Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life|
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|Tuesday, November 12th, 2019|
|Head Full of Birdseed
The chipmunks continue to feast upon the decaying jack-o-lantern full of birdseed.( Chipmunks aren't usually social, but in this case, they'll make an exceptionCollapse )
When they get spooked (which is often), they sometimes dash underneath the minivan parked out front. That's okay, except I worry that when they jump up onto the front axle they're going to put themselves in danger when I go out and drive somewhere.
Based on how fat their cheek pouches are, I'm sure they're carrying much of this feed back to their burrows for use in the coming winter.
I also saw one of the local rabbits (it's been a few days since I've seen one), sitting looking forlorn on the other side of the fence and possibly wondering why I haven't left more food outside the fence. The birds (including the quail) and chipmunks can get through the chain length fence, but I've never found a rabbit inside of our fence. Current Mood: amused
|Monday, November 11th, 2019|
|The Hugo Awards Are Weird
A lot of the questions that come to the Hugo Awards web site can be broadly classed in the following two categories:
1. I want to submit my work to your Awards Committee. (Variations include questions like "What is the entry fee for your Award?")
2. Your Board of Directors should add [category] to your Awards.
We get these even though our web site explains that the answers are:
1. You can't
. (Linked right off the top menu under the single word "Submissions.")
2. It doesn't work that way
. (Linked from "The Awards/Changing the Rules.")
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Most people probably think that the Hugo Awards are run by the Board of Directors of a Big Corporation with a Big Boss who decides who wins and what the categories are, because that's how all other awards with which they're familiar work. Or at least they think they're familiar with them.
We recently got a query from a publicist behind a work that is effectively a business textbook in graphic story/comic book form. (Sounds find to me; I much enjoyed a calculus textbook in comic form when I was in high school.) It took more than one reply to convince them that A. There was no submission process. B. There was no submission fee, and C. Just because your work is in comic book format doesn't make it eligible for Best Graphic Story, unless you're saying that your work is science fiction and fantasy, which seems unlikely considering the way you're pitching it. Current Mood: amused
|Sunday, November 10th, 2019|
|Permit to Travel
New Zealand, like other countries including the USA, has implemented an Electronic Travel Authority scheme that requires you to get a permit to travel even if you are from a visa waiver country. (That is, no visa is required for US citizens, but you still need an ETA.) So today, I got out my and Lisa's passports and submitted our applications and paid the combined NZ$47 each ($12 for the ETA and $35 visitor ecological impact fee), which is around US$29. Both of our ETAs were approved within five minutes of submission, so we're good to go to New Zealand for visits between now and November 2021.
I'd forgotten to get the advance travel authority before my last trip to Australia, which led to some anxious moments at SFO as they had to submit the information from there. Fortunately, it went through immediately back then. I did not want any fretting over that kind of issue, so we took care of it today just in case there was any processing delay. Current Mood: relieved
|Saturday, November 9th, 2019|
Lisa is recovering well from having had that wisdom tooth pulled that (based on x-rays) has been pinching the nerve in her jaw that might have been the initial cause of her tinnitus. She declined the heavy-duty painkillers the dentist prescribed and says that aspirin is sufficient. She has to be careful with her diet for a while to keep the area clear where the tooth was and which is now packed with bone regeneration goo and packing. Because of all of this, the most ambitious thing we've done this weekend is to drive down to Big R and buy three bags of birdseed because of a one-day store-wide sale they were having.
A year from now, we expect to be at OryCon, if everything pans out as we expect. Current Mood: accomplished
|Friday, November 8th, 2019|
I now have all of our hotel nights (except one night in Las Vegas, but getting a room in Las Vegas isn't difficult; it's only a matter of where in the Vegas area we want to stay and whether we want to pump more points into my IHG account) for the Loscon-SMOFCon trip, and I've booked all of the vacation time. Rae Graham at the Mizpah Hotel was very helpful in looking up the room number where we stayed on our last trip and blocking us into that room. We're scheduled to spend the Friday afternoon while we're in Tonopah going through the Tonopah Convention Center with the long tape measure and documenting dimensions and doing other things like trying to connect computers to the AV system to get an idea of how it works so we can communicate it to the rest of the members.
On the other hand, I completely forgot about OryCon, where we intended to send flyers. We tentatively plan to go their next year if we can work out the logistics. Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, November 7th, 2019|
|Pop Up Chipmunk
Lisa, using her video camera, was able to shoot some video with better zoom than I can do with my camera phone. She shot some longer footage I hope to post later when I have time to edit it a little, but for now here's what it looks like when one of the chipmunks discovers the full-of-birdseed jack-o-lantern.
Mind you, this was after they (and the birds) had already eaten most of what was in the jack-o-lantern. They are going to be so fat after this. Current Mood: amused
|Wednesday, November 6th, 2019|
|Pumpkin Spice Birdseed
Lisa dumped the carvings and innards from our jack-o-lantern out front in the same area where we feed the birds (and incidentally the chipmunks and probably rabbits), and we discovered that they seemed to like it. So as Halloween is over and our jack-o-lantern is nearly dead, we put him to work with one last job.( Birdseed HolderCollapse )
I unfortunately cannot zoom any closer than I'm already doing with my camera phone, and getting out on the porch (instead of shooting through the living room window) scatters the critters immediately, so these are the best photos I've been able to manage. Current Mood: amused
|Tuesday, November 5th, 2019|
|Making Death Official
In order to do some of the things I need to do to close out the tiny bit of my late sister's official affairs, like her bank account, I need her death certificate. I tried sending what seemed like the correct form (along with a payment and a notarized affidavit) to the Sacramento County Clerk's office. They sent it back, saying that it has been too soon. Apparently for the first three years after death it comes from a different department. Looking at the other department, it looked like their form was similar but not quite the same, and would cost me another notary fee, which seemed stupid, so I called them. The guy there said there was no need for a separate affidavit because their form was asking for the exact same things, but he asked for Kelli's information to make sure they had the certificate. It turns out that for some reason they do not, and he referred me to a different office. That office says they can't find anyone by that name (or by any of the likely ways they might have misspelled her name, like Kelly Stanley or other variations. I ended up leaving a message with another person who might be able to track it down. I wonder if I'm actually going to have to go down to Sacramento and stand on someone's desk until they issue me the necessary paperwork.
In the meantime, I'm having similar difficulty (even with a copy of the death certificate) convincing the California Department of Motor Vehicles that my mother's car (which was accidentally totaled shortly after her death while it was being moved, but that we haven't been able to actually dispose of due to the cloudy title) should be in "Planned Non Operational" status and that I have the right to do so. This being even after I sent them a copy of her death certificate, will (naming me as executor and sole heir), and the necessary fee to put it into PNO status. They cashed the check, but they continue to send her (at her old address, not mine) dunning notices for registration fees.
You'd think they want the people who die to come in to their office before
they die to tell the people there that they'll be dying at a future certain date and would they please update their databases. Current Mood: annoyed
|Monday, November 4th, 2019|
|So Much For That
If you are someone who insisted that nobody would ever make commercial or professional use of the Hugo Award registered service mark to claim that they were individually and personally Hugo Award winners on account of having contributed to An Archive of Our Own
, you are flat-our wrong. It's happening, and I'm not talking about "jokes" or "one-two-millionth of a Hugo Award winner" statements. The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is doing what it can about such things. Despite what some people seem to think, the first step in such cases is almost never LAWYER UP and FILE A LAWSUIT. But it uses up resources that are rather limited. I wish we didn't have to do so. I wish that I hadn't been right about people doing what I predicted they would do.
Note, by the way, that the MPC hasn't even been actively searching for infringements. They're being reported to us by individual people not connected to WSFS in any official way, but (for example) people who have run across such a claim that a given individual is a "Hugo Award winning author" on their professional (i.e. pay me money for the words I've written) social media/websites, and they've come to TheHugoAwards.org trying to figure out what it was they actually won.
If you're a member of AO3's community, I suggest you try to persuade your fellow members that making commercial use of AO3's win to claim individual and personal ownership of a Hugo Award win is not a good thing. I'm not talking about silly jokes here. I'm talking about people chipping away at the Hugo Award one real, commercial, professional infringement at a time. Current Mood: angry
|Sunday, November 3rd, 2019|
I have signed up to be a caucus volunteer for the 2020 Nevada Democratic Caucus. On Tuesday evening I am to call in to a live online web training for what do to on Caucus Day. Given how disorganized the process was last time around, I want to do my part to keep things rolling, because lots of confusion during the caucus leads to dissatisfied voters. Mind you, I don't have a strong personal preference for any particular Democratic candidate. As it stands now, the party could nominate a box of rocks and I'd vote for it. I'll be making the point to my fellow members that no matter who our party nominates for the general election, we do not have the luxury of casting protest votes or sitting out the election, as Nevada is a potential swing state, and (thanks to the foolishness of the Electoral College), Nevadans votes are over-weighted compared to (say) Texas or Florida. We have to show party unity. The Trumpist Party represents an existential threat to American democracy. Even as it stands, if "Dear Leader" doesn't get returned to office by the results of the election, I expect him to declare the results void and refuse to vacate the White House. It's sad that I have to base my hopes on the future of our country on the Secret Service having a plan to deal with a former president who refuses to leave. Current Mood: worried
|Saturday, November 2nd, 2019|
Lisa moved the entire first pallet of logs from the driveway to the wood box yesterday.( Compact HeatCollapse )
In the meantime, today after coming back from breakfast at the Wigwam, I tackled a big pile of papers that, judging from the oldest dates on them, went clear back to 2016. Many of the papers were stuff I no longer needed to retain, and so I took all of the burnable papers and put them in the fireplace. As of now, about three hours after I did so, the pile of stacked papers continues to glow with heat, so at least I'm getting something out of them. I also found my clipboard, which has been missing for a while and which I wanted for the SMOFcon trip, so that's an added bonus. Current Mood: accomplished
|Friday, November 1st, 2019|
|You Can Get the Wood, You Know
Renner Equipment Company of Yerrington is stocking the North Idaho Energy Logs that we can't get from Big R anymore, and even at about $370/pallet (roughly half again what we were paying Big R when they were selling them; I take it the vendor has upped the price considerably), it's still less expensive than buying cord-wood. In this case, as they were transporting some of the logs to their Fallon store, they agreed to bring them to our house (it's only about two blocks out of their way to do so), and the owner of Northern Nevada Cabinets down the street agreed to bring his forklift over to unload the pallets. When we got the call that the wood was on its way this morning, Lisa went over and told the cabinet guy. As it happens, the delivery truck showed up just about the time Lisa was at the cabinet place. As happens a lot here (because the street signs don't have the directions on them), the delivery driver turned the wrong way, but Lisa got her sorted out.
Unloading would have been quick, but the cabinetry forklift ran out of propane, so they had to take the bottle away and get it refilled, which added extra time. However, eventually we had two pallets of firewood on the driveway.( Ready to unpackCollapse )
Although a pallet of these logs is much smaller than a cord of wood, it actually contains the equivalent heat of between 1.5 and 2 cords of dry split firewood because the logs are so dense and burn so well, generating little ash and smoke.( Empty BoxCollapse )
Lisa started unloading logs today while I worked at the Day Jobbe. I offered to help, but she said she'd rather do it, and I am not going to tell her no. Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, October 31st, 2019|
|Happy Nevada Day (oh, and Halloween, Too)
Nevada's admission day is October 31, and while for the past few years the holiday has been moved to the previous Monday, we still celebrate it (such as it is) on the actual day.( Flying the FlagCollapse )
It was a very low-key Halloween for us.( Pumpkin TimeCollapse )
Because it's a work night for me and Lisa isn't particularly energetic, we did nothing in the way of fun in costumes this year. But Kuma complained, so Lisa dressed him in his Pirate Samurai costume
and we went over to Raley's for some groceries and for Kuma to show off. Many people in the store liked Kuma in his costume.
There's a huge haunted house this year just a block or so away downtown, but I've never been much of a fan of haunted houses, and so I'm leaving it to the people for whom it's more their thing, and wish them a fun time.
Lisa and I did go for a walk after dinner, and I saw a shooting star in the eastern sky, and one of the neighborhood bunnies trying to pretend to be a rock or a bush so we wouldn't see them (the rabbit ran off when I played my flashlight over them). That's about all of the excitement we have this year. We're saving up for the Thanksgiving-Loscon-Arizona-SMOFCon trip. Current Mood: cheerful
|Wednesday, October 30th, 2019|
Lisa had a dentist appointment in December, but a last-minute opening came up, so we went in to Reno this afternoon. After the routine cleaning and new X-rays, she spoke to dentist about the upper left wisdom tooth that appears to be binding that auditory nerve, which she thinks is what is causing the tinnitus. The dentist agreed to pull that wisdom tooth, and next Thursday afternoon we'll go back in and have the work done under anesthesia. The dentist says he won't guarantee that it will make the tinnitus go away, and Lisa said she understands and agrees, but based on symptoms, X-rays, and experimentation, she thinks this will help.
The dental work is expensive, and only partially covered by insurance, but that's one of the reasons for my healthcare savings account; it means we don't have to worry about the estimated $1275 in above-insurance cost, as we've been setting money aside tax-free and without risk of "use it or lose it."
We had an additional errand in Sparks. One of the tires in the Big Orange Van had gone flat. We took the tire to Big O Tires and left it with them while we took care of some grocery shopping. When we got back to the shop, they had it fixed. Turns out the valve stem had failed, which is a simply fix an about $11 worth of parts, with the labor covered by the tire warranty.
We would have gone home after that, but there was a big accident blocking the freeway eastbound, so instead we went to dinner at the Peppermill. By the time we were through with dinner, traffic eastbound had cleared. I'm glad we were not going the other way, though: there was an accident westbound outside of Sparks that had a backup that stretched nearly ten miles! Current Mood: optimistic
|Tuesday, October 29th, 2019|
|Coming to Loscon
Lisa and I are driving to this year's SMOFCon in Albuquerque, and due to certain other plans not happening the way we originally hoped, we've decided to — for the first time — come to Loscon this Thanksgiving Day weekend before turning east and heading for Albuquerque. We bought our memberships today and made our hotel reservations, including the reservations for the road trip via Bishop south from Fernley and then east when we leave on Sunday. Part of the plan includes me trying to work each morning at the Day Jobbe to reduce the number of days of vacation I have to take.
If it's possible to arrange it, we hope to work on a joint Westercon 74 - Costume Con 39 information table at Loscon. We are not holding a party. Despite having been invited (for which we're grateful), we have had to decline doing Match Game SF
because we'd have to carry all of the gear clear to Albuquerque and back, and Lisa would rather us not do so.
Our current plan for the return trip will include probably a two night stop in Tonopah, so that we can go have another look at the Convention Center. We hope to take more detailed measurements and to do some testing of how computers connect to the building's AV setups and how fast the included internet connections are. This is important because our plans for programming include having one program room set up for remote access, so that we can have panelists who are not physically present but are part of the programming, and so that non-attending members of Westercon 74 can also participate in programming.
And we expect to be taking a train ride as well. Some of the Southwest's tourist railroads are more active in the winter because the summer is too hot. We've made our booking and hotel reservation, but we'll talk more about it as we get closer to the date. Current Mood: optimistic
|Monday, October 28th, 2019|
Ideally, I would have simply put in a simple work day and gone to bed early. But we have some local errands that need doing this afternoon, and we need to test a new bit of tech kit that will, if all goes well, be used at both SMOFCon this year and Westercon 74 next year to make it easier to use the better-quality cameras to live-stream panel programming. More about that later if it works out. Current Mood: busy
|Sunday, October 27th, 2019|
Today is light duty while I recover from last week. Tomorrow Lisa and I have to make some decisions about what we're actually going to do for in late November/early December and make our travel plans accordingly. Current Mood: sick
|Saturday, October 26th, 2019|
I did enjoy Nine: the Musical
at 3Below on Friday night, and getting back to the RV was uneventful. It's easier now that I know what the correct walking path is (and which office's parking lot I can cut across to cut maybe 500 m off the walk). I got to bed after midnight, at which time it still seemed a little warm to me, but a couple hours later I woke up shivering and slightly feverish. More shingles vaccine reaction, I assume. I dragged the rest of the blankets down from the "attic" in the RV and bundled up as best I could. Firing up the furnace was not an option. (1. I hadn't turned on the gas since my last cold-weather trip months ago and I didn't want to get dressed to go outside and turn it on. 2. When it hasn't run for months, it takes a lot of work to get all of the air out of the system and start working again. 3. I was still very sleepy.) I fell back asleep and slept in several extra hours.
I very much took my time driving home. I stopped for breakfast in Tracy. Many of the staff at the restaurant were in costume. Most of the servers were wearing elaborate Dia de los Muertos dresses and makeup, and I complimented them about it. What surprised me were a family that were asking what the costumes were about and reacting with some bemusement when told about the Day of the Dead. How one could live in the Southwest and never heard or seen anything about Dia de los Muertos surprises me. Oh well.
Heading for the hills, I started getting sleepy despite all of the coffee I'd had.( Heading for the (Not-So-) Secret LairCollapse )
After the Secret Stop, I continued home (with a couple more shorter rest stops) without incident. Lisa had taken advantage of me being away for a week and out from underfoot to do a bunch of cleaning, and had also built up the fire in the fireplace as the weather is starting to turn cold again. She helped me unload what needed unloading tonight. The rest can wait until tomorrow.
These trips seem to get harder the less often I do them, although of course it's likely that I'm just getting older and less resilient. Current Mood: exhausted
|Friday, October 25th, 2019|
Yesterday was my semi-annual diabetes check-in. Things are about where they have been. Maybe slightly improved due to adding a new medication to the mix. Nothing else has gone wrong. Losing weight would help. I wonder if the large numbers of steps I'm logging this week is helping. Also on the docket yesterday was the second and final dose of a shingles vaccine. As they warned me, I'm having a slightly adverse reaction to the shot — mainly lots of soreness in my upper left arm where they injected it (oddly, I didn't feel the shot itself at all) and up through my neck and upper back. It's annoying, not debilitating, and it's a whole lot better than getting shingles! Still, I'm glad that I'm not driving home today because I'm slightly unsteady.
Tonight I'll take light rail downtown to 3 Below Theatre to see Nine: The Musical
. Getting back to the RV will be a hassle because late at night light rail doesn't serve the Mountain View line. There's a bus substitute, but it doesn't follow all of the light rail stops through the part of Sunnyvale where I'm parked, and I understand why. It's still annoying. At least now I know the last train to the last bus, where to get off, and where to walk to get back to the RV, and the weather is mild.
Tomorrow I can sleep in a bit before driving home. Current Mood: sore
|Thursday, October 24th, 2019|
|Not Dressed for the Weather
There's a warm spell here in the Bay Area (that, combined with hot, dry winds, is why PG&E has been proactively shutting off power in places where they worry that their power lines might start fires). I, however, brought nothing but dark clothing, i.e. my "winter uniform." I should have stuck to my "summer uniform" of khaki shirts and slacks for this trip. The overnight lows where I've been have been at best about the same as the daytime highs in Fernley. I'm glad it has sort of cooled off overnight, however, as there is no way to cool the Rolling Stone
, only to heat it, not that there's been any need to fire up the propane furnace on this trip. Current Mood: hot