Kreegah Bundalo

Napping About

Because I worked several long days this week, I was able to shut down for the week relatively early (about 1 PM). Lisa had no tasks for me, I was sleepy, so I went to bed. At the time, I felt like I could sleep for a week, but it turned out to only be for two hours. That seems longer than a "nap," and I've never been good at short sleeps, but maybe this sort of siesta is good for me.
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The Network Expands

Lisa decided that I needed a connection to our home network in the bedroom, so she went to work today on creating it.

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I eventually will probably use one of the older computers to run an internet radio in the bedroom. We get nearly no radio reception out here in Fernley, and what stations we do receive are not the ones to which we want to listen.
Kreegah Bundalo

Work, Sleep, Repeat

Once again I fell into bed as soon as I finished Day Jobbe today. I woke up again after a few hours, but it's clear that I am not getting enough sleep. Or maybe that my body wants to have a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon and then stay up later; hard to tell.
Not Sensible

Fernley Caucus Report

I didn't get to sleep in that much because I wanted to get breakfast at the Wigwam before heading off to volunteer at the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus, where I was a precinct chair. Lisa decided to join me at breakfast (she's rarely awake at that time), but because she's a registered independent, she couldn't participate in the caucus.

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After my experience four years ago, I volunteered to help with the 2020 caucus because I was not all that pleased with the organization of the event. I don't mean the results — I mean the logistics and management of the event. After participating in initial online "Caucus 101" training and subsequent in-person training, I applied for the Temporary Precinct Chair appointment for Precinct 40, which is where I live in Fernley. (Lyon County is divided into forty precincts, of which mine is the northernmost.)

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According to the instructions we received, TPCs were asked to arrive at East Valley Elementary School by 8 AM, with the Site Lead (in charge of overall organization) arriving at 7:30. I therefore arrived about 7:45. To my surprise, I was the first person there except for the custodian at the school who had opened the building and was wondering where the organizers were. I later learned that there was a big traffic accident in Reno/Sparks on eastbound I-80, and therefore our site lead, who was responsible for transporting the caucus materials from the party headquarters near Reno Airport, had gotten stuck in traffic.

Other TPCs began to filter in along with a few other volunteers as well as precinct captains (see my note above) and other partisan organizers, and we took it upon ourselves to start doing some basic physical arrangement of the school's multi-purpose room prior to the site lead's arrival. The custodian showed us where the racks of folding chairs were and she told us we could roll the racks in to the hall, which we did. We unloaded two full racks and put a third rack on standby. We weren't sure how many people would be here compared to four years ago. While interest in the caucus is much higher this time, especially with so many remaining candidates still in the race, the introduction of early voting was a wild card.

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After completing check-in and precinct chair briefing, the Site Lead got everyone's attention, thanked everyone for their patience and for coming, and started reading letters from senior Nevada elected officals, starting with governor Steve Sisolak. After he finished, I offered to read the letter from Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto. Our site lead read the letter from Senator Jackie Rosen (he works for her office), and the other PCs read letters from Nevada's three Democratic members of Congress.

With the pep rally portion done, the Precinct Chairs went to our precincts and called them individually to order. I banged my gavel, introduced myself, and started reading from the scripts provided to us by the Nevada Democratic Party. Rather than go through the process of ayes and nays for what is generally a routine item, I asked if there was any objection to me serving as Permanent Chair. There was none. I asked for and recieved a volunteer to act as Precinct Secretary. I'm grateful for her help, because while she wrote the results of intermediate counts, I had to either enter them into the iPad or read off the results we got from the iPad.

The way the caucus works is that initially everyone in the caucus forms an "initial alignment" of their most-preferred candidate. After the first round, only "viable" candidates survive. Viability depends on the size of the precinct. Our precinct was to elect five delegates to the county convention in April, and thus viablity meant you had to poll at least 15% of the total votes cast, including early votes.

After entering the in-person voters on the paper sheet and the iPad, I used the iPad to retrieve the results of the advance voting. Had the iPad malfunctioned, we also had the advance voting results on paper, but all seven iPads worked as advertised. There were a total of 29 people (in person and advance) voting in our precinct (about a 15% turnout, I think), and thus viability was 29 * 0.15 = 4.35, with all fractions rounded up, and thus viability required at least 5 votes.

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I and the other precinct chairs started cleaning up our paperwork, putting forms in the correct envelopes, and tidying up generally. We asked those people who hadn't immediately run for the exits as soon as final alignments had been reached to help fold and store chairs and tables, take down signs, and clean up the room.

We invited anyone who wanted to do so to take pictures of the posters and final precinct counts. I was so busy that I did not get a picture of any other precinct but our neighboring 39.

The base instructions said that the precinct chairs were supposed to both phone in and e-mail pictures of our precincts to party HQ, but the site lead offered to do all of them, so we brought all seven sets of paperwork to him, he reviewed it, took the pictures, sent the e-mails, made the calls, and would later after we finsished cleaning up transport the original documents including the voter cards back to party headquarters in Reno.

During this time I had to divert from my main task of clean-up (mostly done anyway) to help one of our precinct's voters, who was experiencing both physical (from too much standing) and emotional (from having her first preference get elimintated) pain. I retrieved a chair from one of the racks and sat with her while she poured out her frustration. I also loaned her my phone so she could call her son to come get her. When she felt able to walk again, I helped her outside, with her holding my right arm while I carried a chair in my left as we went out to the curb. I set the chair up for her and continued to stay with her and listen to her until her son came. (Besides just being a good person, this sort of thing is part of what we should live when we say we want to hold an accessible and inclusive caucus respectful of all of our members.) I of course returned the chair. I do wish I'd been able to go grab my Jacaru hat, as it was surprisingly sunny and I got even redder than usual, especially on the top of my head.

After helping the site lead move boxes to his car, we made one final pass through the room, where I took down a couple of stray signs we'd left behind. Note to self: if I do this again, bring a roll of blue tape, as the masking tape supplied by the party was poor quality and hard to use and you shouldn't use ordinary masking tape on the painted surfaces anyway. One final task: I helped the custodian reset some of the tables to the way they will be used on Monday morning so that she could finish her work and go home.

And then we really were done, about 3 PM. Not counting the custodian who unlocked and locked the building, I ended up being the first person in and the last person out. That does remind me of a number of fannish functions on which I've volunteered.

This caucus did go much more smoothly than the one four years ago, and I think the advance voting made a big difference. The "caucus calculator" on the iPads worked, and it made the counting easier, and we never had to go to the backup plans, but I'm still glad that it wasn't the only way we could have done the election. It still could have gone better. Even though it means I'd have to be up even earlier to make two trips back and forth to Reno, I'm tempted to volunteer to be a site lead. Having seen how it works, it doesn't seem any more complicated than a lot of the conventions on which I have worked.

I'm tired from the long day, but I'm very satisfied with the results organizationally, even if my first choice candidate did not make the cut in my precinct. I'm glad that I was able to lend my organizational skills to it, and I got a lot of thanks from many people including the site lead, my fellow PCs, and lots of the voters. Go Precinct 40!
Not Sensible

3 1/2 Minutes of Fame

On Friday morning, after getting up extra early to prepare my Day Jobbe's documents for which I'm responsible, I headed into Reno to make my first-ever appearance on live, national television. I had been approached earlier in the week by a producer at CNN, presumably attracted to comments I'd made here and elsewhere on social media about the caucus just as the Washington Post reporter was.

Inasmuch as CNN is a legitimate news organization, unlike Fox News, I was confident that they weren't going to try to "ambush" me and agreed to do the interview. I let my co-workers know about it on Wednesday, and they (including my manager) were cool about it. CNN let me know the general topics they expected to cover, but (again, because they're real news), not the specific questions. That's fine with me.

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If you'd like to see how I performed, one of the producers at CNN with whom I was working provided me with a clip of the interview segment. The copyright is obviously CNN's, so I can't just upload the clip to YouTube, and that's why I can't embed it.

After the segment, the makeup artist washed me up. (I probably should have left it on as if I'd left immediately I could have made the start of our Friday staff meeting at the Day Jobbe instead of coming in late, and they all could have seen what I looked up made up for television.) I headed for home. That's counter-commute, so I made good time. I passed a traffic accident including a school bus coming the other way on I-80, so I was very lucky that I came through much earlier.

I'm pretty pleased with how this went. I've done television before, albeit never on politics, and every previous appearance was taped, including the time I was on KPIX 5 in the Bay Area talking about coaxing extra mileage out of my minivan, an interview I did with KTXL 40 in Sacramento at the final Eclecticon talking about the convention, and (going way back) being one of the four kids on the "Captain Delta Show" on KOVR 13 Sacramento on what would have been the first day of the second grade. I've also done a little bit of radio, talking about Caltrain with Mike Colgan for news stories on KCBS 740, and appearing on KFJC 89.7 live discussing ConJose back in 2002. Over time, I apparently have picked up some of the ability to speak in relatively short phrases and make my point, even about relatively esoteric things like Instant Runoff Voting. This was was the very biggest "stage" on which I've ever appeared, and I'm happy that I seem to have done it right.

Again, this was not an official appearance on behalf of the Nevada Democratic Party, nor was it done with the Party's knowledge. I was not compensated for my time. I want to thank the folks at CoverEdge who were highly professional and helpful, and my co-workers, manager, and our customer contact who were cooperative with my having to take more than two hours out of my morning during what is the busiest part of our work day.
Confusion Ahead

Bullet Dodged

(If anyone is expecting to me to discuss my appearance on CNN today, wait until after the Nevada Democratic Caucus is over.)

Yesterday, after reviewing the days we planned to be in New Zealand and looking at the 3x/week train schedule between Auckland and Wellington (and the ability to book a stopover on the train trip), Lisa and I concluded that if we put one more day onto the trip and rearranged our travel Auckland-Wellington, we have a chance of going over to the South Island for a few days after the convention an still go back up north and take advantage of the four-nights-for-three IHG offer in Auckland at the end of the trip. So I called AirNZ and they said that because it was within 24 hours, we could make the change for only US$100 total, which was acceptable.

In 2017, we had to make a one-day change like this because we'd misread the ferry schedule between Germany and Finland. In that case, we were less than 20 minutes from the 24 hours running out on the ability to make changes, and I was starting to wonder if IcelandAir would take the time we called (as opposed to when they picked up the phone after a long wait). In the end, they did accept that we were (barely) within 24 hours and made the change.

Unfortunately, the Coastal Pacific train south from Picton to Christchurch doesn't run in the winter, so if we want to go ride the TranzAlpine, we'll have to endure what appears to be a six-plus-hour bus ride.

There are other interesting potential trips that The Man in Seat 61 discusses, and the Taieri Gorge Railway looks fantastic, but I don't see any way to make it happen. A pair of six hour bus rides is bad enough, but another set between Christchurch and Dunedin? I don't think so.

Still to come: booking a hotel in Hamilton, sorting out how to get to Hamilton to the Hobbiton tour (preferably the evening one with the dinner) and all of the South Island travel, plus booking the Auckland-Wellington train (with a planned stopover at Hamilton).

Bullet Bitten

Last night, Lisa and I bit the bullet and bought our airline tickets to New Zealand. Our plan is to fly to Auckland, spend a couple of days there recovering from the flight, take the train to Wellington, arriving two nights before Worldcon, attend Worldcon, spend a couple of nights after the convention, take the train back to Auckland, then use a bunch of my IHG points and offers to spend five nights in Auckland before flying home. Lisa is Business Meeting Videographer, and I'm her flunky ("you carry the tripod"), so we were fortunate to get a room in the West Plaza Hotel, and they were very obliging about adding a night to our hotel reservation yesterday. The train between Auckland and Wellington doesn't run every day, so pieces of our trip depend upon the train's schedule.

Part of the bullet-biting was to purchase Air New Zealand Economy Skycouch, which allows the two of us to have three seats. I don't expect either of us to be able to stretch out across the seats, but it does mean we will have the extra space. Skycouch costs less than a third coach ticket would cost, but as Lisa points out, it's a bargain for the airline because they get the revenue without having to carry that extra passenger (including their weight and luggage, as we don't get an extra bag even though we're paying for an extra seat). After pulling the trigger on the purchase, I looked at Kuma Bear and said, "You'd better be appreciative! We just spent an extra $1000 on a seat just for you!" It's still cheaper than a pair of premium economy (more legroom, apparently slightly wider) seats.

We'll be starting and ending our trip in Reno, not San Francisco. The fare is a little bit more, but based on the flight times, it makes more sense and costs less overall. That's because we will leave Reno at 5:50 PM on a United hop to San Francisco, changing to an AirNZ flight that leaves at 9:50 PM (arriving Auckland two days later at 5:45 AM thanks to the International Date Line). That means I can work on the day we leave, saving a vacation day. The return leaves AKL at 7:35 PM, goes to LAX where we have about 2 1/2 hours to clear customs & immigration and transfer to our short flight to RNO, arriving about 5 PM on the same day we left (regaining the day we lost on the way out). I plan to take the day after we get home off to rest. Even so, I save two vacation days and two hotel nights in SFO. Also, parking is much less expensive at Reno than at SFO.

Unfortunately, the discounted fare on AirNZ doesn't earn me miles on their partner airline, in this case United. I might get miles for the two UA flights (RNO-SFO/LAX-RNO). We had to move money around so that we could pay for the trip with my United credit card; otherwise, we'd have to pay extra for our checked bags on the short legs. Annoyingly, while the international flight has a one included bag allowance, the connecting flights do not, but if you pay with your United card, you get the checked bag.

We still have to book our train trips and at least one of the tours we want to make. It would be easier if we stopped over at Hamilton, but the trains don't run often enough as far as I can tell, and also, the way my IHG points work, I get four nights for the price of three, so if I want to take full advantage of them, I need to put four days in a row.

Last year, Lisa was a wreck because we followed the siren song of eight hotel nights for the points cost of six in central Dublin but had to spend way more time and effort commuting back and forth between the convention center and downtown. For New Zealand, being in the same hotel as the Business Meeting, as we were in Finland and (in effect; we were in the Hilton) San Jose, was a high priority. It's harder work recording the meeting than you might think.
Conrunner Kevin

Appointment Television

If it's convenient for you to do so, you might want to plan to tune in to CNN from about 7:30 AM PT (10:30 AM ET) this coming Friday morning (February 21). I might be involved with something there in relation to this weekend's caucus. No guarantees; the news cycle can always up and bite you at the last minutes.
Not Sensible

Caucus Voting

As I've mentioned, because I'm a designated Temporary Precinct Chair, I've been asked to vote in advance of the caucus so that I don't betray my own personal preferences during the administrative business of our precinct's caucus this weekend. By voting early using a preferential ballot, my vote will count even though I personally won't be standing with any of the preference groups until after the final preferences are determined and our precinct selects our delegates to the county convention.

Nevada is, as far as I know, the first state using a caucus that is also allowing people to express their preferences in advance, by voting for at least three but not more than five candidates on an instant-runoff ballot. While it does handle redistribution of preferences out of non-viable (<15% of total votes) candidates, it does leave out the theoretical element of caucus members persuading others in person to vote with their group. However, four years ago, there was essentially no individual persuasion happening at the caucus I attended, although that might have been because there were substantially only two candidates, whereas this time the field is more fragmented.

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I found it very reassuring to have other Democrats around me. If you went solely on the online crowd, you'd think that every single person in Fernley was a Republican, and people like me — and it's an article of faith among these people that every single person from Californicate lives in San Fran and is a communist who never did a lick of work in their life — should just go back to California and let Real Murikens get on with crowning King Donald as President for Life and Beyond. And of course, everyone in California is a welfare cheat and there's no money there at all (no, it doesn't have to make sense). Some of them were posting messages telling people to "write in Trump!" and didn't seem happy to know that there is no provision for write-in candidates in a caucus. You either have to choose a candidate or Uncommitted.

It was good to be around people who haven't drank Dear Leader's Kool-Aid.

By the way, with lots of time to talk, I spoke with some of the other people in line around me. By coincidence, the woman behind me had attended the 2011 Worldcon in Reno. But she didn't know it was a "Worldcon." She only knew it by "Renovation" and didn't connect that it was the World Science Fiction Convention. This is more proof to me that Worldcons should stop marketing nicknames and should call themselves "Worldcon."

Card Conundrum

This morning when I went to breakfast at the Wigwam, I discovered when I went to pay that the card I intended to use that it wasn't in my wallet. (Not a problem; I have others.) After paying for breakfast (and winning $25 off of the free-play coupons I got from having breakfast there), I went home and called the place Lisa and I had dinner last night in Reno-Sparks. Sure enough, I'd left my card there and they were holding it for me. As it happens, there was a reason for me to go into Reno (actually Sparks) anyway, as I had an auto part waiting for me to be picked up in Sparks, so I saddled up and drove to Sparks, collected my card, then drove over to Summit and collected the part. It's still time consuming (it's about 25 miles each way), but this could have been much worse.
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