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|Wednesday, December 4th, 2013|
|Preparing to SMOF
I have done laundry and mostly split my packing so that the stuff I need for Toronto is in the New
Ultraviolet Luggage aside from things that go in tomorrow morning, and the rest will stay in the van while it's parked at the airport. One of the things I'm bringing is a box of chocolates, which is a gift from Lisa and from travelswithkuma
I spoke with Lisa this afternoon. It is quite cold and getting colder. It makes us appreciate having a toilet with a slight leak in the flapper valve; it keeps enough water flowing that the pipes probably won't freeze in the house. In the trailer, it takes the furnace running flat-out to keep the temperature at 18°C. Lisa says she's okay, though, with plenty of supplies.
Now I must try to get to bed early so I can be up at 3:30 AM to pack out of the hotel room and head to the airport. Upon reflection, I might have been better served by staying tonight only in a hotel nearer to SFO, particularly one of those with a park-and-stay package. Current Mood: tired
|Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013|
It's snowing at home in Fernley. There's a Winter Storm Warning in effect and there could be several inches of snow, which is relatively rare because most storms run out of moisture before they get to us. Lisa laid in supplies, made sure the propane bottles were full for the trailer, and stoked up the fireplace, although it got so cold that she actually had some difficulty getting a fire started when it went out overnight on account of the fireplace kept sucking all of the heat out of the fire as it was kindling. She's all set to stay home and warm.
I am not in Fernley. I'm in the Bay Area, getting ready to head to Toronto on Thursday to attend SMOFCon. I rather expect the snow will have melted at home before I get home, but I could be wrong about that. Current Mood: cheerful
|Monday, December 2nd, 2013|
Lisa assured me last night when I got to the hotel in San Jose that the remaining leftover duck, stuffing, and pumpkin pie were excellent. I ate the ghost pepper salami that we bought at a craft fair that was in the Nugget this past weekend. Hot stuff! Current Mood: working
|Sunday, December 1st, 2013|
|San Jose Again
I got away from Fernley House just before Noon today and got to the hotel in San Jose around 8 PM, which is pretty typical and included rest and meal stops. I'm moved in to the hotel until Thursday morning. I'm traveling heavier than usual because I have some stuff bound for Canada. Alas, I realized this evening that I forgot to pack my gloves, and I'm sure I'm going to regret that while I'm in Toronto, because the current weather forecast is for sub-freezing temperatures. I think I'll have to pack the pair of light gloves I keep in the car for use when I'm moving boxes just so I can have something over my hands when I go outside next weekend.
The rooms at the Vagabond Inn are apparently all different. This one is two down from where I last stayed, and while both have the same size bed, this one has only a single table, instead of separate "work" and "dining" tables. This is only a minor inconvenience. A different problem is that there are no power outlets near the area where the computer goes. I've become somewhat used to this and thus end up carrying several extension cords, but in this case it requires putting a cord between the rest of the room and the door, which I don't like doing.
Of course, trying to pack for every contingency is why I end up overloading my luggage and traveling like an army on the march. I'm reminded of a book of compiled Victorian travel advice called Carry a Spare Truss
. Current Mood: annoyed
|Saturday, November 30th, 2013|
|Grocery Shopping & Second Thanksgiving
Because I will be away for two weeks, we went to Reno again today so we could stock Lisa up with groceries so she doesn't need to come into town again if she doesn't want to do so. Before getting the groceries, we stopped at the Nugget and had dinner at John's Oyster Bar, then played the slots (giving back all we've won from them recently).
As promised, here's a picture of our Second Thanksgiving feast last night:( Kuma Bear says, 'Hurry up and eats alreadys!'Collapse )
This meal served the two of us very well. There's also a duck carcass from which Lisa will attempt to make duck soup after I leave tomorrow.
Tonight I'm doing double packing: the new luggage gets the stuff that I know needs to go to Toronto, while everything else goes in my rolling duffel bag. I'll have to repack on Wednesday night after doing laundry so that I have only one bag going to SMOFCon with me. I'll have to carry my CPAP machine separately and hope that the carry-on exception for medical devices actually applies. (I know it's in the policies; I'm always worried about how policies are followed.) Current Mood: tired
|Friday, November 29th, 2013|
Lisa cooked the duck and committed stuffing and mushrooms. I helped a little. And I ated it. I'd post photos, but I'm still too full, even after we went for a walk after dinner. I'm sure glad I don't have to get up early tomorrow. Current Mood: full
|Thursday, November 28th, 2013|
|To the Nugget for Thanksgiving
My family no longer gathers for Thanksgiving since my grandfather died, for various reasons. So I'm spending the whole long weekend at home in Fernley. Lisa and I decided to go to Sparks and have the Thanksgiving Feast at Restaurante Orozko, first because it looked great, and second because due to the sale of the Nugget from the Ascuaga family to East Coast Interests, we have no idea what things will be like next year and the new owners may well decide to fire everyone and tear the place to bits.
The Nugget also does a huge feed in their main ballroom, for which you buy tickets in advance, but the Orozko menu looked better. What I didn't realize was that I could have reserved a time in advance by calling ahead, which I wish I had done, because when we arrived around 3:30, the first seating they had available was at 5:45. This left us with a lot of time to kill, and furthermore I was overdue for feeding already. We played slots, eventually ending up ahead a couple of dollars, and then I blew all of that and more killing time in the least-expensive way I know to do in a casino: sitting in the Keno lounge at $1/game. I timed it just right, too, as the last game ended three minutes before our seating time.
Dinner was superb. I never touched the turkey, as the many other things on the buffet were more tempting. I tried to restrain myself, but by the time we finished, I was overstuffed. We walked around the casino a little while to try and get the food to start digesting, and then headed home. My blood sugar was above normal, but below 200 (US scale), which is probably the best we can hope for.
We did vow not to do any shopping tomorrow, but it's possible that we will actually spend some
money, as Lisa says we could due with filling up one of the propane bottles on the trailer. The oven uses propane rapidly. But rolling an empty bottle down to Hanneman's Service to refill it isn't the same thing as camping out at Target's doorstep to get those Doorbuster Savings that started this evening. Let those other people have it. I'm going to try and take the day off and write our Holiday Greeting letter and design our Christmas card. Current Mood: full
|Wednesday, November 27th, 2013|
|I Can Has New Luggages
My large blue suitcase, which I bought somewhere between 8 and 10 years ago, started showing signs of terminal failure on this last trip, including having a zipper than is nearing the end of its useful life. It probably only has one or two more trips at most left in it, and therefore it will be relegated to clothes storage and put into the garage unless I need to make another one-way move of Cheryl's stuff in her direction. But I need a bag of about that size, and one of the constraints is that it needs to be able to hold the small tripod in its retracted position. Lisa and I had already scoped out a local Reno luggage store (Way to Go Reno
) last weekend, but forgot to bring the tripod. This afternoon, I managed to get away from work early enough for us to dash into Reno on this last pre-holiday shopping day.
Lisa splurged on buying me a belated birthday & advance Christmas gift: an Ultraviolet Rimowa Salsa Air 29"
case. If this thing is half as good as its marketing and the product demo, I'll never need another similar-sized case ever again. They keep in the store a sample of the polycarbonate shell in the same shape as these bags, and they jump on it to show you how it will deform, but then snap back into shape. I brought my portable luggage scale with me and confirmed that the tare weight is less than 4.5 kg, which is a full kilogram less than my old bag and that means another kilogram of actual cargo space. Just in time for the trip to SMOFCon, which looms ahead: I fly to Toronto a week from tomorrow. Fortunately, the supplies for the Probability & Statistics Seminar (except the playing cards) have already made it to Toronto without me, which is good because those poker chips are really heavy.
After dealing with the luggage, Lisa and I went to Cost Plus World Market to take advantage of about-to-expire coupons, then down to Lucky Brand Jeans before their 30% off sale ends (we managed to find one pair of their US-made jeans that fit her), and finally we had dinner at John Asucuaga's Nugget. Yes, we've been spending an inordinate amount of time there, including our trip back in for their Thanksgiving feast at Restaurante Orozko tomorrow. We even walked away from the slot machines with more money than we started (and anytime that happens, you feel lucky, even if as in this case it's only a $2 win). Current Mood: happy
|Tuesday, November 26th, 2013|
|More Pre-Holiday Shopping
We've been putting off some purchases from Big R Home & Ranch because the new Fernley store kept looking like it was closer and closer to opening, but we couldn't put off some of those things any longer and headed over to the Fallon store after work today. Apparently there has been a hitch with getting the building inspection done and there's some talk now that the Fernley store may not open until February. I guess that means we'll be getting our next trailer load of wood from Fallon. Pity. I would have thought that Fernley would be sufficiently desirous of getting the sales tax revenue that a new store in the old downtown district would generate that they would expedite things rather than slow them down.
Big R was out of a couple of things that we ended up getting from Lowe's in Fernley instead on the way home, and we made what I expect is our last trip to the grocery store before Thanksgiving. Scolari's grocery finally
got ducks in stock; however, we got tired of waiting when we were in Reno last weekend and bought ours from Whole Foods. Mind you, if our Thanksgiving duck turns out well and Scolari's still has some ducks after the holiday, we'll probably pick up another one for later. Both Lisa and I like duck.
After dinner, we put in a good long walk down to the Fernley Nugget casino, and Lisa was able to play the Monkees slot machine there. (She was so disappointed when the Atlantis rotated that machine out; for all we know, this could be the exact same machine.) And so far, the Monkees have been very generous to us, as Lisa walked away with $25.75 more than the $20 with which she started. As has been her practice, she gave me everything above her original $20 stake, which was awfully generous of her. If only one more slot had filled on that last pull, the $25 win would probably have been a $250 or $500 win, but that's why it's called gambling.
I have some hope of getting away from work early tomorrow afternoon and running in to Reno. There are some things that if we can get there tomorrow, we won't have to brave the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush on Saturday to buy. Current Mood: cheerful
|Monday, November 25th, 2013|
|Shoot 'Em While You Can
BNSF switches the little two-track yard here at Fernley five days a week, usually using a pair of locomotives coupled tail-to-tail. The specific units used vary over time, because they periodically must be rotated out for maintenance. For the past few weeks, they have been using a matched pair of GP60M locomotives still wearing the ex-Santa Fe "Warbonnet" paint scheme. This scheme will of course eventually disappear as BNSF repaints or sells or scraps locomotives. I kept meaning to get a picture of this nicely matched pair, but kept forgetting, and now it's too late, as this afternoon the switch crew cut one of the pair off and left it on the house track, where "big BN" (the BNSF through train that stops at Fernley to interchange cars and locomotives as needed) will collect it, probably tonight. However, I did take the opportunity of a bright, clear, sunny autumn day to take pictures of this unit.( Train Photos Follow. You Have Been Warned.Collapse )
Yes, they're boring "roster shots," but hey, these units are part of a dying breed, as the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway of yore slowly disappears underneath the corporate initials of BNSF. Current Mood: pleased
|Sunday, November 24th, 2013|
|Spare Printer Cartridge
I have been obliged to buy a new printer as the existing one broke a tiny plastic hinge that is effectively irreplaceable. Consequently, I have an unopened, unused, and unusable-to-me Lexmark 44XL black ink cartridge. Can anyone reading this use it? Current Mood: hopeful
|Saturday, November 23rd, 2013|
Today we went in to Reno-Sparks to stock up on groceries. It has been weeks since we did a big shopping run (and Lisa couldn't for a while, with the sprained ankle), and we also were getting ready for Thanksgiving. However, after looking at the menu for Restaurante Orozko at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, we've decided that we'll have our Thanksgiving Day feast there instead of at home. However, Lisa does plan to prepare a big meal for Friday, where we will be Thankful that we're not out shopping on Black Friday.
(Alas, we'll have to go back in to Reno on that Saturday as there are things we were supposed to get today that we missed, and next Saturday will be our next window for getting them.)
Among our stops was an expensive one: Whole Foods Market. Not surprisingly, two bags of quality food from them cost as much as an entire shopping cart full from Winco. But the Whole Foods stuff is good, as we keep reminding ourselves when we eat the high-quality cheese and other premium foods. Current Mood: tired
|Friday, November 22nd, 2013|
|Railroad Traffic Jam at Fernley
Fernley siding, which is immediately across the street from our house (it's on the north side of the main line; we're on the south side), is the longest siding (almost 10,000 feet long) on the Union Pacific main line between Sparks and Lovelock, and dispatchers appear to prefer it as a location for setting up "meets" on the single-track railroad. This morning, however, things got out of hand.( Cut for those who don't care about trainsCollapse )
It was otherwise an ordinary day here at Fernley, with the usual amount of train traffic. There was an oddball load that went through last night — a rotary snowplow on a flatcar — and I knew it was coming, because it was an oversize load (out of loading gauge) and the dispatcher had been having to baby it along all day, making sure it never was in a position to foul adjacent tracks. I was all set up to shoot video as it went by; however, by the time it got here, it was so dark that I wasn't able to get a clear shot of it. I assume that it was one of UP's rotaries returning from repairs back east, but I know nothing more than that. Current Mood: cheerful
|Thursday, November 21st, 2013|
|Worldcon on TV
I didn't notice this back during LoneStarCon when it actually appeared on local television in San Antonio.
Yes, there are a few cringe-worthy moments, but generally it does well, and it was good to have the bit with GRRM, someone a lot of the viewers might have heard of. I don't know if it drew more people to LSC3, but it was still a generally positive take on Worldcon.
(Found thanks to it being posted on the blog of a friend who might actually prefer that I not link to it or otherwise credit it.) Current Mood: cheerful
|Wednesday, November 20th, 2013|
|Benefits of Being With Smart People
The container in which I discard coffee grounds had developed an... interesting set of growths in the five weeks I was gone. I poured as much of the liquid out and discarded the science project into the trash. Later, I mentioned this to Lisa, saying, "The skin that had formed on top of that container looked a bit like the surface of Io." She went "ugh" and laughed. But she knew what I meant
. I didn't have to explain myself. I appreciate this.
After returning to the office after the longish period I was away around Worldcon (about a month including the time working from home before and after the trip), I jokingly referred to the pace of change there by saying to one of the other engineers, "I figured that in time I was gone you would have repainted everything purple, rearranged the desks in order of employees' middle initials, and announced a new policy that all documents must be translated into Esperanto.
"What's Esperanto?" said the engineer in question.
"Never mind," I said. My cultural references are not the same as yours. Current Mood: amused
|Tuesday, November 19th, 2013|
|Sunday, November 17th, 2013|
|Home At Last
Leaving Union City this morning, I drove the route I never drive: I-880 to I-80 east. Sunday morning is pretty much the only time the traffic is light enough to take what is actually the shortest route toward Yuba City, my first stop today. After a brief visit to my storage locker to fill my minivan up with boxes of books stored in the locker (I've decided to start bringing a van-load of boxes, which pack easily, whenever I can so that eventually the locker will only have the odd-shaped and large stuff when I finally get the thing cleared out), I went to spend the afternoon with my mother and sister. I delivered gifts to them from the trip to England (chocolate and tea), and worked on sorting out an issue with the mobile phone I bought for my mother to make sure I could administer the account for her without having to actually have the phone with me. After lunch with them, I left for home, and shortly after 8 PM, I got back to Fernley for the first time in five weeks. Lisa had built a fire to get the house nice and warm and told me that she had no chores for me other than for me to relax. Of course, I have to work tomorrow, and there's a month's worth of paper mail to sift through, but that can wait until tomorrow. Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, November 16th, 2013|
|Yo Ho the RetroDome
Today was the SFSFC board of directors meeting in Fremont, after which some of the directors went to lunch/dinner. During the meal, lisa_marli
mentioned that she was going to The Retro Dome
showing of Pirates of the Caribbean
. Not only had I never seen Pirates
(although I've played the pinball machine), but this finally gave me the opportunity to see one of their shows in their current temporary home at the Century 21 Theatre. After moving into my hotel-of-the-night (the Holiday Inn Express Union City), I worked my way back down to San Jose (a long drive; crazy traffic for a Saturday evening) and plonked down my $18. I was happy to see the crew there and chatted with them, picked up my goodie bag of props, and headed in to the theater, sitting next to lisa_marli
The movie was great fun, and the extra added touches (like spraying water on us during the driving rainstorm scene and handing out "rum" at the correct point in the movie) just made it that much more fun. I left with a big smile on my face, and a resolution to try and attend more of their shows. I'll be happy to get home for the next two weeks, but I'm sorry I won't get to see their showing of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
next weekend. Current Mood: happy
|Friday, November 15th, 2013|
|Short Walk, Long Time
I went for a short walk from the hotel after dinner. I know this area pretty well -- when I look out the back window of my hotel room, I'm looking at the Atrium Gardens Apartments where I lived for a year. Looping around the block, I was waylaid by a Lord of the Rings
pinball machine at the bowling lanes. $2 and 2 1/2 hours later, I was finally on my way back to the hotel. If the machine hadn't been partially broken (several of the machine's pinballs are trapped in a broken section of the playfield; worse, the trapped balls can trap the remaining balls in the machine, and when that happens, all you can do is slam-tilt it in order to free one or two of the four of the balls), I might still be there. Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, November 14th, 2013|
|Away Too Long
As expected, I ran out of diabetes test strips yesterday, and that was even with stretching the supply by testing less often. (The numbers I was getting when I did test were Not Good.) Now, I find that I'm about to run out of metaformin (medication for treating the diabetes) a couple of days before I get home. I must have miscounted badly, because my usual way of handling travel like this is to count the number of doses and give myself at least an extra week beyond that.
I expect to be home Sunday. Current Mood: annoyed