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|Sunday, July 23rd, 2017|
It's a good thing that I didn't need to go down to the Bay Area to work this coming week, because late last week we discovered that the right rear tire of the Rolling Stone
was flat. On Friday we learned where the jack and lug wrench are hidden in the storage compartment. We could have used the tools Lisa has around the property (they're a little easier to use), but Lisa said (and I agreed) that it would be better if I learned how to do it myself on the road without support.
The jack is a screw type (not hydraulic), and you need to have some boards to put under it, because it doesn't really have enough lift to get the tire clear. My arms were very sore once we got it up to where we could remove the tire. The lug wrench was relatively easy, and I was able to break loose the eight lugs that hold the tire in place and get it off. I wrestled it into the back of the Astro and we took it to Big O Tires in Sparks where we bought the tire in the first place.
The immediate problem turned out to be a nail in the tire, which they fixed; however, they also told us that the wheel rim must have failed and it would not hold air. We took the wheel and unmounted tire back home with us, because with that diagnosis, we would need to buy a new wheel. When we got home, Lisa put some boards under the tire-less wheel and lowered it onto the boards, as pictured below.( Taking the strainCollapse )
Yesterday, Lisa examined the wheel rim and said that the diagnosis must be wrong, because the piece they said had failed isn't something that holds air anyway. It's a solid one-piece wheel, not the two-piece type used in some vehicles. We could have taken it back to Sparks tomorrow and asked them to remount it under the tire's warranty, but instead I took it Hanneman Service down the street and paid them $17 to remount it. This evening, we put the tire back on and we'll let it sit for a while and see if it holds air.
It's a good thing I don't have to drive it as often as I did when we first bought it. However, even so, we know that the vehicle (repairs and all) has more than paid for itself versus the cost of even cheap-by-Bay-Area standards hotels, when the fleabags in Fremont are charging $99/night and selling out. Nevertheless, even though I'm now officially 100% Work From Home, I have commitments (medical and dentist appointments, SFSFC and Worldcon meetings) that will take me to the Bay Area several times a year, so we'll need to keep the Rolling Stone
in "warm storage" and run it periodically to keep it usable when needed.
If I do get a flat out on the road, I may well call AAA though. They have jacks in their trucks that are easier and faster to use. I'll only resort to the hand-crank jack in an emergency. Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, July 22nd, 2017|
|Short Cuts Make Long Delays
For reasons related to some property management, I need to so see my mother twice a year, in January and July. It has to be done in person. Today was my day for getting it done. Lisa didn't have to come along and elected to get extra sleep. I got started later than I would have liked, having told Mom I would be there at Noon. Instead, it was well past 1:30. She'd left me voicemail, but I didn't hear the call come in and didn't notice the message until I was already at her place and had to wait for about an hour for her to come back from the farmer's market, where she can gone, having given up on me.( Old Home WeekCollapse )
After Mom got back from the farmers' market, we dealt with business, I gave her a list of all of the places I would be (and how to contact me) during the Europe trip, and we talked for a while. It was about 3:30 when I finally left. The idea that I could be home in time for a 6 PM San Jose Worldcon committee meeting call was fading fast.( Not a Short Cut at AllCollapse )
My mother's house is less than 120 miles from my home. I left at about 3:30 and it took me more than five hours before I got home, albeit that I did stop several times, including long enough to buy some groceries in Reno that I figured Lisa would want.
I made a separate mistake of not putting on any sunscreen. My face is redder than usual tonight. I'll put ointment on it before I go to bed and hope I don't peel too badly. Current Mood: calm
|Friday, July 21st, 2017|
As is our wont, Lisa and I went to the local Fire Board meeting. The first part was nice: the district holding "badging" ceremonies for the newest fire-fighter to pass his probationary period, followed by the formal badging of the department's first-ever captains. They managed to figure out how to budget for three captains so that the Chief didn't have something like thirty direct reports (an untenable situation IMO). After the ceremonial stuff, which ended up delaying the start of real business for close to an hour, they got down to work. But the Main Event item was being presented by one of the more boring people I've met, and even though he admitted up front that he "talks in circles," the Chair of the meeting didn't tell him to get to the point when he rambled along. After nearly an hour of this rambling, abetted by the board members failing to stay on point themselves, and everyone simply repeating the arguments over and over again, Lisa and I gave up and went home. This is too bad because there were other things on the agenda about which we were interested, but at that point it looked as though they were going to be there all night arguing about whether to grant the local raceway a permit to hold a "fire lantern" festival.
My hours don't allow me to stay up late on weeknights. We walked home and I went to bed, possibly going to sleep faster by envisioning the ongoing drone of repetitive debate.
When I preside over the Business Meeting, if a speaker is going in circles, I've been known to intervene and say something like, "Could the member come to a point?"
It was the meeting-induced sleep that led to me not posting anything yesterday, which is a rarity for me because I do try to post something daily if I get a chance. Current Mood: tired
|Wednesday, July 19th, 2017|
|2017 WSFS Business Meeting Staff
Because some private correspondence shows me that not everyone with a concern about WSFS politics is aware of it, let me make it clear that the people managing the 2017 WSFS Business Meeting in Helsinki are:
Chair: Kevin Standlee
Deputy Chair: Donald Eastlake III
Secretary: Linda Deneroff
Timekeeper: Paul Dormer
Videographer: Lisa Hayes
WSFS Division Head: Michael Lee
I take no offense that not everyone knows I was chairing this year. I am, however, proud of my ongoing accomplishment, as this will be the fifth country in which I've presided over WSFS. (Scotland, USA, Canada, and Japan — the last pictured in my user icon here — are the earlier ones.) I don't think other past WSFS Chair has more than two countries under their belts. I hope to justify the Worldcon 75 committee's faith in my ability. Current Mood: productive
|Tuesday, July 18th, 2017|
|Westercon Business Page Updated
Linda Deneroff has completed the minutes of the Westercon 70 Business Meeting and the updated for 2017-18 (thus for Westercon 71) version of the Westercon Bylaws & Standing Rules. We've updated the Westercon Business Page
with the latest versions of the documents and "demoted" last year's information to the "Past Papers" version of the site. Current Mood: accomplished
|Sunday, July 16th, 2017|
|My Trip to Sacramento (Again)
I needed to go see my sister at the nursing facility in Sacramento as I continue to sort out things on her behalf. In addition, there are some things Lisa and I want for the Worldcon trip that can't be easily had in Reno. So this morning, we set off for Sacramento. Neither of us had had a good night's sleep, in part because of the heat. Until we got near Truckee, there was a whole lot of smoke in the air, mostly I think from the Long Valley Fire north of Reno. The Farad Fire that closed I-80 for quite a while last week is reported as 100% contained, and the areas near the freeway are burned out by now.
We went to the Roseville Galleria (nearest Lush store) for the after-shave ointment I use and some "toothy tab" substitutes for toothpaste I prefer to use on long trips because it's neater than tubes of toothpaste. Then it was on to Fry's for some bits of electronics that Lisa and I wanted. By then we were already wilting from the heat, which wasn't more than a degree or two hotter than Fernley, but significantly more humid. I suggested lunch, but neither of us was very hungry. So we went to the nursing facility, which at least was cooler.( Errand of Telephone MercyCollapse )
After spending time with my sister, Lisa and I were
hungry, despite the heat, so we set off east, stopping at In-N-Out in Rocklin (we've given up on the Auburn location because it seems to always be over-crowded), ate burgers, and turned for home. We stopped only at Donner Summit for a rest break and just before home to get some milk and yogurt for my breakfast tomorrow.( The Summit Snow is Finally Gone. Well, MostlyCollapse )
It was pretty comfortable at the summit, but we needed to get home, so we pressed on. The house was, as expected, very hot and stuffy, but the overnight low is supposed to get down to 18°C tonight and once the sun went down it started cooling nicely. We have the fans and coolers running full-tilt. Once it's cool enough to do so, I must get some sleep. It's another busy week at the Day Jobbe, and a number of both Westercon and WSFS tasks, plus personal preparations for the Helsinki trip, are looming. Current Mood: hot
|Saturday, July 15th, 2017|
|Hazy Days of Summer
When I walked to the Wigwam restaurant for breakfast this morning, I could hardly see the Pah-Rah Mountains for all of the smoky haze.( Smoke in the AirCollapse )
There have been a lot of wildfires in the area, many of which are still burning, and smoke is in the air all the time. It leaves my eyes burning even when it's not obviously visible. When we drove to Reno today, we saw the burnt areas along I-80 between Fernley and Sparks from a large wildfire that raged through the area while we were down south. Current Mood: tired
|Friday, July 14th, 2017|
|Westercon 70 Business Meeting Video
Because no substantive business other than the initial Westercon 72 presentation happened at the Westercon 70 Business Meeting, I did not rush to get it online. Also, we were using it to test settings on the P2 camera and with the Adobe Premiere software. Compile time was pretty good (about ten minutes for a six minute video), but the resultant file (750 MB) took many hours to upload. (My upload speed at home is only about 0.5 mbps.) On the other hand, the video quality seems pretty good. In addition, we're really happy with the audio quality, given that all we had was the inboard microphone since there were no microphones in the meeting room. Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, July 13th, 2017|
I got the postcard reminding me that my driver's license was up for renewal the afternoon we left Fernley for Tempe. Had I been reading it (and the Nevada DMV website) closely enough, I would have realized that I could have renewed at the Tonopah DMV office — which is in the same building as the Tonopah Station Hotel where we spent that night. But I misread it as saying that I must
bring a bunch of documents I do not carry around with me casually (birth certificate, house deed, social security card, tax records, etc.). That's only if I wanted a REAL-ID Act-compliant driver's license. Although I do have all of those documents (but it's a right hassle to pull them all together), I don't see the need for such an ID, because my US passport does just as well for all of the reasons stated for needing the super-duper ID card. Anyway, I skipped renewing at Tonopah, and after I got home, I read more closely and realized that I could just do a standard renewal without having to provide a dozen different additional documents.
This afternoon after my normal-these-days end of work (3 PM PT; an advantage of working Central Time Zone hours), I drove over to Fallon. Fernley doesn't have a DMV office; either you drive to Sparks or Fallon. We discovered by experimentation (apologies to Lisa, who was the experimental test subject) that waiting times at little Fallon are generally much shorter than those at the large office in Sparks. Sure enough, I had a five minute wait to pay my fee, hand over the form, and have my photo re-taken.
A sign of age: I now have the "must wear corrective lenses" endorsement, for I can no longer read the line of text without my glasses. Well, 51 years was a pretty good run, I guess.
I may have my new license before we leave for Europe, but it doesn't matter that much because I do have my passport (which I will of course need to even board the plane since the airlines sensibly won't let you on if they think they'd just have to carry you back on the next available flight), and we get back to the USA a week before my existing driving license expires. And I don't have any plans to drive a vehicle while in Germany/Finland/Iceland anyway. Current Mood: accomplished
|Wednesday, July 12th, 2017|
I was obliged to take over as Emergency Holographic Site Selection Administration in Tempe when Ben Yalow had to rush home due to an potential break-in at his house. (Fortunately, either it was a false alarm or the alarm scared the intruder off.) That meant that when the procedural motion "That the ballots be destroyed" passed (nominally the point where it's impossibly to challenge the results), it fell to me (as Business Meeting Chair) to tell me (as Site Selection Administrator) to deal with the destruction of the ballots.
As it happens, I simply didn't have time to deal with this and ended up carrying the ballots home with me. This afternoon, I finally had the time to feed the ballots into the shredder. Done. Current Mood: accomplished
|Tuesday, July 11th, 2017|
|Need More Sleep
We're trying to take this week as easy as we can, recovering from the Westercon trip. We haven't even finished unpacking the minivan, because it has been so hot that you can burn your hand on the van's door handles.
I'd go to bed even earlier than usual, but it's too warm. Not as hot as Las Vegas, but the swamp cooler can do only so much to take the edge off of the 36°C days. Nights are pretty good, but until the sun hits the horizon, I can't open the bedroom window to let the relatively cool breezes in.
Summer is my least favorite time of year around here. Winter we can manage with heating. Spring and Autumn are generally quite nice. But Summer I could do without. I'm looking forward to spending three weeks of it in places where I'll need a pullover. I bought a new one just for this trip: it appears to be warm enough, but also lightweight on account of luggage space being at a premium. Current Mood: hot
|Monday, July 10th, 2017|
|Sunday, July 9th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 9: Tonopah to Fernley via Hawthorne
We set no alarms last night and I got almost a full eight hours of sleep. After a nice breakfast in the Tonopah Station Hotel restaurant, we set off for home about 10:45 AM. With only 200 miles to go, we knew we didn't have to rush. We congratulated ourselves for not making the mistake we made on the trip back from San Antonio, where an attempt to drive Las Vegas-Fernley in one day at the end of the trip nearly killed us.( Avoiding the 8 BallCollapse )
About 3:45, we arrived home. The house was in one piece. The various wildfires (and a fire at the asphalt plant across the tracks from us) did not affect our home, thank goodness.
After nearly 1,700 miles driving over the past nine days, we were happy to be home. We unpacked some of the stuff from the minivan, restarted the house (I remembered to turn the water heater on this time) and got the swamp cooler and air conditioning systems running, and tried to relax. I do have to run out and get a few groceries for tonight and for tomorrow morning, which is an ordinary work day for me, but otherwise we're going to try and wind down.
While I'm sorry we couldn't also attend NASFiC this year, I can see that such a trip would have wiped us out. With nearly three weeks planned for the Worldcon trip (for which we set out in just under three weeks), we need some time to recover and prepare for Helsinki. We won't have the luxury of traveling with a minivan-load full of our gear, so we need to think carefully about how to pack. Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, July 8th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 8: Leaving Las Vegas
This morning we slept in a bit (which for me means 7 AM instead of 5 AM), had breakfast in the lounge, and packed out of the hotel room. The last took longer than expected because lots of other people were moving out at the same time and all of the luggage carts were in use. But we eventually got everything out of the room. Lodgecombing takes a lot longer for a one-bedroom apartment than for a typical hotel room. We said goodbye to one of the best hotel rooms we've ever had and turned north on US-95 heading for Tonopah.
The driving was a balancing act. If we drove at full speed, we couldn't run the air conditioning, but if we drove too slowly, it also caused overheating. So Lisa kept our speeds down (but not too far down) and balanced that against running the AC. Even on full Max AC, it was hard to hold out the 45°C temperatures with which Las Vegas and Beatty were cursed. Beatty was our last fuel stop before we get home. I did not buy more sugar-free chocolate raisins, but I did get some very nice (but also very expensive) wild boar jerky.
Today's trip was only about 200 miles, but on occasions, both Lisa and I got really tired and had to swap drivers to try and keep us fresh. One of the stops was the Area 51 Travel Center, where Kuma Bear had an Alien Experience
Our inability to do long stretches (particularly on a hot desert highway like US-95 in Nevada) at the end of a long road trip is one of the reasons we planned to stop at Tonopah tonight. The other reason was so we could stop in Goldfield.( Museum DayCollapse )
Heading north from Goldfield, it started to cloud up, which was wonderful. The van's air conditioning started working better, and we only had to turn it off for the last heavy climb into Tonopah, and during that climb we even started getting bits of rain. Although it was still in the mid-30s C, it was still 10°C cooler than Las Vegas, which was really very nice.
We got to the Tonopah Station Hotel at about 5:45, roughly seven hours and 225 miles after we left Las Vegas. After checking in (they gave us the same room as the last time we stayed here) and getting me some milk from Scolari's grocery next door, we had dinner in the restaurant. The restaurant had a nice rib-eye steak special that we both ordered for dinner, and we remarked as how much nicer we find these smaller places than the over-pressured places in Vegas. Reno/Sparks is the "big city" for us. Vegas is too frenetic and loud.
After dinner, Lisa and I had a pleasant evening walk — something we couldn't do in Tempe or Vegas because of the heat &mdahs; and we went back to the hotel. Tomorrow we have the last 200 miles to go before we get home, regroup, and begin planning for the Worldcon trip. Current Mood: peaceful
|Friday, July 7th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 7: Hitting the Strip (Bearly)
Although our hotel room is on the opposite side of I-15 from Las Vegas Blvd, it has a good view of "The Strip"( Balcony Views, Night and DayCollapse )
Yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the free hourly shuttle from the Staybridge to New York New York.( An Hour Was EnoughCollapse )
We had a look at the restaurants, in particular the deli, and while things made an effort to look like a cartoon version of New York, and for all we know the deli food was good, we decided that we'll stick to the Manhattan Deli at the Atlantis in Reno. We caught the next shuttle back to our hotel and drove to the Black Bear Diner (#25
in our passport) instead.
Tomorrow morning we leave Las Vegas. Having nearly driven off the road the last time we tried to go all the way home from Vegas in one day, we are heading for Tonopah tomorrow. Current Mood: content
|Thursday, July 6th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 6: Las Vegas Hotel Luxury
As I mentioned in passing last night, our first hotel was very unsuitable. The Candlewood Suites room was comparable to an Extended StayAmerica low-end room, but the way it was laid out would have made it very difficult for me to get any work done, and Lisa said she might have to take some blankets and towels and sleep in the closet. So we asked the hotel to let us balk (which, thank goodness, they did), and we reviewed our options.
Checking the IHG app on my phone, I found a Staybridge Suites over on the other side of I-15, with a Holiday Inn Express next door. Rather than booking, we just drove over there, and the manager very nicely took us upstairs to show us a room.( The Kind of Room I'd Love to Have at a WorldconCollapse )
On top of all of the space and amenities, this room cost less
than the Candlewood. We said, "We'll take it," and checked in for three nights. We then tossed our hand luggage into the room and had dinner — on Monday-Wednesday nights, they have a "social hour" with food, in this case hot dogs, hamburgers, and chili. They have a cooked breakfast every morning, although unfortunately you can't take it back to your room, which is what we'd really rather do. Still, that's a minor quibble.( Kuma Bear Takes ChargeCollapse )
After we got moved in, I got my computers working (no wired internet, but the wireless connection worked okay and didn't suffer from the flakiness that plagued me in Tempe) and then we drove over to get some groceries from Whole Foods Market.
Of course you're unlikely to ever find a hotel like this within easy walking distance of a Worldcon-class convention facility, and if you did, it wouldn't come for the relative bargain price ($109/night before tax but including breakfast). But it's a really nice place. It's not as over-the-top luxurious as the Bellagio-Pallazo, but it also comes with a lot more services that we actually use, like the kitchen and the in-room laundry. We had lunch this afternoon from the groceries we had (and those we'd brought with us from Fernley — we were prepared for having to eat many meals in the hotel room there, although in fact we did not do so), and Lisa did a couple of loads of laundry. (Soap is $3/box, good for two loads, from the shop in the lobby.)
We generally don't come to Vegas for long periods of time, but if we did, this would be high on our list of likely places to stay. As Lisa put it, if you're coming to Vegas for one or two nights and want a high-end experience, stay at a place like the Bellagio. If you want a place that you can use as a very comfortable home base for a few days or a few weeks, the Staybridge Suites is for you. Current Mood: relaxed
|Wednesday, July 5th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 5: Kingman to Las Vegas via Laughlin and Interstate 11
Despite IHG Spire members supposedly having 2 PM checkout, the hotel asked us to vacate by 1 PM, which we did manage, but it means I have Day Jobbe work backed up badly.
Because Kingman to Las Vegas is only a bit over 100 miles, we elected to divert over to Laughlin to pick up something at a shop we saw on the way down. To our dismay, when we got there, we found that they were closed July 5-6. It wasn't a total loss because we were able to pick up the Black Bear Diner Bullhead City (#25
in our passport book) that we missed on the trip south.
Heading out of Laughlin, where the thermometer read 46°C, even with the air conditioning turned off, the minivan overheated. Not disastrously so, but enough to where we needed to pull over (at the south entrance to the byway to Christmas Tree Pass, a road suitable only for 4WD vehicles) and let the engine cool down. After it had cooled, we started back up the main highway, using the miserable auxiliary cooling method of during the van's heater on full blast to try and shed more heat. To try and give that heat somewhere to go, we rolled down the windows. The driver's side window got stuck 2/3 down and would not roll back up. We pulled over again and Lisa worked on it. She was able to eventually get it rolled back up again, but we must not roll the window down more than about 10 cm until she can affect permanent repairs.( Passing Interstate 11Collapse )
Our initial hotel in LV was something of a disaster and we balked. Fortunately, it was not yet 6 PM and we were able to get out of the hotel without having to pay for it. It wasn't the staff's fault; it's just that the room was very unsuitable for us. I actually considered paying for three nights at the Bellagio, which would have been quite expensive; however, thanks to a very obliging hotel manager, we ended up at the Staybridge Suites, in a nice room about which I will write more tomorrow after I've dug out from the Day Jobbe backlog and had more rest.
We got in some groceries -- this room has a full kitchen -- and settled in for the first of the three nights we will be in Vegas. Our room has a nice view of the Strip, but for now I just need to get some sleep so I can work a full-plus day tomorrow. Current Mood: exhausted
|Tuesday, July 4th, 2017|
|Westercon 2017 Road Trip Day 4: Nothing to See Here
I'm not counting the days spent in Tempe at Westercon toward the count of days on the road trip, so this was Day 4 on the road. We're on our way home, but it will take longer than on the way out because I need to be work at the Day Jobbe for the next three days in order to save vacation needed for other trips.
Our goal was to be out of the hotel and on the road by Noon today. It took a few minutes longer than that, and we had our first stop only a short distance away, where we had lunch at Waffle House. I indulged myself considerably, primarily because I know it will be a long time before I get another chance.
Our planned line of march was along US-60 to Wickenburg, then north on US-93 to Kingman. Somehow, shortly after we got off I-17 onto US-60, we missed a turn and ended up way off course, although we got back on the beam at AZ-101. We should have taken that right turn at Peoria, I guess.
It was very hot. The minvan's air conditioning, when we could use it (that is, when the engine temperature didn't go too high) could blunt the edge of the heat but could not keep it totally at bay. On the other hand, as we went higher and further north, things got slightly better.( Nowhere VanCollapse )
We checked into the hotel and got the latest checkout I could get with my Spire class membership (1 PM), which I hope will be sufficient. I did a bit of work earlier in the week while I was nominally on vacation, which I hope I can offset sufficiently so I can work from the room tomorrow until 1 PM, after which we will drive to Las Vegas. That should be a relatively easy trip as it's only about 100 miles.
I'm pleased to find that this HIX has wired internet access, and glad I brought my small router. After a bit of fuss to get it connected, I tested speeds. While nowhere near the 999 mbps we once got at the Pallazo (one of the only good reasons I could think of for staying there, actually), it was still twice the speed of their wireless connection.
Now I need to start winding myself back onto my Central Time-based Day Jobbe schedule. Current Mood: pleased
|Westercon 70 Day 4: Packing
I don't like leaving before the end of Westercon, but Day Jobbe interactions with my time off schedule oblige us to do so. We're packing up the hotel room and will leave sometime this morning. As a consolation, we will be able to get a meal at a Waffle House on the way out of Phoenix as we head north to Kingman.
It was a smallish Westercon, and we missed a lot of the Usual Suspects who couldn't make it because of weather, NASFiC, Worldcon, or even Eclipse. But we ended up having a fair bit of fun here, and thank the Westercon 70 committee for their work and for putting up with our requests. Current Mood: busy