Kevin Standlee: Fandom Is My Way of Life|
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|Sunday, November 11th, 2018|
|Out of the Smoke
I am home. Despite having not gotten to bed until after 1 AM last night, I woke up at 4:30 AM (just before my normal alarm clock time) but went back to sleep for two more hours. I definitely was moving slowly this morning, but I had a big smile on my face and most of today still thinking about how much I enjoyed The Mystery of Edwin Drood
What I did not enjoy was all of the smoke blanketing the Bay Area and Central Valley from the Camp Fire, which (not surprisingly) got worse as I headed toward Sacramento. Now of course for me it was merely an inconvenience, not the catastrophe that has been visited upon Paradise.
In Sacramento, I stopped in and visited my sister, telling her about the play and making sure she had things she needed. Then I set off for home.
Around Nyack, I broke through the layer of smoke and started being able to breathe deeply again. By the time I was home, the headache I had from breathing smoke was receding.
This was a pretty good weekend. I just wish it was a little easier to do trips like this. I'd take the train, but besides the fact that there's no easy way to get from San Jose to connect into the California Zephyr
at Emeryville or Richmond, there is the fact that doing these trips by car allows me to spend time with my sister. Nobody else in my family is in a position to do so, and I know these visits mean a whole lot to her.
Now I hope that I can put aside all of the caffeine I ingested today to stay alert while driving home and get something approaching a proper night's sleep so I can be back at work tomorrow morning. We're going to be shorthanded for the next few days, so I'll need my full attention. Current Mood: exhausted
|Saturday, November 10th, 2018|
|One Night Only
The reason I am in San Jose today was to see a play.( DroodCollapse )
If I still lived in the Bay Area, particularly if I still lived at the Atrium Gardens apartments near the Gish light rail station (3Below is convenient to light rail downtown), I would have, when this show opened, inquired about the cost of a "season pass" that would have let me attend every performance, just so I could see as many of the show's "paths" as possible. As it was, I got an excellent room rate at the Holiday Inn North First Street in San Jose for tonight only, drove the 300 miles from Fernley to San Jose this morning, and will drive back to Fernley tomorrow.
I was happy that I got to see one of the permutations that allowed a focus on Lilly Guggenheim, daughter to Shannon and Scott Guggenheim, in her first professional role. I made a point of complimenting her on her performance.
3Below (the former RetroDome) has never disappointed me. If I could afford it (I can't), I would take Monday off so that I could stay one more night and see the show's final performance on Sunday afternoon. But now I must have a quick bite of very late dinner (a burrito picked up from the taco place near the Fairmont before I got a train back to the hotel) and get a few hours of sleep before heading for home tomorrow. Current Mood: happy
|Friday, November 9th, 2018|
After several days of rest, Lisa's foot is well enough that she's ditched the crutches and can walk on her own again. At her request, we went into Reno/Sparks tonight, had dinner, and did grocery shopping.
I have a flying visit to the Bay Area for this weekend, so I'm off very early and will be back late Sunday. Lisa isn't coming along for this trip, though. Current Mood: sleepy
|Thursday, November 8th, 2018|
|Fire Board Meeting
Back when Lisa and I started attending North Lyon County Fire Protection District meetings, we were often the only members of the "public" (i.e. not a board member, staff member, firefighter, or member of one of the auxiliary groups). Nowadays, enough people show up that they've had to start holding the meetings in a bigger room. I'm not sure exactly why that is, though.
During the public comment at the end of the meeting, I stood up and said how disappointed I was that nearly 60% of the voters in Fernley didn't think our fire department deserved a small raise, which in my case would have been the cost of a take-out pizza once a year. I still wonder what those people who voted "no" will think if they have a fire or medical emergency and nobody shows up because there are only four people on duty at any given time and they're all tied up when that call comes. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Wednesday, November 7th, 2018|
|Back to the Past
While it looks like the march toward establishing a right-wing dictatorship in the USA has slowed down a little bit, what with one house of the US Congress no longer controlled by the Trumpist Party, you wouldn't know that in Fernley or in Lyon County. To nobody's surprise, the Republicans polled in excess of 70% in most races except those where they got 100% because there was only a single person on the ballot.
It would appear that there might be 20% of the local Fernley electorate who are not full-blown Trumpists, because the advisory measure that would have directed the city council to ask the state legislature to allow the city to impose a 5 cents/gallon diesel fuel tax to pay for road maintenance almost
got 50%, but appears to have come up just short. The proposal to increase property taxes to help fund more fire fighters (I worked out that it would have cost me about as much as one take-out large pizza per year.) lost more thoroughly (60/40). I guess those people voting no don't care if their houses burn down or if nobody comes when they fall or have a heart attack.
It's not as though the people here don't want their streets improved, though. They just don't think they should have to pay for it, because they are the most heavily taxed people on the planet, at least from the way they talk. There's a long-delayed road-and-utility improvement project just under way here, paid by a mixture of various grants and some local money. It's taken years to get started.( Slow ProgressCollapse )
Oddly, I consider taxes to pay for roads and fire protection a conservative
thing to do. It's very much TANSTAAFL. You want the services? You need to pay for them. But I still see people acting as though Fernley was a little town of a few hundred people instead of a small city of 20,000. Errors made by past local administrations are coming back to bite this city hard, and none of the people who made those decisions even live here anymore!
There was one local issue where the vote went the way I voted: Lyon County 1, "the Brothel Bill," which if passed would have called upon the county government to ban brothels. There are several in Lyon County, all over near Carson City. If you ever watched HBO's series "Cathouse," you'll have seen them, because the Bunny Ranch is one of them. All of them were part of Denis Hof's holdings. Hof, you may have heard, was running for a state Assembly seat, died just before the election, but was elected by a landslide anyway. As I heard it, at least one of the Lyon brothels had to close because Hof was the sole owner and their license was suspended upon his death. But anyway: While I'm not one of their customers, I do not have a problem with licensed, regulated brothels, just as I don't object to alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use, even though I don't use any of those substances myself and don't have them around me.
Looking at the statewide election results map: If land voted (rather than people), Nevada would be running under an absolute Republican dictatorship. However, most of the people in the state live in Las Vegas and Reno, and most of them voted Democrat, and thus Nevada had a Blue Sweep (except for the Secretary of State), electing a Democratic governor, senator, and a majority in both houses of the legislature, albeit by only one vote in the state senate. I have no doubt that the people in the other counties like my own are seething at having the Democrats in charge. I, however, am relieved.
There were other good results from around the country. It shouldn't have been on the ballot in the first place, but thank goodness Massachusetts supported the rights of trans people, and by an enormous (>two-thirds) majority. There were other good results out there as well that shows that not every voter is a would-be jackbooted thug ready to kill anyone who isn't a White Conservative Man.
And finally: I'm very gratified to see that despite so many cases of voter suppression and possibly out-and-out fraud, it looks like the Republicans were not actually able to engineer a miraculous case of 435 Republican House of Representatives members. That is, it looks like results were actually relatively honest in many places. I've been worrying about that. We're not out of the woods, not by a long shot. I have some hope that the few remaining Republicans with any honor might see pretty soon that being a Trumpist doesn't pay. We can but hope. Current Mood: hopeful
|Tuesday, November 6th, 2018|
|Paying the Favor Forward
Yesterday, on my way to the grocery store, I was coming up on the intersection in front of the Pilot truck stop, which is a bad intersection at the best of times, but that suddenly got even worse when a car stopped in the middle of the intersection while a big-rig was also trying to pull out into the road. When I saw the driver get out and start trying to push his car, I realized what happened and I decided to help.
I pulled over out of traffic and (carefully, for there was plenty of traffic trying to dodge around, and with the big-rigs, lots of blind spots) ran over to the stalled car. While I was doing so, someone else coming the other way had done the same thing. Both of us started pushing the guy's car. I called out to him, "Jump in and steer! You've got two people pushing back here!" From my own experiences pushing stalled cars, I know this is more efficient.
He got back into his car and we pushed him into the gas station. (I'm glad there were two of us pushing; the entrance into the Pilot is slightly uphill.) Fortunately for all of us, the nearest pump to the entrance was vacant, and we rolled him up to his pump. He got out and thanked both of us profusely. I said I was happy to help, having been in the same boat myself once. That's the "paying it forward" title to this post. I have run out of gas in the middle of an intersection trying to get to the gas station on the other side, and people came out and pushed me. Helping someone else in the same predicament is a no-brainer to me. Besides, there's a selfish element to it; I wanted the road clear and no accident in front of me.
The driver of that car was black. Both of us helping rescue him were white. I wish it wasn't relevant, but I expect that there are some places where the black driver couldn't have expected anyone to help him at all. I do admit that I was thankful he was driving a small car and not a large vehicle like Lisa's Big Orange Van. I've had to push the BOV, and it's no picnic. Current Mood: optimistic
|Monday, November 5th, 2018|
|Lisa Took a Tumble
Last night after dinner, Lisa and I were taking a walk (as we often do), when the pavement under Lisa's feet on the left edge of the street crumbled away and sent her tumbling. The fall tore up her knee (and put a rent in her jeans), and twisted her ankle on the leg not bleeding from the scrapes of the asphalt.
Fortunately, we were only a couple of blocks from home. After Lisa concluded that she didn't think anything was broken, I helped her to her feet and supported her as we slowly limped home. I got warm water and bandages, and she cleaned and dressed the torn-up knee (which looks pretty ugly, but she says is mostly superficial) with antibiotic ointment. A little later, she seemed to be moving around okay, but this morning was a different story.
Today, her ankle was swollen a bit (although not obviously bruised), and she couldn't put any weight on it. But everything is moving, and she still doesn't think she broke anything. I offered to take her to urgent care to have the ankle X-rayed, but she doesn't think it necessary. Fortunately, we have a pair of crutches in the house, which I brought to her so she could hobble around as needed. She gave me a shopping list and I brought stuff home from Raley's for her. The checkers at the local store remarked on me being on my own; that's how much we apparently are memorable.
If I hadn't already voted a couple of weeks ago in favor of it, this would have just solidified my support for an advisory measure on the local ballot that would instruct the city council to seek legislation to allow them to impose a 5-cents-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel sold within city limits, said money to be dedicated to road maintenance and repaving. It's a hard sell in a massively anti-government, super-conservative area like Fernley, where you see people saying, "We're taxed too much as it is" and "they should learn to get by on what they already have," and also with a lot of "economics" that makes me think they think that the money coming in twenty years ago is good enough, inflation is some thing made up by liberals and doesn't really exist, and that they don't need to have the roads repaved, because they drive a big old 4WD heavy-duty truck and Government Is Evil anyway.
As I've mentioned, there were many races where I didn't vote, because there was exactly one candidate (a Republican) on the ballot, on account of the local Democratic party didn't even bother fielding a candidate because they knew it was hopeless. Maybe I should have run for State Assembly instead of Fire Board. I would have made it to the general election by default! Not that I would have won, of course, not in a district that will probably vote something like 80% Republican. But this Fernley road tax was put up by the less-crazy Republicans and has support from them; it wouldn't have made it out of the council otherwise. We can but hope that there are enough people locally who can make the connection between fuel taxes and roads. Current Mood: worried
|Sunday, November 4th, 2018|
|That Wood Do It
We've been putting it off for various reasons, but today, the first day of Standard Time, is a sort of marker in our calendar, and Lisa hitched up the utility trailer to the Small Orange Truck and we went to Big R and bought a pallet of North Idaho Energy Logs
. As I've written before, we're really glad they started selling these, after they discontinued the "fencepost" wood we'd been buying from them. The wood is 100% compressed sawdust (no binders), squeezed very tight. As long as you don't get it wet, it's just dandy firewood, and generates more heat per cubic unit than cord-wood. A pallet costs $239, and has approximately the same heat as between 1.5 and 2 cords of cord-wood. By comparison, when we bought three cords of wood a couple of years ago from a place in Reno, it cost more than $1000. (And that doesn't even count the annoyance of having their delivery driver knock over our mailbox and dump the wood in the wrong place.)
When we got home, I got kitted up in my coveralls (you do get a lot of sawdust on you when moving this stuff around), Lisa backed the trailer up against the fence, and she handed the logs to me to load into our two wood boxes.( What a Load of...Collapse )
Besides what we have in the wood boxes here, there is about 1 1/4 pallets of these logs out in the garage, so we are fairly well set for the colder weather that is just around the corner.
Ironically (but usefully since we were unloading wood), today was relatively warm, so after we got everything put away including stowing the trailer and getting dusted off and the sawdust swept off the porch, we could spend a while just relaxing in our deck chairs on our front porch looking at the trains across the street. We don't get to do that as much as we would like, and it was a nice afternoon to do so. Current Mood: accomplished
|Saturday, November 3rd, 2018|
|More of the Rainbow Fleet
Local trains and switch jobs usually end up with cast-offs and hand-me-downs. The BNSF Local serving industries between Sparks, USA Parkway, Fernley, and Hazen is no exception.( Green Machine in FernleyCollapse )
Currently the BNSF local has this locomotive, two FURX (Wells Fargo Rail leasing, former First Union Rail), and one BNSF locomotive to choose from. Based on what I'm hearing on the scanner, only one of the four units works, and it's not this BNSF 2097. Current Mood: relaxed
|Friday, November 2nd, 2018|
|A Concrete Result
The job on which we've been working this week produced concrete results.( And a lot of sore musclesCollapse )
That's roughly 1/3 of a metric ton of concrete we mixed, poured, and finished over the past two days. Both Lisa and I are rather sore in the shoulders and back today. But it's a good job done, and I reckon that nothing short of a tornado will remove the shed she intends to build and bolt to this foundation when she gets done with it. Current Mood: accomplished
|Thursday, November 1st, 2018|
|Last Chance Home Work
This is the final week for getting certain home improvement projects done that require (a) consistently above freezing temperatures and (b) enough daylight during hours when I can work on them, thanks to DST lasting through this weekend. So we set to working around 4 PM, trying to get a job done about which I'll write later when I'm not so tired. Alas, we hadn't bought enough supplies, and I ended up having to run out one once, not twice, but three times to Big R and Lowe's to get things that we needed to have tonight. Lisa rigged up lights so we could get it done tonight, which we did, and I'm relieved, but also exhausted. Perhaps I'll make good use of that extra hour on Sunday morning. Current Mood: exhausted
|Wednesday, October 31st, 2018|
Because Halloween is on a work night and because of my work hours, we couldn't do anything that ambitious this year. In fact, it was close to a carbon copy of last year. We did have to run an errand to Lowe's, and while Lisa and I didn't get into costume, Kuma Bear wore his Danger Mouse costume. Nobody recognized him, though.
After running our errand, we decided to go out to dinner in costume.( Small Scale HalloweenCollapse )
After dinner, we went into the adjacent Nugget casino. I thought I had a coupon good for $10 free play, but it turned out to be not valid on Wednesday or Saturday. Lisa played a little bit anyway, and managed to win a little bit as well. We spent the winnings at Family Dollar on the way home to buy her a bag of Snickers bars.
I'm glad we managed to get out in costume. We had these outfits with us at Worldcon 76, but never found the time to wear them. Current Mood: tired
|Tuesday, October 30th, 2018|
|Another Wrong-Way Trucker
The street on which I live is only about four blocks long, but it's split by Fernley's street grid baseline, and thus two blocks are East and two are West. The big diatomaceous earth plant is on the East leg; I'm on the West. This morning, I heard a big rig pull up out front of the house, and then start slowly backing up. I went out and flagged the guy down. I asked him if he was trying to find the Imerys plant. He said yes.
I told him, "You're at the wrong end of the street. It's that big tall silo down there."
He pointed at his GPN and insisted that it had told him to come here.
"Your GPS is wrong," I said. I actually convinced him to get down out of the cab so I could point at the plant, which is the only large industrial-type building around. He was still skeptical.
I told him, "You can drive around the block and get pointed right at it." But no, he had to go down and make a very awkward U-turn (actually more of a WWWWW turn) in a big rig on what amounts to a residential street, because GPS. I know that when I'm towing, I never
back up if I can avoid it, even if it means going round-the-houses quite a ways.
He made it down there eventually. I wish that the plant would (a) give their address correctly, with the East in it, and (b) put a sign across from my house pointing at their plant with their name on it in large letters. But I bet that we'd still get trucks pulling up wrong, and no matter what their eyes could see, they'd be stuck because GPS Is Never Wrong. So much for "professional" drivers. Current Mood: annoyed
|Monday, October 29th, 2018|
After work today, we went to Reno to use some store credit and take advantage of some offers that were expiring today. I didn't really want to go as I was pretty tired, but I also don't like leaving money on the table, so Lisa drove us into Reno/Sparks.
We'd gotten in there so early that trying to leave put us into the middle of rush-hour traffic. Lisa bailed off the freeway and we drove over surface streets into Sparks, where we stopped for dinner at the Iron Skillet (mainly because they put fried catfish back on the buffet). By the time we finished dinner, traffic had thinned out and I wasn't so sleepy and was able to drive us home.
It's supposed to warm back up later this week. I hope it does so without being windy. The next home improvement job required little or no wind and temperatures staying above freezing. Current Mood: sleepy
|Sunday, October 28th, 2018|
|Long Delayed Electrical Work
When we had the house inspected prior to buying it, one of the things the inspector pointed out was that the wiring in the bathroom was not protected by a GFI. Lisa had some difficulty finding the kind of outlet she wanted until her friend Chris found one for her.
Today we originally intended on doing some outside work at the house, but the wind came up and made the project inconvenient and even potentially dangerous, so Lisa decided to get the GFI installed.( Wiring DayCollapse )
I'm glad we finally got the master bathroom outlets protected like this.
|Saturday, October 27th, 2018|
|Another Sacramento Trip
I let myself get one extra hour of sleep, but only one, before getting breakfast at the Wigwam, checking my messages, and getting on the road to Sacramento. My sister is back in the post-acute skilled nursing facility again after the acute problem that put her in the hospital is past, and now that she's not on the full-time ventilator she can talk again.
We spent several hours talking. I brought her ballot to her -- because of the situation at the nursing home, all of her mail comes to me; I consequently get two states' worth of political campaign mailers -- and I packed it up and got it mailed for her. (This election I remembered to bring stamps. Unlike Nevada, California requires that you pay the postage. I'm glad I was able to mail it from Sacramento County rather than having to carry it home to mail it back to Sacramento.) I showed her all of the pictures from the Tonopah trip. Some of the pictures reminded her of Bodie, where our father took us many years ago and where I visited again with Lisa a couple of years back.
It's a long day for me to make this 300-mile round trip up and down the mountain. I'd rather spend the night in a hotel, but the money I would have spent on that went to Lisa and my anniversary trip, so it was out and back in one day. The weather was excellent, though, and the views were pleasant. Contrary to some beliefs, the Sierra Nevada has deciduous trees as well as b****y conifers, and the fall colors, while not a spectacular as some places, were still very colorful. In just a few weeks, I expect it will be much more difficult to make trips like this. I just hope the weather over the first weekend of December is clear, as that's SMOFCon in Santa Rosa. Current Mood: tired
|Friday, October 26th, 2018|
|Thursday, October 25th, 2018|
|Impromptu Train Documentary
While Lisa and I were visiting the Western Pacific Railway Museum last month, she shot a bunch of video to get more experience handling the big Panasonic camera. She also fitted me with a microphone so we could get good sound while I talked about trains. Lisa has edited the first set of video she shot during that trip, which was a series I improvised about UP business car 105, which is on display at the museum.( Watch for the cameo by Kuma BearCollapse )
I was mostly making this up after looking at the placards and using what I know about railroads. I'm sure I could have done better if I'd had an actual script and time to practice. Also, we did need to dodge the relatively few other people who were visiting that day. Because no trains were running and it was late in their season, there weren't many people around, but that's good for what we wanted to do.
Lisa says that she knows her technique isn't the best, but she's eager to learn more and just needs more practice.
We did have to reassure the people at the museum that, despite the professional camera, we were not shooting a "professional" video and only intended to post what we shot on YouTube. I don't even try to monetize my videos, as I see no point to it. Current Mood: accomplished
|Wednesday, October 24th, 2018|
|Not This Time
Of course, we didn't win the Mega Millions, so we won't be buying our private rail car (and the property, rail spur, and building in which to store it). Probably just as well that someone finally did hit the jackpot, or else I'd want to drive to Verdi again tomorrow to buy more tickets. Current Mood: amused
|Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018|
|The Drain Game
After looking at the pictures of the wood box with the mini-pallet lining in place, it occurred to us that any water that did manage to get into the box would likely pool in the bottom, which is not good. So this afternoon Lisa decided to do something about that.( Easier When EmptyCollapse )
After drilling the holes, Lisa applied sanding sealer to them so that the bare wood is less likely to rot. Current Mood: pleased