Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, December 31, 2004

Some final 2004 thoughts...

Instead of watching the college bowl games, or watch the counter tick down on the clothes dryer as I wait for clean clothes in order to go out carousing this evening, I thought I'd take a moment to close out 2004 in my own small way.

For me, it's been a year of highs and lows. I've met new friends, and watched old ones fade off in the distance. I've gotten a new job after over a year of unemployment, but then had the job be in almost direct opposition to my "small L" Libertarian political beliefs. (I don't job-blog, but let's just say that while it's a government job, it's one that directly helps people, not hinders them. And if ya gotta work for The Man, it's kinda cool to work in la oficina del alcalde in the 4th largest city in the U.S.!)

My best friend beat cancer, but had his body and soul fried to a crisp in the process. I got a sweet new ride in the Caddy Fleetwood PimpSled in September, but it doesn't erase the pain of my beloved "Big Blue" Dodge pickup getting repo'ed in February. My paternal grandmother finally had to go to a nursing home, since none of Dad's brothers would take her in after she'd been with my parents for 3 years. Her rising level of care required it, and my folks finally get to be really retired, but the flip side is, Grandma's in a rest home in Oklahoma, and she'll likely die there alone. I just can't fathom the thought processes that made it OK in this country to dump the elderly in a furnished box until they die. That's a blog for later, though.

My cats are both the joy & bane of my existence. I am covered in cat fuzz and developing a slight wheeze from the constant contact with cat dander. Sigh, I suppose I could go get back on the allergy shots. Can't give up Betsy & Pookie, though.

My pear-shaped body continues the slow march from Bosc to Bartlett, but my blood pressure is under control, and my cholesterol and blood-sugar levels are dead-solid perfect. If they could just gene-modify carrots & celery to taste like steak and bratwurst, I'd finally get back into shape... Oh, well.

After reading blogs for most of a year, I started this one in October. I'm kinda surprised I've managed to make it this far and hardly ever miss a day. I'm still not comfortable talking in-depth on a few subjects, just 'cause I know my friends read this, but that's another hurdle to overcome in 2005. Things I don't feel I can bring up face to face can get eased into here, then once the seal is cracked, we can maybe go a little further in reality.

I'm glad my blog has brought me into contact with other people around the country. I look forward to getting to know these people a little better, and maybe even breach my Fortress of Solitude and venture out for a Texas Blogmeet.

I'm not going to make any resolutions for 2005. A change of a year is just another rotation in an endless process on life's odometer. A promise to yourself on March 23rd ought to be just as valid as one made today.

Still, I'm going to try to stay in closer contact with my friends. Some have become irritatingly casual in maintaining contact, but it's likely I'm just as guilty. Hell, they mostly have real lives, with kids, mortgages, spouses. I can't blame them for not always having time to call and chat with a increasingly curmudgeonly 36 year old bachelor with his own irritatingly casual habit of letting the answering machine pick up calls.

OK, gotta go throw the shirts in the dryer. Big party tonight at a friend's place, and I'm looking forward to being off the streets and away from all the amateurs when Zero Hour hits.

Be safe, y'all! Hope your 2004 was acceptable, and your 2005 is prosperous and fulfilling.

Signing off for 2004. See you next year!

El Capitan

Thursday, December 30, 2004

More Smelly Stuff

As long as we're talking about smelly stuff... that last post got me thinking about perfumes and colognes in my past.

Just for giggles and possible abuse from my friends regarding my terrible taste and susceptibility to marketing campaigns, here's a brief timeline of El Capitan's colognes-of-choice, from 1982 to 2030. All dates approximate, plus or minus a few months.

1980 - English Leather (C'mon, it's not like I knew any better...)

1982 - English Leather Lime (Tired of smelling like a saddle)

1983 - Stetson (Screw this English stuff... USA! USA! USA!!)

1984 - Ralph Lauren Polo (Just like every other kid in those years)

1985 - The Baron (Gift from girlfriend's parents...guess they were tired of Polo! Surprisingly, this is still a favorite of mine)

1986 - Aramis (Hey, We're college men now! Time for a manly cologne!)

1987 - Ralph Lauren Chaps (Back to the Manly Western thing.)

1988 - Cool Water (Tired of Manly smells... Just want something that smells OK)

1990 - Drakkar Noir (Cool commercials! No help with the ladies, though...)

1994 - Passion for Men ( Probably the first time image played no role in the purchase... it just smelled nice)

1998 - Escada (The girl behind the sales counter was really cute. Major impulse buy!)

2000 - Maker's Mark Bourbon (Done on a dare, worked better than expected. She was a lush, though...)

2002 - Whatever my soap & shampoo smell like. Who the F$*& am I kidding with the spendy toilet water?

2004 - Given up completely. No doubt I leave a faint aroma trail of used litterbox, cheap bourbon and unleaded gasoline.

2005 - Who knows? Probably back to English Leather. It's certainly cheap these days.

2015 - Cheaper Bourbon and Desperation (a stinky cologne! See Super Troopers for this joke)

2020 - Back to Drakkar Noir and spilled cheap beer while teaching my nephew to be cool and drink a lot.

2025 - Ben Gay and Ensure meal replacement drink spilled on clothes.

2030 - Metamucil/bourbon mix and Eau De Depends

The Nose Knows

It happened again the other day. Walking through a crowded store, I was brought up short as I passed through the trailing cloud of some passing woman's perfume.

In an instant I'm no longer amidst hundreds of shoppers in a crowded store. I'm now, for the duration of that fading aroma, surrounded by hundreds of kids in a high school gym, swaying to some slow song with my girlfriend in my arms. Probably Madonna's 'Crazy For You' or (even more likely) some POS ballad by Air Supply.

The briefest encounter of that particular floral/baby powder/honey scent was enough to toss me back in time 20 years, and bring an upwelling of memories, both good & bad, rushing to the surface. It's almost a palpable physical sensation. I never asked my girlfriend what the name of her perfume was. It just didn't seem that important at the time. Well, that may not really be the case. Knowing my tendency for juvenile knuckleheadedness in those years, I probably never thought to ask. Now, I'm tempted to follow my nose to the source, and politely ask the wearer what brand it is. I've never done that, though. I'd just do something pathetic like go get a tester sample from a department store and then have myself a memory trip every so often. It's better not to. I only catch a whiff of that particular perfume every other year or so, and the scarcity of encounters makes the ensuing memory rush that much more intense.

Research has determined that odors are passing through both your limbic system and cerebral cortex simultaneously, so you're in essence getting a double shot to your nervous system when the smell hits your nose. The limbic system is your inner "lizard brain", responsible for emotions and behavior, while your cerebral cortex is responsible for conscious thought. We get conditioned right at birth to respond to smells, and associate certain aromas with the good or bad emotional experiences that accompany the odor. As a result, odors can be used like index markers to your memories, enabling almost instant access to long-buried events.

Other aromas can send me leaping across the years, but not always for good reasons. I have psychic scars from the aroma of rotting peanut butter. At the summer camps I worked at, the peanut butter-filled serving bowls we served at every meal for the more finicky eaters were gathered off dinner tables and tossed in a large metal bucket prior to washing. One evening, one of the kitchen staffers gathered them all up into the bucket, then hit them with a dose of hot water to loosen up the sticky paste. He then set the bucket out back of the kitchen to soak. Naturally, they were forgotten. Upon discovery days later, I was detailed to salvage the dishes from the bubbling stinking mess. To this day, I have to wash off anything that's been touched with peanut butter with cold water, as even the slightest degree of warm peanut butter aroma causes my gag reflex to kick into high gear. If you're baking peanut butter cookies, I gotta leave the house. And don't even fry up an Elvis-style peanut butter & banana sandwich, or I'll hurl.

The chilled metal and compressor oil smell of an air conditioner takes me back to my grandmother's hotel in Florida. She was the general manager of a retirement hotel in Hollywood, Florida back in the 70's. There were always enough vacancies due to oldsters shuffling off the mortal coil that we had guaranteed lodgings for summer vacations. The rooms didn't have central air, but used those hotel-room style AC units mounted in the walls. I remember laying face down on top of the vent panel, soaking up all the cold air blowing out, and smelling that chilled air aroma. If you ever catch me with my face pressed up to an AC unit, well, I'm just reliving my youth.

I worked in a machine shop from 1987 to 1989, and the smells from there are very evocative. It was one of those jobs I didn't realize I loved until years later. For all my bitching about the job and the owners at the time, I learned more about life there than I realized, and in truth, was one of the best jobs a 19 year old college dropout could have had. I remember coming in on chilly winter mornings, and the big Warner-Swasey automatic screw machines and the smaller Davenports were already cranking out parts, and the guys running the turret lathes and Bridgeport mills were pumping out metal chips and smoke from the heated cutting oil. That smell of warm machinery, hot gear oil, burnt metal and the touch of Varsol solvent and cigarette smoke was very comforting for some reason. For me, it was the smell of productivity and industry. Now, decades later as I walk into my nice clean office in the morning, I sometimes go in the rear doors to the high-rise building and pass through the loading dock & employee smoking area just outside the physical plant. The same smells are there, hot gear oil, a hint of of ozone from the big generators and the combined smoke from 20 brands of cigarette. It's a good way to start the day.

Anyone else have a favorite/worst smell & memory?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I'm Never Swimming In Lake Conroe Again!!!

OK, so back in October my buddy Jeenyus and I went and visited our gaming buddy and fellow Ghost Recon :SOG clan member Zippo at his bikini babe video-shoot in Galveston. (I just wanted to give y'all another peek at the eye-candy!)

Zip's the Executive Grand High Creative Producer Pooh-Bah for this vacation resort company, and does these video shoots at resorts all over the US and in the surrounding banana republics. Jeenyus & I also visited him back in August at a shoot up on Lake Conroe, about 20 miles north of Houston, TX. We watched a lot of footage (and butt-age, and breast-age) that his crew shot, and saw some of the vidcaps that would make it into the company's promotional sales DVD.

But I bet he didn't get this while he was in Conroe... and it damn sure won't be in the final cut for customers!

These pics were sent to me by a friend. He told me they were taken from a helicopter flying low over Lake Conroe. Looks like someone got a deer without a valid hunting license!!

Now, we don't grow real big deer here in S.E. Texas, but that doe's still 4 foot high at the shoulder. So, that's at least a 10-11 foot alligator, and might be as long as 12 feet.

We had a similar sized gator living in Grand Lake at the Strake Boy Scout camp when I was a kid. Grand Lake is only a 4-5 miles south of Lake Conroe, and both are connected with the San Jacinto River. So, whatever's in one lake can get to the other!

Let me tell you, when you're out at night paddling across the lake in a canoe and your flashlight hits those glowing eyes poking out of the water, your nutsack pulls right up into your abdomen! That ol' gator's eyes looked like you could fit an axehandle in between them.

So, if you vacation at Lake Conroe, best keep the terrier on a leash, and maybe the toddler, too!

UPDATE: Just found out these may not be legit... Apparently someone else had these photos attributed to the Kennedy Space Center and points beyond. We'll just file these under "Who tha heck knows!"

#4590 in the category "Things I Needed Long Ago"

Stocking stuffers just get cooler the older you get. I remember I used to get all atwitter between the ages of 9 & 12 when I saw Star Wars action figures poking out of the stocking top. Of course, had I a bit of foresight, I would have asked my parents to leave them in the package and then never played with them, all in anticipation of eBay and the techno-weenie dollars that got tossed around in the late '90s before the dot com bust.

I was quite pleased this year to acquire a USB "keydrive" (also known as a keychain drive, pen drive, pocket drive, thumb drive, jump drive, USB flash drive, etc.) as part of my growing array of tech gear.

The biggest hassle I run into from being a Mac guy in a PC world (other than the unwashed masses that persist on using an inferior and buggy operating system from Bill Gates's Evil Empire, then insisting I'M the one out of step with reality... but that's a tale for later) is the trouble transporting data around from one computer to another. Broadband has made that a bit easier, but it's not always available, especially when going between a secure network at the office and your home computer. I used to use an old Syquest EZ drive, but with the drive, power supply and a colletion of cartridges, that was a pain in the ass to haul about. Plus, it was a rare PC that had a SCSI card installed, as they preferred the older, slower parallel ports for some idjit reason. Eh? What's that? Cheaper, you say? OK, you saved $15. Now you get to diagnose IRQ conflicts and "Device Not Found" errors. Oh, yeah, BIG savings there...

CD-ROMs made things a bit easier, but it's mostly a one-way trip. See, my Macs have been able to read a DOS-formatted disk for at least 15 years now. Floppy, CD-ROM, Zip Drive, didn't matter. Stick it in the slot, and the icon popped up on the screen. Not so in reverse. As far as I know, you still can't read a Mac-formatted disk on any PC. Oh, yeah, THAT'S a superior system...

OK, rant off.

The USB drive works like a charm on anything I've plugged it in to. It's not all that quick to upload or download, but packing the storage equivalent of 5.5 foot tall stack of floppies in a gizmo the size of a mini-Bic cigarette lighter is pretty darned cool in my book.

This one's a 512 MB JumpDrive Sport from Lexar. They apparently make these in sizes up to 2 GB, but they get pretty spendy in that capacity range. I've been shuttling .mp3's to work the past few days, and I can usually get 175+ crammed into the little flash drive. Yay! Music at work other than in the elevator!

I also brought up a bunch of digital photos, so I can have something on my desktop other than the Windoze default backgrounds. Damn, how stuck in the 90's are they? Still insisting on .bmp files unless you turn on Active Desktop? Hehehe, what a joke. Oh, sorry. I forgot rant mode was off!

Go pick one up! They're pretty handy, hang on your keychain and make trading porn with your buddies carrying music, spreadsheets and documents much easier!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holiday Weekend Recap!!

Sorry for the light posting over the weekend. I was either out gallivanting around, or comatose from excessive merriment. Not that I even got a buzz on, darn the luck. It was an ate-too-much & slept-too-little comatose.

Friday night Little Bee-Boy and I continued our Xmas eve ritual of getting together and exchanging gifts, prior to drinking ourselves into a state of extreme conviviality. This year, due to a variety of factors, was almost a sober one. I polished off my last half-bottle of this year's stash of Beaujolais Nouveau after dinner, and Bee-Boy limited himself to a couple of snorts out of the whooskey jug, and that was it. As we get older, we behave more and more like responsible adults, dammit.

About 10:30, we went out in the PimpSled looking at the neighborhood Xmas lights. Not exactly wild & wacky behavior, I grant you, but a welcome sequel to last year's horrorshow. A year ago, Bee-Boy had just been diagnosed with cancer, and last Xmas was held under the grim specter of not knowing if both of us would be here this year. We went out last year doing the light-show circuit mainly to be doing something other than sitting around moping. This year, Bee-Boy's cancer-free and the lights looked a lot brighter as a result.

No pictures, unfortunately. I didn't have the manual for the digital camera handy, so I couldn't take it off automatic mode for nighttime work. I really wanted to get a picture of the dyslexic house, just for proof it was really there.
Whoever did the decorating spelled out a Xmas message across the front of their house in big strands of red lights. I nearly swerved off the road laughing the first time I passed by at night and saw the house proudly proclaiming:

(I am somewhat annoyed that the "blink" tag fails to work here...)

I suppose it might have been done as a joke, but who knows? Maybe they really are dyslexic.

Xmas day itself was devoted to sloth and gluttony. When I wasn't shooting people online playing Ghost Recon (boy, you'd think we'd take a break on Xmas, wouldn't you?) I was napping or making double-stuffed ham & cheese quesadillas. Our family Xmas gathering has been postponed until after New Years due to people traveling all over creation, so it was a quiet day with only myself and the two cats. I gave them each a can of tuna garnished with some chopped boiled egg and some leftover salmon cakes. They seemed most appreciative, and neither one yakked it up later, so it was a double bonus.

Saturday evening was spent at H3. We've called it the "Happy H----- Home" ever since high school, and it's a Xmas tradition to hang out, drink wine and chat until the wee hours of the morning with the motley collection of folks that show up. I'm having trouble coming to grips with the fact that two pairs of my high school friends have been married now for 11 and 13 years respectively. Makes me feel old and alone. Given that we're all 18+ years out of high school, and they were dating then, I also wonder why they didn't just get hitched the summer after graduation!

I had a great time, and my basket of high-dollar imported chocolate bars made a big hit at the White Elephant Gift Grab. This is where everyone brings a wrapped gift, and then you draw numbers and pick gifts in order. Higher numbers have the option to select a new gift, or hijack one that's already been opened. In case of a hijacking, the person who got the gift 'stolen' can pick a new one, or steal someone else's. Top gifts this year in terms of hijackings were the chocolates and a flexible screwdriver set.

Sunday was the big solo Xmas feast. I dropped most of a C-Note at the local gourmet market on all sorts of goodies. Imported cheeses, fancy salads, bleu cheese-stuffed colossal olives, Marcona almonds in sea salt and olive oil, veggies for steaming, a nice bottle of Barolo, and a 24 oz. USDA Prime slab of dead cow.

I have to say, that steak was one of the best I've ever eaten. Usually I just grill the dead cow into utter submission, but this was too good a cut of meat to cook over LP gas. I put the big cast-iron skillet in the oven, and turned the gas on "Incinerate". About 25 minutes later, I pulled on the welding gloves, took out the smoking-hot skillet and set it on a burner set on high for another 3 minutes. The steak was already rubbed down with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and a light coat of canola oil. I dropped the steak in the skillet, and was rewarded with a huge cloud of smoke as the meat started cooking. 30 seconds on all 4 sides, (yes, it was that thick!) and then back into the oven for 5 minutes on each side. Then it came out, got set on a plate and covered with a foil tent to let the meat relax.

Goddamn, that was a good piece of cow. No steak sauce needed or wanted, just a bit of garlic butter poured on top.
It was so good that 2 days later, when I finally got around to scrubbing out the skillet, I was tempted to take a sip of the scrub water because the essence of steak was so strong. Next time, I'll have the stuff ready to make a pan sauce with shallots and cognac.

The rest of the evening was spent in the recliner, barely able to move. It is a Very Good Thing that Xmas comes but once a year!

Monday was spent at the movies. I haven't been out to the flicks in a while, so I made it a double feature. Saw Ocean's 12, which was a mistake, and Flight Of The Phoenix, which was OK, but not as good as the original.
Then, dinner at the local taqueria so I didn't have to face up to the pile o' dirty dishes just yet.

So, a good weekend, even if it was spent mostly solo. Back to full-time blogging!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Holiday Funnies

I couldn't resist posting this one...

Oh, cover up your keyboard! I spewed iced tea on mine the first time I saw this!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Smoke On The Water Once More!

Well, I'm just pleased as punch to see that Jim of Smoke On The Water has returned after a lengthy absence! I've been poking my snoot in his blogspace daily, hoping that a new post would appear for quite some time now. It appears that another of my Xmas wishes was granted!

Go give him a read. Read through the archives. I've never met him in person, but through his writing and a couple of email exchanges, he seems a very thoughtful & courteous fellow. Or, as my kinfolk out in the sticks say, "He's good people!" As an added bonus, he likes cats!

Welcome back, Jim. Good to see you again.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Jackson Salad (That only cost a Hamilton!)

I was picking up stuff for an Xmas feast at the local gourmet food-o-rama on Friday, and got two interesting salads while I was there. The first was a red/green grape salad with walnuts and blue cheese that was pretty tasty, but the other I'd never heard of before.

It's called "Jackson Salad", and has red onions, bacon, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm... well, hang on a sec.. here's a recipe I Googled.

1/4 cup bacon -- crisp & crumbled
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts -- drained and chopped
1 14 oz can hearts of palm -- drained and chopped
1/4 cup green onions -- finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley -- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic -- pressed
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
3 ounces salad oil
1/4 pound bleu cheese -- crumbled
salt and pepper -- to taste
romaine lettuce

Fry bacon until crisp; drain well and crumble; set aside. In a salad bowl, combine chopped artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, onions and parsley. Add garlic, lemon juice, oil, bleu cheese, salt and pepper and bacon. Mix well, cover and refrigerate. Wash and dry romaine lettuce and tear leaves into small pieces. To serve, mix chilled ingredients with romaine and serve on chilled salad plates. (This recipe states green onions, but the one I had used red onions halved and sliced really thin)

I thought it was pretty tasty. ('cause I ate the 3/4 pound I bought at one sitting, and had to go back for more...)

There weren't but one or two references to it on Google. Anyone hear of this before?

Merry Christmas To All!!

And to me, a good night! Off to bed to await Santa.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones over the holidays!


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Grandson of Holiday Frivolities!

OK, continuing the Holiday Frivolity started here and continued here, one last thing before I spend the rest of my day actually getting some work done!

Carmen Possum - Author unknown

The nox was lit by lux of Luna,
And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus,
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is,
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam had hic dog; et bonus clever.
Some used to say, in stultum jocum
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem to sternus.
Unis canis, duo puer,
Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,
Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit,
If there was I never knew it.
This bonus dog had one bad habit,
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,
Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.
But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canis did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,
Nunquam chased a starving cattus,
But sucurrit on, intentus
On the track and on the scentus,
Till he trees a possum strongum,
In a hollow trunkum longum.
Loud he barked in horrid bellum,
Seemed on terra vehit pellum.
Quickly ran the duo puer
Mors of possum to secure.
Quam venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man.
Soon the axe went through the truncum
Soon he hit it all kerchunkum;
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves
As his powers non longius carry,
Possum potest non pugnare.
On the nix his corpus lieth.
Down to Hades spirit flieth,
Joyful pueri, canis bonus,
Think him dead as any stonus.
Now they seek their pater's domo,
Feeling proud as any homo,
Knowing, certe, they will blossom
Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story,
Plenus blood et plenior glory.
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,
Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!
Tell me where est now the gloria,
Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story,
Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.
Pater praiseth, likewise mater,
Wonders greatly younger frater.
Possum leave they on the mundus,
Go themselves to sleep profundus,
Somniunt possums slain in battle,
Strong as ursae, large as cattle.
When nox gives way to lux of morning,
Albam terram much adorning,
Up they jump to see the varmin,
Of the which this is the carmen.
Lo! possum est resurrectum!
Ecce pueri dejectum,
Ne relinquit back behind him,
Et the pueri never find him.
Cruel possum! bestia vilest,
How the pueros thou beguilest!
Pueri think non plus of Caesar,
Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,
Take your laurels, cum the honor,
Since ista possum is a goner!

See y'all tomorrow!

Son of Holiday Frivolities!

OK, here's the frivolity I started on earlier...

Caveat: Some of these are doggerel, not really true Latin.

Absum! - I'm outta here!
Abutebaris modo subjunctivo denuo - You've been misusing the subjunctive again.
Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit - To boldly go where no man has gone before.
Alterum ictum faciam - I'm going to take a mulligan.
Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi? - Baby, sweetheart, would I lie to you?
Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri? - Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?
Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem - In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.
Appareo Decet Nihil Munditia? - Is It Not Nifty?
Apudne te vel me? - Your place or mine?
Ascendo tuum - Up yours!
Aspice, officio fungeris sine spe honoris amplioris - Face it, you're stuck in a dead end job.

Balaenae nobis conservandae sunt! - Save the whales!
Bene, cum Latine nescias, nolo manus meas in te maculare - Well, if you don't understand plain Latin, I'm not going to dirty my hands on you.
Braccae illae virides cum subucula rosea et tunica Caledonia-quam elenganter concinnatur! - Those green pants go so well with that pink shirt and the plaid jacket!
Braccae tuae aperiuntur - Your fly is open.
Brevior saltare cum deformibus mulieribus est vita- Life is too short to dance with ugly women.

Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris - If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar.
Canis meus id comedit - My dog ate it.
Capillamentum? Haudquaquam conieci esse! - A wig? I never would have guessed!
Caro putridas es! - You're dead meat.
Carpe Cerevisi - Seize the beer!
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam - I have a catapult. Give me all your money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.
Cave canem, te necet lingendo - Beware of the dog, he may lick you to death.
Cave cibum, valde malus est - Beware the food, it is very bad.
Cave ne ante ullas catapultas ambules - If I were you, I wouldn't walk in front of any catapults.
Certamen bikini-suicidus-disci mox coepit? - Does the Bikini-Suicide-Frisbee match start soon?
Certe, Toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse - You know, Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.
Cogito sumere potum alterum - I think I'll have another drink.
Conlige suspectos semper habitos - Round up the usual suspects.
Coruscantes disci per convexa caeli volantes - Flying saucers.
Credidi me felem vidisse! - I tawt I taw a puddy tat!
Credo elvem etiam vivere - I believe Elvis lives.
Credo nos in fluctu eodem esse - I think we're on the same wavelength.
Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt - When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults.

Da mihi sis bubulae frustrum assae, solana tuberosa in modo gallico fricta, acquassum lactatum coagulatum crassum - Give me a hamburger, french fries, and a thick shake.
Da mihi sis cerevisiam dilutam - I'll have a light beer.
Da mihi sis crustum Etruscum cum omnibus in eo - I'll have a pizza with everything on it.
Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit! - God, look at the time! My wife will kill me!
Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem! - The devil made me do it!
Dic mihi solum facta, domina - Just the facts, ma'am.
Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon.

Eheu, litteras istas reperire non possum - Unfortunately, I can't find those particular documents.
Estne tibi forte magna feles fulva et planissima? - Do you by chance happen to own a large, yellowish, very flat cat?
Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre? - Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?

Fabricati diem - Make my day!
Fac me cocleario vomere! - Gag me with a spoon!
Fac ut nemo me vocet - Hold my calls!
Fac ut vivas - Get a life!
Feles mala! Cur cista non uteris? Stramentum novum in ea posui! - Bad kitty! Why don't you use the cat box? I put new litter in it!
Fortunatus sum! Pila mea de gramine horrido modo in pratum lene recta volvit! - Isn't that lucky! My ball just rolled out of the rough and onto the fairway!

Graeca sunt, non leguntur - It is Greek, you don't read that.
Gramen artificiosum odi - I hate Astroturf.

Haec trutina errat - There is something wrong with this scale.
Heus, hic nos omnes in agmine sunt! - Hey, we're all in line here!
Hic puer est stultissimus omnium! - This boy is the stupidest of all!
Hocine bibo aut in eum digitos insero? - Do I drink this or stick my fingers in it?
Hostes alienigeni me abduxerunt. Qui annus est? - I was kidnapped by aliens. What year is it?
Hostis humani generis - Enemy of the human race.
Huc accedit zambonis! - Here comes the Zamboni!

Illiud latine dici non potest - You can't say that in Latin.
Illius me paenitet, dux - Sorry about that, chief.
In dentibus anticis frustrum magnum spiniciae habes - You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth.
In puris naturalibus - Completely naked.
Instrumentum aeri temperando - Air conditioner.
Insula Gilliganis - Gilligan's Island
Interdum feror cupidine partium magnarum europe vincendarum - Sometimes I get this urge to conquer large parts of Europe.
Isto pensitaris? - You get paid for this crap?
Ita erat quando hic adveni - It was that way when I got here.
Latine loqui coactus sum - I have this compulsion to speak Latin.
Lege atque lacrima - Read 'em and weep.
Lex clavatoris designati rescindenda est - The designated hitter rule has got to go.
Litoralis - Beach bum

Magister mundi sum! - I am the master of the universe!
Magnus frater spectat te - Big Brother is watching you.
Mater tua criceta fuit, et pater tuo redoluit bacarum sambucus - Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Me oportet propter praeceptum te nocere - I'm going to have to hurt you on principle.
Me transmitte sursum, caledoni! - Beam me up, Scotty!
Mellita, domi adsum - Honey, I'm home!
Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi - Excuse me. I've got to see a man about a dog.

Ne auderis delere orbem rigidum meum! - Don't you dare erase my hard disk!
Ne feceris ut rideam - Don't make me laugh.
Nemo saltat sobrius - No man dances sober.
Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione - I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult.
Noli me voca, ego te vocabo - Don't call me. I'll call you.
Nolite id cogere, cape malleum majorem - Don't force it, get a bigger hammer.
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat - It's not the heat, it's the humidity.
Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema - I don't care. If it doesn't rhyme, it isn't a poem.
Non erravi perniciose! - I did not commit a fatal error!
Non est mea culpa - It's not my fault!
Non Gradus Anus Rodentum! - Not Worth A Rats Ass!
Non illegitimus carborundum - Don't let the bastards grind you down!
Non sum pisces - I am not a fish!
Non, mihi ignosce, credo me insequentem esse - No, excuse me, I believe I'm next.
Nonne de novo eboraco venis? - You're from New York, aren't you?

O! Plus! Perge! Aio! Hui! Hem! - Oh! More! Go on! Yes! Ooh! Ummm!
Obesa cantavit - The fat lady has sung.
Omnes lagani pistrinae gelate male sapiunt - All frozen pizzas taste lousy.
Orbes volantes exstare - Flying saucers are real.

Pactum serva - Keep the faith!
Pistrix! Pistrix! - Shark! Shark! (Usus Est Biremis Magnus! - We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat!)
Prehende uxorem meam, sis! - Take my wife, please!
Prescriptio in manibus tabellariorium est - The check is in the mail.
Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari? - How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentis telum est - A sword is never a killer, it's a tool in the killer's hands. (Seneca)
Quid agis, medice? - What's up, Doc?
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur - Anything said in Latin sounds profound.
Quomodo cogis comas tuas sic videri? - How do you get your hair to do that?
Quae nocent docent - Things that hurt, teach. (School of Hard Knocks)

Radix lecti - Couch potato
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem! - Stand aside plebians! I am on Imperial business!
Res melius evinissent cum coca - Things go better with Coke.
Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt - You know, the Romans invented the art of love.

Sane ego te vocavi. forsitan capedictum tuum desit - I did call. Maybe your answering machine is broken.
Semper ubi sub ubi ubique - Always wear underwear everywhere.
Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare - I think some people in togas are plotting against me.
Si fallatis officium, quaestor infitias eat se quicquam scire de factis vestris - If you fail, the secretary will disavow all knowledge of your activities.
Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes - Essentially it says, 'if you can read this, you're overeducated.'
Sit vis nobiscum - May the Force be with you.
Sola lingua bona est lingua mortua - The only good language is a dead language.
Solum potestis prohibere ignes silvarum - Only you can prevent forest fires.
Sona si latine loqueris - Honk if you speak Latin.
Spectaculorum procedere debet - The show must go on!
Stercus accidit - Shit happens!
Subucula tua apparet - Your slip is showing.

Tam diu minime visu! - Long time, no see!
Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure - I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
Te capiam, cunicule sceleste! - I'll get you, you wascally wabbit!
Te precor dulcissime supplex! - Pretty please with a cherry on top!
Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas - Thank you for not smoking!
Tintinnuntius meus sonat! - There goes my beeper!
Tu, rattus turpis! - You dirty rat!
Tum podem extulit horridulum - You are talking shit!

Ubi fumus, ibi ignis - Where there's smoke, there's fire!
Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant! - May barbarians invade your personal space!
Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiant! - May conspirators assassinate you in the mall!
Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant! - May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy!

Vacca foeda - Stupid cow!
Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur - Oh! Was I speaking Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.
Vale, lacerte! - See you later, alligator!
Valui ad Satanam in computatrum meum invocandum - I succeeded in summoning Satan into my computer.
Verveces tui similes pro ientaculo mihi appositi sunt - I have jerks like you for breakfast.
Vescere bracis meis - Eat my shorts!
Vidistine nuper imagines moventes bonas? - Seen any good movies lately?
Vinum bellum iucunumque est, sed animo corporeque caret - It's a nice little wine, but it lacks character and depth.
Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit - A wise man does not urinate against the wind!
Viri sunt viri - Men are slime.
Visne saltare? Viam Latam Fungosam scio - Do you want to dance? I know the Funky Broadway!

Holiday Frivolities

Many long years ago, I was faced with taking 2 years of a foreign language in order to successfully graduate high school. My alma mater offered the usual choices of *spit* French *spit* and Spanish. We also were offered German, but those classes tended to be full of pale-skinned kids with a penchant for organization and bullying people around.

Fortunately, we were graced with a fantastic teacher, Ms. Reed, who in addition to teaching English classes, taught Latin I & II for those brave enough to venture into the realm of hic haec hoc and e pluribus condomribbium.

I had taken a year of *spit* French *spit* during our family's 3 year exile up north in Yankee-Land in my childhood. Apparently Spanish wasn't taught above the 54th parallel back then. As a result, I was somewhat more familiar with learning a language than some of my classmates.

Latin's a whole different animal, though. Not only do you have to struggle with conjugating verbs to get the correct tenses, you also have to decline the nouns so that everything matches up correctly. The vocabulary was always easy for me, but the umpteen forms of conjugations and declensions were most worrisome when test-taking time rolled around.

Despite the effort the class required, it was easily one of the high points in my high school career. Ms. Reed was patient, had a love of her subject, and was one of those rare teachers that ought to have been paid 4 or 5 times her annual salary as the bare minimum recompense for the results they achieved.

I can't count the times that those 2 years of Latin have come in handy, and I'm not even in the medical or legal field. It made Spanish classes in college absurdly easy by comparison, and the help to my vocabulary is still good to this day.

We studied a bit of Roman culture, and also dabbled in singing Christmas Carols in Latin. (something that would get Ms. Reed run out of town these days...) I can still remember most of them now. Guess this one...

Tinniat! Tinniat! Tinntinnabulum! Labimur in glacie! Post mulum currum!
OK, that was "Jingle Bells", believe it or not. The actual translation goes something like "The bells ring, the bells ring, we all listen to the bells ring! We slide on the ice, behind a mule cart!" Not exactly a one-horse open sleigh or anything, but I'm thinking snow was a rare thing in Ancient Rome. (oh, this is a modern translation. The Romans didn't sing Jingle Bells!)

Some Xmas carols just sound better in Latin. This one for instance:
Adeste Fidelis, laete triumphantes,
venite, venite in Bethlehem!
Natum videte, Regem angelorum,
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus!
Venite adoremus, Dominum!

Cantet nunc io, chorus angelorum
Cantet nunc aula caelestium
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus
Venite adoremus, dominum.

Ergo qui natus, die hodierna
Jesu, tibi sit gloria
Patris aeterni, verbum caro factus
Venite adoremus, venite adoremus
Venite adoremus, dominum.
To be honest, I could only remember the first verse to that one. I had to Google up verses 2 & 3. Well, twenty years is quite a few brain cells ago. That's "O Come All Ye Faithful", btw.

I used to know "Silent Night" in Latin, but that memory has succumbed to the passage of time. All that's left is "Silens Nox, Sancta Nox".

Well, my short segue into fun Latin phrases has just stretched into its own full-length post. OK, more Holiday Frivolities later!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

As if candy canes, fudge, and eggnog weren't enough... comes Hot Chocolate Coma!

I heard this one on the radio this morning. Allegedly it's the creation of Glenn Beck, the talk show host, but I heard it via a local show.

Oh, before we get to it, I also understand there's a caveat against consuming this in conjunction with turkey, lest you fall into a stupor that lasts until Groundhog Day.

Here it is...

Over low heat, or in a double boiler, gently warm 5 pints (80 oz.) light cream or half & half.
Unwrap and coarsely chop 12 plain Hershey's chocolate bars.
Slowly stir in chocolate pieces until fully melted and smooth.
Pour into mugs and serve at once!

Now, how easy is that? Of course, the ensuing angioplasty might take a while.

I'm gonna have to give it a go. However, I'll have to be ultra-reckless and try it with a mix of heavy cream and whole milk from Promised Land Dairy, and dark chocolate from Valrhona.

Hey, Christmas only comes once a year!

Carnival Of The Vanities #118 Is Up!!

The Carnival Of The Vanities for this week is up and running at RavnWood's place. Stay there a while and browse, he's got a pretty slick blog.

Go check it out!

Oh, no... More catblogging

Sorry, Acidman, the ransom payment for not having an unholy mixture of hairballs and eau de cat-pee applied to my shoes at night is the continued publicity given to these two furbeasts.

What is it about cats and shoes, anyway? Anyone else have their cats attempt to burrow into your shoes? If they're that turned on by shoe-smell, why don't they go after feet?

OK, here's the cat ransom... Fortunately, they can't read, so I can say pretty much whatever I want, and they'll never know.

First is Betsy Cat and her 'Wanted' poster. Betsy Cat gnawed off the tops to a flat of seedlings I was sprouting. Had herself a nice little salad, and left me naught but stems. So, instead of following my initial desire, (turning her upside down and shaking her really hard to get the leaves back... these were 'special' seeds) I just made up a 'Wanted' poster and grew peppers and herbs instead. It's for the best, as my new job does random urinalysis.

Next is a close up of Pookie Cat. Based on her markings, she was almost called "Teardrop" and "Booger", but her inner pookie-ness prevailed.

OK, the horrorshow is over.... all the dog people can come back into the room! No more Catblogging until 2005! Maybe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Baboons? Pirates?? WTF???

OK, time to come clean on the Baboon Pirates name...

It's no big secret, really. Just two things that amuse me greatly.

"Amused by murderous thieving pirates??? How déclassé!" shriek the liberal elite intelligentsia!

"Associating the noble baboon with boozing and debauchery! How exploitative!" shriek the PETA bunnyhuggers!

Well, yeah. I suppose so. Lemme 'splain... Back in 1989 or thereabouts, I was the proud owner of an Atari 1040 ST computer. My favorite games were SunDog: Frozen Legacy, Leisure Suit Larry, and the F-16 emulator, Falcon. I played them for hours, when I wasn't swooping around the BBS community making an ass of myself, or figuring out the whole MIDI thing. Eventually, I scraped up enough cash for a new game title. Off I trotted to the Floppy Wizard, back then a large shop in Memorial City Mall in Houston. Now, it's in a run-down strip center in a bad part of town. Guess the owner waited too long to make the leap away from Atari and Amiga to the PC!

I'm perusing the shelves, trying to avoid the obvious rip-offs of old Atari 2600 & Intellivision console games, when one catches my eye. 'Pirates', by Sid Meier. Hmmm. You get to sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, find treasure, sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, wage war on land against the Spanish, French and the Dutch, sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, Swordfight, go wenching, and sail around & shoot other ships with cannon. Are you seeing an interest here? I had finished reading C.S. Forester's 'Hornblower' series for the 5th or 6th time around then, and was entranced with all things nautical and warlike. OK, so I couldn't be captain of H.M.S. Hotspur, pounding the French into paté, but this was close enough. I paid the princely sum of $50, and took the game home.

It was everything I hoped it would be! It wasn't uncommon to spend 12-15 hours at a stretch parked in front of the computer, capturing dozens of ships and amassing wealth beyond dreams of avarice. My buddy Rockhauler joined in on the fun, and we invented requirements above and beyond the scope of the game. For instance, finding a scrap of a map could lead you to a huge treasure hoard. You could also capture the Silver Train from Peru, or surprise the Galleon Treasure Fleet in port and burn them to the waterline. Doing all three in one voyage became known as the "Caribbean Hat Trick".

Rockhauler and I carried our pirate obsession with us to summer camp, where we were both serving on camp staff. Suddenly, pirate flags were flying at the rifle range, and Captain Morgan rum was the tipple of choice. Our band of buccaneers was dubbed the River Pirates, and we spread mild chaos throughout multiple camps. Talking like pirates was de riguer. A typical exchange:

Where are you going this weekend? Gonna hang out at a bAARRrrrrrrr!!
Gonna walk there? Nay, ye dog! It be too fAARRrrrr!
See that big fish under the bridge? Aye! That be a gAARRrrrr!
Who's that on the radio? AARRrrrrrE.O. Speedwagon!

And so on, ad nauseum.

The pirate fancy never left me. I've got dozens of pirate knicknacks I keep on my Pirate Shrine, and I'm always receiving donations from friends to add to it. When I visited Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween a few years back and stumbled on the New England Pirate Museum, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! One of these days I'll gather up all the pirate stuff I own and take a picture, but I need a wider angle lens for the camera!

So, that's the pirate half. As for the baboons...

There's actually three parts to the baboon tail. Tale. Whatever.

If you've read a few of my political rants, you've probably figured out I'm none too fond of Communism. In fact, I rate the entire Communist body of thought somewhere below bubonic plague and dysentery as things the Earth needed to have happen. I am, however, quite fond of a quote by Winston Churchill (whose guiding hand England could sure use about now...) regarding Communists. He called it the "foul baboonery of Bolshevism". That phrase greatly amused me, and I borrow it frequently.

Parts two & three are just pure silliness. There was a radio commercial a few years ago, for office supplies or maybe copiers, that featured a veddy veddy British family off on safari. What that had to do with office supplies, I've since forgotten.

Anyway, the commercial storyline featured one family member after another being dragged off by baboons. What made me laugh hysterically were the calm British 'stiff upper lip' voices casually warning each other "Oh, dear! Watch out for the baboons!" "Thomas just got carried away by the baboons!!!"

It was their accent that just slayed me. Here in the States, we say 'BAB-boons'. Everywhere else, they pronounce it 'Buh-Boons', which is just inherently funnier.

Then, there's Tim Cavanagh's parody of the old Nena song '99 Red Balloons'. His version is titled (what else?) 99 Dead Baboons. It's not the greatest of song parodies, but I love the line about 'dead apes clash with the drapes'.

So, wad up the pirate fetish and the silly baboonery, and you get Baboon Pirates. It's not the name I had ever planned for a website, but it'll do for now.

Oh, I already registered, so back off, domain-name squatters!

Monday, December 20, 2004

El Capitan's Xmas Wish List

Just a few items I'd like to see under the tree this year. No way any of these are gonna happen, but Hey! A guy can always dream!

Horse Head Pillow (Life Size!!)

Giant Cthulhu Statue

Radio Controlled B-52

Kilo of Primo Bud (and lifetime pass on piss tests)

Monica Bellucci

Boss Hoss with 502 cubic inch V8

OK, I'm running out of room on my image server... This should be enough for one year!

Damn, just lost 20 bucks.

El Capitan's baby sister is gonna hatch out a bouncing baby boy this April. So, the proud parents have to trash 'Grace Ann' as a name choice, and start from scratch.

Always hedge your bets, Sis...

Congratulations! It's A.....

I dunno what it is. My sister didn't want to leave the news on my voicemail...

She's due in April with her 1st kid, (and my first niece/nephew) and she & my brother-in-law decided to find out what flavor of kid they'll be having early, rather than wait for the Big Finale.

I understand that it makes decorating the little piglet's room easier if you know if it's pink or blue ahead of time, but I'm a bit conservative in these matters. You don't vote early, you open presents Xmas morning, not Xmas eve, & you never leave the game early to 'beat traffic'. Likewise, you shouldn't know the gender of the kid until it gets turned upside down and given the first of many smacks on the ass it'll receive in its lifetime.

Oh, well. There's still time to get some money down on this with Dad. $20 says it's a girl.


I finally did what I ought to have done weeks ago, and moved that damned Technorati javascript code out of the side bar and down to the bottom of the page. I never had much of a lag accessing my blog at home, but elsewhere it seemed to take ages for the page to load. I knew it was either Technorati or the TTLB Ecosystem scripts causing the lag, but I didn't want to muck around in the template and cause any HTML implosions in Blogger's service, either.

Well, all better now. The Technorati java code is now the very last thing to load, so all the posts should pop up a lot quicker. God only knows how many visitors got scared off the past couple of months due to having to wait up to 45 seconds to see any posts.

Anyway, if you're running Technorati, you might move it lower in your template. Just a friendly bit of advice!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Commies Are Invading Downtown Houston!!!

I'm leaving work Friday afternoon, and I'm kinda bummed out. It was a slow day, and normally I can crank out a good blog post in between the infrequent phone calls and emails that need immediate attention. All I managed, though, was a mediocre missive about music. I got a few larger items in the pipeline, but nothing that can get posted without some polishing that I'm just not up to doing at 4 pm on a Friday.

So, I'm walking out to catch my bus out to the Park & Ride, wondering what I'm gonna manage to post about over the weekend. After all, Xmas shopping, oil changes & car washes and washing clothes are not exactly the items that produce memorable posts.

Call it serendipity, karma, or pure chance, but sometimes tasty topics just drop out of the sky when you both need them most and least expect it. Or, in this case, they come walking down Walker Avenue. I glance up to see a couple passing out flyers at the bus stop at Walker & Louisiana. He's a black man, about 40ish, heavyset & wearing a black leather jacket & pants. She's older, mid 40's, wearing vaguely hippie-ish garb covered with one of those puffy down ski jackets and a knitted cap that makes her head look like a green pine cone. Both are handing out large flyers to anyone who will take them. I cross the street, and the man hands me an 8.5 x 14 sheet of paper that's just crammed with print. Here's the title:


Below that, I reproduce verbatim:


Not an auspicious beginning. I glance at the subheads scattered throughout the page. "Staring at Christian Fascism", "A Time For Resistance", "A Revolutionary Society". Oh, man, this is getting better! Or worse, depending on your perspective.
Next to me, a well-dressed banker type crumples his copy up in a wad and throws it in the trash can, bringing a whine of protest from the man handing them out. "Hey, man! You could just have handed it back to me!" The banker-type ignores him, and turns away.

By now, I've scanned through the screed, looking for the group who's printed this. I suppose my intense perusal of the paper caught the attention of the woman, because she sidled over towards me. I finally find what I'm looking for, down at the bottom of the back page. Oh Mah Ghod... These people are still around? It's the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. A guffaw comes out of me spontaneously. I glance up at her, and she's got a quizzical look on her face. Perhaps she's hoping my brief exposure to her Ultimate Truth has seared me to my soul, and I'm laughing at my years of folly at pursuing the Failed KKKapitalist Dream.

Heh. Not even close. I haven't had an opportunity for an in-person Fisking in a long time, and with the crowd at the bus stop I've even got a live audience. This poor lamb has no idea what she's about to get hit with. Years and years of accumulated high school debate and college student government oratory skills get unlocked and loaded into the launching racks. Phasers are set on 'Squish'!

"So," I ask, "You of course realize that Communism has been a miserable failure everywhere it's been tried, don't you?" Before she can respond, I stat ticking them off. "USSR, split up, gone capitalist. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, all threw off their Russian chains. China, embracing capitalism, same for Vietnam. Sure, there's Cuba and North Korea, but they're only that way as long as the HMFIC is alive. Why should it work here?"

I'll give her this, she was game for the fight. "Because it HAS to work," she replied. "Our current system isn't working!"

"Really?" I said, waving at all the tall skyscrapers surrounding us, each one a monument to capitalism. "Oh, yeah, it sure looks like it's not working out. Guess we ought to just scrap it all, right?" I hear a chuckle behind me from another commuter. Ha! First blood to El Capitan!

"But... the poor and disenfranchised have no..." she attempted.

"C'mon lady!" I said. "our 'poor' are the wealthiest in the world. Where else in the world can they get a system that provides education for their kids, food on their table, and health care free of charge? It's capitalism that makes that surplus possible!"

"It's still an unequal system," she countered. "We need to empower the workers to make their own decisions and control their futures!"

Oh, man, her rose-colored glasses are thick enough to work on that Cyclops guy from the X-Men movies. "Lady, the reason most people are 'workers' is that they are unwilling or not bright enough to improve their lot in life. If you're still working at a minimum wage job after you're a teenager, odds are you made some really bad decisions in your life".

"Well, some people can't help that!" she said. "We need to remake society so everyone gets their fair share."

Fair share? Wonder who gets to decide that! For a moment, I'm tempted to go all Orwellian on her deluded self, but that'll take me off on a tangent, and I'm angling for the kill here.

"Yeah, lady, and your Communist Party can make it work here, in a solidly capitalist country, after its failed so many times all over the world? We're all just supposed to chuck it in and let you decide how to make it all better?" I hear a faint "Hell, no!" from behind me. Obviously another 'downtrodden worker' want to hang onto their possessions.

I gotta say, she wasn't going down without a struggle. "Well, just because it hasn't worked elsewhere is no reason to stop trying!" she said. Jeez, where have I heard that before?? OK, time to hammer her into the pavement.

"Lady, Communism will never work out, here or anywhere. You just can't trump human nature! We all want to better our lives, and those of our kids. We're not termites or ants! It's not a natural act to give up hard-earned resources to help people from another community."

Eyes blazing, she retorted "Well, people just have to learn to do it! We will teach people how to share!"

Ha! Gotcha, sweetie! You stumbled right into my little snare!

"Oh, really? And where, pray tell, do you intend on making that happen? Perhaps a 're-education' camp? Perhaps the Gulag? What happens to people who refuse? I suppose they just disappear, right?"

She opened her mouth to reply, then hesitated as a few people started laughing. Then she turned all red in the face. I didn't give her a chance to recover.

"C'mon," I asked. "What happens to me if I just say No? What if I refuse to go along with your revolution? You gonna be the one to shoot me in the back of the head just like Stalin & Mao had done to millions of their own people?"

She was really steamed, and I was having a ball. I was just about to fire a second hull shot into her when her partner, hearing the laughing, I suppose, pulled her away and said "Let's go over to that corner down the block. There's more people there." The translation being, I'M not there...

So off they went, two deluded little Commies, heading out to change the world.

I hung on to the flyer, intending to scan it in and post it here, but as luck would have it, those Paragons of DumbAssery have taken advantage of the fruits of capitalist productivity and embraced technology. I.E. they posted their screed online. Have a look!

Their main website is a jumble of loosely-related topics, which is probably an accurate reflection of their assorted mental states. Their Exalted Leader, Bob Avakian, seems to be running their show with the characteristic iron fist. At least, his writings dominate the site. I would have a hard time following a leader called 'Bob'. A 'Robert', maybe, but not 'Bob'. It just lacks that... je ne sais quoi.

Here's ol' Comrade Bob.

I wonder how many times he practiced that pose to get the proper "Helter-Skelter!" ferverous gleam in his eyes? And the apple cap! Bwahahaa! I haven't seen those since 'Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids' went off the air!

Look out, Houston! The Commies are on the march!

LOTR: Return Of The King - Extended Edition


Why they didn't release this version as the theatrical release is beyond me. I mean, you're making a film of the world's best-known fantasy tale for a huge audience of Tolkien readers. Like we're gonna complain that the movie goes on for 4 hours and 10 minutes! Sure, there's gonna be a few whiners, but they can go watch the SpongeBob AssHat movie for all I care.

Next step - take a day off work, get a cooler full of drinks and bring the popcorn popper in the TV room, as well as hook up a catheter & bucket rig and unplug the phone, then settle in for all 3 extended editions in a row.

I think I just hit the max on the Geek-O-Meter...

Gotta go watch the Charge of the Rohirrim again. Maybe twice.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Friday Follies

Is blasting Black Sabbath out of your PC speakers at the office a wise move? I finally got iTunes installed on this kludge-y old Compaq, and brought in a few CD's to stock the library. One of my favorites is my "Late Night Cop Chase" mix CD, which has the fastest, loudest songs I could find in my home iTunes library. Perfect music for running from cops in the dead of night. Not that I'd ever do that.

So, I'm leaning back in the chair, air-guitaring to 'The Mob Rules', when I suddenly remember that 80% of my co-workers are older women who prefer gospel songs. Ooops. Best turn that music down a bit!

I can hardly wait for the White Zombie later in the CD... they're sure to freak out.

Two hours to go.... Fridays are such sweet sorrow! It's the end of the week, which is sweet, but I'm just sorry I didn't take the day off.

Off to get the LOTR: Return of the King Extended Edition DVD set after work. Gonna get home, mix up a pitcher of margaritas, and order in some pizza.

More later, assuming I'm sober enough to type.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Great Xmas Card Game

I had a late dinner last night with Little Bee-Boy, and one of the items of conversation involved the etiquette of Christmas Cards.

I'm not a big Xmas card sender. Every 3rd year or so, I'll get a Yuletide bug up my ass, and go get a couple of boxes of the cheap Walmart cards with the least offensive picture and message that I can find. I'll then spend several hours writing, addressing, licking, sealing, stamping, etc. I don't maintain a huge circle of friends, and my mother still signs all our family's names to the cards she sends out to the kinfolk, so that (in my Scrooge-y mind) gets me off the hook sending them to relatives. Still, I need about 30-35 cards to cover everyone I want to send cards to.

Now, to add to the fact that I'm only infrequently filled with the Holiday Spirit, I'm also a world champion procrastinator. Often, the cards will go out by only 2-3 days before Xmas, so they get to the destinations either just in time, or 2 days afterwards, where they get lost in the piles of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes.

Last Xmas, I decided to do it right. I composed a moderately amusing poem that I emailed to my circle of acquaintances, mainly wishing them well, but also requesting that they send me their contact information so that I could email them a Xmas card. This was done towards the end of November, if I recall correctly.

Know how many responses I got? None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Now, a sensitive, caring person would immediately assume all his "friends" hated him, and plunged into deep, dark despair. The sensitive, caring person would drown their sorrows in eggnog and mulled wine (Hell, I do that anyway) and gorged on Xmas cookies and then hung themselves using a twinkling strand of Xmas tree lights.

I, on the other hand, take a rational outlook on life, and sought out the deeper meaning. I'm only so-so on answering email myself. My circle of friends is pretty much the same way. Hence, it's not personal, we're just all lazy bastards.

"Not so!!" opined Little Bee-Boy last night over naan, saag paneer and murgh tikka. "Your timing is all wrong! You need to get the addresses updated earlier in the year!"

OK, now I'm confused. I want to send people Xmas cards. I need their addresses to do it. What's the fargin' deal? Just send in your boxtops, and you get a prize, dammit!

"You're guilting them if you do it in December!" said Bee-Boy. "Just ask them earlier in the year, and tell 'em you're updating your address book."

OK, I know the guilt factor. I'll admit to having played it in the past. C'mon, you know the Great Xmas Card Game, don't you?? This is the game where you deliberately delay sending out your cards until the last minute, then watch and see who sends you a post-Xmas reciprocal card, just 'cause they feel they have to respond. These, coincidentally, are usually the same folks you ask to help you move, or pick you up from the airport.

I'll admit to having moments of guilt when I receive a Xmas card in a year I'm not sending any out. Still, all I want to do this year is send you a Xmas card! I don't really want to deliberately increase anyone's guilt factor. Send me the damn address already! Play your mind games on your kids! They'll hate you in a few years anyway!

{El Capitan breathes a huge sigh of despair, and reaches for another glass of rum with a bit of eggnog in it}

OK, maybe next year I'll get it right. Buy the cards in the post-Xmas sales, store them until July, then break out the address book and commence to get 'er done. Mail them the day after Thanksgiving, and damn the guilt torpedoes.

I wonder if I can get anthracite coal sliced in little tiny sheets to tuck inside some of these cards...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Homey puts da SMACK down on some Beeyotches!!

Hehehe, Graumagus gets this gangsta-wannabe troll on his site.

Troll threatens Graumagus. (read the comments)

Graumagus yawns. Troll then threatens Graumagus's family...

Witness hereunto the awesome power of Pissed Off Graumagus. It's a classic!

Here's the money quote. I'm still wiping nose-spewed Diet Dr Pepper off the monitor screen!
However, if you string sixteen sentences together with no periods, commas, or capitalization, I will bitchslap you off my site.
Periods are your friend. If you don't believe me, ask your mom how much she was praying for one eight months before you managed to slither out of her womb.
Peace out, HomeDawgz!! And pull up yer fuckin' pants!

Feeding Your Addictions

I was sending this to a few co-workers since they liked it so much, and I might as well share it with a wider audience while I'm at it!

Chocolate Covered Cranberries

Ingredients -
Fresh cranberries
Chocolate, either chips or bars.
Shortening ( I use Crisco, but any solid should be OK.)

Equipment -
Cookie sheets
Wax Paper
Microwave-safe bowls or double boiler
Teaspoon (Long handled) for stirring or dipping

Start by washing and drying the cranberries, and picking out the ones with soft spots and those that are small, damaged, or discolored. Pour them out onto a few paper towels set in a pan to dry. Be careful! Cranberries are VERY bouncy, and you'll chase them all over the kitchen if you pour them onto a flat countertop.

While the cranberries are drying, melt your chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave. I use one 8 oz. bag of chocolate chips for every 12 oz. bag of cranberries, but using a little extra makes the dipping process easier, and you get to enjoy the leftovers afterwards! I've tried both dark chocolate and milk chocolate, and found that the sweeter milk chocolate goes better with the tart berries than the more bitter dark chocolate.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and add one heaping teaspoon of Crisco for every 8 oz. of chocolate. This will give the chocolate a smoother texture, and make it easier for the chocolate to flow over the berries.

When you microwave the chocolate chips, they will not melt smooth like in a double boiler. They will hold their chip shapes until you stir them up. To avoid burning the chocolate, I set the timer for one minute, then stir. Then I set it for 15 seconds, stir, and repeat until the chocolate melt is smooth and glossy.

Have wax paper spread over your cookie sheets, then start dipping the berries into the chocolate. I'm pretty handy with chopsticks, and that worked for me, but you might use a small set of tongs or even a teaspoon to pull the berries out of the melted chocolate. I usually put a handful of berries in, stir until they're well coated, then remove one at a time and place on the wax paper. Try to keep them spaced apart if you can, otherwise they stick to each other, and you break off the coating when you pull them apart.

Chill the coated berries for an hour or so in the fridge, then melt your white chocolate. Definitely add the Crisco here, increasing the amount to one and a half teaspoons. You want to make a thinner mix for the striping.

Dip your long-handled teaspoon into the white chocolate, and very quickly shake it back & forth in a sideways motion over the berries. The object is to get thin streamers of melted white chocolate to splash over the dark chocolate-covered berries. If you keep your shaking controlled, you can cover a couple of dozen berries with each spoonful, and not cover your kitchen with chocolate. You might get the random splotch of a big chocolate spill every so often on a berry, but you can sample those for "Quality Control".

Put the berries back in the fridge overnight to set firm, then peel off the wax paper and store in airtight containers until eaten. Each 12 oz bag makes enough to feed 8-12 people.

I suppose you could get fancy and mix in crushed pecans or walnuts in the melted chocolate, or use the nuts for a topping instead of the white chocolate.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"I'll name it Gullible Consumer!"

OK, I got a good rant built up now...

Every Xmas, those of us who listen to the radio as we commute into work (or laze around the house) get pummeled with the holiday edition of the "Buy This NOW!!!" ads. The 'Cable-Lock' foundation repair ads, carpet cleaning ads and the "Donate a Car for Kids" adverts fade into the Holiday Bear-O-Grams, the "Give her a diamond, that'll shut her up!" ads, and the horrible Fruitcake of the Month Club ads. OK, I'm joking about the last one.

The one that really sets my teeth on edge, though, is the International Star Registry. This crew of shysters have got the biggest set of brass donkey balls you've ever seen. For 20 years, they've been selling precisely DICKUS SQUATTUS!!! Yet, every year like clockwork, people pony up the dollars and keep these yobbos in business.

Here's what they claim, and to their credit, they do exactly what they promise to do. They may be shitheels, but they're not frauds. Copied from their website: (and no, no links for these fuckers!)

Do you need a unique idea for the perfect Christmas gift? Name a star for that special someone. Naming a star is the ideal Christmas gift! Giving a star name is easy and fun. When you name a star it shows the recipient how truly unique and special they are to you. Make this Christmas Shine!
They claim that they'll "register your star in book form in the U.S. Copyright office." Big fuckin' deal! You can smear shit on a piece of sandpaper, sign it, and register it in book form in the U.S. Copyright office. It means NOTHING!! The international scientific community doesn't recognize the International Star Registry's naming convention, and neither should you!!

For the low low price of $54 simoleons, here's what you get...

  • A beautiful 12" X 16" full color parchment certificate personalized with the star name, date and coordinates. (Their cost, probably 12 cents)

  • A Personalized 12" X 16" sky chart containing the star name, star date, the constellation and the location circled in red where the star is in the sky. (Their cost, probably 15 cents, plus $1 for the red Sharpie)

  • A booklet on astronomy written by a professional astronomer with additional sky charts. (Their cost, probably 50 cents. 'Booklet' is the key here... probably 16 pages with a construction paper cover)
  • A letter of congratulations/memorial for the recipient. (their cost, probably 2 cents)
  • So, add a couple of bucks for shipping, and for a total cost to them of $3.79, you pay $52, get to give a worthless gift, your recipient gets to know what a tool you are, and they make a cool 93% profit.

    I dunno, I hate to be judgemental, but the recipients of this POS gift who will actually think it's a "way cool" gift probably have a plethora of wall art in their shacks including Day-Glo unicorns, velvet Elvii, and those crying kids with the cue-ball sized eyes.

    I dunno what pisses me off more. The fact that they sell this crap, the fact that people are dumb enough to buy it, or the fact that I didn't think of it first!!!

    To quote this guy... JUST DAMN!!!!

    Workplace Efficiency? Not Here!

    Urgh. I'm stuffed like a gluttonous tick on a hemophiliac buffalo.

    We just got finished with the RamaHanuChristmaKwanz-athon Holiday Lunch at work. Nothing like taking a couple of hours off on the taxpayer's dime to gorge on holiday food. In one small bit of civic responsibility, we did pay for the food ourselves, but I think we coulda gotten a better deal with a better caterer.

    The usual suspects were there: ham, turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, veggies, etc. We also have a fairly sizable Hispanic workforce, so to my great delight, we also had about 4 tons of puerco y pollo y frijole tamales and arroz con pollo with a screamin' hot salsa. I made a revolutionary discovery that jellied cranberry sauce, the aforementioned screamin' hot salsa and pork tamales are a culinary masterpiece when combined.

    I contributed a big ol' container of chocolate-covered cranberries to the fiesta. I learned about them from my friend Scott, who's been a chef in a previous life. He first approached me with a bag of what I thought were yogurt-covered raisins, and just said "Try some!" As you might imagine, I got a mouthful of tart cranberry and white chocolate, and didn't know whether to spit or swallow. They're really good, though. I made them for Thanksgiving, and got all fancy with some Ghirardelli Extra Dark chocolate, but that was aiming too high. The bittersweet chocolate didn't complement the tart cranberries as well as it could have. This time, I went with a milk chocolate coating and then striped them with white chocolate. Good stuff, Maynard!

    Now, it's the afternoon struggle to stay awake until it's time to catch the bus going home. I finally got iTunes installed on the work PC, but there's no way to email myself my home MP3 library of 18GB. I've got a scattering of compilation CDs, and two or three regular CDs available, but all of my other CDs are in storage. There's no way I'm going to be doing the BearShare or Morpheus thing at work. Guess I'll have to learn to exist on about 100 songs in rotation.

    OK, let me nap, er... inspect the back shelves in the file room for a bit, and dream up a couple of rants for the afternoon lull.

    More later.

    Monday, December 13, 2004

    Goddam, that's a Shitload of Capitalists...

    Well, skin me alive and call me luggage! All I wanted to do was point out a good example of subversive marketing...

    Here's a graphical representation of what an Instalanche does, and this one's not even direct! It's filtered through another blogger! That red trend line stopped looking like the road into Denver from Berthoud Pass, and now looks more like most of Kansas.

    Well, thanks for dropping by, readers! Don't suppose I could interest you in showing up again tomorrow, could I??

    Note to self: Start submissions to Carnival Of The Capitalists more frequently!

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    Sunday Night Roundup

    Or, All The Print That Didn't Fit...

    Just finished the season for Survivor:Vanuatu. Chris Daugherty, the highway construction worker from Ohio, just won the million bucks. I sometimes have a hard time believing I'm still watching this silly show. I caught the last five episodes of Season One, was glued to the TV for Seasons Two & Three, pretty much lost interest for the next 3 seasons, but picked it back up the in the Pearl Islands series. That one was pirate themed, so it pretty much kept me watching going into the All-Stars series. By this time, my Thursdays are set in stone, Survivor, CSI, and then off to blogsurf. That's really all the TV I watch these days. Once HBO fires up the new seasons of Deadwood and The Sopranos, I'll start watching those again, but I gotta say, the freed-up time I'm not spending staring at the idiot box is really coming in handy.

    While most guys seemed to be sucked in by Eliza's huge eyes, or Ami's gigantimous breastesses, I was focused on Leann Slaby's piercing eyes and razor sharp cheekbones. OK, and the smokin' hot body. Like Garth Algar said, "She makes me feel all funny, like when you climb the rope in gym class!"

    Wanna see for yourself?

    MmmmmMmmmm! That's some kinda tasty Wisconsinite, right there!

    In other news...

    Dash Riprock has got his blog "The Boiling Point" up and running. He was nice enough to email me some blog feedback, and while I won't pull a Sally Field moment like I did for this guy, I will most happily plug his blog! Give him a read! I need to ask him if he listens to this band, or whether he's pulling the name from the old Flintstones cartoon. Dash, you'll get a link on the blogroll real soon. I'm working up a "Texas Blogs" category, but it'll take another few days.

    Dash is precisely correct in whether I know what TANSTAAFL is! I first read about it way back in high school in R.A. Heinlein's masterpiece 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress', and recognized it at once for the genius it was. I was most pleased to find a bar in Arlington, Texas called TANSTAAFL. It's kinda dingy and out-of-the-way, but they pour honest drinks, and have great bands. What more could you ask from a watering hole? Actually, most of the "two-bit sleazy dives" along Division in Arlington are pretty cool places. I'd much rather hang out in a blue-collar working man's bar than a yuppie mating preserve. If you ever want a guided tour of the best spots to tie one on in Arlington, TX, give me a holler, and buy me a tank of gas to get there and a hotel room to crash in. One benefit of the 5 year degree plan was that it gave me lots of time to seek out every place that serves alcohol within 10 miles of the UTA campus. See, Mom? I DID learn something!

    Xmas gifts are mostly purchased, but the cards need to be done, but that's what quiet afternoons at work are for. Things die down during the holidays, mostly. I finally got all the goodies together for Jeenyus, Rockhauler, Zippo and Little Bee-Boy, so those get sent off in the mail this week. I don't have nearly the surplus coinage for gifts like I had during my tech support days. Government jobs shaft you on the front end, but make up for it in the pension. Assuming they're still solvent in 2030, that is. Still, I got enough to spread some cheer, which is my favorite part of the holidays. Can't wait to hear what people's reactions are.

    On the home front... My Ghost Recon gaming buddies are used to me calling an occasional halt during our run & gun sessions so I can grab the binocs and pull my Dirty Old Man routine when the jailbait hottie next door is out taking her bikini for a walk. I know, it's kinda sad & pathetic, but if wimmen dress up in three bandaids and some dental floss, and then expect men to just ignore them, then they really are from another planet. It's not like I'm taking pics of her, THAT would be perverted! Plus, the zoom on the camera ain't all that great. Hehehe! Jeez, I'm going to hell...

    Anyway, Little Miss Hardbody went to a modeling competition in Florida. I never thought she was all that good looking. Kind of a 'butterface', really. (Everything's great but her face!) Plus, I've seen her do some pretty unglamorous things over the years. The ol' snot blow, where you plug up one nostril and spew goo out the other. The indifferent way she treats her sisters. The late-teen 'tude she throws at her mom. Those sorts of things.

    She's in this competition with 3000+ other girls. Damned if she didn't come in first place. Now little nose-blower has got offers on the table from Milan, Paris, New York, & Tokyo. Ho-Leee Sheee-It! Apparently she's "The New Look". Guess the fashion world needed some teenage fundamentalist mucus-flingers.

    I'm poking fun here, but I really am happy for them. That family has ridden the ragged edge of poverty for the better part of 20 years. The dad sired 6 or 7 kids (hey, they move quick! I never got a good count) before he died of brain cancer. Maybe now she can bring home something other than horny teenage boys in loud pickup trucks. Or, maybe she'll turn out like this useless twat. Let's hope not...

    OK, that's all for now, kiddies. El Capitan's tired, and the cat still needs a brushing. Adios!

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Apple...

    Damn, the banking finally caught up with me...

    I bought Mom a new eMac for Xmas, courtesy of my pal Jeenyus, who was able to squeeze me into his Friends & Family discount quota for the year. Most kind of him, since the discount was a big selling factor in luring Mom away from the Dark Side and into the Cult of Mac.

    So, I travel to the Houston Galleria after work last Friday, slap down the debit card, and proceed to have half my working capital sucked out, in return for a shiny new eMac shipped right to the house. Next morning, I get up, log into my online account tracker, and sure enough, $850.85 is no longer there. All's good with the world, I'm thinking.

    Last Tuesday, I sign into my online bank tracker to see if an eBay/Paypal charge went through, and to my surprise, there's the $850.85 sitting back in my account. Huh? Furthermore, there's no record of the transaction. No initial debit, no credit of the returned amount, nothing. It's like the transaction never happened. At first I'm thinking that I screwed up the order, 'cause I accidentally left Jeenyus's name in the "Bill To" window on the order page. Still, they accepted the charge, so they know the card's good... why would they worry about who's getting the bill? I email Jeenyus to keep an eye out, and call Mom and tell her Xmas might be late this year.

    Next day, same thing. No record of the transaction. I call my bank, they say nothing's wrong. No one has pulled money out, no one's rejected a purchase, from their end, everything looks kosher. They recommend calling Apple.

    So, I call Apple. Get their call center in Ireland, and talk to a most delicious-sounding colleen. Her accent makes me want to pour Bailey's and Guinness all over her and lick her clean. Even if she looks like Mother Machree. After diligent searching of the order records and finding nothing, I finally ask her to look under Jeenyus's name, and there it is. All is in order, eMac is ready for shipping, and will be heading out that afternoon.

    So, I ask about the money angle, but that's out of her jurisdiction. She routs me to the Finance department, and that silky Irish accent fades, and is replaced by a woman with a flat rasp of a Yankee midwest accent. Eh, what a buzzkill.

    She explains that the initial charge is just to confirm the card, and that the account is not debited until the order actually ships. She again confirms that everything is OK, and I should expect it in 3-5 working days. OK, that's what they said 3 working days earlier, but it's the Xmas season, everyone's rushed and/or behind, so no biggie.

    Next day, I sign into my online bank tracker, and now I'm REALLY confused. Not only is the $850.85 still in my account, but there's another $850.85 in there. My account has $1701.70 more than it should in it.

    Another slack-jawed "Huh?" escapes me... I am suddenly acutely aware of the fact that I dropped out of Accounting 101 twice, otherwise this all might make sense. Someone's playing jiggery-pokery with my account, and I can't see the benefit to the banks, to Apple, or to myself. This extra $1701.70 stays in my account for 2 days.

    Friday afternoon, after checking the FedEx tracking number and confirming the eMac is on a truck heading this way, I check the account again. OK, someone's figured out part of the goof. $850.85 is now gone from the account, but there's still no record of the transaction. OK, I'm thinking, someone goofed, El Capitan gets a free eMac! At least until they run the end-of-month reconciliation, and then they'll head my way with torches and pitchforks. Also, I don't want Jeenyus in any shit over this. So, if the eMac gets here and I still haven't "paid" for it, I'll call again and straighten things out.

    The manna from heaven only lasted so long, though. Today, the account balance matches my check register, and the debit is finally recorded for yesterday evening. They have my money, I have an eMac parked in a FedEx transit in Iowa or somewhere equally remote.

    I'm curious as to all the kerfluffle with the billing. Maybe I'm lacking in sophistication and nuance, like all Red Staters are accused of, but what was the point to all that cash-juggling? It seems a lot simpler to pay up front, and have them ship your goods ASAP.

    If anyone has a clue, I'd love to hear it.

    Friday, December 10, 2004

    Carnival of the Recipes #17 is up!

    Go check out the latest Carnival of the Recipes #17 over at Marybeth's blog. I've got my Key Lime Pie drink recipe submitted. She put it right up top, too! How cool is that?

    Back to the Beginning

    Be warned, Cap's gonna take off his drinking goggles and get kinda wordy here...

    I started this blog, at least in part, to provide a forum to work out political differences I have with my friend Andy. For the past few weeks I've been too busy link-whoring and chasing the blogosphere spotlight to address some issues Andy's brought up, and I really owe it to him (and myself) to get back into the habit of providing a counterpoint to his assertions, and sometimes a flat-out rebuttal where its needed.

    Andy's a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, whereas I tend to take a more libertarian/conservative look at life. Doesn't mean we can't remain friends, though! He's disheartened by President Bush's re-election, but hasn't completely succumbed to the Moonbat hysteria that's gripped so many of his fellow liberals. Indeed, he's pushing beyond the rage and despair, and trying to understand the other half of America, the ones that voted in the opposite direction. I find this extremely laudable. Unlike the whiners and Democratic Underground tantrum-throwers, he's looking for constructive means to understand conservatives. Whether this is an investigation of mere academic interest, or a precursor to PsyOps remains to be seen!

    His latest endeavor involves looking at the root behaviors of Conservatives and Liberals, and understanding how these dissimilar worldviews arise.

    By way of explanation, Andy puts forward the philosophies of George Lakoff. Now, Lakoff's a linguist, and while it's true that language structure can set a framework for thought processes and behavior, I'm a bit leery of accepting sociological or political advice from one of his profession. Just look at how fucked up the thought processes have become of another linguist, Noam Chomsky! OK, major straw man argument dumped on you there, but it had to be said.

    According to Lakoff, we use what he calls 'frames' as a conceptual backdrop by which we understand everything around us. Frames are basically a simplification of the larger world, reduced to a smaller subset that we can more easily grasp. The specific form of language and verbiage (which I'd refer to as semantics) can be used to invoke these frames.

    This theory is nothing new. Robert Heinlein was greatly influenced by the early semanticians, and wrote many stories about the way semantics can be employed to set the tone of political discourse way back in the 40's and 50's, and indeed throughout his long career. For a good introduction to semantics, skip the labyrinthine scribblings of Alfred Korzybski, the father of General Semantics, and instead dig up a copy of S.I. Hayakawa's Language In Thought And Action.

    Lakoff further argues that there are two major viewpoints (or frames) to seeing social structure, the Nurturant Parent Worldview and the contrasting Strict Father Model. I can't go along with Lakoff's hypothesis.

    For starters, even the titles for Lakoff's frameworks are semantically loaded. He doesn't even attempt to give the two viewpoints equal standing. By using the term "Strict Father", you've already painted a mental image of Daddy Warbucks, Fagin or that asshole 'Niedermeyer' in the old Twisted Sister video.

    Alternatively, "Nurturant Parent" is politically correct and gender neutral, invoking images of warm cuddles in Mom's lap sitting by a roaring fire. Puppies and kittens slurping at the teat. All that happy shit. God, I despise the word "nurture". Sounds like a mash-up of "nature" and "murder". Makes me think of rabbits eating their young, for some reason.

    To counteract this imbalance just a bit, (and illustrate a point) I did a little frame-shifting of my own. Anyone catch it? Out of the 137,000 weblinks available for George Lakoff, why do you think I picked the one from the UC Berkeley news? The one with the pic of an obviously well-fed Lakoff (not too much sacrifice on behalf of the poor & the environment there!) finishing off a foamy latté while pontificating at the Free Speech Movement Café on campus? Some conservatives might now see him now not as a learned professor, but just another Bay Area uber-liberal nutbag, based solely on the way he was "framed".

    As for the rest of Lakoff's ideas, let's take a look. In a nutshell... well, let me just cut & paste from Andy's blog and save myself a lot of keyboard time:
    The Nurturant Parent Worldview:
    In the Nurturant Parent family, it is assumed that the world is basically good. And, however dangerous and difficult the world may be at present, it can be made better, and it is your responsibility to help make it better. Correspondingly, children are born good, and parents can make them better, and it is their responsibility to do so. Both parents (if there are two) are responsible for running the household and raising the children, although they may divide their activities. The parents' job is to be responsive to their children, nurture them, and raise their children to nurture others.

    In the Nurturant Parent family, the highest moral values are Empathy and Responsibility. Effective nurturing requires empathy, which is feeling what someone else feels—parents have to figure out what all their baby's cries mean in order to take care of him or her. Responsibility is critical, since being a good nurturer means being responsible not only for looking after the well-being of others, but also being responsible to ourselves so that we can take care of others. Nurturant parents raise children to be empathetic toward others, responsible to themselves, and responsible to others who are or will be in their care. Empathy connects us to other people in our families, our neighborhoods, and in the larger world. Being responsible to others and oneself requires cooperation. In society, nurturant morality is expressed as social responsibility. This requires cooperation rather than competition, and a recognition of interdependence.

    Strict Father Model:
    In the conservative worldview, it is assumed that the world is, and always will be, a dangerous and difficult place. It is a competitive world and there will always be winners and losers. Children are naturally bad since they want to do what feels good, not what is moral, so they have to be made good by being taught discipline. There is tangible evil in the world and to stand up to evil, one must be morally strong, or "disciplined."

    The father's job is to protect and support the family. Children are to respect and obey him. The father's moral duty is to teach his children right from wrong, with punishment that is typically physical and can be painful when they do wrong.
    It is assumed that parental discipline in childhood is required to develop the internal discipline that adults will need in order to be moral and to succeed. Morality and success are linked through discipline. This focus on discipline is seen
    as a form of love— "tough love." The mother is in the background, not strong enough to protect and support the family or fully discipline the children on her own. Her job is to uphold the authority of the father and to care for and comfort the children. As a "mommy," she tends to be overly soft-hearted and might well coddle or spoil the child. The father must make sure this does not happen, lest the children become weak and dependent.

    Competition is necessary for discipline. Children are to become self-reliant through discipline and the pursuit of self-interest. Those who succeed as adults are the good (moral) people and parents are not to "meddle" in their lives.
    Those children who remain dependent—who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant—undergo further discipline or are turned out to face the discipline of the outside world. When everyone is acting morally and responsibly, seeking their own self-interest in a self-disciplined fashion, everyone benefits. Thus, instilling morality and discipline in your children is also acting for the good of society as a whole.

    This idea about a loving mother and a strict father is not new either. Journalist Chris Matthews, years ago, formulated the theory contrasting Republicans and Democrats, referring to them as the "Mommy Party" and the "Daddy Party". To quote Jonah Goldberg in the National Review:
    "Democrats give goodies and say "there, there" and Republicans protect the home and tell people to get off their butts."
    I have no problem with the assertion that parents should strive to make the children better. He's correct there, but that's hardly a revolutionary viewpoint. Ditto for the belief that responsibility is paramount.

    My specific arguments with Lakoff's ideas are in these areas:

    1) Inherent Good or Evil - In my opinion, children are born neither good nor bad, as Lakoff posits. They are a tabula rasa, a blank slate. The child, in an absence of an environment aimed at socializing him, will learn to do whatever is necessary for survival, not just "what feels good". To satisfy the biological urges, acts like theft of food, violence against rivals, sexual aggression for release are all going to be driven by that lizard brain that lies underneath all our grey matter. Only with determined effort by family and community is that child going to learn what it takes to be a productive, responsible member of society.

    Also, assigning values of good or evil to the world as a whole, or assuming that others do, is a very humano-centric idea. The world is what it is. Arguably, only humans can assign values of good or evil to the actions of other humans, based on their own community ideals. To label a tidal wave 'evil' for wiping away a bird nesting area, or a mother duck 'good' for caring for her ducklings is trying to anthropomorphize naturally occuring events. They're gonna happen regardless of whether humans are around to witness or apply value judgements.

    As long as we're on the subject of the world as a whole, let me throw in one more point against Lakoff's premise. While it's true that the world is a dangerous, difficult place, even if it were possible to tame it, to make it completely safe and easy, on that pathway lies decadence and decline. To become a world of Lotus-eaters benefits no one, except possibly the lotus farmers. If it takes 50 more years, 500 more years, or 5000 more years, we're leaving this rock to seek out humanity's fortune amongst the stars. Cooperation will be necessary, but even more, you need competiveness, discipline, and a drive to succeed. A layabout kid who shirks his duties operating an oxygen recycler unit on a colony spaceship because "manual labor offends his sense of dignity and entitlement" is worthy of not empathy, but a swift shove out the airlock.

    2) Empathetic Morality vs. Disciplined Morality - It doesn't have to be one framework or the other. In fact, it's better if it's not. My parents, and the parents of my friends, my neighbors with their kids, all have used a mix of the two frames. I know this parental behavior is not just limited to Texas. I'm fairly certain if you took a look around the world, you'll find most parents take both routes. There's a time for comforting hurts, and there's a time to lay on some hurt when the kid's fucking up.

    Personally, I feel that a successful society will find a perfect blend of the two frameworks. Too much nurturing, and you get steamrolled, your women raped and your kids enslaved the next time the barbarians come knocking at the gate. Why? Because you're too wrapped up in feeling the pain of their disenfranchisement & marginalization caused by your awful, unfair Imperialist economic system to mount a defense. Indeed, to defend such a corrupt system would be morally wrong!

    On the other side, too much discipline, and you end up like the Spartans, strong & resolute, but unable to carry that momentum to future generations. In the long run, you need cooperation for survival, competition for improvement. Andy recognizes there are good points in both frameworks, and he's correct. The difference between Liberals and Conservatives, therefore, is not that each group eschews one framework for the other, but that the percentage of each framework used has skewed too far off center for proper balance.

    3) Promoting Liberal stereotypes - This phrase drove me absolutely bananas:
    The mother is in the background, not strong enough to protect and support the family or fully discipline the children on her own. Her job is to uphold the authority of the father and to care for and comfort the children. As a "mommy," she tends to be overly soft-hearted and might well coddle or spoil the child. The father must make sure this does not happen, lest the children become weak and dependent.
    If I was a woman reading that, I would be mortally offended. Does Lakoff hold such a skewed view of conservatives that he actually buys into the old "barefoot & pregnant" meme? Women, while historically voting liberal, are increasing in number as conservative voters. And it's not because their Daddy/boyfriend/husband told them to! With the rise of females in positions of authority and business ownership, they have more to protect than just their children these days. Even though Democrats had a strong hand in their empowerment, when the Donkey swings back by after 20 years to start pulling cash out of their pockets, there's a bit of backlash! To position women as weak-willed and submissive does them an extreme disservice. This, however, is not suprising from the liberal POV, where their hold on certain voting blocs is dependent on continuing the charade that minorities & women are constantly oppressed and disenfranchised.

    Lakoff makes a pretty strong push to equate Conservatism with Calvinism, the obvious result being to imply that Conservatives are welded to one Puritanical doctrine. This is emphatically not the case. Conservatives are not a monolithic bloc of political & social Neanderthals. Not every Red Stater is marching in lockstep towards the Promised Land, whipping their children along the way as they sing hymns. A refusal to submit cheerfully to the pissing away of billions of tax dollars on governmental bureacracy does not mean that Conservatives fear and hate minorities, or want to oppress women, or bash gays. Most often it means they want what just about every human wants, to live, love, and raise kids free of unwanted intrusion.

    So, let's perhaps re-phrase the frames. The Liberals are gonna insist on maintaining the Father figure for Conservatives, but I'll insist on substituting the "Nanny State" for the liberals. The Nanny's like the mother, in that she provides basic services, but on a paid basis, and quite often in the absence of love or respect. The Nanny can punish with impunity, not fearing long-term relationship damages. After all, when she's through with your family, there are plenty of others to go meddle around with. The Nanny doesn't want you hurt, though, (otherwise she might get canned), so she's gonna insist on wrapping you in foam padding from head to toe, and she'll keep you from doing what gives you pleasure, because you might not show sufficient empathy to yourself or others.

    Sigh... In a perfect world, Dad would watch the kids while Mom beat the shit out of the Nanny before tossing her out on her ass. Maybe a few more years of the Nanny smothering us with her attentions, and we'll see it here.

    One can only hope.