Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life|
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|Friday, January 20th, 2017|
|Snow and Rain (But No Ice This Time)
When I wake up early enough, I try to take a walk around the block before starting work from home. This morning, I'm glad I got the walk in before the snow started again. We had several hours of "wintry mix" before the temperature soared to a balmy +5°C and melted all of the new snowfall and much of the exposed areas as well. After lunch, I took advantage of the slightly warmer weather to shovel the rest of the walkway out to the main woodpile (which is down to less than 1 cord, I'm afraid), getting rid of the hard-packed snow that had turned to ice. Otherwise, I simply did my job, while being glad I don't have to be out driving in the snow and ice. Current Mood: cheerful
|Thursday, January 19th, 2017|
|Follow the Bouncing Balls
It's Australian Open time again, and I'm watching as much of the tournament as I can, which isn't as much as I would like, because I do have to get sleep. But I'm enjoying what I've been able to see. I also sign up for the contests that include a trip to next year's Australian open, since you can't win if you don't enter. Current Mood: optimistic
|Wednesday, January 18th, 2017|
|Stocking Up Before the Next Storm
Because there's a new round of storms coming at us, we did make a second evening trip to Reno in order to restock the larder last night. Although it wasn't strictly necessary, we feel better having things filled back up.
This morning, I awoke to find that we'd had a rain of ice pellets and freezing rain. Later in the day, it got up above freezing and the slippery stuff melted. We'll see what it's like after tonight. Possible snow coming back at us soon. Current Mood: accomplished
|Tuesday, January 17th, 2017|
|31 Years Later, and Not Much's Changed
In February 1986, a section of levee along the south bank of the Yuba River where it joins the Feather River at Marysville collapsed, flooding the towns of Linda and Olivehurst to the south. I found this KCRA archive news footage
that starts out with a helicopter shot of the Peach Tree Mall shopping center that was badly flooded. (Furthermore, because the mall is built on the site of an old duck pond, even when the levee was repaired, the water wouldn't go away and had to be pumped out, so the mall sat under water for more than a month.) This mall was the home of the comic book store where I first hung around, then ended up working in, for several years, and whose co-owner/manager, Edward Luena, was a proximate cause of me going to the 1984 Worldcon in Anaheim, which was an early step down the path that led me to co-chairing the 2002 Worldcon. The store was also the site of the Official MythAdventures Fan Club that I co-founded and ran for five years. (The club's supplies, like that of the comic store, were mostly destroyed by soaking in muddy flood water for a month.)( The Mall Never RecoveredCollapse )
I spent five important years in that mall and it was a significant part of my life, but some things are gone and will never come back. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Monday, January 16th, 2017|
|Happy Birthday to Lisa
Today was Lisa's birthday. I gave her an autographed copy of a book about the Metroliner trains on the US Northeast Corridor, and we went into Reno/Sparks for dinner. We had our favorite, shrimp pan roast, at the Oyster Bar at the Nugget, then went over to the Manhattan Deli at the Atlantis, where we split one of their huge slices of New York cheesecake.
Our general plan had been to then go to Winco and buy groceries, but we were both too tired to face the shopping. We'll either go back in before the next set of storms hits, or just lump it. We still have plenty of stuff laid in here, just a bit less than usual. Current Mood: full
|Sunday, January 15th, 2017|
|Old Home Day
This morning, Lisa and I made a leisurely drive up to Dobbins where my mother lives. I've never been to the place she's helping restore — or rather, I had no memory of it. Mom says I'd been there with her for a short time back in the 1970s. She also couldn't describe how to get to it, so I had to drive to the Dobbins general store and call her so she could drive down and lead us to the place.( Fascinating Old HouseCollapse )
We spent an hour visiting with my mother and taking care of a bit of business that needs my physical presence every six months for some paperwork. We would have liked to have stayed longer, but I really didn't want to drive on CA-20 into the mountains after dark. We headed up to Grass Valley/Nevada City. Although we couldn't stop for long, we stopped briefly at the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, which I've seen from the freeway before and wanted to confirm where it was. The volunteers did let us know that there was a popular film festival in GV/NC this past weekend, which explains why we couldn't get a hotel room here. We're going to have to come back down here in the summer. There is a nearby hotel that is actually connected to the museum by a short train ride, which sounds like our kind of place.
We did get out out of the bad part of the drive (the narrow, twisting sections of CA-20), over Donner Summit (lots of fog up top) and into Reno before dark. Initially, we planned to have dinner and do our major grocery shopping; however, I was very worn from a drive over wet and somewhat doubtful roads, and Lisa was tired as well, so we elected to just go straight home. If we decide that we need a large shopping trip this week, we can run into Reno after work on Monday or Tuesday before the next set of storms hits the area.
The weather really was quite good, but of course we probably wouldn't have made the trip otherwise. I'm glad we got one window here in January to do so, and I'm glad I got to see the house on which Mom is focused. Like Fernley House, it needs lots of work, but she certainly seems happy to be there. Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, January 14th, 2017|
|Weekend Family Trip
Although I'm not going to the SF Bay Area this coming week, I did have a pressing non-emergency-but-important need to visit my mother in Yuba County before the end of January. Looking at the weather this weekend and next, I decided that this would be the better of the two weekends to attempt it because the weather was clear for Saturday and Sunday. Although initially I thought I'd get up very early and make the down-and-back journey, after discussing it with Lisa we decided to drive down today and back tomorrow, and this also allowed us to go pay a visit with my sister in Sacramento without being rushed.( Fernley to Marysville via SacramentoCollapse )
The trip over Donner Summit was thankfully uneventful. Caltrans crews have done a great job clearing the road. As we worked our way up to the summit, a snowblower truck was cutting back the banks, throwing snow in a high arc away from the road. It was not as spectacular as the rotary plows the railroad uses, but it was still a good show.
Between the two storms we had in Fernley (with an intervening rain that melted all of the first storm's snow), we had around 30 cm of snow in Fernley. Up at Donner Summit, it looked like there was more than 300
cm (3 meters, around 10 feet) of snow on the ground. There was a lot of mist at the summit itself, but Lisa could see a lot of people on the ski slopes. This must be the sort of conditions the ski operators were praying for: plenty of snow with four days of good weather centered on the weekend.( Visiting my SisterCollapse )
Lisa drove for a while after we left the nursing facility and I called my mother to confirm that I'll be coming up to Dobbins in the Yuba County foothills tomorrow. We then changed drivers again at the Fry's in Sacramento and I drove us to Marysville. We used to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Yuba City, but it's now a Best Western, giving me no incentive to stay there, and it made more sense logistically anyway for us to stay at the Comfort Suites in Marysville. Lisa was grateful for a full-size bathtub, and since the drought is nominally over, she also didn't feel guilty about using that nice tub in the hotel room. Conveniently, there was a Pizza Hut a block down the street, too, making dinner plans easy.
My initial plan had actually been to come down (without the side trip to Sacramento) and stay in Grass Valley, but for some unaccountable reason, it seems like every hotel room in Grass Valley/Nevada City this weekend is booked. I am unsure what's going on up there; however, I'm just as happy to do the circle trip via Sacramento so we could see Kelli. And while I'm capable of doing the down-and-back trips (it's about the same distance and time as the one-way trip to the Bay Area), I'd rather not do so if I don't have to do it. Current Mood: relaxed
|Thursday, January 12th, 2017|
|The Snow Returns
The warm(ish) storm a couple of days ago melted nearly all of the snow around here save a bit here and there in shaded places. However, around 5 AM today it started snowing again and it snowed much of the day. Lisa, who is sleeping days at the moment, kept the fireplace stoked and swept walks a few times before going to bed shortly after I got up this morning.( Here We Go AgainCollapse )
Last night, when the roads were still clear, we made a quick run to the grocery store and also moved vehicles around to where we would rather park them. While doing that, we discovered to our dismay that the replacement windshield on the Astro is leaking. There's not a whole lot we can do until it dries back out again. Lisa's considering clearing enough space in the garage for us to park the minivan inside until we can affect repairs. This afternoon, after the snow stopped, I went out and swept the snow off the vehicle so at least maybe less moisture will get through.( Not Everyone Could Stay InsideCollapse )
This evening after work, the snow faded for a while, and I went out and dug more snow. I measured it in several places, and it looks like we got about 10 cm. After this storm passes, we are apparently due for a couple of days of relatively clear weather, but not another flood-inducing warm rainstorm, thank goodness. We need the water — even now, my part of Nevada isn't out of drought conditions yet, although things are much better than they were this time last year — but not all at once! Current Mood: optimistic
|Wednesday, January 11th, 2017|
Whatever was clogging LJ's pipes for the past day or so seems to have cleared again. You'd think they'd realize the problem after it happened once.
Last night we got rain, then snow, then rain, then below-freezing temperatures. This has turned the porch and sidewalk into ice-skating rinks. Lisa is on nights at the moment and did what she could, laying down more grit to improve traction.
The weather situation in the Sierra Nevada remains dire (although good for potential drought relief it it remains as snow instead of immediately melting and causing flooding. I heard yesterday that Amtrak has been turning the California Zephyr
at Reno and not crossing the mountains, which explains why the eastbound train yesterday appeared to be dark. (Although I assume that passengers with tickets out of Reno eastbound were being accommodated.) From another source on Facebook (a Union Pacific employee), I read that UP has their snow spreaders out. They might have to resort to the Big Guns: the rotary snowplows.
It's difficult to tell yet whether it will be safe for me to drive to the Bay Area this weekend. Current Mood: working
|Tuesday, January 10th, 2017|
|LJ Wonky Again
LiveJournal once again will not allow me to change user icons, preview posts, see comments, or change message security. This happened once before recently and was fixed within a few days. I hope this outage is no exception. Current Mood: annoyed
|Monday, January 9th, 2017|
|RIP Peter Weston, a.k.a. The Hugo Rocket Man
Today we learned of the death of Peter Weston
, fan, Worldcon chair, Worldcon guest of honor, editor, writer, and of particular importance to the Hugo Awards, owner of a custom auto parts foundry in the 1980s, which led to him offering to make a mold for casting the Hugo Award trophy rockets. Every metal Hugo rocket since 1984 (normally chrome-plated zinc, but twice gold-plated) has been cast from the one mold held at the foundry, which Weston later sold upon retirement. (There have been non-metallic Hugo Rockets, but they reproduce the design.)
Pete was a nice person who I only met a few times, but I can say that fandom is diminished by his departure. However, every Hugo Award preserves his legacy, which was written in to the WSFS Constitution when we credited his specific implementation of the original McKnight/Jason design as the definitive version. Current Mood: sad
|Sunday, January 8th, 2017|
|Snow, Ice, and Rain
After the snowstorm here in Fernley, ice was everywhere.( What Do You Know, Ice and SnowCollapse )
Lisa got the Small Orange Pickup out of the garage later and we went to Big R, where they were out of walk-clearing salt but did have a few snow shovels left, then after that went to Scolari's to get some groceries. Like with the propane, we could have put this off due to our reserves, but when the opportunity presents itself to get out and restock, we take it.
Taking advice from the people at Big R, I applied wax to the new snow shovel, and later that night, Lisa and I got out and used it to clear a path on the last second of sidewalk that was still blocked with snow. Waxing the snow shovel does indeed make it easier to use because the snow is less likely to freeze to the shovel.
This morning, the promised rain arrived. I got out and used the new shovel to clear the full width of the sidewalks, then I laid down more absorbent grit, because the sidewalks were very slippery with rain on recently-frozen surfaces.
The rain fell all day, and some of the pictures I've seen of high water in Reno are quite impressive. Parts of Sparks have been closed off due to flooding, and the Truckee River is well above flood stage, as is the Walker River out of Carson City. In Fernley, there are reports of localized flooding, but where I live is relatively higher than much of the town. We still have lots of slush and minor flooding because there's nowhere for the water to go, but we have it relatively easy compared to people in lower-lying areas who were sandbagging their homes.
Although technically I-80 was open with no chain controls, I would have felt very unsafe trying to drive over it in the Rolling Stone
today, with high winds and large amounts of rain. Caltrans reported local flooding caused by ice clogging storm drains, and there were a number of videos showing them pumping water away in spectacular fashion. Me, I'm happier to stay home, rearrange my work schedule and other appointments, and wait for better weather. Current Mood: satisfied
|Saturday, January 7th, 2017|
|Friday, January 6th, 2017|
|After the Snow
It was pretty cold last night (low of about -15°C) and it didn't get above freezing today, although everywhere the direct sunlight was able to hit tended to melt just slightly and then freeze again. Not that there was much sunshine, although I did take a couple of pictures that make things look nicer than they tend to do so in drier conditions.( Fernley SparklesCollapse )
When I got up this morning, there was some very light snow falling. I didn't sweep the front porch, which was a mistake, because by the time the snow stopped, what had fallen had also frozen on the porch. (The sidewalks managed to stay clear except for the section that isn't getting any direct sunlight.) I spread grit on the porch, steps, and the icy spots, which gave us sufficient traction to avoid wiping out on the ice.
This evening, we tried the new Fernley Burger House for the first time. They make good burgers, and we'll be back, assuming they can get through their early-opening jitters, which have included having to close early because they ran out of food! They took over the building that used to be a good little burrito stand, and I read in the local paper that it used to be burger stand before that as well. The new place is more expensive than chain fast food, but if I wanted cheap, I'd got to a cheap place and get what I paid for.
After dinner, we decided to risk going out for a walk. It's very icy out there, and we needed to take it very carefully as we made our way to the post office and back.
Tomorrow's forecast is for snow in the morning turning to rain later in the day, with warmer temperatures on Sunday with rain. We'll see how much of this snow turns to slush. We're glad that the house is well stocked, so we don't need to go to Reno. Lisa might use the pickup for a trip over to the Big R to buy some salt for our walks or to Scolari's grocery store for a few perishables, but we really do keep the place rigged so that much of the time we can go many days without restocking. Current Mood: calm
|Thursday, January 5th, 2017|
Last night, I posted a photo of our front porch
with the early results of the snowfall that began late last afternoon.( There Was Much More to ComeCollapse )
Because of how Fernley House is situated and because there are vacant lots on both sides of it, some people have the idea that we are far from the nearest habitation and that we live in some sort of solitary isolation apart from the trains. This is not so. We actually live in the old downtown of Fernley, as the next photos show.( Beautiful Downtown Fernley in the SnowCollapse )
Later in the afternoon, I managed to record video of a passing train, which aside from the horn being blown for the benefit of another train crew working in the area was much quieter than usual, thanks to the muffling effect of the snow. I'd intended to shoot video of Amtrak going by, but it came by sooner than I expected and I missed the shot.( Passing Train in the SnowCollapse )
How much snow did we get? Here's the evidence, taken from the top of the wood box, but I measured comparable depths at other places around the property.( How Much Snow?Collapse )
This snow was pretty fluffy with low moisture content. Snowballs won't hold together, and we can't make a snow-bear the way we did the last time we had a storm of this magnitude, several years ago. No more snow is forecast for a couple of days, but the temperatures are expected to be below freezing for a while, so the snow isn't going away except where direct sunlight heats things up.
I cleared the sidewalks mostly, and laid down ground absorbent on the porch and in some of the icier spots on the sidewalk. I'd use salt (not on the wooden porch, of course), but I used the last of the 2.5 kg bag we bought a couple of years ago last night and don't feel up to walking through the snow to Big R to buy another bag.
Thank goodness I'm working from home. I shared some of these photos with my co-workers to explain why I don't expect to be traveling anywhere soon, especially with more storms heading toward us. Current Mood: cheerful
|Wednesday, January 4th, 2017|
|Here Comes the Snow
It started raining last night and rained most of today, albeit never that heavily (which is good because drainage here is poor, being an old lake bed and all that). Late this afternoon, as the light began to fade, the rain stopped.( Because it Started Snowing InsteadCollapse )
Our little snowfall here is minor compared to what's happening up on Donner Summit, where I saw that Caltrans had closed I-80 at the Nevada state line westbound and Colfax eastbound. US-50 has been intermittently closed for avalanche control. Amtrak #6, the eastbound California Zephyr
is running more than four hours late tonight. (The westbound this morning passed Fernley ten minutes early
.) From the radio traffic, they're not likely to make any time, particularly as while I compose this entry I'm listening to a Union Pacific freight train stopped west of Fernley while the poor conductor had to walk the length of his train to inspect it due to a train-defect detector going off. The conductor could find nothing wrong, and fortunately the dispatcher gave the train permission to back up and collect the conductor so he didn't have to hike another mile in the snow up to the head end of his train. Current Mood: relaxed
|Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017|
We were pleased to learn that our local Lowe's accepts florescent tubes for recycling, so tonight we went over and gave them the four burned-out tubes that we had. In addition, after seeing what the two pairs of tubes we had in the newly-rewired fixture were like, we bought a pair of the warm-end tubes and swapped them for the cool-white ones. The cool-white tubes will be just fine for use in the garage fixtures. Current Mood: accomplished
|Monday, January 2nd, 2017|
|New Year's Lighting Repairs
The main bedroom in Fernley House has a long-tube florescent fixture that hasn't worked right from the time we got here. It was slow to light tubes, and eventually it actually simply blew out a brand new tube when we put it in the fixture. At one point we had an electrician in to quote a job that would have included fixing the fixture.( I Learn How Florescent Fixtures WorkCollapse )
Some time ago, we had an electrician in to quote a number of things we wanted done with the house, including fixing the ballasts. Instead of doing that, what he wanted to do was to tear out the entire light fixture and put in another one. That was just one of the reasons Lisa sent him packing. The main reason was that he refused to talk to Lisa (the person who knows how things work and furthermore the woman who was going to pay him several thousand dollars for the work), and directed everything to me because I am The Man and therefore must be Competent. He patronized Lisa to the point of fury, and he consequently got nothing. (Lisa later went on to put in the circuit for the hot water heater herself, as we related some time ago. The major project, which is dropping a new 200A service and replacing the main power box with a new modern one, is beyond our resources at this time. Some of you may remember me writing about us replacing the main 100A circuit breaker with a 125A one, bringing us up to the maximum that our utility feed can handle at the moment.)( Time to Fix It OurselvesCollapse )
This electrical work took us six or eight hours spread over three days, but it did get easier as Lisa got the hang of it, and I think I helped some, doing stuff an electrician's apprentice would have been doing, like handing up tools and holding things in place so The Boss could get the job done faster. Lisa told me that she'd never worked on a florescent fixture before, but it wasn't too difficult in the end. (The fixtures in the garage probably need similar work done on them, and Lisa now feels more confident about doing so.) She certainly feels that the electrician who wanted to rip up the bedroom ceiling to put in a new fixture was full of it when he said it would be cheaper than fixing the ballasts. Not counting the labor, of course, the ballasts and parts cost less than $50, and we didn't need to tear up the bedroom to fix it.
In celebration of having a fully working bedroom ceiling light for the first time since we moved in to Fernley House, we went to dinner at the Black Bear Diner. Current Mood: accomplished
|Sunday, January 1st, 2017|
|Staying Here For Now
I'm not going to leave LiveJournal just yet, but I continue to be nervous about the server move. OTOH, the Russian Overlords of LiveJournal have had control of the servers in California for years already.
Meanwhile, I bit the bullet, paid $80 for a Premium account with BlogBooker
, and downloaded my entire LJ clear back to the start in 2005, in both Word and PDF. The free version only allows 4 downloads. The Premium account allows 60 downloads over two years.
BlogBooker is okay, but it also isn't consistent. Sometimes, apparently dependent on the size of the total download, it includes comments, but sometimes not. It takes trial and error (which uses up your allocated downloads) to find out when it will keep comments, and I'd like to retain the comments.
For good measure, I downloaded travelswithkuma
's journal as well. In this case, I could do an "all dates" download, because Kuma has far fewer entries. When doing that for WinWord format, it counted as only one download, but generated eight files (one for each year) and retained the comments. The PDF counts also as one download, generating one file and retained the comments.
In order to use BlogBooker to download an LJ, you have to give it your journal's password. Their terms of service say they only retain it for 30 minutes in order to actually download the journal (not surprising; how else could it download Private and F-Locked entries?). So I changed my password temporarily, used that for the downloads, then changed it back. This, along with something mentioned on james_nicoll
's LJ, led me to discovering that unless you explicitly type the https://www.livejournal.com/login.bml
in the address bar to log in, your connection always goes to http, even for the login screen, which is annoying. But I managed to get it done. Current Mood: accomplished
|Saturday, December 31st, 2016|
|Backing Out of the Year
Lisa and I went into Reno/Sparks this afternoon to do our major grocery shopping for the week to come. There's a series of storms coming at us, with some rather scary looking weather projections starting late Monday. If things develop the way it looks like they might, it's going to be challenging for me to go back to the Bay Area as originally planned next weekend.
At first, we thought we'd have dinner in Reno, but the Peppermill's parking garage was so full that we decided that the restaurants would be jammed, so we simply finished up our grocery shopping and went home. After unloading the groceries, we decided to go out to dinner. Our first thought was the Black Bear Diner at the Fernley Nugget Casino, but the Diner had closed early for the holiday. We started to head for Denny's, but then decided to try the Ranch House Restaurant at the Silverado Casino, which was staying open until 10 PM and had several New Year's Eve specials that caught our eye. Lisa had the filet mignon and lobster tail and I had the prime rib and lobster tail. It was excellent (and far better than Denny's!), and I thank XPO Logistics for the dinner, as all but the tip was paid out of the balance of a gift card I received from the company as part of my 20-year thank-you present earlier this month.
We had a $10 free-play coupon from the Fernley Nugget (good tonight only), so we went there and played for a while, managing to convert the $10 of house money into $6 of real money. Lisa and I were by then feeling pretty tired, full from dinner (and thus not interested in the free cake), and we're non-drinkers (so the free champagne was not an attraction), so we decided to go on home a bit more than an hour before midnight. Maybe not that exciting, but it was still a pretty good night.
So long to 2016. I'm apprehensive about the year to come, hoping for the best but fearing the great uncertainty ahead of us all. But for now, we're throwing another log on the fire and staying as safe as we can. See y'all next year! Current Mood: calm