Wildlife

More For the Birds

In the end, we might have gotten about 1 mm of snow, which is slight, of course, but did make everything look snowy at sunrise. I spread out a lot of birdseed and the birds were very happy for me to do so.

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On Sunday, I did a little experimentation to show how much seed the birds are eating.

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When I ran over to Raley's on Sunday afternoon, the heater fan on the Astro stopped working. If I whacked the dashboard next to the controls, it would start working again, but only on high. The two intermediate speeds wouldn't work at all. This seemed obviously an issue with the switch, so Lisa got out all of the service manuals and wiring diagrams she long ago purchased for the minivan.

Getting at the switch requires removing the instrument panel cover, with lots of screws and one side trip when an instrument lamp popped out of place and Lisa had to figure out how to return it to where it belongs. However, eventually (and I don't want to minimize how long it took) she was able to get at the heater switch, unplug it, clean the contacts, and plug it back in again, after which it started working normally. This is a big relief. On a winter trip like the one we're about to start, having a working defrost heater fan isn't a luxury, but a necessity.

The minivan was parked near the bird feeder. The birds were not happy about us being out there disturbing the serious business of eating.

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We had more work to do on the minvan this evening. As we were leaving the Peppermill last night, a passerby pointed out that one of the marker lights on the Astro was out. It's a standard bulb, and Lisa had several, so this evening she took the right front headlight cover off to get at the marker light fixture. Unfortunately, the old bulb had been in there so long that it wouldn't come loose. Lisa eventually ended up breaking the bulb and having to use a pair of pliers to remove the base. After that, she cleaned the fixture, inserted the new bulb, and all was well.

When I had the oil changed last week, Jiffy Lube claimed that I was low on power steering fluid, so after dealing with the bulb, Lisa and I went to AutoZone (where I had a $7 gift card to use) and bought a bottle of power steering fluid (and another replacement bulb), then went and refueled so we start with maximum fuel tomorrow. But when Lisa checked the power steering fluid, it showed completely full. Jiffy Lube didn't refill it (they told me they didn't carry power steering fluid), so I don't know what they were talking about. Oh, well, it's harmless carrying around a bottle of power steering fluid along with all of the other bits and jibbles, in this case including tire chains.

The tire chains will be packed in an accessible location should we need to chain up on this trip. This evening, instead of the fluffy pill-like snow we had overnight, gloppy wet snow began falling. Chain controls over Donner Summit stretch from the Nevada State Line clear down to Colfax, but fortunately, we're not going that direction, but south on US-95 to NV-360 to US-6 (Montgomery Pass). As it happens, there was snow and chain requirements over Montgomery Pass this morning, but not tonight. Fingers crossed that we will be able to avoid the worst of the winter weather.
Snow Day

First Fall

This morning, I was awakened a short time before my normal 4:40 AM alarm by what at first sounded like a train coming through, except that trains rarely wake me up and they aren't that loud in the bedroom anyway (we have surprisingly good sound insulation). It turned out to be high winds roaring through in the pre-dawn hours, blowing a tiny trace of snow.

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After work today, I took Lisa to the dentist for a follow-up on the tooth extraction. The recovery of the area where the tooth was looked fine. Lisa is still cautiously optimistic, but there is a long way to go. The "primary" tinnitus — the piercing tone like a smoke alarm — appears to have abated, although pushing on the wrong places on her skull (or washing her hair wrong) can trigger it again, so we hope that the pinched nerve is less pinched and is recovering. However, there is "secondary" tinnitus that's still troubling her. It comes and goes. Sometimes she doesn't need the white noise blocker. But it is improved.

We did a number of pre-trip shopping errands (Lisa needed new shoes and I wanted a new pair of slacks) and had dinner at the Peppermill buffet. It was quiet tonight, but it surely will not be starting soon. Even if we were staying home, we wouldn't go anywhere near the Reno resort restaurants this weekend.

On the way home, we started seeing that light snow start to fall again, and by the time we got to Fernley, we could see that it was starting to stick on the roadside. When we got home, I took a second photo of the wood box to compare the tiny bit we got this morning with the not-that-much-more that fell this evening.

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We have one more full day at home tomorrow, and that includes a full day of work for me, so I hope I can get some sleep. Actually, sleeping is unlikely to be the problem so much as getting out of a warm bed at 4:40 AM tomorrow.
Fernley

Snow in the Virginias

As is my normal home weekend routine, I had breakfast at the Wigwam this morning and walked to the Frontier Fun Center to bowl a few games on their half-price Sunday-before-noon special.

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I had a good day on the lanes by my standards, rolling a combined 380 for three games. As I said on Twitter at the time, that might be the best three-game series I've ever bowled. I managed to get a couple of consecutive strikes, and had one five-frame sequence of marks. I keep thinking of signing up for bowling lessons (the cost includes a bowling ball).
SFSFC

Corportation Day

Today was the 3-times-a-year SFSFC Board of Directors meeting. Lisa sat with me for the meeting (we called in via Zoom conferencing; the physical meeting was in Sunnyvale, and one other director attended remotely as well) because of Westercon 74. Besides my other responsibilities, I am Secretary of the SFSFC board of directors.

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After my part of the Westercon 74 report, Lisa also spoke about the Hospitality portion of the convention, which will the largest single part of Tonopah's Westercon. Thanks to the very economical rent that Tonopah charges for the building, we'll be spending more on Hospitality than on facility rental, which is quite rare for events that have to rent a facility. Or to put it another way, Westercon 74 expects to spend a much larger percentage of the members' dues on the members themselves than most Westercons can afford to spend. Lisa spoke about how we want to make food safety and cleanliness a priority. Most con suites and convention parties are held under relatively hit-or-miss conditions in hotel rooms or suites. We have the major advantage of having a professional-grade prep kitchen as part of our facility, including refrigerators, warming ovens ("reverse refrigerators"), a commercial dishwashing machine, and multiple sinks and access to cleaning supplies. We're planning for groups holding parties to use part of the convention's main hall along with our own convention hospitality, including the kitchen and bar. Lisa says that we want to take advantage of that to keep it clean and to reduce "con crud" to a minimum while still having a good time.

As it happens, I typically can get all of the required post-meeting work done much more quickly when I attend remotely than when I'm at the meeting in person. It generally takes me several hours to pull all of the reports and my meeting notes into draft minutes, so it's faster if I just dig into doing that as soon as the meeting is over. Also, there are usually website updates I need to do as part of the instructions from the Board meeting (the corporate Secretary is generally responsible for keeping the website updated). Late this afternoon, I sent out the drafts of the two meetings' minutes to the Board members. When I attend in person, it can sometimes take me a week or more before I have the time to do the minutes. Once the directors have had a chance to review the minutes, and assuming no changes, the minutes will get posted on the SFSFC website. I've already told people that the posting won't happen until we get back from Albuquerque, but that's faster than the previous meeting, where the minutes were approved, but I forgot to post them until just a few days ago. (Nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn't tell me about it.)
Snow Day

Surrounded by Snow

The storm that came through starting Tuesday evening took an unusual path. Most of our weather tends to pass over California before it gets to us. Not this storm. Steve-the-plumber (who was here today inspecting the bathroom for some work he will do for us in December before he retires at the end of the year) said it was a "Tonopah Low" that shoots the moisture up from the south. From the pictures I saw from Tonopah (snow), I can believe that. It wasn't quite cold enough for snow to reach the valley floors, but this morning we had snow on all of the surrounding mountains and hills.

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Some of the snow accumulation on the hills melted when the sun came out this morning, but not all of it. I took advantage of the dry, sunny weather to empty the small wood box on the porch, put one of the mini-pallets into it, and reload the wood. Water damage to fire logs was minimal, but did happen. (The logs that started shedding went into the fire first today.)

Looking at the 10-day forecast is a bit unnerving, though, as next Wednesday when we leave for Loscon snows shows a potential for snow on our route of travel, particularly Montgomery Pass, the route of US-6 out of Nevada and down to the Owens Valley and Bishop.
Snow Day

Early Thanksgiving

As I've previously mentioned, we will be spending our Thanksgiving Day driving from Bishop to Los Angeles, so we had our big Thanksgiving Day meal last night.

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I ran into Sparks after work to get the oil changed in the Astro, because I saw that winter weather was heading our way and I hoped to get there and back before it moved in. As it happens, I dodged it all. I saw rain all around me and also what I assume was some hail that must have fallen just before I drove through, but I escaped the rain while driving and got home before dark.

The rain moved in just after I got home and continued steadily through the night. Fortunately, I'd remembered to put the plastic in the wood boxes to minimize the amount of rain getting in to them. Unfortunately, I realized that when I put the small wood back back on the porch I'd forgotten to put one of the mini-pallets into it to keep the energy logs off the floor of the box; therefore, any water that does get into the box will damage the logs. I'll take care of that tomorrow, I hope.
Reno

It Just Seems Longer

I'm so glad that I don't commute to a job in Reno-Sparks. Just driving there after work, as we did today to get things from Whole Foods and other grocery stores, plus buy a couple of new pairs of slacks for me and examine a cooking shop that Lisa's wanted to check out, feels wearing.

Sometime before we leave for Loscon, I'll also have to go get an oil change for the Astro. It seems best to have that done before taking off on such a long trip.
Fernley

Rest While We Can

Today was a nice quiet weekend. I slept as much as I wanted, went and had breakfast at the Wigwam, won $38 thanks to a well-timed win and a bonus play coupon that also worked out, went and played bowling. I even managed to average over 100, which I did not expect when I couldn't seem to make a spare or even keep my ball on the lane for a while in my first game. Lisa and I went over and did a small bit of shopping, restocking things using various Walgreen's offers and refilling travel sizes for the Loscon/SMOFCon trip that starts a week from Wednesday. In about ten days we'll get very busy and will be doing a lot of driving, so we're trying to get as much rest now as we can.

Less restfully, I did also get yelled at on Twitter and called a Millennial (like that's a bad thing?) because I support trans and non-binary people. I pointed out that I was born in 1965 (I consider myself a late boomer as I was raised by my grandparents). I hope his brain melted at the concept that someone older than him isn't automatically a transphobic bigot. Regarding that "OK Boomer" thing going around, I've started saying to those people, "OK snowflake," because for people who claim to be Manly Manly Manly Men Who Are Manly, they seem awfully fragile about their identity; their entire self-image and self-worth appears to center on their genitalia. Makes me wonder how much they're over-compensating for something.
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