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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Or, at least, those of you who still drop in….
This afternoon when I was chatting with the Mothe, she asked, “Have you given up blogging?”
Here’s Robbo’s predicament: A variety of issues have boiled up around Port Swiller Manor in the past couple months that have forced themselves on Robbo’s attention but have not – owing to issues of confidentiality and propriety – been blog-worthy in and of themselves.
I don’t wish to appear cryptic here. It’s just that this is the trap of a semi-autonymous bloggy identity and a generally domestick blogging theme. As teh kids like to say, or at least did so ten minutes ago, one must guard against the disclosure of TMI. But don’t worry – we’re all alive and well.
(And, of course, there is the matter of Robbo’s employer’s recent responses to my attempts to dial into WordPress, which could be summed up in the single word: Que? Who am I to contact tech support and bitch about my sudden inability to post whatever drifts across my so-called mind during bizness hours? As I have often, bitterly, noted, I’m not paid for my artistic expression.)
The long and the short of it is that I have simply been too busy and too distracted and too inhibited to concentrate on the Important Things, such as the gratuitous blathering that constitutes about 99.999999% of what you will find here at Port Swiller Central.
But please, do not drain your glasses and start fumbling for your hats and brollies as you mutter about important engagements that you must get to! Ol’ Robbo promises that he has not abandoned his position at the head of the table and that he will keep the decanter circulating – by means of trained squirrels if necessary – and that the walnuts are always on the table and the Stilton is always on the sideboard.
Of course, it would not hurt if somebody out there gave me a lead. Back in school, I used to hate assignments when I was invited to write about “whatever I wanted” regarding a given text. I used to beg the profs: For goodness sake, tell me WHAT to write about! You lot could to the same.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo finds himself in a bit of a bloggy quandary. Over the course of the past (nearly) ten years, his method of postie-composition has been to fire from the hip throughout the day as various random thoughts and observations occur to him. Or, if you prefer, reversing the metaphor so that the blog itself is a passive conduit instead of an active weapon, one could almost picture my kind of blogging as a sort of mental lightning rod, a metal pole by which to channel said random thoughts and observations into a harmless ground. Heck, it keeps the barn from burning down.
Recently, however, certain circumstances have caused the paradigm to shift somewhat. For the past few weeks, Robbo’s blogging has been confined to the late evening, a time period in which I usually am quite tired and lacking in compositional stamina, to say nothing of coherence, and in which many of the things that occur to me during the course of the day have already evaporated. (I am pretty confident that this very post itself illustrates the resultant precipitous drop in quality.) Res, as they say, ipsa loquitur.
The upshot is that I realize that I need to find a way to preserve the blog material inspired by my day-to-day, real-time observations for later delivery to you friends of the decanter over the Stilton and walnuts. In the end, it might very well come down to what the ancients apparently referred to as “a No. 2 pencil and a legal pad” – whatever that means.
Anyhoo, my apologies to the two or three of you who still come together here, for the recent sparse and content-free efforts. I forget who the fellah was who talked about the center not holding (perhaps it was T.S. Eliot?), but I intend to prove him wrong. The decanter-centric still-point will hold, especially as ol’ Robbo is the one who will have to get up all the glass splinters out of the Turkey carpet if it comes to pieces, and I don’t relish such a housecleaning job.
Your continued patience is appreciated….
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
By the time those two or three of you together read this post, it will be time for ol’ Robbo to shut things down.
Wednesday – Tenebrae, complete with alter boys vigorously kicking the stuffing out of the pews….
Thursday – Mass of the Last Supper. Yes, there will be washing of feet. Problem?
Friday – Good Friday. The Passion. In Latin. ’Nuff said.
Saturday – Easter Vigil (at which ol’ Robbo marks his fifth year as a member of Holy Mother Church and thanks every single blessed minute since he swam the Tiber).
Sunday – Various activities only marginally connected with Robbo’s celebration of His Resurrection but nonetheless meaningful and obligatory. To wit, hearing the Middle Gel sing at the Cathedral and then tooling out to the Shenandoah Valley to Cousin C’s for Easter din-dins.)
Monday – The aftermath of Holy Week……. and opening day at Nationals Park. (No, we don’t have tickets. But the truth is that I’d rather watch it on teevee than slog down to the Park after all the fuss and bother of the previous few days. Anyhoo, it’s only the Marlins….)
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo hasn’t much to say this evening except that I completely and utterly ignored the Oscars and everything associated with them with a sense of personal smugness just this side of the smackable.
Also, it seems a swarm of hornets have decided to set up shop in my nose. Drippy, oozy hornets at that. Not fun. A glass of sherry is a recognized specific for treating these sinus things, isn’t it? Well, it ought to be.
Anyhoo, my main reason for this post is that I wanted to alert all you friends of the decanter that I have finally, after four and a half years here, set up a new inbox for those of you who care to correspond other than in the bright lights of the comment section. You can now get me at noheeltaps -AT- yahoo.com. Feel free to toss whatever questions, suggestions, links or thoughts you like into the box.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
How about a little Friday Random? For your convenience, I’ve divided it up into not-so-random sections this time. Feel free to skip around:
Part The First, di Chiesa:
♦ Those of you who might have glanced at my post immediately below about lack of sleep and fiddling with my Lenten practices might like to know the sequel: Well, I avoided the temptation to hoist a medicinal nightcap after all. Instead, I just toughed it out, got another bad night’s sleep Wednesday, carried through with work and exercise yesterday — and dozed off in my comfy chair over a book last evening, getting a really good night’s sleep. Go figure.
♦ I went to noon Mass on Wednesday in part because it’s Lent, in part because I’ve been wondering whether I had ought to step up to twice a week on a full-time basis. (I don’t think I could become a daily communicant, at least not until I’m a retired old fart.) This time I thought I would try a church quite near my office, of which I had heard some good things. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and realized that I had actually been to a wedding there about seven or eight years ago. With five years of Catholicism under my belt, it had quite a different feel about it than it did back then.
♦ Speaking of which, I’ve no real new thoughts on the Papal succession except to note that, in offering its own helpful suggestions, what the MSM really wants HMC to do is to simply abandon Christianity and instead embrace the secular “culture”. Even an ignoramus like me recalls that one of the three temptations laid before Jesus was the domination of all the World on the sole condition that He bow down in worship of Satan. I can see that this is, in effect, exactly the same thing, but about 90% of the general population, were I to point it out, would look at me like I had a hole in my head and start making snarky comments about snake-handling. That’s why I hope that the Holy Ghost and the Cardinals between them, above all else, elevate a new Pontiff who can make these arguments in a language the wider world will understand.
Part The Second, di Camera:
♦ Robbo is still having trouble adjusting to this iMac on which he is now typing in the Port Swiller Manor study. The thing still has a disconcerting habit of suddenly throwing my page off the screen or blowing up the font or asking me if I’d like to take a break from all that boring old writing and look at some new widgets. (We hates machines that try to anticipate our every thought and desire. Damned impertinence!) I also still haven’t figured out what makes the scroll bar on the right hand side come and go, nor do I yet know how to download pictures. If I remember rightly, the Dell system we bought back around 2000 or so came with an owner’s operating guide the size of a 747 flight manual. All we got with the Mac was a little pamphlet that tells you absolutely….nada.
♦ Speaking of the chilling march of the computers, the middle gel was having some trouble converting an Excel spreadsheet into a graph for a homework assignment the other morning. When she asked me for help, the sordid truth came out: I have always studiously avoided learning Excel in all of its manifestations and don’t have the faintest idea how to put it through even the most rudimentary of its paces. All I could say was “Better ask your teacher.”
♦ Speaking of helplessness, the HVAC fellah was out this morning to inspect the Port Swiller furnace. I hate these visits, because they always seem to reveal some previously unknown glitch or problem with the inner workings of the place. Today, for instance, the furnace turned out to be just fine. (As it ought to be, just having been put in two years ago.) But the fellah also noted that the old water heater is getting extremely long in the tooth, and that there are various bits and pieces in the system that are no longer up to code. Sigh. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.
♦ And finally, in case you’re interested, yes, ol’ Robbo has received from his Uncle a notice of proposed furlough in the event Sequestraggedon becomes a reality. My reaction? Well first, call me dubious that it really will come to pass. Even now I sense the Body Politicke pulling back its collective foot to kick that particular can further down the road. But if worse comes to naught? Let it burn.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Don’t let the time-stamp on this post fool you. While it is already Ash Wednesday in Greenwich Mean Time (at which TPSAYE is rayther snobbishly set), I assure you that it is still Mardi Gras at Port Swiller Manor as I type, a glass of wine in front of me, Telemann’s Banquet Musicke on the stereo behind me and no distractions.
You’d think that such circumstances would be conducive to the jolly old feast of reason and flow of soul, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not used to posting under such conditions. (Who was the fellah who couldn’t write without the smell of rotten apples and therefore always kept some in his desk?) In the nearly ten years I’ve been blogging, most of my inspiration has been spur-of-the-moment, almost a by-product of the mental energy I’ve been expending on some other task. (This works out very well when I am engaged in, say, research or writing on the computer. I’ve yet to figure out how to master and set down the thoughts that occur to me while I’m , for example, mowing the lawn.) It is relatively rarely that I have deliberately seated myself in the Port Swiller Manor study like this and said to myself, “And now, I shall blog.” And when I find myself in terra relatively incognita like this, my Muse tends to start making excuses about having to wash her nails or get her hair painted or some such female thing.
The point of the matter is that change is bad, m’kay?
Nonetheless, it is my goal – much facilitated by the recent acquisition of the Port Swiller iMac – to transition to this mode of blogging. The result may very well be fewer actual posts than friends of the decanter have been used to, but I’m hoping that what is lost in volume will be made up in both quality and depth. Plus, to be frank about it, operating solely on the ol’ home unit allows ol’ Robbo’s tongue to be somewhat loosened. Anyhoo, I am fairly confident that once she gets used to the new regime, my Muse will stop Bunburying and get back to work.
Of course, it won’t be easy. I mention again the new Port Swiller iMac. I’ve still not got used to this bloody thing. Aside from the issue of trying to download and paste pictures, I still have not figured out the mystery of the vanishing scroll-bar. Also, at least twice since I started composing this post, I’ve lost the whole bloody thing, apparently because I waggled the wireless mouse in an incorrect way. People are all wrong in predicting that the Rise of the Machines will involve a sudden unleashing of massed weaponry. They’ll simply drive us all over the edge with their shear, obstinate cussedness.
So please have patience.
Finally, a note about Lent: I’m not going to shut down TPSAYE completely for the next forty days, but like the nautical dog-watch, posting will be curtailed. Also, I plan to confine myself largely to matters penitential and ecclesiastical. So if you want to slide outside to get some fresh air and perhaps indulge in a smoke, I’ll understand.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, according to Top Men, ol’
Puxatanni Puckzadaffy Whozyodaddy that infamous Pennsylvania rodent, didn’t see his shadow this morning, meaning Spring is right around the corner. Frankly, I’d say it already arrived, slipping in straight behind Autumn, as it’s been a relatively mild and snow-free Winter in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. Snow Miser is slipping badly.
I was reading a thread recently in which somebody was asking the Pro’s whether the fact that we’re well below our average snowfall amount this year was evidence of Man Made
Global Warming Climate Change. What was remarkable was that the Pro actually gave a sensible answer that illustrated the danger of getting too wrapped up in statistics.
You see, our 30 year average is 14.5 inches per year. But usually we don’t get anything near that. What happens is that every now and again we get a real stem-winder of a season (for example, our record was set in 09-10 at 56 inches) that artificially inflates the overall average. It’s sort of like a kid shlepping their way through a lot of bad homework and test grades and only staying afloat because they manage to ace something every now and again. (Don’t ask me why that parallel comes to mind.)
I’m sure the Pro has been sent to a reeducation camp by now.
Anyhoo, my only thought about Groundhog Day concerns the movie of the same name. Now I readily concede that it is, in fact, a very good movie, not just well written and well acted, but also imbued with a wholesomeness not often seen in the products coming out of
Gomorrah Hollywood. Plus, it’s got Andi Macdowell. Say no more!
Nonetheless, the truth of the matter is that although I have tried to watch this movie maybe ten times, I have never managed to keep my eyes open all the way through. I still don’t know how the durn thing resolves itself. It’s not unusual for ol’ Robbo to doze off in front of a movie, since I usually don’t watch them until fairly late in the evening, but I think that Groundhog Day holds the record – shared only with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – as the only flick I’ve never managed to conquer. Why this is, I don’t know. But it’s a fact.
Now alert friends of the decanter might be wondering why, at this point, ol’ Robbo hasn’t snuck in a gratuitous picture of the lovely and talented Mizz Macdowell. That brings us to a rayther different topic. You see, after several years of dithering over it, the Family Robbo finally broke down and purchased a new home computer, an iMac desktop to be precise. I’ve always been a PC guy [Ed. - well, at least in this respect] and have not got the hang of the Mac World Order yet. Among other things, I have not figured out how to download photos off the innertoobs. Also, I haven’t figured out how to keep the scroll bars on the side and bottom of the screen from constantly vanishing. Finally, I seem to have done something or other while typing this post that causes my WordPress template to overflow the screen something awful, meaning that I have to scroll right and left just to see what I’m doing. No doubt my eleven year old knows the answers to all these issues already, but it shouldn’t be this complicated. Change is bad, m’kay?
UPDATE: Here’s the G-man’s annually-posted tribute to the movie. Enjoy!
Huh. It seems there are still some retro holdouts against the relentless onslaught of “new and improved” technology across the pond.
More than 13,000 households across the UK are still using black-and-white television sets, according to the TV Licensing authority.
London had the highest number of monochrome licences, at 2,715, followed by Birmingham and Manchester, it said.
The number of licences issued each year has dwindled from 212,000 in 2000. A total of 13,202 monochrome licences were in force at the start of 2013.
A black-and-white TV licence costs £49 a year, a colour licence costs £145.50.
TV Licensing spokesman Stephen Farmer said: “It’s remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41% of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet, more than 13,000 households still watch their favourite programmes on a black-and-white telly.”
(For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, Britain funds the Beeb through fees collected on television ownership via an annual licensing requirement. And yes, television detector vans really do patrol the streets seeking out unlicensed and therefor illegal television viewing.)
I wonder what that figure would be here in the States?
I no doubt date myself by noting that we had a black & white teevee when I was a kid. One day when I was about seven or so, I got the brilliant idea that I was going to change it into a color set. So I found a can of orange spray-paint and got to work on the screen. If memory serves, the Old Gentleman was so gob-smacked by the thinking behind my actions when he discovered my handiwork that I got off with a very light reprimand. (That, and I seem to remember that the paint came off the glass relatively easily.)
UPDATE: Thinking back on the teevee of my yoot reminds me that I recently stumbled across a cable channel called FamilyNet, which has started running an evening lineup of WKRP, Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart (both shows) reruns. I used to be a huge fan of all of these.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show wrapped up when I was twelve and I hadn’t seen a rerun in 36 years. All I can say is that I knew I liked her back then for a darn good reason. Yow!
Greetings, my fellow port swillers! Is it Tuesday again? Sigh, I suppose it is. Well, you know what that means:
♦ Congratulations are in order for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following the announcement that she is preggers. It would seem that the Brits are getting ready for some serious babypalooza already. (Indeed, I’ve already learned more about the current state of the royal insides than I really want to). Curiously, my first thought when the nooz about the Duchess’s condition broke yesterday was, “Well, that’s what you’re getting paid for, after all.” (I hadn’t had much sleep and was in an extremely cynical mood.)
♦ Flipping through the Beeb, I came across this article about Tamerlane the Great in which the author goes on at length about Tamerlane’s physical handicaps and how he overcame them to become (although the author doesn’t quite put it this way) one of the champeen murderers, pillagers and rapists of history. Oh, hoorrah?
♦ The local classickal station ran a performance of “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion” from Handel’s Messiah this morning. The soprano, whose name I didn’t recognize, had a lovely clear, bright, lively voice, but she put such vibrato into it that she ended up sounding like Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Why do singers do such things?
♦ Several friends of the decanter have asked what I think of the nooz that Pope Benedict has just opened his own Twitter account as @Pontifex. I shrug. What’s a “tweet” anyway?
♦ I also shrug over the headlines about the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Deck chairs on the Titanic as far as I’m concerned.
♦ I see from Wiki that today is the anniversary of the discovery in 1872 of the brigantine Mary Celeste, abandoned but under sail in the eastern Atlantic. The article discusses some pretty interesting theories about what might have happened to the crew, the most plausible seeming to be that a sudden panic about the extremely dangerous cargo of alcohol in the hold prompted everyone to leap into the lifeboat, which somehow became separated from the ship and lost. The article also mentions that a Dr. Who episode from the mid-60′s suggested that the crew leaped overboard after being attacked by Daleks. That put a voice in my head saying, “Ex-ter-mi-nate, me hear-ties!”
♦ Yes, I am easily amused.
♦ For those of you following the Baseball Mid-winters (and just in case Mike Rizzo is a secret friend of the decanter), ol’ Robbo’s opinion is that his beloved Nationals probably ought to let LaRoche go and move Morse over to 1st Base. I think the talk of dealing Morse and Espinoza for a good starting pitcher is foolish. Mikey is a team leader and Espi is going to get better at the plate – why throw away such valuable assets? We can pick up the arm other ways. UPDATE: From my keyboard to Rizzo’s eyeballs – The Nats just signed former Angel Dan Haren to a one year deal, thus kicking the 5th starter can down the road aways. Now there’s really no reason to be dealing quality guys.
♦ And finally, a bleg? Just supposing for hypothetical purposes that ol’ Robbo was mulling a new computer for Port Swiller Manor, what would be a good choice? I’m a PC guy myself but could deal with Mac products if necessary. We don’t need a lot of whistles and bells, just something reasonably priced on which the kids can do their homework, Mrs. R can manage the household, and yours truly can keep pouring here.
I don’t recall that I’ve ever had reason to complain about WordPress since arriving here from the wilds of MooNooviana (and before that Blogsplat) many moons ago, but where the heck did my linkie categories suddenly vanish to?
I rely on my familiarity with the layout to make my surfing as efficient as possible. Take that away and I’m just scrolling helplessly.
Hopefully, by the time you read this post they’ll have come back from whatever corner of the ether where they’re lurking and you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about.
UPDATE: Oh, good, it seems to have fixed itself. I find that many such problems simply go away if you ignore them long enough.