Super-Short Storytime: “Reassurance”

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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.

Greetings From Texas Wonderland!

madhere

I’m mad, I say! MAAAD!

Hello and welcome to my little corner of the web, where you will find lots and lots of words!  Blog words, short story words, list words and even spoken words!

I recently returned from Texas Furry Fiesta 2018: “Lone Star Wonderland,” where I had a ball hanging out with my fellow fuzzers.  Check out the pictures I took over on Flickr, scroll down for the customary ‘things I noticed’ list, and listen to “Con Talk-Texas Furry Fiesta 2018 Post-Game!”

Stay tuned for the return of ‘Con Talk’ next week!

80 Things I Noticed at Texas Furry Fiesta 2018

Texas’ biggest furry convention moved to a new hotel this year, which introduced a few new issues.  Overall, though, it was a lot of fun.  As always, I noticed a few things:

  1. BEFORE/DRIVE UP-I’m a little bummed over missing the conbook deadline but that’s what my website is for.

    #31 PUT SOME CLOTHES ON YOUNG LADY

  2. I’m guessing I’m going to see a lot of Alices and Mad Hatters. Hopefully, the cartoon versions.
  3. Seriously, I thought the 2010 version was ‘The Mad Hatter Movie”
  4. I will openly admit to being jealous of all my friends that will be there on Thursday
  5. I swear work gets tougher the last few days before a vacation…it’s like THEY KNOW
  6. Okay, I wussed out and told my cowokers I was going to a ‘comiccon’
  7. Does loading Disney soundtracks onto a USB stick for the drive qualify someone as ‘furry trash?’ Asking for a friend.
  8. Thing I forgot: Cologne. Given the female-to-male ratio it’s just as well!
  9. I’ve lost about 30 pounds since last TFF. I bought a pair of slim fit jeans so I gotta keep the weight off now!
  10. Honestly, I-35 keeps getting better and better each year…Temple notwithstanding
  11. The Czech stop was definitely worth the 200-mile wait!
  12. Parking seems to be one of the big issues early on; I was furtunate to get a spot fairly close by.
  13. I feel like a tourist lugging my bags around the hotel before check-in.
  14. It wasn’t too long before I started running into friends, YAY FRIENDS!
  15. I had forgotten about the placeholder name I had placed on the reservation beforehand, which made for a funny moment: “So that will be two keys:  One for you, and another for Roger Rabbit?”
  16. “Can I get the lowest room available? I have a thing with heights.”
  17. New hotel is very nice, though the open elevators are a little scary for me. (see above)
  18. FRIDAY-Noticed a few folks kvetching about the lack of con suite this year.  Hopefully they bring the snacks back because playing ‘bartender’ there was great fun.
  19. The Presidential Suite is open to Super-Sponsors, though. :/
  20. Forgot to print out my reg sheet for the first time ever. *hangs head in shame*
  21. Their reg was so fast it didn’t matter.
  22. The Hyatt Regency feels so wide open compared to the other hotels.
  23. Taking five fights of stairs to the room (if I don’t want to wait for the elevator) is definitely a workout
  24. The hotel room has an Ethernet port, and me without a cable *argh*

    #28: It’s Furry Pat!

  25. New camera has been great, but the battery went dry after only 75 pictures! So glad I got a spare…that I had to retrieve from my room. *pant* *gasp* *wheeze*
  26. It’s awesome that the con T-shirts aren’t black this year.
  27. I’m usually pretty careful about catching autocorrects before I hit Send, but finally had one slip through the net 😀
  28. There’s a fursuiter named Sherbert who has you try to guess their gender.  I went with ‘male’ because if I can’t figure someone’s gender in 3 seconds at a con, I just assume it’s a guy.
  29. I am seriously considering buying a Lemonbrat partial fursuit.
  30. Overall, the bigger hotel is pretty nice with plenty of space to work with BUT the elevator situation is pretty bad and it is a (understandably) a mite warm inside.
  31. That moment when you realize the fursuiter you’ve seen in a partial for months now has a fullsuit which means SHE’S NAKED NOW OMG
  32. It’s 6pm, send in the normies!
  33. There are places to eat downtown if you don’t mind a little walk.  Cool.
  34. Elevator situation is pretty awful, I wonder if the top-floor con suite is a contributing factor.
  35. Random young lady: “Are you Eduardo Soliz?”
    Me: “The one and only!” *peers at person* “Do I know you?”
    Her: “No but I love your YouTube channel!”
    Aww! *blush*
    UPDATE: Found her on Twitter!
  36. Maybe I’m not done with “Con Talk” after all…
  37. I really really need to get cracking on making some panels for next year’s Furry Fiesta.  People want them!
  38. SATURDAY-630AM and I don’t want to be up, but I guess I’m up, bleh.
  39. Might be early enough to hit Waffle House without losing my parking, hmm
  40. Upon further review I decided not to risk losing my spot.
  41. A little disappointed in the scheduling app; it shows the full schedule without hiding events that have already passed.
  42. Oh, I have to manually refresh it. Derp.
  43. Nope, still didn’t do it. Boo.
  44. For some reason I have Matthew Ebel’s “Merry Christmas from Cell Block 2” in my head
  45. Are the microphones in the panel rooms even on?
  46. New addition to the fursuit parade: Concerned parents
  47. Dunno what the deal was with the peanut gallery continually yelling “Spring Break” during the parade but it was annoying to the point where I might put music over the parade audio.  UPDATE: I didn’t.
  48. Nothing like 40-degree weather to make you want a fursuit.
  49. Freezing my face off was totally worth it for the Cuban sandwich, though
  50. If you’re running audio you should be professional enough to know to not talk while a presentation is going on.  Fuzzing amateurs
  51. Another great Furry Psychology talk from Nuka. I was getting a little sleepy near the end, and not because of the content, just to be clear!
  52. I learned that some of the FurScience folks went to San Japan last year. I invited them to attend “Furry 101” this year.  COME ON GUYS, I WENT TO YOUR PANEL AND I DID MY HOMEWORK 😀
  53. The partial suit I was thinking about buying was sold. Oh well.
  54. A friend bought Lemonbrat’s ‘Tide Pod Fox’ and got very popular very quickly.

    #54 He looks good enough to eat!

  55. Knees starting to feel it by afternoon, likely due to all the stair-climbing bought on by not wanting to wait for the elevators…or I’m just getting old.
  56. Halfway down the stairs to go to dinner, I realized I still had my bear tail on. Screw it.
  57. Nothing like walking 2/3 of a mile to go to Spaghetti Warehouse in 30-degree weather.
  58. Totally worth it, though.  Chicken parm you taste so good.
  59. I was disappointed to find karaoke was full up; I wanted to sing ‘Why Should I Worry’ by Billy Joel from ‘Oliver and Company.’ The canines would have loved it!
  60. Nice lobby-wide howl on Saturday night, by the way.
  61. I wanted to be all supportive and stuff for Padunk’s first panel, but it was completely packed!  I guess that was a sign it went well! (link warning: some naughty bits)
  62. Drunk normies + fursuiters = hilarity
  63. I swear the ‘Two women: One embarrassingly drunk and the other trying to get them to stop being embarrassing’ bit is a trope.
  64. SUNDAY/TRIP HOME-Breakfast was weird: After we got seated, the hostess kept fussing over our table being dirty (it wasn’t) The table is fine lady, I WANT FOOD
  65. Mom never made ‘fingerling potatoes’ for breakfast, just sayin. That said, they were tasty.
  66. No salsa on the breakfast buffet? What is this, NEW YORK CITY?
  67. The longer the con goes, the harder it gets to not take multiple pictures of the same fursuiters. Oh well!
  68. Me to friend: “I was thinking about buying a partial”
    Her: “I have a bear head base I haven’t started yet.”
    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!
  69. So yeah, I may be getting a fursuit made.
  70. Left the con at probably the earliest time I’ve ever left.  Continually going up and down four flights of stairs took more out of me than I thought.
  71. To the jackass who parked their Honda CRX in the middle of the end of the parking lot: YOU SUCK.
  72. I am very glad I only make two trips that involve I-35 a year
  73. Didn’t stop at Buc-ees on the way home, the Wendy’s across the freeway was too tempting.  I may have sinned against Texas.
  74. Big thank you to the solider who fished a soda out of the machine for me at the Bell rest stop. Enjoy the freebie!
  75. Note to self: Lay off the caffeine on the day when you are making a long drive unless you want to make restroom stops every 50 miles or so >.<

    #71 YOU SUCK

  76. AFTERWARDS-I will openly admit to being jealous of my friends that are still at the con on Monday.
  77. I think the reason I don’t get post-con depression is that afterwards I go over pictures, post the fursuit parade video, work on this list, prepare for and record a podcast, so the show isn’t really over for me for several days.
  78. There is apparently an underground tunnel leading from near Union Station to the hotel. I may consider taking a train ride for next year.
  79. Remember how I said “Con Talk” was over a few months ago?  I was never very good at lying. 😉
  80. “Roll Fur Initiative” for next year’s theme?  I guess Creativity failed her saving throw!  Hey, I tried!

Adventures in Self-Publishing : Cover Stories

rotscover

It’ll do

I am not a visual person by any stretch of the imagination.

When I was in college studying computer science back in the 90’s, people would occasionally ask me if I could make websites for them.  The conversation would go something like this:

Person: “Can you make a website for me?”
Me: “Yeah, I can code one, but it’s going to look like a computer guy made it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s going to look terrible.”
So yeah, I didn’t make any websites.

Given that I’m self-aware of my lack of design sense, I don’t know what possessed me to make my own book covers when I started self-publishing short story collections.  It comes even more perplexing considering that I knew artists that could do quality artwork.  Ego may have had something to do with it; the notion of doing everything on my own.  Maybe I didn’t want to pay for art at the time.  Whatever the reason, I figured some text on a solid color background would be good enough.  I did three covers like that, and it honestly only worked for The Rules of Tech Support.

cf1cover

A picture! Yay!

I like to think I made the most of my limited skills with my Nine to Five Lives ‘clock face,’ but that may have been too clever for its own good considering its low sales (it’s free now!).

At that point I figured it was time to get some actual artwork done.  My friend Damon Cone provided some artwork for Con Fluff 1, which I used to make a faux ‘con badge.’  I thought about making similar ones as promotional items for the book.  That never happened, but it remains an interesting idea for future use.  The character on the cover is me, which seems a little conceited, but at the same time, why the heck not?

cf2cover

SO PRETTY

I commissioned an artist friend who goes by Padunk for Con Fluff 2 and she knocked it out of the park.  She was also kind enough to put the title text on the artwork, which made it look really nice.  Future volumes have also featured artwork, and with the exception of The Rules of Tech Support, most of my collections featuring my early awful covers have been put off-sale, though you can still see them here.

While I have been happy with all of the artwork (Faeries, Fantasies, and Furries is another favorite) there are a few that need a do-over:  As the first book in the series, I don’t want to pull Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, but it does need a facelift.  Funny Animals, Funny People kind-of works, but I have a better concept in mind I’d like to see for it.  I took the easy way out with Fuzzy Words by plastering a picture into the middle of a (wait for it) solid colored background.

I’ve since commissioned new cover art for the printed version of Fuzzy Words from an artist named TinyBunner.  After spending the day arguing with CreateSpace I think everything is ready to go for printed copies.  I’m very excited at the prospect of having an actual printed book, but that’s a post for another day.

300 Seconds Episode #85: “Self-Checked Out”

Listen to this podcast episode here!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 85: “Self-Checked Out” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

After hearing good things from friends about the movie Coco for the last few weeks, I decided to finally watch it the other day.  I don’t go to the movies very often, and when I do, I like to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.  Also, the fact that the tickets are cheaper is also a nice bonus.  I woke up and got dressed a little too late to catch the earliest show that was nearby, so I thought I’d catch the next one which was a few miles away.  The theater was one that I hadn’t been to since I moved out of that area a number of years ago, and it was a little bit of a drive.

It was eleven o’clock in the morning and I hadn’t had breakfast yet, and I’m a breakfast guy.   Whataburger is my usual go-to in the mornings, but I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ that comes in just after breakfast hours asking for breakfast.   As a quick side note: Honey-butter chicken biscuits and BoBs would be great any time of the day, Whataburger.  I’m just sayin’

I remembered there was also McDonald’s on the way and thought a sausage biscuit would at least  get me through the movie.  Unless I’m in a huge hurry, I don’t like using the drive-thru window.  Since I spend nearly all of my workday sitting behind a computer and then go home and…sit behind a computer, I like to get on my feet whenever I can, so I parked my car and went inside.

I had never been to this McDonald’s before, but I figured it that it would be like most of the others I had been to.   I mean, it’s a McDonald’s, you know?  I walked in and the first thing I noticed was four giant screens to my left, beckoning me to use them place an order.  The second thing that I noticed was that nobody was using them, and since there w ere a few people in line, I thought I’d walk up to the touch screen and get a taste of The Future!

I have to admit, it was pretty neat ordering, it was like using an app on a really big phone.  Since there was nobody waiting behind me in line, I could take my time looking over the menu.  There was also an option to customize my order, which I didn’t really need but something to check out for later.  A card reader just below the screen allowed me to pay, and my receipt popped out of a slot to the left of the screen.  I placed my order, then walked away from the screen to wait.  Was it faster than going to the register?  Probably not, because not only did I take my time looking over the menu, but I had to learn how to use the system.

As I stood and waited for my order, a woman walked into the restaurant and also walked up to one of the screens.  She stared at it for a few seconds, tentatively poked at the screen a few times, then turned to ask somebody:  “Do I have to use the screen?”

The other customer told her ‘no’ and pointed to the register.  With a sigh of relief, the woman said “Oh, good” and she walked over to wait in line at the register.  I smiled.  Clearly, The Future had not arrived for her just yet.  I was genuinely surprised, because the woman was not very old.  Now don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t very young, either, but to me, at least, she appeared to be young enough to go: “Okay, maybe I’ll give this a shot.”

For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how automated kiosks and self-check-outs are going to put people out of work, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.  Lots of folks, like the woman I saw in that McDonald’s, just aren’t going to be willing to try the new thing, and for people that are willing to try it, there is going to be a learning curve which will take some time to work through.  Let’s also not forget the people that do try it and get stuck, which I know all of you have witnessed if you’ve spent any time in a grocery store self-checkout.

As for me, I look forward to taking the opportunity to avoid any unnecessary human contact, because, well, I’m a computer guy, and that’s what we do.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after my I pre-order my tickets for Wreck-It-Ralph 2.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 Seconds subscribe via iTunes and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com, and thanks you for listening!

27 Things I Won’t Miss from my Job (and 5 Things I Will)

workI’m being laid off from my job next month, so I thought about what I will and won’t miss from it.

I won’t miss:

  1. Idiot coworkers
  2. Idiot customers
  3. Incompetent manager
  4. Jerkface department head
  5. Idiot temporary employees trashing the place
  6. Carl (there’s always a ‘Carl’)
  7. That guy that tries to justify the crappy things the company does
  8. Our crappy software
  9. Our crappy websites
  10. Our crappy apps
  11. Our crappy phone system
  12. Having to tell customer our crappy software doesn’t work because it was made in 1999.
  13. Having to tell customers our crappy websites, apps and phone system are down…again
  14. Having to tell idiot workers to do their jobs
  15. Telling idiot workers how to do the job they have been doing for years
  16. Workforce (mis)Management
  17. Waking up early
  18. Traffic
  19. Lousy parking
  20. Half-hour lunch
  21. Lousy places to eat in the area
  22. Timesheets
  23. 2% raises…when there ARE raises
  24. Shagnasty coffee
  25. Overpriced vending
  26. Having to bring my own coffee
  27. Insulting ‘contests’ from management

Things I will miss:

  1. The nice gal from Legal
  2. The ‘office mom’ (there’s always one!)
  3. The metalhead guy (there’s always one!)
  4. Money, but most importantly…
  5. Health Insurance!

62 Things I Noticed at San Japan 009

San Japan (totally not Cyborg) 009 happened last weekend.  Amidst the new venue and new date, I noticed some things.  If I took your picture (I was the dude with bear ears, see below) you can find it here!

  1. It's YUUUGE!

    #16: You are…somewhere?

    THURSDAY NIGHT – Went in the old entrance of the Gonzalez Convention Center out of habit…oops

  2. New space is YUUUGE
  3. My fursuiter friends are already complaining about all the walking they’re going to be doing over the weekend.
  4. Artist alley is HUMONGOUS
  5. Dealer’s room is INSANE
  6. They ARE going to turn on the escalators in the Dealer’s room, right?
  7. Autograph area setup looks like what I see set up at comic-cons, hmm
  8. Located in the back corner, milk and eggs and all that
  9. If Labor Day does take a bite out of attendance, we’ll really see it on Friday, IMO
  10. Me gusta bigger panel room for Furry 101! About fuzzing time!
  11. The halls remind me of PAX South Year 1 but with the lights on
  12. Seriously, the HBG felt like a cavern back then with all the lights turned down
  13. Spiffy new booths for registration, ooh
  14. Badges are less nice this year, a little more papery.  Hope they hold up.  Compared them to last year’s badges after the fact and they’re the same.
  15. Press badges get the same art as volunteer ones? BOO!
  16. The YUUUGE maps were just a bit confusing.
  17. Didn’t help that they put teensy ‘You Are Here’ stickers that were near-impossible to find.  Maybe some gold stars or Pokeball stickers next time, guys?
  18. FRIDAY-This is my free day: No panels and my freaks aren’t showing up until late in the afternoon
  19. Arrived at 11 and easily found parking at the Houston street lot, wonder if that’s a sign
  20. Random person also walking to San Japan asked if the tin of Altoids rattling in my pocket were dice. OH HELL NO

    20160902_185752655_ios

    #28: Overestimate much?

  21. Walked into the Henry B. via the main entrance this time. Is niiice!
  22. Finally found someone pickier than Alvin Von Devious to try and help with their fursuit. Came close to (metaphorically) flipping the table.
  23. Customer service tip: Just answer my question without the lame jokes, please.
  24. So who gets to be the under/sideboob/cheek checker?
  25. Escalators in the dealer’s room are shut off, no bueno.
  26. One dealer’s display had ALL THE BOOBS.
  27. But that’s okay because they’re just cartoons…right?
  28. “History of Anime in the US” got the biggest panel room and about 50 people showed up. Yes, I counted.
  29. Good panel, but come on, I had that many the first time I did Furry 101 three years ago at RealmsCon.
  30. Do they even check to see how many people actually show up at panels?  Seriously.
  31. I kept waiting to hear one word at History of Anime but it never turned up: “Japanimation” That’s what we called it in the 80’s, kids!
  32. Friend and I did our good deed for the day getting a friend out of a jam.
  33. It took me a half hour but I had to claim the top spot on the Time Pilot game in the game room. EDS is on top where it belongs. *flex*
  34. Somehow I got pegged as the guy ‘running’ the furry meetup and some folks freaked when I showed up late.  THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS, GUYS
  35. SATURDAY-Easy parking on Houston St again, which has me slightly worried
  36. Saw displays made out of free Priority Mail boxes in the dealer’s room.  Classy.

    Clearly there is underboob here.

    #26: Under….side…ALL THE BOOBS

  37. Only the first 100 people get an autograph? Interesting.
  38. “It is up to the artist whether 101+ get an autograph” There has to be a better way to say that without making the artist look like a complete tool.
  39. The Taito Groove Coaster video game calls the Space Invaders alien a ‘crab’ IT’S AN ALIEN GUYS
  40. I keep thinking ‘Spock ears’ whenever I see pointy ears
  41. An anime con is one of the few places where you can lose a fursuiter
  42. Need to mark the lanes in Artist Alley, which one is ‘Row 5’ again?
  43. Arrived too late to the Bitforce concert to take advantage of my press badge, pbbt
  44. Wonder if they had technical problems; we could see the lead guitarist was shredding his fingers off but could barely hear him.  Otherwise, good show!
  45. Except for the game room, the air conditioning seems to be holding up well.
  46. Good thing too, because I was soaking after the occasional three-block walk to my car.
  47. The paleta man is back, woo!

    #X: Hello, old friend!

    #47: Hello, old friend!

  48. Nearly filled up our medium-sized panel room for Furry 101, w00t.
  49. 45 minute time limit threw me off, though, may have to reorganize things for next time.
  50. I only have two cosplays (Professor Utonium and Soos). I didn’t wear either, and saw the perfect people to take pictures with (The Powerpuff Girls and Giffany)! ARGH
  51. 18+ maid cafe was fun!
  52. Tipsy elevator normies were…interesting.
  53. Tipsy normie asked: “WHY YOU WEARING MOUSE EARS?” I’m not going to debate with someone holding a drink in public, they won’t remember anyway.
  54. SUNDAY-Less parking at the lot, but still no problem finding a spot; be interesting to see the attendance this year (It was down 12%)
  55. Been seeing a lot of ‘robot guts’ shirts around, guess they’re a hit.
  56. Hey panel door guy, the door opens when I say so, capisce?
  57. Noticed a lot of Judy Hopps cosplayers, bunny ears, Nick Wildes, and even an Assistant Mayor Bellweather. YAY ZOOTOPIA!
  58. Overwatch was also popular. I don’t even play the game, but for my friends it’s always HIIIGH NOOOON.
  59. Left early because the show just isn’t as fun without my friends!
  60. Mizuumi-Con is now “Otaku Fair” That’s good.
  61. Otaku Fair decided to not make any further announcements about their new event at THE BIGGEST EVENT IN THE CITY FOR POTENTIAL ATTENDEES. That’s not good.
  62. Observation:  Labor Day weekend works great for older folks like myself. For the youngn’s, though, not so much.