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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    Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
    10:06 pm
    Fair is Fair
    Today was the SFSFC Board of Directors meeting. Nothing earth-shattering, although it took us four hours to do what I think might have easily taken only three or even two if we'd been a little more efficient. (And I'm just as bad as anyone else.) We were able to discharge two of our standing committees: Westercon 66 (Sacramento) and the SFSFC Nebula Awards committees are now officially dissolved, having dealt with all of their responsibilities. It's not as though we don't have more projects down the road, most prominently our San Jose in 2018 Worldcon bid.

    After the meeting I set out for Yuba City, planning to visit my sister for a while. As I left Milpitas on I-680, I ran into slow traffic. By the time I'd reached a point of no return on the Sunol Grade, I turned on the radio and found that traffic was stacked up for many miles ahead of me due to a big rig accident. It took close to an hour to go less than ten miles before I finally escaped onto CA-84, which was also heavy but moving. Then, when I got to Lodi Junction and refueled, I saw fog starting to appear. I hate tule fog. Fortunately, traffic was not heavy. I slowed down due to the fog, but did not get to Yuba City until nearly 9 PM. Long before that, I spoke to my sister on the phone and said I'd see her on Sunday.

    So where am I? Parked in the Wal-Mart lot in Yuba City. I may not like Wal-Mart for many of their policies; however, they have a very RV-friendly parking policy, and there are two other rigs parked near where I spotted the Rolling Stone, one of which even has its slide-out deployed, so I'm reasonably comfortably staying here until tomorrow morning. And because I believe in paying for services rendered, you might say, I broke my usual rule about shopping at the Evil Empire and bought some small groceries to make dinner.

    The good part above being here in YC is that I can sleep in pretty much as late as I'm likely to ever sleep before getting breakfast and heading over to my sister's house, as she doesn't expect me much before noon. And the weather over Donner for tomorrow is showing clear, so the remaining 150 miles until home shouldn't be too much trouble, I hope.

    Current Mood: tired
    Thursday, November 20th, 2014
    6:45 am
    Open at Last!
    Lisa tried to be the first customer in the door at the new Big R Fernley yesterday morning, but when she first went there in the morning, they said, "We're not ready yet; come back later," and she got the same response on her second attempt. By the third time she got there (she had no interest in queuing), the doors were open and she reports that the store was packed with customers. Considering that this was an unannounced "soft opening," that's not bad at all. Lisa didn't just go for show; she bought some contact paper she's using to cover a sheet of plywood that she's put in my upstairs office behind my desk to act as a backstop. Without that board, anything that falls off the back of my desk will also fall down the staircase, and that could be bad.

    Current Mood: pleased
    Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
    7:36 pm
    You Can't Beat Me: I'm Medicated!
    Lisa's package to me of things I'd left behind, most importantly my diabetes and high blood pressure medications, arrived today. So I only missed a few doses. Blood sugar levels were up, as I expected. Yes, I only need it for three more days, but I figured it would be better to have those meds with me as often as possible since I'm normally supposed to take them daily (or 3x/day in the case of the diabetes medication).

    (The quote in the subject line is from the pinball machine Medieval Madness.)

    Current Mood: pleased
    Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
    7:30 am
    Weather Eye
    I'm staying in the Bay Area through Friday night instead of heading home mid-day Friday because there's an SFSFC board of directors meeting on Saturday. But the current weather projections predict rain and snow over the Sierra much of the day Saturday. I'll need to keep an eye on that as the weekend gets closer. I might only be able to go as far as Yuba City (I need to stop by and see my sister briefly before Thanksgiving and this is the only chance to do so) on Saturday. I could tie up there and proceed home Sunday if the weather indicates so.

    Current Mood: nervous
    Monday, November 17th, 2014
    6:50 am
    Oops
    I was so preoccupied with the cold and its potential effect on the Rolling Stone that I forgot to put some important things in the RV before I left.

    I need to make a travel checklistCollapse )

    Just as Lisa and I have been creating a written checklist for securing Fernley House before we go on a trip (with cold-weather variations), I'm going to need to make a written checklist for travel in the RV to make sure everything I have to have is with me including critical things like my medication.

    Current Mood: annoyed
    Sunday, November 16th, 2014
    5:09 pm
    Dodging an Ice Bullet
    I knew it was going to be cold this morning, but it was a lot colder than predicted (colder than -8°C) and when I woke up at 5:30 this morning, I was concerned about the state of the not-yet-winterized RV. After getting dressed and rekindling the fireplace, I went out to check. The water heater was fine. However, we'd forgotten to depressurize the water system (turn water pump off; open valves) and there was an icicle hanging from the sink tap and the taps themselves were frozen shut. Not so good.

    Lisa came and inspected things. She looked at the tank and saw that the main water tank wasn't frozen, so it was probably just ice in the lines at the extremities, and therefore we figured all I could do was just hope it would thaw out and that the water hadn't damaged the pump.

    Between first inspecting the RV and leaving for the Bay Area, I turned on the RV furnace to warm things up as much as possible. Before leaving, I shut off both the water heater and furnace and closed the propane valve. Checking at rest stops in Reno and Colfax, there was still no flowing water, but by Colfax the taps were starting to allow some turning. At my fuel and lunch stop at Lodi Junction, I tried again: success! The water pump engaged, the taps opened, and all is well.

    When I get home next weekend, according to Lisa our first priority, no matter the time of day or night, is to go drain as much water from the RV as possible, then to start putting the winterizing fluid into the system. We got lucky this time, but that's not likely to be the case when we leave the RV sitting in the cold for two or three weeks at a time.

    Despite the small bit of rain-snow mix last night, the weather today was fine and clear. The only snow on the ground near me was what they were making at Boreal ski resort as I crested Donner Summit.

    Current Mood: relieved
    Saturday, November 15th, 2014
    7:28 pm
    Preparing for Departure Again
    The Rolling Stone is mostly packed for travel. Because the weather forecast for tonight says it's going down to -5°C, we lit off the RV's water heater. I have a checklist pinned to the dashboard for tomorrow morning that includes "turn off water heater" including closing the propane bottle because we don't consider it safe to run the propane appliances while under way.

    Tales of Shopping; Big R Inches Toward OpeningCollapse )

    As we headed home, it started raining. When we went out to light the water heater, Lisa commented that she didn't think it felt like rain. She's right; it was actually very wet snow, although not much of it, and it quit shortly thereafter. The weather forecast for tonight shows a 30% chance of light snow, but fortunately no snow expected over Donner tomorrow, so I should be okay for the drive to the Bay Area tomorrow morning.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Friday, November 14th, 2014
    7:15 pm
    More Winterization
    This afternoon, Lisa drained the upstairs swamp cooler. It's going down to -3°C tomorrow night and we can expect a lot of below-freezing weather, so it's important to get the water out of the cooler so it doesn't destroy the pump. Unfortunately, there's no drain hole in the thing, so this is a rather cumbersome process. She pumped all the water out that the pump would pull, and when it bottomed out, she bailed most of the rest out.

    While we were up there on the upstairs porch doing that, I pointed out how badly filled with leaves and dirt the gutters are. Lisa climbed over the railing onto the roof and dug out the gutter with a stick. As our roof is much flatter than the house in Mehama, she didn't consider this particularly dangerous.

    After dealing with that, we went back down to ground level and Lisa inspected the downspout. It turns out that over the years, sand had blown in around it and blocked it, and plants had grown up inside the spout itself. Lisa got a ladder and unscrewed the downspout. I used clippers and a shovel to dig it out and after removing it from the gutter knocked out the accumulated dirt and roots to clear the spout. Then I dug out around where it should go to give it enough room to drain and Lisa put some rocks in the hole so draining water lands on the rocks.

    We don't get much rain here in Fernley (around five inches per year), so this hasn't caused too much trouble, but when it does rain here, it sometimes rains quite intensely, so we want the drains to work.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Thursday, November 13th, 2014
    1:05 pm
    Hot Time in the Old Stone
    As the overnight lows start dropping below freezing, Lisa pointed out to me that we need to protect the Rolling Stone from freezing. Unlike the travel trailer, which is kept "hot" all the time, the RV sits unattended for long stretches. This doesn't matter when the weather's nice, but hot water heaters that freeze make for Bad News.

    More Tales of RV LifeCollapse )

    Complicated things, RVs.

    Current Mood: pleased
    Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
    1:40 pm
    I Am Not Bidding, but...
    I contend that chairing a Worldcon earns one a "Get Out of Conrunning Free" card; that is, you've paid a lifetime of karma points when you've done it, so you should be able to say "no" to requests to do more work without guilt. That doesn't mean you won't say "yes" sometimes; just that you can't feel obliged to do anything. I say this to forestall people from trying to force a bid upon me. (Wallets down, everyone.)

    Lisa and I commonly walk around the Atlantis Hotel function space after eating there. Every time we do so, we think about how well a Westercon would fit into the space, or at least mostly so. You wouldn't need anything in the Convention Center, just all of the Atlantis space. Some of you may remember that space as including the 2011 Worldcon's Con Suite. There's a bunch more space that I don't think Renovation used, but that a Westercon could probably use.

    But I'm not a Hotel Liaison-type person, and there aren't a lot of conrunners in Reno that I'm aware of. Oh, yes, there's going to be one of those Wizard Entertainment gate shows that unfortunately triggers off searches for the short form name of the World Science Fiction Convention, but no fannish conventions of the ilk that I personally prefer to attend. And besides, I'm at least tangentially involved with the bid for the 2018 Worldcon in San Jose, so why in the world would I want to bid for a Westercon? Still, Reno's space is nice if there was a way to make the hotel play nice with us for parties and the like. I know it was... challenging in 2011.

    Current Mood: thoughful
    Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
    9:46 pm
    Memo to Self: Don't Go to the Atlantis Buffet on Tuesday
    This afternoon we decided that when I got done with Day Jobbe at 4 PM (an advantage to starting around 7, assuming no Work Emergencies), we should go into Reno to pick up something from the RV place that we forgot last weekend, have dinner at the Atlantis, and do our big grocery shopping at WinCo, thus avoiding having to go in on the weekend.

    When we got to the Atlantis, we immediately balked at the buffet: the queue was immense, stretching halfway to the Manhattan Deli. The combination of free buffet for certain levels of elite affinity card holders and the Veterans' Day holiday, apparently. So we went to the Manhattan Deli instead, and while it cost more, it was still excellent, finished off by some of the best cheesecake I've ever had. Even better, luck was with us: I mis-marked a keno ticket, but the combinations I marked (as opposed to those I meant to mark) came up, and a $10 ticket paid $34.50, paying a decent chunk of the cost of dinner.

    Grocery shopping on a Tuesday evening, however, is a winner, as opposed to a Saturday afternoon, particularly a Saturday on the first day of the month.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Monday, November 10th, 2014
    4:35 pm
    Edging Toward Hot Water
    Our plumber came by this afternoon and discussed with Lisa the exact placement of the new hot water heater. He indicated where he would like Lisa to drill three 1 3/8-inch holes in the floor to take the pipes for the water heater. (This saves us a bit of money because he won't have to charge us for doing it.) He can now order the hot water heater we want and (if all goes well) install it next week. If all goes as planned, I might actually be able to take a shower in the house (instead of out in the travel trailer) when I come home from my next trip to the Bay Area.

    Current Mood: optimistic
    Sunday, November 9th, 2014
    2:08 pm
    Katy Coming Through!
    A train coming into Fernley sounding its horn in repeated short bursts is not a good thing; it means there may be something (or worse, someone) on the tracks. Given that I'd just heard people on motorcycles whizzing by along the tracks, I feared the worst and rushed outside. There, slowing, was an eastbound Union Pacific train with a one-of-a-kind locomotive bearing a "heritage" paint scheme.

    How Fast Can I Unlock the Camera Phone?Collapse )

    Besides these UP locomotives, trains lately have had a veritable rainbow fleet as UP scrambles to hire locomotives to handle surging traffic. In the past few days I've seen locomotives painted for Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, and Southern Pacific, the last being a "patch job" unit with a UP unit number painted over the ex-SP number while the rest of the unit remains in a now-badly-faded version of the fallen flag's "bloody nose" paint scheme with "Southern Pacific" in Rio Grande-style "speed lettering" from the days after the D&RGW merger and before the sale to UP.

    Some say that modern mega-mergers and increasing containerization have taken all of the variety out of railroading, but you couldn't tell that from watching from our front porch. Even better, there's nobody who can tell us, "You're not allowed to take photos here!" because it's our own property.

    Fortunately, whatever had prompted this train to sound the warning and stop apparently didn't lead to another tragedy, as a few minutes later they started back up and continued east.

    Current Mood: pleased
    1:31 pm
    Any Day Now...
    I have written many times here about the long-delayed appearance of a Big R Ranch & Home store here in Fernley. While driving to Fallon for supplies has been something of a change of pace for us, we'd be happier to (for instance) not have to drag the utility trailer so far afield to buy firewood. It's astonishing that it's taken the better part of two years to get this store open. The owners of Big R West must really think they've got a winner here in Fernley; less-committed people would have thrown up their hands in frustration and walked away from the project.

    A Sign of Progress -- Literally!Collapse )

    It will be very nice to have a hardware store within walking distance again.

    Current Mood: pleased
    Saturday, November 8th, 2014
    2:38 pm
    Good Day for Yard Work
    For various reasons, Lisa's sleep schedule is currently about 12 hours out of phase with mine, which means when I get up in the morning (typically around 6 AM) these days, she's nearing the end of her day and typically goes out and sleeps during the day in the travel trailer, coming out sometime around or after sundown. Woe be unto anyone thinking they can sneak onto our property this week; one or the other of us is awake at any time of the day or night.

    Making a Virtue of NecessityCollapse )

    We got home late morning and Lisa headed off to bed. After something of a cold snap, the weather has gotten someone warmer (enough to let the fire go out), and I decided to kit up and go get some yard work done.

    The War Against the TumbleweedsCollapse )

    The tumbleweeds and leaves are now sacked up for next week's trash run. There's also now a pile of brush as I also trimmed back a lot of the trees hanging over our fence so I can walk along the fence without being attacked by branches.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    2:26 pm
    The Skull in the Fireplace
    Last night, it was just cool enough to justify lighting a fire in the fireplace. After initially sooting up the glass (as it normally does), the fire grew hotter and two "eyes" appeared in the glass.

    This photo doesn't really capture it, but I triedCollapse )

    Current Mood: amused
    Friday, November 7th, 2014
    5:57 pm
    Near Miss in Fernley
    This morning, the Union Pacific local (the "Fernley Flyer") was heading east down Fernley siding when I heard its horn sound repeatedly. Soon thereafter, over the scanner, I heard them trying to raise the dispatcher (without success). They then called Amtrak #5, which was at the time between five and ten miles east of Fernley heading west at around 70 MPH. When the engineer of #5 answered, the crew of the Flyer told them, "Better take it easy coming into Fernley. There's a woman here trying to kill herself."

    Could Have Been Nasty. Was Only InconvenientCollapse )

    I didn't hear the rest of the story (we're having trouble with the scanner), but for the rest of the day, most of the trains coming through Fernley did so sounding their horns liberally.

    Current Mood: relieved
    Thursday, November 6th, 2014
    4:57 pm
    Day of Work, Day of Rest
    For me, it was an ordinary Day Jobbe work day. It's warmed up slightly so we could let the fire go out, which allowed me to clean the wood stove.

    For Lisa, it was a day off. These days of climbing around under the house have taken a toll on her, and she needed the rest.

    Current Mood: working
    Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
    6:37 pm
    Filling a Hole
    Today's job was to get the electrical conduit laid and into the bathroom through the hole Lisa drilled yesterday.

    Another Milestone AchievedCollapse )

    Lisa was very happy when she came out from under the house, because she says the under-house electrical work is now done. She doesn't have to go back down there anymore. There's about 2m of conduit and wire coiled up in the bathroom floor awaiting her installing the cut-off box for the hot water heater.

    We went to Lowe's this evening and bought a 20A circuit breaker to replace the 60A breaker that came with the cut-off box. The 10/3 line will be connected to a 30A breaker at the main box, but inasmuch as Lisa has specified the 3000W/240V (thus 12.5A) heating element for the water heater, she wanted to put the smaller breaker on the cut-off box. Everything is just a little over-engineered and with a lot of leeway, which is just how she likes it.

    Once she has finished building the base for the water heater and installing the cut-off box, we can call our plumber and say, "Ready when you are."

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
    8:40 pm
    Drilling a Hole
    It may not sound like much, but today's work on the house consisted of drilling a hole.

    But it's an important holeCollapse )

    My contribution was to pull on stuff passed through the hole and to fetch and carry things upon demand, but Lisa did most of the work. She says that once that conduit (and the wire) is up through the floor, we're about 97% done with the stuff she has to do. At that point, we call our plumber and say, "We're ready; bring on the water heater."

    Current Mood: accomplished
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