Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Week Full Of Mondays

The Man Moves In Mysterious Ways

I've been asked by a couple of people if I'm going to the NRA shindig this week.  Their annual convention is in Houston this year, and they've got the entire George R. Brown Convention Center booked solid.

The answer is...  yes, I'll be there, and no, I won't be there.

Physically, I'll be on site.  I'll be behind the scenes with the GRBCC staff, though, casting some pearls of wisdom among them.

As such, I'll be busy most of the week. Due to the fact that I've got to dodge the NRA traffic and try to do my job amidst the chaos, by the time the weekend rolls around I'm not going to be in the mood for any sightseeing or being within 20 miles of the GRBCC.  Sorry 'bout that.

Now, if there's a meetup at a local watering hole, I could be persuaded to make like Mr. Groundhog and come out of my hole.

Otherwise, forget it...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Note To Self: Don't Skip The Cigar!

More Fun & Games From The Subconcious Mind

I was absolutely exhausted last night.  I didn't get a whole lot of sleep Wed. night, and Thursday began with a pre-dawn wakeup and a drive across town to make an early-morning appearance at one of The Man's functions.

Any hopes of leaving early were dashed upon the arrival at the office, where a stack of phone calls and emails awaited, each one from some surly plaintiff looking for their piece of the pie.  And add some ice cream & sprinkles, you do-nothing civil servant!!

My usual post-prandial cigar on the front porch was skipped in favor of an early mattress-collapse.  Have you ever sunk into the bed, wrapped up in your Woobie, and almost cried tears of joy because you could finally get some sleep?  Well, me either, but it was a near thing...

I'm not supposed to take either NSAIDS, Aspirin or Acetaminophen due to some drug interaction issues.  This leaves opiates and alcohol as pain-relievers, and I can't do the liquor 'cause it fucks with my blood sugar, and opiates are out just on general principles.   Still, there are some nights when the various aches & pains get to be too much, and I'll power down a double-dose of naproxen and hope I don't wake up having grown a flipper or two.

So, dosed with painkillers, we enter dreamland.  And boy, was it a doozy...

First was a newscast-type dream where the Norks had flooded over the 38th Parallel en masse, their tanks driving deep into South Korea.  It was eerily realistic, so much so that when I was jolted awake, I grabbed for my cell phone to bring up a news feed and make sure it wasn't really happening.

Next was a long drawn-out adventure starring my much-missed VW GTI.  It had developed a spacious TARDIS-like interior, and also the ease of repair of a VW air-cooled Beetle. the dream involved traveling through west Texas and numerous small towns, for no apparent purpose.

It was fun working that stickshift again, even if it was just a dream...

Next up was a large pickup terrorizing the neighborhood street. One of those jacked-up mudding trucks was circling the cul de sac raising havoc, and I finally had enough and started loading up a pump shotgun.

Alas, someone had replaced my shotgun hulls with CVS Pharmacy pill bottles.  All the powder, wadding and buckshot were in there, but the child-proof safety lids wouldn't cycle through the pump shotgun's action, and the harder I slammed the action shut, the worse they got jammed in there.

I dunno whether that was my subconcious commenting on the futility of war, or the inevitable collapse of government-run healthcare.  Either way, it wasn't much fun...

So, a cigar for certain tonight.  A high enough level of nicotine keeps the dreams from getting too weird!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Think Of Them As 75,000 Tiny Constituents...

The Prank Instinct Is Warming Up!

Did y'all see in the news where they released 75,000 ladybugs inside the Mall of America up in Minnesota?

It was done intentionally.  There's quite a bit of plant life in the mall, and it was infested with aphids.  Ladybugs eat aphids, and are otherwise inoffensive to shoppers, so they make a good natural pesticide.

It got me thinking about all the two-legged pests that inhabit Sauron's Tower across the street.  A jug or two of ladybugs released near the Nazgul's offices might have a beneficial effect.

Hmmmm...  Calloway's Nursery sells 'em for $9.99 per jug of 1500.   It might take the better part of a C-note to get the desired effect.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Damned If You Do...

One More Notch On The Blood Pressure Cuff

I just love the illusion of choice that's made available at work...

We're going through the annual benefits "re-up", where we get told how much more we're gonna pay for an ever-declining amount of service.

Some things I really ought to look into further.  The Flex Spending account is something I can probably take advantage of, once I sit down and calculate how much all my meds have cost over the past year.

Others aren't worth my time & trouble.  Why is it that dental coverage is always either dirt-cheap and worthless, or kind of pricy and still pretty worthless??  You'd think with 22K employees we could get something that would cost about $20-30 a month, have a $500 co-pay and no annual cap.

I'm reminded of a friend of mine that had some serious bunghole difficulties. Somehow the muscles and ligaments that held the balloon-knot shut deteriorated, leaving him in quite the quandary.   The bunghole doc said "You've got a choice.  I can either tie it shut, and you can reach down there with your fingers and noodle the turds out, or I can leave it open, and you can wear a diaper for the rest of your life."

WTF kind of choice is that, I ask you??

In case you're wondering, he selected the "noodling" route, and we no longer shake hands...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scouting For Boys??

One Of the More Unusual Posts I've Written...

I just saw a link to a Reuters news release about the Boy Scouts of America reversing its long-standing ban on allowing gays in the organization.  According to the story, gay youths will be allowed, but the ban on gay leadership will remain in place.

I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with this decision, but it's one I can live with.

Most of you long-time readers know I was involved in Scouting for many years.  Started as a 11 year old, worked my way up through the ranks and earned my Eagle award the summer after I graduated high school.

Along the way I served in various leadership posts within my home troop and in "maverick" troops during winter camp sessions, and served several summers as a BSA camp staffer.

Although I miss Scouting, I haven't done any volunteering in a long time.  As fat & out of shape as I am, I don't think I fit the "physically strong" part of the Scout Oath, and I'm more an example of what not to do instead of a worthy role model.

Still, I keep up with what's going on via the National Eagle Scout Association and the local Council news.  The 'Gays In Scouting' has been a hot button issue for years.

I've purposely not commented on it in the past on this blog.  I've got readers who are Scouters and readers who are gay, and readers who are both.  I try not to intentionally cause offence or hurt others, and commentary on that issue probably would.  So, I kept my mouf' shut.

About a month ago I received an email from the Boy Scouts of America linking to a survey.   They were interested in what former Scouters were feeling about the issue of gays in the organization.

It wasn't an easy survey to take.  On one hand, you're balancing what you know about gays, human sexuality, etc. on one hand, and on the other you've got what you've seen over the years as a participant.

F'rinstance...  It's possible to be gay and to not molest young boys.  I know plenty of gay men, and their preference generally runs to mature males.  They get just as squicked out by  the suggestion that they have sex with a young boy as I do by the idea of sex with a young girl.

However...   There wasn't a year that went by at summer camp when someone on either the camp staff or serving as a troop leader wasn't frogmarched out of camp for some sort of indiscretion.  Some were proven to be full-on molestation cases, others were games of slap & tickle that crossed the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  

In either case, it usually came as a shock to the rest of the camp staff, since the ejected person rarely if ever presented as the least bit "swishy".

So, maybe it is OK to have flaming queens run the troops...  I dunno...

At any rate, while being gay doesn't make you a pedophile, being a male preying on young boys does put you on the "gay" side of the divide.  And for that reason, I'm not gonna kick up a fuss about gays not being allowed in leadership roles.

As for the kids, well, boys are nasty creatures that tend to whip out their dicks and whiz on any tree, rock or animal within reach, so there's no display of genitalia that will suddenly make young men go all nelly.  No, you are what you are, and most kids tend to keep that sort of thing under wraps until they're in college anyway, so I don't foresee a BSA Circle-Jerk merit badge on the horizon...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Food Network RCOB

I Can't Explain It.  Just Deal With It...

I'm a generally easygoing guy.  I do get seriously annoyed from time to time, and there has been the odd occasion where an ongoing situation at work or at home has had me at a slow simmer for weeks on end, but it takes a lot for me to raise my voice and speak with anger.

Not to say it doesn't happen, but you just don't see it too often.

Also, being a kid that grew up in the 70's and 80's, I've seen my share of crappy TV programs.  From the brain-dead sitcoms to the hokey celebrity "variety shows", I've probably ingested enough TV slime to kill most mortals.

So, it must take something really, really special on the tube to put El Capitan in an apoplectic mood...

For those of you blogreaders with long memories, Kim du Toit used to blog about the Red Curtain Of Blood, that blinding crimson haze that falls across your vision when you go beyond angry into the realm of the supremely pissed off.

The RCOB appeared.  It was solely the result of this individual:

That ...person... is Nadia Giosia, who has somehow wangled a "cooking" show on cable.

There is nothing... NOTHING!! redeeming about "Nadia G's Bitchin' Kitchen".  It's televised hog vomit.

In a just world, Nadia would enter a room full of canned peaches, each Mason jar bursting with botulism.  At the sound of her grating voice they would all explode in a cataclysm of glass shards and flying toxic spores, and she would quietly expire after the end of a long and futile hospital stay.

Alas, this is unlikely to happen.  The botulin spores would be no match for the concentrated Evil that oozes from her pores.

Avoid at all costs, my friends.  The first time she does that nose twitch, you might think it's cute.  After a dozen times, you'll wish her eaten by badgers, too...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Silence of the (Dia)Phragms

Yet Another $1100 Vacation Spent In A Repair Shop

More monkey business with the Big Red Ford...

After dropping $1400 two weeks ago on miscellaneous under-hood expenses and a shiny new set of brakes on all four paws, I was treated to another round of coughing/choking/lagging engine and adding to the fun, a mysterious loss of engine coolant.

Most mornings the truck would run fine, but if you sat somewhere and idled for longer than the length of a traffic light, the engine would bog down, cough, sputter and blow clouds of white vapor out the tailpipe.

Lighting the dipstick on fire didn't produce the sputtering/spitting flame that indicates water mixed in the oil, but there was some milkshake-looking foam under the oil filler cap.  I was a-feared that the head gasket had blown, and the foam and the white smoke were dead giveaways of that malady.  Sooooo.... back into the repair shop!

Pressure tests and computer scans showed no indication of a head gasket rupture, instead pointing to a faulty temperature regulator.  That Ford engine with a misbehaving temp regulator will shut down cylinders to prevent heat damage, which would account for the rough idle, but not the lack of coolant.

Whilst tearing apart the engine intake manifold, the problem revealed itself.  Ford also decided it was a good idea to run a coolant line into the throttle body to prevent it icing over in extremely cold weather.  It's not needed down here in Texas, and years of boiling coolant running through a plastic fixture had eroded it, causing coolant to get into the manifold, effing up the engine performance and losing coolant volume.

So, problem found!  They just bypassed the throttle body by capping that coolant line.

I also dropped another Benjamin on a replacement EGR (exhaust gas recirc) valve.  The old one had been giving me grief for years, but the $400 repair quote kept it in place.  I finally drove to the Ford dealership, took a pic with my cell phone and said "Sell me one of these!!" and put it in myself.

The old EGR valve had old corroded valve diaphragms, causing the valve to vibrate and hum VERY VERY LOUDLY!!!  It would either hum in F# or B, depending on the throttle speed.  That constant hum was survivable for a 20 minute ride to work, but on a 3 hour trip across Texas, it would drive you nucking futs.

Well, the 'phragms are quiet now, Clarice!  Maybe I'll drive somewhere, once I get some more money...

Bloggus Slowdownus

Yet Another Week Goes By!

As much as I'd like to blame my lack of blogging on Facebook addiction, work overload, or some other plausible excuse, it pains me to have to give you the real one.

I no longer have a home computer capable of interfacing with Blogger.  Yup, my crypto-Mac has passed the point of obsolescence.  It can't run Firefox properly, and it cannot digest all the changes that Blogger has foisted upon us.  Even if I could navigate the menu bar on top of the screen (I can't, half the icons don't show) I couldn't publish anything since the big orange "PUBLISH" button doesn't seem to do anything when clicked.

So, my one opportunity to post is the rare days in the office when:
A) I'm actually *IN* the office, and not out training/meeting/inspecting/slacking
B) I've got a spare few minutes to type something up
C) I actually give a good got-damn about blogging at that particular point in time.

So, it ain't that I don't want to, it's just that the moment eludes me...

I keep meaning to load an OS onto a slightly less ancient Mac and see if it and Firefox will play nicely.
One of these days...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Another Ruger Wheelgun!!

My Name's El Capitan, and I'm A Rugerholic...

OK, the first step in beating an addiction is admitting there's a problem.

My problem is... I looooooves me some Ruger revolvers!

So I keep acquiring them.  Here's the latest: (Click on any pic to embiggenate)

It's a variant of the Ruger Bearcat called the Shopkeeper.  That's a 3" barrel up front, and a nifty birds-head grip on the rear.  It's a tiny little critter, chambered for .22 LR, but you can stuff it with .22 shorts or longs if that's what's handy.

I saw a review on and they do a good job explaining how this model came into being.

I didn't expect to see one in a gun store for 6-8  months, but I had dropped by Collector's Firearms looking for a Ruger 22/45 or a Browning Buckmark to replace the S&W 2214 I'd sold off a while back, and be damned if they didn't have one on the shelf!

I had my tax refund burning a hole in my pocket, so I pulled the trigger on it, so to speak.  The tariff at Collector's was about $50 less than the MSRP, but once you tack on sales tax, you're right back up there.

It's just as cute as it can be. It's like a pint-sized Remington 1890!!  The tiny loading gate is, well, I gotta use the word "precious". Barring the grips and springs, the whole thing's made of stainless steel, and weighs a bit more than you'd expect for such a small revolver.

It's got the standard Ruger transfer bar, so you can carry it with a round under the hammer.

The action is tight! The lockwork timing is perfect, and it cycles with the same snap as my full-size Rugers.  I've been doing some dry-firing using sheetrock anchors as snapcaps, and there's no sign of a turn-ring forming.  It is a bit tricky to decock, however.  Unlike the larger Rugers, once you trip the trigger and start to lower the hammer, you've got to keep tension on the trigger until the hammer clears the half-cock notch, or the hammer won't lower all the way.

Here's the Bearcat Shopkeeper compared with a 60's vintage 3-screw Ruger Single Six.  The cylinder's about 2/3 the diameter of the older model!

 Big Bro & Little Bro!   The Bearcat in comparison with a Cimarron Thunderer in .45 Long Colt!

The cylinder has been roll-marked with a bear and a cat.  Not too fancy, but nicer than plain steel!

 Fit & finish are quite nice, with a couple of quibbles. The stock/frame fit could be tighter. You can hold the grip up and see daylight through the join, or in this case, the yellow paper. Someone got a little too vigorous on the belt sander...

Also, the hooked end on the ejector rod is sharp enough to snag fingers and clothing.  There's a reason for the hook, it allows the ejector rod to clear the cylinder base pin and fully eject an empty.  Still, it's sharp, and there's no way to dehorn it without making it sharper.  The ejector rod housing is made out of stainless, and is much preferable to the aluminum housing that's on the Single Six.

One of the trigger/action screws doesn't fit well.  Fully torqued down, it bulges out over the sideplate.  Not a big problem, but it's immediately noticeable.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What To Do With 25M Norks?

Random Thoughts Through The Cigar Smoke

As a general rule, I don't spend a lot of time contemplating the fate of the North Koreans.  They've had their own special brand of Crazy goin' on for longer than my lifetime, and usually they fall into the "out of sight, out of mind" category.

Alas, Kim-Jong Spanky has had an urge to whip out his weenie and wave it around, and anytime one of that clan gets to weenie-waggin', you need to at least pay a little attention.  They're like that ankle-biter terrier from next door.  Unlikely to do a whole lot of damage, but apt to spring upon you when you're not looking. and make you spill your drink.  And that ain't neighborly a-tall.

Odds are he's just weenie-waggin' to build his cred with the Nork military elders.  Man, that's a Viagra-stoked crowd if there ever was one.  Average size, 5 foot 3 and a buck seventy five.  Average hat size? California Quad Hot Tub.  These guys look like they upended those old satellite dishes and put a brim on 'em.

So, will they invade the South?  Doubtful, but you never know.  Despite a vocal minority in the South urging reunification, most of SoKo has zero desire to join the Cult of Kim Jong Fill-In-The-Blank.  I mean, South Korea is a society that's completely embraced technology, the internet and all it has to offer.  They've made network gaming a national sport.  What're the odds they wish to join their buddies up north marching in lockstep to the local propaganda poster shop for the latest print of Dear Leader wanking towards the horizon?

Not bloody likely...

So, assuming that the Norks step on their dick, get pasted, and somehow the North gets folded into the South for a peaceful unification, how on earth do you deal with a population hobbled by 60 years of mind control??

This isn't like Russia or East Germany, where you had an active criminal underground and black market priming the pump for introducing capitalism. This is a society where schoolkids march to class, the unworthy are left to starve in the street, and singing the wrong song gets you and your family interned in a reeducation camp for life.

Add to that the particular Asian zeal for dropping a dime on your neighbors and sucking up to authority to gain face, (see 'Cultural Revolution', 'Khmer Rouge') and it's a steep uphill climb to get these folks able to even function in the Common Market.

I'm not optimistic.  Even if the Norks don't force us to scrape the peninsula clean, I fear they'd go for an alternate solution to end the conflict.

How do you say "Jonestown" in Korean?