deficiencies off the bat and made some recommendations for improvements in a group e-mail to everyone in the department.  My intention was to avoid some of the large issues that had plagued previous workplaces and improve our processes, because to be frank, there were none.

My recommendations were shrugged off with a big fat ‘MEH’ by everyone.  I don’t know if it was due to my relative inexperience at the workplace, or the arrogance of leadership, but for whatever the reason, the end result was that nothing happened, and the glaring issues remained.

I was miffed (but not completely surprised) by the lack of response.  I imagined that the thought process went something along the lines of:  “Why should we listen to this new guy?  He doesn’t know how we do things here.

My first thought was that I needed to change my approach and need address my manager directly instead of broadcasting to the group in the hope that we could come to a consensus.  My second thought became a lot more compelling the more it bounced around in my head:

“Why should I care?”

I should begin by mentioning that the position I was hired into has a nearly zero chance of becoming permanent.  Folks come here, they work for a year or two, and then they’re gone.  Because of that, I have nearly zero investment in this company.  Indeed, one of the issues that I wanted to address was knowledge management; if you’re going to have a revolving door of people coming in and out of a department, you might want to have a good documentation process in place so that not all of a person’s expertise walks out the door when their time inevitably comes.

Ultimately, I let it go.  I had said my peace, and if the Powers That Be decided to ignore it, then why should I make a fuss?  Obviously they know what they’re doing.  There’s also no sense in wasting my time with people that have no intention of listening to me.

The unfortunate truth is that a contract worker will never be completely engaged in the future of the company they work at, especially if they have no visible road to bigger and better things.

I’ve since kept my mouth shut about any new issues that I’ve noticed and given up any hope of things improving.  It doesn’t make any sense to fight the current, instead I’ll just keep surfing the wave of incompetence until my contract is up.

Besides, why should I be fully invested in the company’s problems when the company isn’t fully invested in me?

 

The Difference…

workOver the last week, my Honda CR-V (aka The Excelsior) had been starting up just a little more sluggishly with each trip.  Eventually, it got to the point where it just barely started, but as is human nature, I figured that it would last just long enough to get to get the battery looked at.

Of course, I waited one trip too many and eventually it didn’t start at all one night.  Click-click-click-click-click was all I heard.

After getting a jump-start from a neighbor (always have cables in your vehicle, folks) I went to the auto parts store where I had replaced the original battery a few years prior.  I had a strong suspicion that the battery was dead, but when the gentleman asked if I would like to have it tested, it placed just enough doubt in my mind to make me think that might not be the case.  I didn’t want it to be something else, because as far as car repairs go, replacing a battery is on the fairly inexpensive scale, and it can be done by one’s self, assuming the vehicle can be taken to a good battery or vice-versa.

The gentleman grabbed a tester and followed me out to my noble (if not currently unreliable) steed.  I popped the hood and proceeded to let the gentleman do his job.  He attached the clips to the battery terminals and proceeded to push some buttons on the device.  After a few moments he told me the battery was good and asked if I wanted him to test other ‘start the car’ parts.  I said yes, and he asked me to start the vehicle.  I made a crack about ‘I hope it starts,’ but much to my surprise, it started with no hesitation.  A few moments and button presses later, the man told me that the alternator and starter were probably okay, too.  I thanked him for his time and went on my merry (if slightly worried) way to the grocery store, where the car started again without issue.  What the heck was wrong with my car?

As folks are oft to do these days, I went onto social media to share my ambivalence over the situation.  Friends offered advice and their own tales of automotive experiences, both good and bad.  One friend mentioned that a similar problem had been caused by loose terminal connectors.  This idea sounded intriguing to me, as I had recalled my interior lights flashing during the process of having it jumped, and so I resolved to investigate them come the morning.  I didn’t park the Excelsior in the garage because I had a feeling I was going to need another jump-start.

The next morning, I hopped into my trusty steed to go have some breakfast and was greeted by the clicking noise again.  No big deal, it’s the terminals, right?  Wrong.  Nothing was loose and there was no corrosion to be found.  It has to be the battery, I thought, but what the guy last night told me it was good.  I frumped for a while as I searched for nearby mechanics and groused over the pile of money I anticipated I was going to have to spend.

Finally, I decided to get a second opinion.

I got a jump-start from a different neighbor, and observed that both times we had to let my vehicle sit for a while and charge up.  The thought of it has to be the battery kept bouncing in my head as I drove to a different auto parts store.  I walked inside and asked to have my battery checked.  This time around, the tech got a frumpy look on her face when she saw my terminals.  The connectors to the Excelsior’s battery have these plastic covers that were getting in the way of the clips, meaning she could only reliably attach the clips to the screws that kept the connectors attached.  “I don’t like taking a reading from the screws, the reading is sometimes wrong,” She said.  The tech did her best to adjust the tester clip, but was not completely satisfied with the result: “I’m not getting a good reading, can you take the battery out?” She asked.

I said sure, and proceeded to do so, with the tools I keep inside the vehicle.  I also had to borrow a pair of pliers, but eventually dislodged the battery and took it inside the store.  The tech did her thing, and sure enough, the battery was bad.  Fortunately, I had purchased the ‘three-year replacement’ battery the last time and I received a new one free of charge.  I installed it myself, which was only fair since I had taken the old one out, and now my trusty steed is trusty once again.

I figured that it would be a good idea to let the tech know about my experience the night before.  We both agreed that the other guy just didn’t know about the screws providing unreliable readings.

And thus we have the difference between somebody who only knows how to follow instructions, and somebody that actually knows what they are doing because they have learned how things really work.

Whether they are fixing cars or computers, a good tech will have more in-depth knowledge about the things that they repair than someone who is only taught how to fix things or is working off a script.  When the ‘usual steps’ don’t work, a good tech can think things though and improvise to find a solution.  A bad tech only knows how to follow instructions, and when those instructions don’t do the job, they’re stuck, and so are you.