kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
This was our final full day here in Iceland, and essentially the final day of the "vacation" part of the trip, as the remaining days are travel to get home, with two stopovers scheduled. Knowing our limitations, we scheduled nothing today, set no alarm, and stuck to Reykjavik.

Althing Gardens )

We were unable to find in any of the stores any rain jackets that were (a) our size, (b) our desired color and style, and (c) not Made in China. In fact, we only managed to get (a) and (b) to match once. There were way too many things with DESIGNED IN ICELAND in big type and "made in China" either hidden in small type or left off entirely, where you had to ask the staff, who would admit that despite the way the stores' signage suggested, the goods weren't really made in Iceland, or even within the EU economic zone. Annoying. It looks like we may have to go back up to Salem, Oregon, and have some coats custom-made from a place we know there.

We did, however, find a pair of work gloves that was not Chinese made and will come in handy moving wood when we get home. Nearly all heavy work gloves I can find in Fernley and environs are all Chinese.

More about Parliament Square )

We walked back to the hotel and had a "picnic lunch" in the room, eating up the last of our supplies purchased over the past few days. I was also a Very Bad Diabetic. Just across the street outside our hotel window there has been a Waffle Wagon every day. Today I broke down, went over there, and bought a chocolate-and-cream covered waffle, which I enjoyed over a coffee back in the room. (The hotel won't let you eat outside food in their common room.) It was excellent. I'm rather glad I won't get another chance to have another one now. Mind you, with over 33,000 steps walked in the past two days, I'd like to think I've earned a few indulgences.

Last Dinner )

After that big dinner, and especially the desserts, we took one last long walk around The Pond, and then up the hill to our hotel. We took a different route this time, which took us by the British Embassy (housed in the same building as the German Embassy), then past a cafe located in what a streetside plaque said was once called "Red Square" because the coffee-house was a center of Communist organization in past days. For what I expect is the final time, we climbed up to the top of the hill and returned to the hotel.

It has been an interesting four days here. We've booked our reservation for the prepaid return bus transfer to Keflavik Airport tomorrow at Noon, which will get us there a little earlier than strictly necessary, but we want extra time. Our return ticket is KEF-MSP on IcelandAir Saga class, then MSP-SEA on Alaska Airlines first class, all using Alaska Airlines miles. The first leg leaves KEF at 16:45. I checked with IcelandAir, and there's a direct KEF-SEA flight at 17:45 that has plenty of room in Saga class. However, over the phone, IcelandAir won't change the ticket because it was issued by Alaska. The Alaska agent with whom I spoke said they can't change the ticket either, despite the availability, due to the limitations on how many IcelandAir seats Alaska can sell. They both said that my only hope is to show up at the airport and see if the folks at check-in can see some sense and book us directly to Seattle, saving a great deal of hassle and transfer at MSP. Fingers crossed that is works.

There's a pretty good chance that I won't be online here again until we get to Seattle on Monday night, after a very long day in the air no matter how you slice it. Knowing that we could only get Saga class one direction, we deliberately scheduled it for the return trip. At this point in the trip, I really hope I am able to get some sleep on this portion of the trip, albeit not so much sleep that I'm ruined for returning to Pacific Time.

So long, Iceland. It's been fun. I don't know if I'll ever get to come here again, but I'm glad we came. I think I can see now why certain persons were trying to goad some of us into bidding to hold a NASFiC here.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was an unstructured day exploring Reykjavik. We had no idea what we would find.

Surprising Ourselves )

After our morning and early afternoon exploration, we got back on the bus. Joining us at that point were a German family heading back to the cruise ship we had seen earlier in the day. Lisa hit it off with them right away. We rode back to Hallgrímskirkja, bade the Germans bon voyage, and went back to the hotel for a break and a cup of tea for me and hot chocolate for Lisa in the hotel common room before making another walk downtown to explore more.

To the Center of Reykjavik )

Thanks to that huge lunch, Lisa and I were still not terribly hungry come 21:00, so we once again picked up some sandwich stuff and cold drinks (alas for no refrigerator in which to keep them; everything has to be eaten when purchased) for another "picnic dinner" in the hotel room.

Tomorrow is our big excursion: our "Golden Circle" tour, one of the must-not-miss parts of a trip to Iceland, or so everyone says. Fortunately we don't have to be up at the crack of dawn, especially given how early dawn is here at 66° North.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
We had an 8:45 AM flight out of Helsinki this morning, so after much too little sleep we lurched out of bed, completed our packing, checked out of the hotel, and got a train to the airport. We are very grateful to the extremely frequent airport trains, because we missed the first one we planned to catch, but there was another one coming along in just a few minutes, so it did not matter.

We're in Saga class for this trip (hooray for Alaska miles), so we had access to the lounge and therefore didn't have to buy breakfast. OTOH, my unfamiliarity with the airport cost us €5 because we didn't realize where to go to cash in the one tax-rebate purchase we made, and by the time we realized that the refund place was as the other end of the terminal, it was too late because the flight to Reykjavik was already boarding.

The flight itself was routine and comfortable, with complementary noise-canceling headsets (I forgot to bring mine, which was annoying on the trip out) and another breakfast. To save some standing in like at KEF, I pre-bought the FlyBus airport-to-city transfer tickets. By the time we got to baggage claim, our bags were waiting for us, and we walked outside and found the FlyBus. We got the front two seats for the 50 km drive to Reykjavik. At the bus terminal, we had to get out and wait for a mini-bus to collect us and take us to the stop near our hotel.

Easy to Find Landmark )

If you cannot handle stairs, never stay at this hotel. You need to negotiate stairs simply to get into the front lobby from street level, and there are no lifts. Normally for us this wouldn't be a problem, but Lisa's knee has been troubling her during this trip. She can walk on flat ground okay, but stairs give her trouble. And we have a lot of luggage. (Fortunately, our room was only on the second floor (of four), so I only had to carry luggage up one flight of stairs.)

As we expected, we were vastly early, but the hotel staff were nice and let us store our (substantial) luggage behind the counter. Tea/coffee/cocoa are available at all hours in the lobby (and you can take it back to your room), so we sat and had some tea while we repacked our bags and made plans for today. After putting most of our stuff behind the hotel counter, we set off to explore and kill time until 2 PM when our room would be ready.

Tiny Room and High Prices )

This is something of a letdown after the ten nights in an Executive Floor room at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre in Helsinki. I do really wish that IHG had properties here. But we'll make the best of it.

We Have Been Warned )

We'd been warned about the high prices in Iceland, and high they are. We'll be here four nights and most of five days, and we'll need to keep costs down where we can. Tonight we decided to just buy some groceries and eat them in our hotel room. There's no refrigerator, more's the pity, but Lisa had a can of tinned fish left over from Germany, I got some salami, and we made sandwiches. They don't allow outside food in the downstairs breakfast area, and as I said, the rooms are tiny, but we made the best of it, watching a train video that Lisa had on her computer.

Tomorrow we hope to take things relatively easy and not overwhelm ourselves. Aren't vacations supposed to be restful?
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.

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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: (Kevin and Lisa)
Today was our final full day in Helsinki. We had no big tourist attractions left to visit. Lisa wanted to do some shopping, and she also was looking for us to track down a transportation oddity that she wanted to see.

Riding the Paternoster )

After our Adventure in Elevators, we had a "target of opportunity," in the form of a train hobby shop just a couple of doors down from the first stop. Lisa had a look through the store but did not find anything that caught her fancy.

Next was a search for an electronics store to which she had been referred in search of a particular kind of power outlet that the hardware store didn't know about. That turned out to be fruitless as well, but it was interesting to walk around and see new places.

As we were riding the #7 toward that electronics store, Lisa spotted a small appliance store and we rode back up the line to continue her search for an electric kettle not Made in China. This time, we succeeded!

Fine Czech Manufacture )

There are still a handful of Worldcon attendees staying in the Holiday Inn, and we saw a few of them in the lobby when we headed out this morning. However, now the hotel is mostly full of Chinese tour groups.

Elevator Clog )

We had to go back to the hotel to put away Lisa's newly-acquired kettle, which actually does fit in her luggage. (She says she can make it fit by putting some of her clothing inside the kettle, so the total additional cube doesn't increase that much.) That led to our final meal excursion of the trip, but that's another story.
kevin_standlee: (Kuma Bear)
On Friday, I actually did have a few hours of "spare" time after the Business Meeting, so after I changed out of my suit into my San Jose shirt and Lisa put away the recording gear, we went down and joined Linda Deneroff, then took the train downtown and had lunch because the food court restaurants had queues out the doors.

What's That? Smells Like Fish! )

While I was writing up Business Meeting summaries and getting ready for the Hugo Awards, Lisa took the tram down to the S-Market and the hardware store we found the other day and did some more hardware and grocery shopping for us. The minibar fridge is small, so we can't buy very far ahead.
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: (FinnCon)
Possibly because I had a nap yesterday afternoon, I woke up around 3 AM and dozed fitfully thereafter before giving up around 5 AM, showering, and going up to the deserted lounge where I got a tiny bit of online work done. I'm surprised that Finnlines doesn't open their cafe at 6 AM on the final morning at sea. Lisa and I were among the first in the queue for the "Sea Breakfast" (a somewhat cut-down but still generous buffet) in the main restaurant that opened at 7:30 AM as the ship approached Helsinki.

Approaching Our Destination )

We arrived about fifteen minutes early, and around 9:15, walk-on (i.e. without vehicles) passengers like us were allowed to disembark. Courtesy vans shuttled us to the terminal. Cheryl Morgan was there to meet us, with her friend Otto, who had kindly agreed to collect us and drive us to the hotel, saving us having to negotiate bus-metro-train connections with eight pieces of luggage. Cheryl also had helpfully obtained for me a SIM card for the mobile phone I had in 2014 at Loncon.

At the hotel, we were very early, but the front desk was very helpful and told us that the previous occupant had checked out and that housekeeping would do our room next. We waited in the lobby and Cheryl helped me activate my mobile phone. I now have a Finnish (+358) telephone number usable for the duration of our stay here. (Write to me directly if you need the number for some reason.) We bade Cheryl and Otto goodbye, and shortly thereafter, our room was ready for us.

Settling In )

We are pleased with the hotel room. I am very pleased with the internet connection. Not only do I get upgraded premium wi-fi, but there is a wired connection in the hotel room (and I brought a cable). The speed is 12-15 mbps both download and upload, which bodes well for us getting the official Business Meeting recordings online relatively quickly.

Today is not only move-in day, but also a "maintenance" day. Our plans called for us to get some laundry done. In addition, Lisa was looking for a hardware store because along the way, a screw had worked itself out of one of her pieces of luggage and she hoped to repair it. It turns out that we could get several errands done simultaneously.

While we were moving in, so was rain, and it was raining heavily by the time we had our laundry bagged up and ready to go. The hotel, however, helpfully provided us with loaner umbrellas! The #9 tram stops directly across from the hotel, and because it's a terminal loop, you don't have to worry about direction: all trams are going toward downtown. We bought a pair of day passes (€9 each) and rode the tram to Fleminginkatu. That put us at the S-Market (grocery store) which has a 24 Pasula coin laundry inside.

One Stop Shop: Laundry, Shopping, Hardware )

After completing our errands, we returned to the hotel, where Lisa attacked her luggage and power cords to affect repairs and alterations, while I painted my fingernails. I had vowed that this would be the first Worldcon in about ten where I didn't crack a fingernail, so I used the kit I'd packed in the hold luggage (lest I be tempted to try hijacking the airplane with a nail file), trimmed my nails, and coated them with clear nail-hardening solution.

So we're mostly settled in for the long haul through Worldcon and beyond. Tonight Lisa and I will be taking her friend Chris out to dinner for his birthday. Tomorrow Chris and Lisa head off to the Nuclear Power Plant tour, while I see what can be done on day -1 of Worldcon.
kevin_standlee: (FinnCon)
Today was the longest day. We got up about 7:30 AM on Thursday, August 3 in Millbrae and I'm going to bed in Hamburg around 7:30 PM on Friday, August 4 (about 10:30 AM Pacific Time) with no intervening sleep. But while there were negatives (like not getting any sleep), it was otherwise a pretty good trip, and we're now safely in Hamburg for our "flying visit."

SFO Security Theatre )

The Alaska flight up to PDX was no fun at all. Fully loaded, and I was in the middle seat. But it was less than two hours, and the flight was on time. As we came in, the flight attendant made an announcement for those of us going on the Reykjavik on IcelandAir, noting that there were 17 of us on the plane. As it happens, I only recognized two others besides me who were going to Worldcon: Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz, who we spoke to briefly in the departure lounge at PDX before the flight boarded.

Upgrade Jackpot )

We landed in Iceland, where we found that the airport is under significant construction, but fortunately, it wasn't raining.

Upgrade Part Two )

While on this last leg of the flight I could have possibly slept, I decided that it would be a bad idea to do so if I wanted to get onto the correct time zone, so I drank coffee to stay awake into Hamburg. We landed at Hamburg and spent a while trying to find a working DB ATM (because they are partners with Bank of America and thus I wouldn't be hit with an extra fee). We got it eventually and unlike the Barcelona trip, the ATM processed the request with no incident. That is good, because as we found, cash is still king here in Germany. Also, my credit card is US-style and doesn't have a PIN, which makes it impossible to use on automated terminals like at the train stations. I was worried that we'd dawdled on our errands, but as it happens, luggage was just starting to roll out when we got to baggage claim. We picked up our bags and cleared customs (a single bored-looking guard), then found our way to the train station.

Training into Hamburg )

When we checked in to the Holiday Inn Express Hamburg, we had a surprise.

That New Hotel Smell )

After getting moved in, doing some unpacking, and confirming that I could raise the wi-fi on my phone and computer, we set out to find some dinner. We knew that we needed to stay awake until early evening in order to have a chance to stave off jet-lag. We headed off a different way than we came, and almost got caught in a rain shower, but fortunately Lisa spotted a model train store, where we popped in until the rain cleared. Unlike Tokyo and Osaka in 2007, where we had to buy an extra piece of luggage to carry all of the gear she bought at the Kato Model Trains factory outlet stores, Lisa restrained herself to a single car: I nice N scale fire truck.

Something Fishy This Way Comes )

It was after 7 PM local time when we got back to the hotel. Lisa got ready for bed as soon as she could. Once I get this posted (which hasn't been proofread well, so I may end up having to make a lot of edits later), I'm going to bed as well. Tomorrow, the included breakfast runs until 11 AM, which is a great thing because it means we don't have to be up early to get fed. We have one day of looking around more of Hamburg before we head for Lübeck and Travemünde.

I'm very tired, but happy to be here.
kevin_standlee: (Default)
Things at Day Jobbe went well this morning (and I did extra stuff on Monday and Tuesday), so I was able to log out at Noon today, and because we'd been doing packing and planning for days, and because we've developed a checklist for securing the house, we managed to get away before 1 PM. We stopped to grab some burgers at Sparks and headed west. That's Lisa's last solid meal until we are air-side tomorrow, because chewing exacerbates her tinnitus and she has to spend time without her white-noise blocker thanks to our oh-so-wonderful TSA and Security Theater. So she's on smoothies until then, and so we stopped at Jamba Juice in Rocklin. Normally I would stop to see my sister, but I did send her a card for her birthday (which is Friday) telling her we'd stop by on our way home, and I really wanted to get down to Millbrae. We made pretty good time, getting to the hotel before 8 PM. Compared to the 40°C weather in Fernley and the hotter-and-stickier temps in the Central Valley, Millbrae was lovely and cool. Lisa and I luxuriated in the comfortable weather.

I nipped out and got Lisa another smoothie for her dinner, then got myself something more solid while she took a bath. By the time I was back, she was already asleep.

The hotel we're staying in is on a "park and fly" deal. Because we're staying here on the night we get back to SFO, parking for the entire time we're gone is included. In effect, we're paying $20/day for long-term parking with two hotel nights included.

Tomorrow is likely to be the worst day of the trip, because it's flights SFO-PDX (Alaska), then PDX-KEF-HAM (IcelandAir), for roughly 15 hours of travel, and I think it will be about 0300 on our body clocks when we get to Germany. I hope we get some sleep on the flights.

Inevitably, we forget something on these trips. Around Sacramento, I recalled that I'd forgotten to pack my Bose noise-canceling headphones, which is a pity because they make these long airplane flights much easier. However, if that's the most significant thing we forgot, I will count ourselves lucky.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
I needed to go see my sister at the nursing facility in Sacramento as I continue to sort out things on her behalf. In addition, there are some things Lisa and I want for the Worldcon trip that can't be easily had in Reno. So this morning, we set off for Sacramento. Neither of us had had a good night's sleep, in part because of the heat. Until we got near Truckee, there was a whole lot of smoke in the air, mostly I think from the Long Valley Fire north of Reno. The Farad Fire that closed I-80 for quite a while last week is reported as 100% contained, and the areas near the freeway are burned out by now.

We went to the Roseville Galleria (nearest Lush store) for the after-shave ointment I use and some "toothy tab" substitutes for toothpaste I prefer to use on long trips because it's neater than tubes of toothpaste. Then it was on to Fry's for some bits of electronics that Lisa and I wanted. By then we were already wilting from the heat, which wasn't more than a degree or two hotter than Fernley, but significantly more humid. I suggested lunch, but neither of us was very hungry. So we went to the nursing facility, which at least was cooler.

Errand of Telephone Mercy )

After spending time with my sister, Lisa and I were hungry, despite the heat, so we set off east, stopping at In-N-Out in Rocklin (we've given up on the Auburn location because it seems to always be over-crowded), ate burgers, and turned for home. We stopped only at Donner Summit for a rest break and just before home to get some milk and yogurt for my breakfast tomorrow.

The Summit Snow is Finally Gone. Well, Mostly )

It was pretty comfortable at the summit, but we needed to get home, so we pressed on. The house was, as expected, very hot and stuffy, but the overnight low is supposed to get down to 18°C tonight and once the sun went down it started cooling nicely. We have the fans and coolers running full-tilt. Once it's cool enough to do so, I must get some sleep. It's another busy week at the Day Jobbe, and a number of both Westercon and WSFS tasks, plus personal preparations for the Helsinki trip, are looming.
kevin_standlee: (Pensive Kevin)
This morning after breakfast, Lisa carried the camera gear to the room where the Westercon Fannish Inquisition was to be held. She had been asked to record it. The room was relatively small, which is okay because only a few people attended, but also had no amplification, meaning that the recordings were limited to whatever the built-in microphone in the cameras could pick up. I ended up running the event, in part because my voice pitches well enough for the microphone.

There were only two participants in this particular Fannish Inquisition. the first was the Utah in 2019 Westercon Bid.



After the bid for 2019 it was time for questions for next year's Westercon in Denver.



These two presentations used up the entire hour, and there were no announcements from any bids for future years at this time. No Worldcon bidder/convention presentations were scheduled.

While the Inquisition was going on, Ben Yalow, Site Selection Administrator, got a phone call. He came to me as Lisa was packing equipment away and told me that because of the call he really needed to fly home right away and would I please take over as Emergency Holographic Site Selection Administrator. I agreed to do so, but asked him if he could get the table going today and after I helped Lisa get the gear back to the room I would come down straight away and take over.

After helping Lisa, I went to the Site Selection table and Ben briefed me on procedures. Judy Bemis, Linda Deneroff, and later Seth Breidbart volunteered to help me. After Ben gave me the gist of things, I told him, "Thank you. I relieve you, sir!" and when Ben started to dither over additional things, I said, "Go home, Ben!" He left. We all hope that the issue was not too awful serious. (It's not medical, but I think it best to wait to hear from him about what the issues way before saying much more.)

Plans of mine to spend most of today at the San Jose Worldcon table were obviously scuppered, as I needed to run Site Selection. However, we had other commitments as well. In particular, Kuma Bear was supposed to run an Art Show tour, with us helping him. Fortunately, Judy and Linda were able to run things while we did the tour and then went off to get some lunch. Kuma will write about the Art Show later.

Lisa and I had lunch at the Cornish Pasty bar a block from the hotel. The staff were friendly, the pasty was good, as was the scotch egg, but Lisa said the fries were too peppery, and we both agreed that the music was too loud and too distorted. Still, we were better off for having had lunch.

Running Site Selection is relatively easy when there aren't a lot of ballots being cast. As I said in a reply elsewhere, not only is this a small convention (I'm guessing fewer than 500 bodies on site), but a lot of the "usual suspects" who regularly attend Westercon aren't here due to various factors. This means that a higher-than-usual proportion of the membership are people who won't/can't attend conventions outside of commuting range. For them, a site in Utah might as well be on the Moon, so they're not going to take any notice of or participate in the election. So 42 votes is low, but not terribly surprising.

At 6 PM, we closed the polls. Seth Breidbart and I along with the Hatchers (the Utah bid team) went up to the Board Room where we had been told we could count ballots. Unfortunately, the room was locked and we were unable to find anyone who could get the room unlocked. Fortunately, the adjacent room (where the Inquisition was this morning and where the Business Meeting will be tomorrow) was just winding up its last panel, so once they cleared out, we could use it to do the counting.

Counting itself was pretty simple, with so few ballots. Linda Deneroff joined us and helped with the count. To my relief, the number of voter information sheets and the amount of money we received matched the number of votes cast. Sometimes there are more voter sheets than ballots, which is okay because that means someone paid for a vote and then didn't cast it, but the bad result is when you have more votes than voters, which doesn't happen often and fortunately didn't happen here.

Because Westercon rules don't require that the Business Meeting formally accept the results, I declared the election final, congratulated the winning Westercon 72 Committee, and gave them their voting fees and membership data. I then wrote up the results for the convention newsletter, thanked everyone for their help, and Linda and I carried the Site Selection gear back to my hotel room, where Lisa was taking a nap. The three of us went to dinner at the "Identikit Irish Pub-Restaurant" next to the hotel, which had decent food, and then we hit the parties.

Before heading to dinner, I had set one of the computers to processing the Fannish Inquisition videos. They were done when we came back from dinner, but they are huge and the bandwidth here at the hotel isn't that huge, so I set them to uploading. It took many hours to get those videos online.

After 11 PM, Lisa and I remembered that we wanted to go to CVS to get some more Diet Coke for me and chocolate milk for her. You'd think a four block walk at that time of the night wouldn't be so bad, but the heat was still very stifling, and it was very hard on both of us, Lisa worse than me. I hope we're able to get enough rest to be able to get our remaining responsibilities done tomorrow.

On Monday morning, I'm helping Worldcon 76 co-host the Con Suite from 10:30 to 12:30, although I need to leave early because I'm chairing the Westercon Business Meeting, which Lisa is recording. There is no business expected, so unless someone surprises us, it will be a very short meeting, with an initial report from Westercon 72 the only thing I'm expecting. We have the afternoon free (other than helping with Worldcon 76's table), but will need to get dinner early, because we have to set up for the 8 PM Match Game SF show. Fortunately, we have two hours for set up. Unfortunately, we need to move the gear in from the car in the blazing sun. I've moved the minivan closer to the room where the show will be, but it still it likely to be a strain on us.
kevin_standlee: (Atomic Vegas)
Today was the longest driving leg of the trip planned: about 300 miles, although the actual mileage was closer to 350 in the end.

Where we Ended up )

We got away from Tonopah in good time, leaving around 8 AM. Being able to get yogurts from Scolari's grocery store next door and store them in the room 'fridge to have for breakfast made for a relatively quick start.

Checking Out the Goldfield Subway Station )

After Goldfield, we made for Beatty, where we stopped at Eddieworld, an oasis in the Nevada desert where one must resist the urge to spend too much money on candy, nuts, fruit, and jerky. We managed to escape with only minor damage. I also got a postcard for Kelli, and immediately dispatched it to her. She's stuck in that nursing home, and I try to send her cards from along the way on our trips.

Alien Travel Center )

I mentioned yesterday that we had errands to run in Las Vegas "to boot." That actually was to be taken literally. Lisa left her moccasin-boots that go with one of her outfits behind, and she's been meaning to get another pair anyway, so we went looking for them. The first place we tried in Las Vegas at which Google pointed us no longer carries boots, but pointed us in the right direction (which turned out to be a shop on Fremont Street). But we were on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, and it was well past time for lunch. So where do we go when we want to have lunch in Las Vegas? Well, the Black Bear Diner, of course! We collected our 23rd BBD in their "passport" promotion, and we were really happy to get out of the heat. The AC in the minivan doesn't work well in city driving, you see, and it was around 40°C in Las Vegas today. After lunch, we refueled the minivan and worked our way downtown, which took quite a while due to heavy traffic.

This Errand Was Not Bootless )

After about four hours in Vegas, we were happy to get moving again, particularly when traffic cleared sufficiently that we could get moving fast enough to turn the air conditioning back on as we headed south on I-515/US-95/US-93.

After crossing Railroad Pass, we turned south on US-95. We made a brief stop to have a closer look at at solar thermal power plant (Nevada Solar One, if my Google-fu isn't failing me). But as we pulled back out on the road, we were troubled by a clattering sound that had been annoying us on the whole trip. We stopped again and finally figured out what had been causing this. Some of the rubber trim along the roof line had come loose and was flapping in the slipstream. Lisa started to get the trim back into place, and I had an idea.

"Would a rubber mallet help?" I asked.

Lisa said, "Yes!"

Well, I happened to have one. Some years ago, I bought a rubber mallet to assemble IKEA furniture. I've taken to packing it in the "Business Meeting box" in case the Gavel of Westercon gets lot. We dug the mallet out the box, and Lisa used it to help hammer the trim back into place.

Laughlin at Last )

After getting a minimal setup established, we had dinner at the buffet. Note for next trip: don't eat at the buffet. We're spoiled by places like the Peppermill. We agreed that we would have had a better meal at the Fatburger franchise located inside the casino.

Tomorrow we drive to Lake Havasu City. After having been over London Bridge in London, we decided we should visit the original one in Arizona. Tomorrow night we should be at Tempe.
kevin_standlee: Kevin in kakhi shirt, Jacaru hat, and sunglasses (Sheriff Kevin)
After what seemed like innumerable delays, we managed to get away from Fernley about 2:30 PM and set out for Tonopah. This is the shortest of the three legs of the trip, being merely 200 miles; however, if we didn't stop in Tonopah, our next realistic stop would be in Beatty, another 100 miles south of here. That seems unwise, given that we didn't know how soon I could get off work today; besides, we've stayed at the Tonopah Station Hotel before, and because it was the headquarters hotel of our Tonopah Westercon bid, we have a soft spot for it.

Bear Approves of Our Hotel Choice )

The hotel will win no luxury awards, and unfortunately nearly all of the rooms require negotiating stairs, but it's affordable, and there's a grocery store next door. Since our room has a refrigerator, we got some yogurt to have for breakfast tomorrow. After dinner in the restaurant, we walked around the hotel grounds and surrounding areas. In contrast to the heat of Fernley and the even more heat we'll be suffering in Las Vegas and Tempe, it was quite temperate and comfortable. Had we really won that bid, the small number of people who actually might have made the trek to Tonopah would have, I think, enjoyed the mild summer evenings.

My computer connected to the hotel wi-fi eventually, although it's not especially fast, and I'm glad that I don't have to get any real work done here. Still, when we check out tomorrow morning, we'll probably make a reservation for stopping here a week from Saturday on the way home.

Tomorrow is the longest leg of the trip (300 miles to Laughlin), and we have errands to run in Las Vegas to boot.
kevin_standlee: (SFSFC)
We had a good, productive day of Worldcon 2018 planning meetings here at the San Jose Marriott and the SJ Convention Center. Lisa and I decided that paying more for the hotel buffet than we would pay for the Peppermill's massive weekend brunch was excessive, so we walked down to Peggy Sue's and had a fair breakfast for less than the cost of one of the Marriott breakfasts, then joined the herd of cats assembled Worldcon 76 committee for the tour of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Things are not the same as they were in 2002, and in particular the former library site was razed and rebuilt as a large ballroom.

Major Event Space )

After the convention center walk-through, we broke for lunch. I'm pleased to see just how many more options there are for downtown dining than there were fifteen years ago. After lunch, we reconvened for planning meetings of various sorts, such as making sure that every area we have on the convention organization list is assigned to a division. When we got to WSFS Business Meeting, I said, "It's WSFS's area" and explained when people started to opine that it belonged somewhere else, that:

WSFS Business Meeting is managed by WSFS, is a tenant of Programming, acts like an Event, and uses Tech Service.


Yes, we're very cross-functional here.

During one of the meetings in which I wasn't involved, I had a review of my division's timeline items with Bobbi Armbruster, our Mistress of Timelines.

Final Meeting of the Day )

With the main meetings out of the way, it was time for dinner. In our case, we had an unhurried dinner at the Indian restaurant out the back door of the Fairmont Hotel before wandering back to the "con suite" at the Marriott. (We were conveniently able to get a hotel room two doors down from the hospitality suite.) We had a pleasant evening socializing with the other folks here. Bruce Farr pulled me aside to review the current state of the WSFS Division budget (no surprises at this time; just marking things as "this is already committed" like the Hugo rocket order and "we'd like to have this but know we can't commit until much later" like tea/coffee service for the Business Meeting.

Earlier than we would have liked we said goodnight and walked the short distance back to our room. Because of the long drive we have home tomorrow, we won't be staying long, although I do have a meeting at 9:30.

My computer still will only boot in Safe Mode, which is not good at all, but at least means there's some hope that we can salvage things. I won't attempt any fixes until we get home where the backups are located.

Moving Out

May. 23rd, 2017 05:20 pm
kevin_standlee: (Lisa)
...but only a few meters.

We have a planned project to work on the carport for which the concrete laying last fall was the first stage. In order to do this, we need to have the travel trailer off the slab for a few days.

Moving Day )

In the heat we're having here, Lisa didn't want to keep the electricity disconnected very long. We ran two long extension cords from the power pedestal to the trailer. I gingerly opened the pedestal cover and was not too surprised to find a black widow spider there — it's just the sort of place that spiders like that seem to like. I got my heavy gloves and a broom and turned her into an ex-spider. We then connected the extension cords so that both the 30A and 20A circuits are connected to the trailer. The air conditioning started up with no problem. The refrigerator is off and defrosting at the moment, and will be out of use until she moves the trailer back inside, because the trailer is now a little off level. You must not run the refrigerator with it not level; you'll ruin it.

We currently anticipate being on this very short road trip for about a week while we clean the carport and undertake the other half of the project that started last October but was put on hold due to weather. With summer about here and a three day weekend ahead (which is one reason we'll not be at BayCon), it's high time to get back to work on improvements to Fernley House.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Over the past few days, Lisa and I (mostly Lisa) have unloaded my sister's boxes from the minivan to our storage locker and garage, so yesterday we could put the middle seat back into the Astro, returning it to what we consider its normal configuration. (The rear seat lives in the storage locker except for those rare times when we need seating capacity more than cargo space.) Today, however, we took slight advantage of my Central Time-zone shifted schedule and shortly after I knocked off work for the day, we headed into Reno, where we had dinner at the Peppermill (the server and manager recognized us and commented that it had been a while, which is true) and did a round of grocery shopping. It's certainly a lot less crowded on a Thursday evening than a Saturday afternoon.

Lisa drove us home, and I'm about to fall into bed, since by my body clock it's nearly midnight.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
Fernley is well supplied with three large truck stops. It also has the site of the now defunct Truck Inn, whose sign (and 18-wheeler hoisted up in the air on pillars) is still there. The site of the Truck Inn is now a designated truck parking area across from the Flying J truck stop. It's a good place for trucks to stop (and also other oversize vehicles like RVs). Because of this, we sometimes see unusual loads, like this one we spotted while on our way to Lowe's a few nights ago.

Weird Load )

We also get strange movements on the railroad, but they rarely stay put long enough to get a good photo of them.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Because we called off the originally planned trip to the Bay Area by train today (it's just as well; the train was three hours late), we instead went and did a fair bit of shopping. [livejournal.com profile] travelswithkuma and I got to hang around a bit.

Hanging Out With Kuma Bear )

By the time we finished all of the grocery shopping, we were getting hungry, so we went to the Sparks Nugget and had a very late lunch or early dinner at the Oyster Bar. The food is as good as usual there. How well the resort is doing overall is another story. They're doing a big renovation. It sort of looks like the Gilley's "cowboy" nightclub they put into the space where Trader Dick's Polynesian restaurant used to be is closed down. Whether that's permanent or not, I haven't heard. Not that I was ever going to go to Gilley's. I wouldn't ride the mechanical bull even before I hurt my back a few years ago playing "whirlyball" at a company outing in Chicago, and the music there was both too loud and not to my taste. The Nugget just hasn't been the same since the Ascuagas sold it (and then the new owners resold it not long thereafter). But we'll keep going back to the Oyster Bar as long as it's there.
kevin_standlee: (Let's Split)
Some of you may recall that some weeks ago, Lisa and I dragged a stump that had been dumped by the side of the street out of the area it was blocking (we feared a truck would run into it in the dark as it pulled in to park) to the front of our house. Today, Lisa got out the electric chainsaw and I wielded the splitting wedge and we set to work on reducing the stump to usable pieces.

A Stumpy Wheelbarrow )

After clearing the wood and resting for a while, Lisa drove us into Sparks, where we managed to find a piece of hardware that had eluded us in Fernley: a large-size level. Easy enough to find in Fernley, if you are willing to buy Chinese. We found one that suits what Lisa wants to do, and is made in the USA. Not everything is made in China, despite what some people seem to think. Yesterday, we were looking for a certain kind of drill bit at Big R, and while most of the bits were Chinese, there was a Bosch bit that was made in Germany, and we bought it. Moreover, it appears that there are more and more tools coming back to the USA. Possibly the length of the supply chain and the difficulty of maintaining quality at such long distances is coming home to roost for some of those companies that thought that cost was the only factor.

Feeling accomplished, we stopped at the Nugget for dinner (actually second breakfast) before heading home. Very routine stuff for us home-bodies.

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