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.

54 Things I Noticed During Furry Invasion 2017

NOTE: While looking through my drafts, I found this list.  I have no idea why I didn’t post it back then.  Better late than never, I guess!

If a guy wearing bear ears took your picture, it might be here!


San Antonio’s first furry convention, Alamo City Furry Invasion, took place this past weekend.  Many locals (including myself) were excited to have a furry convention in our hometown and I noticed a few things during the furry fun:

  1. IMG_0342

    MINE!

    BEFORE-Sorry guys, but ‘Alamo City Furry Invasion’ as a name is too long, I’ve just been calling it ‘Furry Invasion.’

  2. RealmsCon also happened over the same weekend, so I have another reason to not go there.
  3. Thing we forgot to mention on the pre-game podcast: Parking around the con itself is going to be ‘fun’ especially for those of us not getting a hotel room.
  4. There was some confusion about the availability of a projector. We were told to reserve the one projector they had, which was odd considering I checked a box that said ‘I need a projector’ when submitting my panel.
  5. I made arrangements to have one just in case.
  6. Day before the con and we don’t have an online map :/
  7. There have been a few complaints beforehand about the potential parking costs, oh well.
  8. Took a walk around the hotel Thursday afternoon and it was plenty warm, which doesn’t bode well for our fursuiters.
  9. Surprised they aren’t doing a ‘print out your email’ thing for pre-registrations, hope that doesn’t slow down registration.
  10. FRIDAY-Pleasant surprise: Free parking for hotel guests while it was available. I fed the meter.
  11. I had to make jokes about “Don’t let your meter expire or Judy Hopps will pay you a visit!”
  12. I see the hotel and Barry Manilow’s ‘Copacabana’ pops in my head.
  13. As always, the guy with the Bluetooth speaker has to have crappy taste in music.  I swear it’s a physical law at this point.
  14. Got into the reg line at 3:38 and waited for 45 minutes, pbbt
  15. The ‘WE’RE SORRY’ guy in the reg line finally got on my nerves and I had to open a can of manager on him.
  16. Fire alarm lights go off at 541 on Friday, oh boy.
  17. Little Kid: “Pokémon!” Dad: “I don’t think those are Pokémon…”
  18. Just a little sadface over not getting a personalized dog tag…does that make me weird?
  19. The comic book was a lame substitute, and it’s not good to see staff members with tags :/
  20. No furry Westerns for movie night?  Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron? An American Tail: Fivel Goes West?
  21. If I’d have realized there were going to be so many people there  on Friday, I would have shaved!
  22. SATURDAY-Up bright and early so I can shave (see above) and get a parking spot (see #3)
  23. There were plenty of parking spots with meters around the hotel and even some $1-$2 parking a block away.
  24. You still have to feed the meter on Saturday? LAME
  25. Downloadable PDF format for the schedule would have been nice
  26. Oh wait, the online schedule is different than the printed one, uh-oh.
  27. That is, assuming you can read it, looks like they used they used 4-point font.
  28. Nice job of giving credit where credit is due at opening ceremonies
  29. For fuzzing sake, can we keep fetish gear out of furcons already?
  30. IMG_0158

    Wheee!

    Stop popping your heads and breaking the magic, people!

  31. They definitely dropped the ball on the schedule. What is most surprising to me is either the staff didn’t notice or they chose to not do anything about it. No bueno.
  32. How to handle major screw-ups: 1-Apologize. 2-Take no more than two sentences to say what went wrong. 3-Tell us how YOU ARE GOING TO FIX IT.
  33. I mention the previous item because I heard the same ‘printer guy screwed up the schedule’ story way too many fuzzing times.  WE DON’T CARE WHAT WENT WRONG JUST FIX IT.
  34. Regardless, I got by with a little (okay, a lot) of help from my friends for Furry 101.
  35. A bunch of quiet people attended Furry 101, there were no questions for me at the end!
  36. Some parents were there too, and were very complimentary after the fact.
  37. OMG all the Amber Alerts
  38. Seems I forgot to turn off the Amber Alerts on my new phone, too. DERP
  39. Guillermo’s Italian restaurant near the hotel was delicious.
  40. Had to do karaoke to finally get Copacabana out of my head.
  41. Forgot about the 20-bar instrumental break in the middle, should have found a dance partner.
  42. Going to be hard to not wear my Dallas Cowboys jersey on Sunday.  GET IT? COWBOYS? 😀
  43. I wasn’t even aware of the food trucks, need to work on communication, there.  Maybe a bulletin board?
  44. Bedbugs, tire slashing and threats? It’s a party now.
  45. I won’t lie, my eyes got a little misty when one guy did ‘Free Fallin’ during karaoke.  God Bless Tom Petty.
  46. SUNDAY-To the person who glomped another fursuiter: YOU SUCK
  47. Apparently fursuiters weren’t happy with the fursuit lounge closing at night.  Even by my cranky middle-aged standards, 10 o’clock is WAY too early.
  48. Another furry watching football? SAY IT AIN’T SO!
  49. If you’re still telling Tony Romo jokes now, stop talking about football. Just. Stop.
  50. Had my panel cancelled on Sunday because I was feeling way
    IMG_0393

    48. Unpossible!

    oo hungry that afternoon…and they scheduled it opposite closing ceremonies.

  51. 737 attendees, wow!
  52. IMO attendance would have been higher but for RealmsCon being the same weekend in Corpus Christi and some folks in Houston are likely still recovering from the hurricane.
  53. I should probably get a room next year so I’m not dragging my tail home in the middle of the night.
  54. Overall, it was good but y’all really need to fix that scheduling, guys!

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!

All Furries’ Eve

furryween

I’m the guy taking the picture

Halloween has been a non-holiday for me ever since I took my last trick-or-treating sojourn as a kid many years ago. I didn’t have many friends in my teen and college years to be invited to parties or to engage in trickery.  Upon moving out, I discovered that exactly zero kids come seeking treats at your door when you live in an apartment.  Except for handing out candy at my parent’s house a few random times, the only thing Halloween meant to me was that Mary Jane peanut butter kisses were available.  Hey, at least it’s not candy corn.

When I purchased a house a few years ago, I figured that I was going to spend my future Halloween nights handing out candy to excited trick-or-treaters.  As fate would have it, that never happened.

At least, it never happened at my house.

You see, I had joined the furry community a year before buying the house and as a result, made some new friends.  One friend that lived nearby also owned a home, and he had spent the previous Halloween handing out candy while wearing his fursuit.  (“Fursuit” is the term for the animal costumes that some furries wear)  When the next Halloween rolled around, he invited a few friends and myself to come over and hand out candy.

I don’t own a fursuit myself.  They can run in the few thousands of dollars so I like to joke that I have a mortgage and a car payment instead.  My lack of costume made me the ‘handler,’ a person that helps out fursuiters by making sure they don’t trip over things or bump into kids.  Since fursuit heads severely limit vision, a handler’s job is essentially to keep fursuiters from accidentally hurting themselves or others.  In addition, my job was to take pictures and occasionally run into the house for more candy and bottled water to keep our three fursuiters hydrated.

The fursuits were a smash!  After the trick-or-treaters got candy from each one of them, their parents often wanted to take pictures of their costumed children (and sometimes themselves) with the fuzzy people.  It wasn’t unusual to have a large group of people congregated in front of the house: Trick-or-treaters collecting candy, parents taking pictures, fursuiters being silly and everybody having a great time together.  We stayed outside until our supply of candy was gone.  Despite being pretty bushed from all the running around I had done that evening, it was easily the most fun Halloween night I’d had in years.

We gave it all away, too!

The tradition continued with seven fursuiters showing up the next year and more and more joining the fun with each successive Halloween.  Lucky for me, more handlers showed up, too!  One guy even bought an ice chest that we filled up with candy before getting to work.  There were a grand total of fourteen fursuiters last year, making the house a veritable bonanza for the trick-or-treaters in terms of the amount of candy and fun to be had.

I have yet to spend a single Halloween night at my own house.  Instead, I have furries to wrangle, candy bowls to refill, pictures to take, and memories to make!

45 Things I Noticed During Fiesta Equestria 2015

#42 Hope you got  your badge back!

#8/41-Hope you got your button back!

This past weekend was my first-ever My Little Pony con (bronycon?) Fiesta Equestria!  By now you have probably heard about ‘Bronies,’ or adults that like the show. If not, would you like to know more?

  1. BEFORE THE CON : As much as I don’t like to ding a show before it starts, they seem to be a bit unorganized based on their website/schedule issues
  2. No, brony friends, just because I have apples at the dinner table doesn’t mean I’m razzing you
  3. Minor drama even before the show started, oy
  4. FRIDAY : The closer I get to Houston the worse the drivers seem to get
  5. My GPS was set to ignore toll roads. I forgot I have a TXTag now /facehoof
  6. DQ down the road from the hotel? AW YEAH
  7. The hotel seems to have good WiFi, w00t
  8. A press pass! I feel special
  9. I liked the little Canterlot Times newspaper thingie
  10. Except for my badge, I have no pony stuff.  I’m always the weirdo at these things
  11. If your job is to check badges, it might help to take off your sunglasses, dude
  12. Note to self: You don’t like heights, stay out of the clear elevators
  13. Furry 101 went well, had a good crowd out!
  14. Maybe a little too well, I blasted through my material in 30 min
  15. I kinda don’t want to go anywhere and lose my AWESOMELY CLOSE PARKING SPOT
  16. It’s a little strange how formal dances have become a thing at cons now.
  17. Thing I said in the elevator: “Yes, I’m here for the cartoon thing”
  18. SATURDAY : The day to day schedule thing isn’t that great if you’re a panelist.
  19. HOUSTON HAS WAFFLE HOUSE YES
  20. There’s a charity? Need to work on that advertising, guys!
  21. Sombrero covered with foil; what Mexican conspiracy theorists wear.
  22. Except for the whole ‘dudes carrying plush ponies’ thing this isn’t THAT weird.
  23. Thing I forgot: Writing panel handouts. Thank you business center!
  24. It wasn’t into today that I realized I should probably turn off my YOU’VE GOT *ING MAIL message sound. Oops
  25. A friend was all GET ME SOMETHING WITH THIS PONY ON IT, and I had to look up what she looked like.
  26. I have to say, the hotel is in a really good spot, plenty of places to eat around and even some within walking distance.
  27. Wore my red Wreck-It Ralph short on Saturday and realized if I let my hair grow out I’ll kinda look like the Steven Universe kid. YAY LAZY COSPLAY IDEA
  28. Not sure how I feel about the whole ‘paid lesson panel’ thing :/
  29. Saw another panelist who stood still in front of the audience and droned on and on.  Yeah, I think I’m Doing It Right
  30. Selling is always a crapshoot, Thom Zahler didn’t have any copies of Love and Capes on him, guess I’ll check it out online! Long Distance was very charming, be interesting to see where it goes.
  31. I am a mite disappointed in the hotel, the early check in thingie in their app didn’t work and I put my ‘do not clean’ sign up at night and they did it anyway.
  32. Someone I may or may not have known in college recognized me. Whoa.
  33. E-book panel went well, too, I think I’m getting the hang of this!
  34. Question during panel: “Was DashCon or Sonic Con worse?” Me: “SonicCon…At least people went to DashCon.”
  35. Apparently my OC “Big Words” made everyone think of George W Bush…D’OH
  36. One elevator broke down, wasn’t too big of a deal, though

    #41-Not Pictured: Fun

    #42-Not Pictured: FUN

  37. Got a letter from a Derpy cosplayer addressed to ‘Someone Special’. ITS SO CUTE I DON’T WANT TO OPEN IT
  38. A musician got their tail in a knot because there were DJs in a musician panel.  Oy.
  39. No conbooks, a bit odd considering all the art/fiction this fandom produces.
  40. If the point of the speakers in the flowers were to annoy the bleep put of me, Fission Mucking Accomplished, hotel.
  41. SUNDAY : Found a button on Friday and turned it in to lost and found on Sunday, I didn’t want it to become my “tell tale tie”
  42. I didn’t think AJ was going to remember the ‘No Fun Zone” thing he mentioned in our podcast, but there it was!
  43. Note to self: Always take pictures of cosplayers because likely YOU WILL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN even if it is a small con.
  44. I didn’t want to leave early Sunday, but life had other plans. Stupid life.
  45. Almost made it all the way home on the same tank of gas, thank you Honda CR-V!

70 Things I Noticed During PAX South

conventionsPAX South took place this past weekend in San Antonio, and I dropped in on behalf of originalgamer.com to help out with Video Game Jeopardy! and play some games.

  1. Rainy and cold on Friday. Did the weather follow the Penny-Arcade guys down here?
  2. First time I’ve ever seen people scalping tickets at a con.
  3. Weird con idea: Coat check-in
  4. Found it hilarious that OG forgot his battery pack and his phone died. Seriously, dude?
  5. Dafuq with all the Seahawks jerseys? I thought these were supposed to be nerds?
  6. Nice line for Video Game Jeopardy, hope my voice holds up
  7. Men’s room was out of soap, hopefully that means people are using it 
  8. Actually, I didn’t use any. Sorry, guys, I was in a hurry
  9. We’ve been doing Video Game Jeopardy for years and of course I goof up in front of our biggest audience by pulling up an answer when the contestant had it wrong
  10. The guy won easily, no harm done there. *whew*
  11. Despite all the Seahawks jerseys, ‘Cover Athletes’ was easily the most-hated Video Game Jeopardy! category
  12. Somebody actually knew the obscure Atari 2600-related answer (Pele’s Soccer) Impressive.
  13. The risk of picking random people for Video Game Jeopardy is that we may get folks that know little or know it all, we got two of the first and one of the second.
  14. Had a case of mistaken identity after Video Game Jeopardy, hadn’t had that happen in a while.
  15. Sorry, I have never worked at GameStop, though like many gamers, I’ve spent enough time at them for it to seem that way.
  16. Thought someone was giving away bean bags until I realized it was a chill area.  Derp.
  17. Saturday-If you don’t mind walking a few blocks there’s a $2.50 per day parking lot under the freeway at E. Houston St.
  18. Forgot to bring my 3DS on Friday, not making that mistake again!
  19. I always bring a box of Rice Krispies Treats in my backpack.  Just the thing to hold one over till the next meal.
  20. Nerds love em too, which is good for sharing
  21. Seriously.  Anime, comic, furry, video game, whatever-con. Nerds flip for Rice Krispies Treats.
  22. Left my gloves at a friend’s house a few weeks ago, sure would have come in handy today!
  23. Random guy came up and offered me a Saturday badge because he was looking for a guy ‘with a red shirt and a fist on it.’  Lucky for him I’m honest.
  24. Weird thing: He apparently didn’t notice I was already wearing a badge.  Hope he found who he was looking for.
  25. Saturday con day breakfast: Breakfast on a Bun with sausauge.  If you don’t know what that is, have breakfast at Whataburger the next time you see one.
  26. Oh, they do have a coat check here.  Cool.
  27. So one hall is to hold the line to get into the other one? I am a little disappoint.
  28. Remember when arcades weren’t just fighting games? Pepperidge Farm remembers
  29. Maybe its because I’ve been to E3 but my initial reaction to PAX was slightly underwhelmed
  30. What was there was cool, but in terms of volume, other cons have more stuff.  Quality vs. quantity, I suppose.
  31. Also, I’m also not a OMG HARDCORE GAMER so I’m not exactly the ‘target audience.’
  32. Plenty of signal, no data, thanks Cricket/AT&T!
  33. Crisis:  3DS battery light turns red OH NOES I’LL MISS ALL THE STREETPASSES
  34. Nintendo: Y U NO USE USB?
  35. Good idea: Arriving half an hour early for a panel. Bad idea: Standing in line for about a half-hour waiting to get in
  36. I own an iPad mini, a Windows 8 tablet, a smartphone and still ended up using paper and pen to take my notes.  Yay for dead trees!
  37. Weird moment: Sitting at the lower level of the Rivercenter food court eating, looking to my left, and seeing people’s feet.
  38. They had shoes on, so it wasn’t that bad
  39. Weirder moment: Seeing a Starbucks gift card next to said feet
  40. Weirdest moment: Asking the owners of the feet if they had dropped it
  41. The card wasn’t theirs and I was too honest to take it. Oh well!
  42. Thought I saw the paleta man but it just a bicycle-rickshaw thing BOO
  43. Scott Kurtz was the only celebrity I knew of, so I said hi, told him I enjoyed PvP and went on my merry way.
  44. I probably weirded the dude out. Sorry man, couldn’t think of anything clever.
  45. Booth observations:  No demo, no write up.
  46. I also don’t think my editor is interested in Kickstarter projects.
  47. Saw one booth that looked like a T-shirt company-cum-game developer…huh?
  48. I tended to ignore booths that had ‘just another’ shooter/platformer/adventure game.  Yes, I’m jaded
  49. No interest in mobile games, either. Sorry, guys /shrug
  50. Loneliest booth was probably Gamechurch.com
  51. Sitting across from an empty seat resting my feet and some gal just sits in it.  I guess being pretty means not having manners.
  52. The next gal that showed up after Ms. Thing left asked if the seat was taken.  Go fig.
  53. Not interested in swag, but Astronaut ice cream?  Yes, please!
  54. I have no idea why they had Astronaut ice cream.
  55. Rest time = Streetpass harvest time!
  56. Losing weight is good. Having to constantly pull up my jeans is annoying, made me like a bleeping teenager
  57. I referred to the jean-tugs as the ‘reverse Picard maneuver’
  58. Lots of compliments on my ‘I can wreck it!’ shirt again, woo!
  59. Realized after the fact that I overpacked and should have left my Bluetooth mouse/keyboard at home.
  60. Observation from OG: There were no volunteers barking at attendees like at other cons
  61. Wonder if it’s because the attendees seem to be a mite older here?
  62. Regardless, perhaps other cons need to jazz up their marketing and call their volunteers something else to add prestige and respect to what is a very thankless job.  “Volunteer?”  Boring.  “Enforcers?”  Oooh.
  63. Not sure what I’m going to do for Sunday.  I pretty much saw all the booths yesterday
  64. Made darn sure to charge my 3DS last night
  65. Also remembered to fill my water bottle before leaving the house this time.  Mmm, home water.
  66. The weather was so nice I almost forgot my coat when I left
  67. Now that the event is over, I can finally delete all those ‘PLEASE COME SEE OUR STUFF’ emails from devs.
  68. Great, now they’re finding me on my Twitter
  69. Obligatory work item: My legs should not be this sore after the fact, need a gig where I *don’t* sit on my tail all day
  70. PAX South is probably the best fan-run gaming convention around and I can see why folks love it so.  Its not really my thing; if I go next year it’ll just be for a day.  Plenty of my friends had a blast, though!

I Wish I Knew How To Quit You, Laptop!

technology2I have a trip planned for this weekend (to Furry Fiesta) and as I begin to pack, I ask myself the same question that I do every trip:

Do I bring my laptop along for the ride?

I have a smartphone and a tablet and while they both do a decent enough job at keeping me connected to my precious data out in the cloud, I always find myself going back to Ye Olde Laptop.  I always need to have it with me whether I’m going to visit my folks or I’m at a convention or yes, even camping.

The most obvious advantage to the laptop over mobile devices is the screen size.  My smartphone has a 4-inch screen and I have no desire to get a huge phone (or ‘phablet’ as self-important tech writers call them).  The iPad mini is okay at 7.9 inches, but even then, a good chuck of that gets eaten away by the on-screen keyboard, and I have no desire to upgrade to a full-sized iPad or fork out a c-note for a decent keyboard accessory.  Speaking of keyboards…

The second obvious advantage of a laptop is the presence of a full-sized keyboard.  More importantly, especially to me, as a writer, the laptop keyboard actually has all of the keys.  I’ll never forget how flabbergasted I was when I was merrily typing away on my iPad mini’s Microsoft Office program and discovered that there was NO TAB KEY.  WHAT. THE. FRAK.

Speaking of ‘having everything,’ the most important benefit of having a laptop is that it has Windows.  While iOS and Windows Phone can do lots of stuff, neither one can do everything.  Even the Microsoft Office app on Windows Phone feels kind of half-assed (no tab key there, either *sob*) so if I need to do Serious Things I need to have Windows.

Finally, for all my tech knowledge and willingness to try new technologies, I tend to stick to old habits to a certain degree.  I still use a desktop, rarely watch video on mobile devices, prefer to get media on physical discs and still have a checkbook.  Based on that, it looks as if I’m stuck lugging around my old faithful 14″ Toshiba for the near future.

Or maybe not, I see there are Windows 8.1 tablets out now.  Hmm… 😉