kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
We did get to the North Lyon County Fire Protection District Board meeting this evening, but left at the second recess. Lisa has had almost no sleep in the past 24 hours and was wilting.

I have offered my services as a parliamentarian to the Board to streamline their processes. In particular, small boards like that shouldn't be requiring seconds to motions; it not necessary under Robert's Rules of Order, although so many people only know "sandlot rules" that they don't realize it. Also, most of the Board business can actually be done by unanimous consent anyway. It's only things that are contentious that have to go through the fully formal process.

As it happens, tonight had something heavily contentious. Even I, someone who is all in favor of the open meeting laws, was getting uncomfortable as the discussion was dancing on the edge of a precipice regarding personnel issues. After a lot of talking around it, the clerk of the Board handed a note to the Chair, who then proposed that the Board hold a special meeting next week where the only item would be a closed session on the subject at hand. With great relief, the Board agreed to do that. I'm glad. Some things don't actually belong in open meetings.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
While naturally most of the press coverage of the many wildfires in California has been of the Napa-Sonoma County fires, there are a bunch more all over the state. The one most important to me personally is the Cascade Fire in Yuba County. That's because my mother lives only about ten miles east of the current eastern perimeter of the fire near Collins Lake. Dobbins, where she lives, is not under evacuation orders at this time, but it still makes me nervous. Today, I managed to get through on the phone. My nephew, Shane, picked up the phone, which also answered the other question I had as he reassured me that they are all just fine, although nervous of course. If they have to bug out, he promised to call me.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
As is our wont, Lisa and I went to the local Fire Board meeting. The first part was nice: the district holding "badging" ceremonies for the newest fire-fighter to pass his probationary period, followed by the formal badging of the department's first-ever captains. They managed to figure out how to budget for three captains so that the Chief didn't have something like thirty direct reports (an untenable situation IMO). After the ceremonial stuff, which ended up delaying the start of real business for close to an hour, they got down to work. But the Main Event item was being presented by one of the more boring people I've met, and even though he admitted up front that he "talks in circles," the Chair of the meeting didn't tell him to get to the point when he rambled along. After nearly an hour of this rambling, abetted by the board members failing to stay on point themselves, and everyone simply repeating the arguments over and over again, Lisa and I gave up and went home. This is too bad because there were other things on the agenda about which we were interested, but at that point it looked as though they were going to be there all night arguing about whether to grant the local raceway a permit to hold a "fire lantern" festival.

My hours don't allow me to stay up late on weeknights. We walked home and I went to bed, possibly going to sleep faster by envisioning the ongoing drone of repetitive debate.

When I preside over the Business Meeting, if a speaker is going in circles, I've been known to intervene and say something like, "Could the member come to a point?"

It was the meeting-induced sleep that led to me not posting anything yesterday, which is a rarity for me because I do try to post something daily if I get a chance.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
When I walked to the Wigwam restaurant for breakfast this morning, I could hardly see the Pah-Rah Mountains for all of the smoky haze.

Smoke in the Air )

There have been a lot of wildfires in the area, many of which are still burning, and smoke is in the air all the time. It leaves my eyes burning even when it's not obviously visible. When we drove to Reno today, we saw the burnt areas along I-80 between Fernley and Sparks from a large wildfire that raged through the area while we were down south.
kevin_standlee: (Pointless Arrow)
The drive through the Sacramento Valley and into the Sierra Nevada was not fun at all. The air conditioning in the minivan couldn't keep up with the nearly 40°C temperatures, and trying to do so also overheated the engine, so we had to turn off the AC whenever the needle went into the yellow zone. At Nyack we stopped and put additional water in the tank, which was not low, but not especially full, either. By Donner Summit it finally got comfortable, at we decided to stop in Truckee for dinner, because it would probably be much hotter in Reno or at home. Further making our minds up for us were warning signs that a brush fire at the Nevada border was causing delays.

Train Held for Fire )

While we had dinner, the warnings of delays from Nevada DOT had cleared, but the smoke and some fire was still there.

Smoke Over Gold Ranch )

We made no further stops and went home. Perhaps an hour after we got home, Amtrak went by (they were still at Truckee when we left). We assume that they had to get the all-clear not just from the fire department, but from Union Pacific. Lisa and I were on a trip coming up from Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight where for hours we thought we were doing to be put on buses at Paso Robles to take us to Sacramento due to a brush fire, but at the last minute the word came that the bridges were safe and we weren't going to have to ride any buses, which pleased up mightily. I hope the train patrons were similarly pleased. And on the bright side, their unexpected stopover was at one of the more comfortable places they could have been stopped between Emeryville and the Nevada desert.

I'm still on a backup computer, and nothing to restore the work machine has worked; not even the backup image from two weeks ago. Tech Support is dispatching a re-imaging DVD-ROM, which I am to use to re-image the computer back to bare metal. I sure hope it works, and that it arrives tomorrow. There's a lot of my job that I simply can't do on backup equipment.

Fire Call

Mar. 21st, 2017 04:00 pm
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
Two days ago, I heard fire engines running down Main Street, but that's not uncommon inasmuch as we're only two blocks north of Main. Then we heard more of them. And then some more. Lisa came in and said, "There's a house on fire across the street!"

Not Quite That Close, but Still Not Nice )

It would be tragic enough under the circumstances, but it turned out to be worse than just property damage. Lisa, talking to the person who lives in the yellow house seen in some of these photos, learned that an older woman who lived in the burned cottage had been pulled from the flames with severe third-degree burns. Comments on Facebook say that it was the woman's son and another passerby who pulled her out, but I do not have independent knowledge on that.

Send in the Chopper )

Comments on Facebook say that an oxygen cylinder exploded; however, I know nothing more about the cause of the fire, and FB comments are often worth what you pay for them. I may be able to learn more at the next fire board meeting.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
Lisa doesn't come down to the Bay Area that often, so while we were there on Saturday, we took advantage of the trip to go shopping for electronics not generally available in Reno/Sparks. Our first stop was Fry's, where we did get her some things, but where I also bought a medium-ticket item for Cheryl Morgan's benefit. Then it was on to Weird Stuff Warehouse. Again, Lisa found a few things for which she was looking, but I was the one with the biggest purchase, as they had a good deal running on surplus 24" monitors. Lisa bought me one. It will trigger a cascade of monitors in our home office that should lead to Lisa getting a replacement for one of her monitors that is starting to fade away on her.

Weird Stuff and Goats )

After Weird Stuff, we continued on to HSC Electronic Supply, who have moved to a new location not far from their previous warehouse. This time we struck out, finding none of the things for which we were searching. None were critical, but Lisa likes to look here when she gets the opportunity to do so.

Slogging Home via Tracy, With Added Mattress Fire )

By then we had been on the road for at least three hours and had gone maybe 100 miles or so, and I was already worn out. Lisa took the wheel. We stopped for a late lunch at the Denny's in Lodi Junction, then continued to Sacramento to visit my sister for a while. Lisa was still better off than me, and we went on with her driving to Colfax where we had a short rest stop, and Lisa continued driving us the rest of the way home from there, where as I wrote briefly last night we got home before 10 PM.

This morning, after a good night's sleep, I felt a little bit better, and leaving Lisa to sleep, I walked up to the Wigwam Restaurant-Casino, had a good breakfast, and once again managed to win enough playing blackjack to pay for breakfast.

I'm now using my new-to-me monitor, and it does make a difference.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
Saturday afternoon, the North Lyon County Fire Protection District held an Open House. Lisa and I walked over to support our local fire department. NLCFPD was founded in 1952, significantly predating the 2001 incorporation of the city of Fernley. It's a separate agency that is effectively the Fernley Fire Department but is not managed by the city itself, but by a separate board.

Pictures of Fire Engines and Stuff )

I availed myself of the hot dogs and hamburgers on offer, and made a donation to the fire department. We didn't stay too long, as they had loud thumping music inside the station, making it unpleasant for Lisa and me. (Some people apparently enjoy not being able to hear themselves think; Lisa and I are not among them.)

There is a measure on the local ballot here to increase property taxes to fill critical funding needs for our understaffed local fire department, which finds itself stretched and sometimes unable to answer all calls. Fortunately, there were no calls during Saturday's open house, and the open house itself was funded by an outside grant, not by fire department funds.
kevin_standlee: (Family)
I had some business I needed to do in person with my mother that I'd been unable to get done last week on my way home from the Bay Area and that needed to be done before the end of July, so Lisa and I drove to Yuba City this morning. Little did we know that we'd be dodging a wildfire on the return trip.

Flying Visit to Yuba City )

As we left Marysville heading east on CA-20, we shortly noticed a huge smoke plume in the distant mountains ahead. I stopped where the Marysville - La Porte Road turns off to head up to my home town of Challenge and took a photo standing on the rear bumper of the Astro.

Fire In the Mountains )

The fire turned out to be the Lowell Fire, which apparently started sometime this afternoon and spread rapidly in the drought-dry conditions. At the time I took the photos, I didn't know exactly where it was, and (mistakenly, as it turns out) thought that taking CA-20 (the "natural" route) home would take us right into the fire zone. We therefore detoured back to the south on CA-174, which was a drive I've wanted to do before but never had done. Today would have been a good day for this but for dodging Cal Fire equipment coming the other way Code 3 lights-and-siren on a narrow two-lane highway. In fact, rather than avoiding the fire, we were driving closer to it.

Skirting the South Edge )

Fortunately for us, we got through the affected area with nothing more than irritated eyes from the smoke. We got home just short of twelve hours after we'd left. It was a long day, but not an impossibly long one. Still, I'm looking forward to not having to set an alarm tomorrow. For the next six weeks or so, such days are going to be few and far between.
kevin_standlee: (Snow Day)
Our firewood supply is worryingly low due to the very cold weather. Our plan today was to hitch up the utility trailer and take it to Big R Ranch & Home Supply in Fallon and buy a pallet (half a cord) of Douglas Fir firewood, which we call "fence posts" because that's what it looks like. While connecting the trailer, Lisa noticed that my right turn signal was out. She replaced the bulb. It's still out. That's an electrical system problem she couldn't fix. And in addition, the right rear light on the utility trailer wouldn't fire as well. (The right front light on the van works. Go figure.) So I need to get that fixed sooner, not later, as I am thus out a right turn signal and brake light. Bad.

As Lisa's suggestion, I called Big R to confirm availability of firewood pallets. All out. 27 pallets on order, but they have none in stock now. Oops. That's bad, but kudos to Lisa for having me check, saving us a fruitless 50-mile round-trip to Fallon.

We called the place in Fallon from which we'd previously purchased two cords delivered of split pine. He's all out, although he does have some hardwood, including walnut for sale by the palatalized half-cord, which means we could drive over there to get it. He's not open on Sunday, though, and on weekdays only by appointment, so we have to drive over there tomorrow afternoon to get a half-cord of walnut ($170) and hope that the missing tail light doesn't get noticed. Tuesday I'll try to find someone to work on fixing the tail light circuit.

To deal with the immediate issues here, we cut up the six pieces of "fence post" that were over-length, making eighteen more pieces of burnable wood, and we broke down one of the pallets from Big R (these are free) into pieces small enough to burn. The pallet will keep us warm the rest of this afternoon and into the early evening, and then I need to put one of the remaining large pine logs on the fire before going to bed.
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
The snow we've had and the cold weather accompanying it means we've been burning firewood faster than we've hoped in order to keep the living room warm. Today, with the weather pretty decent, Lisa hooked up the utility trailer to the Big Orange Van and we headed off to Big R in Fallon, where I knew they were selling firewood by the half-cord bag. (Nobody in Fernley seems to sell firewood. Lowe's sells lots of pellet-stove wood, but our fireplace burns cordwood, not pellets.)

Shopping for Firewood )

When we got home and stowed the trailer, we covered the sack with the plastic sheeting to keep the wood dry. We'll move it as necessary to the wood box. In retrospect, it appears that maybe we shouldn't have bought the more expensive juniper, which some sources are telling me burns too hot and too fast compared to the less expensive fir. Sigh. When I can scratch up enough money, I'll pay the place from which we bought last year to bring us two cords of pine, which would save driving over to Fallon to get the wood in the first place.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley House)
Lisa let me know this evening that the replacement for the broken door for the fireplace arrived yesterday. Unlike the first door, this one fit. (The first door shipped to us had the right part number on the packing list but was actually a door from a different model from the same manufacturer. The manufacturer sent us the correct door at no additional charge and is supposed to send us a UPS call tag for the return of the wrong door.) Lisa installed the replacement door and got a fire going in the fireplace for the first time this season. She's much happier now and much more certain I will be able to work from home over Christmas without freezing my fingers, Bob Crachit-like, in the living room-office. The only challenge facing us is that while the wood box (the one she painted this past summer) is full of 3/4 cord of wood, that's all we have, and it will be at least a month before we can afford to buy more, as firewood costs about $275/cord delivered.

But in any event, replacing the fireplace door (~$250) was much less expensive than buying a whole new fireplace insert would have been.
kevin_standlee: (House)
...based on the number of burn spots on it already. It's doing its job of preventing burns in the actual carpet when sparks get loose from the fireplace when we open it to stoke up the fire.

With the insulating material closing off the open doorways between the living room and the rest of the house, we've been able to keep the living room at a reasonably comfortable temperature in the low 20s C. But we will definitely have to buy another two cords of wood sometime in January when we can scrape up the $540 for it.

Sometime in 2012, we expect to make a trip to Oregon to collect the rest of Lisa's things from the storage container in Mehama, and that will include getting the utility trailer. That will be useful next winter in that we will be able to buy firewood without having to pay the $50 delivery charge. Of course, by then, we expect to have the replacement for the Furnace of Death in place, so we won't need to burn nearly as much wood to keep warm. The fireplace is nice, and it's reassuring that we have a way to stay warm even if the power fails (the overnight lows here have been around -10° C), but it's a lot of work to keep it going.

Incidentally, since someone asked: Although the original fireplace built into the north end of the house is a large stone structure that I guess was originally an open-hearth fireplace, somewhere along the line someone installed a fireplace insert with fans to circulate air behind it and with a catalytic converter to burn the smoke and reduce emissions. Like a well-tended steam locomotive, we're happiest when there is no visible smoke coming out of the chimney; it means the fire is burning sufficiently hot as to re-burn the smoke and to reduce wasted wood.
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
Just in case anyone reading this was wondering, the Reno Wildfire that has made national news is nowhere near us. Fernley is about 30 miles east of Reno/Sparks, on the other side of a range of hills, while this fire is in southwestern Reno (see map on City of Reno's website.) As a reference point for those of you who attended Renovation, the complex of buildings in the upper right of the perimeter map (warning: large PDF, subject to change, may not be the same as when I looked at it) is the Peppermill Hotel complex, which means the fire's perimeter is (as of the time I checked) only about two miles from the Peppermill and Atlantis/Convention Center area.

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