Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Monday, January 31, 2011

Project LOLA: Day 500

Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner, I promise you.

-- William Makepeace Thackeray

Well, the unthinkable has happened...

Following my last report on LOLA, and sick unto death of the endless salads and low-fat/low-carb/low-salt/low-taste cuisine, I tried to slip in a few tasty tidbits here & there.

Oh, never too much at once. A chili dog from Sonic one day. An omelet and pancakes one Sunday morning. A bag of chips another day. Several holiday parties and office events with their abundant cuisine. One dinner at Taco Bell. A large bag of popcorn at the movies, a drink or two on an occasional evening, and so forth. All in the name of reducing the pressure of LOLA, and taking a wee bit of a break.

I honestly thought I was staying under the daily "break even" limit on the majority of days, but apparently not.

The scale says I've gained weight. Almost 10 lbs.

Now, I'm not entirely sure I trust the scale. It's on a health & fitness kiosk down in the downtown tunnels, and you've got to perch on a little bench and put your feet up on a rest before pushing the "Weigh My Fat Ass" button. It's not the most stable apparatus, but aside from using the digital scale at the Doc In The Box all the way out in Katy, it's the only available scale that goes up to "OMFG YOU WEIGH A TON!!" levels.

To gain that much weight since my last weigh-in on Jan. 7th, we're talking a 35,000 calorie surplus spread over 3 weeks. That's 1666 extra calories a day above and beyond the break even point of 3000 calories.

There's no effin' way I've eaten 4666 calories per day over the last 3 weeks.

I dunno, maybe I should have taken some Ex-Lax & an extra diuretic that morning. A serious dump is always good for at least a couple of pounds, anyway.

Still, the scale says what it says. And what that says to me is that I just can't give myself a break.

Just as an alcoholic can't have the occasional drink and expect to remain sober for any length of time, it appears that I can't eat the occasional chili dog or burrito and expect to keep losing weight.

So, back to raw cabbage & tapwater for the foreseeable future.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go beat my head against a wall for a while, then go walking.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Project EBR: First Look

More Options Than Mickey D's, Pizza Hut, & BK Combined!

OK, here's the first peek at Project EBR, the next LOLA bonus gun.

EBR, for you non-gunnies, stands for "Evil Black Rifle". It's the name jokingly used for AR-15's, HK 91's and FN FAL clones, to name a few. Basically it's a semi-auto sporter rifle based on a military design, feeds from a box magazine, and is typically called an "assault rifle" by the thumb-suckers and pantywaist gun-hating crowd.

Naturally, I had to add one to my gun collection. (Which, according to the aforementioned thumb-sucking pantywaisted gun-hating crowd, would be called a sizable arsenal!)

I decided to build it myself instead of buying one off the rack. I won't save any money, but I'll get to pick exactly the options I want.

And therein lies the problem. You can spend WEEKS researching all the available permutations of your basic AR-15 setup. You want a 600 yard coyote laser with a scope and a free-floating bull barrel? No problem. You want a short-barreled door-buster? Pay your SBR fee, and it's yours! The possibilities are endless...

To build your own, you start out with a stripped lower receiver. This is the lower half of the rifle's action, and the only part regulated by the BATFEIEIO.

I picked up one made by Spike's Tactical at Collector's Firearms. I could have gone for a cheaper version, but this is their Zombie-themed lower, which tickled my fancy.

Lower Receiver Pic:

The Zombie logo:

Check out the fire selector options!!

I bought a lower parts kit (all the fiddly bits in the action) at a gun show, and ordered the stock from Midway, and the buffer tube, recoil spring and buffer from Rock River Arms, and commenced to building.

Total cost at this stage is just a hair over $300, and the result looks very much like this:

That's the Spikes lower, an ACE skeleton stock, and a Magpul 30 round magazine. I used the spiffy AR Builder from Brownell's to do the mockups, then tweaked it in Photoshop.

Eventually, as I reach another LOLA milestone (and save up some serious $$$, the upper is by far the most expensive part) I'll add the barreled upper and have a shootable rifle. Adding a scope or a holographic sight will come later.

I've decided on a 16" barrel, in the configuration known as a "Dissipator". This is a shorter barrel than the standard 20" GI issue, with the full length handguards and the front sight shoved out towards the end of the barrel. This gives you a better sight radius, and the metal shields inside the handguards help deflect the heat from the barrel, hence the "Dissipator" name.

The big question that I haven't figured out is, which receiver do I go with?? A traditional A2 with handle and sights, or an A3 with a rail??

Here's the two options:



The A2 has a more traditional look, and I kinda prefer it, but the A3 with the rail makes it SOOO much easier to mount optics.

I imagine I'll do 90% of the shooting over iron sights in broad daylight. Let's not kid ourselves, I'm not an SEAL operator or SWAT wannabe needing a $1000 ACOG scope, or even a $600 Aimpoint.

I may split the difference, and get the railed A3, and buy a detachable handle with National Match sights.

So, there it is, Project EBR. I hope to get it finished up by this summer!

Let me know what you think!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm Not Buyin' It!!

Another Immaculate Conception?

I have a new cousin.

Well, a second cousin, or third cousin thrice removed, or however that works...

Here's the story:

My mom's cousin has a daughter. Well, she has two daughters, but the first one got married and had a kid last summer.

The younger daughter (I'll call her Blondie, for various reasons...) hatched her first one sometime in the last month. I'm kind of fuzzy on the date, 'cause no one knew she was pregnant.

Including Blondie.

As the story goes, she was out walking her dog in the park, when the little dog was set upon by another mutt. In the ensuing kerfuffle, she took a dive and got banged up a bit. Dog was fine, Blondie had to go into the hospital a couple of days later for severe abdominal pains.

At the hospital, it was revealed that not only was she pregnant, but they delivered the baby two days later.

Now, I'm assuming that the kid was at least 7 or 8 months along, and judging from the blurry cell-phone picture mailed out by my Mom's cousin, it's at least 6-7 lbs, so it's not exactly a tiny baby.

Both cousin and daughter swear on a stack of Bibles that neither had a clue about the pregnancy.

I might buy the story if Blondie was the size of a Buick, and the kid was lost in a vast cavernous abdomen. She is most definitely not a fat girl. Here's a pic taken last spring of Blondie (in the red dress) and her sister:

At the very least, you'd think she might have missed the monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Even as spacey as she is, she had to know that having sex + missing period = Time to pee on a stick and see what's up.

OK, there's always female reproductive system irregularities, but I just don't see how they missed it.

If you're of the female persuasion and have carried a child to term, please chime in and let me know if there's any way this scenario was possible. Blondie's a sweet kid, and other than the very real possibility of her absentmindedly leaving the kid behind somewhere because she's texting on her cell phone 24/7, she'll be a good mom.

I hope...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flaming Reeboks?

Los Zapatos Demonicos

I'm about ready to burn another pair of shoes...

Last time I got this PO'ed at my footwear was in 1989 or 1990 while working at summer camp. I had a pair of Hi-Tec lightweight hiking boots that went from brand-new to completely torn apart inside of 3 weeks.

OK, I was workin' them pretty hard, but even getting them soaked and walking them dry several times a week, you wouldn't expect them to self-destruct in under a month.

I had to wrap duct tape around the shoes just to hold them together long enough to get through the week. Once I replaced them the next weekend (with some GI surplus jungle boots), I ceremoniously set them ablaze outside my tent. They smoldered for the better part of a day, and I made sure to piss on 'em a few times to keep them from burning too quickly.

Fast forward 20 years, and I've once again got annoying shoes. I bought some Reebok hikers last summer, and these damn things won't stop squeaking.

If they get wet, or even if the humidity goes over 90%, they commmence to squeaking loudly every time I take a step. It's so loud, I'm embarrassed to go walking down in the tunnels under downtown. You can hear me coming from 4 blocks away.

I've tried everything, pulling out the innersoles, running them through the dryer, checking the soles for loose rubber. I even got a pointy knife and stabbed the shit out of the soles, hoping to pop any inner air chamber that might be farting air.


It's enough to drive you bonkers. You might want to... I dunno... set your shoes on fire!!

I'm gonna buy another pair of Doc Martens. They can just deal with it at work, dress code be damned!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good Day At The Range!

Booze, Cards & Guns. It's A Typical Texas Weekend!

It was a busy weekend for El Capitan!

First stop was the gun show at Reliant Arena to sell off a couple of gun room dust catchers. Since I bought the Walther PPK, I really didn't need the Charter Arms .38 snubbie, and the 6" Ruger Single Six is a MUCH more accurate .22 than the 2" barreled Smith & Wesson 2214, so those got bundled up and peddled off.

It was a bit of a wrench letting go of perfectly good firearms, but part of the $$ will be funding Project EBR, and the rest blown on cocaine and whores. OK, not really the coke. Maybe just a really inexpensive whore...

Or not...

Anyway, I got lucky while resting my overwalked feet, and an old codger offered to buy both of 'em. Got more than I paid for the pair while still giving him a $75 reduction on the "list" price. (and I was starting $100 LESS than the auction sites!)

We both walked away happy, so it was good all around. I don't worry so much selling the handguns to a guy in his 70's, either. Odds are he won't be carjacking a Lexus or sticking up a Mini-Mart. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

An afternoon full of errands concluded with a drive up to the Cisco Kid's place, where I met him in order to drive up to the Safecracker's house on Lake Conroe for some poker.

We played poker until the wee hours, and I got pleasantly squiffy on Safecracker's scotch. With CK as the designated driver, I didn't have to cut myself off as early!

We were out on Safecracker's back porch watching the lake when I noticed the bell he had hanging on the porch rail had a Latin inscription. I was in the midst of puzzling it out, when Safecracker's son said "He reads Latin??"

I tried to explain in my slightly pickled state that it wasn't so much reading the Latin as digging down through 25+ years of condensed brain stuffing to try and unearth whatever got wedged in my noodle in 2 years of high school Latin.

I got it mostly figured out, but had to go find a Latin dictionary to get the last word. It translates (more or less) as "He who touches me hears my voice". A suitable quote for bells, or for siblings in the back seat of a car...

Sunday morning I shook off the alcohol fumes and wandered out to the ASC gun range to meet Zibig & CK.

The social aspect of it was not quite what I'd hoped, but I had a great day with the new PPK and some new loads for the .45 revolver.

The PPK shot like a dream. It's a little snappier than I expected, even allowing for the weight of the steel frame. I can only imagine how much of a slap you get from the polymer-framed Kel Tec P32!

I'm going to start calling it the Nazi Death Ray. It is, to quote a random Bostonian, "Wicked accurate!!"

I found a load that the .45 Redhawk likes. Not quite one ragged hole, but there's 50 rounds of 255 grain lead slugs that passed through that sheet of paper. Once I get that replicated with a 300 grain Keith-style bullet, it'll be time to go hog-popping!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stompy The Cat

More Crazy Cat Antics

As Betsy Cat gets older, she's developed some pretty annoying habits.

Her almost total deafness has turned her sweet little meow into a piercing yowl. She "forgets" where the litterbox is, and prefers to whiz on the carpet in front of the hall closet, or under the old computer desk in my office.

The latest, though, is gonna result in her being banished to the garage...

Most cats have this instinctive "kneading" behavior. As kittens, they'd paw at the mama cat's belly to get the milk flowing, and older cats will sometimes do this rhythmic pushing against something as they relax, usually purring while they do.

Betsy Cat, though? She's just gotta be different.

She jumps up on my bed, and after walking up, down and across me several times looking for a spot to hang out, she'll begin stomping the sheets, usually without regard to me being under them.

None of this laying down and gently kneading! Oh, no! She stands up and commences to stomp with her front paws back and forth over a wide swath until everything's nicely tenderized, at which point she settles down and yowls until I skritch her ears for a while.

It was cute at first, but after being jarred awake at 3 AM by a cat stomping on your back, it's getting kinda old...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things You Never Knew You Needed!

The Miracle Of Internet Commerce!

Man, you can find just about anything on the 'net...

Hoof Glue

Asparagus Brush

Chain Steering Wheel

20 lbs of marshmallow cereal bits

Pearl Necklace

2200 deg C zirconia crucible

Cigar Store Indian

Giant Douchebag (No, it's not Glenn Beck...)

"Chillow" pillow cooling device

High Radiation Level Uranium Ore

Inflatable Turkey

Nipple clamps NSFW!

Hamster Grooming Brush

Rocket Nozzle Mix

What bizarre goodies have you found out on the web??

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rural Tooth Decay?

Online Conundrums

OK, you folks from West Virginia, Mississippi and Arkansas need to explain this...

So, I'm on Woot, one of many "daily deal" sites on the Intertubes, and today's offering is a 48-pack of the Colgate Wisp disposable toothbrushes. I love these things. Usually keep a 4-pack in my desk drawer and also in the truck to scrub the nasty out of my gob after something spicy or garlicky.

I order a bundle of the peppermint scrubbers, and then take a look at the sales statistics broken down by state.

Top purchasers appear to be in Utah, which makes sense, sorta. Lotta green Jello/marshmallow salads being consumed in that state, by all accounts.

OTOH, almost zero being sold in the aforementioned West Virginia, Mississippi and Arkansas. Also, you clamdiggers up in Maine need to get with the program!

Anyway, possibly just a hillbilly stereotype, but it is somewhat suspect...

Sparkly Fun!

Great Ideas That Kinda-Sorta Worked...

The New Years Eve confetti shotgun loads!

Next time, more powder, more payload, and a tighter crimp on the open end!

(Click pic to embigginate!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Well, I Tried...

When Habits Become Vices?

OK, I went to the grocery store with the intent of completely screwing up the diet in some obscene fashion. I'd intended on procuring a pan of Stouffer's lasagna, some gooey pastries, maybe some meatloaf & mashed 'tater supplies, and, of course, a metric assload of thick-sliced bacon and those humongous flaky biscuits.


I just couldn't do it. Couldn't put anything in the shopping cart except the usual veggies, salad supplies, cottage cheese, lean chicken and rice cakes.

I did splurge on these, though:

At 300 calories for the entire package, it's not going to have any significant effect, so I doubt if it even rises to the level of cheating...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More Adventures In Reloading

At Least I've Got All My Fingers Attached!

Here's some things you might want to avoid...

Primer seated backwards. Load your primer tray carefully!

Primer off center. Something got out of whack between the feed tube & the press.

Primer completely mangled. See above, then add a full stroke on the loading lever. Good thing this didn't go BANG!

Bullet seating depth adjustment completely FUBAR'ed.

Misaligned shell plate in sizing die stage.

These went into the decapping die cockeyed. A correctly-sized case loader fixed this issue, for the most part.

See that deep gouge below the dent? That was left by the decapping pin just before it snapped in two!

Too much bullet, not enough case diameter. Adjust your expanding die to bell out the case mouth just a skosh more!

Here endeth the cautionary lesson, kiddies. Once I got everything tweaked correctly, the Lee Loadmaster worked flawlessly for a couple of hundred rounds!

Happy Reloading!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Diet Fatigue

Project LOLA: Slogging Through The Doldrums

I finally stepped on a scale in 2011, and somehow I managed to lose weight over the holidays. Only 5 lbs between mid-December and last Friday, but considering the obscene amount of food I put away Xmas day and New Years Eve, I'm OK with it.

The problem is... I want to jump off the wagon for a while. I keep edging up the calorie count bit by bit. Oh, I'm careful to stay below the break-even point, but given that I'm not significantly increasing my exercise level, I'm going to see some seriously diminished returns.

I'm getting awfully tired of the diet, though. I find myself driving by the local Taco Bell more often, gazing at the monthly special, and salivating over the thought of a bag of chili-cheese burritos.

In fact, thoughts of chili are consuming most of my waking moments. When the weather's frosty, salads just don't do the trick. I want a plate of chili dogs, followed by a chili-cheeseburger and some of my chili-spiked spaghetti.

I dream about Frito pies, where you dump an entire bag of chili-cheese Fritos in a big bowl, mix in a double fistful of shredded cheddar and chopped onions, then pour over the top a gigantimous can of piping-hot Wolf chili (NO FUCKING BEANS!!) and then add another handful of cheese on top and broil until gooey. Actually, I'd prefer Gebhardt canned chili, but they haven't made that in a decade or more.

Then, a pot of homemade red. Canned chili is better for a Frito pie. Just as you don't pour Maker's Mark over Coke, you don't use quality chili in a casserole.

I honestly don't know how much longer I can do this. I want some biscuits & gravy, and cheesy-crust pizza, and half a gallon of strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and a sheet pan full of lasagna, and a Dairy Queen Dude sandwich, and throw it all in a bucket, and put some Eggs Benedict on top! And a wafer-thin mint, of course...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rebranding With The Man

Fun & Games In The Big City

Well, the move has happened. Sort of...

My little section got moved out of The Man's office and relocated in Human Resources. Physically, we haven't gone anywhere, 'cause there's no room at the inn, and no funding to pay for a build-out.

In all other respects, we're now full-fledged members of HR. I've gone to 5 meetings in the past 6 days, and that trend will probably continue. These people hold meetings just to plan future meetings, it seems. I'm going to have to pull everyone's salary, figure out the hourly pay for all participants, and let everyone know just how many dollars are going out the window while people brainstorm around a conference table. The free donuts no longer sway my allegiance these days, since I can't eat 'em.

I blame it on my time out in the corporate world. If you weren't able to justify the cost of pulling so many people off the floor for that many hours a week, you just didn't hold a meeting.

The Grand High Muckity-Muck assures us that she's not a micro-manager, yet already has started to dictate what is and isn't important among the duties we've been doing for the past 6 years. Having learned that she's already been slapped down for not following The Man's policies & procedures, that is probably going to come back & bite her on the ass. I bitch and gripe constantly about the demands from certain factions of The Man's adoring public, but they'll be quick to shriek & holler when I tell them that according to the G.H. Muckity-Muck "it's more important for you to serve internal customers than to interact with the public."

Yeah, that'll go over well...

Besides, it gets me out of the office from time to time. Never let it be said that I don't pander to my own baser instincts!

I've been assigned to oversee some of the departmental re-organizations. See, we can't call them layoffs, even though as a side effect of the re-org is that dozens of people will get their walking papers. If you call it a re-org, though, you get to avoid the bad press. Mostly.

This might not be completely fun, but it sure as heck won't be boring.

Monday, January 10, 2011

OK, That's Ugly.

Just Keepin' The Rhythm...

If, in a moment of vacant woolgathering, you start tapping yourself on the knee with a 5 oz tack hammer along with the beat to a AC/DC tune, you might want to stop.

After three verses, you might find that your leg will turn a lovely shade of purple & blue the following day.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Cats, Cocks & Contests

An Omnibus Blogpost

Ever been a chaperone for a cat?

Betsy Cat has developed some quirks in her advancing years. Rather than drink out of the water bowl, she seems to prefer lapping the water off the floor of the shower once I've finished.

One of her less endearing quirks is to pee on the bathroom fuzzy rug after she gets finished drinking. She's deaf as a post, and has her share of 'senior moments', so before she starts to squat, I have to shoo her out and make sure she heads to the litterbox.

So, most mornings find me damp & towel-wrapped, waiting for the cat to drink her fill. At least she's not drinking out of the toilet...


I had another rooster incident today. I was hanging out at Cigar Towne, watching Seattle beat the Saints, when a wandering bantam rooster poked its head in the doorway. The assembled crowd tried to deduce where it might have come from, but it's a mystery. There's no homes within a couple of blocks, just hotels, offices and retail shops.

I went outside and scooped it up. It seemed quite well-behaved, and not at all scared of being held. I put it up on the patio table so it wouldn't get trod upon, whereupon it started crowing. That kinda clashed with the football game, so it got placed back on the sidewalk to continue doing chicken things.

I left at halftime, and the rooster was nowhere to be seen. With a BBQ restaurant and an Italian eatery in the same center, it doesn't bode well for the little guy. Hope he made it back to the hen coop!


We have a winner in the caption contest!

I was beginning to wonder if I'd get a good giggle out of the submissions, and Graumagus had just the right mix of snark and tastelessness. ConnYank was a close second, though!

Congrats, Grau! Drop me an email with your meatspace address, and I'll get your shiny trinket sent off in the mail!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Off The Grid

When Meatspace Intrudes Into Blogspace!

Man, what a week...

I hadn't intended to let a couple of days go by without updating this little hole in the web, but it's been kind of hectic in the big city.

My friend the Skinny Little White Chick was in Houston for a couple of days, and I got to drag her all over Houston showing her the sights. After retrieving her from the far-off Suburbia, we fueled up on Rat Toes (crab-stuffed jalapeno poppers) and fried gator tail at Razoo's, then bopped around town in the Big Red Truck. SLWC was returning from a job on Cebu, an island in the Philippines inhabited by things you mainly see in reptilian horror films.

We hung out at Stogie's for a while, and no doubt alarmed the patrons at The Palm steakhouse next door as we sat out on the patio and shot the breeze. One of the things I love about SLWC is that there's no topic you can't talk about with her. When you discuss the relative merits of 3rd world sex practices and Monica Bellucci's luscious lips in public, though, we might have raised a few eyebrows!

After dumping SLWC downtown in the dead of night to find her way back home, I had to head home and get a little sleep before the Thursday shitstorm.

My little section of The Man's Purity Police are officially moving to Human Resources on Monday, and it's a clusterfuck from the word go. Oh, it's a better fit for me professionally, but now I've got to deal with the schedule of the old & new departments until the changeover is complete, in addition to going all over H-town doing training. I don't expect much sleep for the next 8 weeks.

My boss & I did a salary review of the HR staff, and discovered we're severely underpaid by comparison. (If you just gotta know, go here...) I'm hoping I can wangle enough of a bump to cover some law school tuition, as well as some cash to do a nip & tuck when Project LOLA gets on the downhill side. We shall see.

Poker night tonight. Time to offer up my shekels to the folks smart enough not to chase a flush or bet a wad on 7-27. At least there will be cigars & bourbon!

See y'all soon!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Caption Contest!!

When All Else Fails, Post A Weird Photo...

OK, I haven't done a caption contest in a while.

Best entry wins something shiny from my bottomless Desk Drawer Of Junk!!

Give it your best shot!

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Rocket's Red Glare

Turning $$ Into Smoke, Light & Noise!

Just a quick note on the New Year's Eve fiesta...

The Cisco Kid threw the party at Casa del Poker, and had big pots of red beans & rice & gumbo, as well as a bucket of boiled shrimp. So, you can safely assume the diet took a hit that evening...

All those skyrockets I bought in Tennessee flew up into the great beyond, along with these bad-ass mortars supplied by CK. I've definitely decided to go for quality over quantity next year. Bigger is definitely better, and hundreds of little rockets don't quite have the impact of giant star shells!

I brewed up some confetti rounds to launch out of the 12 gauge shotgun. Everyone gets so hot & bothered about shooting guns in the air on New Year's Eve, (and rightly so), but if you can make the bang without the falling bullets, why not?

They worked, but without a shell reloading press to crimp the rounds tightly, they fizzed and puffed more than they banged, and the confetti mostly got lost up in the dark sky. Ah, well. Back to the drawing board...

Saturday was a trip to the gun show with CK, and I got some supplies for Project EBR. Project EBR is one of my New Year's Resolutions that I'll actually keep! I'll unveil that bundle of joy sometime later this year.

Sunday was supposed to be spent cleaning out the garage, but plans were changed, and a trip to the bookstore and a cigar lounge for football viewing was substituted instead. Not quite as productive, but infinitely more enjoyable!!

Hope y'all had a good start to 2011!!