Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And That's All She Wrote...

Another Year Grinds To A Halt

Just about to shut things down here at the Salt Mines, and I'll be laying my pickaxe down until sometime next week.  Got a few days of vacation in my future, and I want to be sure I don't leave anything left undone that would require me to either call in, or God forbid, drop by to fix something.

Got the end-of-month report done, the yearly wrap-up is being shunted off to another poor soul, and all that remains is recording a couple of Out Of Office messages for voicemail, setting my email Inbox to "Fuck You, I'll Be Back Next Week", and hitting the "SEND" button on a few emails before pulling the plug and sneaking out via the freight elevator.

2013 was an OK year, for the most part.  Not perfect, but far from the worst year I've had. I can only hope 2014 continues in the same way.

Y'all have a Happy New Year, and we'll see you in 2014!

Drive safe!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Minutiae

We Need A Margarita Machine At The Office...

Just some random bits & pieces from the last few days.

I went to the annual Xmas bash at a friend's childhood home.  We've been doing this since high school.  His folks still live there, and invite the old gang over for an evening of catch-up and holiday merriment.

Kind of bittersweet this year.  They've sold off their Surfside beach house which was a beacon of fun & crispy epidermi during high school & beyond.  Can't really blame them, upkeep on a beach house is way spendy, and renting it out comes with its own set of headaches.  Ah, well.  Farewell, Summer Solstice, locale of my first salt-water knob-job...

We did the usual White Elephant gift exchange at the party, the twist this year being that if someone wanted to swipe your gift instead of picking a wrapped gift, you could defend from the swipe by drawing a card and performing the action listed.  They ranged from "Recite a classic poem from memory" to "Recite pop music lyrics as if they were epic poetry".

No good White Elephant gifts for me this year.  Usually I can get something really odd, but I picked the wrong package and ended up with some "designer" Ralph Lauren potpourri and a stinky candle.
I opened the bag, and it was full of wood chips, dried fungi, citrus peels and a desiccated starfish or two, all soaked in Pine-Sol or something.   I announced with a grin "This is the nastiest batch of trail mix I've ever seen!"

Saw a couple of flicks out of the Redbox.  Don't know if they're to everyone's taste, but I got a kick out of 'em.  The 'Lone Ranger' reboot with Johnny Depp as Tonto, and '2 Guns' with Denzel Washington & Marky Mark.  Both were pretty much mindless popcorn-munchers, and just the thing for a lazy holiday afternoon.

As I was pulling them out of the Redbox at a local convenience store, the trash truck pulled up next to the store to empty their dumpster.  As the truck was easing forward, I catch this flash of brown fur rocketing off the roof of the truck, scamper down the windshield and land with an audible *THUMP* on the pavement.  It was a big fat raccoon that had apparently been dumped into the truck's catch bin at a previous stop, and wanted no more of the joyride!

It waddled away at high speed to God knows where...  It was broad daylight in the middle of a busy shopping area, not quite the environment a coon enjoys!

Two days off, then two days back on, then I'm off for a week for New Years.  Y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chinese Foot Fetish

A Whole New Kind Of Toe Jam!

I've had this unexplained craving for Chinese food lately.  Can't exactly explain why.

Fortunately, there's a good supply of restaurants to feed me.  While not up to the quality level of the ones down in Houston's Chinatown on the SW side, I'm reasonably sure that they're not dousing everything in MSG syrup or using frozen cat in the Kung Pao.

This is not to say that you can't find some really odd food from time to time...

I've been returning more & more to a place up on Clay Rd. called "Neighbor's Kitchen".  It's a small family-run joint that does the majority of their trade in takeout and delivery, though they do have a lunch buffet and an eat-in dinner menu.

So, I'm sitting there waiting for them to wok up my Beef & String Beans and some Singapore Mei Fun, and I notice that I'm being given the once-over by a little Chinese toddler.  OK, maybe a bit older than toddler, but still just a sprogling.

He's seated at one of the tables, and he's busily slurping on... something.

I take a closer look, and he's grabbing some sort of bird foot off of one plate, rapidly reducing it to a pile of bones, and spitting out the bones on a smaller plate.

It's hard to see if they're duck feet or chicken feet.  There's this thick layer of gelatin stuck to each one, and from the way the gelatin is wiggling, the plate of feet is ice-cold.

The thought of gnawing on chilled gelatinous feet is enough to make me just a bit queasy, but this kid is doubling down, he's got a foot in each fist, and is alternating between them, reducing each one by a toe at a time.  In between bites and slurps, he leans over and "PTOOs" out a little bone onto the smaller plate.

The coup de grace (or glace, I should say) is when he pulls of one final foot, and half a plate's worth of congealed foot goo & sauce comes up with it, and the kid attacks it like a fruit roll-up.

*Urp*   I think I'm having a burger tonight...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Winding Down The Year

All I Want For Xmas Is Unlimited BBQ...

It's been completely dead at work today.  I'd hoped that might be the case!

I'm out of here for the next two days, but I'll be back on Thursday and I'll turn on the free ice cream spigot again.

Best wishes for Christmas for you & yours!

Here's a repeat performance from years past:

(Click To Embiggenate!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

This Is Just *So* Wrong!

Just Say No!!

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times:

If John Moses Browning (PBUH) had intended the Model 1911 to be fired in double-action mode, he would have DESIGNED IT THAT WAY!!!

OK, I understand that some PDs and other agencies do not allow for cocked & locked carry, and as such cannot use the 1911 style as a duty weapon.  Fine. There's plenty of perfectly good autoloaders out there with a DA trigger and decocking levers.

Stop fucking with the 1911 to try and make it a DA pistol!!

Look at this foul abomination!

(BTW, this is an official Colt product, called the "1991DAO")

No thumb safety, no grip safety, no hammer, an extra acre of grip panel over the missing bits...


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Go West, Young Man!

Just Remember To Come Back East When You're Done...

Last night I was reading a book about the area around Lake Mead & Lake Mojave, and it got me thinking back to a road trip I took years ago.

A friend of mine was turning 30, and to celebrate "the death of her youth", wanted a Las Vegas blowout.

OK, I'm hip.  Still, airfare, hotels, gambling, carousing, that costs some serious coin.  How to save a bit and still have fun?

Don't fly! Drive!   I offered to co-pilot with my friend Jennifer Chainsaw in her super-economical Toyota.  We'd tank up on coffee & No-Doz, and power through the trip from Dallas to Vegas in one hop.

It worked, mostly.  Fitting my big ass into that little car was fun, and some serious sleep-deprivation over the 4 days coupled with obscene booze intake while in Vegas took its toll.  I was hallucinating giant winged frogs just outside Amarillo, but we made it back alive.

Anyway, we passed through Kingman, AZ, and instead of turning north for Sin City, we headed for Laughlin and the AZ/Cali border for the express purpose of letting me add another state to my "I've Been There" collection.

So, my one & only time to set foot in California was in the dead of night, exactly here:

I poked around for a rock or something as a souvenir, but aside from the cattleguard and the sign, there was nothing but spiny plants and alkali soil.

I wished I hadn't already drained the lizard back in Kingman.  I would have liked to have left about a quart of my steamy esteem on their Welcome sign...

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hobbit, Or, More Walking Through Middle Earth

Shoulda Been Called 'Dwarves & Elves'

Went to the flicks last night for the first time in ages.  I had some time on my hands, and a desire to see Chapter Two in the latest Tolkien saga brought to film.

I liked this one more than the first installment.  There's more action, and it mostly avoids the talktalk and walkwalk that LOTR and the prior Hobbit film had.

Visually, it's stunning.  Pure candy for the eyes.

Plot wise?  This is not Tolkien's tale by any stretch of the imagination.  Oh, the framework's there, to be sure, but there's new characters and sideplots and all the tweaks and fillips necessary to make a short kid's book into a multi-billion dollar Hollywood film trilogy.

Still, I liked it.  Very much so.  The spiders of Mirkwood are really creepy, and Bilbo spends less time taunting them, as in the novel, and more time skewering them, as is right and proper for creepy arachnids.

And then, there's Tauriel.  As the source material was lacking in female characters, we are introduced via the film writers to a female wood elf huntress who kills orcs with a gusto.  Played by Evangeline Lilly, it's more eye candy, as far as I'm concerned.  As one who stayed glued to the TV watching  6 seasons of 'Lost', where Ms. Lilly was mostly covered in dirt & grime the entire time and still had me entranced, seeing her as an ass-kicking elf is very nice indeed.

And there's the dragon.  Can't forget ol' Smaug.  He's worth every penny of the ticket price, although I must admit to preferring Richard Boone's voiceover in the 1977 version to the current voiceover by Benedict Cumberbatch.

All in all, 'The Desolation of Smaug' does a great job setting the stage for the finale.  If the Battle of Pelennor Fields in 'LOTR:ROTK' was any clue, the Battle of Five Armies is gonna be a doozy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sheer Perfection for $19.99???

Gunsmithing?  No, This Is More Like GunJonesing.

Well, that's what they're promising, anyway...

I'm still working on that bullet-flinger project.  Every time I think I'm finished, I run across some other little widget that promises 100% reliable function and godlike accuracy, and I find myself clicking the "Order" button on a website for the umpteenth time.

There's still more original parts than aftermarket parts, so I haven't gone over the edge yet, but it won't be too long.

The best part?  Haven't been to the range to test it out yet.  Oh, it functions well enough.  Feeds, extracts, leaves a nice firing pin indent on empty cases.  Accuracy?  Not a frickin' clue...

On the plus side, I am getting pretty good at takedown and reassembly.  This thing's a major PITA, but it's loosening up and getting easier.

I did manage to get that pin out of the blind hole.  Turns out (after some pretty intense online searching for solutions) that it's not how hard you wallop the barrel, it's the precise spot that you choose to wallop that does the trick.  Walked that pin right out, it did!

The scope rail is a visual nightmare at the moment.  A grade-A exercise in Bubba gunsmithing.  There's three holes that hold it to the barrel, and each hole currently has a different method of shimming the screw in place.  One's got a #6 lock washer, one's got a tiny copper ring, and the last has a flat brass washer.  I was testing each method out to see which held the best, (each one works equally well) and then I found a brass countersunk washer that will be better than all three. 

Had to order a gross of 'em, though.  Fortunately, they were cheap...

The problem is that the scope rail was meant for screws with countersunk heads, and the only #6-48 x 1/8 screws I can get either have oval heads (which won't bear down enough on the scope rail to hold it) or Fillister heads (which poke up too far and block the scope mounting).

Before you ask, the countersunk screws that came with the rail are #6-40 threaded, meant for a similar aftermarket barrel.

Ah, well.  It'll get sorted out soon enough.

Next up is an adjustable rear sight to replace the notch rear sight (for when the scope isn't mounted), a set of replacement springs, a new firing pin and a better extractor.  Might as well get the adjustable trigger as long as I'm tearing it down!

And maybe a better ejector, and a better sear, and a better disconnect bar, and an extended slide release, and... and... and...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weird Sh!t On EBay

Fun Ideas For Xmas Gifts!

You never can tell what's going to show up on eBay...

I've been ordering bits & pieces for an ongoing bullet-flinger project, and I stumbled upon a really great idea!

Remember those Wrist Rocket slingshots?  I wrote a piece years ago about experimenting with razor-edged fender washers as fodder.

Anyway, there's a few people selling some awesome ammo for them.

No, not the little (and expensive) steel ball bearings.

Instead, dirt-cheap pellets of taconite!

Yup, little spheres of iron ore.  Just the thing for de-braining a wandering skwerl or knocking an annoying blue jay off the fence.

I'm sure if I lived up in Minnesota, I could get a truck-bed full for pennies a pound.  As it is, they're going for a few bucks per pound on eBay.

If all else fails, you've got a handy memento of the Edmund Fitzgerald...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sad Tidings Of Discomfort & Woe

Damn, Damn, Damn.

Something is rotten in the state of Texas.

Unfortunately, it's my uncle's cardiopulmonary system...

Uncle Robert has been in & out of the hospital over the last two weeks, struggling with fast-declining health related to COPD.

He suffered a heart-attack a few years ago, and has been on supplemental oxygen since then.  A week or so ago, his O2 line got tangled or jammed up during the night, and his blood oxygen level dipped so far he was unresponsive the next morning.  A quick ambulance ride to the local hospital got him out of immediate danger.

Since then, it's been a case of fighting both pneumonia and a staph infection.  He's a tough old bird, but you only get to bounce back so many times before you run out of reserves.

If you want a textbook case of what 40+ years of smoking & a sedentary lifestyle will do to you, this is it.  He's a great guy, and I hope he pulls through, but as the Good Book says, the writing is on the wall.

I hope he makes it though the holidays. Any good will wishes you can direct towards League City, TX would be appreciated!

Muchas Gracias!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Perpetually Perplexed

First, We Hang All The Lawyers...

I am at a complete loss to understand why some things are engineered in such a manner as to be intentionally difficult to the end user.

Oh, I know...  "They don't want you futzing with it."

OK, fair enough.  If that was the case, though, they'd have welded the lid shut...

Sigh.  Sorry to be obtuse.  I'm trying to alter a non-essential piece of safety equipment on a bullet-flinger, one of those lawyer-mandated liability-reduction gizmos that impairs function and would be completely unnecessary if the Four Rules were observed.

Anyone know the best way to get a smooth pin out of a blind hole?  I've tried magnets, banging on it, freezing the surrounding area, and I'm about to go buy a non-marking deadblow hammer and wallop the snot out of the reverse side in hopes that it pops out.

Feh.  If I hadn't already spent $20 on the replacement bit, I'd say "to hell with it..."

Monday, December 02, 2013

Holiday Aftermath

Turkey For Me!  Turkey For You!

Anybody wanna buy a slightly used turkey??  I think there's still a leg & a wing left...

Thanksgiving came a little late this year.  Due to the "make-it-up-at-the-last-minute" schedule planning of my sister and BIL, dinner with my parents was delayed until Friday afternoon.

It wasn't a complete fiasco, far from it.  I actually got to go out for a slab of dead cow with the parents on Thursday, and we managed to get a real turkey on the table once the Central Texas crew showed up.

Oh, there was a minor bobble or two. The cranberry sauce and the Brussels sprouts never made it out of the fridge, and Dad threw out the turkey carcass after deboning it.  I was gonna make soup stock, dammit!

Still, as holiday meals go, it was far from the worst I've ever had.  Ask me sometime (when I'm in a good mood) about the Thanksgiving of the Blessed Video Camera.

In other news, the wandering chicken is no more.  The word is that the neighbor's pig crushed it, then ate it.  I still haven't laid eyes on this pig, but my BIL swears it's over there.  He got a picture of it to send to his hunting buddies, 'cause after freezing his ass off in a tree stand waiting for a feral hog to wander by, he finds a pig just lying around in suburban Houston...

I'm seeking a Houston-area gunsmith that specializes in 1911s.  Specifically, someone that can fit barrels to slides, and slides to frames.  My quest for a 1911 Commander in .38 Super has got me thinking about building one from scratch, but there are some things that I don't have the tools/jigs/etc. for.  Anyway, if y'all know someone who does quality work, drop me a line!