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Yes, ol’ Robbo skootched into teh voting booth with about 15 minutes to go this evening. I needn’t bother recounting which candidates on the ballots for general office in teh Great Commonwealth of Virginny I picked, I believe. Most regular friends of the decanter no doubt can figure things out easily enough. Nor need I acknowledge that I am likely to be disappointed in the gubernatorial results, even though Drudge is still teasing (as of shortly before 9 PM) that an upset might be in the works.
Actually, I made teh dash (and it was a dash, given the traffic I had to fight) for two basic reasons. For one, I felt I had to contribute at the top of the ballot: if my choice for governor was not going to cross the finish line first and was to lose to some loathsome, grifting slime bag, I was damned if it would be because of me. Also, were my preference to pull an upset, I would forever kick myself at not being in on it.
Second, because I have a far more personal interest in seeing my local delegate to teh Virginny House win re-election. She’s a fellow parishioner at my church and an all-around solid presence in teh local community. (Among other things, she’s heavily involved in our little league program and sponsored the youngest gel’s softball team a couple seasons ago.) It is widely supposed that she intends to take a shot at Congress when our long-time local rep decides to hang ‘em up. So there’s all that. The fact that, for a woman in her mid-50′s, she’s very easy on the eyes plays absolutely no part in my consideration.
Anyhoo, I don’t know if this is a precinct-by-precinct thing or not, but for our polling place it was strictly paper ballots this evening. One colored in the little ovals on teh O-fficial form and then fed it into a big, black scanner box. Apart from a little counter window, there was no acknowledgement, no verification that the machine understood and accepted my selections.
Eh. I am not much of a conspiracy-theorist type by nature, my inclination being to believe that human fallibility and the tendency to blab render any but the smallest-scale operations impracticable. Still, as I shoved my ballot into the machine, I couldn’t help wondering…………
UPDATE: Well, I see my delegate won by 404 votes, so I like to think I did my part.
Last evening at teh eldest gel’s softball practice, owing to distractions and miscommunications one of our better players got hit in the eye with a pretty hard thrown ball. Almost instantly it was plain that she will be sporting a rayther severe shiner for the days to come.
After the initial alarum and excursion surrounding the poor girl’s evident pain, which featured various and sundry coaches, players and parents scrambling for cloths, water and ice, I eventually found the victim sitting on the bench with a compress held against her inflamed cheek.
“So,” I said, “You know what you need to say when anyone comments on that bruise, don’t you?”
“No,” she answered, still in pain,”What?”
“Hey,” I said, “You shoulda seen what I did to the other guy!”
Teh girl was game enough to giggle.
Nice to feel that I helped a bit.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Yep, your host finds himself still kicking his heels this Monday morning, waiting for Uncle to unlock the doors and switch the lights back on. I hope things get resolved sooner than later. Among other reasons, Mrs. R is starting to get that honey-do look in her eyes when she catches me lounging in the hammock.
So a few odds and ends to while away the time:
♦ Ol’ Robbo got into an almost-fender-bender this morning coming home from dropping off teh elder gels at school. A doofus (with, naturally, Murr’land plates) stuck in the left lane behind a bus waiting to turn, decided to go around him to the right, cutting over just as I was coming up past him. Fortunately, I spotted him just in time and was able to jam on my brakes and get over toward teh curb. The result was that his front bumper just grazed my driver-side door. I leaned out and inspected the contact, looked up and gave the guy a very poisonous look while mouthing “Thank you, ya jack-wagon”, and drove away. Somebody told me that driving in Dee Cee results in an average of one accident every four years. Perhaps this was mine for the foreseeable future.
♦ I am convinced that my wisteria are related to Tolkien’s Huorns. They have reached out their tendrils and snagged the throttle control on my lawnmower so many times that it must be deliberate. They also delight in tangling my weed-whacker.
♦ Speaking of the garden, every year about midsummer, I say to myself, “Self, you really need to dig up and divide the peonies this fall.” And every year come fall, I say to myself, “Aw, the heck with it. Maybe next year.”
♦ At least this year I have some plausible excuse. What an odd October weather-wise it’s been in the environs of Port Swiller Manor. After a very cool August and September, the temperatures this past week have been right up near 90. It’s all changing today, however, as a front blows through, bringing heavy rain and more seasonal air.
♦ There is still a good deal of enmity between our elder cat and the two new kittehs. In general, they all try to avoid each other, Bella spending most of her days in the basement and the younglings playing about upstairs. When they do meet, they keep a weather eye on each other. We are down to about one or two screeching dustups per day, which usually come when Bella stumbles across one of teh kittehs unexpectedly.
♦ I notice that I have not said anything about my beloved Nationals since their season ended. The bad news, of course, is that we didn’t live up to the pre-season “World Series or Bust” hype (including my own hype) this year. The good news is that, despite all the heartache, we did win only twelve fewer games this year than last. We’ll get ‘em next time.
♦ Speaking of such things, the eldest gel is playing in a senior girl’s softball league this fall and ol’ Robbo is acting again as one of the coaches. The girls in this league range between 13 and 16, and some of the pitchers can deliver the ball very, very hard. T’other day I got tagged to help our ace warm up. Without any kind of padding or protection other than a strategically-placed knee, I found myself catching bullets. It was quite unnerving.
♦ Oh, and today is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, fought in 1571. Make sure and sink one of the Sultan’s galleys today by way of commemoration.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, the Middle Gel left this morning for choir camp somewhere down around Richmond, thus kicking off the O-fficial Port Swiller Manor academic year. (Regular classes resume after Labor Day for all three gels. 10th, 8th and 6th grades, respectively. Yikes.) If I may borrow a hoary cliché, where in Heaven’s name did the summah go? For that matter, where did the entire past year go? I know I’m starting to get a bit older and I also know that we had more than the usual number of alarums and excursions this past twelve months, but I simply cannot remember another one that blew by so very quickly.
Speaking of summah, either Heat Miser got furloughed under the Sequester or else AlGore has taken up residence in the vicinity, because this year has been for the most part absolutely delightful in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor.
Also speaking of summah, as in “boys of”, I can’t help noticing that Robbo’s beloved Nats are on a 5-game winning streak. As Ace likes to say, is this a thing? Because I think it might be a thing. I won’t even touch the playoff math here, but instead just wanted to say how nice it is to see the guys playing the way we know they can. Also to say, of course, GO, NATS!!!
And finally, speaking of team chemistry, we have not yet found it among the feline population here at teh Manor. The two new kittehs, even though they were from separate litters, get along like Damon and Pythias. However, the elder cat has decided she absolutely hates the pair of them and will attack if not watched. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. If the younglings were a bit bigger, I’d simply let them fight it out until a balance is struck, but as it is they’re really too small to defend themselves. Just what ol’ Robbo needs – more female squabbling.
Well, off to Mass.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers and Happy Friday!
A drop o’ random for you?
♦ I’m still chuckling over Sharknado this morning. (If you didn’t catch the premier last evening, I’m sure it will be rerun.) I expect this movie will be the gold standard of Truly Bad Films for some time to come. Indeed, perhaps “sharknado” will even enter the vocabulary as both noun and verb. E.g., ”I assigned the account to Johnson but he made a real sharknado out of it and the client walked.” Or, “Progressive statism is sharknadoing what’s left of Western Civilization.” I encourage all friends of the decanter to make a practice of incorporating the word into daily use. Lord knows, you’ll have plenty of opportunities.
♦ What a lot of rain we’ve had in the environs of Port Swiller Manor this summah! (It’s coming down again even as I type.) A landscaping glitch that I’ve not yet got round to dealing with causes rainwater and mud to pond up on the driveway in front of the garage when it rains heavily enough. There’s a small field drain, but it often gets blocked with debris. The only thing to do is go out with a shovel, a rake and the hose and clear it off. I doubt that many other people include bailing out the driveway on their list of domestic chores.
♦ I had forgotten how much puppies and kittehs like to chew on fingers. Yowtch!
♦ Mrs. Robbo and the younger gels are off for a few days at a dude ranch, of all places, in Eastern Tennessee. (Mrs. R is overtaken periodically with bouts of wanderlust. In this, we are very, very different.) Anyhoo, not being an experienced horsewoman, she was quite pleased to report to our little circle that she came through her first trail ride yesterday without mishap. I couldn’t help responding that one isn’t a real rider until one has been thrown, kicked or bitten. (I’ve had all three happen in my time.) Mrs. Former Llama Military Correspondent also chimed in that since Mrs. R is using a western saddle, this probably does not count. We’re kind of a cruel lot.
♦ Oh, speaking of summah wanderings, I must give official notice here that teh Robbo brain has gone into its annual state of vapor-lock and, until I go on hols next month, most likely will spew out posts even more sparse, random, disjointed and shallow than normal. It’s been a relatively stressful year around here and it just hit me this week how absolutely exhausted I am. Anyhoo, my apologies in advance.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
And welcome, NSA! Here’s the decanter. There are walnuts on the table and the Stilton is over on the sideboard.
And now, a little Sunday random….
♦ Friday saw the annual student talent show at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. Among the offerings was an a capella rendition of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe In Magic?” by the youngest gel and three of her friends. They hit the notes somewhat in the manner of regimental volley fire – by saturation rayther than precision accuracy, but they were clearly enjoying themselves. The final act of the afternoon featured a kid cutting dance steps to “Dynamite”. (For those of you who don’t know it, this is a standard techno dance tune featuring lots of thump-thumpa and synthesizers. It’s pretty awful, but at least it’s not rap, which I can’t stick at any price.) About half way through, most of the rest of the elementary kids suddenly rushed the stage and joined in. The spontaneity was quite pleasing.
♦ Did I mention before how amazingly fast this school year seems to have blown by? I think I did. So far as I’m able to keep track, we’ve got about a week and a half left until all three gels are over and done. They all keep expressing wonder that I don’t get a summah vacation. I’ve not made up my mind whether this is naiveté or just a little parental needling.
♦ Ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nationals continue to hover around the .500 mark, and it’s not a pleasant thing. One could blame this on a number of key injuries we’re currently suffering, but I begin to suspect that it has a deeper root in all the pre-season hype. I’ve never been comfortable with what the Baseball Gods must think of the whole “Natitude” campaign and I begin to think they’re now showing their displeasure. For whatever reason, the team has definitely taken on the feel – as I saw somebody put it the other day – of “Flatitude”.
Oh, well. GO, NATS!!
♦ Thanks to Friday’s tropical storm, when ol’ Robbo emerged from the talent show mentioned above he discovered several inches of water sitting in the well of the ol’ Wrangler. Even with the back off, I can usually avoid this even during heavy rain by remembering to park facing into the wind, by “heaving to” as sailors would say. Forgot this time. Idjit. Now the carpeting is going to smell moldy again until it’s been thoroughly aired out.
♦ I read Roger Kimball’s The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy In An Age of Amnesia yesterday. The overall theme is right up ol’ Robbo’s alley: a defense of traditional Western culchah in the face of the effort of utopian progressivists to wipe it all out in order to start afresh molding the Brave New World. Kimball illustrates some of the permanent values by devoting chapters to various authors – Chesterton, Hayek, Kipling and Muggeridge, for example. One of teh chapters considers John Buchan (author of The Thirty-Nine Steps and other spy thrillers), whom I have never read although I’ve always heard good things about him. This is the second time in the past two weeks that Buchan’s name has turned up on Robbo’s radar. I like to take these things as signs. So I think it’s time to take a trip over to the devil’s website and sample him.
♦ Speaking of the devil’s website, I was over there this week purchasing a new biography of Grant recommended by the Mothe when, much to my horror, I discovered that I had inadvertently grabbed the kindle version. It felt like turning over a rock and discovering a tarantula. I’m glad, at least, that I was able to get a refund once I discovered my mistake.
♦ Well, I suppose I had better be about it. Off to Mass and then an afternoon getting ready for the builders (who start tearing down the mawster bawth and the deck tomorrow morning) and then cooking din-dins for my in-laws who are stopping over on their way back north for the summah. Never a dull moment round here.
Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, another Saturday dawns at Port Swiller Manor and finds Robbo staring at the radar and wondering whether he has time to spritz the weeds with Round-Up before the thunderstorms move in. Probably not. At least I got the grass cut last evening, so that’s something.
♦ I mentioned the Gels of MASN in the post immediately below. Now I will tell you something about my own gel of summah. The eleven year old has inserted herself in a rotation of two or three regulars playing catcher for her softball team this season. T’other evening I was watching her in action behind the plate when it suddenly occurred to me why she enjoys the position so much: It’s a spotlight. The catchers are constantly complimented by coaches and crowds for their handing of what can be quite eccentric pitching at this level. There’s also great satisfaction in staring down a runner at third who’s thinking of stealing. However, she especially loves dramatically sweeping off her face-mask when pursuing a pop foul. What a ham. (To her credit, she is good at it, too.)
♦ Speaking of ball clubs, ol’ Robbo’s beloved Nats find themselves on a little five-game winning streak and look to be settling back into their true form. My blood pressure has dropped several points over the past week or so as a result. Go, NATS!!
♦ I look with horror and revulsion at the information coming to light about what happened in Libya. (Well, not just that, of course.) But I am all the more horrified by my feeling that nothing will really come of it. Why? Because if you ask the opinion of the average low-information voter, you’re likely to get the answer,”Ben Ghazi? Who? Isn’t he that NFL player who just came out? Or is he the one dating a Kardashian?”
♦ Speaking of such things, I don’t usually read much political or social science, but by happenstance two new books have seized the Robbo attention. The first is Roger Kimball’s The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia. Jay Nordlinger has been quoting and reviewing the book extensively over at NRO, and much of what he cites goes right to ol’ Robbo’s heart. The other book, by another NRO writer, is Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure. I believe that I’ve written here before of my belief that we, as a nation, are hurtling toward catastrophe. But I also said that, however hard it’s going to be, there isn’t reason just yet to save that last round for yourself. Williamson’s theme, from the blurbs and interviews I’ve seen, appears to follow this same line. Anyway, I like his writing style. (UPDATE: Here is The Czar’s review. Makes me all the more eager to dive in.)
I’ll let you know what I think.
♦ Some might suggest that ol’ Robbo spend his valuable reading time not with works that reenforce his own world view but with those that challenge it. To them, I respectfully reply: Get stuffed. Through some horrid process of social evolution, I seem to have become a bona fide member of the counterculture. I look out from the redoubt and see the “challenge” swirling around it continually. No need to unlock the gate and let them in.
♦ Oh, since I am posting so sparsely these days, let me get this out of the way: Happy Mother’s Day.
♦ Tomorrow is also Ascension Sunday. Or, as Father Z rants about it, Ascension Thursday Sunday. Go on over and enjoy if you like this sort of thing (which I do).
♦ Speaking of rants, alert friends of the decanter may have noticed the absence here of complaints about tourons, a subject which in past years has consumed so much of Robbo’s thought. This is simply due to teh fact that I have been driving into work since last August instead of taking the metro, so just don’t have that much personal contact with them anymore. However, this change in commuting practice has not done away with the touron menace so much as transformed it into another shape. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded tour busses. As the weather warms, these behemoths are starting to seriously jam up my afternoon drive. (And when it takes me an hour to go ten city blocks, I have every right to be cranky about it.) As a rule, I try to be a courteous driver – giving people room to merge in, for instance; stopping to let somebody pull out of a driveway. Not so with these busses, from which I use every method, legal or otherwise, to dodge, cut off or otherwise distance myself. Grrrrrrr…….
♦ And may I just remark here (perhaps again) on what a wonderful city car the Jeep Wrangler really is? Its small size, quick pickup and sweet maneuverability make it ideal for nipping in and out of traffic.
Well, I glance out the window and here’s the rain. Too bad. Everything was probably too wet to begin with anyway.
UPDATE: In re the low-information voter above, I should have noted that their next sentence would have been, “Hey, when do I get all my free shite?” ”Low-information voter” is one way to describe them, but I think “Bread-and-Circuses voter” is even more apt.
Greetings my fellow port swillers!
Well, I think there can be no doubt that Spring has finally got her act together and begun operations in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor. There’s greenage on the trees, the bleeding heart in the front bed is in bloom and the windows are wide open. Also, today was the first day that ol’ Robbo had to pull out his mower and weed-whacker. Always a nice thing when they start right up after sitting idle in the garage all winter. (I would mention that I also put the hammock out today, but since I seem never actually to get the chance to use the durn thing, this is an annual milestone of much less actual importance.)
Of course, this being Spring means that the weather has turned schizophrenic, with temperatures yo-yoing all over the place and extremely fast-changing conditions. Indeed, Friday morning we had our first thunderstorm of the year. The middle gel and self were sitting in the ol’ Wrangler down to school, waiting for it to be time for her to go in for choir practice, when suddenly a bolt of lightning hit one of the towers above us. Scared the bejaysus out of both of us, I assure you.
This morning saw the annual parade and opening ceremonies of our local Little League. The opening pitches were thrown out this year by none other than Robbo’s beloved Nats’ right-fielder, Jayson Werth. (He and 1st baseman Adam LaRoche both have kids in the program.) For all his alleged ball-handling prowess, Werth managed to put two out of the three pitches into the dirt.
At any rate, as the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung at the ballpark, I found myself musing sadly. It seems that every day the headlines become more and more horrible, filled with bread and circuses, bald-faced lies and behind-the-scenes Orwellian power-grabbing. There can be little question that we are and have been on social and economic paths that are simply unsustainable. (Of course, we’ve done this to ourselves through softness and lack of vigilance and our failure to drown all the Baby-Boomers in buckets at birth, and a lot of people still somehow don’t seem to understand how deep the trouble is that we’re in.) But now, I think, we’ve finally reached the point where it’s all coming to a head one way or the other.
Personally, I don’t believe that the country is actually doomed. What I think is going to happen is that those trying to finish up installing the Brave New World are going to overreach in a way that finally makes the citizenry wake up. (No, strike that. I actually think they already have. Now we’re just waiting for the math to catch up.) It’ll make ‘em wake up because it’ll hurt like hell. Collapse of the dollar? Food shortages? Riots a la Cyprus? Persecutions and scape-goatings? Oh, you betcha.
But you see, I also think there is something that sets up apart from late-Republican Rome or Paris in the Terror or early 20th Century Russia or Germany or, for that matter, Modern Europe. I think that although, as I say, we’ve got lazy and complacent, there is still a seed of autonomy and self-reliance in our national character. When push comes to shove, I think, I think, that we will remember what we’re made of. (You see that, for instance, in the public resistance against draconian gun-control. And the Tea Party.) It’ll be ugly, to be sure, but I believe that in the end we will come out intact on the other side, without either Caesar or Big Brother and hopefully wiser and stronger for the experience. (Do you know that I actually had a conversation with the Mothe a week or two ago about what the military would be likely to do in the event they were ordered to turn on trouble-making citizens? And that it was a conversation in earnest? We agree, by the bye, that it is extremely unlikely they ‘d cooperate in any such strong-arm tactics.) At least, that’s my hope and I’m sticking to it.
But as I say, I am saddened by all this. Not so much for myself, but for my children. I’m betting that the Crisis hits in the next five to ten years, right in the midst of their young adulthoods. I figure that I can face whatever comes with a kind of resigned stoicism and a sense that if I get caught in the crossfire, at least I’ve already had my turn. But it pains me to think about what they’ll have to go through when their world is turned upside down.
Ah, well. Better go jump in that hammock while I’ve still got the chance…..
Well, after my mini-hiatus (assuming it’s over) and the condolence/reminiscence post below that more or less wrote itself, I thought I’d try dipping the port swiller toe back in the water with a little bit of randomness. Here goes:
♦ After a very late dose of cold, Spring has finally and truly come to the environs of Port Swiller Manor. Today was the first day of the year that I took the top off the ol’ Wrangler. Spring and fall are, of course, the optimal times for this, the days of High Summah being too darn hot to lose all that valuable shade.
♦ I’ve decided that when we get our next cats, one of them is definitely going to be named Mr. Joyboy. There are few names in liddershur that make me snigger quite so much. Now all I need is a suitable companion name, since we’re probably going to wind up getting a couple. The leading candidate at the moment is Tobermory, although I fear that might be too phonetically similar and cause some feline confusion.
♦ We had a bit of a medical scare over the weekend at Port Swiller Manor that involved Mrs. R having to rush to the hospital for emergency surgery. All is well now and she is resting, but your humble host is in the doghouse just a bit for having dismissed the preliminary symptoms as nothing more than “too much Chipoltle”.
♦ Whoever it was who recommended to ol’ Robbo http://www.freetaxusa.com last year, thanks again. After my second year with it, I have to confess that it is superior to my flailing about with pencil, calculator and foolscap.
♦ Well, so much for Robbo’s beloved Nats going 162-0 this year, which is what I think we fans were secretly hoping/expecting.
♦ On the other hand, the youngest gel’s team is 2-0 after this past weekend’s battles. So we’ve got that going for us.
Enough to start?
Well, Spring is kinda, sorta, almost in the air and you know what that means…Yes, that softball season is upon us once again.
Friday afternoon saw teh first practice of the eldest gel’s 13-16 y.o. “senior” squad, a level devoted to getting girls ready to try out for high school ball. The gel had not picked up a ball in a couple years and I confess that I was a leetle apprehensive about what might happen. Would she still remember anything? Would she be afraid of the ball?
Well, from the preliminaries, it doesn’t look like I had much to worry about. The gel has always had a strong arm and a good eye, and from watching the other girls slantendicular, it rapidly became clear that her skill set was at least within visiting distance of most of those who had stuck with the league program. If she puts her back into it, I think she’ll do just fine.
Of course, because I was one of only two dads who stuck around for the whole practice, I was immediately drafted as an assistant coach. (Oddly, or perhaps not, three of the other girls on the squad had been on teams I coached in past years, so there was a kind of mini old-home week for Self and the eldest.)
The youngest gel is playing AAA ball again this year. Her practices started last weekend, but today was a skills clinic down at the fields. I must say again that there is just something about hanging around at the ballpark that I absolutely love – the sights, the sounds, the feel of the place.
But of course, because I was standing about soaking it all in, I quickly got drafted into helping with that, running one of the clinic stations.
Between the fly balls I was lobbing for the eldest gel’s teammates yesterday and the throwing and grounders drills I was running today, my own poor arm is pretty durn tired tonight. (Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse – I doubt very much whether my insurance covers Tommy John surgery.)
Going forward, the youngest gel has fielding practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the eldest on Fridays. Both gels have batting practice on Sunday afternoons.* That’s before the actual games start at the beginning of next month. Guess where ol’ Robbo is going to be spending a lot of time.
As I say, though, I love it.
* In case you’re wondering, the middle gel is also playing softball this spring. But she’s taking it as a P.E. course at school, so I’m off the hook as far as coaching her goes.
UPDATE: Oh, what the heck…. It’s still a couple weeks until I traditionally run this clip in honor of Opening Day for the MLB, but whaddaya say we bend a bit this once….