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pokeyburro Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "pokeyburro" journal:

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July 25th, 2011
06:52 pm


Got started.
A few years ago, my sister bought me a Xmas present: Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle of a world map.

9000 pieces. I'm just that OCD.

Last weekend, I finally got started on it. The biggest obstacle was finding a suitable surface. Carpeting doesn't work, as is known by anyone who's tried, and I don't have enough hard floor in my entire tiny apartment, let alone hard floor in one area, to hold the thing - it's a little under 2m x 1.5m, which in turn is under 7'x5'. The Internet sells these things called puzzle mats, which lie flat on your carpet, and can be rolled up, keeping your progress if you want to use your floor for something else. However, none of them is big enough for a 2m x 1.5m puzzle. Even decent-sized dining room tables tend not to be big enough, and I don't even have room for one of those. And one thing the Internet doesn't seem to have much of, is advice on handling jigsaw puzzles of unusual size.

As it turns out, your local home improvement store seems to be the key here. I finally went shopping for plain ol' flooring, and ended up at Home Depot's vinyl department. The downside: smallest cut they sold was a shrink-wrapped roll that was 9'x6', for around $32.

Still, it fits in my living room - which is to say, I won't use my living room for anything else for a while. It seems to work best face down - the underside of the mat is a flat white, which is perfect. It does lay flat enough. I put a case of Coke on one end; that seems to stop the mat from sliding on the carpet as much (it still moves a little).

The puzzle comes in two bags, 4500 pieces per bag (I assume). My co-OCD GF and I dumped only one bag out so far. The extra room of the 9'x6' proves useful - comfortable amounts of room to turn all 4500 pieces face up and still have room to walk on the mat itself in bare feet.

So far, we have the sides and two corners separated, along with a few piles of the more evident picture features. I'll avoid looking at the photo on the box as much as I can. Pictures of the process when I get around to it.

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July 19th, 2011
07:40 pm


Alas, poor Borders
I'm gonna miss that chain. The first one I went into was probably next to UT Austin's campus; I don't even remember for sure. (UT Austin had several bookstores nearby, so Borders would've had tough competition.) Huge selection, comfy chairs, decent atmosphere, including a coffee store nearby.

Then again, I'm not going to miss moving several bookcases whenever I move. Seriously. Every time I consider buying a book nowadays, I keep wondering if I could get it on an e-book instead, and I end up opting out. I'll buy one or two if I'm otherwise missing something to read, and it's typically a small, light paperback or something very information-dense (I still won't part with my old college textbooks). Otherwise, I've got a whole Internet to read. There's plenty there that isn't dreck, if you know where to look.

So, au revoir, Borders. You probably could have lasted a bit longer with a few better management decisions here and there, but in general, let's face it; your business model relies on college towns and college student incomes. You can't expand that fast and still be Borders. Meanwhile, I've got an Amazon wish list to toss a few more titles on, while I wait for e-books to mature.

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June 20th, 2011
11:20 pm


Fight! Fight!
Gotta say, I liked Chris Wallace's interview of Jon Stewart as much as Ann Althouse did, and I sincerely hope Stewart returns to Wallace's show. I liked it enough to comment in her thread a few times as well. I think Stewart is mistaken about some of what he believes, and I also think he is rightly called on his tap dance between being a comedian and making his voice heard - but there's no mistake that there's a genuine guy in there, and Wallace did a great job as an interviewer, pulling it out.

So that's one "fight". Here's another I finally got around to watching:

Fight of the Century - EconStories' second rap video. (Yeah, I'm a nerd.)

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June 3rd, 2011
07:13 pm


What you're probably up against now.
"Well, I'm still agnostic about Palin. I like her, and I find most of her policy proposals worth a consideration (and frankly, if you don't know what they are, it's because you haven't looked into them. She's been very upfront about her views). But were the election right this very minute, I don't know that I could vote for her. Teh Fred was my man the last go-round, and frankly none of the pygmies on the GOP side - with the possible exception of Herman Cain - interest me.

What I do, like, however, and cheer on incessantly, is that big middle finger she's giving to the treasonous, lying, biased "media" that has slandered her since she came on the national stage. For many right-of-center types (myself included), so used to gutless RINOs trembling in fear because they think the NYT will say nasty things about them, a politician willing to tell them, repeatedly, to fuck off is a breath of fresh air."

- "Christopher in MA"

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May 27th, 2011
08:50 am


Bought a hybrid.
The Saturn finally gave up the ghost, and I'd been wanting to try out a hybrid because it's new tech.

Now is kind of a bad time to buy a hybrid, because the supply chain is missing a few links from the Japan earthquake. As far as I could tell, it's currently impossible to build a complete hybrid engine without some parts from Japan. Even Ford's selection was limited. The fellow at Honda had no Civic hybrids whatsoever; the Toyota dealership had four Priuses left, and they were going fast. Ford reported people coming in and buying hybrids straight at MSRP. They expect this shortage to correct itself by October.

I test drove several of them. They handle like conventional automatics. If you're not Vin Diesel, you won't notice much difference. The Fusion had the most powerful feel, best handling, etc. I didn't get to do a complete comparison - the other hybrids I drove were hatchbacks or smaller sedans - but I got a definite sense that I wasn't going to feel a very different experience from my Saturn.

The most visible difference is the price. Essentially you're trading a much higher initial price for less money spent on fuel. Here's the math for a Fusion:

Difference between a Fusion and a Fusion Hybrid: $6500, 10mpg
Assume $4/gallon for gas for the next few years. (Wow, by the way. I remember when it was a dollar.) That's 0.25 gallons per dollar. Multiply to get 2.5 extra miles per dollar, or 20 extra cents per mile driven. Divide that into the price difference, and I find I have to drive about 32,500 miles for the hybrid to pay for itself. That's not bad.

The downside is the battery. It's currently $4500 plus labor. If it breaks early, the warranty covers it, so it's free modulo inconvenience. But I like to drive a single car as long as I can; I'll likely drive it until the battery dies of old age.

All technologies nowadays have maturing to do after appearing on the market, and hybrids are no exception. Research just turned up a new lithium-ion battery approach the day I bought the Fusion, which promises to perform especially well at high temperatures. (That method's still in development hell; they're just now fitting a factory to produce laptop batteries for it.) By the time my Fusion needs a new battery, one will probably be available at lower cost and perhaps greater range or efficiency.

The labor cost will be high. Interesting tidbit: the battery repair equipment comes with two extra pieces. One is a set of orange rubber gloves that comes up over the mechanic's elbows. The second is a 10-foot hook for a second mechanic to hold around the waist of the first mechanic, to yank him away in case of electrocution. In other words, it takes a minimum of two mechanics to work on a hybrid battery, and might even incur some sort of hazard pay bonus.

I probably would have on the order of another 30,000 mile hill to climb to recover the cost. Or I might trade the car in by then.

We'll see how it goes. It sure is weird turning the car on and not hearing an engine thrum.


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May 2nd, 2011
08:54 pm


With a twist.
Hey all, what's up? Crashed early yesterday and just slept the day away, did I miss anything?

Oh right.

Everyone's got a reaction, it seems. Let's turn this around for science. (SCIENCE!)

Anyone who can read this: how do you think I probably responded to this?

Come on. Don't be shy. (You haven't been shy before, after all.) And for a lot of you, I'm one of the oddest ducks in your LJ crowd, so maybe I'm an object of fascination for you. Or maybe this is shameless attention mongering on my part. Or maybe you can just treat this as an opportunity to react in turn. I just gave you a launch point. So if you feel up to it, drop a comment.

(And just in case you aren't aware, yes, the more you stare into the burro, the more the burro stares into you.)

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March 18th, 2011
07:47 pm


Lemme tell you a little story 'bout a fish.
So, I's out the lake thuther day.

Had my usual rig out - got my favorite pole, waders, bait pail, bottle sippin whiskey, and my cooler fulla biscuits. And I'm rowin out there to the middle, figgerin I'll catch me a coupla nine-pounders off the bottom n tide me over the week, nothin fancy. Popped a biscuit'n the hook and swabbed some liver on it - catfish love it - plopped it in, and waited.

And waited, and waited. And ev'hour or so I'd take the line in, find out the biscuit's done fell off, so I'd reach in an'grab nuther biscuit and swab summore liver n'plop it back in. Next thing I know, the sun's about set, and between bait and lunch, I'm plum near outta biscuits.

So I'm reelin' the line slowly back in, kinda sad and sleepy and wonderin' what I'm gunna eat fer dinner, when the line jumps, and then this BIG OL catfish jumps THREE FEET out the water and flops down - WHAM! - in my boat! Musta been twenny, thirty pounds! It starts floppin round the bottom of my boat and I'm gettin a bit worried it'll flip me so I've got my knife out and I'm tryin to see if I can kill it when I notice it's tipped over my whiskey bottle and whiskey's pourin all over the bottom of my boat. So I grab the bottle and set it back and now I notice this catfish's gotten a swallow of it... I swear its eyes start to bullllge a little and alluva sudden it JUMPS back outta the boat and back in the water!

So now I'm sittin there wonderin whatnthehell that was all about when this perch POPS outta the water an'lands smack in my bait pail! I'm lookin at that perch an' I peer out the water where it came from, and there's that big ol catfish starin back at me! And I'm lookin back at it and suddenly I get an idea and pick up the whiskey bottle and alluva sudden that catfish opens its mouth and starts croakin at me, so I lean over and give it a lil sip. Well then it ducks back under the water and pretty soon another perch comes shootin out the water and SMACK! into my pail and there's that catfish again, waitin there with its mouth open.

We did this a few more times - I'd give it a swallow whiskey, it'd throw a perch in my pail, sometimes a bass - but now I'm startin run outta whiskey, so I get an idea, grab the last biscuit, pour the rest the whiskey all over it, set it on my hook and put THAT in the water. Two seconds later that line goes taut and I GOT IM!

Or I thought I did. Soon's I try to reel him in, this catfish decides he's gonna get away, and starts swimmin like there's no tomorrow, and he's draggin me and my boat all over the lake. And he can't get free, and I ain't lettin him go, and he's buckin and rockin the boat back n forth until the pail tips over and all those fish start floppin out and gettin away, so there's no WAY in hell I'm lettin go now, until sadly, that poor line finally snaps.

So that was that. I tried that lake again, same bait, same time, never saw that ol catfish come back. But I know he's still there, and he's thirsty fer more.

And if you don't believe me - I've got the empty whiskey bottle right here to prove it!!

--joke I remember one of my grandfather's brothers tell at a family party as a kid

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March 11th, 2011
08:44 am


Had a long talk last night.... well, I guess that's official then.


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March 2nd, 2011
07:38 pm


Those wacky Westborons won a round.
Althouse on the Supreme Court ruling protecting the right to protest at funerals a la Westboro (or in any other style, naturally). Alito is the lone dissenter. Hmm. Not sure if I agree with his argument. (Maybe I do, while simply noting that proving intent is very hard, even WBC's.)

Then there's the commenters. (Disclosure: I'm occasionally one of them.) I've read Althouse for years, so I'm used to the regulars, and how to tell when they're serious (there's a LOT of sarcasm, typically). The Drill SGT's usually serious, and I agree with his terse take:

"right decision

nasty group"

Then there's the usual half-kidding fare, like GMay:

"It's sad but true this is the correct ruling. ...Then again, I support setting a maximum fine of $50 on anyone who beats the shit out of those protesters. I'd gladly pay up. [next comment] Hell, I'd pre-pay."

This is the sort of attitude that made a few people cry "uncivil", and makes a few other people make fun of those people.

Dennis Miller got a pretty good zing in, and was quoted: "...when that guy dies he'd like to set up a carnival across the street and run the Tilt-A-Whirl."


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February 25th, 2011
10:36 pm


Go see a movie.
Cedar Rapids is most likely still showing in DC and Bethesda. Look it up. It's funny in a Napoleon Dynamite kind of way. I don't think a single cast member phoned it in, either.

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