kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
After returning to the hotel with our purchases, Lisa and I stopped to have one of the sodas we bought and rest our feet. I checked messages and saw on Facebook that Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley were back in their hotel room as of only an hour earlier. I called Kevin and asked if they would like to meet for lunch, and they agreed, so we collected our things and headed back downtown.

A second reason for going back to the hotel was that I had a poster tube with the small vinyl WSFS banner (made by Sasquan) that hangs from the front of the Business Meeting table with me, and I wanted to mail it home rather than somehow try to fit it into my already overloaded luggage. The post office is downtown between the train station and the Sokos hotel where Kevin and Andy were staying, so this worked out well. The trains are running again, and there were no queues at the post office, so we managed to connect with K&A roughly on time to head off on a Viking Expedition.

We're Gonna Starve! )

After lunch, we bade K&A goodbye because we were aiming for one more hobby shop for Lisa to look for trains. It was a longer walk than I thought it would be, partially because I rather unnecessarily went up and down hills getting there. We didn't find anything Lisa wanted to get, but we found yet another person who described herself as a "con-goer" who had known about Worldcon but had not gone. We told her that Worldcon would be in Dublin in two years and she sounded interested.

Given our location, we took the opportunity to ride the Helsinki Metro. Because Cheryl's friend Otto gave us a lift from the ferry terminal when we arrived and our other trips didn't take us along the axis of the Metro, we'd never had a chance to sample it. This was more of a joy-ride, but when you've bought a multi-day unlimited transit pass, you have the ability to hop on and off systems like this.

<a data-flickr-embed= )

An afterthought from this morning: We had an interesting piece of equipment follow us down the tram tracks when we first set out for our first round of tourism and shopping.

A Tidy System is a Safe System )

After a brief recovery time in the hotel (and a final short grocery stop for a snack for tonight and for tomorrow morning), Lisa remembered something she had seen in Stockmann's department store downtown, so we made one final round trip downtown. I think we got good value from our transit pass.

Returning from the last trip, we threaded our way through the latest batch of tourists trying to figure out the elevators, Lisa took a bath, I composed journal entries, and we continued our packing. The alarm for tomorrow is set for 4:15 because we need to take an early train to get out to the airport for the flight to Iceland tomorrow.

We have had a wonderful time here in Helsinki. I would love to get a chance to come back here someday. Everyone was so good to us, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
kevin_standlee: (Worldcon 75)
I decided to go claim a seat in the Closing Ceremony early, because I was supposed to be there as one of the representatives of Worldcon 76 San Jose. (I had changed into my Worldcon 76 "bowling shirt" before lunch.)

Close it Down )

And so officially ended Worldcon 75. There was still a bit more to do. But first, Lisa and I needed to get dinner, which led to a separate unwanted adventure.

It's a Trap )

After our "ordeal" on the elevator, and after determining that the hotel restaurant had a one-hour wait, we decided to simply get on the train and go downtown, where we ate at the same Italian restaurant across from the train station at which we've eaten earlier. Robin Johnson was dining there and recommended the moosemeat with gnocci, which Lisa had. (She called it "interesting.") I had salmon over pasta with pesto sauce, which I enjoyed. After a good meal, we went back up to Pasila, where we had one more party to attend, and unlike most of the social functions at this convention that were something of a chore, this one would be a pleasure.
kevin_standlee: (Go By Train)
This evening, we made plans to take Chris Carson out to dinner for his birthday. We were to meet at Japanese restaurant northwest of Helsinki Central train station. The most straightforward way to reach it would have been a bus ride from the convention center, but Lisa and I, having already purchased a day pass on the system, decided to ride the train downtown, then walk to the restaurant.

Spot the Bear )

After dinner, we once again could have taken a bus, but we preferred tram (Line 4) to Central Station. Line 7, which would have taken us straight to the convention center, is replaced by the 7x bus due to construction of Pasila Station. We'll take buses if we must, but we prefer rail transit even if it's not the shortest journey.

A Couple of Train Station Photos )

Four minutes after departure, we got off at Pasila. We'll be on the trains again tomorrow. We wish we'd done a bit more research over the cost of transit passes. A 1-day pass (which you can buy on board the trams and buses) is €9. A 2-day pass (which you must get from a ticket machine at a station) is €13.50 and is obviously a much better value. All Worldcon members will receive transit passes good for the convention days, but that does us no good on the "shoulder" days like today and tomorrow.

The restaurant? Well, I can't say as I recommend Umeshu. I've had much better. It wasn't bad, but I don't think it was all that great, either. But we enjoyed the company.

Between the past two days, I've logged more than 20K steps, but 3/4 of them were today, because of the semi-enforced idleness on board ship. My feet already hurt, and we're only at Worldcon day -2.

Now I hope I can get some sleep because we have to be up early to get Lisa back downtown for the 8 AM departure of the tour to the nuclear power plant.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
This morning Lisa and I drove into Reno bright and early to get our shopping errands done.

High Water in the Truckee )

Our first stop was the Atlantis Hotel-Casino, where I cashed in the ticket for my bet on the Australian Open.

Not a Job I Would Want )

Collecting my winnings for betting on Roger Federer to win the Australian Open, we decided to spend them on brunch at Toucan Charlie's, and were in fact the first customers at the counter when they opened. (This is the source of today's post title; thank you, Roger!) I enjoyed the breakfast, but the buffets have stopped agreeing with Lisa. There are just too many things in the food, particularly food dyes and additives to which she's sensitive, that make her ill.

We did manage to complete the rest of our shopping and got home just after 1 PM. Lisa, who has mostly been up nights the past week or so, went to bed along with [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma while I started doing my laundry and packing the RV.

In the most recent storm, all of the trans-Sierra routes have been hammered and closed at various points, including US-50 (rockslides), CA-70 (flooding), and most importantly, I-80 (major mudslide). The only alternative was a detour from I-80 onto CA-20 to Grass Valley, then CA-49 to Auburn. This would work, but was likely to be slow and crowded as a major freeway was being funneled into a two-lane mountain highway. To my relief, this evening Caltrans announced that they'd managed to clear the mudslide and that all lanes are now open again. I'm off to the Bay Area in the morning.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
On Christmas Eve, Lisa and I walked to one of the nearby restaurants, a Chinese buffet. We do not go there often. Frankly, it's only a middling buffet and our tastes have been raised by our traveling; however, it's okay, and we know that having Chinese food at Christmas is a tradition for some folks, particularly those who don't generally observe Christmas.

For Christmas Day itself (the Chinese restaurant being closed because too few of their potential customers were out and about here in Fernley), we had a variation on our usual "festive" meal.

Plenty to Go Around )

Meanwhile: LiveJournal won't let me change the default icon on this post, nor can I edit the icon on older posts. I hope this is only a temporary issue.

Quick Trip

Nov. 22nd, 2016 08:34 pm
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Lisa and I made a quick trip in to Reno this evening in order to buy a miniature spruce "living Christmas tree." In past years, we've put this off so late that we don't get a good selection, but this time we found one that looked pretty good. The challenge is repotting it after the holiday and trying to get it to stay alive for another year. It's tricky, given that Fernley isn't really the best climate for such trees.

After the errand, we stopped for dinner at the Manhattan Deli at the Atlantis Hotel. We are now sufficient regulars that we know to buy the smaller portions. Their half-sandwiches are bigger than most places' full-sized ones.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Today was the day for catching up on all of the shopping that we did not do during the holidays or when I was down in the Bay Area.

All About Town )

It is our hope that we don't need to leave Fernley again until next weekend at the earliest, especially with another series of winter storms heading our way.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was Lisa's birthday, which was another reason for my wanting to get home last night. We got dressed up and went into Reno/Sparks, where I took Lisa out to dinner at John's Oyster Bar. The staff there still recognize us and said they'd tell our favorite servers, Matthew and William (they're brothers) that we stopped by. Because it was Lisa's birthday, they gave her a slice of cake at the end of the meal as well. We were grateful that they did not come and sing some sort of birthday song to her. (Most places haven't yet got the word that the copyright trolls on "Happy Birthday" lost; the song is public domain after all.)

The Nugget is doing prize drawings this weekend, and we were there for the 6 PM drawings for $1000 in casino free play, but we didn't win. We have to go back in tomorrow to do our larger-scale shopping (today's trip was not a shopping expedition), so we should stop by the Nugget around 4 PM because we do have entries in the draw (must be present to win) and the top prize is a new Mercedes.

It's a good thing we didn't have our hearts set on eating at the Atlantis buffet, because Toucan Charlie's is temporarily closed for renovation. There are lots of signs saying how much better it will be. I'll be curious to see what the renovated restaurant is like. At the very least, I reckon they will replace the carpet, which was getting rather worn out.
kevin_standlee: (Snow Day)
The periodic light snow showers continued on and off last night and tapered off this afternoon, with almost nothing sticking. I did not have the day off today, so I finished up some small projects that were due by year-end, and kept the fireplace burning. It has been pretty cold, not getting above freezing, and with a projected low of -14°C tonight.

I did get out for a bit this morning, though. I had a coupon from the Wigwam restaurant and casino, just a couple of blocks away from the house, and I went out in the snow this morning, had breakfast over there, and claimed my $10 worth of free slot play, which I managed to turn into $6 of spending cash before returning home to get back to Day Jobbe. Lisa and I went to the Black Bear Diner/Nugget Casino last night and did approximately the same thing, with $5 to the good. (The $11 winnings was spent on some small grocery shopping this afternoon.)

So How Was the Duck Soup? )

Because of the weather and other factors, we have elected to not go out anywhere for New Year's celebrations, not even the local casinos that are planning fireworks at midnight and such. It's a quiet night at our (relatively) warm home to finish out 2015 for us. Tomorrow we have various chores to do, and we probably will go buy another half-cord of firewood, because I've been burning a lot of it to keep the home fire burning.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley House)
We had a very quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, with Lisa cooking what she did last year.

Bring on the Thanksgiving Duck )

Surprisingly, my blood sugar was normal after that big meal, but I took an extra dose of metformin before having my pumpkin pie and half a glass of Strauss Farms eggnog. (Strauss eggnog is the best I've ever had; it's a good thing that it's hard to get, or I'd drink way too much of it.)

Tomorrow we set off for Tonopah, but we'll be able to pack somewhat at our leisure, inasmuch as it's a relatively short drive compared to some of the stretches we'll be doing on this trip. I have our shut-down-the-house checklist printed, along with our planned itinerary and also the material for the Probability & Statistics Seminar at SMOFCon ($20 buy-in, maximum 40 players, Saturday night after the Fannish Inquisition). Amazingly, the weather stretching out ahead of us looks to be mostly clear all the way to Texas: rain and snow before and after we pass through each place along the way, but pretty good while we are there. Projections more than a few days ahead aren't very good, though, and we did pack the chains in the minivan just in case.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
This morning, we were up early, skipping the included breakfast at the hotel and driving over to collect Lisa's friend Scott from his overnight-shift job to go have breakfast at Bob's Red Mill Factory Store & Restaurant. Many people know of Bob's Red Mill brand foods, but not everyone knows that they have a factory store with a restaurant that serves things made with Bob's grains. We regretted not realizing that there was such a good place for breakfast in Portland until just before Lisa left Oregon, but now we take every opportunity we can to get breakfast here.

Breakfast at Bob's )

After a pleasant but all-too-short visit, we took Scott home (with luck he'll be able to come to Spokane and help Lisa with the production work on Match Game SF later this year), and headed for Seaside via Kelso/Longview, Washington.
kevin_standlee: (SFSFC)
I went to the SFSFC Board of Directors meeting yesterday (about which more when plans actually mature). When I left the meeting, it was already late afternoon, and when I got hung up in traffic trying to leave the Bay Area, I bailed out and went to have lunch/dinner at the new Fremont location of the Smoking Pig BBQ, where I had a good meal of fried catfish and waited out the traffic clog. But that means it was a very long drive home. Including a fuel stop at Lodi Junction, 20 minutes to visit my sister at the rehab hospital in Sacramento, and a coffee stop just before 10 PM at Colfax, I did not get home until just before Midnight. Lisa helped me unpack the Rolling Stone and I headed to bed as quickly as I could.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
As of the Friday evening of the week when construction started on the new dollar store, it appears to be finished on the outside. We didn't have a chance to take a photo yesterday because we went to Reno, but this evening we were walking to the Black Bear Diner to partake in their all-you-can-eat fish dinner and got a shot of how it looks today.

Not a lot different from Wednesday )

When we got to the Black Bear, we were doubly disappointed. First, the place was packed with a long wait. Second, the all-you-can-eat fish was off due to lack of fish. We went into the adjacent casino and played for a while, coming out $0.90 ahead, which doesn't sound so great until you realize that at one point we were $10 down, so when a big win put Lisa back over her initial stake, she quit while she was ahead. The queue at the Bear having grown no shorter, we walked back downtown and got take-out burritos from Jehova es Mi Pastor instead. Despite having called ahead, we had to wait, because Fernley's best (in our opinion) Mexican restaurant (and there are four of them here, all within three blocks of each other) was backed up with orders. But the burritos were worth the wait.
kevin_standlee: (Tennis)
I started my Sportsball Sunday by watching the Australian Open men's tennis final on delay from Australia. (I was far too exhausted and sick to get up at 12:30 AM to watch it live. The replay concluded conveniently in time for the live-streaming coverage of the Super Bowl. (Lisa said she wouldn't have minded my going somewhere to watch it if necessary, but it was available online.) Both games had more on the line for me than usual, as I had decided to put down small bets on them when we were at the Atlantis on Saturday.

I won one bet and lost the other. Unfortunately, the win on one bet didn't cover the loss on the other, but it's still better than having nothing left over. I burned the losing ticket (might as well get some use out of it) and will cash the winner when we go back into Reno later this week.

I'm not as sick as I was last night, but I'm still not 100%. Being able to sit and do very little today was very helpful. I prepared a self-consciously Man Cave spread for the game: pickled eggs, cocktail wieners, sliced cheese, pickles, salami, and crackers. After the game, Lisa came in and said, "Well, after your Big Game Feast, what would you like for dinner: Pepto-Bismoll or Tums?"
kevin_standlee: (Pointless Arrow)
With our train to Chicago not scheduled to depart Detroit until 3 PM, we had a late check-out, and didn't have to rush. In fact, we even had a chance to collect the only station on the People Mover that we'd missed in our use of it throughout the week.

Twice Around )

After packing out of the room, we took a taxi to the Amtrak station. The cabbie must have been angling for a bigger fare and wanted to take us to Dearborn, but we didn't see any need to do that. Detroit's station is a single track, and the delayed train to Pontiac came through when our train to Chicago should have come in, causing the Chicago train (Wolverine #359, running on a special schedule due to track work) to run ten minutes late.

Despite high-speed running, it never got any better )

We have this routine down now in Chicago and walked down to the Holiday Inn. They upgraded us again, but not to that crazy conference room; we have a nice two-room suite, which Lisa suggested would have been ideal for exploring Chicago if we had several days instead of less than eighteen hours. They also gave us a 1 PM checkout, which is convenient for our 2 PM departure on Tuesday.

After dumping our bags, we walked over to Chicago's Greektown (there appears to be a pattern developing in our food tastes) and had a quick dinner there before returning to the hotel. There's no included breakfast here, so we'll need to get up early enough to go get breakfast; however, with the train station only two blocks from the hotel, we're pretty confident that we can make things work.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Crew)
Up front: I took at lot of photos today and will not try to post all of them here. They are all in my 2014 NASFIC Trip album on Flickr, and they are all captioned, so feel free to go look if you want to see more than what I posted here. Also, the photos are all CC-licensed, so you're welcome to take copies for yourself if you want them.

Winding It Down )

All too soon, it was time for the last program item, the Closing Ceremonies.

And Now, the End is Here... )

After the Closing Ceremony, Lisa and I headed out to lunch, returning for a third time to the New Parthenon restaurant.

Beware of Flaming Cheese )

By the time we waddled back from lunch, tear-down was nearly done, it apparently having gone pretty smoothly. However, a job turned up that we could do: there were six mobies and a wheelchair than needed to be shuttled down to the "motor lobby" from the third floor so that the vendor could come collect them. Lisa, I, and a young woman whose badge read "Trouble" but was not at all like that drove the mobies carefully and got them to our destination without running down anyone or crashing into anything.

Hanging the Dog )

Just before midnight, we bade farewell to everyone (with cries of "see you in London" to some) and hustled down to the People Mover, which closes at midnight on Sunday. There was a guard starting to lock it up, but he said we could still make it, so I dropped quarters into the slots and we trotted up to the platform where there was a train waiting for us. We rode to Joe Louis Arena, where the train stopped and did not appear to want to move. A guard boarded, asked us where we were planning on getting off, and when we told him Cobo Hall (the next stop), he radioed the dispatcher to release our train for one more stop. The train continued, announced that it was going out of service, the guard let us out a side door, and we returned to our hotel.

Our train to Chicago on Monday is at 3 PM. The hotel has allowed me a 2 PM checkout, which is wonderful because it means we don't have to pack up until after breakfast tomorrow instead of rushing around tonight.



I admit that I was was somewhat skeptical of coming to NASFIC and to a great extent originally considered it an excuse around which we could wrap a cross-country train trip. However, it was something much more in the end: a very good and fun convention at which I enjoyed myself a great deal. Tammy and the crew that she recruited deserve all the kudos they can get for having done a fine job with Detcon 1.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa had an appointment with the TMJ specialist this afternoon in Reno. While I worked on Day Jobbe in the waiting room, the specialist, Dr. Allman, fitted a dental appliance that Lisa is to wear when sleeping (and other times when she doesn't need to eat or talk) that should help force her lower jaw forward and take pressure off of the pinched nerve that appears to be the cause of her tinnitus. There's a different appliance for her to wear at other times, but he won't be able to fit it until her regular dentist is able to fit a permanent crown over the tooth on which she had the root canal.

Reno TMJ being only about three blocks from the Atlantis, we went over there for lunch. The lunch buffet is open until 3 PM (not 2 PM as I originally thought), and so we had just under an hour. While Lisa got in line, I checked my club card, and got a bonus: a 2-for-1 breakfast or lunch buffet coupon. That's good because I wasn't hugely hungry. But lunch was still good, and we did not feel rushed. As we left, we saw people queuing for the 4:30 dinner over an hour in advance, presumably because Gold members of their affinity club get a free buffet on Tuesday.

We walked around the casino for a while to get some exercise, then did a couple of shopping errands. I had a $10 coupon from Cost Plus World Market that was about to expire, and then we stopped by Whole Foods Market to pick up some bread Lisa likes. We had thought of trying to get our larger shopping done, but we were both tired and I still had work to do, so Lisa drove us home and I got back to work this evening.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
The errands to Reno went okay, but the normally dependable buffet at the Peppermill went wrong on us. It wasn't the food so much as the service. For some reason, they couldn't provide Lisa with clean silverware. After three times being given silverware with food specks on it, she went to the manager, who brought her a clean spoon, except it was a large soup spoon, and Lisa doesn't like soup spoons and wants a teaspoon (or whatever name you want to call the small-sized spoon). Combine that with poor drink-refill service tonight and the bad dinner last night and we've decided to leave them alone for a while. It's not as though there aren't plenty of options for dining in Reno.

The food from the buffet was good enough, though, and we managed to escape too much impulse-buying at Whole Foods and Winco before heading home. Tomorrow it's back to Reno and the TMJ specialist, and I continue to work around (literally) these other commitments with the Day Jobbe.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Because I hit a natural breakpoint in the Day Jobbery about 5 PM today (instead of closer to 10 PM as has been typical most days) and because buffets are cheaper Monday-Thursday, and because with the temporary crown in place, Lisa is as well off to eat as she can be until we get the permanent crown and the wisdom tooth dealt with, we went to Reno this evening for dinner at the Eldorado Buffet. After that we did our grocery shopping that we typically would have done on Saturday. If we've done this right, maybe we won't have to go in again on Saturday and instead I can deal with the backlog of stuff that has grown on me before heading back to the Bay Area on Sunday morning.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
...that trying to go grocery shopping on the first day of the month, particularly when that falls on a weekend, is a bad idea, considering that we did the same thing a month ago. But forget we did, and once again we balked when we got to Winco and found the store so full that there were no shopping carts. We'd done some shopping earlier at Whole Foods Market and Grocery Outlet, and Lisa says she has more than enough to keep her going for the next two weeks, so not to worry.

This morning we went to the El Dorado for their brunch, which was better than I thought it would be, and reasonably priced, too.

And the Internet exploded over Loncon 3's choice (and later that same day, the withdrawal) of a host for their Hugo Awards ceremony. It's interesting to me that a whole lot of Americans said, "Who?" when they heard the name. I am deeply conflicted over what happened, given my own history as a former Worldcon chair and as a past Worldcon Events Division head.

One side point: In the many, many electrons spilled over this mess, someone wrote (approximately), "The Hugo Awards ceremony doesn't need to be two hours long. It wasn't that long in 2005." Well, while I don't have the exact timings (which I did do, obsessive as I was about it at the time), I don't think we were quite that breathlessly quick. I responded, "The Hugo ceremony in Glasgow in 2005 did run more than two hours; however, it probably didn't feel that long because, unlike most such events, we actually started on time." And we did, to the extent that there were people who turned up at 8:20 because "these things always start at least a half hour late" and who were cheesed off that we'd started on time.

("How dare you have the 5:20 express train actually leave at 5:20!" was a cry of annoyed commuters when the Rock Island resolved to clean up their chronically delayed commuter rail service. Commuters had gotten so used to the trains' late performance that they'd adjusted, to be dismayed by trains that actually ran to schedule.)

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