300 Seconds Episode 92: “Needless Things”

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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!

Super Short Storytime: “Where Credit is Due”

As the writer in this story is about to learn, just because someone else has a different job than you do doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier. Featured in Fuzzy Words, this furry fracas is titled “Where Credit Is Due.”


The weasel’s tail swished back and forth rapidly as he paced back and forth in his living room with a cell phone held up to one ear.  “The script is done, Mark, but I can’t seem to get the songs down, and well, you can’t have a musical without music, right?”  He joked in a feeble attempt to appease the angry producer he was speaking with.

Mark was not pleased at William’s attempt at humor, and he let the nervous weasel know: “This is not the time for jokes, Will!  I am going to be out several thousand dollars for your advance, not to mention a lot more if you don’t give me a script to put on!  It’s been nine months!  What’s going on in that head of yours?  Are you homesick?  Girl trouble?  Guy trouble?

William hesitated before answering.  “Do you really want to know, Mark?”

Mark regained some of his composure and eagerly replied, “Well.  Yeah, Will.  This delay isn’t doing either one of us any good, so…so let’s talk it through and figure this thing out for both our sakes.  What’s eating you, man?”

William let out a heavy sigh before answering: “Well, it’s that, uh, I haven’t seen my Muse lately, and, well, I’m pretty useless without her.”

This time, a flabbergasted Mark hesitated briefly before speaking.  “Whoa.  I did not just hear that.  Did you say your Muse?” he asked with a nervous laugh.

“Yeah.  My Muse…”

“WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING, WILL?  That has to be THE nuttiest thing I’ve heard in all my years working on Barkway!  Have you lost your mind?  You know what?  Don’t answer that, ‘cause I think I already know.  I need a finished script by the end of next week, or you are finished working in this town, do you understand me?  FINISHED.  Nobody will touch you with a twenty-foot leash after I’m done.  Get some help and get it done, Will!”

Even the beep that William heard as Mark ended the call sounded angry.  William collapsed onto his living room sofa, closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh.  My career is over, William thought as he dropped his cell phone onto the carpeted floor and contemplated the dreary future ahead of him.

After a few moments, he opened his eyes to find her there.  His Muse.  She was a short, sprightly thing: a mink almost completely covered in brown fur except for her muzzle, which was white.  She stood over him and looked down at William with a big goofy grin on her face.  William stared back for a few moments before the Muse finally broke the silence.

“Hi-eee!” she cheerfully said as she waved a hand in front of William’s face.  In response, he groaned and rubbed his eyes before sitting up on the sofa.  This was not the reaction that the Muse was expecting, and she began to pout: “Hey, I thought that you’d be happy to see me, Willie!”

“It’s William, and just where have you been?” an agitated William answered.  “I need to finish this play because I’ve got a producer breathing down my neck, and if I don’t get it done, he’s going to want his advance back.  You know, the one I already used to pay my rent.”

The shocked Muse took a step back.  She opened her mouth to speak, but William cut her off:

“What is it with you, anyway?  You’re never there when I need you.  You pop up at the worst possible times, or at the last minute, like now.  You can’t show up whenever I’m sitting at my laptop, you know, WHEN I’M TRYING TO WRITE.  No, that makes too much sense.  Instead, you pop up whenever you feel like it, like when I’m in the shower, or when I can’t sleep at two in the morning, or when I’m out on a date.  I then have to drop whatever it is I’m doing so I can jot something down because I have NO DOGGONE IDEA when you’re going to decide to grace me with your presence again!”

For a moment the Muse looked as if she were about to burst into tears.  Instead, she regained her composure, took a deep breath, stepped towards William, and unleashed a tirade of her own:

“Oh, so you think it’s so easy to do MY job?  You think you’re the ONLY so-called ‘creative’ person that needs a little extra help every now and then?  Well, let me tell you, Buddy, you AREN’T.  Every day, I have to help loads of people just like you finish their books or their poems or their scripts or their songs or their paintings or their sculptures.  Every. Single. Day.  It never ends: ‘I’m on a deadline!’ ‘My assignment is due next week!’ “My mom’s birthday is tomorrow!’  ‘Help me!’

So I show up, inspire somebody, and what I get for my trouble?  Nothing!  Nada, zero, zip, zilch.  When people say: ‘Oh, what a wonderful work of art,’ does the artist ever mention me?  No.  Do you ever hear somebody say, ‘Thank you, Muse,’ in an acceptance speech?  NO!  I-I don’t even get residuals!

A bewildered William interrupted her.  “But you’re a Muse…what would you even do with money?” He asked.

“SHUT UP!” she snapped back.  “It’s the principle!” she said, turning away from William.

William started to approach the Muse, but since her long fluffy tail was in the way, he walked around to face her.

“So you’re just looking for some recognition, huh?” William asked.

“Just a little would be nice.” The Muse said coyly.

William thought for a moment, and then his face lit up. He enthusiastically asked the Muse, “What if, I were to write a play with you in it?”

The Muse pointed a finger at herself before speaking. “With little old me?” she said with feigned modesty.

“Sure.  It will be…” William took a step back, assumed a dramatic pose and spoke as if he were narrating a movie trailer:  “The inspirational tale of a guy who’s down on his luck.  He can’t get a break, and just when he’s hit rock bottom and things can’t get any worse…” he stopped to point at the Muse with both hands, “His Muse appears out of the blue and saves his tail!”

“Yay!” chirped the Muse in a delighted tone, clapping her hands as she excitedly hopped up and down on both feet.  “I’d like that, Willie. I really would.  Have you thought of a name for it yet?”

William stifled a laugh before answering: “What else could I call it?  Un-a-mused!

With a smile and a wink, the Muse replied, “Yeah, I think I’ll let you take the credit for that one, Willie!”

THE END.


Inspiration is where you find it, Dear Listeners, that is, assuming it doesn’t find you first. For more super-short, super-silly stories, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com.  This has been Super-Short Storytime, and remember, listeners; always cite your sources!

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.

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”

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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!