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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Kevin Standlee's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
10:09 am
WSFS Deadlines Looming
While the most pressing deadline for Worldcon is the Hugo Voting deadline (23:59 PDT July 31, 2015), there's another WSFS deadline just over a week away: The deadline for submitting new business to the WSFS Business Meeting. That's two weeks before Worldcon starts. The deadline is 23:59 PDT August 6, 2015. See the Sasquan WSFS Business Meeting page for submission information. If you need help composing your proposal, write to the address on that page and we'll help you form your proposal in the proper technical form.

There are two other ways to get things on the agenda if you miss the deadline:
The Secret SMOF RulesCollapse )
Given the new business already submitted and the constitutional amendments passed on to this year for ratification, I expect that either of the two ways of getting around the deadline are going to be hard sells. You're better off simply working within the rules.

Gavel of WSFS
Don't make me use this more often than necessary, please.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
7:47 am
Are You Going to the WSFS Business Meeting?
The 2015 Worldcon Business Meeting page has been updated to include the location (Convention Center Room 300B) and time (Th/Fr/Sa/Su 10 AM, doors open 9 AM), and also now includes a simple one question survey for voting (attending/military/YA) members asking whether you plan on going to the meetings this year. If you are going, you can help us out by checking off Yes on that survey.

Remember that while every member may attend, seating may be limited. For the Thursday/Friday meetings, we have about 300 seats, plus a large standing-room area behind it. (Room 300A, where dances happen at other times during the con.) That area gets seats on Saturday and Sunday, but at the first two meetings, if you can't find a seat, you'll have to stand. Yes, that complicates any "serpentine" votes. If we need a counted vote, I expect that we'll have to do a physical "division" of the house, which we've never done before. But this is a year for unprecedented things.

Current Mood: thoughful
Monday, July 27th, 2015
9:06 pm
Revised Business Meeting Basics Video
Thanks to people pointing out typographical errors in the captions, I've created and uploaded a revised version of the Business Meeting Basics video:

Giving you the (Revised) BusinessCollapse )

Because you can't replace an existing YouTube video, and people will have seen the earlier link, I've left the original in place and put a note on it pointing people to the corrected version.

Current Mood: accomplished
3:50 pm
Real Estate
The vacant lot next to Fernley House has a new For Sale sign on it. I inquired about the price. "$105,000."


"It's industrial, with water and sewer hookups."

"I know; I live in the house right next to it. Okay, thanks."

I might give $10,500 for the 150 x 150 foot lot, but not ten times that much. I guess I should be happy that it's so overpriced. I think it highly unlikely that anyone would buy an undeveloped lot (even with water/sewer in place) with houses on three sides of it, even if it is zoned industrial. There are much better pieces of actual industrial land in this city, without annoying neighbors.

Current Mood: puzzled
Sunday, July 26th, 2015
5:39 pm
Suffering Fools Less Gladly
I have been a bit grumpy at people lately. In particular, I have told people who should be capable of knowing better when they're being foolish. As I said in a post on File 770 earlier today, ignorance can be cured; foolishness is much more difficult.

I sort of understand more and more why Bruce Pelz coined Special Rule #2 ("Shut up, Kevin") for me when I showed up all bright-eyed and eager at Worldcons and Westercons in the mid 1980s. I hope that in time it became clear that I was suffering more from ignorance than foolishness.

(As those of you who have been here for a long time know, my license place is a tribute to the memory of Bruce Pelz.)

Current Mood: grumpy
Saturday, July 25th, 2015
10:44 pm
To Yuba City and Back, With Wildfire
I had some business I needed to do in person with my mother that I'd been unable to get done last week on my way home from the Bay Area and that needed to be done before the end of July, so Lisa and I drove to Yuba City this morning. Little did we know that we'd be dodging a wildfire on the return trip.

Flying Visit to Yuba CityCollapse )

As we left Marysville heading east on CA-20, we shortly noticed a huge smoke plume in the distant mountains ahead. I stopped where the Marysville - La Porte Road turns off to head up to my home town of Challenge and took a photo standing on the rear bumper of the Astro.

Fire In the MountainsCollapse )

The fire turned out to be the Lowell Fire, which apparently started sometime this afternoon and spread rapidly in the drought-dry conditions. At the time I took the photos, I didn't know exactly where it was, and (mistakenly, as it turns out) thought that taking CA-20 (the "natural" route) home would take us right into the fire zone. We therefore detoured back to the south on CA-174, which was a drive I've wanted to do before but never had done. Today would have been a good day for this but for dodging Cal Fire equipment coming the other way Code 3 lights-and-siren on a narrow two-lane highway. In fact, rather than avoiding the fire, we were driving closer to it.

Skirting the South EdgeCollapse )

Fortunately for us, we got through the affected area with nothing more than irritated eyes from the smoke. We got home just short of twelve hours after we'd left. It was a long day, but not an impossibly long one. Still, I'm looking forward to not having to set an alarm tomorrow. For the next six weeks or so, such days are going to be few and far between.

Current Mood: tired
Friday, July 24th, 2015
4:51 pm
Geographical Illiteracy
I have just had a very frustrating exchange with someone who is convinced that should Helsinki win their Worldcon bid, the convention will be invaded by an army of supporters of a certain Rabid One because his publishing company is in Finland, so of course there must be hordes of his supporters all over the country.

Look, I'm on the Montreal Worldcon bid; I'm one of the members of its Board of Directors. But I very much do not want people to vote against Helsinki just because a sociopath incorporated his business in that country. It's stupid.

I've been told that I'm not paranoid enough about the Danger of the Puppies Invading Worldcon. Well, if the danger is that big, we might as well just dissolve Worldcon right now and go crawl under our beds and suck our thumbs while curled up in a ball of fear.

Current Mood: angry
Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
5:59 pm
Rain Drain
Rather to my surprise, nearly all of the standing water that I photographed yesterday was gone by this morning, and that was before the sun came out.

No Rain, No GainCollapse )

Weather Underground says we got about 22 mm of rain yesterday. That's something like 20% of Fernley's annual average rainfall. No wonder it didn't soak in immediately.

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015
7:19 pm
Not Complaining About the Rain
We had some pretty serious thunderstorms today in Fernley. As usual, when the rain comes, it pools up pretty quickly because there's nowhere for the water to drain and the hardpan is right below the surface.

During and AfterCollapse )

I'm glad we're getting rain, and hope that there's even more falling into the Lake Tahoe basin and the Walker Lake drainage, where it will do much more good than puddling up here in Fernley, although we of course hope the rains will also do some good for recharging the local aquifer. I am also glad I did not have to go anywhere today, and furthermore, the rain did bring the temperatures down to a much more tolerable level. The only fault I find with such a mild summer is that it's why we're getting such a bumper crop of Russian Thistle (tumbleweeds). We've been watching the rabbits come out and nibble on them, but what we really need is a herd of goats.

Current Mood: relaxed
9:50 am
Business Meeting Basics Video
Here's the promised video that describes the basics of parliamentary business meeting mechanics, including how to speak in debate and the most common ways we count votes.

Basic VideoCollapse )

I hope this video helps people who aren't familiar with our normal practices in deliberative assembly debates under formal parliamentary-law rules. I know this can be intimidating to newcomers. While I can't have the WSFS Business Meeting be a seminar in Robert's Rules of Order, I do want to make it clear that those of us running the meetings aren't trying to use the rules to silence people, but to allow a large group of people with diverse and conflicting opinions to reach a decision in an orderly and fair manner.

By the way, there are panels scheduled immediately after the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Business Meetings (in a smaller room nearby) to discuss the technical aspects of each day's meeting. That's the place to go if you want to hear in more detail why things went the way they did. If you're really interested in learning more about how to make the rules work for you, I recommend putting off lunch until after the "What Just Happened?" panels on those days.

Current Mood: accomplished
Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
7:07 pm
Editing the Business Meeting Video
At billroper's suggestion, I bought a copy of The WonderShare video editor. It's relatively inexpensive and has some, but not all, of the features I would like to have. For example, while it has the timeline (MovieMaker got rid of it to "simplify" the program), it doesn't allow you to tell a clip to fade out either in video or audio. The titling is also terrible IMO. It's flashy, but there's on way to tell it to center the titles or otherwise align them. Everything is by eyeball. I expect it was written by someone who never does anything with a keyboard, only with a mouse. However, it does read MXF files without garbling or degrading them, as long as you change the video file extensions to MPG and the audio files to MP3.

The Business Meeting Orientation video for which we shot video at Westercon is nearly done. All that needs doing is to record the narration for a section for which we shot video but no audio. Once that's done, I'll upload the video to YouTube and let people have a look.

My current plan is to have us show this video at 10 AM at the start of the Preliminary and First Main Business Meetings. We've typically let people have about ten minutes to wander in late anyway, so if we start the video at 10 sharp, we should be ready to start the meeting itself by 10:10. We have a lot of agenda and Programming really wants us to stay within the lines they've drawn for us (finish by 12:45 PM on Thursday-Saturday and 5:30 PM Sunday), so I'm feeling the time pressure. However, I also am thinking we're going to have a lot more first-time attendees this year, so I hope that eight minutes of basic instruction on the forms we follow (getting recognized, how voting works, the most common motions) will help them.

Current Mood: optimistic
Monday, July 20th, 2015
7:19 pm
Relative Calm Before the Storm
Not much to write about today. I got Day Jobbery done. I managed to knock down a number of pre-Worldcon tasks that needed doing, moving along some reports that have to be done in time to make the agenda. Told the Sasquan Newsletter some of the material we'll be feeding in their direction. Tried to stay cool in Fernley's heat. Collected a week of accumulated mail from the post office. I don't feel like I got a lot done, but I seem to have used up a whole day doing it.

Current Mood: tired
Sunday, July 19th, 2015
9:27 pm
Slightly Higher Roller
This afternoon, Lisa and I went into Reno to do our major grocery shopping. First we went to the Atlantis, where for a change we ate at the Purple Parrot coffee shop rather than the buffet. After that, we played a bit of slots, and when Lisa hit a good jackpot on the third pull of the Walking Dead machine (a 600-1 payout on the 40-cent bet), we called it a day on gambling, with a net (including the $9 I lost at keno) surplus of $6.20. Checking my affinity card balance, I discovered to my surprise that we'd actually spent enough to make it to the second rung (of six) of the program. I never thought we'd ever get out of the entry-level class. They issued us a new card, and we now get $2 off buffets, and a two-for-one breakfast buffet on any weekday.

On the way out, we spotted a machine that cried out for a photo.

It seemed somewhat related to this year"s Hugo controversyCollapse )

Full of breakfast and with a small gambling surplus, we set out to do our shopping. Nothing really exciting, just stops at Cost Plus World Market to use a 15% off coupon and buy more honey-wafer cookies for my sister, Whole Foods Market to get good cheese, Grocery Outlet for bargains, Winco for staples, and Raley's to get four packs of the San Pellagrino orange sparkling water that Lisa came to greatly admire during Westercon.

Lisa drove us home. As we pulled up in front of Fernley House, we once again stirred up one of the rabbits who lives near our house.

Everybody Loves Some Bunny SometimesCollapse )

We seem to be pretty well stocked for a while now. If we didn't need to go to Reno for an appointment with Lisa's tinnitus specialist on Thursday, we'd be home all week and perfectly happy to be here, as long as we can keep the house cool enough for me to work.

Current Mood: relaxed
Saturday, July 18th, 2015
11:51 pm
Board Meeting Day
I woke up for some reason in the wee hours of the morning and was awake for a couple of hours before falling back asleep. I then awoke with a start at 9 AM realizing that I'd not turned the alarm clock on at all and it was an hour later than I wanted to get up. I rushed around and managed to get packed out of the motel room and over to where SFSFC was holding its meeting today and we started only about ten minutes late. (As I was the one hosting the conference call on Skype and I'm also the Secretary, I was the one holding things up.)

After the meeting, I gave David W. Clark the two boxes of books I carried back from San Diego via Fernley for him, then headed home. I was in a sufficient hurry to get out of the Bay Area and go home that I forgot that the van was due for an oil change from the Jiffy Lube in Newark where I've been taking it. I'll still have to get an oil change done before we head for Spokane next month.

As I came into the Reno/Sparks area, I saws some spectacular cloud-to-cloud lightning over the hills to the east, and hit some heavy rain through the Truckee River Canyon. Fortunately, the rain had already passed through Fernley by the time I got home and thus Lisa and I avoided getting soaked while unloading the van.

Now I get to get reacquainted with my own bed again, and I expect it to be much more comfortable that the one in the motel in which I was staying.

Current Mood: tired
Friday, July 17th, 2015
12:36 pm
ActiveWorlds and Lisa
I've mentioned before that while Lisa doesn't use e-mail and has a very limited online presence, she does actively participate in ActiveWorlds, where she is user Kuma Bear. She only recently found this effusive article about her building in AW last night. Lisa really enjoys building in AW. I think she's a frustrated architect, and this environment indulges her creativity in building things. In particular, there are certain restrictions in the "AlphaWorld" environment that she has been working diligently to get around, allowing her to build things in AlphaWorld that most people wouldn't think possible.

Lisa invites anyone who is interested to join ActiveWorlds (free membership) and come look at her buildings. Lately she's been working to zombie-proof a new town. More details later.

Current Mood: amused
10:17 am
Not Everything Takes Two Years in WSFS
An conversational exchange I had recently showed that some people think that everything related to the WSFS Business Meeting requires two consecutive years' votes to take effect. This is not true.

Don"t Make Me Use This!Collapse )

Changing the WSFS Constitution requires the vote of two consecutive years' WSFS Business Meetings. The second year's meeting may change what the first meeting passed, as long as the changes do not increase the scope of the amendment. (Deciding what represents an increase in scope is not always obvious.) The WSFS Constitution includes the definition of the Hugo Award categories and the process for administering them, the mechanism for choosing future Worldcon sites, and a bunch of other, smaller things that I need not go into here.

WSFS Constitutional Neepery and ResolutionsCollapse )

I suggested to the 2017 bidders that they may want to jointly propose a resolution to this year's Business Meeting giving themselves a bit more "headroom" to raise their Supporting Membership cost, possibly as high as $60. So far, I've not heard back from anyone, so I guess they're content to stick to not more than $50, which is what MidAmericon II is charging.

Current Mood: thoughful
Thursday, July 16th, 2015
9:03 pm
Latest on the Minivan
I stopped by my mechanic's shop today to see what the latest word on the Astro was. He cannot find a reason why the van is hard to start when it has run for a long time. He's run a bunch of tests for vacuum leaks (no more leaks showing up), and he apologizes for not being able to find anything. In a probably unrelated area, he's replacing the tensioning pulley that holds the unibelt in place. I should be able to collect it late Friday afternoon.

Current Mood: optimistic
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
10:05 am
Generations Passing
As part of a conversation with David W. Clark at BASFA on Monday night, we worked out that I am now about the same age as Bruce Pelz was when I first turned up at Worldcon in 1984. (The photo in the icon is from ten years after that. I have no photos of me at the 1984 Worldcon that I know of, which is a pity.) I continue to be very happy that there is a generation of conrunners behind me that include some people interested in keeping the official business parts of WSFS running. I only must apologize for having to throw Jesi Pershing and jared_dashoff in at the deep end of the pool with this year's Business Meeting. OTOH, the first time I sat on the head table, I was apparently about one minute away from being Last Fan Standing as a disgruntled group of BM attendees were on the point of moving to unseat the entire head table staff except me. (I'm glad it didn't happen, but what I would have tried to do had it happened was to try to act as Chair and immediately call for the meeting to elect new officers.)

Current Mood: optimistic
Monday, July 13th, 2015
11:27 am
Private Varnish
I have queued up photos that I've not had a chance to edit and release, including the one below of a passing private railroad car.

Amtrak has been running desperately late much of the last two months. Because a very late arrival in Emeryville means a late departure the next morning (same equipment, same crew; you have to allow enough time to clean/restock the train and to let the crew get their rest), they're stuck in a rut. I'd suggest slowing the schedule down even further, but that probably wouldn't work because they'd just fall behind that one as well, and furthermore when they run as they can run they'd have to "wait on time" a lot, which is almost as annoying.

A few days ago, I heard on the scanner, "Amtrak 5, diverging approach, East Fernley." Now #5, the westbound California Zephyr should come through at about 7:45 AM when on schedule, but this was more than three hours later, which unfortunately is not too bad these days. (There have in fact been days when the westbound has come through after the eastbound, and the latter should pass at 4:45 PM. I've never yet seen the two trains meet each other at Fernley, but it seems to be only a matter of time before it happens.) "Diverging approach" means "slow down, prepared to enter siding." The dispatcher was sending #5 into the siding to meet an opposing train. By necessity, Fernley Siding's speed limit is much slower than the 60 MPH allowed on the main line. This is bad for a train falling progressively farther behind (late trains get later), but good for a photo opportunity.

Dome Car on the RearCollapse )

Yes, one of our dreams is to own a private railroad car. They're less expensive than you might think, especially compared to Bay Area housing prices. But having a place to store and maintain it, that takes some doing. But if we had the money for the car, we probably would also have the money to pay UP to put in a small spur off the existing Fernley House Tracks and to buy the plot of land where the derelict building (and unlicensed bordello) used to be across the street and to put up a building into which we could store the car. Such a siding would doubtless be much easier than a mainline switch. We'd have to pay BNSF or UP to switch the car down to Sparks to be attached to the Zephyr, but it seems plausible, at least.

Current Mood: pleased
Sunday, July 12th, 2015
8:54 pm
Hotel Freeloader
I got away from Fernley later than I meant to do so this morning, in part because I was up until 2 AM last night working on Westercon and WSFS stuff that can't wait much longer. I'm down here with the minivan rather than the Rolling Stone because my mechanic wants to take another crack at the problems with additional equipment and because I want him to look into replacing the unibelt tensioner, which I think is failing. So I'm in a motel again; a cheap one by Bay Area standards, but still more expensive than living out of the RV.

I've stayed in this particular fleabag several times before, but for once I got a ground-floor room and a parking space right outside of it. This meant I could just leave the door of the room ajar and make lots of small trips with the gear I brought with me for a one-week stay. After making the last trip, I turned to close the door and found an unwanted visitor in my room.

No Birds AllowedCollapse )

The pickings around here must be pretty good for these winged rats.

Current Mood: amused
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