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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of teh decanter will get the title, knowing ol’ Robbo’s opinion that Tuesday is the emptiest day of all.  With that, how about a few, well, empty thoughts?

♦   Ol’ Robbo teh English major is something of a hide-bound reactionary traditionalist when it comes to matters of language and grammar, but even I must acknowledge the text-driven power of the modern acronym to encapsulate profound meaning in minimal expression.  As an example, consider the following:  SOTU? STFU!

No, I did not watch tonight’s State of the Union address.  Nonetheless, I think I can condense however many minutes of verbiage it lasted into two words:  We’re humped.

♦   This past Sunday happened to be Robbo’s 49th birthday.  This one came and went with very, very little fanfare or festivity, in part because I’ve ceased to care that much and in part because I was so busy with church  (early Mass for me, followed by shepherding teh Middle Gel down the Cathedral for both the 11:30 eucharist and 4:00 evensong), that by the time I got home, all I wanted was a glass of wine and some solitude.

♦  Speaking of gels, teh eldest had her key snap in the garage door at Port Swiller Manor this afternoon as she came home from school and tried to get in out of teh 18° cold.  Not panicking, she called Mrs. R at work and went up on to the porch to grab a blanket from one of the chairs to keep herself warm.  Mrs. R arranged for a neighbor to rescue said eldest.  I am very proud that she did not panic.

Obviously, we’re going to need a back-up entry method.  Any hackers out there?  Don’t look under teh garden gnome!

Nonetheless, if she tries to pull a “Oh, Father! I’ve caught a chill and can’t go to school today” tomorrow as a result: I will do such things,–
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!

♦   Ab über-random thought:  I much prefer the ’86 re-recording of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police to the original.  I think the broody, nightmarish quality of the latter version to be much more effective.

♦  Oops.  I just finished posting a longish random tidbit trying to link Brother Anastase Douay, the only surviving witness of the murder by some of his own men of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1687 in East Texas, with the great Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible.   (We’ve reached the depth of post where, on teh Mac, I can’t figure out how to linky.  If you are interested, I suggest google.)  Alas, there seems to be no direct connection.  Cliff Clavins of the world unite in weepage.

♦   Those friends of teh decanter who spotted teh quote from King Lear just above (Act 2, Scene IV) may be interested to know that ol’ Robbo saw Anthony Hopkins offer up those lines on teh stage in London in 1987.  It’s been a great many years now, but I can still say with confidence:  Tony completely blew it.   I dunno whether it was his idea or his director’s, but his interpretation was an utter fail.

Well, on that note, I suppose I will pack it in so that I can get myself reading for Hump Day.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will know that ol’ Robbo is something of a Luddite when it comes to all these newfangled electronic gadgets being foisted on the market.  For example, I have often (perhaps too often) opined to Mrs. R that her GPS thingy, to which she is utterly beholden to get from Point A to Point B,  is actually controlled by Skynet and that when Judgement Day comes, Skynet will steer her straight into an ambush and serves her right.   She can’t say that she wasn’t warned.

However, I must admit my own personal delight with Google Maps, both in its overhead capacity and in its street-view function.   I think I have posted often enough here  about geography to explain the former.  The latter has had some real value in my job, since I often must travel to cities and towns unknown to me and scoping them out ahead of time has saved me a lot of bother.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is to draw attention to a particular feature of the street-view function.  I had read (and checked out) an article a few months back describing how said function had been expanded to include not just highways and byways, but also  panoramic views from the summits of some select mountains.   I forget which ones they were, but at the time I thought the ones I visited were, well, o-kay, but not all that special.

This week, however, I found myself checking out Google Maps’ street-view of Mt. Fuji.  I had not known this, but there’s a trail all the way round the lip of the crater, and some enterprising Google employee had hiked all the way up from the base and around said trail.

I have seen some impressive views before.  The Google street-map view of Pike’s Peak is pretty impressive.  Similarly the various views available when one wanders around the Italian and Austrian Alps.  But this one takes the cake.  Mt. Fuji is 12K-plus feet in altitude and there’s nothing immediately around it.  The view is both breath-taking and, if you have a fear of heights like me, palm-sweat inducing.

(Yes, sitting at my computer in the basement of Port Swiller Manor, staring at a computer screen, I can still get scared looking at images depicting great height.  That’s how much of an acrophobe I am.)

Anyhoo, if you haven’t done so, I heartily recommend that you check this thing out.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

I thought I would stir things up a bit here by doing a little Monday randomness, instead of saving it for Friday.  You know, because I’m such a wild and crazy guy.  (And yes, I know the timestamp says it’s already October 29, but the thing is set on Greenwich Mean Time and I’m too lazy and timid to go messing about with it.)

♦    Today was the first time this year that I got into my place of employment before dawn and didn’t leave until after sunset.  This pattern will continue for the next week or two until daylight savings time sets in.  Because I very often don’t leave my building during the day even for lunch, and therefore don’t see the sun directly, I have taken to calling this the Time of the Mole People.

♦     I forget why DST kicks in late this year except that it has something to do with politicks.  Which means it has virtually nothing to do with plain common sense.

♦     Speaking of politicks, during the course of a ramble about something or other last Sunday, the Rev at Robbo’s Former Episcopal Church let fall a comment about “inclusiveness” being one of the core values of the Founding Fathers.  A warm and fuzzy sentiment to many of the RFEC congregation, no doubt, but actually completely at odds with the actual spirit of the Founders, who were in fact devoted to the concept that gubmint (because this is all about gubmint manipulation of teh populace) should just leave people the hell alone to get on as they see fit.  My friends, this is an example of why a solid education and eternal vigilance are so very necessary.

♦   I haven’t declared a World Series favorite here yet.  Allow me to correct this:  I am going with the St. Louis Cardinals.   Et cur? you may ask, especially after the Cards did down Robbo’s beloved Nats in the playoffs last year?  Simple.  Bahston fans do not wear success very well.  Back in the day when the Sawx and the Pats were horrid, I admired the way in which their supporters stuck with them no matter how heavy the emotional and psychological toll.  But now that the teams have become such winners? Well, these same fans have turned into the most arrogant bunch of jerks on the continent.  Massholes, indeed.

♦  Having said that, I can’t say that I am watching teh games very closely.   I know that there is a school of thought that enjoys the champeen struggle for its own sake, but I’m not of it: If I don’t have a horse in the race, I’m not all that much interested.  Indeed, although I still know that the ‘Fins won the ’72 and ’73 Super Bowls because I was such a fan in those days, for the life of me I simply cannot remember who won it last year.   And I don’t think I could tell you any Series winners off the top of my head.   First time the Nats pull it off- that I’ll remember.  (I say nothing about pro basketball because I hold the sport in contempt.  As for hockey, there was none in the South Texas of my misspent yoot, so I never acquired an interest during my formative years.)

♦  And finally, t’other night I was watching Executive Decision.  This is one of those movies that, when I’m channel-surfing and stumble across it, I almost automatically settle back to watch.  (Okay, confess:  You lot have your own favorites and do the same.  Confess, I say.  Confess!)  Anyhoo, it was being shown as  part of the series on whatever that military network is that features Lou Diamond Phillips interviewing guests between sections of the film.  His guest here was Tom Ridge (first Sec of Homeland Security), and there was a lot of jawing about how we view this movie (which was made during the false peace of the mid-90′s) in the aftermath of 9/11 and the current Global War on Terror.    I mention this only because at one point, in a discussion of post-9/11 terror attacks, Ridge actually mentioned the Fort Hood massacre.   “Oh, my stars,” I thought.  “Didn’t Ridge get the memo?  The Fort Hood shooter was a troubled man with psychiatric issues, not a terrorist for the Religion of Peace.  And besides, gun control so shut up!”  Honestly, keep up guys!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, as the title implies, ol’ Robbo took the weed-whacker to Da Beard this morning.  I didn’t do so because it looked bad or because Mrs. R made me.  (Indeed, when I finally got her to comment, she actually gave it her  qualified approval.)  In the end I suppose I decided that I just wasn’t really that guy looking back at me in the mirror.  Regular friends of the decanter will be well aware of Robbo’s aversion to change and his utter lack of interest in novelty for its own sake.   Some people might be apt to label this “boring”.  I prefer the term “constant”.

Anyhoo, I got a few compliments and had a bit o’ fun, but it was time to come home.

Speaking of change, our Maximum Leader, commenting t’other day on the upcoming statewide elections here in the Great Commonwealth of Virginny, noted his general dissatisfaction with all the candidates on offer this time around.   I must say that I’m getting that same vibe from many, many people including Mrs. R, who I always turn to as my non-politickal weathervane.   I won’t go into endorsements here except to remark that, as I’m something more of a cultchah warrior than Maxy, the choices are easier for me.   I will say that there is at least one state-wide candidate who, in a healthy republic, wouldn’t even be on the ballot but instead would be in jail.

Also speaking of change, may I remark here how much I hate this bloody Apple i-Whateveritis on which I am currently typing, particularly this goddam wireless mouse?  In its apparent quest to anticipate what I want it to do, it’s forever suddenly magnifying the page or flipping it into the trash if I even go so far as to sneeze at the wrong moment.  Grrrrr…..

Speaking of manipulative technology, the devil’s website got me again yesterday.  On a Columbus Day tip from the Puppy-blender, I had sauntered over to pick up Samuel Eliot Morrisson’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea:  A Life of Christopher Columbus.   While on the page, I heard a small voice whisper, “Psst! Hey! Look down a little….You know you can get a copy of Columbus’s own logs and dispatches from his voyages while you’re at it, don’t you?  You know you want to, right?  It’s sooooo easy.  Go ahead!”

My friends, there are some temptations which I am able to avoid quite easily.  There are others to which I fall equally easily.   (And lest you think this particular one fairly petty, let me assure you that reading books of this sort will be more than enough justification to send me to the reeducation camps, if not the wall, in the upcoming purges.)

One temptation that I wrestle with more or less constantly is to try living the gels’ lives for them.  This is a trap the Old Gentleman fell into in my own misspent yoot, and one that I swore scrupulously to avoid when it became my turn to deal with teenagers.  My friends, it’s a whole heck of a lot harder than I ever imagined to stop myself from dashing in and trying to micro-manage, and then losing my temper when my efforts are either ignored or resisted.  Saint Joseph, ora pro nobis.

Oh, speaking of age….I saw Lee Majors, of all people, on the teevee last evening hawking a “bionic” hearing-aid.   For some reason, this made me feel very old.  The Six-Million Dollar Man was a fixture of my misspent yoot – I can’t recall whether I actually had a Col. Steve Austin action figure, but I rayther think I did – and to see him badly reading a cue-card in a mumbly voice really hit me.

Well, enough of that.  It’s a beautiful mid-October day and I do believe that this will be the last lawn-mowing of the season.   Here’s a question for you:  The back yard of Port Swiller Manor is enclosed in a white rail fence that, after twelve years or so, could really do with a new coat of paint.   Somebody told Mrs. R that we really ought to power-wash it before painting, given that some of the rails are a bit grungy, but I’m inclined not to a) because of the additional work and expense, and b) because I worry that directing a jet of water at some of the boards will cause them to disintegrate.   Is this a short-cut to nowhere?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, the title refers to a particularly squishy Christmas folk hymn that makes my toes curl, but since the stores have had their Halloween and Thanksgiving stuff out for a couple weeks already, I’m rolling with it.

So here are some things about which I’m wondering:

♦   It is the long-standing custom of our eldest cat, as soon as she senses I’m awake in the morning, to plant her considerably weight on my chest, purring loudly and trying to hypnotize me into getting up and feeding her.  Although my body is under the covers, does she have some sort of sense that she’s sitting on me, or is she just instinctively going for the high ground?  Personally, I think it’s the former because, well, because that’s just the sort of thing a cat would do.   If the latter, why wouldn’t she aim for the pillow instead?

♦   The construction code issued by our benevolent and paternalistic local gub’mint decrees that external staircases must include small lights in the faces of every other step, lest we rubes trip in the dark and break our necks.   The system on our new one leading down from the porch is supposed to work on a photo-electric sensor, flipping itself on automatically at dusk.  So far, this has not been the case.  Sometimes the lights come on in the middle of the afternoon.  Sometimes they don’t come on at all.  For some reason, this reminds me of the intercom systems that were a popular home innovation back in the day.  Never once did I ever come across such a system that actually worked.   To me, this was an early lesson in the importance of not being seduced by the “wonders” of technology.

♦   NPR nooz is carrying an item this morning about some gang-related mass shooting in a park on the south side of Chicago late last night that injured a large number of people, including a 3 y.o. boy, a fact highlighted by the announcer.  I assume NPR is leaning on this from the martyr angle (because gunz, you guys!!!11!!111!), but the question that came to my mind was:  What the hell is a toddler doing in a park in the middle of the night, anyway?  

I know, I know.  I denounce myself.

♦   And speaking of such things, they held a memorial service for the victims of the Navy Yard shootings down the Cathedral earlier this week.  A local nooz crew took some footage of the choristers rehearsing, and it made its way to YooToob.  Teh Middle Gel is on the right.  Enjoy!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It suddenly dawned on ol’ Robbo today that he had completely missed something of a milestone around here.  Specifically, this past July 30 marked the 5th Anniversary of this port-soaked, Stilton-stuffed blog.

Several excuses for this oversight come to mind.

For one thing, it’s been a hectic, distracting year here at Port Swiller Manor and, to be frank, casual blogging has taken rayther a back seat to other concerns.

For another,  I’ve watched teh SightMeter stats gradually shrink over the years, my hit-average declining steadily since the old Llama Days.   (Back in teh early days of teh blogs, some writers took the it-doesn’t-matter-to-me-how-much-traffic-I-get-so long-as-I-post-true-to-myself attitude.  This, as I said at the time, is utter bull-hockey.   Anyone who tells you that they don’t pay attention to hit-counts and don’t care about comments is a liar.  And hit counts impact directly on teh creative juices.  Just ask Dickens.)

For a third, blogging simply has become more physically difficult of late.  This year, teh office techie gate-keepers seem to have blocked out WordPress altogether, seriously harshing my long-standing custom of slapping down posts whenever they occur to me during the day and confining me to evening and weekend bloviating, not my strong suit.

So, with all that, you perhaps may understand why Robbo failed to order teh balloons, ice-cream and clown.   (Well, I wouldn’t have ordered teh clown anyway.  We hates clowns!  All that malice buried beneath a deep layer of jocular grease-paint!  But that’s another story.)

Anyhoo, for those two or three friends of teh decanter that still gather together here, let me apologize for my forgetfulness and make it up to you by cracking open the vintage ’64 Sandeman and sending it round directly.  Bumpers all round, ladies and gentlemen, gunn’ls under and no heel taps!  Thankee for your support and here’s to your collective very good health!




Yes, I try to observe Friday abstinence, but this is just too funny not to steal today:

G’wan over to Maetenloch’s overnight post at Ace’s place for more Psycho-Nazi Vegan goodiness.

UPDATE:  Sorry – dunno why the yootube didn’t embed.  See what happens when I bad-mouth Mac?

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

What with Mrs. R and the eldest gel having left to visit Mrs. R’s parents in Conneckticut on Wednesday and the younger gels having been deposited at Bible-thumper camp last Sunday, ol’ Robbo finds himself starting his annual bachelor blowout week.  Bring on the wine, musick and dancing girls!

Actually, despite my griping about the general noise and mayhem around Port Swiller Manor the other fifty-one weeks of the year, I notice that the novelty of peace and quiet wears off after the first twenty-four hours or so and I start to get listless and fidgety.

Last year Robbo spent most of the week hiding from the heat in the basement, thanks to El Derecho knocking out our power for four days.    Oddly enough, this year, what with the bathrooms being worked on, Robbo is spending most of the week….hiding in the basement from the workmen and the mess.

You can’t win.  You really can’t.

Well, what a tumultuous few days it’s been.  We had some very sad domestic news that I can’t discuss yet because I haven’t broken it to the gels and the middle gel sometimes drops in here.  And of course, there were the big headlines, which I also can’t discuss for fear of accidental/on-purpose drone strikes.  Suffice to say that I’ve spent a good bit of time reminding myself about rendering unto Caesar and being in this world but not of it.  And smiling quietly and enigmatically.  People hate that.

In the meantime, how about some random?

*   It’s been a good year in the garden so far, but I had some trouble with slugs getting at my Joe Pye-weed a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately, I still had some poison in stock.  Is it wrong of me, after spreading said poison, to rejoice in finding the little corpora doubled over in apparent agony?  Probably, but I can’t help myself.

*   A young black bear was spotted very near Port Swiller Manor this week and (probably) the same one caught just the other side of the river a day or two later.  I’ve never heard of them pushing so far in before.  Next thing you know, it’ll be wolves and moose.  (But vat about Squirrel?)

*   Speaking of Naytchuh, the lightning bugs and the bats are back.  As for the former, I pity those friends of the decanter out west who don’t get to see ‘em.  As to the latter, Mrs. R is scared to death of bats but I love watching them flitter about in the evening.

*   Speaking of bats, Robbo’s beloved Nats had better find some if they expect to be contenders this year.  I think, I think that they are starting to turn things around.  Thank Heaven the rest of the division has been so meh so far.

*   Never again will I be fool enough to take the ol’ Wrangler to the dealership for her state inspection.  (I had to this year because something had banged loose on the frame and needed fixing.)  The techs seized on her like a school of piranhas on a wounded capybara and it was only after I had been skinned good and proper that I managed to get her back.  “Tightened safety regulations” my left eyeball!

*   Oh, speaking of fish, those of you who delight in Truly Bad Films should mark your calendars for July 11, on which date the SciFi channel is debuting a new movie: “Sharknado”.  To quote the ad copy, “Enough said”.  (You’ll have to google it yourselves.  This goddam Mac won’t let me scroll up to the tool bar once I get deep enough into a post, so no linky.)

*   Speaking of this goddam Mac, have I mentioned how much I hate it?  As I say, I can’t get at the toolbar after writing a certain amount.  Scrolling is problematic.  Downloading pics is impossible.  Screens up and vanish for no apparent reason and others appear without my asking.  Plus, with no disk drive, my Age of Empires CDrom is useless.  Grrrr.

Well, that’s about it for the moment.

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….

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