Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Green Machine Redux

More Awesomely Impractical Toys!

Back in 2007, I blogged about a Hemi-powered Big Wheel:

Now it appears history repeats itself, with a competitor to the Big Wheel making an appearance!

Behold! The Harley-Davidson 80 c.i. engine Green Machine!

Built by Parker Brothers Choppers!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nocturnal Visitors

I Can See Lepidoptera By The Front Porch Light!

I had my camera tucked into one of the pockets of my lawn chair in order to get pics of the "Supermoon" a few nights ago. Alas, cloud cover made that an exercise in futility, but I did have the camera handy to catch these two visitors.

This first one was easy to find online. I just Googled "white moth with black circles" and found out that this is a Hypercompe scribonia or Giant Leopard Moth.

No clue what this one is. He was nice enough to stay on the wall and not flutter around in my hair, like most moths usually do.

The June bugs are already gathering by the dozen under the porch light, and it's only March. Wish the neighborhood cats would eat them...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cat In The Sack

Feline Frolics

Pookie Cat is getting used to being the only cat in the house.

F'rinstance, she's learned to jump into the "cat nest" (the warm divot in the mattress previously occupied by El Capitan once he gets up to shower) and stay there most of the morning.

She looked so comfortable, I had to scoop her up and tickle her toes. The aggrieved yowling could be heard for miles...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Heads Are Gonna Roll

The Xerox Is FULL Of Resumes!

OK, back to The Man's "rightsizing" situation...

Understand that this is a worst-case scenario. Each of The Man's departments will be doing whatever cost-cutting they can before moving on to the pink slips.

In some cases, numbers can be shuffled to a certain extent. A lot of folks will use this as a good excuse to retire, if they're eligible. A few personnel can be moved to a revenue-generating area and get them out of the Central Fund. Others can get their salaries charged off to a grant or ongoing construction projects, but by & large, many departments don't have any income to speak of that doesn't come out of The Man's big pot o' gold. Their biggest budget item is salaries & benefits.

Needless to say, they'll take the hardest hit, and will likely lose 10-25% of their staff.

I've blurred the names just a bit, in order to obfuscate any obvious Google searches, but you can figure out more or less which departments I'm referring to.

Once again, this is all based on previously published information. The pdf file is posted on the local fishwrapper's website.

OK, the ugly is as follows:

Department - Current Staff - Projected FTE Loss

Guns - 7456 - 602
Hoses - 4032 - 408
Tickets - 369 - 21
Trash - 650 - 61
Beancounters - 69 - 18
Lawyers - 190 - 31
Rules & Regs - 450 - 58
Emergency Phones - 231 - 30
Audits - 74 - 27
Bookworms - 484 - 177
Golf, Pools & Trees - 893 - 315
Clinics & Food Cops - 1089 - 231
Buildings - 275 - 160
Realtors - 28 - 7
Casas y Barrios - 137 - 4 (They got this treatment last year)
Stage & Screen - 116 - 6
The Man's Office - 60 - 15
Equality - 30 - 12
Nazgul's Offices - 85 - 27
Networks - 188 - 95
Dept. Of The Future - 100 - 41
People - 240 - 17

Total - 22440 - 2363

Unless pennies start dropping from heaven PDQ, this will all be pushed through by June 1, and those long lines and slow service y'all are always griping about are gonna get a lot worse.

The county & state are in the same boat. If you can do your business online, that's going to be a lot quicker than driving downtown!

More news as I know it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Infinite Bacon

Which Came First, The Bacon Or The Eggs?

OK, the Internet bacon overload has just about run its course.

Still, anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.

So, here's a porkuliffic wallpaper for those who haven't yet had their fill of smoked pig belly!!

(Click pic for tasty embiggination!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Riding The Pale Horse

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

I've done some fucked up things in my life, but this just takes the cake...

I'm really at a loss to explain just how wretchedly horrible things have become at work, but at the risk of getting shitfaced and writing for half the night, let me sum up.

The Man has got a bit of a budget problem. The shortfall for the last fiscal year had all of The Man's minions taking an unpaid furlough day once a month. This year's shortfall is multiplied by a factor of ten. Facing a budget shortfall of 130 million dollars, the majority of The Man's departments are facing cuts of more than a quarter of last year's budget. Some will get off easier. Guns & Hoses will only lose 5%, but since they're the bulk of The Man's FTEs, it'll hit them just as bad as the Bookworms, the Beancounters and the Great Unwashed.

Factoring in benefits & pensions, you can assume an average of Umpteen Thousand per FTE. (I assure you, I'm well below the median...) So, to make up the 130M shortfall, it's pretty much a given that over two thousand minions will get their walking papers before long.

Oh, they'll cut services and programs where they can to reduce the carnage, but it's gonna get ugly.

I've been at this rodeo before. 10 years ago, I got shipped from Dallas up to Toronto to train my replacement up in Greater Canuckistan, then kissed 7+ years of a career goodbye, which is how I wound up back in H-Town.

Here's the kicker: Do a good job, gain a reputation for picking up turds by the clean end and polishing them all sparkly, and you'll be rewarded for your diligence. I'm also known for my rare ability to keep my mouth shut. I spend more time talking to y'all than I do to my co-workers, and this hasn't gone unnoticed by the Powers That Be.

No, not the blogging part! The bit about not spreading gossip. When the time comes to sharpen the headsman's axe, they want someone who can keep a secret.

So, my reward (if you can call it that) is to aid in overseeing the upcoming layoff plans.

(On that note: No gotdamn sonderkommando jokes! That shit ain't funny, guys...)

By April 1, the various departments will start submitting them for review. By May 1, the pink slips will start to flow. The Man's regulations are pretty precise. There's a formula to be followed, and every minion will be placed in a four-tiered system.

Ultimately, it comes down to seniority and annual review scores. Score high in both, and you might keep your job.

But not always... There might be someone underneath you who's got irreplaceable skills. They might get an Exception Letter, which is a Golden Ticket to cause the Angel Of Unemployment to pass over your cubicle.

I'd like to think I'll fall in that category, but I won't know until the very end. Adding insult to injury, we were informed this morning that we would be the very last group to go through the wringer. They need us intact to do the bloody work on the rest of the carcass. I'll see every single department ahead of time, know every name on the layoff list a month before the axe falls EXCEPT for my own department. That one's being done by one of the Nazgul, and they keep secrets better than me.

For those of you who are wondering how I can relate all this to you and still maintain the legal fiction of keeping it on the QT, it's all online if you know where to look and how to read the runes. A matter of public record, as it were...

If the axe falls, it'll be quick. Once you're told, you're shuffled out the door that very day, all access and network privileges cut off while you're in the rubber room getting your pink slip. You'll be escorted by security to clean out your desk, and walked to the exit. I find that insulting to the Nth degree, but I suppose too many people have gone apeshit in the past to expect a more professional process.

So, if things get spotty over the next few weeks, I apologize in advance. I'm going to be sorting through my office and carting things home, as well as sterilizing my office PC in the event the dice come up snake-eyes. I'm also going to be floating a $h!tload of resumes in the interim, since you're a lot more employable while you're currently employed.

I'd like to assume I'll be working for The Man until I retire, but you know what they say about that. Best to be prepared, and this old Eagle Scout has that engraved on his skull.

More news as I know it. Y'all be well, and think some happy thoughts.

El Capitan

Friday, March 18, 2011

Adventures In Babysitting

One Does Not Simply Walk Into Chuck E. Cheese!!

Well, this is gonna be fun.

Grammy & Pop-Pop are out seeing a show. My sister wants to go carousing with her high school friends.

So, guess who gets to babysit the niece & nephew??

Oh, it's not like I do much on Friday nights, anyway.

Besides, I got all the necessary supplies ready!

Am I missing anything??

Post 2501

And Now For Something Completely Inane!

Ooops. Forgot to mention in the last post that I've hit the 2500 mark.

You'd think I'd get better over time, wouldn't you??

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Old Photograph

History Is Closer Than You Think...

Here's an interesting photo from Dad's archives.

In November 1963, Dad had served his hitch with the Navy & was living in Arlington, TX and working at a photo portrait studio.

In between trips out to Wichita Falls, TX to visit Mom (who at that point had no clue I was on the way in another 4.5 years, but they had a wedding date set for the following June), Dad took pictures all over the DFW area.

Dad lugged a camera over to Fort Worth, and managed to snap a photo of a passing motorcade. By the time he'd gotten back to Arlington, where he developed and enlarged the photo to display in the studio window, shots were ringing out in Dealey Plaza over in Dallas.

So, where were you on November 22, 1963?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Photos From Around H-Town

Into The Ghetto With Gun & Camera!

Some random weirdness I've spotted:

Hey, duck! Quit peeking! You'll spoil the surprise!!
(Spotted at Vietnamese restaurant on Bellaire Blvd.)

"Pardon me, sir. Under Section 458 of the Municipal Code, you're required to give ol' Smoky here a handjob!"

Welcome to the Food Nart!
(Not just a perspective problem... It says 'Nart' looking from the west side, too...)

And finally, in honor of yesterday's Steak & Blowjob Day, here's a friendly reminder:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

El Capitan's New Toy

One More Gadget To Gather Dust...

I'm typing this post on a new writing gizmo.

After seeing a post extolling their virtues over at the Munchkin Wrangler's blog, I poked around on eBay and found a secondhand AlphaSmart Dana for a song.

AlphaSmart makes a variety of pseudo-laptops; the Neo, the Dana, and a couple of older models. The Dana I've got runs on a version of the Palm OS.

They're kind of like a Speak & Spell on steroids, and I hope this one will aid me in my usually futile quest to get words into print.

Both the Dana and the Neo let you sit at a laptop-sized keyboard and tap away until your fingers bleed, and the output can be stored on SD cards, beamed wirelessly or via USB cable to a PC or printer, or just stored in the unit's onboard memory.

It's got 8 function keys that can access 8 separate manuscripts, so you can switch from your Space Opera opus to your steamy Regency bodice-ripper with the push of a button. (My bodice-rippers usually have zombies doing the ripping, btw...)

I think the Dana I'm typing this on has a whopping 16 MB of internal memory, and I stuffed a 2GB SD card in one of the two card slots.

The Neo & Dana were designed with schoolkids in mind, and it appears to be pretty indestructible. The unit is made from ABS plastic, and the only part you can really lose is the little touchscreen stylus that fits in a slot on the right side.

The touchscreen needs a stylus (or a convenient ballpoint pen cap). My big fingers aren't the best at picking out the tiny onscreen apps.

The best part is, there's no web access on the Dana, and I haven't added any games to it. Nothing to distract you from getting words out of your skull and into the memory banks. That, and the fact that it cost me a grand total of $27 (including shipping) from eBay. I'll probably spring for a new rechargeable battery and a wall charger. Currently I've got 3 AA batteries powering the Dana, and they're supposed to be good for 30 hours.

It's not as convenient as a computer, at least until I figure out how all the bells & whistles work and download some Palm apps. Supposedly you can check email on this thing via 802.11b WiFi, but I imagine that I'll avoid even that temptation.

There are some side benefits, though. I'm currently sitting out in the backyard typing this, drinking iced tea, smoking a huge cigar and watching Carlos the Unreliable dig out a drainage trench beside the garage. Nothing is more relaxing than a nice smoke and seeing someone else perform serious manual labor!

So, if you're looking for an inexpensive way to boost your writing output and avoid the Internet (AKA the Black Hole of Productivity), do a search on eBay for a used AlphaSmart Neo or Dana and join the club! I might even send you a cigar!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ahhh! The Cute!! It Burns!!!

They're Otteriffic!!

"I shall call him Mini-Me!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Old Family Photos

I've Got Two Big Buckets Of Them!!

More from the recently scanned collection...

This one's kind of fun. I'd like to say that we're all going to the Ozzy concert, but given that it's probably Xmas 1971 in that photo, Ozzy's still singing with Black Sabbath.

The collective 'Hook 'Em Horns' is probably the influence of Uncle Bill, wearing the burnt orange UTexas shirt. Grandma went to TCU, Mom went to TWU, and I'm pretty sure Aunt Karen was a Cornhusker, so that explains their non-participation!

Oh, yeah. The adorable toddler on the back of the couch is yours truly.

I'd call this pair of photos a "Then & Now" series, but the "Now" was really 39 years ago. That's Dad on his hobbyhorse circa 1938, and me & my sister on mine in 1973.

Man, I rode the hell out of that horse... I'm surprised the springs didn't wear out given how many hours I bounced on that poor thing!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

Too Many Guns, Not Enough Cash!!

Well, I managed the impossible.

I visited the local firearms emporium, and managed to exit without emptying my bank account. Didn't even put something on layaway.

Not for lack of trying, though. I was flummoxed by a sheer abundance of shiny goodies, so much so, my brain went into a endless loop of "I want... I want... I want..."

I'm pretty much decided on the .45 Long Colt caliber as the cartridge of choice for any future purchases. I've got the gear to reload for it, and it's a versatile cartridge for everything from bunnies to buffalo.

This choice will drive my brother-in-law berserk, as he's been trying to get me to buy the plastic-fantastic Glock for a while now.

Well, when they make one in .45LC, we'll see. Until then, it looks to be wheelguns.

Oh, I suppose you could make an autoloader in .45 Long Colt. They made it work in .44 Magnum with the Desert Eagle. Still, if I wanted to haul around a 5 lb firearm, I'd just pick up a rifle.

I've never been shy about my appreciation for the aesthetics of a well-designed pistol. Yeah, it's got to be dead-nuts reliable, but if you can make it pretty at the same time, why the hell not?

And therein lies the dilemma. There's a whole bunch of pretty revolvers available chambered in .45!

Let's take a tour, shall we??

The Rossi Ranch Hand (not a revolver, admittedly) has a gee-whiz factor to it, but it's even bulkier than a Desert Eagle. It's manufactured as a pistol, not a short-barreled rifle, so you don't have to jump through any BATFEIEIO hoops to own one.

I've already got a lever-action rifle in .45LC, so I kind of doubt I'll ever spring for this one.

I've lusted after the Smith & Wesson Model 1917 for years. They can get pretty spendy, though. 20 years ago, you could buy a Brazilian police model for peanuts, but even those are hard to find now. This one's been kitted out as a custom target model, and is quite reasonably priced.

Beretta entered into the Cowboy Action Shooting market a few years back with their Stampede series. I'm not too wild about them, but I have to admit, their reboot on the Colt Bisley model is striking. Alas, a pair of cracked plastic grips (and a lack of easily-found replacements) put this one on the back burner.

Ruger also makes a version of the Bisley target model. Ooo! Shiny!!!

Another Ruger, and one that would make a fine companion to my Ruger Vaquero in .45 LC is this 3 1/2 inch barreled model.

Uberti makes a replica of the old Smith & Wesson Schofield model. It's a top-break revolver, which would limit my handloads to standard velocities. Putting a bear-buster round through this might send parts flying through my forehead. It surely is graceful, though!

Another Uberti that's intriguing is this replica of the 1875 Remington. From what I've read on the Intertubes, though, you really need to have a action job and spring replacement done before you start shooting it. With a Ruger? Not so much...

The one I'm really all "SQUEEE!!" & recklessly giddy over is this Uberti replica of a Richards-Mason conversion. Following the Civil War, there were a metric assload of percussion revolvers around, and as self-contained cartridges gained prominence, no one wanted a front-stuffer in their holster. Enter Charles Richards and William Mason, who figured out how to take all those Colt Army & Navy revolvers and convert them to a rear-loading cartridge pistol.

This keeps the elegant feel of the Colt percussion, and adds the convenience of a more modern revolver. Well, modern in the late 19th Century, anyway.

To quote some of my female blog buddies: "Oh My!" (Fans myself!)

Any of these strike your fancy??

Monday, March 07, 2011

Attack Of The Snot Monster

Moan. Whine. Gripe. *Blows Nose Again*...

With a fine dusting of yellow pollen coating the ground, (tree bukkake, you might say) it's no surprise that I'm currently leaking mucus from every facial orifice. My eardrums have dammed up two of the available orifi, leaving the world oddly muffled, at least until the goo drains down my Eustachian tubes.

I've no doubt this will morph into some nasty infection that will travel up and down my windpipe for a month or two.

Feh. I am not happy. Still, work beckons, and at the office there's a huge supply of taxpayer-funded bumwad for noseblowing...

Friday, March 04, 2011

More Old Photo Fun

What? You Expect Actual Content On A Friday??

Here's some fun pics from the "Dad Is 75 Years Old!" collection. Most of 'em will embigginate if you click on them!

Dad and his three brothers. With the sun at their backs, their scalps can signal Mars! (I'd laugh louder, but if I sat with 'em, we'd reach Jupiter...)

Dad's ship: The USS Norton Sound, AVM-1. A former seaplane tender converted to the Navy's testbed for guided missiles.

Typical day in the Navy for Dad - photographing missile launches! There's a pretty good chance that this shot was one of the X-17 missiles used to launch nukes into low-earth orbit.

Quite a few of Dad's photos have this on the reverse:

Me & my sister, Halloween 1977. My robot costume, and to do a witch, my sister came factory-equipped!! The robot looks kinda like Bender from Futurama...

The next summer: Posed in the Jamestown, Virginia stocks. If my parents had any clue about the next 10 years, they'd have driven off and left us there!

My sister and I outside the house. Probably 1985. Proof that I once had hair and a recognizable waistline!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

History Repeats Itself

Let's Do The Time Warp Again!!!

I spent much of last weekend and the past three evenings furiously digging through old family photos, and finding a bunch of cool stuff.

Dad's 75th birthday is tomorrow, and we're having a big bash this weekend. My task was to put together a slideshow on a trio of digital frames, plus a laptop hooked to a big monitor to show at the party.

So far I've got 350+ photos scanned, resized, edited, etc.

It's a huge nitpicky PITA, but amusing as all hell. I've found some gems that I can't wait to show here.

For starters, here's Dad and my Uncle Tom, circa 1941:

Now, here's my nephew Sammy, circa 2010:

To complete the circle, here's "Pop-Pop", Sammy and a pony!

Probably not the same pony...