Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo walked into the mawster bedroom of Port Swiller Manor last evening only to discover a couple of yellow-jackets alighting on one of the windows.  Quickly I slipped off the ol’ top-sider and began industriously squishing, but  couldn’t help noticing that, Hydra-like, for every ‘jacket I squished, two more seemed to appear in its place.  It was only after a minute or two of this and having got nailed on the back of my hand that I spotted the small hole immediately under the window sill from which the little bastards were pouring forth.

Realizing that I was in an untenable tactical position, I beat a hasty retreat, closing the door and jamming a towel underneath it for good measure.

Well, we couldn’t find anyone to come out and deal with the nest so late on a Saturday night, so it was beddy-bye on the basement sofas for Mr. and Mrs. R last night, with Self having numerous nightmares involving hornets in unlikely locations.

Fortunately, we were able to find an exterminator willing to come out on a Sunday morning (albeit, charging us through the nose for it).  The fellah who appeared turned out to be ex-Marine Corp, ex-FBI and a regular at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and also of the firm opinion that there’s no such thing as over-kill when eradicating hornets.

We got on very well indeed.

Pretty sure the fellah smited that nest good and proper and that nothing got out alive.

On a side note, not being able to get at the mawster bawth because we’re keeping the bedroom bottled up for another few hours just in case, I was finally forced just now to borrow the gels’ bathroom in order to shower up.  I never, ever want to hear it said that boys are piggier than girls.

UPDATE:  Well, the fellah seemed to be as good as his word.  I went in this afternoon with the vacuum a couple times to clean up the remains and check for survivors.  There must have been something close to 50 bogies scattered around the hole.  The fellah had said that they’d likely go for him when he started probing, and he was damned right.  My only fear was of some lone survivor suddenly popping up from behind a crevice, screaming “BANZAAAIIII!!!” and going for me.  Fortunately, no such thing.

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Over the last couple weeks, teh gels have been descending on teh local malls, ammo’d up with their baby-sitting earnings, allowances and birthday monies, to seek new fall school clothes.  Because they are all their mother’s daughters, Ol’ Robbo has found himself treated to numerous narrations of the details, one might say the painful details, of many of their purchases.

On the one hand, I’m delighted that they seem to be internalizing the basic concepts of math and self interest:   “Dad! This sweater from Macy’s was originally $100! But there was a 70% standing discount, plus a 10% special discount, plus another  get-it-the-hell-out-of-here discount.  I only paid ten bucks for it!”

On the other, I’m rayther appalled at the evident desperation among the retailers on which teh gels are feasting.   How can such things be when Our Betters assure us that the economy is doing just fine and dandy?

The world wonders.

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Somewhere or other today, ol’ Robbo came across a reference on the innertoobs to going for a car ride just for its own sake.

Does anybody really do that anymore, what with gas nudging four bucks a gallon?

Anyhoo, the reference triggered my own memories of the very few times my family just “went for a ride” in my misspent yoot.

I hated them.

Even then, and much more so these days, the idea of getting into a car for any other purpose than to get from Point A to Point B  in the minimum possible time absolutely appalled me.

(Shudder.)

I got thinking about this because we are now within two weeks of the annual Port Swiller Family trek up tah Maine.  According to Mapquest, the drive is 592 miles door-to-door, which sounds about right, and 9 hours, 31 minutes, which is absolute baloney.  (We’ve only made the trip in one fell swoop once.  It took us 13 hours.)

I don’t mind the distance so much, because I know I’m aiming for a specific target.  If somebody told me I had to sit in a car for that length of time (or any length of time) just to wander aimlessly about?  I’d slit my wrists without hesitation.

UPDATE:  When I mentioned the 13-hour trip to Maine to Mrs. R, she reminded me that we got caught up in several terrible accident-related snarls that day and that this blew our schedule all to hell.  She’s right, of course, now that I think on it more.  Given the right traffic conditions, I can hit Bahston in something just over seven and a half from the gates of Port Swiller Manor, and it isn’t much above two hours more to our little piece o’ Paradise from there.

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

Friday evening ol’ Robbo bugged out after work to meet the Port Swiller family down at Nationals Park to see his beloved Nats open the second half of the season against the Brewers of Milwaukee.

A good time was had by all, except that we ultimately lost and also that a quartet of the Brew Crew happened to sit directly in front of us and a somewhat inebriated, but friendly, member of said party kept leaning back to ask me trivia questions about Nats Park and various team traditions.  Somehow or other, he also managed several times to stick his elbow into my beer.

Eh, that’s part of the game.   So far as I was concerned, it was all good.  Besides, the fellah complimented me, based on what he heard of their chatter, on how much teh gels obviously knew about the game.  Very good.

No, what got me was this:  Not following Brewers baseball, I had heard nothing about Jean Segura, their shortstop, who recently received news that his nine-month-old son back home in the Dominican Republic had died.  Segura had taken some time off, and Friday was his first appearance back at the Bigs.

Well, when Segura stepped up for his first at bat, the crowd at  Nats Park game him a very warm ovation.

My sloshed new buddy was visibly moved by the tribute, and said as much.

This sort of thing makes ol’ Robbo very happy.  Just saying.

Oh, and the fact that we took the series off the Brewers this afternoon is a bit of a bonus, too.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may recall my chronicling here the renovations at Port Swiller Manor last summah?  For those of you who may have forgotten the details, part of the project was the renovation of the upstairs bathrooms (which had not been touched in about twenty years).  Amongst the changes to the Mawster Bawth was the removal of the ratty old hardwood from the little dressing area and closet and the grubby tile from around the bath, and their replacement with 12×24 slabs of slate.

The effect was very nice and all seemed well for quite some time.  However, a few months ago, ol’ Robbo began to sense what seemed like a couple of faint “soft” spots in this new floor, places that felt relatively spongy compared to the rest of the surface.  At first I dismissed these sensations as nothing but neurotic fancy.  But as time went on, they seemed to become more pronounced.

By a few weeks ago, I could definitely sense a shifting in the tile under my feet, especially right around the entrance to the closet.  Shortly thereafter, in approved plate-tectonic fashion, the tiles in the area began to spit up the grout between them.   It was at that point that we called the contractor (who we had doing some other things anyway) to revisit this project and view the evidence.  He took a look, agreed that there was a problem, insisted that it was covered under our warrantee and arranged to send his flooring guy back to do a more thorough diagnostic examination.

Well, the floor guy was out this morning.  After prying up the tile and poking around beneath, he affirmed the contractor’s initial impression that the problem lay in the sub-flooring, which was not sufficiently strong enough to keep the tile and its substrata firmly in place, but was instead bouncing off the joists.   He first suggested that the plywood might not be of industry-standard thickness and then that it was not screwed down firmly enough or in enough places on the joists to hold the new, heavier floor securely.

Having said this, he called up the contractor to make his report.  I could hear both of them.  My Spanish studies only went as far as 9th grade, but age and experience allowed me to generally piece together what was being said:  After reporting his findings, the floor guy suggested that these problems – plywood thickness and screw-spacing, were “preexisting conditions” and therefore ought not to fall under warrantee.

Our contractor, bless him, went ballistic.

Amongst a stream of other verbiage, I caught a good deal about “my name” and “reputation” and “bad for business” and, in essence, “you should have got it right the first time, now fix the damned problem!

The flooring guy seemed quite chastised when he got off the phone.  Whether he knew that I understood what had happened, I couldn’t say, but he was all friendliness and helpfulness.

So they’re going to pull up the tile, double or treble the screws on the sub-flooring and try it again.  (The plywood thickness is industry standard, btw, and the joists are not too far apart.)  And yes, it’s covered under the warrantee.

Not that I blame the floor guy for floating the suggestion – I don’t know what the margin is on this kind of work, but even if maintenance/repairs is factored into the original bid I would think somebody is still going to eat some costs – but it was heartening to hear our guy arguing on principles of integrity and Good Business.

Of course, he also knows that we’re thinking of building an in-law suite over the garage a few years down the road and that we’re pleased enough with his prior work to consider him first in the running for the job, but still…..

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo, on his daily commute in and out of Your Nation’s Capital, can’t help noticing that the bumper stickers reading “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism” and “Question Authority” that were so very popular ’round here, oooh, about six years ago, seem to have vanished completely from the back bumpers of teh Volvos, Priuses (Priii?) and weirdo-box abominations that they formerly had graced with such, ah, liberality.

Funny, that.

Go figure.

Just saying.

UPDATE:  Speaking of bumper stickers, I find this one pretty damned funny:

im_ready_for_oligarchy_2016_car_magnet_10_x_3

I’m considering putting it on my own bumper, and why not?  I haven’t yet had my tires shot out for sporting a Vatican flag, so how could this be any worse?

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

The latest “Weird” Al Yankovich bit-o’-silly is making its way around the Innertoobs.  I repost it here for those of you (yes, Mothe, I’m looking at you) who haven’t seen it elsewhere already.  Enjoy!

 

I gather this is a parody of some other song (as most of Big Weird Al’s stuff is), but I don’t know the other song so that part is lost on me.   Nonetheless,  I find the piece amusing because by today’s sub-sea level standards of literacy ol’ Robbo is considered something of a Grammar Nazi and it is, if you will, musick to my ears.

It’s really rayther horrifying when you think about it.  The basic rules touched on by Al are the sort of thing one was expected to master in grammar school just a generation ago.  (Personally, I adored sentence diagrams.)  These days?  Cor lumme, stone the crows!  I work with other lawyers, holders of graduate degrees who depend on their literacy for their livelihoods.  Nevertheless, again and again and again I find myself having to detangle badly-written documents – everything from emails to court pleadings to peer-reviewed academic studies.  Indeed, I’ve actually developed an informal office consulting practice, as several of my colleagues routinely send me drafts of their work product and ask me to look them over.

Well, that’s “Progress” for you.

Oh, and speaking of past generations and grammatical education for the masses, let me just point out that many, many of the grammar ditties from the Schoolhouse Rock series aired on Saturday mornings during Robbo’s misspent yoot are still tattooed to his brain.  Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine and enjoy one of Robbo’s favorites, shall we?

 

 

UPDATE:   Thinking further on on the subject of SHR, I’m reminded of a different, non-grammar-themed one that I don’t actually recall ever seeing when I was a kid, but which certainly seems apropos today:

 

UPDATE DEUX:  Oh, I forgot to mention this bit o’vanity.  The fellah in the “Conjunction Junction” song pronounces “either” and “neither” as “ee-ther” and “nee-ther“.  One of my affectations developed a long time ago was to adopt the Hanovarian pronunciations of “eye-ther” and “nye-ther“.   Pretentious? Moi?

 

 

 

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo has finally had enough.  He has tried for a long time to stifle his sensibilities, to bite his tongue, to be tolerant and to otherwise keep his head down and not rock the boat, but he simply can’t stand to see such decadence, debauchery and moral anarchy anymore:

Yes, I’m talking about marzipan. The word is NOT pronounced, “MAR-ZEE-pan“, dammit.  It’s “MAR-zə-pan“.

Oh, I know that as soon as I hit the “publish” button I’m going to be inundated with insults, threats and howls of outrage from the tiny but very vocal “Pro-Zee” crowd.  There’ll be Facebook rants, boycotts, petitions for my banning from these Innertoobs and, probably, even hate-crime prosecution.  I’ll become a hissing and a byword, just one more example of the eeeeevil, reactionary haters that must be expunged from Society before the Brave New World can properly get down to business.

But you know what?  Truth is Truth and even where Right becomes unfashionable, it’s still Right.  If I must needs go to the gallows or the wall for it, I will.

Vive le Schwa! 

Nats HatGreetings, my fellow port swillers!

You all may talk of your World Cup and such other Will O’ The Wisp trends, but on a far more serious note Ol’ Robbo was delighted to see his beloved Nationals crush the Phils this afternoon and thus winning the series while maintaining a first place tie in the NL East with the Braves going into the All Star Break.

We had a lot of injuries the first half but managed nonetheless to keep plugging away.  I understand that our second half schedule will be somewhat easier:  Given that we are now back up to something approaching our Opening Day strength, this looks to me to be a field ripe for conquest.  (Sooper-Sekret note to Our Maximum Leader:  You and I need to arrange to meet up at a game some time soon.)

Of course, what the heck do I know about these things?

At any rate, what else is there to say but

GO, NATS!!!

seven elevenGreetings, my fellow port swillers!  And happy Feast of the Overpriced Convenience Store!

Sorry about the dearth of posties this week – it may be that ol’ Robbo’s brain has passed into the doldrums as it so often does this time of year.  At any rate, here are a few odds and ends to make up for it.

♦  I took advantage of a day off from work today to get an early start on my weekend yard work, my main task being to slap a coat of wood sealant on the inside surfaces of the porch posts.  (The outer surfaces are faced by some kind of weatherproof poly stuff but the other three are bare PTL.  They’ve been up for almost a year now and are nice and seasoned.)  For about 30 seconds or so I flirted with the idea of maybe staining them, but at the last regained my sanity and went with a clear sealant with a light gloss instead.   It turned out to be a much easier and faster job than I had originally feared, as I found I could easily get around the railing and other edges without all that tedious taping up biznay.

♦   While I was going about my task, I noticed something I had not known before:  A woodchuck will climb a chicken wire fence if it’s feeling greedy enough.

♦  The middle gel sang at a funeral down the Cathedral this morning for a woman whose son had himself been a chorister there many years ago and thought it would be a fitting thing for her, if any of the current crop were available and interested.  About a week ago, therefore, a request for volunteers went out and the gel, being the kind of gel she is, stepped up along with two or three others.  They sang Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire.  I thought the gesture was really very, very sweet.

♦  One of Mrs. Robbo’s nieces is flying down from Baahston on Monday to spend a week with us and see the sights.  Yesterday, Mrs. R’s sistah sent her a copy of the gel’s plane ticket, on which Mrs. R noticed that her sistah had paid for two checked bags.  Mrs. R immediately got on the phone and said, “Look, I don’t do checked bags.  We’ve got a washing machine and, in an emergency, the gel can borrow whatever she might need from my lot.  Carry-on only.”  I thought that very amusing.

♦  Speaking of gels, within the past month or two, I have heard several very different women in very different geographical locations using the phrase, “get her big girl pants on” or “get her big girl britches on”.  Is this a thing?  It must have some common source, but I work so hard to disassociate myself from pop “culchah” that I just don’t know what this might be.

♦  And speaking of hearing things, one of the most chilling things I’ve heard in recent memory was a colleague of mine down the office this week using the expression “Brave New World” without irony.   Telephone call for Gods of the Copybook Headings.  Will the Gods of the Copybook Headings please pick up the white courtesy phone.  Thank you.

♦  Finally, speaking of Kipling, I am deep into P.C. Wren’s Beau Geste for the very first time.  I won’t review it here since I’m not done but I will say that I’m enjoying it very, very much.

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