Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Saturday, March 31, 2012

No Sliding Here!

Brass Weirdosities

OK, these are odd...

Any of you current or former band-oids ever seen a critter like these? They're new to me.

They're valve trombones. Replacing the slide with a trio of valves.

I s'pose you could call them a tenor trumpet and bass trumpet.

I'd love to see a tuba version, but you'd need a furniture dolly to march with it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

FAL Friday

Hold On Tight!

The Fusil Automatique Léger. Also known as the FAL or "the right arm of the Free World."

Now available as a handy pocket model:

Also works as a handy flashbulb for nighttime photography inside the Astrodome...

(It can be yours! Only $1800 + TTL at Collector's Firearms!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

True Scottish Pirate Metal!!!

I'll Commence To Headbanging As Soon As I Finish Giggling!

Well, shiver me timbers!

I had no idea there was such a thing as Pirate Metal until ALESTORM was pointed out to me by Alan of Blogonomicon.

I'm just gobsmacked. There are just no words to describe the sheer awesomeness of a bunch of Caledonians doing pirate-themed metal.

Now, if they'll just work a baboon or two into the lyrics...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Concrete Results

Your Tax Dollars At Work!

This sewer/street project is about to get on my last nerve.

Since last fall, there's been a construction crew camped out in my subdivision. They're redoing the streets and drainage system, and it's been a real mess.

On any given day, there's 2 or three giant yellow whatsits on caterpillar treads with huge shovelly things roaming about. Add in a baker's dozen rollers, scrapers, dozers, and a small army of hard hats, and you've got quite the circus.

They've got one half of my street poured, after laying the forms last week. I woke up Saturday at 7 AM to a crew sledgehammering rebar into place.

Parking's a complete mess, and most mornings I've got several neighbors traipsing through the yard to get to their cars in the cul-de-sac.

The street's getting lowered 16 inches, and this ought to keep the water level off the front porch during our regular monsoons. I hope so, anyway. I've got a few pictures from rainstorm aftermaths of a smooth pond of water from my front door all the way across to the neighbor's door, and it's knee-deep in the middle.

I should have taken a picture of the storm drain pipes before they got buried. Dozens of 24" diameter pipe segments lined up alongside the road. It looked like a concrete artillery park.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where'd My Weekend Go?

Attacked By The Nap Monster

Well, crap.

Lay down at 7 PM for a bit of reading, and suddenly it's after midnight. I was gonna go to the late show, too.

Ah, well. The flicks can wait a week, I suppose.

Speaking of flicks, I rented 'The Adventures of Tintin' from the local Redbox. Most enjoyable. The Tintin comic books were a bit out of my price range as a kid, but I managed to read a few here & there, and the movie is very much in the same spirit as the books.

The action's a bit frenetic, and at times the animators spend a bit too much effort on CGI golly-gee-whiz effects (especially the "lens effect"), but it's a good looking film, and I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel.

OK, back to the rack. No point in staying up until 4 AM.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Frabjous Friday

Front Porch Blogging

What a day...

Started off with a haircut. Don't get 'em too often. Not a lot of hair left to cut. Still, when you're listed as a "Distinguished Speaker" on the conference program, perhaps you ought to spiff up just a little.

Got to regale an audience with tales of dash & derring-do. Well, as much dash as one can have in the confines of a bureaucracy. This was a Leadership conference for young women, and my particular flavor of H.R. knowledge fit the bill.

It was fun, but I kept getting distracted by the photographer. I'm pretty good at keeping my head in the game, but she was wearing this khaki jumper that left nothing to the imagination. You ever want to distract El Cap, tan your gams and wear all-natural fibers. Hubba-hubba!!!

Stopped by Collector's Firearms to inspect a possible acquisition. I'm still not wild about plastic fantastic handguns, but they do seem to be the norm now. The trouble is finding one without a got-damn accessory rail mucking up the profile.

More later this weekend. I've got a cigar that needs my attention!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

El Cap, You Sick F#%&!!

Sometimes, I Even Disgust Myself...

OK, so I'm reading Elisson's blog yesterday, and he's posting about re-learning CPR.

Not a bad idea. It's been a few years since I've gone through the class.

It got me thinking about those horrible CPR mannequins, though. Ol' scraggly tramp Resusci-Annie, who's had her face blown into by His Name Is Legion.

Didja know you can get a face replacement for Annie? No more wiping her down with alcohol before liplocking. Just put your own personal face on the dummy when it's your turn to practice rescue breathing!

Of course, that got me thinking about what else you could replace on it.

I bet there's a certain segment of the necro/sicko fetish population that would LOVE to purchase a Resusci-Annie with certain "optional extras" installed.

After all, why pay thousands for a Real Doll, when you can get a used Resusci-Annie on eBay, and upgrade with a silicone orifice or three??

Oh, I am so going to hell for these ideas...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'ze Uh Goot Speler!

Next Stop... Starbucks!!

Saw this at Mostly Cajun's place:

Got 14 out of 15 on the 'Fiendish' level.***

I rarely drink coffee, so it's not surprising I misspelled 'cappuccino'.

Take the Challenge!

*** OK, giving 'guacamole', 'fajitas' and 'secede' to a Texan was a freebie. Still, the Brit accent made some of these a challenge!

Let's Talk About Leather

Don't Fool Yerself, Girl! It's Winking At You!!


Er, sorry. Had a bit of a Zappa moment there. The post title and the above gibberish is from his song 'Broken Hearts Are For Assholes'. There's a running commentary in the background of the song that I had memorized at much too early an age, and it's stuck in my noodle like a festering parasite.

OK, I digress...

I'm still flailing away at this knife sheath project. I've got to go back to the Tandy Leather store and pick up some scrap leather to practice how to inscribe designs and tool the leather. Also, I'm gonna need some stain or dye, and I don't think that can of Minwax wood stain is gonna do what I need.

So, project #1 has been revised until I can get better at working leather. The basics, like cutting, punching, lacing, etc. I'm OK with. I want to move forward on it, though, and not wait to learn the leather tooling. I've got a nice Bowie knife that needs a home!

Here's the idea:

The base & the top will be separated by a gusset or gasket layer. That'll keep the blade away from the stitching, and it won't stretch or strain the leather or lacing when you stuff the knife inside. The belt loop will be sewn onto the base layer. I'm still working out the retention strap details.

The top guard layer will be a thinner piece of leather, holding down a layer of stingray hide. Since I (currently) suck at leather tooling, this first sheath will use the fancy ray hide for visual bling. The white "star" in the center of the ray hide should contrast nicely with walnut-dyed leather. The cutouts in the top leather layer will let the ray hide peek through, and keep the ray hide from getting damaged or peeling.

Here's a ray hide similar to the one I'm using. Mine's a lot narrower, it only needs to cover a 2.5" wide blade! I got it on eBay for less than $10.

I'll start the cardboard pattern this weekend, then, given the cost of leather, measure THRICE, and cut once, and commence to stitching.

Should be fun!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Want List

Monday Afternoon Flights Of Fancy

Some Mondays, it just doesn't pay to come into the office. You just can't keep your mind on business.

Today, it's random thoughts about virtually unattainable items. Well, OK, I could manage the saddle mule if I cleaned out the garage and threw down some hay...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Scary Steel

Better Than A Heated Cutlass, I Suppose.

Y'know, just looking at this kit makes my stomach a bit queasy...

Today's find at Collector's Firearms is a Civil War amputation kit.

Usually their militaria runs to things like uniforms, bayonets and the occasional pickelhaube, but this definitely qualifies as vintage military equipment.

This was state of the art medical tech in the 19th Century. Everything you needed to lop off a limb, except perhaps a bottle of laudanum or a jug of popskull.

If you want to see something similar to this in use, check out 'Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World', the Russell Crowe/Paul Bettany film adaptation of two novels in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bits & Pieces

Piratical Primates Prefer Pomeranians Poached In Peach Pudding

Interesting week so far...

Monday saw an extended online chat with a former co-worker. Last time I laid eyes on him was 22 years ago at Boy Scout summer camp. He was an "exchange Scout", more or less, from Italy, and spent a couple of summers hoo-rawing around camp with a bunch of American reprobates. His English has improved much more than my Italian...

Wednesday was a double-dip. The Cisco Kid was in the building on a service call, and got to drop by my evil lair and hang out for a bit. He can confirm that the offices of The Man are not carpeted with the scalps of the local peonage, and furnished more like the local penitentiary than the Taj Mahal.

Wednesday evening I got to catch up with another co-worker from Dallas over dinner. I'd hired him almost 15 years ago on a contract I was managing, and we've kept up ever since. His name's David, but I'll call him the Yorkshire Butcher. The nom de blog isn't due to any homicidal inclinations on his part, he really did work as a butcher in Jollye Aulde Britaigne. In fact, I remember that his resume listed "The Worshipful Company of Butchers", (or something to that effect), and it tickled my fancy. We ought to have names like that over here.
"The Exalted Order of Paper-Shufflers and Button-Sorters." , or "The Whimsical Gathering Of Reference Librarians". That sort of thing...

The construction in our subdivision grinds closer. They're now on the street next to mine, so the suckage will in crease at a geometric rate in a few days. They're lowering the street 16 inches, and burying the storm drains even deeper. In theory, this will curtail flooding after our frequent frog-strangling storms. Well, we shall see.

Rumors of additional layoffs are in the wind. Nothing huge, but if you're caught up in it, laying off 10 is as bad as 110. My dept. is not on the list, AFAIK.

More news as I hear it, kiddies!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nazis Hate Jazz?

I *Hate* Illinois Nazis!

It seems that the Nazis didn't much like jazz music. They didn't want anything even close to jazz played, and had a list of rules governing performances.

It appears that whoever came up with the rules had a pretty good grasp of musical theory and composition. Of course, they were still a Nazi f#*khead, but a learned one.

I was thinking of pirating this list, and modifying it to prohibit boy-bands, bubblegum pop and anyone ever seen on 'American Idol', but that would require that I study those song structures in detail.

That way lies madness, my friends...

So, 10 things to not do whilst playing in Naziburg:
1. Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;

2. In this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;

3. As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;

4. So-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);

5. Strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);

6. Also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);

7. The double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;

8. Plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;

9. Musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);

10. All light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.

Damn you, Nazis! Music ALWAYS needs more cowbell!!

Via BoingBoing

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Worst T-Shirt Ever?

Au Contraire, Mon Frére...

I was perusing the Houston Barnacle's website, and the following link caught my eye.

"America's Creepiest T-shirt"

The link took you to this picture:

Douchey? Yes. Creepy? No, not really.

You want creepy shirt designs? I got a few scraped off the underside of the web.

Send complaints to T-Shirt Hell, btw.
(My only beef is that they cost $23 each...)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Am I Doing Up??

My Internal Clock Is Insane

Yuck. It's OMG:30 and I'm staring at the computer.

I ought to at least go do a load of laundry or wash some dishes, as long as I'm up.

Or, go have a cigar and surf Facebook.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Cough Syrup & Toast

Surrealistic Suburbia

The pollen overdose morphed into a pretty good case of fetid sinus sewage, so I spent the last two days mostly horizontal and doped to the gills on antihistamines and decongestants.

I don't tolerate anything with dextromethorphan all that well. It reacts in unpredictable ways with another scrip I take, and consequently I try to avoid operating heavy machinery and/or my brain as much as possible.

That didn't stop my neighbor from dropping in at 00:Dark:30 to use my toaster. I have vague memories of opening the door, and having my neighbor breeze through to the kitchen and commence to making 8 slices of toast.

At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened. I'll have to discreetly inquire just to make sure I didn't hallucinate the entire thing whilst on a NyQuil binge.

Meh. At least tomorrow's Friday...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Must Be An Upcoming Election!

Kissing Babies & Asses With Equal Vigor!

Saw an amazing sight today...

One of our local constables was changing a citizen's tire out in the middle of the main drag this morning. That's something you NEVER see.

Usually anybody wearing a badge in this town won't even jumpstart a car. In fact, the usual course of action seems to be to pull you out of your burning car, radio for a wrecker, then cite you for blocking traffic. In defense of the po-leece, it's likely a matter of liability, but back in the day, they used to use those bumper pushbars to shove you to the nearest service station.

So, I imagine orders came down from the Grand Badged Constabulary Poobah to be nice to the peons, at least until the primary is behind us.

UPDATE: Sorry, forgot some of you aren't Houstonians. We've got several flavors of law enforcement. You've got HPD, Harris County Sheriffs, PD's from all the small incorporated townships, METRO PD, School District police, University police, and the Constables.

The constables come in 8 districts, each with it's own Grand Badged Constabulary Poobah that gets re-elected every 4 years. Not content with serving as bailiffs and delivering subpoenas, they patrol neighborhoods and write traffic citations, sometimes to teenagers who did NOT run that red light, dammit, giving them a case of the red-ass towards constables since 1986...

Monday, March 05, 2012

Who Said What??

Election Year Humor

This is kinda chuckle-worthy.

Or, it would be, if Romney wasn't the heir-apparent to McCain...

Next week: Rick Santorum or Tomás de Torquemada?

The week after: Ron Paul or Art Bell?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Magnetic Attraction?

Fun & Games With Cowhide

OK, for once I'm attempting to plan ahead, in the 'measure twice, cut once' line of thinking.

I bought a huge chunk of tanned cow epidermis to make holsters and holster-like products, but it's been many years since I've done any of the required swivel-knifing, stamping, lacing and assorted tasks associated with leather working.

So, I'm trying to expend some skull-sweat in advance rather than charge in blindly and make a mess of things.

Project #1 is a knife sheath. Something relatively simple, but including all the basic holster parts, like belt loops, retention straps, etc.

A question for any crafty people out there...

I'm considering using magnets instead of the usual brass button snap on the retention strap. I'd build a tiny recess into the end of the strap and the body of the sheath, and enclose a couple of super-strong neodymium disc magnets inside.

The force to separate the magnets, even inside the leather, ought to be sufficient to hold the knife & strap securely. Still, I won't know until I try.

Anybody seen this used out in the real world?? From a cost perspective, it's certainly cheaper to use a 20 cent snap instead of a $2 magnet, but it's got a "gee-whiz" factor that I'd like to have in the sheath.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Smart Phone Update

I Want My String & Soup Cans!

OK, I've had the "smart" phone for a month now, and it hasn't managed to slurp out my soul through a nether orifice.

Not for lack of trying...

Overall, I'm pretty pleased. While I do have several gripes, they're not all that big a deal, and when you compare overall functionality with the old phone, they pretty much fade into irrelevance.

So, the details:

It's an LG Optimus Slider, (Android 2.3.4, 3.2-inch HVGA display, 3.2MP camera, 1,500mAh battery, EV-DO Rev. A (850/1900 MHz), 802.11b/g/n WiFi) on the Virgin Mobile (Sprint) network. If you've got a top-tier phone from a major carrier, then this is not the phone to switch to. OTOH, if you're like me and still poking along with a non-Android/iOS archaeo-phone, you could do a lot worse.

The Good:

The phone itself is pretty slick. The construction is solid, and the slide-out keyboard is easy to manipulate. The Search & Back buttons on the front of the phone are duplicated on the keypad, so you don't have to move your fingers from the keys.

Speaker volume is loud and the sound via earbuds is nice & clear. The touchscreen is fairly easy to use, and you have 5 "home" screens to fill up with App or Widget shortcuts. I haven't counted, but it looks like you can put 9-12 per screen.

Phone call quality is good. The method of adding contacts is a little twisted & bass-ackward, but after you've entered 50+ contacts manually from the crypto-phone, it becomes second nature.

I'm pleased with the unlimited data plan, and the WiFi is pretty robust. I like the auto-recall of the previous hotspots you've been to.

I haven't ventured into Bluetooth or voice commands yet, so how well those work remains to be seen.

The Not So Good:

Micro SD Card - The included 2GB card is just too darned small. I've ordered a 32 GB card ($35 via New Egg) for my iTunes library and possibly a few movies.

Battery Suckage - This thing sucks power like a newly-elected Democrat Congresscritter on an earmark bender. Turning on WiFi only exacerbates the process. I'd charge the battery overnight, then plug it in at the office from 3-6 p just to have enough juice to get through the evening.

That got old real quick, so I splurged on a 3000 mAh battery and a modified back panel to hold it ($24 via Amazon). Now I can go a whole day with hard usage, and the lowest the battery level has gotten was around 58%. It makes the phone a bit bulky, but I can live with that.

App Trouble - Not all apps work as well as I'd like. Some are great (eBay, banking app, Android Market) some are OK (Amazon, newsfeed, Redbox, YouTube), and some just piss me off (Facebook, Pandora) This isn't the phone's fault, but still...

Ring Tones - You can pay for some through Virgin Mobile (Um, no thanks...) or you can get 10000's of free ones through Zedge. Problem is, the quality sucks, and the selection isn't aimed at 43 year olds. I searched for "Mozart" and got zero results. I need to learn how to make my own ringtones...

Camera - Ignore it. It sucks in a major way. Carry a pocket camera instead.

Screen glitches - For some reason, the upper right quadrant of the touchscreen can be problematic. You have to be very firm and precise with your touch to get a response.

3G Network - Currently this is VM's top-of-the-line phone, but I can see myself dropping it like a hot rock when they get a 4G phone. 3G and an app like Facebook is like being back on a 14.4 modem after years on broadband. Still, it beats dragging around kilometers of network cable...

So, overall I'm going to give the phone a thumbs-up.