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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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Sunday, May 29th, 2016
9:57 am
Tripping Our Way Home, With Goats and Mattress Fires
Lisa doesn't come down to the Bay Area that often, so while we were there on Saturday, we took advantage of the trip to go shopping for electronics not generally available in Reno/Sparks. Our first stop was Fry's, where we did get her some things, but where I also bought a medium-ticket item for Cheryl Morgan's benefit. Then it was on to Weird Stuff Warehouse. Again, Lisa found a few things for which she was looking, but I was the one with the biggest purchase, as they had a good deal running on surplus 24" monitors. Lisa bought me one. It will trigger a cascade of monitors in our home office that should lead to Lisa getting a replacement for one of her monitors that is starting to fade away on her.

Weird Stuff and GoatsCollapse )

After Weird Stuff, we continued on to HSC Electronic Supply, who have moved to a new location not far from their previous warehouse. This time we struck out, finding none of the things for which we were searching. None were critical, but Lisa likes to look here when she gets the opportunity to do so.

Slogging Home via Tracy, With Added Mattress FireCollapse )

By then we had been on the road for at least three hours and had gone maybe 100 miles or so, and I was already worn out. Lisa took the wheel. We stopped for a late lunch at the Denny's in Lodi Junction, then continued to Sacramento to visit my sister for a while. Lisa was still better off than me, and we went on with her driving to Colfax where we had a short rest stop, and Lisa continued driving us the rest of the way home from there, where as I wrote briefly last night we got home before 10 PM.

This morning, after a good night's sleep, I felt a little bit better, and leaving Lisa to sleep, I walked up to the Wigwam Restaurant-Casino, had a good breakfast, and once again managed to win enough playing blackjack to pay for breakfast.

I'm now using my new-to-me monitor, and it does make a difference.

Current Mood: relaxed
Saturday, May 28th, 2016
10:32 pm
Home Again
Lisa and I did some electronics-buying errands in the Bay Area, including picking up a used monitor that will replace the smaller of the two monitors on my desk. (Lisa will get that monitor, which will upgrade her starting-to-fail monitor on her laptop docking station.) We then made our laborious (due to the massive amount of traffic) was out of the Bay Area. We stopped in Lathrop at the auto-parts store where I'd made the emergency stop a few months back with the burning alternator, and we bought a new fire extinguisher for the van, so I'm not caught out if something that bad happens again. Lisa drove from Lathrop onward. After visiting my sister in Sacramento, we continued east, and traffic was much easier to handle. I was so fried that Lisa handled the rest of the drive home. We arrived home in Fernley just before 10 PM. Lisa headed for bed, and I'll be going to same way shortly after I set plug in the backup drive to do its weekly complete system image. We're not worrying about alarms or anything like that tomorrow. I'm really glad I get to spend the next two weeks at home, and that I don't have to work on Monday.

Current Mood: exhausted
Friday, May 27th, 2016
9:33 pm
Shopping the Stone
After a very long day at the office in Fremont today (and 56 hours total logged this week, in part to allow a co-worker who hasn't had a day of vacation for a while get a 4-day weekend), I was grateful to escape the office at 6 PM today. Lisa drove down today from Fernley to meet me at the office. We transferred my things from the Rolling Stone, leaving behind things I'll not need until my next trip to the Bay Area, and we took the RV over to my mechanic in Fremont.

The Tale of the TapeCollapse )

With the RV safely stored, we headed over to the Holiday Inn Express Union City. I apologize for us not coming to BayCon even for a single evening, but I am utterly knackered after the hours I've been working, and Lisa isn't that steady either. We ordered out pizza and are taking advantage of a good hotel room where I hope to get a lot of sleep tonight before we head home tomorrow.

Current Mood: exhausted
Tuesday, May 24th, 2016
7:08 am
Three More Hours
...and it will have been 24 hours since my dental work was done and I can drink coffee again. On the bright side, getting to sleep last night was trivially easy. I may have been asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Current Mood: groggy
Monday, May 23rd, 2016
5:50 pm
Dental Day
This morning I headed up to Redwood Shores for a 7:10 AM dentist appointment. Fortunately, at that hour, traffic along US-101 is tolerable. Indeed, I actually got their early. The teeth cleaning was routine. My dentist had a look at the grooves on the top of my lower front teeth and said that he recommended that we do something about them. I've had them for a long time because I was grinding my teeth at night. I wear a mouth-guard while sleeping now to prevent further damage, but Dr. Ferrer warned me that the teeth could start chipping and cracking. He'd had a cancellation that morning, and I didn't have any meetings until Noon (and had shifted responsibilities around with a co-worker so he would cover the "east coast" desk this morning), so I agreed.

For this process, my dentist didn't even have to numb the teeth. He ground off a little bit of the grooved area, then built it back up again, and shaped it into place and set it with a bright light tool. You would never know by looking at me that any work had been done. I can feel the smoother teeth, though. With relatively little fuss (and insurance will pay for 60% of it, with my healthcare saving account covering the rest), I was out of there and into traffic so early that the morning commute was still on. No harm, though.

The only drawback of the procedure: He told me to only eat soft foods for the next 24 hours (until tomorrow mid-morning), and while hot drinks might be okay, he recommended against coffee or tea because they could end up staining the material until it has completely set. That means no coffee, tea, or cola for me until tomorrow. Today has been a day of grogginess accordingly. But I'm glad to have the teeth repaired.

Current Mood: sleepy
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
7:22 am
Open (Fire) House
Saturday afternoon, the North Lyon County Fire Protection District held an Open House. Lisa and I walked over to support our local fire department. NLCFPD was founded in 1952, significantly predating the 2001 incorporation of the city of Fernley. It's a separate agency that is effectively the Fernley Fire Department but is not managed by the city itself, but by a separate board.

Pictures of Fire Engines and StuffCollapse )

I availed myself of the hot dogs and hamburgers on offer, and made a donation to the fire department. We didn't stay too long, as they had loud thumping music inside the station, making it unpleasant for Lisa and me. (Some people apparently enjoy not being able to hear themselves think; Lisa and I are not among them.)

There is a measure on the local ballot here to increase property taxes to fill critical funding needs for our understaffed local fire department, which finds itself stretched and sometimes unable to answer all calls. Fortunately, there were no calls during Saturday's open house, and the open house itself was funded by an outside grant, not by fire department funds.

Current Mood: optimistic
Saturday, May 21st, 2016
5:58 pm
Spring Storms Over Fernley
While walking home from the post office yesterday afternoon, I could see a rather fierce-looking storm moving east toward us from the mountains that separate Fernley from the Reno/Sparks area.

Batten Down the HatchesCollapse )

It's not all that obvious in this view, but there were a bunch of dust clouds kicking up in front of this storm, and it looked worse than this photo shows, I think. I bucked a strong headwind walking home and stayed indoors. As it happens, when the storm actually reached us, it wasn't quite as bad as its advance billing made it out to be.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Friday, May 20th, 2016
5:26 pm
No More Train Trips on Points
I have been using a Diners Club MasterCard for many years now, in no small part because the points I earned from it could be transferred into Amtrak Guest Reward points. The three cross-country train trips Lisa and I have taken were on DC-to-Amtrak point transfers. I was considering using those points to go to SMOFCon in Chicago this December, and went to look up how many points it would take to buy a bedroom on Amtrak (about 110,000; I have about 15K banked right now), and then I went to Diners Club to see how many points it would take to buy the Amtrak points. It was then that I discovered that Amtrak had discontinued its partnership with Diner's Club at the end of 2015. Had I heard that, I would have dumped all of my Diners points back then and could probably have taken the trip. As it stands now, I have a bunch of DC points "stranded."

That actually significantly reduces any incentive to keep using the Diner's Club, which heretofore has been my primary credit card. I may dump all of my points out of it into IHG (still a partner), where it would be worth perhaps as many as eight free nights, use the nights on our road trip to Kansas City, and cancel the Diner's Club card once I reprogrammed all of my automatic payments to use one of my other cards.

I guess I'll have to go ahead and apply for an Amtrak Guest Rewards Visa and start accumulating points over there. The annual fee is lower, too.

Current Mood: annoyed
Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
7:07 am
Three Possible Hugo Voting Alternatives
File 770 last night published an article by me summarizing the three Hugo Award proposals that I've recently detailed here on my LiveJournal. Comments over there, or on the individual LJ items if you prefer, please.

I really hope that we will not see the quest for perfection defeat any attempts at incremental improvement, although in reading the debate on proposals, I am not confident. Of course, people commenting online aren't the same people as who will actually be voting on any concrete proposals presented to the WSFS Business Meeting.

Current Mood: busy
Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
10:44 am
Supporting Members Have Always Been With Us
A comment on grrm's LJ in response to a comment of mine read, in part:
In discussions about this topic over the weekend with other SFWA members at Nebula con, I was led to believe that the supporting membership was only 5-6 years old.
I don't know how this sort of thing gets started, but it's clearly being repeated by people who don't actually know a whole lot of about how Worldcons run and how WSFS works.

Almost none of this stuff is newCollapse )

Note that everywhere above where I say "supporting and attending members" or variations of it, that also includes any other class of member (e.g. Young Adult, Military Discount) granted WSFS membership rights by the individual Worldcon. The WSFS Constitution gives Worldcons a great deal of leeway about granting WSFS membership rights, other than they can't sell a membership with the rights of a Supporting membership for less than the cost of a Supporting membership. (Section 1.5.8 of the current WSFS Constitution, effective this year, adds this restriction.)

While there has been one change that was relatively recent (extending eligibility to the following year's members), it seems unlikely that this had much impact on the results of the nominations in the past two years. In any event, supporting members have been able to participate for as long as I've been involved with Worldcon (1984), and in fact have been participating for over fifty years. Proposals to strip them of their voting rights, particularly if they were members of the current Worldcon, would be a significant and drastic change in Worldcon practice.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Sunday, May 15th, 2016
11:32 am
Bush League
I have had no success at all raising California poppies, despite having put in soil supplement and watering the area where I planted the seeds. I also apparently managed to kill one of the two rosebushes we had on the property by cutting it back too severely when trying to trim away an invasive bush that I thought was strangling it. However, we still have one remaining rosebush that was here when we moved in, and it has started blooming.

A Rose Grows in FernleyCollapse )

Spring has sprung like mad here in northern Nevada, thanks to the extra rain. The vacant lots on both sides of us are awash with growth including wildflowers. The only place not growing is my flowerbed in front of the house. I think I should have just tossed the California poppy seeds into the surrounding lots and hoped for the best.

Current Mood: relaxed
Saturday, May 14th, 2016
8:49 pm
Getting Things Done
This morning Lisa and I went into Reno and started the day with brunch at the Peppermill. I won $10 on a keno ticket, but the ticket cost $20 to begin with. Lisa won enough on slots to cover our tip at brunch. Then it was time to take on a long to-do list.

Catching up on errandsCollapse )

That's plenty of things accomplished for one day, we think.

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, May 13th, 2016
8:28 pm
Fuel Follies
I got away from the office about 11 AM and proceeded west, with my first stop at Lodi Junction to refill the two fuel tanks on the Rolling Stone. The rear tank has a nominal capacity of 20 gallons (but actually will take slightly more than 21 when empty, as it was today), and the forward tank has a nominal 15-gallon capacity. The typical mileage is between 9 and 10 miles per gallon. Yes, it's a thirsty beast.

Putting the RV onto the larger rear tank (which sometimes will get me all the way home from Lodi Jct.), I drove to Sacramento to visit my sister. When I pulled to a stop near the nursing care facility, there was a strong smell of gasoline. I thought that possibly the spring sunshine had caused fuel from the forward tank to expand and start to go out the overflow, so when I left Sacramento I ran on the front tank for a short distance to burn off some of the possible excess. When I switched back to the rear tank, I was horrified to see it go nearly all the way empty, and before I got to Auburn it ran out completely, less than 70 miles from Lodi Junction.

The obvious conclusion is that there is some sort of leak in the area of the rear fuel tank. Switching to the forward tank, I continued on home to Fernley. There was no leaking-gas smell once the residual odor wore off. Somewhat to my surprise, the tank still registered roughly half full when I got home (I'd rather expected to have to top off in Sparks just to get home). Refueling took only about 8 gallons, which calculates out as roughly 15 miles per gallon. That's absurd. The RV's mileage has been a dependable 8-11 mpg, and going uphill from Sacramento tends toward the lower end, not the upper. Something funny is going on here. And we need to get it fixed as soon as possible because I go back to the Bay Area a week from Sunday. While I could limp along on the smaller tank, it's a bad idea because my range is so limited: about 135 miles or so per tank.

Lisa and I will evaluate our options over the weekend. In any event, I'm home now, and glad to be here.

Current Mood: worried
Thursday, May 12th, 2016
5:11 pm
Brake Broke
I generally use the manual parking brake when parking the Rolling Stone, particularly when I'm sleeping in the RV. As with every other vehicle I've ever driven, there is a warning light on the dashboard when the parking brake is engaged. A couple of mornings ago, when I disengaged the brake, the light wouldn't go out. I gingerly did some testing, and concluded that the brake is indeed releasing; however, the light will not go out. I spoke to Lisa about it, and she says she thinks that's an easy fix, especially if it works the way it does in the Big Orange Van, which she thinks is likely given the way Ford built its vans in the 1970s and 1980s. So I'm trying to not worry about it, although it's hard to ignore a red warning light on the instrument panel.

Current Mood: working
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
5:59 pm
Hugo Awards: Why Not IRV/STV at First Round?
I was asked via Twitter yesterday why we don't use STV (Single Transferable Vote), which I think of as IRV (Instant Runoff Voting), i.e. the system we use on the final ballot for the Hugo Awards, for the initial nominating stage for the Hugo Awards. The short answer is that nobody has seriously proposed it to the Business Meeting, and as a way of keeping unrepresentative minorities from dominating the process, it wouldn't work anyhow.

The Longer VersionCollapse )

I've never said that making changes to the WSFS rules is easy, just that it's open to any member willing to make the effort. In theory, you don't even have to show up in person (non-attending members can submit motions; they just can't vote on them), although in practice, failure to appear tends to undermine your chances of success.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Sunday, May 8th, 2016
5:32 pm
Roling Rolling Rolling
Fortunately for me (because when I'm down in the Bay Area I need to be up about 4:45 AM), I woke up early this morning, meaning that my body clock is part-way adjusted already. I'd packed most stuff last night, so it wasn't too difficult to get away from home, after saying goodbye to Lisa and travelswithkuma. I stopped for breakfast at the Gold Ranch Casino at Exit 2 (less crowded than Boomtown), in Sacramento to see my sister and the long-term-care facility, and Lodi Junction for lunch, where I managed to find a pair of clip-on sunglasses at the truck stop. I left my prescription sunglasses sitting on my desk at home on account of it being so overcast and rainy that it wasn't until I was over an hour away from home when I realized I was going to need sunglasses on this trip. Indeed, it was pretty sunny crossing Donner Summit, although raining on both sides of it. No snow, though, and what snow is up top is now starting to dissolve in the spring rains. The rivers are running to their banks (but not above them), which is probably a good thing as we try to catch up on years of drought and refill the reservoirs.

Traffic working my way into the Bay Area got pretty heavy around Dublin-Pleasanton, and then again between along highway 238 and then south on I-880 as far as CA-92, and then patching in other spots along 880. On a Sunday afternoon. With no obvious traffic generators. Crazy place. But congested traffic is supposed to be a sign of a booming economy, and by that metric, we're really going wild here right now.

Current Mood: tired
Saturday, May 7th, 2016
3:39 pm
Keno Bear Buys Breakfasts
This morning, we went into Reno to the Peppermill for Saturday Brunch. We were early enough that it wasn't crowded. (The pre-Kentucky Derby crowd was showing up as we were leaving.) Normally I mark a keno ticket for five games, but with the restaurant not crowded and us not being in any hurry, I marked a different ticket than my usual one. It was a 4/20 at 50 cents per way.

What"s as 4 way 20?Collapse )

The only things that do not pay on a 20-spot ticket is 4, 5, 6, or 7 numbers. Those are, of course, the most common results, given that the most likely outcome on any given game is that you'll get five numbers in each of the four quadrants of the ticket. Normally you have to pay $2/game to mark a 20-spot ticket, but the Peppermill allows you to play a ticket for as little as 50 cents per "way" if you play at least ten games, as I did here. I normally don't play a ten-game ticket because it takes so long to play (the normal pace of play is about seven games per hour), but we were going to take our time over brunch today.

Keno Bear Likes FishCollapse )

I couldn't see the keno boards from within the buffet line, but when I came back to our table, I looked up and saw the next game that had been drawn while I was getting my food. I wish I'd taken a picture of the board, because it was a very lucky board. No numbers had landed in the lower-right corner — board C on my ticket. I know that's a good thing, and looked up the pay table: on a 50-cent bet, 0/20 pays $100! That's the biggest keno ticket I've ever hit in my life. (My grandmother once apparently caught a $400 (worth about $2500 today) many years ago, but the most I'd ever hit was around $40.) The keno runner gave me a big thumbs-up as he went by. And we still had six games to play!

In the end, our $20, ten-game, 4/20 ticket paid $118. I tipped our runner $8. Our winning ticket had paid for itself, for brunch including tips, and for the groceries we bought after breakfast before going home. That was a very good day at the races.

Current Mood: pleased
Friday, May 6th, 2016
9:35 am
Rolling Thunder
Yesterday afternoon, a line of thunderstorms moved through our part of Nevada. The results were noisy and wet.

Official Advice: Take CoverCollapse )

Heavy rain hit for a while, but nothing compared to hail so heavy in other parts of the county that road crews were out plowing it like slow. Fernley dodged the worst of the weather.

Current Mood: working
Thursday, May 5th, 2016
9:43 am
Hugo Awards: Plus 2
Here's yet another proposal to try and counteract bad actors (I call them "Griefers") trying to disrupt the Hugo Awards by deliberately nominating works that they expect will be disliked by the majority of the membership as a whole, taking advantage of the "first-five-past-the-post" nature of the nominating round. The other proposals I've written up depend on the entire membership participating in a second round of voting, either with 3-Stage Voting (members vote down potential finalists) or Double Nominations (members select finalists from a list of top 15 semi-finalists). This proposal invokes the subjective judgment call of the Worldcon Committee (in practice, of the Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee), hereafter just "the Committee" or "the Administrators," to add works to the final ballot.

Let"s Add TwoCollapse )

There is precedent, albeit an extra-legal one, for Administrators augmenting the ballot. In 1989, a single category came into question, due to a large number of nominating ballots being submitted simultaneously, paid for by consecutively-numbered money orders, and in the names of people for whom it is unclear they knew they had memberships. Apparently all of these ballots named a single person in one category and nominated nothing else. (There is no implication that the named person had anything to do with this scheme, and some implication that it was the result of overly enthusiastic fans of that person with more money than sense taking advantage of the system as it then existed.*) Instead of simply disqualifying the ballots, the Committee elected to add a sixth name to the finalists in that category. Shortly thereafter, one of the finalists withdrew.

Just like all of the other proposals out there (including the two up for ratification this year), this is no panacea, and I think there's a real concern that letting the Administrators exercise subjective judgement over whether extra works should be placed on the ballot undermines the popularly-selected nature of the Awards. On the other hand, I do recognize that we currently have a situation where people have not been nominating in good faith, and there are people who I respect but with whom I do not agree who think the Administrators should be intervening dramatically, rejecting individual ballots or finalists. This proposal seems to me to be the least-intrusive way of letting the Committee do something without totally rejecting the nature of an award selected by the members of the World Science Fiction Society.


*In those days, you could join at the time you nominated, right up to the end of nominating, just as you currently can do when you vote on the final ballot or on site selection. It was in reaction to this particular case that WSFS adopted the rule that you have to be a member no later than the end of January in order to nominate, rather than up through the end of nominations. As a further reaction to the cut-off date, WSFS extended nominating (but not final ballot) eligibility to include the members of the previous Worldcon, in order to not disenfranchise "regular" members who tend to join every year but who might not have gotten around to joining the current year by the end of January. Adding the members of the subsequent year's Worldcon was a later addition, and has only been part of the system since the 2012 Hugo Awards.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
12:18 pm
Only So Much Energy for Award Narcissists
I was about to write a long post about the inability of certain people to read simple English sentences, and to complain that their version of "compromise" is in the form of "give up and give me everything you own." On top of that would be the disdain of these people for democracy except when it returns only the results they personally want, and the rejection of democracy among private, free individuals, and their right to organize to suit themselves and to make rules for their own governance — and critically, to change those rules when it suits them to do so. But then I realized that I simply didn't have the energy for it right now. Besides, they'll never change. Nothing would ever convince them that they were wrong on anything at all. As I've written elsewhere, they're all convinced that they're the only true human beings in the world, and that anyone with an opinion different from their own is doing so solely for nefarious reasons.

I suppose that I should be amused that the person criticizing the Hugo Awards final ballot voting method is in Australia, which means he apparently doesn't even understand his own country's electoral system. He also said that Worldcon is a small convention (i.e. not tens of thousands of people like "real" conventions, e.g. DragonCon and San Diego) and nobody from Australia would ever travel to one. I pointed out that Worldcon moves around and has been in Australia three times, albeit always in Melbourne. I even granted that Melbourne might be too far away for him depending on where in his very large country he lives. He simply scoffed at me, saying he heard later that it had been there and criticizing Worldcon for not sufficiently publicizing it, which is to say apparently not sending him a personal invitation. Again, there's that assumption that he's the only real person, and that nobody else matters.

Current Mood: annoyed
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