Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life|
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|Saturday, April 30th, 2016|
|April Showers Continue
We've had rain off and on this week. It rained more heavily here in Fernley than it did at Reno last night. A couple of days ago, the timing on the storm of the day was very good, and I got this pair of photos from my front porch.( Let"s Hear it for the Rainbow TourCollapse )
The desert is blooming considerably with all of this rain. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are also responding to all of the water in the area as well. Current Mood: cheerful
|Friday, April 29th, 2016|
Lisa and I got the idea to go see the Reno Aces
(our local AAA Minor League Baseball club) game on Friday night. They would be playing the Albuquerque Isotopes
. (This team, incidentally, is not a descendant of the former Albuquerque Dukes — that team later moved to Portland (the Beavers) before moving again and is now known as the El Paso Chihuahuas.) So we headed into Reno and went to the game. We got front-row seats, albeit down the left field line. As it happens, we never sat in the seats.( Splish, SplashCollapse )
Along the way I saw the score of the SF Giants game in New York. Ouch. 13-1 Mets win. Sort of glad I wasn't listening to that one. Current Mood: tired
|Thursday, April 28th, 2016|
|Hugo Awards: 3-Stage Voting
[This post is entirely my own personal opinion. I do not speak for any other group of which I may be a member. In particular, this post is not the official opinion of the World Science Fiction Society, WSFS Mark Protection Committee, the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, Worldcon Intellectual Property, or any Worldcon committee. I am not in a management position for the 2016 WSFS Business Meeting, although I'm a staff member (assistant videographer). I don't speak for the WSFS Business Meeting, either. This is my own opinion. Anyone trying to claim otherwise by pointing at this message is explicitly rejected by the plain meaning of my own words. I am allowed to have a personal opinion that may vary from any official opinions of groups of which I am a member.]2015 Hugo Award Trophy, designed by Matthew Dockrey
In light of this year's Hugo Award shortlist and the attendant furor therein, the discussion on how to "repair" the voting system has once again arisen. Some people are incensed that things haven't been fixed already, because they heard something passed last year, and they either do not know or do not care that all changes to WSFS rules require passage in two consecutive years. (I had someone contact me last year asking for the "Special Secret Emergency SMOF rules for changing things in one year." He was very disappointed to hear that there are no such rules. In fact, our rules are deliberately designed to derail those who would insist that we must Change Everything Right Now because it's an Emergency.) In any event, two proposals are up for ratification at the 2016 WSFS Business Meeting to modify the Hugo Awards nomination process: E Pluribus Hugo
(replace the first-five-nominees-past-the-post system currently in use with a system that uses math to reduce the ability of closely correlated ballots to dominate the process so that less than 20% of the electorate can collect nearly 100% of the finalist slots) and 4/6
(limit members to four nominations per category and increase the number of shortlist slots in each category to six). The two proposals are not directly in opposition: either, neither, or both of them could be ratified at this year's Business Meeting. Those proposals that are ratified this year will first take effect with the 2017 Hugo Awards (generally for works first published in 2016) administered by Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.
I do not wish to rehash the arguments for and against either EPH or 4/6 here. However, I would like to set out a plan that I've been thinking about (and have talked about) since this series of bad actors imposed their minority opinion on the majority of the members of WSFS last year. It's a completely different change than either EPH or 4/6, and actually leaves the current nominating and final ballot phases of the Hugo Awards unchanged, but instead inserts an additional stage into the selection process that gives the membership of the current Worldcon an opportunity to weigh in on whether they think any particular finalist deserves to be on the ballot without having to resort to the rather blunt instrument of voting No Award.( Key Points of 3-Stage VotingCollapse )
Now let's unpack the details of how this would work, because there are a lot of them, and they interact in ways that you might not expect and that I think actually improve the overall process in many ways.( The Devil can be in the DetailsCollapse )Benefits of 3-Stage Voting:
Drawbacks of 3-Stage Voting:
- Relatively easy to explain (vote yes/no on each semi-finalist)
- Final Ballot will reflect the majority opinion of the members of the current Worldcon that the finalists deserve to be on the ballot
- Administrators will have the help of the public in checking eligibility and contacting potential finalists
- Finalists will be unable to leak results prior to the announcement of the Final Ballot
- Relatively small minorities will not be able to dominate the shortlist
- No Award is unlikely to win a category
- Does not require a Strong Administrator to subjectively decide whether a nominee is "legitimate" because the decision can be submitted to the membership as a whole
- Increased workload for the Hugo Award Administrator (3x Semi-Finalists versus today's Finalists)
- Increased expense and workload for Current Worldcon (an extra ballot mailing and work to administer voting)
- Potential for campaigning against Semi-Finalists
- Need to explain to members that the yes/no decision is about whether the semi-finalist is worthy of the honor, not just "Did I personally like it."
- Potential for categories being dropped due to >12 semi-finalists being disqualified
- Shorter period for Final Ballot voting, and a tighter schedule overall
I think the benefits of 3-Stage Voting system outweigh the disadvantages. I also think that it's more practical to conduct a 3-Stage election now that all but a handful of members are voting electronically.
Will I propose such a system this year? I do not currently expect to do so. There is already a crowded agenda with the Business Passed On from last year, including contentious and complicated proposals such as E Pluribus Hugo
. Introducing this proposal would muddy the waters by leading people to vote against proposals that may improve the current system and would not require an additional round of voting. Should anything get ratified this year, we really need to let it run for a year or three just to see how it works in practice. And furthermore, I'm Chair of the 2017 WSFS Business Meeting in Helsinki. Were this proposal to be introduced and pass this year, I would be honor-bound to recuse myself from the Chair again next year when it came up for a ratification vote (as I did with Popular Ratification in Spokane), and I'd prefer to not have to do so. So at the moment, the earliest I could see introducing 3-Stage Voting would be 2018, and I'm not even sure about that.
I reserve the right to modify this proposal or change my mind about introducing it based on developments as time goes by. Changing my mind is not "flip-flopping," but is sensibly re-evaluating a situation in light of new information. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Wednesday, April 27th, 2016|
One of the hassles of having the rear door on the Astro jammed (as it has been since last December when something broke inside as I tried to open it in deeply sub-freezing weather in Tonopah) has been grocery shopping, as access via the side door is mildly tricky when the middle seat is installed, as we normally configure the minivan. Last weekend, when we did our large scale grocery shopping, we were mildly lazy and left some of the non-perishable items in the minivan. Yesterday, in the late morning, Lisa came in and suggested that if I could take a short break from Day Jobbe, we could finish unloading the minivan to give her room to work on the rear door. I agreed and walked out to the vehicle with her. I slid the side door open and started to reach inside for the first items.
Lisa said, "Oh, wait, it's probably easier to get things out this way," and walked around to the back of the van and opened the rear door.( Open Sesame!Collapse )
The rear doors on the Astro now work properly, and that's a big relief to me, because we need that access in order to haul the Match Game SF
kit to Portland for Westercon. Furthermore, it's much easier to use the vehicle when we have rear-door access, particularly on our long road trips like the planned trip to Kansas City for Worldcon this year.
Lisa was very pleased at how she surprised me. Current Mood: ecstatic
|Tuesday, April 26th, 2016|
|Monday, April 25th, 2016|
Storms continue to roll through the area. Yesterday evening shortly after we got home, we had some pretty menacing-looking clouds in the area.( Tie Down Any Loose ObjectsCollapse )
I saw on Facebook that a funnel cloud was spotted hereabouts a week or so ago. It didn't touch down, and was apparently not a true tornado, but it was scary-looking nevertheless.
This morning, when I went out to wave at Amtrak going by, I saw that a little bit of snow was falling, in the form of flakes that appear to have been blown over from the nearby mountains on the bitter winds we're experiencing today. It got so cold that I had to light a fire in the fireplace, as the electric heaters can't keep up. It's not as bad as the depth of winter, but given that I work at a keyboard, my fingers have to be warm enough to type, which they were not for a while today. Current Mood: cold
|Sunday, April 24th, 2016|
|A Trip to the Junkyard
This morning, Lisa and I went into Reno to tackle grocery shopping and a visit to the Pick-N-Pull to look for parts to repair the jammed rear door of the Astro. But first, we went to the Peppermill for their Sunday brunch. This turned out to be better (in our opinion) than the Atlantis, and our "locals" discount applied to both of us and was a better deal to boot. So for now we've confirmed that we've transferred our buffet allegiance to the Peppermill. Lisa told the manager of the buffet that she though the Atlantis remodel had not been for the best, which of course pleased the Peppermill manager.( To the Junkyard!Collapse )
After a brief stop at the Petro Truck Stop down the street to get cleaned up from our junkyard foray, we proceeded to undertake our grocery shopping, then headed home. Lisa, who had done the hard work (I just held tools and carried things), was tired out and turned in early when we got home, but she assures me that she feels very good about tackling the door on the Astro very soon. Current Mood: pleased
|Saturday, April 23rd, 2016|
|The Journey Home, Interrupted
I left the office around Noon on Friday and drove to Sacramento where I visited my sister for a little while. I knew I wouldn't be getting home that night. The late-season snowstorm had moved in overnight and chain controls had gone up over I-80 before 10 AM. The storm was forecast to run all day and into the night. Theoretically, I could have gone the long way around via CA-70, but that's about 150 miles out of the way, and not a good road. So I drove to Yuba City and spent the evening visiting my mother (who spends many nights at my sister's house there trying to keep it in "warm storage," so to speak) before laying up for the night at the Wal-Mart (Yuba City's store being one of those that tolerates overnight RV parking; not all Wal-Marts do so). I paid my "rent" by buying some dill pickle Pringles (which I still can't find anywhere else around these parts) and slept well, particularly because there was no need to set the alarm. I briefly woke up at 4 AM and was so happy to be able to go back to sleep.
This morning, I bestirred myself around 7 AM, cleaned up and packed stuff away, then drove over to Lumberjack's Restaurant where I had a leisurely breakfast without any time pressure. I left a message for Lisa when I left Yuba City and set out toward Grass Valley. CA-20, which can be pretty scary at night and in bad weather, was lovely in the sunshine as I climbed into the areas where yesterday's snowstorm dropped up to a foot of snow. Caltrans crews were out cutting back the snowbanks on I-80, and the Donner Summit rest area was closed for snow removal, but the road itself was clear of snow, although still wet. I wonder if Boreal regrets closing down; there seems to have been plenty of snow at the summit ski resort as I went by.
In the early afternoon, I made it home to Fernley. Lisa helped me unpack. I was too tired for us to go back into Reno for the major grocery shopping and other city errands, but we got enough for today, and I very gratefully settled down to relax a little bit. Current Mood: happy
|Friday, April 22nd, 2016|
I've had the Rolling Stone
for just short of two years now. It has long since paid for itself in savings over hotel stays. (It took about 14 months, probably less because Bay Area hotel prices have been going up at least as fast as apartment rentals.) But there are maintenance costs, and we're on the verge of one of them. The RV has two batteries: one is for the engine like most vehicles, and the other is for the "hotel power" including interior lights aft of the driving compartment, the water pump, and in particular, the power supply for my CPAP. (My CPAP runs on both 100-240V AC and 12V DC, and I have all of the necessary plug adapters. I don't have to rely on an DC-AC inverter, thank goodness. And I've run the gamut of voltages, including Japan, Australia, and Europe.) We bought a pair of deep-cycle RV batteries for the Stone
when we bought it, but the "coach" battery is showing its age now. Despite the fact that I have to move each day and therefore am putting some more power back into the battery, by the end of a two-week stay, it cannot keep the CPAP running overnight. I woke up at 3:30 AM to the sound of the alarm on the machine and it flashing the "not enough power" warning. I disconnected it and went back to sleep.
Our plan is to trade out one of the batteries in the Big Orange Van (it also has two batteries), replacing it with the coach battery from the Stone
, then use that removed battery from the BOV as the trade-in for a new deep-cycle RV battery for the Stone
. Lisa's van doesn't have as deep a draw on the auxiliary battery as I do, so this should work out for the best. Current Mood: optimistic
|Monday, April 18th, 2016|
|BASFA Location Testing Nearly Over
Tonight is one of the last "trial" meetings of BASFA, as we wind up the evaluation meetings at very locations around the Bay Area and in a few weeks make a decision about a new permanent home for the club's meetings. Because tonight's trial is in Milpitas, I arranged to work at the Fremont office today so I didn't have to fight my way across CA-237. I'm still trying to decide whether I should even cast a vote in the poll to pick a new place, because while I'll be in the Bay Area a little more than usual for the next few months, in generally I can only expect to be here one week in three. Current Mood: optimistic
|Saturday, April 16th, 2016|
I had not expected to be in the Bay Area this weekend until my work schedule changed, but I made the most of it. After "sleeping in" almost until 7 AM, I went to Fremont and, after getting breakfast, went to my "regular" barber there. I considered walking over to Quarry Lakes Park, but only walked as far as the apartment where I used to live, where I picked up a pound of coffee beans from Suju's Coffee, across the street from my old apartment, and after lingering over coffee and a scone there, walked back to the Rolling Stone
, stopping to play pinball at the pizza place a couple of blocks from the old apartment. I had a couple of other small errands to do, but otherwise I tried taking today as easy as possible, because the weeks down here are very stressful for me. Current Mood: relaxed
|Friday, April 15th, 2016|
|Vision Test Complete
I got to the clinic 30 minutes early for my vision appointment (mainly because traffic is unpredictable so I try to leave extra time), and as they'd had a cancellation, they sent me right through. All tests look good. With my eyes dilated, there wasn't much I could do for the rest of the afternoon except have an early dinner, listen to the Giants lose to Colorado, and lay up for the day. It did mean that I got a decent amount of sleep last night, which probably helps. Current Mood: stressed
|Thursday, April 14th, 2016|
|Time for Blinding
This afternoon (scheduled as late in the day as possible to reduce the amount of time I have to be off work) I have my annual diabetic eye exam. I've heretofore shown no sign of macular degeneration (as distinct from relatively normal age-related astigmatism), but as diabetes is a risk factor for it, I need to get screened annually. It's not the exam itself that bugs me as much as having to have my eyes dilated and thus being unable to read anything or use the computer for much of the afternoon after the drops go into my eyes. Current Mood: working
|Tuesday, April 12th, 2016|
Getting up as early as I do when I'm working in the Bay Area offices means I need more coffee than usual to keep myself awake. Yesterday was pretty awful, and I couldn't figure out why, despite multiple large cups, I was still falling asleep on my feet. This morning I figured it out. This office has a fancy machine that actually grinds and brews one cup at at time, sort of like a French press, but faster. And sometime in the past two weeks while I was away, someone swapped the regular and decaf bean bins. I only noticed it this morning. Current Mood: sleepy
|Sunday, April 10th, 2016|
|Back to the Bay
I rolled out of Fernley about 8:30 AM. Usually I grab something to eat along the way to go, but I was feeling tired and it was raining, and I thus didn't feel comfortable driving one-handed. I therefore stopped at Boomtown and had a sit-down breakfast at their coffee shop, which is an Original Mel's franchise.( Once More Into the MountainsCollapse )
The drive was pretty much routine other than the rain. I've driven through worse. I spent an hour visiting my sister in Sacramento, dialed up the Giants game for the drive onward (hooray, beat LA 3 out of 4 games), drove to Lodi Junction and refueled, then on to the Bay Area, where current plans are for me to be working here until Friday. Current Mood: tired
|Saturday, April 9th, 2016|
|The Passing Storm
This morning, Lisa and I went into Reno where we used up the remainder of my comp points with the Atlantis and had breakfast at the buffet. It was a good breakfast; the remodel hasn't mangled their breakfasts the way it did the dinners, and it's harder to mess up breakfasts. Not being in any hurry and with the restaurant not crowded, we lingered over breakfast. I used up the $10 that I won at the Wigwam yesterday on Keno. (I won $5 on the $10 ticket but then spent it on more tickets that didn't win, so that was that.) Trying to get the blood flowing after all of that food, we walked around the hotel, where Rotary International was having a conference. There were a bunch of people in red vests labeled "Sergeant At Arms," and I wish we'd had WSFS ones made for Joyce and her team of SAAs that made running last year's WSFS Business Meeting so much easier.
As we headed out to the van, it started raining, so the one errand that would have obliged us to be outside for quite a while was scrapped. However, we took care of a bunch of other smaller errands before heading home. Lisa had been up since about 2 AM and decided to turn in very early. I listened to the Giants game (rats, let that one get away). Just before 5 PM, I went out and waved at Amtrak #6 running through on time. Within seconds of my going back inside, I heard the sound of large raindrops hitting the porch awning. Soon thereafter, it got very loud and very wet.( Hail, Hail, the Storm"s All HereCollapse )
That was a pretty intense storm, although it did not last long. I'm grateful that we didn't have to be out driving in it. Current Mood: relaxed
|Friday, April 8th, 2016|
With the Wigwam Restaurant/Casino only two blocks from my house, it wasn't really playing hooky from the Day Jobbe to go have lunch (really a very late breakfast) today. I had my usual breakfast and redeemed the $10 match play coupon. Today I was very lucky and won $26, which paid for the meal and $10 more besides. Current Mood: happy
|Thursday, April 7th, 2016|
|Now That's How to do Opening Day!
The early part of the San Francisco Giants home opener against the hated LA Dodgers didn't look that good, as the Dodgers came in having swept their own initial three-game series and not having yet allowed a run. The Dodgers were setting their eyes on an all-time record for consecutive innings at the start of a season without having given up a run. Fittingly for a rivalry game, the Giants broke that up, and then went on a tear, hitting the ball all over the place, including a grand slam by Hunter Pence, and going on to defeat the Dodgers 12-6. And that in the notoriously pitcher-friendly
Emperor Norton Field.
That's a nice way to start the home season. Current Mood: happy
|Wednesday, April 6th, 2016|
|When A Remodel Doesn't Work Out
Many of you who attended the Reno Worldcon in 2011 may have eaten at Toucan Charlie's, the buffet in the Atlantis hotel/casino. That has been Lisa and my go-to place for a buffet, although we've taken to avoiding Friday-Saturday on account of the extra charges aren't worth what they add to the menu on those two days. Recently the buffet was shut down for a remodel, and it reopened not long ago. The first time we tried to go was after Lisa's last doctor visit, but we balked from lunch due to the excessively long queue. Last night after work, we drove into Reno to give it another try.
The results were disappointing. Lisa doesn't like the new decor, and while they've expanded the menu a bit, adding charcuterie and gelato, the extra dishes do not appear to justify the increased price. Although I somehow ended up gambling enough to make it into the second tier (of five) in their affinity program, the $2 discount only applies to my meal, not to Lisa's, and besides, you have to keep re-earning the status, and I do not foresee spending enough there to renew my status by June 1, inasmuch I'd have to spend as much as I did since June 1 last year to do so.
On top of all of that, the Atlantis is apparently still of the opinion that if they sing "Happy Birthday" they have to pay royalties for it, so they have a made-up-themselves song, which we got to hear about six times last night. Their lawyers presumably never got the memo
that says the copyright trolls lost, and that "Happy Birthday" is public domain. It does no good to tell the managers; they're under orders from a Higher Authority.
The staff at TC's is just fine. They're all nice people and have been good to us. Some of them remember us (travelswithkuma
is apparently very memorable). But aside from possibly finding a time when we can sneak in on a weekday morning to take advantage of the two-for-one breakfast buffet, we may not be returning. We possibly will transfer our buffet allegiance down the street to the Peppermill. Their "locals discount" applies even if you aren't a higher-status affinity-club member, and also applies to both of us, not just me. Current Mood: thoughful
|Monday, April 4th, 2016|
|Big Conventions & Small
Based on news reports that I've read, it appears that the shift in delegate votes at Nevada's county Democratic conventions was similar in both little Lyon County and enormous Clark County, and apparently others, in that Clinton lost about 8% of the delegates she won at the February caucus, because a lot more Clinton delegates (and even alternates) simply didn't show up at the county conventions, and thus their places were taken by alternates who voted for Sanders. As this article
explains, Clinton won about 53% of the county-level delegates at the February caucus, but so many of her delegates failed to show that it looks like she'll only get about 45% of the state-level delegates. The article goes on to say that this probably means that Clinton will only get 18 of Nevada's 35 delegates instead of the initially projected 20. (Remember that this number includes "superdelegates," who are senior party members not beholden to any electorate's decision, and thus expected to vote for Hillary, the establishment candidate, over Sanders, the outsider.) This could change, however, if the Sanders delegates don't maintain discipline. They need to show up in Las Vegas as well.
What I find fascinating is how the Clark and Washoe delegate swings were almost the same percentage as those in Lyon. You'd think there would be more variation, but they were all in the same neighborhood, varying by only a few points. It just looks like Clinton's supporters statewide though their work was done back in February and defaulted on their duty to carry the job on to the second level.
Mind you, caucusing and conventioneering is hard. I know from my experience with WSFS Business Meetings now much depends on a devoting a whole lot of time that you might want to spend doing other things. But in this case, it does mean that the selection is being driven by the most dedicated members of the party. Whether this is better than a primary-type system where you just cast a ballot is hard to say. I advocated for a mixed WSFS system whereby legislation would continue to be originated and modified by those people who show up, but would have to be ratified by a ballot of the entire membership. This proposal failed, for multiple reasons. Nevada gains some advantages with using a caucus system (more money from the central committee, more influence because we're only third in line instead of last) but also loses things (most party members do not or cannot go to caucuses). Current Mood: thoughtful