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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, September 28th, 2016
7:21 am
Backup Plans
It's most likely that Lisa will be able to drive down Saturday morning and collect me from Fremont after we leave the RV with my mechanic again. However, if she is unable to do so, I have two backup plans.

The former super-tight connection between the Capitol and the California Zephyr at Emeryville is now impossible, as schedule changes mean that the Capitol now runs behind the Zephyr arriving at Emeryville after #5 leaves. (This makes sense because the Chicago train makes fewer stops between Emeryville and Sacramento than the corridor train to Sacramento, so the trains don't interfere with each other this way.) So an all-Amtrak routing requires taking at 10 AM train from Fremont and a connecting Amtrak Thruway bus to Reno. I don't like this one, but it does work.

Alternatively, I could leave the RV with Cory very early in the morning and walk the three miles over to Fremont BART, then ride BART up to Richmond to connect with the California Zephyr. This one is all rail plus a fair bit of shoe leather. It's not so much the walking that puts me off, but doing so with a heavy computer backpack and my luggage. But this is the plan I'll probably use if Lisa is for some reason unable to make the trip.

Current Mood: optimistic
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
6:00 pm
Stone Still on Half-Tanks
My mechanic informed me that while he found what he thinks is the issue with the fuel tanks on the RV (a blocked fuel vent line that needs to be replaced), he wasn't able to get the part quickly. He expects to get it this week, and if I leave the Rolling Stone with him again (next time I go home, it will be for two weeks, hooray!), he should be able to get it done. So Lisa will once more plan to come get me on Saturday morning, and I will once again take the train back down a couple of weeks later.

The only issue with this is that I may use up all of the RV's holding-tank capacity. If so, I'll have to find a place to dump the tanks (probably an RV park in Redwood City) instead of being able to take advantage of a free facility near Fernley. We'll see if I can stretch the capacity to four weeks, which it what it will be by the end of the next stint I have in the Bay Area.

Current Mood: calm
Monday, September 26th, 2016
7:26 am
Smooth Traveling
If I knew that all of the trips would go as smoothly as yesterday did, I'd do more to make my "commute" between Fernley and the Bay Area by train. Amtrak #5 was only a few minutes late (which meant I was able to make the last breakfast seating), had no on-route delays, and arrived at Emeryville about an hour early (which it will if there are no delays due to recovery time built into the schedule). That meant I could take the 3:50 train to Fremont instead of trains as much as four hours later for the 30 minute ride to Fremont. I collected the RV, but I won't know whether my mechanic has been able to fix the issue with the fuel-transfer valve until I go pay him for the work (and collect my spare keys) later today.

It took me only slightly longer to take the train yesterday than it typically does for me to drive. Mind you, when I drive, I generally stop to visit my sister, and I have fuel and meal stops along the way.

It was pretty warm in the Bay Area yesterday (and will be today) by local standards. That made getting to sleep a little bit of a problem in the heat, but it eventually cooled down sufficiently. I was tired enough that I didn't bother getting online, so when I got the Rolling Stone buttoned up for the night, I gave Lisa a call to reassure her that all was as well as it could be and did what I could to get to sleep. I guess it must have been enough because I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm this morning.

It's a shame that I can't rely on the connections working going the other way. The Capitol-to-Zephyr connection at Emeryville is only five minutes, which isn't a safe connection.

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, September 24th, 2016
9:47 pm
Laying In Supplies
Today Lisa and I went to Reno/Sparks to deal with accumulated errands and shopping, including getting the minivan's oil changed. We got an oil change just before the Kansas City trip and more than ran through it (and burned up/lost about a quart of oil in the bargain) during that trip. Then it was a round of grocery stores, RV supplies, and clothing stores as we replenished the larder and I bought a new pair of slacks and a shirt — and moved down one shirt size, just barely. I hope that lasts, and is not just temporary stress-related weight loss due to Day Jobbe.

Tomorrow morning we're up fairly early to get me into Reno to catch the California Zephyr to Emeryville and then on to Fremont to collect the RV. Next week I'm in the Bay Area, and then I get to home for two weeks. As I told Lisa while we were driving home, "I want to come home already, and I haven't even left yet!" But at least I don't have to drive there tomorrow.

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
8:24 pm
No Rest for the Capable
It's been way too easy to go into hibernation about WSFS stuff after Worldcon; however, for people like me (chairing next year's meeting), it's already time to get the material together for next year's Worldcon, if we're going to get the web site updated and the correct material into the progress reports. I've been too tired most evenings this week, but tonight I finally took the time to get some of that done. There's more to do, and expect to hear more in a few weeks.

Current Mood: accomplished
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
8:45 pm
Following the Calendar
I guess the weather here in Fernley saw the calendar and decided that, it now being autumn, it should start raining. Only a little bit, mixed with some hail while Lisa and I were walking to the post office after lunch, and the high winds that followed it dried things out fairly quickly thereafter, but it did get us scrambling for cover for a while. The Family Dollar store was the beneficiary, as we stayed there until the rain stopped and I did buy a few things while I was there.

Current Mood: quiet
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
6:09 pm
Work Train
Yesterday, Lisa spotted (and I managed to photograph as it passed) an intermodal train carrying a container from my employer's parent company.

First XPO Container I"ve SeenCollapse )

Current Mood: thoughtful
Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
7:35 pm
Firewood Delivery
Yesterday (a couple of days before I expected it), the firewood delivery showed up. Because Big R no longer sells the convenient half-cord wrapped pallets of Douglas Fir "fencepost" firewood, and because there are no firewood vendors in Fernley, and because the utility trailer is off line until Lisa can find the opportunity to check the bearings, we bought three cord of mixed hardwood delivered from a place in Reno. We also opened up the front fence intending for the driver to back into the front yard and dump it there.

Not Quite Where We Wanted ItCollapse )

We went over to Lowe's after the delivery guy left and bought a new mailbox mount and Lisa got it installed just before dark. Unfortunately, Lowe's didn't have the larger mounting posts in stock. We might end up having to eventually replace this one as well.

Lisa said she'll start working on moving wood over to the "dog run" (concrete pad along the east side of the house) next week while I'm in the Bay area. We have pallets stacked as the base of a wood pile along with what's left from last year. At least we will only have to move the wood once, rather than having to heave it over the fence and then move it a second time.

Based on past consumption, this 3 cord of wood (cost $1240 including delivery) should serve us for the winter, especially including maybe as much as 1 cord left over from last year.

Current Mood: annoyed
Monday, September 19th, 2016
5:10 pm
Dave Kyle, R.I.P.
One of SF Fandom's key founding figures, Dave Kyle, died yesterday. While he enjoyed a good long life, and was honored throughout it, and spent the day before he died where he loved to be, among other fans, it's still a sad farewell. I spoke to Dave a number of times, including at our annual Worldcon Chairs' Photo Opportunity when he was still able to attend Worldcons, and I'm honored to have been able to sign his memory book on more than one occasions. I only wish I could say more than that. I didn't know him well, but I knew of him considerably, and SF fandom is poorer with his passing.

Current Mood: sad
Sunday, September 18th, 2016
10:40 pm
Getting Behind
We had a number of errands in Reno/Sparks that needed doing today, and we did not get started early enough to finish them all today. That means we'll need at least one more trip to Reno this week, unfortunately. Not efficient at all.

Current Mood: disappointed
Saturday, September 17th, 2016
6:40 pm
Home for a Week
Lisa rolled up as expected about 6:30 this morning. We transferred stuff between vehicles. As it turns out, we didn't do enough transferring. I left my webcam in the Rolling Stone, and we forgot to move the San Jose "standups" (promotional poster) that we carried back from Kansas City to the RV so that I could turn them back in to the convention when I next come down in a week. Fortunately, it's not crucial for me to show my face in our team's daily video conferences; not all of our team members have cameras anyway, and I do have a spare headset for the audio.

After dropping the RV at my mechanic's shop, we had breakfast, then dealt with a couple of errands in Fremont before heading for Sacramento, where I visited my sister for a while. We then went to Auburn and had lunch, then pushed home. By the time we got home, Lisa had been awake for close to 24 hours, so she headed straight to bed while I moved my stuff into the house.

I'm only here for a week (I take the train back down next Sunday), but I'm glad to be here after a pretty intense two weeks of retraining. I have lots more to do, but everyone on the team assures me that it gets easier, and they're all being very supportive. I expect that sleeping in my own bed will help improve things as well.

Current Mood: relieved
Friday, September 16th, 2016
5:21 pm
Roll Up, Roll Up
I have confirmed arrangements to leave the Rolling Stone with my mechanic tomorrow. He'll work on trying to fix the problem with the fuel system. Lisa is to come collect me tomorrow morning sometime, and I'll then drive us home. I'm looking forward to being home again, even if it is only for a week this time as I juggle my work schedule for various reasons.

Current Mood: optimistic
Monday, September 12th, 2016
7:18 am
No BASFA For Me Tonight
It being a Monday night when I'm in the Bay Area, I would normally be found at the meeting of the Bay Area Science Fiction Association. However, today I have to work at our Mountain View/Sunnyvale offices all day, and the BASFA meeting is in Milpitas. And there's a 49ers football game in Santa Clara this evening. No way am I going to go get stuck in Game Day traffic. It would be different if I had to be at the Fremont warehouse today, but that's not the case.

Current Mood: disappointed
Sunday, September 11th, 2016
3:36 pm
WSFS Constitutional Amendments and "Lesser Changes"
Something that triggered a lot of discussion, both at this past WSFS Business Meeting and afterwards, was the concept of "lesser changes." Although those of us who have attended a bunch of WSFS meetings understand the concept, I think, it's clear from the discussion that people who are new to the process do not, and some of the questions I've fielded over the past few weeks suggest to me that I need to go into this in more detail.

Cut for Those Allergic to Parliamentary ProcedureCollapse )

The arguments about what constitutes a so-called "lesser change" (that is, what sort of changes to a pending Constitutional amendment do not increase the scope of change) have become so difficult that there have been some serious suggestions that we abandon the concept entirely and simply require the ratification to be an up-or-down vote, with no amendments allowed; or that any changes to an amendment pending ratification require an additional year of ratification. As next year's presiding officer, I won't take any position on such proposals, of course, but I will as usual help people construct such proposals and in fact have already done so. Whether such proposals make it to the floor next year is an open question.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
7:34 am
Power Failure
Yesterday evening after work, I went out to the Rolling Stone and found that I'd left the headlights on and drained the battery. If I'd had jumper cables, I could have jump-started myself, using the "coach" battery that powers the RV's on-board services. So I called AAA, then passed the time until they arrived calling and talking with Lisa about how things are going at home.

AAA arrived presently and jump-started the RV. I drove away. 20-30 minutes later I stopped for dinner. Bad move. When I came back out, I found that the vehicle had insufficiently recharged, and I had to call AAA again. I'm glad it wasn't the same technician. That would have been more embarrassing.

Not wanting to take any chances, I spent the next hour driving an "orbit" around the South Bay freeways, which is relatively easy to do at full freeway speed at 9:30 PM. By then I also needed to stop for fuel for the gas-hungry RV. With some trepidation, I stopped the motor to refuel. To my relief, it restarted without hesitation after I topped off the tank. No long-term harm, but it cost me a couple of hours before I could go lay up for the night, and that's annoying, because I really don't get enough sleep most of the time I'm working in the Bay Area.

Yes, the RV has an alarm to tell you that your lights are on. But it only activates when you open the driver's side door with the lights on. I typically climb into the rear of the RV, collect my stuff, then exit the side door, which isn't alarmed that way. I'll need to be more careful.

Current Mood: annoyed
Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
7:58 am
Good Day to Drive, Bad Day to Drive
I got away from Fernley House about 9 AM yesterday morning, on a nice clear late-summer morning, looking forward to an uneventful drive to the Bay Area, where I have to work these next two weeks.

Note to self: Never drive from home to the Bay Area on Labor Day.

I hadn't really consider the effect of go-home traffic from Nevada to the Bay Area, multiplied by the people leaving Burning Man. It took me six hours to go the 150 miles to Sacramento. There was a mile-long tail-back from the Agricultural Inspection Station near Truckee, even with four lanes open. I quipped to the inspector, "I might be the only RV you see today that isn't coming from The Burn." He laughed. Beyond the station, it was still wall-to-wall traffic. I could have walked from the Ag station to downtown Truckee faster than I drove.

Up and over Donner Summit was not much better. It was a rotten slog most of the way, with pockets of stop-and-go all the way.

I've never encountered this issue before because I've either been away at Worldcon during this time of the year or have worked from home the week following Labor Day. The latter is what I wanted to do, but Day Jobbe has other plans.

Current Mood: tired
Sunday, September 4th, 2016
8:42 am
A Ton (and a Half) of Concrete
Over the past several days, we have made four trips to Lowe's (which was running a Labor Day Weekend sale) to purchase the same item over and over again. That's because the individual items are so heavy that I did not want to risk breaking the rear axle on the minivan trying to carry them all at once. The utility trailer is out of service until Lisa can get a chance to check the bearings and see if it's still roadworthy; otherwise we could have got it all at once.

What a Load of...Collapse )

Buying now saved us about $56 off what would have been about a $160 purchase. It is now stockpiled for a future project. Given how good the discount is, we might even go get eight more bags, inasmuch as if we have extra when we're finished, there are other spots on the property where we can use it.

Current Mood: accomplished
Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
1:24 pm
Preemptive Repairs
The starter switch on the Rolling Stone has been getting reluctant to start the RV. It's not a problem with the starter itself, but with the key switch. It works, but sometimes it won't always engage. The key switch on the steering column needs to be replaced, and I hope to have my mechanic in Fremont deal with it after he tracks down the problem with the fuel tanks that prevents me from using half of the vehicle's fuel capacity. In the meantime, Lisa decided that having me stuck without being able to start the RV was a Bad Thing (she's right) and installed an auxiliary starter switch. There is now a button under the dash that will engage the starter motor. It won't actually start the RV unless the key is in the ON position, and of course the steering column lock would prevent you from driving it away unless you had the key anyway, and that's just fine. I'm think I may start using that until I have the key switch replaced anyway.

Current Mood: satisfied
Friday, September 2nd, 2016
3:37 pm
2017 Worldcon Room Booking
The initial hotel announcement from Worldcon 75 in Helsinki went out yesterday, and as is usual with such things, has triggered Outrage and Horror, particularly from people who are unaware that most European cities do not build convention centers with mega hotels with thousands of rooms adjacent to them. We're facing next year roughly the same thing as we had at the Worldcons in London and Glasgow (and other European sites before that): a bunch of hotels, spread out all over the place, and some or even most of them requiring a ride on transit. One good thing about Helsinki is that apparently Worldcon members will get transit passes; however, the details of where you get them and for how long they are good haven't come out yet. For instance, we don't seem to know whether you'll have to pay a transit fare to go to a place where you collect the credentials that include the transit pass, or whether it's good for any of the "shoulder" days before and after the convention. I assume that these details will be forthcoming.

Most galling to most people is that all of the rooms in the only hotel that's connected to the convention center have been held back by the convention for people with access/disability issues. The Holiday Inn at the conference center is apparently not that large. Even this far out, and even for someone like me with a Spire membership in their program (that's the highest level there is), can get no rooms there during the core of the convention. (I looked outside of the hotel block; no room at the Inn.)

Another complaint is that the rooms are more expensive than what was originally promised. Well, yes; as the committee have said, these are only the initial rooms for which they have blocks reserved. They're negotiating for more. And don't make the mistake of assuming that the hotels listed there are the only hotels in all of Helsinki; far from it. For example, I'm seeing availability at the Holiday Inn City Center (adjacent to the main train station) as low as €116/night (includes tax, but not breakfast; some discounted rates are advance purchase/non-refundable). That puts you two stops (about 5 minutes on the train) from the Convention Center with very frequent train service (Sometimes the headways appears to be less than what I've had to endure for an elevator at some conventions.) It's not ideal (and I certainly hope that the convention arranges for a check room so people can store stuff they'd normally haul back to their hotel rooms on site), but it's not the apocalypse that some people seem to be making it out to be.

Me? I've booked the run-of-con at the Holiday Inn City Center (at a somewhat higher and refundable rate that includes breakfast) and will move to something better if possible.

Cheryl Morgan has written today about her previous site visit to Helsinki, which I hope some of you will find helpful. Just don't expect things to be like a standard American Big City.

Current Mood: optimistic
Thursday, September 1st, 2016
8:32 pm
Peparing the Stone
I am going to have to spend the next two weeks in the Bay Area, short week notwithstanding, so today we started the process of getting the Rolling Stone prepared for a two-week stint. There is some work that needs to be done before I leave on Monday.

Current Mood: tired
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