Trains, Wonderful Trains

Tie Clearance and Giant Claw Action

Some of you may recall that back in June, Union Pacific came through and replaced the track and the mainline switch leading into the Fernley House Tracks across from our house. In the wake of that job they left a pile of junk railroad ties (sleepers). Yesterday, UP finally cleared the ties, using a variety of interesting equipment.

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Later in the day, a set of small self-propelled maintenance of way equipment consisting of a mini-gondola and a transport car holding an excavator that appeared to also supply the power for the transport car eased into the Fernley House Track, after which I got to see equipment moves that I'd not seen before.

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This morning, the crew were back to get moving down the railroad to their next job. After negotiating a work window with the dispatcher after Amtrak came through (running almost ten minutes early), it was time to reverse the steps from yesterday.

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Having put itself back together and with a maintenance window in which to work, the crew slowly rolled away to their next task.

I'm glad to have the ties gone, but I suspect that the chipmunks and rabbits that appeared to be have been using the pile as a nest were less than pleased.
Let's Split

Wood Storage

By the time we got the two pallets of North Idaho Energy Logs stored away last night, it was too dark to take any pictures, so I did so this morning.

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Besides a full supply of firewood, we recently refilled the new large propane bottle for the first time after the initial test fill. This time we charged it up to 20 gallons; the theoretical capacity is a little over 23 gallons. This is roughly three times as much as the small bottles hold. We therefore, between propane and firewood, are all set to face the cold weather still ahead, and that's good because it's been below freezing with wind a lot lately.
Let's Split

Wood Delivery

As we are nearing the end of the two pallets of North Idaho Energy Logs, we contacted the place in Yerrington/Fallon (Renner Equipment) where we bought them and they were willing to deliver two more pallets. We made arrangements for delivery today and Lisa went down to Northern Nevada Cabinets to arrange for unloading. There was a snag: his forklift is broken. Next she tried D7 Industries (down an alleyway near our house). They said they'd be willing, but the alley is unpaved and they can't take their forklift over gravel because it tears up the tires. We were about to give up and tell them to take the wood to Fallon, where we'd have to make a pair of fifty mile round trips with the utility trailer to get the pallets. Lisa made one last try, walking down to Imerys Minerals (the diatomaceous earth processing plant down the street) and asking if they could help. This is, I think, a case of where being recognized as "the couple who walk by the plant every day around lunchtime" helps, as they agreed to help, as long as (again) they didn't have to drive on unpaved roads. This was okay, but it constrained the delivery to having to be right out front of our house, rather than around back on the back driveway, which as the asphalt is degraded counts as "unpaved" for this purpose.

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Although Lisa did nearly all of the log-rolling, once I managed to get clear of Day Jobbe, I came out and did a share of the lifting and toting. We now have a very full wood box and about 2/3 of a pallet stored in the garage as well. We hope this will be enough to last through March. We've been doing pretty good so far. Lisa discovering (and fixing) the leak in the living room where so much of our heat was venting out through the roof had helped a lot. Next year may be better, as we have a goal of trying to get a leaky window in the living room replaced.

We got the last of the logs put away just as the last of the twilight was fading. It was a long, cold, windy day, and much harder on Lisa. She worked very hard, and I assured her that if she wants to sleep all day tomorrow, nobody will blame her. She reminded me to take some aspirin before going to be, for while I didn't do nearly as much work as she did, lifting all that wood catches up to you eventually.
SMOF License

Dodging a Vehicle Repair

During the Loscon-SMOFCon-Tonopah trip, we noticed that the Astro had some vibration in the front end at certain speeds above 60 mph. We thus tended to keep our speed down to avoid that. Today was the first post-holiday-season day where we had an opportunity to take the minivan to Big O in Sparks. We convoyed into town, with me driving the Rolling Stone, because we assumed it would probably take a day or so. Lisa suggested we might have issues with the struts.

After dropping the Astro with Big O, Lisa asked that we go to Winco for grocery shopping. I'm sure glad she did, because while we were there, Big O called and informed us that the only problem was that one of the tires was out of balance. They rebalanced it (and rotated the tires; they were due). After we finished our shopping, we collected the minvan. Cost $0 because it's included in the Big O Tire warranty. And we saved an extra convoy trip!

Honey Bear

Yesterday morning, Lisa and Kuma came with me to breakfast at the Wigwam. Lisa wasn't that hungry, so she had a cup of tea and ate the English muffins that came with my breakfast. Kuma asked for honey as usual.

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Not Sensible

Caucus Training

I have volunteered to work with the Nevada Democratic Party for the 2020 Nevada Caucuses ("First in the West"). The 2016 Caucus was a bit of a mess, and the party is working to try and not repeat mistakes made last time around. For example, There will be early voting the week before the caucus, so that the preferences of party members who cannot attend the actual caucus can be recorded. They'll even be using a preferential (instant-runoff) ballot, which of course I am very familiar because that's what we use for the Hugo Awards and Worldcon/Westercon site selection. I've already completed a couple of online training classes that are prerequisites for working on caucus day, and today was the first of two "volunteer summits" where we'd get the rest of the orientation for the big day next month.

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I've volunteered to be a "Temporary Precinct Chair" (in nearly all cases, the TPC is elected the Permanent Chair by acclamation, mainly because hardly anyone else wants to do the work). I was fortunate in that nobody had yet applied to be the TPC for Lyon County precinct 40, where I live, so I get to chair my local precinct. Now according to the records I looked up, there are only about 250 Democrats registered for my precinct, and in 2016, only 30 of us showed up in person. This time around, those of us who attend on February 22 will be added to those who vote in advance to determine our allocation of delegates to the county convention on April 18. The county convention will then elect delegates to the state convention, which in turn will determine the Nevada delegation going to Milwaukee WI in July.

I volunteered this year because it seemed to me that last time around, our TPC was not really confident about the caucus process. I understand it, and also this time they've made it easier and given us a better outline to follow. On the other hand, as the Precinct Chair, it turns out that it's more difficult for me to be selected as a delegate to the county convention, which I'd like to try to do again as I did in 2016. (I'm not that interested in the state or national conventions; Westercon and Worldcon have too much call on my time.) However, even if I only put in the several hours in February to help keep my little corner of one county organized, I feel like I'm doing my part to help the process along.
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Come for the Birdseed, Stay for the Birds

Yesterday after the brief snowfall, I went out and spread more birdseed in and below the feeder. Later in the afternoon, after much of the snow had melted, I wondered aloud to Lisa why there hadn't been more birds coming to take advantage of the seed. She said, "Look out the front window."

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We spoiled the hawk's plans because we had an errand to run now that the snow was off the roads. When we opened the front door, the hawk left.

We've seen some loose feathers around the property. I'd figured one of the neighborhood cats had gotten at some of the birds, but maybe it was this hawk or one of its brethren. I've seen hawks soaring around here, and sometimes heard them as well, so it would not surprise me.
Snow Day

Brief Dusting

Lisa and I had business over in Fallon yesterday afternoon. Fernley is, I think, the largest rural city in Nevada without a DMV office, on account of being too close to Reno/Sparks. Fallon's office is smaller, but usually less crowded. Not yesterday, though. Even though we had to wait for more than an hour, I think it probably was still faster than going to Sparks.

I'm glad we took care of this yesterday rather than putting it off, for today we had snow.

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When the snow came, I realized that I should have brought more firewood up to the porch from the main box. Because the energy logs tend to act like the Wicked Witch of the West when you get them wet, I don't like moving them during rain or snow. Not realizing how briefly we'd be visited with snow flurries, I dashed out to the box during a break in the snow to move wood up to the porch box, finishing just as the snow started to fall again.

After only a few hours, the snow stopped, the sun came out, and all of the snow not in the shade melted. I need not have rushed about the firewood.
Tonopah Westercon

Hanging Them Up

Yesterday, Lisa got ambitious, got out a ladder and drill, and hung some things that we displayed at our parties at Westercon 72.

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While we did display these at the Tonopah bid parties at Layton (and we may show them at our planned party at Westercon 73 in Seattle, and at Westercon 74 itself), we bought these with our own money, not that of Westercon 74.
Fernley House

More End-of-Holiday Food Notes

Yesterday I ate the last of the Dave's Killer Pumpkin Spice Madness Bagels. (I could get more for a few more days, but I've already had too many of them this holiday season.) Today I had for lunch the last serving of duck soup made from the boiled-down remains of our Christmas duck. The holiday cookies are gone, too. (Again, that's probably a good thing.) Lisa took down the lights on Sunday. So I reckon we're getting back to what passes for normal operating conditions around here.

And it's just as well that all of the temptations are gone, as I think I gained at least 5 kg between Thanksgiving and New Year's.