A Blast From the Past

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:05 pm
kevin_standlee: (Hugo Logo)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
Yesterday, I had called to my attention the list of what we would today call the finalists for the 1956 Hugo Awards. The historical listing on The Hugo Awards web site did not include finalists because we did not have a list of them, nor did any of the other historical archives on which we based our initial load of finalists/winners. So I spent some time between the end of work and heading off to BASFA entering the data. (And for the most part it appears faithfully reproducing typos in the original, some of which I've now corrected.) So we now have the 1956 Hugo Awards page updated with finalist information.

It's important to realize that 1956 was only the third time the Hugo Awards had been presented. The 1954 Worldcon didn't present them after 1953 ran them. The Awards could easily have been a "one-off" thing had 1955 not decided to present them again, and 1956 continued them. However, in those far-off days, there wasn't a long document listing the rules for the Awards. The members didn't make the rules through the Business Meeting. It was all made up on the fly by the individual Worldcon committees, who as far as I can see could do as they pleased subject only to their own scruples and how they thought they'd be treated by their fellow fans. Thus you end up with variable-length finalist lists (and no indication of how many nominations it took to make the short list), write-in votes, first-past-the-post voting, and (if rumors I recall reading can be trusted), cases where "close enough" was enough to generate a "tie." I don't know if that tie in Best Fanzine is "real" or not, and it's quite possible that we'll never know for sure.

As time has gone on, Worldcon's model for running the Hugo Awards has evolved considerable, to the model today where the rules are specified by the members through the WSFS Business Meeting, and the Administrators are expected to release just about every piece of information other than the raw ballots themselves. This is pretty consistent with an assumption that runs throughout the structure of WSFS, which is "I trust nobody but thee and me — and I'm none too sure of thee." We cede the bare minimum necessary to keep the organization running, and deeply distrust all central authority. This structure seems crazy to many people, and yet it has lasted for more than 75 years.
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
Having finally reached a high enough bandwidth connection to do so, I have now posted the four official 2017 WSFS Business Meeting videos to the Worldcon Events channel. These are the recordings taken by the WSFS videographer (Lisa Hayes), supplemented in a couple of places by cuts from the live-streaming video that Worldcon 75 shot when there were gaps in the official recording. These official recordings also omit everything outside of the meeting, skipping over recesses and other non-meeting time.

I would have pushed this out sooner, but since the Worldcon 75 live stream video was available, I elected to take my time getting the official recording edited together and making sure everything was in place. WSFS.org is also now similarly updated.

Rusty Roller

Sep. 17th, 2017 06:49 pm
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
It having been roughly three months since the last time I spent a week in the Bay Area on board the Rolling Stone, my travel-packing skills are a bit rusty. I didn't forget my razor this time, but as I was coming down the mountain, I remembered that I'd left my after-shave ointment (Cosmetic Lad by Lush) behind. That I could fix by stopping at the Lush store in Roseville, although I got away from Fernley so early that I had to kill a little time waiting for the mall to open.

After Roseville, it was on to Sacramento to spend and hour visiting with my sister at the nursing home. It appears that all of the postcards I sent from Germany, Finland, and Iceland have now arrived. I sure hope the poster tube I sent from Helsinki with the small WSFS banner makes its way to me in Fernley before next year's Worldcon!

Something I'd been unable to locate while packing was my washcloth. My towel is on board the RV, but I couldn't find the washcloth. So in Fremont (where I also had dinner), I stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a new one. So of course when I was unpacking for the evening, I found the old cloth. I apparently had put it away in a cupboard in the RV where I usually don't store such things. Like the Cosmetic Lad, it's not a big deal, and there's nothing wrong with having a spare. Indeed, I wish that I'd packed a washcloth for our European trip. By now I should remember that most of the hotels in which we've stayed in Europe don't include a small washcloth among the standard bathroom linens, which is particularly strange when they only include bath gel instead of bars of soap. It's as though they assume their guests will be bringing their own washcloth. Travel shows you where there are different assumptions about things, I guess.

It was also a day of travel contrasts. It was chilly leaving Fernley, and quite literally freezing (as in 0°C) at Truckee. I had to run the heater for a while going over the top. But by the time I was at Roseville, it was warm, and by Sacramento, I had the air conditioning running. Definitely autumnal weather. That's fine with me, though; much better than the heat of summer.

Packing for a Week Away

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:20 pm
kevin_standlee: (Rolling Stone)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
I haven't been in the Bay Area since June, and the Rolling Stone has mostly sat parked in front of the house since then, so it was a bit dusty. (Not as much as if it had been out to Burning Man, but still....) So this morning, Lisa and I first took it over to Flying J and filled the tanks, then took it to Hanneman's Car Wash and gave it a quick rinse. This afternoon, I loaded it up with my clothing for this coming week when I'll be working at the Bay Area office. Aside from my computers and toiletries (they go out tomorrow morning before I leave), I'm ready to go. I'm a little rusty at RV living now that I don't have to do it every other week or three, but it should be okay. I'm glad to see that the weather will be good, with likely comfortable evenings. Because I have to be up so early to stick to my 6-to-3 work schedule, getting to bed early each evening is very important to me.

Lisa and I worked on a household project that had been put off for lots of reasons, but today's weather was perfect for working around the property. I also cut a bunch of bushes back along the fence line, so I don't have to put up with them snatching at my hat every time I walk down our sidewalk.

Lisa is sorry I have to go away for a week, but she did say it's easier to do some of the cleaning she wants to do when I'm not underfoot.

Fernley Friday

Sep. 15th, 2017 08:44 pm
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
There was a fundraising event at the Fire Station this evening, with food and games, but when we walked down there (expecting to buy dinner from the BBQ), the music they were playing was so loud that we were driven away. We also noticed that very few people were sitting in the seating area with the tables and chairs, which was right in the focus of the booming music. So instead of spending our money there, we walked back home and drove down to the Black Bear Diner and had dinner there. I also had $40 worth of free-play coupons (you had to spend $10 to get $40 in free play) at the Fernley Nugget casino. Lisa played her favorite machine, and we had a run of pretty good luck. Remember that you can't cash in the free-play coupons; however, when we were done playing through those, we had $42 in actual cash out, less the $10 it cost to get the free play coupons, so that's a nice little win for the evening.

It's definitely cooling off. We still have the windows open, but the fans aren't running. I'm happy to see the weather cooling off after this long hot summer.

Weird, work-related dreams

Sep. 15th, 2017 10:09 am
plonq: (Usual Silly Mood)
[personal profile] plonq
I had a weird, work-related dream last night.

At the start of the dream I wasn't actually working, rather I was just out with my younger brother and we happened to be down by the tracks watching them move cars. In this case, the cars were being moved by somebody who was obviously a contractor, because rather than a locomotive, he was driving a Semi that had been modified to run on rails. He was tied onto about a dozen cars, and was trying to back them around a fairly tight bend into what I assumed was a storage siding. The guy was having trouble getting the cars to move, and finally he floored it and they started to move. I remembered part of my training about the dangers of applying too much throttle when pushing around a corner, and even as I thought that, one of the cars in the middle of the cut jumped the rail with its trailing set of trucks and began bouncing along the ties.

I hopped of the car and ran toward the guy, frantically waving a stop signal at him with both arms. He stared at me for quite awhile, pushing this derailed car up the rails before he finally stopped. When he stopped, the slack ran out and the car hopped back onto the rails. Naturally he did not believe me about the derailment, even when I pointed to the trail of broken ties. He yelled at me about how I was killing his productivity, hopped back into his truck, and floored it again.

This time he managed to jackknife and derail the whole track; cars went everywhere.

He was livid. He started screaming at me about how this was all my fault for putting him behind, and how he was going to kill me and my brother. By this time I was back in the car (because he had at least cleared the crossing) and we both agreed that we should probably report this incident - not the least reason being that he was threatening our lives.

The dream transitioned to the office, where I was looking for somebody who might care about a contractor who had derailed a dozen cars and threatened to kill an employee and his family member. The office was mysteriously empty, but I finally managed to track everybody down in one of the large meeting rooms. One of our project leads was out from the head office, giving a talk about swearing in the workplace. The focus of the talk was not what I'd have expected though, focusing on how swearing has been shown to be good stress-reliever, and is a valuable tool when employed respectfully. She illustrated a respectful use of swearing.

"Our new director is a cunt."

Everybody applauded - well, in fairness I did not. I was a bit appalled, thinking, "That's not really very respectful at all, even if she used a fake Aussie accent when saying it. Our new director is actually very nice."

It was about this time that I began to suspect that it was a dream, and I woke shortly after.

Turning the Weather Corner

Sep. 15th, 2017 06:27 am
kevin_standlee: (Fernley)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
One way of saying, "Autumn is here" in Fernley: yesterday was the first day since we got home from Europe that I didn't run the swamp cooler on "cool" mode (i.e. evaporative cooling). We ran the fan for a while to move cooler outside air into the house, but otherwise didn't have to do anything else. Today it's about 10°C cooler than it was on Monday, which is a great relief.

Of course now we need to be thinking about scheduling having the fireplace chimney cleaned and laying in the first load of firewood. We don't need it yet, but it won't be that long.

Ergonomics

Sep. 11th, 2017 10:09 am
plonq: (Somewhat Pleased Mood)
[personal profile] plonq
We bought a new microwave oven on the weekend to replace the one that died on Friday. On my list of exciting things to do, buying a microwave oven rates pretty low down the list. A microwave oven is not one of those fun appliances that you stand around and try different things with. Not any more. We all know what happens when you put an egg, grape, puppy (etc) in the microwave oven; it does not end well.

The old one was getting on 30 years old, but it was actually pretty fancy for its time. Many of the ones available at the time still had dials, but mine had push buttons, and pre-sets, and even a meat probe that I never got around to using. It also had a couple of clever ergonomic touches that I have always thought should be standard in every microwave oven.

We did a bit of research before both of us decided that a microwave oven does not require the same level of careful selection as a camera, or a car, or something else that is actually fun to buy. We drove up to Canadian Tire and picked up a free one using our accumulated points there. Our two main criteria was that it should be at least 1000 watts, and large enough to be useful, but small enough to fit the existing microwave stand. It's effectively the same brand as our old one (Panasonic versus Sanyo), so I hoped that some of the features of the old one would carry over.

My favourite feature did not.

The turntable in our old microwave oven always stopped in the same position as it started. If I put a cup of coffee in the oven and hit any amount of time, when I opened the door at the end, the turntable would have completed its rotation so that the handle was facing exactly where I had left it. This new oven behaves like all of the ones in our office (they have 3 different brands strewn about in the break room). When the cooking stops, the turntable stops.

I am left wondering if this was some patented action that Sanyo licensed very briefly and then stopped using it, or if I just happened to buy an oven that was designed by forward-thinking engineers who said, "This would be a really nice little ergonomic touch..." It was just one of those nice little things that one takes for granted until it is gone.

--- The original of this is posted at https://plonq.dreamwidth.org/

Video Grind

Sep. 10th, 2017 06:01 pm
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
I've completed the editing of the last two WSFS Business Meeting videos. Due to a number of gaps in the recordings we did, this was a lot more time-consuming as I filled the gaps with the material that Worldcon 75 shot (with their permission). It is of course tricky to find the spots where you can cut from one recording to the next, but I managed to make it work without being too jumpy, I think. The video generation is now grinding away on another computer. Next week when I'm at an internet connection with acceptable upload speed, I will upload the four files and post about it when they've made it to the Worldcon Events Channel.

Back and Forth

Sep. 9th, 2017 08:45 pm
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
I had to run into Reno today to do some errands that had backed up. Unfortunately, one of the errands was incomplete, so I'll have to do it again tomorrow, but I'll cope. I hope to have enough time tomorrow after I return to get the WSFS Business Meeting videos finished so that I'll have them ready to upload when I go down to the Bay Area (and decent upload bandwidth) next weekend.

Short Week, Long Days

Sep. 8th, 2017 08:03 pm
kevin_standlee: (Business Meeting)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
It was a short work week, but for some reason it seemed extra-long to me. I'm glad the weekend is here. Although I'll be spending a bunch of it at the computer anyway, editing together the remaining WSFS Business Meeting videos now that I have permission to use some of the Worldcon 75 footage to fill in a couple of gaps in our recordings caused by technical issues with the camera.
plonq: (Please Sir May I have Some More)
[personal profile] plonq
We had a very modest dinner this evening (a small, frozen pizza split between us) and I was in the mood for dessert. I suggested walking up to the corner shop for sundaes, but the other half of "we" in the equation was not interested.

I considered moping about it for awhile, but decided to be more productive and make myself a dessert instead. I've made those microwaved, coffee mug brownies in the past with good success, and that seemed like just the right amount to sate my dessert cravings.

It was a smashing success, right up to the point where the microwave oven died about 1/4 of a second after I hit the power button. At first I assumed I had blown the breaker, but further investigation narrows it down to the microwave oven itself.

I've had this oven for almost thirty years, so it really doesn't owe me anything. I guess we'll be shopping around for a new one this weekend (unless we discover that it's just a blown fuse in the microwave itself - we'll pull it out for a look on the weekend before we start spending money on a new one).

I never did get around to using the meat probe that came with it, though I will admit that the thought of cooking a roast in the microwave oven never crossed my mind in all this time.

In work-related news, my company released a notice to the press that they have signed a one-year contract with the T&E and Teamsters that will take them through to the end of 2018. The plus side for me is that it relieves a bit of the pressure off the company to cram as many people through their awful management conductor/engineer training program to have them in place for strike work next year.

This does not mean that I won't get forced into the program again once my ankle is finally fixed, but it increases the odds that by the time they push me back into it, I'll be so close to retirement as to make it pointless for both of us.

I was chatting with a co-worker last week who is in the management conductor pool, and he mentioned a curiosity that he has noticed on the list of people on call for it. He said, "It's weird, but for all the people the are cramming through the program, the number of people in the call pool is not getting any larger."

Actually, it's not that weird at all. Most of the people they are forcing into the program are older employees who they consider less of a flight risk; that is, people who have enough time invested in their career that they will deal with the hardship rather than throw away 20+ years of pensionable service. The problem is that these are mostly people like me, who have been working sedentary desk jobs for decades. Also, the way they treat qualified people in these positions is abominable, often sending them off to remote locations on same-day notice.

"Hey, pack your bags and fly out tonight for ten days in Cousinlove Saskatchewan, where you get to work in a stressful situation with people who resent you."

"Sure thing. The dog and kids can take care of themselves."

Anyway, it turns out that for everyone who qualifies, another one either gets injured, gets medically disqualified (arthritis flared up, heart condition, bad back - you know, the kinds of things that can happen to older, sedentary people who are suddenly thrust into outdoor manual labour around heavy equipment), goes on stress leave because of the awful conditions, retires, or quits.
kevin_standlee: (WSFS Logo)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
I have finally managed to upload the eleven different Fannish Inquisition videos from Worldcon 75 that Lisa recorded. These presentations were also live-streamed on the Worldcon 75 channel, and an archive of it as one continuous item is there, but this playlist has each of the Worldcon, Worldcon bid, and NASFiC bid presentations as separate files. These are all creative-commons licensed, so you certainly can feel free to share these with anyone you think would be interested in them.

That was Lisa's longest day. We were at the Business Meeting at 9:00, an hour before it started in order to set up, and while I was done when we adjourned at 13:00, Lisa had to stick around for all of the inquisitioning as well. I was there as well, but Lisa had to work harder than I did that day. We were both tired and hungry after that was all done.

Friendly Dinner in Reno

Sep. 6th, 2017 08:55 pm
kevin_standlee: (Reno)
[personal profile] kevin_standlee
[personal profile] kshandra and [personal profile] gridlore were in Reno last night and tonight, having just come off of Burning Man. Lisa and I drove into Reno after I got off work (working 6 AM-3 PM has some advantages), collected them from their hotel, and took them out to dinner at the Peppermill Buffet. The manager asked us where we'd been. (Yes, that's how often we eat there.) We explained that we'd been in Europe for a few weeks, but were back home and were taking friends from out of down out to dinner, which was why we were sitting at a different (larger) table than our usual spot. We had a nice dinner, and everyone won (a very small amount) at the slot machines. I'm glad we got the opportunity to do this.

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