A Few Things I Noticed While Flying

  1. BEFORE: “We’re flying you to Columbus, Ohio for training.” I’m not sure if that’s going to be better or worse than “PowerPoint hell.”
  2. I haven’t flown since 2010, so this is going to be interesting.
  3. It will also be interesting to compare this to my recent Amtrak trip to Dallas (see previous post).
  4. I recently moved, and I’m so glad I got my new driver’s license beforehand due to airport security. The picture on the new license is also of my currently less-fat self.
  5. Dear Uber driver: This is Texas. Turn on your gol-dang air conditioner.
  6. TRIP TO COLUMBUS: TSA was quick and pleasant; any delays were self-imposed.
  7. Then again, not having to do the TSA dance is a point in Amtrak’s favor
  8. Then again, an Amtrak to nearby Cincinnati would have taken nearly 2 days.
  9. The rollers on the X-Ray scanner quit rolling so we got held up just a little.
  10. I got to be zapped by the full-body scanner so I may be a little glowy while in Columbus.
  11. You’re darn skippy I’m going to savor every drop of this $3.25 airport Coca-Cola Zero
  12. Does wearing a Green Lantern ring qualify someone as a peace officer? Asking for a friend
  13. Coughing at the airport and thinking I should have had some Vitamin C with breakfast this morning
  14. Flying Southwest. Boarding group: C I guess I’m getting a window seat.
  15. Make that a center seat, which goes to show how long it’s been since I last flew.
  16. Amtrak seats are definitely better than airplane seats.
  17. Takeoffs make me a mite nervous, dunno that I’ll ever get used to it
  18. Seatmates aren’t very chatty but I have a slight headache so no biggie
  19. Actually, I talked a little with the gal who had the window seat…good luck with the marketing business!
  20. Other passengers: Read books and stories. Me: Write some 😉
  21. While I have a spare phone battery, I’m trying to keep from using it.
  22. I wonder how long it takes the plane to get out of Texas?
  23. Pretzels and cheese sandwich crackers. Mmm.
  24. Thing I forgot: Water bottle, which would have come in handy after the snack.
  25. I feel obligated to share my ‘peanut story’ with seatmates. Sorry.
  26. We’re all “random weirdos” here
  27. Complimentary drinks are a point in flying’s favor over Amtrak, but not so much due to the 4-ounce cups that are served.
  28. Tail’s dragging today; I stayed up way too late getting ready for the trip after driving up from Corpus Christi in the morning.
  29. I would like to sleep but I just can’t nod off on the plane. Being in the center seat doesn’t help.
  30. Thought about bringing my tablet along instead of my laptop but decided not to. After trying to type on the plane all squished up I definitely should have bought the tablet instead.
  31. Slight layover at Chicago Midway International. Part of me wishes I’d bought my fursuit along BECAUSE BEARS.
  32. Home Run Pizza hit the spot.
  33. I’m jonesing for some ice cream and I can’t find any at the airport. COME ON MAN
  34. At a Chicago airport yogurt shop:
    “Finally, some ice cream!”
    “It’s frozen yogurt, sir.”
    “Don’t ruin this for me, please.”
    “Yes, sir. It’s ice cream.”
  35. I just realized I should have worn something Texan but settled for furry instead. Oh well.
  36. I should have bought a bear souvenir while in Chicago. I HAVE FAILED MY PEOPLE.
  37. Head attendant on the second flight was kind of a wisenheimer, but he was a funny wisenheimer.
  38. Seatmates were glued to their phones on the second flight up.
  39. So was I. Yes, they had in flight WiFi, which we didn’t have on the flight to Chicago.
  40. Southwest Airlines Wi-Fi had 80s music, which made for a more pleasant flight!
  41. The presence of Wi-Fi is another point in air travel’s favor, though to get actual Internet you have to pay.  I dug the site where you can see your flight progress, though.
  42. Saw a seatmate playing Solitaire on his phone. Nice.
  43. Grey and rainy in Columbus. Just as well, given that I’m here for work!
  44. TRIP HOME: Got an email saying my flight home to San Antonio is delayed a half-hour. Crap.
  45. Having a company credit card means overpriced airport food is no biggie
  46. Thanks to my Furry Invasion t-shirt, I got to explain furry to a TSA agent in Columbus, Ohio.
  47. His coworker helped out, which made me wonder if she had something to share with the class. Hmm.
  48. Nearly showed up late to my flight home because I thought the plane was delayed (see #44)
  49. Was relieved to be in Group B for boarding which meant that I may be able to avoid another flight in the middle seat/steerage.
  50. Plane was only half-filled so I got an aisle seat for the flight home…in the same aisle with a toddler.
  51. Seatmate had a small dog in a carrier on the floor. Awww!
  52. Nothing says I’M A FURRY like watching the Walt Disney version of Robin Hood on your laptop for in-flight entertainment
  53. I was the only one who ordered ginger ale on the trip home so I got the whole can. Score!
  54. Arrived back home on time, which has me slightly irked at the time goof-up.
  55. Overall, flying wasn’t bad, though I would definitely take an Amtrak over it if I had the time: No TSA, roomier seats, lounge and dining cars, people appear more relaxed, and the ability to walk around the train make the train a much more pleasant experience.

Super-Short Storytime: “Emergency”

SSST007

Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, lovers of literature and fans of fiction!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the composer and narrator of the supremely silly tale that you are about to hear.

If there is one thing that steampunks and furries have in common, it’s that members of both groups love to parade about in their finest fictional fashion.  A pair of fur-bearing blue-bloods try to handle a real crisis in this steam-powered story that I call: “Emergency”


“Brace yourself, my dear!” The gentlewolf yelled to his mistress as the airship began to slowly list to one side.  In response, Muffy reached to grab onto a large pipe that was near to her, but the arctic fox woman immediately released it due to its extreme heat.

“Ah!  Monty, it’s too hot!” Muffy exclaimed, backing away from the pipe.  She shook her singed white paws in the air and blew on them before making her way over to Monty.

Lord Montague adjusted his monocle before looking over the many needles, indicators, numbers and controls at his disposal.  The more he looked at them, the less sense they made.  The room began to shake as the airship’s engines struggled to keep it aloft.

Monty’s voice took on an air of desperation:  “I have tried everything, my dear Muffy, but nothing appears to be working!  Perhaps this one?  Or maybe this one?”  He said, randomly pressing buttons, pulling levers and turning knobs in vain.  A whistle sounded as the intensity of the shaking increased.  Having reached Monty, Muffy pulled him away from the engine controls.

“Oh, Monty, my love!  It is a shame that our young lives must come to an end like this!  Let us share one last kiss as we hurtle to our doom!”  Muffy cried.  She held onto Monty tightly, tears welling in her eyes.

“Yes, my love!  We shall take our forbidden love to the world that lies beyond this one!”  Monty replied.  He and Muffy embraced deeply as warning bells and whistles sounded in protest around them.

A door then suddenly burst open and a short female dog ran into the control room.  She had light brown fur, floppy ears and wore denim overalls that were soiled with oil and grease.  She growled upon catching sight of the amorous aristocrats, who ignored her as they kissed.

“I swear, I can’t eat dinner or take a nap without you blasted bluebloods coming down here and tamperin’ with MY engines!!” the young engineer exclaimed as she walked over to the engine controls.  After looking over a row of gauges, the engineer began to quickly adjust the controls, her paws expertly flipping switches, turning dials and pressing buttons with the grace of a concert pianist.  The whistles and bells went silent and the ship’s shaking and listing gradually ceased.  Satisfied that all was well, the engineer turned to the young couple, whom had broken their embrace, but were still in each other’s arms.

“What in the Sam Hill were y’all thinkin’?” She angrily yelled at them. “This here engine is a delly-cate machine that should only be operated on by experts like me!  The next passenger that I catch sneaking around in here is a-goin’ to get hogtied and thrown into the cargo hold!  NOW GIT!!” she told them as she pointed to an exit.

“You mean to tell me you are not an engineer, Monty?” Muffy asked with a disgusted look on her face as she removed herself from Monty’s arms and started to walk towards the exit.

“Well…uh…no?”   Monty replied half-heartedly.  “Muffy!  Come back!” he cried as he chased his now-former mistress.

The exasperated engineer wiped her forehead and hands with a handkerchief and sighed with relief as the outer door closed behind Monty.  She then said, to no one in particular:

“How about that Mister Fancypants thinking he’s a steam engineer!   What kind of engineer dresses up in their Sunday best to go to work?”

THE END

While clothes might make the man, listeners, they don’t necessarily make him a smart one.  This been Super-Short Storytime, For more tiny tales, visit eduardo soliz dot com, and remember listeners, the past just isn’t what it used to be!

Super-Short Storytime: “Freako”

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Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, lovers of literature and fans of fiction!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the composer and narrator of the wonderfully weird words that you are about to hear:

Some people like to enjoy things that the majority of folks just don’t understand.  This selection from my free e-book ‘ten tiny tales’ is an oration about one unfortunately ostracized oddball. I call it: “Freako.”


Alan walked into the office with a spring in his step and a big smile on his face.  It was Friday, it was payday, and he would only be hanging around the office long enough to submit his time report for the week.  He couldn’t wait to start his long weekend.

As he briskly walked through the office, a woman recognized him, “Hey, Al, I thought you weren’t coming in today, did something change?”

Alan stopped to chat, beaming as he answered: “Nope, I’m just here to put in my timesheet and then the fun begins!”

“Oh, that’s right.”  The woman replied with a look of scorn on her face.  “You’re going to that thing to hang out with all those freakos, huh?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call them weirdos, Janet, I mean, lots of people are going to be there, and…” Alan started to explain before Janet raised her hand to interrupt him.

“That’s okay Al, I don’t need to hear about what you all do there, dressed up in those weird outfits and all.”  Janet quickly said.

“hhm…okay.  Sorry, Janet.”  Alan sheepishly said before continuing on his way.  Arriving at his cubicle, he sat down and turned on his computer.  While he waited for it to start, another coworker peeked his head in.

“What’s up, Al!” asked Jon as Alan turned to face him.

“Not much, Jon, I forgot to put in my time, and I want to get paid next week, so here I am.”  Alan answered.  “Hey, do you wanna join me at…”

“No way, man!”  Jon exclaimed, his face grimacing at the thought. “I wouldn’t be caught dead at that sausage-fest!  You have fun, though!” Jon said before ducking out of the cubicle.

Alan entered his time and then shut down the computer.  Dejected, he sighed, and began to walk away from his desk to start his weekend.  The smile on his face and the spring in his step were now gone.

“*sigh* Everybody makes fun of me just because I like something different.”  Alan thought to himself as he left the building and slowly walked to his car. “I wish my coworkers would stop giving me crap for being a football fan!!”

THE END.

It’s never easy being the odd man out, Listeners, so try to be nice.  If you’d like to hear or read more super-short stories scribed and said by yours truly, visit eduardosoliz.com This has been Super-Short Story time. Remember, listeners, we’re all weirdos to somebody!

300 Seconds Episode #94 “Highways and By-Ways”

Listen to this episode here!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 94, “Highways and By-ways,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Owning a car is a requirement when you live in Texas, and when you’re raised in a small town like I was, it was a necessity, because just about everything significant was either in the larger town ten miles away or in the big city that was twenty miles away.  An interesting side effect of that experience is that driving around doesn’t bother me as much as it does my friends that grew up in the city.

When I was in my small town and I wanted to go to HEB, it was a ten-mile drive.  Blockbuster Video?  Fifteen miles.  The mall? Twenty miles. Heck, if you wanted something to eat that wasn’t Dairy Queen or the local Mexican place it was at least a ten mile drive.  My city friends are used to having everything close by and I’m used to having everything far away, so where the thought of driving to the other side of town horrifies them; for me, it’s a big deal.

I make a trip to see my parents about every month or so, and thus, I know Interstate 37 between San Antonio and Corpus Christi like the back of my hand.  It’s interesting to see it slowly change over the years:  Quirky mom and pop gas stations that had animatronic cowboys and sold ostrich eggs have been replaced by big shiny corporate twenty-pump monstrosities that can probably be seen from space at night.

I find it interesting how most of the newer gas stations are trying really hard to be Buc-ees.  One even tried a little too hard and ended up being sued over it.  (Buc-ees won, by the way) Try as they might, though, nobody has ever been able to completely pull it off, because they all forget the one thing that makes Buc-ees, Buc-ees:  It isn’t the massive store, or the kitschy souvenirs that they sell, or the friendly workers, or even the mascot.  It’s the guy cleaning the bathrooms.  When you walk into the bathroom at Buc-ees, not only is it huge, but it’s always super-clean, day or night.  The other guys try: They’ll put locks on the stall doors and solid walls in between them, but all it takes is one clogged toilet or not-working sink or funky smell to remind you that they ain’t Buc-ees.

A rival gas station, QuikTrip, recently took the title of favorite gas station in Texas from Buc-ees in a 2017 GasBuddy survey. That which had some folks, including myself, up in arms: “There is just no way some other lousy gas station could be better than Buc-ees!”  Everybody said.  Quik Trip recently began opening stations in the San Antonio area, and one opened up on my way to work, so I decided to check it out.  In doing so, I figured out why they won the title.  Much like Buc-ees, Quik Trip is a really nice gas station with a good selection of hot food, snacks, drinks, and friendly employees.

You see, Buc-ees is where you stop when you are on a road trip.  In Texas, it’s to the point where a stop at Buc-ees is almost a part of the vacation itself, but it’s where you stop when you are on your way to somewhere far away.  It’s where you make a pit stop to use the bathroom and get beef jerky, kolaches, tacos, BBQ sandwiches, sweets, sodas, beaver nuggets, and maybe even a T-shirt or maybe even an ice chest or even a grill.  And that’s great.  Quik Trip, on the other hand, is where you go to gas up from week in and week out for work.  Their gas is fairly cheap, and the station is always clean and has a pretty good selection of food and snacks.  Now, is Quik Trip as big as Buc-ees? No. Does it have fresh kolaches and beef jerky like Buc-ees?  No.  Souvenirs?  No.  But it is nicer than most other gas stations and  probably closer to home for most than Buc-ees.  So yeah, I can see why it is more popular, especially if the gas is just as cheap, and isn’t cheap gas what we’re all looking for?

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I top-up my SUV.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear or read more of my words visit Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening!

The Shelf

Author’s note: This was posted to LinkedIn a few years ago. 


We have shelves in our bathrooms at the office above the sinks. Crazy it sounds, those shelves are a great analogy for what is wrong at the company I work for.

Our office bathrooms didn’t always have shelves, mind you. Some manager or facilities person a few years ago decided: ‘It would be nice if we had shelves in the bathroom so people can place things there while they take care of their business.’ It’s a good idea, so a shelf was installed. Huzzah!

Things went well for a few months, then one day I noticed the shelf was starting to lean forward slightly, as if it were coming off from the wall. Uh-oh. I stopped using it because I didn’t want my coffee mug to fall into the sink when the shelf finally gave way.

It eventually did break, and for about a week we were once again shelf-less. It was re-installed and life was good again, but after a few more months, it started to lean forward and fell off the wall again.

While I have managed some minor home repairs myself, I’m not going to claim to be Tim the Tool-Man. If I shelf I installed gave way, then okay, fine, maybe I did something wrong or overlooked something that a professional would know to do from experience. How was it that our professional facilities people couldn’t install a simple shelf? A few months later, after we remodeled our building, I got my answer…

There are three brackets holding the shelf in place. Each bracket should have two screws, but for whatever bone-headed reason, only one gets put in. Why? Was the facilities guy in a hurry? Are screws that expensive? My best guess is that the guy figured one screw is ‘good enough.’

Whatever the reason, the job wasn’t done right the first time, and the shelf inevitably has to be repaired. Surely the guy learns that ‘gee, maybe I should do the job right this time and use two screws so this doesn’t happen again.’

Nope! He makes the same mistake again, and as you can see by the picture above (different shelf but you get the idea) he’ll be eventually repairing it again. Even then, the damage has been done and he’ll likely continue ad infinitum.

This is a perfect analogy for how my company does things:

  1. Get a good idea and implement it.
  2. Don’t make the product the right way the first time, but make it ‘good enough.’
  3. Attempt to fix problems after customers complain of issues.
  4. The fixes are also ‘good enough.’
  5. Everything is fine for a while, but the problems inevitably return and the damage has been done in loss of customer confidence and goodwill.
  6. Go back to step 3 and repeat.

So yeah, that’s the way things work (or rather, don’t work) at my office.

I’m just wondering what the facilities guy is going to do when he runs out of wall space. He should have plenty of screws, at least.

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!”

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.