Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Monday, January 31, 2005

Blogger Hits The Headlines!!

Wow! Val Prieto of Babalu Blog gets a huge story in the Miami Herald!

I got turned on to Prieto's blog via this guy, and I have since greatly enjoyed the assorted tales of Cubans yanking on The Beard.

Go check out the article! (registration required, use

Then go bookmark his blog! You'll be glad you did!


Democrat Overcome By Guilt


In a shocking display of Classic Liberal Guilt, Senator Hillary "Shrieking Harpy" Clinton (D-Whatever State'll Have Her) collapsed upon hearing that there were still poor people in Bangladesh.

Ex-President Bill Clinton was overheard chuckling to an unnamed associate something to the effect of "Hot Damn! Liberal Guilt works better than Roofies! I'm gonna wait until I get to feeling randy, then whisper in her ear about Leonard Peltier. That oughta put her out just long enough I can tear off another piece! That ain't happened since the night Chelsea was conceived, when I told her about Three Mile Island!"

Sen Clinton's staff deny the fainting spell was due to Liberal Guilt, and was instead caused by high arsenic levels in the water. White House staffers dispute this claim, citing the Clinton's insistence upon drinking only bottled water.

"Oh, we don't deny the elevated arsenic levels. " said Billy Joe Fudpate, White House Associate Media Flack. "It's just that if she ain't drinking it, the only way to get it into her system is by absorbing it through the skin like a slimy amphibian, which is, after all, the natural state of most Democratic Senators."

Local amphibians vehemently denied any association.

Late Posting Today!

I'm trapped in an all-day offsite conference today, so my usual lunchtime uploads will not occur. I'd like to promise that there will be postings aplenty tonight, but after 10 hours stuck in overheated conference rooms and the inevitable traffic nightmare getting there and back, this evening may devolve into a hot bath and a big ol' glass of bourbon.

We shall see...

BTW, here's where I'm trapped today.

Looks like a cruise ship, no? Unfotunately, it's just the George R. Brown Convention Center, on the ass-end of downtown Houston. Nice enough place, but you need a GPS system and a golf cart just to traverse the damn place. It's BIG!

See y'all later.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Reminder #1!!

Just a reminder that I volunteered to be a sacrificial guinea pig for the Extendo-Grilling project of Jennifer Larson at her blog "Jennifer's History & Stuff".

My job info stays off the list of acceptable questions, but everything else is fair game.

Submit your ANONYMOUS questions to: by 6 p.m. Central on Wed. February 2nd!!!!

She'll compile them and forward them to me. I'll answer them in a somewhat timely fashion and give them back so she can post them on her blog.

Now, if you're someone who knows me from pre-blogging days, ask a question! See if I can figure out who you are by the question you ask!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

This Bunny's Toast!

Or a fricassee! Perhaps a stew. Hard to say at this point.

OK, what am I blathering about? Well, there's this guy in Europe that says unless people donate a million Euros into his bank account, he's gonna have his pet rabbit butchered and eat it for Easter dinner.

Now, I'm not one that's all that concerned about the cute & fuzzy bunnies of the world. Rabbits get eaten all the time, just not so often over here in the States. Here in the U.S., bunnies have gotten to about halfway to the revulsion level generated when people talk about Koreans eating dogs, or New Guineans roasting fruit bats. Holding a bunny hostage isn't going to get me to reach for my wallet.

Besides, anyone familiar with National Lampoon magazine has seen this cover, the "Buy This Magazine Or We'll Shoot This Dog!" idea. They never really shot the dog. At least, I think they didn't...

On the other hand, "Bernd" is an awfully cute little bunny... And he looks VERY worried!

Better break out that checkbook, PETA-rds! Looks like Bernd has a hot date with a frying pan!

Found at Laurence's place, btw!

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Legend of the Splotch-Tailed Texican!

OK, let's say for argument's sake that there's this guy who likes his pants. Not in a creepily perverse (yet oddly romantic) sort of way, but more in the line of "pants are hard to find that fit right, these fit perfectly, and I even like the color" style of liking pants.

Let us further stipulate that in the grand scheme of life, it becomes necessary for this guy to lean back against the trunk of a filthy car in order to continue a lengthy conversation with a neighbor. In the course of this leaning session, the road grime and assorted filth that coat the trunk lid gets applied to the posterior of the pants. When the well-liked pants are finally doffed in the evening, the big ugly spot is noted, and a resolution is passed to treat the stain well with a spot-removing agent prior to washing.

Be it known that for generations, the spray bottle of Shout spot-remover has rested in the same location, on the front left corner of the clothes dryer, in front of the box of Bounce dryer sheets, which in turn sits in front of the box of Tide detergent. The brand names might change according to the whims of the Coupon Gods, but yea, let it be carved in stone that The Sacred Order Of Laundry Paraphernalia shall not change unto the tenth generation! Seyla!

It therefore came to pass that the guy, in an attempt to remove the aforementioned pants-seat stain, ventures into the realm of the Laundry Room. He spreads out said pants upon the Altar of Cleanliness, and reaches for the spray bottle of Shout. He proceeds to liberally apply the cleaner onto the butt-covering section of the pants, and rub it in well. At this point, the heavens part, and a beam of light shines down upon the spray bottle, garnering attention from the guy.

The guy is aghast... There, in the spot reserved solely for the spray bottle of Shout, instead sits a bottle of Clorox Bleach cleaner, in an almost identical spray bottle. Oh, Woe unto thee that fails to visually confirm the unguents that the clothing is anointed with!

The offending cleaning agent is immediately washed away in cold water, and the pants are laundered as usual, with a fervent hope that the damage will be slight. Alas, this was not to be.

Upon removal from the Rotating Heated Tumbleuppagus, the pants are inspected. Much wailing and rending of hair and gnashing of teeth is to be witnessed, as there is a big discolored Splotch right in the center of the pants seat.

The culprit is quickly found among the household occupants, yet denial of responsibility is offered in return.

Is there not a reasonable expectation that a bottle left in the same location for years should never be replaced with another? Obviously not. I offer to fill up a salt shaker with rat poison* and set it next to the real salt shaker on the stove top, label both of them, and rotate their positions frequently, just to make sure people are always paying attention. This is not looked upon with any amusement.

Sigh. Off to buy more pants. I think I'll still wear the others, splotch or no. I'll just have to assume people will think that I have corrosive flatulence. Well, they've thought worse, I suppose.

*The rat poison on the stove is actually a true story... My dad's grandmother used to keep a can of D-Con rat poison on the shelf above the stove. It sat there for years, and it was no big deal until her sight began to fail and she insisted on continuing to cook. My dad and his 3 brothers were used to it, but their wives refused to eat any meals there until after the old lady died!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More Catblogging...

Betsy couldn't resist the urge to cover my new bathrobe with lots and lots of downy cat-fur.

I, however, resisted the urge to give her a crewcut with a FlowBee set on "mulch".

Darn cats. If they weren't so cute, you'd have already stewed 'em for Sunday dinner.

Musical Choices

OK, I think Dash jumped the gun on the "Ask El Cap A Question" thing, but that's OK. I'm not one to follow rules just for the sake of following the rules. Some days you gotta go commando, jump the fence, and ignore the "No Swimming Due To Alligators" sign!

Continuing the chain from Mr. Helpful to Michele to Dash, and now me...

There's very little music I won't listen to. Rock, C&W, Bluegrass, R&B, Jazz, Classical, electronica, show tunes, whatever. I don't get into the gangsta rap or the industrial rave shit. I'd rather not hear bubblegum teenybopper pop, but that's almost unavoidable.

I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffett & Elvis Presley on the 8-track and "lite rock" on the radio in the 70's, and went downhill from there. I got lucky and bypassed the worst of disco era. A friend in the 4th grade turned me on to KISS, and I've been a diehard fan ever since. Hell, I've still got my KISS Army dogtags around here somewhere. From there, it was a short leap to the rest of the arena rock acts.

I took a turn into country music in the early 80's, coinciding with the family's return to Texas after our exile up north from '77 to '80. That only lasted a year or two, but I really got into it. This was just before the "hat acts" took over the genre, and the old-school and outlaw singers still had the reins on Nashville. I still dabble in C&W every so often, but it's gotten too much like pop music.

Due to the countrification period I missed out on the punk scene and most of the New Wave stuff. I went back to rock music in high school with a vengeance, and that's still my main genre.

Jimmy Buffett has always been a huge influence. I used to be able to say I owned everything he had in print, but I passed on a couple of greatest hit collections and the Broadway musical thing. I have excessively large collections of KISS, AC/DC, The Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Strangely enough, I have equally large collections of Sarah McLachlan, Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel. Go figure. I spent too many years blowing a horn in band not to have a lot of classical and brass band music. I have a depressingly large collection of 80's pop tunes. It ain't a logical collection, but it is diverse.

Random 10

OK, I set iTunes to shuffle the main library, and here's the first 10 that popped up:

1. James Gang - Walk Away
2. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Stars Fell On Alabama
3. Led Zeppelin - Bron Y Aur Stomp
4. Rolling Stones - Mixed Emotions
5. Gipsy Kings - La Dona
6. Jimmy Buffett - Love In The Library
7. Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Dill Pickle Rag
8. Annie Lennox - Little Bird
9. John Philip Sousa - Under The Double Eagle
10. Cheap Trick - Dream Police

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
There are 4183 songs in my iTunes library. I'm sure at least a few are legal.

2. The last CD you bought is:
License to Chill - Jimmy Buffett

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?
'Hold On' by Triumph (the other Canadian rock trio!)

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

1) 'That's What Living Is To Me' by Jimmy Buffett - "Be lonesome and you will be free". Truer words have never been spoken.

2) 'Tomorrow, Wendy' by Concrete Blonde - A custom-fit song for my darker moods. Written by Andy Prieboy of Wall Of Voodoo, given a painful wail by Johnette Napolitano. Great song.

3) 'Feelin' Stronger Every Day' by Chicago - For when the clouds part and life goes on. No, I'm not bipolar, just in case you're wondering!

4) 'Private Conversation' by Lyle Lovett - 'The Road To Ensenada', the album this song is on, approaches musical perfection. It's the album Lovett released just after his divorce from Julia Roberts, and though it's one of his lighter albums, there's a great deal of pain running just under the surface of the catchy tunes. Believe me, I know what it's like for a goofy-lookin' Texas boy to fall hard for someone ultimately far beyond your reach. This CD has carried me through some dark days.

5) 'Never Been Any Reason' by Head East - Probably the perfect '70's pop/rock song. I can listen to this one every day and not get tired of it.

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (three persons and why)?

Zippo - 'Cause he needs the traffic.
Graumagus - He needs something to take his mind off the snow.
Lobowalk - He's been a musician by trade. I wanna know what comes outta his pie-hole!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Lay It On Me, Baby!

Ever wanted to ask a pointed question of El Capitan? Maybe one that you don't feel like asking me directly? How about one you think I might dodge? How 'bout something that's just silly?

Well, now's your chance! Take the kid gloves off and slide me a curveball. I volunteered to be a sacrificial guinea pig for the Extendo-Grilling project of Jennifer Larson at her blog "Jennifer's History & Stuff". She's one of those pseudo-expatriate MuNuvians, but we won't hold that against her!

I'll answer everything to the best of my ability, but I'm probably gonna have to dance the little sidestep around my specific place of employment. Other than that, I've got no real secrets. Except for who killed JFK & the identity of Deep Throat. Those tidbits I'm taking to the grave!

Submit your ANONYMOUS questions to: by 6 p.m. Central on Wed. February 2nd.

She'll compile them and forward them to me. I'll answer them in a somewhat timely fashion and give them back so she can post them on her blog. After she gets a week or so to soak up all the linky-lovin' shared-traffic goodness, I'll probably repost them on my blog.

Oh, I already answered the African vs. European swallow airspeed problem in an email a while back, so find another question!

Carnival Of The Vanities #123 Is Up...

The host at The Raving Atheist has gotten this week's Carnival posted. It looked like a rush job at first, there were three separate postings, of which two were fragmentary, and a lot of the links were not quite right. It looks like things are getting pieced together, though.

Go check it out!

I actually made the cut this time! Wooohooo!

Kimber Vs. Springfield Armory

MadOgre is in a debate this week at his site over the relative merits of the Kimber line of autopistols vs. Springfield Armory and Colt. He basically seems to say that if a Kimber was on fire in front of him, he'd just as soon write his name in the snow rather than put out the fire.

I dunno if I'd go that far, but I've never owned a Kimber. They're awfully pricy. I did rent one of the Kimber Pro-Carry models at a shooting range, and it was one of the more accurate pistols I've ever fired. I was able to do the 'Lethal Weapon' smiley-face-on-a-silhouette-target stunt at 50 feet, and I don't consider myself exceptionally accurate with a pistol. Keep in mind this was with a rental range gun, with untold 1000's of rounds through it, and with generic FMJ ammo.

With a Colt, I suspect you're paying an extra $200 just to have the little horsie stamped on the side of the gun. If I ever match 6 numbers in the Lotto, you better believe I'll have a stable full of 'em, but like the Kimber, they're just too spendy considering what else is on the market.

So, what has El Cap got in his arsenal? Like the Mad Ogre, I like the Springfield Armory 'Loaded' model. Here's mine, just 'cause I haven't posted a pic of it in a while!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Bonfires and Carnivals

The Bonfire of The Vanities #82 is up over at Sharp As A Marble. I'm surprised it doesn't get more traffic, with Wizbang being its progenitor. Perhaps it's the redheaded stepchild of the Carnivals!

Also, The 23rd Carnival of The Recipes was posted last week at CalTechGirl's place. I thought I forgot to link it, but it appears that I did, after all. OK, I blame the ramen for warping my brain. So, a double-plug for the COTR.

Keep an eye out for the Baboon Pirates appearing in the Carnival of The Vanities either tomorrow or Thursday at Raving Atheist. I'd like to say it's a sure bet, but I was left out on a previous Carnival (though the host was very gracious and did apologize!). I'm also certain I offered up a selection on defending capitalism from the Red Horde in the Carnival of the Capitalists for this week at Business Opportunities, but I was either hallucinating the submittal, or I got 'forgotten' again. Damn the eeevil KKKapitalists! It's all Cheney's fault!! It's... it's... HALLIBURTON!!! Aieeeee!

If you haven't guessed, I'm back to blog-whoring in a big way after a couple of weeks off. The good news is my traffic has grown in spite of the lack of link-whoring, but it can't hurt to spread the Gospel of Buccaneering Baboons a bit more. Cast a little bread upon the waters, then shotgun all the foolish duckies that approach to nibble! So sayeth El Capitan!

Got a nice link from the Acidman today. Most kind of you, Rob!

OK, back to grinding out unworkable solutions to undefined problems in a vain attempt to make the terminally ignunt happy. See ya 'round the galaxy.

Just in case I wasn't PO'ed enough...

Grrr... people just chap my ass sometimes.

I get this email from Paypal saying that the seller of an item I've bought on eBay has refused my payment. That struck me as kinda odd. It's not a large amount of money, so the fact that my money will be in limbo for 5-7 days while the details work themselves out is really a non-issue.

It turns out that the seller had exceeded her monthly transfer limit, and Paypal wanted her to upgrade to a commercial account (and pay the higher fees), or else wait until her account reset on Feb. 4th to be able to accept more money.

Now, that's not what riled me up. I don't blame her for not wanting to fork over her profits to Paypal. She offered to let me wait until Feb. 4th to pay. All is well & good.

Until she wrote this:
If you decide to use PayPal on February 4 I will still leave positive feedback.
You will? Aw, gee, lady! That's awful swell of ya!

Listen, you dim bint! I paid (or made an honest effort to pay) within minutes of the end of the auction! You were the one making the offer to let me delay the payment until *YOUR* problem got fixed!

If the postage wouldn't end up being more than the auction amount, I'd mail her a bucketful of old corroded pennies to settle the tab. I'm in that kind of mood today.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

$(%&*^#$%)*(&@#$()*&#$)*(&@#$&*(@#$)(*@#($*!@_!~!!!!! (#$()*#$%*(#$()!!~!!!)_#$*(%$*()%#$*()!!!!!!

That, translated, means your good buddy Cap is absolutely pissed off beyond belief.

3 months of work down the shitter, thanks to Legal weighing in at the tail end of the project instead of at the beginning, when we initially consulted with them concerning this venture.

Back in November, they were all over it, patting us on the back and giving us high fives. They loved that my department was going to go out on a limb and make an effort to improve services over the entire city.

Now, 9 days before the launch date, someone in Legal gets cold feet, and they're pulling the plug. I've already sent stuff out to the print shop, the notices had been issued to the major players, everything was on (or ahead) of schedule. My first big accomplishment at the new job is now spiraling down in flames.

$%&()*#&$_&@#()$*^_&*#)$*@#_$()*@#*(&$@*!!!!! ($)%&*(_)(#$*$_*(#_@()*&#$&*$)#(%!!!!!!

OK, I'm a bit better now. I do need a big glass of whiskey over ice, right now, lest my temples rupture and spew goo over the walls. Damn. Still 6 hours to go until I get off work. I ain't gonna make it.

BTW, do you know why lawyers wear neckties? It keeps the foreskins from rolling up over their faces.

Monday, January 24, 2005

You Better Shop Around!

I read in Zippo's blog this morning that he had a little adventure in Albertson's this weekend.

We're mercifully free of Albertson's food stores down here in Houston, since they pulled out of the market. I quit going to them while living in Dallas due to three reasons:

A) They swore they'd never go to the Loyalty Card system, then reneged on their claims and jumped on the card bandwagon as soon as Kroger's did. I'm not opposed to the loyalty card concept, just don't tell me one thing, then go do another less than a year later. Also, let's be a bit more realistic about the card vs. non-card pricing structure. Albertson's took it to the extreme, with a 20% price difference being not uncommon.

B) They rearranged the store into that horrific maze design that forces you to enter all the way on the left, then you have to trudge through the deli, the produce section, the bakery and the dry goods section before you get to the food aisles. Then, you have to exit on the door all the way on the right, forcing you to schlep your bags all the way across the parking lot since you parked close to the entrance.

C) Surly service and a dirty-looking store. Albertson's used to have very clean stores, but that changed after they did the shelf-maze game. Hint - White floor tile is gonna be a pain in the ass to clean. It's worse when all your pallet jacks have soft black-rubber tires that leave skidmarks. Fire the procurement manager who bought the two incompatible fixtures for being a terminal asshole!

Now, it's not paying more for food that gripes me so much as being told that I'm saving money and getting better service while I'm shopping in a store that looks like a grime & slime factory. People always give me grief for shopping at Randalls (Tom Thumb's Houston grocery chain, for you Dallasites) because the costs are so high. For me, it's a matter of preference. I can shop in a Tom Thumb/Randalls and be absolutely guaranteed of a nice. clean well-lit store, and associates that WITHOUT FAIL tell me hello, and if they can be of any service. For that, I'm willing to pay an extra 4-5% on my grocery bill.

I don't even go into a Kroger's store if I can help it. They tend to be filthy, and I got tired of finding dented cans and razored-open packages from shelving mishaps & sloppy box-cutter work by the stockers.

The worst grocery store in D/FW was Winn-Dixie, who thankfully have retreated into Oklahoma. I would shop in the SUPR-SAVR discount grocery before going into a Winn-Dixie. Some goofball efficiency expert probably told them that if they unscrewed 1/3 of all the fluorescent bulbs in the stores, they could save a lot on electricity, so the places were dark as tombs. There was something about the lighting scheme and fixtures they used, as well as the godawful pink & blue paint scheme combined with the general gloom that just made the place look like a mortuary for dead babies. Awful awful stores! I used to think it was just because most of them were holdovers from the early 70's, when all the old Buddy's and Piggly-Wiggly stores got bought out. Not so... they built a brand new Winn-Dixie at Marsh & Frankford that was just as nasty as the older stores. That takes boneheaded planning of the first water. Oh, and one more thing... Worst. Produce. Ever. You'd see the tomato worms crawling across Marsh Lane to go hit the produce at the Super Wal-Mart. That's how bad it was!

As for the self-checkout stands that gave Zippo and his wife Stomps With Foot so much grief, I will not use them. Until they perfect the RFID system that totals my cart as I add items, I want someone else to check out my purchase. That, or give me a 10% discount for doing their work. Heh. Like THAT'S gonna happen...

Once upon a time, kiddies, you never touched your groceries once you put them in your cart. You would push the cart up to the checkout line, the clerk would drop the front of the cart, and commence to hit keys on the old manual-style registers that went "clik-clik-clik-KerKlackick!" with every item keyed in. The teenager bagging groceries would have everything neatly bagged in heavy kraft paper bags that were so handy for uses around the house. He would even carry them out to the car and stow them away for a small tip. I seem to recall Tom Thumb didn't want you to tip them, they considered that part of the store's service.

Here's how I would rate the food stores I've shopped at -

Great Supermarkets:
HEB's Central Markets - Best. Store. Ever. Worth the extra cost.
Tom Thumb/ Randall's - Same deal. Clean, bright, well laid out.
Loblaws - Almost worth the drive to Ontario. Great stores!

Better Than Average:
HEB - Funky layouts and spotty floors keep HEB out of the top class.
A&P - Used to be all over, found them again up in Canada. Not bad at all.
Rice Epicurean - Local Houston chain, too far away or they'd rate higher.
Whole Foods Market - Too much hippie crap, but great meats & veggies.

Good stores:
Fiesta - Not just for Hispanics anymore! Great international selection.
WalMart SuperCenters - Can't beat the price, and the food ain't from China!
Food Lion - Their CEO is an asshole, but the stores aren't bad.

Barely OK stores:
Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets - Great when clean, but that's rare.
Seller's Brothers - Great produce, everything else fell off the back of a truck.
Minyards - WHy are these people still in business?
IGA - Why food in small towns will inevitably suck.

Hell, No! I Won't Go! stores:
Carnival - Eek. Only on a dare.

Heard they're good, never been there:
Trader Joe's
Harris Teeter

R.I.P. - (at least in my neck of the woods!)
Piggly-Wiggly - C'mon! That's just fun to say! Try it!
Gerland's Food Fair
Apple Tree

Do I have to read this blog after midnight?

I just found out via Lawrence at that Tom Snyder has his own blog! How cool is that? Well, definitely cooler than Wesley Crusher's celebri-blog, anyway.

I used to stay up late many a night to watch Tom riffing on assorted guests. He had the kind of laid-back cool that Conan O'Brien & Craig Kilborn wish they could muster up. Oh, and clouds of cigarette smoke, always a plus for late night TV.

Besides, anyone in their late 60's that can pilot a blog is all right in my book.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Baboon Pirates Headed for Texas Blogfest!

I sent in my RSVP for the Texas Blogfest 2005, so barring any major catastrophes, I'll be up in the Metroplex the weekend of March 18-20 for the festivities.

My buddy and fellow :SOG'ster Zippo has graciously agreed to be my hotelier for the weekend. I'm looking forward to meeting his wife Stomps With Foot, and see their palatial abode.

What Zip & SWF will surely regret is my tendency to snore. Well, not just snore. I'm told that when I sleep it's like listening to angry lions being tossed in a gas-powered woodchipper with a two-stroke engine and a rusted-out muffler. I fully expect to spend night #2 locked in the tool shed.

I'm looking forward to going, yet am a bit uneasy as well. I'm at my best communicating via the written word. Add a new group of people, an unfamiliar location, oodles of liquor, and that's a recipe for potential disaster. Not that I'll get $h!+faced and turn into a bombastic bull moose, but I've never been too good with crowds. We shall see...

It will be good to finally meet Dash and Christina. I read Eric & Denita's blog a lot. I don't know too many of the other scheduled attendees, though. I've read some of the other blogs on the "Confirmed" list, but not with any regularity. Guess that's something to rectify between now & then.

I kinda wish there was more of a schedule for that weekend. I'd like to see if there's time to get Andy and his wife out for an evening with Zippo and SWF. They've got a lot in common, Mac-o-philes, kilts, a tendency towards the spiritual, that sort of stuff. By that time, Andy's wife will be so close to delivery we'll have to get a wheelbarrow to roll her around, though!

See y'all in Dallas! Spread the word!

Lost Weekend

Well, I did it again.... pissed away another weekend. Not that I didn't enjoy myself immensely, it's just that occasionally I need to try to get things done on Saturday & Sunday instead of squeezing them into the narrow window available between getting off work and falling asleep.

Saturday was enjoyed in the company of fellow slackers. Little Bee Boy & I spent the day up in far north Houston at an undisclosed gaming compound/Golden Retriever storage facility playing LAN games for 18 hours straight. The scorecard? I can still hold my own at Quake 2, can bust some serious ass at AOE 2:Age of Kings (until they gang up on me...), but I really suck at Command & Conquer:Generals.

When we broke for dinner, I insisted on hauling everyone in the PimpSled to go confirm the existence of a brand new Krystal burger joint over on FM1960 near Kuykendahl. (non-Houstonians, that's pronounced Kirk-Ken-Doll) It was indeed there, and filled to the brim with those tiny little hamburgers, of which I consumed an obscene amount. Those of you in northern climes might be familiar with White Castle. Krystal's the same thing, more or less, just less white tile on the walls.

Continuing the "truth is stranger than fiction" routine, when we arrived, it was 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of a Krystal burger eating contest. The parking lot was already full of people, and fortunately we were able to get in, get fed, and get out before things got too weird. They were starting the first heat when we pulled out. I had no desire to see the resulting bazooka-puke that would inevitably occur sometime that night.

Today was also a day of Slack and Indolence. The bed refused to release me until about 2 pm. I haven't even shed the bathrobe yet. Guess I'd better get to fixing that if I'm gonna go see a flick tonight. Nope, not a productive thing done, as long as you don't count a bit of blog reading and fixing a few links on the blogroll. Oh, I fed the cats and also fed Bob the Betta fish some fishy kibble. That's gotta count as manual labor. Unscrewing the lid on that fish food jar is brutal work!

See, I'm not such a slacker after all!

Friday, January 21, 2005

88 Lines About 44 Women - The El Capitan Variations

Way back in the 80's a group called the Nails had a song called '88 Lines About 44 Women'. It was a cool little ditty then, and still is today.

I got to thinking about blogging ideas, and had the thought about putting the assorted and sundry women in my life into the tune. I couldn't quite do it in the same length as the original, I needed to add more info, so if you break mine down against the meter of the original, it's more like 176 lines about 44 women. That doesn't sound nearly as good as a title!

To people thinking I'm just putting names to the notches on the bedpost, that's not the case at all. Most of the women here are just those who've affected my life in some way, good or ill. The timeline ranges from about 1976 to present day. No relatives in the mix, that's just asking for trouble...

Obviously, there's a lot more than can be said about a lot of women here than is stated in 2 lines. Not all relationships are spelled out in their entirety, nor do I wish them to be. For anyone who thinks they recognize themselves, well, you might not be the verse you think you are! So, before you fly off the handle, better check with me first!

Oh, one last thing. I'm a storyteller, not a poet. I'm quite well aware that my rhymes are forced, and my meter is often quite discombobulated. Mentioning these poetical heresies to me is not necessary!

So, on with the show...

88 Lines About 44 Women - The El Capitan Variations

Kimmy asked me early on if I ever wanted to go steady,
I was into bikes and Hot Wheels, for girls I really wasn't ready.

Michele I eyed with growing interest once the girls stopped being icky,
She taught me a lesson when she shunned me, wimmen can be really picky.

Jill was my first real crush, once I was old enough to have it matter,
I moved away just as we got close, my heart forever a little sadder.

Ms. O'Grady, 7th grade, taught us our math problems in a jiffy,
Problem was, she's hot & blonde, all the boys had Perma-Stiffie.

Laurie, 8th grade, Junior High, beauty such as told in Psalms,
Lovestruck teenage boy desires you, glad that hair won't grow on palms!

Cindy was the first girl that I asked for a dance five months ahead,
Airhead girl forgot completely, and went with someone else instead.

Debbie subbed in Cindy's place, riding in back of Dad's new car,
On the doorstep, Dad's horn is honking... Cap just ain't getting far!

Flag Corps Stephanie caught my eye, she had a raging case of cutes,
I took away a lifelong thing for gals in knee-high leather boots.

Riikka came from far Helsinki, gorgeous legs, cute & flighty,
I really wanted to ken a Finn, alas, I was going out with Heidi.

Heidi caught me in my moods ranging from the best to worst,
It ended badly, words of anger... Nonetheless she was The First.

Likewise Jodi, friend to Heidi, thought living here was nice & tidy,
Dressed to kill and sprayed with Polo, I aimed for trio, wound up solo.

Cay was a music virtuoso, destined for much higher places,
Last I saw her she was shitfaced, rubbing her ass on many faces.

Shannon was Mom's "foster daughter", a mom herself only much too soon,
Life's dealt her a busted flush, but she manages a happy tune.

Nameless beer queen at the college, raised my alcoholic knowledge,
Sparkling eyes like Halley's comet, she filled my lap with sudsy vomit.

Amy was my roommate's girlfriend, to their future I was a cynic,
A condom mishap led to problems, Cap had to drive them to the clinic.

Mona took a quiet day to show off her futon and offer chances,
Dumbass Me took way too long to guess she wanted mattress dances.

Michelle the actress, wry and brittle, her exhibitions were top-notch,
Offered to make it with her boyfriend if I'd stick around and watch.

Rebekah wanted to see it all, a girl escaping Momma's cage,
I'm still thankful things stayed zipped, she was 10 months underage.

Meredith, she loved the horses, let me ride & rope and brand,
She took off with my buddy Tim, a choice I still don't understand.

Laura liked the country boys, left San Antone to work with men,
She was like our little sister, I'd pay a fortune to meet again.

Tracy the pedestrian, the Congress Queen, the Hatchet Slut;
Hundreds breathed a sigh of pain the day that long red hair got cut,

Liz the Texas Yellow Rose, lifetime friendship is our plan,
She's getting married in the spring, but I'll still be her "Do Right Man."

Jennifer the forest ranger, Alaskan trekker called "Plays With Chainsaw",
Due to distance, I rarely see her; To fix that there oughta be a law!

Leslie the Sock Girl loved engineering, and had a perfect set of breasts,
She split with my pal & called me often, not nailing her put me to the test.

Jennifer the Frequent Flyer, armed with snarky pun attack,
Her distant journey broke my heart, but she kindly glued it back.

Spyche with her angel's voice and smile that makes you wanna shout,
She was a bouncer, me a roadie, I never had time to ask her out.

Leigh was a lissome lass, a sexy tart ripe for hunting,
All bets were off the day we caught her & the Limey Bastard 'Runting'.

Jenni of the giant smile, the camper, dancer, tech-supporter,
one of my all-time fav'rite people, one better you can't custom-order!

My friend's wife, Sharon, looked severe; a model of the homely bride,
Took me quite a while to learn that true beauty is often kept inside.

Debra was a great co-worker, her solutions hardly ever missed,
I rarely paused to really listen, 8 years later she's still kinda pissed.

Lynn wasn't sure at first about me, my abrupt manner roused some fears,
Turned out we had a lot in common, and we've been friends for many years.

Kim was sweet, a round-heeled gal whose bedroom favors often pleases,
She offered a tango, I turned her down... for fear of nasty crotch diseases.

Connie was a lot of fun, single mom raising quite a kiddo,
I never looked for more than friendship, she switched teams some years ago.

Sherri was a free spirit, her antics left me at a loss,
Wrapped me around her little finger, sloppy form when you're the boss.

Redhead Jackie, dinner partner, deserves a much better rhyme,
Her sunny nature kept a thankless job from seeming like eternal time.

Eleanor was a breeze to work for, she liked her team to all be friends,
I learned an important lesson, beware of jealous lesbians...

Memphis Kim the surly ignunt boss, her peanut brain was all miswired,
The Happy Dance went on for days when we heard that she'd been fired.

Kathy and I were good friends but she hinted I could be bolder,
Alas, my tastes are pretty set, I can go younger, I don't do older.

Starla had the greatest rack, a fine & bounteous sweater-filler,
Her backstabbing and treachery made you want to shoot & kill her.

Aimee was a tireless drone, a pressure steamer always cooking,
A tiny cyclone shuffling papers, made you exhausted just by looking.

CeCe got promoted past her station, her inexperience couldn't cope,
When she tried to cause me grief, Cap applied the Rope-A-Dope.

Jenni Rose, I saw her born, the girl next door who's never naughty,
She's sixteen now, and Hayzoos Khrist! When'd she become such a hottie?

Danielle of the Frozen Wasteland, bright part of Ontario,
Damned work visa had expired, so I had to pack and go.

All shoes have mates, or so they say. I'll find a wife before Judgement Day.
Though your face is veiled in future's mist, I choose YOU to end this list!

88 Lines About 44 Women.

Gun Tales

As long as you're on Circa Bellum's page, better read this tale as well regarding accidental discharges.

I've seen a few AD's in my life, fortunately none involved injury. One was a kid earing back the hammer on a shotgun while also holding the trigger back. When his thumb slipped off the hammer, that load of birdshot went into the ground right in front of his toes.

Another one was a kid putting a round through the roof on the summer camp shooting range with a .22 rifle. We then had a nice hole for the sun to shine through that made for a good learning tool.

I've seen a buddy of mine put a round into the carpet between his feet while clearing a pistol. There were 5 of us in that room, it could have been a lot worse than a hole in the rug.

The closest I've come was actually just a few weeks ago. I was never in any danger, but it still sent a chill down my spine. I always keep a snap-cap (an inert plastic round to prevent firing pin damage) in the chamber of my pistols, be it revolver or auto. I do mean always... I don't believe in loading a live round until it's time to start flinging lead. I also have a habit of doing a press-check on the pistol every time I pick it up, even if I just laid it down and walked out of the room for a few minutes. After all, eternal vigilance is the price of keeping your innards from becoming "outards".

I keep the magazine on my .45 loaded, so if there's ever a need for it, I can just rack the slide. The snap cap will be ejected and a live round loaded almost instantly.

I'm wiping the fingerprints off the .45 in preparation for storing it in a case, and I take off the safety to clean around the back of the slide. As I'm turning the pistol around to get the other side, my index finger slides onto the grip safety, and my thumb goes into the trigger guard. My thumb's a LOT bigger than there's room for in the trigger guard! As the gun continues its rotation, the trigger slowly gets compressed, and just when that big gaping barrel is lined up with my neck, I hear that cheery hollow-tube "Ktink" sound of the firing pin hitting the snap-cap. Ruh Roh...

On one hand, I've got my rational brain saying "Snap-cap'salwaysinthechamberSnap-cap'salwaysinthechamberSnap-cap'salwaysinthechamber!!" On the other hand, that lizard brain underneath is having adrenaline shot into my bloodstream, turning on the stomach churner, and is screaming in a lower, but more persuasive voice "You'reDead,Dumbass!You'reDead,Dumbass!You'reDead,Dumbass!"

Believe me, you sit and think for a few minutes after that happens. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do differently, other than keep the offending digits out of the trigger guard and drop the mag out prior to a wipedown. No doubt there's plenty of gun gurus out there huffing and puffing about careless idiots who cause AD's through stupidity. Well, all I'll say to them is this... in a lifetime of shooting, I've met two kinds of shooters. Those who've had a close call, and those who lie about never having a close call.
Sooner or later ol' Murphy catches up to everyone.

Be safe, compadres.

Monkeys & Bananas & Cages, Oh My!

Circa Bellum, at his eponymous blog, relates a great story he entitles "Hold That Monkey" that I remember from one of my Sociology classes in college. Here's a tidbit...
I read about a study done some time ago, I don’t remember all of the details but it involved monkeys. If memory serves me, they took a group of monkeys and put them in a caged environment. A step ladder was placed in the middle of the cage and some bananas were placed on the top of the ladder.

Every time a monkey would climb the ladder and attempt to get at the bananas, one of the scientists would spray the monkey with cold water. The monkeys soon learned to ignore the bananas on the ladder.

Variable One. Remove one monkey, and introduce a new monkey who knows nothing about the cold water treatment. The other monkeys watch in amused fascination as he goes up the ladder to get the bananas.

But! This time the researchers spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. Guess what happens. Next time new monkey goes after the bananas, the rest of the monkeys grab him and beat the shit out of him. He soon learns to ignore the bananas.

It doesn’t take long to get the monkeys conditioned to stopping a new monkey from going for the bananas. After a period of time, one by one, you have removed all of the original monkeys and replaced them with new monkeys. Yet, the monkeys, none of whom have ever seen anyone sprayed with cold water, will violently interfere with any monkey who goes after the bananas.

One or two generations and it ain’t the man that’s holding you back, brother monkey.
Go and read the rest!

Carnival Of The Recipes #23

The 23rd edition of the Carnival Of The Recipes is up over at Caltechgirl's blog.

Go check it out!

It's in alphabetical order... look for my submission under "R" for ramen!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Starving Student Staples

In my first semester back at college after a lengthy stint at the School of Hard Knocks, I had a place to live and my books and classes were paid for, but there was very little cash on hand. While most students got a job or went the work-study route to provide some coinage, my somewhat erratic scholastic habits forced me to concentrate solely on studies that first year back to boost the ol' GPA and improve my scholarship chances.

So, I lived on $25-30 a week for about a year, all my parents could spare to send me. That sounds like an easy feat, but everything I needed had to come out of that. Gas for the car (an old '74 V8 Dodge with a HUGE drinking problem), oil changes, food, cigarettes, booze, incidentals, everything. I remember my buddy Andy asking me where I worked, and saying "Lucky!" in an admiring tone when I said I wasn't employed. Heh. Admire this empty wallet and the half-smoked ciggies in the bottom of the pack that I've stubbed out so I can smoke later! Nope, it just sucked. A real treat was going to the Dollar movies on Saturday and sneaking into the other theaters afterwards to see more than one.

As a dedicated food-o-phile, the eating situation sucked the most. I quickly found all the local day-old bakery stores, and got bread pretty cheap. I cooked a whole lot of pasta and rice, and went through cases of the dollar-a-can Hunt's spaghetti sauce. Spices were onions, garlic salt, soy sauce, red chili sauce (Sriracha!!) and Tabasco, because they stretched the farthest. Protein sources were either beans, canned tuna or the case of giant #10 cans of government-issue USDA peanut butter I had snarfed from the commissary when summer camp shut down. This is the reason I refuse to eat peanut butter almost 15 years later.

And then there's ramen...those lovely compressed bricks of pre-fried noodles.

Believe it or not, ramen is even cheaper now than it was back then. There used to be a time you didn't see ramen outside an Asian food market. Still, it was common to catch it on special for 6 for a dollar, or even 8 for a dollar sometimes.

How to cook ramen? Let me count the ways. Even after money started coming in via grants & loans, ramen was still a cheap and easy meal. I finally perfected the recipe, and I'll pass it along to any other starving student out there.

The best part of this recipe is that it's perfectly scalable. Just remember this formula... For every 1-4 bricks of ramen, use one portion of the additional ingredients. You can make as little or as much as you like, depending on your hunger level. With a big enough saucepan, you can feed an army.

Here's the ingredient list:

1-4 bricks of ramen (any flavor... the ones with the chili or sesame oil inside are best)
Can of tuna (I used tuna in oil for the extra calories)
handful of frozen vegetables (I preferred peas, corn or broccoli)
1 egg
splash of vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion
soy sauce
tablespoon of margarine

To cook, place frozen veggies & tuna in a large saucepan, and fill with water about 3/4 full. Dump in half of the powdered flavor packet(s). Set sauce pan on stove, and bring contents to boil. While water is heating, chop onion, break up ramen bricks into small pieces, and place wok on the stove over low heat. (You do own a wok, correct? If not, rectify the situation immediately!)

When water/tuna/veggie mix boils, dump in the ramen and commence stirring. It'll try to boil over, so be ready to pull the pan off of the burner. Let ramen cook for 4 minutes. When you hit minute #3, crack the egg in the saucepan and give it a light stir, then quit stirring lest you break up the egg bits.

When 4 minutes has passed, pour the whole mess in a colander or large sieve and let it drain. Turn up heat under wok to High, and pour in oil. When oil gets hot, toss in onions and let them soften. I usually leave them half-cooked so they have a bit of bite and heat left to 'em.

When onions reach the level you like, pour in the ramen/egg/veggie/tuna mix and commence to stir-frying.

Toss the noodles about until you start to see some brown on the edges. You're not looking for crispy here, you just want to get past the soggy boiled stage. Pour mix back in saucepan, stir in remaining flavor packet powder and margarine, and also chili sauce and/or soy sauce to taste.

Place saucepan on a kitchen towel or hotpad to keep from burning your hands, go sit on the couch and watch Magnum PI reruns as you scarf up the food. I usually got back from classes around 4 pm, and had this cooked and eaten by 4:30. That would hold me until the morning PB & J sandwich. Total cost: Less than $2.

When I finally landed my first job after college and could afford Real Food, I swore I would never eat this mess again. I swore off ramen forever. Yeah, right. Let me tell ya, lengthy unemployment spells are remarkably like being a starving student, only the depression level is much worse. I discovered last year I could still cook the ol' ramen, and it tasted... well, it ain't Pad Thai, but it'll keep you going.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Caution: Frivolous Postings Ahead!!

Sorry for the lightweight posting this evening, but I've been ministering to the terminally ignunt all day, and I'm about tired. To quote St. Jimmy of the Sacred Beach, "My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus."

El Cap's now gonna have a double scotch on ice, shove the cats out of the bedroom, and try for 10 hours of sleep.

So, without further ado.... some random silliness.


Delaware Punch is now the official non-carbonated bug juice* of choice in the Realm of the Baboon Pirates. Plan your tribute offerings accordingly.

*Bug juice was the name given to the ultra-sweet drink mix we used to serve at summer camp. It was usually mixed up in 10 gallon water coolers, with an extra bag of powdered concentrate thrown in to offset the slowly melting 10 lb block of ice that cooled it in the 100 degree weather. We also had several Jet-Spray fountain dispensers scattered around camp that had a more-or-less neverending mix of bug juice running for 4 months at a time. You just kept adding mix & water whenever it ran low, and never cleaned it out until camp shut down. It tasted better that way. Trust me!
Bug juice came in two colors, red and orange, and the taste was just about the same regardless of hue. I preferred the red, just because it made a longer-lasting stain when you spilled it down the back of some poor counselor-in-training's new camp staff shirt. Their mothers hated us for doing that, but it was truly a sign of respect to the ITC's that were worth a damn.

Via Zippo, we learn that Texas has an official tartan, called the Texas Bluebonnet Tartan. We are most amused, and plan an entire wardrobe as soon as we can import some worthy oriental gentleman from Hong Kong for the tailoring.

El Capitan has decided it's time to get inked again. Choices under consideration are a wreath of bluebonnets and blooming prickly pears around the existing Texas themed tattoo on my right bicep, or to break ground on the left bicep and go for the cave-art style buffalo I've been wanting. Runner up idea is a shaded rendering of the buffalo on the about-to-be-reissued Buffalo nickel. Anyone knowing a good custom tat-meister in Houston, please let me know. Otherwise I'll get it in Dallas where I know the inkers. Houston tattoo shops seem a little heavy on the prison-style tats and cheap flash.

OK, Elvis has left the building, fanboys. Time for bed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

M. Night Shyamalan Sucks

Warning.... I'm about to go on a rant here. Excessive spoilers below, 'cause I think his movies are such a POS that I have to ruin the "surprises" for everyone else just so they don't have to suffer as well. If you want to remain in the clueless category, just scroll down real quick until you get to the SECOND set of SUCKS pics at the end of this post.


M. Night Shyamalan, how do I despise your movies? Let me count the ways... Let's see, there's '6th Sense', 'Unbreakable', 'Signs', and now a ruinous turd of gigantomous proportions, 'The Village'.

I remember the buzz when '6th Sense' was released. Everyone was talking about the 'awesome' twist at the end. No one would say what it was, saying "No, go see it! You'll flip out!" Had just one person spilled the beans, I could've saved 2 hours of my life and $7.50 to boot. I remember watching the movie, and as soon as it got to the dinner scene with Bruce Willis and his wife, and she kept talking but not making eye contact, I thought, "Well, OK, he's dead." So, towards the end when the "big surprise" was revealed, I was pissed off. Shit, I knew he was dead for 90 minutes. I tell people this, and they give me this look of disbelief. "Oh, sure, Cap! This movie is making major coin on word of mouth on the "big surprise" ending, and YOU figure it out in the first 15 minutes? Yeah, right!"

Yeah, right! Did none of you watch 'Ghost' in the 90's? Same deal.
The only thing I took out of that POS flick was the beginnings of desire to see Haley Joel Osment's big blue eyes pecked out by poxed ravens. Right after he's gang-raped by horrible poisonous toads. But I digress...

The next on the "M. Night Owes Me For 8 Hours Of My Life" list is 'Unbreakable'. Now, I don't actively hate this one, but it's not all that good. The pacing is glacial, the characters are weak, and the ending is laughable. Mr. Glass, my pasty white ass.

Now, we enter the realm of the "Just Plain Dumb" with 'Signs'. Nice premise, and the trailers were great. However, we ended up getting some kind of puerile morality tale with some Shake & Bake theology mixed in. And while the aliens were suitably creepy, the story didn't hold water. C'mon, intersteller travelers stymied by a closet door? Aliens strong enough to leap up on a roof can't manage to pry off a nailed board? Oh, and the water thing... let's see, they're deathly allergic to water, so they're running around in areas of the Earth where the humidity is high enough to make the air 75% water. Oh, yeah, there's a winner. Heh. I put in my blogger profile an answer to the question "You've got to make contact with the alien leader. How will you tell when the conversation is finished?" When the tentacled googly-eyed sonofabitch is being scraped off the sidewalk after I put a load of buckshot into him. That's what 'Signs' lacked. Spiny poison-spewing aliens meet farmers with Browning Auto-5's.

The Winnah and new Champeen in the "GodAwful Movies M. Night Made" category goes to 'The Village'. I watched it tonight, and that's what's got my dander up. Ok, here's the story.

A bunch of 1890's Shaker-types are trapped in a village in a sizable clearing in the deep woods. They can't leave because big boo-scarey hoobajoobs control everything past the woodline. Once we're at this premise, my first thought is "OK, they have a blacksmith, make some billhooks, halberds and some ring mail, light some torches, fire up the underbrush and kill anything boo-scarey that comes out of the smoke." That's just me, though. Nemo me impune lacessit, and all that.

But noooooo.... Gotta live in peace and harmony according to The Pact. They stay out, we stay in, and everyone's happy.
Naturally, real life soon intrudes into Utopia in the form of a psychotic "special needs" person. Try as hard as you will, entropy catches up to you! Knife-Fu ensues, and suddenly someone needs to go brave the outer world for some doctorin' supplies. So, the Village Elders, being the compassionate Utopian souls they are, send a blind girl to feel her way the many perilous miles to town.

Long story short, boo-scarey hoobajoobs are actually the compassionate Utopian Village Elders wearing boo-scarey hoobajoob barbaloot suits, trying to scare villagers into remaining in virtual slavery for all time. Utopian Village Elders are 70's commune-dwelling nutjobs with a shitload of cash who buy a nature preserve and pay to have it walled in to maintain their little social experiment. Blind girl gets doctorin' supplies without seeing EEeeeevil KKKapitalist world outside, and returns to purity of Communist life.

God, this movie pissed me off on so many levels. Even if Shyamalamadingdong was trying to send a message about the comparative evils of organized society or religion, Dude, just come right out and say it. Don't make me sit through a bad movie to preach at me. I let you do it during 'Signs'. No more!

Oh, and the boo-scarey hoobajoobs look like the Skeksis from Jim Henson's 'The Dark Crystal' who have overdosed on Red Dye #5.

5000th Visitor!!

Apparently, "serious" bloggers aren't supposed to give a damn about traffic or hit counts. Nevertheless, for me the shine hasn't worn off yet. I get all nipply thinking about increasing traffic!

Welcome Unique Hit #5000! You were a visitor from at 5:39:55 pm. No referral data, so who knows how you got here, and you only looked at the main page. Still, glad you came, please come back, and bring a few friends!

OK, I'll shut up about unique hits and visitor counts for another 5000, or until ennui sets in. Whichever comes first...

Belated Xmas for El Capitan

Finally had Xmas last weekend. My extremely pregnant sister and her husband drove in from the Austin area last Saturday afternoon. The family was scattered all over creation during the holidays, and this was the first weekend all our schedules matched up.

We all met at my parent's house, where Dad suprised everyone yet again with an impromptu rearrangement of the furniture. That makes 6 times in the last 12 months. It made no difference. Once he & Mom got rid of the big couch and went the La-Z-Boy route, there's just no good way to sit and be comfy in one room. Their TV room is now the main room they use, and with the daybed and the big-ass recliners, there's no room for more than 2-3 people in there. The only furniture they kept in the dining room (in addition to the table & chairs) was the mismatched collection of parlor chairs and padded rocking chairs, all of them ancient and not very comfortable. Still, we muddled through somehow, and had a good afternoon chatting.

As I expected, my sister came through like a champ, and got me the Indiana Jones DVD box set. I am most happy. The parents actually got me something I asked for, which leads me to believe that my sister ratted out my blog to them. Anyway, got a big fuzzy bathrobe from them. The color is exactly the same shade as an ashtray after you dump out the butts, but before you rinse it out. Still, I'm not planning on wearing it outside the confines of the house, so color's a non-issue.

I went to Central Market the day before and bought a cartful of goodies to make a Xmas dinner for everyone. I kinda splurged more than I intended, but I rarely get to show off in the kitchen for more than myself and the cats (and they really prefer kitty crunchies to Eggs Benedict, to be honest).

I got 4.5 lbs of prime New York Strip steaks, which is a heckuva lotta meat. I actually did a double take when I saw the price tag. I got veggies for grilling, salad goodies, and some other odds & ends. I spent most of the morning prepping the veggies and getting them on skewers. For future reference, to avoid having your mushrooms split, GO SLOWLY! Use the skewer like a drill instead of a poker. I lost a lot of good mushrooms that way...

Naturally, my split-second timing was way off, through no fault of my own. I've always been really really good about having everything be ready at the same time. Some of it's long experience, but part of it's just common sense. Do your prep ahead of time, cook the slow stuff first, fast stuff last, and everything else gets done in those 2 minute gaps in between stirring the pot. The plan was for Dad to grill the skewered veggies while I worked on everything else. I've already got the iron skillets approaching 500 degrees when Dad discovers he left the gas grill on, and there's no more LP gas in the bottle. Cue the screeching halt. This is one of the many reasons I prefer charcoal. When the bag is empty, it's pretty frickin' obvious you're out of charcoal!! So, 45 minute pause while Dad runs up to the U-Haul place for a refill. I, being of short memory and sudden need for tall whiskey drink, leave cast iron skillets in oven on "Broil" the whole time. I am aroused from my Maker's Mark reverie by all three of the smoke alarms going off at once. Sigh.

The grill never did work properly. We ended up with one tray of slightly charred vegetables, and a whole bin of skewered veggies that had been microwaved until done. They tasted OK, I guess, but I would have been laughed off Iron Chef for the faux pas.

The steaks were perfect. I may never grill steaks outside again. I'm getting much better results from the broiler method. This time, I made the pan sauce, and what an adventure that was! I took the steaks out of the two skillets and put them in a covered platter to rest, and then poured about 1/2 cup of bourbon into each skillet. The sides were too deep to tip the skillet into the gas flame, so I hit each one with a fireplace lighter to flame the liquor.

Slight miscalculation!

Commercial kitchens have about 4-5 feet of clearance between burner and the hood. My parent's kitchen has about 2 feet of clearance. Commercial kitchens don't have built-in cabinets on either side of the hood, either. The result was a bit of bubbled-up varnish from excessive heat & flames on the underside of the cabinets, and a bit on one of the doors. No scorch marks, and the venthood didn't catch fire, which was a miracle, considering I don't think it has been properly cleaned since the Reagan administration.

Once the inferno died down, I added beef broth to help deglaze, combined pans, added butter & cream and fresh ground pepper and let it reduce. I should have had a few shallots in there, but it was a pretty tasty pan sauce if I say so myself.

As they say, a good time was had by all. Nice to get Xmas out of the way without a single domestic squabble!

You Call The Tune, You Gotta Pay The Piper...

Well, I've been dancing around this all weekend, but I can't in good conscience avoid it. My friend Andy went to a great deal of time and trouble to put together a series of counter-arguments to my post on torture. He speaks a lot of truth, pulls no punches, but ultimately I think he read too much into what I was saying.

I don't want to start a back & forth debate about what I meant. After all, I wrote it, and I know exactly what I meant. However, errors in communication come in either translation, transmission or perception. IMHO, Andy got torqued off at something he perceived was directed at him. This was not the intention, but saying so after the fact is usually a case of 'too little too late'. The damage has usually been done at that point.

This brings me back to a point I made when I first started this blog. How long can you disagree with a friend before the fundamental differences aired in publishing your viewpoints begin to tear at the relationship? Even though my comment at the professional whining class regarding Nancy-boys and growing a pair of balls grated on Andy, it's not enough, I hope, to fundamentally affect our friendship. Neither is his comment about me last week where I am called a gun nut.

Still, what's said has been said. He won't forget it, and I won't forget it. It's just a thin veneer of red/blue apartheid-flavored varnish that would ordinarily be chipped off in the day-to-day contact we had 10 years ago. With 200 miles in between us, though, and little contact other than the blogs, it's likely to just remain. It's just as likely to get added to.

How much is a blog worth? Is it worth a friendship? After all, there's plenty of reasons to quit doing it. I'm not as constant in my posting as I'd like. I catch myself stretching the lunch hour to get another post in. I'm mentioning my job.
I'm not ready to consider quitting, though. Hell, I haven't even had a troll yet.

I'll stand by what I posted, over-generalizations, unlikely premises, cherry-picked arguments and all. The whole point of this blog was not to sugarcoat things. I will agree with a lot of what Andy had to say. He speaks from the heart and the intellect, and his points are logical and rational. Still, there are fundamental differences in what's going to constitute torture. He's willing to cut the line much finer than I am.

I guess, for arguments sake, I'll go with Penn & Teller's NPD principle as to what I define torture as. NPD means "No Permanent Damage". I'll refine that to say No Permanent Physical Damage. I don't discount the ability to inflict mental damage, but the Professional Whining Class has interpreted the causes of psychic trauma to mean anything short of giving a person their slightest whim for their entire lives will result in irreparable mental damage. Being that... liberal (for lack of a better word) in your interpretations makes drawing that thin line much more difficult when you really need to.

If anything, we've learned that if room for interpretation exists, then room for disagreement expands exponentially. Perhaps it's best to keep marking our positions with a finer and finer edge until we reach some form of common ground. The alternative is to retreat further into our separate ideological camps until our neighbors are as unrecognizable as people from across the globe.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Light Blogging Alert

Our on-again off-again internet cable service is back up after a 20 hour vacation. Naturally, the techno-wonks promise to send someone out to look at it. They will, like all times past, enter the house, go to the computer, and look at it. They will see the little blinking lights on the cable modem and say, like all times past, "Looks like it's working fine to me!" I will, of course, like all times past, have to restrain myself from beating them senseless with their multimeter and interring them under the compost pile.

I've just about had enough of this spotty service. We've had the complete cable replaced from the overhead power lines and down around the house. 6 different modems. I've worn my knees raw crawling under the computer desk to unplug and replug the router switch. Nothing fixes the glitches. Every 3-4 months, Roadrunner just craps out and takes an extended holiday for a few days. Then for those few days, it's just a random guess as to when it'll shut down. Maybe for a minute, maybe an hour, maybe all day. You just never know.

Personally, I think the problem's in the local switching/signal booster boxes around the neighborhood. Instead of mounting them high up out of reach, they're all at eye level, and subject to the knocks and baseball bat swings of the local cholos. I've seen 'em screwing with the boxes, I just can't get the cops here fast enough to catch 'em in the act.

So, since I don't know how long this internet-schizoid spell will last, I'm gonna go rent some DVD's and spend my last paid holiday until Memorial Day watching flicks and eating popcorn instead of blogging. I'll get back into it later tonight.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Eyes Of Texas Are On YOU, Rob!

Hehehe, somehow Acidman got his knickers in a twist and started ragging on Texas.

Sigh. Silly Rabbit. I never thought I'd have to fisk El Hombre De Acido, but when you pitch a softball like that... gotta take a swing!
Anybody who believes that Texas is a Southern state is either NOT Southern or NOT from Texas. Regardless of the source of their confusion, such people are confused.
I'll give Rob half-credit on this one. Texas is Southwest more than South.

Drive across Texas. The state is too goddam BIG to be Southern. About half of it looks like Mexico and the rest looks like NEW MEXICO. That ain't Southern.
Rob's conveniently left out over a third of the state with this statement. East Texas looks like any other pine forest from Georgia to Louisiana. The Gulf Coast has plenty of swamp and big ol' oak trees covered in Spanish moss. It's true, once you cross over I-35 heading west, things tend to dry out a bit and the terrain gets a bit bumpy. Big is GOOD, though. Big means room to expand, room to move. This is why Texans are more friendly and laid back, we're not all packed in next to each other like lab rats. Oh, and only parts of the Panhandle and the Llano Estacado look like New Mexico!

Go to a Texas barbecue. They cook BEEF, not pork. That ain't Southern barbecue.
Yup, we're cooking beef here. As I said in this post earlier about eating Texas BBQ..."Next stop was Angelo's BBQ, for a plate of the best ribs on earth. I know that's a bold claim, but these are truly Ribs Of The Gods. No sauce necessary. So good you almost carry out the stripped bones to suck on the rest of the afternoon. Nothing compares to these ribs, not K.C. BBQ or Memphis 'cue. I won't even relate this Sacred Texas Ambrosia with the abominations done in the Carolinas, (Ed. Note: AND JAWJA!!) where Minions of Satan profane the Holy Pig by sprinkling vinegar on its cooked flesh in a debauched baptismal ritual."

What's with the cowboy hats? "Southern" is a cap that says "Red Man Chewing Tobacco" on the front. Texas is a cowboy hat on a geek who rides computers for a living and never saw a fucking cow in his life. He's gotta have those roach-kicker boots, too. (You know.. the ones with the high heels and the pointy toes, so you can kill a roach in the corner of the kitchen where no other shoe will reach.) Don't forget the string tie and the rodeo belt buckle, which will get you laughed clean out of any self-respecting Southern bar.
Dude, how 1980 of you... You don't see too many people dressing like they did in 'Urban Cowboy' here in Texas nowadays. Hell, even we call those big ol' beltbuckles "tombstones for dead dicks". Nope, more gimme caps are worn in Texas than Stetsons. As for the boots, well, hell, they just look good! Lots better than those wide-toed brogans covered in red clay that seem to comprise 90% of the footwear in Georgia!

Texans remember the Alamo. Southerners remember Robert E. Lee.
As well we should! Name one other state that successfully fought for its independence, then existed as an independent country. Hmmm? Anyone? Kinda quiet over there! Now, ol' Marse Robert rightfully deserves a place in our Pantheon of Heroes, but in Texas, that's a crowded hall. He's got to get cozy with Houston, Austin, Crockett, Bowie, Travis, Bonham, et al. We also got a few good generals in the War of Northern Aggression like John Bell Hood (who pulled a mess of Yanks out of Georgia, btw) and Kirby Smith (who whipped the tar out of Yankee troops from the Ozarks to the Rio Grande).

Texans speak Tex-Mex. Southerners speak Geechee.
All I'll say here is that Hispanics are poised to sweep past blacks as the largest minority ethnic group in the U.S. Better learn to habla that Espanol, Rob. Tex-Mex is gonna sweep the South in the next 30 years.

Texans are extremely egotistical. Southerners are worse.
Well, it ain't braggin' if it's true!

Texans WANT to be Southern, but they don't quite make the cut. Southerners are Southern.
Texans ARE Southern, but we're also Western. We're big enough to do both. We've got everything a person could want in life, forests, mountains, ocean, rivers, wide open plains. About the only thing we can't offer you here in Texas is sub-zero winters and snow skiiing.

The best part about Texas? Anyone can apply. Just move here, and assume the Texas attitude. You'll fit right in. Like Lyle Lovett sings, "That's right, you're not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway!" You'll never be a Native Texan, but it's not like we charge extra for you assimilated furriners.

OK, I'm done preaching. All rise for El Capitan's Texas Benediction, and we'll go get some 'cue after the service.

Take off them Stetsons (or gimme caps) and bow your heads, just for a minute!

Blessed Motherland, Our beautiful state, hallowed be thy name!
Thy rivers run, under red-gold sun,
On Earth, as it is in Texas.
Give us this day our daily BBQ,
And forgive us our pride, as we forgive those born in lesser lands.
Lead us not into Oklahoma, and deliver us some Shiner,
For thou art our beloved Republic, with the power and the glory, for ever and ever,


Friday, January 14, 2005

Somebody Save Me....

Ok, El Capitan's deep dark secret #598756 about to be revealed.

I've been posting so late at night because I've been watching Smallville as soon as I get home. Some days, I'm up to 3 episodes. It's a tragic waste of time, I know, but I just can't help myself!!

After the Xmas gift fiasco, I found myself a deal on eBay for the 1st three seasons of Smallville on DVD for $100 plus shipping. Bargain!!

As a guy on the downhill side of 30, I've found it easy to avoid most of the teenybopper TV shows in the last few years. Xena, Buffy, Felicity, Charmed, Dawson's Creek... Never watched 'em. Never cared.

Smallville found the chink in my armor, though. I collected comics for years, and though I was never a big Superman fan (that big blue Boy Scout...) Smallville just got my attention. The pair of hotties playing Lana & Chloe are a big draw, to be certain, but the writers and producers got just the right spin on it to suit my fancy.

So, Smallville joins Northern Exposure and Firefly as part of the very small segment of TV shows I'm willing to pay to have on DVD. I've been successfully resisting the urge to blow all my savings on DVD sets of CSI, The Shield, South Park and even (Lord, help me...) Magnum PI, but the urge is getting stronger!

Damn this modern technology! 10 years ago I would've just sat around and said "Remember what a cool show _______ was?"

Bus Stop Preacher Part Deux

I got to see the entire performance this evening. Mr. Bible Thumper showed up again today at the corner of Louisiana and Walker at the Metro stop to share a bit more fire and brimstone. He slinked up unnoticed (like they do...) started passing out tracts, then launched right into the sermon. He ranted and railed for about 10 minutes, then handed out more tracts and headed off southward. I noticed he had an understudy this time, some kid barely in his twenties.

I don't know what sect he represents, but he orders his tracts from the International Bible Association. Says so on the back. Only $2 per 100 postpaid! What a bargain! I bet those Jack Chick comic tracts cost more than that.

I dunno if I want to see this guy more than once a month. I may have to get another bus route figured out. A street preacher every now and then is good for keeping the ennui at bay, but too often just gets depressing.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Beastly Markings?

As long as we're on the religion kick, let me point this out. This is a quote from a Malaysian newspaper, followed by a quote from the book of The Revelation of St. John the Divine. See if you notice anything similar.

From The Star Online:
Many people are still missing from the Dec 26 tsunami. Some of the dead cannot be identified. Rescuers are taking DNA samples and extracting thumbprints from corpses.

In Phuket and many other locations, noticeboards of missing persons have been put up and people are combing hospitals and morgues to see if they can locate their loved ones.

Some current technology could have helped here. Here's one possible scenario:

The VeriChip is about the size of a grain of rice, virtually undetectable and practically indestructible once inserted under the skin – usually in your right hand or forehead. The chip has a special polyethylene sheath that helps skin bond to it, so that it stays in place.

Since the chip has no battery, there are no chemicals to worry about and the chip never “runs down” – its expected life is up to 20 years.

Tourists entering a country are scanned at the immigration checkpoint. They can pay for their taxis, groceries and hotel rooms with just a swipe of the hand. As they travel throughout their holiday destination, they leave behind an electronic trail which is recorded not only in this country but also in the home credit card company.

In the event of a calamity like the recent tsunami disaster, the VeriChips can easily be extracted from corpses or the details downloaded into a scanner before a quick burial. Details are fed into a web-based data bank and instantly a victims list is made available online to the rest of the world.

With the incorporation of a transponder into the VeriChip, sensitive scanners could locate missing persons or even verify that the owner of that particular chip is no longer alive.
OK, now here's the Bible quote:
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Now, I'm not one to easily freak out at such things. I rarely darken a church's door. I think a friend's wedding and my grandmother's funeral were the last two times I've even been in one in the last 5 years.

Still, I was brought up in the Xtian church, and that just strikes me as being kinda creepy. I'm betting the newspaper reporter did that deliberately, just to see if anyone would take notice!

Found at Darth Misha I's Imperial Palace.

I'm On The Bus Stop To Hell...

I'm beginning to like my bus stop. It's a great spot for people-watching, always a favorite sport of mine. I've often found myself skipping a bus or two just to hang out and see who'll turn up.

I spoke a while ago about the Communists that showed up on the corner to try and convert some people to their ignunt manner of thinking. Well, we had another evangelist show up on the corner last night, a Gen-U-Wine fire & brimstone bible-thumping street preacher.

I heard the guy bellowing over the diesel bus engines and the general din of traffic almost as soon as I left my building. By the time I walked the 50 yards to the bus stop, the decibel level had grown considerably, as had the knot of commuters trying to stand as far as possible from the shouting preacher, yet stay close enough to get on the buses when they pulled up at the corner. The result was a tight knot of commuters shifting from side to side to maintain distance from the pacing preacher. It was uncomfortably reminiscent of watching sheep herded by one of those border collies.

I took my usual position, leaning up against the bus route marker pole, and tried to tune this guy out. I sure wish these guys would try a new tack. It's always the same spiel. "We have fallen short of the glory of God, We are all sinners, we're gonna burn Burn BURN!!! Unless you repent! There's still time! Look at me! I was a sinner, but now I'm washed in the blood of the lamb! Renounce Satan's power! Fall on your knees!"

And so on.. and so on... at the top of his lungs. Not winning too many converts, that I could see. He was still going on when my bus showed up, and for all I know he was there all night.

I was reminded of the tag-team Holy Rollers we had at my University. They were itinerant street preachers, and every month or so, these two guys would show up in the University's Free Speech Area, and for the next 6 hours would rail at everyone for sinning and embracing Satan.

It got to be a fun pastime to go out and watch the show. Every so often, someone would try and debate, but it's that whole pig-wrestling scene there. The gospel-shouters really got into it, and they took no prisoners. While these two guys had their zealous knob turned way up past 11, they did know the Bible inside and out. If you wanted to debate theology with them, you had better know your stuff.

The two preachers were named Brother Rick and Brother Carl. Rick was the younger of the pair, a tall gangly dark haired man of about 25. He had the calling, but not the voice for it. It was kinda high and squeaky, and he couldn't really project as well as Brother Carl. Carl was in his mid to late 40's, and was bespectacled and balding. He had a pretty good voice, but could not maintain eye contact.

My favorite Brother Carl routine was when he got wound up about the evils of premarital collegiate sex. He would start off listing sins, but when he got to his favorite, he would throw one had in the air, shaking it as he yelled "FORRRRRRRRR-NICATION!!" As he said the 'Cation' part, he would shoot his hand out and point at some girl in the crowd and accuse her of being a tool of satan and a fornicator.
Naturally, the crowd got into it, and with every "FORRRRRRRRR-NICATION!!" they uttered, Brothers Rick & Carl would have a chorus of "FORRRRRRRRR-NICATION!!" from the Peanut Gallery right along with them.

Brothers Rick & Carl often were threatened with physical violence by some of the more emotional college students. After pointing out a woman in a short dress and calling her a whore and a fornicator, they would often get the woman's boyfriend appearing shortly thereafter looking to avenge the insult. My buddy Rockhauler says that Brother Carl got tossed in Theta Pond on the Oklahoma State University campus for similar statements. I never saw anything that drastic, but I did see them get spat on and have soft drinks tossed at them every so often.

The Pagan Student's Association used to have a ball with Brothers Rick & Carl. I got a kick out of seeing them deliberately screw with their delivery, doing things like chalking pentagrams on the pavement, which would usually cause Rick to freak out, but Carl always took it in stride.

I never got into any arguments with them, beyond the odd witty comment I'd toss into the fray. As the saying goes, I didn't have a dog in that fight, so no use getting muddy.

Brother Rick left to go do missionary work in Russia, and Brother Carl Xtian-soldiered on alone. It just wasn't the same, though. The tag-team method was a lot better, because once you got tired of hearing the bellowed "FORRRRRRRRR-NICATION!!" from Carl, Rick would step in and you'd get the "FORRRRRRRRR-NICATION!!" in Rick's squeaky voice.

I'm not entirely sure what motivates people to devote their lives to a task like that. I mean, you know you're going to get abuse and invective on a daily basis, and the chances of recruiting followers is slim-to-none. Is it zealotry? Blind faith? Maybe it's just masochism wrapped up in holy vestments.

Well, I look forward to seeing the bus stop preacher again. Next time, I'll dust off my KJV Bible and jump into the discussion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!!

Or, you were having a bit of a "senior moment"! Either way, I'm glad to see a new link!

I was checking my referral logs, and noticed a new face in the crowd. Every day there's at least half a dozen hits through Google searches for baboons. My posts on the alleged alligator in Lake Conroe and the SafeClear car hijacking plan draw a bit of traffic, too. So, it's nice to see a referral from someone who meant to send people here on purpose.

The new practitioner of Linky-Love is Jerry at Stuff About. He liked me so much, he linked me twice!! I imagine he'll fix it as soon as he gets my email!

Thanks, Jerry! I'll reciprocate. Once!

The Curse of The Foreign Server

Well, once again, I'm trying to load my page and nothing's happening. Looking at the browser's activity log, I can see everything loaded fine, right up to the point it got to the code for either the Re-Invigorate site or the TTLB site. So, I sit here looking at a blank page and/or missing images because someone else's server crapped out.

Now, this is not a slam at TTLB or Re-Invigorate, more of a swipe at all the assorted hiccups that plague the online world. I'd like to know how many potential readers have bailed because they got tired of waiting for the page to appear. I know I've said "To hell with this!" and hit the back button on many an occasion when I got a page delay.

I already moved the Technorati code to the very bottom of the Blogger template when it proved too unreliable to have it loading before the main window content. I guess I'll do it to all the others as well. Sitemeter seems to be behaving itself so far.

OK, I just got through to the Re-Invigorate, so TTLB is the guilty party this time. There's been a lot of Denial Of Service attacks lately, so perhaps some idjit is screwing with that server.

Sigh. I could never have imagined stressing over downed servers even 10 years ago...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tales from Cap's Dark Side. Proceed with Caution!

Let's talk about torture.

I started this post last Friday, intended to upload it before the weekend got underway, but I had to stop and rethink my position. It took most of the weekend before I felt comfortable with what I have to say here, and I'm still not sure I could do what I'm about to recommend.

Which is to torture someone.

A big flap was made about torture several times in the recent past, notably the allegations of abuse at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib. Recently in the confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzales, Democrats kept pressing the issue regarding the acceptability of torture.

There are a lot of variables that get brought up in the discussion of torture, but it boils down, IMHO, to two major questions: Do The Ends Justify The Means, & Can We Sink To Their Level? With certain reservations and limitations, I'm forced to say yes to both.

Kim du Toit raises the excellent point that torture is not a means of separating the sheep from the goats. You would consider the use of torture only in cases where you've got a dead-bang case that your perp is guilty. Not just 'reasonable doubt' guilty, but caught-on-tape, bloody handed, smoking-gun-tucked-in-his-pants guilty.

Let's get something straight right off the bat. Having boxer shorts put on your head, or making you stand on a box wearing a poncho, or even piling you up in a nekkid pyramid is NOT torture! Neither is playing loud music, making you wear pink jammies, or putting you through a body cavity search. Shit, I went through worse than all of that during Hell Week while pledging a fraternity back in the 80's. It's humiliation, to be sure. No doubt it's unpleasant, and it's something you'd rather never have happen to you. If you can claim the above activities are enough to cause 'permanent mental scarring' or constitute emotional abuse, well, you're ranking pretty high on the Puss-O-Meter, there, Nancy-boy. Grow a pair and get over it.

The whiners out there bemoaning Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, claiming "shock & outrage" are doing it for political purposes. Let's be honest about that at least. If we'd found the jailers pulling out fingernails and runing cattle prods up rectums, then I'd say we'd entered "shock & outrage" territory.

So, do the ends justify the means? I can only speak for myself here. Let me give you a scenario where I can visualize torture as a necessary and proper tool for persuasion.

Let's say it's 10 years from now. We're now having scattered Islamic terrorist activity here in the States, due to years of appeasement policies aimed at respecting a religion/culture that's committed to killing or converting any and all kufr worldwide.

One day, in some big city in Texas (just as an example) a band of terrorists robs a bank for money, kills a few people while escaping, and seizes a few hostages as insurance. Let's say you're a friend of mine, and you or one of your family is one of the abductees.

Later that day, Al Jizz-eera releases a pre-recorded press statement from the terrorists saying you will be killed by getting stuffed in a wood chipper feet-first in 72 hours unless a shipload of halal Pop-Tarts is redirected to a small cave outside Tora Bora. Even if Shrillary becomes President (shudder...), I'm betting the U.S. Government will still hold the hard line on not negotiating with terrorists. Basically, in 72 hours, you're gonna die a horrible death.

The police have captured a suspect after following a blood trail after the bank robbery. They have video of this terrorist carrying you out of the building, and the bullet they pull out of his leg matches a cop's pistol. It's unquestionably one of the kidnappers. He may not know where you are being held right now, but he's got info about hideouts, safe houses, escape routes, names and phone numbers. But he ain't talking. Allah has promised him an eternity in Paradise if he's faithful and kills the infidel. To betray his brothers is to betray his God, and forgo any chance at dancing the horizontal bop with 72 virgins. To put it bluntly, this cat ain't sayin' shit.

For you to have a chance of rescue, someone's gotta get this guy to flip. Roughing him up won't work. He's been given a "Holy Hall Pass" by his mullah, so waving bacon in his face won't do it. Nope, if this guy's gonna give it up, there's gonna need to be a whole different level of persuasion take place.

And suddenly, we're at the dividing line between interrogation and torture. For some, it's razor-thin. I see it as a bit wider margin. There's a time to go the sleep-deprivation/malnutrition/subliminal suggestion route, and there's a time to get out the rubber hoses. We've only got 72 hours to find you. As far as I'm concerned, the time for playing nice is over.

In the case listed above, I have very little doubt that I could go in the room the suspect is held, and perform some inhuman shit to get him to give up your location. I can't say what my limits would be. The thought of inflicting pain on a helpless person makes me a little shaky. Nevertheless, it's him or you.
And I choose you.

Now, I know there's a lot of my left-leaning friends who are now aghast at what I've just said, and wondering what kind of sociopathic monster they've been harboring in their midst all these years. After all, they can't EVER imagine stooping to that level.

Well, normally, neither would I. I'm not talking about strapping some guy's nuts up to a field telephone because he voted for the wrong candidate, or pouring lye in someone's eyes because they wrote a column criticizing the government. This is a specific case where the perp is unquestionably guilty of death penalty offenses, and information is needed, and needed NOW.

Now, if you want this guy to be left alone and unharmed, I want you to look me in the eye and honestly tell me, "Cap, I'd rather be dead right now. I'd rather be a pile of moist red mulch, my wife a widow and my kid an orphan than to have had my freedom achieved through inflicting pain & torture on one of the perpetrators." I can guarantee I won't believe you. That's bullshit. I can't accept that. 'Cause if you say that, you either lying your ass off to protect your political leanings, or you're certifiably insane.

What you're saying when you refuse to consider torture is that the dignity and "rights" of the proven terrorist outweighs those of your loved ones. And that's just unacceptable to me. I mean, there's turning the other cheek, and there's bending over and taking it up the ass.

That being said, if I ever have to take a pair of pruning shears and remove someone's fingertips and feed them to the wolverines in order to ensure the safe return of your kidnapped little girl, it's gonna cause me some major psychological issues. I'll probably puke my guts up before, during and after, and have years of nightmares. I would risk that, because her life is worth more to me than that of the asswipe terrorist strapped to the table. The only thing worse than doing the deed itself would be the unthinkable outcome of not being mentally affected by it at all.

The slippery slope I hit with this line of reasoning is... where does the cut-off come? What if the person kidnapped is someone I don't know? What if it's someone I know, but they're an asshole? Do I still lower myself into the Pit to save that person? I mean, I have an ego, but there's certainly no Messiah Complex happening here. I thought I had all this worked out until I read this post at RWN. There, a commenter threw me for a loop by asking "What if the terrorist is a woman?"

Jeezus... I hadn't even considered that. I mean, I can see gettin' medieval on some scruffy hairbag, but I was brought up in the Texas old school hold-the-door pull-out-the-chair always-say-Ma'am put-women-on-a-pedestal tradition. Could I take a pair of pliers and a blowtorch to a woman?? I'm still working on that one.

I don't know what to say here. I really don't. I don't want to fault you for recognizing within yourself the lack of ability to bring harm to another human being. Is it too much to ask you to not fault me for recognizing that I might have that ability? I dunno where it comes from. A touch of the antisocial gene, paired with a pathological hatred of those who prey on the helpless, maybe.

Still, I've gone 36 years with no assault charges. Nothing more than a few bar-fights in my rowdy youth. If I was an out-of-control homicidal maniac, I think we'd all know it by now. I mean, I joke about babysitting kids by duct-taping them to the walls, but it is just a joke.

Ok, I need to go walk outside in the sun for a while. Hopefully I didn't freak everyone out, at least not to the extent I freaked myself out...