I Thought You Knew Me Better Than That, Netflix!!

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Dear River City Federal Credit Union…

UPDATE:  I received a call from the CEO of River City Federal Credit Union the afternoon after sending the email below and apparently their e-statement system is down due to some upgrades they are in the process of implementing.  Nice.

Everything is going to be sorted out as far as I’m concerned, but I have to admit to rolling my eyes when I was being told about how wonderful the system was going to be in the future.  I mean, seriously, it isn’t working right now so I could care less about TEH FUTURE!  So for the moment, its ‘all’s well that ends well’ but we shall see how things work out after they get everything done and (hopefully) working.  I am cautiously optimistic.

I joined River City FCU last year partially because I was tired of  ‘business as usual’ with banks.  I had hoped that joining a local credit union would provide a better overall experience and looked forward to supporting a local business.  While your people have been great, your technology has been sorely lacking, especially where e-statements are concerned.  Not only did I miss my March statement but after contacting RCFCU via the online system, I was told over a week ago that a statement would be mailed to me and I have yet to receive it.  I have also cancelled my e-statements so that I don’t have to go through this mess for the near future and am no longer receiving REWARD Checking benefits because I have to choose between those benefits or not receiving my statements in a timely fashion which is an inconvenience.

This is inexcusable.  This is the 21st century and if you want to compete with other credit unions to say nothing of the big banks then you need to accept the fact that keeping an important system like eStatements down for more than hours in UNACCEPTABLE.  As much distaste as I have developed for banks, at least their online systems have always worked and as much as I hate to admit it, I may find myself going back to them (or at least another credit union) just so that I don’t have to worry about not having access to my information because a tube popped in the mainframe.

Thank you.

Eduardo Soliz

I AM EDUARDO, DESTROYER OF COMICS!

Magnus Robot FIghter cover art
We barely knew you...AGAIN

Archie Comics is going to give a go at resurrecting their superhero characters again, but instead of handing the reins over to DC Comics again (as they did in the 90’s with !mpact Comics as well as more recently) they are going it alone this time under the also resurrected Red Circle Comics imprint.  The New Crusaders is going to feature a group of teen superheroes that pick up the mantle from their famous forebearers under the tutelage of The Shield.  Sounds like it could be a nice ‘light read’ to add to my virtual pull-box over at Comic Break.com, but I won’t be reading it.

I won’t be reading  it because I want Archie Comics to stay in business.  Seriously.

I have developed a knack for reading comics that just don’t last for very long and have even had entire companies go out from under me.  Here’s the hit list so far.

  • Tekno Comix
  • Malibu Comics/Ultraverse
  • Valiant Comics
  • Impact Comics
  • Dreamwave Productions

And the books:

  • ExoSquad (only one issue!)
  • Buck Rogers XXVc by TSR Comics
  • William Shatner’s TekWar (twice!  Once at Epic and another at Blue Water)
  • The Tick New Series
  • DC’s recent reboot of the Red Circle characters
  • Dark Horse’s reboot of Magnus Robot Fighter and Solar Man of the Atom

Those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head, I’m sure if I go through my comic boxes I can find the remains of other promising books that I had liked but in doing so also gave them the  kiss of death.

If I didn’t know any better, I think I just might be a supervillain.  But yeah, I actually like Archie Comics and I’m already pressing their luck by reading their current Mega Man comic, so I don’t want to tempt fate even more.  Just sayin’.

Arc-Less

Godzilla Legends #1 Cover
RAWR!

I added Godzilla Legends to my pull box (or whatever Comic Break calls it) mainly out of curiosity.  The series was supposed to feature some of the other giant stars of the Godzilla universe.  I had never read a Godzilla comic before and except for watching “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla” at the first Fanboy Flix a few months ago, I haven’t seen a movie starring Japan’s mean green machine in years.  Thus, I am hardly an expert in regards to the care and feeding of giant monsters, or ‘kaiju’ to use the proper term.  Despite that, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I got my first issue a few weeks later.  It was a fun read and Matt Frank’s art provided plenty of monster mashing action.  But there was something different waiting for me at the end of the comic.

It was the end of the story.  One and done.  That was it.  No cliffhanger or big reveal or plot twist to coax me into buying the next issue in 30 days.  Instead, there would be a completely new story with a new monster in the next issue.  I had no commitment to keep, I could stop where I was at and not spend the rest of my days wondering if Godzilla and Anguirus ever kissed and made up.

I kept the subscription and a month later, the second issue dropped.  I read it, enjoyed it, and eagerly waited for each new one to arrive.  There was something about reading a single issue of a comic book with a self-contained story that I had not experienced in years.  It took me back to when I read comics as a kid, before multi-issue story arcs and epic crossovers turned comics into big soap operas.  Seriously, even the new Mega Man comic I’m reading goes from one arc to the next, and that one is published by Archie Comics.

It is easy to write off the feeling as nostalgia, but what I really miss is the anticipation of not knowing what is coming in the next issue.  If I am reading a comic that ends with a cliffhanger, then I’m left spending the next month or so guessing just what is going to happen next.  If the story I’m reading comes to a complete end, though, I have no idea what is going to be in that next book.

I like that.  It’s sometimes fun to not know.

What’s Going On

MATT FRANK, Y U DESTROY SAN ANTONIO?

Cover art at right by the irrevocable Matt Frank!

The first in a series of (hopefully) funny YouTube videos called “High Tech Things Said by Low Tech People” is now up.  Check it out!

I’m looking forward to a fun-filled time at ChimaeraCon 2012 this weekend.  I will be in Artist’s Alley handing out flyers and yammering to anyone who will listen about “The Rules of Tech Support”and my other e-books.

Speaking of ‘other e-books,’ my third one, titled “FlipSide Stories” is now available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com!

FlipSide Stories is a collection of five very short stories with  Twilight Zone-ish endings:

A customer discovers that “Future Service” isn’t really for him.

A young woman spends another “Saturday Night” alone in a bar where something isn’t quite right with the patrons.

There are nerds, there are geeks, and then there is the “Freako”.

A cosplayer can’t figure out what to wear and must come to a “Decision”.

A man reunites with a crush from his college years, but “Betty’s Baby” has a surprise for him.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Found Good Mechanic

New (or new to you) cars are great.  The smell, the shiny exterior, the pristine interior and smooth ride make driving a joyous experience.  Of course, all good things come to an end, and years later, the honeymoon is over.  You find that your once noble steed has become a pack mule that smells funny and doesn’t always obey your commands.

Such was the case with my 2005 Dodge Neon.  I purchased it new in 2006 and christened it the “Reliant” during those halcyon days when it was nice and shiny.  Fast-forward almost six years later, and it now has some ‘personality quirks’ such a the stains on the driver’s seat, dent on the back where I punched it one particularly bad day, and yeah, I haven’t been washing it nearly as frequently as I should have been.  It also started running fairly loudly a few months ago, sounding more like a Cessna than a car.  After almost being driven insane by the noise during a drive up to Dallas a few weeks ago, I decided to get the thing fixed and started asking friends and acquaintances if they knew of a good garage in town.  Nobody knew of one, which was more than a little aggravating.

And then I had my little accident…

So I was stuck when the tow truck guy was asked where to send my car to.  I asked the insurance guys for a suggestion and they gave me an address, which I then gave to the tow truck guy.  I then saw my car hauled off to who-knows-where to have who-knows-what done to it.  A week and a half later, I had my car back without a working air conditioner and it was still shaking, so not only was I back to square one, I now needed to have my car looked at before the triple-digit Texas heat kicked in and turned my car into an EZ-Bake oven on wheels.

Luckily my friend Kate finally came around with a recommendation: Alamo Heights Garage.  She spoke highly of them so I figured I’d give them a shot.  I went to their website, and filled out their online form asking for an appointment on Saturday.  I got a response back in a few hours saying that they weren’t open on Saturday.

What is it with mechanics being closed on Saturdays?  Sundays I can understand, but come on, it sucks to have to take time off of work to get my car looked at, and it’s never a short visit.  Anyway, I set up an appointment for the following Tuesday morning, guessing that I would be waiting a half-day while the A/C fixed.  I figured I’d ask them to see just what was making the shaking noise as well.

I arrived at Alamo Heights Garage early Tuesday morning.  I had bought my laptop along so I could work on some writing while I waited.  The first thing I noticed was that the waiting area was very clean, there was a table and chairs where I could sit and work, a television tuned to the local news with some more comfortable seating in front of it and most importantly to me: coffee. 

After describing what was happening to the woman behind the counter, I grabbed a cup of coffee, opened up my lappy and did some work.  I was glad to discover that they had WiFi available.  About a half an hour later, I got the diagnosis: the air conditioner’s discharge hose was bad, and the shaking was caused by three worn engine mounts that would have to be replaced.  The total cost to get  both things fixed was going to be $800: $300 for the A/C and $500 for the mounts.  I figured that since the Reliant had not given me any major problems in the past, I would get the work done and hopefully have a better-running car that I could hold onto longer as well as be easier to sell once that time came.

The work was going to take most of the day, so I was offered a ride to work and was told that I would be contacted once everything was done.  I gratefully accepted the ride and spent the day at work as usual, that is, except for having to hitch a ride to lunch.  As four o’clock arrived, I waited to get a call from the garage letting me know my car was ready.  I started getting nervous, because my job is answering technical support calls, and a bad call could easily last an hour.  Our lines were open beyond the garage’s closing time, so if I got stuck on a long call, I might not be able to leave work in time to get to the garage to pick up my car before they closed.

If that isn’t a setup, I don’t know what is…you can just guess what happened next.

My next call was a customer with a Big Nasty Problem, and of course, five minutes into the call, my cell phone started ringing.  To make matters worse, the customer was dumber than a box of rocks, and I kept looking back and forth at the time while repeatedly trying to tell the customer how to open up a web page. My anxiety only increased as the phone kept ringing about every ten minutes, and I started looking for an opening where I could close out the call.  Luckily, I didn’t have to, either the customer hung up out of frustration or their phone battery died.  Either way, I didn’t care, I immediately called the garage and let them know I was on my way.

I could have been picked up by someone from the garage, but a friend had offered to give me a ride as it was on his way home, so I took him up on it.  I was dropped off, paid the bill, got my keys and hopped into my should-now-be-running-like-new car.  And you know what?  It really feels like a whole new car now, because the guys at Alamo Heights Garage did a great job on it.  The Reliant’s ride was nice and smooth, and the air conditioner worked like a champ.

Did I pay too much for the repairs?  I don’t know enough about cars to know if I did or not.  All I know is that I am happy with the excellent service I received, and the follow up call to see if everything was still work the week after and the 12-month/12,000 mile warranty on the repairs tell me that these guys are going to stand behind their work.

I’d like to thank the folks at Alamo Heights Garage, not only for doing a great job on the repairs to my car, but for making the process as pleasant as it could be.  I didn’t have to take much time off from work, either.  This was easily the best experience I have ever had with a mechanic that I didn’t personally know and I feel more comfortable knowing if my noble steed should ever be in need of repair in the future I know where to take it.

That’s right, almost six years later, the Reliant is my noble steed once again.