CREATIVE, Eduardo Soliz, FURRY, JUST SAYING, Podcasting, PODCASTS, RANDOMIZER9.COM, Super-Short Storytime, WHATS GOING ON, WORDS, Writing

Super-Short Storytime: “Lawn Care”

Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, fellow fans of flash fiction!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the writer and narrator of the splendidly short story that you are about to hear.

Something that one quickly discovers upon purchasing a home is that keeping it up can be a lot of work.  Like many of you, I found any work involving its exterior particularly tiring and time-consuming, with mowing the lawn being the most unpleasant.  Fortunately, in addition to exercise, a nice looking lawn, and a few wasp stings, all of those hours spent behind the lawn mower resulted in this tiny tale of toil that I call: “Lawn Care.”

It was another fine Saturday morning, and once again, I was spending it mowing the grass in my backyard.  As was usually the case, I had waited too long, so after a half hour, both my lawn mower and I were huffing and puffing under the strain of foot-tall weeds.  I stopped to catch my breath for a moment, when I thought heard a voice.  I turned around.  Nobody was there.  Huh.  I stood still and listened for the voice, and again it came.

“Hello?”  A soft voice said, but it was coming from…below me?  I looked down and saw a rabbit sitting on the grass staring back at me.  I looked over it for some sign that it was a toy; a seam, glass eyes, or weird colors.  Nothing.  As far as I could tell, this was a real live rabbit, just one that could talk.

“Hello?”  I replied. I slowly raised a hand and waved my fingers at the bunny, not wanting to frighten it.  To be honest, I was feeling a little frightened myself!

The bunny gasped.  “You can talk.”  She said, her mouth and eyes opening wide in astonishment.

“You can talk?”  I replied.  Okay, this is weird.

The bunny blinked, shook her head slightly, and regained her composure. “Oh!  We wanted to ask: Why do you kill the grass?”  She asked.

“Kill the grass?”  I asked back.

“Yes.  You kill the grass.  What you are doing right now.”  The bunny nodded her head towards the freshly-mowed area I had just finished.

I thought about my words for a moment, doing my best to simplify the concept:  “I cut the grass to make it short.”  I put a hand on my chest to emphasize my next point.  “We also don’t like some kinds of grass, like the skinny ones with the yellow flowers on top.”

The bunny recoiled in shock, her ears folding back. “But those are yummy!” She insisted.  “We like the tall grass because we can hide there and be safe.  Short grass is…” She closed her eyes tightly and shuddered. “scary.”

I waved a hand out over the portion of the yard that had been cut and said: “Well, people like me think it looks prettier when the grass is short.”

The rabbit gazed back at me with wide eyes and asked:  “But aren’t we pretty, too?”

I don’t mow the lawn anymore.  You know, I haven’t seen any dandelions around, either.

THE END.

I live alone, Dear Listener, so I don’t know if ‘because of the bunnies’ would work as a good excuse for not cutting your grass.  That said, you are more than welcome to try.  This has been Super-Short Storytime!  Visit eduardo soliz dot com for more stories and podcasts and remember:  Talking bunnies are people, too!

Standard
Books, BUSINESS, Computers, CREATIVE, Eduardo Soliz, JUST SAYING, Nine to Five Lives, Podcasting, PODCASTS, Super-Short Storytime, TECH, WORDS, WORK, Writing

Super-Short Storytime: “Future Service”

ssst10

Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, literature listeners and audio aficionados!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the creator and narrator of the wonderfully weird story that you are about to hear. 

This story was influenced by my time spent working in customer service.  As much as I’d like to ‘get over it’ and move on, the general public have provided me with WAY too much story material in order for me to do so.   I call this cursory client conversation: “Future Service”

“Your call is very important to us, sir, and a technical support representative will be on the line with you shortly.” a female voice said over the communicator.

“Yeah, really important, that’s why I’ve been on hold for fifteen minutes…” the caller muttered as he paced back and forth.

“I apologize, sir.  Is there anything I can do for you while we wait?  Is there anything you would like to talk about?” asked the voice on the phone.

“No, that’s fine.” The caller said.  He stopped his pacing as he came to an unpleasant realization. “Wait, have you been on the line all this time?” he asked.

“Yes, sir, it is our policy to never transfer customers to an automated system.” The rep replied with an air of pride. “We have learned that interacting with a live representative prior to speaking with a technical support specialist improves the overall customer experience.”

“So your job is to just sit there and talk to me?” The dumbfounded caller asked.

“Yes sir.” The woman replied.

“And you can’t do anything at all to get my problem fixed?” The caller said, his voice beginning to waver slightly.

The woman took on a condescending tone when she answered: “I’m afraid not, sir.  I am here to keep you company and ease your frustrations until a qualified technical support specialist becomes available, in about…” She paused as she checked her screen.  “Twenty minutes.  This new system has improved our efficiency and greatly improved customer satisfaction.  Are you still there, sir?”

“Yes.  So whenever I call this number, I will always get a person?”

“That is correct,” the woman cheerfully replied.

The android finally reached his breaking point.  He slammed a metal fist onto his dining room table and yelled into the communicator: “SO WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET A MACHINE AROUND HERE?!”

The End.

Like the old saying goes, you can’t make everybody happy.  Perhaps one day some company somewhere will perfect customer service over the phone.  Until then, we’ll have to “hold” on as best we can.

This has been Super-Short  Storytime!  Visit eduardo soliz dot com for more stories and free e-book downloads, and remember, listeners: Your call may be recorded for quality assurance, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be listened to!

Standard
300 Seconds, BUSINESS, Eduardo Soliz, JUST SAYING, PODCASTS

300 Seconds Episode #97 – “Job Search Blues: Job Fairs”

Listen to the episode here!

Leave the real world behind for a few minutes by listening to “Super-Short Storytime” at EduardoSoliz.com/podcasts or find it on your favorite podcast app.  And now, on with the show…

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 97, “Job Search Blues: Job Fairs,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I spent the last episode talking about what a big pain in the posterior looking for and applying for a job online can be.  Fortunately, there is a place where you can go to shake hands, speak to a real person, and get that personal touch.  The job fair, which is in itself a different level of hell.

I should start out by saying that my experiences are colored by the fact that I am looking for a job in Information Technology, and in general, job fairs tend to suck for IT jobs.  At a small job fair, I’ll consider myself lucky if just ONE of the businesses is looking for any sort of IT position.  If more than one company at a job fair is looking for a technical support guy or a programmer, I’m thinking that I need to buy a lottery ticket because it’s my lucky day.

Unfortunately, when companies do drag their IT guys out of the basement and put them in front of people, they get to experience how socially inept they can be.  I’ve had multiple awkward moments at job fairs with IT people, possibly because I’ve been told by people I’ve worked with that I sometimes come off as intimidating.

One person refused to look me in the eye after I let him know what I thought of their pay rates.  Another one froze up after I handed my resume to him and introduced myself.  So yeah, my people skills might use a little fine-tuning.

And then there are those instances when the IT guys can’t be dragged out of the basement and so I get to spend a few minutes trying to talk shop to a HR gal or a supervisor that has no earthly idea what I’m saying.  Those conversations often end with the company representative telling me to go to their website and apply there…which completely defeats the point of the job fair.

I also love it when I walk up to a company’s table and the representative just starts blabbing away about their wonderful company and how wonderful it would be to work for them and how much they love it there and blah blah blah.  After their delightful speech, when I’m finally able to get a word in, I let them know that I’m looking for a computer job.  At that point, the air gets completely sucked out of the room when they sheepishly say: “Oh. We aren’t hiring for computer people.”  So maybe you should ask me what kind of job I’m looking for   before you give me the sales pitch, guys, I’m just saying.

Job fairs are a good idea in general, but for folks looking to hire computer professionals, they don’t seem to work as well as they should.  Or maybe it’s just me.  It definitely wouldn’t be the first time!

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I register for the next job fair.  I am Eduardo Soliz.  For more podcasts, and short fiction, and my blog, visit EduardoSoliz.com and thank you for listening!

Standard
300 Seconds, BUSINESS, Eduardo Soliz, JUST SAYING, PODCASTS

300 Seconds Episode #96 – “Job Search Blues: The Internet”

Listen to the episode here!

A quick note before I begin: This episode was written prior to my being hired at my current job. And now, on with the show:

This is ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 96, “Job Search Blues: Job Hunting on the Internet,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Complaining about one’s job is practically an American tradition, and I am certainly more than happy to let anyone within earshot know how I feel about my nine-to-five. I am currently in between jobs, and since I don’t have a job to complain about at the moment, I am going to spend the next few episodes complaining instead, about the delightful process of finding a job in this here 21st Century.

On the surface, looking for a job should be a breeze these days. Instead of flipping through want ads in the newspaper, we now have an overabundance of job websites out there that will be more than happy to take your resume and shoot it away to the four corners of the Earth. Instead of driving to an office and leaving a resume at the HR department, each company now has their own website that is more than likely is run by someone like Taleo or workday. Hooray for progress.

Monster.com, indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, dice.com…to see their advertisements, you would think that they all have the job of your dreams waiting for you. Just set up your account, upload your resume, and the job of your dreams will soon be yours!

As someone once famously said: Don’t believe the hype.

On paper, a job board is a Good Thing: It’s a place where, thanks to the Power Of The Internet, you can now search for an exact job title with an exact salary, within an exact number of miles from our home and find exactly what you’re looking for…maybe. I’ve done some programming, so I do know how dicey sorting through a database can be, but there’s gotta be SOMETHING in these algorithms that says: “Hey, this person has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and over a decade of IT experience: Maybe they aren’t terribly interested in construction jobs.” Or how when I look for ‘technical support’ jobs, I get job listings for pharmacy technicians and veterinary technicians. Forget “artificial intelligence,” we need “artificial common sense.”

Since the job boards kinda suck, instead you decide to skip the middleman and visit the website of a company that you would like to work for. If you’re lucky, there will be a link that says “Careers” on the home page that takes you directly to a page with a link that takes you to the job listings. If you aren’t lucky, you to see get a webpage full of stock photos of happy people that probably don’t work at the company at all. This page will list all of the departments, the cities, the benefits, the descriptions of jobs and maybe one or two testimonials from real employees. Also: Real attractive employees, companies don’t want you to think they hire ugly people. You will then spend at least a minute trying to a link to the actual jobs.

Once you find the specific job that you are looking for, the fun part begins: The Application. Step one is always straightforward: Your personal information. Cool. Step two: Upload your resume. Okay. Now type in your work history, that is, all the information that is on your resume. Yeah. Even though you’ve just sent them an electronic copy of your resume, they want to you hand-type all of that same information into their system. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that larger employers don’t have their own job sites, instead they use a third party like Taleo or Workday, and they both SUCK. They suck because if you apply to multiple companies that use one of those third party sites, you get to re-type in the same information FOR EACH FUCKING COMPANY. At this point in my career I have probabl about a dozen Taleo profiles and a half-dozen for Workday. How hard would it be for those guys to let me enter my profile ONCE and just re-submit it to different companies? I’m just sayin.

Of course, after you have checked every box, selected every option, filled out every field, and clicked ‘Submit,’ then there’s the waiting. And along those lines, this is the end of the epsode

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I type in eighteen years of job experience into an application website…again . I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 seconds subscribe via your favorite podcatcher and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com for more. Thank you for listening!

Standard
300 Seconds, COOKING, Eduardo Soliz, FOOD, HOUSE, PODCASTS, WEATHER

300 Seconds Episode #95 – “Home Less”

Listen to the episode here!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 95, “Home Less,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

Because life (or something like it) happened, I sold my house a few months ago.  Thus, after five years, I’m no longer a homeowner, and there are a few things I already miss about having a house.

To begin with, there is the notion that the place where I live is no longer ‘my’ place anymore.  I’m staying with some friends for the short term, and God bless ’em, because they’ve been pretty awesome.  At the same time, their house isn’t my house, you know?  When I owned my house, I could do whatever I wanted to, like using an old CD to fix a hole in the drywall or putting the TV set in front of the fireplace.  That feeling of ‘ownership’ is pretty nice and the lack thereof will continue to bother me until I own my home again.

I never had a garage growing up; my parent’s house didn’t have one, and so I didn’t see a need for one on the rare occasions when I was offered one as an option when leasing an apartment.  Once I started making use of my house’s garage, though, I loved it.  I remember being at the laundromat folding clothes one day, when it started raining.  I grumped about the rain for a few moments before coming to the delightful realization that I HAD A GARAGE AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO GET WET.  I got spoiled by having a garage; now I have to park my vehicle outside and have it, and me, get rained on.  But at least I have a place to park at, at my friend’s house; I’m really not looking forward to fighting with fellow apartment dwellers for prime parking places in the future.

Another thing I’m going to miss is solitude.  I like being by myself, especially after a day of dealing with silly people at work.  This isn’t really a big deal right now, because my roommates are cool, but once I move into an apartment, having people on the other side of the wall is probably going to drive me nuts…again

But the biggest thing that I miss the most about my old house is having natural gas.  It’s the best thing for cooking, it’s less expensive, and I’m sorry, but you just can’t heat tortillas properly on an electric stove or even one of those fancy pants convection ranges.  And no, I am never ever, EVER going to put a tortilla into the microwave because that’s just WRONG.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I warm a tortilla in my toaster oven.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to listen to, or read, more of my words and short stories, visit my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening!

Standard
Books, FURRY, fuzzy words, self publishing, WORDS

A “Real” Book

My first paper book: “Fuzzy Words: The Con Fluff Collection,” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

It has always been my goal to create a paper book.  Thewriting problem with doing so is that my short stories are so short that I had to accumulate a pretty good number of them (27 in all) in order to have a book of reasonable length printed.

Naturally, I encountered a bit of a learning curve in publishing something physical.  In the digital world, there is no concern about margins and fonts and all of that stuff, because the screen that your book is going to be read on may be of any size and the reader can adjust the text font and text size to their liking.  In the print world, you have bleeds and gutters and covers and inches and all sorts of things that need to be done the right way.

Things have certainly changed for the better:  Way back when, if you wanted to print a paper book on your own, you had to go through a vanity publisher, which meant paying to have a few hundred (or thousand!) copies printed.  This meant that you took a big risk of being stuck with boxes of books that nobody wanted to buy.  Thanks to modern print-on-demand technology, paperbacks can be printed as they’re ordered, so just like in the e-book world, your cost of entry is nearly zero, save for the purchase of proof copies.

I gave both CreateSpace and NookPress a try, and ended up going with CreateSpace because of their expanded distribution options.  Also their books seemed to be of higher quality and they offered a better discount to authors purchasing their own copies.

A funny thing happened as I showed friends my print proofs; I repeatedly got this ‘so you’re a real writer now’ vibe (and a comment or two) from them.  Never mind that I’ve published quite a few digital ones.  Oh well, what can you do?

In any event, now that I’ve finished my first one, I can’t wait to do another!

Standard