Fernley 911

Following my usual practice (when not in meetings or otherwise needing things quieter), I keep the radio scanner running in the living room. This morning I heard a call-out to "100 Front Street" which is the Imerys Minerals (former Celite) diatomaceous earth processing plant (we call it the "kitty litter" factory) down the street from our house. We regularly have to redirect wayward big rigs following their GPS the wrong way past our house at 125 West Front instead of going to Imerys at 100 East Front. (This would be less of a problem if they'd actually give their address as East Front instead of just Front.)

Listening to the call out to the fire department, I could see confusion ahead for them. Someone at Imerys had noticed a large plume of something shooting out of the asphalt plant on the other side of the railroad tracks, and had said so the 911 dispatcher. However, the dispatcher in Yerrington probably had no idea that the asphalt plant is across the tracks and it's very much around-the-houses to get between the two places. Because the 911 system gave them 100 Front Street, that's where they sent the fire department.

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I never did learn what was causing the steam plume, but it apparently was nothing dangerous, for which I am very relieved. We have way too much to worry about already without having to bug out from a hazardous material leak.

We had more light snow overnight, and we had to tread carefully on the porch where it had frozen over until the sun came out later in the morning and melted it all.

They've Got Our Power

A few days ago, I heard an emergency call-out for the fire department reporting a power line hanging over the road at "Main Street and Hardie Lane." Well, that wouldn't have taken long to respond to, as it's only about 100 meters east of the fire station; effectively it's just across the street. They reported a cracked power pole and summoned NV Energy. I didn't hear the end of the story over the radio, but Lisa and I saw the result when we next walked to the post office, which is on that same corner, diagonally opposite of where the power pole is.

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Lisa and I got the large propane bottle refilled a couple of days ago. (It was exactly one month since the last refill, which shows you how long it lasts.) Bob Hanneman asked if we had received one of the door placards from NV Energy. We had not, but looking at where the power lines run, we should have gotten one. NV Energy plans to have the power off for a few hours on Thursday night and then probably again on Friday morning of this week while they replace that damaged pole. We think we're on the same circuit, so we may lose power. But maybe we're misreading where our power line is relative to the damaged pole.
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Snow Day

Late Winter Storm

There's been a lot of snow falling in the Sierra the past few days, with I-80 intermittently closed, but nothing here in Fernley except a bunch of wind blowing pollen and dust around to trigger my allergies and make me worry about The Dreaded Lurgi. Yesterday morning we had a few minutes of snow that dropped just enough icy pellets to make the porch look like it had come down with a case of Reverse Measles (white spots on a red background). Last night, however, we actually had some visible accumulation, albeit not very much.

When I woke up this morning (about fifteen minutes ahead of my alarm, as it happens), Lisa (who had been unable to sleep and was near the end of her "day") was putting more wood in the fireplace. She warned me that we'd had snow, and that she'd been sweeping the sidewalk and porch.

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We went to Raley's last night and bought a larger-than-usual amount of groceries in the hope that we won't have to go out very much for a while. Reno's mayor has ordered bars and restaurants closed, and while there aren't yet such restrictions in place in Fernley, a number of places like fast-food outlets are take-out/drive-through only.

We're not just huddling indoors, although it's cold enough that we mostly stay under cover. There's enough room around here to maintain "social distancing" and still get out and walk around.

So now we wait and hope the steps being taken will tamp down the pandemic to at least keep it within the ability of medical services to cope with it.
Tonopah Westercon

Tonopah Membership Stats

Over the weekend, with the help of Westercon 74's registrar, I updated the Westercon 74 membership list including all (as far as we can tell) new and upgraded memberships as of the end of the initial membership price levels that ended at the end of February. I also published a new Westercon 74 membership statistics page that shows the number of members by state/province (or country other than US/Canada) and membership class. The headline figures is 208 members total (155 attending, 53 supporting).

Don't forget that Westercon 74 is in 2021, not this July. Westercon 73 is scheduled for July 2-5, 2020 in SeaTac WA. I have been harping on this lately because more than one person has said to me things that make it clear that they think Tonopah's Westercon is this year, not next year.

While at the moment we're banking on the C-19 pandemic having abated and something approaching normality having returned by July 2021, I think it possible that people who have been pooh-poohing Lisa's plans on cleanliness in the rather substantial amount of food and beverage that we'll be providing to members in Tonopah will be less dismissive. Having a serving kitchen is great, but it also means that we have to take even more care to keep things clean. Fortunately, it also provides us with the tools to be able to do so. Oh, and if you are interested in helping, please contact me so I can put you in touch with Lisa. It can't be done with only one person or even two. We'll need lots of help running the portion of the convention I expect to consume the largest share of the convention's budget.
Kreegah Bundalo

Jumping at Shadows?

Sunday afternoon I started feeling what I thought was slightly feverish, along with developing a scratchy throat. Uh, oh, the Dreaded Lurgi. So we took my temperature: 36.5°C. (Normal body temperature is 37.) So I don't know what's up. It's a good thing I work from home anyway.
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Counting as Nevadans

Ten years ago, Lisa lived on her parents' property in Mehama, Oregon, and I was living in a small studio apartment near what is now the North 1st Street Holiday Inn in San Jose. That's where we've been counted toward those respective places' legislative representation and will continue to do so until the 2020 census is complete. Last night, we sat down and completed our census reply. We (like most people) only have the short form response, giving our ages and ethnicity. Inasmuch as I'm not a registered member of any Native American tribe despite having native ancestry through both my parents, I only check the "White" box. I don't recall being asked last time to give the "where from" part under "White," which is complicated. (Most of my ancestry is pre-American Revolution, although I have a great-great-grandfather who immigrated to the USA from Ireland.) I answered it "English-Scottish-Irish-German," which covers everything I know.

Anyway, for the next ten years at least, we'll count toward Nevada (I expect the state to pick up at least one representative in Congress) and what is currently Fernley City Council Ward 1.
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Getting Grounded

While working on the electrical wiring in the garage, of course the circuits to the garage had to be turned off, so Lisa ran an extension cord from the electrical pedestal we had installed when we bought the house to provide service to the travel trailer.

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To Lisa's great annoyance, the original outlet grabbed the ground pin on the extension cord and it broke off in the outlet. She can replace the plug by cutting it off and wiring in a new one, but as the original plug is molded into the wire whereas the replacement will only be clamped, it won't be quite as good.

With a pin jammed in the original outlet, Lisa needed to take it out and replace it. When she did so, she had bad things to say about the electrician who installed the pedestal.

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As it happens, the electrician who installed this never got around to billing us. Given the shoddy job Lisa discovered, I feel far less guilty about this than I once did.
Tonopah Westercon

Scratch One Trip

I'm sure everyone has heard that events are being canceled left and right. As a consequence of all of these pandemic-related cancellations, I've decided to call off the three-week trip to the Bay Area and then on up to the Pacific Northwest, where Lisa was going to drive to meet me and where we would attend Norwescon to promote Westercon 74. Even if Norwescon itself is not canceled as a result of the recent declaration from Washington's governor banning gatherings of more than 250 people, other elements of the trip were starting to come unraveled, even ignoring the actual risk of travel with a growing pandemic. So today I spent a while canceling hotel reservations and planned appointments I had in the Bay Area. Pretty much everything could be canceled without penalty, but my airfare up to Seattle isn't one of them, at least not yet. Alaska Airlines is waiving cancellation charges, but only for trips through the end of March. As I expect things will not be improved much by then, I hope that Alaska will extend that offer. Otherwise, the cancellation fees pretty much eat up the airfare, which would be a pity, but isn't a catastrophe. If I can 'bank' the fare for a future trip, I would consider using it to go to OryCon, which we do hope to attend this November.

I'm relatively lucky in that I wasn't in transit and could make this call two weeks before the start of the trip. CostumeCon 38 in Montreal, which was scheduled for this weekend, was abruptly obliged to cancel when Quebec's premier issued an order similar to Washington's. People I know were actually in transit to Montreal this morning when the order came down. I guess they'll be in Montreal without a convention. (Actually, some pieces of CC38 that were unstoppable are still rolling, but the convention itself is officially canceled.)

Consonance, the Bay Area filk convention, is also postponed to a future date to be determined. Conventions are being canceled or postponed left and right. I certainly hope that these steps to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus work and that things can get back to some semblance of normality sooner, not later. We currently have trips to BayCon and Westercon in the pipeline, plus of course the Worldcon in July.

And speaking of the Worldcon trip, is it wrong of me to wish that I'd put off booking our air travel to New Zealand until now, with airfares plummeting?

Surprise Genre-Adjacent Encounter

I was feeling alert enough this afternoon so that after I finished with Day Jobbe, Lisa and I went into Reno for a few errands. First we collected a part we'd ordered from Summit Racing (they have a large warehouse/retail store in Sparks), then went to Lowe's to buy some things the Fernley store did not have. We were going to go get groceries next, but Lisa was hungry so we went to the Peppermill buffet for dinner, getting there just after they opened. Things were pretty quiet. Lisa asked the manager about how traffic had been, and she said, "You probably want to finish up by 6:30, because that's when the gamers will arrive." We didn't understand what she meant until we went for our usual post-dinner walk around the upstairs function space.

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We talked with a few people, and it quickly became clear that the people we met knew "our" fandom. I could talk about "Worldcon" without having to explain what it was, for example. We could have hung around longer, but I have to work tomorrow, and we still had grocery shopping to do, so we had to move on to WinCo Foods. We saw a few signs of panic buying, particularly in the toilet paper aisle. (We bought one package ourselves, but that was on our regularly scheduled shopping list.) They were limiting purchases of bottled water, hand sanitizer, and other things. We weren't panic buying; this was just our normal grocery shopping, which we completed without incident. As my day was drawing to a close, Lisa drove us home.

Still Split-Shifting

I continue to, at least a couple of days each week, fall asleep mid-afternoon, then wake up for several hours in the evening. Yesterday I'm not sure I would have woken up, but I got yet another robo-call wanting (in this case) to sell me solar home improvement stuff that they actually wouldn't have even sold me had I wanted it because I don't live in the Bay Area. (A lot of my robo-spam is targeted at the area code of my mobile phone, which I've had since I lived in area code 650.)

Fortunately, I'm managing to stay awake long enough to do the time-critical Day Jobbe, while I can put off the "get it down when you can" stuff for the "second shift" after I wake up.