Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Licence Renewal Time

All Hail The DMV!!

Damn. Another six years gone by?

Got a notice in the mail to report to the local DMV in order to renew my official state permission to operate a motor vehicle. I've got until the end of July to come pay homage and renew my tithe.

Way back when, this was not an imposition. We've got a DMV Shack not even a mile from the house, and if you were to drop in right at open or close, you could walk right to the counter and get immediate service.

No longer... Nowadays, there's a line around the building starting from 6 AM and it persists until the State Troopies chase everyone off the property at closing time, or else they'd camp there overnight.

Damn. Guess I ought to get the lawn chairs, cooler and adult diapers ready for the ordeal...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adios, ALCO

Adventures In Suburban Retailing

Less than 3 years after the grand opening of ALCO, the latest effort to make a profitable store in the aging hulk at Gessner & Neuens Rd in Spring Branch has packed up and moved on.

Way back in the 80's, the spot hosted an Eagle Foods, some sort of off-brand grocery shack.  Several other flavors of discount grocery stores have tried to make a go of it, but usually flamed out within a year or so.

The longest stretch was an incarnation as a 99 Cents Only store, but that folded back in 2010.

Enter ALCO, a chain of Target-like stores based out of the Midwest.   Usually aimed at the rural market, they picked this area as one underserved by the usual gang of retail chains.

Foolish critters...  I could have told them that they were on a bus route that also got you within a block or so of two Walmarts, a Walmart Pantry, Walmart's Supermercado (aimed at our Latin residents) a Target and no less than 10 small Latino bodegas.

Prices at ALCO could never compete with Wallyworld, and even though they were a lot closer than Target, they lacked Target's much nicer layout and selection.

So, adios, ALCO.  Hope you didn't cost too many people their careers...

Friday, April 25, 2014

No, We're Not Dead Just Yet...

"Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get your adverbs here!"

To steal (and mangle) a line from 'Game of Thrones':

"There is only one fate of blogs and his name is Death, and there is only one thing we say to Death: "Not today".

Maybe tomorrow.

At any rate, I had a few days of staycation coming to me, and for the last few days I've avoided most forms of digital media.  Little or no Facebook, and reduced time in Blogville in favor of binging on some DVDs and books.

But, all things must resume, so here we are.

Some news has bubbled up from the Tar Pits of Life!

The Cisco Kid and wife have hatched their first sprog.  All seem to be doing well, and little Eleanor Rosalie is the most beautiful little turnip you ever did see!

Poodles are more fun than you'd give them credit for.  Little Coco has this habit of jumping up in the air and doing a 360 before she lands that never fails to crack me up.  Also, if you happen to decide to water a tree in the backyard at 2 AM while waiting for the dog to pee, expect the dog to gaze in astonishment at the disparity in bladder sizes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Almost There...

I Miss Having Interest Paid On Bank Accounts

The stockpiling of cash continues...

I'm trying to hit a certain goal before consigning my truck to the depths of the repair shop for an extended tour.  In addition to a lot of steering & suspension work, I'd like to get a lot of nitpicky issues resolved, like replacing the fritzed stereo amp, the non-functioning driver's window, and the chronic issue with the effed-up turn & hazard signals.

Of course, doing all this plus leaving a workable reserve in savings means I haven't bought any big-ticket items in quite a while.

That list is growing, too.  New PC, new phone, Kindle or tablet, new guns...

Or, I just keep squirreling away the cash. Kinda nice watching that balance grow, and it's not like I haven't been on outdated equipment for, well, my entire life...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Another Ongoing Senior Moment...

You might have caught word of this via the other online news agency, aka the Book of Face, but I have a new step-sibling.  Sort of.   A step-dog, if you will.

My parents, for reasons known only to them, have decided their life is no longer complete without the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the house, and went to the SPCA and adopted a dog.

And not just any dog.  Oh, no.  A miniature poodle.

This is not the first poodle they've owned.   Dad's wedding gift to Mom back in 19 & 64 was a standard-sized poodle named Jacques.  He lived around until the mid-70's or so, long enough to be the dog-in-residence when I came along.

This one has been dubbed "Coco Chanel".  I have been calling it "Putain", but only when Mom can't hear.

It's a bit unfair of me, really.  It's a remarkably well-behaved dog for its size.  It rarely barks, and aside from a bit of a piddle problem, seems like a nice enough beast.

So, being the only offspring or blood relation within a 50 mile radius, I may WILL get dragooned into poodle-sitting from time to time.

*Sigh*  Better stock up on those fake bacon treats, paper towels and Lysol...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back To The Bookshelf

A Crack Habit Would Be Cheaper Than My Book Habit...

More itty-bitty book reviews...

'Alpha' - by Greg Rucka

Rucka, perhaps best known for his Queen & Country graphic novels and work with both Marvel & DC comics, starts a new series with 'Alpha'.  (Beats starting with Omega, I suppose, though that would be a nice twist...)

I'm a huge fan of Rucka's 'Atticus Kodiak' series of novels, in spite of the outlandish name of the hero.  It's right up there with Wen Spencer's 'Ukiah Oregon' and Neal Stephenson's 'Hiro Protagonist' in the "WTF were they smoking when they locked that name in?"

Still, 'Keeper', 'Finder' & 'Smoker' remain some of the best action/adventure/mystery fiction to come down the pike in a long time, so if 'Alpha' was anywhere in the ballpark, it was worth the gamble of the cover price.

It doesn't disappoint!  Basic premise is that a retired SF shooter goes into the corporate security business.  In this case, the corporation involved is a thinly-disguised version of Disneyworld. Now, plant a bunch of terrorists in the park on a busy day, and turn up the volume to 11.

Fun read!  Check it out!

'Under a Graveyard Sky' & 'To Sail A Darkling Sea' by John Ringo

5 word review?  OK...

"Zombies on the high seas"

Virus-mutated zeds have occupied the earth, and our last best hope is a small group of folks who went down to the sea in boats to ride out the apocalypse.

Now, this is John Ringo, so expect lots and lots of blood splashing and guns blazing.  Also, the required "Oh, John Ringo, NO!" is in full bloom as the #1 & #2 characters are nubile teenage girls constantly put in compromising positions while mostly undressed.

Seriously, the guy makes Woody Allen look like a Grandma-chaser.  Still, they're usually fun reads, and these are no exception.  Bonus points for the automated zombie shredders.

'The Pagan Lord' by Bernard Cornwell

This is the seventh excursion into the bloody fight between the Saxons & the Danes over control over what will eventually become England.  The hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is getting on in years, and mounts a final campaign aimed at recovering his ancestral fortress from a usurping uncle.

Lots of swordplay, but good character work as well. No matter what Cornwell writes, it's gonna be a great read!

More reviews as I read 'em!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

We Just Had A Weekend, Didn't We?

I Should Start Smoking Weed & See If There's Any Difference...

Complete wash this weekend on any sort of productive activity right up until the very end...

I was supposed to go toss some cards with Festus, the Cisco Kid & the rest of the Wild Bunch on Friday night, but somehow the truck eased it's way west instead of north and ended up idling in the driveway with me semi-snoozing behind the wheel.  Shook myself awake long enough to shut down the engine, lock it up and stumble off to bed.

After that, it's a blur.  Saturday I have no memory of, but I did manage to leave the house at least once, judging by the empty bag of Burger King still on my desk.

Sunday was more of the same, but I got a call from the Layabout Sailor as he wended his way from the pseudo-tropical isle of Galveston up to El AeroDromo Internationalia on a pickup run.

We had a brief but enjoyable chat & chew at the Whataburger down by the freeway, and then went our separate ways.

Monday was a typical crap day at the office.

Got home, and the big news was awaiting me...

My parents, aged 78 & 75, decided it was a great idea to go adopt a shelter dog.  And so they did.
A 4 year old miniature poodle.

Countdown to mandatory dogsitting by El Capitan in 3....2....1...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

We Read, We Read!!

Until Our Eyeballs Bleed...

The stack of books in the "Have Yet To Read" seems to stay constant, due to irregular arrivals from eBay and Amazon.  I've really got to get on the eBook bandwagon and start turning paper into electrons, otherwise I'll run out of cubic feet inside the house before the decade is out...

The stack of "Have Been Read" has grown by quite a bit.  Here's a few mini-reviews:

1) Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve
by William H. Patterson

Not a light read...  Over 600 pages, and that only gets you up to just post-WW2.  Still, it's an incredibly detailed look into the life of Sci-Fi's Grand Guru.  Possibly TOO detailed in places, chapters are spent describing early adult years in California, laboriously going over the Who, What & Where, but almost invariably lacking in the Why.  Part of the problem in a post-mortem biography is not being able to ask the subject some rather pointed questions...

Still, it's fascinating, and I'm looking forward to Volume 2 when it's released this summer.

2)  Last Call: The Rise & Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

Okrent, a NY Times editor, has a winner here with his look into the underpinnings and machinations of America's Great Crusade.  Beginning with a look at America's love affair with booze, it also goes into the history of American politics, religion and how Prohibition really could only have been attempted here.

Nothing is left uncovered, from the political machines to the booze cartels to the hordes of rumrunners, moonshiners and bootleggers.  It even definitively answers the long-whispered role of Joe P. Kennedy's involvement in the 30's!  Worth a look!  

3)  Terms Of Enlistment, & Lines of Engagement by Marko Kloos

Kloos, otherwise known as blogger The Munchkin Wrangler, has an enjoyable pair of novels in his "Space Kablooie" series.  I bought the first one as an e-book, and liked it enough to buy it again, along with its sequel when they were released in dead-tree editions early this year.

It's Military Sci-Fi, and all that entails.  Killing people and breaking things in the future.  Fortunately, I love that sort of thing!  I'f a good chunk of your library comes from Baen publishing, you'll dig this the most!

4)  Take The Star Road; Rise The Rising Tide; Adapt & Overcome
by Peter Grant

I have never met Mr.Grant, aka Bayou Renaissance Man.  We've interacted solely through a sprinkling of blog comments over the years.  By all accounts, though, he's a really nice guy.
So nice, in fact, that I'm pretty certain he didn't get the level of criticial feedback on his trio of books that I'm afraid it needed.

It's not that they're bad reads, not at all.  I bought Books 2 & 3 after dipping my toe in the water with Book 1.  It's just that there's some serious need of editing, and reducing the amount of exposition as the story winds along.  It's almost always better to show, not tell, and there's just a bunch of "Well, as you know, Pete..." throughout the trio.

As a Bildungsroman, it's also missing a sense of real peril for the protagonist.  There's never any doubt his bootstraps will be big enough to yank on just one more time.