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.


Oct. 28th, 2015 06:39 pm
kevin_standlee: (Lisa)
Last week Lisa discovered that one of the tires on the Big Orange Van was flat. She put on the spare and took the van to Hanneman's down the way to get the tire patched. Turns out that the sidewall had failed, which is not repairable. On Monday, we called Big O Tires in Sparks (these were Big O tires) and, as Lisa expected, they had to special-order the huge tires the van uses, and they said to come in on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, I got work cleared sufficiently to leave a little after 3 and we drove into Sparks. Pulling in to Big O, we discovered that another tire had gone flat, with the same sidewall failure. Big O only had the one special-order tire, which they used to replace the one that had just failed. They ordered another tire and said we could get it on Wednesday. Alas, neither tire was under warranty. The pair turned out to be from 2006 and were installed in Oregon. The two other tires we had put on in 2011 here in Sparks shortly after moving here are still okay. I paid for both tires ($515 for the pair!) and we decided to make the best of things by doing our in-town grocery shopping. Including stopping to have dinner at the Atlantis (where for a change my keno ticket showed a profit, winning $8) and at the Sparks Nugget to make dinner reservations on for Thursday (our belated wedding anniversary) and using the $5 slot credit I'd earned there (which won $6.60 in actual cash), we were pretty late getting home.

This afternoon, we did another trip to Sparks to get the other tire. A fairly decent rain storm was passing through, so Lisa just had them replace the bad tire (which had been hanging on the spare tire bracket) and put it back on the bracket. She'll deal with getting the tires back the way she wants them herself on a dryer day.

Trips of this sort are non trivial. The Big Orange Van gets worse mileage than the Rolling Stone, and the larger of its two fuel tanks isn't working, which severely limits its range. It takes about $20 in fuel to do a round trip from Fernley to Reno/Sparks, and last night we had to refuel in Reno to have enough gas to get home. It probably has a range of less than 120 miles right now.

It's possible that the Big Orange Van has been sitting still too much. Lisa says she'll need to try and use it at least once a week or so, probably for short trips such as to the grocery store in Fernley, to keep it exercised. This is easier in the winter when the lack of air conditioning is not a factor; besides, those big tires make it very sure-footed in bad weather.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
I was able to make it back to Fremont via transit (shuttle bus, light rail, Amtrak, shank's mare). My mechanic called me to tell me he was finishing up just as I turned the corner a block from his shop. Besides fixing the broken tilt-wheel mechanism, he also did the front brakes, which were down to minimum safe spec. Another $650 spent, but it's a safer vehicle.

After paying for the van, I went my the Newark Jiffy Lube and had the oil changed. It was just short of 3500 miles, but the trip to/from Spokane in my opinion "used up" an oil change, especially considering the smoky conditions. It also needs an air filter, but changing the air filter on the Astro is a major adventure, requiring removal of the "doghouse" cover inside the van, so Lisa and I will tackle that one ourselves, I think.

Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to pay for everything I've done this month. No panic (yet), but it's annoying to see so many expenses coming in during a time that was supposed to be low activity. Lisa and I have been working out how to make the logistics work better the next time we want to put one of my vehicles in with Cory-the-mechanic. He's a good mechanic, but the extra $500-$600 in hotel bills I end up incurring to use him in not so good. We have some ideas about how to have things work both ways, including possibly having me leave a vehicle with Cory for him to work on and then have me take the train home to Reno, which has the added benefit that I get to ride the train through the Sierra, which I always enjoy doing. We'll do some figuring before the next time we have to have work done.
kevin_standlee: (Sasquan)
Today was our final morning in Spokane. After breakfast, we packed out of the room and left for the first stage of our four-day/three-night trip back to Fernley.

Final View from a Hotel Window )

We set out eastbound on I-90, made a fuel stop just over the border near Coeur d'Alene, and turned south on US-95 for Moscow, where a U-Haul trailer reservation awaited.

Collecting the Video Game )

With the game console secure (and the now-loaded U-Haul trailer riding somewhat better), we once again turned south. We stopped at Moscow one more time to pick up some groceries including lunchmeat to go with the loaf of bread we'd carried with us all the way from Fernley without actually using. An hour or so later, we were in Lewiston and the Holiday Inn Express. To our great relief, we found that they have designated long vehicle/trailer parking, which was very convenient. Even better, I hit the jackpot with a room upgrade.

Luxury in Lewiston )
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
I checked out of the motel this morning in a fairly leisurely manner and headed homeward. The minivan continues to be a bit hesitant to start, so every time I stop is an adventure. And after a few minutes on the road, the Service Engine Soon light comes on. It was a pretty mild day, and it wasn't until after I refueled at Lodi Junction that I felt the need to turn on the air conditioning, whereupon I found that it would only blow through the floor vents, nor would any of the other settings send air anywhere else. In addition, the cruise control stopped working, which makes the long drive on stretches of the freeway much more wearing.

I drove to Sacramento and visited with my sister for about an hour, and then before leaving Sacramento, called Lisa to let her know I was on the last lap, so to speak, and to bring her up to speed on the van issues. When I mentioned the AC and cruise-control issues, she said, "Sounds like you have a vacuum leak." Both of those systems on my van are vacuum operated. In retrospect, we speculate that a hose was not completely reattached (we're hoping this is the cause of the service-engine light) and that eventually the hose came off completely. If so, and assuming we can find the missing connection tomorrow, the engine-light problem may go away and we can concentrate on Plan A (using the Astro to go to Spokane/Portland/Seaside).

Although my original plan was to drive straight home with no more stops, my bladder had other ideas, and I did stop at Donner Summit. There were rain showers in the Sierra (hooray) and while there's no snow at Donner, there's what looks to me like some new snow on some of the higher Sierra peaks that wasn't there when I went west, thanks to the recent storms. Keep 'em coming, I say. The van restarted without too much trouble at Donner and I made it home without incident.

Good think tomorrow is a holiday; looks like we'll need it to work on my van.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
Thanks to getting the minivan back this morning, I was actually able to get down to BayCon today. However, because I also needed to get an oil change, by the time I got there, the only panel I really was deeply interested in attending (discussing the current Hugo Controversy) was mostly ending. I spent most of the day behind the Sasquan table, although I did get an opportunity to walk through the Art Show and buy books in the Dealer's Room. I also had my blood pressure riled up mightily by a puppy apologist who has bought completely into the story that the Hugo Awards for the past decade have been dominated by a secret slate of works decreed by Tor Book and voted upon by the large number of Tor employees who have all been funded and ordered to vote by the Sekrit Slate. Still, aside from that one person, who proves that not all Puppies are short-term, never-been-part-of-Worldcon-fandom fans, it was a pretty good day. I want to thank all of the people who have been following my writing here and elsewhere and who have come by to say nice things about the work I've been doing. It's reassuring, really.

There wasn't a lot I wanted to do in evening programming, and I'm too stressed and tired to do the evening parties (and the party floor at BayCon has been pretty dire ever since they moved to the Santa Clara property anyway), so I decided to head back to the hotel in Newark and eat the last of my groceries here for dinner, and maybe turn in early. I won't be going back to BayCon tomorrow, but will instead head home by way of Sacramento and visiting my sister.

One minor worry: while driving into the parking garage in Santa Clara, the Service Engine Soon light briefly flashed on. It hasn't come back on, but I'm still concerned. The van needs to be ready for a long road trip.

When I got back to the hotel, I had a message from Lisa, who went to the Nevada State Railroad Museum for the official roll-out of the restored locomotive Glenbrook. She had a great time and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it. Can't be in two places at once, however.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
My mechanic tells me that he thinks he'll be able to get my minivan running again (air-idle control valve or something like that; I was driving and couldn't write it down), but I can't get it back until late on Friday. This sort of scrambles up a bunch of my travel logistics, and on top of it all I have a bunch of extra auto expenses to pay including $41/day worth of rental car. So I've had to cancel my hotel reservation for BayCon in favor of staying just one more night (Friday) in the Roach Motel in Newark. I hope to be at BayCon for a while on Friday evening and Saturday morning, but I reckon I need to go home Saturday afternoon to try offset at least some of the extra expenses I've run up. This is particularly irritating with the long road trip to Spokane/Portland/Seaside coming up next week.

I guess I'm glad I wasn't actually booked into doing any specific things for anyone at BayCon this weekend. I apologize if anyone was counting on me for anything; I won't be around much, save parts of Friday evening and Saturday morning.

By The Bay

May. 19th, 2015 09:01 am
kevin_standlee: (Kevin Sketch)
I was too tired after getting back from last night's BASFA meeting to fire up the computer and post anything, but there wasn't much to say from me anyway. I got down to the Bay Area on Sunday night, and Sunday morning nursed my minivan to my mechanic's shop and walked over to Enterprise rent-a-car, collected my rental, and drove to my dentist for a periodic cleaning and check-up. My dentist recommends that the next time I'm in his office (November), we also replace two very old fillings on one side of my mouth, then do the other two old fillings on the other side the following spring. This preventive maintenance seems like a good idea and also fits within the annual dental benefits on my healthcare coverage.

Because I didn't drive the RV, I'm staying in a (cheap by Bay Area standards) motel not too far from my office. Nevertheless, this will be a very expensive week. How expensive overall depends on what my mechanic finds wrong with the Astro.
kevin_standlee: (Lisa)
Lisa is able to walk without crutches again. Her ankle still hurts, and the other foot hurts from her having to favor it for several days, but she can walk again. That freed us up to drive to Big R, where she gingerly made her way around to buy a replacement bolt and other hardware, then to the auto-parts store to get some replacement hoses and some gasket sealant so that as the sun went down, she could get the heater core cover back into place. There's still work to be done: the new hoses have to be cut to length and installed, the other parts she had to pull to get at the heater have to be put back, and of course the van needs to have its coolant filled back up.

To our annoyance, we only noticed the Fernley Mayor's Clean-Up Day, including free household hazardous waste drop-off, was last weekend. We could have brought in the used coolant. Now we have to figure out how to safely dispose of it. Maybe the garage down the street will let us dump it with them for a reasonable cost.
kevin_standlee: (Lisa)
On Saturday, Lisa tackled replacing the heater core on the Big Orange Van, which had rusted out.

This Didn't Go Well )

Not long after Lisa de-kitted and we put away the tools, it became clear that her ankle was in much worse shape than we originally expected. It's not broken, but it's a bad sprain. She's wrapped it and is trying to keep it elevated. I eventually found the crutches we have in the house, and she's hobbling around on them when she needs to get around. This isn't the first time she's injured that ankle, and she reckons she'll be off her feet for around a week.

To and Fro

Oct. 25th, 2014 07:35 pm
kevin_standlee: (House)
This afternoon we went and had lunch at the local Black Bear Diner, then refueled the Rolling Stone so I don't have to deal with it in the morning. Later, we took the Big Orange Van over to Lowe's to return the wire lubricant that we never used and to buy a sheet of plywood that Lisa intends to use as a backboard behind my upstairs office desk (which otherwise would have things fall off a balcony and down a stairwell if they slipped off the back of the desk). We ended up making another visit to the truck stop as the Big Orange Van needed fuel, too. The back-and-forth to Lowe's took much longer than we expected, and thus the Giants' World Series game was already in the fifth inning by the time I got home.

It's very windy today, with gusts of up to 70 km/h. I hope these winds aren't in play tomorrow as I coax the RV over Donner Summit. Fortunately, the earlier forecast of snow over Donner has gone away, but it probably won't be the most enjoyable trip I've made over the pass tomorrow.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
This afternoon while Lisa and I were walking around Detcon 1, I got a phone call from my regular mechanic in Fremont with the diagnosis on the engine problem with the Astro. We went in worrying that it might be a valve problem or a clogged fuel injector, the word was much better news: One of the spark plug wires had come off. This is of course an easy fix. (It's harder on the Astro than some vehicles because you have to pull off the "dog house" cover inside the van to get at the spark plugs.) My mechanic will store my van on his back lot until the day we come back to the Bay Area; we'll pick it up late when we get back; then we'll come back that next afternoon to pay for it and retrieve the spare set of keys I left with it. We definitely dodged a mechanical bullet this time.

Day Off

Jul. 9th, 2014 07:52 pm
kevin_standlee: (Kreegah Bundalo)
Aside from some Day Jobbe stuff and some small shopping necessary to refill our travel supplies, I took most of today off. I'll try to get videos from Westercon posted tomorrow.

We're now considering leaving Friday evening instead of Saturday morning, because I have family and banking business in Yuba City that really needs to be done before noon, plus the logistics of our single night in the Bay Area make it necessary for us to get moving very early. This would work better if we spend the night in Yuba City and do the errands there as soon as possible before heading to Emeryville.

I've made an appointment with my favored mechanic in Fremont that I'll drop my van at his shop on Saturday night (this can be done when nobody is there) and he'll have two weeks to work it into his very busy schedule while we're in Detroit.


Apr. 30th, 2014 05:23 pm
kevin_standlee: (Kevin and Lisa)
I was up at 5 AM to work on Day Jobbe stuff so I could turn things in before most of my co-workers were at their desks this morning on account of having to take Lisa to the TMJ specialist in Reno for a too-early-for-Lisa appointment. They spent several hours working on the treatment plan and taking molds for permanent appliances that should slowly push her jaw back to where it belongs, which should un-pinch the nerve that appears to be causing her tinnitus. This is not cheap work. We made the initial four-figure payment on the Phase I treatment plan. Some of it might be covered by insurance eventually, but we have to pay up front. On the bright side, the frequent-flyer miles on my United card should put me over the top for a free ticket for the UK for Worldcon, assuming there are any seats left by the time the points hit my account, which may not be until the end of May.

The work with the TMJ doctor went rather long; so long that I ended up missing a meeting for Day Jobbe, but it seems to be okay. When we got free from the doctor, we went to the Atlantis, where I had a 2-for-1 breakfast-or-lunch buffet coupon for which today was the last day. Lunch is much cheaper than dinner, even without the coupon, and I found myself eating about the same things I get when we come for dinner. (Dealing with cracking crab and lobster, which is on the dinner buffet sometimes, is more work than I enjoy.) Even better: on the way out, I thought to ask, and the bottle of hand sanitizer (that I bought in Brighton at WFC last year; I'd been refilling it from the home supply as needed) that I'd left behind last week when we ate there was in the drawer under the greeter's desk. I'm glad to have that back, for minor sentimental reasons.

More good news: After lunch, we checked with the auto-air shop, and the vehicle had been repaired and was ready. That was very welcome news because it meant we could go collect it (the shop is at the same exit from US-395/I-580 you take to get to the Atlantis/Convention Center complex) today instead of having to make yet another trip to Reno tomorrow. We convoyed back home (the AC works just fine now), I got back on the computer, and Lisa went to lie down for a while.

The only bad news today: too many carbs from the buffet. My blood sugar shot up over 200 and proceeded to go up for the next several hours, even after a dose of Metaformin and walking to the post office and back. As I write this, a bit more than four hours after eating, it has finally come back down below where it was an hour after eating (now 223 mg/dl). More walking required. I would rather lie down and rest, but until it has come back below 180 on the way back toward normal, I have to exercise to get it moving in the right direction.
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.

It's a Gas

Mar. 30th, 2014 07:30 pm
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
When I stopped at Lodi Junction on Saturday morning to get fuel, I didn't get a full tank of gas because the new high speed pumps are so high speed that they kept kicking off on me even when I tried to fill the tank slowly. I forgot about this until much later.

The Sparks Nugget is changing, not necessarily for the better in our opinion )

As we neared Fernley, I finally noticed that the gas gauge on the minivan was on E. If I'd been able to get a full tank at Lodi Junction, or if we hadn't gone to Yuba City yesterday, or if I hadn't had a full load of heavy boxes, it wouldn't have been as much of an issue. I hoped that we'd be able to make it home, but as the van started to climb the final hill before Exit 46, it sputtered and died. At Lisa's instruction, I put the van in neutral to coast as far as I could, and she rushed ahead to go home and get the 2-gallon gas can in the garage. It turns out that I had enough momentum to crest the hill and therefore started rolling down the exit, and indeed it's not impossible that I might have had just enough to make it all the way to the pumps at the Pilot station; however, a big rig came bearing down on me as I made the turn from the off-ramp, and it is enough of a slight slope up and into the Pilot that I didn't want to risk getting stalled in the access road and tying up all traffic, so I pulled onto the dirt shoulder right in front of the station and let the big rig by.

A few minutes later, Lisa arrived and we put enough gas in the van to get me the few meters to the pumps. (We refueled Lisa's pickup and refilled the gas can as well.) If one did have to run out of gas, there were far worse places to have done so.

Now I'm home again but only for this week, as I'm in a series of home-and-away weeks for personal schedule reasons. The more I do this, the less I like doing only one-week stints.
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
The title of this message includes all the different inclement weather conditions I encountered today on my drive home to Fernley from the Bay Area.

Tumbleweeds the Size of Sheep )

I got back home to Fernley just after sundown, stopping to pick up a few groceries along the way. Lisa has had a very disordered sleep schedule these past few days and had warned me that she'd probably be asleep in the trailer when I got home (she was) and that it would be best to leave her be (I did). She's been busy in the house, putting up a new light fixture in the living room that throws a whole lot more light on what has been a dreadfully dark room.

Not that I would have unpacked the van in the dark anyhow, but I'm happy to leave it sitting there weighed down with 30 or 40 boxes of books. The way this wind is blowing (dust storm warnings are up), I might find the van blown halfway to Fallon tomorrow morning otherwise.
kevin_standlee: (Conrunner Kevin)
Because I'm chasing another big bonus promotion from IHG, I moved out of the Vagabond Inn this morning and am spending tonight only at the Holiday Inn a block south. In between, however, I went up to Fremont to deal with some errands, including a whole bunch of vehicle fluid maintenance at Jiffy Lube and a trip to Fry's in Fremont and San Jose to get, among other things, a 1 TB backup device for my laptop. That's because the laptop is about to get upgraded from XP to Win7, and it's considered wise to get most of the documents off of it before we actually do the upgrade.

The Holiday Inn is pretty decent and comfortable, and they gave me a late checkout on Sunday so I can watch the 49ers game in peace. And the TV set is a nice HD unit to boot. And they also included breakfast, which I didn't expect.

After moving in and getting the TB drive working (I have only 1 USB 3 connection on this laptop, and it's balky), I set it to copying files, which took many hours. How many? Well, I started just as the first of the two NFL playoff games was getting going, and the last files didn't finish until the post-game show of the second game. But that did give me lots of time to kick back and relax in a comfortable hotel room watching football on a good TV set, so I don't have a lot to complain about. I now there's Mythbusters to watch, which I haven't had a chance to see for a while.

I just hope it isn't too much pain to reconfigure the computer after the Win 7 upgrade next week.
kevin_standlee: (Lisa)
As I mentioned two days ago, the right turn signal on my van stopped working. (Replacing the bulb didn't work. Corresponding signals on the utility trailer didn't work, but did when pulled behind Lisa's pickup.) I walked over to the auto-repair shop down the street, and they told me they were backed up until Christmas. Hanneman's Towing Service (where we get our propane) suggested a local mobile mechanic. When we came back from getting the propane and dropping off our Christmas cards, Lisa decided that she would take a crack at the tail light issue this morning, despite the temperature being about -2° C. I returned to grinding my way through a tedious database design project.

After a while, Lisa came in and asked if I would buy her a cookie and get pizza for dinner tonight.

It always seems so easy after you explain it, Holmes )

I said that I have no problem with buying her cookies and pizza tonight.
kevin_standlee: (Snow Day)
Rather than risk me being ticketed for having a taillight out on the van, Lisa used the Small Orange Pickup to tow the utility trailer over to Fallon, where we bought a half-cord pallet of walnut from Flame-O's Firewood, from which we'd purchased wood a couple of years ago. He's no longer selling the large quantities of softwoods and is concentrating on hardwoods like cherry and walnut.

Because it was nearby and we needed some small bits of hardware from them, we went on down to Big R, where we learned that they'd just taken delivery on 27 pallets of the "fence post" Douglas fir firewood. We may go back in a few days and buy a pallet of it; we have to eventually go back to Fallon and drop off the pallet from Flame-O's, as unlike Big R, they re-use the pallets.

Returning home, Lisa pulled up right along the fence line, got up in the trailer, and handed down the wood to me to load straight into the wood box. That pretty much refilled the 3/4-cord wood box, which is good, but the weather continues to be quite cold, and while walnut burns longer than pine or fir, we'll need to go get more wood soon and stock up. I don't mind having an oversupply of firewood, after all, as we'll eventually use it.

Tomorrow I need to go see if a the auto mechanic down the street can look into fixing the circuit that feeds the right tail light. Given that the utility trailer's lights worked right away when plugged into the pickup and the right front turn indicator works, we figure there must be something upstream from the tail light itself.

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