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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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Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
6:42 pm
Civic Duty Accomplished
I am now immune to further electioneering for this general election cycle.

Casting my BallotCollapse )

I've not missed a single election for which I've been eligible to vote, and I certainly was not going to miss this one.

Current Mood: accomplished
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
5:54 pm
Unclear on the Concept
I finished filling out my absentee ballot today and will mail it tomorrow. (I will be in the air flying back from the UK on the last leg of my Eurocon trip on November 8, and I usually vote by absentee ballot anyway.) One of the local issues about which I care a lot is an increase in the property tax to fund the North Lyon County Fire Protection District. The measure includes an example that will let you figure out how much it would impact you if you own property: a home with a fair market value of $100,000 will see an increase of $17.40/year.

So one of the arguments against the proposal reads:

Not all homes have a fair market value of $100,000 so many people will end up paying more. There should be a more fair system so everyone pays the same amount.

I groan at the cluelessness of this argument. First, the example makes it easy to calculate your own personal impact by using the statement that the county sends out annually telling you what your home's value is. Second, if your home is worth more, you have more to protect, so it makes sense to me that you should pay more, just like your home insurance costs more if you have a more valuable house.

Even this small increase will probably be difficult to pass, because there are so many people in the "No taxes, ever, ever, no way, no how, never" crowd who probably think that if their house catches fire they can put it out with a garden hose and a bucket brigade of their neighbors.

Current Mood: annoyed
Monday, October 24th, 2016
3:59 pm
Museum Misfire
Having received the latest issue of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum member newsletter, which gave the museum's hours as being open until the first Monday of November, Lisa and I got the idea of heading over to Portola and spending a couple of hours looking around. They don't do train rides that late in the season, but that didn't trouble us. We're members of the museum, but it has been over a year since we last visited, so Sunday morning we hitched up and headed for Portola, which isn't nearly as far away as I thought it was.

Uh, Oh.Collapse )

We were of course disappointed at not being able to visit the museum, but it's only an hour's drive from Reno, so it's not like it was a catastrophe. And on the drive back through the Sierra Valley, we got to see some wildlife.

Oh, DeerCollapse )

The day wasn't a total loss. We went back to Reno and cashed in some coupons and frequent-buyer credit we had at Cost Plus World Market and Grocery Outlet before going home. For a change, we did not have dinner in Reno, as neither of us was especially hungry.

Looks like we'll have to wait until next year to actually use our museum memberships in Portola again.

Current Mood: disappointed
3:46 pm
They Were Here in Reno All Along
While stopping to pick up some groceries in Reno, I stumbled across something that certain participants in the Hugo Award Culture Wars appear have been very excited about. I took a picture to prove that they exist.

For Those Looking for "Nutty Nuggets"Collapse )

And sure enough, it says so right on the label.

Current Mood: amused
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
8:30 pm
A Few Train Photos
Bandwidth restrictions through the Sierra kept me from including the photos I took yesterday, but here they are now.

Yet More Train PicturesCollapse )

Later in the day, as we left Colfax, I was able to get a few pictures of views you can't get heading west because the westbound track is in a tunnel and misses "Cape Horn" on the original Central Pacific route.

Rounding Cape HornCollapse )

This trip is worth it just for the scenery.

Current Mood: cheerful
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
2:47 pm
The Way to Travel
The bus (Centerville Amtrak station)-to-BART (Union City)-to-Amtrak (Richmond) connection worked as advertised. I'm glad I did aim one bus early, however, as the bus ran a few minutes late and I had to wait what seemed an eternity at Union City BART to use the restroom. Had I also had time pressure to make connections, I would have been much worse off. As it was, I got to Richmond with 40 minutes to wait around the platform, but that's much better than missing the train, given that there's just the one train per day.

I would of course prefer an all-rail routing, but the bus-to-BART run isn't so bad, and as long as the bus actually shows up it's okay. I continue to mull over how to make this work for me, particularly in the winter months when wrestling the Rolling Stone over Donner Summit can get dicey. Once I get the RV back in full roadable condition (meaning both fuel tanks working), I will do more investigation, including making sure that there are parking spaces at Fremont/Centerville into which the RV will fit.

Train TalesCollapse )

I finished this entry as we approached Truckee and the cell phone (and internet) signal returned. Time to button stuff back up and give Lisa a call to tell her it's time to consider driving in to Reno to collect me.

Current Mood: relaxed
Friday, October 21st, 2016
3:46 pm
No Free Lunch
Leaving the RV in the Bay Area and traveling back and forth via train is actually cheaper on gasoline cost alone than driving the Rolling Stone back and forth, but it's not completely free. I had to spend $20 today to dump the holding tank at one of the few places I know in the Bay Area open to the public for such things. If I weren't planning on staying down here for two more weeks (after being at home next week), I would have waited until I was on my way home. Although the free dump station in Wadsworth has now been closed (and doesn't look to ever reopen), I can dump at the Pilot truck stop in Lodi Junction for only $7.50. Also, Lisa is working on modifications to the sewer connection for the travel trailer that will allow me to dump the RV tank at home without too much inconvenience.

This RV-living thing is much cheaper than renting a room or a hotel, but it's still not free. Nevertheless, I may well
"commute" between the Bay Area and Fernley by train several more times over the next few months, if I can sort out a place I can park it in Fremont. The Fremont/Centerville train station has parking for "train users only," but whether that applies to what I'm doing or is only intended for people using the train every weekday for commuting, I haven't quite figured out.

In any event, I would like to get the RV home again for a while. It needs cleaning and servicing of consumables.

Current Mood: optimistic
Monday, October 17th, 2016
3:55 pm
Much Better Trip Than Driving Would Have Been
Looking at the weather as I rode the California Zephyr from Reno to Emeryville yesterday, I was even more glad that I wasn't trying to wrestle the Rolling Stone over the pass. Just outside of Reno near Verdi, a long line of stopped vehicles indicated a road closure near the state line for an accident. Based on my normal timing, I would have been caught in that closure had I been driving. Or maybe part of the accident.

We've been working on the logistics of how I can leave the RV in the Bay Area more often as a regular thing and "commute" back and forth by train. The RV does have to come "home" periodically so we can clean and resupply it, including dumping the waste tanks and refilling the water tank, but we might manage to make it only one trip in three or four that this has to happen. I'll also have to make sure that I can leave the RV parked at the Centerville train station for extended periods, which I've done before with my minvan when taking train trips from there. I wouldn't want to step off the train and find that my RV had been towed away!

Current Mood: optimistic
Sunday, October 16th, 2016
6:50 am
Training My Way Back to the Bay (Again)
This morning's Amtrak #5 was on time out of Winnemucca, so in a little while Lisa will be taking me to Reno to put me on the train back to the Bay Area for another week. My mechanic called on Sunday to say that while he's finally been able to reproduce and isolate what he thinks the problem is (the fuel transfer switch), he'll have to order the parts, and thus I'm going to need to leave the RV with him yet again. Fortunately, thank y'all here on LJ, I learned that I do have a transit based alternative to get back to the eastbound California Zephyr from Fremont on next Saturday morning, so Lisa does not have to drive overnight once again.

Given the weather this weekend, I'm really much happier riding the train than trying to push an RV, even a small one, over windblown mountain passes. In fact, the weather forecast suggests there might be some snow at the higher elevation. Not fun to drive. I'll sit back and let the train take the strain.

Current Mood: optimistic
Saturday, October 15th, 2016
7:25 pm
The World is Not My Oyster
While going through my things to prepare for my trip to Eurocon via London next month, I discovered that I cannot find my Oyster card. That's annoying. I'll end up having to buy another one, I guess. Even more annoying is that I was carrying it in a Loncon 3 Oyster case, so that's gone, too.

Current Mood: annoyed
3:24 pm
Fireplace Prep
We had our chimney cleaned today by Steve-our-plumber, who moonlights as a chimney sweep on weekends. It has been a while since we last needed his services, so Lisa showed him the new wider carport and other improvements, and also discussed with him some changes she's planning to do on her own. ("But if I mess it up, we'll call you and you'll earn some money cleaning up my mistakes.")

We do have the chimney swept annually. We use the fireplace heavily during the winter, and chimney fires are no joke.

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, October 14th, 2016
10:52 pm
Day Trip to Sacramento
We are working on another home-improvement project about which I'm not going to write until we get it progressed further. A large order of parts for it was sent to the nearest distributor, which was in south Sacramento. We drove to Sacramento today intending to collect it. Unfortunately, I had more Day Jobbe intrusion on my "vacation" (I've worked on Day Jobbe at least an hour every day this week!) and we got away late, and the powerful Pacific storm dropped a lot of rain on us as we crossed the Sierra. No snow yet, thank goodness.

By the time we got to Sacramento, the afternoon rush had already started. Since the facility was on the south side, we had to slog through the mess that is the Capital City Freeway. It would have been worse going the other direction. A further delay ensued when a power outage took out a major intersection's traffic lights, causing more of a backup. The shop closes at 4 PM, and we got there just after 3:30....

...Only to discover that the power outage that killed that traffic light also affected that business park. They put up a sign in the window saying that they started their weekend early. Our trip was a waste. Groan.

Well, it wasn't a complete waste. After another hour to drive ten miles back up to the other side of town, we visited my sister at the long-term-care facility. She gets so few visitors, and I make a point of stopping by anytime I can. We spent half an hour with her before they delivered her dinner. Then Lisa and I got back on the highway and headed for home, stopping in Auburn for dinner ourselves.

The rain was a little less bad this evening, but driving it in the dark made it worse. I simply slowed down a lot. I'm happy for people in more of a hurry than me to get on with it. Rain-slickened mountain highways with the first big storm of the season on top of a summer of accumulated road oil? They can have it. But it did mean that we did not get home until around 10 PM. I'm sure glad I have no early-morning commitments on Saturday.

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, October 13th, 2016
11:29 pm
Happy 20th Anniversary
Twenty years ago today, Lisa and I stood at the head of the passenger compartment of Portland Vintage Trolley #513 as it was underway on the Portland (Oregon) light rail system and took our wedding vows, after which we continued on the trolley as it did a complete trip of the line as it stood at that time. After the ceremony and a reception in the park across from what is now the Doubletree Lloyd Center, we flew to Anaheim for a honeymoon at Disneyland. Ten years later, we returned to Disneyland. When we were making plans for the twentieth anniversary, various sorts of travels came to mind, but we eventually set them all aside, partially because we knew we were going to need a week of home improvement projects, which amount to an anniversary present to each other. So instead of an elaborate trip, we simply went to Reno/Sparks for a nice dinner and some diversion.

This was an Occasion, and therefore I wore a suit and Lisa put on the nice outfit I bought her a few years ago. We also were both wearing our Vintage Trolley pins.

Returning to Our First Dinner Out in the Reno AreaCollapse )

After a satisfying dinner, we went over to the Atlantis and the Manhattan Deli. Although we generally shifted our "affiliation" from the Atlantis to the Peppermill (and have accordingly fallen down to the bottom level of the Atlantis affinity program), we still sometimes come to the Deli, and in particular we came to have their cheesecake, which is some of the best New York-style cheesecake we've ever eaten. I took an extra dose of Metformin and we slowly worked our way through our giant slices of cheesecake.

When it came time to settle up, our server came over and told us that our bill had already been paid, by one of the other customers. We were flabbergasted. We still aren't sure what we did to deserve this random act of kindness. I left a pretty generous tip, though.

We made a brief visit down the street to the Peppermill, where we saw the end of the National League Division Series (Go Cubs! Beat LA!) and played a small amount of slots. We did not lose any money, which can be considered a good night. Lisa drove us home to Fernley.

This was a pretty quiet celebration compared so some things we have done, but it made us happy.

Current Mood: happy
1:20 pm
A Political Post
I have been avoiding posting on politics of late, being content to chronicle the progress of the carport-widening project. However, with the concrete work done, I'm prepared to announce that I'm taking a public stand on something I consider important.

How I"ll Be VotingCollapse )

At least I hope that this endorsement won't get my home vandalized, although looking at some of the signs and stickers other people here display, I sometimes wonder.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
9:39 pm
Segment 5 (and 5 1/2): Job Complete
This afternoon about 2 PM we started working on the fifth and final segment of the carport-widening project.

The Finished ProductCollapse )

Today's job took about four hours, and consumed almost twice as much concrete (14 bags) as any of the previous pours. Fortunately, after a week of doing this, we sort of have the hang of it.

How We Got ThereCollapse )

When we got the segment poured, there was still concrete left, which allowed us to take on an optional project I dubbed "Segment 5-plus."

And Then There Was OneCollapse )

Tomorrow we do no more home-improvement projects, for it is our wedding anniversary.

Current Mood: accomplished
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
10:23 pm
Segment 4: Almost Routine
We seem to be getting this concrete stuff down. Today's pour took eight more bags of Quikrete®, and it seemed to go faster as we got into the pattern of mixing and pouring. Although mixing the concrete is tiring, I find it easier than the fine work Lisa has been doing getting a good finish and a smooth edge on the segments.

Getting Closer to the EndCollapse )

Thanks to working out the proper routine, we were less tired at the end of the day today than we had been a couple of days ago. We have thirteen bags of concrete left, and none of our pours have needed more than eight, so we should be good to go to the end tomorrow. That's good, because there's rain in the forecast for Friday, so we needed to finish laying all of the concrete by the end of the day tomorrow anyway to give it enough time to set before the rain arrives.

Current Mood: accomplished
10:09 pm
That's the Ball Game
When Lisa and I left the Sparks Nugget after dinner heading to Raley's to go shopping, the Giants had a comfortable 5-2 lead going to the top of the ninth inning and we were feeling pretty good about San Francisco going back to Chicago for a decisive game 5. By the time we got to Raley's, the Giants had blown that lead, and by the time we checked out, their season was over as they lost to the Cubs 6-5, losing the National League Division Series 3 games to 1.

The Cubs now advance, and I hope that they go on to win the World Series now and break their curse. travelswithkuma says "Go Cubs!"

Current Mood: disappointed
Monday, October 10th, 2016
10:57 pm
Segment 3: More Concrete, Less Stress
It was about 5°C cooler today, which make it a bit easier on us mixing and pouring the third segment (of five) on the carport-widening project. We learned lessons from yesterday. We didn't have the concrete quite as wet as we should have done, which made finishing yesterday very difficult, and with a bit of a breeze today, we would need to add more water to the mix without making it too soupy. I also learned that my broad-brimmed hat was not enough to keep the sun off, as I got some sunburn yesterday. I vowed to keep that from happening today no matter how silly I looked.

And I Did Look Funny, I AdmitCollapse )

There are two segments left, and we think we have enough concrete mix left, but it's going to be close. Our original plans to try and get two segments done in a day are now officially abandoned. While it's supposed to start raining on Thursday night/Friday morning, we should be done with the carport widening by the end of the day Wednesday.

After we finished the pour, it took a while before we were recovered, and then we went to Reno/Sparks to try and get some grocery shopping done. We got some of it done, but not all of it. We'll probably have to go back in another evening this week to refill the larder with things we can't get in Fernley.

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, October 9th, 2016
7:03 pm
Pouring Segment 2
Lisa told me to lay off trying to move firewood because I need to concentrate on mixing concrete. It turns out that she was right. Today I decided to document the whole concrete process.

In Case You Were Wondering How It"s DoneCollapse )

Although our initial plan had been to wait four hours and then try to pour Segment 3, we were so tired after doing this piece that we decided that maybe we can only do one pour per day. We'll tackle Segment 3 tomorrow afternoon.

Current Mood: sore
Saturday, October 8th, 2016
8:14 pm
The Real Pour Begins
Now we can reveal the actual purpose of the 1.5 tons of Quick-Crete® we bought back in August when it was on a good sale: we're widening the concrete carport slab on which the travel trailer is parked. The existing slab has always been narrower than we liked, so we are widening it by about 30 cm.

During my last two trips to the Bay Area, Lisa has been excavating a trench approximately 30 cm wide by 10 m long by 10-15 cm deep. This past week while I've been working from home, Lisa has been building wooden forms including cross-pieces that break the trench into five segments. The plan is for us to pour a segment, wait for it to sufficiently set, remove the form holding one end, insert a piece of cardboard to separate the segments, then pour the next segment. The cardboard spacers will eventually rot away, but we figure the spaces between the segments will fill with dirt on their own, or else we can fill them with one of the various sealants out there.

Yesterday I helped Lisa secure the cross pieces, which are held in place with wood screws for easy removal. This morning, I kitted up in my coveralls and moved five wheelbarrow-loads of firewood from the Mountain of Wood that was dumped too far toward the street. After that, Lisa and I went to Big R to get a few more tools, including a new garden hose (the old one has a hole in it; darn mice!) and a spray nozzle, some heavy nitrile gloves, and a garden watering can, which is useful for adding more water to the concrete in small amounts while keeping down the concrete dust. After lunch, it was time to start pouring.

Getting Into the MixCollapse )

I've been using a flat scraper to mix the concrete, and it's hard work. After dinner tonight, we went to Lowe's and bought a mortar hoe, which is a hoe with holes in it to make it more suitable for mixing small-batch concrete like this. I hope it will make the mixing a little bit easier.

The spray nozzle made cleaning up relatively easy. You of course have to wash up fairly quickly, since the concrete does start to set pretty quickly, and you don't want a bunch of dried concrete caking up your tools and wheelbarrow. I'm doing the washout in an area where we don't really care if we end up with some bits of sort-of concrete.

This is tiring work. It's a pity that there's no place to rent a concrete mixer in Fernley. We could buy a small mixer locally, but it only does about the same amount as a wheelbarrow load, and then you'd have to find somewhere to keep it when you were done with it. With two pours down and four to go, I reckon we can get it done in the next few days even if we only manage to do one pour per day. With luck, we may get two pours done in a day, allowing time between pours for the first of the two to set sufficiently.

Current Mood: sore
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