Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Kevin Standlee's LiveJournal:

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    Friday, October 31st, 2014
    9:41 am
    Cap'n Kevin
    I wore my WSFS Captain's uniform to work today. Here's what it looked like.

    Captain on Deck!Collapse )

    One of my co-workers asked if this was my old uniform from when I was in the Navy. Well, no, and I've never been in the Navy or worked on a cruise ship, but I take this as a compliment, as it shows that the outfit doesn't look like an obvious costume bought at a Halloween store. All of the pieces are stock except for the logo customization. That's why I've been able to wear it so many times.

    I'm trying to get away as soon as I can, because the oncoming storm promised snow in the Sierra, and I want to be on the east side of Donner Pass before the rain turns to snow.

    Current Mood: happy
    Thursday, October 30th, 2014
    2:51 pm
    SF & F Translation Awards Discontinued
    The SF & F Translation Awards, on whose parent board of directors I sit, announced today that they are closing down. The main cause is that after two successful years of presenting the Awards, we were unable to attract the "people points" — the people willing to do the not-inconsiderable amount of work necessary to administer and judge the Awards.

    I'm Secretary-Treasurer of the Awards' parent non-profit corporation. I'm the person who wrote the organization's articles of incorporation and bylaws and prepared the applications for tax-exempt status from US federal and California state governments. I've been the person who files the periodic reports with the California Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Franchise Tax Board (the agency that deals with income tax) and with the US Internal Revenue Service. In short, my job has been to "keep us corporate" while others ran the awards. Personally, I haven't considered this particularly onerous; it's probably around twenty hours per year, spread very finely, but to most people it's the horrible icky part. Indeed, I've seen fan groups go to absurd contortions to try and avoid setting up such entities when I'm pretty sure it would be easier to just follow the rules. But in any event, while I'm a good fannish corporation manager for these official bits, I'm not the person to actually run translation awards, and I concurred in the Board's decision to shut things down.

    We've returned all but a tiny amount of the money we've received as grants to the groups that granted the money to us. We've kept a small amount behind because even shutting down a non-profit corporation costs money (not a lot) in administrative filing fees. Once we've concluded the shut-down process, if there's money left, it also will go back to the original grantors. I'm fairly proud that the SF&FT Awards administrative overhead costs were quite small and nearly everything we took in went toward our actual exempt purpose in the form of Award grants and the prizes themselves (plaques, and certificates), rather than being eaten up in "administration" costs. Of course that's because everyone involved with the Awards volunteered their time, and when those volunteers no longer are available, the right thing to do is to say,"Okay, we're done," return what's left over to those who entrusted it to us, and tidy up.

    From a corporate point of view, I was the first person in the door (when I filed the Articles of Incorporation), and I'll be the last one out. My job is to turn out the lights and lock the door as I leave.

    Current Mood: sad
    Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
    8:55 pm
    Giants Win!
    It was a nail-biter, right down to the winning run for Kansas City coming to the plate when a misplayed ball with two out in the bottom of the ninth put the tying run on third, but THEY DID IT! The San Francisco Giants won their third World Series in five years. Pitcher Madison Bumgarner came into the game in relief having pitched two days ago and was credited with the win save, which means he was the winning pitcher instrumental in winning in three of the four games the Giants needed to win the title. He definitely deserved the Most Valuable Player award presented to him after the Giants collected the World Series trophy.

    I know the Giants aren't necessarily the most popular winners, and that the Kansas City Royals were the sentimental favorite. But as someone who suffered through many years of awful Giants teams in a terrible ballpark (I was a night-game season-ticket holder during the Bad Old Days at Candlestick Park), it's so nice having a multi-award winner. I'm just trying to enjoy it, because I know it's unlikely to last. And congratulations to the Royals for winning the American League and taking the Giants the distance.

    (Now I just hope the other members of the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting team will still work with me after my team won.)

    [Update: Although Bumgarner was initially credited with the win, the official scorer later changed the win to Jeremy Affeldt, who was the pitcher of record when the Giants scored the eventual winning run. Bumgarner got the save. (By two different routes: entering the game with the one-run lead and then winning, and also by entering the game with any lead and pitching at least three innings, the latter being the relatively rare so-called "rulebook save."]

    Current Mood: overjoyed
    Monday, October 27th, 2014
    4:38 pm
    Part Problem
    I had a dentist appointment today. My dentist is up in Redwood Shores (it used to be a pleasant ten minute walk from my office instead of a slog up US-101), but that gave me a chance to stop by Ikea to try and trade in the Billy shelf parts for ones that fit.

    Apparently Ikea have changed the fastener design on the Billy bookcases. The hardware that came with the new shelves I bought recently do not fit the older bookcases. Worse, the parts desk at East Palo Alto have no other parts that fit and suggest that I look online somewhere or go to Emeryville. Grrr.

    Incidentally, what moron puts a bunch of compact-vehicle parking spaces in the over-height vehicle parking area? There's only a tiny bit of their parking garage with sufficient clearance for me to drive the RV into, and most of it is full of tiny little cars that could easily fit into the main garage.

    Meanwhile, there are no issues with my teeth. I have a slightly chipped tooth and have had for a while now, but it's not bad enough to justify the cost and pain of capping it. For now, I continue to wear an anti-teeth-grinding night-guard and pay attention to that tooth.

    Current Mood: working
    Sunday, October 26th, 2014
    5:56 pm
    Plan C: Tidying Up
    Because we have an older-style electrical circuit box, it's difficult to obtain circuit breakers locally and we had to buy one through an electrical parts salvage operation on eBay. It arrived on Saturday, and Lisa decided the best way to not lose it was to install it. We powered down the main breaker again (this time for just a few minutes) and Lisa snapped the breaker onto the main bus.

    No more room on the busCollapse )

    I got away for the Bay Area before 8 AM this morning and made excellent time, which meant I was able to get to my office, where there is a television set in the break room. So I'll get to see at least one World Series game instead of only listening on the radio. Not that there's anything wrong with the KNBR radio coverage. I'd listen to it in preference to the television commentators from Fox, but I don't want to go to the effort of installing the software necessary to delay the radio coverage to match the TV coverage.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Saturday, October 25th, 2014
    7:35 pm
    To and Fro
    This afternoon we went and had lunch at the local Black Bear Diner, then refueled the Rolling Stone so I don't have to deal with it in the morning. Later, we took the Big Orange Van over to Lowe's to return the wire lubricant that we never used and to buy a sheet of plywood that Lisa intends to use as a backboard behind my upstairs office desk (which otherwise would have things fall off a balcony and down a stairwell if they slipped off the back of the desk). We ended up making another visit to the truck stop as the Big Orange Van needed fuel, too. The back-and-forth to Lowe's took much longer than we expected, and thus the Giants' World Series game was already in the fifth inning by the time I got home.

    It's very windy today, with gusts of up to 70 km/h. I hope these winds aren't in play tomorrow as I coax the RV over Donner Summit. Fortunately, the earlier forecast of snow over Donner has gone away, but it probably won't be the most enjoyable trip I've made over the pass tomorrow.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, October 24th, 2014
    5:54 pm
    Plan C: Fill 'Er In
    Thursday, Lisa went back under the house and re-connected the feed from the 50A (6 gauge) lines from the circuit box to the line running down to the RV pedestal. Then we turned off the main circuit breaker and she re-connected the lines to the 50A circuit breaker.

    Tidying Up the BoxCollapse )

    This has been a sort of a red-queen's race, where we've worked very hard (and spent several hundred dollars on parts) and now we're right back where we were when we started, with the 50A RV circuit in place and nothing else. However, of course we also now have the lines for a new 30A hot water heater circuit as far as the junction box and the line laid out to under the bathroom.

    The next step is locating where the conduit should come up through the bathroom floor. Lisa, being worn out from the difficult work of this week, is likely to put this off until I come back from my next week's work in the Bay Area before starting that stage of the job.

    While walking back from the post office this afternoon, Steve-the-plumber waved us down as we were walking past his company's Fernley office. We went inside and talked with him about the actual water heater we want to install. We've specified a Bradford-White Lowboy 30 gallon, 2-inch insulation unit with a 3000W/240V heating element. The electrical folks among you will realize that this means the circuit will draw less than half the 30A for which it will be rated. We could put a 6000W heating element in the thing if we wanted. Lisa is happier not using all of the available capacity, and the fact that the 3kW heating element means the 30 gal heater is slower to recover doesn't really trouble us. After all, we've been getting by with a slow-recovering 6-gallon water heater in the trailer for more than fifteen years and I've only managed to run out of water showering once. Besides, with water supplies being tight, we're better off doing things that encourage us to not use water prolifigately.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
    7:41 pm
    Crazy and Crazier
    I just filled out my absentee ballot and will mail it tomorrow. It is a measure of just how deeply conservative the part of Nevada to which I moved is that in some of the partisan races, the choice of candidates is between a Republican, a Libertarian, and an American Independent Party candidate. Yep, the Democratic party didn't even bother putting up candidates for State Senate or State Assembly in my district.

    Current Mood: depressed
    Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
    6:04 pm
    Plan C Progresses
    We have completed some of the hardest parts of Electrical Plan C.

    It's a GrindCollapse )

    On Tuesday, Lisa did some more digging (the new conduit goes slightly deeper than the old), cemented the PVC conduit, attached the EMT, and hooked it up to the circuit box. It was time to start pulling wire.

    Wired UpCollapse )

    Tomorrow Lisa plans to reconnect the RV lines (the main line to the RV pedestal has the proper color coded wires) so we can re-energize that circuit. Then she needs to work on running the 10/3 line through the 3/4-inch flexible conduit in preparation for drilling a hole through the bathroom floor and running conduit up from underneath the house. We figure that wire-pulling job should be much easier than what we did yesterday.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
    7:05 pm
    Amazon and Fernley
    After last night's visit to Lowe's — where we have been going a lot lately — I was able to get a little better picture of the fulfillment center employee entrance as we left. Better get it now because it won't be there much longer.

    Amazon SnapshotCollapse )

    I discovered in the local paper that Amazon is moving this center to Reno. I don't know if that means Reno itself or Sparks or some other part of Washoe County, but no matter what, I'm really surprised that they're doing it, given that it's almost certainly going to be more expensive in Reno, unless Amazon was able to swing some sort of sweetheart deal with the government there. Of course, this is going to be a hardship for Fernley, and the departure of Amazon has become an issue in the local race for mayor.

    Current Mood: throughful
    Monday, October 20th, 2014
    2:33 pm
    Plan C is for Conduit
    As I wrote recently, Lisa concluded that the 1-inch conduit from the main electrical box (which contained the 50A circuit for the RV power pedestal) was too crowded to run a new 30A line for a proposed hot water heater connection. Therefore, we need to replace the 1-inch conduit with 1 1/4-inch conduit. We started working on that on Sunday.

    Conduit Work PhotosCollapse )

    The EMT and PVC conduit itself and most of the various connectors (except the reducing bushing) we were able to get from Lowe's. This means we've been to three separate stores in three cities in order to get all of the parts we need. This afternoon Lisa has started working on bending and cutting the EMT and preparing the junction box. It's a lot of work, but Lisa is confident that it will all come together.

    Current Mood: optimistic
    Sunday, October 19th, 2014
    10:21 pm
    A Short Tour of Fernley Industrial Park
    I woke up way too early this Sunday morning, and inasmuch as Lisa told me not to wake her as she'd not gone to bed until about two hours before I woke up, I had time on my hands. Based on the advice from some of you on the wiring work, I decided to go over to Lowe's and buy an electrical fish tape and some wire lubricant. Even though Lisa has decided to replace the 1-inch conduit with 1 1/4-inch conduit and thus to run both the original RV pedestal lines and the new water heater lines through as new runs, having a 125-foot fish tape will be generally useful for this and other projects like running Ethernet lines up through the walls to the upstairs office.

    After picking up the stuff from Lowe's, I thought that a quiet Sunday would be a good time to have a look around the Fernley Industrial Park without blocking traffic. Since msconduct expressed an interest, I included the Amazon facility. All photos here were taken either from public roads or parking lots (like Lowe's) where I had the right to be. At no time did I trespass on private property, particularly Amazon's.

    Warehouses and TrainsCollapse )

    After this spin through the park, I headed home. As I parked the Astro in front of Fernley House, the Fernley Flyer, having been cleared out of R-Max by the dispatcher, passed on the main heading back to Sparks.

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Saturday, October 18th, 2014
    12:48 pm
    Fernley: Outpost of One of the Evil Empires
    Promoted from a comment in an unrelated post by msconduct:

    ...[Seeing] your Fernley location reminds me. I'm currenttly reading The Everything Store, about the history of, and to my surprise it mentioned they had a fulfilment centre in Fernley. I'd always imagined Fernley as quite small, so I had no idea it had enough population to staff one of those things. It seems to have had quite an interesting history - a disgruntled employee attempted to set fire to it in 2010 for example, and it's often had visits from the Big Man Jeff Bezos. Is it still there, or are they working people to death for minimum wage somewhere else now?
    Fernley is a city of about 20,000 people, and indeed, there is an Amazon fulfillment center there. It's apparently named RNO1 in the Amazon system, which presumably means people think it's in Reno, 30 miles west and in a different county. I see the building quite regularly as it's across the street from Lowe's, where we shop regularly when we don't have the time to go to Big R in Fallon for hardware and home improvement needs.

    I would guess that Amazon is probably the city's (and probably Lyon County's) largest employer, and it gets even bigger around this time of year as they start to ramp up for the holiday season. Hundreds of people flock to Fernley each year to work at Amazon. Fernley has a bunch of RV parks that as far as can I see make their entire annual "nut" from the Amazon Surge. There was even a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago (the December after we bought the house, as I recall) about the influx of seasonal workers and how Amazon has arrangements with the RV parks to help them find spots for their RVs. Indeed, if we'd bought Fernley House later than we did, there would not have been room in any of the parks for us to spend a month with the travel trailer parked there while we got the house fixed up for minimal occupancy (i.e. wiring/plumbing the RV space so the trailer could be there "hot" and we could live out of the lifeboat during ongoing reconstruction, which to some extent we're still doing).

    Fernley has positioned itself as an industrial city, with a largish industrial park (which is why there's so much local rail traffic: both BNSF and UP switch the businesses here five days a week). Sherwin-Williams has a large paint plant here, which is why we buy S-W brand paint: the type of paint we've been buying is made in Fernley, distributed from a warehouse in Sparks, and we buy it from a Reno retail store because there's no S-W dealership in Fernley.

    Yes, I know the pictures I post seem to make it look like we're all alone in the desert, but that's mainly because the lots on both sides of our house are vacant and the house is in the "old downtown," whereas most of the housing and businesses are in other parts of the city. Fernley is more than a couple of tumbleweeds and a truck stop, which is how it might appear if you're passing through on I-80. You can have a look for yourself on Google Maps. Amazon's distribution center is one of the white squares with a large black square (its huge parking lot) below and to the right of the freeway interchange off I-80 near the center top of the view to which I've linked, assuming the link worked right.

    Current Mood: amused
    12:21 pm
    Plan C
    Yesterday afternoon after work, we shut off all of the computers and then the master circuit breaker at Fernley House so that Lisa could attempt the most difficult part of Plan B: Running a length of 10/3 wire into an existing conduit from the main electrical box.

    Details and PhotosCollapse )

    Lisa now has come up with Plan C: We need a bigger conduit on the line she'd been trying to use. She wants to buy larger conduit, disconnect the "trailer" wire from its circuit, then run it and the new wire through the new conduit, using adapters at the top end to fit it into the existing hole in the electrical box. (There's enough room in the hole into the box to admit all of the wires if we could get them to all run through the conduit.) Lisa was there when the electrician laid the trailer circuit, and says digging out from around the conduit lines under the house (about 30-40 cm, she says) is easy and can be done with a hand trowel in the sandy soil. Perhaps today we'll go looking for larger conduit and adapters.

    If this doesn't work, there is a Plan D: drill a fourth hole in the box and run a fourth conduit. We really don't want to do this as there is almost no space left to run more conduit without running afoul of the phone lines to the right of the existing box and conduit.

    I was surprised at how tiring this was, considering that I mostly spent the time standing and waiting for Lisa to tell me what to do while she did the really hard work crawling around under the house with tools. However, I was completely fried by the time I went to bed and slept for eleven hours.

    Current Mood: tired
    Friday, October 17th, 2014
    7:02 am
    Happy Day
    It was a nail-biter of a baseball game last night in San Francisco. In a playoff that has seen a good share of unlikely events, we got another one last night as journeyman Travis Ishikawa ended the game and clinched the National League championship for the San Francisco Giants with a walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. There was great excitement here at Fernley House as I jumped out of my chair and started dancing around as Jon Miller called the pennant-winning home run on KNBR via

    As someone who stuck with the Giants through the Bad Old Days at Candlestick Park, shivering through a night-games season-ticket plan, it's astonishing to see a team that doesn't really have any superstar players now head to its third World Series in five years.

    So now the Giants travel to Kansas City to face the Royals. Oddly for baseball, none of the teams that won their division titles made the World Series; both the Giants and Royals made it into the playoffs as wild cards.

    Condolences to the Cardinals' fans. The whole National League Championship Series was close-run and could easily have gone the other way.

    Current Mood: happy
    Thursday, October 16th, 2014
    1:21 pm
    LiveJournal has stopped sending me notifications of comments. I didn't do anything, so I hope this is only a temporary issue and they'll figure out how to turn it back on. In the meantime, if it looks like I'm ignoring you, it's more likely that I didn't even know you commented.

    Current Mood: working
    Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
    6:11 pm
    Plan B
    After one too many frustrations with NV Energy and the electrical contractor, Lisa (who is the one footing the bill from her inheritance money, which is something the contractor seemed to not understand while patronizing her) pulled the plug on the project. (Pun intentional.) The power line to our property is supposedly good for up to 125A, and the main box is also rated for 125A. This means we should be able to replace the master breaker (currently 100A) with a 125A breaker, and there's enough room in the box to add the additional 30A circuit that we want to run a small electric hot water heater. The only challenge is that it's an old box design, so the circuit breakers are not off the shelf parts. However, the parts are available, and we've ordered the 30A breaker and will look for a 125A master breaker when we have a chance.

    We went to Big R in Fallon last night (the Fernley Big R continues to be "two weeks away" as it has for the past two years) to buy 50 feet of cord, flexible conduit, a cut-off box, and sundry other parts with which Lisa plans to run a line herself from the main box under the house to where we want the hot water heater. She's done this sort of home electrical work in the past and is confident that she can do it herself with me there to hold tools and do as I'm told.

    Current Mood: hopeful
    Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
    1:51 pm
    Anniversary Dinner
    Dinner at the Atlantis Steakhouse was very good, as you'd expect from an AAA 4-diamond restaurant. I had an excellent New York Steak, and Lisa had a lobster tail and filet mignon. (She shared one of the filets with me and I gave her a third of my steak.) While we were contemplating whether we should have a desert, they brought over a small ice cream cake with "Happy Anniversary" drawn in chocolate on the plate, and they also gave us two coffee cakes to go. The ice cream was more than enough for desert, and we called it a night there. (The coffee cake is also excellent, although bad for the blood sugar.)

    This is not a place we can afford to go very often, but I'm glad we went last night, and Lisa thanked me for doing something nice for our wedding anniversary.

    Current Mood: working
    Monday, October 13th, 2014
    4:29 pm
    Today is my and Lisa's 18th wedding anniversary. We will be going to the Atlantis in Reno tonight for dinner, but not to the buffet or deli: we're going to try the Atlantis Steakhouse, at which a few Worldcon attendees (particularly those fortunate few on an expense account) ate back in 2011.

    We would have preferred the Steakhouse at the Sparks Nugget, but they are closed Mondays. Actually, the Atlantis Steakhouse is normally closed on Monday as well but is open today because of the holiday weekend for Columbus Day. I do not get today as a holiday, so it was just another day at the [home-based] office.

    Current Mood: relaxed
    Sunday, October 12th, 2014
    2:25 pm
    Not-Frustration at Fernley House
    While we are still fuming about the issues with the contractors and NV Energy, there is good news today. Steve-the-plumber, who moonlights as a chimney/furnace cleaner, came by today and did the annual sweep of our wood stove chimney. He came when he said he would, did what he said he would, and charged us a reasonable price. I think $100 is cheap insurance against a chimney fire.

    Lisa is very nearly ready to tell the contractor, "Forget it" and maybe contact a different electrician with whom we'd discussed this work over a year ago and just upgrade the electrical main box to the 125A maximum that the current drop from the utility pole can handle. Lisa says she can do all of the other work (like running a line from the box to the bathroom where we want to install the water heater and installing a cut-off switch for it there) herself with my help.

    Current Mood: relaxed
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