Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

My Photo
Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oh, Dear Ghod...

Scientists With Too Much Spare Time

I'm appalled that something like this even exists... Who knew you could rate your excreta according to shape & texture??

I have a new blogmeme... Print out the chart and tape it above your toilet paper dispenser. Before flushing, rate your performance. Then one of your daily blogposts, you can just insert a discreet number at the end, and we'll all be able to share in your joy and/or misery! For a one, we'll comment that you need to get more fiber. For a seven, we'll send you coupons for Imodium.

7, 7, 7, 7 & 7. It was a long, long night...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Molar Equations

Taking The Measure Of A Straight White Guy

About those moleskin britches, Eric...

How many moles does it take to cover up your pasty white fundament?

Given that a mole (with its pointy nose and pointy tail) is basically a cylinder with a cone at both ends, we can find the total area by adding the sum of the parts. You get the area of the cylinder by the formula 2π² + 2πrh. The area of the cones are found by the formula πr times the square root of r² + h². Of course, we can dispense with the area on the base of the cones and the ends of the cylinders, as that's the ooky insides and not the fur-bearing area.

This figuring is a bit of a PITA, so we'll dispense with the cones. The head & tail were most likely chopped off in the skinning process, so we'll just use the body of the mole, opened up like a tin can label. This simplifies matters greatly, since we're basically finding the area of a rectangle.

Given that the average Eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is 140mm in length, and masses 75g, we'll assume a radius of 4 cm for the cylinder. Therefore, 2πr gives us 25.12 cm for a circumference, times the length of 14 cm for a total area of 351.68 sq cm, or 54.51 square inches. That sounds like a lot of mole-hide, but it's really only a patch of fur a little bigger than 6 inches by 9 inches square.

Converting to square yards, that gives us 0.042 sq. yards per dead mole.

Now, as anyone who sews knews, fabric is sold by the yard, but not the square yard. Usually the fabric bolts are somewhere between 45 inches and 60 inches wide. However, moleskin isn't sold off the bolt, so we'll find a happy medium.

According to a couple of sewing websites, pants can require about 1 1/2 yards to 3 yards of fabric to make. You're a pretty tall rangy guy, Eric, so we'll say 3 yards. We'll subtract half a yard to make up the difference between fabric yards and square yards, leaving us with 2.5 square yards.

Dividing 2.5 by 0.042 sq. yards per dead mole gives us 59.52 dead moles! Add in another half dozen for belt loops, zipper covers and pockets, and we're up to 66 dead moles!

So, it looks like you're walking around with your ass covered in 66 dead moles.

Dude, that's *completely* nasty. Go get some 501's.

Note: El Capitan would like the animal rights whackos to know that absolutely no moles were harmed in the making of this blogpost. Since we have no moles in my immediate area, I was unable to eviscerate, de-tail and decapitate them with a meat cleaver, then peel off the hides with an authentic Alaskan ulu knife to gain accurate measurements.

I had to substitute squirrels.

Silk Purses and Sow's Ears

Bargain Basement Boomsticks

This is a Harrington & Richardson Handi-Rifle. The NEF (New England Firearms) model is pretty much identical. They're all owned by Marlin Firearms.

It's based on H&R's single-shot break-action shotguns, made since the late 1800's. These are low-budget, no-frills firearms. You can get a brand-new shotgun version for less than $125, the rifle goes for maybe double that. You can also find them used at most pawn shops and gun shows for around a C-note or less.

The low-rent Tactical Tommy group sometimes goes a bit overboard dressing these things up.

Seems silly to spend $250 for gewgaws on a $150 rifle when you can get a lever-action repeater for $400, but that's me, Mr. Practical.

I've never had much use for one of H&R's firearms. If I was inclined to get a single-shot rifle, I'd be more inclined to look at a Winchester Hi-Wall, or a Ruger #1. Possibly a Martini-Henry or a Sharps if I was feeling nostalgic!

Then, I saw this version of the Handi-Rifle on the Collector's Firearms site:

At first, I was pretty dismissive. It's just putting lipstick on a pig, I thought. Still a single-shot break-open H&R.

On the other hand... it IS chambered for .45-70 caliber... And that's a recipe for a whole lot of amusement!

Let's face it, shooting is FUN! Even if you've got the scruffiest junkyard dog of a rifle, which was kicked off the wholesaler's stack o' beaters before being scraped across the concrete floor to the Shipping Dept., as long as it's reasonably accurate, you're gonna have fun shooting it. Well, I do, anyway! Plus, sending gigantimous thumb-sized chunks of lead downrange is a hoot no matter what you're using for a launcher.

.45-70's not hard to reload, either. Buffalo hunters used to do it sitting aroung a campfire. It's a relatively low-pressure straight-walled case. Hell, you could do original black powder loads and use a pair of pliers to give it a crimp. (Just kidding...)

So the more I thought about it, the more I like this boomstick from H&R. If they'd eliminate the checkering on the stock, and use a plain forearm instead of the Schnabel, they could probably cut the price by a third. I'd be all over that boomer if I could get it for $300.

Ever since I saw this rifle, I've had persistent visions of pumpkins and assorted squashables exploding out past 300 yards. Also, I'm hearing 250 grains of hardened lead impacting huge steel gongs from even farther out.

So, whaddya think? Silly thoughts on my part, or does H&R maybe have a good idea goin' on here?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Extending The Olive Branch

I'm All About The Diplomacy!

Army of Mom has been one of my regular readers for ages, despite my occasional habit of poking fun at the manhood (or lack thereof) of NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon.

Recently, a post of mine dragged large cavernous red pulsating mental scars across her psyche, and I'd just hate to see AoM make an inadvertent reference to Goatse in her professional life due to my withholding palliative measures.

So, here's a cool refreshing video to take that horrible sight out of your forebrain!

This one's for you, AoM, and for everyone else who's had a decades-long love affair with the Enterprise!

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm A Bad Brother

Another Dose Of Dye For The Black Sheep...

Well, compounding my sudden downturn in popularity after the ill-advised Goatse post, I'll now attempt to alienate my remaining readership.

My sister's getting married tomorrow in Buda, and I'm not going.

I got the message last night around 9 pm that this was going to occur, and Mom was a bit taken aback that I'm not willing to shitcan all my previously laid plans and drive 300 miles roundtrip for a 30 minute ceremony.

Sorry, sis. A little more lead time is required...

See, they're already married, at least according to Texas law. They did the deed in front of a Justice of the Peace a few years back. However, my BIL wants to be able to take Communion again, so he needs to quit living in sin and make it official in the eyes of the church.

I'm still not quite sure how they're getting this done with the church's blessing. The reason they didn't jump the broom in their local parish church originally was that my sister didn't want to convert. She still doesn't want to, but somehow this got the "Ominous Dominus" seal of approval.

Oh, well. It's probably for the best that I can't go. I'm pretty sure if I dipped my fingers in the holy water, it'd start to bubble and hiss, like in that Pacino movie.

Whither Thou Goatse

This Topic Is NOT Particularly Worksafe...

I'm not gonna spend a lot of time explaining the concept of Goatse. It's one of those internet pictures that some 'friend' emails you as a joke, and you're scarred for life after catching the briefest glimpse of it before breaking your fingers stabbing madly at the Delete key.

Wikipedia has a pretty concise writeup of the topic, and if you just gotta see the shock picture in all its glory, you can...


(Additional warning provided on recommendation of two dissatisfied commenters... what part of "scarred for life" as unclear?? Hehehe...)

Lay out a bottle of eyebleach, phone your next of kin, then go here. (NSFW!!!)

So, why raise such an open-ended discussion? 'Cause I found my own real-life version of Goatse while poking around on Google Earth! It's the football stadium for my old school district!

This site documents real-world sightings and parodies of the Goatse phenomenon. I emailed the site admin the version I found on GoogleEarth, but it hasn't been posted. I just want the "First" credit, dammit!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ice Has How Many Calories???

The Guvmint Run Amok, Pt. 4568

Was this table of nutritional content really necessary on a bag of ice?

Ingredients: Water

Yeah, no shit, Poindexter. Maybe it's that 1 mg of sodium per serving that's causing all the ruckus.

8 liquid ounces x 40 servings = 320 ounces
20 lbs @ 16 oz. per lb = 320 ounces
Proving once again that "a pint's a pound the world 'round"

Oh, well. I'll give you some Frost to send you on your way. I've always been an Ice man, myself. Damn Fire types are just too... hotheaded.

Fire & Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fireplace Finished!

Gee, I Hope The Grout Sealant Ain't Flammable...

It's amazing what $300 in materials can get you! A fireplace that looks like it cost you $325!

Ignore the junk behind the brass screen. It's a bag full of the "lava rocks" that get scattered under the gas burner. I haven't dumped them out yet.

I'm not too wild about the wooden hearth angels, but my uncle made a bunch of 'em as gifts for the family. He took up woodworking when his #2 kid got thrown in the slammer, as a means of coping. So, I can live with 'em. Also, Granddad's service flag will get moved before I light up the fire, but it looks nice & symmetrical there!

Still, the project's finished. Now, I just need to get a better picture over the mantle.

Don't Sit On The Calico Pillow!

The Throw Pillow With Ears & Tail

Pookie Cat snuck into the sittin' room again. Now, if she was just sittin', it'd be all right. Her butt don't shed all that much.

But noooo... she had to lie down and get fur all over the nice love seat. Silly animal. Now I'll have to abuse her by tickling her tummy and her toes for a while.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday Tidbits

All The Shoes That's Knit To Sprint

I actually spent time over the weekend putting together blogposts, and had several posts in draft form for today, but sometimes current events take precedent...

Item #1

Taking sharp curves at 45 mph in a Cadillac is not a problem. The center of gravity in the Cad was 6" below the pavement. All you felt was gentle G-Forces pressing you into the luxurious leather seat.

Taking sharp curves at 45 mph in a jacked-up 4x4 *is* a problem, especially if you fuck up and clip the curb with the leading edge of your big knobbly tires. It's interesting to know that you can pop that big sumbitch up on two wheels, but all things being equal, ignorance was bliss. All I felt during that experiment was a serious case of nausea as I contemplated the truck rolling over. Fortunately I double as both driver and ballast, so all returned to normal.

Item #2

Coca-Cola Zero completely kicks Diet Coke's ass. The Cherry Zero ain't bad either.

Item #3

I normally avoid wading into the noxious swamp of pop culture, but the recent pic of Britney Spears shaved bald looked extremely familiar...

Where had I seen this face before?

Oh, yeah, here.

To misquote Robin Williams... That little gleam in the eyes that just says "Helter Skelter!!"

I'd stay out of bathrooms she's in for the near future. I'm just sayin', is all...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Big Black Boomsticks

Happiness Is A Belt-Fed Weapon!

Got-Damn Democrats.

I was all set to drop some $$$ on a custom revolver, when those dipshits of the Leftist/Socialist/Statist variety once again insisted on trying to inflict the Assault Weapons Ban on the American public. I doubt it'll gain any traction with GWB still in office, but those Nanny State maroons will keep trying to disarm the law-abiding in order to let the lawless operate with impunity, and you can bet your last box of ammo on that.

Now, I've got to re-think my priorities. I've never really had a great urge to buy an AR or an AK. I've got an SKS wth a red dot sight as my current SHTF rifle, and a FN49 for repelling marauding walruses and hippopotami. Most of my arsenal follows the theory of precise bullet placement, not overwhelming volume of fire. At least, not beyond 10 rounds, anyway.

Still, with the very real possibility of being denied the option of owning a bullet-hose, I'd rather have something than nothing. So it looks like I'm in the market for a Big Black Rifle.

Gotta be in .308 Win/7.62x51 NATO. Nothing against you guys armed with .223 poodle-shooters, but I'm a big guy, and I can soak up recoil and carry a shitload of ammo when necessary. When our troopies in the Sandbox requisition M14's instead of M4's, it's not because they like carrying a heavy wooden-stocked rifle in the desert. It's because the .308 puts the damn-damn on whatever it hits, out to 1000 yards.

Options are several... The M1A, the FN FAL, the G3/CETME or possibly an AK/Galil clone. I'm aware the AR10 is available, but I've never liked that platform especially.

Or perhaps this one:

That's the RFB from Kel-Tec. They've put out the SU16 and SUB2000 series of carbines. I've heard good things about the SUB2000's, and nothing too bad about the SU16s. The SU16s are a bargain at around $500-600, and I expect the low-end RFB to go for $800-900, if not lower.

The RFB uses metric FAL mags, and uses a front-end ejection system. Three barrel lengths, and no factory iron sights, so optics will run another $300-1500, depending on how fancy you want to get.

Since we won't see the RFB's for sale until Q1 2008, that one's a long shot. Odds are I'll find a secondhand M1A between now and then.

You can download a sneak preview of the RFB in action here. (In Videos Category)

'300' Rocks Your Lame Ass

I See You Shiver With Antici.....pation!

This movie is gonna kick so much ass, it had to be fitted with special orthopedic asskicking boots.

Seriously, the last time I got the heebie-jeebies waiting for a movie to be released was the Lord Of The Rings series. Unfortunately, I've got a training class scheduled for the day it's released, so I can't skip work and go see it. I'll keep my eyes open for midnight showing the day before, though!

If you've got QuickTime installed, you can see a Hi-Def preview here.

March 9, Spartans and Spartanettes...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Texas BlogFest Update

I'm So Getting This Logo Printed On A T-Shirt...

New info, buoys and gulls...

Don't let the frequent course corrections scare you off. Kerrville's out in the sticks, but it's a pretty little town.

Stay tuned for further details...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why Do I Keep Doing This?

The Piercing Pain Of Ear Torture

I pierced my left earlobe back in 1986. Didn't want that nasty hole that the shopping mall piercing gun made with the big-bore "training" stud, so I flamed a safety pin with my Zippo lighter, held ice cubes to my ear and then jabbed that sucker through. Inserted a tiny 14k gold stud, and that was that.

It healed clean, possibly due to my soaking 12 inches of cotton thread in isopropyl alcohol and dragging it through the hole twice a day. The resulting hole was small, almost unnoticeable when the stud was removed.

Wore the earring constantly over the next 10 years. The following 10 years was a bit more intermittent, what with having a real job and all. Everyone always said the hole would close up.

It never did, just got a bit narrower. Sometimes a LOT narrower. I'd forget about it for months at a time, then run across an old earring in a desk drawer and reinsert it for old times sake. Painful, but never any blood to indicate the hole had sealed up.

Today, a bit more of the same treatment, except I was fully expecting a leak of crimson, since it hurt like a mofo pushing that thing through. No blood. Guess that sucker's in there for good.

I wonder about when I just need to let it go. I know, every good pirate needs an earring, but I'd see that dude from 60 Minutes that died last year, 65 year old Ed Bradley with his little gold hoop, and thought he looked like a perfect tool.

So, I dunno. Maybe it's time to just pull the plug on ear accoutrements. What do y'all think?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Unusual Spare Parts

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!"

This made me giggle...

Did you know that if you went to the DeLorean Motor Cars website, and entered the names of some unusual aftermarket parts, they pop up in their inventory records with a stock number?

Type "fusion" in the Search field, and you get the part number for the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor. Typing "capacitor" and "hover" gets you to the pages for the Flux Capacitor and the Hover Conversion kit.

Alas, they seem to be completely out of stock. So much for visiting the Battle of Thermopylae this weekend...

I'm A Major Geek

One Day, I'll Be A Brigadier General Geek!

Leslie hit me with the Geek Test. She landed a highly non-geek score of 8%.

I rated higher than I thought I would...

39.84221% - Major Geek

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Time To Start Looking

I Hear There's An Astronaut Position Open...

It's good having a departmental calendar. I knew last night that my boss was out in the field until noon-ish. The Big Boss took the flunkies and toadies that sit near me off on an assignment until after lunchtime. That left only the receptionist to see what time I came in, and she likes me.

So, I shuffled in almost an hour late. Ate my breakfast burritos while websurfing. Spent the next two hours alternating between answering emails and napping in the Nap Chair. Finally answered phone messages just before noon.

It's the first real case of blatant F#ckOffery I've committed since I've been here. Felt kinda nice. I could see it happening again.

So, it's time to start looking for a transfer, I think. Otherwise I'll continue being bored and look for more ways to complete my transformation from energetic employee to zombified civil servant.

It's not that I'm against sloth and inefficiency, mind you. It's just that I can't stop feeling guilty about being lazy.

Hmmm, maybe there's a drug for that...

More Half-Assed Doggerel

This Would Be Funnier If I Really Gave A Damn...

In Houston Town did Mayor White
a Wireless broadband net decree
where Buffalo Bayou ooz-ed
through bridges measureless to man
down to the oily sea.

So six hundred square miles of marshy tree
Twere to be festooned with Earthlink gold
And streetlight poles sprouted antennae bold
to channel Wi-fi porn to me and thee,

Well, you get the point. Largest municipal broadband network so far, they're saying. $10 a month if you're a member of the 40,000 "underprivileged" class Earthlink agreed to, a bit more for everyone else.

Bah, I'm sticking with my cable modem.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Is Just Ducky!

I'd Send You Flowers, But They Get Clogged In The Modem Port...

Valentine's Day once again! A day millions of men will get a cold stare and realize that buying lingerie is often seen as a gift for him, not her! Rush back out and get some flowers, dude.

Anyway, I don't have anything clever on tap, so I thought I'd link to one of my all-time favorite blogposts.

The post is by The Donovan, Master of Castle Argghhh!!!

It's a thrilling tale from yesteryear, full of adventure, suspense, thrills, chills, flying, fighting, and of course, True Love.

Here's The Donovan's "Duck". Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Nest Paws

El Capitan est fort et riche, n'est-ce pas?

Tips to avoid looking like a dorkish poseur, Pt. 34:

Using foreign language phrases in your writings and speech might add flavor, drama and just a soupçon of that certain je ne sais quoi.

Use the phrases incorrectly, and you look like a major tool.

Par exemple... I was following a link from Kevin Baker's site to the Harvard Crimson, where various Learned Harvard Men (and scurrilous imposters) were commenting on an essay published at the site.

One commenter (I suspect a Boston College saboteur) said:

Good piece and insightful commentary for those of us that continue to believe that words can overcome the sword. As a mediator I work to apply that belief to help resolve conflict and disputes. Despite this philosphy we are surrounded by violence and the law of the jungle. Humans are strange nes pa?
(Emphasis mine)

Well, obviously the commenter is a douchebag and a peacenik, but he can't even get his borrowed phrase written correctly.

Look, all you social-climbing Francophiles, even Liz Taylor sounded like a douchebag when she used the phrase n'est-ce pas? in one of her perfume commercials. If you're not a native speaker of la langue française, you just sound ridicule. I'm only getting away with this due to hours spent swotting away at Dumas in the original, and more hours spent listening to Eddie Izzard. ("Le singe a disparu...")

Say it in English. Otherwise I shall taunt you a second time...

Another Oddball Recipe

Lots Of Tiny Little Cabbages!

I like to eat weird vegetables. Squashes, snap peas, assorted greens, oddly-shaped leafy things covered in vinaigrette... Just about all of 'em, really, except for okra and eggplant.

One of my favorites is Brussels sprouts. Don't ask me why, maybe I just have a thing for one-bite cabbages.

I won't waste time trying to convince the naysayers that this dish tastes remarkable. After all, they failed to convince me of the merits of okra gumbo and ratatouille.

Still, if you're feeling adventurous, give it a go!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts
Makes 10 servings (leftovers!!!)

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, loose outer leaves removed, stem end scored with an "X" about 1/2" deep
1 1/2 pounds chestnuts, scored (slice through the shell), simmered 20 minutes and then peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (I just use black pepper...)

Place Brussels sprouts and chestnuts in large baking dish, or on a cookie sheet with raised rims. (Otherwise, they'll roll right off...)

Add the olive oil & salt and toss to coat the sprouts and chestnuts.

Roast at 450F degrees for 15 minutes, using a spatula to turn sprouts and chestnuts every 5 minutes. They're done when both sprouts and chestnuts can be poked easily with a toothpick or skewer all the way through.

Place in ovenproof serving dish. Add lemon juice, butter and pepper and toss to combine.

Serve immediately or keep warm in oven at 200 degrees up to 30 minutes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Valentine's Day Approacheth...

Mausers & Martini-Henrys Are Romantic Gifts, Right???

It's that time of year when thoughts turn to romance...

Now, regular readers know that El Capitan rarely speaks of his amorous endeavors. Mostly, 'cause they're nunya business, but also because they're just rare. Thin on the ground. Almost non-existent. OK, enough of that, I'm getting depressed...

Still, in spite of his hermit-like existence and curmudgeonly demeanor, let no one doubt that the fires of passion still flicker deep within the stony exterior.

Every so often, something fans those flames, and this time, it's not just a fan, but a gallon of Avgas followed by a jet turbine exhaust to stir things up...

Methinks I am smitten with unrequited love...

See, there's this woman who really digs guns. Not only likes 'em, but collects them. And her collection centers on pre-WWII bolties (of which I have a closetful) and .45 autos. And she works in a gun store. And she's into IPA, motorsickles and reading SF. I mean, what's not to like??

Well, a post this weekend was the deal-maker. Turns out that in addition to all her rare qualities, we share one important ideal:

Tam says, and I quote:

"What would be the only thing cooler than getting married by a drive-thru Elvis?"

My friends, I've been extolling the virtues of an Elvis-led drive-thru wedding for almost 20 years, and my posse will back me up on that...

Ah, be still, my beating heart! Tam, mi corazon! Dump your boyfriend and join me on a whirlwind tour of the nation's gun shops, pawn shops and cluttered curio stores, in search of 1st edition Heinleins and pristine Springfields! We'll fill the pickup bed with treasures, then dash off to Vegas to make it legal!

Ah, well. A guy can dream, can't he??

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Morning Sauna

Parboiled Pirates

Does anyone know if you can buy a thermostat that requires a key or a passcode to change the temperature?

Despite firm house rules that the heat is not to be turned up over 72F, this is the 3rd day in a row I've gotten up and found it set to 78F. Naturally, no one's 'fessing up to being the lizard-blooded culprit.

I'd blame the cats, but they can't reach that high without the stepladder, and it's currently outside the back door.

Sigh. Time to order some thermal undies for everyone. Maybe I can find some of those old red woolen union suits, with the ass-flap that buttons.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Changing Rooms?

Positive Changes With No Poofter Designers

Change comes slowly to Casa de Capitan... The old brick fireplace has been essentially unchanged since the house was built in the early '60s.

So, lay down some tile, build a new mantel, clean out the old fake log gas burner gizmo, and you're looking at a whole new flue!

I wanted a darker red, almost oxblood colored tile. This is as dark red as you can get, apparently.

Curse Of The Hollywood Blonde

Blondes Have More Fun! For A While, Anyway...

Hmmm, looks like Mamie Van Doren and Mae West got lucky and escaped the curse.

The rest of 'em? Pushin' up daisies...

Marilyn Monroe - Dead at 36
Jayne Mansfield - Dead at 34
Jean Harlow - Dead at 26
Thelma Todd - Dead at 30
Inger Stevens - Dead at 36
Carole Landis - Dead at 29
Jean Seberg - Dead at 41
Anna Nicole Smith - Dead at 39

Ladies, if you're blonde and working in the entertainment industry, best pick up a bottle of hair dye. Better red than dead, ya know?

2007 Texas BlodgerFest

Lock Up The Livestock, & Hide The Likker!

Apparently another Texas Blogfest is being planned. Head over to the official page, and toss in your two cents.

I like the idea of having it in Bandera, but I'll manage to drop in for a day even if we shack up in a van down by the river. Besides, I've gotta drink too much and urp up on Shoe, just so she'll feel at home...

These meets are a lot of fun, y'all. You get to put a face to a lot of your regular blog-reads. We mostly don't bite, and what happens at blogmeets... also gets blogged about. This ain't Vegas!

Confirmed so far:

Me, and also...
chou chope
Leslies Omnibus
Nancys Garden
Walrillas World

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Five Toys I Never Had

And I Would Have Traded My Little Sister For 'Em...

Following yesterday's "5 favorite toys I had as a kid" post are the top 5 toys I wanted, but never got. Don't worry, I wasn't a deprived child or anything like that. There were just certain items I absolutely *had* to have, and I never got 'em for one reason or another. I'm not the only one in this fix, and that's why eBay is so successful! Selling childhood dreams to people who can finally afford them!

1) Mousetrap Game - Don't know why I never got this one. I had plenty of other board games... I ended up pissing off a friend of mine by asking to play it every time I went to his house... Still don't own one today.

2) Atari 2600 - Dad bought a generic Pong machine about 3 years before the Atari came out, and from his POV, we already had a game that hooked up to the TV, so why buy another? He wouldn't even budge on Intellivision or ColecoVision... To this day I've never owned a console game system, and haven't really missed anything.

3) Stormtrooper Blaster Rifle - It's probably for the best that I didn't get this one... I got the Han Solo blaster pistol instead, and that led to years of playing on the rebel side and not for the Imperial forces. Almost without fail, the kids I knew that grew up lusting after the Empire and Darth Vader have become authoritarian closet-Nazi pricks.
I don't own one now, I can buy real blasters!

4) Space:1999 Eagle spaceship - Remember the episode where the missing spaceship turned out to be full of disguised tentacle monsters? That still gives me nightmares 30 year later...
I don't own one, grew up and realized what utter crap Space:1999 really was.

5) Big Wheel - I'm mentally scarred to this day due to being deprived of a Big Wheel... It's left a burning need for a three-wheeled thrill ride!

Guess I'll need to get one of these instead...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Five Favorite Toys

For Propriety's Sake, No Body Parts Are Included...

Following the lead of GuyK and Morning Glory, here's a quick look at 5 favorite toys I had as a kid.

The pics I pulled off of eBay, since I have no clue where any of these toys are now. I suspect they're in a big box buried in the garage, or have been sold off/given away years ago.

1) Fisher Price Little People Castle - The key to this one's longevity and attraction was that once you grew out of the Little People play stage, the castle was still a great playset for toy soldiers, action figures, and the occasional captive rodent.

2) Guns Of Navarone playset - Mom made a last minute dash up to the toy store Xmas 1977 to exchange the Star Wars Millenium Falcon playset for this one, solely because I'd last seen Star Wars that summer, and I'd seen the Guns Of Navarone movie on TV that winter, and it had a higher 'cool' factor. As did Mom. Like the castle, this one was used by a variety of other action figures.

3) LEGOS - I had bucketfuls. Built whatever my brain dreamed up for hours and hours. Still have a few of 'em hanging around here & there.

4) Star Wars Action Figures - From 1977 to the early 80's, not an afternoon went by without playin' some Star Wars. The release of Empire in 1980 restoked the fanboy fires, and I bought a few more action figures, but by ROTJ in '83, I'd moved on to chasing the wimmens, and all the figures got dumped in a box, where they remain today. Oh, except for R2D2. He's still on my desktop bookshelf.

5) Huffy Thunder Road bicycle - I looked for a picture of this one all over the Intarwebs, but came up short. Probably 'cause all of them have been destroyed through overuse and abuse. It had neither the appeal of the Schwinn Scrambler, or the sexiness of the Mongoose BMX, and in fact, was kinda lame in comparison. Still, I put more miles on that bike between 1976 and 1982 than most cars I've owned.

Honorable Mention - Hot Wheels & Matchbox cars, plastic model kits, Planet of the Apes toys

Monday, February 05, 2007

The $118 Tip

More Tales From My Wasted Yoot

I'm not quite sure what made me think of this story... Probably because I've been a bit of a nostalgic mood lately.

As a kid growing up, I hadn't learned to tip very well. Dad, usually not a complete skinflint, is still very frugal and does not believe in tipping over 10-12%, no matter what. Usually Mom or I had to loiter at the table to "finish our drink" and drop a few more bucks down when his back was turned.

It took dating a waitress before I had the finer points of tipping pounded into my thick skull. You know, the little things, like don't penalize the waitstaff for kitchen errors, don't eat the meal if you can't afford to tip, and for pete's sake, they make $2.65 an hour! Lay the damn money down, ya tightwad!

So, I consider myself a pretty good tipper. If you don't forget about me, keep my iced tea glass full, and don't spill soup down my neck, you'll get 20% every time. Kiss my ass and tell me how pretty my eyes are, and I've been known to up that to 25-30%. Hell, flattery gets you everywhere.

I've never gone completely overboard, though. I've heard of people tipping $1000 on a Denny's pancake breakfast in Vegas, or leaving a set of car keys for a particularly lucky waitperson. It'd be fun to lay down that kind of tip, but I just don't have the wherewithal to do it.

The closest I've come was when I was a freshman in high school. The marching band's tuba section (aka the bass-clef studmuffins) were a pretty tight crew. Our Executive Tuba Commander that year was a laid-back junior named Butch, and he'd promised the section that if we ran our route perfectly at that weekend's game, he'd treat for pizza afterwards. I think he was hoping we'd screw up, but we pulled it off, and off we went to Pizza Hut.

Our waitress, an extremely cute blonde, wasn't too sure about dealing with a rowdy group of high school guys. She stepped up to the plate, though, and didn't show an ounce of intimidation. Aside from being loud, we were fairly well behaved for a bunch of teenagers hopped up on root beer and pepperoni pizza.

We came *this* close to talking her into a couple of pitchers of real beer, but the manager on duty just wouldn't play along. She did slip us 3 extra pizzas that would have gotten tossed out at the end of the night, as well as untold extra pitchers of soda, managing to stay bubbly and flirty into the wee hours of the morning.

We managed to weasel out her life history one trip from the kitchen at a time. Single mom, just moved in from out of state, working two jobs, barely making ends meet, etc.

They locked their doors to new customers at midnight, and finally told us we had to go around 1 a.m. (Yeah, I know, 14 year olds shouldn't be out that late, but the Pizza Hut was literally across the street from the high school, and was 1/2 mile from my house. Every so often, my parents could be amazingly cool...)

After tallying up the bill, the general consensus was that she'd been an outstanding waitress, and we should show our appreciation. So, on a $62 tab, we put in $20 each, or $180 total.

When we finally convinced her that "No, we don't want any change back, you can keep it all", she did what my 14 year old brain thought was the strangest thing... she burst into tears. Turns out that daycare, Pampers and formula cost more than a bunch of teenage boys could have possibly imagined.

It's a lesson that's stuck with me over the years. If you can afford to eat out regularly, odds are you're a lot more financially solvent than your waiter is, and that extra dollar you drop won't make a lick of difference to you. It might, however, mean the difference between making or not making a light bill payment for someone else.

Walk out on a tip for no good reason, or stiff the group on it on a combined check, and you're on my shit list forever! Just so we're clear on that...

So, Bon Appetit, and don't forget the tip! (Said the hooker to the leper... Sorry, had to beat Elisson to the punchline...)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Subway Serendipity

Well, Imagine Meeting YOU Here!

Jared turned me off of Subway.

Seriously. Every time I went in, it seemed everyone in there would hold their breath to see if this fat guy would be like Jared and order a 6" sub, hold the mayo and cheese, on my way to a brand new physique.

Heh. Fat chance. No pun intended.

Nope, I likes me a foot-long meatball on white, with plenty of onions, black olives and green peppers.

Anyway, I got tired of the spectacle I was making, however unintentionally, and pretty much quit going to Subway. Until my driver's side window on the truck quit going up & down last month. This, my friends, makes going through a drive-through pretty much an impossibility.

So, I've been getting out of the truck and walking into places for my daily caloric intake process. In addition to burning an additional 3000 calories climbing in and out of that tall-ass truck, I now choose more go-in-and-sit-down places, as opposed to the usual dead-cow-on-a-bun-shoved-through-a-window places.

The nearest Subway to my shack is right next to the Blockbuster, and it's always such a PITA to park there that I've still kept it off my list of places to go. Still, after driving by one packed place after another, I finally felt the need for a meatball sub. I braved the hordes of teenyboppers surging in and out of Blockbuster, found a parking spot and went in for my sub.

Imagine my surprise when the man standing in line in front of me turned out to be my father! Mom was there too, parked in a booth. They'd been out running errands, and apparently had felt the need for a tuna melt and a turkey & cheese, respectively. How we managed to choose the same Subway at the same time out of the several in NW Houston was just a roll of the dice.

So, rather than the usual dash back to the house to eat dinner in front of my square-headed girlfriend, I got to have a sitdown dinner with my parents, the first time since Xmas.

So, if you feel that urge for a meatball sub or cold cut combo, better pull on in. You never know who might be waiting for you!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Six Weird Things

What, Only Six?

I hardly know where to begin with this one. I'm so effin' weird I could write two or three "100 weird things about me" without trying too hard.

Still, I rarely get meme-tagged, so I'll play along...

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the six weird things about yourself. People who get tagged need to write a blogpost of their own six weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose six people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

OK, I am weird because...

1) I debate plucking the one visible grey hair on my scalp every morning. The vast expanse of bald scalp in the mirror has so far guaranteed it a reprieve.

2) I can whistle while inhaling just about as well as I can whistle exhaling. So, I can annoy people with virtually non-stop whistling.

3) I'm more likely to re-read an old favorite than pull a new book off the "To be read" stack. My "To be read" stack is taller than I am.

4) I'm a map-aholic. I have a box stuffed full of 50-60 pounds worth of assorted road maps, topo maps, atlases, trail maps, geological charts, etc. I used to have my bedroom wallpapered in maps. Needless to say, I rarely get lost.

5) I squirt two different kinds of liquid soap on the washcloth while showering. One's antibacterial/deodorant/manly smelling, but doesn't rinse off very well. The Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap is a castile soap, and cuts the heavier soap to rinse cleaner. Plus, you smell all minty fresh.

6) I've made hot dog enchiladas before. Roll the dogs up in tortillas with chili and cheese, pour enchilada sauce over the top, add more cheese and bake until gooey. Disgustingly tasty, and I'm ashamed to admit I ate them. I also tried tandoori hot dogs, but that didn't work out so well.

The lucky SOB's contestants tagged for this game are:







If you've already been tagged, I'm sure there's 6 more weird things about you. Bloggers are a pretty weird crew, I've noticed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Bird In The Hand...

Brother, Can You Spare Two Grand??

Ruger has finally let a few of their new 4" barreled Redhawk Revolvers leak out to the gunwriters and wholesalers for review.

I've had a Redhawk on my "To Buy Next" list long enough that it probably will be my next gun purchase. I've been wanting a .44 Magnum, and they just don't make 'em more durable than the Redhawks.

Here's the new model:

I'm a bit concerned that the MSRP is around $800. I know, you can knock off $200-250 by getting one at a gun show, but that's still a hefty tariff, considering the 5.5" barreled version can be had used for less than $400. Also, it doesn't appear that a factory porting job will be an option, so there's another $120 I'd need to spend. And, yes, I'd *really* need to get it ported. Full-house .44 Mag loads in a 4" barrel are gonna be a thrill ride!

I don't know how their proprietary rubber grip is going to affect me adding a finger-groove wooden grip, either. According to one gun reviewer, you have to use a special wedge tool to get the grips off, and who knows how that system will affect adding custom grips.

I dunno. Maybe I'd be better off going with the longer-barreled version. Long term plans for the pistol are to turn it into an heirloom piece. I'm shopping around for custom engravers who will work on stainless guns. I'd like to get a 50-60% coverage, and my name down the backstrap. Maybe the family's cattle brand on one side panel. That'll cost 5 or 6 bills, minimum. An action job, custom grips, port job and some nice leather, and I'll have a piece worthy of relatives squabbling over after I'm gone, all for around 2K.

Oh, well. Gun show this weekend. Maybe I'll go do some comparison shopping...

Molly Ivins 1944-2007

Some Editorial Deadlines Can't Be Skipped...

Molly Ivins usually infuriated me.

That wasn't always the case. When her snarky newspaper columns were aimed at the assorted incompetents and blowhards in the Texas Lege, I usually agreed with her. The classic line from 'Star Wars', "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" must have been inspired by a visit to Austin when the Lege was in session.

Then, there's her classic observation about Pat Buchanan's '92 speech at the Republican National convention that "...sounded better in the original German..." Heh. That one still makes me giggle.

I admired her rabble-rousing populist spirit, but when she cranked out the columns inspired by Bush Derangement Syndrome, or started pontificating on gun control, I usually blew a gasket. It got to the point where I just quit reading her columns altogether.

I met her once, back in the mid-90's. I'd driven my mother to one of Molly's book signings, and Molly kindly took several minutes she didn't really have to spend with Mom dicussing their mutual opposition to the death penalty. I bit my tongue through the entire conversation, of course. Mom got a kick out of it, though, and that's what mattered.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, except maybe to say that as a human being, I can't be so blinded by my opposition to the dunderheaded liberal left that I can't still feel sorrow when one of them passes on. We probably disagreed on 80% of all things political, but she had talent, she called 'em like she saw 'em, and she was a Texan through and through. That's good enough for me.

Adios, Molly. Texas is a duller place without you.

There's a big tribute article at the Texas Observer and another at Creator's Syndicate.