300 Seconds Episode 92: “Needless Things”

Click here to listen to this episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 92, “Needless Things,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Now that the Texas weather has taken a turn for the slightly cooler, I’ve been talking walks around the neighborhood to get some exercise, fresh air, and sunshine.  Some days I walk in the morning, and some days I walk in the evening.  As I go around the neighborhood, I’ll often see people outside, watering their lawns, playing with children, tending to plants, or sometimes cleaning out their garages.

The garages intrigue me; they are nearly always packed to the gills with all kinds of stuff: Bicycles, tools, lawn mowers, children’s toys, exercise equipment, and, of course, boxes.  Stacks and stacks of boxes, oftentimes nearly piled up to the ceiling.  Cars, SUVs and trucks are often relegated to the driveway or to the street.  No room at the inn, as it were.

Seeing all of those garages filled with boxes made me think about all the stuff that I kept in my house;  I’m not that bad, I reassured myself. After all, I had    enough room left in my garage to use it for its intended purpose, so I’m not one of those people.

That notion got thrown out of the window when I sold my house.  I got a realtor and began moving out in anticipation of the house being shown to potential buyers.  The realtor drilled it into my head that I had to make sure to remove or secure anything that was ‘stealable’ from the house before the showings started.  Right or wrong, I interpreted that as ‘get all of my DVDs, Blu-Rays, video games, comic books, books-books, music CDs and nearly all of my computer stuff out of the house.’  As my storage unit slowly began to fill up with boxes, I began to realize, that yes, I did have quite a bit of stuff myself.

By the time the house went on the market and the showings began, I had done a pretty good job of minimizing the amount of stuff that was inside, by either putting stuff into storage or giving stuff away to charity.  In many cases, I had two of the same thing that I either didn’t need anymore or I didn’t see myself needing in the future because my next residence will probably be an apartment. One computer went into storage.  The second television set that was kept in the bedroom for guests, I sold for cheap to a relative and I did the same with the second living room sofa.

It felt odd to see my house without a lot of the stuff inside of it that made it, well, mine.  As a concession to myself, I left the artwork hanging on the walls, as if to say: This house might be up for sale, buster, but until you sign a check, it’s still my house, dagnabbit.

I lived with less stuff for a few weeks as the sale of the house went through, and except for a few moments when I wanted to watch a particular movie, I didn’t really miss the stuff all that much.  Granted, I didn’t get rid of everything, I still had my Xbox for entertainment.  I moved in with some friends after selling the house, and most of the stuff that I had kept in storage, remained there.  The experience made me realize that I can do without quite a bit of stuff, so maybe I’m not doing that bad, after all.

I think we need find a new word to describe the storage units that garages seem to inevitably become.   Instead of being a place to store a vehicle, garages have become a place to keep the needless things in our lives; old things that will likely never be used again and yet, they are the things that we just can’t bear to part with.   I won’t lie, though.  Once I get life squared away and I’m back at my own place, those needless things will be back in my life, taking up space.  Or maybe not.  After all, I probably won’t have a garage to keep them in, and paying somebody to keep my needless things stashed away kind of sucks.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I make a run to my storage unit.  If you’d like to hear or read more of my words visit Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening!

300 Seconds Episode 91: “A few words after Furry Invasion 2018”

Listen to this episode here, or read the transcription below!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 91:  A few words after Furry Invasion 2018, so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Furry Invasion took place at the El Tropicano Riverwalk hotel in San Antonio last weekend, October 5-7.  I did my best to pack in as much fun as I could in between shifts at work: I hung out for a little while on early Friday to pick up my badge and I made it out on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Overall, Furry Invasion was a marked improvement over last year, but once again, there are a number of little nitpicks that affected me personally that I’m going to bring up.  Spoiler alert: They still have panel issues.

I arrived at registration at about ten o’clock on Friday morning and it went pretty quickly; there was really nobody in line.  They scanned my e-mail, checked my ID and I got my stuff…awesome!  I didn’t hear any squawking about registration this year, though there were a few complaints about finding registration, it was kind of in a weird spot, but that was expected.  Two quick nitpicks about registration, however.  Number one: Stickers are supposed to go on the BADGE ITSELF, not on the badge holder.  Second, and this is more for the people running the show; if you have a guy that’s hacking and coughing his guts out, maybe he shouldn’t be in a position to be handing out credit cards, IDs and badges TO MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE CONVENTION.  Yeah, the guy that checked me out let out a nice fit of coughing after he gave me my stuff, which made me very glad that I carry hand sanitizer with me.

One big complaint I heard about throughout the weekend was parking: Last year there was a parking lot across the street, however this year new hotel is being built in that space, so that significantly reduced the number of available parking spots.  As for me, I was able to easily find meter parking on Baltimore street near the hotel on each day of the convention.  My biggest trouble was having enough quarters 😉  Now this is an issue with the venue itself, another venue issue that came up was the elevators breaking down.

And now I’m going to talk about panels for a little bit because there are a number of issues going on here.  It was a pretty good plan on paper:  The panel schedule itself was done ahead of time, which is good, and the leadership decided to put the panel [schedule] online, and that’s also good.  There was also a screen set up with the panel schedules rotating and a QR code that you could scan to pull up the schedule on your phone.  This is also good.  Unfortunately the plan kinda fell apart in the execution.

To begin with, putting the schedule on the website isn’t a bad idea, but the Furry Invasion website is not optimized for phones.   That’s being polite, because it’s pretty awful on phones.  Here’s the thing, guys, it’s cool that y’all have an online digital schedule that you can update on the fly, but there is nothing wrong with paper.  Once your schedule is as final as it’s going to be, print out a bunch of copies.  Hang a copy of each room’s schedule outside the door.  Also, make a PDF copy and have that be downloadable from your website.

So I had a weird exchange with my friend Mordecai on Saturday; he thought my Furry 101 panel was at 6PM.  I told him it was at 5 and he said the conbook said 6.  This really confused me because Furry 101 wasn’t even mentioned in the conbook.  Turns out that  Mordecai was given a copy of LAST year’s conbook.  Don’t that that guys.  Just don’t.  Recycle them.  I was also given a less than ideal time and the crappiest room in the convention, but you know, what are you going to do?  Based on all that, I’m probably going to skip presenting next year.  On the plus side, they did have a projector set up.

Speaking of scheduling, for whatever reason the fursuit parade started before its scheduled time.  I was on my way to get a soda from the machine in the lobby when all of a sudden I saw furries marching towards me.  It was all I could do to scramble to find a spot and remember how to work my camera, which is what happens when you have a job that wakes you up at five in the morning.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m nitpicking a lot.  When I have to nitpick like this, it’s because most of the convention was good.  I had a good time, and I’ve been hearing lots of good things both online and off about Furry Invasion 2018.   Overall, I think things will continue to get better as the staff builds from their experience, and I’ll definitely be back next year.

Furry Invasion 2018 was a good con overall. Except for issues related to the venue and my own personal panel issues, which admittedly, are my own, there were no major issues present on the part of the con itself.  I had an enjoyable time, when I was able to get out there, I will certainly be back next year, hopefully for the whole thing.  The theme for next year’s Furry Invasion is going to be ‘Cyberpunk’ and it appears to be taking place on the weekend of October 4, 2019, and I look forward to seeing you there…or perhaps I should   say ‘furward!’

This has been 300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, the next episode will be posted after I recover from the long weekend of work and fun.  I am Eduardo Soliz, please subscribe to this podcast and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and  short stories.  Thank you for listening!

300 Seconds Episode 90: “A few words before Furry Invasion 2018”

Listen to the podcast here!

I was recently a guest on Tommy Kovacs Splat from the Past podcast. Join us as we discuss our convention experiences in California and Texas.  That’s Splat from the Past, episode number 215, on YouTube. And now, on with the show…

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 90:  A few words before Furry Invasion: The Road to Furdition, so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Furry Invasion will be happening at the El Tropicano Riverwalk hotel in San Antonio this weekend, October 5-7 with badge pickup happening tomorrow night.  Because life has been getting in the way of my fun lately, I will only be at Furry Invasion Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  I’ll be presenting my Furry 101 panel on Saturday afternoon at 5PM in the Bolivar C room.  If you or someone you know would like to know more about the fandom, then come on down.

This is the second year for Furry Invasion; last year’s show was a solid first effort that had a few hiccups here and there, including a few that affected me personally, so just a heads up, this is going to get just a little bitey.

The biggest issues that I had last year were the slow registration line and the panel schedule being disorganized.  The problem with registration last year was that attendees were required to print their registration sheets at the convention which slowed down the process considerably.  At other conventions, attendees are allowed to print out their preregistrations beforehand, allowing them to be processed much more quickly.  I’m happy to report that I was allowed to print out my registration paperwork after paying, so that should make things more efficient.  While that problem appears to have been solved, a new one has been introduced by the convention’s choice to put registration in the hotel’s ballroom, which is in the back of the hotel and on the third floor.  This is going to make signage VERY important and staff should also be aware of how to get to registration so they can direct people there.

My second beef last year was with the panel scheduling; the schedule that was printed in the conbook ended up being different than the actual schedule, due to some changes being made after the original schedule was made.  This led to some confusion among attendees and presenters, including myself.  Fortunately, the Powers That Be decided to make the schedule digital this year, which means that last minute-changes can be made without fear of ending up with an outdated print schedule, so good on them.  What I’m hoping happens is that they print out each panel room’s schedule and post it outside so folks can see what is happening.

While Furry Invasion has made efforts to fix their registration and panel scheduling issues from last year, one thing that was sadly not addressed, was the weather.  Now, you may be asking yourself: What can the convention do about the weather?  Well, they can try to push the con ahead a week or two in the hopes that the weather cools down.  Cooler weather makes it easier for fursuiters to go outside and have fun, puts less strain on the venue’s air conditioning and is just nicer.  Should there be a third go-round, Furry Invasion really needs to look at pushing their date forward a week or two.

I openly admit that yes, I am harping on the convention a bit, but that’s mainly because the first two issues I mentioned were really touchy issues for me personally.  As I mentioned at the top, the first Furry Invasion went well; if the registration and panel problems weren’t there it likely would have been a great show instead of a good one.  Year two should be better since steps have been taken to address most of the issues from last year and the staff will have a year of experience under their belt to build on.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after the convention.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 seconds subscribe to this podcast or check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and short stories.  Thank you for listening!

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!

300 Seconds #79: Job Separation Anxiety

Click here to listen to this episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 79, “Job Separation Anxiety,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I’ve had a feeling of impending doom at work for a few weeks now.  During this time of year, we usually start getting ready for our ‘busy season’ by preparing training materials and hiring new people so that they’ll (hopefully) be ready for the onslaught of customers in the fall. While there has been plenty of training prep going on, our boss hadn’t scheduled a single interview.  Suspicious, to say the least.

Finally, for the first time since I have worked at the company, every person in our department was called into a meeting.  The meeting began with a sad-faced girl from Human Resources going into a spiel about restructuring, company challenges, new directions, blah blah blah.  Yup, here it comes.

She then threw the hammer down: The thirty people in the room (including myself) were all going to be laid off after a few weeks.  The department was being scaled back, so if we wanted to hang around, we would have to apply for one of the new positions.  After some questions and one wire-acre comment from yours truly, we were each given a packet of documents and allowed to go home to digest the news, if we wanted to.  Needless to say, everybody called it a day.  I didn’t envy the Human Resources gals their jobs, but at least they would still have jobs in a few weeks.

In my so-you’re-about-to-be-canned document packet was a fun corporate-double-speak letter that referred to my last day on the job as the ‘job separation date.’  Yeah, I’ll be certain to file that letter next to the ‘thirteen dollar bonus’ one from a few years ago.  Yeah, that’s right.  Thirteen dollars.  And people wonder why I hate my job.

I chuckled at their choice of words: “Job Separation.”  I guess it beats ‘Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya,” though.  This being Texas, I’m genuinely surprised they didn’t just toss us out right then and there.

In a sense, I’m a little disappointed in myself; I’ve seen the writing on the wall at other employers in the past, and I’ve been lucky enough to get out of Dodge while the getting was good.

I guess I’ll have to start paying attention to those updates from Monster and LinkedIn now!

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after my update my resume.  I am Eduardo Soliz, and if you’re looking for a software developer, help desk analyst, tech support lead, creative writer, copy editor, or maybe even a voice guy, shoot me an email at edsoliz@yahoo.com.  Whether you’re hiring or not, check out Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and short stories, and as always, I thank you for listening!