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3:53 am EDT        45°F (7°C) in Austinburg, OH

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Again, I am not dead, but rather have been so insanely busy in the last ten days that I really haven’t gotten a chance to update this. As always, a lot has happened, and I should probably try to catch up.

I ended up running the load I had on October 11 not to the company’s terminal in Columbus, but rather all the way to its eventual destination in Steubenville, OH. Most of the trip was a fairly boring one along Interstates, but upon leaving Interstate 77 at Cambridge, OH, I really have to put in a good word for U.S. Route 22 between there and Cadiz, OH — if you like the kind of drives that make you feel like an F1 racer. Some truck drivers would undoubtedly hate all the curves, steep hills, and other such things, but I particularly relished the challenge.

I got home late last Friday night, and met Marc for pizza and poker at his place. I can actually beat him almost half the time now, so I must be getting better as a poker player — although maybe only in heads-up play, as I’ll explain shortly. After spending the night there, I went back home for a dinner to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my aunt and uncle, then headed out to the apartment of one of Marc’s co-workers for another poker game. This one had seven players, and I ended up finishing fifth — I may have played a few too many marginal hands, but in large part, I just didn’t get good cards, and when I did, somebody else got better ones. (I’ll have a bit more to say about poker later in this update.)

I didn’t do a whole lot else of interest until Tuesday, when I took on a big project with my car. I’m sure I have mentioned its propensity to burn oil before; I took on a more involved procedure to try to stop that problem this time. I obtained a bottle of GM Piston & Ring Cleaner, a solvent designed to free stuck oil rings inside cylinders, and put it to use. Starting with the engine still hot from running, I removed all four spark plugs and then poured 3 oz. (89 mL) of the liquid into each cylinder, using a funnel with a long, narrow neck to ensure that it all went into the cylinders. I then covered the spark plug holes with rags and left the car to sit for two hours, as instructed by the GM Technical Service Bulletin whose instructions I was following.

After the two hours had passed, I had to crank the engine over a few times without the spark plugs in to expel this liquid, hopefully along with a fair bit of gunk. At this point, I put the plugs back in, and had to go drive it again to warm it back up for an oil change; it didn’t want to start right away, because the plug-less cranking had flooded the engine with gasoline, but holding the throttle wide-open while turning the key corrected that. There was a lot of white smoke for the first few miles; this was probably caused by some combination of the flooding and burning of the remaining solvent. I changed the oil, using fully-synthetic Mobil 1 10W30 and a higher-quality Napa filter; at this point, time will tell whether I solved anything.

The other big thing I did while at home was to vote, by absentee ballot. As promised a month ago, I did not vote for either the Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm nor the Rethuglican challenger Dick DeVos for governor of Michigan; I wrote in myself as the governor and my sister as the lieutenant governor. Other than that, it was basically all Democrats down the partisan part of the ballot from there, except for a vote to re-elect Republican Terri Lynn Land as Secretary of State — she is one of the few GOP politicians about whom I struggle to find anything criminal, treasonous, or unethical. I skipped a lot of races I had no interest in, like the one for trustees of Moo U, but I did make sure to vote against a municipal judge candidate who I’m told was the class clown in my mother’s high school graduating class.

Now, I’ll get to some of the poker talk. While staying with Marc, I formulated a Hold’em scenario that I think almost any player would say is the ultimate “bad beat” (situation where you have a great hand, but it is beaten by an even greater hand). This scenario would come up in “heads-up” (only two players) play. The first player is dealt A♥ A♠, and the other player is dealt Q♦ 10♦. According to this poker simulator, the pocket aces are an 80% favorite to win before the flop comes down. Moving along, the flop then comes down K♦ A♣ 7♠ — the pocket aces hand has already hit three of a kind, and the queen-10 ain’t got shit. (We’re now looking at 84%-16% in favor of the pocket aces.)

The turn is going to make things even better for the pocket aces hand, coming A♦ to give that player a very rare four-of-a-kind hand. As you might have guessed, the bad beat is coming on the river; it falls J♦ to give the queen-10 hand a diamond royal flush, one of the four highest hands in poker (along with its other three suit equivalents — there is no suit ranking in poker).

Just for the hell of it, I’m gonna talk about one of my own bad beats from last Saturday night. I must caution that I might not be remembering all the suits right, although I am trying to do so, but I’m sure I am remembering all the ranks correctly. I landed J♣ 10♥, and the only other player to go to the flop with me went in with A♦ Q♣. The flop came down K♦ A♠ Q♥, meaning I had just flopped the nut straight and my opponent had a comparatively measly two pair. He bet, I raised him pretty significantly, and he called. The turn came down K♣, putting a pair out on the board, and I bet even harder, trying to end the hand right there. For whatever reason, my opponent called that bet too, and his perseverance (or was it craziness?) was rewarded with Q♠ on the river, busting my nut straight with a queens-over-aces full house — I had to hand almost half of my chip stack to the bastard. That crippled me, and I later went out against the same player, his J♥ 8♦ beating my 7♥ 7♣.

OK, I need to bring this to an end. I need sleep, so hopefully my dreams will be filled with 5♥ 5♦, my favorite hand because I have won so many huge pots against Marc with it.